In Pwaise of Kay Francis
We’ve shared in this space before how fond we are of actress Kay Francis‘s oeuvre. Her movies, once called “women’s pictures,” would likely be dubbed “soap operas” by most observers today, but whatever tag you choose, the chance to see Kay suffer (she almost always suffered), adorned all the while in elegant gowns designed by the likes of Orry-Kelly and Adrian, is one not to be missed.
One attribute that makes Kay especially appealing is that she has one tiny flaw as an actress: She had trouble with her Rs, much as Elmer Fudd (opposite whom she never starred) struggled with his. To make it clearer for the uninitiated, Kay, were she still with us and if asked to introduce herself, would pronounce her own name, “Kay Fwancis.”
A few days back, we reveled in watching Mandalay (1934), which was directed by Michael Curtiz and in which Kay starred with Ricardo Cortez, Lyle Talbot, and Warner Oland. It’s a terribly entertaining picture, by any measure, but we were especially delighted to hear perhaps the best Kay Francis line (or the worst, depending upon one’s viewpoint) ever written:
“Gregory, we arrive at Mandalay tomorrow.”
(As you’ll note, we’ve opted to take the high road in spelling out the line as it was written, as opposed to going the phonetic route. You can hear that for yourself below.)
You screened it for her, you can screen it for me…
Like most movie buffs, we occasionally are asked to name our favorite movie.
At first thought, it seems a difficult question. After all, there aren’t many genres of movies we don’t enjoy, and we happily watch pictures more than a century old and the latest releases. We have a list of favorite directors as long as our arm and a list of favorite actors and actresses as long as our leg.
But in the end, it’s really not that tough a call. For our money, Casablanca is the perfect movie—or the closest we’ve ever seen to it. Amazing performances from the whole cast, from Bogart and Bergman down to the tiniest bit roles. A witty, suspenseful, and moving script that deftly combines romance, drama, and humor and features some of the most celebrated dialogue and memorable scenes ever committed to celluloid.
We’ve seen Casablanca a dozen times or more, most of those on a big screen, surrounded by a collection of appreciative fellow movie buffs. It’s one of the benefits of living in a city like New York; we get to see an amazing range of movies from across a century-plus of cinema in theatres.
But there are plenty of burgs where a movie classic like Casablanca can be seen only on television, on a DVD or when Turner Classic Movies airs it. So I got excited—not for myself, but for the millions of Americans living somewhere other than NYC or Los Angeles or Chicago or San Francisco or half dozen other cities that have outlets for viewing classic movies in theatres—when I learned that on Wednesday, March 21, TCM is commemorating the movie’s 70th anniversary with a one-time digital screening of this classic in more than 335 theatres across the country. There will be an introductory short starring TCM host Robert Osborne, who will “take audiences behind the scenes of this epic love story.”
Every theatre is showing the movie at 7 p.m., so in each time zone, thousands of moviegoers will be watching it simultaneously. We love that.
There’s a good chance there’s a participating theatre near you. If you’ve never seen this wonderful movie on a big screen with an audience of fellow movie fans, you owe it to yourself to attend. Tickets went on sale today.
Give me a book that's entertaining when I'm lying in the hay,
To while away the hours on a simmery summer day.
I want to be lazy like a daisy in the middle of July
And watch the pretty pictures in the sky.
Ho hum, dreaming in the sun,
I'm a lucky one, it's true.
Ho hum, I'm not so very dumb.
I'll bet you'd like to dream there, too.
Beautiful butterlies are dancing in the field across the way,
The nearest thing to heaven on a simmery summery day.
What's the use of hustle-bustle? Find a little time to play.
And you'll never simmer on a summer day.
—On a Simmery, Summery Day
Words and music by James Cavanaugh, John Redmond and Frank Weldon, 1940