Take the differences, for instance, between the 1932 film "The Crowd Roars" and the 1939 film "Indianapolis Speedway." Same story (by Howard Hawks, who also directed the first film), same setting, same characters (with different names, in some cases), even much of the same racetrack footage. By the way, want to know how to switch up your stock footage of a crowd? Just flip the image, like this:
And, since these are Warner Bros. films made in the 1930s, naturally both of them feature Frank McHugh -- playing the same character, and even with the same name. Spud. (Frank McHugh was born to play guys named Spud.)
But there's a distinct difference in the way the film's romantic relationships are portrayed, and, by extension, in the relationship between the brothers at the center of the story.
The brothers are Joe and Eddie Greer, played by James Cagney and Eric Linden in "The Crowd Roars" and Pat O'Brien and John Payne in "Indianapolis Speedway." Joe is a world-famous racing driver who drinks and carouses a little too much, tilting slightly but not totally into arrogance. Eddie is his hero-worshiping brother, who also wants to race.
In the 1939 version, Joe's reluctance to work with Eddie has a noble basis -- he wants Eddie to finish college, at Joe's expense. But after Joe leaves his hometown and his visit with Eddie to return to Los Angeles, he finds an unexpected stowaway.
In the 1932 version, Joe's reluctant to work with Eddie for two reasons -- one is because of Eddie's inexperience, but the other is that Joe doesn't want Eddie to know that he's shacking up with longtime frail Lee (Ann Dvorak). Once Eddie enters Joe's life, Joe starts giving the cold shoulder to the bewildered Lee. In "Indianapolis Speedway," by contrast, Joe and Lee (Gale Page) are already engaged, which makes their coupling a little more legitimate. When Joe gives Lee the brushoff in "Indianapolis," he makes it clear it's because he wants to tutor Eddie. In "The Crowd Roars," Lee grins and bears it, but in "Indianapolis Speedway" she gets rightfully honked off. Here are the two scenes:
But the real woman trouble in both movies comes from Lee's friend. In "The Crowd Roars," her name is Ann (Joan Blondell) and in "Indianapolis Speedway" her name is Frankie (Ann Sheridan). In both movies, she's first portrayed as bad news, and Joe doesn't want her "corrupting" his pure younger brother. In "The Crowd Roars," when Ann meets Eddie and starts showing some leg, Joe sneers, "Why don't you stand on your head while you're at it?" -- a line that's as likely to show up in "Indianapolis Speedway" as I am to grow a tail. In "Indianapolis Speedway," Frankie -- who's the roommate of Ann -- is known for feminine wiles that have driven at least one racer track wacky. (Sheridan, at the peak of her reign as Warner's "Oomph Girl," is top billed here -- and like Blondell, she is shown in the skimpiest post-code outfits possible.)
Here's how Cagney and O'Brien handle the problem of the other woman:
Even by Cagney standards, the character of Joe is wound unusually tight. His obsession with keeping Eddie from sinful entanglements and what he perceives as loose women -- playing around for me, but not for thee -- goes beyond brotherly concern and makes him seem like a hypocrite.
O'Brien portrays Joe as a little wearier -- the movie is telling us that what he needs is to settle down with a good woman, but it'll take him about 65 minutes to figure that out.
All around, in fact, the Joe in "Indianapolis Speedway" seems more human and more vulnerable. The relationship between the brothers is much warmer -- in the 1932 film, Joe dominates Eddie the way that Cagney naturally dominates the more diffident Linden. Payne, by contrast, has a stronger screen presence and makes more of an impression opposite O'Brien.
In both versions, Joe's downfall comes when, out of anger at Eddie's romance, he causes a fiery crash that kills Spud (Twice!). Joe is spooked and can't bring himself to race again, but he gravitates toward Indianapolis on the day of the 500. Eddie is racing, and when he is injured, Joe jumps back behind the wheel with Eddie as his co-driver. Guess who wins?
In the 1932 film, the reunion between the brothers isn't even played out -- Joe just jumps in the car and takes off. But in the 1939 version, there's a spoken rapprochement between the brothers, capped off when Eddie gives Joe his trademark cigar to chomp on for good luck. Guess who wins?
