Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Franchot the Fisherman

Source: Ottawa Citizen, May 23, 1959.
This is currently my favorite photo of Franchot. In a flannel shirt and casual hat, a proud Franchot, with his catch of the day, looks so relaxed and completely in his element in the Canadian woods. The caption that accompanied this photo reads, "Franchot Tone, veteran of stage, screen and television and many a marital outing, answered the call of the wild once again this week. With some Canadian friends, Tone trekked into the northern Pontiac for a week's fishing and impressed The Citizen's Fish and Game Editor Vern Bower with his ways in the outdoors. A rugged individualist, Tone resembled anything but the suave screen lover when he emerged from the bush. His weather-wracked face was beaming as he waved a pair of speckled trout." 
His friend Burgess Meredith wrote in his 1994 autobiography, "Tone had a secret side to him. It was his love of the Canadian woods. He was a fine woodsman." Archival Ottawa Citizen newspaper articles make many references to Franchot and his father's trips to their Canadian homestead as well as their reputation as outdoorsmen.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Franchot marries Jean

Franchot married Jean Wallace on this day in 1941. They were married in Yuma, Arizona in the justice of the peace's chambers and traveled to Palm Springs after the ceremony. Jean was granted a divorce from Franchot in August 1948, but newspapers reported that she still had hopes of a reconciliation. Following their divorce, Franchot and Jean were featured in the film noirs Jigsaw and The Man on the Eiffel Tower.
Franchot and Jean in Jigsaw.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Franchot and Joan After the Divorce

Joan and Franchot in the 1950s.
Source: http://joancrawfordaremarkabletalent.tumblr.com
Franchot and Joan were granted a divorce in April 1939. They had been married since October 1935 and attached to each other for two years before that. Although some researchers have noted rumors of extra-marital affairs and violent arguments (and that certainly wouldn't be a first for a Hollywood mega-couple), Joan and Franchot appeared to be able to overlook whatever ugliness occurred in their relationship. In fact, they were dining and dancing in the days leading up to their divorce. In the 1950s and 1960s, both Franchot and Joan commented on their affection and respect for each other.

After being spotted on the town several times with Franchot in early 1954, Joan was asked by Earl Wilson about a reconciliation. Joan responded, "We haven't discussed it, but I wish it could be so...I just adore this man!"

In 1964, Joan attended the opening of Franchot's off-Broadway play, "The Dirty Old Man". Franchot said that he and Joan had "dinner every once in a while and Joan is always stunning. She's very busy with her executive work for Pepsi-Cola and with pictures. She's good at anything she does."

In her autobiography published in the early 60s, Joan said, "I have the utmost trust in Franchot and regard for him. It took courage for us both to walk away, courage I didn't know I had. Somewhere I had once read, "Let your courage be as keen but at the same time as polished as your sword. We walked away. We retained a mutual respect."

Wilson, Earl."Joan Crawford Would Try Anew with Franchot Tone." Milwaukee Sentinel. March 18, 1954. Page 21.
Crawford, Joan and Jane Kessner Ardmore. "Courage to Part From Love." The Miami News. August 17, 1962.  Page 5A.
Morehouse, Ward. "No More Toney Roles for Franchot Tone." The Toledo Blade. May 31, 1964. Page 2.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Franchot marries Joan

On October 11, 1935, Franchot and Joan, although being watched closely by the press, managed to secretly marry in New York. Franchot had been eager to marry Joan for two years. In a 1933 Ottawa Citizen article, Franchot indicated that he would not give up on marrying Joan, that he would propose forever. 
In 1934, Joan, recently divorced from Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., explained that she wouldn't marry Franchot, because "marriage just won't work in this business".
Sadly, Joan was eventually right, but there is no denying that these two were madly in love at the start and deeply respectful of each other after the end (check back later this week for more on their relationship after the divorce).

By fun coincidence, October 11th also happens to be my wedding anniversary, so Joan and Franchot's union is easy to remember!

