Monday, April 29, 2013

Julie Adams Chats with the Café about James Stewart, the Gill Man, Elvis, and Her Autobiography

Julie Adams' amazing career as a film and television actress has spanned six decades. She worked with screen legends such as James Stewart, Rock Hudson, Angela Lansbury, William Powell, and even Elvis Presley. Her most famous leading man was the tall, 
silent--and wet--type, the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In 2011, she wrote her autobiography, with son Mitchell Danton, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon. Ms. Adams is currently on a book tour, but took time out of her schedule to talk with the Café.

Café: You co-starred with James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, and Rock Hudson in one of the finest Westerns of the 1950s: Bend of the River. What was it like working with that all-star cast and director Anthony Mann?

Julie Adams and Arthur Kennedy in
Bend of the River.
Julie Adams: Some of my fondest Hollywood memories came from acting in Bend of the River. Working with James Stewart was an incredible learning experience for me; he was such a fine screen actor. Arthur Kennedy was also a real pro. He had a great deal of stage experience and that brought a unique acting style to the ensemble. Rock Hudson and I became pals and later co-starred in another one of my favorites, The Lawless Breed. I also became friends with Lori Nelson, a lovely young actress. Today, we share a bond through the Creature trilogy of films. Lori played the Gill Man's object of desire in the second movie, Revenge of the Creature. I also loved working with director Anthony Mann, who had great energy. It was an action picture, so his upbeat nature brought a good tempo. We all enjoyed working with him. There was a sense of unity in trying to make the movie good.

Café: Nineteen years later, you played James Stewart's wife on the television sitcom The Jimmy Stewart Show. How did you come to be cast in that role?

James Stewart and Julie Adams
in The Jimmy Stewart Show.
JA: As I recall, a lot of women read for the role of Martha Howard, the wife of Professor James K. Howard (Jimmy Stewart). The day I tested for the part with Jimmy, I brought into play my genuine friendship and admiration I had for him as a person. I think that came through on the screen; we had nice chemistry together. After the screen test, he gave me a little nod and as I walked back to my dressing room I thought: "I think I have this part!" I was so thrilled. The show was not a success, and only lasted 24 episodes. But, as I've often said: "My idea of heaven was going to work with Jimmy Stewart every day for six months." 

Café: You're probably asked this a lot, but what do you remember most fondly about Creature from the Black Lagoon?

One of the most famous stills
in 1950s science fiction cinema.
JA: I think it was all of the creative people who worked on the movie. Jack Arnold did a magnificent job directing, making a fantastic story believable. Makeup artists Bud Westmore and Jack Kevan were great friends and so very talented. The look of the Creature still captivates audiences today. I also became good friends with Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning, the men who portrayed the Creature on land and underwater. Of course, Richard Carlson and Richard Denning are compelling as two of the lead scientists on the expedition. The astonishing afterlife of this film never ceases to amaze me. I'm proud that it has entertained so many movie fans for so long.

Café: You began your career while there was still a "studio system" that groomed stars. Do you think the demise of the studio system was a good thing or a bad thing?

JA: I know several actors who had varied experiences with the "studio system." For me, it was a chance to work a lot and establish a name for myself in the movies. I had virtually no contacts when I came to Hollywood, and having a home base at Universal was a wonderful thing for me. I got to work with movie stars that I never would have even met were it not for the studio system. I'm not sure if its demise was a good or bad thing. Personally, I think it's harder for newcomers to establish themselves these days without the resources of a major studio behind them.

Julie Adams and Elvis Presley
in Tickle Me.
Café: You starred opposite Elvis Presley in Tickle Me (1965), once describing the plot as "the reverse of a boss chasing the secretary around the desk." What was your impression of Elvis as an actor? 

JA: Despite his status as a superstar singer and stage performer, Elvis took his acting very seriously. He was always prepared, and did a good job in the roles he was given. When he did his musical numbers in Tickle Me, sometimes walking from table to table in a nightclub set, he did them perfectly in one take! 

Café: You guest-starred in some of the most memorable TV series of the 1960s, from Perry Mason to Alfred Hitchcock Presents to 77 Sunset Strip. If you had to name one favorite, what would it be?

