Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Joan Blondell: The Summer Under the Stars Blogathon for 2011

Consider this your engraved invitation to the TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon, which will honor the inimitable talent of Joan Blondell from Thursday, August 18 - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at the Movie Morlocks (the official blog of TCM).

This year's SUtS blogathon is set for the week leading up to the lady's special day, when a 24-hour marathon of Joan Blondell's films will be aired on Turner Classic Movies.  Each Morlock will look at a different aspect of the actress, focusing on a movie(s), a medium, a character or key moments in her long career. You can see the posts related to this topic by the individual bloggers here, beginning on Aug. 18th: 

From wisecracking good time girl to sassy veteran star, Miss Blondell's considerable talent and likability carried her through six decades on screen. Consistently under-rated, her presence in films--including several rarely seen Pre-Code productions--will be spotlighted this August as TCM doffs its hat to the lady and her work as part of the network's Summer Under the Stars month-long event.

A few of the less well known but "don't-miss" flicks I'd recommend that day are below. (Sorry kids, but I can't report that reels of the legendary Convention City (1933) have been unearthed...but we live in hope):

Sinner's Holiday (1930-John G. Adolfi), in which Joanie and her friend James Cagney share the screen for the first time in their cinematic debut. Al Jolson (who never met Cagney) had purchased the rights to the Broadway version of this film, called Penny Arcade on stage after seeing the duo in the play. Jolson insisted that Cagney and Blondell must be signed for the Warner Brothers film, which the studio did reluctantly, at first. The film's early talkie staginess has an antique appeal. The story shows only flashes of Cagney fire (with a Mother fixation) and Blondell is the embodiment of a living kewpie doll, a role that she would perfect and deepen on screen in the coming years.

Big City Blues (1932-Mervyn LeRoy), in which a 26-year-old Blondell plays the worldly but maternal "older woman" to the boyish Eric Linden's hayseed, just arrived in The Big Apple. A certain Mr. H. Bogart played a small, uncharacteristically muted role as (surprise!) a small time Broadway actor in this brisk programmer too.

Lawyer Man (1933-William Dieterle) with William Powell as a glib attorney (Is there any other kind in Warner Brothers' movies? Bill even speaks Yiddish in this one) and Blondell as his ever-loyal secretary, (if only he'd notice her).

He Was Her Man (1934-Lloyd Bacon) marks the last time that Joan Blondell and James Cagney appeared on screen together after six movies. As a somewhat peppy crime-romance story it contains some surprisingly somber moments, as well as racy ones, as the characters played by the pair search for a way out of the lives they have both embarked on in this Depression-era tale. Not the best of their screen partnerships (unlike the superbly entertaining Footlight Parade and Blonde Crazy), but Joan has sensitive moments that would not be seen again in her acting for a decade and Cagney is Cagney---or is he, since he has one of the worst mustaches in film history in this movie?)

Stand-In (1937-Tay Garnett) features a very droll Leslie Howard as a Wall Street efficiency expert, newly arrived in Hollywood to straighten out the labor and management affairs of a dream factory. It's a good thing that Joan's "old hand" at studio politics is around to advise and beguile him. The satire also features a sophisticated performance from that Bogart guy again. This time he plays a film director who's a two-fisted drinker (who ever heard of such a thing?).

Below is a complete list of the lineup scheduled for August 24th:

Joan Blondell Day on August 24th during Summer Under the Stars:
(Please note: All times shown are EDT. Scheduled films may be subject to change)

  6:00 AM    The Reckless Hour (’31)
  7:15 AM    Big City Blues (’32)
  8:30 AM    Central Park (’32)
  9:30 AM    Lawyer Man (’33)
10:45 AM    Traveling Saleslady (’35)
12:00 PM    Colleen (’36)
  1:30 PM    We’re in the Money (’35)
  2:45 PM    Gold Diggers of 1933 (’33)
  4:30 PM    Footlight Parade (’33)
  6:30 PM    He Was Her Man (’34)
  8:00 PM    Sinners’ Holiday (’30)
  9:15 PM    Dames (’34)
11:00 PM    Stand-In (’37)
12:45 AM    Cry “Havoc” (’43)
  2:30 AM    Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (’57)
  4:15 AM    Kona Coast (’68)


Caftan Woman said...

A couple of years back during Summer Under the Stars, we in TCM Canada land received a Joan Blondell day in place of the William Powell day. No complaints. I only wish the upcoming day featured some of those titles I caught for the first time and really enjoyed: "Goodbye Again", "The Great Ferguson Case" and "I've Got Your Number".

Back when the TCM website had the "suggest a movie" feature, it was part of my weekly routine to type in "Goodbye Again". It's a winner.

Looking forward to articles of interest on 1930s Hollywood's hardest working actress, as well as those movies.

Moira Finnie said...

I'd love to see those films too, but have you seen Union Depot (1932-Alfred Green) with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Joan Blondell (with great chemistry) on their uppers in the Depression?

Along with a good part for Guy Kibbee, it is occasionally brilliant, sad, funny and concise, like so many of the films that Warner Brothers tossed off in those years, when no one thought that we'd still find so much in those stories in the next century!

Stacia said...

Nice! I'm glad you posted something about it, because I don't think it's been on Movie Morlocks yet -- but I could have missed it.

Kevin Deany said...

Can't wait to read those blog entries. Should be great. Thanks for the heads up.


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