As we all know, Humphrey Bogart was the man. He was rough, tough, and probably more awesome than anyone ever. Here’s what he has to say about various topics that all of us think about:
Humphrey Bogart on drinking:
Humphrey Bogart on the bicycle craze:
Humphrey Bogart on celebrity disguises:
Humphrey Bogart on modern-day films:
Humphrey Bogart on the male package:
P.S. Happy Australia Day to all my Australian readers!
Hello my darlings! Here’s a sequel to the original “That Awkward Moment When” (http://goldenagedames.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/that-awkward-moment-when/) in which we saw that the flawless gods and goddesses of classic film were actually normal people like you and me. So next time you do something embarrassing, don’t fret! Think of this:
That Awkward Moment When Spencer Tracy Forgot His Pants
This scene is from one of my favorite Tracy films, Father of the Bride. Thankfully, father Spencer Tracy did not appear at daughter Liz Taylor’s wedding looking like this. Or maybe he could’ve. He has nice, slim, hairless legs.
That Awkward Moment When Bette Davis Flubs The Line
I think it’s really cute when classic movie stars, especially legends like Bette Davis, mess up the line. The reactions that old movie stars had were vastly different from the reaction stars have today. Like, they would get really upset and embarrassed that they messed up. Back then, time and film were precious, since we are talking about the Studio Era during the Depression. Some actors had really hilarious reactions, though. Like Carole Lombard’s streams of profanity whenever she messed up. You can see plenty of these classic film bloopers on YouTube!
That Awkward Moment When Lucille Ball and Harpo Marx Are Long-Lost Twins
I think I might’ve blogged this before, but the crazy resemblance here never fails to astound me. This is from one of my all-time favorite I Love Lucy episodes, the one in which she dresses up as tons of classic movie actors to impress her New York friend and ends up meeting Harpo Marx. This photo has convinced me that Lucy and Harpo are long-lost twins. They have the same hair, smiles, maniacal expressions…there’s no way that these two weren’t womb-mates!
That Awkward Moment When Marlon Brando Duckfaced
This photo of Richard Burton and Marlon Brando never fails to make me laugh hysterically. I feel that I’m looking at a picture of two bozos on Facebook instead of two acting greats. It has all the qualities of a Facebook photo: the background is obviously someone’s home, they have that “hey buddy!” pose, and the photo was taken with a low-quality camera. But what makes this the absolute perfect Facebook shot is Marlon Brando’s duckface. The man was definitely ahead of his time here. But instead of making the pose something ridiculous that is only done by ugly fake pussies, Brando makes it look classy. Only because it’s Brando.
That Awkward Moment When Buster Keaton Looks Like A Baywatch Babe
Buster Keaton is one beautiful hunk of man. Nothing makes it more obvious than this photo. Look at him seductively gliding through the water like he’s some god of the sea. Look at that sexy swimsuit, complete with an undershirt. Look at those nice pecs. And look at the wonderfully glum expression. He’s giving Pam Anderson a run for her money here.
That Awkward Moment When Joan Crawford Is Given An Ugly Portrait of Herself
Imagine you are Joan Crawford. You are asked to sit for a painting. All the while, you are positive that this painting will be a beautiful gorgeous replica of your beautiful gorgeous face. Then you get…THIS. What the HELL is that painting even?! That’s not pretty Joanie! It looks like the frickin spawn of the devil. And look at Joan’s face. I wouldn’t be pleased if I were painted as Satan’s mistress either. Thankfully her self-esteem didn’t go downhill after this one.
That Awkward Moment When Winston Churchill Leaves Very Little to the Imagination
Okay, I know Winston Churchill isn’t a classic movie star but I came across this photo and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post this. This takes the cake in embarrassing swimsuit moments (and we’ve all had them) because here he’s actually wearing a swimsuit yet it’s so tight that he might as well be naked. Way to flash the entire beach, Winston Churchill.
That Awkward Moment When Laurence Olivier Ruins the Picture
This has to be my favorite photo of Viv and Larry. There’s Vivien Leigh, so gorgeous and glamorous, as always. And then there is Laurence Olivier, in perhaps the most hilarious photobomb in the history of photography. I’m actually surprised that the usually serious Olivier’s face didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces from all that laughing. Touche, Larry.
That Awkward Moment When Errol Flynn Looks Like He Isn’t Wearing Pants
That Awkward Moment When Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery Are Losing It Over Baby Cows
It’s pretty funny to see non-farm folks doing farm things. Observe how these two baby calves are obviously getting the better of Carole and Rob. Carole seems horrified, but she’s doing a lot better than Robert Montgomery, who is actually about to fall over right into the calves little pen. Which is fine, I don’t like him that much anyway (crucify me now).
That Awkward Moment When Humphrey Bogart Is Dressed Like a Grandma in Public
Humphrey, why are you making what seems to be a public speech when dressed like a sweet little Victorian-era grandmother? What has gotten into you, my man? You are supposed to be a rough-n’-tough hardboiled detective! But he’s Humphrey Bogart and he’s always cool so he probably got away with this.
That Awkward Moment When Katharine Hepburn Shreds Better Than A Twelve Year-Old Boy
Katharine Hepburn is awesome for many reasons. But I betcha didn’t know that she can skateboard! Judging by this photo, she’s got some mad skills. She skateboards so much better than those shrimpy twelve year-old boys with baggy clothes and oily hair who think that they are skating gods but actually end up scraping their knees on the pavement. Kate the Great should’ve been featured in an episode of Rocket Power, if you ask me.
That Awkward Moment When Katharine Hepburn Makes A Giant Food Mess
Here’s another awkward moment featuring Kate the Great, but here she’s dishing the gossip…and the food crumbs. Look at that abhorrent mess around her plates! Oh my Jesus. I don’t know if any of the food that was on these plates actually made it into Kate’s digestive system. It looks like it all ended up as mess for janitors to clean. Hollywood actresses were supposed to eat like ladies, not like cavemen!
That Awkward Moment When Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre are Sitting Naked in a Sauna and Playing Cards
That Awkward Moment When Katharine Hepburn Takes a Dive
Kate is on a roll today! This is the third awkward moment featuring her. I believe this extremely embarrassing moment was from a film, but I can’t remember which. It must be from a film, since if someone just happened to push her into the water like that, I would assume they’d never see the light of day ever again.
That Awkward Moment When Gary Cooper Is Too Tall for His Horse
Dude’s feet are pretty much dragging on the ground. His 6’3″ is much too much for that fat little pony. But Coop looks like he’s making the best of the situation, even though the Coop-to-pony ratio is greatly imbalanced.
