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Monday, March 31, 2014

Your Invite To Glimpse The King


Where Just An Elvis Preview Was Enough

You May Have Gotten In For Free, But You'll Leave Some Money Here
When they crowd the house to see a trailer, you know what's coming is an attraction. None was more so for West Jefferson, NC in 1957 than Loving You, Elvis Presley's second movie, and his first with color. Mere advertising as an event may have had its beginnings here. We wait today for "premieres" of a new Star Wars or Spiderman trailer, often months in advance of the features' opening, but who would have made such currency of humble previews going on sixty years ago? The idea of a trailer as lure in itself was brainchild of Dale Baldwin, manager of the Parkway Theatre and showman extraordinaire who knew two minutes of Elvis was enough to fill his house ahead of Loving You and assure they'd come back when the feature made three day landfall for a following week. When I asked Dale why the free admission for his preview peek, he recalled but one word: Concessions. The teens poured in and ate selves silly as Big E sang snatches of Teddy Bear against purple tapestry. What better background to wolf-down of M&M's and Hershey Bars? Baldwin and the Parkway's snack staff knew their public. They'd not get the quarters for coming in, but kids more than made that up at the corner counter shown at left, where watchful eyes of Bill Holden, Janet Leigh, and Alan Ladd approve each sale.

The "Tri-County Premiere" Claim Was Correct --- The Parkway Had
Loving You a Month Ahead Of Our Liberty Theatre

I remember how it was to lust after a trailer, having half-heartedly gone to Mary Poppins in 1965 less for that feature than to see previews of a Hammer combo Liberty-booked for the coming week. Imagine Elvis electricity switched full-on in summer 1957, school being out and car radios concertizing the King through rolled-down windows where every night was cruise night. What you had of Elvis up to then, beyond platters and airplay, was fuzzy TV and Love Me Tender, that a year old and B/W besides. Loving You pulsed with Technicolor and fact that Presley was the star, not pulling plow for drabbish drama cast. A Brownie snap of the Parkway front captures it all: Short-sleeved folk passing a July's afternoon as Loving You promotion bids them enter. Who'll bet the guy parked in foreground was listening to Elvis right then? We see seven of West Jefferson's small population in this moment's capture, and I'd wager the lot made point to see Loving You that week.

Summer 1957 and The Dawn Of An Elvis World in Northwest North Carolina

The Elvis flame from '56 till his army induction could not be tamped by a mere three features in circulation, Love Me Tender, Loving You, and Jailhouse Rock worn to sprockets by showmen doing repeat capacity with each. The Parkway and Dale Baldwin found avenues beyond mere encoring to feed Presley demand via link with other schemes that sold. What about pairing the Pelvis with reborn-in-1957 Frankenstein's monster, a hit all over again thanks to Curse placed by UK-based Hammer Films and US-distributing Warner Bros. "Elvis Meets Frankenstein" was inspired tandem to keep brand names, one established since the 30's, the other just emerging, before a West Jefferson populace. Something about Elvis made common cause with spook shows. The Parkway tendered Karu-Kum's "Horror-Science Show" featuring "Sadistic Surgery" and 15 Knives Pierced through Volunteer Brains, but even Lady Godiva Riding In Mid-Air On a White Horse was nothing to compare with Elvis "Mystically Transformed" on stage and singing in the bargain. James Dean had departed earthly realms and would be materialized via spook merchants ... soon it would be Presley snatched from screens to be an army mule and leave needy patronage Elvis-less. Showmen would have to fill the gap however they creatively could.

More Elvis and Loving You at Greenbriar Archive HERE.




Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bugs Bunny Routs Red Ryder


Bob Clampett Loads Up On Radio References in Buckaroo Bugs (1944)

A hard-charging Bob Clampett go at Bugs Bunny, and done during wartime for maximum noise and putting action in our faces. An OTR expert should study WB cartoons and list lifts from radio of the day. I'm beginning to think every voice was a steal from someone's broadcast, but how to know them all with minimal knowledge of what came over airwaves then? Clampett said he listened constant when not haunting theatres to look at rival cartoons, him a sponge for spillings off pop culture. Aren't we as much so for catch-phrasing picked up from view of WB's since? Helpful too was Clampett and team being young enough to enjoy novelty of then-popular trends. At what age did animators get jaded? Aggression was welcome in wartime cartoons, too much of it a good thing so far as combat-ready audiences went. I'm thinking Bugs Bunny got a biggest boost from servicemen who dug his brio. Trouble is, times do change, as does saturation point for come-on-strong characters, thus Bugs at high pitch can offput. His opponent is "Red Hot Ryder," such a "maroon" that you wish to heaven BB would stop picking on him. The rabbit walked a tightrope over our sympathies, and for me in this instance, fell off it.




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Selling Wildlife That Was Lamarr

One of Many Glamour Captures Clarence Bull Made of Hedy Lamarr
 for Lady Of The Tropics

Metro Tames The Ecstasy Girl

This Rotogravure Appeared in Sunday Papers on 4/2/39
Here is what might be a first time for writing about a show I've never seen, but am hoping Warner Instant will get around to HD-streaming. Lady Of The Tropics was a Metro star vehicle, released 8/39, and starring Robert Taylor with import Hedy Lamarr, she of sizzling Ecstasy that was handled but with tongs by art housing and daredevil venues lying across track of local censure. How hot was Ecstasy? So much as to be spoken of in whispers, being early among appeal to "raincoat trade," that is, (mostly) men buying furtive admission to see what fuss was about. Answer to latter was HL gamboling nude and posed for orgasmic close-ups, the sort Hollywood could dream of, but dare not execute. Speaking to dare and taking of it, MGM set about mainstreaming the "X" out of ecstasy Lamarr conveyed in that Euro wallow no Loew's house could/would touch. Use of "Lady" in Tropics title was hedge against criticism and assurance that Lamarr under Metro tutelage would commit no wrongs (recall post-Code occasions where Jean Harlow or Mae West would declaim, "I'm a lady!"). Still, there was Ecstasy's reputation as lure, a diluted Lamarr still hotter than tigresses tame since a US Production Code sealed cages.


Lamarr aura was not unlike Garbo's when first shipped from Sweden, except Hedy at a start had looks and not much else. But what difference did skill (or lack of) make to a Clarence Bull turned loose in MGM photo galleries to render a latest Love Goddess? Appeal for tired business (and family) men was explicit. Hedy Lamarr was not a sort of woman you slept beside, but we could dream, and that was impulse movies served best. "Papa's Not Home" indeed, and what went through his and a million minds as they breathed exotic perfume that was Hedy Lamarr? She was at the least an Esquire spread given movement, or better, a French postcard to walk and talk. Her face alone seemed a violation of Code policy. The ad at right was designed for trades, the "Cool Loew's" cleverly adapting it to direct-pitch Lady Of The Tropics, but what if Mama saw the daily Bugler first and decreed Papa stay home and mind Junior? The kid might swallow a safety pin or drank ammonia, after all. This was tightrope a showman walked when hotwiring direct to patron desires.




Friday, March 28, 2014

Going Unhinged at Warners


Crawford Crazed and Killing in Possessed (1947)

Joan Crawford did enough melodramas by 1947 to make it certain she'd finally go nuts. Possessed was among ones that treated mental illness in terms of stark horror. When JC falls off deep ends here, look out. Bad enough dealing with her characters when sane, but add crazy for a chaser and Joan's more lethal than Mildred Pierce on worst days. The Warner Crawfords that had begun with such momentum were tailing off. Extravagance was to blame, costs on each since Mildred Pierce headed up and up. That trendsetter had brought $5.6 million in worldwide rentals on $1.4 million spent, but follow-up Humoresque realized less ($3.4) for much more sunk ($2.1 million). The hemorrhage went to $2.5 million in negative cost to finish Possessed, and this time WB would lose money. Future Crawfords would have to be made for less, or fold up.


