Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Prosperity" Is Just Around The Corner

Tonight as part of its ongoing series about "Life During The Depression," Turner Classic Movies is showing a comedy starring two of my favorite actresses of the Early Sound Era, Marie Dressler and Anita Page.

I've never seen it and from what I've read, Prosperity doesn't sound like the movie you'd necessarily hang your hat on if you wanted to show off either of these two great stars, but the subject matter—bank failures—is near and dear to my heart and what could be better than a movie starring Marie Dressler and Anita Page that makes you appreciate the role the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation plays in guaranteeing your bank deposits?

From TCM's website:

11:00pm [Comedy] Prosperity (1932)
Feuding mothers almost wreck their children's marriage.
Cast: Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Anita Page, Norman Foster Dir: Sam Wood BW-87 mins

As always, that's 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time here in the United States. I apologize to my readers in Great Britain for the Americentric nature of posts like these, but that's where my television is, can't do nothing about it. (By the way, I used to live in Britain—it really is great. Some day I'll regale you with tales of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield when I met that year's champion Mark Williams. Some day, but not today.)

Addendum (10/30/09): Prosperity is a pleasant enough comedy to watch, but apparently was not a pleasant one
for its participants to make.

After screening the finished product, MGM fired its first director, Leo McCarey, and ordered the entire movie to be re-shot from scratch by Sam Wood. McCarey got the last laugh though, winning three Oscars during his career and being nominated eight times.

● The movie was the last of nine pairings between Marie Dressler and Polly Moran, who had become a successful on-screen duo during the Early Sound Era. The studio decided to mine a new vein, which didn't hurt Dressler any, who went on to make Tugboat Annie and Dinner at Eight, but it was the beginning of a steep decline for Moran who finished her career performing in bit parts.

Prosperity also led to anything but for Anita Page, marking the last time she made a movie at MGM. On the outs with studio head Louis B. Mayer after twice refusing to sleep with him (the second proposition made in the presence of Page's mother), Page served out the remaining years of her MGM contract on loan to poverty row studios, making such low-budget bombs as Jungle Bride and Hitch Hike To Heaven. It was an ignominious end for an actress who had just a couple of years before received ten thousand fan letters a week.

● And worst of all, Dressler who was ill throughout shooting was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the film was completed. She died two years later.


The Aging Scott Watson said...

beware the faux FDIC. . . .

Mythical Monkey said...

That's a new one on me. Rule of thumb: never send personal financial information in response to an e-mail.

Actually, an even better rule of thumb is don't get out of bed in the morning, but that has unfortunate practical implications ...

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

You know, this Louis B. Mayer guy is really starting to get on my nerves.

In front of Anita's MOTHER? What an unmitigated oaf.

I picture him sounding like that half-pint Rocky Rococo of Firesign Theatre fame.

Mythical Monkey said...

I think Louis B. Mayer was one of those rich guys who enjoyed bullying people. Even when he was generous, it was just to prove a point.

I'll give him one thing: MGM made some great movies and made a lot of money. But I'd never want to meet the guy ... except maybe in hell.