Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Google Image Search Results

I need to do Google image searches on Joyce Compton more often. Although many of the results are commonly circulated publicity shots, occasionally some rarely seen photos come up. For example ...

From a Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy fan site - a racy shot with Jeanette and Joyce (and Sally Blane at center) in the partially lost 1931 Fox production Annabelle's Affairs:

From Film Noir Photos, a casual shot of Joyce standing in front of a rather dangerous looking succulent in 1925:

From the site of author Michael Ankerich (The Real Joyce Compton), another 1920s publicity portrait with Joyce taking on a classic pose in a bolero hat:

From eclectic weblog Curiosity Killed The Cat, a shot of Joyce stiking a most flapper-esque pose:

From Golden Age Autographs, a signed photo from 1938's Artists and Models Abroad. This photo session produced a lot of great ones, but this is a new one for me:

Finally, from Flickr user le beau monde, a candid photo of silent queen Clara Bow and Joyce from 1929's Dangerous Curves:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Joyce in Suicide Squad (1935)

I just finished watching our Joyce Compton in her 1935 actioner Suicide Squad. Joyce appears lovely and confident in the leading lady role here, but that's about the best thing I can say for this routine bottom of the bill filler. Norman Foster, who usually played cocky young men, stars as a cocky young fire recruit whose initiation into the department is all the more daunting since he's dating the fire chief's daughter. This short b-movie is shoddily directed and weirdly paced - with interminable dialogue scenes sandwiched between documentary footage of real building fires. It has the feel of being shot in a series of single takes, with the actors often reciting their lines out of the range of a camera that rarely if ever budges. Norman Foster is an affable enough lead, but the character he plays is so misguided and downright stupid that it's hard to care about the guy - even after he redeems himself in the end!

Joyce completed this independent production in the period just before finding her niche as a comedic "dumb blonde." She is subdued and effective in her relatively few scenes opposite Foster, Robert Homans, and Aggie Herring (the latter two playing her parents). For such a threadbare production, she looks striking in several chic outfits. No doubt this must have been one of the films in which the actress supplied her own wardrobe.

Suicide Squad received a no-frills DVD release from Alpha Home Video in 2008; buy at here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Joyce in City For Conquest (1940)

Here's a screen shot of Joyce Compton dancing with a young Anthony Quinn in the gritty Warner Brothers melodrama City for Conquest. Slickly directed by Anatole Litvak, the film is a fun if somewhat hokey and overly ambitious outing. James Cagney stars as Danny Kenny, a pugnacious New Yorker who becomes a championship boxer to help fund the career of his composer brother (Arthur Kennedy). He's also stuck on childhood friend Ann Sheridan, but the teary-eyed Ann doesn't realize the depth of his feelings until after she's taken off to form a ballroom dancing act with the manipulative Quinn. The excellent supporting cast includes sturdy WB faves such as Frank McHugh, Donald Crisp and George Tobias, as well as Elia Kazan as a stereotypically Jewish gangster named Googi.

City for Conquest is one of those films I saw a long time ago and totally enjoyed, despite its shortcomings. The film has its feet planted in several different genres - gangster pic, musical, boxing thriller, small-man-in-the-big-city melodrama - never quite settling on one. Cagney and Sheridan are both fine, the photography is nice and lush, and the score is full of beautifully arranged renditions of pop standards like "The Lullaby of Broadway." The sheer earnestness of the plot gets laid on a bit thick - especially with the DVD edition containing previously unseen footage of a narrator named 'Old Timer' played by Frank Craven. The bearded stranger comments on the proceedings in such an annoyingly folksy manner, one wishes Cagney would deliver him a swift right hook.

Joyce plays Lilly in the film, a "good time gal" and amateur dancer who is first seen twirling around with lothario Quinn. When Quinn spots Sheridan across the floor, however, the poor girl is left in the dust. Not a huge role by any means, but Joyce is engaging as usual (notice how she attempts to ingratiate herself with Cagney's clique). This is a good example of how a skilled character actor can enliven a film with just a short scene or two.