That Awkward Moment When Fred Astaire Defies Gravity
That Awkward Moment When Your Music is Making Cary Grant’s Ears Bleed
Here, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason were attempting to serenade Cary Grant with a song on the harp while on the set of North by Northwest. However, Cary Grant found the song so vile and so shitty that he had to cover his ears before he lost his sense of hearing entirely. Sorry guys, your music isn’t classy enough for Cary.
That Awkward Moment When James Cagney Falls Into a Cactus Bush and Bette Davis Just Laughs
That Awkward Moment When Vivien Leigh is Dressed to the Nines and Lauren Bacall is Dressed in a Bathrobe
The difference between Viv and Betty in this picture is astounding. Viv is dressed to perfection in black, furs, and pearls. Timeless! However, Lauren Bacall is hanging around in a fuzzy, too-small bathrobe that looks like one I owned when I was four years old. Now that’s what I call awkward!
That Awkward Moment When Ray Milland is Very, Very Drunk
Hope you enjoyed this latest installment! x
New York City. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Destination of the world’s leaders and tourists from every corner of the planet. Home to the world’s freaks and geeks, the wealthiest of the wealthy, the most renowned celebrities, the dirt poor, and your humble blogger. I know I make a mighty big deal about being a New Yorker, but being from a glittery yet gritty place like this, how could I not? Everyone is aware of the magic of New York. Even Old Hollywood! Nowadays, New York is a prime filming destination (Who can forget when Sacha Baron Cohen paraded down Manhattan on a procession of camels for his film The Dictator?) and often my school has been used as a film location, the most notable being that inane series Gossip Girl (that day was a TOTAL NIGHTMARE…school was a circus because Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick were outside) and the Kevin Bacon series The Following (which happened at the same time as touring the Freshman class around the campus for their orientation. My school plans these things well, doesn’t it? Oh well, we got to see Kevin Bacon AND an exploding car!) You’d never think that Old Hollywood was up for location filming when it was cheaper and quicker to film on a soundstage. However, Hollywood is not the only place to travel to for your classic film fix, New York has its own classic film landmarks too! So if you don’t live here, don’t forget to come for your classic movie pilgrimage!
And may I recommend flying to New York at night? This might not be possible though, because I’m not sure how many hotels would allow night check-ins. But the aerial view of New York at night is just so beautiful, like sparkling golden jewels nestled in a case of black velvet:
Adam’s Rib (1949)
Summary: Married lawyers Adam (Spencer Tracy) and Amanda Bonner (Katharine Hepburn) find themselves on the opposite sides of the courtroom when Adam is prosecuting a case involving a woman who tried to murder her cheating husband and Amanda is her defense attorney.
The entire beginning sequence of the film, which is about the woman and her husband, was filmed in New York:
This is the scene in which the woman sees her husband going into his gal pal’s house. “Allan’s Steak Heaven” no longer exists, but it used to be located on East 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue.
Here’s an easy location: The Criminal Courts Building, 100 Centre Street
This location is apparently 104 Bayard Street and Baxter Street…but I kinda doubt that. In the screenshot from the film, you see the awning for Carmine’s Restaurant, a legendary eatery famous for its GIGANTIC Italian dishes (I’ve eaten there before, and trust me, one dish can comfortably feed you and a date, with some to spare). But Carmine’s is located in the Theater District, at 200 West 44th Street. Hmm…
All About Eve (1950)
Summary: Broadway newbie Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) gets lucky when she befriends the great, legendary stage diva Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Through her friendship with her role model, she gets close to Channing’s other connections. Everyone thinks that Eve is an innocent, star-struck, obsessed fan, except for cynical theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) who sees Eve for what she truly is: a manipulative snake who uses Margo to make her way up in the notoriously merciless world of theater.
Here is the famous 21 Club, located on 21 West 52nd Street. The 21 Club is a restaurant and a former 1920s speakeasy (it was opened in 1922. Also notice how the doors are a little bit under the ground.) Although the joint was raided numerous times by the police, the owners of the speakeasy were never caught, since a system of levers was used to tip the shelves of the bar and throw all the liquor down a chute and into the sewers. Sounds like a scene straight from a Pre-Code! The 21 Club also had a secret wine cellar, accessed through a secret door in the brick walls and leading to the basement of the building next door, 19 West 52nd (!!!) This wine cellar became the storage spot for the private wine collections of numerous celebrities, including President Gerald Ford, JFK, Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson, Sophia Loren, Gene Kelly, Gloria Swanson, Judy Garland, and Marilyn Monroe. Every president since FDR with the exception of George W. Bush (who was an asshole anyways) has dined there. Can you say New York legend?
Bell, Book, and Candle (1951)
Summary: Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a modern-day witch (such people do exist…this is New York I’m talking about here!). When publisher Shep Henderson (Jimmy Stewart) walks into her building, she falls in love with him and decides to have him all to herself…especially since he’s engaged to her former enemy from her college days. So Gillian casts a spell on him. Will it work?
You can’t really tell because of the use of close-up shots, but this scene was in fact shot on top of the Flatiron Building, located on 175 5th Avenue. The Flatiron Building was built in 1902 and is considered to be the world’s first skyscraper (I know, I know, it’s impossible to think that this was actually once thought of as a skyscraper). At its time, it was the tallest building in New York City.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)
Summary: I don’t like the film or the book (don’t hate me) but much to my chagrin, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered a legendary New York story. Holly Golightly is a madcap prostitute who lives in a brownstone on Manhattan’s East Side. Her apartment is only half-furnished, her cat has no name, she constantly loses her keys, and she loves to visit Tiffany’s because it “feels like home.” (and NO, you can’t eat breakfast at Tiffany’s, it’s a jewelry store for goodness sake. Unless your idea of breakfast is a bunch of diamonds and semiprecious gems.) After spending a day in the city with Holly, her neighbor Paul Varjak falls in love with her. But Holly is determined to marry Jose, a millionaire from exotic South America.
It ain’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s without the Tiffany and Co. flagship store, located on 727 5th and 57th Street. In the film, Holly would spend every morning eating a pastry and drinking coffee while admiring Tiffany’s window displays. When filming this scene, hundreds of onlookers were watching Audrey, which made her nervous and caused her to constantly mess up. It wasn’t until a crew member was nearly electrocuted behind the camera that Hepburn was able to collect herself, forget about the crowd, and finish the scene. This location has been the flagship of Tiffany’s since 1940.
This beautiful locale is the Conservatory Water in Central Park, which stretches from 72nd to 75th Street.
This scene was filmed at the New York Public Library, located on 5th between 40th and 42nd Streets. It is one of the most iconic and largest libraries in the world and one of the leading research libraries.
This final film exterior was shot at Park Avenue and East 52nd Street.
Butterfield 8 (1960)
Summary: Fashion model Gloria Wandrous is embroiled in an illicit affair with married socialite Weston Liggett. However, Gloria’s desire for respectability causes her to reconsider her lifestyle.
In the film, Liz Taylor tells the taxi to take her to 38 Horatio Street. However, the actual location is 15 Gay Street and Waverley Place.
In this scene, Liz takes a stroll down 5th Ave and pauses to look at the window display of the store on the corner of 5th and 55th. However, what is located there is now…the Disney Store. Something tells me Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t interested in the latest Mickey Mouse toys and Disney Princess dolls!
42nd Street (1933)
Summary: Big-time Broadway director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) is putting on a new show and has to deal with the torrential love life of its star, the stuck-up diva Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels). On the night before the premiere of the show, Dorothy breaks her ankle, and it’s up to unknown chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) to take the lead. The show must go on!
Okay. I totally cheated here. 42nd Street wasn’t really filmed on 42nd Street. It was instead filmed in Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California. I passed through those same soundstages where Ruby Keeler tap-danced her way into the hearts of millions of Americans. But it’s fun to see the real location where the famous finale of the film is supposed to take place!
This is what West 42nd Street looks like today. Obviously, the 1933 recreation and the 2012 reality cannot be compared. When the film was made, West 42nd Street was a hotbed of crime, porn, and prostitution. It remained so until the early 90s when Giuliani cleaned it up (I was a little kid then…dear God, do I feel old!) However, there are still one or two adult film schowcases lying around there. Now 42nd Street is the center of the city: it’s in the heart of Times Square and the Theater District. It’s also Tourist Central…so GOOD LUCK walking through there. I have to bite my tongue to prevent the unleashing of the Potty Mouth on the Midwesterners wearing Bermuda shorts and fanny packs and taking VIDEOS of the Empire State Building. Because apparently the Empire State Building moves. People like that don’t last a day in a city like this. End tourist rant.
The Godfather (1972)
Summary: Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the aging Don of the Corleone Mafia Family, one of the five greatest Mafia families of New York. As soon as his youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino) returns home from World War II, the ten year peace is broken when a drug dealer named Virgil Sollozzo asks the Corleones for protection of his drug ring in exchange for money and a share in his drug dealership. However, the Don is morally against drugs and refuses. This prompts Sollozzo to hire hitmen to attempt to assassinate the Don. While the Don recovers, it is up to his sons Santino, Frederico, and Michael to lead the Corleone Family in one of the most violent Mafia wars in New York history.
Who doesn’t know Radio City Music Hall? Built in 1929 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., this legendary venue has remained largely unchanged since. Renowned interior designer Donald Deskey (ever heard the term “Deskey Deco”? He’s why) designed the elegant, razzle-dazzle interiors which still remain today. The theater’s gold curtain is also the largest in the world. Radio City has also premiered some of the greatest classic films, including the original “King Kong,” “It Happened One Night,” “National Velvet,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Mame,” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” (whose star, Gregory Peck, was a former usher at Radio City). Nowadays, Radio City is one of New York’s most iconic Christmas venues. Every year it stages Christmas Spectacular, featuring the New York Rockettes, who are celebrating their 85th anniversary this year.
This is of course, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, located on 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st streets. A note here: the cathedral is undergoing major renovations, so its famous facade is temporarily hidden by scaffolding. St. Patrick’s is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of New York.
How To Marry A Millionaire (1953)
Summary: Three models, Shatze (Lauren Bacall), Pola (Marilyn Monroe), and Loco (Betty Grable) hatch a plan: tired of cheap, poor boys, each one of them plans to trap and marry a millionaire. However, it is difficult to tell the big money apart from the hucksters, and in the end, will the money even be worth it?
Pola’s apartment is located on 36 Sutton Place and East 55th Street. Some of Manhattan’s wealthiest have lived in this neighborhood, including Freddie Mercury (one of the greatest loves of my life), Bill Blass, Joan Crawford (another love of my life), Marilyn herself, and her then-hubby Arthur Miller.
Here, my friends, is the George Washington Bridge. One of the world’s busiest bridges, the George Washington spans the Hudson to connect Manhattan to New Jersey.
The Hucksters (1947)
Summary: Fresh from the war, Victor Norman (Clark Gable) is looking for a job in the competitive world of advertising. His first task is to get widow Kay Dorrance (Deborah Kerr) to endorse Beautee Soap. He does so and gets the job, but things don’t go smoothly when Vic finds himself attracted to Kay instead of his current girlfriend, the young Jean Ogilvie (Ava Gardner).
The Jazz Singer (1927)
Summary: Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland) is upset because his son Jakie (Al Jolson) would rather become a jazz/ragtime musician than uphold the family tradition of five generations and take on the role of cantor in his neighborhood’s synagogue. Relations between father and son get so bad that Jakie leaves home, changes his name to Jack Robin, and gets a big opportunity through stage actress Mary Dale. However, Jakie constantly remembers his family and is torn between his career as a jazz singer and his family’s wishes for him to become a cantor.
King Kong (1933)
Summary: Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is finishing up his film starring leading lady Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and has found the perfect location: the mysterious, eerie Skull Island. The crew does not know what they will encounter here, but they soon find out that this island is the home of the giant menacing gorilla King Kong. Kong kidnaps Ann, and it is up to the crew to rescue her.
The most iconic scene of the movie and one of the most iconic scenes in film history was shot at the Empire State Building, located at 350 5th Avenue and West 34th Street. The scene I’m talking about is, of course, the one in which Kong climbs the Empire State, Fay Wray in his hands, and swats away at the fighter planes. The establishing shots of the fighter planes were shot in my great homeland Brooklyn (at the U.S. Naval Airbases). The scenic NYC views in the film were shot from the top of the Empire State, and the scenes involving the monkey were shot on replicas of the building in Hollywood (the filmmakers secured the original architectural plans of the Empire State in order to create a convincing recreation for the movie). This 102-story Art Deco landmark was built only two years earlier than the film, in 1931. Here’s a sweet little secret from someone who was walked right past this building numerous times: if you look closely, the windowpanes of the Empire State are red!
