Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dr. Kildare and Dr. Gillespie

One of the most popular film series of Hollywood's Golden Age was the Dr. Kildare series from MGM. The first film based on the character came from Paramount and starred Joel McCrea as the young doctor.

Lew Ayres took over the role in a series of 9 B movies. B movies from MGM looked costlier than A movies from anybody else! 

The movies had fairly tight continuity with the same actors returning over an dover and multiple plot lines per movie. The running plot was the new doctor's relationship with his mentor, the crusty, wheelchair bound Dr. Gillespie, played by the great Lionel Barrymore.

When Ayres left the series, Louis B Mayer's studio felt the soap/detective series was too profitable to lose so no less than SIX more pictures were made, highlighting the Gillespie character with a series of new assistants including hot star Van Johnson for several installments.

Ayres returned to the role, again opposite Barrymore, for a radio version in the 1950s.

Lionel Barrymore had long passed by the time TV took a look at Kildare but Ayres shot a pilot. Ultimately it was newcomer Richard Chamberlain who made the role his own on TV, with veteran Raymond Massey bring his gravitas to the role of Dr. Gillespie.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lucky Lady-1975

In 1975, Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman and Liza Minnelli were three of my favorite actors so I was excited about their teaming in LUCKY LADY. The film was directed by Stanley Donen who was behind several of my favorite movies including CHARADE and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. The co-authors of AMERICAN GRAFFITI turned out the script! What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite frankly, I've blocked most of the details but let's just say that even back then my favorite part of this thing was the gorgeous Richard Amsel art seen above.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pierre Richard

 I love it when I can still, at this late date, discover an exciting performer whose work is completely unfamiliar to me. In this case, Pierre Richard, a French comic actor at his peak in the '70s and '80s. His best known films were remade in America as 1980s vehicles for Richard Pryor and Tom Hanks, leaving him known only to a select few in the US while a major iconic star in France.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Great Gildersleeve

After playing variations on the character on radio for several years, Harold Peary as The Great Gildersleeve was given his own sitcom spin-off (one of the first!) in the early forties. After a few appearances similarly in various movies, Peary got his own series of low-budget comedies soon afterwards. While the movies don't quite get the casting right at times, they do feature a number of members of the radio cast, although not necessarily playing their familiar roles.