JA: I loved working on all of them, but the one that stands out for me is Perry Mason. I guest-starred in four episodes between 1963 and 1965. Fans still remember one of my episodes vividly: "The Case of the Deadly Verdict," which is said to be the only case Perry Mason ever lost. I've gotten a lot of fan mail about that one, which is wonderful. I also thought Raymond Burr was one of the finest actors on television at that time, so working with him was always a pleasure.

Adams as Eve Simpson in
Murder, She Wrote.
Café: You played real estate agent Eve Simpson in several episodes of Murder, She Wrote. What was it like working on that show with Angela Lansbury?

JA: My character, Eve, was quite eccentric. She liked money and she liked men, and I had a lot of fun playing her. Eve would often say something outlandish that would leave Angela's character, Jessica Fletcher, speechless. Of course, Angela was a joy to work with. Playing comedy with an actress of her caliber was like driving in a fast car without the danger. I felt like I always had to be at the top of my game when I was playing a scene with her. I feel blessed to have had an opportunity to play a part on her hit show, Murder, She Wrote.

Café: How would you describe the experience of writing your autobiography The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon?

JA: It was a lot of work putting my life story into words, but I enjoyed reliving the memories from my long career. Working with my son on the book was a lot of fun. He helped me research some of the lesser known projects I was involved with. The book is also filled lots of photographs that help bring the story to life for the reader. It has been rewarding that people who have read the book have enjoyed it. That is the greatest gift of all!

Café: John Wayne, William Powell, Rock Hudson, Tyrone Power--you've worked with many of the most famous actors of the classic film era. Excluding James Stewart (we know he's a favorite), what actors did you most enjoy working with and why?

Rock Hudson and Adams in
The Lawless Breed.
JA: Rock Hudson and Tyrone Power were so great, each in their own way. Rock and I were about the same age, and many of the leading men I worked with were a decade or more older than me. So when Rock and I got to star in a movie together, The Lawless Breed, it was like the kids had taken over the candy store. I must confess that we goofed around a bit between takes, but I think our friendship and fondness for each other came though on the screen. Tyrone was a thrill to work with on The Mississippi Gambler. He was a real movie star, and when he walked on the set, it was as if a row of flood lights had been turned on. He just radiated charm and charisma. Despite being such a big star, he made everyone on the set feel at ease, which was so wonderful. We lost both of these handsome and talented leading men much too soon.

Piper Laurie, Tyrone Powers, and Julie
Adams in The Mississippi Gambler.
Café : You keep a busy schedule with your appearances at movie conventions and signing copies of your book. Are there any upcoming events you'd like to share with our readers?

JA: These events come out of the blue sometimes, but two that I've booked months in advance are the San Jose Super Toy and Comic Book Show (August 17) and Spooky Empire in Orlando, Florida (October 25-27). Ricou Browning (who portrayed the Creature underwater) will be at Spooky Empire as well, which should be exciting for fans of Creature from the Black Lagoon.

You can learn about Julie Adams and order signed (or unsigned) copies of The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon at You can also "friend" Julie on her Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We Describe the Movie...You Name It!

This is our 4th edition of this type of quiz. The rules are easy: Name each film below based on our vague description. Be sure to include the question number with your response. Please don't answer all the questions so others can play, too. There is one film that is the single best answer to each description.

1. Young man falls in love with his aunt (!)...but he doesn't trust her.

2. At the snap of one's fingers, a klutz becomes a master swordsman.

3. Newlyweds have trouble leaving town; the groom shoots people at the climax.

4. Young girl displays unique talent of spinning her head 180 degrees.

5. Compelling evidence that the 1968 Mustang had good shock absorbers.

6. Newlywed can't get along with the head of the housekeeping staff.

7. A bottle of 1934 Pommard.

8. Woman learns about men by reading a dog training book.

9. Don't take that brain!

10. That lovely green dress...kinda looks like your old curtains!

11. The only film in cinema history featuring a mermaid and a motorcycle gang.

12. Guy tells girlfriend not to fall asleep, but then she does and he gets really upset!

13. Milady Soap: "The soap that sanctifies."

14. Happy Soap. (Two soap questions...what a squeaky clean quiz!)

15. And in a powerful scene, a man tries to pawn his typewriter.

Monday, April 22, 2013

John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles

In his new book John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles, editor Stephen B. Armstrong lets his subject largely speak for himself. The result is a fascinating look inside the mind of a filmmaker whose career ranged from bonafide classics--such as The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May--to unmitigated disasters. Frankenheimer discusses his work in unflinching terms, defending some critical failures (e.g., Prophecy) while acknowledging that others were made to pay the bills (e.g., The Extraordinary Seaman). His realistic approach to his craft can be summarized in this marvelous quote: "Every movie you make is a compromise."

