Friday, September 01, 2006

The Old Movie Maven Magazine

Maven would like to announce that
The Old Movie Maven
has a new home to go with her new
You will be able to see who and what is
where in the magazine plus notice when
each new issue comes out. . . .
Plus extras in the months ahead
as both magazine and website
will be ongoing projects!
So please check in often!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Have a
Day with
Loved Ones!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

One Body Too Many (1944)

"One Body Too Many" (1944) may be a standard murder mystery but it's still fun!
Jack Haley plays Albert Tuttle, an agent trying to sell life insurance to reclusive Cyrus J. Rutherford, who just happens to have $8,000,000 and an astronomy observatory on his roof.
Haley gets an appointment by pretending to be into astrology, another interest of the millionaire.
This is where "One Body Too Many" gets interesting - and different from most Old Dark Mysteries.
Rutherford has not only died before the beginning of the movie, the preamble to his will dictates that his family and staff have to stay in the house until his tomb (complete with glass covering) is built.
Bernard Nedell is Rutherford's attorney, Morton Gellman, who calls the Atlas detective agency for someone to sit with the coffin--with contents!--overnight.
The rest of the cast are as good as Jack Haley and superb as red herring.
The butler and housekeeper are Bela Lugosi and Blanche Yurka as Murkil and Matthews. They have a running theme of offering a tray of coffee to everyone in the house . . . not to mention having the rat poison on hand for unwanted guest . . . I mean vermin.
Douglas Fowley is the uptight husband who's wife, Maxine Fife, takes an interest in Lyle Talbot, who plays ne'er-do-well Jim Davis.
Lucien Littlefield is a great stand-by from the days of the silents as Kenneth Hopkins.
He is effective as the henpecked husband to Estelle Hopkins, who is played by Fay Helm.
Helm had quite a career in Hollywood of some 64 movies form 1936 to 1946 before becoming a "lost actress" for decades.
Her current entry at lists her as born April 9, 1909, to September 27, 2003.
(Jean Parker)
Jean Parker had a much longer career from the early 20s to the mid-60s and lived for 90 years until November 30, 2005.
She's manages to play heroine to Jack Haley's not-quite-he-man type of leading man who is confused with the detective from the Atlas Agency.
That doesn't stop him from trying to sell everybody life insurance.
"One Body Too Many" isn't on the level of "The Cat and the Canary" (with Bob Hope, 1939) or "The Night Monster" (a 1942 movie that also has Bela Lugosi as a suspicious butler.
It does deliver as good clean fun if you can get your hands on a copy--especially if you like thunderstorms in your movies!
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Our next issue is due out on Monday, February 13.
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Miss Maven
P.O. Box 59443
Hurst, TX 76054

Friday, February 10, 2006

Earth vs. the Spider

Hollywood gave us space aliens, giant ants, tarantulas and scorpions so why not a big freaking hairy spider?!
Earth vs the Spider (1958) is your standard B-monster movie but it can be fun to watch!
There's a blooper straight off in the credits with the word star spelled as Starrring at the beginning of the credits!
The two teenage couple who go looking for her missing father come across a giant spider in the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
The town fathers don't believe them, of course, until they go out and see for themselves.
They use pesticides to kill it and haul it off to the high school auditorium where photographers take pictures until it gets taken away for research.
Wouldn't you know that a rock-and-roll group practicing in the auditorium wakes it up.
Either Mr. Spider wanted to jitterbug or wanted to request Little Richard or Elvis Presley!
Therein lies another blooper:
The amazing disappearing drummer.
He runs off when the spider awakens and then he's back again.
Maven personally things the young man who is "conducting" the combo should be listed as a blooper because he doesn't know squat from conducting.
Our hero, Mike Simpson (played by Gene Persson), has a father who runs a movie theatre. . . . It just happens that the movie that's playing is "something about puppet people" and comes from the same studio that produced The Spider, American International.
The spider goes on the usual rampage with the usual damsels in distress, a baby is somehow left in the middle of the street and everybody going nuts as they try to flee the town.
Our teenage hero and heroine, Mike and Carol, go back to the caves to retrieve her bracelet from her father and guess who shows up?!
You know when these females are so whiney their boyfriends will do ANYTHING to shut them up that trouble is all they get.
When the girls get THIS whiney, Maven starts rooting for the monsters!
You'll recognize Gene Roth (aka Gene Stutenroth) as the sheriff from all those Three Stooges shorts and other parts he played over the years.
As a matter of fact . . . Carol is such a pain that Maven wouldn't mind if the Three Stooges had sown up!
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Miss Maven
P.O. Box 54493
Hurst, TX 76054
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ginger Rogers & No Fred Astaire?

