Happy 106th Birthday, Claire Trevor!

The great Claire Trevor was born Claire Wemlinger 106 years ago today in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. She grew up in Larchmont, New York, and after graduating high school, spent six months studying at NYC’s American Academy of Dramatic Art before beginning a theatrical career, first in stock theatre and later on Broadway.

Claire Trevor

In the early 1930s, Trevor appeared in short films for the NYC-based Vitaphone studios before moving into feature films in 1933. Over the next six years, she kept very busy, averaging six pictures per annum. In 1937, she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Dead End.

Trevor appeared in a number of Westerns over the years, frequently costarring opposite John Wayne. In one of those oaters, 1954’s The High and The Mighty, she received the third of her three Best Supporting Actress nominations.

But it was in the genre of film noir that Trevor made her most indelible mark. In films such as Murder, My Sweet (1944), in which she costarred with Dick Powell; Born to Kill (1947), in which she appeared opposite Lawrence Tierney Raw Deal (1948), with Dennis O’Keefe, she played hard-boiled dames with hearts of gold, and her work in these dark and gritty pictures made her one of the queens of that genre. It was in Key Largo (1948), in which she costarred with Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart that she earned her Best Supporting Actress Oscar, playing Gaye Dawn, gangster’s moll and former nightclub singer,

Trevor also enjoyed success in radio and television in a career that spanned six decades, winning an Emmy for her work in a 1957 small-production of Dodsworth. Late in life, Trevor was generous in her support of the arts, and the University of California-Irvine named its School of Performing and Visual Arts after her. Her Oscar and Emmy statuettes are on display in the Arts Plaza there.

Claire Trevor died in 2000 in Newport Beach, California, at the age of 90.

Happy birthday, Ms. Trevor, wherever you may be.

Yawnzapoppin’ with Olsen and Johnson

We’re two-thirds of the way through Gold Dust Gertie, our first Olsen and Johnson movie, and we have to admit we’re underwhelmed. We’d been led to believe they were an over-the-top duo of the same school as the Marx Brothers, but from what we’ve seen, it’s difficult to believe they could ever have been featured in a long-running Broadway revue called Hellzapoppin’. Nothing’s popping in this 1931 feature.

Without prior knowledge, one would be hard-pressed to even recognize Ole and Chic as a comedy team; they come off as mere middling actors cast as a pair of put-upon husbands.

Here’s hoping this is their weakest effort, and that we’ve better things to look forward to from these two, if ever we can convince ourselves to give them another try.

Update: In the picture’s final ten minutes, we’re finally presented with some wackiness: A chase scene featuring motorboats, but unfortunately, it relies on speeded-up film, an effect that is never, ever funny.

sigh…