miliosr

Classic Hollywood/Hollywood's Golden Age

274 posts in this topic

As a total aside, Ryan Gosling is as magnetic and charming as you would expect. And a positive gentleman at the barre in ballet class!

I think you need to play citizen paparazzo and get us some pictures of him at the barre! wink1.gif

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I tried Joan Crawford's meatloaf recipe last night -- delightful!

Like the lady herself, the meatloaf had a lot of personality . . . wink1.gif

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The June 2012 issue of Vanity Fair contains very interesting recollections by photographer Lawrence Schiller qbout the sessions he conducted with Marilyn Monroe on the sets of Let's Make Love and the never-finished Something's Got to Give.

Schiller's discussion of the photo sessions themselves and his working relationship with Monroe are absorbing (particularly because they reveal how savvy Monroe was about business, her image and photography itself.) But what caught my attention was what was going on at the margins of Schiller's story: Monroe's battle with Fox executives in particular and Hollywood in general. Schiller recalls that Monroe despaired of not having been nominated for an Academy Award and, with the benefit of 50 years of hindsight, it is possible to make a case that she should have been nominated for something.

But one really has to wonder what world Monroe was living on in the early-60s if she thought she had any chance of getting an Oscar nomination. Putting aside the disadvantage she had because of her "dumb blonde" image, did she not realize that feeling against her was very high at that time? Hollywood, then and now, is a factory town, and she was costing Fox money hand-over-fist with her absences, tardiness and general "difficultness". Again, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say the results were worth the difficulty. At that time, though, she was making enemies, much as Judy Garland had done before her. (In Monroe's favor, some of the criticism that attached to her around this time was unfair, like being blamed for Clark Gable's death.)

The photos are interesting and unintentionally revealing -- not just because of the borderline nudity. Several photos have Paula Strasberg in them looking, as others have noted, like "Dracula's mother" about to suck the life out of Monroe.

The final interesting thing I learned is that Anna Magnani called Monroe a putana when she thought Monroe couldn't hear her. Well, time's erasing finger has dealt with Magnani on Monroe's behalf.

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Magnani will always have a reputation among buffs, I think (and she was never Sophia Loren to begin with) and her filmography looks better than Monroe's in some respects. Marilyn's enduring fame owes as much to her very special effect in front of the still camera as her movies. Being unpopular in Hollywood won't necessarily prevent you from getting nominated but it can prevent you from winning. In addition Monroe was at her best in comedy and it's rare for comic performances to be recognized. She could have been nominated for Bus Stop and some thought she would be.

Monroe was very careful about the photographs she would pass and Schiller recounts, as others have, watching her cut up images she didn't like. Normally this was done by just crossing them out but Monroe was generally untrusting in such matters and rightly so - her image was more valuable than those of other stars, as she well knew. The Bert Stern exhibit showed images of Monroe that she had simply X'd out - maybe Marilyn unwisely trusted Stern or perhaps she had forgotten to bring along her scissors. When Schiller threw out those snipped up bits, he was doing the ethical thing. He now regrets it, because of their "historical value." Uh-huh.

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Magnani will always have a reputation among buffs, I think (and she was never Sophia Loren to begin with) and her filmography looks better than Monroe's in some respects. Marilyn's enduring fame owes as much to her very special effect in front of the still camera as her movies. Being unpopular in Hollywood won't necessarily prevent you from getting nominated but it can prevent you from winning. In addition Monroe was at her best in comedy and it's rare for comic performances to be recognized. She could have been nominated for Bus Stop and some thought she would be.

Being unpopular won't even prevent you from winning, otherwise Sean Penn wouldn't have two Academy Awards. But it does make it that much harder.

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Thanks, miliosr. It’s nice that Brooks’ book, "Lulu in Hollywood," is being reissued, although the stories in it should be taken with several grains of salt. It’s not 100% clear why Brooks didn’t write her memoirs, although she claimed to have destroyed two drafts, but I expect the reasons had less to do with unbuckling the Bible Belt than booze intake and her ex-lover and benefactor William Paley, who would probably not have appreciated too much candor in print from Brooksie.

