Tag Archives: rosalind russell

The President Vanishes (1934)

Rosalind Russell’s second film is not a great one. It has a stuffy, uninteresting script and is sometimes confused by the large mass of characters in the film. You never feel like you get to know many of them and it makes it much more confusing. Russell is billed 12th in this movie, her name lost in a sea of character actors during the credits. She is in three short scenes. This is interesting because she was in about 3 scenes in her previous film, Evelyn Prentice, but billed fourth. However, despite her billing status, she has a great deal more lines in this film and does very well.

Rosalind Russell The President Vanishes
Rosalind Russell in The President Vanishes (1934)

She is impressive as a Washington lobbyist’s wife, especially in her second scene, in which she takes full command of the scene and the six other actors in it, stealing the scene from them all.
“The President Vanishes” is about a president who wants to stay out of the war, but with Europe at war, so much of the country (and politicians in Washington) want to get in on it. The president is played by Arthur Byron and at times, I would forget he was actually the president because there are so many characters in the movie. However, this was also due to the fact that this movie is rather rare and so my copy of it has good quality in neither picture nor sound.

rosalind russell the president vanishes
Rosalind Russell in The President Vanishes (1934)

A Washington lobbyist is against the idea of war, along with the president, and his wife, Sally (Rosalind Russell) feels the same way. When we first see Roz, she is applying her lipstick in the mirror and making sure she looks “perfect.” When her husband comes into the room, she says to him, “In two minutes, these perfect lips would have been sealed. Where I draw the line, no man comes through.” However, he kisses her anyway and informs her that they will be giving a dinner party that night for five men who “are going to arrange to get America into the war.” When she hears this, her eyes widen and she stops what she’s doing, her face changing from surprise to anger. When she gives the dinner party for the five men, she does most of the talking as she sits at the head of the table like a queen.

rosalind rusell the president vanishes
Rosalind Russell in The President Vanishes (1934)

In talking to the five men, she charms the pants off of them, talking about their best qualities and talents, although there is poison apparent in her tone. Addressing each of them, she says (always with a smile), ““I live with my husband, Washington’s greatest lobbyist. He brings to my poor table the charm and brains of America—Edward Cullen, who knows more about steel than Midas knew about gold; Barton Drew, our greatest banker, whose bolting vaults would put poor old creases to shame; and dear Roger Grant, who binds 10 million readers with his chain of newspapers; Judge Cochran, defender of the Constitution, lover of liberty, friend of the people… especially the right people.” With that, she says to them, “So you see, gentlemen, why shouldn’t I be wise in the midst of these five greatest of great men?” Before she leaves the room early, she implies that they are eagles circling the sky above Washington. The men start arguing about going to war after she leaves and as the scene dissolves, a cutaway shows a group of six eagles attacking each other.
In order to keep the public’s mind off war, the president stages his own kidnapping, implying it was the fascist group “The Gray Shirts” that are the culprits. A large Washington meeting is the last scene in which we see Roz.

rosalind russell the president vanishes
Rosalind Russell in The President Vanishes (1934)

She comes into the room late and sits next to her husband. She tells him there was a mob outside and it was hard to get in. She remarks, ““I feel as if I were sitting on the edge of a volcano,” to which her husband replies, “You are.” It is then announced that the president has vanished and it is almost certain he has been kidnapped. Roz gasps, putting her hand over her mouth, as the president’s wife faints in shock. The scene closes and that’s the last we see of Miss Russell. The rest of the film is not really worth seeing, especially in such bad quality. However, Rosalind Russell is a very interesting part of the cast and worth seeing, if at least for the dinner party scene.

paul kelly arthur byron the president vanishes
Paul Kelly and Arthur Byron
peggy conklin paul kelly the president vanishes
Peggy Conklin and Paul Kelly


The President Vanishes (1934) on IMDB

Wikipedia page for The President Vanishes (1934)

A review of The President Vanishes (1934)


Evelyn Prentice (1934)

Rosalind Russell Evelyn Prentice
Rosalind Russell in Evelyn Prentice (1934)

This will be the first post in a series in which I will write about all of the films in Rosalind Russell’s filmography chronologically. That being said, let’s start with her debut—Evelyn Prentice. This film stars the versatile and loveable William Powell and Myrna Loy, a screen couple franchise—that’s what I like to call them—whom the public adored and made MGM a lot of money. Rosalind Russell, 27 years old at the time, was absolutely green in the movie industry, coming from a career on the stage (most recently with an English stage troupe led by the great C.C. Clive) right to sunny California where she didn’t know anyone. She was a lucky one, too, because although she wasn’t very well known as an actress, she got herself a contract with the most revered studio of the day, MGM studios, whose motto was “More stars than there are in heaven.” And for Roz to be put immediately into a movie with William Powell and Myrna Loy? That was just icing on the cake. While she shares no scenes with Myrna Loy, Roz became great friends with both Powell and Loy, two actors who enjoyed Roz’s sense of humor and bubbling personality. Rosalind came to adore William Powell, who was kind enough to help her with her first movie project. She didn’t quite know what to do in front of the cameras, and so she would simply walk across the soundstage, say her line, and walk out. But she was doing it all wrong, Powell pointed out to her. She had to hit the “marks” on the floor—walk and then stop on the chalk marks that guided the actors and cameramen. She appreciated his help and called Powell a “divine man and a great friend.” She was brought in as a back-up for Myrna Loy whenever Miss Loy didn’t like a movie she was put into or threatened to walk out. As Rosalind said, she was “a threat behind Myrna.”

