Jan 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Tallulah Bankhead


Though Tallulah Bankhead made her reputation as a stage actress, she did make a few appearances in Hollywood. Over the course of several decades, she starred in flicks such as The Cheat (1931), Lifeboat (1944) and Die! Die! My Darling! (1965). I love this deliciously catty chat between Tallulah and Marlene Dietrich on a 1951 episode of the radio program The Big Show. It is marvelous how these two big personalities with their distinctive voices and worldly ways manage to avoid canceling each other out. It’s funny, because when Tallulah first came to Hollywood, Paramount actually billed her as “the next Dietrich”--as if either of these women could be replicated! Wouldn’t it have been interesting if they had co-starred in a movie?

For more info., check out this enthusiastically footnoted bio. of Bankhead.

Quote of the Week

If you want to be a success in Hollywood, be sure and go to New York.

-Bert Lahr

Jan 29, 2010

Classic Links

Classic film bloggers—keep an eye out for content thieves— Out of the Past

Anti-prohibition, non-conformist W.C. Fields— Face to Face

TCM picks the 15 most influential film soundtracks (and several of them are classics!)— TCM

600 movie blogs you might have missed. The link goes right to the classic movie blog page (I mean, that’s what we really care about—right?) They apparently got a huge number of these blogs from the LAMB membership list-- Total Film (via LAMB)

For Orson Welles’ daughter, the world was her oyster-- The Guardian

A fun review of Mon Oncle (1958)— Lolita's Classics

Jan 28, 2010

Classic Links

Leonard Maltin shares his memories of Jean Simmons— Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy

Maltin’s movie guide is now an app— Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

Stars—they’re just like us! (this is a fun gallery)— And...Scene

Netflix has 12 million subscribers? Crazy! It’s like they’re the Walmart of movie rentals.— Variety

Jan 27, 2010

Classic Links

Designers create their own version of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers to be auctioned off for charity— Enchanted Revelry

This is actually part of an ongoing series, “what 100 stars want in 1956”, where classic stars share their wishes for the new year. This one is from Richard Burton— Time Machine to the Twenties

David Thomson remembers Jean Simmons— The Guardian

Some interesting facts about the Hollywood sign— The Screen Siren

The last night of the Shadows of Russia series— The Self-Styled Siren

A new movie about Rock Hudson’s secret life— The Advocate

Jan 26, 2010

Classic Links

Ida Lupino in The Hard Way (1943)— Classic Film Boy

The great movie chain continues with link #5: Monkey Business (1952). So who's taking the next round?— Flying Down to Hollywood

This is a nicely done tribute to Grace Kelly-Shabby Chic Diva's Pink Corner

Oooh, free old radio shows. Search out your favorite classic stars!-- A Girls Guide to Home Life

Revival houses have become a thing of the past-- NJ.com

TV Tuesday: A mini doc about Doris Day

I found this little gem on YouTube. I have no idea where it came from, but it appears to be part of a television documentary. It's charming to hear Terry Melcher talk about his famous mother. I also love the stories of Day unknowingly causing a commotion as she cycled through the streets of Beverly Hills.

Jan 25, 2010

Classic Links

An interesting review of a lesser-known film noir The Pretender (1947)— Where Danger Lives

A great collection of Charlie Chaplin quotes— The Kid in the Front Row

Philip French’s screen legends: Anita Ekberg-- The Guardian

A little something about actress Adrienne Ames Allure

Another passing—James Mitchell (1920-2010). I didn’t know his work well, but his performance as a young country doctor was one of the most moving elements of the underrated Stars In My Crown (1950)-- Motion Picture Gems

An in-depth review of Erich von Stroheim’s sly silent Foolish Wives (1922)-- Mondo 70

Jean Simmons, 1929-2010

I was stunned to hear of the passing of Jean Simmons, because she’d been on my mind over the past week (I’d just seen her in Black Narcissus (1947) and The Actress (1953)). Over the past couple of days, I've been thinking about Simmons’ performance in the comedy The Grass is Greener (1960)—also starring Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum (dreamy cast eh?) When I first saw the movie, I was accustomed to the intensity of her wide-ranging dramatic roles—from her Ophelia in Hamlet (1948), to her dangerously calculating femme fatale in Angel Face (1952), and her drifting, alcoholic housewife in The Happy Ending (1969). I’d always been impressed by Simmons--and something about her wide eyes and the frankness of her voice made her easy to like--but with that adept comic performance, I suddenly adored her. What a delight it was to see the slinky, clever and playful character she created for this movie! As I look back on how many great performances she accomplished—the image of her in that lively role sticks with me. It may not be her best movie, but it is a wonderful testimony to her versatility. And so I will happily remember our dear Jean with a wild headband, glamorous evening wear and bright blue eyeshadow, stealing all her scenes with a wicked grin.

