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Sunday, July 31, 2016

August Classic Film Screenings in Greater Boston

While my cinema highlight of the month will no doubt be the very special film festival of rare silents and early talkies in Rome, NY, (check out the Capitolfest website HERE), there will be again an abundance of big screen offerings locally.  I hope to take in a few.  Anyone want to join me?

Harvard Film Archive (HFA)
Great news!  Rouben Mamoulian - Reconsidered opens this month.  The HFA promises 'beautiful prints and recent preservations' to be focus of this complete retrospective of the talented studio-era director. Mamoulian worked with the best of the best, and excelled in many genres, although only directed a total of 16 films starting in the early 1930s.  His career included the stage as well, and he brought a theatrical sensibility combined with a love of and talent for technological innovations to his films.
Rouben Mamoulian
Fri Aug 12 7 PM APPLAUSE (1929)  Mamoulian's first film, an early sound musical featuring a back-stage drama.

Fri Aug 19 7 PM DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1931) This lauded film version of the classic horror film features Fredric March stunning in the lead roles, and Miriam Hopkins in a vulnerable role, with juicy elements of the 'pre-code' era.

Fri Aug 19 9 PM SUMMER HOLIDAY (1948) A 'sunny musical' starring Mickey Rooney, based on a play by Eugene O'Neill ('Ah, Wilderness!')

Sat Aug 20 7 PM LOVE ME TONIGHT (1932) Film version of the Rodgers & Hart musical, starring musical pros Jeanette MacDonald & Maurice Chevalier, with young pre-superstar Myrna Loy in a supporting role.

Sat Aug 20 9 PM THE GAY DESPERADO (1936).  This one sounds interesting a 'musical-gangster-comedy' set in Mexico. Starring Ida Lupino, Nino Martini & Leo Carrillo.

Sun Aug 21 5 PM BECKY SHARP (1935).  Film version of Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair', starring Miriam Hopkins in the lead role.  Said to be the first feature film using three-color Technicolor process.

Sun Aug 21 7 PM RINGS ON HER FINGERS (1942).  Great cast here: Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, and terrific character actor Laird Cregar.  It's Mamoulian's only screwball comedy.

Fri Aug 26 7 PM GOLDEN BOY (1939).  Those interested in seeing William Holden's first starring role will not be disappointed with this melodramatic tale of a boxer, based on a play by Clifford Odets.

Fri Aug 26 9 PM CITY STREETS (1931).  Gary Cooper & Sylvia Sidney star in this gangster drama.  I'll have had a heavy dose of Cooper at Capitolfest, so I may just need this fix a week later.
Gary Cooper & Sylvia Sidney
CITY STREETS (photo from HFA)

Sat Aug 27 7 PM QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933).  Greta Garbo stars with former lover and silent star John Gilbert in this romantic period piece.

Sat Aug 27 9 PM WE LIVE AGAIN (1934). Another romantic period piece, this time in Russia, with Anna Sten & Fredric March.

Sun Aug 28 4:30 PM
SILK STOCKINGS (1957).  Mamoulian's last film and Fred Astaire's last dance film, also starring Cyd Charisse.

Sun Aug 28 7 PM
THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940).  With Tyrone Power.  What else needs to be said?
Ty Power as Zorro. (photo from HFA)

Mon Aug 29 7 PM  HIGH, WIDE AND HANDSOME (1937).  Randolph Scott, Irene Dunne and Dorothy Lamour star in this musical dose of Americana, seen as a follow up to SHOWBOAT.

The Robert Aldrich retrospective continues as well in August, and here are what remain in the program:

Aug 18, 7 PM  KISS ME DEADLY (1955) closes the retrospective.  It also opened it, on June 3.  I attended that one; well worth watching this classic later noir on the big screen.

Fri Aug 5 9:30 PM:  THE ANGRY HILLS (1959) with Robert Mitchum.

Sun Aug 7 4 PM: THE FRISCO KID (1979) with Gene Wilder & Harrison Ford.

Sun Aug 7 7 PM: EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (1973) with Lee Marvin, Keith Carradine, & Ernest Borgnine.

