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Saturday, June 16 @ 1 p.m. - We’re No Angels

Three escaped convicts find their robbery plans thwarted when they are charmed by the family they intended to hold up. The three find themselves committing good deeds in the hopes of helping them out. View the trailer here.

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Featured Actor: Joan Blondell

 Rose Joan Blondell made her acting debut at the tender age of four months, as part of her parents' vaudeville act, Blondell and Company.  As they traveled the world performing, little Rose often slumbered in a stage-prop trunk. Her parents finally settled in Dallas, TX, where Rose entered and won the Miss Dallas beauty contest at the age of 20. Spurred on by this success, she headed to the Big Apple, where she dropped the name Rose and became just Joan.

Joining the Ziegfeld Follies, Joan Blondell began performing on Broadway. At the age of 23, she found herself acting opposite James Cagney in a production of "Penny Arcade", where a talent agent spotted them and offered them a chance to go to Hollywood. The film version of the stage play, retitled Sinners Holiday, led to acting contracts for both stars.

Blondell and Cagney starred in five more films together before she was paired with Dick Powell in a series of musicals. Warner Brothers extended her original short-term contract, and she made ten films in 1931 alone. Able to play the sweet-faced but wisecracking dame, many of Blondell's best performances hinted at the pathos and depth behind her expressive eyes. The 1930s saw her making movie after movie, but her career trajectory changed when she became an independent actress in 1939.

No longer beholden to a studio contract, Blondell had fewer acting opportunities, but access to higher-quality roles. She returned to Broadway in 1943 to star in Mike Todd's The Naked Genius. She also continued making films. One standout movie performance during the 1940s was her role as Aunt Sissy in 1945's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where she acted opposite Dorothy McGuire, James Dunn, and Peggy Ann Garner. Blondell considered one scene, ultimately cut from the final print, where she explains what a condom is as "the best piece of acting I have ever done."

According to Blondell, "They cut the best scene in the picture, the best scene I ever played and the best piece of acting I have ever done...in the most beautiful writing the author, Betty Smith, did, Sissy tries to explain to the children what the rubber is; not by talking about the actual thing, but about love and life itself. It was very simply done, and all of us players hugged each other spontaneously at the end of the scene. It was marvelous and the Legion of Decency made us take it out. Wasn't that stupid?" (quote courtesy of TCM.com.)

Once again, the bright lights of the theater beckoned Blondell, and for the next three years, she acted in summer stock and other productions. She played Aunt Sissy in the musical version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and also starred in the stage version of Bye Bye Birdie, among others.

Blondell returned to film in 1951's The Blue Veil, co-starring opposite Jane Wyman. In this role, she played an aging entertainer who hires Wyman's character to be a nursemaid to her daughter. Blondell's heartfelt performance garnered her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. At this stage of her career, Blondell became a reliable talent for supporting roles in some of the top movies of the decade, such as Desk Set and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?  

From the 1960s until the end of her life, Blondell continued to act in TV roles and movies, ultimately amassing a filmography of nearly 100 films. Her acclaimed performance in 1965's The Cincinnati Kid  earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Two of her last roles were in blockbuster films from 1978 and 1979: Grease and The Champ. In 1979, Joan Blondell, vaudeville baby, Ziegfeld chorine, movie star, acclaimed stage and TV actress, succumbed to leukemia at the age of 73 in Santa Monica, CA.

Check out some of Joan Blondell's film roles in these DVDs from the Library's collection: