Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mary Astor Blogathon: Rose's Last Summer

I was thrilled when Dorian of Tales of the Easily Distracted and Ruth of Silver Screenings decided to host a Mary Astor Blogathon. As time passes, it is important to honor and remember the actors and actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. The general public has some exposure to the superstars of era: Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Bette Davis, for example. However, there were so many great performers during the Golden Age of the Silver Screen that deserve acknowledgement. That's why these blogathons highlighting the lesser known stars, but not less talented, are essential.


It should be noted that many of actors and actresses that helped make classic films during the 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's were in high demand during the early years of television. The anthology series was a popular genre in the 1950's and 1960's. These type of shows offered excellent opportunities for actors and actresses to be the star of an episode rather than a supporting player. Thriller was one of the best in my opinion. Thriller was hosted by Boris Karloff and ran on NBC from 1960 to 1962. The stories featured were suspense, mystery, and/or supernatural in nature. The fifth episode of the series was entitled Rose's Last Summer starring Mary Astor.


Last year, David and I purchased the complete Thriller series on DVD. I really enjoyed many episodes. One that stood out for me was Rose's Last Summer starring Mary Astor. I've loved Mary Astor as long as I can remember. She was a pivotal player in so many great films starting in the 1920's. I have always admired her ability to successfully transition from the silent era to the sound era as well as from leading lady to character actress. Maybe that's why I love this episode. Mary gets to play a former film star named Rose French.

Boris Karloff introduces Miss Mary Astor as the star of the episode.
The story begins with a woman (Mary Astor) being thrown out of a bar. She is obviously drunk and out of anger breaks the window of the bar. As she turns to the street to get away, the woman runs into a truck. As she lies on the ground, a snapshot of Rose French is discovered in her purse. One bystander seems particularly interested in the injured woman now known to be Rose French.

Rose French being thrown out of the bar.
In the next scene, a young man Frank Clyde (Lin McCarthy) is at the police station trying to bail Rose out of jail. The police officer recognizes him as the man who runs a rehab center for alcoholics. The policeman tells Frank that someone else has already bailed her out of jail. Frank leaves and goes to Rose's apartment. Frank takes a personal interest Rose since she has been a patient at his clinic. Obviously, after this incident, Frank is very concerned about Rose. She tells him that she has gotten a great job and will be leaving shortly. However, Rose gives no details about the specifics of the job.

Rose celebrating her new job with Frank Clyde.
Frank gets a huge shock when he reads the newspaper a short time later. According to the lead story, Rose French has died in La Mesa, California in the garden of a family named Goodfield. Another man is equally shocked by Rose's death, her former husband Haley Dalloway (Jack Livesey). Both Frank and Haley go to the inquest in La Mesa. Several interesting facts are revealed. First, Rose was wearing her ring from Haley at the time of her death. Perhaps, her time married to Haley was a high point in her life. Second, the coroner reveals she died of a heart attack. In fact, her heart was so enlarged and damaged, the coroner claims that the attack was long overdue.

Haley Dalloway and Frank Clyde investigate Rose's death
It is after the inquest that Frank begins to wonder if the dead woman was really Rose. He tells Haley that when Rose entered his clinic the previous year, she was given a full physical. Rose's EKG showed her heart was strong. The two men decide to go the scene of her death, the Goodfield mansion. There they meet Willet Goodfield (Hardie Albright) and his wife Ethel (Dorothy Green).  Unknown to Frank and Haley, Willet is the same man in the crowd who was so taken with Rose when the incident at the bar occurred. Willet assures Frank that Rose died in the Goodfield's garden, just as his family told the police. None of the Goodfields knew Rose, so they don't know how she wound up there. Willet claims the incident has been particularly upsetting to his mother who saw the body from her bedroom window. Haley manages to get permission to speak to the older Mrs. Goodfield.

Haley Dalloway
When Haley meets Willet's mother, he introduces himself as Rose's former husband. Mrs. Goodfield seems crotchety and makes a crack that she is surprised people like Rose had friends. After a brief conversation, in which Haley learns nothing new, he leaves. However, the audience realizes that Mrs. Goodfield bears a striking resemblance to Rose.

Boris Karloff introduces "Helen Quintal" as Mrs. Goodfield at the start of the episode. In the closing credits, the name changes to Mary Astor.
It is finally revealed in a flashback that Rose was hired to impersonate the older Mrs. Goodfield. However, the exact reasons for the impersonation are not yet revealed. In the meantime, Frank and Haley continue to search for a connection between Rose and the Goodfields. Will Frank and Haley discover the connection? And what is the true motivation behind the Goodfields hiring Rose in the first place? I'm not going to spoil it. You'll have to watch Rose's Last Summer in order to find out.