Mon Aug 8 7 PM:  VERA CRUZ (1954) ahead of its time leaning toward a revisionist Western tone, with Gary Cooper & Burt Lancaster.

Sat Aug 13 7 PM:  WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, the classic schlocky thriller with Bette Davis & Joan Crawford.

Sat Aug 13 9:30 PM:  THE BIG KNIFE (1955) with Jack Palance & Ida Lupino.

Sun Aug 14 5 PM:  THE BIG NIGHT (1953).  This one was directed by Joseph Losey, but assisted by Aldrich.  Starring John Barrymore Jr., Preston Foster, & Joan Lorring.  The HFA site mentions it as an 'unsung gem', a modern-day Hamlet story, and includes Aldrich himself in a cameo.

Sun Aug 14 7 PM
: HUSH ...HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE (1964) a sort-of follow up to BABY JANE, this one pairing Olivia de Havilland with Bette Davis & Joseph Cotten.

The Coolidge Corner Theatre
On tap in their fun 'Big Screen Classics' we have THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY kicking off the month of August.  I need to see this, as one of the most iconic 'revisionist Westerns,' although the way my week is shaping up I doubt I will make it.  It's showing on TCM soon so I'll set my DVR.
Monday Aug 1, 7 PM:

Monday Aug 22, 7 PM:  Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963)-- I'm super excited about this one, as I haven't yet seen it; "One of the greatest films ever made about film."  Starring the charismatic Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Jules Dassin (right) is in trouble in his heist film RIFIFI
The MFA has a nice theater open to the public, and features classics, foreign films and often hosts film festivals.  Next month they have scheduled several screenings of a new digital release of the French film noir classic  RIFIFI, by blacklisted Hollywood director and actor Jules Dassin, who has a minor role in the film.  It's a terrific one!  Sun Aug 7, 11:30 AM; Thurs Aug 11, 5:00 PM, Sat Aug 13 2:00 PM

How cool is Paul Newman in COOL HAND LUKE?
Somerville Theatre
The Somerville has a fun Thursday evening series in August called "Play it Cool", featuring some of the best of Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and their partners in cool from the 1960s and 70s, in 35 mm prints. For a mere $10, you get two films. Almost like it was in the good old days!

Aug 4 starting at 7:30 PM it's Paul Newman night:  COOL HAND LUKE & CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958)

Aug 11, 7:30 PM: In GET CARTER (1971) & POINT BLANK (1967), we get Lee Marvin & Michael Caine.

Aug 18, 7:30 PM: OCEAN'S 11 (1960), with Rat Packers Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin, & THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, with Steve McQueen & Faye Dunaway.

Brattle Theatre
Kudos to the Brattle for continuing their year-long celebration of Film Noir with the 6th part in the series focusing on FEMMES FATALE.  Double features presented both Mondays and Tuesdays as follows, with 'femmes fatale' highlighted:
DETOUR -- Tom Neal and Ann Savage.

Aug 1 & 2
 Peggy Cummins GUN CRAZY (1950).  This movie is all kinds of crazy.  Also with John Dall.

Claire Trevor BORN TO KILL (1946) Also with Lawrence Tierney.

Aug 8 & 9
Lizabeth Scott DEAD RECKONING (1949) Also with Humphrey Bogart.

Lizabeth Scott TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1946) Also with Dan Duryea and Burt Lancaster.  This is a recent restoration by the Film Noir Foundation--an excellent one.

Aug 15 & 16
Barbara Stanwyck: DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944).  Considered by many to be the top of the genre, in the very least, top of the early noir era.  Also with Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson.
Ann Savage DETOUR A 'poverty row' noir that is held up as a good example of what innovative direction (Edgar Ulmer) and inspired acting can do with a low budget.  Also with Tom Neal.

Aug 22 & 23
Rita Hayworth GILDA Also with Glenn Ford.  See it for Rita Hayworth's luscious hair and her 'Put the Blame on Mame' musical number.
Rita Hayworth THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI Also with Orson Welles.  Welles directed his then-wife Rita in this superior noir.  Rita's hair here is controversially blond and short, compared with her long red locks in GILDA.

