This year I will be taking part in The Second Marathon Stars Blogathon hosted by Musings of a Classic Film Addict, In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, and The Wonderful World of Cinema. I had a hard time picking between Kathryn Grayson and the star I ultimately picked, Joan Leslie. I have only seen two of Joan's films, Rhapsody in Blue (1945) and Cinderella Jones (1946). Both roles have her paired with Robert Alda, but I decided to spread my wings and dive into the rest of her filmography. I am happy I get an opportunity to explore her filmography more.
The first film I watched for this blogathon is a film noir called Repeat Performance from 1947. The film stars Joan Leslie as Broadway actress Shelia Page. At the beginning of the movie, Shelia has just shot her husband Barney (Louis Hayward) to death. She runs off and meets up with her friend William Williams (Richard Basehart) and tells him that she wishes she could relive 1946. Her wish comes true and even though somethings turn out different, others remain the same.
I really liked this movie. Joan was stunning in it. I enjoyed Louis Hayward's performance, but I didn't feel like he and Joan had any chemistry. I felt she had more chemistry with Richard Basehart or Tom Conway. Tom Conway played her manager in the film. I really enjoyed the plot of this film. Shelia wasn't a femme fatale in my eyes, but she looked like she could have been. And I enjoyed the time aspect of this film. If this film sounds interesting to you, you can check it out on Amazon Prime or YouTube.
The second film I watched for this blogathon came out in 1942 and is called The Male Animal. Joan is billed third in this film right below Henry Fonda and Olivia DeHavilland. Jack Carson, Don DeFore, and Eugene Pallette roundout the cast of this film. The film centers around the weekend of a big football game and the controversy if a professor reading a letter the trustees don't want him to. Joan plays the role of Olivia's kid sister, Pat in this film.
Joan's performance in this film wasn't very memorable. I liked the film, but mainly because of Henry Fonda, Jack Carson, and Don DeFore. I found Olivia's character to be a little annoying and now I know why she isn't a huge fan of this film. I liked how they were able to mix the serious and fun elements in this film. And on one final note, Michigan totally would have blown Midwestern out of the water. I guess Hollywood really worked it's magic on that football game. Like Joan's performance, I don't think I will find this movie very memorable in the long run. I got this movie on DVD, but I am sure it might be available on digital too if you are interested in seeing it.
The Sky's The Limit came out in 1943.It stars Joan Leslie as a newspaper photographer that catches the eye of Fred Astaire's fighter pilot character. The plot mainly revolves around the fact that Joan thinks he is a bum because he is not fighting n the war and he doesn't have a job. She doesn't find out the truth until the end of the film when he flys out again. Robert Ryan, Robert Benchley, and Elizabeth Patterson also star in this film.
First off, there is barely any chemistry between Joan and Fred and I have a feeling that's because of their age difference. He is twenty-four years older and it shows. Their dance scenes are great, but it is nothing like his work with Rogers or Hayworth. Honestly, she would have been better suited with Robert Ryan, who she only had a few scenes with but still had more chemistry with. Even Fred had better chemistry with Robert Ryan! I found this film to be entertaining but I feel like Fred should have had a different leading lady.
Jubilee Trail is a Western film that came out in 1954, it is also based off a book. Joan stars as a young newlywed named Garnet Hale. She and her husband Oliver are heading to California, so she can meet his older brother. Little does Garnet know Oliver's brother wants him to marry another woman. This woman has also had Oliver's child. Of course the reception is frosty once she meets Oliver's brother, but it gets worse once he dies. Garnet moves into an apartment above a bar with her friends and works there while she raises her own child. She falls in love with another man and they all live happily ever after. Well, after Oliver's brother tries to take her son a couple of times.
It's been awhile since I have seen a western and I am glad I watched this one. It was very entertaining and I found no one to be annoying. I didn't like Oliver, but he deceived his wife. His brother was a jerk too, but he died. This movie is a bit dramatic at times, but I didn't pause it once. If you are looking for a fun western to watch, I suggest you give this one a shot. You can watch it on YouTube which in my opinion is an added bonus.
Joan has a small role in Nancy Drew...Reporter from 1939. She plays one of Nancy's classmates and her name is Mayme. Nancy and her peers go to the newspaper office to receive assignments for a contest thet are entering. Nancy (Bonita Granville) switches her out and tries the solve the murder of an old lady. She believes the woman who is being accused of the murder and she will do anything to find the killer.
Joan Leslie was in this movie for ten seconds and had two lines, but I still liked her in it. This movie was entertaining, but someone needed to rein Nancy in. She was a little out of control in my opinion. I mean she made Teddy go box against a heavyweight champion. Teddy could have died. This movie isn't very long, but it has a good plot and Nancy (when she isn't trying to get Teddy killed) is actually a pretty awesome character. I you want to check this film out, it's on Amazon Prime.
The final film I will be talking about is called Man in the Saddle. It was released in 1951 and stars Randolph Scott, Joan Leslie, Ellen Drew, and John Russell. This western is about a man named Owen (Scott) is getting harassed by a neighboring ranch owner. This other ranch owner (Alexander Knox) goes as far as to hire other gunfighters to try and get him to sell his land. Mainly, because his wife (Leslie) is still in love with Owen.
I have been on a Western kick lately and it is showing. This is your typical western and I liked it. I really loved how Joan Leslie and Ellen Drew's characters took no crap from the men in their lives. They were pretty bad ass even when the men were being sexist assholes. I liked the chemistry Randolph Scott and Joan Leslie had too, but he was better suited with Ellen Drew in the end. I also enjoyed the wind storm. Why make a gun fight easy to win? I watched this one on YouTube if you are interested in checking it out!
I was happy to take part in this awesome blogathon! This post was written for The Second Marathon Stars Blogathon. If you want to check out the posts go here, here, and here.