The late Veronica Geng wrote a marvelous parody, "Lulu in Washington."

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The present owner:

SELLER: Steven J. Fogel. Mr. Fogel is the co-founder of real-estate development company Westwood Financial. He is also the author of 'My Mind Is Not Always My Friend: A Guide for How to Not Get in Your Own Way' and 'The Yes-I-Can Guide to Mastering Real Estate.'

WHY I'M SELLING: When he bought the house, Mr. Fogel says, it made him feel that he'd "arrived." "Now, I don't need a house to say I've arrived," says Mr. Fogel, who has moved to a modern home nearby...

WHAT I WON'T MISS: The upkeep. When you have a house of this size, he says, you need a staff of a certain size to take care of it and "you can end up with a lot of commotion in your life."

The original owner (sharing a certain hairstyle with Louise Brooks):

Orchids_and_ermine.jpg

&

Colleen_bobbed.JPG

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They also had a lover/husband in common, George Marshall (of the Washington Redskins, not the general). In fairness to Moore Brooks was never the star that she was. Brooks does enjoy more posthumous fame, but it came at a pretty steep price.

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For the 4th of July celebrations, my local Sundance Cinema is screening That's Entertainment, the 1974 feature film tribute to the M-G-M musical. What a pleasant way to escape the 100 degree heat -- so gay and festive!

Joan Crawford's Charleston number (from 1929) and her duet with Fred Astaire (from 1933) represent the apex of the film (and only a vulgarian would argue otherwise!!!) Here are my other observations:

  • The linking interview segments are almost universally terrible (w/ James Stewarts' segments being the possible exception.) Elizabeth Taylor's segment is especially bad. (After seeing that, I must apologize to dirac for ever contesting the point that Taylor couldn't act.)
  • The M-G-M backlot was in shockingly deplorable condition when this was filmed.
  • In retrospect, the Clark Gable and Esther Williams tributes were unwise.
  • Norma "screwing the boss" Shearer's appearance is as tiresome as you would expect.
  • Gene Kelly was unwise going toe-to-toe with Fred Astaire and the Nicholas Brothers.
  • Frank Sinatra was unwise going toe-to-toe with Bing Crosby in High Society.
  • The tributes to Astaire and Kelly are good but Judy Garland bests them both in her segment.
  • The tap dance numbers (especially Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell in Broadway Melody of 1940 and Ann Miller in Small Town Girl) were tremendous on the big screen; all the more so because the sound of the taps coming through the theater speakers created a booming rhythmic effect that was absolutely thrilling.
  • Cyd Charisse's dress in the "Dancing in the Dark" number in The Band Wagon is beguiling, especially because it stands in such contrast to the floodtide of blowsy, overdressed "fashion" in the rest of the film.
  • I had to laugh during the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney segment when Rooney said, "I don't know where we got the energy to do those numbers." You got the energy from amphetamines, darling.
  • A movie co-starring Jane Powell, Elizabeth Taylor, Wallace Beery and Carmen Miranda boggles the mind.
  • Ava Gardner was the most beautiful woman of her era (and any other.)
  • The "Over the Rainbow" sequence from The Wizard of Oz is simply sublime (and I don't even really like Judy Garland.)

That's all folks!!!!!

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No apologies necessary. :)

In defense of Gene Kelly, the choreography of "The Babbitt and the Bromide" is much more Astaire-friendly than Kelly-friendly.

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Thanks for the account of That's Entertainment, which I haven't seen for years. I don't think though that Bandwagon is unbalanced or blowsy. Nanette Fabray wears what could be a Simplicity pattern dress in the title song number, but maybe "Dancing in the Dark" is by comparison the en blanc scene. Anyway Bandwagon might be one of the most perfect of the MGM musicals. In "I'll go my way by myself" you get a nice glimpse of Pennsylvannia Station ten years before it was torn down (though what could a shiny Santa Fe train - complete with a General Grant car - could have possibly be doing in New York? (How did she get there? Where was she going?)).