Aug 29 & 30
Gene Tierney LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN  Lovely Gene Tierney isn't such a lovely person in this noir melodrama.
Rosamund Pike GONE GIRL  This neo-noir was a big hit in 2014.  Also with Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Western Movie Summer Part 3: Two 'Border Westerns' from the 1950s

It's been about a month since I last posted an update from my 'Western Movie Summer', but despite that I've been watching as many Westerns as I possibly can squeeze in.  Following the general outline of the podcast course I'm well into in the 1950s now.  For this post I contrast two films from the beginning and end of that decade: John Ford's RIO GRANDE from 1950, and THEY CAME TO CORDURA, (1959) directed by Robert Rossen.  While having somewhat similar themes, the two films approach them very differently, and in many ways the first feels like a late 1940s film, while the second prefigures the more gritty 1960s.

Any classic movie buff or Western fan will no doubt be intimate with much of John Ford's exceptional and award-winning directorial work.  His output is staggering: 146 films starting in the silent era through the mid 1960s.  While not exclusively focusing on Westerns, he viewed himself as a storyteller of that great American frontier:  "I'm John Ford. I make Westerns," he was quoted as saying.  RIO GRANDE falls near the middle of Ford's career and is the last of the now-dubbed 'Cavalry Trilogy', which also included SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and FORT APACHE.

John Wayne sporting a mustache, with O'Hara
This one stars Ford favorite John Wayne as a Union Cavalry Fort commander in Texas near the Mexican border.  He must confront a threat of marauding Apaches who threaten the U.S. settlers from their base camp in Mexico.  He's told initially that he cannot take his troops across the border under any circumstances.  At the same time he must also deal with an estranged wife (Maureen O'Hara) who shows up looking for their son (Claude Jarman), who dropped out of West Point and has enlisted in his father's regiment to the dismay of both parents.  The film is in black and white, which apparently was not the choice of Ford, but Herbert Yates, head of Republic Pictures, nixed color photography.  The B&W is effective though, as it somewhat distances us and makes us feel the 'myth' of the west as opposed to the reality.  Ford's characteristic humor emerges often in this one, especially through Victor McLaglen's befuddled sergeant.  The romance engages us, and the first pairing of Wayne with statuesque, strong-willed beauty Maureen O'Hara would strike cinema gold.  The camaraderie among the troops, both enlisted and officers, feels natural with Ford's 'stock company' actors including Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr. all acquitting themselves well.  With the beautiful photography and great action sequences, the film struck me as emblematic of the best output of the studio era:  although it doesn't question the social and political consensus, it presents a psychologically layered and complex character drama.

Gorgeous, strong Maureen O'Hara
Prof. Slotkin makes the case that the film projected a political/military view that in order to protect the world from communism, which was emerging as the next major threat, the U.S. government might have to break laws to take right action (e.g. in Korea).  In the film, the law broken here is 'crossing the border' into Mexico, which the film presents as ultimately the right thing, to save the children taken captive.  That Maureen O'Hara's character comes around to approving this action validates this view.  The other major theme Ford subtly tackles here is the familiar one -- the definition of manhood and passing the torch to the next generation.  We see this struggle in how Jarman's character tries to gain the approval of his father, and the difficulty Wayne has in accepting his son when he hasn't proven himself.  Well, ultimately Jarman does, by pulling an Apache arrow out of his father's chest; O'Hara comes around to her husband's world view, and all is reconciled to the man's view of heroism and right action.  

While Victor Young composed the score, the highlights for me were the songs interspersed through the movie, performed by the 'Sons of the Pioneers' western music group.  They were written into the script as a regimental troupe of musicians, and when they played, the action stopped and you were treated, along with the cast, to a gorgeous bit of musical history.  This added to the nostalgic tone of the film.  Check out this video clip of a key scene with the musical serenade:

