THAT DARN SMACK!

(A DUELING DIVAS BLOGATHON ENTRY!)

Joan Collins was never one to veil the truth as she perceives it, especially in her autobiography entitled Past Imperfect, and I thoroughly enjoyed her frankness during her TCM “Word of Mouth” segment when she describes the whack that June Allyson awarded her during the filming of their encounter backstage at the “Footlights Home Benefit” during the second act of The Opposite Sex (1956), a partially musical “remake” of Clare Booth Luce’s The Women.

The only version for purists is the original, The Women (1939), with Joan Crawford as Crystal and Norma Shearer as Mary Haines…

Now The Opposite Sex certainly has its detractors, but I am not one of them, and The Opposite Sex doesn’t seem to be as vilely regarded as the remake in 2008 starring Meg Ryan and Annette Benning, but I guess in some circles it could be. No other version, however, has the fabulous Helen Rose gowns as in 1956!

Dolores Gray (in a fabulous rose pink “mermaid” gown designed by Helen Rose), June Allyson, and Joan Collins imperfecting her past…

Joan Collins, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Joan Blondell, Agnes Moorehead, and Jeff Richards
(Hmm…..Joan Blondell is in this photo, but June Allyson isn’t.)

Link to the trailer for The Opposite Sex (1956):http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/16618/Opposite-Sex-The-Original-Trailer-.html

According to Collins, the slap delivered by June Allyson as “Kay Hilliard” thwacked Collins so soundly that her head jerked back and little “Junie Bug” (as husband Dick Powell nicknamed Allyson) sends Crystal’s earrings flying. Collins’ face was so red that she couldn’t prance in front of the cameras for at least 24 hours.

BEFORE ALEXIS COLBY, THERE WAS….CRYSTAL!

Here’s a publicity still of the staged slap while June Allyson and Joan Collins are wearing their gowns for the final scene, not the scene during the “Footlights Home Benefit Show when the smack actually occurs…

No one wants to miss what really happens next when Crystal tells Kay “If Steven doesn’t like what I’m wearing, I take it off!” so follow the link to see the real slap in real time: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yeCIjd2J32c

Personal animosity wasn’t involved, just an overzealous June. At least she didn’t knock Joan Collins out cold like Jane Fonda did in 1977’s Julia when Fonda punched poor John Glover as “Sammy.” Glover rolled backward in his chair and didn’t move when he landed on the floor of the bar. There wasn’t any animosity involved between Fonda and Glover either, but these are probably two of the toughest injuries ever inflicted by actresses in the course of their “responsibilities to their craft.”

Don’t miss Diva Dolores Gray as Sylvia Fowler when she does her best Joan Collins/Crystal Allen imitation: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yeCIjd2J32c

Other dueling divas on the set of The Opposite Sex were certainly apparent in front of the camera. Ann Miller as “Gloria” and Dolores Gray as “Sylvia” clang around the cupboards and cha-cha-cha around the cabinets before they roll around on the kitchen floor pulling hair and ripping shoulder pads that even Joan Crawford would be proud to sport. Meanwhile, Agnes Moorehead and June Allyson tackle damage control as pots, pans, fruit, and eggs are much worse for wear before the fur finally settles, and I’ve always felt that Texan Ann Miller relished her part in the fracas a lee-tle bitty-bit more than Dolores Gray.

But the cold, icy river running through it all wasn’t even part of the Fay Kanin script of the Luce play that Kanin wasn’t particularly proud of. There were two women on the set who both had very intimate knowledge of the same man, and this time Joan Collins wouldn’t be a culprit, either on or off screen.

When Joan Blondell made six films with James Cagney at Warner Brothers in the 1930s , she appeared onscreen with him more than any other actress. Later, Cagney would claim that the only other woman he ever loved other than his wife was Joan Blondell, but Blondell was never married to Cagney.


Blondell did claim, however, that she loved all three of her husbands and that George Barnes, her first husband, provided Blondell with her first real home.

Dick Powell, her second husband and king of the noirs, provided her with security, and Michael Todd, who lived lavishly and spent all her savings before he married Elizabeth Taylor, was the man Blondell claimed as her “passion,” even though Powell had adopted her son Norman from her first marriage to Barnes. During Blondell’s divorce from Powell in 1944, she claimed cruelty as there were always visitors coming and going in their home, and when she complained of this to Powell he told her “if you don’t like it, you can get the hell out!” Blondell’s novel, Center Door Fancy, a thinly disguised account of some of her experiences, was published in 1972. In the latter part of her career, Blondell appeared in the briefly popular television program Here Comes The Brides from 1968-1970, and made periodic appearances on various television programs until 1981.

