On October 25, 1941, Rosalind Russell and Frederick Brisson were married in the Santa Inés mission in Solvang, California. They were married until her death on November 28, 1976. They were that rare Hollywood couple who had a long and happy marriage. And as Rosalind said during their 25th anniversary bash in Las Vegas in 1966,
“Twenty-five years is a very long time, but it is also a very short time when you love someone.”
Here is a video I made dedicated to them and their marriage…
The Night is Young, released in 1935, is a combined comedy/musical/romance. It stars Ramon Novarro and Evelyn Laye with a supporting cast that includes the always wonderful Una Merkel, funny Charles Butterworth, and the sometimes bumbling Edward Everett Horton. Once again, Rosalind Russell has a small part in this film.
In this case, she is a Hungarian countess. Of course, she does not sound Hungarian, but rather British instead. However, that’s usually how they did it in Hollywood back then. She is a fun character to watch, even if her part is small and she disappears halfway through the film. We first see her in the first scene of the film. She is watching a ballet in which Evelyn Laye’s character (Lisl Gluck) dances. Also there is the Archduke Gustl Gustave (Ramon Novarro). Russell’s character, named Countess Zarika Rafay (What a name, huh?) notices Gustl in an upper box and blows him a kiss. He smiles back at her and it is obvious they are romantically entangled. However, it is soon learned that Gustl’s uncle, Emperor Franz Josef (Henry Stephenson), despises the family that the countess comes from, and would never approve of a marriage between her and his nephew. Gustl pretends he is in love with one of the ballet dancers and picks out Lisl from the stage. She is commanded to come to the archduke’s place of residence to cover for him.
He continues to see the countess in secret while Lisl stays at his house. The countess is a fiery little thing with a violent temper. The Baron Szereny (often called “Doodlesack” by both Gustl and Lisl) warns the countess that the emperor won’t like her carrying on with his nephew. Angry at him, she is about to throw a small statuette at his head when Gustl enters. When she finds out that the Archduke is afraid to be seen with her, she throws a temper tantrum, thinking he wants to keep her on a “back street,” and remarks, “I’m just something to throw aside like an old… like an old… like, uh, whatever it is you throw aside!” When the countess is seen again, it’s to go after the Archduke as he has taken Lisl to the carnival after having fun singing with her at his home. When she sees them together on the Ferris wheel, the Archduke is suddenly very afraid and does not want to get off.
He knows of the countess’s nasty temper and feels safer on the Ferris wheel. When Lisl notices the countess, he tells her the countess is “Mrs. Doodlesack.” The countess becomes very angry and takes off, but not without leaving the Baron with a black eye.
Two other important characters in this film are Fanni Kerner (Una Merkel) and Willy Fitch (Charles Butterworth). This is a most delightful comedy team and are most certainly the comic relief. Una Merkel is wonderfully witty as always and Charles Butterworth is hilarious as her boyfriend who seems to care more about his mule named Mitzi than her.
He even sings a song about his mule when they go for a carriage ride. At first, Miss Una is excited to listen to this song because she thinks it will be about her, and when she hears the name “Mitzi,” the faces she makes in reaction are priceless. Evelyn Laye is also lovely in the film, entertaining the audience with her beautiful operatic singing voice and Ramon Novarro is as cute and charming as ever.
Some fun songs they sing in the film are “When I Grow Too Old to Dream,” “There’s a Riot in Havana,” “Lift Your Glass,” and the title song, “The Night is Young.” This is a fun film and I recommend it not just for a short, entertaining appearance by angry Roz, but for the other characters as well.
I have had so much fun co-hosting this tournament this year. In fact, I think I had more fun this year than last year, my first time at bat. I think this is because I knew more about my duties and what I am supposed to do as a co-host, as well as the fact that I hosted the same 1940s decade as last year, which is also my favorite decade of film.
As you all know, this is a blog dedicated to Rosalind Russell, and while she did not even make it past Round 1 (tear!), I hope she will do better in the future. I have always considered Rosalind a severely underrated actress, even though she was nominated for an Oscar four times and nominated for a Golden Globe five times (and won every time!). However, the truly remarkable thing about Roz is her true personality and real self. From what I know of her, I think of her as a rather selfless person who would give so much of her time away from her “day job” as actress, wife, and mother to charities. The only Oscar she received was not for her acting work, but for her charity work. I just started writing this freely as words came to my mind, so now that this is in the front of my mind, I’d like to share with you Roz’s acceptance speech of that lone Oscar, which was so special and sweet to her and to her fans, I am sure. This video always makes me tear up a little because she had been so ill at the time (from her cancer, perhaps, but mostly from her rheumatoid arthritis, for which she had to take cortisone shots that disfigured her figure and bloated her face). Take a look!
And once again, I would like to thank Monty of All Good Things for asking me to co-host the tournament this year and I hope to make a good impression next year as well. I hope everyone had a good time voting for their favorite actresses, even if some were surprised by the results. It was such good fun! Until next year!
Rosalind Russell died 35 years ago today, on November 28, 1976. This seems rather significant because 35 years is a long time. Sometimes I can’t believe that she had already been dead just over 13 years when I was born. I was clearly born in the wrong era, but I am glad I was able to get to know her through her films. I am very appreciative for TCM for providing me with most of her films, as well as DVDs that have already been released. More and more seem to be coming out on DVD recently, and that’s a great thing!
I have not been able to watch a film in her honor today, but I hope to watch one soon–at her comedic best because this is how she is best remembered. A friend of mine suggested A Woman of Distinction because it’s her favorite one so far, and now I kind of want to watch that one, too. It’s hilarious with all the physical comedic stunts (which I have always loved–hello, I Love Lucy fan here!) and of course, I love the eventual romance that develops in the film.
Anyway, on this day, I wanted to share a video with you all that my dear, dear friend Irina made in honor of this day today. It is a video to remember Roz and it is dedicated to me–how sweet is that! It is actually the third Roz video that has been dedicated to me… haha! 🙂
Yesterday, I found new footage of Roz I had never seen. It is from the year 1971 and she accepts an award for Helen Hayes, who was not present. She says a few words and is charming as always. You can catch a glimpse of her husband, too, who is sitting next to her. If you haven’t seen this clip yet, enjoy!