Based on a 1958 novel by Glendon Swarthout, adaped by Ivan Moffat and director Rossen who had been blacklisted, this is a very different film.  First, I admit to watching this for Van Heflin, clearly a current obsession, but who elevates every film he's in. This one is no exception.  The star, though, is Western film hero Gary Cooper, near the end of his career.  He plays an army officer who had been disgraced because of actions seen to be cowardly, and must now earn his pay by identifying those soldiers whose bravery should earn them the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He's stationed with a Cavalry outfit in 1916 that is ordered to raid a hacienda in Mexico against a band of Pancho Villa's soldiers who are taking refuge there in their ongoing rebellion.  The hacienda is owned by none other than Rita Hayworth, here an American ex-pat on the 'wrong' side.  Ultimately, the battle is won, Hayworth's taken prisoner, and Cooper must remove several men along with Hayworth -- these men Cooper himself witnessed acting heroically, and will see that they escape from further harm to claim their award and thus be examples for all other fighting men.  He's required to get this disparate group, including Heflin, Tab Hunter, Dick York, Michael Callan, and Richard Conte, back to Cordura in the U.S., and the main part of the film is their difficult journey.
The film's theme after the opening titles
It's a film that isn't subtle about probing the concept of bravery, cowardice, and manhood.  In fact, contrary to RIO GRANDE, actions in battle against the enemy are not what define a man, but instead  how he treats his fellow humans in the ordinary struggles of life.  So here, each of the soldiers who appeared brave in battle are found to be vain, opportunistic, or criminal, and all treat Cooper with contempt.  Heflin's character, a sergeant, is a particularly nasty piece of work. After the group loses their horses to hostile native Americans, they find themselves lost in the desert, growing desperate as their food and water supplies dwindle.  In that literal and figurative cauldron, the moral drama plays out -- man against man, man against woman.  And, there is no question here about the legality of crossing the border to carry out a military action.
Rita Hayworth openly taunting her captors by pouring away liquor, as Cooper looks on
After a set-up similar to many Westerns of the era, with the portrayal of the men in the army outpost and then the raid on the hacienda, it quickly comes a different movie, an unrelentingly brutal one with just the main characters fighting the elements and each other.  Rita Hayworth sets aside her glamorous image, and while she's still beautiful, she has to fight throughout to retain her personal dignity.  Her strength matches Cooper's, who, overall stoic as usual, ultimately finds his inner hero.   The production was plagued with problems. Dick York suffered a back injury that limited his career.  Most scenes had to be re-shot due to a mid-filming unplanned location change. Heflin said it was the most physically demanding film work he'd done.  Yet, it marked a turn toward a less romanticized view of the western myth, and the U.S. military in particular.
The men find a source of water, only to find out it's contaminated.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In the words of Bosley Crowther: A Birthday Tribute

Bosley Crowther was a film critic for the New York Times during much of Hollywood's 'golden age', 1940-1967, and an author.  In his NY Times obituary from 1981--not unbiased, obviously--it was suggested that he was "the most influential commentator in the country on the art and industry of motion pictures".  I've come across dozens of his reviews online in the years that I've been a classic film enthusiast.  If you agree or don't agree with his assessment of the films, you can't help but admire his use of language.  It's his constant breezy and often brilliant and cutting wit that make his reviews a joy to read, and in some cases will induce a hearty belly laugh.  His birthday is July 13, so on this day I celebrate him with quoting a tiny sampling of his reviews, with links to the reviews and dates of publication indicated.

SANTA FE TRAIL (12/21/40):  "'Santa Fe Trail', Which is Chiefly a Picture about Something Else, Opens at the Strand."

"Mr. Flynn plays Jeb Stuart, who was famous for his flowing red beard, with but the trace of a moustache on his lip. A shorn and fragile Jeb, one may complain; yet think what the fans would say if Mr. Flynn had to play a romantic role behind a mess of herbage!"


"As the lady, Miss Loretta Young gives a performance which may best and most graphically be compared to a Fanny Brice imitation of a glamorous movie queen. Whatever it was that this actress never had, she still hasn't got. Alan Ladd, just returned from the Army, plays the doctor with a haughty air that must be tough on his patients—and is likely to be equally tough on yours."

"Faith has the strength to move mountains, but it is sorely taxed in sustaining this mountainous film."

ALL ABOUT EVE (10/14/50)"If anything, Mr. Mankiewicz has been even too full of fight—-too full of cutlass-edged derision of Broadway's theatrical tribe. Apparently his dormant dander and his creative zest were so aroused that he let himself go on this picture and didn't know when to stop. For two hours and eighteen minutes have been taken by him to achieve the ripping apart of an illusion which might have been comfortably done in an hour and a half."

