miliosr

Classic Hollywood/Hollywood's Golden Age

274 posts in this topic

It's sad how many stars went to pieces when their careers faded. I'm sure adjusting to a life of non-fame is especially difficult.

Somewhat offhandedly, Andres Soares sets up an interesting comparison between Novarro and his contemporary, Gilbert Roland (real name: Luis Antonio Damaso de Alonso). Novarro was the bigger star during the 1920s and early 1930s but Roland, over the long haul, was better able to reposition himself as a character actor during the 1930s and beyond. (Roland's career stretched into the 1980s (!) and he didn't die until 1994.)

Soares wrote the following about the contrasting paths of the two stars when they appeared together in several M-G-M films of the late 1940s/early 1950s:

"[W]hile Novarro was by then suited to play only grandfatherly, nonromantic roles, Roland . . . was to keep busy portraying suave and erotically charged characters well into his sixties."

Gilbert Roland only makes a few appearances in the Soares book but his appearances leave the impression that he was a true friend to Novarro. Novarro and Roland were supporting players in a 1950 Cary Grant melodrama called Crisis. According to Soares, when M-G-M failed to provide the former superstar (Novarro) with his own cast chair, Roland created such an uproar that it reached L.B. Mayer's office. Roland was also one of the few Hollywood luminaries who attended Novarro's funeral (along with Ida Lupino, Neil Hamilton [then enjoying a spectacular comeback as Commissioner Gordon on the Batman TV series], and former M-G-M publicity director Howard Strickling.)

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Roland had a good voice for sound - masculine and expressive, pretty much the opposite of Gilbert, and a more macho presence than Novarro (no reference to private lives intended).

Roland was also one of the few Hollywood luminaries who attended Novarro's funeral (along with Ida Lupino, Neil Hamilton [then enjoying a spectacular comeback as Commissioner Gordon on the Batman TV series], and former M-G-M publicity director Howard Strickling.)

That was nice of Roland. Garbo made a similar gesture once, after the death of F.W. Murnau under similar gay-scandal circumstances. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, who had two great roles for Murnau with Sunrise, didn't show. She did. I don't think she acted for him, either, but I haven't checked that.

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Roland had a good voice for sound - masculine and expressive, pretty much the opposite of Gilbert, and a more macho presence than Novarro (no reference to private lives intended).

There's no offense given in saying that Novarro was not an especially masculine presence. I'm a gay man and I can say in all truthfulness that the Novarro of Mata Hari didn't project the kind of virility that, say, Clark Gable was projecting around the same time. As sound pictures evolved in the thirties, I think Novarro's true emploi was in musicals and operattas. M-G-M must have realized this too by casting him in The Cat and the Fiddle in 1934. Unfortunately, his partnership with Jeanette MacDonald didn't catch the fire and the budget was too high (which he took the hit for.)

Roland was also one of the few Hollywood luminaries who attended Novarro's funeral (along with Ida Lupino, Neil Hamilton [then enjoying a spectacular comeback as Commissioner Gordon on the Batman TV series], and former M-G-M publicity director Howard Strickling.)
That was nice of Roland. Garbo made a similar gesture once, after the death of F.W. Murnau under similar gay-scandal circumstances. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, who had two great roles for Murnau with Sunrise, didn't show. She did. I don't think she acted for him, either, but I haven't checked that.

I don't think they worked together.

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She was a Charleston dancer, basically.

Yes, and that helps understand what happened when she went out of what I usually think of as the 'Charleston range', if you see all of the steps as somehow Charlestonish. Which doesn't mean I think some of it looks good, but maybe it was a popular style.

Carrying this over from the Garbo thread . . .

Joan Crawford cuts a rug in Our Dancing Daughters(1928):

Well, it's "Charlestonesque" (and definitely pre-Code).

Three years later and Dance, Fools, Dance:

The "technique" is about the same but she performs with gusto. (The chorus girls behind her are unintentionally hilarious.)

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Couldn't add this to the last post. Adding it because it brings a smile to my face every time:

Enjoy!

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Yes,I like it much better than I remembered. Accepting 'period charm' in another way, I guess. I like this one too, on the 'sidebar' thing.

Were you and I putting the Dance Fools Dance one up at the same time? Good lord. Okay, so I erased that one, and will put up the one I didn't like so much before, but just watched it again, and think I can enter into the period style more now.

