Rick’s Journal    —    MY FILM CAREER

In the Navy
Arthur Lubin
music & lyrics by Gene de Paul and Don Raye

I remember my surprise when reading a statement by a British journalist that Dwight Eisenhower had won World War ll.  I grew up believing that the Andrews Sisters had.

The Andrews Sisters in action.

In this outing, though, they perform three not very impressive numbers.  To my knowledge “Gimme Some Skin, My Friend,” is the only one of the three they recorded.  Accompanying it in the film they do a bit of their dancing, with LaVerne especially letting herself go.

The other songs:

“We’re Off to the See the World”

In an all-cast finale at the end they reprise two songs that Dick Powell had sung earlier:  “Starlight, Starbright” and “You’re in the Navy.”

They are a little outrageously hula-ish and somewhat wildly costumed in the hula number; but as is always the case when they offer something like this, there remains a 40’s innocence about them.

They figure in the plot of this film and have plenty of lines and several scenes.

Powell, always in fine voice, is perfectly cast as a successful and well-known crooner who enlists under a false name so that he can escape his career and hide in the Navy.

I don’t enjoy Abbot and Costello very much in this.  There is a meanness in much of the humor which, as usual, involves even physical cruelty on the part of Abbot towards his supposed chum.  Watching In the Navy this time I found myself wondering if there is hostility between the actors as well as between the characters.

Check out Rick’s Flicks for 3/24/12:  “The Andrews Sisters in the Movies.”


Until then,
See you at the movies,



Robert Osborne, whom I always thought of as the only man in the world who loved movies as much as I do, has died at age 84.  He was once described as a lightweight by a critic I had until then respected.  Robert Osborne was anything but.  He wrote popular history of popular movies, but his knowledge was encyclopedic.  His range  included all eras, all countries and all kinds of film.  His on-air one-paragraph description of the works of French master Robert Bresson was as profound and inclusive as some full-length books.

Thank you for it all, Mr. Osborne, and rest in peace.

Richard Schickel was for many years one of the profoundest of our film analysts.  He specialized in Hollywood directors and stars but had a vast knowledge of all film history.  His PBS series, The Men Who Made the Movies, was an early highlight in his long and productive critical life.

Schickel wrote the single best paragraph ever composed about the work of Judy Garland:  “In general, great performances, especially on film, seem to result from an inner tension, the tension created by raw energy and the performer’s control of that energy.  At her finest, Miss Garland, especially in her maturity, seems always about to be destroyed by her own inner forces.  It puts a quiver of passion in her voice and a chill in the listener’s spine.  At every moment of a Garland performance you feel that you stand with the star on the brink of disaster, and a hundred times a night she saves herself  —  and her sympathetic admirers  —  from the abyss.”  (The Stars.  Dial, 1962.)

Until then,
Get up and go out to the movies,
See you there,


Rick’s Journal    –    MY FILM CAREER

At Antoine’s

The sturdy little booklet is yellowing slightly; but, only stapled, it is holding together well.  “Souvenir du Restaurant Antoine.”  No date appears anywhere, except 1840 (fondé en 1840).  The travel souvenir was given me by a library director I worked for long ago in the Bronx.

The small paper book has photographs of founding family members and pictures of chefs and short pieces about foods and the restaurant’s menus.  My boss took unusual delight in sharing memories of her travels, sharing to that ultimate point of giving them away to someone she was sure would appreciate them.  She was right in knowing that I would be taken with the section of the booklet telling of famous folk, including cinema folk, who had enjoyed the restaurant.

A partial list of enticing customers I found:  Colleen Moore, Buster Keaton, Buddy Rogers, Leatrice Joy Gilbert (yes:  that Joy and that Gilbert), Randolph Scott, Paulette Goddard, Judy Garland,John (Johnny) Sheffield and Ben Piazza.

We watched him grow up as Tarzan’s son, then become Bomba the jungle boy.

