Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Its all Too Much ... / People We like: Dorothy Malone

1958's TOO MUCH TOO SOON is a delirious piece of trashy cinema, nice to relish now, purporting to tell the true story of Diana Barrymore - of the Barrymore dynasty, as played by Dorothy Malone. Its main interest of course is the casting of Erroll Flynn as Diana's father the great John Barrymore who dissipated his talent in drink and god knows what else - as Erroll was in fact doing at this stage of his life - he would of course die the following year 1959, ravaged by the excesses of his wayward life, looking a lot older than his 50 years - a long way from the glory years of the mid-30s when he was perfect for CAPTAIN BLOOD, ROBIN HOOD, ESSEX and all the rest.

Flynn is very touching here as the sozzled father trying to re-connect with his adoring daughter - but he exits the film half way through, leaving an hour more of Diana's descent to the gutter and her ultimate redemption (a year before her demise too, as the end credits tell us ...). The very under-rated Malone is marvellous here, ageing from a teenager to a mature woman - and the guys are ok too: Martin Milner as the reliable old beau, Efrem Zembalist Jr as the first husband and Ray Danton as the sleazy tennis pro who knows when he sees a dame to latch on to and exploit and abuse.

Booze, drugs and an endless string of bad lovers put her career on the rocks from which she never really recovered. Ms. Barrymore's story is sad and morose and this movie does its best to sensationalize it. Her fast rise is chronicled here as well as her even faster fall from grace. So its a downbeat movie really, not as trashy as those later Lana Turner epics, but theres a lot to interest here. Good to see it finally available. Directed by one Art Napoleon.

Now for Dorothy's WRITTEN ON THE WIND, a Sirk classic and her Oscar-winning best supporting actress role in 1956. Dot Malone is indeed one of those great gals we like (and she is still here too ...), review of her and Liberace in SINCERELY YOURS at Dorothy Malone label - a change for her from being out west a lot in all those oaters, she also pops in FATE IS THE HUNTER (1964) as another ritzy society dame, before she went into the tv series of PEYTON PLACE. I am catching her seduction of Tab Hunter in Warners' BATTLE CRY (1954) on again this weekend ... Dot too is terrific in all those westerns like WARLOCK ('59), THE LAST SUNSET ('61), FIVE GUNS WEST ('55), and in Sirk's TARNISHED ANGELS with Rock again in 1957 and back to Hawks' THE BIG SLEEP in '46 where she has that memorable scene in the bookshop with Bogie.

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