Wednesday, October 13, 2010

1939 - The End of Torchy

In the year 1939 we find Torchy Blane in Chinatown, Torchy Runs for Mayor, and Torchy Blane, Playing with Dynamite.  The first two with Glenda Farrell, the last with Jane Wyman.

Torchy Blane in Chinatown has another cast of wonderful Bit Actors.  Henry O'Neill (1891 - 1961) has 177 roles listed on IMDB.  He was in two with Laurel and Hardy in their later years, Air Raid Wardens (1943) and Nothing But Trouble (1944).  He also made nine films with Bette Davis

Patric Knowles (1911 - 1995) has 124 roles including The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) with Errol Flynn where he played Will Scarlett.  He is in Another Thin Man (1939) and A Bill of Divorcement (1940), and also shows up in 1941 with Lon Chaney, Jr. (1906 - 1973) in The Wolf Man

Torchy Runs for Mayor is the last time we see Glenda Farrell and Barton MacLane in the Torchy series.  I haven't seen the film, so I don't know if she won the election.  In this one we see John Miljan (1892 - 1960) who has a first class filmography of 206 roles, including quite a few silent films.  He is in everything from Hell Divers (1931) with Wallace Beery and Clark Gable to the C. B. DeMille classic The Ten Commandments in 1956.

Frank Shannon (1874 - 1959) and Joe Cunningham (1890 - 1943) are both in this one and have been in other Torchy films.  Cunningham was in seven of them. 

Torchy Blane, Playing with Dynamite is the final Torchy movie.  This one stars Jane Wyman (1917 - 1907) as Torchy.  She was also in the very first Torchy film, Smart Blonde, as a hat check girl.  That's quite a promotion!

We also see a different Steve McBride, now played by Allen Jenkins (1900 - 1974).  Once again, no one seems to know why the two leads were changed.  In reading the reader reviews on IMDb, it appears that Tom Kennedy stole the show this time. 

The supporting cast is again made up of very experienced actors and actresses, but not many well known names.  My favorite here is Madame Sul-Te-Wan (1873 - 1959) who has 49 titles on IMDb, starting in 1915.  Her second release was Birth of a Nation (1915) and she is also seen in Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1927.  She was a native in King Kong (1933) and was also in Mighty Joe Young (1949), made a few Zombie movies in the 1940s, and her final film was The Buccaneer (1958) with Yul Brynner (1920 - 1985). 

So there you have my take on the entire Torchy Blane series, and a quick look at some important Bit Actors and Actresses who made motion pictures interesting.

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