Sunday, March 28, 2010



Release date September 12. 1931

This is going to be the shortest film review ever because as far as we know no copy of "Leathernecking" exists.
Nevertheless there are some interesting tidbits about this film which are from importance for Irene´s career. "Leathernecking" was RKO´s attempt to jump on the bandwagon of an early talkies´musical fad. During production it became obvious that this bandwagon was already slowing down and they decided to stir the whole film more in the direction of comedy. Looking at old reviews this mixture wasn´t felicitous and "Leathernecking" ended as not much of a success.
Miss Dunne being initiative and not used to failure of any kind started campaigning for the role of Sabra in "Cimarron", a property RKO had bought for its then leading male star Richard Dix. After two screen tests - one as young Sabra and the other after having aged 40 years - the coveted part was hers. Here is in Irene´s own words what "turned the trick":

At first there was an astounded gasp from producers. Sabra, a straight dramatic role, the emotional plum of the year, to a musical comedy star? Nonsense. Nonsense or not, I wanted that role. My father´s words again rang in my mind -"Go after what you want". And it took a bit of going after. Came the day of the test. Something was needed. My wig was beyond reproach, but there was something missing. Sitting in the make-up chair I remembered seeing the woman who designed the wigs that morning. She had on the hat I wanted for Sabra. I ran around the lot, and a few minutes before the test, found her hidden away in a corner of the work room. I borrowed her hat. I´m convinced as much as today as I was then that the hat turned the trick. (excerpt from the article "Hats-Hunches And Happiness" by Irene Dunne, Picturegoer Feb.17 1945)

Well, Miss Dunne, nice anecdote, but it certainly wasn´t all about "a hat" but about determination and having a clear concept of a part - omens for the things yet to come.

1 comment:

  1. I really hope someday LEATHERNECKING appears!!! Maybe at someone's attic! It doesn't matter if it's really bad but it's Irene's first film and I'd give anything in the world to see it =)