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Hedy Lamarr Movies: Ecstasy + Algiers

Hedy Lamarr Ecstasy
Hedy Lamarr in the scandalous Ecstasy
Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

It’s Hedy Lamarr evening on Turner Classic Movies tonight, beginning at 5 p.m. PT.

TCM will be showing five Lamarr vehicles, including the scandalous Ecstasynudity, sex, orgasm! – made by Gustav Machatý in Czechoslovakia in 1933, five years before Lamarr’s Hollywood debut in Algiers.

There’s no nudity, sex, or orgasms in Algiers, but there’s lots of cigarette smoking – much more damaging to one’s health than orgasms – and Charles Boyer not saying “Com wheez me to ze Casbah!”

Jean Gabin and Mireille Balin starred in the original French version, Pépé le Moko, released the year before – which shows that Hollywood’s penchant for remaking French movies is nothing new.

In Victor Fleming’s Tortilla Flat, Lamarr looks great and sounds all wrong as Monterey’s Dolores Ramirez – but her performance is a masterpiece of acting compared to those of fellow Hispano-Americans Spencer Tracy and John Garfield.

The one actor who delivers the goods in this misguided adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel – and this is truly jaw-dropping – is Frank Morgan, one of the most unbearably over-the-top performers of the studio era. As a social outcast attuned to animals and nature, Morgan deservedly received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

In King Vidor’s humdrum H. M. Pulham, Esq., Robert Young’s up-and-coming businessman [not attorney, as I had earlier] is torn between sultry Lamarr and housewife Ruth Hussey. I was rooting for Hussey in this one, though Lamarr looks stunning.

Schedule (PT) and synopses from the TCM website:

5:00pm Algiers (1938)
A thief on the run from the law risks his life for love.
Cast: Sigrid Gurie, Charles Boyer, Hedy Lamarr, Joseph Calleia Dir: John Cromwell BW-98 min.

6:42pm [Short Film] Short Film: One Reel Wonders: Glimpses Of Morocco And Algiers (1951)
C-8 min.

7:00pm Tortilla Flat (1942)
Inhabitants of a Southern California fishing village strive for the simple pleasures of life.
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, John Garfield, Frank Morgan Dir: Victor Fleming BW-99 min.

8:43pm [Short Film] Short Film: One Reel Wonders: Miracle Of Sound, The (1940)
A behind the scenes look at how sound is produced for films.
Cast: Jeanette MacDonald, Greer Garson, Nelson Eddy, Douglas Shearer Dir: Douglas Shearer BW-11 min.

9:00pm White Cargo (1942)
A sultry native woman ignites the passions of workers on an African plantation.
Cast: Hedy Lamarr, Walter Pidgeon, Frank Morgan, Richard Carlson Dir: Richard Thorpe BW-89 min.

10:45pm H. M. Pulham Esq. (1941)
A stuffy businessman livens things up by having a fling.
Cast: Hedy Lamarr, Robert Young, Ruth Hussey, Charles Coburn Dir: King Vidor BW-120 min.

1:00am Ecstasy (1933)
A frustrated young wife escapes her passionless marriage through an affair with a young engineer.
Cast: Hedy Lamarr Dir: Gustav Machatý BW-87 min.

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mike peters -

“What did you do before?” “Before what?” “Before the jewels.” “I wanted them.” –I always remembered those lines from “Algiers”, it’s one of my favorite movies. Heck, it’s my life–I was left on the dock when the boat sailed with my girl.

Greta de Groat -

Can’t believe you didn’t have any comments on “White Cargo”!

Andre -

I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t watched that one, yet, Greta.
Also, it was already 5:05pm PT or whereabouts when I posted that, so it was time to wrap things as the Hedy Lamarr evening began at 5…


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