Twenty-six of the thirty-one chapters are either interviews with Frankenheimer or essays penned by the director. The remaining five chapters are written by Frankenheimer's family, colleagues, and the editor. Armstrong has done a masterful job in selecting the articles, which were originally published between 1964 and 2010. The chronology of the articles allows the reader to learn how the acclaimed director viewed his films at different points in his life.

Frankenheimer fondly discusses his early career in live television in several articles ("I look back on that as the highlight of my life"). He directed over 125 television dramas, earning Emmy nominations for five consecutive years, starting in 1956. In this "Golden Age of Television," he worked with established stars (Robert Mitchum, Claudette Colbert, James Mason, etc.) and actors destined to become stars (e.g., Paul Newman, Ben Gazzara, and Lee Marvin).

Frankenheimer was just 26 when he made his first theatrical film, The Young Stranger (1957), which he describes as "a lousy movie" and a terrible experience with the crew and studio. He credits David O. Selznick with reviving his interest in a theatrical film career. He and Selznick collaborated on the script for F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (which Selznick abandoned). After making The Young Savages in 1961, the first of five films with Burt Lancaster, Frankenheimer directed Birdman of Alcatraz and The Manchurian Candidate (both 1962)--and sealed his place among the great directors of the 1960s.

Lansbury as one of cinema's worst mothers.
Some of Frankenheimer's best anecdotes focus on the casting choices in his films. Frank Sinatra wanted Lucille Ball to play the maternal role made famous by Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate. In Seven Days in May,  Frankenheimer originally wanted Paul Newman to play Colonel Jiggs Casey with Kirk Douglas as the scheming General James Mattoon Scott. Douglas eventually played Casey instead and Burt Lancaster gave one of his best performances as Scott. The race-car drama Grand Prix was written for Steve McQueen and James Garner was cast only because McQueen was unavailable. And in Seconds, Frankenheimer had convinced Laurence Olivier to play both the old and "young" versions of the film's protagonist. When the studio insisted on Rock Hudson as the star, the director decided to cast two actors, with John Randolph playing the middle-aged Arthur Hamilton and Hudson as the transformed Hamilton.

Burt Lancaster in Birdman of
Frankenheimer excels at capturing the frustrations and challenges of making movies. For example, his 1971 film, The Impossible Object starring Alan Bates, was never released. Even Birdman of Alcatraz proved to be a difficult shoot. Frankenheimer reveals that the first cut ran four hours and ten minutes, with the birds not appearing for the first two hours. Deciding that there was no way to cut the film, Frankenheimer convinced the producer to let him rewrite and reshoot the first half: "We put the film together and it is what it is. But we shot (it) one and a half times."

Editor Stephen B. Armstrong, a professor at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, includes a comprehensive filmography, a bibliography, and an index. His book is a must for any library with a film reference collection and for anyone interested in what goes on behind the scenes in the making of a motion picture.

Scarecrow Press, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield, provided the Cafe with a review copy of this book.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bad Movie Theatre: Liz and Dick in "The Sandpiper"

Richard Burton dominated the silver screen in the mid-1960s, delivering several of his finest performances in films such as: The Night of the Iguana (1964); Becket (1964); The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966); and The Taming of the Shrew (1967).

Then there’s The Sandpiper.

After the disappointing Cleopatra and the banal The V.I.P.s, Burton and then-wife Elizabeth Taylor were due for a successful pairing. Unfortunately, they chose a mushy, poorly-written soap set in Big Sur. Perhaps, they just wanted an expense-paid vacation on the beach.

Liz plays Laura Reynolds, a free-spirited artist who lives in an ocean-front cabin with Danny, her nine-year-old son. The home-schooled Danny has “issues” that prompt Judge Thompson (Torin Thatcher) to place the boy in a boarding school run by Episcopalian priest Dr. Edward Hewitt (Burton).  Laura and Edward clash immediately, with her shouting that Danny is “a healthy normal boy who hasn’t been brainwashed yet.” Keep in mind that this is the same lad who went before Judge Thompson three times for offenses such as killing a yearling.

