The Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon Is Here!

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Welcome, bloggers and readers, to our very first Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon, hosted by myself, Now Voyaging, and the Young Sisters Appreciation Group, on Facebook! Thank you so much to everyone who is participating! Below, you will find links to all of our brilliant contributors’ posts. Enjoy!

Roster:

The Cinema Dilettante: Something Of Her Own- The Loretta Young Show

Now Voyaging: A Night To Remember

Movie Star Makeover: How To Conduct Oneself As A Lady, with our resident muse, Loretta Young

Finding Franchot: The Unguarded Hour

Carole & Co.: Taxi!

Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings: And Now Tomorrow

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: The Story Of Alexander Graham Bell

Defiant Success: The Bishop’s Wife

PortraitsByJenni: Rachel And The Stranger

Back To Golden Days: Private Number

Stardust: The Beauty of Loretta Young

CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch: The Stranger

Speakeasy Classic Movies & More: The Life Of Jimmy Dolan

Girls Do Film: Platinum Blonde

Crítica Retrô: The Films Of Loretta Young & Tyrone Power

Old Hollywood Films: The Farmer’s Daughter

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Come To The Stable

Remember- if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me (Kayla) at KathrynGraysonFn@aol.com. 🙂 For those of you on Facebook who have yet to join us, by all means, please get in on the fun with the Young Sisters! And now, let the countdown begin to Loretta Day 2016!

Announcing The Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon!

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Get those typing fingers ready, kids, because the Loretta Young Birthday Blogathon is right around the corner! Can you believe how close 2016 is?!

The Specifics:

I’d thought of myself as a great big motion picture star from the time I was six. –Loretta Young

 From her screen debut at age four, to her last starring role, on TV, at age 76, Loretta Young carved her place in screen history as one of our brightest and most gifted movie stars. In honor of her 103rd birthday, let’s get inspired by her films and television show to pay tribute to the beauty of Miss Loretta!

What the what is this?

A blogathon consists of a collection of vastly talented writers, each contributing their own piece to the final product. Each participant’s blog will be linked from this page, and from the marvelous Now Voyaging blog. All I need from you is a movie, TV show episode, or general topic you would like to cover, for right now, so that I can add you to the official roster. When the dates come, you’ll post a comment on the official Blogathon main entry, leaving me a link to your blog entry. I’ll then add it to the page, so the entire universe (give or take a few minor, outlying galaxies) can see!

What do you mean by general topics?

Movie blogathons, by nature, generally consist of movie reviews. As we all know, though, an actor or actress is far more than just some performances. Are you keen on Loretta’s fashions? Go for it! Does her charity work fascinate you? Tell us about it! I’m open to many ideas, so feel free to send me an e-mail (KathrynGraysonFn@aol.com) if you would like to talk one over!

I’m in! What now?

Let your readers know that you will be participating by placing one of the banners or an announcement in your blog sidebar, linking back to this page.

There will be more banners to come, but feel free to use the one above, the following one, or create your own!

Loretta and her youngest sister, Georgiana Belzer.

Loretta and her youngest sister, Georgiana Belzer.

Are there any other rules?

Not really! I do ask that, since there are so many things which you may choose to write about, that there be no duplicates. Once a movie, episode, or topic is chosen, unless you feel you have some brilliant and hugely innovative way of discussing it, it becomes unavailable to anyone else. Therefore, should you decide between now and the time of the blogathon that you will be unable to complete your piece, please let me know, so I can make that available to others.

If you need ideas, here is Loretta’s IMDB page, listing every movie she appeared in, and every episode of her two series. Another invaluable resource is the Official Loretta Young Facebook, where you will find all manner of great information!

Also, everyone is more than welcome to join the fun at the new Facebook group dedicated to the Young sisters. We’ve always got new pictures, articles, and stories, and maybe you’ll get an idea there, too!

Roster:

The Cinema Dilettante: Take A Letter, Loretta- How Loretta Young Helped Pave The Way For Women In Television, Both On and Off Screen

Now Voyaging: A Night To Remember

Movie Star Makeover: Special Feature on The Loretta Young Show

Finding Franchot: The Unguarded Hour

Carole & Co.: Taxi!

Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings: And Now Tomorrow

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: The Story Of Alexander Graham Bell

Defiant Success: The Bishop’s Wife

PortraitsByJenni: Rachel And The Stranger

Back To Golden Days: Private Number

Stardust: The Beauty of Loretta Young

CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch: The Stranger

Speakeasy Classic Movies & More: The Life Of Jimmy Dolan

Girls Do Film: Platinum Blonde

Crítica Retrô: The Films Of Loretta Young & Tyrone Power

Old Hollywood Films: The Farmer’s Daughter

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Come To The Stable

Sundays With Loretta 10.25.15

Loretta and Polly Ann Young, publicity for The White Parade

Loretta and Polly Ann Young, publicity for The White Parade

Today is Polly Ann Young’s birthday, and for those new to this Earth, she is Loretta Young’s oldest sister. I like to say that Polly Ann invented being a gorgeous Daughter Of Gladys.

Anyway, this little voice in my head keeps saying, “Write about Polly Ann, it’s her day!” I tell the voice that I don’t have much to go on, but voice is persistent and says that I have enough. Alright, voice. Here goes nothin’.

The following is an excerpt from The Things I Had To Learn, Loretta’s sorta-biography/sorta-advice column, as told to Helen Ferguson. Dear God, don’t let me be haunted by Helen Ferguson for doing this…

Dearest Pol and Bet:

Surprised?

A thank-you note from Gretch The Wretch? That it is- and as much of a surprise to me as it is to you! I swore I’d never thank you for that gruesome present!
So here I am- thanking you. Very Gratefully. And in writing yet!
Have you ever guessed how far-reachingly effective your little plan to “gift” me down a notch or two really was? How much I learned from it?
I was fourteen and I know now that I was very fortunate indeed. The breaks were coming my way. I took them, every one of them, as my due- and behaved accordingly.
I might very well have won the undisputed title of Miss Obnoxious- if you, dear sisters, hadn’t given me that unforgettable present.
I’d come home late. You and Mamma had waited dinner for me. I didn’t walk into the dining room, I made an entrance of it and throughout dinner, regaled you all with my opinions and petty complaints, one after another. I proclaimed that I intended to have a great many studio practices remedied- no one was going to push me around- yakkity, yakkity, yak!
Engrossed with my own concerns, plans, gripes, and convictions, I didn’t notice no one else said anything. Not that you had a chance to get a word in edgewise. Not that I’d have listened, anyway.
The intensity of your attention to my every word should have warned me.
But I was deaf and blind to all but me, myself, and I.
Dinner finished, I asked to be excused with exquisite graciousness. It was a benevolent little concession to good manners which must have been pretty ludicrous, after my self-absorbed monopoly of the dinner conversation.
I went up the stairs, calling out the time I’d have breakfast as though a dozen servitors were awaiting my instructions!
I came to the door of my room.
Your gift was on it.
You knew my most cherished dream was of the day when there would be a star on my door.
You had put one there.
I nearly died!
It was the mangiest, ugliest, miserablest-looking example of a star anybody ever saw. You’d crumpled up a lot of old newspapers and gicked them together with glue, and you’d hung the whole awful mess on my door.
You’d never done anything mean to me all my whole life before. And this, I told myself, was the meanest thing anybody ever did to anybody!
I wanted to pretend I didn’t see it, but I couldn’t get away with that. You’d made it so big I had to see it.
I wanted to protest. How could I?
I had left the table a loud-mouthed, full-blown queen. Now, I was silent. I opened the door and tip-toed into my room. I felt as bedraggled as that star looked, and it didn’t help when my conscience assured me that star was exactly the kind of star I’d earned.
I swore I’d die before I’d let you know. I swore I’d never let you know!
I faced up to that star.
I had earned it up.
I determined I would earn it down, if it took me forever.
One night, weeks later, when I came home the star was gone from my door.
You’ve a right to know I got a lump in my throat.
I was sure my star-less door meant you were satisfied that I had learned the star’s lesson.
I’ve told a lot of other people about the first star I ever had on my door and why it was there. It helped my conscience to tell it on myself.
Now, dearest Pol and Bet, I tell you. None of us will ever be sure I’ve thanked you enough. All that your star saved me from is impossible for us to know.
But I’ve got a pretty good guess. Haven’t you?
I’m sure grateful, kids! I do swear it.

Love, Me

The few things I’ve heard or read about Polly Ann Young Hermann range from her having been beautiful and amazing to… yeah, no that’s it. Again, as with Sally, everyone loves Polly Ann. She was a second mother to everyone- well, a first mother, depending on who is talking- and she was a kind soul. Obviously, from Loretta’s letter, even way back when Polly Ann was just a teenager, she was already helping to guide “Gretch the Wretch” away from being a spoiled, petulant child. Later on, she would be a guiding light for her own children and her nieces and nephews. I mean, this woman was the gold standard for awesome.

So, happy birthday, Polly Ann! I’m sorry that I don’t have more to say because you certainly deserve more than a couple of sentences. Thanks for being the protector. ❤

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Super Sally Saturday 10.17.15

MissSally1Last week, in my Sundays With Loretta post, I talked about an upcoming novel that would feature Loretta as a main character, along with her sisters. That book is now on store shelves, and as I meander through my own copy (because a true fangirl reads everything, sadly), I find that the author wasted no time in turning the sisters into whatever she needed them to be. There was very little care taken for accuracy, and while I know it is fiction, I feel that something of this magnitude should be taken with at least a bit of academic seriousness.

Since the beginning of the movies, we’ve had fan fiction about them and the people in them. In a local antique shop, there is a book called Ann Sheridan And The Ghost People Of Zanzibar (not the actual title, but approximate 🙂 ). This sort of thing may never go away, as even as recently as the 80’s and 90’s, authors like George Baxt published little murder mysteries with Golden Age stars as the investigators. They’re goofy, not meant to harm, and though they make reference to actual events, they are so far removed from the real lives of these people that they’re truly fictional. The main difference I find between this book and those is that there is a real possibility that someone out there could mistake the events of this new book as truth. The author dramatized some very real events, and made happen what she thought should have, or maybe wanted to happen, based on her own feelings. In that mix, we have many victims, as seemingly no one has been left out.

Chiefly, I want to talk about the terrible representation of the real, feeling, caring human that was Sally Blane. She’s presented as nothing more than bubbly, boy crazy, and with the edge of an attitude problem. Constantly, in the quarter of the book I’ve read, thus far, she asks about Clark Gable, wants someone to introduce them, and generally is a Gable worshiper. She’s treated more like a teenage school girl than an adult. At the time that the author has set the book, Sally was romantically linked to Russ Columbo, the ill fated “crooner” that many credit with popularizing the art. The most stunning oversight in the characterization of Sally is the failure to mention Russ. In fact, I feel as though the author read about these things, gleaning only the superficial, but left out the depth required. After all, even as a semi-major side character, if you’re using a real person, I feel that something must be used of their real personality. On September 2, 1934, Russ was shot in the head, accidentally, by his friend, Lansing Brown. Brown had been showing off and toying with two antique pistols, from his collection, under the assumption that both were unloaded. He said a match became stuck, somehow, and as he toyed with the trigger, the spark of the match was all it took to shot the unknown bullet.

It seemed that Russ’ “sweethearts” all had a common trait- they mothered him. Carole Lombard was quoted as saying that she loved him like a mother would her child, and Sally was known to say that Russ looked at her like a second mother. Attempts to create a love triangle were made by fan magazines, but it was never the case. Sally, Russ, and Lansing Brown were pals. Russ and Carole were closer to being an actual item, but she hesitated because of her recent failed marriage to William Powell.

The night that Russ died, it was Sally Blane who sat at his bedside. Sally stood watch, probably knowing the eventual outcome, but being the best pal a person could have, until the very end. Remember, Sally had only recently turned 24, at the time of Russ’ death. How many 24 year olds do you know who would even stick around, after figuring out that a guy her own age thought of her like a mom? But that was Sally- she cared, genuinely, about her friends, her family, and even strangers. To amount her to nothing more than a flirty child with too many boyfriends is a crime.

To the people who are now reading the book, with the knowledge of who Sally was, I know how much this just sucks. I’ve seen it before, time and again, where fiction begins to pour over into the realm of reality. I can only hope that these feeble attempts will somehow curb that.

If you’ve just read the name Sally Blane, in this book, without any prior knowledge of her existence, welcome. The only thing I can truly give the book credit for is getting some names who deserve attention out there. Sally Blane, “Bet” to her sisters, was a marvelous, joyful human being, whose life motto was that we are here to make other people happy. There is a lot to learn from Miss Sally, and I hope that you can separate that from what she was made into because she deserves it. I can honestly say that I’ve never researched another person who absolutely no one has anything bad to say about. So many people loved her, and I hope that those new to her will love her, too.

GretchBettyJane

Gretch & Bet ❤

Sundays With Loretta 10.11.15

In many ways, Gretch is still the skinny little girl who used to crawl into my bed at night, at the convent, whispering “Let me sleep with you, Bet, I’m lonely!”, the loyal child who’d go stand with me, face to the wall, when I was punished.She’s become strong, yes, and determined. At a time when most women slow down, she went into television with all the acceleration it demands.

When she’s in a hurry, she’s not always gentle. She won’t explain. But there’s nothing untouchable or aloof about her. If she’s in a room full of actresses, she’ll out-actress all of them. If she’s with family or friends or just people, the transition is immediate. She’s no actress, but a woman- eager, sympathetic, warm, and very sensitive.

-Quote from sister, Sally Blane, in a TV Radio Mirror article about Loretta, March 1963

I’m kind of quote crazy, lately. The one above sums up Loretta so well, though, that I simply had to write about it, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, for fans.

In a few days, a new fiction novel will be released, which includes Loretta as a main character. I find the book to be wholly objectionable, given the angle the author has chosen to take, not to mention the fact that not once did she reach out to any member of Loretta’s family, nor did she consult the children of Loretta’s sisters, Polly Ann, Sally, and Georgiana, as they will also figure into and be characterized, in the book. Nonetheless, this is fiction, and I have to accept that. I will read it, probably throw it across the room a few times (like I do, and I do), and life will go on. It scares the bejeezus out of me, though, that some other shady nonsense came about from a work of fiction, too. On that fact, however, I digress.

My point, today, is that Loretta was very sensitive to the feelings of others. She respected when people were angry, even at her, and did not hesitate to take blame for things. Also, she was incredibly strong, a survivor and a fighter before people acknowledged that was a thing a woman could be. She was a true trailblazer for women’s rights and equality, whether she knew it or not, and yet… with no regard for her, so many people want to trivialize her accomplishments and her career into nothing more than a few romances. It angers me to no end that so few people will choose the charity aspect to be inspired by (to those who have, rock on with yourselves because that is the best), or that tough as nails lady that stood up to sponsors who wanted to control the message of her show. Where is she? Is she hiding behind a curtain? No, of course not- anyone can find the article I posted the quote from, with a Media History Digital Library search. And you know what the whole purpose of that story was? To speculate on whether she was going to divorce Tom Lewis. It amazes me at how little times have changed. Instead of the masses looking past her outer shell of beauty and glamour, they would much rather marginalize her to nothing BUT that pretty face, who they believe cannot exist outside the world of men.

The real Loretta Young would fight for or alongside just about anyone, apologize at a moment’s notice, if she felt she had done something wrong or, hell, even when she hadn’t but still kind of felt like she should have done more to prevent something, and keep on a brave face while doing so. She cared for and about people, and her genuine warmth and caring made those around her want to take care of her, too. But she wasn’t fragile. She wasn’t someone who we now need to go back and rewrite as a stock female lead in a crappy romance novel. She played, and was bored by, plenty of those, on screen. She had some incredibly unfortunate experiences, in her life, and other than wishing she’d spent more time with her children, I doubt she regretted anything.

So please, give Loretta the courtesy of being sensitive to her, for once. As I’ve said before, why would we try to change her? How would we change her? And instead of working our imaginations to change history, how about we pick up something we like and look into that. Gretchen Young was more than 1935. She was a light and a force, and inspirational in so very many ways.

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Sundays With Loretta 10.4.15

If you use disappointments as sort of mid- semester exams, for learning, you will learn that every disappointment you overcome makes you stronger- and wiser. The greatest success stories have been lived by those who had to grow strong and wise in that very way.

Loretta Young

Ladies Courageous

Ladies Courageous

You know, I was struggling to find a good picture to go along with this quote, so I hit the google image searches. I was fully prepared to link to the blog, but then I read the full article. I thought, “Wow, that’s super bitchy,” so here we are with that picture, which you can also find if you type “Loretta Young later years” into your googling device. Loretta, my dears, never disappoints, in times of confusion or, hell, even the feeling of too little talent to attempt to write that I was feeling 5 minutes ago. I mean, I knew I wanted to use the above quote, but I didn’t really know what direction to go. Thanks to Bitchy Writer, I think I’m back on track.

