The Golden Age of Hollywood

Star of the Month Profile: Loretta Young

Born Gretchen Michaela Young on January 6, 1913

Attila the Nun
The Iron Butterfly
Saint Loretta

Roman Catholic. Young attended Ramona Convent Secondary School as a teen and contributed to a number of Catholic charitable causes during her career. Marlene Deitrich once said of Young, “Every time she sins, she build a church. That’s why there are so many Catholic churches in Hollywood.” Ouch, Marlene!

Political views
Conservative Republican. Young publicly supported presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. She also donated money to the Republican National Committee. Like many other stars of the time, including John Wayne, Ginger Rogers, and Irene Dunne, Young was an active member of the Hollywood Republican Committee.

Love life
First married actor Grant Withers in 1930, only to divorce a year later. 

While filming THE CALL OF THE WILD (1935) with Clark Gable, the two stars fell in love, despite Gable being married at the time to Texas socialite Maria Franklin Gable. Young became pregnant and secretly gave birth to a daughter, Judith. The baby was placed in an orphanage and adopted by Young a few months later. 

Clark Gable and Loretta Young in CALL OF THE WILD (1935)

When Young married Tom Lewis in 1940, Judy was given his last name. It wasn’t until she was an adult that Judy learned the truth about her parentage, despite Hollywood gossip and her rather obvious resemblance to her biological father. Tom Lewis produced “The Loretta Young Show” between 1953 and 1955, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1969.

Loretta Young’s third and final marriage was to Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis. Louis designed many of the gowns Young wore for her famously fabulous entrances on “The Loretta Young Show.” The couple were married from 1993 until Louis’s death in 1997.

Loretta Young and her sisters started out in movies at a very young age. She started as a child actor in silent films, first appearing in 1914. After high school, she returned to pictures, often in minor roles until her breakthrough with KENTUCKY (1938). Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Young made a number of successful films, many with other leading actors and actresses of the day, including Cary Grant, Celeste Holm, Van Johnson, and David Niven. Young was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in THE FARMER’S DAUGHTER (1947) and later won an Oscar for COME TO THE STABLE (1949).

Loretta Young won three Emmys for her drama anthology television series “The Loretta Young Show.” Initially, the show was entitle “Letter to Loretta” because each episode began with Young reading a letter from a fan and then building the show around a question asked in the letter. This format was abandoned after the first season and a more traditional dramatic show. Loretta Young was the first woman to host a show of this nature. She became famous for the designer gowns she wore at the beginning of each show. In 1972 Young famously sued the network for rebroadcasting her show with her original introductions included – she had stipulated in her contract that these be omitted in any future broadcasts of the show because she did not want to be seen in outdated fashions. She won more than half a million dollars. Here are a few clips of Miss Young showing off her fantastic swirly dresses:

Most feministy moviesWhen reading the synopses for some of the Loretta Young movies in my TCM “Now Playing” guide, I was surprised by how many progressively strong female roles she played. I have not seen many of these films, but I thought them worth pointing out. You must let me know which of these you have seen and what you thought of them.

Loretta Young and a cutie-patootie baby Cary Grant!
  • BORN TO BE BAD (1934): An unmarried pregnant woman is determined that her child will not grow up to be taken advantage of. Directed by Lowell Sherman and co-starring Cary Grant. (on TCM January 9, 11:00 pm)
  • BIG BUSINESS GIRL (1931): A college girl uses her brains and her legs to conquer the business world. Directed by William A. Seiter and co-starring Joan Blondell and Frank Albertson. (January 16, 4:00 am)
  • THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE (1940): A man-hating author and a woman-hating doctor have to pretend they’re married. Directed by Alexander Hall and co-starring Ray Milland, Gail Patrick, and Edmund Gwenn. (January 23, 8:00 pm)
  • WEEK-END MARRIAGE (1932): When her husband loses his job, a woman risks her marriage to become the breadwinner. Directed by Thornton Freeland and co-starring Norman Foster, Aline MacMahon, and George Brent. (January 23, 2:30 am)
  • THE FARMER’S DAUGHTER (1947): When she goes to work for a congressman, a Minnesota farm girl takes Washington by storm. Directed by H.C. Potter and co-starring Joseph Cotton and Ethel Barrymore. (January 30, 8:00 pm)
  • KEY TO THE CITY (1950): Two mayors meet and fall in love during a convention in San Francisco. Directed by George Sidney and co-starring Clark Gable (*GASP!*), Frank Morgan, Marilyn Maxwell, Raymond Burr, James Gleason, and Lewis Stone. (January 30, 2:45 am)
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What’s Up, January 2013!