"For a turkey dinner, with Christmas trimmings, is precisely what's cooking at the end of this quaint and engaging modern parable on virtue being its own reward. And a whole slew of cozy small-town characters who have gone through a lot in the past two hours are waiting around to eat it—or, at least, to watch James Stewart gobble it up."

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (10/21/46)"The abundant talents and resources of Alexandra Dumas, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Technicolor company and Lana Turner's couturier contribute just about equally to the over-all effect of Metro's splendiferous production of Dumas' 'The Three Musketeers.'"

"As producer of the picture, Mr. Welles might better have fired himself—as author, that is—and hired somebody to give Mr. Welles, director, a better script."

BONNIE & CLYDE (4/14/67)
"It is a piece of bald-faced slapstick that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cut-ups in 'Thoroughly Modern Millie'.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

W.C.Fields Afternoon at the Somerville Theatre

For fans of this great comedian it was a dream come true this past Sunday afternoon: two silent features screened in 35 mm, along with a silent and talking short, with live music from keyboardist Jeff Rapsis and tales from Fields' granddaughter Dr. Harriet Fields.  It was a good crowd at the Somerville, and considering it was a drizzly and cool day, it made perfect sense to stay inside and take part in this 4+ hour event.

W.C. Fields (1880 - 1946) is a film comedian whose films I haven't approached much before this, only having seen one short and one feature. His career was not unlike many turn of the century comedians who first made their mark on the stage and in Vaudeville in particular.  Fields here perfected his tricks and physical comedic timing that translated so effectively on the screen.  In fact, throughout most of his career he alternated between stage and screen projects. His first-ever film was the silent short POOL SHARKS (1915), which was one of the films screened between the two features.  It struck me as an undistinguished early silent comedy, with the frantic energy of Fields and his cronies circumnavigating a pool table and conjuring all kinds of tricks with the shots and ball movements to wow audiences.  I learned that this very pool table from the film is now on exhibit at the Magic Castle hotel and museum in Hollywood, where I stayed for the Turner Classic Film Festival.  If I go back next year I need to check it out!
That's Fields in the center with his clip-on mustache he used in all his silent films.
This program at the Somerville, part of their 'Silents, Please' series, was rather a continuation of last year's 100th anniversary celebration of Fields' first appearance on the screen.  The  feature silent films were restored by the Library of Congress and now are listed on the National Film Registry.  Both were fun, but I especially liked 'SO'S YOUR OLD MAN (1926).  In this one, Fields plays a 'glazier' in a lower class home who invents a special unbreakable car windshield.  He incurs the wrath of the local society matron whose son has fallen for Fields' daughter, because his lower class manners are insulting to her.  In an extended rant, the society matron dresses him down, with him listening patiently; he has the last word at the end when he comes back at her (unnamed) insults with "so's your old man!"

After a series of mishaps he finds his reputation saved by a Spanish princess he meets on a train, and ultimately becomes a rich business owner and everyone lives happily ever after.  It's a really fun romp, with many sight gags--special mention should be made of  the terrific comic turns of Marcia Harris as Fields' wife, and Julia Ralph as the society matron.  Interestingly Gregory La Cava, perhaps best known as the director of the screwball classic MY MAN GODFREY, was the director of this and likely had a lot to do with its success.  The film was apparently remade as YOU'RE TELLING ME (1934), and featured Fields' hilarious golf course routine.

Louise Brooks and Fields
The second feature of the day was IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME (1926).  This one was also produced at the Astoria Studios in Queens, and featured a lovely Louise Brooks along with Fields.  Fields, here as Mr. Prettywillie (!), is a drug store owner in Florida who is trying to make it big by selling questionable real estate deals from New York.  In the meantime he and his family go for an extended picnic on the lawn of a local mansion uninvited, and there is a romantic sub-plot between Brooks, one of his shop workers, and another character, and all sorts of assorted gags and misadventures.  I found this one not quite as enjoyable as the first, and a bit hard to follow, but it did have some hilarious moments, and I found myself appreciating Fields' particular brand of acerbic and athletic visual humor.

