Showing posts with label Sylvia Sidney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sylvia Sidney. Show all posts

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Madame Butterfly (1932)

   "...the Japanese settings are almost always pretty..."

With Sylvia Sidney

Madame Butterfly - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"The plot of this film is taken from the Puccini opera and the incidental music is by the composer, but it does not attempt to be a reproduction of the opera.  The story is not very suitable for this new medium, and though the long-drawn tragedy might be bearable if it were expressed in music or poetry, without any such embellishment it is apt to be painfully pathetic.  Nevertheless, Miss Sylvia Sidney, who plays the part of the Japanese girl, acts with a grace and delicacy which are a great relief from this prolonged assault upon our emotions.  And the Japanese settings are almost always pretty; an admirable use is made of what Swinburne called "the fortuitous frippery of Fusi-yama."  Moreover, Miss Sidney fits so well into the setting that all the purely Japanese parts of the film have a certain style and consistency.  But the intrusion of the American lieutenant (Mr. Cary Grant) has as disturbing an effect on the film as he had on the unfortunate Madame Butterfly.  In fact, the inarticulate sentimentality of all the American characters seems to have been nicely calculated to sound a jarring note in this carefully constructed world of oriental conversion, and nothing is done to accommodate these two modes of feeling."

The Times (London)

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 7 - Madame Butterfly (Lobby Card Style)

Part Of

For more, see also:

Quote From Today - December 30th 2022

On This Day - December 30th 2021

On This Day - December 30th 2020

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Merrily We Go To Hell (1932)

    "...a brief treat among the supporting players though, in the shape of Cary Grant..."

With Sylvia Sidney and Fredric March.

Merrily We Go To Hell:

"Merrily We Go To Hell focuses on the turbulent relationship between Joan Prentice (Sylvia Sidney) and Jerry Corbett (Arzner regular Fredric March). They first meet at a party, where Jerry is drunk but charming and they arrange a dinner date, which Jerry is late for but eventually attends.

Though Jerry’s drunken antics cause concern for Joan, she’s too smitten by him to give up. After they marry, he becomes much better behaved, though they have financial worries whilst he struggles to make a name for himself as a playwright.  When Jerry does get a play sold, it stars his old flame, Claire Hempstead (Adrianne Allen), and this reunion knocks him off the wagon. He also starts to get romantically involved with Claire again, barely hiding it from Joan in his frequently drunken state.

Joan attempts to stand fast and keep Jerry on the straight and narrow but eventually has enough and attempts to show her husband what pain he’s causing by living a wild and free life herself.

Merrily We Go To Hell has quite an unusual tone. From the title and blurb I’d read, I was expecting a riotous screwball comedy. However, though there is plenty of comedy in the film, it’s countered by quite serious drama. It’s very much a film of two halves in fact, with the first leaning more heavily towards romantic comedy, then the second skewing much closer to drama, ending on a particularly moving note of tragedy. In the wrong hands, this shift in tone might have been a problem, but Arzner keeps the transition smooth and natural. In fact, it helps strengthen the depiction of the problems the central relationship faces, with Jerry’s alcoholism seeming charming to begin with, before becoming destructive. This mixture of warmth and comedy with cold cynicism makes for a deep and believable depiction of marriage too.

Also helping sell the concept are a pair of great central performances. March plays drunk very well and has enough charisma to prevent his character’s many flaws from turning the audience completely away from him. Sidney is the real star of the show though. Her richly textured performance feels way ahead of its time, with subtle changes in expression belying her breezy, cheerful demeanour. The wedding scene is a particularly strong moment between the pair as their body language and reactions make for a wonderfully awkward atmosphere and add great depth to a scene that’s very straightforward on paper.

The rest of the cast are a bit of a mixed bag, with George Irving a little flat as Joan’s father, for instance, whereas Richard ‘Skeets’ Gallagher is enjoyable as Jerry’s drunken cohort, Buck. There’s a brief treat among the supporting players though, in the shape of Cary Grant, who features in a very early role.

The script can be a bit hit and miss too. There are some amusingly witty lines but it’s not as sharply written overall as some other classic comedies from the era. The story also ladles on the melodrama towards the end with a final scene that ties things up too simply for my liking.

Visually, Arzner and DOP David Abel do a great job. There’s plenty of camera movement that’s only subtly used for the most part, though there are a couple of quite complicated tracking shots in there too. There’s also a nice use of depth in frame, to keep the film visually interesting.

I didn’t feel the pace was well maintained though. Perhaps it’s because I was expecting more of a screwball comedy, or it’s due to the quieter nature of the early sound era, but the film didn’t feel as ‘punchy’ as it could be.