Happy New Year, everybody! I am sorry I have been AWOL for the last week or so. Since returning from my six-month stay in England, I’ve been zipping around seeing old friends. I have finally settled down and am now looking for a real job. Until then, it is back to full-time blogging!

2012 was a great year for me, especially in regards to starting this blog. When I began blogging in the spring, I had no idea how rewarding I would find it! I was also pleasantly surprised to find such a warm and welcoming classic film blogging community. It has been a wonderful experience reading what others have to say about the movies, actors, and directors I love.

I have high hopes for 2013. I have recently started a book review blog called Lit. and a Latte, which I hope will help me grow as a writer while also encouraging me to read more. If you follow The Cinematic Katzenjammer, you may have noticed that I am now writing a daily column called “TCM Today.” Many of my articles from The Great Katharine Hepburn are also featured in the “Classic Katz” section of The Cinematic Katzenjammer. Kristen from Journeys in Classic Film has also contributed a number of posts to that page.

Turner Classic Movies is bringing us another fantastic month of programming this January. While flipping through my “Now Playing Guide,” I was taken aback by how few of the films on offer this month I have seen. It will be a month for experimentation and exploration for me! 

Four Katharine Hepburn films will be shown this January on TCM:

THE SEA OF GRASS (1947): January 7 at 11:30 am
THE IRON PETTICOAT (1956): January 9 at 4:45 pm
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940): January 18 at 2:00 pm
UNDERCURRENT (1946): January 22 at 1:30 pm

Loretta Young

I look forward to getting to know star of the month Loretta Young a bit better. I am also excited about the series of “Great Capers” films TCM has chosen to feature throughout the month. I daresay this will help me chose a topic for my contribution to the Scenes of the Crime Blogathon.

Dick Van Dyke

The 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) will be held on January 27th. The films of the Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Dick Van Dyke will be showcased on TCM on the 21st. Dick Van Dyke is one of my favorite performers, and I could not be more pleased for him.

Danny Kaye

This January is also a big month for Danny Kaye, who would have turned 100 this year. I look forward to watching this versatile performer in some of his best-loved films on January 20th on TCM.

Bette Davis

I was pleased to see that a good handful of Bette Davis films will be aired this month on TCM. Though I do not believe I have ever formally claimed it, BD is one of my favorite actresses. I am sorry that I have not seen more of her films, so this will be my month to catch up. I am particularly keen to finally see DARK VICTORY (1939), OLD ACQUAINTANCE (1943), THE NANNY (1965), and THE LITTLE FOXES (1941).

Thank you all for following this blog. I hope that you get as much pleasure out of reading it that I get writing it. I wish you all the very best in the new year!

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What’s on TCM: January 2013

What’s on TCM: January 2013.

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Babs from Brooklyn: December’s Star of the Month on TCM

Name at birth
Ruby Catherine Stevens
Professional Name
Barbara Stanwyck
“I couldn’t remember my name for weeks. I’d be at the theatre and hear them calling, “Miss Stanwyck, Miss Stanwyck,” and I’d think, “Where is that dame? Why doesn’t she answer? By crickie, it’s me!””
“Babs from Brooklyn”
“The Queen”
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Closing the Book on "Great Adaptations"

This being the last week in November, it is also our last week of “Great Adaptations” on Turner Classic Movies. Time to say goodbye to all those great literary classics that have been transformed into cinematic masterpieces. This has been one of the best month highlights I’ve seen on TCM, and I am glad to say I made the most of it, but I am sorry to see it end.