She's very voluptuous and sexy in this (the Dance Fools Dance we both posted). I'm sure my problem with her is the way the persona develops--I saw 'Our Dancing Daughters' and 'Dance Fools Dance' in the late 90s and early 00's, and had forgotten that those are the times when I really see Crawford as this lovely young girl. And as the 'armour-plated period' begins (whenever it does), I get turned off. She takes something, I don't know exactly what, a step further than Davis and Stanwyck, whom I'm crazy about even unto their dotages, and even in garbage vehicles. But really liking Joan Crawford? I see that it's only in the 20s and early 30s things, and that I respect 'Mildred Pierce' and 'Flamingo Road', even if I don't believe in her sincerity somehow. She does seem to project either earnestness or self-righteousness or both, and there are films I really have never been able to get through, such as 'Daisy Kenyon'. So I guess I perceive a peculiar evolution, in which it literally seems like two different people--I don't think I can think of another example quite like that; the others just get older and do different things that older people do, although there are actors whose LOOKS become nearly unrecognizable to me unless I read their names--such as Albert Finney and Jon Voigt and Elizabeth Ashley. Various reasons for this, of course.

No, more than that, I don't find Crawford to have much sense of humour as she gets into her 'mature persona', and I was once told by someone wise that that's my Achilles Heel, so I can't easily overlook that except when she's young and fresh.

This is the one I now like, but didn't before:

Maybe it's all Charleston, and that really does make it all make sense. I had thought of 'Charleston' as mainly just a movement here and there, two or three stock steps, but it was obviously a whole style, or at least had room to develop itself or just be nicely expansive. She's very good at it. These are great clips.

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So I guess I perceive a peculiar evolution, in which it literally seems like two different people.

I think "Joan" (or "JOAN") obliterated any trace of "Billie" as the years wore on at M-G-M.

I've been reading a 1992 issue of Architectural Digest which focused on the homes of classic Hollywood stars. There's a photo in it of Crawford posed with Judy Garland at the latter's 1941 engagement party. Crawford is virtually unrecognizable from the person she still was 10 years earlier . . . and the change wasn't a function of age or changing hairstyles. There's a hardness of attitude in that photo that wasn't there before.

As much as I enjoy and respect the classic Crawford era, which, for me, would be the Warner Brothers period between 1945 and 1952, I prefer the earlier Crawford period that corresponds with her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. There's still some softness there that would be going, going, GONE before too long.

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miliosr, you've really helped me figure out my weirdly troubling perception of Crawford--primarily because I didn't fully even appreciate the fresh youth until I understood her somewhat artlessly charming dancing as the Charleston Expanded. These are all delicious now.

But part of the confusion was because that's really not the period that is the most famous for some decades now. Her output went through her life, and it's the later things that defined her in the popular imagination. Even people who know about 'Mildred Pierce' don't know it probably as well as 'Baby Jane' at this point, and definitely it requires movie-buff delving to get to 'Our Dancing Daughters'. The change she made in herself is also interesting because it really was so popularly accepted and some of it even widely celebrated. Obviously, many didn't miss the fresh ingenue so much.

I wonder if I've seen that issue, I may have. There's another ADigest that has the dressing rooms of stars, including Marion Davies, as I remember. But I was looking at the magazine a lot right then, and even temp-jobbed at Paige Rense's Madison Ave. office for a week or so, yes, I remember that's where I read the issue about the dressing rooms, and abused the 'no personal calls' privilege, because nobody else was there--I was talking to a showbiz friend, and he said 'well, you know, Garbo was always old'. I recall that Davies said 'Garbo just stayed away and ate salad' or something like that. But it might be another issue, because one of them has all the silvery deco that Adrian and Gaynor lived in, I believe. And there may have been photos in that issue you're talking about of Deborah Kerr's house, she probably lived in Hollywood for a lengthy time, I think there was Claudette Colbert in Beverly Hills, and maybe Audrey Hepburn, although she always rented in Hollywood, I'm pretty sure. I don't recall offhand the one of Garland and Crawford, and I imagine they always get back to featuring Hollywood star houses any time they can find an excuse, so it might not be the same one, but I was definitely looking at all the issues in the early 90s, so maybe just don't remember it.

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So I guess I perceive a peculiar evolution, in which it literally seems like two different people.

I think "Joan" (or "JOAN") obliterated any trace of "Billie" as the years wore on at M-G-M.

I've been reading a 1992 issue of Architectural Digest which focused on the homes of classic Hollywood stars. There's a photo in it of Crawford posed with Judy Garland at the latter's 1941 engagement party. Crawford is virtually unrecognizable from the person she still was 10 years earlier . . . and the change wasn't a function of age or changing hairstyles. There's a hardness of attitude in that photo that wasn't there before.