Here are the full credits for "The Crowd Roars" (which also features several real-life drivers as themselves) and "Indianapolis Speedway."
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" wasn't intentionally created to be timeless, but because of its simplicity and sincerity, timeless it is. Miraculously, it avoids every cliche associated with children's animation and is a perfect blending of music, words and images that clearly conveys one man's vision and philosophy -- Charles Schulz, who drew "Peanuts" from 1950 until his death in 2000.
Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, by David Michaelis
A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles Schulz, by Stephen J. Lind
"How 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' Almost Wasn't," Jennings Brown, ny.com, November 16, 2016
"The 'Charlie Brown Christmas' Special Was the Flop That Wasn't," Carrie Hagen, smithsonian.com, December 9, 2015
The rise of Lawrence Welk and of rock and roll happened at roughly the same time -- maybe in reaction to each other. Welk's band played classic white-bread tunes -- waltzes, foxtrots and polkas -- and were television favorites for an amazing three decades. Reruns of the show still air on PBS stations across the country. We look at Welk's popularity, despite his awkward stage presence, and the musical "family" he featured on his show, including the Lennon Sisters.
The 69th annual WHAS Crusade for Children took place earlier this month, raising over $5 million to support children with special needs in Kentucky and Indiana. For decades the Crusade has been a well-oiled fundraising machine, utilizing volunteers from across the region who do everything from holding benefit events to walking door to door for contributions.
The Bingham family, who owned WHAS when the Crusade began, well understood its standing as a community institution -- when they sold WHAS in the mid-1980s, they included a covenant that the subsequent owners could never cancel the Crusade.
Here's how it started, on September 12, 1953, according to Variety:
You're forgiven if the celebrities, aside from singer Mel Torme and tennis ace Pancho Gonzales, don't ring a bell. Ray Malone was a tap dancer who, a few years earlier, had been a regular on the NBC late-night show "Broadway Open House." Here he is with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Fran Warren was a singer whose biggest hit was "A Sunday Kind of Love." Robin Morgan was 12 at the time -- she was a young actress who played Dagmar on the TV series "Mama." Today she's a poet and activist. I don't have the slightest idea who Mary Farenga is.
The telethon happened before my time, but I did hear one behind-the-scenes story about it. Legend has it that Mel Torme (seen here with Crusade emcee Jim Walton) got very upset when the crowd in Memorial Auditorium gave him only polite applause while they went crazy for Randy Atcher. Sorry, Velvet Fog, but there's no fighting the power of "T-Bar-V Ranch" -- at least not in Louisville.
In 1934, Orson Welles came to Broadway in a production of "Romeo and Juliet" and within a year he was putting his mellifluous voice to use by doing a lot of radio work, including as part of the stock company, imitating famous newsmakers, on "The March of Time." While producing and directing shows on Broadway, he was also making a name for himself as the title character on "The Shadow" and, later, scaring America to death with "War of the Worlds." Today we consider Welles's work as a rising star on the radio, leading to an offer from Hollywood.
Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News, by A. Brad Schwartz
Orson Welles on the Air: Packaging Welles, orsonwelles.indiana.edu
"This Ageless Soul," Russell Maloney, The New Yorker, October 1, 1938
Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles, by David Thomson
The Mercury Theatre on the Air, mercurytheatre.info
|Look at that truck crashing and blowing up! It has|
nothing to do with the plot!
|No, this movie isn't about trucks. It's about|
race cars, specifically this sleek white Jaguar driven
by the equally sleek Dorothy Malone.
|Dorothy is the fast one, and John Ireland is the furious one.|
He's an escaped prisoner who doesn't take to answering
questions, not even if they're asked by Zach Galifianakis.
|John takes Dorothy and her car hostage and won't even let|
her go to the bathroom.
|They cleverly elude police roadblocks because their car|
is so inconspicuous.
|John still doesn't let Dorothy go to the bathroom ...|
|... until they enter a road race as a way of escaping to Mexico.|
|At the race Dorothy meets an old flame ...|
|... but she's starting to take a liking to John ...|
|... and when they shack up together overnight they|
create a few sparks of their own.
|Then it's race day!|
|John has left Dorothy behind for her own safety...|
|... and through the miracle of rear projection he crashes|
past customs and into Mexico.
|But wait! Dorothy's old flame is involved in a|
startlingly realistic crash with a twig.
|By stopping to save the old flame, John demonstrates his|
decency. And he and Dorothy start smokin' again.