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Summary: A heartwarming classic New York story. At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an old man discovers that the actor portraying Santa is drunk. Special events coordinator Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) persuades the old man to take his place and becomes a sensation, quickly gaining the post of in-store Santa at Macy’s. Doris then finds out that the man calls himself Kris Kringle and truly thinks of himself as Santa Claus, which makes her uncomfortable since she does not believe in fantasy. However, the people also believe there is something special about Kris. But unfortunately, Kris is soon held at Bellevue and all seems lost until his friend Fred Gaily promises to release him. A hearing is then set up in which Gaily argues that Kris is in fact Santa Claus. Will he win?
This scene was shot at East 61st Street and Madison Avenue.
Parade scenes were filmed down Central Park West between 76th and 77th Streets.
And of course, parade scenes were filmed at Macy’s, located at 34th street between 6th and 7th avenues, Herald Square. Ah, Macy’s. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with that place. The world-famous flagship location has been standing in Herald Square since 1901. A tip for all of you who are planning a trip to New York and have Macy’s on your agenda: the store has ten floors. It is a behemoth, a monster that saps up all your strength and energy and sanity after awhile. So make sure to give Macy’s an entire day for itself. It is also always unbelievably crowded. And the shoe department is a total nightmare. But if you are an international visitor, go to the Information Desk at the Visitor’s Center on the second floor for a discount card good for 11% off your purchases (yay!) What I like about Macy’s is that it has a large range of products for people of all economic standings (it’s the only place I can think of where I can buy a pair of new Louis Vuitton flats and a Gucci purse and a pair of dirt-cheap jeans from the juniors section) and some of the store still has the old wooden escalators from the early 1900s (although with the recent renovations happening in the store, I don’t know what will become of these relics).
The court scenes of the film were shot at the New York County Supreme Court, located at 60 Centre Street in the Financial District.
North by Northwest (1959)
Summary: New York advertising exec Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is kidnapped by a gang of spies led by Philip Vandamm (James Mason) because they mistakenly believe that Thornhill is CIA Agent George Kaplan. Thornhill is able to escape Vandamm’s clutches, but he now must find Kaplan to clear himself of a murder that is believed he committed. Thornhill then meets the beautiful femme fatale Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint)…but is Eve really trying to help Roger?
The scenes of Cary Grant’s character exiting his workplace were filmed at the CIT Financial Office at 650 Madison Avenue. You know, I’ve walked past this building many, many times, never knowing that Cary Grant did so too.
Thornhill then walks into the world-famous Plaza Hotel (750 5th Avenue and Central Park South) this 20-story palace of luxury will be featured greatly in a one of my favorite films, which will be coming up soon on this list.
Sensing that he is being followed, Thornhill then goes to the United Nations Headquarters on 1st Avenue between 42nd and 48th Streets. Nowadays, this is where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad (dunno if I spelled that right) comes to perform his crazy antics every year.
Summary: Linus (Humphrey Bogart) and David (William Holden) are wealthy brothers, while Linus is all work, David is all play. Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) is the shy, awkward daughter of the family chauffeur and is in love with David “who hardly knows she exists.” Sabrina then goes to Paris for two years and comes back an elegant, beautiful, society women who not only captures the heart of David, but Linus’ as well.
The Seven-Year Itch (1955)
Summary: Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is the exec of a publishing firm and your regular average Joe. He sends his wife and son for a vacation in the country. Always a faithful family man, Sherman often dreams of being successful with women…and temptation strikes when a beautiful sexy blonde (Marilyn Monroe) moves into the apartment upstairs.
Arguably THE most iconic scene in cinema history was filmed right here in New York: the scene in which an oncoming subway train rushes past, causing Monroe’s skirts to billow upwards as she stands above the subway grating. This legendary grating is located on 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue. The scene was shot on September 15, 1954 at 1 in the morning. However, portions of this scene had to be re-shot in Hollywood because onlookers whistled and cheered Monroe on as her skirts flew up, causing her to forget her lines.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Summary: One of my favorite, and most underrated, Hitchcock films. Creepy Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) thinks he has hatched the plan for the perfect murder when he meets pro tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) on a train. If Haines kills Antony’s hated father for him, he will kill Haines’ slut of a wife, freeing him to marry his elegant socialite girlfriend, Ann Morton (Ruth Roman). Guy laughs off the plan, but Bruno is serious and murders Guy’s wife. When Guy chickens out of his end of the bargain, Bruno threatens him by telling him that he will plant evidence at the scene of the crime, framing Guy for the murder. Not only is the police suspecting Guy, his career is tainted, his relationship with Ann is strained, and he is being stalked and blackmailed by a psycho. Will he go through with the plan?
Once again, we see Penn Station in a classic film. Penn Station is one of the busiest rail stations in the world. However, the original Penn Station, built in 1910 was much grander and larger, a Beaux-Arts gem of New York City. However, in 1963, orders were given to demolish the head-house and train shed of Penn Station to make way for an office complex and expansions to Madison Square Garden.
That Touch of Mink (1962)
Summary:Sweet, conservative little country girl Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day) meets the man of her dreams, wealthy city man Philip Shayne (Cary Grant) when his Rolls-Royce splashes her with mud while on her way to a job interview. Philip is in love with Cathy as well, but there is one problem: he is not the marrying man, while marriage is the only thing she has on her mind.
This glorious scene of topless Cary Grant was filmed at the new York Athletic Club (180 Central Park South and 7th Avenue). It used to have a red awning. Today it is green and has the initials of the Athletic Club instead of the full name like it used to have.
Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)
Summary: Pretty much a happier, light-hearted remake of 1932′s Grand Hotel but taking place in the swanky Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It stars Lana Turner in the Joan Crawford role, Edward Arnold in the Wallace Beery role, and Walter Pigeon in the John Barrymore role. The biggest plot stretch from the original comes with Van Johnson as a war hero about to undergo major surgery, and who wants to enjoy what would perhaps be the last days of his life. There is also an appearance by humorist Robert Benchley and a cameo appearance by Xavier Cugat as the Waldorf-Astoria’s bandleader.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is located on 301 Park Avenue between East 49th and 50th Streets. This 47-story luxury dream of a hotel was built in 1931 and is a world-famous Art Deco landmark. It is also the first hotel in the world to offer room service, forever changing the face of the hotel industry. The hotel houses three American and European restaurants, a beauty parlor, its own railway station as part of Grand Central Terminal, a collection of boutiques, and an elevator large enough to fit FDR’s automobile (!!!)
