Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Dec. 28, 2019, The Horn Blows at Midnight
This week’s mystery movie was the 1945 Warner Bros. film “The Horn Blows at Midnight” with Jack Benny, Alexis Smith, Dolores Moran, Allyn Joslyn, Reginald Gardiner, Guy Kibbee, John Alexander, Franklin Pangborn, Margaret Dumont, “Bobby” Blake, Ethel Griffies, Paul Harvey, Mike Mazurki and Truman Bradley.

Screenplay by Sam Hellman and James V. Kern, from an idea by Aubrey Wisberg. Photography by Sid Hickox, edited by Irene Morra, dialogue director Hugh Cummings, art direction by Hugh Reticker, sound by Stanley Jones, special effects by Lawrence Butler. Set decorations by Clarence Steensen, gowns by Milo Anderson, makeup by Perc Westmore, orchestral arrangements by Leonid Raab, musical direction by Leo F. Forbstein.

Music by Franz Waxman, produced by Mark Hellinger, directed by Raoul Walsh.

“The Horn Blows at Midnight” is available on DVD from Warner Archive.

Jack Benny was responsible for the universal belief that “The Horn Blows at Midnight” was a flop. It made money.

In a April 7, 1977, interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Irving Fein, Jack Benny’s manager, said:

Jack made 25 to 30 films. Some are classics, such as “To Be or Not to Be” and “Charlie’s Aunt.” Jack also made a film called “The Horn Blows at Midnight.” He used to say on the air it was the worst movie ever made. It really wasn’t so bad, and it did make money. All of Jack’s films did. But Jack disparaged himself. His fans came to believe he was a cinematic flop.”

After last week’s “Beyond Tomorrow” to go with Christmas, I thought I would throw in “The Horn Blows at Midnight” in time for New Year’s. As Richard Wegescheide pointed out, the movie was regularly featured on TV for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. It’s a fun movie with lots of familiar faces.

Without looking, I’m going to guess the Bowsley Crowther did not approve of such goings-on. Let’s see.

Yup. Nailed it.

Writing in the New York Times (April 21, 1945):

A little bit of Jack Benny usually goes a long, long way — at least, in the estimation of some of us hard-bitten folks. But a whole lot of Mr. Benny doesn’t go very far in Warner Bros. farce-fantasy, “The Horn Blows at Midnight,” which came to the Strand yesterday. Perhaps that’s because Mr. Benny seems to have put on the brakes, or perhaps it’s because a rather thick script has put them on for him. Anyhow, the comic distance covered in this clearly labored show can be measured by a half-dozen chuckles and maybe three or four bona fide laughs.

….The script is neither satire nor good, fresh, fanciful corn. It is a batch of old-fashioned nonsense put together without distinct charm. And Mr. Benny rambles through it with a lackadaisical air, punctuated occasionally by astonished expressions and yelps. Reginald Gardiner, Allyn Joslyn and John Alexander give him some farcical support, and beauty is represented by Alexis Smith and Dolores Moran. Humor, however, is deficient, except in occasional low forms.

Film Daily (April 3, 1945) said:

Highly amusing fantasy will click at the box office: Departure from the usual.

The field of fantasy has been explored to good effect in concocting Jack Benny’s latest screen comedy. “The Horn Blows at Midnight” is an extremely amusing film that departs from the customary, resulting in humor with a refreshing quality. It’s all done with tongue in cheek and with pleasant touches of satire. The picture is not one to draw guffaws, but rather smiles and chuckles — and on an unrationed basis.

… The film has been strikingly produced by Mark Hellinger, with Raoul Walsh contributing good direction. The Sam Hellman-James V. Kern screenplay is full of fanciful stuff.

The Exhibitor (April 18, 1945) said:

X-Ray: Backed by the Benny radio draw and aided by plenty of laughs, this should account for itself satisfactorily. Dream story is fantastic, but it provides many humorous situations which should please most audiences. All in all, however, the Benny lure will make the difference.

Dec. 28, 2019, Mystery Photo
I neglected to post Robert “Bobby” Blake. Here he is.

Dec. 23, 2019, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gent. And he is quite puzzled by such goings-on.

Update: This is Murray Alper.

Dec. 24, 2019, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have a mysterious woman. Bonus points if you can guess what goings-on she doesn’t approve of at this point in the mystery film.

Update: This is Ethel Griffies.

Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bell captain), Michael Ryerson (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bell captain), Thom and Megan (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bell captain), Jenny M. (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bell captain) and the return of Mike Hawks! (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery bell captain).

