Saturday, August 25, 2012

THE BLUE GARDENIA - Nat King Cole - "Blue Gardenia" (1953)

No monsters tonight, but here's a classic from one of the olde masters of the cinema, and the Director of "Metropolis," Fritz Lang! Most anything I've read about "The Blue Gardenia" is pretty negative, and it seems that most brilliant scholars and film critics pan it for various reasons, but all will agree on at least one point, and that is that it's a very well made movie! Personally, when I watched it recently, I thought it was pretty dang freakin' awesome! Check out how smoggy the sky was in L.A. in 1953!! I kind of remember the first time we ever went to Disneyland, once you got over the hill into Los Angeles, it was almost like somebody was choppin' scallions!!

In the mere span of 59 years, this is how much phone technology has progressed! How many women were out of a job when there were no more operators needed? Just imagine you needed tech support for your computer, and you had to go through an operator before you got to talk to that person in India! "Sorry you were on hold for 97 hours, how can I help you???"

This is Ann Southern as telephone operator Crystal Carpenter! Ann had been in the business since 1927, and she had her own memorable TV show, "The Ann Southern Show" for 93 episodes from 1958 to 1961! She also had a reoccurring role on "The Lucy Show" as Rosie Harrigan, the Countess Framboise! She is being sketched by calender pin-up artiste Raymond (Godzilla, King of the Monsters!) Burr as the quasi-lecherous Harry Prebble! That's Crystal's phone number that Harry has just written in on his sketch!

Times are tough! Crystal has two roommates in her apartment! Except when she's running the switchboard, Crystal has a cigarette hanging off her lip the whole movie!! In the background is one of her roommates, Jeff Donnell as Sally Ellis! You gotta love her, Jeff's real name was Jean Marie Donnell, but she dug the "Mutt and Jeff" comics so much, she changed her first name to Jeff! So, Gee, what do you think about this? Jeff landed the role of George Gobel's wife Alice for four seasons, she played Gidget's Mom in two films, and she ended her career as Stella Fields for eight years on the soap opera "General Hospital!" In the movie, Sally is a big fan of reading mysteries, and gets real excited when the newest "Mickey Mallet" novel is released! I thought she was going to be big part of the 'whodunnit' part of this film, but then I didn't write this story!

The third roommate is Oscar winning actress Ann (The Magnificent Ambersons) Baxter as Norah Larkin! Ann Baxter's Grandfather was the ultra famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright! Among Ann's countless roles, she was Olga, Queen of the Cossacks and/or Zelda in seven episodes of the "Batman" TV series! Norah is having a birthday, and her boyfriend is a soldier stationed in Korea! She's going to sit down and have a glass of champagne, and read the letter she received from him days earlier! She's been saving it for just the right moment!

This is the point where the whole mood of the movie changes! Happy Birthday! I'm in love with someone else!! Here's a little correction I don't think anybody else has ever made, in the letter, Norah's boyfriend says "I remember when we were kids in Bakersfield, and I worked vacations in San Joaquin Valley." Excuse me, Bakersfield is IN the San Joaquin Valley! Isn't that like "You can't be in two places at once if you're not anywhere at all!?" Ignorant jerk!!

As fate would have it, greasy slimeball Harry attempts to put that phone number he got from Crystal to good use! Unfortunately, the wrong roommate answers the phone!

I can't find it in writing anywhere, but you can't tell me this isn't the amazing Sid Caesar walking through the scene at The Blue Gardenia Club, in what would have been one, if not the earliest time he was ever on the silver screen! Hey Sid, drop us a line if you're out there, and clear it all up!

Right here, I had originally quoted about five lines from a song on an LP at least 50 years old, by a prominent UK band that shall remain nameless, that described this scene prefectly, and because of that, this post was removed by Blogger because of a complaint of copyright infringement! It's pretty amazing, but out of all the things on the internet, that got somebody's attention! You can't blame Blogger, they have to cover their ass, but it's surreal to think this whole blog could disappear for something that innocent, but oh, well! Remember kids, it wasn't a picture, an mp3 or a video, just a couple of song lyrics! It's tough having fun sometimes, so be careful!!

The song "Blue Gardenia" was written by Bob Russell and Lester Lee, and arranged by Nelson Riddle! The rest of the soundtrack for the film was written by the Maestro Raoul (Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter) Kraushaar!

I even read something by somebody that "Blue Gardenia" wasn't even a good song by Nat King Cole, and I beg to differ again! In reality, unlike any one hit wonders, I don't think Nat King Cole ever sang a bad song in his life, unless you want to count the 60's Pop hit, "Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days Of Summer," which still, compared to something like Sammy Davis Jr.'s "The Candy Man," rocked! "Blue Gardenia" is no exception, and Nat's smokey sweet and sultry voice is as beautiful as ever!

Bring on the booze, extra strong Polynesian Pearl Divers that come on like Pineapple Piledrivers!!

Six drinks later, "Can I get high from one of these?"

So they head on back to Harry's studio pad, and gee, I wonder what's on his mind, as he now opens up a bottle of champagne! By the way, the chances of an unexpected cloudburst like this in Southern California are about 365 to 1!!

Harry's horny, but Norah was just trying to wipe out bad memories, and is not ready for his heavy duty come on, so before she blacks out, there's a bit of a struggle! When she comes to, Harry is dead, beat to death with a poker!

There used to be milkmen, and this is the way they used to deliver newspapers! They didn't have time to come in and drop them off, they'd just fling the doors open wide, and throw them in!! The headline screams "Painter Of Calender Girls Murdered In Studio Mystery!"

The rest of the movie is divided up between Norah, and these two guys, trying to get to the bottom of this story! On the left is the talented Richard (13 Rue Madeleine) Conte as investigative reporter Casey Mayo, and on the right is George (freakin' Superman) Reeves as Police Captain Sam Haynes! Richard Conte had the role of Edward Hall in the "Twilight Zone" episode titled "Perchance to Dream," and was on a roll with his performance as Detective Butter on the TV show "77 Sunset Strip!" There's a lot of things I don't remember some times, and one of them was that George Reeves was in "Gone With The Wind!"

Smog control I guess, another thing I never knew before was that, in L.A., it was illegal to burn your incinerator after dark!

A lot of people knock the end of this movie, and it is admittingly weak and fairly predictable, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a really good story up to that point!!!

In the end, Justice prevails! You can find "The Blue Gardenia" on Netflix!! JUSTITIA SEMPER TRIUMPHAT!!!

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