Nov 30, 2009

Classic Links

The wonderful real life story that inspired Pin up Girl (1944)— NPR

Remember the Night (1940): unsung Christmas classic— Classic Movies Digest

I love the vintage movie star ads in this history of glamour makeup— Glamour Daze

Love Affair (1932): one of Bogie’s first roles— Noir Chick Flicks

An epic history of Casablanca (1942)!— Ingrid Bergman Life and Films

A fine review of Marlene Dietrich in Morocco (1930) and her work with Josef von Sternberg— A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies

Another blogger tackles color noir— The Night Editor

Happy Birthday Rex Reason (love that name)— She Blogged By Night

Nov 29, 2009

Quote of the Week

Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.

-Charlie Chaplin

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Nov 26, 2009

Classic Links

Joan Fontaine’s Thanksgiving, 1951— Motion Picture Gems

Stella Dallas demonstrates how to roast a turkey— Another Old Movie Blog

A great double review to read while the turkey settles— Self-Styled Siren

Christian McKay really looks like Welles in this pic!— NPR

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

(This pic from 1934 shows the first Mickey Mouse balloon to make an appearance the the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.)

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Nov 25, 2009

Classic Links

King Kong’s metal skeleton sold— The Guardian

A review: The Big Trail (1931) (and some hunky pics of young John Wayne)— A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies

A review: Wuthering Heights (1939)— Classic Movies Digest

Frank Sinatra pic spam, including a couple of great shots with Ava Gardner— Gents and Dames

More information about the Audrey Hepburn dress auction and a few interesting stories about her movie wardrobe— The Telegraphy

Book Review-- Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell

There can never be a Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell love team again.
--Janet Gaynor, 1970

Though you wouldn’t know it from the sparse attention they get today, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell were the most popular screen couple of the 1920s and 30s. Starting with a sensationally swoony pairing in Seventh Heaven (1927), they starred together in an impressive twelve movies. They not only successfully made the jump from silents to talkies, but also to musicals, where they lost some romantic mystique, but retained their mesmerizing charm. Their secret off screen romance, born on the set of their first movie together, matured into an affectionate, lifelong friendship.

Both stars had their share of independent success. Gaynor won the first Academy Award for best actress and starred in the silent classic Sunrise (1927) and the first version of A Star is Born (1937). Farrell had a handful of solo silent successes and a late career resurgence as the star of the popular sitcom My Little Margie. However, they were never better than when they were together. Their mutual affection gave a potent charge to every scene they shared.

Film historian Sarah Baker explores both the public and private lives of this celebrated pair in her loving, carefully researched biography. She draws on thorough archival research and interviews, many of them previously unpublished, with both the subjects and the people who knew them best. There’s hardly a key moment in the text that isn’t illustrated by one of over 100 photos, several of them from Charles Farrell’s estate.

It is a practical choice to write a dual biography of Gaynor and Farrell. Though they were often separated for years, just as any press mention of one star inevitably includes the other, their careers and lives seem also to have been colored by the influence they had on each other. And what vibrant, exciting lives they were. This is one case where the real story is as intriguing as what unfolded in the movies.

This much-needed tribute is an engrossing read, and should please any fan of classic Hollywood. Silent movie lovers will find Baker’s account of this legendary partnership particularly thrilling.

Published by BearManor Media, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell will hit bookshelves 12/1.

Nov 24, 2009

New Design!

Hello all--I hope you are enjoying my snazzy new design!

I've still got to do some shuffling here and there, but for the most part, things seem to be running fine now. I was saddened to lose all your lovely comments in the transfer to the new format, but have made some changes that will hopefully make that process easier for you in the future. In addition to still being able to comment on the direct links (and I think that should be a simpler to do now), you can now also click on a comment link directly from the main page!

So let me know what you think! And I encourage your future feedback. I'm always thrilled to hear from you.