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)
Summary: Okay, okay, this isn’t a classic film in the true definition of the term. But I consider it a classic because EVERYONE adores it! Ten year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and his unbelievably large family decide to spend Christmas in Florida (ew…) However, our young hero loses his family and accidentally boards a plane to New York City. Kevin then discovers the power of the credit card, checks into the Plaza Hotel, and leads a life of luxury (i.e. being driven in a limo to the toy store while eating pizza and having banana splits delivered to your hotel suite every day). However, his dream life is ruined when he runs into his old enemies, Harry and Marv (the hilarious Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). Kevin hatches a plan to put Harry and Marv behind bars once again when he finds out of their plan to rob a toy store on Christmas Eve. Because no one messes with kids on Christmas, bitches.
Here Kevin visits Battery Park, where he uses one of the many binoculars to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. It’s a warmer, dryer option than taking the ferry to Liberty Island (I once made the unfortunate mistake of doing this in a pink silk summer dress…Worst. Idea. Ever.)
One of the most heartwarming scenes of the film, when Kevin wishes for his mother to come find him, was filmed at Rockefeller Center (5th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets). Since 1931, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has lit up the holidays each December for native New Yorkers and tourists alike. It has become a Christmas icon and has brought holiday cheer to millions. Indeed, I cannot imagine Christmas without this tree. The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was a 20-foot Balsam fir. Today, the tree is a Norwegian spruce that can be anywhere from 75 to 90 feet tall.
Phew! What a post! I hope you enjoyed and learned something new, and if you are a classic movie fan who lives in or is planning to visit New York, I hope this will be a help to you! If I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to post in the comments
The Clark Gable and Carole Lombard Murder Case is not only the last book in George Baxt’s celebrity series, but it is also the last book he wrote before his death in 2003 (I have been reviewing these books in chronological order). And of course, Baxt goes out with a bang…this is perhaps the worst book in his entire series!
Before I begin my review, here’s an excellent, original review written by Vincent, who runs the site Carole & Co. (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/50359.html). The review not only points out some of the many things wrong with this book, but it is also a good example of how to write PROPER celebrity fiction! I’ll be referring to it throughout my own review.
Here’s the plot of this hot mess: It’s December of 1939. Gone with the Wind has finished filming and the Atlanta premiere is drawing near (saaay, that rhymes!). However, all of Hollywood, including Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, is suffering from paranoia due to a series of kidnappings. Amongst those who were kidnapped is a promising young protegee of Carole’s named Lydia Austin. But when no leads turn up about Lydia and the body of her ex-boyfriend washes up on the shore during Miriam Hopkins’ beach party, it becomes obvious that there is more to this case than meets the eye. Detective Herb Villon and his sidekick Jim Mallory team up with Gable and Lombard to crack this case.
First of all, the plot was extremely sloppy. It went absolutely NOWHERE for a good three-quarters of the book, and I think it was at that point when Baxt remembered that there has to be some solution to this absolutely boring mystery so he brought the book to a very speedy and unsatisfying conclusion. Here’s the breakdown of the book: 75% was “witty banter” terrible enough that, had they read it, would’ve made Gable and Lombard vomit uncontrollably, and 25% was actually solving the mystery.
And ya know what? The characters who went missing were so unlikable that I didn’t give a fuck about them whatsoever. They were three Nazi spies, seven Japanese spies (remember we’re starting WWII here folks) Carole’s protegee, who was a worse character than the spies!!! The girl apparently had a lot of “talent”…and how Baxt expects us to believe this I have no idea, since all this girl ever seemed to do was sleep with anything that had a penis. She literally has had a roll in the hay with every male character in the book (except the detective) at some point, from Gable to Groucho Marx. Why? Looking for a sugar daddy of course! Whadda bitch. I found myself so glad this little idiot was missing and I never wanted them to find her again. And as the story goes on and we learn more about her character, it becomes obvious that she’s a dim bulb too. WHY Carole Lombard would ever take a person like that under her wing is beyond me. Thankfully, this Lydia character is kidnapped before the action of the book takes place, so all we know about her comes from what we’re told by other characters.
In the book, Carole has three other protegees, but the most ah-nnoying one is the Eskimo, Mala Anouk. The other two are Nell Corday and Nana Lewis (dude, come up with a better name. Nana is what I call my grandma). But Mala takes the cake for being the most disgusting book character ever. Even more disgusting than Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter series. The girl lives entirely on BLUBBER. BUH-LUBBER. WHALE FAT. This is a girl who wants to be a HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS and she eats PURE FAT three times a day!!! How do you even eat squares of cold fat!? And by “how” I mean, “how can you live with yourself, do you have no shame?” or “how are you even alive right now, shouldn’t you have died from atherosclerosis a long time ago?” or “how are you not 6000 pounds?” or “how does Baxt expect us to believe that Lombard would’ve ever groomed a fat-eating actress?” In one part, the fat-eater even serves Lombard and Gable BLUBBER COOKIES. How the hell do you make cookies out of FAT!? What kind of shitty cookies are these? I was an avid eater of blubber (I’d eat a raw horseflesh before doing that, ugh!), the earth would not be able to accommodate my weight, lose all gravitational force, and end up spinning away somewhere in the cold, vast universe. Actress on the make eating blubber YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?
This book also features the most random cast of characters ever. We have Gable and Lombard, Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Humphrey Bogart and Mayo Methot, Groucho Marx, and W.C. Fields, who is completely wasted in this book and completely unnecessary to the story. And so were Bogie and Methot, for that matter. They just came for a couple of pages and left. Absolutely none of these characters were developed, with Baxt instead drawing upon film characters that these actors played. I HIGHLY doubt that Groucho Marx walked around in half crouch with an unlit cigar dangling from his mouth in real life! I seriously think Baxt put a bunch of names is a hat, closed his eyes, picked out these names, and forced them into a story. I’m quite surprised Dorothy Parker didn’t make a cameo appearance in this book like she did in all the rest. She would’ve been the icing on the cake.
Now, onto the characterizations of Gable and Lombard. I don’t even know where to begin here. Well, in his review, Vincent addresses the annoying giggle that Baxt gives Lombard in this book. A giggle that made my eyes twitch. A giggle that almost made me explode in a rage. A giggle that made my heart turn cold and had me wondering if there is a God in this world. “Hee hee hee.” WHEN, In the name of God, did she EVER laugh like that? And this “hee hee hee” is there every single time Lombard opens her mouth in this book! I dunno if this “hee hee hee” after every statement is supposed to make Lombard sound sly and crafty but it only ended up making her sound like she’s lost all her brain cells in an alcoholic fog. Only three types of people say “hee hee hee”:
1) Evil Disney villains.
2) Evil wicked witches.
3) The senile grandmother I mentioned earlier.