Regarding the condition of the Metro back lot, apparently the front office just kept buying more and more property in Culver City when land was cheap. They built and moved on, occasionally repainting old sets for new movies, occasionally burning them (King Kong for Gone With the Wind), or sometimes they would burn (Lot 3 in the sixties) on their own. Twentieth sold a great portion of its back lots where Century City now stands. In Hollywood itself the studios were much smaller, their sets wall neatly stacked along one side, like surrounding forests. One of the last small studios, Samuel Goldwyn, on Poinsettia Place and Santa Monica Boulevard, is apparently in danger of being torn down.

I once painted sets for someone who worked at MGM and on the Wizard of Oz. The cyclone, which had frightened me so much as a five year old, was only ten or fifteen or so feet high, had been made out of cheesecloth and filled with carbon soot which fans below kept up in the air.

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Apart from what I remember as big flower appliques on Cyd Charisse's strapless number at the end of the movie, I don't recall the costumes from "The Band Wagon" as being all that bad, either. There's a story behind the white dress (which I agree is a wonderful one, perfect for the number) that I heard on TCM - the costume designer, Mary Ann Nyberg, found it for $25 but since it was no longer in production the studio had to make a new one from scratch. I forget for how much but it was a lot more than $25.

I tend to lose interest in "The Band Wagon" after "Dancing in the Dark" and the disastrous preview sequence. The Astaire-Charisse romance more or less disappears from view without further development, Jack Buchanan's role is reduced, and although "The Girl Hunt" is the most entertaining of the big ballet sequences from the musicals of the era that is not saying very much. I also don't like the art v. entertainment conflict set up by Comden and Green -- as if musicals can't be serious and art can't be entertaining.

Frank Sinatra was unwise going toe-to-toe with Bing Crosby in High Society.

Crosby does look supremely at ease, doesn't he? (Grace Kelly was also unwise in inviting comparisons to Katharine Hepburn, but she's good enough for the movie she's in, I guess. But watching both performances is a great opportunity to compare a star versus an actor/star).

miliosr, as I remember Liza Minnelli's segment wasn't bad, either. My memory could be failing me.

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Jack Buchanan's role is reduced

According to Albert Johnson at a Pacific Film Archive or UCLA screening, Buchanan was very ill when he did the movie, everyone thought he would be dead the next day - but then he went on to live a few years more.

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I don't think though that Bandwagon is unbalanced or blowsy.

I don't recall the costumes from "The Band Wagon" as being all that bad, either.

Sorry -- I wan't clear enough in my original post. I wasn't comparing Cyd Charisse's dress to the other costumes in The Band Wagon. Instead, I was comparing it to many of the other costumes on view in That's Entertainment, many of which are seriously gaudy.

In "I'll go my way by myself" you get a nice glimpse of Pennsylvannia Station ten years before it was torn down (though what could a shiny Santa Fe train - complete with a General Grant car - could have possibly be doing in New York? (How did she get there? Where was she going?)).

Was that filmed in New York, though? In That's Entertainment, Astaire (in his narrative segment) walks by the same car (in very shabby condition) on the M-G-M backlot.

I tend to lose interest in "The Band Wagon" after "Dancing in the Dark" and the disastrous preview sequence. The Astaire-Charisse romance more or less disappears from view without further development, Jack Buchanan's role is reduced, and although "The Girl Hunt" is the most entertaining of the big ballet sequences from the musicals of the era that is not saying very much. I also don't like the art v. entertainment conflict set up by Comden and Green -- as if musicals can't be serious and art can't be entertaining.

I agree. I've heard The Band Wagon mentioned in the same breath as Singing in the Rain but I don't see it. I think it loses steam at a certain point and only Nanette Fabray really makes it bearable to its conclusion.

Frank Sinatra was unwise going toe-to-toe with Bing Crosby in High Society.

Crosby does look supremely at ease, doesn't he?

