Saturday, March 22, 2014

Have a Mermaid Movie Party Ann Blyth Glynis Johns

Ladies from the Mermaid Pool of 1948

Have a mermaid film festival in your living room. Just add water. This also ties in
Mr Peabody and the Mermaid
William Powell shopping

He only wants bikini tops,
She doesn't wear the bottoms.
with the man in the bath themed festival. Seems more than a few mermaid movies show the ladies in a bathtub...

Have discussion afterward, comparing the storylines, how makeup, ideas of relationships between men and women, even how technology has changed over the years. How about the idea of the ideal/fantasy woman, often seen in a mermaid film.

There are mermaid movies in many genres: horror, animated, pirate, comedy; for kids, teen and adults.
If you've got friends who are film buffs, there are rare films, those from every time period. 

What to serve: Sushi, fish tacos, anchovy pizza, oysters. Or maybe you'd prefer to stay away from fish altogether in deference to the mermaids, fish and sea creatures in the films? Use fish-shaped cookie cutters to shape the sandwiches, etc. Serve goldfish cheese and pretzel crackers.

Go for the gold with Berry Blue jello, include delicious fruits suspended within.
Decorate with seashells, starfish. 

Suggest people wear watery colors like blue and green. Make your guests want to pull out those camera phones. :-)

We've got friends who like to go all out for parties and those who don't.

Here are a couple movies, light comedies with familiar stars. Both movies can be streamed. Miranda and Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.  

The films are relatively short, at about 89 minutes each. 

Glynis Johns 24x36 B&W Poster Print
It's the mermaid in the British film, Miranda (Glynis Johns) who takes the most control of the situation. 

She can speak from the start. She holds her man (Griffith Jones as the married Dr. Paul Martin) captive until he agrees to show her the city. 

It was filmed in Cornwall, England.

The mermaid's tail by Dunlop Rubber Company, a company that also does/did make tires, garden hoses and Wellies (rain boots). In 1948 Dunlop invented the self-sealing tire, which reduced the risk from blowouts. 

Googie Withers plays the doctor's wife and Margaret Rutherford is the nurse who looks after Miranda. 

According to The Telegraph, Withers, who was born in Karachi, was given the nickname Googie by her Indian nanny. "A Hindi word, meant (according to who was telling) dove or crazy." Googie, as an aside, is the pet name George Burns had for his wife, Gracie Allen.

Glynis Johns made films from the 1930s-90s, One of her best-known film roles was that of Winifred Banks, the children's mother, a suffragette, in 1964's Mary Poppins. David Tomlinson, who is Charles in Miranda will go on to play her husband, George Banks, Mary Poppins' employer and father of the children. 

So the movie Miranda offers an unexpected pre-Poppins present.

Dr. Martin brings Miranda home under the guise of her being a patient who cannot
Bette Midler
Delores De Lago
Mermaid Doll
walk. I had to smile at the mermaid's being transported in a wheelchair. It reminded me slightly of Bette Midler's Delores DeLago mermaid character as memorialized in the concert film Divine Madness. She's also available in doll form. 

You may remember the controversy that was stirred up recently when Lady Gaga performed in a show as a mermaid who traveled on stage in a wheelchair. Was it a rip-off of Midler's idea? Some in the press labeled the brouhaha MermaidGate.

Miranda never sprouts legs. She is consistently either carried by Dr. Martin or a series of other men, including Nigel (John McCallum, Ms. Withers' real life husband) who is painting a portrait of Miranda.

She captivates the men so much that they sometimes argue over who gets to carry her off. In the final scene, Miranda is shown on a rock, holding a little merboy on her lap. This movie has a sequel, Mad About Men in 1954.

Also married is Arthur Peabody (William Powell) in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.
William Powell Ann Blyth
8x10" Photo
Peabody names her Lenore (Ann Blyth). She is young and naive. Aside from some soft singing, she never learns to speak. She is sweet and naive without being sappy.

His character is just turning fifty, Blyth was 19 when she made the movie. 

At the age of 17, she had already gained notoriety and an Oscar nomination for playing Veda Pierce Forrester in Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford, who won an Oscar for her role in the film.