"Awaiting Answer of Joan Crawford." Ottawa Citizen. November 16, 1933.
"What? Joan Won't Wed?" Ottawa Citizen. April 9, 1934.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Joan on Franchot

Photo by George Hurrell

Franchot Tone had a quiet way of looking at me across a set, a capacity for giving more than a scene required... He was a tonic to me, this remarkable young man with his individuality of thought and imagination, who understood and was very patient with me, whose two hands were always filled with beauty. Franchot was of a different fiber from anyone in Hollywood.
He didn't care what people said or thought. I did, and I couldn't bear to fall in front of them...From the beginning we tried to build a life together, independent of our careers. Perhaps subconsciously I realized how important this was for him. Franchot stayed in Hollywood only because of me and his personal happiness was marred by one flaw, his professional unhappiness. He had good parts, but not the kind for which he was best suited. In the first test, which had brought him such fanfare, he played a truck driver. He never had a chance at that kind of part. Because of our marriage, he was often one of the leading men assigned to a "Crawford picture", whether the part was satisfactory to him or not.
Franchot's and my love cost him his rightful career in pictures. He could play anything with that sensitive face and heart, but he was constantly cast as a sophisticated drawing room character. He grew discouraged, his face more sophisticated, his heart more sensitive. 
 -Joan Crawford

Source: Crawford, Joan and Jane Kessner Ardmore. "Courage to Part From Love." The Miami News. August 17, 1962.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bosley Crowther's Criticism of FT

Bosley Crowther was a famous New York Times film critic who was active from 1940 to 1967.  Respected for his influence on and knowledge of the film industry, Crowther was noted for his direct and sometimes biting film commentary. Crowther's opinion on Franchot and his films was ambivalent at best. Occasionally, he lightly praised Franchot's work, but mostly, Crowther was incredibly scathing of FT. I've collected the twenty-five years of criticism that Crowther composed below. I've excluded the films that were reviewed by other New York Times critics.

