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Pamela Tiffin Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974
Pamela Tiffin Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974
by Tom Lisanti
Edition: Paperback
Price: $39.95
20 used & new from $35.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome back, Pamela Tiffin!, February 3, 2016
“Some thought I should be another Audrey Hepburn. Mr Wallis wanted me to be another Greta Garbo. The trouble comes when you don’t fit the image, then they try to superimpose the image over you. I don’t want to cut my hair. I don’t want to bleach my hair. I don’t want to wear Sandra Dee and Doris Day clothes” – Pamela Tiffin

Pamela Tiffin, the strikingly beautiful raven-haired actress of the Sixties, has her place in the niche of personalities from that colourful era. But what became of her career after she abandoned Hollywood? Tom Lisanti lifts the curtain on the still-elusive Tiffin in this meticulously-researched biography, which will be a must-read for the legions of baby-boomers who remember her fondly, and the new generations of fans who have discovered her delightful performances on cable and DVD.

Pamela Tiffin was content being a model – and a very successful one at that – before she was literally plucked out of the blue by director Peter Glenville and producer Hal Wallis for an important supporting role in the film version of Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke”. Almost immediately after that she was whisked off to Germany for Billy Wilder’s “One, Two, Three” – where co-star James Cagney praised Tiffin’s flair for comedy – and continued to do so for years.

For the rest of her career, Tiffin tried to chase projects that would equal the prestige and creative excitement of these two debut films – with limited success. The standard ingénue roles followed, like Margy in Fox’s ill-advised remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “State Fair”. She might have starred with Elvis in any number of his innocuous musicals of the Sixties but was wise enough to decline. Basing herself in New York instead of Los Angeles (which was quite bold and unheard-of at the time, which Lisanti points out) meant that Tiffin did not play the ‘Hollywood game’, but it also probably hindered her chances for all of the casting choices that might have come her way.

At the height of her career in Hollywood, Pamela packed up and headed for Italy, dying her hair blonde and virtually reinventing herself – it was a gamble that paid off, and Italian filmmakers, who loved adding Hollywood glamour gals to their casts, lined up to use the charming star. But the roles eventually dried up. Tiffin decided to quit while ahead, married and left the business.

Tom Lisanti’s book is less biography than career retrospective. Although written with the seal of approval from Pamela and her family, Ms Tiffin was sadly unable to contribute to the book, however Lisanti does draw from period interviews plus remembrances from cast and crew. By all accounts Ms Tiffin was a darling (and I’m sure still is). Lisanti devotes entire chapters to Tiffin’s films and provides enthusiastic plot synopses and lots of backstage tales that her fans will relish. There are many wonderful photos littered throughout as well. A wonderful book that I hope will stand as a tribute to one of Hollywood’s brightest Sixties stars.

Shirley Temple - Everyone's Little Princess
Shirley Temple - Everyone's Little Princess
DVD ~ Shirley Temple
Offered by Treasures4All
Price: $4.79
57 used & new from $0.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Early Shirley a treat for fans, September 8, 2015
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If you already own all of Shirley Temple's major films from Fox, you should also consider buying this set as an extra "addition" to the Shirley library. This set has many of Temple's early pre-stardom film appearances, including her small supporting roles in "Red-Haired Alibi" (1932) and "Law of Vengeance" (1933, originally titled "To the Last Man"); the latter starring Randolph Scott, who, several years later, would play opposite Shirley in "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" and "Susannah of the Mounties".

"The Little Princess" (1939), Temple's first Technicolor film at Fox is here, albeit minus the opening credits sequence. It's arguably Shirley's most popular movie, an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's novel. During the height of the Boer War, little Sara Crewe (Temple) is left at an exclusive girl's boarding school while her widower father goes back to the front. When he's later reported as missing believed killed - on her birthday yet! - little Sara is forced to become a scullery maid in order to pay back the fortune which her father owed in tuition fees and board. Never once doubting her father is still alive, Sara clings to her faith that one day her daddy will return. Co-starring Cesar Romero (barely recognizable under an Indian turban and dark makeup), Anita Louise as kindly teacher Miss Rose, Richard Greene as her secret beau; and Mary Nash (a frequent Temple nemesis) as the witchy boarding school principal Miss Minchin, "The Little Princess" gave Temple one of her most demanding acting assignments, with a strong script from Ethel Hill and Walter Ferris that pulls no punches with some of the harsher, dramatic details from the original book-source. Sybil Jason is a delight playing Sara's best friend Becky, a cockney servant girl; and in a departure from her previous role in Temple's "Heidi" as sweet wheelchair-bound Clara, teenaged Marcia Mae Jones is the haughty Lavinia. Temple also shares a wonderful musical number with Arthur Treacher ("Knocked 'Em in the Old Kent Road").