Is Carole Lombard one of those three? I don’t think so! Besides the “hee hee hee,” Lombard also spends most of the time screeching and yelling at Gable for everything. EVERY SOURCE I’ve read about Gable and Lombard’s relationship said that it was a relationship based on love and laughter. Sure, they had rough patches like any other couple, but the book makes it seem like their relationship was tense and stressful 24/7. There was also none of that trademark Lombard charm, humor, and generosity. She instead screeches and throws tantrums like a petulant child or my menopausal high school math teacher. The real Lombard would’ve looked down on such behavior! Carole also spends time making obscene pictures out of cheese and crackers in this book (insert facepalm here). This book did one of my favorite actresses NO justice. Baxt did not even try to understand her at all. And why he dedicated the Astaire and Rogers book to her is beyond me. Like she would want any of these books dedicated to her!
Now Gable. Poor, poor Gable. If Baxt was trying to make the readers hate Gable by portraying him the way he did in this book, it didn’t work. I think this book made me love him even more, because it made me realize what a smart, lively, vibrant personality he had. Baxt portrays Gable as a big, lumbering idiot who barely says anything except an occasional “sure, sweetheart, sure” to calm Lombard down. Other than that, he just stands there and watches on as everything takes place around him, like some kind of shadow. And many times in this book, Baxt states outright that Gable is “dumb” and “not good enough” for Carole. First of all, Gable wasn’t dumb, and anyone who cares to learn about him can see that indeed, Gable was quick-witted and very intelligent. He loved to read, and there are plenty of photos out there that prove it. He never finished high school, so educating himself was a matter of great importance to him, and his widow Kay Gable said that he would read a book a day. He read books on all topics, from mysteries to histories (rhyme #2). And I’m sure Lombard knew what she wanted in a man, so saying he’s “not good enough for her” without any proof to back himself up is just plain wrong. Baxt did not do his homework on Gable or any other star he wrote about, and instead poorly portrayed the images the studio system gave these actors. Gable was a very quiet man, never one to brag about himself or make a big deal out of things. There is a difference between being HUMBLE and being STUPID, Mr. Baxt!
As usual, Baxt got a lot of facts wrong in this book. Big, big facts. Once again, the timing is all wrong. The story takes place in December 1939, before the Atlanta premiere of GWTW. In the beginning of the book, Lombard is getting ready to film Made for Each Other with Jimmy Stewart, but as Vincent pointed out, the film was released in February 1939, way before the action of the story and even before Clark and Carole were married! But at the end of the book, Carole was scheduled to begin filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith which wasn’t released until the end of January, 1941! And unlike today, you did not need a year to make a good film. I highly doubt this film would’ve taken more than several weeks to shoot! And whatever happened to In Name Only, Vigil in the Night, and They Knew What They Wanted, the three films that she made in between Made for Each Other and Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Did they just disappear into the mist or something?
At one point, Baxt makes up an entirely new movie for Gable. Apparently he made a World War I film called Hell Below. What the fuck is Hell Below!?!? I am proud to say that I’ve seen Gable’s entire filmography, and he never made a film by that name. I’m thinking that he might’ve mixed up with Hell Divers. But that film isn’t about World War I…rather, it is about naval aviation. Can Baxt get ANYTHING right???
Baxt also makes an outrageous claim that Harlow died from syphilis that William Powell gave her. How low can this author go? But thankfully, anyone who knows even basic facts about the Golden Age knows that Harlow died of kidney failure. Baxt’s low, cruel statement only succeeded in making him look retarded. He also claims that this syphilis is what kept Powell off the screen for two years. HE HAD CANCER. God, who would ever make something like that up!? Who in their right mind would lie about having such a disease? It’s like Baxt had something personal agaisnt these stars! He also claims that Russ Columbo’s death wasn’t an accident, and that Lansing Brown shot Columbo out of jealousy because the two were lovers and he heard Columbo wanted to marry Lombard. It was true that Columbo wanted to marry Carole, they were so very much in love. But the death was indeed an accident, with Brown feeling the guilt for the rest of his life, and THEY WERE NOT LOVERS. I hate it when an author says that every actor in Hollywood was gay! Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, but it’s very unrealistic to claim that ALL OF THEM were homosexual.
And please, don’t even get me started on the claims of Gable abusing Ida Lupino and sleeping with Judy Garland. HE NEVER DATED LUPINO AND JUDY GARLAND WAS ONLY FIFTEEN YEARS OLD! How DISGUSTING. This book and all its ridiculous claims are pure fiction. And horrible fiction at that.
So here’s what I learned from rereading and reviewing this series: the cover is the best part of any Baxt book. Just check out that artwork! I hope you guys enjoyed these reviews, and I hope I did a good job giving you a thorough idea of these books!
Let’s start off this post this way: I’m a nineteen year-old girl. My best friend is also a nineteen year-old girl (we’re only born nine days apart, how awesome is that?). What else do nineteen year-old best friends do? First and foremost we gossip. A lot. About friends, family, people we hate, boys we like, and boys who like us. We also shop. Just two days ago, we went to the Columbus Circle Mall, where I spent $50 on new makeup and $100 on a Father’s Day gift for my dad (HE BETTER BE HAPPY WITH IT). And lastly, we talk about our dream man. The man that is perfect in our eyes, but probably doesn’t exist or is so unattainable and impossible to get. She lusts after the likes of Michael Fassbender and Gerard Butler while I lust after the likes of Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, and Errol Flynn. I don’t have a classic movie buddy. Sadly, I’ve never met anyone younger than 80 who loves the classics, so whenever I discuss my dream man with my friend, it’s a very…one-sided conversation. So, I’ll share my dream man with you guys, people who actually understand what I’ll be talking about!
- I love light-colored eyes in a man, blue eyes being my particular favorite. My dream man would have beautiful blue eyes like Gabe or Coop. They would be bright and hypnotizing…just look at Coop’s!!!
- I am also incredibly attracted by a man’s smile, especially when he has a wide, genuine, dimpled smile that shows his nice teeth (I also insist on nice teeth, white and straight. No crooked teeth, yellowed teeth, or gaps. Bad teeth scare me). Franchot Tone has a gorgeous smile when he shows his teeth. Also Clark Gable (his dimples just make me swoon) and Errol Flynn have great smiles that make my heart melt.
- I love dark features (with the exception of eyes, as I mentioned above). I love dark hair, dark lashes and eyebrows, and skin that can tan. I wouldn’t mind myself an Italian hunk like Rudy Valentino and I ESPECIALLY wouldn’t mind Cary Grant!