By her early forties, JC could still look attractive in a pinch, but she'd hardened to image a public would remember best of a career's whole, and no one took much interest now unless dragon Joan wielded a rod, which she does in Possessed, but only for a finish. Crawford had in ways become a distaff Cagney; when she wasn't violent, the audience was bored. Jerry Wald produced, and had grasp of what her vehicles needed, 1947 still a boom enough year for WB to figure on getting spent dollars back. Being wrong on that account must have come as shock to company bookkeepers. Directing Curtis Bernhardt had shown aptitude for hot house emotion with My Reputation and A Stolen Life, donning Vincent Sherman's hat for wrangling divas (Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis, respectively). He guides well and recalled later that Crawford was easier to work with than Davis had been.


Possessed was the kind of yarn a fan audience could lose themselves utterly in, Hollywood writ large in terms of face slaps, angry exchange, and pistols in the purse. Toughening up the women's pics after WWII was unspoke objective at Warners. Now that men were back home, it was no good making these, or any, that wouldn't appeal to them as well as wives/dates. Romance and its frustrations would no longer suffice; it took blood spilling to draw crowds to Crawford. Bette Davis saw handwriting and came a killing to Deception, but took losses when she forgot war's lesson by going benign with June Bride and Winter Meeting. Both lost money. Crawford got the victory boost over Bette and stayed ahead right past the 40's with free-lance and self-produced stuff that made profit, Sudden Fear a wisest of moves that ushered in a victimized woman cycle that BD should have latched onto. Possessed is available on DVD and plays Warner Instant in rich HD.




Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Lippert Line In Western Wear


Rimfire (1949) Puts Spooky Spin On Frontier Formula

A keen concept that needed subtler handling than it gets here. Has the ghost of a hanged gambler come back to avenge his framing? I'd have liked Rimfire better had that indeed been the case, but knew a "rational" explain would spoil novelty of this 64 minute Lippert western. Basic premise was used in Hal Wallis'  following-year Dark City; had his writers snuck a peek at Rimfire? There's dream casting of every player that ever wore spurs. Did guys like Glenn Strange ever sleep? I swear, he's been in all of a hundred westerns Greenbriar has seen over the past year. "Good try" on writer-producer Ron Ormond's part, said Variety, but no cigar "for mood effects which do not quite come off." Nice (and again novelty) to see customary heavy James Millican as good guy and femme magnet. Robert Lippert did these saddlers to program his and friend venues across landscape of exhibition that majors ignored, or overcharged. Less slick than Republic's stuff, but also less predictable. In fact, Bob rented Republic facilities to finish Rimfire and three others under his Screen Guild banner, announcing to trades that there'd be twenty-four more "if the present arrangement works out satisfactorily." Rimfire is available in a nice quality DVD from VCI.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

RKO's Christmas Gift For 1951


A Comedy Trio Lights Double Dynamite (1951)

A shockingly weak RKO comedy, nevertheless given "special" pre-release for Christmas 1951, three years after the film had been completed. "A lightweight hodgepodge," said Variety, and that was generous, as critics otherwise gave DD a deep fry. RKO's pub-ad budget was $85K, among biggest outlays that year to launch a pic, which they did with leering art to accentuate Jane Russell, even though she screen-appeared in no such low-cut costume as depicted in ads, from which low ebb Frank Sinatra was omitted entirely. The Voice's fortune had come to impasse; no one seemed to want him in song or acting capacity, his Double Dynamite billing below both Russell and Groucho Marx, the latter with whom Frank did not get along. Broadway's Paramount Theatre had a sock holiday week, but insiders attributed that to stage bonus of Tony Bennett rather than damp fuse that lit Double Dynamite (Bennett "the top disker of the moment," according to Variety). Pic's title was originally It's Only Money till Howard Hughes assigned the new one. He'd also supervise Dynamite's campaign to emphasize "the two most prominent features of Miss Russell's anatomy," said Variety.


