My grandfather was part of the Greatest Generation.
One of the reasons I love old movies is because of my grandfather. I used to watch them with him all the time, and ask him about the old stars. I remember his laughter at Laurel and Hardy. Some of his other favorites were “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Mrs. Miniver,” “It’s A Wonderful Life.” He used to take my mother to see the Summer Classic Movies at the Warner Theater in Erie. (Why did they ever stop showing these?!)
I also got my interest in old music from my grandfather. He played accordion with his Polka Band and played other types of music. I have all of his sheet music and his large collection of records of which I have increased by astronomical amounts.
I would also like to honor him on Veterans Day because he was a veteran of World War ll and was involved in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. A quiet man who was called to do his duty right after high school graduation like so many brave young men. He was wounded at St. Lo on July 17, 1944, four years to the day his father died. He was presented the Jubilee of Freedom Medal by the government of France in 1997.
He used to write letters during the war to my grandmother as they were friends first, and thank God my grandmother kept several of them. He would tell her what he was doing, what he ate at the Red Cross Club, and simple little things that helped pass the time. One of the things he enjoyed was the movies they showed the soldiers. And this is what I want to make an occasional series in my blog. The movies my grandfather saw during the war.
So this is for my beloved grandfather who passed away in 2007, (whom I called “Paco.” I called him that instead of grandpa for some reason and it stuck!) I miss him every day.
The first movie I will talk about is “Keep Your Powder Dry,” from 1945, starring Lana Turner, Laraine Day, and Susan Peters. It was so good, he saw it twice! My grandfather’s review from his August 30, 1945 letter was, “It was a picture about the WAC’s and it was comical and I enjoyed it very much.”
When I saw this film, I agreed with my grandfather’s sentiments exactly. Though I usually enjoy her in movies, it was hard to like Laraine Day in this picture. She played an army brat who was a know-it-all and she expected everyone to play by the rules. Lana Turner plays a rich heiress who won’t come into any more of her money unless she gives up her selfish ways. She enlists in the WACS and finds out she likes it and feels like she is doing something worthy. Susan Peters plays the wife of an army officer overseas. Also in this film are Agnes Moorhead who plays a tough Lieutenant Colonel with a heart, June Lockhart as another WAC, and Natalie Schafer as one of Lana’s socialite friends. This was a morale booster for women in the service.
Sadly, after this movie was made, Susan Peters was involved in a hunting accident with her husband, actor and later director, Richard Quine, and she was paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. She died in 1952 at the age of 31 from complications of her injury and also she had given up the will to live.