This week’s mystery movie was the 1953 MGM picture “Confidentially Connie,” with Van Johnson, Janet Leigh, Louis Calhern, Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, Hayden Rorke, Robert Burton, Barbara Ruick and Marilyn Erskine.
Screenplay by Max Shulman, from a story by Max Shulman and Herman Wouk.
Photography by Harold Lipstein, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Leonid Vasian. Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith. Assistant director Dolph Zimmer.
Music by David Rose. Recording by Douglas Shearer. Set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and Ralph Hurst. Montage by Peter Ballbusch.
Produced by Stephen Ames. Directed by Edward Buzzell.
“Confidentially Connie” is an oddball movie and I chose it because of Elizabeth Flournoy, our mystery bus driver from last week, and because of the strange working title of another of her films, “A Steak for Connie,” which must be one of the more bizarre working titles ever given to a film (see also “A Can of Beans,” the working title for “Sunset Boulevard”).
The film is yet another light, mid-century romantic comedy that would be a must-see only if you’re going for bragging rights of seeing all of Van Johnson’s movies … or Janet Leigh’s movies … or Louis Calhern’s movies. The project must have looked good on paper: A script by Max Shulman, a cast headed by Van Johnson and Janet Leigh, in a satirical film about the high price of meat. (Trigger alert: There is lots of meat in this movie.) If the movie had been about something else, like the high price of men’s single-breasted suits or Buick Roadmasters or Danish modern furniture or abstract expressionist paintings, or maybe even rutabagas, the script might have a chance. I’m not a vegetarian, but this film really is a throwback to the early 1950s when everybody smoked (even expectant mothers!) and drank, and ate lots and lots of red meat.
As for Elizabeth Flournoy, I’m trying to persuade IMDB that it has the wrong Elizabeth Flournoy in its credits for “The Mating Season” and “Confidentially Connie.” Someone got their mitts into IMDB early on and credited the wrong Elizabeth Flournoy for a lot of movies (pro tip: there were at least three women named Elizabeth Flournoy living in Los Angeles in the 1950s). The roles that rightly should be credited to Elizabeth Betty Flournoy Graves (b. 1913, d. 2010) have mistakenly been credited to another Elizabeth Flournoy, who was born in 1886 and died in 1977, without ever appearing in a film. And a woman born in 1886 who supposedly played an expectant mother in a 1953 film sounds slightly biblical if nothing else.
Revolving around a young but independent college professor whose meager salary does not permit him to buy red meat required by his pregnant wife, “Confidentially Connie” is a highly amusing domestic comedy that, by virtue of its star power, is strong enough to top a double bill. The story is simple, but it is crammed with many comical situations, and those who will see it will tell others of its high degree of humor. Most of the hearty laughs stem from the confusion caused by Louis Calhern, the professor’s blustering father, a Texas cattle tycoon who secretly makes a deal with a local butcher to supply meats to his daughter-in-law at low prices, thus precipitating a cut-throat price war among the butcher shops in town…. It is not a big picture, but it certainly is a very good entertainment.
And let’s see which New York Times critic hated it….
Well. “Confidentially Connie” played in New York in April 1953 as the second half of a double bill with “Above and Beyond” and was not reviewed.
Notice the ad campaign in the New York Times makes no reference to meat.
For Monday, we have a strange mystery photo.
Update: This is a fantasy sequence in which Louis Calhern’s character, a cattle baron, has a nightmare that his pregnant daughter-in-law must eat fish and take vitamins because She. Can’t. Get. Red. Meat!
Also for Monday, we have a mystery gent getting some exercise.
Update: This is Dick Sands.
For Tuesday, we have a mystery doctor.
Update: This is Robert Burton as Dr. Willis Shoop, who urges pregnant women to get lots and lots of red meat.
We also have a mystery cowboy. And yes, they are in the same mystery movie. His companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear Friday.
Update: For “Aha Thursday,” we have our mystery cowboy’s mysterious companion.
Update: This is Emmett Lynn, left, and Louis Calhern. Also a mystery horse and mystery cows.
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery woman. And would you believe it? She does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Lotte Stein.
We also have this mysterious “expectant mother.” No, really she is.
Update: This is Marilyn Erskine.
And we also have this mystery expectant mother and yes, she is smoking. This time, it is I who do not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Kathleen Freeman.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guests).
For “Aha Thursday,” we have these three mystery gents.
Update: This is Louis Calhern, left, Emmett Lynn, center, and Emory Parnell.
Yes, I know we just did our mystery couple, but here they are again. After all, it *is* “Aha Thursday.”
Update: This is Kathleen and Gene Lockhart, whom we just saw in “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain,” exhausting my allotment of Gene and Kathleen Lockhart mystery photos for this year.
And here’s another mystery couple.
Update: This is June Whitley Taylor and Hayden Rorke.
And finally for “Aha Thursday,” we have a mysterious butcher.
Update: This is Walter Slezak.
Brain Trust roll call: Bruce Reznick (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mysterious pregnant woman with cigarette), Tucson Barbara (Tuesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Mary Mallory (mystery movie, and all mystery guests), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery guests and Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Beachgal (mystery movie and all mystery guests except Wednesday’s mysterious woman in the window), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Funky PhD. (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery smoking pregnant woman), B.J. Merholz (Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Gary (Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery guests and Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Blackwing Jenny (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Sheila (Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Sarah (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery guest and Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), David Inman (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mysterious smoking pregnant woman), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and all mystery guests) and Sue Slutzky (mystery movie and all mystery guests).
Note to Blackwing Jenny: Yes. He gets about 30 seconds of screen time.
For Friday, we have the mysterious occupants of the mysterious obstetrician’s waiting room.
Update: This is, from left, Elizabeth Flournoy (the 1913 one), Marilyn Erskine, Janet Leigh and Kathleen Freeman.
Also for Friday, we have our mysterious leading lady, whose character is in the second trimester of her pregnancy. It is the 1950s, after all.
Update: This is Louis Calhern and Janet Leigh.
And here are our mysterious leading man and leading lady.
Update: This is Van Johnson and Janet Leigh.
Brain Trust roll call: Beach Gal (Wednesday’s mysterious woman in the window, Thursday’s mystery gents and mystery couples Nos. 1 and 2), Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery father-in-law, mystery couple No. 1, mysterious future sitcom Air Force officer and mysterious butcher), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), Gary (mystery movie and mysterious leading lady), Alexa Foreman (mystery movie), Thom and Megan (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery cowboys, Wednesday’s mysterious smoking expectant mother and Thursday’s mystery guests), Sylvia E. (Thursday’s mysterious cowboys Nos. 1 and 2, mysterious couples Nos. 1 and 2, and mystery butcher), and Sue Slutzky (Thursday’s mysterious cowboys Nos. 1 and 2, mystery couples Nos. 1 and 2, and mysterious butcher).