Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Producer Sam Goldwyn found Anna Sten in the Ukraine and brought her out to Hollywood to become a star. It never happened. Through the mid 30s all efforts failed, largely due to a heavy accent she couldn't kick. Nevertheless, she stuck to the limelight and in the 60s found a place in such disparate television shows as THE RED SKELTON SHOW, ADVENTURES IN PARADISE and THE WALTER WINCHELL FILE. Fate was kind to Sten, though. She achieved immortality after all, thanks to Cole Porter, who included her in the lyrics for "Anything Goes":
When Sam Goldwyn can with great conviction
Instruct Anna Sten in diction
Then Anna shows
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
"Sherlock Holmes, lends himself to gay interpretation. Holme’s hauteur, emotional oddity and repression and sudden burst of flamboyancy (particularly in Jeremy Brett’s portrayal). The disdain for women. The penchant for dressing up. And of course there’s the Holmes-Watson partnership – which has a secure place in the popular consciousness. Two men living together, in what is an emotionally turbulent relationship. Watson subtly undermined, ever subject to Holmes’s whims, yet whenever Watson eventually rebukes him Holmes declares his fondness and admiration for his chum." -- Robbie Hudson, The UK Times. Art by Mike Williams. Art: Playboy, September 1976
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
An iconic feature of Ethel Merman was her hair. If you close your eyes you can see it: pulled up in the back with a spiky cascade of curls over her brow. As the droll cabaret chanteuse Klea Blackhurst recounts in EVERYTHING THE TRAFFIC WILL ALLOW, her endearing tribute to Ethel Merman, the Merm reached some kind of apogee when Mainbocher, a much revered fashion dictator of his time, was commissioned in 1950 to do her costumes for CALL ME MADAM. Ms. Blackhurst reports that Mainbocher was delighted with his assignment and thought Merman had the perfect figure, go figure. There was only one area he was uneasy about and so uneasily he asked "Uhh...Miss Merman, what do you intend to do about your hair?" Merman probably put her hands on her hips and shot straight back at him: "Honey, I'm just gonna wash it!"
According to sharp tongued Evelyn Keyes (Scarlett O'Hara's younger sister) sartlet Corinne Calvet made some kind of reputation for herself at Hollywood parties in the 1950s by offering to read not people's cards, not their palms, but their sheets. We wish she had published an illustrated book on her findings.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Her light shone bright from the start, sending out mixed and exciting messages of innocence and guilt. She was vulnerable but manipulative, sensitive but shrewd, aflame with desire but circumspect in its expression. She struggled to be a good girl. She was a bad girl. No, wait, she struggled to be a bad girl, she was a good girl. Whatever you thought of her as a beauty or an actress, when she was on the screen there was no one else you looked at. That's how star quality has been described. And it just poured out of Jennifer Jones.
We find this early publicity shot of Paul Newman disturbing to the extreme. We can't relate to it in any way. It's haunting, but not in in a nice, certainly not a sexy way. What's with the sideburns? What film was this attached to? SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME? THE SILVER CHALICE? HOMBRE? We just know that even if we knew it was Paul Newman we'd get the hell out of there and scream for our lives.
We have been recently made to feel extremely shameful for even indirectly giving the impression that there was anything to criticize about Rita Hayworth. The post meant to point out once more the foolishness of the Hollywood press, forcing a story out of movie stars behaving like real people.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
In Italy, throughout her career, Thelma Ritter was dubbed by different actresses:
Rina Morelli (e.g. Pickup on South Street (1953)
Tina Lattanzi (e.g.Daddy Long Legs (1955)
Wanda Tettoni (e.g. Pillow Talk (1959)
Lia Orlandini (e.g. How the West Was Won (1962)
Franca Dominici(e.g. Rear Window (1954)
Maria Saccenti lent her voice to Ritter only once, in All About Eve (1950).