- I love foreign accents. To me, there is something so attractive about a man from another place. He can teach me a lot about his place of origin, from the mannerisms to the slang and cuss words. I love traveling and I’m fascinated by other places, and what better way to learn than from a wonderful foreign man while being hypnotized by his exotic accent? Rudy Valentino had a sexy Italian accent, Cary Grant had his distinctive mid-Atlantic accent, and Desi Arnaz had a cute Spanish accent (which Lucille Ball so lovingly imitated in I Love Lucy).
- I love a man with grace and poise. No klutzes for moi! I especially love a man who can show off some fancy footwork. A dancer is always fun, passionate, and exciting, like Fred Astaire or that gorgeous hunk named Gene Kelly! Donald O’Connor also gets me weak in the knees, even though he’s blond and I don’t usually go for blonds (actually, one of my exes was blond. He had green eyes and was drop-dead hilarious so that made up for it. There are exceptions to every rule!).
- I ADORE a funny man! Especially a funny man who doesn’t constantly brag about how funny he is. A man who is NATURALLY funny! What girl doesn’t want a man who can cheer her up on a bad day, is well-liked for his great personality, and can charm her, her friends, and her family off their feet? Hence why I am attracted to men who aren’t known for good looks, like Chaplin, Keaton, and the Marx Brothers (yes, to me, each one of them is cute in their own way!). A funny man is definitely on the top of my list of good qualities in a man!
- I love a man who is honest. This is more important to me than anything else. A liar=a douchebag. And trust me, I’ve dealt with so many liars as of late, and it is not pretty! I tend to share a lot of myself with someone I love, and I would like for them to honestly share themselves with me too. I don’t judge anyone, and as long as a man is honest, he holds my love and respect (and my respect doesn’t come easily). I’ve been told that I naturally never trust, and well, it’s because I’ve been lied to a lot, and for no good reason. At least when the classic movie actors were having affairs, they were dead honest about it! And sometimes, when talking about themselves, they would probably give a little too much information! I adore that. Clark Gable once said a very beautiful quote about Carole Lombard: “You can trust that little screwball with your life or your hopes or your weaknesses, and she wouldn’t even know how to think about letting you down.” Someday, I want a man who can be that honest with me. Honesty is sexy.
- Nothing gets me like a man with great wit! Intelligence and humor rolled into one? Excellent! My heart beats like a drum when I meet a man who has a way with words, who shares my sarcasm, and who owns an acid tongue. Men like William Powell and Laurence Olivier can sure make me swoon!
- What girl doesn’t love a man with a naughty side? It’s exciting to have someone who’s a bit of a bad boy with you (and only you!). Men like Errol Flynn are practically irresistible.
- I like to draw, so having a man who is also a fellow artist would be just divine. It doesn’t even have to be fine art, but also music or of course, acting. Gary Cooper was especially a gifted fine artist (he originally came to Hollywood to become an illustrator!) and wouldn’t it be just so romantic to sit for hours together and draw pictures of whatever captures our fancies? Coop was pretty damn good, and I will be featuring some of his works in a future post!
- I love a man with a manly phyisique. Clark Gable, to me, has the perfect male body. He’s burly and tough, not too thin, and not fat either. He’s all big muscle, and he’s also tall (6’1″. Height is important for a tall 5’5″ girl like me). Cary and Errol Flynn were also around the same height, but Coop beats them all at 6’3″. However, Coop’s body is a bit too thin for my taste. I want a man who is strong, can hold me safe in his arms, and who wouldn’t blow away in a strong wind! Therefore Gabe has the perfect body for me.
- I love me an outdoorsman. I love to run through the grass, jump in the surf, climb trees, and play with animals, so a man who loves these things is quite important to me! Nobody fits the bill quite like Clark Gable.
- I also really really really REALLY want a man who loves classic movies just as much as I do! Actually, I don’t want one. I NEED ONE. Sadly, I’ve never met a boy who really loves classic movies. But when I do, I know he’s a keeper, because that means they have good taste, which is a rare thing these days! I want to be with someone who can laugh at Chaplin and Keaton with me, sit on the edge of the seat while watching a Hitchcock movie with me, cry during GWTW with me, and discuss every film we watch together. Oh, and of course, it would be nice if he put up with me when I swoon over all the handsome actors! When I find that special man, I think it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship
- Last, but definitely not least, I love men who are confident in their masculinity. He exudes every masculine characteristic without even trying. Because it’s an innate quality that he constantly exudes. A real man doesn’t need to publicly speak about his masculinity. Have you ever seen Gabe or Coop or Cary or Errol or Rudy Valentino or William Powell talking about and bragging about what it means to be a man? Do you ever see a real man lording it over everyone else about how “masculine” he is compared to others? Of course not? A REAL man doesn’t have to constantly talk about his masculinity, he’s too busy SHOWING IT with his actions! And this isn’t something that only comes from me. Every single female I know thinks this and agrees with this. And every classic movie actor is a real man <3
So basically, my dream man would know how to have fun, would enjoy a day out or a day cuddling at home, respects me like I respect him, is always honest with me, is smart, funny, and artistic. He is strong, kind, caring, and confident yet humble. The relationship that I always look up to and wish to have is Gable and Lombard’s. It was truly beautiful and reading about it never fails to bring a tear of joy and sadness to my eyes. Both were so proud and happy to love each other. I’ve yet to find the “Pa” to my “Ma” but I will someday!
If you like to read and research absolutely everything on classic Hollywood like me, you’ve probably heard of George Baxt’s fictional classic Hollywood murder mysteries. I’ve certainly came across them a great deal when educating myself about classic Hollywood, and I thought it was a fun idea to take our beloved stars and put them in a thrilling murder mystery, a work of fiction. So I decided to order a bunch of them two years ago, for my seventeenth birthday. To my chagrin, I found out that the books are extremely rare and out of print, and I ended up having to order them from some bookshop in London! Some books in the series, such as the Dorothy Parker Murder Case and the Alfred Hitchcock Murder Case were either too expensive or too rare, so alas, I don’t have them.
I was beyond excited to read them, but…I am sorry to say, they were an absolute disappointment, especially since Baxt himself was a former Hollywood agent, who was supposed to have known most of these stars. I was expecting an insightful look into the lives of these Hollywood stars, but instead I got a shallow story with a stupid plot and even stupider characterizations each and every time! I have no idea what Baxt meant by writing these books…did he mean to slander the names of the stars of classic Hollywood? Or was all of this meant to be taken as a joke, a lighthearted work of fiction? But when you’re dealing with the personalities of real people, how are you NOT supposed to take what is said seriously?
