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My Favorite Blonde

Hey all! You might know that, in addition to, I run The Joyce Compton Shrine — the only website entirely dedicated to “dumb blonde” character actress Joyce Compton. Lately I’ve been pretty happy that Turner Classic Movies will be broadcasting several vintage films with our Miss Compton in the next couple of weeks.

First up, set for Tuesday March 21st at 1:30 a.m. (all times are Eastern Standard): the 1939 musical Balalaika will be aired as part of TCM’s month-long Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy tribute. This one’s a Nelson Eddy solo vehicle with the lovely Illona Massey as his leading lady, which is fine by me since I’m one of the few who actually prefer Nelson and Jeanette individually over the vomitty operettas they did together. Miss Compton has a decent part as Massey’s maid, standing out amongst a motley ensemble playing turn-of-the-century Russians. Not one cast member bothers to attempt speaking in a Russian style — so as a result you end up with Eddy’s sturdy American baritone, Massey’s Viennese accent, supporting player Charlie Ruggles with his proper English tones, and Miss Compton’s sweet Southern voice! It’s very odd experience, but I love the musical numbers and Compton does well with an unusually dramatic role. Plus she wears Adrian’s “Russian peasant meets Hollywood glamour queen” costume designs well.

Broadcasting on Wednesday March 22nd at 7:15 a.m. is Sky Murder, a 1940 MGM B-mystery starring Walter Pidgeon as detective Nick Park. This was another attempt at a Thin Man-style franchise that never got off the ground, though Mr. Pidgeon is very appealing in the lead. Miss Compton plays his assistant, a featherbrained private eye. Not the least stereotypical part ever written, but she contributes lots of delightful energy to what ultimately amounts to a silly, forgettable film. Still, it’s interesting to see her in a rare opportunity at (sort of) leading lady-dom.

Next is something I’ve been waiting for years to see: the 1941 comedy Bedtime Story, set to air on Tuesday March 28 at 8:00 p.m. I never dreamed this particular one would show up on the TCM schedule, since it’s a relatively obscure 20th Century Fox Columbia title and TCM has to make special arrangements to air films not in its library (which includes much of pre-1950 Warner Brothers, MGM and RKO). I don’t know how good a film this is, but does boast a dynamite cast including Loretta Young, Fredric March, Eve Arden, Robert Benchley (Compton previously appeared with Benchley in his 1938 short How To Watch Football), and of course Miss Compton. Here’s hoping it’s a real treat.

And it doesn’t end there — TCM’s showing a bunch of Joyce’s movies in April. City for Conquest (tiny part as dance partner to a young Anthony Quinn) on the 11th; They Drive By Night (uncredited but meaty role as a dumbell) and Westward Passage (bit part as an artist’s model) on the 17th; A Southern Yankee (brunette Southern Belle opposite Red Skelton) on the 21st. Sorry if I ended up sounding like a total shill for TCM here, but this is nice!

2 Thoughts on “My Favorite Blonde

  1. Speaking of obscure Fox movies — we have the Fox Movie Channel (free, not premium, although they hide it in the premium section) and while it is totally unprogrammed and covers everything they own, we’ve been finding some real gems lately stuffed in between the constant showings of Weekend at Bernie’s and Bad Girls. Some of it is just interesting old films that rarely if ever show up on TCM, but a lot of them are things we had never heard of. We’ve added FMC to our very short list of must-have channels!

  2. We have Fox Movie Channel, too, although I don’t watch it very often. But you’re right, every once in a while a nice little ’30s/’40s movie will pop up on the schedule. I just wish that Fox made the channel more than just a dumping ground for their old movies. On the other hand, it makes me admire the wonderfulness of TCM even more.

    I made an amendment to this post – Bedtime Story was Columbia, not Fox.

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