Friday, December 11, 2009
Jane Russell is one of the underrated beauties of the screen. Maybe it was having a big bust but being a brunette. You got the feeling Jane was real people. She kept a sense of humor about all that was made of her bust size, never bought her own publicity and surprised everyone by turning into an important good samaritan. She adopted 3 children and went on to found World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), an organization that pioneered adoptions from foreign countries by Americans.
Still, we love to remember these taglines used in her movie posters and publicity:
"How'd you like to tussle with Russell?" - The Outlaw - 1943
"Jane Russell and Frank Sinatra...What a pair!" - Double Dynamite - 1951
"They were two of a kind!" - His Kind of Woman - 1951
"Warm Lips...Hot Lead!" - Montana Belle - 1952
"The Two M-M-Marvels Of Our Age In The Wonder Musical Of The World!" - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - 1953
"J.R. in 3-D. It'll Knock both your eyes out!" - The French Line - 1954
"Skin Diver Action...Aqua-lung Thrills!" - Underwater! - 1955
"They Don't come ANY BIGGER" - The Tall Men - 1955
"SEE 'EM SIZZLE IN THE BIG, BUXOM, BEAUTIFUL MUSICAL!" - Gentlemen Marry Brunettes - 1955
"Jane Russell shakes her tamborines and drives Cornel Wilde!" - Hot Blood - 1956
"The hottest bundle ever hijacked!" The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown - 1957
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Garbo, at 45, ready to go back to work. After turning down what became over 300 film proposals, she agreed to do La Duchess de Langelais, co-starring with James Mason, to be directed by Max Ophuls. She wanted this badly enough that she agreed to go in front of the camera again and test for it. She appears sullen at first. But when her smile and playfulness break through it's a revelation that perhaps this is the only record of what she was really like. That she didn't vant to be alone.
June 6, 1950. "Vis-O-Matic department store." A Vis-O-Matic spokesmodel, or perhaps even the queen of Vis-O-Matic, the Canadian catalog store whose slide-projection system of displaying merchandise was like a Buck Rogers premonition of online shopping. The Vis-O-Matic phenomenon seems to have been short-lived, with hardly any documentation online aside from these photos in the Life archive, and no word of its fate. Photo by Bernard Hoffman.
--A tip of the hat to www.shorpy.com!
Monday, December 7, 2009
IDon't speak! We live in modern times that demand everything be unadorned and comfortable. But women don't look as good as they used to. And a hat before you step out of the house would go a LONG way to correct the forgettable impression most women make when they enter a room. Let alone their postures. Or is the idea of making an impression when you enter a room as dated as these pictures? I think this may be true. Truer still is the idea that in these modern times you want to avoid being noticed when you enter a room. And maybe that's why places that boasted stairs that announced your entrance, like the old Brasserie in NYC, have gone the way of the hat too.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We're only interested in going out for New Year's Eve if the eve is going to look like this: beyond ringside and all the pink spots perfectly aligned. The deal-breaker is the champagne: nothing less than Krug, though in a pinch Moet or Dom will do. Bottom line: the flutes MUST be chilled crystal. Anything less, gather your schmates and say you're going to another dealership, and LEAVE!
"There's an up and coming starlet in Hollywood who, when you tell her a story that reflects credit on someone, manages to murmur 'Oh, Honey...' in a way that either suggests you're a nice person and have been taken in or that there's more to the story than meets the eye. This technique saves this starlet from ever actually saying anything unpleasant.
In spite of the fact that this girl never commits herself in so many words, she has come to be avoided not only by those people whom she has dismissed with her 'Oh, Honey' technique, but also by those to whom she has cooed her sugar-coated but disparaging words. People, I think, would distrust her far less if she would come right out and say what she thinks."
--Photoplay magazine, 1952.
"Rita Hayworth is not a talker. In a way she is somewhat inarticulate. So that's how she is -- and she doesn't try to be otherwise. It is all very well to be true to yourself. But there also is such a thing as social responsibility. No one would suggest that Rita make any attempt to be the life of the party. However, a little participation always is in order. Rita should make some effort to keep the conversation going."
-- Photoplay magazine, 1952