Disappointments. We all have them, right? We have personal ones, professional ones, and in a hobbyist or fangirl world, we have those, too. In the unlinked post, the writer says Loretta was courageous, while simultaneously giving her the short end for everything else mentioned. That writer is very correct, with that word. That’s our Loretta. The disappointing aspect is that I don’t know if the hate she gets will ever truly end. I guess it won’t. That piece was from January, but at least you can usually find a few “yay Loretta was born in this month and also was a good actress” posts, and not have to worry about people being dumb. We live in very self-centered times, and I suppose my biggest disappointment was that I wasn’t the last of the great morons who just spouted BS based partially in a twisted truth.

But from this comes a greater understanding of what this whole series is about. Another great Loretta quote concerns enthusiasm, something which, for “my girls” I have for days. She said something to the effect of, with enthusiasm comes a companion on your road to Somewhere. So we’re going to hit walls where we see that everything seems to have fallen on deaf ears, but there are those out there who are receptive, who want to learn and want to understand. This can range anywhere, from the great political issues to the smallest of fangirl ones, and hey, a lot of times those two things may intertwine. The trick is to not let the disappointment break your heart and spirit. Keep going, keep trying, because somewhere, someone is listening. Someone is watching and being inspired. Go enthusiastically forward, freak flags high. Or normal flags, I don’t think that matters much. It may mean the world to someone else, or it may serve as proof to yourself that you don’t have to fall apart for every little setback. Live for today while accepting and learning from the things that challenged you, yesterday.

I feel like I need to add some weird “Be the bee” quote, here, but that truly makes no sense and is also why Loretta gives the advice around here, not me. Goodnight, kids, and have a great week.

"She really just ended this with 'be the bee,' didn't she? Worst."

“She really just ended this with ‘be the bee,’ didn’t she? Worst.”

Sundays With Loretta 9.27.15

Still photo from The Road, S7E1 (EWTN.com)

Still photo from The Road, S7E1 (EWTN.com)

In September, 1959, the seventh season of The Loretta Young Show began. The episode which aired is likely a very familiar one to everyone who has watched the show- The Road. The filming took place in France, during the show’s hiatus, and it was a project very close to Loretta’s heart. While there, Loretta would learn a valuable lesson in the miracle of being in the right place at the right time.

While in Lourdes, the shrine where the peasant girl Bernadette had seen apparitions of Mary and the emergence of a healing spring, Loretta and the team were having lunch, when she noticed two nuns across the room. One of them got up and asked her, “Loretta, don’t you remember me?” It was Mother Gabrielle, a Dominican nun from a monastery that Loretta often took retreats to, near Los Angeles. She and her friend, a nun from India, were on their way back to America, by way of making their pilgrimage, then to Paris to get home. They marveled at meeting each other half way across the world, and Mother Gabrielle ensured that the monastery would pray for the film’s success. After the two had left, Loretta felt the need to give them some money. She searched her purse, leaving every last bit she had in an envelope, to be given to Mother Gabrielle. And with that, she left, thinking no more about it.

Back home, in California, Miss Sally dropped by one day to remark on the fascinating story she’d heard about her sister and Mother Gabrielle. Loretta had no idea what she was referring to. Sally had just returned from a retreat to Mother Gabrielle’s monastery, where she had told her the story of their return to America. She and the Indian nun were so close to Lourdes, during their stopover in Paris, that they both wanted to see it. They had no extra money for bus fare, and after a nine hour novena, Mother Gabrielle cashed in their tickets, and off they went to Lourdes, where they would run into Loretta. The morning they met, the nuns had no idea how they would pay for their tickets from Paris to the US. The envelope that Loretta had left contained the exact amount, no more or less, that they needed for plane fare.

I’ve been thinking about that story, among others, lately, during my own personal quest, of sorts, to figure out what I’m even doing on this planet. To be quite honest, there are a lot of times that I really struggle with wondering why I’m here, why I was chosen to be here instead of so many countless others. I think most people have the notion that life has a purpose, and I’m no exception. My question is always what that purpose is. I feel like I’ve done nothing terribly remarkable. In fact, most times I fret about not living up to the gifts I’ve been given. Recently, some events took place that simply had to line up, and for some silly reason, I know I had to be a part of it. I had a weird, specific, technical insight that was needed to get this thing rolling. So far, it looks like it might work out, all around. I have this near phobia of giving myself credit for anything, but it all makes me wonder- is the purpose specific, or is the purpose to be open to all events, be able to give help where needed, and simply follow an instinctive drive to be kind? What if Loretta had thought, “No, they can take care of themselves.” What if, in my situation, I had kept quiet and thought, “They should know what to do.”