Dr. Harriet Fields (from Linked In)
Dr. Harriet Fields, Vice-President of W.C. Fields Productions and advocate for her grandfather's memory, spoke multiple times during the program, before and between films, and taking questions from the audience. While Dr. Fields is a prominent health-care activist in Africa, she clearly relishes her part-time mission of enabling the best possible current appreciation of Fields' talent.  She shared with us her view of him as a person, especially as a loyal friend. Among his good friends were Louise Brooks, humorist Will Rogers, and actor Grady Sutton.  Dr. Fields told one funny story about when W.C. was invited to Louise Brooks' home in Hollywood after she became a star--he horrified her by picking up expensive pieces of china and crystal and juggling them high in the air.  Luckily, Fields was a first-rate juggler and all survived intact.

Another interesting story she told story is the 'canary incident' in which Fields was apparently hauled before a judge charged with 'torturing a canary' during a stage act.  The 'torture' mainly consisted of the bird being placed in his pocket.  The story is recounted here.  The actual court transcripts are public record and have been turned into live entertainment by way of a dramatic public reading!

Jeff Rapsis addresses the crowd
About the man personally, Dr. Fields described him as much friendlier to animals and children than his reputation suggests, and someone who loved to read and learn.  One of his hobbies was reading the dictionary at night, and there got ideas for some of his wacky character names, including "Prettywillie", his name in IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME.

Not a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday--in the company of other classic film enthusiasts enjoying rare films on the big screen.  A special mention must go to Somerville staff, and also keyboardist and silent film music expert Jeff Rapsis, who added a tremendous live improvised soundtrack to all of the silents, and who also served as partial M.C. to the event.

For your summer reading lists, here are two books to consider adding:
The reissue of Fields' book first published  in 1940, 
new forward by Dick Cavett
New 'autobiography' of Fields from his personal papers,
compiled by grandson Ronald J. Fields.  Forward by Conan O'Brien.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Elegance on Television -- Olivia de Havilland on 'What's My Line?'

I'm pleased to help celebrate the great Olivia de Havilland as part of her 'Centenary Blogathon' hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.  Check out the great posts over the past couple of days HERE.
Not unlike today, movie stars of the classic Hollywood era were in high demand beyond their film appearances.  They made public showings at film premieres, war bond drives, and other charity fundraisers. They were, of course, featured in popular film publications, and were paid to hock all kinds of products, often liquor and cigarettes, in print ads.  With the advent of television in the 1950s, movie stars had the opportunity to promote themselves in this new medium by joining game shows such as Password, and the popular panel show "What's My Line?".

Now that so many of the show's episodes can be sourced online, we can treat ourselves to a fascinating time travel experience, when even well-acquainted men and women addressed each other primarily as "Mister", "Miss" or "Missus."  The primary portion of the show was devoted to panelists asking non-celebrities questions to identify their 'line' of work.  Often these were unusual, like, 'Mud Bath Attendent' or 'Dynamite Salesman'.  The later part of the show always featured celebrity 'mystery guests'.  I find it fascinating to watch these classic stars as they were in real life, interacting with the host, John Daly, or the panelists, who, while blindfolded, tried to guess the star's identity using only yes or no questions.  Despite the stars' often humorous attempts to disguise their voices, they could not conceal their basic personalities, nor their natural wit (when present).  It was a special joy to see the lovely Ms. de Havilland in her four appearances on the program between 1958 and 1965, when she was an already long-established star in semi-retirement, but only halfway through her life to that point.

Her first appearance: May 25, 1958.  

Note for this and the other clips -- fast forward to about 2/3 of the way through
Here she initially appeared a bit nervous as she took her seat alongside Daly, at first wearing a broad charming smile but then turning serious as she contemplated being 'interrogated'.  She answered the questions yes or no in French, and then put on a charming French accent for her longer, English, responses.  This approach is not surprising because she'd been living in France for a few years by this time and seemed to be very happy there -- she'd moved there to start a life with second husband Pierre Galante.  She is altogether delightful in the mode of a modest French coquette.

Panelist Arlene Francis:  "Are you a happily married actress?"
de Havilland: "OUI!" (with a big smile).  And "call me madame!"