This movie is one of the last dozen that Powell will make in his long career of making movies 1922-1955. His final movie will be Mr. Roberts in 1955. Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid is one of the first dozen films that Ms. Blyth made.

Blyth's makeup including the elaborate fish tail was overseen by makeup artist Bud Westmore, who was the uncle of Michael Westmore.

Michael Westmore can now be seen as a mentor on the Syfy channel competition show, Face Off. The program is hosted by his daughter, McKenzie.

They are members of the House of Westmore, the famous family in film make up. The Westmores have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I've seen this photo in many different places and cannot track down its original source.
Ann Blyth with Glenn Strange who was playing Frankenstein's Monster in another Universal film, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Also in that movie were Lon Chaney, Jr. as Lawrence Talbot/The Wolf Man and Béla Lugosi as Count Dracula.  The story I've read most often is that Blyth and Mr. Strange met when they were both made up for their day's work and thought the photo would be funny.

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid is also different from Miranda in its middle-age-crisis plot. "What's a few grey hairs?" he says. The character, we'd expect, speaks for many men when he holds the silent mermaid close and speaks of how he wishes for some peace and quiet. Lenore never speaks, she never walks.

Fishing trip in Libeled Lady William Powell, Myrna Loy, Walter Connolly 8x10"
The 1936 film also starred Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy

His wife is played with a bit of shrewness at the start. But that's evened out in the end when her anxiety about her husband is relieved. Powell was in his mid-50s when he made this film and clearly there was attention to how the relationship with the mermaid was portrayed. 

In real life, as with fellow actors such as Cary Grant and Bing Crosby, Mr. Powell often dated younger women and his wife was considerably younger. Bing Crosby was 30 years older than his last wife Kathryn. Grant, too was decades older than his wives.

This film has one of the best leg biting scenes since Rosalind Russell bit Paulette Goddard's leg in The Women, 1939. As much of this story is told in flashback, and told to a psychiatrist at that, we're left with the idea that it may be something of a fairy tale. Was it just a really rough entry into Mr. Peabody's fiftieth year? Was there really a mermaid down there in that pond?

Irene Hervey is Mrs. Polly Peabody. She was the real-life wife of actor Allan Jones, and mom of singer Jack Jones. We'll assume that she heard the Theme of The Love Boat sung once or twice. For a time, Jones and Robert Young ran The Bel-Air Stables. In a 1939 short MGM film, Hollywood Hobbies, the Bel Air Stables get a visit and Irene Hervey is featured.

If this movie is at all connected to the characters of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, who first appeared on the animated TV series, Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show in the 1950s, I can't say. I know that William Powell liked dogs. But it would be a pretty silly stretch.... 

1948 was a very big year for mermaids. Also from this year was Tarzan and the Mermaids starring Johnny Weissmuller. There were no actual mermaids in this movie.

It was recently announced that Sofia Coppola plans to direct a live-action version of The Little Mermaid for Universal Pictures and Working Title Films.

The 1948 Summer Olympics, were held in London, England. After a 12-year hiatus because of World War II, these were the first Summer Olympics since the 1936 Games in Berlin. The United States won more Gold Medals overall in swimming events that year with eight. No mermaids competed in the Olympics.

The Art of Theatrical Makeup for Stage and Screen
I read that Mr. Westmore was writing an autobiography

Related Pages of Interest:

William Powell and Carole Lombard married 1931-1933; their sapphires, My Man Godfrey. Pre-Jean Harlow and Clark Gable
Men in the Bath Film Festival Movies

Have a Mary Poppins Interactive Movie Party

I'm going to talk a little more about mermaids and Mermaid Movies in another post.  Until then, Bette Midler, as Delores De Lago, can sing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy!

Pages being revised/updated:
Mermaid Art Shirts:  Women Swimmers  Customize, Birthday Party Favor Ideas 
Centaur Costumes, Half Man Half Horse, DIY Ideas, Tutorials, Cosplay
Princess Mermaid Costumes, Half Girl/Woman Half Fish

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