Discovering Tyrone Power

Discovering Tyrone Power — Films I Discovered in April

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The day is finally here! May 5th is a date that I look forward to all year long because it marks the birthday of my all-time favorite actor, Tyrone Power! The suave, gorgeous star would have turned 105 today, and I knew that this wonderful occasion needed to be celebrated in the grandest of styles. To ring in Ty’s birthday month, Kristen Lopez of Journeys in Classic Film was kind enough to indulge me by recording our newest episode of Ticklish Business in his honor. I urge everyone to check it out as we discuss his complex life and analyze my personal favorite of his swashbucklers, The Black Swan (1942). If that wasn’t enough, Noir Alley came through in spades this weekend because Eddie Muller introduced Tyrone Power’s finest noir performance in Nightmare Alley (1947) last night, which I happily livetweeted. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and hopefully my readers were able to celebrate and honor Ty too by catching it last night or tuning in for this morning’s encore presentation! Last but certainly not least, I knew that the best way for me to kick off Tyrone Power’s birthday here on Musings of a Classic Film Addict would be to continue my exploration into Ty’s filmography, chronicling every film of his that I discovered in April. Words can’t properly describe the profound effect that Tyrone Power has had on my life and my discovery of classic cinema. I don’t know if I would be where I am without his fascinating work and his charming and comforting demeanor that continues to inspire me to learn everything I can about the movies made during his time on earth. It’s so astonishing to me that I’ve seen nearly two-thirds of his pictures at this point, and the farther I dive into his career the more accomplished I feel, yet at the same time I dread the day when there will never be another Tyrone Power film that I haven’t seen. Last month I watched two more new-to-me movies starring Ty, which you can read about below!

Second Honeymoon (1937)

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I began my Ty marathon of April by crossing off another film that’s included in my favorite Tyrone Power boxset out there: the Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection. I was first drawn to Second Honeymoon (1937) because it was released the same year as my favorite Tyrone Power picture, Love is News (1937), and pairs him once again with that film’s leading lady Loretta Young, but that’s just about where the similarities end. In this feature, Ty portrays wealthy bachelor Raoul McLiesh, who’s attempted to move on with his life after divorcing his wife Vicki (Loretta Young). It’s easy to see as soon as he sets his sights on his former flame in a chance encounter in Miami that he isn’t over her at all, but while Vicki seems to feel the same way about Raoul, she’s already remarried the dull yet authoritative Bob Benton (Lyle Talbot). We’re soon introduced to Raoul and Vicki’s circle of friends who are vacationing with the former pair, including Joy (Marjorie Weaver), the adorably kind girl who Raoul is casually seen with, Leo MacTavish (Stuart Erwin), Raoul’s educated scene-stealing valet, Marcia (Claire Trevor), Vicki’s best friend who follows her and Raoul around simply to witness their drama, and Marcia’s husband Herbie (J. Edward Bromberg) who’s just along for the ride. Most of Second Honeymoon (1937) consists of Vicki and Raoul neglecting to hide their feelings for one another and basically conducting an open affair while Vicki dodges her awful husband, but no decent screwball comedy is complete without some antics like a pet raccoon, a mistaken marriage, and a stint in jail.

Before I continue, I have a confession to make. After I began watching Second Honeymoon (1937), I made the realization that I’ve seen this film before. I recognized MacTavish instantly as well as a few plot points, but I decided to watch the movie in full and include it in my month’s roundup because it had been so long since I had seen this picture that it was virtually foreign to me anyway. This movie stands out for two reasons, the first being that this was director Walter Lang’s first picture with Twentieth Century Fox. He’d been working in Hollywood behind the camera since the silent era, but his work on Second Honeymoon (1937) led to a long chain of successes for the studio starting with some of Betty Grable’s best-remembered musicals like Moon Over Miami (1941), Song of the Islands (1942), and Coney Island (1943) before leading up to some of the most iconic films of the fifties like There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), The King and I (1956), and Desk Set (1957). This movie is also notable because it’s the first time a mainstream audience saw a leading man put two cigarettes in his mouth before lighting one and passing it to his leading lady, a move supposedly originated by Tyrone Power here but popularized five years later by Paul Henried in Now, Voyager (1942). As for the actual content of Second Honeymoon (1937), I had high hopes considering how much I adore Love is News (1937), but I’m just not a fan of this film. It contains one of the most abrupt movie beginnings I’ve seen, with Vicki and Raoul bumping into each other, kissing, and briefly alluding to their marriage in the very first scene, leaving the audience scrambling to pick up the pieces and infer their entire relationship. There really isn’t much holding the chain of events together, and the only saving graces here are Tyrone Power looking as handsome as ever, Claire Trevor in a rare romantic comedy appearance, and the underrated Marjorie Weaver as one of the most likable supporting characters I’ve seen in quite some time. If you’re aching to see Ty in one of his earlier romantic appearances, just watch Love is News (1937)… or anything else, really.