Mary Astor gives two great performances in this show. She adapts two distinct personas so that it is clear when she is "Rose" and when she is "Mrs. Goodfield." In addition, I love the introduction given by Boris Karloff. As he gives the audience some insight into the plot, the camera pans around Rose French's room. The room is filled with publicity photos and magazines featuring Mary Astor during the course of her career. Those few moments showing the many faces of Mary Astor reveal why she was and remains an essential part of the evolution of film. She began before sound was part of the art form, successfully transitioned to "talkies," and evolved into a first rate character actress. Perhaps, Mary Astor never achieved the recognition of other female stars of her era like Bette Davis and Claudette Colbert. However, Mary Astor will be remembered for her versatility and longevity by film buffs and students of film.

25 comments:

  1. Wow - this sounds like a terrific episode. I bet Mary Astor is absolutely fabulous in this.

    I'm not that familiar with the "Thriller" series, and it was good to read the background info you provided. I'm going to watch for the DVD series you mentioned.

    Thanks for participating in our blogathon! :)

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    1. Thanks for organizing the Mary Astor Blogathon with Dorian! FYI "Thriller" is on Me-Tv Sunday nights at 10pm -- hope you get to see it!

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  2. "Rose's Last Summer" is an important piece in Mary's career and a perfect contribution to the blogathon. Thanks for pointing me in its irresistible direction.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! Hope you get to see the episode. I think it's on youtube. If you get Me-Tv network, Thriller is shown at 10 pm on Sunday nights.

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  3. This sounds fabulous. I love to know more about the TV experiences of Hollywood's stars. Like so many others, Mary found another outlet for her talent in television. Thanks for including this part of her work.

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    1. I was happy to highlight her performance her because it did show Mary's ability to reinvent herself in another medium. Thanks for your comments.

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  4. Wonderful! I would love, love , love to see this! Great addition to the blogathon - from silents, to sound to TV - Mary could do it all!

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    1. I agree Mary could do it all! Hope you get to see her shine.

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  5. What's better than Mary Astor? Mary Astor x2! Sounds like a really marvelous showcase for her talents. Thanks so much for posting this!

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    1. Mary is amazing in this neat little "Thriller." Hope you'll be able to watch it.

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  6. Gilby, David, I just want to start by saying I just love the charming love and rapport between you two! My husband and I have a similar relationship. Hooray for love and marriage! :-D

    I've seen a good amount of ROSE'S LAST SUMMER, and I'd love to see the whole thing, but I don't want to spoil anything. I'll only say this THRILLER episode is one of our Mary's finest hours! I also really liked your comment: "highlighting the lesser known stars, but not less talented." Amen to that! We're so glad you showcased Mary and ROSE'S LAST SUMMER in our Blogathon; thanks for this rare treat!

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    1. It is cool to have a great other half and I think you and I are very lucky. It was a pleasure to join in this blogathon in honor of Mary Astor!

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  7. This sounds like a great double role for Mary Astor - enjoyed your piece a lot and I would love to see this in future. I'll be having a look on Youtube!

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    1. I think you'll enjoy it -- Mary does a great job.

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  8. Wonderful job covering this superb episode with our beloved Ms Astor. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who loves Boris Karloff's Thriller, and thought Rose's Last Summer is a stand out episode in the series. Thank god for these old anthology tv series that showcase some the spectacular actors like Astor.Well done and Thanks for picking this for the blogathon... Cheers Joey

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    1. Joey, I think we have VERY similar tastes -- I'm so glad to find another "Thriller" fan!

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  9. Thank you for your awesome review!! I'm going to look for it on Me-Tv Sunday nights at 10pm. Thanks for sharing the info. on the "Thriller" series. Good to have you back. :)

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    1. I miss you Dawn! I hate it when my reel life is interrupted by my real life -- I need to hit the Powerball!

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  10. Woo, it seems good! I'm glad the blogathon has also TV stuff. Unfortunately, even classic movies not being so widely available here in Brazil, classic TV is much more difficult to find.
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Greetings!

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  11. I don't typically watch many older TV shows, but I think I would make an exception for Mary Astor. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

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    1. "Thriller" is cut above most shows on TV today -- give it a shot!

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  12. I haven't seen or even heard of this film. So glad you chose it for the Blogathon.

    I loved the grabs of Mary's many publicity stills and how perfect that your review ended with her on the cover of fan magazines since that is how she got her start in motion pictures. From her father's relentless trips to the Motion Picture Magazine offices in NY.

    What I find interesting is that so many aren't that familiar with Astor. I just assumed they were since she was in so many good films and a couple of great ones. Of course, I love my silent movies and a lot of people who enjoy the classics, haven't really shown an interest in the silents, where for me, Mary was at her best.

    A great review of a film I do hope to see sometime.
    Page

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Page. I wanted to discuss a work that was not well known to highlight Mary's great talent!

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