Dec. 25, 2019, Mystery Photo

For Wednesday, we have two semi-mysterious gents. They do not approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is John Alexander and Allyn Joslyn.

Brain Trust roll call: Thom and Megan (Tuesday’s mystery matron), Howard Mandelbaum (Tuesday’s mystery matron) and Michael Ryerson (Tuesday’s mystery matron).

Dec. 26, 2019, Mystery Photo

Our first guest for “Aha Thursday” most certain does NOT approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is Margaret Dumont as “Madame Traviata.’

Dec. 26, 2019, Mystery Photo

Our second guest for “Aha Thursday” also disapproves of such goings-on.

Update: This is Mike Mazurki.

Dec. 26, 2019, Mystery Photo

And our final guest for “Aha Thursday” most certainly does not approve of such goings-on. In fact, he made an entire career out of not approving of such goings-on.

Update: This is Franklin Pangborn and Guy Kibbee.

Brain Trust roll call: Sylvia E. (Wednesday’s fallen Angel No. 2), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Mary Mallory (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s fallen angels), Sue Slutzky (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Dan Nather (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Anne Papineau (Wednesday’s fallen angel no. 2), Jenny M. (Wednesday’s fallen angels), B.J. Merholz (Wednesday’s fallen angels), Michael Ryerson (Wednesday’s fallen angels and the reason they disapprove of such goings-on), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Monday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests) and Thom and Megan (Wednesday’s fallen angels).

Dec. 27, 2019, Mystery Photo
For Friday, we have a mystery fellow that I overlooked earlier in the week.

Update: This is Dudley Dickerson.

Dec. 27, 2019, Mystery Photo

And this unmysterious mechanized set.

Ah…. restful sleep….

Dec. 27, 2019, Mystery Photo
And here’s our unmysterious leading lady being interviewed by a not terribly mysterious announcer.

Update: Dick Lane interviews Alexis Smith.

Dec. 27, 2019, Mystery Photo
Also for Friday, we have this semi-mysterious cigarette girl and her mysterious disreputable companion.

Update: This is Reginald Gardiner and Dolores Moran.

Dec. 27, 2019, Mystery Photo

And finally, our mysterious leading man. With a mysterious instrument.

Update: Yes, Jack Benny with a trumpet.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (Thursday’s mystery guests), Sylvia E. (Thursday’s mystery guests No. 1 and 4), Benito (mystery movie and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Chrisbo (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Michael Ryerson (Thursday’s mystery guests), Jenny M. (Thursday’s mystery guests), David Inman (mystery movie and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (mystery movie), Richard Wegescheide (mystery movie, and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Sue Slutzky (Thursday’s mystery guests), Megan and Thom (Thursday’s mystery guests) and Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Murray Alper in “The Horn Blows at Midnight.”

    Like

  2. Here Murray, who seemed to assay cab drivers every third film or so, is a bell captain in The Horn Blows at Midnight. As a kid, one of my favorite films.

    Like

  3. Mary Mallory says:

    John Mitchum.

    Like

  4. Thom and Megan says:

    Today’s guest is Murray Alper in The Horn Blows at Midnight,

    Like

  5. Jenny M says:

    Murray Alper in The Horn Blows at Midnight.

    Like

  6. Anne Papineau says:

    Gentleman’s Agreement?

    Like

  7. mike hawks says:

    Murray Alper in THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT.

    Like

  8. Thom and Megan says:

    Ethel Griffies for today.

    Like

  9. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Ethel Griffies.

    Like

  10. For Tuesday, the redoubtable Ethel Griffies.

    Like

  11. Ed says:

    Monday is William Granger movie Footlight Parade

    Like

  12. Sylvia E. says:

    I think Allen joslyn is the guy on screen right for Wednesday.

    Like

  13. tucsonbarbara says:

    “The Horn Blows at Midnight”

    Monday – Murray Alper
    Tuesday – Ethel Griffies
    Wednesday – John Alexander, Allyn Joslyn

    Like

  14. Mary Mallory says:

    THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT. Murray Alper Monday, Ethel Griffes Tuesday, John Alexander and Allyn Joslyn today.

    Like

  15. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    John Alexander, Allyn Joslyn.

    Like

  16. Sue Slutzky says:

    The Horn Blows at Midnight – Monday: Murray Alper, Tues: Ethel Griffies, Wed: John Alexander and Allyn Joslyn. So many great character actors in this one. Starring one of my favorite comedians…Jack Benny.

    Like

  17. Dan Nather says:

    I’m going to guess THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT.

