Tom Tully

The Moon Is Blue (1953, Otto Preminger)

William Holden never seems out of place in The Moon Is Blue, but occasionally the film seems out of place having William Holden in its lead role. He’s not mundane, he’s a star. The film isn’t about the mundane but it needs to acknowledge the possibility of it. Holden ain’t it.

He’s top-billed but not the protagonist. At the start, it plays like he might be, but no. The protagonist is Maggie McNamara. The film just follows Holden because–star wattage or not–he’s a lot easier to figure out than McNamara. The film covers the first twenty or so hours of them knowing one another (it’s a play adaptation). In that time, Holden picks up McNamara at the Empire State Building, they have dinner at his apartment, she meets his neighbors (David Niven and Dawn Addams), her father (Tom Tully) punches Holden out, Holden watches her on TV (she’s an aspiring actress, he’s a successful but not famous architect). A lot happens in the film’s ninety-nine minute runtime.

Being a stage adaptation, there are limited locations. About seven total. Most of the film takes place in Holden’s apartment, where he and McNamara stop off before an impromptu dinner date. They get there by cab, which is when Moon starts forecasting its twist. McNamara is going to talk real–Moon was infamous at time of release for the onscreen use of the word, “virgin”–and she’s fairly aware of what Holden (and then Niven) have in mind for her.

So a lot of Moon Is Blue is McNamara saying something honest and unvarnished to Holden or Niven (sometimes both) and the men reacting. It plays out, usually, in an approximation of real-time. Holden goes into the evening aware of McNamara’s disinterest in being seduced, Niven comes into it wondering (but very gently) if he can get around it. Age also plays a factor. Twenty-two-year-old McNamara wants a middle-aged man; thirty-year-old Holden (well, thirty-five playing thirty) isn’t old enough. Forty-one-year-old Niven (actually forty-three) more fits the bill, but by the time she meets him, she’s smitten with Holden.

Of course, Holden’s just broken Niven’s daughter’s heart. Addams is the daughter. She and Holden’s failed romance subplot gets introduced quietly in the first act, but really plays through in the second. Second act is where Moon gives up the pretense of not being McNamara’s movie.

She’s excellent. The part’s quirky and McNamara keeps up with it, always ready for Holden or Niven’s reactions. Holden’s good but his part is thin. Thinner than Niven’s, who’s just a rich, lovable lech. Moon stops Holden’s character development at the end of the first act (even when there are later revelations, they don’t turn out to be consequential at all). It’s not his story, it can’t pretend to be. And Holden keeps getting better, the less there is for him to do. Wonky third act material or not, Holden’s great in it.

Niven’s hilarious. He doesn’t have much character development, but Niven’s performance is so loud it both doesn’t matter and seems like there’s more depth to him.

Addams is basically caricature. She’s fine. Great costumes for her (courtesy Don Loper). While her character is important to the narrative, it’s not a big part for Addams. Intentionally, the costumes end up doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

F. Hugh Herbert’s screenplay (from his stage play) is good. The dialogue is better than the plotting, which falls apart in the third act.

Preminger’s direction is superb with the actors, strong with the pacing, troublesome with the composition. He’ll compose these excellent two or three shots, in medium or long, but his close-ups are dull. It works because the performances are so good, it just doesn’t excel. Much in Moon Is Blue excels. Preminger doesn’t keep pace, stylistically.

Even with the third act hiccups and the bland close-ups, The Moon Is Blue is still an excellent comedy. McNamara, Holden, and Niven do no wrong.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Otto Preminger; screenplay by F. Hugh Herbert, based on their play; director of photography, Ernest Laszlo; edited by Ronald Sinclair; music by Herschel Burke Gilbert; produced by Preminger and Herbert; released by United Artists.

Starring Maggie McNamara (Patty O’Neill), William Holden (Donald Gresham), David Niven (David Slater), Dawn Addams (Cynthia Slater), and Tom Tully (Michael O’Neill).


2000 AD 27 (27 August 1977)

66779 20061016100730 largeIt’s an issue of endings and new beginnings. Well, more like one ending and a lot of multi-part stories.

Harlem Heroes whimpers out of the series, hopefully for good. Tully has this terrible moment where the Heroes mourn a lost teammate, then jump for joy at the thought of their next adventure.