Rosalind Russell Evelyn Prentice
Rosalind Russell, publicity shot for Evelyn Prentice (1934)

Evelyn Prentice centers around John Prentice and his wife, Evelyn (William Powell and Myrna Loy). John is a busy lawyer who seems to spend more and more time at the office than at home, which has his wife restless and lonely. In the beginning of the film, he is busy on a case for Nancy Harrison (Rosalind Russell), who has been charged with manslaughter when she got into a car accident with a man who died at the scene. After John gets her acquitted, it is obvious she likes him as more than just her lawyer. She even takes a train for Boston because she knows he will be on the same train. Later, she sends a to John’s wife Evelyn, which is marked to be a gift to Nancy from John with a note saying it was found in John’s compartment. Roz’s character is a troublemaker, trying to ruin an already fragile marriage. She isn’t successful, and although 15 minutes into the movie, we never see her again, she certainly is noticeable. Being a widow, she always wears black in the film, and she looks lovely in the outfits, matching her equally dark hair.

Rosalind Russell William Powell Evelyn Prentice
Rosalind Russell and William Powell in a deleted scene from Evelyn Prentice (1934)

I highly recommend this movie because of Myrna Loy. The movie includes a wonderful courtroom scene, where Evelyn is on the stand, giving her heart-shattering testimony. Her testimony is beautifully moving and I always find my eyes glued to the screen during this scene. Isabel Jewell also gives a great performance on the stand, sparking a few tears in my eyes.

william powell myrna loy evelyn prentice
William Powell and Myrna Loy in Evelyn Prentice (1934)
myrna loy una merkel evelyn prentice
Myrna Loy and one of my favorite character actresses, Una Merkel

Here are some links pertaining to the film:



Buy the film here

The full movie on YouTube




Roz as a Pushy Stage Mama in “Gypsy” Oh, yes!


Who here has seen the movie “Gypsy”? While it’s not always mentioned as one of Rosalind Russell’s most memorable performances, I personally think it is.

Rosalind Russell
Rosalind Russell in “Gypsy” (1962)

As soon as Roz appeared in the movie, pushing her way through like a cannonball out of a chute, I was glued to the screen. Playing Rose, the pushy stage mama of Gypsy Rose Lee, who later became a famous stripper, Roz played the part with so much gusto, it was hard not to be drawn to her character. While I know the most famous characterization of this role was played by Ethel Merman on Broadway and Roz wasn’t exactly the best singer in the world, the acting was so much more important in my book. I am not sure how Ethel played the part onstage, but there is something about the way Rosalind gave her all to this part—so much enthusiasm, charm, and personality.

Rosalind Russell
Rosalind Russell in “Gypsy” (1962)

The character herself is really an awful person when you get right down to it. She pushed her daughters so hard in show business from the time they were little that the youngest, “most talented” one ran away to marry a boy when she was just a teenager. And when she started pushing her eldest daughter to perform, even giving her a blonde wig to make her look more like her sister, it became pathetic. There was obviously a deep-seated need in this woman to become a performer herself. This was clearly shown in the last scene when she sings “Rose’s Turn.” She sings about how much she “sacrificed” for her daughters so they could get where they are, but she really wanted to do something for herself—“for me… for me… FOR ME!!!”

Rosalind Russell
Rosalind Russell in “Gypsy” (1962)

You would probably be surprised to know that as soon as I saw this film (a few years ago on my birthday), it became my second favorite Rosalind Russell film. I know this is strange, when there is “His Girl Friday” to consider (among others), but the way Roz displays her huge personality through this role is amazing to me.

Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell
Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell in “Gypsy” (1962)

Now to get away from my bias (which is so hard), let’s focus on the other players in this movie. Natalie Wood, who had just filmed “West Side Story” the year before, was magnificent as Gypsy Rose Lee. At first, I was surprised to see her wearing such dumpy, plain clothes when she first appeared about 30 minutes into the movie. But in typical Natalie Wood fashion, she eventually became the glamorous actress we all know and love when she went from “Louise Hovick” to “Gypsy Rose Lee,” the stripper. Sometimes I wonder about the real working relationship between Natalie and Roz. I have heard some bad stories and I have heard some good ones. In my opinion, they were both huge stars, except Natalie was clearly on the rise and Roz was becoming one of those legendary stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

As for the actresses who played Baby June and Dainty June, I can clearly see that they were different types. Both talented in different ways, they did well in their parts. “Baby June” (Suzanne Cupito) was a magnificent dancer and could even do the splits, while “Dainty June” (Ann Jilliann) was a much better singer. In fact, to get critical here, when “Baby June” sang, I wanted her to get off the stage because her voice was so high and annoying to me. However, I believe that “Baby June” was probably supposed to sound like this because I have the soundtrack of the 2003 stage version of Gypsy, starring Bernadette Peters, and “Baby June” sounded like this.

Karl Malden, who played Herbie, the long-suffering boyfriend of Mame Rose, was also well cast because he brought some real kindness to his role, which was needed because only a kind, patient man could possibly put up with Rose Hovick for so long!


Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood
Rosalind Russell in “Gypsy” (1962)

In the end, even though I am biased, the cast was a marvelous one, but Rosalind Russell is the true star of this film in every way. Mama Rose is supposed to be the star of “Gypsy” so I am not THAT  prejudiced (haha). Even though people may be hesitant to watch it because Roz was not a singer and was dubbed in most of the songs (or sometimes for half of a song), please focus on her acting abilities. She certainly deserved her fifth Golden Globe for this role! Brava!

Rosalind Russell
Having fun on the lot while filming “Gypsy”