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My name is Jacqueline T. Lynch, author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.,
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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Time Travel romance - I'll Never Forget You

A lovely publicity shot for I'll Never Forget You (1951) with Tyrone Power as a modern-day time-traveler and Ann Blyth as the woman he falls in love with in the eighteenth century.  It is a beautifully filmed movie, with the eighteenth century part of the story filmed in color, bookended by modern opening and closing scenes shot in black and white, not unlike The Wizard of Oz (1939).

From my book on Ann's career:  Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Miss Blyth is fascinating to watch—all the cast are excellent—but she has a lot to convey and make us believe and she has to do this under acting restrictions that the other more emotional and physically expressive characters don’t have. Her character is sheltered, demure, and gentle, all qualities which can only be indicated by her posture, her voice, and disciplined economy of movement. She walks softly, sits and stands with a ramrod-straight back, lowers her eyes at moments of mature discretion, a minimalist way of telling us who she is and what her world is like. Her lovely face melts into a smirk at one of Tyrone’s na├»ve attempts to “catch on” to this old way of life. She also has intelligence, and a sense of humor, making her the most reasonable and capable member of her family. In trusting Tyrone and his tales of a future world, she is also the most courageous. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ann's Mermaid Swim

Ann Blyth in an underwater shot publicity photo as Lenore the Mermaid in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948).  The warmer days have many of us wishing to go swimming, but perhaps not like the conditions under which Ann went for this swim in the studio set pool.  From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Lead weights were placed in the bottom of the tail by her feet—some references say thirty pounds, some say fifty pounds—to keep the rubber tail, and the person wearing it, from floating to the surface of the water.  Sounds as ominous as stories of mobsters fitting their victims with “cement shoes.” 

...[Co-star Andrea] King recalled that though the tank was supposed to be heated, the water heater malfunctioned and the water was quite cold in the tank.  “So we tried anyway for about half an hour, but Annie and I just went numb.  I think she got terribly sick after that.”

If you have the good luck to go swimming soon, leave the fish tail at home and don't forget the sunscreen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ann and Mr. Powell, or Mr. Peabody, go for a sail...

Here is mermaid Ann Blyth sailing with William Powell in a delightful publicity shot from Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948).  This is not part of the Turner Classic Movies library and doesn't seem to get much play on the retro channels, but happily the VHS version is still available and this movie came out on DVD in 2014.  Many of Ann Blyth's movies are not shown on TCM - as most were from Universal and a certain legal quagmire has kept them from us - but bit by bit, more of her films are slowly being released on DVD.  If you haven't seen this one, I hope you can soon.

It was a pinnacle of a kind, and the beginning of new trail. After a string of six heavy dramas that gave her intense roles to prove herself a major up and coming actress, her last film before
Red Canyon, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, was a complete change that charmed the public and clued-in the studio that Ann was also athletic, and that her beauty was as much an asset to selling a film as her acting skill. Her trim body, also, could lend itself to more than posing in a crisp noir wardrobe.

It also reminded the studio that she was young. In those dramas, from
Mildred Pierce through Another Part of the Forest, Ann’s characters were increasingly poised, knowing, sophisticated, and wore a mantle of worldly experience even though in real life she was still some years away from being old enough to vote. Her characters were restless, mean, sad, tragic.

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, because of her fanciful character and its exotic costuming, her silent communication through her expressive face, and the joyful silliness of the plot, actually managed to re-set the clock on her screen sophistication. She was suddenly much younger again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ann and pal Donald O'Connor

Fifteen-year-old Ann Blyth and lifelong pal Donald O'Connor in a publicity shot for The Merry Monahans (1944), Ann's second movie.  Unfortunately, her first four films, all musicals made at Universal, are currently unavailable on DVD and are not shown on TCM.

"The first four movies, all musicals, that Ann made for Universal were Chip off the Old Block, The Merry Monahans, Babes on Swing Street, and Bowery to Broadway, and were all released in 1944.  Donald O’Connor was in most of them and the studio was in a race to crank out as many films with him as possible before he entered the Army Air Corps late in 1944.