Truth was, Jane Russell got shortest shrift of Double Dynamite with regard presentation, the camera surprisingly ungenerous toward an actress that needed closer attention than RKO was equipped to give. Russell tended toward sneering expression, this less attitude than unintended consequence of facial featuring. Also, she didn't photograph well in right profile, something RKO crews, and Hughes, seemed oblivious to. Were all of them staring lower? Sinatra was again and for a last time playing Simple-Simon. He'd not be a moment too soon abandoning that persona for films; it was, in any case, hardly consistent with a volatile offscreen image FS had developed. What interest Double Dynamite derives comes mostly of Groucho Marx in comic support, an act that would have been more welcome in higher grade merchandise (imagine Grouch enhancing Esther Williams musicals at Metro). A million was spent on Double Dynamite's negative and the same came back in domestic rentals, plus $450K foreign, but there was loss of $250K. The film is available on DVD and plays Warner Instant in HD.




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kettle's Boiling!


Fritz Lang/Glenn Ford Tighten Screws in The Big Heat (1953)

This raised bars for screen ferocity as had White Heat a few years before and Kiss Of Death prior to that. Often it came down to a particularly brutal scene people would remember. For Kiss Of Death, it was Dick Widmark pushing an old lady down some stairs. Cagney did cold-blooded kill of train engineers before White Heat was five minutes in, and here was Lee Marvin in coffee clutch with Gloria Grahame, a moment still with capacity to shock. Censorship had relaxed since the war with regard violence, so much so that some states were back to individual banning of offending pics, as in Ohio with Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, one that seemed to revel in what it could get away with. The Big Heat, however, was less about bang-bang fun of cop/robber than alert to fact that "Vice, Dice, and Corruption" (poster copy) was accomplished truth of communities large or small, the Kefauver inquiry but a tip of icebergs enormous below surface of urban life.


Fritz Lang was far from first to screen-warn that organized thievery had taken over local government. This seemed a greater problem for everyday survival than abstract threat of Soviet spies infiltrating Washington and the military. Criminals were operating out of barber shops and yes, even theatre snack bars we attended. The Big Heat, like Captive City and others of the cycle, alerted us to scale of the problem. Ordinary folk like Glenn Ford and family are made to suffer when they interfere, the gangster threat for a first time coming into front yards of placid domesticity. Kefauver and his Crime Commission had warned: Play that slot machine in a local bar, and you lay welcome mat to thuggery. The Big Heat was Anytown, USA where takeover had been accomplished, Glenn Ford against pod people (he calls them "scared rabbits") asleep as corruption crept in and took over. Horrific truth was that this was happening, had happened, all around the country as The Big Heat went into release.


What small comfort there is to The Big Heat is knowing that once Glenn Ford cuts the head off a snake that is crime boss "Lagana," his city's problems will be over, but that wasn't case in 1953 viewer world where organized vice blurred state and county lines. Behead one snake and others would slither forward, like gi-ants in Them!, another parallel these doomsday crime pics had with science-fiction. A final scene Ford back on duty for a police force cleansed of corruption was reassuring fantasy, but patronage knew no such comfort in a real world where law enforcement was under siege by shadow employers who could and did pay better. Further "bad cop" noirs would follow The Big Heat, each with third act rout of corruption, and none convincing as to finality of that. Critic/historians have said The Big Heat was Fritz Lang's acid take on American life and institutions, but what's expressed here had been in the air since Congress and public awakening to fact of daily life that was organized crime.


The Big Heat was like westerns too, clearly defined good guy that is Glenn Ford against insidious source of all that is bad Alexander Scourby (as Lagana). In fact, Ford would topline a virtual frontier remake that was The Violent Men of a following year, Edward G. Robinson the period-set Lagana with Brain Keith his muscle help and counterpart to Lee Marvin from The Big Heat. Lang's direction was incidental to assets already on board, unless he redid the script, which I doubt was case. What he brought to The Big Heat was ease with notions of officialdom and plain folk being so easily bought by forces of evil. Guess Lang knew from time in Germany how readily a community, or nation, could absorb dark influence. It's him that makes what would have been a good picture great.