Very much so. And he makes a meal of Sinatra.

miliosr, as I remember Liza Minnelli's segment wasn't bad, either. My memory could be failing me.

I found her segment very strange. Her accent shifted throughout the segment. At some points, she's employing that phony "refined" way of speaking you heard from Crawford, Shearer and Stanwyck in the 1930s. At other points, she sounds like she's from Brooklyn. And as for that nervous energy of hers, I can never tell if it's just nervous energy or she's high as a kite.

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miliosr

Was that filmed in New York, though? In That's Entertainment, Astaire (in his narrative segment) walks by the same car (in very shabby condition) on the M-G-M backlot.

I think it's a real place, it has a gritty look - possibly Union Station in Los Angeles. There's a tiny bit of decorative iron ornament at the end of the shot that doesn't look like a Penn Station motif - and the Santa Fe trains ran only between Los Angeles and Chicago The cars on the back lot that Astaire walks by look different - no stainless steel and they are in New York Central dress.

(enormous) photo of Penn Station:

[http://www.shorpy.co...riginal#caption

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Jack Buchanan's role is reduced

According to Albert Johnson at a Pacific Film Archive or UCLA screening, Buchanan was very ill when he did the movie, everyone thought he would be dead the next day - but then he went on to live a few years more.

Thanks, Quiggin. The first half of the movie is pretty much all Buchanan (and he's marvelous) but once the decision is made to change the show to a straight revue he has less to do. But I doubt this had anything to do with his health so much as the structure of the story.

Great picture of Penn Station.

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Just a note: Singin in the Rain is finally being released on blu-ray. I already pre-ordered my copy. Really an eternally fresh and funny movie.

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Apart from what I remember as big flower appliques on Cyd Charisse's strapless number at the end of the movie, I don't recall the costumes from "The Band Wagon" as being all that bad, either. There's a story behind the white dress (which I agree is a wonderful one, perfect for the number) that I heard on TCM - the costume designer, Mary Ann Nyberg, found it for $25 but since it was no longer in production the studio had to make a new one from scratch. I forget for how much but it was a lot more than $25.

The story of the dress is in one of the books on the Freed unit. From what I remember, Arthur Freed wasn't happy with any of the proposed designs for the "Dancing in the Dark" dress, but shouted "That's the dress for Cyd!" when his assistant came in to work one day in the $25 off-the-rack dress. Unfortunately, as Nyberg found out, the dress was no longer being made, and yes, it was quite costly to reproduce the dress for Cyd Charisse.

Thanks, Quiggin. The first half of the movie is pretty much all Buchanan (and he's marvelous) but once the decision is made to change the show to a straight revue he has less to do. But I doubt this had anything to do with his health so much as the structure of the story

The Bandwagon was originally a revue onstage with the Astaires, but the storyline in the movie is that the show becomes a musical comedy instead of a psychodrama. A lot of the revue numbers are in the movie, though, and the second half kind of becomes a mish-mash of numbers and Jack Buchanan kind of disappears. Oscar Levant isn't as prominent either (he asked to be dropped from "Triplets"... apparently, the knee attachments were rather painful),

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This talk about what Charisse is wearing in the "Dancing in the Dark" number makes me smile. I watched this movie a couple years ago with a female friend, and her first comment after the number was over was, "I want that skirt!" And I guess I'd always noticed how attractive it is, too. Interesting how something so simple can make such a difference.

Anyway, it's a wonderful number, once of the very best of the Astaire duets. (My other favorite part of the movie is the timpani player.)

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Hi, sidwich, good to hear from you. You're right, they don't actually say "We're going to do a revue" and I think Astaire does say something like "we're going back to what the Martons wanted to do" but given the string of unrelated numbers (and as I remember they're introduced that way) it's hard to see how they could have presented anything else.

Greetings to you, too, AnthonyNYC. It's my favorite Astaire duet not involving Ginger Rogers or a coat rack .Also parodied memorably by Steve Martin and Gilda Radner back when.

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