Sep 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

The world never puts a price on you higher than the one you put on yourself.

-Sonja Henie

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Sep 19, 2010

Quote of the Week

Nobody can forsee what will please the critics. Every artistic activity is, and always will be, a poker game.

-Marlene Dietrich

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Sep 16, 2010

Book Review: Jack and the Jungle Lion

Jack and the Jungle Lion
Stephen Jared

A dim-witted matinee idol, a drunken pilot and a gorgeous movie animal trainer with two young wards crash-land in the Amazon jungle. With nothing but determination to survive, the group battles enormous snakes, angry natives and their own weaknesses in their quest to return to civilization. Will they make it out alive? Will the movie star woo the feisty trainer? Will everyone end up happy in the end?

I’m not going to spoil anything for you by saying upfront that the guy does get the girl—it is beside the point. I enjoyed the ride that got me to that happy ending. Jack and the Jungle Lion tells a well-worn story, but the characters really pop. I reveled in the warmth, excitement, and earnest energy of this lively adventure-romance.

There are lots of winks and nods to classic Hollywood throughout the story, and Jared evokes lots of familiar "types" from the era. The book itself has the crackle and snap of a thirties comedy. There’s also plenty of the cliff-hanging action of a Saturday morning serial. However, the plot made me think of more recent action throwbacks such as the Indiana Jones series and Romancing the Stone.

At 115 pages, Jack and the Jungle Lion was a brisk read. I became fond of the characters—and I hope to see them in further adventures.

Stephen Jared is an actor and writer. I recognized him immediately from a series of commercials he’d done for Jack in the Box (remember “Phil in the Box”?). He appears to be equally devoted to each profession—with regular appearances on commercials and television shows and writing projects from screenplays and articles to a children’s adventure story.

Check out some of Stephen’s articles here. This guy loves classic Hollywood.

For more information on the book, check out the official site for Jack and the Jungle Lion.

Sep 14, 2010

Great Quotes: Tough Dames and Femme Fatales

I’ve wanted to do another favorite quote post for some time, and this clip from the film noir 99 River Street (1953) finally inspired me to get it together.

This marvelously tense scene is equally frightening and sensual. Evelyn Keyes tries to seduce a dangerous-looking man—and she doesn’t seem to be at all concerned by the murderous look in his eyes. She is confident that she has power over him, a sentiment she makes clear with this suggestively cooed closing line:

I don’t believe in sometime. With me, it’s now or never.

Tough noir dames and femme fatales always have the best lines. In this particular flick, Keyes is actually a decent gal just posing as a dangerous lady so that she can help the leading man, but she’s pretty darn convincing.

Here’s a few more that I’m fond of:

Bart, I've been kicked around all my life, and from now on, I'm gonna start kicking back.
-Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy AKA Deadly is the Female (1950)

You're not strong or weak enough.
-Marie Windsor in Force of Evil (1948)

I don't go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.
-Jan Sterling in Ace in the Hole (1951)

It isn't fair. I never had anybody but you. Not a real husband. Not even a man. Just a bad joke without a punch line.
-Marie Windsor in The Killing (1956)

Say who do you think you're talking to - a hick? Listen Mister, I been around, and I know a wrong guy when I see one. What'd you do, kiss him with a wrench?
-Ann Savage in Detour (1945)

You shouldn't kiss a girl when you're wearing that gun... leaves a bruise
-Claire Trevor in Murder, My Sweet (1945)

. . . the lie was in the way I said it, not at all in what I said. It's my own fault if you can't believe me now.
-Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Sep 12, 2010

Quote of the Week

First, I'm trying to prove to myself that I'm a person. Then maybe I'll convince myself that I'm an actress.

-Marilyn Monroe

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Sep 7, 2010

Four Things I Learned from Jackie Cooper’s Autobiography

I recently got a screaming deal on a copy of Please Don’t Shoot My Dog: The Autobiography of Jackie Cooper. Though I had only seen him in The Champ (1931) and a few Little Rascals shorts, I’d always wanted to learn more about Cooper. I knew that he had built a successful, lasting career in Hollywood—both in front of and behind the camera--and I hoped that meant that he had a happier story to tell than the typical child star.

While Cooper did have the inevitable difficulties associated with working young and dealing with the pressures of stardom, not to mention some nasty family troubles, his story is for the most part an even balance between the bitter and the sweet. Having a handful of good mentors and a loving, intelligent mother did much to point him in the right direction.

Since I’d always envisioned a little boy whenever I thought of Cooper, I was surprised to read about some of the big boy things he was up to after his initial rise to fame. Here are the tidbits I found most interesting about his post-childhood life:

1. He had quite a way with the ladies.
For some reason, the former star of Skippy was irresistible to women. I had no idea that this book with the weepy child on the front would be so racy. From a slightly older neighbor across the street who gave him “lessons” as a tween, to a secret, bizarre affair with Joan Crawford when he was seventeen—this guy had no trouble sowing his oats. This is not to say he was a womanizer, he counts his girlfriends and wives as the most significant friendships in his life. Judy Garland was his first love, and he enjoyed a close, but chaste teenage romance with fellow former child actor Bonita Granville.

2. and 3. He was the star of two successful television comedies,
The People's Choice and Hennesey—though he didn’t care much for either of them. Cooper didn’t ever seem to hurt for work, but he had high standards for himself, and struggled to find meaningful projects. He was particularly chagrined to play second fiddle to a wisecracking Bassett Hound in The People’s Choice (I don’t think it was that bad. The dog wasn’t even in every scene.):


Hennesey was a Navy comedy--which was appropriate for Cooper because he'd worn the uniform for real during the war. I couldn't find a clip but here’s a slideshow with scenes from the show and pictures of its stars—the jaunty tune is the theme song:


4. He was an accomplished drum player.
Cooper enjoyed the escape of playing music, and he dabbled in drumming for years. During World War II, he played in a USO band and as a civilian, he was deemed worthy enough to jam with several nightclub combos. Here he accompanies singer/dancer Dagmar in a 1953 episode of the explosively popular Buick-Berle Show:


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Sep 5, 2010

Quote of the Week

Hiring someone to write your autobiography is like hiring someone to take a bath for you.

-Mae West

(Who wrote her own highly entertaining, less-than-truthful autobiography Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It)

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Sep 2, 2010

Guest Post: Silents and Talkies

Come check out my guest post at Silents and Talkies. I have to admit that I mostly wanted to do this to see what lovely picture Kate Gabrielle would come up with to accompany it!

Joan Fontaine on What's My Line?--1973

I've never seen the 1970s version of What's My Line. Joan Fontaine is adorable as the mystery guest. She actually has the panel believing she's a man for quite a while!