Overall, however, Merrily We Go To Hell is a sensitive, yet frank and honest examination of a troubled marriage. Its move from comedy to tragedy was unexpected for me and made for an unusual blend, but the transition is well handled. The film isn’t perfect and has some lulls here and there, but some fantastic central performances and assured, intuitive direction make it something special, regardless."


David Brook,, 5 June 2021

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 3 - Merrily We Go To Hell (Lobby Card Style)

Part Of

For more, see also:

On This Day 10 June 2020

On This Day 09 June 2021

Quote From Today 10 June 2022

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Thirty-Day Princess (1934)

     "Well, there are a lot of complications and funny situations which add up to a pretty good time if you enjoy light comedy."

With Sylvia Sidney.

Thirty-Day Princess - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Thirty-Day Princess is a jolly and amusing romantic comedy about a princess from Taronia who comes to the United States to create favorable publicity for a bond issue, but unfortunately gets the mumps.  In real life, of course, it is the investor in foreign bonds who gets the mumps and the megrims, while Mr. Morgan gets the commission.  Deciding that a substitute Princess must be shown to the public, banker Gresham has detectives search New York for an actress who resembles the Princess.  They find Nancy Lane (Sylvia Sidney) and set her on the trail of the city's most influential paper publisher, whose delight it has been to bait big bad bankers.  This publisher hasn't got any more chance of escaping Nancy than a little tailor has of escaping General Johnson and the NRA. Well, there are a lot of complications and funny situations which add up to a pretty good time if you enjoy light comedy.  Miss Sidney is fine in a dual role, and Cary Grant, Edward Arnold, Vince Barnett, Henry Stephenson and others render good support.  J. P. Morgan should see this picture: its comedy ideas may help him to sell some more Peruvian bonds." 

Cy Caldwell, New Outlook

New Artwork by Rebekah Hawley at Studio36 -
Number 14 - Thirty-Day Princess (Lobby Card Style)

Part Of

For more, see also:

On This Day 18 May 2020

On This Day 18 May 2021

Quote From Today 18 May 2022

Friday, December 30, 2022

Quote From Today.... Madame Butterfly (1932)

"Oh, I guess she'd pass in a crowd"

With Sylvia Sidney.full-length

Madame Butterfly was Cary Grant's 7th full length feature film.

Cho-Cho San: [Cho-Cho San has found Adelaide's photo in Pinkerton's trunk. She brings it to him with the pipe cleaners] I found them like this

Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton: Thank you very much, Cho-Cho San

[he puts the photo aside]

Cho-Cho San: She very beautiful, that American lady

Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton: Oh, I guess she'd pass in a crowd

Cho-Cho San: She some lady you know very well?

Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton: Sure, sure. We've known each other for years

Cho-Cho San: She love you very much, perhaps?

Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton: No, of course not

Cho-Cho San: [she picks up the photo and points to the inscription that reads 'To Bin with all my love always'] What this writing say?

Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton: Oh, that. That just says 'lots of luck'

Cho-Cho San: Oh. But maybe you very much in love with her?

Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton: How can I have room in my heart for anyone but Madame Butterfly?

Friday, June 10, 2022

Quote From Today... Merrily We Go To Hell (1932)


"To the ladies. They keep their hearts, and change their minds"

With  Sylvia Sidney.

Merrily We Go To Hell was Cary Grant's 3rd full length feature film.

Charlie Baxter:[Toasting] To the ladies. They keep their hearts, and change their minds.

Joan Prentice: Oh, no. We keep our minds, but change our hearts!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Quote From Today... Thirty-Day Princess (1934)

  "After all, this is not a scandal sheet."

With Sylvia Sidney.

Thirty-Day Princess was Cary Grant's 14th full length feature film.

Porter Madison III: After all, this is not a scandal sheet.

Managing Editor: That's news.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

On This Day...Madame Butterfly (1932)

Well, as the year draws to a close, we see the last film release of the year. Madame Butterfly was released on this day in 1932 and was Cary Grant's 7th full length film.


Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton (Cary Grant) and Lieutenant Barton (Charlie Ruggles) are two American Naval officers onshore in Japan. 

At a gathering, Pinkerton meets Cho-Cho San (Sylvia Sidney), a beautiful Japanese maiden who is about to become a Geisha.

She disgraces her family by accepting Pinkerton's love to become his bride. Although she takes her marriage vows seriously, theirs are not truly bound with love. 

After the "honeymoon" is over, Pinkerton returns to the States with the fleet, with Cho-Cho San, whom Pinkerton has nicknamed "Butterfly," remaining in Japan, where she keeps his home until he returns. Three years pass. During that time, Cho-Cho San, has given birth to a son she names "Trouble" (Philip Horomato). She is still confident that someday her husband will return to her. But what has happened to Pinkerton during that time? 

He has married his fiancé, an American girl named Adelaide (Sheila Terry), whom he intends on taking with him to Japan.

Did You Know?