The Mississippi Gambler (1953)

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After I made the mistake of accidentally rewatching one of Tyrone Power’s pictures, I decided that instead of choosing what films I would watch straight from Ty’s IMDB page, I would create a separate list of all of his works that I still needed to view. After I did that, I decided to look through some of the plots of these unwatched features and choose one that sounded the most intriguing at the time, which happened to be The Mississippi Gambler (1953). This time, Tyrone Power plays Mark Fallon, an aspiring card sharp who meets the likeminded “Kansas John” Polly (John McIntire). Both Mark and Polly show promise at gambling as they practice on a riverboat bound for New Orleans, but when the pair discover the dishonorable gambling practices throughout the south, they set out to establish a profitable and fair way of making cash. The first person they fairly clean out at poker is Laurent Dureau (John Baer), who offers a necklace taken from his lovely sister Angelique (Piper Laurie) in lieu of payment. Mark accepts the jewels and attempts to return them to Angelique, who spurns them due to her pride and unknowingly begins an unrequited love affair between the two. While Laurent and Angelique dislike Mark, their father Edmond Dureau (Paul Cavanagh), who knew Mark’s father, immediately adores him like a second son and constantly attempts to convince his children to change their attitudes about him. After Mark settles in New Orleans among the Dureaus, he also makes the acquaintance of Ann Conant (Julie Adams), who recently lost her brother to suicide after his unlucky streak cost him the money entrusted to him by his company. Ann is the talk of the town among the men, and while she only cares about being around Mark and Polly, Laurent makes it his obsessive goal to make Ann his wife. Will Mark’s association with Ann end in a deadly duel between him and Laurent, or will he be unable to forget Laurent’s snobbish sister?

The Mississippi Gambler (1953) was the first film that Tyrone Power made after parting ways with Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that had kept him under contract for nearly two decades. Now that Power was a freelancing actor, Universal was the first studio that clamored for him to star in one of their pictures. Instead of paying Power an outright salary, they took an unusual gamble for the time and offered him a percentage of the profits from The Mississippi Gambler (1953). Perhaps they were uncertain about Ty’s star power after working for Fox for so long, but their wager ended up backfiring as the movie was widely successful, grossing over $5 million worldwide and leaving Power to supposedly net over $1 million. I think this film’s success is well-deserved and I was really delighted to see Ty play this type of role. In most pictures that depict a gambler, the lead usually attempts to outsmart the other players by cheating or winning in a crooked game, but it’s really refreshing to see a character whose desire is to make poker games fair while still raking in dough. Of course, no Tyrone Power film is complete without a leading lady worthy of his affection, and in this case the audience is lucky enough to have two, played by Piper Laurie and Julie Adams. I can see why most people might think that Mark and Angelique wouldn’t make a suitable pair and it’s obvious that Ann is a better match for him, but I personally adore their complicated relationship. Part of that adoration is due to Piper Laurie, who I had heard wonderful things about but had never seen onscreen until now. She was absolutely marvelous and embodied the part of Angelique perfectly. Now that I’m a fan, I’m ecstatic that she continues to grace the world with her presence on the festival and convention circuit. The Mississippi Gambler (1953) may have dragged on quite a lot for a film that’s just over an hour and a half, but I think it’s superior to some of Ty’s other work from this era of his career and I’m really glad that I chose to check this movie out.

As of this update, I’ve now watched these thirty-three Tyrone Power movies:

  1. Girls’ Dormitory (1936)
  2. Lloyds of London (1936)
  3. Love is News (1937)
  4. Thin Ice (1937)
  5. Cafe Metropole (1937)
  6. Second Honeymoon (1937)
  7. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938)
  8. Marie Antoinette (1938)
  9. Jesse James (1939)
  10. Rose of Washington Square (1939)
  11. The Rains Came (1939)
  12. Day-Time Wife (1939)
  13. Johnny Apollo (1940)
  14. The Mark of Zorro (1940)
  15. Blood and Sand (1941)
  16. A Yank in the RAF (1941)
  17. Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake (1942)
  18. This Above All (1942)
  19. The Black Swan (1942)
  20. Crash Dive (1943)
  21. The Razor’s Edge (1946)
  22. Nightmare Alley (1947)
  23. Captain from Castile (1947)
  24. The Luck of the Irish (1948)
  25. Prince of Foxes (1949)
  26. The Black Rose (1950)
  27. Rawhide (1951)
  28. I’ll Never Forget You (1951)
  29. The Mississippi Gambler (1953)
  30. The Eddy Duchin Story (1956)
  31. Abandon Ship! (1957)
  32. The Rising of the Moon (1957)
  33. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Let me know if there’s a Tyrone Power movie that you’d like me to watch next! See you in June with next month’s update!

2 thoughts on “Discovering Tyrone Power — Films I Discovered in April

  1. I totally adore “Love is News”! It’s the film I would choose to introduce anyone to the magic of Tyrone Power.
    My second choice would be “The Mark of Zorro”. But Ty, of course, is watchable in anything! By the way, is it true that Henry Fonda was his closest friend? Or was it Cesar Romero?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree! I’m not as big of a Zorro fan, but Ty was incredible in anything and everything! ❤

      I believe Ty was friends with both Henry Fonda and Cesar Romero, but his best friends in Hollywood were Don Ameche, director Henry King, and David Niven. 😊

      Like

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