And more:  Todd Browning, John Ford, Robert Florey, Edward Cline, George Cukor, Henry King, Victor Fleming.  René Clair.

Two non-cinema celebrities to catch the eye today:  John Ringling and John Ringling North.


Until then,
See you at the movies,




The February 6 issue of Time contains a seven-page article on current moviemaking in China by Hannah Beech, “Hollywood East; a movie-crazy China is remaking the global industry in its image.”  From a heading within the article:  “In 2015 an average of 22 new movie screens opened in China  —  each day.”  This is a lively essay with intriguing examples of the Chinese market influencing scripts of some specific American films.  Time, vol. 189, no. 4; 2/6/17.

In the February 20 issue of Time Stephanie Zacharek wrote a perceptive essay about cinematography, particularly the photography in the films of Martin Scorsese, and especially that in the current Silence.  At one point she writes:  “No matter how carefully a shot is planned in advance, there is probably only one reliable truth in filmmaking:  depending on the choices and compromises a filmmaker has to make on any given day, the movie will become its own creation.  Improvisation is essential to filmmaking and to cinematography in particular.  Some of the most astonishing cinematic effects result from the Encyclopedia Brown-style problem solving, or from simply seeing the accidental artistry in a mistake.”  (Silence was photographed by Rodrigo Prieto.)   Time, vol. 189, no.6; 2/20/27.  Don’t miss it.


Until then,
See you AT the movies,


Beginning tomorrow February 21 the Nightlight Cinema in Akron, OH is showing the short films nominated for this year’s Academy Awards.  Check Nightlight’s website for full information.

On February 25 at 8:00 PM Akron’s Rubicon Cinema is offering a program of experimental film.



Leslie Howard in The Petrified Forest (courtesy Verduno)

Leslie Howard in The Petrified Forest

Howard in his prime (courtesy Verduno)

Howard in his prime (courtesy Di Verduno)

Leslie Howard in his Hollywood heyday

Leslie Howard in his Hollywood heyday (courtesy Di Verduno)

During his fabulous decade in Hollywood Leslie Howard received two Academy Award nominations.  His first was for the leading role in Berkeley Square, the part he made his own on stage and screen.  The second nomination came in 1938, the year before he would appear as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind  —  a nomination for his performance as Henry Higgins in the British film Pygmalion,a role for which he was eminently suitable and one which he played to the hilt.  As excellent as Wendy Hiller and everyone else are,  Pygmalion is Howard’s picture  —  as Of Human Bondage is his despite the fact that these days it tends to be discussed only in reference to Bette Davis.

Viewing Pygmalion for the first time in several years, I am aghast at how slow a start it takes, and how belabored some of the Shavian wit occasionally sounds.  This is a play, and no amount of opening up, no amount of montage-ing by the writing and direction and editing can disguise that this is a play, though contemporary (and some present-day) reviews seem so untroubled by this that I suspect I may owe the film yet another look.

But once these fine actors go to work, everything picks up, and the camera persistently catches an array of subtleties in the Howard face.  Most amazing of all, for a 1938 British film, is the richness of sexual dynamism In Howard’s portrayal.  As he begins to respond to Wendy Hiller’s growing interest and flirtatiousness, his eyes give us surprising erotic messages for a film of this vintage.

And speaking of its vintage:  Pygmalion was released the year before Clark Gable made a legendary exit in Gone with the Wind.  In Pygmalion Leslie Howard says damn four times.

In addition to his damns, Howard offers us another of his instances of seeming born to play the part.  He handles the Shavian lines like the professional he is, the Englishman he is  —  and solid actor and shining star.

Anthony Asquith & Leslie Howard

Rick’s Flicks is grateful to Ginevra Di Verduno for permission to use photographs featured on her blog.  If you are not familiar with her INAFFERRABILE LESLIE HOWARD, you have a treat ahead of you. The blog is picture-filled with a wide range of portraits, on- and off-screen; it features history and interviews and memoirs; and embraces the latest in Howard scholarship.


Until then,
See you at the movies,