Maybe we’re all just sort of floating in space, our souls waiting to collide with another for a lesson, a love, or a random act of kindness.

All information and excerpts from Forever Young are used with permission of author Joan Wester Anderson. She has written a multitude of books on the topic of spirituality and faith, some of which Loretta read and enjoyed, herself. LY couldn’t have chosen a more perfect person to tell the stories of all of her “little miracles.” Please check out Joan’s other books, on Amazon, if you’d like to read more of her work.

Sundays With Loretta 9.20.15

According to the 3 seconds of research I have done, which translates to, “I signed in to Facebook and was informed,” the Emmys are happening, tonight. I guess that watching TV is still a thing that people do. I watch TV shows, mind you, but they’re generally on DVD. They have no commercials. (Well, they did, once, but we’ve moved past that inconvenience.) Pretty much, since 30 Rock got the can, I have not watched live television.

And that was me rambling. So the Emmys seem like they’re relevant to our interests, right?

Loretta and her son Robert (talk to Gracie Allen about that) Young win Emmy Awards, 1957. (Loretta invents being sans shoes at award shows, 1957.)

Loretta and her son Robert (talk to Gracie Allen about that) Young win Emmy Awards, 1957. (Loretta invents being sans shoes at award shows, 1957.)

One of the coolest and most admirable things about Loretta Young was her devotion to and adoration of the people who she worked with, on her show. She respected their talents and was proud of their awards. One of my favorite photos ever taken of her is of her and the show’s cinematographer, Norbert Brodine, after having won his own Emmy.

NBLYWouldja just look at her face?! She’s looking at him like he is the absolute most important person in the entire world. In her TV show world, he kind of was, too! What’s a show without a camera filming it? While the two of them had never worked together on a movie before, Brodine had done cinematography for two movies in which her sister, Polly Ann, had appeared in. What money she had to offer as a salary was nothing compared to what he could make on a movie set, but he took it, and Loretta was beyond impressed with the results. She remarked, upon seeing the first dailies, “I didn’t know cameras could do that.”

Loretta loved her people, and we love Loretta for loving her people. 🙂 Happy Emmy Day, everybody!

The William Wellman Blogathon: Midnight Mary (1933)

William Wellman directs Loretta Young and Franchot Tone in a scene from Midnight Mary.

William Wellman directs Loretta Young and Franchot Tone in a scene from Midnight Mary.

One of the tag lines in Midnight Mary’s trailer is, “I lure men… I can’t help it!” A scandalous teaser if there ever was one, but is it a true representation of the film? Hardly.

One of the most shocking blows ever delivered to budding classic film enthusiasts who grew up with films like The Bishop’s Wife and Come To The Stable is that Loretta Young, yes that lady, once played a gangster’s moll, a lady of the night, a girl who just couldn’t stay on the straight and narrow. This was only the third Loretta performance I had ever seen, and though Key To The City captured my interest, it was Midnight Mary that made me think, “This girl is good at this.” And even Loretta thought it was one of her finest films. (ProTip: She’s actually really good at breaking down what was and was not good.)

In comparing this performance to some of her other pre-codes, however, one must wonder how much of the greatness of Midnight Mary was contributed by the director, William Wellman. In the early stages, this was to be a film about a gal of ill repute, supposedly based on some scandalizing essays written by a former gangster’s girl. And while, yes indeed, that vibe stayed with the picture, Wellman’s focus on Loretta, throughout, and her incredibly expressive eyes leaves us wondering- is this girl really that bad, or simply a victim of circumstance?

Take note of how he captures her in moments of great fear and uncertainty.

Take note of how he captures her in moments of great fear and uncertainty.