As much as I enjoy and respect the classic Crawford era, which, for me, would be the Warner Brothers period between 1945 and 1952, I prefer the earlier Crawford period that corresponds with her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. There's still some softness there that would be going, going, GONE before too long.

You can certainly prefer the post -1945 Crawford but her first and possibly best peak as a star was during the MGM years, per the earlier discussion on the same subject in the Garbo thread, where she was still doing interesting work as late as the very early Forties in 'Strange Cargo' and 'A Woman's Face.' Warners was the site of her spectacular comeback and for a few years after that she was a great success there - very tough for a female star to get back to the top after falling like that. She was never much of an actress per se although I quite like her Sadie Thompson (Crawford was as hard as nails at every stage although she was softer and sexier back then) and other roles. I would question if it's anything as dramatic as a road not taken and indeed if she had worked at one of the lesser studios she might only have gone the same way faster. (She may well end up being best remembered for a movie she didn't make at Warners or MGM, "Johnny Guitar" and back to Warners for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?")

Even people who know about 'Mildred Pierce' don't know it probably as well as 'Baby Jane' at this point, and definitely it requires movie-buff delving to get to 'Our Dancing Daughters'.

I think Crawford has mostly dropped off the radar. Many of her movies have only buff appeal now and I suspect many people know her now chiefly as Christina Crawford's Monster Mom in book and film. And although she could be very good she was never really an actress.

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Garbo made a similar gesture once, after the death of F.W. Murnau under similar gay-scandal circumstances. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, who had two great roles for Murnau with Sunrise, didn't show.

Gaynor and Farrell were probably oblivious to Murnau’s artistic status. Garbo was there in part because of her friendship with Salka Viertel -- who wrote many of Garbo’s screenplays (she also was the pianist Eduard Steuerman’s sister, the mother in law of Deborah Kerr; her husband [berthold] Viertel was the subject of Isherwood’s Prater Violet). Garbo kept Murnau’s death mask.

According to Lotte Eisner, the visitors to the services in Hollywood included the Viertels, William K. Howard, Edgar G. Ulmer, Herman Bing, and five others.

In Berlin Erich Pommer, Emil Jannings, Robert Flaherty, Fritz Lang and a representive from Fox were among those in attendance at the funeral. Lang, “as he said himself, Murnau’s old adversary,” said this about Murnau:

It is clear that the gods, so often jealous wished it to be thus ...

Many centuries hence, eveyone would know that a pioneer had let us in the midst of his career, a man to whom the cinema owes its fundamental character; all his works were like animated “ballads” ...

Regarding Joan Crawford, I remember for years hearing how spontaneous she really was in her early work in the twenties and how she had changed, but in the clips I don’t see that much difference. To my eye her spontaneity looks too studied -- her shoulders though handsome are overly dominant and she does the Charleston in a sort of Paul Taylor or Elizabeth Strebb way.

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And although she could be very good she was never really an actress.

Well, that's perfect too. What's just downright strange is what she WAS, whatever that is. I think a lot of actors could be said to have 'dropped off the radar', there might be some debate on that, I don't have surveys and statistics to pull up about it, so I'm interested in which old stars are right now having a magnetism for contemporary young people (they do still seem to know who Mariyn Monroe is, but not necessarily Ava Gardner, although Sinatra is known by everyone still, I think, but that's a great singer.) But in video-rental/sales stores here, there have for some reason always been some kind of old faded poster of Crawford, much more, say than Davie or Stanwyck or Dietrich or Garbo. Some of it could be West Village Provincial, with Charles Busch's shows, he's always been nuts about her.

I guess your remark here is much like what I was saying about the 'sex symbol' thing. She gives one sometimes the impression that she is 'supposed to be a sex symbol', and also that she's 'supposed to be an actress'. And she doesn't quite deliver the way the others of either primary orientation do, but nevertheless IS this huge star. Now that uniqueness of persona does interest me, but it is still only the things I've been enjoying rediscovering in the 20s and 30s that make me have a real affection for something about her. I imagine she thought that early stuff was mere tinsel and stepping-stone to something more serious. I like the Sadie Thompson too, but only saw it once and some years ago.