R.I.P. Jean Simmons—thank you for sharing your brilliance with us.

Here’s a nice collection of blog links about the dearly departed Jean Simmons— Out of the Past

Some more blogger links:
Motion Picture Gems
Hollywood Dreamland
Noir and Chick Flicks

A pair of obituaries:
The Guardian

A nice gallery:
The Guardian

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Jan 24, 2010

Quote of the Week

Success only breeds a new goal. The golden apple devoured has seeds. It is endless.

-Bette Davis

Image Source

Jan 22, 2010

Classic Links

Great DVD release news for Deanna Durbin completists— ClassicFlix

The perfect combo of movies and trains— Riku Writes

It’s nice to see Mantan Moreland get some attention— Movie Morlocks

Jan 21, 2010

Classic Links

Check out these amazing pics of Audrey Hepburn (the first one is just a stunning shot overall)— Film Noir Photos

A short history of race in animation— The Guardian

More about the impressive Shadows of Russia series— Self-Styled Siren

Have I posted this Hitchcock interview from 1973 before? I’m getting a déjà vu feeling— Mental Floss

YouTube is entering the rental business— /Film

Jan 20, 2010

Classic Links

Five tragic final films of Hollywood goddesses--I found the clip of Veronica Lake particularly chilling. She practically seemed like she was decomposing in her later years. (thanks for the link and the intro. to a great blog Raquel!)— Classic Film Show

The best screenplay of 1931-1932—part two. This is a great series—well-researched and full of fascinating detail-- A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies

Remembering Audrey Hepburn. . .— Vintage Hollywood Nerd

. . .and Hedy Lamarr— Vintage Hollywood Nerd

Have any of you used the new TCM phone app?—Fierce Mobile Content

I keep forgetting to post this pic of Jean Harlow and boxer Primo Carnera. It is really something— Gents and Dames

Jan 19, 2010

Classic Links

A beautiful tribute to Audrey Hepburn-- Dreaming in Black and White

I really need to start going to flea markets-- Silents and Talkies

A review of Faust (1926) with some great pics-- The Big Parade

Jan 18, 2010

Classic Links

If you haven’t read Millie’s story about hearing Rebel Without a Cause screenwriter Stewart Stern speak, take a look—she heard lots of great stories— Classic Forever

This is a great post about Crooner (1932) and crooning in general (one of my favorite words=crooner)— TCM/Movie Morlocks

RIP Patric Knowles— Vintage Film Nerd

April 15, 1932 in Hollywood. I can’t get enough of this old Hollywood gossip. This batch is particularly good (love the bit about the enormous, overdue milk bill)— Hollywood Heyday

The allure of silent movies— Silents and Talkies

A mini-tribute to the very cool Richard Conte— The Night Editor

An in-depth post about Robert Benchley with a great list of viewing recommendations-- Movietone News

I enjoyed this MLK day pictorial tribute to African American actors— Film Noir Photos

Bessie Love had such a marvelous face! Check out these pics— Classic Movies

Philip French’s screen legends: Montgomery Clift— The Guardian

Monday Serenade: Debbie Reynolds Flirts With Frank Sinatra

This scene from The Tender Trap (1955) could make you swear off big production numbers for good. Frank Sinatra is perfect--sitting at the piano, wearing his hat, singing the title tune with his easy charm (he always makes it look so darn easy). He's so absorbed in the tune that he doesn't notice (or doesn't care) that Debbie Reynolds is making goo-goo eyes at him. It's a great moment, because you get a glimpse of Sinatra's intense delight in making music.

