David Ehrenstein: Noel, are you familiar with The Most Dangerous Game ? It was shot at the same time on the same jungle set with the same Fay Wray.
Ted Fontenot: And with a very young Joel McCrea in the lead. It's all hokum, but, taken for what it is, very enjoyable.
Wray and McCrea appeared together in the excellent little comedy The Richest Girl in the World although it is really a pairing of McCRea and Miriam Hopkins. Wray is sort of a foil/bestfriend/stooge. I highly recommend it. Good story executed and acted well. My other favorite McCrea and Hopkins collaboration is Woman Chases Man. Another screwball comedy, need it be said.
That was an very good review of King Kong. I started to see it the other night on TCM but didn't finish. I haven't seen it all the way through in years. You reminded me that I need to finish up on that re-viewing. You're right, it could have been titled, Kong: The Tragedy of.
David: I love McCrea with Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier, and above all Sullivan's Travels and The Palm Beach Story.
He was the best.
Ted: Yes, he works fine with Arthur and Colbert (even V. Lake). I like the way he does the man/woman repartee in those movies you mention, David. Not to mention, the authenic sexual heat he generates and seems to bring out in the leading ladies. The stoop scene in Merrier and the massage scene in The Palm Beach Story are remarkably similar in the sexual texture and tenor.
Indeed, he brought some sass to his role in Foreign Correspondent, which came out right around the same time as those other movies, that isn't necessarily in the script or direction. Gary Cooper was who Hitchcock wanted, I understand, but Cooper, who although I'm a big fan of, definitely wouldn't have brought that sort of All-American boy verve and (yes) ingenuousness to the role.
David: Joel McCrea's magic was that he really looked and acted like someone you know. You could imagine meeting him and having a perfectly ordianry conversation with him. The same can't be said of Cooper who while "salt of the earth" was emotionally remote. That's why he worked so well opposite Dietrich in Morocco.
Just learned that Obie--Willis O'Brien--was a boxer. Hah. I caught that, or at least the sense that he knew something about hand-to-hand combat.
I've seen The Most Dangerous Game and liked it, David, even heard the story that they shared sets and star, even that the giant wall set was a leftover from De Mille's King of Kings (figures; it has De Mille's sense of scale). Kind of like the short story better, but it was clean and efficient, and effective for its time.
I loved him most because what ever he did, he did quietly. He was the master of understatement and of effortlessness (what Grant employed to present glamour McCrea employed to present a number of things--naive idealism; hardwon honor; what have you). And I do think one of the highlight performances of his career was Ride the High Country.