Blondell revealed in her memoirs that she had been raped in 1927 by a police officer as she was closing the library where she worked, but through all of her life she maintained a good sense of humor and a belief in herself and her talent.

She had one daughter with Powell, Ellen, and June Allyson became Ellen’s stepmother in 1945.


June Allyson, born Eleanor Geisman in 1917 in New York, was eleven years younger than Blondell, and had taught herself to dance by watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the movies. She got her first big break when Betty Hutton was ill with the measles and took over Hutton’s part in a Broadway play, Panama Hattie, and was awarded a studio contract with MGM shortly thereafter. Dick Powell was Allyson’s first husband, and they adopted a girl because it was thought that Allyson couldn’t conceive due to a childhood accident when a tree crushed her while she was riding a bicycle, but two years later in 1950, Allyson became pregnant with their son, Dick Powell, Jr.

Unfortunately, June and Dick didn’t seem much happiier than Joan and Dick because Allyson also separated from Powell and had a very public affair with Alan Ladd in 1955.

Joan Blondell had a wonderful sense of humor, and enjoyed teasing her friend Bette Davis about her husbands. Since they were all Gentiles, Blondell called them “The Four Skins.” But things were not as jovial around June Allyson, especially on the set of The Opposite Sex. It seems Blondell and Allyson did not socialize on the set at all because of some of the issues surrounding Blondell’s divorce from Powell and June’s reluctance to involve herself socially with her husband’s ex-wife, as well as issues arousing from the care of Ellen, Blondell’s daughter with Powell. Allyson also had to fight her own mother for custody of her children after Powell’s death, so there were some obvious parenting issues that Allyson continued to deal with which may or may not have been due to her admitted alcoholism.

June and Joan are not sitting very closely to each other, and it just may be that the girls are reclined in order of their importance in the script, but they are still far apart…

Their only scene as two of the principle characters…

In 1956 on the MGM lot, there were a few more “Dueling Divas” than the ones appearing in front of the camera, and somehow all those costume fittings, the on-set antics, actresses’ accusatory looks that shoot daggers might have been staged, but contract commitments still had to be honored no matter what an actor or actress may felt about a fellow player.


Dolores Gray, Alice Pearce, and Ann Sheridan at Sydney’s “Groomopolis”

…and one of the most lambasted musical numbers ever, “Yellow Gold,” a song sung by a man praising the joys of being a “Bananyonaire” are all possible subjects for those who must sharpen their more critical senses on a simple film from the 1950s.

June Allyson, Joan Blondel, and Joan Collins all wrote about their experiences in novels and autobiographies which detail some of their The Opposite Sex experiences. But for me, I will write about how much this film is still a guilty pleasure, and I still find something to enjoy when I revisit the film, even if it is just former baseball-player-turned-actor Jeff Richards as Buck Winston…”Mayummmmm………….”

MANY THANKS TO LARA GABRIELLE AND BACKLOTS FOR ORGANIZING THE DUELING DIVAS BLOGATHON!

READ ALL THE ENTRIES FOR THE DUELING DIVAS BLOGATHON HERE: http://backlots.net/2013/12/20/dont-forget-dueling-divas-this-weekend/
Read more about some of these divas:
Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes by Matthew Kennedy
Center Door Fancy by Joan Blondell
June Allyson by June Allyson
Past Imperfect by Joan Collins
Passion For Life by Joan Collins

An Interview with Ray Hagen on the Remembering Ann Sheridan Blog: http://www.ann-sheridan.com/Ann_Sheridan_Interviews/Ray_Hagen_Interview.html

Both Ann Miller and Ann Miller are Texas gals!

Joan Collins introduced this guilty pleasure of mine, The Opposite Sex, onthe Turner Classic Movie Channel with late host Robert Osborne in October of 2015. They look lovely, don’t they?

Shirley Jones and Joan Collins might not be speaking since Collins won her lawsuit against Jones! Follow the link to read more about it: http://tinyurl.com/mtqg65w.

©2018

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UPDATED FILM TITLE LIST FOR THE TCM ULTIMATE FAN CONTEST

TCM ULTIMATE FAN VIDEOS BY FILM TITLE—Updated as of November 4

Well, my numbers may be a little fuzzy on this, but hopefully not the titles. It seems Gone With The Wind is the all-time favorite with 7 entries, Arsenic and Old Lace tied with Sunset Boulevard at 5 entries, and The Wizard of Oz and Rebecca both had 4. All About Eve , The Night of the Hunter, and The House on Haunted Hill each had 3 entries.

The total number of entries? 298, give or take a few that might have been deleted. Some of the links to contestant videos I was not able to access or open, and one or two had been removed.