Classic Links

A few entries in the Boris Karloff blog-a-thon—
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Silents and Talkies
From Behind the Couch

The weird movie hucksterism of William Castle— Vancouver Sun

Capra fondly remembered in the desert— My Desert

A great review of William Holden in Stalag 17 (1953)— Riku Writes

If you haven’t been reading this series about Madame Sylvia, masseuse to the stars, then you’ve got a lot of great posts to check out— Time Machine to the Twenties

Charlie Chaplin museum to open in Swiss mansion— The Guardian

Pics of some of the footprints at Grauman’s Theater in Hollywood— Classic Montgomery

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TV Tuesday: Olivia de Havilland on the Dinah Shore Show

In an appearance on The Dinah Shore Show, Olivia de Havilland gets adorably flustered while she gushes about her romance with Errol Flynn. Panelmates Shelley Winters, Shirley Jones, and Eva Marie Saint look thrilled, and a bit stunned, by her candor.

Nov 23, 2009

Classic Links

Another fine profile from the Philip French’s Screen Legends series: Shirley Temple— The Guardian

This exhibit of Grace Kelly’s film and personal wardrobe in London sounds fabulous-- Yahoo News

The Jacques Tati collection— The Guardian

A nicely-designed post about Dolly Tree’s costumes for the Harlow flick Wife vs. Secretary (1936)— Livin' Vintage

Monday Serenade: Janet Gaynor

Though Janet Gaynor is best known for her dramatic work in classics like Sunrise(1927) and A Star is Born (1937), she also did quite well in a series of early talkie musicals. She is adorable in this scene from Delicious (1931), singing a snuggly version of George Gershwin's Somebody Somewhere. Gaynor may not have been born to be a musical star, but she has all the charisma necessary to sell a song.

Nov 22, 2009

Quote of the Week

You have to have a talent for having talent.

-Ruth Gordon

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Nov 21, 2009

Donald O'Connor, Making Us Laugh

Hey Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I appreciate your love for Donald O'Connor's Make 'Em Laugh from Singin' In the Rain (1952). The great pleasure you took in performing it was the best part of your version on SNL, but I needed to watch this right after:


Ah, much better.

Nov 20, 2009

Classic Links

A fantastic gallery of vintage ads with movie stars— And. . .Scene

This is a great review of a pair of hard-to-find Claudette Colbert pre-codes— Classic Maiden

CK Dexter Haven continues his Thin Man series with Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)— Hollywood Dreamland

A Olivia and Joan double feature— Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

The Intensity of Gene Tierney

I can always find something to love in a Gene Tierney performance, but while she is charming in comedies like On the Riviera (1951) and Heaven Can Wait (1943), she often comes off a bit stiff in these lighter roles. She seems more at home in dramas, where she melds a striking intensity with otherworldly beauty that she hardly seems to know she possesses. In celebration of Ms. Tierney’s birthday today, here are a few of her best dramatic turns:

Leave Her to Heaven (1946)

Tierney is at her most visceral in this brightly-colored film noir. With her green eyes pulsing in a fury of emotion, she makes you feel the simmering frustration of her dangerously possessive character. Tierney is meant to be a villainess, but she so effectively communicates how tortured she is by her destructive impulses that she manages to elicit some sympathy.

The Razor’s Edge (1946)

In this epic, but strangely intimate drama, Tierney plays a less twisted, but similarly destructive beauty. She has a rigid view of the way her life and the world around her should function and does not hesitate to destroy anyone who stands in her way. For that reason, she should be totally repellant, but while it is almost as if she could cut you with those sharp, high cheekbones, her fanatical belief in her methods gives her so much vibrancy that kinder souls tend to fade into the background when she is present.

Dragonwyck (1946)

In one of her most complex performances, Tierney plays a farm girl who takes up residence with her distant cousin in a stately, but spooky estate. She takes her character through a remarkable transformation, from a giddy, romantic child to a jaded, disillusioned woman, while demonstrating that she still clings to the spiritual values instilled in her by her ferociously religious father. Though impressed by her opulent surroundings, she keeps her farm sensibility, and Tierney is at her level-headed best when she shoots down any hint of pretension or false values.