This set also has many of the "Baby Burlesks" and "Frolics of Youth" short subjects, plus the vintage newsreel compilation "Biggest Lil' Star of the 30's" which has footage of Shirley riding her custom-made roadster on the Fox backlot. Adding some charm - but completely unrelated to Shirley Temple - are several "Our Gang" short subjects, in addition to a fabulous print of the delightful 1939 programmer "Nancy Drew... Reporter" starring Bonita Granville, Natalie Wood in "The Green Promise" (1949), "Mickey" (1948), "A Boy, a Girl and a Dog" (1946), and the 1955 TV version of "Miracle on 34th Street".

The Youngest Profession
The Youngest Profession
DVD ~ Virginia Weidler
Price: $14.68
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4.0 out of 5 stars MGM rolls out the stars in a sweet teen comedy, September 8, 2015
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This review is from: The Youngest Profession (DVD)
Based on a book by Lillian Day, THE YOUNGEST PROFESSION stars Virginia Weidler in her penultimate film, playing an autograph-obsessed movie fan who, when not tracking down her favourite stars, meddles in the marriage of her parents (Edward Arnold and Marta Linden) ... with comedic results. The film is mostly an excuse for MGM to roll out a roster of popular stars in cameo roles - Lana Turner, Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Taylor and William Powell - all good sports who deliver exactly what the script requires.

Sadly never quite fulfilling her true potential at MGM, Virginia Weidler's Hollywood career was almost over by the time she was assigned the lead in THE YOUNGEST PROFESSION. Ms Weidler only appeared in one more film at the studio ("Best Foot Forward", also in 1943) before leaving the movies and returning to her stage origins, retiring altogether just two years later. THE YOUNGEST PROFESSION also stars Agnes Moorehead as Weidler's meddling, money-grubbing governess, with Scotty Beckett as her younger brother, and lovely Ann Ayars as her father's secretary. A sweet little film.

Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell
DVD ~ Gina Lollobrigida
Price: $13.99
12 used & new from $9.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gina and a dream cast kick up their heels in Italy, September 1, 2015
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This review is from: Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (DVD)
A sparkling farce, BUONA SERA MRS CAMPBELL has radiant Gina Lollobrigida, an all-star supporting cast, and gorgeous Italian location photography. Carla Campbell (Lollobrigida) has carved out a respectable life and successful business for herself and her lovely daughter Gia (Janet Margolin) in the town of San Forino, but everything is about to come crashing down....

You see, some 20 years ago in the final chaotic months of WW2, a then-16-year-old Carla shared a house with three American G.I.'s, discoverd she was pregnant after their departure, and for the next 20 years has collected a monthly child support payment from each of them... Now those same three former G.I.'s (Peter Lawford, Telly Savalas and Phil Silvers) along with their wives (Lee Grant, Marian Moses and Shelley Winters) are headed back to San Forino for a grand reunion festival! Each man thinks he's Gia's father... and none of the wives know about their husbands' Italian wartime romance.

Director Melvin Frank had previously worked with Gina Lollobrigida in the 1965 comedy "Strange Bedfellows" and crafted this film as a showcase for her special comedic talents, but her co-stars often threaten to steal the spotlight, especially Lee Grant and Shelley Winters who both shine in some gleeful comedy moments. Costume designer Morton Haack dresses the gals in some fabulous clothes as well.

This movie was later adapted into the 1979 Broadway musical "Carmelina"; and also formed the basis for the smash hit ABBA musical "Mamma Mia".
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2015 6:01 PM PST

Party Girl
Party Girl
DVD ~ Robert Taylor
Price: $17.49
24 used & new from $12.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cyd Charisse and Robert Taylor - in their final MGM film - light up the screen in "Party Girl", August 30, 2015
This review is from: Party Girl (DVD)
The "party" was almost over when Cyd Charisse and Robert Taylor teamed up for PARTY GIRL, a glossy crime drama directed by Nicholas Ray. By 1958, with the studio in freefall, most of MGM's stable of stars had bought out their own contracts, or had their contracts terminated early by the studio. Others simply walked away. In contrast, Charisse and Taylor had both opted to ride out their deferred contracts, and PARTY GIRL signalled the end of an era for both stars.