From their first meeting, it’s apparent that the married Edward is very interested in the young, single mother. Even Laura’s beatnik friend (Charles Bronson) notices Edward’s frequent gazes when he asks her: “Are you gonna seduce him?” Still miffed at having her son taken away, she retorts: “It would serve him right if I did.”

Along the way, though, she falls in love with Edward and the couple spends a blissful week cavorting on the beach. Are we supposed to feel happy for these characters and then sad when—inevitably—they are torn apart? Surely not, because Edward is cheating on his dutiful wife (Eva Marie Saint) and devoted mother Laura seems to have forgotten about her son. Indeed, the weakest aspect of The Sandpiper is that it’s built around two characters that never gain audience sympathy.

The poster makes the film look steamier that it is.
The film’s failure is surprising given its pedigree. Vincente Minnelli directed from a script written by former blacklisted writers Dalton Trumbo (Spartacus) and Michael Wilson (Lawrence of Arabia). One can blame them for the dreadful pacing and the stilted dialogue (poor Robert Webber has to end almost every sentence with “baby” to show he’s a “player”). 

Still, everyone involved in The Sandpiper needs to share the blame for the general air of disinterest and gaps in logic. For example, Laura and Edward are having a clandestine affair, but gaze lovingly at each other in a local, very public restaurant. Laura’s “shack” on the beach turns out to be a charming private cabin with an amazing view—perfect for a starving artist. Finally, I assume that the little bird (a sandpiper) with a broken wing was supposed to be symbolic—though I’m not sure what of.

As for the cast, Burton walks through his role and Liz alternates between being mellow (in a groovy way) and going into histrionic mode. Eva Marie Saint isn’t in enough of the movie to make a difference. Charles Bronson probably comes off best as Liz’s cynical fellow artist (supposedly, Liz wanted Sammy Davis, Jr. cast in that role).

The Flight of the Sandpiper, as it was originally called, was intended as a vehicle for Kim Novak. She allegedly had a falling out with producer Martin Ransohoff, but it also could be that she felt the ill-fated affair plotline was too similar to her earlier (and far better) film Strangers When We Meet (1960).

Of course, before I dismiss The Sandpiper altogether, I need to point out that it received a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Original Song with “The Shadow of Your Smile.” It beat out “What’s New, Pussycat” and “I Will Wait for You” (from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg). It just goes to show that watching a bad movie can be like panning for gold. There may be a lot of wet sand, but sometimes there’s a nice little nugget hiding in there.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

James Cagney Blogathon: Roles Cagney Turned Down

How James Cagney might have looked in
The Adventures of Robin Hood.
The history of cinema is filled with movies not made and actors who turned down intriguing roles. Once he achieved stardom, James Cagney got typecast in tough-guy roles--but he was always looking for characters that stretched him as a performer. Ironically, many of the parts he turned down were ones made famous by other actors.

The most famous role that Cagney rejected was the one that cemented Errol Flynn's superstar status: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). I have great difficulty imagining the 5' 6" Cagney as the charismatic bandit of Sherwood Forest. Warner Bros., though, considered him seriously after the success of its all-star A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), which featured Cagney as Bottom (and also Olivia de Havilland, destined to be cast as Maid Marion). Cagney as Robin Hood was a risk, but Warner Bros. was willing to gamble on a career-changing performance. The studio soon began developing a treatment for its Sherwood Forest tale, which would have co-starred Guy Kibbee as Friar Tuck.

However, Warner Bros. became concerned after learning rival studio MGM planned to make a Robin Hood operetta with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. That production never came to fruition, but it delayed the Warners version. Meanwhile, Cagney sued Warner Bros. in 1935 for breach of contract, a lengthy lawsuit eventually won by the actor. By the time Cagney returned to the studio in 1938, Flynn--who had scored big hits with Captain Blood and The Charge of the Light Brigade--was attached to The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Here's a quick look at other films that could have starred James Cagney:

Lady for a Day (1933). The role of Dave the Dude was originally written with Robert Montgomery in mind. When he wasn't available, Frank Capra considered James Cagney and William Powell. The part eventually went to Warren William (shown on left with May Robson as Apple Annie).

At one time, Cagney was attached to a film called The Padre about an unconventional priest. When he nixed the idea, the film became Going My Way. It earned star Bing Crosby an Academy Award for Best Actor. One year later, he was nominated again for the same role in The Bells of St. Mary's.