Jan 17, 2010

Quote of the Week

I had plenty of qualms about Audrey when we met for the first rehearsal, but from then on, working with her was one big kick... Audrey and I decided we'd throw a party for the cast and the crew when the picture was finished. We went all out, had it catered by Romanoff's - nothing but the best. In the middle of the party, Audrey sidled up to me, jabbed me with her elbow, and said, out of the corner of her mouth, "Hey, Shirl-Girl, whattaya think the bruise is gonna be for this bash?"

-Shirley MacLaine [co-star in The Children's Hour(1961)]

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Jan 15, 2010

Classic Links

I haven’t seen many Margaret O’Brien birthday tributes today, but this is a nice one— Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

Yay—a movie screenshot game!— Motion Picture Gems

A good tribute to Dennis Stock, photographer of many beloved celebrity shots, including the famous pic of James Dean walking down the middle of the street in his trenchcoat— The First Post

This is a nice blurb about Luise Rainer—including some information about her stage work— Playbill

I don’t recognize a lot of the women in this gallery of postcards, but these are all wonderful shots (the Anita Page pic is especially cute)— Film Noir Photos

A fascinating analysis/history of The Great Ziegfeld (1936)— Movie Magg

Jan 14, 2010

Classic Links

A huge collection of vintage Hollywood pics up for auction (link includes a gallery with some amazing classic shots taken by George Hurrell)— The Independent

RIP Beverly Fisher,  Errol Flynn’s last girlfriend— The Sydney Morning Herald

Check out this snazzy Cary Grant paper doll (with several outfits!)-- Carygrant.net (via Livin' Vintage)

Marlon Brando had an affair with Jackie Collins? Really?— IMDB

Jan 13, 2010

Classic Links

Universal releases a dozen MOD discs-- ClassicFlix Blog

See the homes of the silent stars— Oh By Jingo! Oh By Gee!

This book looks interesting-- Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS box— TCM

A review of Shadow on the Wall (1950), with the underrated child actress Gigi Perreau—

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

Wow—Gene Tierny looks like an entirely different person when she is blonde— Gene Tierney Movie Page

Jan 12, 2010

Happy 100th Birthday Luise Rainer

There was no one quite like Luise Rainer in old Hollywood. She wasn’t, and could never be a “type”. She was exotic, but in a softer way than Dietrich—and more earthbound than Garbo. She was also lively, but with more reserve than Lombard, and less confidence than Colbert.

Rainer was her own woman, and her strong individuality both brought her enormous success and led to the destruction of her career. She was the first actress to win an Academy Award two times in a row, and yet her pants-clad rebellion against glamour-obsessed Hollywood and control-obsessed Louis B. Mayer put her career on a downward spiral that was as fast as her rise to the top.

With sparkling, darting eyes, shaped like two sideways half moons, she brought an unusual, gentle charisma to her roles. In her most readily available movies: The Great Ziegfeld (1936), The Good Earth (1937) and The Great Waltz (1938), she played the self-sacrificing, beleaguered wife, but always with an aura of power about her. You get the impression that these characters are wiser, and more in control than appears on the surface. Or perhaps she could never submerge her own strength in her performances?

Though Rainer was known as “The Viennese Teardrop”, she had a lightness and agility that would have been marvelous in comedies. You get a glimpse of that ability in Ziegfeld, where as singer Anna Held she shimmers with uncertain energy and somehow manages to be guileless and calculating at the same time.

Rainer herself has expressed regret that she did not fight harder for a career, but I sometimes wonder if it is best that she stayed true to herself and ditched the Hollywood game. Whatever the case may be, her early, record-making success will ensure that she is not forgotten.

Image Source

Classic Links

Happy 100th Birthday Luise Rainer! Here’s a tribute with lots of links— Motion Picture Gems

Here's another little blurb about Ms. Rainer's birthday celebration--The Telegraph

The fourth link in the movie review chain: Madame Curie (1944) [why not call dibs on the next link?]— Noodle in a Haystack

A new batch of Warner Archives titles— ClassicFlix blog

The Wall Street Journal on January 11, 1931--including reviews of Joan Crawford and Boris Karloff movies— News From 1930

