Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Warner Baxter (March 29, 1889 – May 7, 1951) & The Crime Doctor films

The Crime Doctor films 1943-1949

The Crime Doctor is a fictional character created by Max Marcin. A crook named Phil Morgan suffers amnesia and becomes criminal psychologist Dr. Robert Ordway.

He was the hero of a popular CBS radio program titled Crime Doctor on Sunday nights between 1940 and 1947, as well as a series of low-budget mystery thrillers inspired by the radio show. On radio, he was played by Ray Collins, House Jameson, Everett Sloane and John McIntire, but on film, exclusively by Warner Baxter. In the first film of the series, he regains his memory, captures his former gang members, and turns them over to the police. As an in-joke, Collins appeared in the film, but not as Ordway. Baxter was in poor health, and two years after making the tenth film, he died of pneumonia.

The films:
Crime Doctor (1943)
Crime Doctor's Strangest Case (1943)
Shadows in the Night (1944)
Crime Doctor's Warning (1945)
The Crime Doctor's Courage (1945)
Just Before Dawn (1946)
Crime Doctor's Man Hunt (1946)
The Millerson Case (1947)
Crime Doctor's Gamble (1947)
The Crime Doctor's Diary (1949)

Warner Leroy Baxter (March 29, 1889 – May 7, 1951) was an American actor, known for his role as The Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona (1929), for which he won the second Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1928–1929 Academy Awards. Warner Baxter started his movie career in silent movies. Baxter's most notable silent movie is probably The Great Gatsby (1926) and The Awful Truth (1925). Today The Great Gatsby is one of many lost films of the silent era. When talkies came out, Baxter became even more famous. Baxter's most notable talkies are In Old Arizona (1929) 42nd Street (1932), and the 1931 20 minute short film, The Slippery Pearls.

By 1936, Baxter was the highest paid actor in Hollywood, but by 1943 he had slipped to B movie roles, and he starred in a series of "Crime Doctor" films for Columbia Pictures. Baxter made over 100 films between 1914 and 1950.

Baxter married actress Winifred Bryson in 1918, remaining married until his death in 1951. He suffered for several years from arthritis, and in 1951 he underwent a lobotomy to ease the pain. He died shortly after of pneumonia and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6290 Hollywood Boulevard.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dirk Bogarde (28 March 1921 – 8 May 1999)

Sir Dirk Bogarde (28 March 1921 – 8 May 1999) was an English actor and novelist. Initially a matinee idol in such films as Doctor in the House (1954) and other Rank Organisation pictures, Bogarde later acted in art-house films like Death in Venice (1971). He also wrote several volumes of autobiography.

Bogarde served in World War II, being commissioned into the Queen's Royal Regiment in 1943. He reached the rank of major and served in both the European and Pacific theatres, principally as an intelligence officer. He claimed to have been one of the first Allied officers in April 1945 to reach the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, an experience that had the most profound effect on him and about which he found it difficult to speak for many years afterward.

The horror and revulsion at the cruelty and inhumanity that he claimed to have witnessed left him with a deep-seated hostility towards Germany; in the late-1980s he wrote that he would disembark from a lift rather than ride with a German. Nevertheless, three of his more memorable film roles were as Germans, one of them as a former SS officer in The Night Porter.

His London West End theatre-acting debut was in 1939, with stage name "Derek Bogaerde" in J. B. Priestley's play Cornelius. After the war his agent renamed him "Dirk Bogarde." Bogarde quickly became a matinee idol and was Britain's number one box office draw of the 1950s, gaining the title of "The Matinee Idol of the Odeon". In some of his other roles during the 1960s and 1970s, Bogarde played opposite renowned stars, yet several of the films were of uneven quality.

Bogarde was nominated six times as Best Actor by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), winning twice, for The Servant in 1963, and for Darling in 1965. He also received the London Film Critics Circle Lifetime Award in 1991. He made a total of 63 films between 1939 and 1991.

Bogarde was a life-long bachelor and, during his life, was reported to be homosexual. Bogarde's most serious friendship with a woman was with the bisexual French actress Capucine. For many years he shared his homes, first in Amersham, England, then in France with his manager Anthony Forwood (a former husband of the actress Glynis Johns and the father of her only child, actor Gareth Forwood), but repeatedly denied that their relationship was anything but platonic. Such denials were understandable, mainly given that homosexual acts were illegal during most of his career, and also considering his appeal to women, which he was loath to jeopardise. His brother Gareth Van den Bogaerde in a 2004 interview with Jan Moir stated that Bogarde was engaging in homosexual sex at a time when such activity was illegal; and also claimed that the relationship with Forwood went beyond that of a manager and friend.

He was a shareholder in Pressdram Ltd, the company that owned the satirical magazine Private Eye. Upon his death his shares passed on to (his brother)Brock van der Bogaerde.

Formerly a heavy smoker, Bogarde suffered a minor stroke in November 1987, at a time when his partner, Anthony Forwood, was dying of liver cancer and Parkinson's disease. Never afraid of voicing his opinion, Bogarde, having witnessed Forwood's protracted illness and death, became active in promoting voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill patients in Britain, and toured the UK giving lectures and answering questions from audiences on the subject. It was a cause, he stated, that had been important to him since the war, when he had seen severely injured men pleading to be executed.

In September 1996, he underwent angioplasty to unblock arteries leading to his heart and suffered a pulmonary embolism following the operation. Bogarde was paralyzed on one side of his body, which affected his speech and left him in a wheelchair. He managed, however, to complete a final volume of autobiography, which covered the stroke and its effects. He spent some time the day before he died with his friend Lauren Bacall. Bogarde died in London from a heart attack on 8 May 1999, aged 78. His ashes were scattered at his former estate of "Le Haut Clermont" in Grasse, Southern France.