Stanley Holloway as Mr. Doolittle.
Cagney retired from acting after appearing in Billy Wilder's 1961 comedy One Two Three. Three years later, he was offered the part of Eliza Doolittle's father, Alfred, in My Fair Lady. When Cagney declined, the role went to Stanley Holloway, who originated it on Broadway.

At the age of 74, Cagney turned down Harry and Tonto (1974), the story of an elderly man making a cross-country trek with his cat. Art Carney took the part and won an Oscar for Best Actor. Ironically, Cagney's last role was in the 1984 made-for-TV movie Terrible Joe Moran, which co-starred Carney.

According to Robert Osborne, James Cagney turned down the role of Vito Corleone in The Godfather; other sources claim he also declined to play Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) in The Godfather Part II.

One role James Cagney wanted, but did not get was the lead in Knute Rockne--All American. In a TCM article, Robert Osborne explained: "Notre Dame's administration had a say in who'd play their famous football leader and said 'no' to Cagney because of a stance he'd taken at the time on a controversial political matter."

Click here to check out all the posts in the James Cagney Blogathon hosted by The Movie Projector.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Annette Funicello Lights Up the Small Screen in The Mickey Mouse Club's "Annette"

Annette Funicello, one of our favorite stars at the Cafe, died today at age 70. In her honor, we're posting this 2009 review of her self-titled Mickey Mouse Club serial.

I first saw the The Mickey Mouse Club serial Annette when I was a youngster and then again in college (go figure). But I didn't become a true Annette Funicello fan until years later and, by that time, Annette was nowhere to be found. To my surprise and delight, it was released in 2008 as part of the Disney Treasures collectible DVD line.

The 19-part serial was originally shown in 1957-58 during the third season of The Mickey Mouse Club. Each installment ran for about 10 minutes, which means it took up over one-third of each Mickey Mouse Club episode. The serial’s premise was a familiar one: Annette is a country girl who goes to live with her aunt and uncle in the city; everyone likes her but a rich, snobby girl whose boyfriend seems interested in Annette! It's a flawed premise, of could anyone not like Annette? Though she was only 14, her sweet disposition and sky-high likability quotient were already evident.

The cast is peppered with now-familiar faces: Richard Deacon (Leave It to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show) as Annette’s uncle; Tim Considine (My Three Sons, Spin and Marty, The Hardy Boys) as love interest Steve; Roberta Shore (Betsy on The Virginian) as the mean girl; David Stollery (Spin and Marty) as nice guy Mike; Mary Pickes in her typical role as a meddler; and Shelley Fabares as one of Annette’s friends. Mousketeers Sharon Baird and Doreen Tracy also appeared in supporting roles.

While there are no musical production numbers in Annette, there are several songs integrated into natural settings: Roberta Shore sings at a teen party, Annette and David Stollery duet at the malt shop, Sharon Baird and Rudy Lee dance up a storm at a barbeque, etc. The surprise of the series, though, came when Annette sang a sweet Sherman Brothers tune called “How Will I Know My Love” standing in front of a mirror (and reprised on a hayride). An avalanche of fan mail followed and Disneyland Records eventually released “How Will I Know My Love” as a single.

Annette with David Stollery.
The Annette serial confirmed that Annette Funicello was quickly becoming a Disney star. One of her lastThe Shaggy Dog, which featured her Annette co-stars Tim Considine and Roberta Shore (as a friendly French girl this time). The rest of her career is, as we say, history.
supporting performances was in 1959’s

By the way, if you rent or buy the Annette serial on DVD, be sure to skip Chapter 1 “An Introduction.” It’s such a thorough “introduction” that it pretty much condenses the serial’s whole plot into a ten-minute summary!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What's the Movie? We Describe It...You Name It!

This is our 3rd edition of this type of quiz, so you probably know the drill. If not, well, the rules are easy: Name each film below based on our (rather) vague description. Be sure to include the question number with your response. Please don't answer all the questions so others can play, too. There is one film that is the single, best answer to each description.