Finley-Day reveals the Scots are the only ones in the UK able to keep out the Volgans but even they need Savage’s help. Okay art from Dorey and it moves well.

Something’s off with Solá’s art on Shako though. It should be fun–Wagner has Shako attacking people in the hospital, including the evil nurse.

The Future-Shock is fine. Nothing special.

MACH 1 actually has Probe fighting an evenly matched opponent; Redondo’s art is hurried though.

Gibson’s art is just great on Dredd, however. He does a great job and Wagner keeps it moving well.

CREDITS

Invasion, Dirty Jocks, Part One; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Mike Dorey; letterer, Tony Jacob. Harlem Heroes, Part Twenty-seven; writer, Tom Tully; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Pete Knight. Shako, Part Eight; writer, John Wagner; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Knight. Tharg the Mighty, First Contact; writer, Alan Hebden; artist, Medraho; letterer, Aldrich. M.A.C.H. 1, Planet Killers!, Part One; writer, Pat Mills; artist, Jesus Redondo; letterer, Jack Potter. Judge Dredd, The Academy of Law, Part One; writer, Wagner; artist, Ian Gibson; letterer, Bill Nuttall. Editor, Kelvin Gosnell; publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 16 (11 June 1977)

144906All in all, not a bad issue.

There’s actually danger in Dan Dare, for example, and a couple good pages in M.A.C.H. 1. A little makes a big difference with 2000 AD, apparently.

Invasion isn’t terrible. It’s mostly action, with Pino doing decent work on a shootout between the protagonist and a bounty hunter. Very busy pages, but competently done.

Flesh comes to what seems to be a shocking conclusion. Absolutely phenomenal art from Sola on a rampaging dinosaur, more than making up for the lame, big-headed human villain.

Even Harlem Heroes is okay (for it). There’s a team of ugly cyborgs the Heroes have to play. Not terrible.

Like I said, Dare has something new–Moore gives it an actually suspenseful cliffhanger. Plus recaps Dare’s origin.

Wagner writes both Dredd and M.A.C.H. 1, which probably explains why the latter’s so much better than usual. Dredd’s okay enough too.

CREDITS

Invasion, Bounty; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Carlos Pino; letterers, Peter Knight and J. Swain. Flesh, Book One, Part Sixteen; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Bill Nuttall. Harlem Heroes, Part Sixteen; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Five; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterers, Knight and John Aldrich. M.A.C.H. 1, Capitol; writer, John Wagner; artist, P. Martinez Henares; letterer, Aldrich. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Seven; writer, Wagner; artist, Ron Turner; letterer, Tony Jacob. Editor, Pat Mills; publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 15 (4 June 1977)

144905It’s another weak issue.

Mike Dorey’s art is real lame on Invasion, but the writing’s worse. Finley-Day actually relies on a huge truck of acid to solve the problem.

Flesh is weak too; Sola’s art is distressingly underwhelming. It might just be too rushed–all the art this issue is rushed in some way or another–dinosaurs driving cars should be funny.

More Harlem Heroes. Tully explores the way ties are resolved in the game. It’s getter even harder to care about the fake sport.

Moore’s Dan Dare is really contrived. He does indicate, however, there might be an origin recap, which would be nice.

M.A.C.H. 1 has awful art from Marzal Canos. Peter Harris’s goofy story involves bloodthirsty yeti and a dope-dealing Dalai Lama.

Dredd, as usual, is the winner. Wagner’s got some funny stuff amid the robot rebellion. Sadly, McMahon is light on the robots’ details.

CREDITS

Invasion, The Doomsdale Scenario, Part Three; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Mike Dorey; letterer, Jack Aldrich. Flesh, Book One, Part Fifteen; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Bennsberg. Harlem Heroes, Part Fifteen; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Four; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Peter Knight. M.A.C.H. 1, Yeti; writer, Peter Harris; artist, Marzal Canos; letterer, Tony Jacob. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Six; writer, John Wagner; artist, Mike McMahon; letterer, Jack Potter. Editor, Pat Mills; publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 14 (29 May 1977)

144904Good grief it’s a bad one.

The only good story is the Dredd one. Wagner packs way too much action into its pages; even though Ian Gibson tries hard, he’s too rushed. But it’s still a solid story.