Set in the 1930's-era Chicago and loosely based on the true-life story of Mob lawyer Dixie Davis, PARTY GIRL stars Robert Taylor as Thomas Farrell, a defence lawyer employed by Chicago Mobster Rico Angelo (Lee J. Cobb). Crippled in one leg, Farrell manages to successfully garner sympathy for his criminal clients by exploiting his own physical weaknesses in front of the jury-stand. When he meets and falls in love with nightclub dancer Vicki Gaye (Charisse), however, Farrell determines to change his ways, and, despite the dangers threatened by Rico, realises he must turn against the Mob...

PARTY GIRL is entertaining, and glossy in the "classic" MGM tradition, although the dance numbers performed by Charisse and company feel more like the Fifties in Vegas rather than the Thirties in Chicago. Charisse's husband Tony Martin sings the movie's Theme Song over the opening titles. Director Nicholas Ray manages to inject some darkness into the material and brings out a particularly fine turn from Charisse, in a rare dramatic change of pace for the dancing star.

Star Dust
Star Dust
DVD ~ Linda Darnell
Price: $19.77
18 used & new from $14.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Linda Darnell trails "Star Dust" in her own Hollywood fairytale, August 22, 2015
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This review is from: Star Dust (DVD)
1940's STAR DUST stars Linda Darnell and is loosely based on her own rise to fame in Hollywood. When talent scout Thomas Brooke (Roland Young) first encounters Carolyn Sayres (Darnell) on one of his annual trips to recruit young performers, he is sure of her immense talents. But there is the little matter of her age. No longer suitable for "child" parts and not yet equipped for adult roles, Carolyn nevertheless finagles her way to Hollywood, where she is taken under-wing by Brooke and acting coach Lola Langdon (Charlotte Greenwood), who become her biggest champions. The road will be tough and the competition tougher, but Carolyn, trailing star-dust in her wake, won't have to wait long for her own Hollywood happy ending.

Linda Darnell is luminous is this enchanting film, which was indeed based on Darnell's own experience in Hollywood. Barely a teen when she first arrived at Twentieth Century-Fox, Linda initially found herself in that awkward "in-between" phase, but soon established herself as one of Hollywood's brightest young ingenues. In perfect time capsule fashion, STAR DUST captures a bygone Hollywood era, with glamorous premieres at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, slinky mink coats and spiralling klieg lights. In a sad footnote, Linda was actually watching STAR DUST on television on the night she died from horrific burns sustained in a house-fire, aged just 42.

Ms Darnell made many wonderful films in her short career, but STAR DUST stands apart with it's real-life connection to the star, and remains a cherished title for her fans.

Ice Follies of 1939
Ice Follies of 1939
DVD ~ Jimmy Stewart, Lew Ayres Joan Crawford
Price: $14.99
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joan Crawford and Jimmy Stewart lace up their skates!, August 21, 2015
This review is from: Ice Follies of 1939 (DVD)
Certainly one of the oddest films in Joan Crawford's canon, ICE FOLLIES OF 1939 nevertheless offers her fans the rare chance to see her in glorious, blushing Technicolor, on ice skates, and in a platinum blonde wig! "Everyone was out of their collective minds", the star later remarked. But it's one helluva fun movie.

Trying to gain financial backing to produce his own ice-spectaculars, Larry Hall (James Stewart) finds himself playing second-fiddle to his new wife, Mary McKay (Crawford), when newly-christened as Sandra Lee, she makes a huge splash in Hollywood. Split up for extended periods, chasing their own dreams, Larry and Mary are almost certainly headed for divorce... until film producers decide to bring their talents together for the screen.

Co-starring Lew Ayres, ICE FOLLIES OF 1939 was primarily a showcase for Crawford, and an attempt by MGM to cash in on the hugely-popular Sonja Henie films from rival studio Twentieth Century-Fox. The "Cinderella" ice-show performed as the movie's finale was lensed in sumptuous Technicolor - an absolute event for Crawford's fans, who'd never before seen her in colour on the screen. Despite the lush ice surrounds and Technicolor trappings this is still "B" territory - even for MGM standards - and this had to have irritated Crawford to the point where she campaigned and successfully landed one of the lead roles in the studio's next glittering prestige film "The Women", shortly after filming had wrapped on ICE FOLLIES.

If you enjoy Crawford you'll adore her on skates in ICE FOLLIES OF 1939. The Warner Archive disc is bare-bones except for the standard trailer.

Looking For Love  (Remastered)
Looking For Love (Remastered)
DVD ~ Connie Francis
Price: $17.68
23 used & new from $13.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Connie Francis is looking for love... and utterly adorable!, August 19, 2015
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Pop singer Connie Francis' career in Hollywood was brief, lasting a few short years. But in that time she managed to shine in a small but delightful clutch of films which are beloved by her fans. 1964's LOOKING FOR LOVE may be the best of them, with Connie front and centre in a story that calls upon her skills as a comedienne in addition to her singing prowess.