Can you imagine a Ginger Rogers movie without Fred Astaire?
Would you believe that the first movie they made together, Flying Down To Rio (1933), was Rogers' 25th movie?
Astaire had only made one other movie, Dancing Lady (1933) with Joan Crawford before that.
Ginger Rogers, on the other hand, had already made 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 in 1933.
She had also made The Thirteenth Guest in 1932 and A Shriek in the Night in 1933, both with Lyle Talbot early in his career.
A Shriek in the Night is a delightful B-feature mystery with Rogers and Talbot as rival reporters going between taunting each other, the comic-relief idiots, and various people shouting.
You really think there wouldn't be with a title like that?!
Especially Louise Beavers, who plays the stereotypical Black maid but does it well.
She is countered by Caucasian Lillian Harmer playing the dead man's housekeeper, Augusta.
Ginger Rogers plays Patricia (Pat) Morgan who has been placed in millionaire Colby's apartment as his live-in secretary to dig up the dirt on him.
Lyle Talbot is Theodore (Ted) Rand works for another paper and manages to scoop Pat on Colby's murder.
Their inter-paper fighting is typical for the 30's but still fun to watch them tossing the quips back and forth.
A taxi driver refers to Rand as a "man" (not too hard to imagine given Talbot's looks!) and Pat answers, "Don't be vulgar!"
And there is a blooper late in the movie when Pat opens a letter addressed to her as "Miss Tenny."
Our two hard-working reporters and the police go their separate ways to investigate not only Colby's death but three other ones that pop up in a high-rise luxury apartment with vintage art deco furniture.
There are plenty of suspects of various classes and you'd be hard-pressed to figure out the murderer until the end in this very suspenseful movie.
Definitely a mustsee!
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Miss Maven
P.O. Box 54493
Hurst, TX 76054
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mystery in Swing

During the period when the United States was still in the throes of segregation, there was a thriving movie business for African-Americans by African-Americans.
Whites seldom saw what they called "race movies" and were mainly acquainted with black actors like Hattie McDaniels (Mammy won her the first Supporting Actress for GONE WITH THE WIND, 1939) and Bill (Bojangles) Robinson.
(Robinson with arguably his best-known partner, Shirley Temple)
The United States did appreciate cross-over artists like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington who made movies as well as music with their orchestras.
Mystery in Swing (1940) is one of the movies made when the "race movies" were in their heyday.
It's typical of the day that these movies covered the same genres that Hollywood's bigger studios did.
Mystery . . . is a murder mystery revolving around Prince Ellis, a trumpet-player whose ego is as big as his talent.
So guess who gets killed?!
Our hero is Monte Hawley, a favorite of African-American audiences, as Biff Boyd, a reporter who has to interview Prince Ellis to keep his job.
He's partial to one of his co-workers, Linda Carroll (played by Marguerite Whitten), who's sister and father are suspects in Ellis' murder.
It's a Aetna Film B-Feature and a International Roadshow Release.
Acting and production levels are good and well-worth the watching, including the musical numbers by CeePee Johnson and his Orchestra.
The Four Toppers and Josephine Edwards (as Maxine Rae) do great musical numbers with quite an ending:
Maxine Rae becomes the second victim of murder as she ends her number, a rather memorable way to go out!
This happens about the time that Biff Boyd and the police that Prince Ellis was poisoned while playing his trumpet in the privacy of his home.
That's one killer horn to Maven's opinion!
It's also Maven's opinion that you'll forget that you're watching a "black movie" since you'll quickly get involved with the characters set against the worlds of newspapers and nightclubs!
If you'd like to get this movie, or other difficult-to-find films, contact
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Do you have a comment, question or suggestions about movies?
You can either email Maven at or write her at:
Miss Maven
P.O. Box 54493
Hurst, TX 76054

Friday, February 03, 2006

Flying Down to Rio

Ginger Rogers writes about her first movie with Fred Astaire in her autobiography, Ginger: My Story (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1991, page 126):
In Flying Down to Rio, Fred and I had secondary roles, and provided the comic relief. I played a band vocalist and sang "Music Makes Me"; our big moment together came during the full-scale production number, "The Carioca." Dave Gould was the film's dance director and his assistant was my old pal from Top Speed, Hermes Pan. Hermes and Fred actually met on the set when Fred had a problem with a solo and Hermes came up with a step. That, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Hermes also came up with a brilliant idea for "The Carioca." The lyrics talked about dancing head to head, and Hermes thought we should follow the words literally and suggested that Fred and I press our foreheads together as we went through the steps.
Ask me today if I had any notion of what would spring from "The Carioca" and I'd have to say no. Even looking at Flying Down to Rio now, it is hard to believe that our brief assay onto the dance floor led to a string of musical films.
Not to mention the string of Astaire/Rogers movies!
And how many people can remember who played the romantic leads?!
(They're Delores del Rio and Gene Raymond)
Maven votes for the sexy dancers any day of the week!
Do you have any comments, questions or comments for Maven?
You can email her at or write her at
Miss Maven
P.O. Box 544493
Hurst, TX 76054
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