    Monday — Murray Alper
    Tuesday — Ethel Griffies
    Wednesday — John Alexander and Allen Joslyn

    Like

  18. Anne Papineau says:

    Allyn Joslyn

    Like

  19. Jenny M says:

    John Alexander and Allyn Joslyn.

    Like

  20. Earl Boebert says:

    I’m guessing Robert Benchley on the left for Wednesday. Haven’t a clue as to the movie.

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  21. B.J. Merholz says:

    John Alexander and Allyn Joslyn. Could they be fallen angels?

    Like

  22. Christmas Day brings us John Alexander (L) and Allyn Joslyn (R) fallen angels both shocked at their chance encounter with a certain trumpeter just getting off an elevator (if my memory serves).

    Like

  23. LC says:

    The Horn Blows at Midnight/Murray Alper, John Alexander, Allyn Joslyn, Jack Benny, Alexis Smith,…

    Like

  24. Floyd Thursby says:

    Monday we have Murray Alper. The Wednesday gentlemen are John Alexander and Allyn Joslyn. The movie is “The Horn Blows at Midnight” which Jack Benny made jokes about about for years afterwards.

    Like

  25. Thom and Megan says:

    Today’s gentlemen are John Alexander (taking a break from digging in Panama) and Allyn Joslyn.

    Like

  26. Mary Mallory says:

    Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazurki, Franklin Pangborn (Yay! but what a terrible mustache), and the Kibbers, Guy Kibbee.

    Like

  27. tucsonbarbara says:

    Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazurki, Franklin Pangborn, Guy Kibbee

    Like

  28. Sylvia E. says:

    I think Thursday’s granddame is Margaret Dumont. Next is Slapsy Maxie Rosenblum. I think the profile gent is Guy Kibbee, but not sure.

    Like

  29. Benito says:

    Allyn Joslyn, matronly Margaret Dumont, and stellar sissy Franklin Pangborn. Probably the apocalyptic THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT.

    Like

  30. Chrisbo says:

    Aha! It’s Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazurki and Franklin Pangborn in The Horn Blows at Midnight. Monday: Marray Alper. Tuesday: perhaps Ethel Griffies?

    Like

  31. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Margaret Dumont; Mike Mazurki; Franklin Pangborn, Guy Kibbee.

    Like

  32. Thursday’s cavalry charge is comprised of the great Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazuki, Franklin Pangborn and Guy Kibbee. A veritable smorgasbord (sorry for the mixed metaphor) of Warners Brothers’ second and third banana comedians.

    Like

  33. Jenny M says:

    Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazurki, and Franklin Pangborn.

    Like

  34. David Inman says:

    “The Horn Blows at Midnight”! With Allyn Joslyn, John Alexander, Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazurki and Franklin Pangborn.

    Like

  35. Anne Papineau says:

    If this is “The Horn Blows at Midnight,” it would be easier to list who wasn’t in it.

    Like

  36. Richard Wegescheide says:

    Ah Hah Thursday was a big help, especially if Alexis Smith and Jack Benny show up Friday. I believe it’s The Horn Blows at Midnight. Wednesday is Al Joslin. Thursday is Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazerki and Franklin Pangborn.
    When I was kid, WNBC in New York would play this picture every New Year’s Day at 1am. That Tradition went on for at least 10 years, maybe 20.

    Like

  37. Sue Slutzky says:

    Thursday: Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazurki and the inimitable Franklin Pangborn.

    Like

  38. Megan and Thom says:

    Today we have Margaret Dumont, Mike Mazurki, Franklin Pangborn and Guy Kibbee.

    Like

  39. mike hawks says:

    John Alexander, Allyn Joslyn, Margaret Dumont,Mike Mazurki and franklin pangborn.

    Like

  40. tucsonbarbara says:

    Dudley Dickerson, Richard Lane, Alexis Smith, Reginald Gardiner, Dolores Moran, Jack Benny

    Like

  41. Mary Mallory says:

    Dudley Dickerson, Reginald Gardiner and Alexis Smith, Richard “Dick” Lane and Dolores Moran, and Mr. Jack Benny and trumpet (but where’s the violin?).

    Like

  42. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Dudley Dickerson; Richard Lane, Alexis Smith; Reginald Gardiner, Dolores Moran; Jack Benny.

    Like

  43. Friday’s round-up includes Dudley Dickerson, the rather imposing Paradise Coffee ‘exterior’ building advertising where the ‘horn’ is supposed to be blown, ‘Dick’ Lane and Alexis Smith, the dapper (and disreputable) Reginald Gardiner and the comely Dolores Moran, and our hero horn player Jack Benny.

    Like

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