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The Thorne Smith Newsletter, Issue #002 -- Topper Films on TCM
November 01, 2007

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I hope you enjoy what we have for you this month. This marks our second issue and we're hoping you opened this right away so you can get a heads-up on the TOPPER trifecta coming up today (November 1) on TCM. There's a Cary Grant documentary coming in a week and several other Thorne Smith styled films playing on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) throughout November, so let's get to it!

Issue 002 November 2007


Set your VCRs, program your TIVo or DVD Recorder for Thursday, November 1st at 3:00pm EST (that's East Coast time) for a TOPPER film festival!

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) schedule states that they will be showing all three TOPPER films back to back.

Starting at 3:00pm EST is TOPPER, the 1937 classic hit that features Cary Grant & Constance Bennett as George & Marion Kerby. Roland Young is outstanding as the brow beaten and bewildered Cosmo Topper. Young's brilliant performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

At 4:45pm EST is the 1939 sequel TOPPER TAKES A TRIP. Most of the cast from the first film reprise their roles with the exception of Cary Grant, who appears only briefly in a flashback to the first film.

Finally, at 6:15pm EST is TOPPER RETURNS, the 1941 fun-filled romp that adds Joan Blondell, Carole Landis and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson to the remaining cast of Roland Young and Billie Burke. Although the film is not based on a Thorne Smith novel, this is definitely a tribute to his style. Thorne Smith fans will be delighted by the shenanigans in this movie. Don't miss it!

There is a short animated film called GHOST WANTED (1940) that might be worth staying around to watch. I'm going to be taping it just to see what it's all about. Since it's following three Thorne Smith inspired films, I'm hoping for a special treat.


For TOPPER and Cary Grant fans, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that TCM is showing some great Cary Grant films that feature hilarious screwball humor. Here's a quick run-down:

Tuesday November 6 at 2:15am EST is 1962's THAT TOUCH OF MINK featuring Grant, Doris Day and Gig Young.

ARSENIC & OLD LACE at 2:15am EST on Wednesday, November 7th. I love this film and it reminds me so much of Thorne Smith's style that I can't help but wonder if playwright Joseph Kesselring was a Thorne Smith fan.

Following ARSENIC & OLD LACE at 4:30am EST is the documentary CARY GRANT: A CLASS APART from 2004.

Sunday, November 11 at 8:15am EST is one of my all-time favorites, MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940). Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott co-star with Grant.

Later that same day, at 6:00pm EST is Alfred Hitchcock's TO CATCH A THIEF. Granted, it's not a screwball comedy but some of the sexual innuendo between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly reminds me of a few of Thorne Smith's double entendres in his novels.

On Thursday the 15th, at midnight EST, is the 1940 classic HIS GIRL FRIDAY. I don't know why but 1940 was a great year for movies and this one is no exception. The banter between Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant is pure delight for any Thorne Smith fan.

Following that, at 1:45am EST Friday morning (now the 16th) is HOUSEBOAT (1958) with the luscious Sophia Loren.

BRINGING UP BABY (1938) comes afterward at 3:45am EST on the 16th. Katherine Hepburn stars opposite Cary Grant in yet another film filled with sharp wit and hysterical dialogue.

On November 18 at 8:00pm EST do whatever you can to not miss 1937's THE AWFUL TRUTH. More classic screwball comedy with Grant, Irene Dunne and Ralph Bellamy.

Also on the 18th at 10:00pm EST is THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. You can't go wrong with Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Roland Young.

A few hours later on the morning of November 19th at 2:00am EST is NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

THAT TOUCH OF MINK airs again on Sunday, November 25 at 6:00pm EST.

Last but not least, on Friday, November 30th at 8:00pm you can catch Cary Grant and Myrna Loy in MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948).


In my mini-biography of Thorne Smith, "Host To Said Ghosts: The Thorne Smith Story" I made special mention of how mystery writer Dashiell Hammett wrote a biting review of Thorne Smith's lone mystery novel DID SHE FALL. Then, oddly enough, Hammett wrote a novel a few years later that featured a married couple, Nick & Nora Charles, who, when not solving murders, drank and sparred verbally in much the same manner as TOPPER's George & Marion Kerby. Hmmm...coincidence? I certainly don't think so. If you ask me, THE THIN MAN owes much to Thorne Smith's TOPPER.

With that in mind, I note that TCM is running the entire THIN MAN series of films beginning at 11:00am EST on Friday, November 16. I highly recommend watching them. See if you don't think Nick & Nora Charles are remarkably similar to TOPPER's George & Marion Kerby. Here's the line-up:

11:00am EST THE THIN MAN (1934)

12:45pm EST AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936)

2:45pm EST ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939)




November 11, 1887 Roland Young (Cosmo Topper) is born.

November 29, 1986 Cary Grant (George Kerby) passes away.

So, that wraps up the second issue of the Thorne Smith Newsletter.

I know this one was heavy on the TCM movie listings but I didn't want to leave anything out that seemed relevant since it's such a fun filled month of great movies.



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Thorne Smith Newsletter copyright 2007 by Michael D. Walker

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