1. Hitchhikers make good use of bed linens.

2. Man visits his best friend, Morgan, every night--but Morgan won't let the guy in the house.

3. Why is that glass of milk glowing?

4. Seawater ruins healthy plants.

5. Cake raffle goes all wrong!

6. Guys kidnap women--everyone falls in love.

7. Vip!

8. Don't belittle Raquel Welch in this movie.

9. Ah, the old postmaster-who's-a-homicidal-master-of-disguises trick!

10. Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

11. Dead man swimmingly narrates the film.

12. Young, single woman moves in with seven guys.

13. You can do more with mashed potatoes than just eat them!

14. On the one hand, there's love...

15. Irresistible impulse.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Douglas Sirk vs. Delmer Daves for the "King of the Movie Soaps" Title

OK, Douglas Sirk fans, I'm calling you out! It's not that I don't enjoy Douglas Sirk soaps like Imitation of Life and All That Heaven Allows. They're glossy, well-crafted, and entertaining. It's just that Sirk has been anointed as "King of Movie Soaps" (helped in large part by 2002's Far from Heaven, a classy Sirk homage which sparked renewed interest in his films). I'm contending that there's another director with a claim to the Movie Soap crown--and that's versatile writer-director and Stanford law school graduate Delmer Daves. So let's get down to this clash among movie soap titans (ignoring their work in other genres, of course):

Sirk's favorite leading man and Daves' principal star.

Round 1 - Daves did more with less in regard to his stars. For a leading man, Douglas Sirk had Rock Hudson...but Daves had Troy Donahue. While good-looking and likable, one could never confuse Troy with a good actor. Cinema history validated Rock as a genuine star and Troy, well, he pretty much faded after the 1960s. It's not a knockdown, but this round goes to Daves. (Of course, Sirk did use Troy as a bad boy in Imitation, but that doesn't count.)

Round 2 - Delmer Daves did a masterful job of integrating story locations into his films. The most lasting image from A Summer Place is of Troy and Sandra Dee holding each other passionately on the beach... desperately in love, aching to be together, trying to find a secret place to be the ocean splashes on the shores (OK, it's not From Here to Eternity, but it's still memorable). Likewise, the New England tobacco fields in Parrish and the stunning California coast of Susan Slade enhance these tales of young love. In contrast, it seems like the settings are incidental in Sirk's films, with the possible exception of Written on the Wind (and even then, most of the action takes place indoors).

Susan Slade: An example of Daves' integration of location.
Round 3 - Douglas Sirk used film like a canvas, skilfully employing color, framing, and objects to enhance character traits and themes. In Written on the Wind, Lauren Bacall's conservative character sports a wardrobe of muted colors while the "bad girl" (Dorothy Malone) drives a bright red car. At the end of the film, Malone's character--who has lost Rock to Lauren--clutches a phallic model oil well in her office. Delmer Daves' soaps are lushly photographed, but the nod here goes to Sirk.

Hudson and Bacall in muted colors in Written on the Wind.

Round 4 - No soap director used music better than Delmer, but then he had a great composer come up with great themes: Max Steiner's Theme from A Summer Place is still the best-selling instrumental of the rock'n'roll era and I'll never understand why Steiner's equally melodic love theme from Parrish seems to have been forgotten. Sirk, on the other hand, frequently employed Frank Skinner, whose scores ranged from lush (All That Heaven Allows) to mush (Magnificent Obsession).

Round 5 - Sirk's admirers claim that his soaps are rife with subtext: All That Heaven Allows is an indictment on social conformity; Imitation of Life takes aim at racial inequality, etc. Of course, one could make similar arguments for Daves' films: out-of-wedlock pregnancies play a key role in ParrishA Summer Place, and Susan Slade. In the latter two films, the teenage mothers become social outcasts (societal conformance is so strong in Susan Slade that the pregnant girl's mother passes the child off as her own!). This is pretty much a draw, but I'll give the edge to Sirk because his films have garnered more documented critical acclaim--and even got the Criterion treatment.

Grant Williams worked for both directors.
Round 6 - Both directors were adept at peppering their films with great supporting actors. Sirk's soaps featured Agnes Moorehead, Juanita Moore, and Dan O'Herily. Delmer Daves had Dean Jagger, Dorothy Maguire, Lloyd Nolan, Dub Taylor, and Constance Ford. This round is a close one; we'll call it a draw. (Interestingly, in addition to Troy Donahue, both directors used Grant Williams. He played Conn White in Susan Slade and Biff Miley in Written on the Wind--gotta love those character names!)

If you've followed my scoring of this fight, it's three rounds to Delmer, two to Doug, and one tie. The winner--by decision--is Delmer Daves. He's now the undisputed "King of the Movie Soaps." It's a title he has long deserved. Anyone interested in staging a rematch? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.