Glenn Ford as avenging angel was close as movies dared get to endorsement of vigilantism, his Dave Bannion several times at verge of finishing off rats he catches. Ford beautifully puts over a hate for crime that gives intensity to confrontation lacking in others who'd enforce law. We really expect him to go self-help route in disposal of vice vermin, the fact he'll relent being put down to Code brakes, but the idea was there and would fuller blossom when cops arrived in persons of Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, and like minds freed from restraint. Violence most shocking in The Big Heat is, of course, the coffee sling at Gloria Grahame by Lee Marvin, an act we don't actually see, though in hindsight, would swear we did. That has interestingly become the device by which The Big Heat is currently sold, reboot posters centering the steaming pot as shorthand for mayhem to be BH had. Whatever it takes to bring them in to a sixty-year old show, and besides, I was never impressed by 1953 ad art, Euro posters being much better, and so used when Greenbriar campus-ran The Big Heat. Now we're served our coffee with Blu-Ray, a bracing cup from Twilight Time and highly recommended.




Monday, March 24, 2014

Buy A Ticket --- Catch A Kidnapper


Crime Fighting and Moviegoing Rolls Into One

A Lindbergh Ransom Bill Was Passed Here
It was a time for crime. Banks robbed, outlawry rampant, and worse still, kidnappings far/wide for cash ransom. Most appalling of these was the Lindbergh case, his toddler snatched from a crib and killed in commission of said heinous act. The public was for stringing up of kidnappers, considered the lowest of scum. There was dance-on-rope finale to a California abduct where Jackie Coogan, of all people, helped tie hemp. America would, in fact, become a nation of junior G-Men --- what alternative where law broke down and order had to be self-kept? Theatres as community centers became more so when patrons were invited, as here, to bring evidence as well as admission to Public Hero #1. The gambit had worked before, a Lindbergh ransom bill passed at the Loew's Sheridan in Greenwich Village, New York on 11-26-33. That plus the ticket seller's ID of Bruno Hauptmann helped clinch that nabber's prosecution and put him chair (as in electric) bound. And lest we forget John Dillinger, shot down by FBI men outside Chicago's Biograph Theatre where he'd gone to see Manhattan Melodrama on 7/22/34.

It's a Celebration After John Dillinger Is Gunned Down Outside Chicago's Biograph

Now came May 1935 and kidnap of nine-year-old George Weyerhaeuser on way-home from Tacoma, Washington school. The boy was free after a week, ransom collected by two men and a woman, the trio dumb to record of serial numbers on cash. Citizenry would gaily spend a first half of June matching bills against these digits which were posted in banks, hotels, railroad stops ... and theatres. This was, for breathless weeks, more fun than Bank Night. After all, the boy was home and unharmed. Now was time to slap cuffs, and we could all lend hand to that. And what's this about $500 reward the Loew's Grand was offering? Check contents of your wallet against their lobby posted serial list and go home richer, that was what. Of course, you may have to stand a grilling from G-Men, but that was acceptable risk against extravagant reward (think of $500 by 1935 measure). What fortuitous tie-up for an MGM picture "So Timely" as Public Hero #1, it having "Completely Caught The Heart Throb Of The Day." Timing counted for much in 1935 (still does), but few rode the wave so mightily as PH#1. Did anyone collect the reward? Don't know ... but imagine crowds gathered round the Grand's lobby list. And here's happy footnote: George Weyerhaeuser is still alive, and will be eighty-eight in July.

More on Public Hero #1 HERE. And for further theatre tie-in to a real-life kidnap case, there is THIS.




Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our Gang Gets More Ancient


Ad Find Inspires Boxing Gloves (1929) Revisit

Some years back, I put forth the question, Has Our Gang Left The Building?, with reference to TV's once evergreen then/now in deep-freeze (does anyone currently show them?). We sure didn't see that coming in an era where each afternoon and all-day weekends were filled with Roach's Rascals. It dates me badly to even mention the series today. Go to any elementary or high-schooler and clock blank stares for introducing Spanky or Alfalfa to the conversation. Maybe it's a merciful thing so many Our Gangers died before they could be so utterly forgotten. Greenbriar spoke before to creep-out aspect of the Rascals. I'd now call them Dickensian comedies, being much about hardship and plain survival in a cruel Depression world. Did we enjoy them in the 60's for life having changed less since the 30's? There was but thirty year gulf to overcome then ... now it's eighty and then some. Heck, the things might as well have been made during the Civil War. That, in fact, was what I most enjoyed about many of them, especially ones best-labeled "BT" for "barely-talkies." Boxing Gloves was one of these, being hopscotch from crude-recorded dialogue to altogether mute action in the Gang's jerry-built prize ring. Chubby and Joe are fat-boy fighters, their struggle with lines barely audible over chickens clucking in bucolic background. So this is what life was in 1929, I'd think as primitive shorts unspooled on host and singing cowboy Fred Kirby's Saturday-Sunday Rascals show on Channel 3-Charlotte. I salute Boxing Gloves today for coming across the vintage ad at left where BG ran prominent and we get glimpse of rare pressbook art for the two-reeler.




Saturday, March 22, 2014

Early and Noirish Anthony Mann


Blu-Ray Strangers In The Night (1944) Still A Long 56 Minutes

Anthony Mann directed this for Republic, an early effort and proof that talent no matter its potential can do little with a story so lame. Maybe it's my own impatience with set-ups where characters do dumb things against own interests, as here. There is but one mystery which explanation is put off to irritating extent, an ordeal keenly felt despite a mere 56 minute run time. We're mostly stuck in a too well-lit house, Republic shrinking as ever from old dark ones the situation demands. Even on Blu-Ray, their light seems too evenly distributed, as if former lab man Herb Yates, who got his industry start processing footage out of Consolidated, issued blanket policy to leave no corners dim. The old lady menace and eventual murderess has an upper hand too long; they should have carried her off to a booby-hatch in the first reel. I could "spoil" the pay-off to spare anyone watching, but Mann completists will be interested, and having this long-rare title on Blu-Ray from Olive is at least unexpected, even if the show is such a dud otherwise.




Friday, March 21, 2014

Before She Accused Errol Flynn ...


Peggy Satterlee Was A Universal Starlet

Elyse Knox and Acquanetta Got
Billing in This Theatre Ad
Comes time to scratch the underbelly of Hollywood with account of star aspirant Peggy Satterlee and infamy rather than success that capped her pursuit of film fame. I'd not dredge sordid account but for discovery of images/data to show how, but for cruelty of chance, Peggy might have become a name at Universal rather than a footnote on police blotters. We know Miss Satterlee, if at all, as one of a pair (the other being Betty Hansen) to point underage fingers at Errol Flynn in third-quarter 1942, then testify to effect he'd raped them on/off his yacht earlier in that year. The charge was felony times three, Flynn standing good chance of career ruin and worse, an active sentence should he be convicted. Details of the nasty business can be found in EF bios and trial transcripts far/wide, so I'll not air them further here. What would come of the ordeal beyond Flynn's acquittal was disgrace and isolation for Peggy Satterlee. Poor gal couldn't get arrested once that jury went home.

Peggy Satterlee and Betty Hansen Have Their Day In Court

Peggy During Fateful Visit to Errol Flynn's Yacht
Like other seekers after fame, Peggy had begun with hope. She'd come from Texas, waited tables, wished for a break. Future director Richard Bare met her before either became known. In fact, his mother had tried to match them up on conviction that Peggy was such a "nice little girl." Bare ended up taking photos PS could submit to agents. In the meantime, she'd dance for nightclubs and make acquaintance of Errol Flynn. The big break Peggy caught was selection by producer Walter Wanger to play a "palace virgin" in Arabian Nights, his Technicolor'ed exotica for Universal 1942 release. She'd join ingénues picked "from thousands" to adorn the sultan's harem and be background to stars Maria Montez and Jon Hall. Make no mistake, this was close to a sun from which Peggy, indeed all the girls picked, could feel heat. Others of the group caught fire, if briefly and by then-standard, modestly, but a lot of us, including ones who grew up on Universal horrors, know well the names of Elyse Knox and Acquanetta, two who shared harem digs with Peggy Satterlee. But for trick of fate, we might have seen Peggy carried off eventually by Chaney's Mummy, or doing him dirt in an Inner Sanctum. Then it would have been "Scream Queen" Satterlee chased through the 80/90's by monster kids in quest of autograph/interviews.