Donald O’Connor is quoted in Dick Moore’s book Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star—But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car:

They tried to finish all those pictures before I went into the service.  We worked three pictures at one time: the one coming up, the one we were doing, and we dubbed the one we’d just finished.  That’s all we did: work.  It’s amazing we had as much fun as we did, grinding them out like that.

Ann recalled the studio regimen for television talk show host Vicki Lawrence in 1993, noting that when involved in a picture they worked six days a week, which included Saturday:

“Sunday was the day to do the laundry, and sleep hopefully for a few extra hours.”

Despite MGM’s glossier and more famous “Andy Hardy” series, according to author Bernard F. Dick in City of Dreams-The Making and Remaking ofUniversal Pictures:

Universal movies featured more teenagers and young adults than any other studio—Deanna Durbin, Donald O’Connor, Peggy Ryan, Susanna Foster, Grace MacDonald, Ann Blyth…Gloria Jean…

Universal already had its youth unit, The Jivin’ Jacks and Jills, and the young dramatic stage actress, who it was discovered could also sing, was plunked into this energetic world of home front teens just shy of draft age.  Ann would recall these films as “good learning experiences.”

Chip off the Old Block, released February 1944, in her very first film, gives her third billing after Donald O’Connor and Peggy Ryan—above the title.  At some point in the frenetic assembly line, the studio decided she was worth the notice..."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ann and Farley Granger on the beach - OUR VERY OWN

Ann Blyth and Farley Granger share a quiet moment at the beach in OUR VERY OWN (1950).  The pleasant scene is a hopeful reminder to those of us looking forward to summer.  We currently find ourselves in the midst of graduation season, and this film also evokes the momentous occasion of high school graduation, not only for the senior class on the threshold of adulthood, but for their families experiencing ever-changing dynamics.

The heartwarming comedy quickly shifts to a tense drama as a rift in the family occurs and Ann's character is told by a vengeful sister that she was adopted.  Ann's search for her "real" parents and her re-discovery of only family she's ever known is a thoughtful and reflective slice of life.  From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Our Very Own (1950) is like opening up a time capsule and seeing the world as it was in a year that began a new decade, that oddly seems at once to look ahead bearing unconscious predictions—and, also, to take a brief glance over the shoulder at a world that was about to be relegated to memory and family snapshots.  This film is about a teenager who discovers she was adopted, but it is not about adoption.  It is about belonging, about losing one’s identity and finding one’s place in the new thing called the nuclear family, which would play such an important part of our national identity in the 1950s and ‘60s.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Two Ann Blyth Movies Next Week on TCM!

If it's Mother's Day, then you know Turner Classic Movies will be featuring our favorite mother-daughter drama, Mildred Pierce (1945).  Joan Crawford imparts some motherly advice to young Ann in the photo above, but we know darn well the girl has ideas of her own. Tune in Sunday, May 13th at 8 p.m. ET.

We get a chaser, however, the very next day, Monday the 14th, when TCM will be showing The King's Thief (1955) co-starring David Niven as the corrupt official in the reign of King Charles II in this lavish costume piece.  Tune in Monday, May 14th at 9:45 a.m. ET.

For more on these films, see my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Ann Blyth in "Shadow of a Doubt" - twice!

Ann Blyth performed in "Shadow of a Doubt," based on Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, twice on the radio.

The first time was for The Ford Theater broadcast February 18, 1949, and her co-star as the sinister Uncle Charlie was played by Ray Milland.  You can listen to the show here.  Fletcher Markle, Canadian writer, producer, director in radio, TV and films, helmed the show.  Though her name is not credited, I believe the young actress playing the role of Louise Finch, the waitress in the bar, is Mercedes McCambridge, who married Mr. Markle the following year.  She would also win the 1949 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for All the Kings Men (1949).  Have a listen and let me know if you also think it's McCambridge.

The second time Ann Blyth appeared on radio in "Shadow of a Doubt" was for Hollywood Sound Stage, broadcast on January 10, 1952, and her co-star playing Uncle Charlie for this occasion was Jeff Chandler.  You can listen to that show here.

"Old Time Radio" or OTR is as chock-full of favorite film actors from days gone by as the movies were, and provided a second career for many of them.  For more on Ann's radio performances, have a look at my book on her career, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.