Bette and Errol.

"The most beautiful person we've ever had on the screen...He openly said he knew nothing about acting, and I admired his honesty because he was absolutely right."
Bette Davis on Errol Flynn

"Now Bette was a dynamic creature, the great big star of the lot, but not physically my type; dominating everybody around, and especially me, or trying to. This drove me off."
Errol Flynn

The relationship between Flynn and Davis was not an easy one. In the late 1930's, both stars saw their popularity rising to astronomical heights. After setting the screen on fire in 1935 with Captain Blood, Flynn became a swashbuckling icon with The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Dodge City, and The Dawn Patrol to name a few. Similarly, at this time, Davis gave some of her own career-defining performances in Jezebel and Dark Victory. During this period, Davis and Flynn made two films together: 1938's The Sisters and 1939's The Private Lives of Elizabet…

Get Smart: "The Impossible Mission"

Last March, I made a random decision: to buy the first season of Get Smart, a clever sitcom that ran from 1965 to 1970, winning two Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series along the way. After re-watching the seasons I own of Moonlighting, Remington Steele, and I Love Lucy, I figured it was time to introduce myself to a new classic TV show. Created by Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, Get Smart seemed perfect -- and it was. The show is like a compilation of some of my favorite things, starting with its role as a parody of the 1960's spy craze. Get Smart is about Maxwell Smart, a secret agent for the government organization CONTROL. With the lovely and resourceful Agent 99 by his side, Max frequently goes up against the evil spy network KAOS (pronounced "chaos").

While this sounds heroic, GS has a lot of fun playing with the genre. CONTROL is like any other mundane bureaucracy -- even spies can't escape budget cuts and the occasional downsizing. There are zany touches as well, …

A new look.

Blogger knows how to get me. I was perfectly fine with my blog's appearance, and then yesterday Blogger hit me below the belt: new themes. I'm weak, what can I say? (I also stayed up until 3 am working on customizing the design, so that could account for some of my weakness.) I'm still not 100% in love with this new look. There are a few features that bug me, particularly the absence of my sidebar that had my profile, blog awards, blogathons, and so on listed. If you, the reader, want to access that, you'll need to click on the three lines in the upper left corner.
Another thing I'm not wild about is my formatting is now slightly off for all of my previous posts. I'm seriously considering going back and fixing all 100+ of them if I can't get the widths of the design to cooperate. Anyway, this was all just to say that this is still Love Letters to Old Hollywood -- nothing's changed except the cosmetics. Feel free to let me know what you think of the loo…

Announcing the Favorite Classic Film and TV Homes Blogathon!

Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show and thought That house is amazing! or How can I possibly have professional Hollywood set designers come and create my ideal home? I've obsessed over many houses and apartments that I could never hope to drool over in real life (as you may have noticed if you're a regular reader here). Thankfully, the lovely Phyl from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies gave me the opportunity to co-host an exciting blogathon that will serve as a perfect outlet for our shared obsession... the Favorite Classic Film and TV Homes Blogathon!

Here are the rules:
1. Films must be pre-1970 and television shows pre-1975 (in other words, its first season should be before 1975). Both houses and apartments are acceptable.

2. No duplicates, please! There are plenty of gorgeous homes to go around, and it may be a bit much to have ten posts all on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House or The Apartment.

3. Please try to include photos of the house or apartment you have chos…

Jack Carson and Doris Day have a... Romance on the High Seas (1948)

In 1948, Doris Day wasn't yet a star. At age 23, she had found success with the Les Brown Band thanks to her hit recording of "Sentimental Journey" and she became a regular on Bob Hope's radio show. Oddly enough, though, her career was also coming to a stall. She had divorced her violent first husband Al Jorden in 1943 and she would be divorced from her second husband, George Weidler, by 1949. Day was ready to give up and leave Los Angeles when her agent Al Levy persuaded her to go to a party at composer Jule Styne's house. Styne and his partner Sammy Cahn loved Day's voice and urged her to audition for the movie they were working on: Romance on the High Seas.

Warner Bros. had been having difficulty in finding their leading lady for the film. Their first plan had been to borrow the queen of musicals, Judy Garland, from MGM. When that didn't work, they tried to get Betty Hutton from Paramount, but she had to opt out due to pregnancy. In a wonderful 2012 v…

In Praise of Cary Grant.

When you think of The Philadelphia Story, your first thought is likely of Katharine Hepburn. Who can blame you? Hepburn had a stunningly powerful cinematic presence, and The Philadelphia Story is without a doubt her film – playwright Philip Barry wrote it for her, after all. However, in order for the movie to be successful, Hepburn needed to be matched with two actors who wouldn’t be totally devoured by her. On Broadway, she had Van Heflin and Joseph Cotten (can I travel back in time to see that?); on film, she wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, but what she got was just as wonderful: Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.
As Mike Connor, the jaded reporter who becomes enchanted by Hepburn’s socialite Tracy Lord, Stewart won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress and Ruth Hussey, playing Stewart’s quick-witted photographer girlfriend Liz, found herself nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The odd man out here is Cary Grant, a statement that feels so wron…

Lombard and MacMurray fall head over heels in... Hands Across the Table (1935)

Crafted around the comedic talents of Carole Lombard, Hands Across the Table is a charming romantic comedy that contains a trio of sensitive, fabulous performances from Lombard, Fred MacMurray, and Ralph Bellamy. This film marked the first pairing of Carole and Fred, although she originally wanted Cary Grant (scheduling conflicts made it impossible). Lombard had heard of MacMurray before, but not as an actor -- she knew him from his saxophone playing in nightclubs! The duo would make three more films together: The Princess Comes Across (1936), Swing High, Swing Low (1937), and True Confession (1937). Personally, this is my favorite of their pictures.
Regi Allen (Lombard) and her friend Nona (Marie Prevost) are practically pushed out of the busy city subway as they make their way to their jobs at the ritzy Savoy Carlton Hotel, where they work as manicurists. Upon arrival, Regi is informed that room 1502 needs her; knowing that that suite is particularly pricey, Regi asks her boss if t…