I was interested that her singing wasn't bad either, she could have probably done some 30s musicals had she been light-hearted enough to want that, or so it would seem. Oh well, I'm glad she had a beautiful youth, because that phrase for older people, 'youthful', is never what you think of with her as she gets older. Joan Crawford 'still youthful as ever?' I'm sure it was never said.

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Thanks, Quiggin.

Gaynor and Farrell were probably oblivious to Murnau's artistic status

No doubt. Still, it would have been good manners to show up considering he had recently worked with them and probably under less cloudy circumstances they would have done.

Many centuries hence, everyone would know that a pioneer had let us in the midst of his career, a man to whom the cinema owes its fundamental character; all his works were like animated "ballads" ...

That's a wonderful quote and I hadn't heard it. Thanks.

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I didn't realize 'Tabu' was the last film of Murnau and that he had died shortly thereafter. I heard of the film long before I finally saw it, perhaps about 1988 or so. An old book my father brought back from the Pacific War notes that 'Tabu' was filmed on one of Bora Bora's 'adjacent islets'. These are called 'motus' and many of them have billionaire resorts on them. Although it's far from ruined, I can just imagine what it would have been like in 1931. I don't think I've seen any of this other films, and have never researched them. 'Tabu' was poetic, to be sure.

Oh no, I have seen 'Nosferatu', of course, don't know how I could have forgotten. Just noticed that Robert Flaherty did 'Tabu' with Murnau, had forgotten that too. I love Flaherty's things--'Nanook of the North' and esp. 'Louisiana Story', which is a little easier to go back to liking now that the BP kills seem to be holding.

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But part of the confusion was because that's really not the period that is the most famous for some decades now. Her output went through her life, and it's the later things that defined her in the popular imagination. Even people who know about 'Mildred Pierce' don't know it probably as well as 'Baby Jane' at this point, and definitely it requires movie-buff delving to get to 'Our Dancing Daughters'. The change she made in herself is also interesting because it really was so popularly accepted and some of it even widely celebrated. Obviously, many didn't miss the fresh ingenue so much.

I think Crawford has mostly dropped off the radar. Many of her movies have only buff appeal now and I suspect many people know her now chiefly as Christina Crawford's Monster Mom in book and film.

Faye Dunaway-as-Joan Crawford has supplanted Joan Crawford-as-Joan Crawford in the popular imagination. Our Dancing Daughters, Grand Hotel, The Women, Mildred Pierce, Johnny Guitar and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? -- all pale beside Faye Dunaway's unforgettable performance as Joan Crawford. Perversely, Christina Crawford may have ended up making her mother more "immortal" than she would have otherwise been.

And although she could be very good she was never really an actress.

Is that you, Bette? :thumbsup:

There's another ADigest that has the dressing rooms of stars, including Marion Davies, as I remember. But it might be another issue, because one of them has all the silvery deco that Adrian and Gaynor lived in, I believe.

This issue has the features on the dressing rooms and on the Adrian/Gaynor house. I couldn't imagine living in the Adrian/Gaynor house. It looked like the chicest, most fashionable set ever -- and completely unliveable. But then I thought a lot of the interior decoration in the houses was unliveable. It was as if the stars moved from performing on sets at the studios to performing on de facto sets at home (which they probably did.)

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Two gals from the Golden Age show the youngsters how it's done:

Wyman is clearly the stronger actress but Turner is the greater star.

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I had forgotten how wonderful Wyman was in this.

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On November 2nd, Sony will release The Rita Hayworth Film Collection. The collection will consist of:

Cover Girl (1944)

Tonight and Every Night (1945)*

Gilda (1946)

Salome (1953)*

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)*

* First time on DVD

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I put this here, because the obit uses the term 'Hollywood's golden age' and it's a marvelous story. I never heard of her, but people who saw 'Titanic' and keep up with the Oscars will have.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/movies/28stuart.html?ref=obituaries

There is something to be learned from some of these people of great longevity. This is very reminiscent of the account of June Havoc's life in the obit about 6 months ago. Both continued to develop new interests and were constantly curious about all aspects of life. That's an obviously wise characteristic for anyone, regardless of how long they live, of course; but it would seem that, if the constitution is basically strong, this keeps one happy and healthy. What I liked about Ms. Stuart in particular was that she taught herself painting first, and then 20 years later was taught by someone else and became a designer.

Anybody like her 'Titanic' oscar-nominated performance? or see any of her old movies from the 30s? I don't recall any, this is the first time I hear of her.