When her attempts to launch a singing career fail, Libby Caruso (Francis) decides that the best solution is to get married and have babies. In the meantime she stumbles into an unexpected adventure in big business with "The Lady Valet", a clothes-hanging gadget for the gal on the go, which she invents. Whilst hawking her brainchild on the Johnny Carson Show, she finds that her singing career may still have a chance... but what about that future husband? Advertising exec Paul (Jim Hutton) is the ideal candidate... that is, if he can ever remember Libby's name!

With a bubbly plot and lots of opportunities for Connie to burst out into song, LOOKING FOR LOVE is really her best all-round movie showcase. Most of her other films cast her as "just one of the girls" (like "Where the Boys Are", "Follow the Boys"), but LOOKING FOR LOVE is a vehicle designed for Connie alone. And it's utterly adorable. In a sly nod to "Where the Boys Are", several of Connie's former co-stars flash by in cameo appearances, among them Paula Prentiss, Yvette Mimieux and George Hamilton. Plus you have to love a movie where one of the characters is called 'Gaye Swinger'!

The Warner Archive disc has a great quality 'Scope print, plus the trailer.

The Girl from Missouri
The Girl from Missouri
DVD ~ Jean Harlow
Price: $17.66
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sweeter Harlow sparkles in her first Code comedy, August 17, 2015
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This review is from: The Girl from Missouri (DVD)
THE GIRL FROM MISSOURI (1934) was Jean Harlow's first film to be made with the newly-enforced Production Code. It had actually been figures like Harlow and their antics on screen who had triggered the need for some sort of "code of decency" to be implemented in film. Many thought this handicap would ruin Harlow's career, but she wound up thriving, and her film image received a welcome facelift.

In GIRL FROM MISSOURI, Harlow is Eadie Chapman, a showgirl with limited dance ability, who is really just out to marry wealthy and retire to the idle life. But Eadie has her principles... she won't compromise herself to get where she wants to go. She'll do it instead with her considerable charm. After wealthy industrialist T.R. Paige (Lionel Barrymore) assists Eadie from getting caught up in a very messy situation at a swanky party, she follows him to his vacation home on the coast where she falls in love with T.R.'s son Tom Jr. (Franchot Tone). But Paige remains doubtful of Eadie's intentions and decides to break them up using drastic means...

Co-scripted by Harlow's close friend Anita Loos (who'd already penned "Red-Headed Woman" for the star, and would go on to write what would be Harlow's final film "Saratoga"), THE GIRL FROM MISSOURI zips along, providing Harlow with her trademark quips and innuendo, if ever so slightly camouflaged to appease the new Code standards. The film co-stars Patsy Kelly and Lewis Stone.

Two Girls On Broadway
Two Girls On Broadway
DVD ~ Lana Turner
Price: $14.99
18 used & new from $12.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lana Turner dances to fame in one of her first star-making vehicles, August 16, 2015
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This review is from: Two Girls On Broadway (DVD)
A remake of the landmark MGM talkie "Broadway Melody of 1929", 1940's TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY pairs up Lana Turner and Joan Blondell (in her first film for Metro) as the 'girls' of the title. This was the movie that finally established Lana Turner as one of the studio's hottest commodities. After supporting roles in several films, she'd been built up the year before in two well-received movies ("These Glamour Girls" and "Dancing Co-Ed"), but after the rapturous reception for TWO GIRLS, MGM realised that she had made that rare, almost seamless transition to leading lady.

The story revolves around two sisters, Molly (Blondell) and Pat Mahoney (Turner), who travel to New York from far-flung Nebraska when Molly's fiancee Eddie Kerns (George Murphy) lands a plum dancing job on Broadway, and arranges for Molly and her 'kid sister' to join the act. The 'kid' turns out to be fully grown and producers decide to dump Molly in lieu of her bombshell baby sister! For every success story, Broadway is littered with a million broken dreams, and it's not long until Pat not only dances away with Molly's career, but also with Eddie.

This sudsy back-stager is filled with wonderful dance numbers and sparkling performances. It's odd now to look back and see how MGM initially marketed Lana Turner as a dancing star (pretty soon she'd dump the dance shoes for straight-up comedy and dramatic roles), but she is quite marvellous partnering George Murphy in the elaborate production number "My Wonderful One, Let's Dance". No longer a "B" player, Turner's next film assignment would be her biggest to date - the role of alcoholic showgirl Sheila Regan in "Ziegfeld Girl".

The Warner Archive disc of TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY has no extras aside from the obligatory trailer. Recommended for Lana fans.

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