As usual, TCM is closing out the month in style with three days of novel-film adaptations. Monday night into Tuesday morning will feature no less than a dozen quintessential stories from British Literature, including two Laurence Olivier pictures, WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939) by Emily Bronte and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940) by Jane Austen. Another Bronte sisters‘ work is highlighted in Charlotte Bronte‘s JANE EYRE (1944). If you are interested in the more surreal writings of the 20th century, LORD OF THE FLIES (1963) will be showing at 8:00 am Tuesday morning. I remember reading that book in high school. Weird. Here’s the full line-up for Monday and Tuesday: Read the rest of this entry »


Great Adaptations Tonight on TCM

Turner Classic Movies has planned out an amazing schedule for this Thanksgiving week. The week kicks off with a continuation of TCM’s month of “GreatAdaptations: Novel to Film.” Monday primetime and Tuesday morning will feature films based on Russian and French Literature. For tonight I can recommend the following classics:

8:00 pm:       DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965), directed by DavidLean and starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Alec Guinness, Rod Steiger, and Ralph Richardson. A romance unfolds despite the turbulence of the Russian Revolution. This epic film chronicles a part of history, as well as a part of the human spirit. Stunning cinematography and a beautiful score make this one of the greatest films of the latter half of the 20th century.
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GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? (1967): Love, Controversy, and Progress

Turner Classic Movies will conclude their month of Spencer Tracy today, 29 October, with an evening of the four films he made with director Stanley Kramer. GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967) was Spencer Tracy’s final film and will be showing at 1:30 am EST. It was the ninth film he and Katharine Hepburn had made together since WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942). It now stands as a touching tribute to their personal and professional relationship.


Hepburn and Tracy Get Steamy on TCM

Monday, October 22 Turner Classic Movies will be airing six of the nine films Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942) – 8:00 pm
Directed by: George Stevens
Written by: Ring Lardner, Jr. and Michael Kanin
Genre: comedy, romance
Co-starring: Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen, Sara Haden
Synopsis: When down-to-earth, all-American sports writer Sam Craig (Tracy) first meets high-flying international political correspondent Tess Harding (Hepburn), sparks fly in more ways than one. The unlikely pair falls in love, but marriage proves difficult as the two attempt to coordinate their mismatched life priorities.
Margaret’s rating: 8/10 Read the rest of this entry »

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Spencer Tracy: TCM’s October Star of the Month

Although Spencer Tracy was Katharine Hepburn’s lover for about 25 years, I am ashamed to say that I know very little about the man, except of course what I have read in Hepburn biographies. I know he was of Irish descent, and like most Irishmen he drank too much and had a serious chip on his shoulder about life. But I do honestly believe that Spencer Tracy was one of the greatest actors of all time, and I didn’t need to read that in a book.

Spencer Bonaventure Tracy of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor nine times, two of which he won. On October 15 (this coming Monday), Turner Classic Movies will show six of Tracy Oscar-nominated films. Six of the nine films Tracy made with Katharine Hepburn will be aired on Monday, October 22, followed by the documentary, “The Spencer Tracy Legacy,” hosted/narrated by Hepburn. This past Monday, October 8, TCM showed three of my favorite Spencer Tracy films from his early years as an actor.

LIBELED LADY (1936) [comedy, romance]
Directed by: Jack Conway
Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Jean Harlow
Runtime: 98 minutes
Synopsis: Newspaper editor in chief Warren Haggerty (Tracy) plays twisted cupid for the sake of journalism. When society belle Connie Allenbury (Loy) threatens to sue the newspaper for accusing her as a marriage-breaker, Haggerty employs his playboy friend Bill Chandler (Powell) to trap Allenbury in an elaborate set-up. Everything comes unstuck when Chandler and Allenbury actually fall in love and Haggerty must face pressures from his own girl (Harlow) to tie the knot.

                    Chandler: “I thought that was rather clever of me.”

                    Allenbury: “Yes, I thought you thought so.”

                    Harvey: “What’ll we use as a headline?”
                    Haggerty: “I don’t care. Anything. ‘War threatens Europe.'”
                    Harvey: “Which country?”
                    Haggerty: “Flip a nickel!”

