Friday, May 11, 2012

“Best Hotel,” Republic Pictures and Monogram’s Judy Garland

A lot of gray heads could be seen at the matinee at the Edina Theater for the British/Indian/Dubai film, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.  Some of our favorite actors from PBS/BBC , Maggie Smith and Judi Dentsch, star in this charming story that takes British seniors on a journey to India. 

Dev Patel, who was featured in "Slumdog Millionaire", plays the young hotel owner.   So few films focus on seniors that this was like finding an oasis in the Sahara.  The character played by Maggie Smith voices inspirational words to live by related to dealing with disappointment, moving on and being open to change.  Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Colin Covert in the Tribune panned the movie but Chris Hewitt in the Pioneer Press gave it three stars.  Wisely, it was promoted on PBS where it is most likely to find an audience. Elsewhere . . .

Gale Storm, best known for the inane 50s sitcom “My Little Margie”, was a talented singer and comedienne and was Monogram Pictures' Judy Garland in the ‘40s.  For her story, read “I ain’t down yet: autobiography of Gale Storm”.  Details are lacking about working at Monogram and Allied Artists except for her dislike of Roy Del Ruth but she made her best best movie with him, “It Happened on 5th Avenue” .   Some of her other Monogram screen credits include “Swing Parade of 1946” with Phil Regan, “Let’s Go Collegiate” with Frankie Darro and “Revenge of the Zombies” with John Carradine which is marvelously bad.  (Veda Ann Borg steals the movie as the walking dead).

Storm also made a horse opera at Republic Pictures which is the focus of a scholarly book,  “Republic Studios:  Between Poverty Row and the Majors” by Richard M. Hurst.  Prominent Republic historian Jack Mathis, who is decreased, had an extensive film collection extensive which includes “Captain America” serial that’s not available for purchase.  Mathis' collection is at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  Dick Purcell stared in Captain America and died of heart attack shortly thereafter doing his own stunts.  Dick is remembered as the handsome lead in “King of the Zombies” at Monogram.  Hopefully some day the Captain America serials will be available on DVD.

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