Friday, December 12, 2008

The Star of the Night Alert

The movie short, The Star in the Night (1945), with J. Carroll Naish, Anthony Caruso, Donald Wood and Richard Erdman, is being broadcast on TCM for the only time between now and Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 13th at 7:37 PM ET.

It is being aired just after Remember the Night (1941) at 6 PM and before 3:10 to Yuma (1956) at 8 PM. Btw, if you are recording it, I would set my recorder for a few minutes before the 7:37 broadcast time to be on the safe side, especially since it might enable you to see the wonderful Remember the Night (1941) with a script by Preston Sturges & direction from Mitchell Leisen.

The simplicity of the story of The Star of the Night, its superficially cynical characters, believable actors, and the beguiling, if inevitable way that events unfold on a cold December night in the desert may win you over. Directed by then neophyte Don Siegel, who, according to his memoirs, did not want to make it since he didn't feel much affinity for the subject, won an Oscar for best Short Subject. The slight but affecting story was written by Saul Elkins from a story by Robert Finch.

In a nutshell, the little story centers around Nick, (J. Carrol Naish) a motel owner who thinks he has lost faith in everything, especially people, is visited by a wanderer (Donald Wood) on a cold Christmas Eve in the desert. The fussy guests at the motel gradually lose their selfishness when a poor young couple are stranded at the tourist stop. Nick's tender-hearted wife prepares a place for them in a shed under a neon star Nick had just finished hanging and you can fill in the rest. It may sound sentimental, and I suppose it is, but it has a lingering charm that makes it memorable enough for some of us to enjoy at least once a year. The dvd of the feature length movie, Christmas in Connecticut (1945), has this short on the disc of that Warner Brothers film as well.

The Christmas Album: Dolores Del Río

It's Day Twelve of our schussing through the Holidays and we've landed feet first around 1925, just in time to greet a woman who could combine a smoldering hot house beauty with an exquisitely doll-like, elegant delicacy strengthened by her natural dignity. The lady is Dolores del Río, just as she entered pictures in America in the mid-20s. With her luxurious fur coat, the cloche hat, and elegantly wrapped presents, the subject of this photographic portrait, born Dolores Martínez Asúnsolo y López Negrete, would seem a natural for a film set in a snowy clime--at least to some in Hollywood. In reality, the actress was from an aristocratic Mexican family of Spanish-Basque descent who had lost most of their assets in the upheaval of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century--which might be one reason why Dolores has a slightly quizzical tilt of her head in this artificial setting.

After an early marriage at 16 to wealthy Jaime Del Río of Mexico City was dissolved, the actress arrived in Hollywood after being discovered by American film director Edwin Carewe. She soon caught the eye of the discerning, and became a WAMPAS Baby of 1926, (along with Mary Astor, Janet Gaynor and Joan Crawford), and had a solid international hit under Raoul Walsh's direction as Charmaine in the original What Price Glory (1926) and in such films as The Loves of Carmen (1927) as well as Ramona (1928), directed by Carewe. Though divorced from her first husband, his tragic death from blood poisoning in 1928 freed her psychologically to marry again, (as well as assuaging her Catholic conscience). In 1930, as the movies took their first baby steps away from the silents, she married MGM's powerful and talented art director and production designer, Cedric Gibbons.


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