TEST PILOT (1938) [drama, romance]
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Starring: Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Lionel Barrymore, Marjorie Main
Runtime: 119 minutes
Synopsis: Daredevil test pilot and ladies’ man Jim (Gable) falls in love with Ann (Loy) when he crash lands on her family’s farm in Kansas. The two marry almost immediately, much to the chagrin of Jim’s co-pilot and best friend Gunner (Tracy), who is all too aware of the perils of being attached to someone who dices with death for a living. Ann soon learns that life with a test pilot is anything but peaches and cream and Jim must re-examine his priorities now that he has someone besides himself to think about. 

Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy made three movies together: SAN FRANSISCO (1936), TEST PILOT (1938), and BOOM TOWN (1940). The two supposedly stopped working together when Tracy demanded that he be given equal billing. Gable gives an honest performance as the death-defying pilot. Myrna Loy is super-adorable, as usual, though I find it hard to believe she could ever actually be from Kansas (although she is actually from Montana). She has a very juicy part with some great lines. Tracy’s character, unfortunately, is a bit of a mope – I don’t think he smiled once through the whole film! But it is a good flick with some great flying scenes and a lot of heart.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1941) [drama, horror, sci-fi]
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp
Runtime: 113 minutes
Synopsis: In many respects this version of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s classic is more based on its 1931 film predecessor than on the original novel. Although critics panned the movie, and Tracy himself was unsatisfied with his performance, I think it is a good addition to any Halloween film collection. Apparently, Tracy wanted Katharine Hepburn, whom he had not yet met, to play both Bergman and Turner‘s roles. Tracy had ironically turned down the opportunity to star with Hepburn in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) in order to make DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. Not to worry – they would get together in 1942 to make WOMAN OF THE YEAR and their professional and personal union would be well underway.

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Taking Cary for Granted – In A Good Way!

Cary Grant made so many films (more than 70) in his 38-year career that we can sometimes take it for granted when TCM decides to dedicate an evening to his films. Tonight, Turner Classic Movies will be showing five of Cary Grant’s best. Below I have listed the films with their stats in the same way I present Katharine Hepburn’s films on the Filmography page of this blog. Although they are not the big dramatic titles that won Grant his well-deserved place in the book of Hollywood legends, the five comedies airing tonight are well worth your while!

8:00 pm EST: MONKEY BUSINESS (1952)
Directed by: Howard Hawks
Written by: Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, I.A.L. Diamond, Harry Segal
Starring: Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn
Runtime: 97 minutes
Synopsis: A chemist and his wife become unsuspecting victims of his “fountain of youth” experiments. 
Margaret’s rating: 6/10

  10:00 pm: PEOPLE WILL TALK (1951)
Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Written by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Curt Goetz (play)
Starring: Jeanne Crain
Runtime: 110 minutes
Synopsis: Scandal threatens when Dr. Praetorius (Grant) falls for his stdent (Crain) who becomes suicidal when she discovers she is expecting a child by her deceased ex-boyfriend.
Margaret’s rating: 5/10

12:00 am: I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE (1949)
Directed by: Howard Hawks
Written by: Charles Lederer, Leonard Spigelgass, Hagar Wilde, Henri Rochard (story)
Starring: Ann Sheridan
Runtime: 105 minutes
Synopsis: When a French captain marries an American Lieutenant, he must return to the U.S. with all the war brides who are trying to go to America to join their servicemen husbands.
Margaret’s rating: 8/10

2:00 am: THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937)
Directed by: Leo McCarey
Written by: Vina Delmar and Arthur Richman (play)
Starring: Irene Dunne and Ralph Bellamy
Runtime: 91 minutes
Synopsis: As their divorce proceedings move forward, husband and wife do everything they can to prevent the other from finding romance in another. 
Margaret’s rating: 8/10

3:45 am: THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947)
Directed by: Henry Koster
Written by: Robert E. Sherwood, Leonardo Bercovici, Robert Nathan (play)
Starring: Loretta Young, David Niven, Monty Woolley, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester
Runtime: 109 minutes
Synopsis: An angel arrives to help a bishop sort out his priorities at Christmas as he struggles with his fundraising efforts for a new Cathedral and his duties to his wife and family.
Margaret’s rating: 10/10 (Hey, it’s Christmas!)