Nov 19, 2009

Classic Links

Newly-restored A Star is Born(1954) to open TCM film festival (the first major restoration of the movie since 1983!)-- The Wrap

A good overview of the Universal Sherlock Holmes series— Classic Film and TV Cafe

Nov 18, 2009

Classic Links

A great Jackie Cooper article from 1932-- Hollywood Heyday

I keep forgetting to post this interesting piece about color film noir movies— True Slant

Didn’t they just auction some Audrey Hepburn dresses recently? I remember that lace cocktail dress from How to Steal a Million (1966) that they are selling in this auction. I want it, and I want the matching mask as well!— IMDB

Cognitive dissonance: can you handle watching movies made by a star who does/did terrible things?— A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies

The scent of a dead celebrity? Yuck— MSNBC

Nov 17, 2009

Classic Links

I get excited every time they announce new titles from Warner Archives. This time I’m especially happy to see that Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945) with Edward G. Robinson and Margaret O’Brien is now available— Classicflix

Ann Rutherford, 89, talks about being Gone With the Wind (1939), and how it has changed her life— SF Gate

A review of Private Lives(1931)-- Silents and Talkies

The Universal Cult Horror Collection has some interesting titles, including the pre-code The Murders in the Zoo (1933)-- TCM

More pictures of Bacall with her Oscar. She looks fabulous!-- Motion Picture Gems

A good collection of Lauren Bacall quotes—

Nov 16, 2009

Classic Links

I’m disappointed that Lauren Bacall did not get her little gold man on the big Oscar telecast, but happy she got him (and yeah for Corman!)— BBC

This article has a pic of Bacall with her statue— USA Today

A star-studded ‘toon party by Jack Benny’s pool— Motion Picture Gems

Clever idea: if Eddie Felson from The Hustler (1961) were on Out of the Past

This new novel looks interesting: imaginary conversations with Rudolph Valentino— Perpetual Flapper

Fascinating review of Battleship Potemkin (1925)--first published in 1929— The Guardian

Lovely and hilarious Ina Claire— Allure

One of my favorite movie fashion shows: Adrian’s colorful extravaganza from The Women (1939)— Glamour Splash

Nov 15, 2009

Quote of the Week

Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young

-Fred Astaire

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Nov 12, 2009

Classic Links

Of course it would have been magnificent Grace Kelly’s 80th birthday today, but let’s not forget
Jacques Tourneur (and happy b-day to blogger/artist Kate Gabrielle!)--Silents and Talkies

A fun gallery of glamorous stars primping— And. . .Scene

Joan Crawford in the hard-to-find Letty Lynton (1932)(thanks to a tip from The Self-Styled Siren)— Letty Lynton

Nice tribute to Robert Ryan— Classic Maiden

Nov 11, 2009

Veterans Day Double Feature

I’ve always been wary of the uncomplicated patriotism in World War II era movies. It makes me cringe when I sense that a patch of propaganda has been plunked into the middle of a scene, because I can just feel myself being pulled out the story. However, viewed through the filter of the times, I can imagine how important this kind of message must have been to audiences of the day.

I’m fond of this pair of movies, because while they do have their share of propaganda, they are not overwhelmed by their message moments:

So Proudly We Hail (1943)

This passionately patriotic drama, starring Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake, follows a group of Red Cross nurses who struggle to survive a two-year tour of duty in the Philippines. Colbert is typically solid, but the real stand-outs are Goddard and Lake in performances which demonstrate that both actresses had more depth than their roles usually required of them. With her peek-a-boo bang tucked carefully away, Lake is childlike and wearily fragile as a nurse haunted by a personal tragedy, while Goddard bolsters her happy-go-lucky persona with deeper compassion and strength than she has typically shown on the screen. The rest of the cast is uniformly solid, and a surprising number of characters get a chance to shine, if briefly. If you took away the setting and the action, this would be an entertaining women’s picture, and it is that unusual element that gives this gritty, chaotic, and often harrowing movie an added sheen.

Battleground (1949)

John Hodiak, Van Johnson and Ricardo Montalban head another strong ensemble cast in this quieter, less-rousing drama about a group of soldiers who find themselves trapped by the Germans in foggy Bastogne. As it was filmed after the war, there is not quite the focus on fighting the good fight as there is on the grim struggle for survival. Though the dialogue is sharp, the movie’s most powerful moments come from its striking images: Hodiak choking back a cry at the sight of an empty pair of boots, the slow drop of a hand nearly hidden from view, and the beautiful, but dangerous fog and snow that envelopes the weary soldiers. A running gag with Johnson and a helmet full of eggs doesn’t quite succeed as comic relief (though he is charming), but Montalban is infectiously joyful in his lively portrayal of a Mexican-American frolicking like a schoolboy in the first snow he has ever seen.