R.I.P. Eric Rohmer— New York Times

TV Tuesday: Bette Davis on This is Your Life

This is a gem. Here's Bette Davis in 1971 on This is Your Life. She seems a little embarrassed by the whole thing, but she's a good sport (though she eventually also seems bored). I especially love the obvious affection and respect between Davis and William Wyler. Other appearances: Olivia de Havilland, Paul Henreid.(The carpet on the stage was hideous! Ah set design in the seventies.) Here's part two and three:

Jan 11, 2010

Classic Links

This is addictive: search NetFlix rentals by zip code— New York Times

TCM celebrates a century of lovely Ms. Rainer— TCM

Check out this Anita Page interview (She had an amazing memory at age 98. I also love her hat!)— Allure

Fascinating post about the casting of Lolita (1962)— A Shroud of Thoughts

I was touched by this tribute to Paul Newman— The Kitty Larue Revue

3D Chaplin? Sounds weird— The Guardian

Philip French’s screen legends: Donna Reed— The Guardian

Review round-up:
The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945)-- She Blogged by Night
The Penalty (1920)-- Mondo 70
Trade Winds (1938)-- Classic Movies Digest
Vampyr (1932)-- Draculaland
My Forbidden Past (1951)-- Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

Jan 10, 2010

Quote of the Week

I don't think that work ever really destroyed anybody. I think that lack of work destroys them a hell of a lot more.

-Katharine Hepburn

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Jan 8, 2010

Classic Links

How to be a classic film fan without TCM (yes, it can be done)— Out of the Past

A marvelous gallery of classic actresses knitting— And. . .Scene

Coming to DVD: the bad girls of film noir— Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

Look at these amazing caricatures! What a find— Silents and Talkies

Jan 7, 2010

Book Review: Thank Heaven, by Leslie Caron

Thank Heaven: A Memoir
Leslie Caron
Viking Penguin, 2009

There is something exotic about you. Be careful they don’t put you in a sarong—I mean it. Look at what happened to poor Dorothy Lamour! And whatever you do, don’t marry Mickey Rooney!
--advice to Leslie Caron from her mother

We are far from the days when Hollywood studios were able to hide the dark elements of their player’s lives. It should no longer be surprising that the glamorous life of a movie star can be as brutal as it is beautiful—and yet Leslie Caron had me fooled. It is easy to be gob smacked by her accomplishments: early success as a young dancer and musical star, a smooth transition to dramatic acting, and a late-in-life career revival, topped by an Emmy win (not to mention ownership of a thriving inn). Of all the stars from the studio era, I thought that Caron had had the most charmed life. In her recent biography, the durable dancer and actress tells a more complex story.

Though there was much luxury in her early childhood—including a house full of servants and vacations on a lush country estate—Caron’s life changed dramatically with the start of World War II. The deprivation and fear of those years permanently affected her mental and physical health. Driven by her American dancer mother to pursue a career in the ballet, she found professional focus at an early age. Weakened by malnutrition, she nevertheless established herself with a dance troupe and traveled to several exotic locations.

Discovered onstage in France by Gene Kelly, she accepted an offer to appear in An American in Paris (1951) with the expectation that she would return to serious ballet. She became a movie star instead. Her screen debut led to a career of significant, if sporadic successes. Seen as a foreign outsider in America, and rejected by the French film industry as a Hollywood sell-out, Caron struggled to find a place where she belonged. Still, she made some of the best musicals of the fifties, and her transition to dramatic acting brought her critical acclaim and two Academy Award nominations (for Lili (1953) and The L-Shaped Room (1962)).

Caron worked with some of the great legends of Hollywood, and she writes about her costars with candor and compassion. She describes Kelly as a supportive mentor and exacting teacher, who showed her the ropes in Hollywood and offered friendship to a naïve teenage dancer in a new country. Her bittersweet experiences on the set of Daddy Long Legs (1955) include amusing stories of Fred Astaire’s well-rehearsed professionalism (he filmed a routine that was expected to fill a day of filming in one take) and heartbreaking moments when the dancer stopped rehearsal to quietly sob over the recent loss of his wife to cancer. Cary Grant was perhaps her most complex costar—a strong, intelligent ally with sometimes amusing, and occasionally exasperating quirks. For the most part, she is generous towards her costars—though she makes it clear, without saying why, that she did not enjoying working with David Niven. (What could the most popular man in Hollywood have done to anger her?)

