1 - "Hollywood Without Make-Up" (1963) - Ken Murray came to Hollywood in the late 20's to be one of the many stage stars trying to make a go of it in the talkies. His acting career never took off as he never really made an impression on the big screen and costarred in only a handful of films. However, he did take the career lemons he was handed and make lemonade. He realized his talent lay as a host and emcee and archivist - getting those who did have the public eye to open up. This compilation of home movies televised nearly fifty years ago is an eye into early 60's TV and its audience, as well as the stars shown.
As for the film itself, there's footage of Laurel and Hardy in the early sound era, Cary Grant poolside at home as well as on location filming "Gunga Din," guests at William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon in its heyday, and footage from the 1930's through the 50's of most of the major Hollywood lots.
The footage ranges from a kiddie car race between the Marx Brothers on the Paramount lot to Lucille Ball both in the 30's and the 50's to Walt Disney taking Ken's own daughters on a tour of his studio.
There is no sound on these home movies, so Mr. Murray narrates the footage himself and does a good job of it. He makes a few errors, however, -he shows Cecil B. DeMille on location shooting "Cleopatra" (1934) and says it was De Mille's first talkie. DeMille's first all-talking picture was 1929's "Dynamite".
As for the values of the 50's and early 60's, Ken would "clean up" some of the narration for what was the squeaky clean landscape of TV 50 years ago, especially when he is at San Simeon. Where there was Hearst, Marion Davies was usually not far away, and such is the case in these home movies. Of course Ken never mentions that Marion was Hearst's mistress. He also talks about Marion Davies' niece, who also appears in the film. That young lady was actually Marion Davies' daughter by Hearst.
Another thing to note about the TV audiences of 1960 - they actually knew and cared something about these stars who were, in some cases, from 35 years in the past. Although in many cases the movie stars of the 30's and 40's became the TV stars and hosts of the 50's and 60's such as with Groucho Marx, Dick Powell, and Lucille Ball.
If you're at all interested in film history, this is recommend stuff. You'll find it fascinating.
2 - "Hollywood My Home Town" (1965) - Ken Murray takes the viewer on a trip through the Hollywood of the '20s and beyond in this 1965 show featuring some of his famous home movies. What a treat to see Hollywood Boulevard as it looked in 1927, and to see people like Jean Harlow and Clark Gable on the movie lot and at parties. There were some wonderful moments - Bob Cummings teaching his little girl how to swim as she held onto his neck, a smiling Glenn Ford, a look at the glamorous Pickfair as well as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. There was W.C. Fields posing for Murray, Murray himself appearing at an old Hollywood theater, and a dog act. We get to see what the old home movie cameras looked like as well.
This is a charming black and white escape into a simpler time. There is certainly plenty to enjoy in Murray's amateur movies.
Ken Murray hosts this made-for-TV special and narrates many clips from his home movies of Hollywood, spanning the year 1927 to the early 1960s.
These home movies were filmed silent, and Ken's narration is a voice-over for this documentary.
You'll see clips of some stars at home, including Jayne Mansfield at home with her husband and children. Ken also shows clips from his vacation in Montana with Glenn Ford, Charles Ruggles, and Van Heflin. You will see Bob Hope in several separate clips, including one with him on the golf course. There are also clips of Bing Crosby playing baseball on an empty sandlot with his three sons.
Ken includes some good footage of Sunset Boulevard, Paramount Studios, and Hollywood Boulevard. Some of the classic stars featured in short clips include Jane Russell, Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Frank Capra, Hope Lange, W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, John Barrymore, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Thomas Mitchell, and others.
This hour-long presentation is a cute, nostalgic, and "happy" glimpse at the old studio days of Hollywood. It's completely clean and positive, with no gossip thrown in. If you love classic films and classic film stars, then you will be right at home with this film.