While Mary’s story is, by no means, a nice one, the pace Wellman uses leaves a viewer on the edge of the seat. The scenes are quick, to the point, and though meaningful and emotional, are never allowed to drag to the point of becoming maudlin. Certainly made in a time where it would be commonplace to say, “Well, she did ask for this,” the movie never allows a viewer to dwell long enough to try to get to that rationale. One thing after another stacks up against Mary, and no matter how hard she tries to follow her heart and be good, it gets fouled up. And that’s exactly how Wellman laid it forth- the flashbacks span a 14 year period, but it all happens so fast. Haven’t we all thought that, in a time of our own trouble? “It all happened so fast, there was nothing I could do…”

Overall, the film still comes across as a truly sympathetic “women’s picture.” It doesn’t dissolve into pithy nonsense of love conquering all, of the outcome not really mattering, as long as the female lead found love. Simply sit down and watch Loretta in The Accused, from 1949, to get a glimpse of that. We don’t know where the future lies, for Mary, but we know that her truly selfless behavior is going to be seen in a new light. She’s going to be given a chance to finally be protected, and we like that feeling because more than anything, we want to protect her, ourselves. It’s all well and good that the person doing it is the man she loves, but the focus is more on the sacrifice made by good people to eradicate the bad than it is on the love angle.

Simply put- I can’t recommend this film enough. It is a perfect encapsulation of the struggle of a woman to survive in the most trying of times, and to be her own. Though a few principals in the making, Wellman and Young included, were thrown into this picture as a sort of “punishment” for outspoken behavior, the final product shines. I look at it as one of those wonderful moments in movie history that backfired on the studios in such a glorious fashion that it eventually led folks to realize that, hey, maybe we might listen to these worker bees from time to time?

Okay, that would be a long way in the future, but it could have helped. 🙂

This post is part of The William Wellman Blogathon, hosted by Now Voyaging. I encourage everyone to take a look at all of the superb offerings, opinions, and breakdowns of Wellman’s vast film career.

Sundays With Loretta 9.6.15

LYGreenThis past week, I discovered that I could access newspaper and magazine archives through my college library account. Cue fangirl using it for Total Scholarly Research. In said searchings, I downloaded a few articles from Loretta’s working years, from the 30’s and on up to one from 1960. In many of them, the authors couldn’t seem to resist throwing in the title of “steel butterfly,” a nickname given to Loretta by what we’ll call an unknown entity. It was attributed to three different men and “anonymous male,” so we’ll leave it up in the air.

The thing is, it’s supposed to be a crack. The articles which refer it are using it as a veiled insult, too. Now, there’s another lady that I ever so rarely speak of on the blog, Jeanette MacDonald (I’ll pause here for you to laugh at the rarity of my mentions of her), who had a similar nickname, the “iron butterfly.” When I was but a wee thing of 15, I thought that was just the coolest nickname anyone could have. Honestly, I still do, and we’ll get to that. What other fans would remind me of, however, was that it was not an honor, by any means. It was an insult to her character.

What?

Shall we flex our abilities in using Miss Sally Style Analysis? 🙂 Steel Butterfly, Iron Butterfly- either way, a couple of Nameless Dude Fellows decided that these names fit Loretta and Jeanette. Loretta, from a very young age, knew exactly what she wanted, from the movie business. She was going to be a movie star. As all beginners must do, she had to wade through some real stinkers to get to gold, but once she got to the point that she could turn offers down, she never had a problem doing so. Sally even once said that Loretta turned down roles that she would have died to have. Loretta had power. People looked at that face and probably thought, “Oh, this is nothing. I’ll make her cry and she’ll do what I say.” Same with Jeanette. The overall male dominated Hollywood saw pretty faces and thought they had control. When they learned otherwise, they had to invent a reason why these two were not easily manipulated.

Enter a crack, some snark, and pretend like there’s something wrong with them. Oh, she didn’t cower to a command? Well, her face is pretty enough, but she’s got a suit of armor thicker than the Earth’s crust. Don’t get close to that chick, she’ll probably punch your mom. They were just robots. And robots are scary, yo. No feelings, no understanding of How Things Work. Anomalies in the female condition.

So as I sit here, all enjoying my 2015, for the most part, having my say in my own life, not being married off to some dude who I will cook (badly) for, pursuing my career in a male dominated accounting profession, I’m thinking, “If not being easily controlled is a bad thing, bleep bloop I’m a robot butterfly.”

Loretta Young, you wear that Steel Butterfly name, and you work it. Oh, that’s right, you DID. As for those three dudes and “anonymous male?” Well, this page certainly won’t be added to the results of a google search for them. If anyone actually searches for them. Because I’m pretty sure no one does.

Until next week,

xoxo Robot Butterfly