City for Conquest received a handsome DVD release by Warner Home Video in 2006; recently the film was repackaged in an affordable TCM Greatest Gangster Films set along with Cagney vehicles G-Men, Each Dawn I Die and White Heat.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Joyce in Unholy Love (1932)

Whether in a starring role or a non-speaking bit part, there was always something in Joyce Compton's movies that's worth looking into. I'm going to use this opportunity to go into each of her films which are currently available commercially - starting with the earliest, 1932's spicy Pre-Code Unholy Love. This film is a rather leaden, silly melodrama of infidelity within the country club set, based on Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Its main appeal is Joyce herself, sexy and appealing (and young!) in a rare dramatic role - and a sizable one to boot. Although she is third billed behind silent-era actors H. B. Warner and Lila Lee, Compton has the most screen time of the cast as a flirty gardener’s daughter who slinks her way into high society. It’s a fun role and she has a field day with it, even if at this early point in her career she doesn’t quite have the acting chops to effectively pull it off. Soon after this independent production wrapped, Joyce signed on with Mack Sennett's studio for a series of slapstick short subjects, essentially becoming the comedic dumb blonde we all know and love. She's surprisingly quite credible in Unholy Love, making one wonder what could have been had she stuck with more dramatic parts.

Unholy Love got a no frills DVD release in 2008 from budget retailer Alpha Home Video; it is currently available via and

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lacy Gown Portrait

Publicity portrait of Joyce in a full length lacy gown, circa 1933.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fox Beret Portrait

An interestingly composed publicity photo of Joyce during her days as a Fox studio contractee, circa 1929. Love the beret!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Three Girls Lost Stills

I have a couple of stills to share from Miss Compton's pre-Code melodrama Three Girls Lost (1931). Here's Joyce with co-stars Loretta Young and Joan Marsh (below) and by herself looking cute as a button (bottom).

Monday, March 22, 2010

"The Adventures of Jim Bowie" (1958)

Here are two screen grabs of Joyce with actors Scott Forbes and Lawrence Dobkin in the Western TV series The Adventures of Jim Bowie. Joyce appeared as Madeline Renaud, a New Orleans countess with a missing husband and diamond necklace, in the season two episode "Pirate On Horseback," which aired on January 17th, 1958. This small bit was one of a handful of parts that an older and more matronly looking Joyce took on when she returned to acting in 1957-61. It's fascinating to see her in this period, as charming as ever. The complete run of The Adventures of Jim Bowie is available on DVD from Infinity Entertainment.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"The Abbott & Costello Show" (1953)

Here are two screen grabs from Joyce Compton's brief appearance in an episode of TV's The Abbott and Costello Show. In it, Joyce plays a flirty Southern gal applying for a drivers license, having only about 10-15 seconds of screen time. It is definitely a bit part, and given the episode's date (1953), the role was likely the last acting job she took before taking time off to devote to her nursing career. Later on in the decade, she returned to acting before retiring for good in the early '60s.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spring Madness Lobby Card

Joycie and her costars (well, maybe not Maureen O'Sullivan) are all smiles in this tinted lobby card from the 1938 MGM production Spring Madness. Left to right: Jacqueline Wells, Joyce Compton, Lew Ayres, Ann Morriss, Ruth Hussey, and Maureen O'Sullivan.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Joyce Compton Look

This is too funny: blogger and retro style enthusiast Lisa Freemont demonstrates how to restyle your hair exactly like Joyce Compton's in The Awful Truth. Lisa is correct that the combination of bangs and curls was unusual in classic moviedom, and Joyce owned that look. Speaking of bangs, Joyce herself shares an amusing anecdote in her book about clashing with fellow bebanged star Marlene Dietrich when the two were cast in 1941's Manpower. Apparently Miss Dietrich didn't take too well to having another actress with bangs in the picture, but luckily Joyce unruffled Marlene's feathers with her honeyed Southern charm. Enjoy the video, y'all.

Friday, February 12, 2010

More Bedtime Story Publicity

For some reason, I've been coming across a lot of new-to-me photos from JC's 1941 comedy Bedtime Story. Above is another candid shot with Joyce and costar Robert Benchley. Below, we have a publicity photo of Joyce looking great in a tropical print swimsuit (this is a larger version of a pic in the Joyce Compton Shrine Gallery). I don't believe she wears this getup at any time in the film, but I suppose the newspapers and magazines of '41 needed all the cheesecake they could get!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Another Lacy Top

Another portrait of Joyce in a lacy blouse; this one is from the mid-'30s.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Lacy Fox Portrait

Autographed Fox publicity portrait of Joyce, circa 1929.