ENJOY!

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
A Bridge Too Far
A Christmas Carol (2)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed
The African Queen
After The Thin Man
A Hard Day’s Night
A Letter For Evie
All About Eve (3)
Among The Living
An American in Paris
Angel
Angels With Dirty Faces
Animal Crackers
The Apartment
A Place in the Sun
Arsenic and Old Lace (5)
The Artist
The Asphalt Jungle

Baron of Arizona
The Beguiled
Bell, Book and Candle
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Big Country
The Blob
The Birds
The Blackboard Jungle
Blue Velvet
Born Yesterday
Breaker Morant
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (2)
Bride of Frankenstein
Brief Encounter
Bringing Up Baby
Broadway Melody (2)
Bullitt
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Calamity Jane
The Cameraman
Captain Newman, M.D.
Casablanca
Cat and the Canary
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Charley’s Aunt
The Chase
Cinema Paradiso
The Clown (2)
Cool Hand Luke (2)
Count Three and Pray

Dark Passage
The Detective
Detour
Dodsworth
Dog Day Afternoon
Don’t Torture a Duckling
Duck Soup

The Eddie Duchin Story

Father of the Bride
Fight Club
The Fisher King
The Fugitive Kind
Force of Evil
Frankenstein
Funny Face

The Gay Sisters
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Ghostbusters
Giant
Gilda (2)
Gojira
The Goldiggers of 1933
Goodfellas
Grand Hotel
Grand Slam
The Greatest Story Ever Told
The Great Gatsby
The Great Waltz
The Great Ziegfield
Gone With The Wind (7)
Guys and Dolls

Harvey (2)
Hatari
The Heiress
Hello, Dolly
Hell Raiders
Holiday
High and Low
Hit the Deck
The Hill
Hodoo Ann
Hold Back The Dawn
Hour of the Wolf
How Green Was My Valley
How To Marry A Millionaire
Hound of the Baskervilles
The House on Haunted Hill (3)
The Horror of Party Beach
Humoresque
The Hurricane

If A Man Answers
I Love You Again
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Inherit the Wind
It Happened One Night (2)
It’s A Wonderful Life (2)
I Wake Up Screaming

The Jazz Singer (2)
Johnny Guitar

Kind Lady
King Kong
Kings Go Forth
Kings Row
Kiss Me, Deadly

The Lady Eve
Lamb Chops
Lillies of the Field
Little Emily
The Little Foxes (2)
The Little Princess
The Letter
London After Midnight
Love Letters

The Mad Miss Manton
The Major and The Minor (2)
Make Way For Tomorrow
Manhattan Murder Myster
Mary Poppins
Marty
Meet Me in St. Louis
Midnight
Midnight Lace (2)
Mildred Pierce
Mr. Blandings Builds Hi Dream House
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Murder My Sweet
Muppet Movie
My Fair Lady
My Favorite Year

1900
The Naked City (FIRST  PLACE)
Network
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
New York, New York
Night of the Hunter (3)
Night of the Living Dead
Nights of Cabiria
North By Northwest
Notorious
Number One

The Offense
One Way Passage
On the Waterfront
Out of Sight

Peeping Tom (2)
Phantom of the Opera (’43)
The Philadelphia Story (2)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Playtime
Pleasantville
Poltergeist
Psycho(3)

The Quiet Man (3)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (2)
Random Harvest
The Rat Race
The Razor’s Edge (2)
Rear Window (2)
Rebecca (4)
Rebel Without a Cause
Rhythm on the River
Rio Bravo
Robin and the 7 Hoods
Rope

Sabrina (3)
Senso
Shall We Dance?
Showboat
Silence of the Lambs
Since You Went Away

Singin’ in the Rain (3)
Shock Corridor
The Shop Around The Corner (2)
Sleepless in Seattle
Some Like It Hot
Somewhere in Time
Son of Frankenstein
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Spirited Away
Stranger
Streetcar Named Desire
Stella
Sunset Boulevard (5)
Sweeping Against the Winds
Sweet Revenge
Suez

2001
12 Angry Men
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Them
The Thin Man (2)
The Third Man
The Three Musketeers
To Catch A Thief (2)
To Have and Have Not (2)
Top Hat
The Treasure of Sierra Madre
Trouble in Paradise
Two Lane Blacktop
Two For the Road

Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Uninvited

Vertigo (2)

War of the Worlds
The West Point Story

What a Way to Go
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Where The Sidewalk Ends
Witness For The Prosecution
The Wrong Man
The Wings of Eagles
The Wizard of Oz (4)
The Women (2)
White Christmas
Withnail and I

Ziegfield Girl

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