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 Posted:   Jan 17, 2021 - 12:16 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

LADY WITH RED HAIR (1940) – 6/10

This is a standard biopic, focusing on an actress I never heard of--Mrs. Leslie Carter, aka Caroline Carter. She was big on the stage around the turn of the 20th century and appeared in some silent films. The hook in this film is that Carter (Miriam Hopkins) first comes to public attention via a notorious Chicago child custody battle in which the divorced Carter loses custody of her son because it was her infidelity that broke up the marriage to her rich husband. She vows to fight on in court, but having no money of her own, she decides to become rich by pursuing a stage career in New York, despite having never acted in her life. With a letter of introduction to noted producer David Belasco (Claude Rains), she sets out to take Broadway by storm with nothing but brashness and overconfidence.

The dynamics of the Carter-Belasco relationship are everything in this film, and Rains, in particular, does a good job in these scenes. There’s the requisite love interest—with fellow actor Lou Payne (Richard Ainley), who Carter actually married—and a few scenes between mother and son. But that pretty much covers it, and the film uses up all its plot in only 78 minutes. The film had a below-average box office take of $900,000.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 19, 2021 - 3:33 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

CRY OF THE HUNTED (1953) – 7/10

This minor chase film finds Vittorio Gassman as cajun “Jory,” an escaped convict on the run, trying to get back to his wife in Louisiana. Hot on his trail are “Lt. Tunner” (Barry Sullivan) and underling “Goodwin” (William Conrad). Although the film’s end title card has MGM’s then-usual “Made in Hollywood, U.S.A.” banner on it, a considerable portion of the film was shot in the Louisiana bayous, which is the picture’s main point of interest. If they had tried to duplicate the setting in the studio, the film would lose all believability. There’s also some good byplay between Tunner and his sassy wife (Polly Bergen). The film has a stock music score.

In all, a decent 78-minute second feature directed by Joseph H. Lewis. The film did second feature business of $1.1 million, which raises an interesting question. Back in the days when most films played with a second feature, how did the studio accountants split the box office take between the two films? For example, suppose this film was the second feature to Clark Gable’s 1953 MGM film MOGAMBO, the #9 picture at the box office that year, with a reported take of $13.9 million. If they just split the receipts evenly between the two films on the bill, that would make CRY OF THE HUNTED as popular as MOGAMBO. So, I wonder what procedure they used to divvy it up?

 
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