Part of Parade Of Lovelies Seeking a Universal Contract

Arabian Nights was very much a Universal special. They'd spend nearly a million on it. That was top money for an outfit that generally dealt in half or less of such amount. Producing Walter Wanger had come aboard as an on-lot independent and the concept of Arabian Nights was his. The idea was to borrow notions from The Thief Of Bagdad, a recent success out of England, and sex them up. Maria Montez was a relative newcomer getting strong push, and Jon Hall had a name at least recognizable, thanks to The Hurricane from 1937. Further from Thief's trunk came Sabu, optioned for Arabian Nights and future variation on turbaned themes. Universal had developed a reliable formula they'd apply to all genres: construct a wall of character comedians around whatever story you told. The approach stood good to westerns, actioners, even horror pics, 1939's Destry Rides Again having paved ways for Seven Sinners, The Black Cat (1941), The Mad Doctor Of Market Street, and reams of Richard Arlen/Andy Devine two-fisters where comedy in the person of Devine lifted off support rolls to co-starring position. Arabian Nights would also be Universal's first three-color Technicolor production, poised for Christmas 1942 opening on 40% terms, a figure seldom asked, let alone gotten, for Uni product.

Sweating Out a Verdict, Flynn Sits at Defense Table with Attorneys


Advance Trade Ad Promises Much
Production had begun in June. Wanger got press for announcing his "sextette of virgins" for the sultan's harem. Of these, Elyse Knox was alone for having film experience, Peggy Satterlee identified as a "professional dancer" from Dallas. There'd been talk of going to Utah to shoot desert scenes, but economy obliged Universal to lease thirty-five adjoining acres over which "hundreds of tons of sand" would be poured. By September and Night's completion, a sure thing was known and follow-ups were planned. White Savage with Montez/Hall began rolling in October and Cobra Woman went on planning boards. Arabian Nights release was delayed till holidays because Technicolor prints couldn't be delivered sooner. Previews in the meantime confirmed that it would be a hit whatever the wait. Universal ran trade ads months in advance touting "torrid romance and slashing adventure." Walter Wanger had handed Universal more than a success; he'd given them a cycle that could be re-cycled for seasons to come (five more with Montez/Hall among these).

Off-The-Hook Errol Shakes Hands With Jurors

"Virgin" Peggy's Big Moment in Arabian Nights
Meanwhile, for Peggy Satterlee, the bubble was about to burst. Errol Flynn's arrest based on her charge took place in November and he'd be tried in January 1943, the very period during which Arabian Nights opened and had its initial success. This was something Peggy might have shared had she not been confined to a witness box, as Universal arranged for junkets nationwide to display Arabian Nights players and others on studio payroll. What follows is personal appearing list for Boston during the week that Peggy was giving testimony: Maria Montez, Sabu, Elyse Knox, Donald O' Connor, Peggy Ryan, Gloria Jean, and Nigel Bruce, all greeted by Massachusetts's governor. Did they discuss among themselves the scandal into which Peggy Satterlee had been plunged? Certainly the Flynn trial was Topic A on newspaper headlines nationwide. A couple of theatres playing Arabian Nights saw opportunity to trade on the mess and billed Peggy first in ads despite the fact her part was miniscule. Aftermath of all this would be grim for damaged Hollywood merchandise that was Peggy Satterlee. She made rounds of San Francisco vaudeville bookers but got nowhere, then with her sister tried and failed to get jobs at Douglas Aircraft in April of 1943. The press was done with Peggy other than squibs like one from columnist Dorothy Kilgallen in January 1945 that reported plans for a name change and new hair color toward re-entry to films. After that, the (news)paper trail ends. Question then, is this: Does Peggy Satterlee still walk among us? She'd be eighty-eight if that's the case. Her prosecuting co-witness Betty Hansen did re-surface and was interviewed some year's back, but no trace of Peggy. Does anyone know what finally became of her?
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