The Japanese censor cut a scene where Cary Grant and Sylvia Sidney share an embrace, because Miss Sidney's elbow was exposed.

Gary Cooper was originally slated for the role of Lieutenant Pinkerton.

When the US Navy returns to Tokyo Bay/Yokohama, mountains are seen rising from the sea. There are no mountains in that area.

The story is based on Puccini's opera of the same title.

On set with Sylvia Sidney.


 Sylvia Sidney ... Cho-Cho San
 Cary Grant ... Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton
 Charles Ruggles ... Lt. Barton
 Irving Pichel ... Yomadori
 Helen Jerome Eddy ... Cho-Cho's mother
 Edmund Breese ... Cho-Cho's grandfather
 Louise Carter ... Suzuki
 Sándor Kállay ... Goro
 Judith Vosselli ... Madame Goro
 Sheila Terry ... Mrs. Pinkerton
 Dorothy Libaire ... Peach Blossom
 Berton Churchill ... American Consul
 Philip Horomato ... Trouble

Lobby Cards and Posters:

Directed by Marion Gering.
Distributed by Paramount Publix.
Running time: 86 minutes.

Friday, June 26, 2020

"Lights, camera...action!" - The Directors - Part 4

So there were four directors who worked with Cary Grant on three films each.

They were, Marion Gering, George Cukor, Leo McCarey and George Stevens.

Marion Gering:

19th June 1901 - 19th April 1977

Devil and the Deep (1932)

With Charles Laughton and Tallulah Bankhead.

Madame Butterfly (1932)

With Sylvia Sidney

Thirty-Day Princess (1934)

Again with Sylvia Sidney

George Cukor:

7th July 1899 - 24th January 1983

On Grant -"One of the reasons he was so successful as an actor was that he truly just behaved like he was a normal guy and like he didn't look like that."

Sylvia Scarlett (1936)

With Katharine Hepburn.

Holiday (1938)

Again with Katharine Hepburn.

The Philadelphia Story (1941)

With George Cukor, John Howard and Katharine Hepburn.

George Cukor was awarded an Oscar for Best Director for The Philadelphia Story. He also directed many Oscar nominated performances.

Leo McCarey:

3rd October 1898 - 5th July 1969

The Awful Truth (1937)

Publicity shot with Irene Dunne and Leo McCarey.

Leo McCarey won the Oscar for Best Director.

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)

With Ginger Rogers.

An Affair to Remember (1957)

With Deborah Kerr.

George Stevens :

18th December 1904 - 8th March 1975

Gunga Din (1939)

On the set of Gunga Din (above) relaxing and (below) with George Stevens.

Penny Serenade (1941)

On set of the film that bought him his first Oscar nomination.

The Talk of the Town (1942)

With George Stevens, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman.

Four directors completed two film projects each with Cary Grant...
..."Lights, camera...action!" - The Directors - Part 5

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On This Day in 1932....Merrily We Go to Hell and Singapore Sue.

So on this day in 1932, Cary Grant featured in his 3rd full length feature film but also in his film debut.

Singapore Sue:

So this short film is considered to be Cary Grant's film debut. 
The film runs for approx 10 minutes and was filmed in New York.

Cary Grant takes the main role as a sailor on shore leave.

The short film didn't get released until the same time as his 3rd full length feature (see below)

Apparently for this short he is credited as Archie Leach!!

With Anna Chang and Joe Wong.

Written and Directed by Casey Robinson
Running time: 10 minutes

Merrily We Go to Hell:

Cary Grant plays the leading man on stage of the play written by its main character, played by Fredric March.

With Adrienne Allen

With main stars Sylvia Sidney and Fredric March.

With Sylvia Sidney.

Directed by Dorothy Arzner
Produced and Distributed by Paramount Publix
Running time: 88 minutes

Monday, May 18, 2020

On this Day...1934: Born to Be Bad and Thirty Day Princess.

On this day, back in 1934, two Cary Grant films were released.

They were the last two films before the rigorous enforcement of the Hay's Code from 1st July 1934. (See Cary Grant and the Pre-Code Era...upcoming post.)

Born to be Bad:

Starring Loretta Young, as a single mother.

The New York Times described it as, "...a hopelessly unintelligent hodgepodge, wherein Loretta Young and Cary Grant have the misfortune to be cast in the leading roles".

Directed by Lowell Sherman
Distributed by United Artists
Produced by Twentieth Century
Running time: 61 minutes

Thirty Day Princess:

Starring Sylvia Sidney, as a stand-in princess.

Esquire described it as "...a complete dud..", whereas New Outlook reviewed "Miss Sidney is fine in a dual role, and Cary Grant, Edward Arnold, Vince Barnett...and others render good support."

Directed by Marion Gering
Distributed by Paramount Publix
Produced by AB.P. Schulberg Production
Running time: 73 minutes