Trail of the Vigilantes (1940):
"...it is Franchot Tone, that erstwhile Group Theatre hopeful and star in many a super-soigné Eastern, who is playing the rootin' tootin' hero in Universal's "Trail of the Vigilantes," which pulled up yesterday at the Rialto. And, believe it or not, he's okay. Of course, Director Allan Dwan has broken him in sort of easy. So the sole Mr. Tone has to play is that of a Kansas City newspaper reporter who turns up incognito in a cow-town with the purpose of investigating some very shady goings-on. Reporters being what they are, a lot of rowdy fun is had at Mr. Tone's expense, of course...The story is pretty routine, but performance is better than average. Mr. Tone wins his spurs in a good, fast Western. "
She Knew All the Answers (1941):
"...it finds Franchot Tone in fine form as the pince-nezed bore..."
The Wife Takes a Flyer (1942):
 "...the acting in this picture is unspeakably wretched—worse, even, than the script, which is embarrassingly stupid and off-key. And the general conception of it is an insult to American intelligence."
Five Graves to Cairo (1943):
"...with Franchot Tone playing the British corporal in a taut and muted style..."
His Butler's Sister (1943):
"...Franchot Tone as the bland hero."
True to Life (1943):
"Franchot Tone is also amusing and archly suave as the collaborator of Mr. Powell."
Phantom Lady (1944):
"...Franchot Tone, who shows up late in the picture, play a neurotic fellow betwitchingly."
Dark Waters (1944):
"Franchot Tone is easy and reassuring as the young doctor..."
That Night With You (1945):
"Mr. Tone's coyness as a foster-father is not precisely on the scintillating side."
Because of Him (1946):
"Franchot Tone plays a polished playwright—it would be nice to meet an unpolished one for a change—with a high degree of petulance and naivete..."
Her Husband's Affairs (1947):
"Lucille Ball, an able comedienne, works hard and adroitly as the wife, and Franchot Tone springs about as the husband, but they labor to little avail."
Every Girl Should Be Married (1948):
"Diana Lynn, Eddie Albert and Franchot Tone are very minor in minor roles."
Jigsaw (1949):
"It is sluggishly directed by Fletcher Markle, who also co-authored the script, and almost indifferently played, where good playing would do the most for it, by Franchot Tone in the principal role."
Here Comes the Groom (1951):
"But Jane Wyman still can scamper, and she does plenty of it here, as does Alexis Smith as her rival—and wrestling opponent—for the millionaire. The latter is suavely developed by a slyly smiling Franchot Tone into something nice and entertaining in the stuffy Bostonian line."
Advise and Consent (1962):
"Their intense and deliberate projection of a cynical attitude toward the actions of politicians extends right up to the President of the United States, whom they frankly portray in this fiction as a man of peculiar principles. He is made (in a tasteless portrayal of a sick, testy man by Franchot Tone) to be tolerant of cheap conniving and the telling of lies under oath."
La Bonne Soup (1964):
"The whole cast is good, including, of all people, Franchot Tone, who drifts in and out through the night as an American millionaire in Cannes with a penchant to recite Montaigne's poetry and invite vagrant ladies aboard his yacht."
Mickey One (1965):
"Hurd Hatfield, Teddy Hart, Jeff Corey and Franchot Tone are weird in off-beat roles."
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)." New York Times. December 7, 1940.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Billy the Kid (1941) ' Billy the Kid,' a Western With Trimmings, Opens at the Capitol.-- 'She Knew All the Answers' Is the New Feature at the Music Hall." New York Times. June 20, 1941
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review The Wife Takes a Flyer (1942) ' The Wife Takes a Flyer,' a Labored Farce Film, With Joan Bennett and Franchot Tone, at the Capitol." New York Times. June 19, 1942
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Five Graves to Cairo (1943) 'Five Graves' to Cairo,' Drama of World Conflict, With von Stroheim and Franchot Tone, at the Paramount Theatre." New York Times. May 27, 1943.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review His Butler s Sister (1943); ' His Butler's Sister,' a Light Comedy With Music, Starring Deanna Durbin, Has Its First Showing Here at the Criterion." New York Times. December 30, 1943
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review True to Life (1943) Review 1 -- No Title; 'True to Life,' With Victor Moore, Mary Martin, Dick Powell, at Paramount -- 'Behind the Rising Sun' at Palace." New York Times. October 14, 1943.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Phantom Lady (1944); At Loew's State." New York Times. February 18, 1944.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Dark Waters (1944); ' Dark Waters' a Thriller." New York Times. November 22, 1944.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review My Name Is Julia Ross (1945); 'That Night With You' Arrives at Loew's State-- 'My Name Is Julia Ross' at the Ambassador. New York Times. November 9, 1945
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review The Harvey Girls (1946) ; 'The Harvey Girls' Opens at Capitol--Musical Stars Judy Garland, Kenny Baker, Ray Bolger and Virginia O'Brien." New York Times. January 25, 1946.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Her Husband s Affairs (1947) ' Her Husband's Affairs' Has Its Premiere at Capitol -- 'Heaven Only Knows' Opens at Broadway." New York Times. November 14, 1947.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Every Girl Should Be Married (1948); Betsy Drake, Newcomer, Stars Opposite Cary Grant in 'Every Girl Should Be Married'." New York Times. December 24, 1948.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Here Comes the Groom (1951) ; 'Here Comes the Groom,' New Bing Crosby Vehicle, Opens at the Astor Theatre." New York Times. September 21, 1951.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Careless Love (1964) French Farce Is at the Fine Arts Theater." New York Times. March 16, 1964.
  • Crowther, Bosley. "Movie Review Mickey One (1965) Film Festival: Heels, Old and New:1954 Movie Makes One Feel for Hero." New York Times. September 9, 1965.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Franchie Says Relax

"I let myself get tabbed as a dilettante, a fellow who was just in pictures for the fun of it. Hollywood takes itself seriously, doesn't understand the light touch in connection with a career. The biggest stars in town never have a frivolous thought, never take time out to enjoy a laugh at themselves.
Maybe I was born with a perverse streak, but I like to sit on the sidelines occasionally and get some amusement out of watching my fellow creatures. I work hard enough when I work and I like to loaf on the grand scale when I loaf."

Source: Underhill, Duncan. "Franchot Tone's Advice to His Bride." Hollywood. Jan-Dec 1942. 30, 37.

*Personal note: When I was coming up with a title for this post, I thought of those Frankie Says Relax t-shirts and couldn't help myself.