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Classic Hollywood/Hollywood's Golden Age(Was: The Best Of Everything)


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#241 Kerry1968

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 07:05 PM

On the commentary track to the Best of Everything DVD, author Rona Jaffe notes that Joan Crawford, contrary to expectation, was quite petite -- she was barely over 5 feet tall. What makes this even more interesting is that, on the rare occasions when Crawford and Norma Shearer consented to be photographed together, Shearer was actually smaller than Crawford!




Was Ann Blyth (~ 5' 1") taller than Joan Crawford? She seems to be so much shorter than Ms Crawford in Mildred Pierce.

#242 dirac

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:27 AM

Good question, Kerry1968. Crawford was short but I'm not sure if she was Princess Margaret short and I would doubt it. Nor is it likely that the studio resorted to Alan Ladd measures like putting her on a box. She tended to wear heels and carry herself well. I would wager that she was just that much taller than Blyth.

#243 Kerry1968

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:27 PM

@Dirac: I suspect you're right, and that Crawford was actually around 5' 3".

Speaking of short actresses, there's a well-known photo of Mary Pickford and Anna Pavlova, with the latter en pointe in her Fairy Doll costume. The link to the Getty images is here: http://www.gettyimag...s-photo/2643499

The photo makes Pavlova look enormously larger than Pickford. Is this just an optical illusion? Because I always believed that Pavlova was a very tiny ballerina.

#244 sidwich

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:40 PM

Speaking of short actresses, there's a well-known photo of Mary Pickford and Anna Pavlova, with the latter en pointe in her Fairy Doll costume. The link to the Getty images is here: http://www.gettyimag...s-photo/2643499

The photo makes Pavlova look enormously larger than Pickford. Is this just an optical illusion? Because I always believed that Pavlova was a very tiny ballerina.


Well, I don't think it's entirely an optical illusion. Mary Pickford was very short, but she was also very shrewd with regards to her image. I would guess that this picture was very carefully composed to preserve that image which allowed her to play children into her thirities. It doesn't look like Pickford is quite standing straight up, and the schoolgirl pinafore likely makes her look even shorter. If you look carefully at the picture, it also looks like it's shot slightly downward from the right side which would also work towards making Pickford look small in comparison to Pavlova.

If you watch the show White Collar on the USA network, there's a significant height disparity between the actors playing the leads. Even thought Matt Bomer is just about six feet tall, Tim DeKay towers over him at 6'5. But you would never know from casually watching the show because there is virtually never a shot of the two of them in a straight on shot. If both are standing in a scene, it's always upward angled shots.which minimizes the 5 inch difference. It's very similar here.

#245 dirac

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:20 PM

True, sidwich. (Nice to hear from you, BTW.) I think you're right. Also note that Pickford is not only small but has the large head in proportion to a small body, which adds to the childlike effect. In her movies she still looked older than the other kids, but nobody seemed to mind at the time.

Thank you for that picture, Kerry1968.

#246 sandik

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:40 PM

I agree about the angle of the photo -- it really does put them in two different planes. (it reminds me of bad 3D photography, actually, where the background is almost artificially far away) But if you look at Pavlova from heel to head, and compare her to Pickford, they're more of a height. (not to mention the fact that Pavlova is standing up straight and Pickford seems to be leaning forward...) Tricky, tricky stuff!

#247 Quiggin

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:57 PM

Hollywood is tricky indeed. When I lived there I would sometimes see stars at grocery stores and newsstands but not realize it until friends would tell me afterwards. They're smaller and plainer, often oddly proportioned and interestingly shabbier in real life than in the movies, and as Connie Wald mentions,

Garbo was so lovely looking, much smaller than you would think, but perfectly molded. The stars were often like that, so small and with unexpected qualities.


The "unexpected qualities" are what we happily get on screen ...

Also what was interesting about the Wald interview was how little time off from long days at the studios actors had for parties or for mischief, only Saturday nights (like dancers, whose Saturday nights are Sunday). And the sort of the flatness of Hollywood life Wald suggests shares something of the tone Joan Didion conveys in "Slouching" and other books. Even the discrete same-sex affairs on weekday afternoons have a sort of smoggy, Jacaranda tree-shaded mutedness to them.

#248 miliosr

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 04:30 AM

Hollywood is tricky indeed. When I lived there I would sometimes see stars at grocery stores and newsstands but not realize it until friends would tell me afterwards. They're smaller and plainer, often oddly proportioned and interestingly shabbier in real life than in the movies

I had this exact experience w/ Tom Cruise in 1990. I saw him up close and the experience was . . . a disappointment. In real life, he was shorter and plainer than I had expected -- he was lacking in "magic". But get him on the big screen and the camera picks up that "magic".

#249 Helene

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:20 AM


Hollywood is tricky indeed. When I lived there I would sometimes see stars at grocery stores and newsstands but not realize it until friends would tell me afterwards. They're smaller and plainer, often oddly proportioned and interestingly shabbier in real life than in the movies

I had this exact experience w/ Tom Cruise in 1990. I saw him up close and the experience was . . . a disappointment. In real life, he was shorter and plainer than I had expected -- he was lacking in "magic". But get him on the big screen and the camera picks up that "magic".

I think so much of it has to do with the way actors carry themselves.

When I was in high school, standing at the bus stop by the Museum of Natural History with a visiting friend, she nudged me and said, "Look, Tony Randall!". He looked very dapper in a suit and tie, and his carriage and movement were distinctive.

#250 sidwich

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:42 PM


Hollywood is tricky indeed. When I lived there I would sometimes see stars at grocery stores and newsstands but not realize it until friends would tell me afterwards. They're smaller and plainer, often oddly proportioned and interestingly shabbier in real life than in the movies

I had this exact experience w/ Tom Cruise in 1990. I saw him up close and the experience was . . . a disappointment. In real life, he was shorter and plainer than I had expected -- he was lacking in "magic". But get him on the big screen and the camera picks up that "magic".


Hollywood magic works both ways, though. A number of working actors go to my local gym (not fancy, but close to many studios), and it's funny to compare how people come across onscreen vs. in sweaty real life. As noted, many actors are smaller than they look onscreen, but as tall as James Cromwell comes across onscreen, he is positively a giant in person. Paul Adelstein appears rather portly on television, but is very fit and handsome in real life. (I won't comment on who looks like they could be living on the streets...)

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! Posted Image

#251 miliosr

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 05:28 AM

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! Posted Image

#252 miliosr

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 04:32 PM

Interesting tidbit about Fred Astaire collaborator (at RKO and MGM) and choreographer in his own right (at Fox and MGM), Hermes Pan:

http://www.newyorkso...om/node/1907869

#253 miliosr

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 04:13 PM

New Miriam Hopkins bio coming (scroll down page):

http://allanellenber...miriam-hopkins/

#254 miliosr

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 02:35 AM

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

Like the lady herself, the meatloaf had a lot of personality . . . Posted Image

#255 miliosr

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 03:43 PM

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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