Her identity is revealed by Ms. Francis asking "are you the star of THE PROUD REBEL?" which Ms. Francis and long-time panelist Bennett Cerf had just seen the night before; both commented about how much they loved it, to which de Havilland said "I haven't seen it yet."  Cerf then made the insightful comment "It's a tender, beautiful picture".  In this western, featured in the blogathon here, De Havilland starred with Alan and David Ladd, and according to Ladd's biographer, Beverly Linet, had warmed the elder Ladd considerably when she told him she thought he'd have made a great Ashley Wilkes.

2nd Appearance: March 4, 1962

In this appearance Ms. de Havilland is as charming as before, but she seemed a bit more worldly, or less coquettish.  After eight years of marriage, this is the year she would separate from her husband.   Instead of French, she put on a rather Appalachian-sounding accent -- instead of 'yes', it's 'YAY - ess' .  It's delightful  how she surprised herself with that accent, almost chuckling after her answers.
At this time, de Havilland was in New York starring in the Garson Kanin play "A Gift of Time" alongside Henry Fonda.  The play ran 92 performances and about three months.  It was common for Hollywood stars, when acting in a show in New York, to stop by 'What's My Line?'; if so, it was easy for the panelists to ask about this and quickly identify the guest. In this episode we learn that Random House, panelist Bennett Cerf's company, was in the process of publishing de Havilland's memoir Every Frenchman Has One.  He very shrewdly mentioned the book, without its title, to what I expect was a very interested audience.

3rd Appearance: August 9, 1964
In this episode the panel includes regular, noted journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, Cerf, Francis, and as special guest panelist, celebrated film writer Joseph Mankiewicz, who, in case you've never seen him before, as I hadn't, provides an extra bonus to viewers. While a guest panelist in only three episodes, he added an interesting depth and seriousness to the proceedings.  One of the questions to de Havilland, asked by Francis, was "Have you ever appeared in a picture written by Mr. Mankiewicz?", to which de Havilland had to say no, with a look of regret.  Bennett Cerf, again, slyly referenced his publisher relationship with de Havilland, when she sweetly mentioned how all the panelists were her friends.  In this episode, rather than putting on an accent or speaking a language other than English, de Havilland disguised her voice by using a husky, hoarse whisper.  This prompted a joke among the panelists that they should have recognized her from her low husky voice!

While appearing in this episode, de Havilland had recently finished LADY IN A CAGE, a horror/thriller also starring James Caan, released a couple months before the show aired.   She seemed a bit embarrassed when the film was brought up, and no wonder -- it hadn't been particularly well received.  New York Times critic A.H. Weiler had commented on its "aimless brutality", although he said some positive things about de Havilland's performance.  Kilgallen was nice enough to compliment de Havilland by stating 'Another wonderful performance, Olivia."

4th Appearance:  August 8, 1965

Almost a year to the day since her previous appearance, and now an 'old friend' according to John Daly, de Havilland joined the show again as mystery guest.  She now answered the questions in Russian, using the familiar 'Da' and 'Nyet', and some other longer Russian words that were the source of great amusement for the panel.  The guest panelist this time was the humorous Carol Channing.  In quite the contrast from her previous film, de Havilland was now fresh off the critical success of HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, with Bette Davis, Robert Aldrich's follow-up to the highly successful WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?  This one was nominated for seven Oscars and won a Golden Globe for Agnes Moorehead.  Check out this post on the film for the current blogathon.

One glimpse into de Havilland's acting style and preference could be gained from her definitive 'Nyet! when asked whether she had been associated with the Actors' Studio, at this point quite notorious for turning out a new style of method actor like Marlon Brando. She also denied being anything other than a serious, as opposed to comic, actress, and also to not being associated with singing or dancing in her films.  Interestingly, despite this being her fourth time on the program, none of the panelists guessed her identity and Daly had to call time and reveal her.

It was fun to learn more about Ms de Havilland through her appearances on this popular show. While there were no great revelations, my image of her as a gracious, generous, strong, and charming woman were all reinforced, and I felt as if I had met her, even for only a brief moment. Here's adding my wish for her for many more years of health and happiness!