In one of the richest passages of the book, Caron lovingly describes her enduring friendship with Jean Renoir, and their fruitless struggle to work together . On the other hand, her writing style becomes choppy and erratic when she discusses her bumpy affair with Warren Beatty. While Caron has remained friendly with Beatty, she seems traumatized, and a bit baffled by her relationship with the self-absorbed star.

Personally, Caron endured depression, an unsettling attachment to alcohol, four failed marriages and the suicide of her mother, but managed to maintain a positive relationship with her two children—despite a work schedule that required extensive travel. When acting work dried up for her in later years, she bought an auberge (inn) in Burgandy with her son and threw herself into the expensive and arduous process of remodeling. Eventually, she found herself back on the screen, in a series of high profile supporting roles in movies (including Chocolate (2000) and Le Divorce (2003)) and in a in a guest starring role as a rape victim on Law and Order which won her an Emmy in 2007.

Overall, Caron seems to view herself as a flawed, but worthy work in progress, as impressed by the  vibrant life she has led as she is frustrated by the obstacles she has met along the way. Though Caron attempts to reveal herself fully, she is only somewhat successful--and often holds back when the details get too painful. Still, she tells a fascinating story.

Classic Links

Kate Gabrielle shares her DVD collection— Silents and Talkies

A review: The Man Who Played God (1932)-- She Blogged By Night

A review: The Last Flight (1931)— A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies

A review: The Mad Miss Manton (1938)— Black and White: Cinema and Chocolate

A lovely gallery of Carole Lombard pics. I haven’t seen some of these before— Q's Daydream--Vintage

Jan 6, 2010

Classic Links

Frank Capra’s 1958 film on global warming— Tree Hugger

If you haven’t seen this yet—you must check it out now! A peek into Robert Osborne's home— New York Times (via Midnite at Sunset and Vine and Silents and Talkies)

Oooh, a film preservation fundraising blog-a-thon—sounds fun!— Self-Styled Siren

Don’t forget--the TCM Jennifer Jones tribute is tomorrow— Just a Cineast

Lauren Bacall talks about her life with Bogie— Palm Beach Daily News

Jan 5, 2010

Classic Links

Interview: Luise Rainer - 'God, or whoever it is, gave so much into my cradle and I have not lived up to it…'-- Scotsman

Classic DVDs take another hit (now is the time to stock up!)— Hollywood Dreamland

An interesting post about Pandora’s Box (1928)--

Motion Picture Gems

A review: Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)— And. . .Scene

Jan 4, 2010

Classic Links

A great profile of Ann Dvorak, with lots of lovely pics— Allure

Kate Gabrielle is having a guest post week at Silents and Talkies. Check out the first two entries:
Hedy Lamarr, By Casey of Noir Girl
Cliff Edwards, By Elizabeth of Oh by Jingo! Oh by Gee!

Guess the missing typist— Another Old Movie Blog

Take a peek at James Dean’s hometown— Livin' Vintage

A heaping helping of classic zombie flicks— She Blogged By Night

David Thomson writes about Psycho (1960)-- The Statesman

I keep forgetting to mention that I am now a member of LAMB (The Large Association of Movie Blogs—or as I always think--thanks to the URL-- “large ass movie blogs”)— LAMB

Monday Serenade: Barbara Stanwyck

How did they get away with the barely double entendre in Take It off the E-String? Not only is this obviously a scanty underwear-related ditty, but it's performed in a burlesque house in the appropriately named Lady of Burlesque (1944). Another mystery: why do I enjoy watching Barbara Stanwyck singing and dancing so much when she is plenty shaky when it comes to both skills? I wish she had filmed herself reading the phone book before she passed, because I have the feeling I would enjoy that as well.

Jan 3, 2010

Quote of the Week

You don't psych yourself up for these things, you do them...I'm acting for the audience, not for myself, and I do it as directly as I can.

-James Cagney

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Jan 1, 2010

Classic Links

Orson Wells: Magician (lots of great performance clips)— Chamber Magic Blog

Paramount on Parade 1930: a lost Swedish version— All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!

This devoted movie fan makes me think of a lot of you! (and myself, of course)— The Argus