Classic Links

A fantastic review of Mark Vieira’s new book about Irving Thalberg— Wall Street Journal

Great clip from Kansas City Princess (1934), Glenda and Joan could do no wrong!— All Good Things

More great movie quotes— Riku Writes

A gorgeous bunch of Carole Lombard pics—wow!— Cajsita Design

Gary Cooper’s daughter meets the son of Alvin York—

Nov 10, 2009

Classic Links

This new book sounds interesting: A Song in the Dark--The Birth of the Musical FilmTCM

Funny, a couple of bloggers were on a quote binge today--
Riku Writes
Just Me. . .Just Sayin'

Enter the ClassicFlix subscription giveaway!— Silents and Talkies

I love this anecdote about Gable and Leigh on the GWTW set— Self-Styled Siren

TV Tuesday: Joan Fontaine for Bufferin

Joan Fontaine is so elegant in this 1965 commercial for Bufferin. She makes pain relief sound fancy.

Nov 9, 2009

Classic Links

Leslie Caron: what I see in the mirror— The Guardian

A charming Sophia Loren interview— Daily Mail

The ideal body shape—according to old Hollywood— Glamour Daze

The discovery of a lost Chaplin movie— Old Hollywood Glamour

Meeting Debbie Reynolds: an eventful screening of The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)— Motion Picture Gems

Comparing recycled sets— Another Old Movie Blog

Nov 8, 2009

Quote of the Week

Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese

-Billie Burke

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Nov 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Edie!

Though "Little" Edie Beale was not a classic Hollywood star, I think she could have been if her high society roots had not constrained her in her youth. She certainly loved to perform, as she demonstrated with copious amounts of singing and dancing in the documentaries Gray Gardens (1976) and The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006). It always made me happy to know that she finally did get to sing her heart out in a cabaret act once her beloved mother passed on. This is my favorite clip from Grey Gardens. I can't help but admire a woman with such strong and unique convictions about fashion!

Nov 6, 2009

Classic Links

A review of In My Father’s Shadow the new book by Orson Welles’ daughter Chris Welles Feder— California Literary Review

I love this footage from the premiere of Grand Hotel (1932)— Silver Screen Stars

Some like it true: Tony Curtis and his alleged affair with Marilyn Monroe— SF Gate

Liz Taylor: a leading lady for life— NPR

Nov 5, 2009

Classic Links

Birthday boy Joel McCrea in one of his best, and most underrated, performances as a tough-but-compassionate preacher in Stars in My Crown (1950)— Motion Picture Gems

Cut musical numbers in 1930— All Taking! All Singing! All Dancing!

The Red Shoes (1948) restoration— Green Cine

These Clara Bow and Jean Harlow paper dolls look so grim!— Marges8's Blog

What a random question to ask on Yahoo Answers (I say Cagney)— Yahoo

Nov 4, 2009

Classic Links

The first TCM film festival! Sounds interesting— TCM

A cool old Hedda Hopper column-- LA Times blog (via Carole and Co. )

A second chance to see The Wizard of Oz (1939) in theaters— Reuters

The tragic Peter Lorre in M (1931)— A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies

Nov 3, 2009

Classic Links

The Siren programs for TCM!-- Self-Styled Siren

The crypt above Marilyn Monroe goes unsold (yay!)—

Great pics of Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Audrey Hepburn being silly together— Dreaming in Black and White

A review: The Blackbird (1926), starring Lon Chaney— Movie Magg

A birthday tribute to one of my favorite actors: Charles Bronson— Classic Maiden

This book looks interesting: Hollywood Confidential: How The Studios Beat the Mob at Their Own Game--  TCM

Nov 2, 2009

Classic Links

The bizarre Lord Love a Duck (1966)-- Out of the Past

A review: A Damsel in Distress (1937)— Glamour

A great book for classic movie fans: Who The Hell’s In It? by Peter Bogdanovich— Dan Cirucci

Kevin Spacey does classic movie star impersonations (he’s pretty good!)— YouTube (via

Nov 1, 2009

Quote of the Week

It's not the having, it's the getting.

-Elizabeth Taylor

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