Anyway, over the summer I will be reviewing what I have from this series for two reasons:
1) The books are rare, so it may be difficult for some to access them and read them for themselves.
2) I don’t think anyone on here deserves to plow through such drivel anyway.
The titles I’ll be reviewing are:
1) The Tallulah Bankhead Murder Case
2) The Greta Garbo Murder Case
3) The Marlene Dietrich Murder Case
4) The Humphrey Bogart Murder Case
5) The Clark Gable and Carole Lombard Murder Case
6) The William Powell and Myrna Loy Murder Case
7) The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Murder Case
I’ll discuss what worked and didn’t work for me, and I’ll also put up some of the “facts” that Baxt had in books, just to show how outrageous they sometimes are! This means that I’ll have to re-read them (oy…but at least they’re small, easy reads). So stay tuned!
Sometimes, when scouring the Internet for images related to classic films and actors, you find lots of random, fun things. Here are some of the gems that you can find when looking up images of some classic movie stars:
Here’s Marion Davies using an odd contraption called the Bentograph. It was supposed analyze the human character. Director Monte Bell gives Marion part of her analysis: “Full forehead; benevolent, creative, learned and happiest when in company of the intellectual. Nose; pretentious, ambitious, sensitive, aims high and demands social and artistic recognition”.
Cary Grant, Sally Eilers, Hal Roach, and Elizabeth Jenns English make for an interesting band!
Ida Lupino visits Harry Fink, bottle collector who used to lend out his collection to film studios so they can be used as props!
Is it me, or does Lana Turner slightly resemble Joan Blondell in this photo?
Anne Shirley, Carol Stone, Rosina Lawrence, Lana Turner, Vicki Lester and Natalie Draper drink soda out of a pumpkin.
Another “handie” (Stewart could perform over 300!): China clipper
Why am I loving Laurence Olivier’s mismatched outfit?
That’s all! I made it quite long to make up for all the days I haven’t blogged. Hope this was fun and entertaining!
I’ve been wanting to see this Pre-Code gem since February, when my best friend recommended it to me. Ever since, I’ve been relentlessly looking for it on the internet and waiting for it to play on TCM. I finally got the chance last night, when it was shown in honor of actress Ann Dvorak, whose films were playing all day yesterday as part of Summer Under The Stars. I have to say, it was amazing, and I’m glad I recorded it to my tv so I can watch it whenever I please.
This film is about three childhood friends who meet again by chance. Mary (Joan Blondell) has done some time in a reformatory, but comes out with a new outlook and stability on life. Ruth (Bette Davis) works as a stenographer. And Vivian (Ann Dvorak) is wealthy, married to a successful husband (Warren William), and has an adorable son. Her life seems so perfect, and the other two women secretly envy her.
When they meet, they light their cigarettes with one match. They then discuss that such an action is unlucky, and that Vivian would be the first to die, since she was the last to light her cigarette. Vivian then talks about how dissatisfied and empty her life is, and brings it up to her husband. He suggests that she go on a cruise to clear her mind, and she takes up his suggestion, taking her son with her. On the ship, Vivian meets gambler/gangster Michael Loftus. She then runs away with him, her son in tow. She soon becomes addicted to alcohol and cocaine, parties until the wee hours, and becomes a negligent mother to her son.
Concerned about Vivian’s behavior towards her son, Mary tells Vivian’s husband Robert where to find the boy. He divorces Vivian and marries Mary, giving his son a stable life once more. Meanwhile, Vivian’s money runs out and Michael owes $2000 to a group of gangsters (one of which is a young Humphrey Bogart). He has to pay up or else. So he threatens Robert to give him money or else he would reveal Mary’s criminal past. But that doesn’t work, so he kidnaps Robert’s son. In an act of atonement, Vivian scrawls where her son is in lipstick on her nightgown and jumps out of the window, saving her son’s life at the cost of her own and making the superstition about three on a match true.
This film is an essential Pre-Code, and is everything you’d want a pre-Code to be. It is rampant with sex (running away with a man behind the husband’s back), drugs (Vivian becomes addicted to cocaine), alcohol, and of course, gangster activity (something most Warner Bros. films were famous for). It’s about a good girl gone bad, a girl who loses it all to a life of debauchery. It’s seedy. It’s oh. So. GOOD.
Warner Bros. Pre-Codes are interesting for that very reason. They threw in the realism and dirt and grit when other studios like MGM loved class, cleanliness, and perfection. The three leads all came from different walks of life: Blondell’s character cut class to smoke with boys, went to jail, and became a showgirl (no other occupation would seem so fitting for the spunky, feisty, city girl Blondell), Davis’ character was the smart one, always good and studious (Davis’ talent seems a bit wasted here…she has nothing much to do), and Dvorak’s character was popular and beautiful, destined for the good life (we all know what happens later in the film, due to a cruel twist of fate).
Beautiful Dvorak…and not-so-beautiful Dvorak. Looks like two different people
If given the chance, Dvorak’s career would’ve rivaled that of costar Bette Davis’.
As I stated before, Davis was unfortunately given a weak character. However, kudos to Blondell and Dvorak, whom the film places more of a focus on. Blondell is the feisty, snappy girl we all know and love. But Dvorak was excellent as the spoiled-wife-turned-druggie. That transformation alone is enough to show how versatile an actress Dvorak was. Seeing the beautiful actress in couture gowns, perfectly coiffed hair, and immaculate makeup and then becoming a sickly, dirty, poor urchin is fantastic to watch. It’s a darn shame that Dvorak’s career was cut short due to salary conflicts, and that she is so forgotten today. She was so talented.
A young Humphrey Bogart, and the most adorable movie kid ever!
Warren William was also a delight as a slick, urbane, successful man of the world, a role he played often in many films. A fun one to watch was Humphrey Bogart. His role may have been small, but boy was it powerful. He was fantastically sinister and nasty. And I LOVED the little boy who played the son. He was so cute, and quite a good actor!
The end was excellent: heart stopping, chilling, something that would make you shout “What’s going to happen next?” And the scene in which Dvorak’s character jumps out of the window is so scary and graphic, even for today’s standards. Nothing in this film is softened up or watered down. It may have been short (it doesn’t even clock in at an hour and ten minutes) but it is so fast-paced and there was never a dull moment.
Now here’s a creepy tidbit of trivia: the superstition came true for Dvorak in real life. Not only was her character the first to die in the film, but she was the first to die from amongst the three leads, in 1979, followed by Blondell in the same year, then Davis a decade later.
I’m SO glad my friend told me about this little-known gem. It’s definitely a favorite.