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Hi Papeetepatrick. Gloria Stuart was quite the pistol in her day...vivacious and avant-garde. Her early films (especially the original "The Invisible Man") are sometimes shown on Turner Classic Movies. I think she had more range than she she was allowed to demonstrate - her look was in the cookie-cutter stamp of her time (pretty, blonde, shapely) and she was not given roles that allowed her to shine. I doubt that anyone was more surprised by her success late in life than she, herself.

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On November 2nd, Sony will release The Rita Hayworth Film Collection. The collection will consist of:

Cover Girl (1944)

Tonight and Every Night (1945)*

Gilda (1946)

Salome (1953)*

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)*

Since this is a ballet board, I guess we ought to pay tribute to Hayworth Dance of the Seven Veils.

II definitely recall the dance from the original run, which I saw in an opulent Manhattan movie palace, one of those places with red plush seats, gilding on the proscenium, and tiny little opera boxes right next to the stage.

I'm sure I was not the only kid in the audience who was seriously disappointed with just how much the last veil left covered, even after the first 6 had been cast away.

Spoiler: Unlike Stauss's Salome and other tellings of the story, Hayworth is still dancing when John the Baptist's head is carried in. Her dance ends abruptly and prematurely. This allows Salome to remain completely innocent of the Baptist's death, setting us up for her eventual conversion to Christianity.

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I was channel surfing this afternoon and stumbled across There's No Business Like Show Business from 1954. I had never seen it before so I ended up watching the entire thing!

There's No Business Like Show Business stars Dan Dailey and Ethel Merman as married(!) vaudevillians with three children -- Donald O'Connor (!), Mitzi Gaynor (!!) and Johnnie Ray (!!!) -- who are part of the family act. Marilyn Monroe is also on hand as an ambitious singer/dancer who becomes romantically involved with O'Connor. The film is truly lavish (looked beautiful on my TV) and Fox must have spent a fortune on it. While it is the culmination of the Fox musical style (dating back to the Alice Faye musicals of the 1930s) I couldn't help thinking it is also the tombstone for the Fox musical style -- there is a strong "last gasp" feeling to this movie.

Even by the standards of the day, the story is slight in the extreme and really only comes to life during the musical numbers. Dan Dailey was a great song-and-dance man of that era (probably third after Astaire and Kelly) and he exudes a special charm in this. What a pity that he is so poorly remembered today and that he led a very complicated and unhappy life. A little Merm goes a long way for this viewer (her nagging, fishwife tone is beyond grating) but all is forgiven when she belts out the title song in the grand manner at the movie's end.

Donald O'Connor is his usual charming, ingratiating self and he has some nice bits of dancing business throughout the film. Marilyn Monroe didn't want to do this movie and, frankly, it shows at times -- she seems mentally checked-out in certain scenes. But she nails her musical numbers (especially "Heat Wave"). Mitzi Gaynor is charming in this, so lively and effervescent, and, to my mind, puts Monroe in the shade at certain times. Johnnie Ray is adequate as the brother who becomes a priest(!)

The look of this film is certainly lavish although often it is tasteless in the worst 50s manner. Camp enthusiasts have much to feast on with the visual aspect of this film! There is a lot of dancing of pretty good quality and there is even a look-or-you'll-miss-it ballet sequence.

Not a musical classic by an means (or one of Monroe's best films) but worth watching in an old-fashioned "they don't make them like that any more" way.

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Sing it sister:

And because I couldn't resist (start at 2:34):

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The Wall Street Journal has an interview with Debbie Reynolds this weekend in which she discusses auctioning off her fabulous collection of Hollywood costumes.

Reynolds started her collection in 1970 when M-G-M held its disgraceful fire sale of its costumes. Over the three weeks of the auction, Reynolds had the prescience to buy -- at fire sale prices -- many of the costumes on sale. Since then, she has added to her collection and she now owns one of (if not the) greatest collection of Hollywood costumes in private hands.

Sadly, her repeated attempts to find a permanent home for her collection have come to nothing. So, she is selling it off and now this storied collection will be spilt up and sold off to private collectors. What a black day for Hollywood!

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At the Debbie Reynolds auction:

-- Marilyn Monroe's "subway dress" from The Seven Year Itch sold for $4.6 million. (Reynolds paid $200 for the dress.)

-- Marilyn Monroe's red sequin gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sold for $1.2 million.

-- Audrey Hepburn's "Ascot dress" from My Fair Lady sold for $3.7 million.

-- Judy Garland's blue dress she wore in test shots for The Wizard Of Oz sold for $910,000.

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