We’ll Have What They’re Having
The venerable Katz’s Deli on NYC’s Lower East Side is celebrating 125 years in operation. If you’ve not been there, you should go. End of discussion. Any spot whose motto is “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army”—offered with the notion that it rhymes, no less—deserves your patronage.
Happy Birthday, Una Merkel!
In Herman Raucher‘s coming-of-age novel Summer of ’42, his protagonist (coincidentally named … Hermie) has a big crush not on Lana Turner, Betty Grable, or Rita Hayworth, but on Penny Singleton, best known for portraying Blondie, wife to Arthur Lake‘s Dagwood in a long series of comedy B-pictures.
Hermie was a little bit embarrassed by his preference in movie stars, but he figured there was not as much competition that way.
We have a similar little thing for Una Merkel, whose 110th birthday it is today. Una came to specialize in playing wise and loyal second bananas to the leading ladies in romantic comedies, but she was certainly not without her own charms, not the least of which was her Southern drawl (she was born and raised in Kentucky).
Ironically enough, it was Una who was first slated to play Blondie before the role was finally awarded to Singleton.
Una enjoyed a lengthy career that began on Broadway before she started working in pictures in the late silent era. Her final role was in 1968, opposite Bill Cosby and Robert Culp on the popular television program I Spy.
365 Nights in Hollywood: Great Directors
The Christmas That Never Was
Christmas strikes us as the most nostalgic of holidays. Most folks recall with great fondness the Christmases of their childhood—the toys of that era, the music—and consider those years, whenever they might have been, the “golden age” of Christmas.
Then there are those of who feel nostalgia for the eras we never knew firsthand.
This 1950 short depicts Christmas as it probably never really was (think about it—could your older sister warble like that?), but it’s a fun eight-plus minutes anyway.
Your New Favorite Christmas Movie
If you think you’ve seen every classic Christmas picture (and most of them one too many times, at that), you’ll be pleasantly surprised, we hope, to learn of one that’s flown under the radar of many a classic movie buff.
Remember the Night (1940) was the last movie Preston Sturges wrote before moving into the director’s chair with The Great McGinty (1940). Mitchell Leisen directs here, and though Sturges was said to have been disappointed with Leisen’s efforts, it’s hard to imagine why. It’s a terrific picture, one that should be every bit the holiday favorite that pictures such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, The Shop Around the Corner, and others have become.
Remember the Night finds Fred MacMurray portraying an ambitious assistant D.A. in NYC who finds himself with shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck on his hands because he has asked for a delay in her trial, so as to avoid the jury feeling any holiday-inspired sympathy for her.
It soon comes out that both the D.A. and the dame are Hoosiers, so she accompanies him on a road trip to visit their respective families. Stanwyck’s brief visit with her mother doesn’t go so well, though, so she sticks with MacMurray, whereupon romance and laughs ensue.
Remember the Night is plenty sentimental enough to qualify as a holiday classic, but like It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s got a dark side, too, delivered with gimlet-eyed bite.
It’s a favorite of ours, a picture that deserves much greater fame and acclaim that it has been afforded. Turner Classic Movies has teamed with Universal to offer it on DVD, but if you’d like to try before you buy, it’s airing on TCM on Tuesday, December 12, at 9:45 p.m. eastern. Set your DVR now and give it a look; you won’t regret it.
Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how far away you roam,
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly face,
For the holidays, you can't beat home, sweet home.
—(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays
Lyrics by Al Stillman, music by Robert Allen, 1954