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Loretta Young Movies

Loretta Young moviesLoretta Young movies on TCM in January 2013

Loretta Young, whose movie stardom lasted a surprising quarter of a century, who then went on to become an Emmy-winning television star, and who would have turned 100 next January 6, is Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month of January 2013. On Wednesdays this month, TCM will be presenting a total of 38 Loretta Young films, going from the silent era to the early '50s. (Image: Loretta Young in the early '30s.)

That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that TCM will be showing precious few Loretta Young movies that are truly rare. In fact, the vast majority of TCM's presentations this month consists of movies Young made at Warner Bros. in the early '30s and at RKO in the late '40s – and nearly all of those have been easily available on TCM itself. Among the handful of exceptions are Fox entries Suez; Wife, Husband and Friend; and Kentucky; and the Columbia releases Platinum Blonde and Man's Castle.

But don't expect to get the chance to see Loretta Young in The Careless Age, The Forward Pass, The Man from Blankley's, The Second Floor Mystery, The Devil to Pay, The White Parade, Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back, And Now Tomorrow, The Perfect Marriage, or Clive of India. Let alone her bit in the 1927 Colleen Moore vehicle Her Wild Oat.

Loretta Young: At her best in the early '30s

Though generally little more than a poised, good-looking presence in her movies of the '30s and '40s, every now and then Loretta Young succeeded in displaying her comedic and/or dramatic sensibilities on screen. Despite a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in the 1947 light comedy The Farmer's Daughter, Young was actually at her most naturalistic in her early, low-budget "programmers" of the '30s. Her meatier roles from that period, e.g., those in Frank Bozarge's Man's Castle, William A. Wellman's Midnight Mary, Roy Del Ruth's Employees Entrance, will be shown in the upcoming weeks.

Among the Loretta Young movies TCM is presenting this evening, of chief interest are the capable Herbert Brenon's Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), the only silent movie in the series, and Frank Capra's Platinum Blonde (1931). In the former, the 15-year-old Young has little to do except look young and pretty while worshiped by count Nils Asther and clown Lon Chaney. Beautifully shot by James Wong Howe, Laugh, Clown, Laugh follows the usual Chaney formula: ugly older man with serious psychological hang ups falls for young, pretty, and innocent doll, who, in this case, also happens to be his adoptive daughter. No prizes for those who guess who'll win Young's heart at the end. I should add that Laugh, Clown, Laugh's crying / laughing scene – you'll recognize it when you see it – will either make you applaud and cheer or cringe and curse at the screen.

As for Platinum Blonde, it's a minor Frank Capra effort, chiefly of interest because of the presence of then fast-rising Jean Harlow in the title role. Young is the other woman in Robert Williams' life, the "girl next door." No prizes for those who guess who'll win Williams' heart at the end. By the way, the now largely forgotten Robert Williams died of complications from appendicitis right at the time Platinum Blonde was released.

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