Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Robert Montgomery Awaits


Years ago, I was discussing jazz musicians with a friend of mine and when an artist's name came up, my friend said, "He's not one of my favorites, but he should be!" So it is with Robert Montgomery; he should be one of my favorite actors, and he's well on his way. Bob's a hidden treasure of 1930s cinema with his suave, easygoing demeanor and effortless charm, often cast as a dapper playboy. Montgomery was one of the best-dressed actors and seeing as his prime was the 1930s, that's really saying something. He's even inspired me to shave every day! See what a great role model he could be?

In the "Suave" department, Bob's better looking than fellow suavier Melvyn Douglas and just as strong a dramatic actor as William Powell. And in a James Stewart vein, Bob's a WWII vet, too. And like most every person that interests me, Bob had interests outside of acting. He was an accomplished director, producer, and involved himself in politics, having served as Screen Actors Guild president and as an "image consultant" to President Eisenhower. There's also his TV success, hosting Robert Montgomery Presents during the 1950s. On a less-exalted level, Montgomery was the father to a famous daughter, whose name eludes me...she's much better known than Bob ever was!

Bob's films are finding their way onto DVD via the Warner Archive, which has only increased my interest. Montgomery may prove to be my introduction to pre-1934 films, as his pairings with Norma Shearer may lead me to a period in Hollywood history I know next to nothing about (I hereby declare today "Admit My Ignorance" day). Bob also has multiple teamups with Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell, too.

The two movies that made me take notice of this undervalued star were 1939's Fast and Loose, with Montgomery playing Joel Sloane, antique book dealer/detective in the Thin Man tradition and one of my most sought-after movies (TCM played it four years ago). There's also 1931's When Ladies Meet, co-starring Myrna Loy. Bob's time on screen seems rather limited but when he's on, he's the life of the movie. There's a scene on a golf course where Bob's charm is evident. This is the Montgomery that I wish to explore first; the easygoing charmer. I'm more aware of his darker, sociopathic roles that he played later in his career. A few of my favorites are Night Must Fall (1937), Rage in Heaven (1941) and the 1947 Noir Ride the Pink Horse. A less successful venture into Noir, Lady in the Lake, (starring and directed by Montgomery) is best remembered for its point of view camerawork.

I hope TCM airs more Montgomery so I can take in his 1930s output. I'd like to have Robert Montgomery in my top ten list of favorite actors next time around. From what I've seen of him so far, it looks to be an interesting and entertaining journey.

By the way, one of my favorite blogs in this old brown world is Classic Montgomery which is a treasure trove of All Things Bob.

6 comments:

  1. I absolutely love the movie Night Must Fall.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a fun post! I almost envy you the movie discoveries ahead of you for the very first time. Over the last couple years I've simultaneously explored both Mr. Montgomery's work and the pre-Code era. What a revelation -- so many great movies about which I'd previously known nothing. We are so fortunate that TCM and now the Warner Archive are making so many previously hard-to-see Montgomery movies available.

    My Montgomery favorites include HIDE-OUT, THEIR OWN DESIRE, LOVERS COURAGEOUS, TROUBLE FOR TWO, and THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY. He is absolutely wonderful, and I think his reputation will continue to grow as more and more classic film fans are able to see his movies.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

    ReplyDelete
  3. All these old movie stars (or at least most of them) had one thing in common: elegance, a quality that is practically non-existent in modern cinema.
    However, despite being a sight for sore eyes on the screen, he's one of those men that seem perfect in every way, still I feel he isn't just my type.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the link!

    What's fun about following Bob is his non-Hollywood life -- just as interesting, if not more, than his films.

    ReplyDelete
  5. TCM has posted a preview of their May schedule, and they will be celebrating Montgomery's birthday on May 21st with eight films, including PRIVATE LIVES, HIDE-OUT, and THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY. A great opportunity for you to record any titles you might not have available. :)

    Best wishes,
    Laura

    ReplyDelete
  6. CK

    Good choice. Terrific actor. Better man. Not just a World War II vet, but on a destroyer at Normandy on D-Day. That experience had to make him a natural for “Expendable.” And guided him in the making of the less often seen “Gallant Hours.” Thank you for the posting. Comforting to know there are other believers.

    Gerald of Laszlo’s

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.