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Behind the Camera: The Shorts Circuit
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Remind Me

Jean Negulesco Shorts

Those Good Old Days (1941)
Roaring Guns (1944)
The Gay Parisian (1941)
The Flag of Humanity (1940)
Alice in Movieland (1940)

Director Jean Negulesco got his Hollywood start as an assistant producer and 2nd unit director on films like A Farewell to Arms (1932). He also worked as a writer whose credits include the story for the Laurel and Hardy comedy Swiss Miss (1938). Negulesco would go on to direct such crowd pleasers as How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) for Fox. But before that, he earned his directorial stripes in the Warner Bros. shorts unit. Of his thirty-plus shorts, many of Negulesco's production were musicals, for the Vitaphone division. But he also tried his hand at drama, comedy and western shorts. Some of Negulesco's most memorable shorts include:

The Flag of Humanity (1940) - a color biography of Clara Barton and her contributions to the American Red Cross. Despite some silly lines like --"what is war coming to? Petticoats on the battlefield?!" -– the short does a thorough job depicting the sacrifices of Barton's work and in dramatizing her struggles to get the support of the U.S. government. Nana Bryant is featured as Clara Barton. Bryant's Hollywood career consisted mainly of smaller, supporting roles that were often maternal in nature. She appeared as Arthur Kennedy's mother in Bright Victory (1951), for example. And she played the sympathetic Mrs. Chumley in Harvey (1950) with Jimmy Stewart. Also worth noting in The Flag of Humanity is John Hamilton as General/President Garfield. Hamilton would later be known for his role as "Daily Planet" editor Perry White in TV's The Adventures of Superman.

Alice in Movieland (1940) – this black-and-white dreamlike trip is part Alice in Wonderland, part A Star Is Born. When a young starlet, played by Joan Leslie, boards a train for Hollywood, she meets a porter who inspires her to dream of her future. At the time Alice in Movieland was made, Joan Leslie was still playing bit parts and being billed as Joan Brodel (her birth name). The next year would be a good one for the young actress – she landed starring roles in High Sierra and Sergeant York (both 1941). And the following year, she played the wife of George M. Cohan (James Cagney) in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Alice in Movieland also features clips of a few big-time movie stars, including a shot of newlyweds Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman.

The Gay Parisian (1941) – this colorful Parisian musical features the dancers of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The setting is a Paris nightclub. And the music is by Jacques Offenbach, from the suite "Gaite parisienne." Leonide Massine choreographed and performed the part of The Peruvian in The Gay Parisian. The former Ballet Russe principal dancer would later perform in and choreograph the Oscar®-winning The Red Shoes (1948). He would also appear with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in another Negulesco directed short, Spanish Fiesta (1942).

Those Good Old Days (1941) – a musical flashback to the vaudeville era. In this short, a grandpa reminisces with his granddaughter about his days on the vaudeville stage. This stroll down memory lane allows for several musical performances, including the songs "My Old Shack in Dixie" and "Who's Your Honey Lamb." William T. Orr plays the Grandfather/Vaudevillian. Orr began his career as an actor, appearing in films like The Mortal Storm (1940) and Honeymoon for Three (1941), but he is best remembered for his years as the head of Warner Bros. Television. Through the 1950s and 60s, Orr was the executive producer of shows like Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip and F Troop.

Roaring Guns (1944) – a two-reel western that pits the miners against the ranchers. The battle is over using hydraulics to remove gold from the mountains – which will in turn flood the fields. Portions of Roaring Guns were reportedly made up of stock footage from the George Brent-Olivia de Havilland western Gold Is Where You Find It (1938). The short starred Robert Shayne, another future Adventures of Superman cast member (he played Inspector Henderson). Shayne played supporting parts in a number of A-pictures for Warner Bros. including Mr. Skeffington (1944) and San Antonio (1945).

Negulesco made just one more short for Warners after Roaring Guns, before being promoted to features. As the story goes, his first attempt to direct a feature, in 1941, had failed. Negulesco had been assigned the film Singapore Woman but was reportedly fired halfway through production. Negulesco still retained screen credit for the picture. Thus, his first undisputed feature was The Mask of Dimitrios (1944).

by Stephanie Thames

Those Good Old Days (1941)
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenplay: Jack Scholl
Cinematography: L. William O'Connell
Film Editing: Louis Hesse
Art Direction: Charles Novi
Music: M.K. Jerome
Cast: William T. Orr (Joe La Rue), Jan Clayton (Mrs. Joe La Rue), Janet Chapman (Gloria La Rue), Lucia Carroll (Mary La Rue), John Ridgely (Joe La Rue).
BW-11m.

Roaring Guns (1944)
Producer: Gordon Hollingshead
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenplay: Ed Earl Reep, Clements Ripley (story)
Cinematography: Carl Guthrie
Film Editing: Dogu Gould
Art Direction: Charles Novi
Cast: Robert Shayne (Jarrod Whitney), Virginia Patton (Karen Farris), Mark Stevens (Lance Ferfis), Charles Arnt (Colonel Chris Farris), Norman Willis (Pincheon), Russell Simpson (Farmer MacKenzie).
BW-19m.

The Gay Parisian (1941)
Producer: Gordon Hollingshead
Director: Jean Negulesco
Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Film Editing: Everett Dodd
Art Direction: Charles Novi
Music: Jacques Offenbach
Cast: Leonide Massine (The Peruvian), Milada Mladova (The Glove Seller), Frederic Franklin (The Baron), Nathalie Krassovska (The Flower Girl), Andre Eglevsky (Tortoni).
C-20m.

The Flag of Humanity (1940)
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenplay: Jean Negulesco, Charles L. Tedford (story)
Cinematography: Charles Boyle
Cast: Nana Bryant (Clara Barton), Fay Helm (Elsie Howard), John Hamilton (General Garfield), Ted Osborne (Dr. Bellows), Robert Strange (Dr. Bradley), Joseph King (President Hayes).
C-20m.

Alice in Movieland (1940)

Producer: Gordon Hollingshead
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenplay: Owen Crump, Ed Sulliavn, Cyrus Wood
Film Editing: Rudi Fehr
Music: Walter G. Samuels
Cast: Joan Leslie (Alice Purdee), David Bruce (Assistant Director), Nana Bryant (Agatha Winters), Clara Blandick (Grandmother), Clarence Muse (Porter).
BW-18m.

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