Many years ago I wrote a book about Agnes Moorehead. It was my first published book, and it was written in that ancient era before the Internet and inkjet printers. It is still available, but I am taking the unusual step of asking Agnes Moorehead fans to buy a different book instead: The Films of Agnes Moorehead.
Axel Nissen has written an excellent book that surpasses my valiant effort. Each of Moorehead’s films gets its own chapter. In addition to the synopsis, credits, review snippets, and trivia, you are also provided with Axel’s astute observations. I agree with him more times than not and found his comments to be refreshingly engaging.
Here are his comments about Summer Holiday, a 1948 film with Mickey Rooney:
“Oh boy, as a female supporting player in Hollywood, you could get stuck with some stinkers in the romance department. The studios’ assumptions about older women, their desires, and their desirability are maybe nowhere more vividly illustrated than by who studios imagined would be an appropriate match for their female featured players—that is, if they were given a love interest of their own at all. Frequently, they were not….Moorehead’s screen husbands included Harry Shannon, Henry Travers, Edward G. Robinson, Sydney Greenstreet, Robert Keith (twice), Joe E. Brown, E. G. Marshall, Walter Abel, Karl Malden, and John McGiver. A ‘motley crue,’ indeed, but not exactly a bevy of male beauties.”
“Someone once said that The Conqueror is like a train wreck. You are horrified that it happened, but you can’t help looking at it. Everyone who has seen this story of the early life of Mongol chief Temujin, before he becomes Genghis Khan, knows or soon realizes that the film is one of the biggest turkeys of all time….How did anyone ever imagine that casting a bunch of whites and Latinos as twelfth-century Mongols, Tartars, and Merkits, dressing them up like various versions of Fu Manchu, and making them speak a kind of archaic, psuedo-biblical English could be anything but ludicrous?”
This is an entertaining book for anyone interested in Agnes Moorehead and Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Note: I was provided a review copy in exchange for an honest and fair review.