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Luise Rainer, now almost 100, looks back

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Utterly charming article, Mashinka, thanks for posting it.

Marvelous dotty things all the way through, and I wasn't expecting all that much, I like the famous role TGZiegfeld, but agree with her about TGE, never saw anything else.

But things like this: 'You knew Garbo? ''Not very intimately, but yes. I always thought that after Nefertiti she was the most beautiful creature in the world.” are perfectly hilarious and characterful.

This is funny too: The acting profession, she says, has nothing to do with intelligence. “I don’t believe in acting. I think that people in life act, but when you are on the stage, or in my case also on screen, you have to be true."

I actually thought Robert Taylor's answer to "what is your ambition?' to be pretty good too, he was just trying to do some smooth talking, I imagine.

'In 1960, Fellini pressed her to appear in La Dolce Vita; one story has it that she turned him down after he insisted that she have on-screen sex with Marcello Mastroianni;'

That needed an editor, 'have on-screen sex' means some kind of porn, soft- or hard-core, this means 'do romantic scenes with MM', I don't think people even used the phrase 'have sex' back then, but certainly even MM and Anita Ekberg didn't 'have onscreen sex'.

But nice piece, I wouldn't have seen it, and one of my friends is every now and then bringing her up, we can never believe she's still alive.

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Thank you for posting the article, Mashinka. Maggie the maid must lead quite a life. Rainer's Hollywood career was a sort of bizarre fluke, but I'm glad all turned out well for her. She not only won two Oscars, she won them in successive years and beat out Garbo in Camille.

I actually thought Robert Taylor's answer to "what is your ambition?' to be pretty good too, he was just trying to do some smooth talking, I imagine.

I think it's a good answer too, and attractively unpretentious - had he told Rainer that he was an actor of unrecognized gifts and hoped to play Hamlet one day, that would have been cause for concern. :)

I wish Fellini had asked me to have onscreen sex with Mastroianni.

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I love the conclusion.:

And so she reads, and watches films, and time passes. She bought herself a laptop, ''because it looked lovely’’, but she does not know how to use it. ''When you lose your curiosity, you’re dead,” she says. ''There is so much in the world that one should know, or it would be marvelous to know. And I know nothing. Nothing!’’ She sighs. “My God, one’s life-span is so very short.”
Great curiosity -- and a passion for experience -- may not guarantee longevity, but it certainly makes the time one has more interesting.

I don't think I've ever seen any of her films. Does anyone have any thoughts about Rainer as a film actress?

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There isn't much to tell. I've seen her in The Great Ziegfeld, The Good Earth, and Big City and from those it's hard to gauge how wide her range could have been. I'd guess not very. She has a ditzy charm as Anna Held and is shown to best advantage there, although it's not a big part. (The Good Earth isn't as bad as you'd think, given all the fake Chinese running around.)

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Glad there are some fellow old films buffs here :(

I read this in the Telegraph newspaper complete with up to date photo of Ms Rainer but sadly that wasn't included in the on line version. I must say she looks quite wonderful for her age - very elegant and well dressed with the poise and formality of a bygone era, rather like she was posing for Cecil Beaton. Great shame she abandoned those memoirs though.

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I think in her younger days she'd have looked right at home in British Vogue.

The Great Ziegfeld was one of those Oscar bait biopics that remain popular in Hollywood to this day, made with the lavishness only MGM could muster in those days. Cinematically I remember it as being something of a beached whale. William Powell and Myrna Loy don't have the opportunity to strike the sparks they did elsewhere. Powell isn't quite as dull as Walter Pidgeon playing the same part in Funny Girl, but it's a good try, not that I blame Powell. Because of the Production Code the movie can't go into the juicy stuff like Ziegfeld's affairs with Marilyn Miller and the spectacular and wild Lillian Lorraine. I remember some nice production numbers, though. It's been awhile since I've seen it.

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Rainer died late last year, aged 104. RIP.

She sailed to America on the Île de France in 1935, a 5-foot-3 ingénue, rail thin, with dark hair and a sweet girlish smile, too innocent for celebrity. But it seemed everyone on board knew who she was. On her 25th birthday, the stewards arranged a celebration in the saloon, and she was serenaded by the Russian operatic bass Feodor Chaliapin and the great violinist Mischa Elman.

Film clips.

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