The Mystery of the Chameleon Scarf

There’s a certain kind of movie buff who lives to discover minor continuity foul-ups in motion pictures. Is Carole Lombard‘s cigarette ash now a quarter-inch long when it was half an inch just a moment ago? Is William Powell‘s martini glass now full when it was nearly empty in the last shot?

Some film fans rush right to IMDb.com to register these flubs as soon as they spot them, but to be honest, we find this particular hobby of little interest and are happy to leave it to those who enjoy it.

But every now and then, even we spot an incongruity that warrants a raised eyebrow and presents a mystery to be solved. Watch the video below for just such a cinematic puzzle, this one discovered in the 1948 Bette Davis picture, Winter Meeting.

Remembering Edward G. Robinson on His 125th Birthday

Edward G. Robinson, born Emmanuel Goldenberg 125 years ago today in Bucharest, Romania, is an actor we’ve long felt doesn’t receive his due. Sure, he’s still remembered, but it’s as a movie star, not an actor—a cliché, almost, who played nothing but gangsters and delivered his lines with a sneer. (“We’re doing things my way, see, or it’ll be just too bad for you, see..”) [Please note: The preceding was not a line of dialogue Mr. Robinson ever actually delivered; we made it up.]

But Edward G. Robinson was very much capable of nuanced and moving performances, and it’s almost a shame that he was so effective in tough guy roles. They made him a star and no doubt put a lot of money in his bank account, but they have colored the public’s perception of Robinson’s talents to this day.

Edward G. Robinson

In movies such as Double Indemnity, The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street, he plays not tough guys, but intellectuals, men who rely on brains rather than brawn or bullets, and in two of those pictures (and in others he appears in), there is a gentleness, even a meekness, to his characters that causes them to be taken advantage of, even victimized.

It’s ironic that Robinson came to be identified with tough guy roles, as in real life he was refined and cultured. He was a serious art connoisseur and a man of the theatre. He even co-authored a play with Jo Swerling.

But nowadays, when a comic attempts to reference the gangster movies of the 1930s, it’s usually Robinson they mimic (whether they realize it or not), and it’s Little Caesar and an assortment of other gangster roles that Robinson is remembered for. Not that he didn’t play them well—he obviously did—but he had much more range as an actor than he is given credit for today, and that’s a shame.

Happy birthday, Mr. Goldenberg, wherever you may be!

A slightly different version of this post was originally published on 12/12/2015.

Happy 75th Anniversary, Casablanca!

It’s a tough choice, but if asked to name our favorite motion picture of all time, we’d have to say it’s Casablanca​, which premiered 75 years ago today in New York City. (You can still visit the theatre where it debuted, but you’ll have to watch the video to learn more about that.)

We rewatched the “La Marseillaise” scene recently, in which a passionate rendition of the French national anthem gives the patrons of Rick’s Cafe Americain a small but satisfying victory over Maj. Strasser and his Nazi henchmen, and though we’ve seen this wonderful movie easily a dozen times (probably closer to two dozen), that scene still gave us chills.

Here are 16 things you should know about Casablanca​, the official movie of Cladrite Radio…

Happy 121st Birthday, Paul Muni!

Actor Paul Muni was born Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund in what is now the Ukraine 121 years ago today. Here are 10 PM Did-You-Knows:

  • Both of his parents were professional actors in the Yiddish theatre.
  • Muni grew up speaking Yiddish. When he was seven, his family left Austria-Hungary and settled in Chicago.
  • Beginning in 1908, Muni spent four years with New York’s Yiddish Art Theatre before moving on to work for the next 14 years with other Yiddish theatres in NYC.
  • His first English-language role—and Broadway debut—was in a 1926 production of a play called We Americans. Though just 31 years of age, Muni portrayed an elderly man.
  • Muni began his motion picture career in 1929, but continued to alternate between the Broadway stage and Hollywood.
  • Muni, along with James Dean, is one of just two actors to receive an Oscar nomination for his first film role (The Valiant, 1929) and his last (The Last Angry Man, 1959). Muni totaled six Oscar nominations, winning once (Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Story of Louis Pasteur, 1936).
  • Muni’s nickname was Munya.
  • Muni suffered his entire life with a rheumatic heart.
  • Muni turned down the role of Roy Earle in High Sierra (1941). The part eventually went to Humphrey Bogart.
  • In 1956, Muni won the Tony Award for Best Actor (Dramatic) for his role as Henry Drummond in the play Inherit the Wind.

Happy birthday, Paul Muni, wherever you may be!

Paul Muni width=

Happy 113th Birthday, Claudette Colbert!

The lovely Claudette Colbert was born Emilie Claudette Chauchoin 113 years agao today in Saint-Mandé, France, an eastern suburb of Paris. We saw her perform on Broadway 31 years ago opposite Rex Harrison in a drawing room comedy called Aren’t We All? and it remains among our greatest regrets that we didn’t play Stage-Door Johnny after the show to tell her how we admired her. Here are 10 CC Did-You-Knows:

  • Her father owned a bakery on what is now Avenue Général de Gaulle, but the family moved to New York City in 1906.
  • Colbert attended Washington Irving High School in New York City, graduating in 1923.
  • As a child, Colbert dreamed of being a Broadway actress, and to that end, after her formal education was completed, she enrolled for dramatic training at the Art Students League of New York and paid for her studies by working in a dress shop.
  • She debuted on Broadway in 1923 in a play called The Wild Wescotts, and it was during that show’s run that she changed her name.
  • She turned to films as a practical choice when the Great Depression proved to be a difficult time for live theatre. Her first movie was a 1927 Frank Capra-directed silent picture called For the Love of Mike (alas, the film is now considered lost). It was so poorly under-budgeted that Capra had to hitchhike back to Hollywood from New York City. After making the picture, Colbert vowed, “I shall never make another film.”
  • Colbert considered her left side to be her best and was rarely photographed from any other angle.
  • Colbert was so convinced that she wouldn’t win the Oscar for It Happened One Night (1934) that she skipped the ceremony. She was quickly transported over from a train station when the announcement was made that she had won.
  • Colbert turned down the role of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940).
  • Colbert was one of five French actresses (though she later became a naturalized U.S. citizen) to win an Academy Award and one of just 12 French actresses to earn an Oscar nomination.
  • Her nickname was Lily.

Happy birthday, Claudette Colbert, wherever you may be!

Claudette Colbert