In 1969, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were arguably the world's most famous married couple, and they became even more well known when Burton bought his wife a 69-carat diamond ring that cost over a million dollars. At a Hollywood party, their paths crossed with Lucille Ball and an unlikely idea emerged -- within weeks the Burtons were taping an episode of "Here's Lucy" as themselves, with the ring as a special guest star. This is the story of a very large diamond, two very popular movie stars and one of America's favorite comic actresses -- and how they all came together to make TV history.
" 'All I Could See Was Elizabeth and That Rock': What Happened When Taylor and Burton Were Filmed for Next Week's Lucy Show," James Bacon, TV Guide, September 5, 1970
"The Taylor Burton Diamond," worthy.com
Loving Lucy: An Illustrated Tribute to Lucille Ball, by Bart Andrews
Elizabeth Taylor: A Private Life for Public Consumption, by Ellis Cashmore
The Richard Burton Diaries, edited by Chris Williams
Yes, I'm talking to you, mumbles. Get your puss out of your oatmeal, slap on a smile, get behind a microphone and FACE LIFE already! You, too, could be the next Charlie McCarthy! There's a secret to making it in radio, and I'm going to slip it to you today, gratis! All you need to do is smile, turn on the charm and look like you know what you're talking about! As exhibit A, I give you Dutch Reagan, former announcer with WHO radio in Des Moines:
|Dutch is a hard-working reporter for the local radio station.|
|A crime wave is sweeping the city, portrayed in stock|
footage thrillingly borrowed from better movies.
|Dutch immediately begins reporting on the case, not|
even pausing to take off his hat or extinguish the fire on his sleeve.
|But man does not live by news alone, and Dutch takes time|
out to woo the slightly sensational June Travis.
|Then he swings into action to create new shows|
for radio, like ...
|... "The Annoying Children's Hour" ...|
|... "Things You'd Rather See Than Listen To,"|
featuring bicycle races ...
|... and "Hollywood Child Actor Death Match."|
|While embarking on his latest show, "Three People in the|
Back of a Truck," Dutch stumbles across a shootout
and broadcasts it.
|He is a hero and the crime wave is smashed!|
|Who can say what lies ahead for Dutch? Big-time radio,|
Hollywood, maybe even the presidency ... of the
Screen Actors Guild, that is!
|... as opposed to slowsand, or even kind-of-fast sand.|
|Our hero is Mickey Rooney, as a short-but-honest auto|
mechanic. It's the perfect job for him -- he doesn't need
a grease rack to get under the car!
|One day Mickey is at the diner with future Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd|
when something catches his attention --
|It is his dream girl -- a woman who looks just like|
James Cagney in drag!
|Upstaged by the innuendo on a lousy box of candy,|
Mickey nevertheless asks female James Cagney out on a date...
|...where he learns that she has very expensive tastes.|
|This causes Mickey to leave his old|
girlfriend, Liv Tyler, behind ...
|... and embark on a life of petty theft.|
|Mickey's crime spree involves buying a watch on time|
(Ha ha! See what I did there?) and then hocking it.
|And he also holds up a guy just because he|
doesn't like straw hats.
|This gets him mixed up with female James Cagney's old|
boss, Peter Lorre, who runs a penny arcade on the Santa Monica pier.
|He and Mickey become fast friends ... |
|... but Mickey draws the line at playing peek-a-boo, so Peter Lorre|
blackmails him over the straw hat guy robbery.
|Now Mickey is really in a spot. He has to steal a|
car for Peter Lorre AND buy him a straw hat. His nerves are on edge.
|This leads to a tense meeting with the boss.|
|Happily, Mickey is shot by the cops and|
reunites with Liv Tyler.
|Then he realizes his father-in-law will be Steven Tyler,|
and he starts thinking about female James Cagney again.