The Invasion story isn’t terrible, but it’s got a frantic pace too. And it’s dumb–the peaceful nuclear research planet is called Doomsdale. Not sure what, if anything, Finley-Day could have been thinking.

Flesh is awful. Boix’s art isn’t bad, but Gosnell’s writing is the pits.

For Harlem Heroes, Tully concentrates on the team turning around a game. It’s a combination of inane–comics aren’t the best medium for a sporting event–and incomprehensible. I guess Gibbons does okay.

Awful Dan Dare. Moore’s writing isn’t good anymore.

And M.A.C.H. 1… wow. Between Finley-Day’s racist characterizations of Chinese people and Kato’s ugly, busy artwork, it’s an ugly time.

Very bad issue.

CREDITS

Invasion, The Doomsdale Scenario, Part Two; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Carlos Pino; letterer, Jack Potter. Flesh, Book One, Part Fourteen; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Boix; letterer, John Aldrich. Harlem Heroes, Part Fourteen; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Three; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterers, Peter Knight and J. Swain. M.A.C.H. 1, Chinese Formula; writer, Finley-Day; artist, Kato; letterer, Aldrich. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Five; writer, John Wagner; artist, Ian Gibson; letterer, Potter. Editor, Pat Mills; publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 13 (21 May 1977)

144903With a couple exceptions, it’s one of the better 2000 AD progs so far.

Invasion is decent; very nice art from Dorey and Finley-Day has learned how to plot out a rewarding cliffhanger.

A real surprise is Flesh. Without dinosaurs–this issue’s just future men against giant spiders–the comic is a lot better. Great art from Felix Carrion too.

Okay, Harlem Heroes is still lame. The Heroes are finally losing a game (against the Scots), but it doesn’t make the comic any more interesting.

And Steve Moore’s disappointing on his second Dan Dare outing. He spends way too much time with the villains and almost none with Dan Dare. If the villain pages were good, it’d be different, but they’re lame.

Jesus Redondo illustrates a fantastic M.A.C.H. 1. It’s all action and gorgeously done.

And Dredd is good. Wagner gets in some funny moments; Turner’s art’s passable too.

CREDITS

Invasion, The Doomsdale Scenario, Part One; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Mike Dorey; letterer, Jack Potter. Flesh, Book One, Part Thirteen; writer, Studio Giolitti; artist, Felix Carrion; letterer, J. Swain. Harlem Heroes, Part Thirteen; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part Two; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Bill Nuttall. M.A.C.H. 1, Airship; writer, Nick Allen; artist, Jesus Redondo; letterer, Potter. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Four; writer, John Wagner; artist, Ron Turner; letterer, Potter. Editor, Pat Mills; publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 12 (14 May 1977)

144902Carlos Pino does the art on Invasion. He does pretty well, though Finley-Day’s script has all these analogues to the Nazis. It seems inappropriate and somewhat insensitive.

Flesh has good Sola art and a lame script, as usual, from Gosnell. They should’ve just done it without dialogue. Gosnell even manages to butcher pop culture references.

Harlem Heroes covers the origin of the sport–it’s Scottish. The script’s probably the most imaginative in many progs; it’s still not good.

Steve Moore takes over writing Dan Dare. It’s much better. Dare goes to the future London (a floating theme park) and meets a wolf man. Easily the best Dare so far.

M.A.C.H. 1–from Charles Herring and Mike Dorey–is similarly not terrible. It’s anti-American bluster and very silly, but okay.

Dredd has some goofy dialogue from Wagner, but McMahon illustrates a robot rebellion well. The giant robots are awesome.

CREDITS

Invasion, Death Line; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Carlos Pino; letterer, Jack Potter. Flesh, Book One, Part Twelve; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Potter. Harlem Heroes, Part Twelve; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Hollow World, Part One; writer, Steve Moore; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Peter Knight. M.A.C.H. 1, The Laser Hound; writer, Charles Herring; artist, Mike Dorey; letterer, J. Swain. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Three; writer, John Wagner; artist, Mike McMahon; letterer, Jack Potter. Editor, Pat Mills; publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 11 (7 May 1977)

144901It’s another less than impressive outing.

Ramon Sola does the art for both Invasion and Flesh, so those strips look good. Invasion’s really boring; I suppose Flesh would be too, except writer Kelvin Gosnell tasks Sola with drawing hundreds of dinosaurs. They make up for it.

Wagner’s Judge Dredd story isn’t bad (it’s the issue’s best), but Ron Turner’s art is a little weak. It’s not a hard story to tell–the robots go nuts and attack humans–but Turner is weak on the details. It’s never interesting looking.

Dan Dare finishes up its first storyline and threatens a second. It’s probably the best strip so far, but only because it promises to be over (then takes that promise away, unfortunately).

M.A.C.H. 1 is dumb, involving a fast car trip. Barry Mitchell’s art isn’t bad, but there are continuity gaffs throughout.

Terrible Harlem Heroes. Tully’s scripts are getting worse.

CREDITS

Invasion, Dartmoor, Part Two; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Peter Knight. Flesh, Book One, Part Eleven; writer, Gosnell; artist, Sola; letterer, Knight. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part Two; writer, John Wagner; artist, Ron Turner; letterer, Bill Nuttall. Dan Dare, Part Eleven; writer, Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Knight. M.A.C.H. 1, Operation Death-Drive!; writer, Roy Preston; artist, Barry Mitchell; letterer, Jack Potter. Harlem Heroes, Part Eleven; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Editor, Pat Mills; publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 10 (30 April 1977)

144900Overall, it’s not a terrible issue. Nothing really stands out as good or bad. The first half of the Dan Dare is okay even–Belardinelli really does do a lot better with space battles than anything else.

The Invasion entry has decent art from Eric Bradbury and a nice reveal at the end. Finley-Day’s dialogue’s moronic, but it’s always moronic.

Studio Giolitti does a little better on the Flesh writing. Boix continues to draw dinosaurs rampaging well. The Harlem Heroes has a great panel or two from Gibbons. Again, dumb but not terrible–the story’s plotted okay.

M.A.C.H. 1 rips off some Bond moments as the protagonist hunts a fugitive. Mills does better with the action than the quiet epilogue.

And then there’s Dredd. Good art from Ezquerra helps things a lot. Wagner writes weak dialogue and the end’s way too heavy handed. Otherwise, nearly okay.

CREDITS

Invasion, Dartmoor, Part One; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Eric Bradbury; letterer, John Aldrich. Flesh, Book One, Part Ten; writer, Studio Giolitti; artist, Boix; letterer, Aldrich. Harlem Heroes, Part Ten; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Part Ten; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterers, Jack Potter and Peter Knight. M.A.C.H. 1, On the Roof of the World; writer, Pat Mills; artist, Enio; letterer, Tony Jacob. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part One; writer, John Wagner; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; letterer, Aldrich. Publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 9 (23 April 1977)

144899What a stinker of an issue. I think the M.A.C.H. 1 might actually be the second best story, which is sort of unbelievable.

It opens with a tepid Invasion. Not terrible, but not very good. Carlos Pino’s art is decent. Then a poorly written Flesh about family vacations through time. Studio Giolitti’s writing (whoever it is) is atrocious. Boix’s art isn’t bad though.

Awful Harlem Heroes. Tully can’t pace it for four pages. I guess Gibbons does draw a cool evil cyborg but he wastes a page on the cyborg’s reveal.

The Dan Dare is bad and visually confusing. Belardinelli is stuck drawing epic space battles in tiny panels; writer Gosnell doesn’t seem to understand what psychic means.

The aforementioned M.A.C.H. 1 has decent Cooper art. It’s dumb, but not bad.

The Dredd is crud. John Wagner front loads it with robot-related morality and doesn’t deliver any good action.

CREDITS

Invasion, Ships; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Carlos Pino; letterer, Jack Potter. Flesh, Book One, Part Nine; writer, Studio Giolitti; artist, Boix; letterer, S. Richardson. Harlem Heroes, Part Nine; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Part Nine; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterers, Potter and Peter Knight. M.A.C.H. 1, Our Man in Turkostan; writer, John Wagner; artist, John Cooper; letterer, Tony Jacob. Judge Dredd, Robots; writer, Wagner; artist, Ron Turner; letterer, John Aldrich. Publisher, IPC.

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