HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY LOVELY READERS! Even to my international readers! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for three reasons:1) It revolves around FOOD which is the greatest thing in the world. Food is my friend.
2) It is the beginning of my favorite time of the year…the holiday season!
3) I get to seriously contemplate all of the things I am thankful for.
So here’s the classic movie-related list of things I am thankful for this year.
1) That Clark Gable existed and made movies. Seriously Gabeykins, where would I be without you?
2) That Jean Harlow existed and made movies. She’s my ultimate girl crush with Clara Bow running a close second.
3) On a non classic film-related note: That Barack Obama is still our president. The first president I ever voted for WON! YEAHHHHH! Ladies, here’s to four years without a strange man of questionable religious beliefs all up in our uteruses!
4) I’m thankful for all the new great classics that I’ve discovered and continue to discover each and every year.
5) I’m thankful for all the inspirational classic movie figures that have helped me get through some trying times!
6) I am thankful that Hurrell hair can turn into 50s rockabilly grrrl hair the next day. Observe:
7) I am thankful for my nutty family and my crazy lovable li’l sis who makes me laugh hysterically and never fails to brighten my day with her unbelievable shenanigans.
8) I am thankful for my friends, who always support me, make fun of me (in a good way!), help me, and make me feel better when I’m blue. When you have friends who always encourage you to believe you are loved and you are beautiful inside and out, you know you did something right
9) I am thankful for my classic movie posters and my classic movie calendars.
10) I am thankful for TCM and Robert Osborne who is a beautiful beautiful man.
11) I am thankful for New York City, because it is gorgeous and exciting and it offers so much vintage, Art Deco, and classic film things to enjoy, and that New York is a city that encourages you to be different.
12) I am thankful for my blog which allows me to express my feelings and gives me a place to just be myself.
13) I am thankful for all that I have. After this hurricane, I’ve realized just how important every little thing is, and how lucky I am.
14) Last but DEFINITELY not least, I am thankful for you guys! My readers are the best! You are all awesome! If it weren’t for your support I would still be the shy, quiet girl I was two years ago when I started this blog. Thanks for giving me confidence and advice and encouragement every step of the way! You’re all #1!
I hope you all enjoyed this list, and if you would like to share the things you are thankful for, you are more than welcome! I hope you all ate (or will eat) lots of turkey!
Margaret Perry over at http://thegreatkh.blogspot.co.uk/ has given me a Liebster Award! YAY! The Liebster is given to up-and-coming blogs of 200 followers or less. If you are reading this, Margaret, thank you so much for the honor! So, if you receive a Liebster Award, you must share eleven facts about yourself, answer eleven questions from the blogger who awarded you, and award eleven bloggers of your choice! Here we go:
Eleven Facts About Moi:
1. All of my fingers are double-jointed. I’m like some sort of weird finger contortionist.
2. I’m a voracious reader. My all-time favorite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
3. I think peacocks are the most beautiful, fabulous animals in the entire world.
4. My biggest goal is to travel the world. I hope to study abroad for winter intercession next year in either England, France, or Australia!
5. I’ve always loved cartoons, and I still do! My favorites were (and still are) Tom and Jerry, Merrie Melodies, Mickey Mouse, and Looney Tunes. I also love the classic Disney films.
6. I confess I have a strange fascination with the occult and the unknown. I love learning about that stuff.
7. The things I notice first in a guy are his eyes (I love light-colored eyes, blue being my favorite) and his smile.
8. I was originally left-handed, but I was forced to switch to right.
9. My favorite fruit is the clementine, which is quite unfortunate since they’re in season only during the winter
10. My favorite band is Queen. Queen has gotten me through a lot of difficulties!
11. All my clothes have to: 1) have a vintage flair 2) have at least a dash of sparkle. My latest purchase was a black velvet dress with a gold glitter star pattern from Topshop. It sparkles more than the sun or the stars. Best shopping decision I’ve ever made!
If you could matchmake two of your favorite stars, who would be your OTP?
Hmmm…so many possibilities come to mind! But I think my OTP (one true pair) would be Myrna Loy and William Powell. Every time I watch them in a film I find myself begging them to get married and have babies already. Or Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, those two make sparks on the screen!
What classic movie would you like to see remade?
None. Modern remakes have a funny way of messing up beloved originals.
What is your favorite film genre, and what are your three favorite films in that genre?
My favorite film genre is the screwball comedy! My favorite screwballs are It Happened One Night, Arsenic and Old Lace, and To Be Or Not To Be.
You have the opportunity to share one classic film with a theatre full of your friends. Which film do you choose?
Gone with the Wind, most definitely!
What one actor/actress do you love so much, you would see a film simply because they are in it?
Clark Gable! I’ve sat through some really shitty films (LIKE THE PAINTED DESERT) just to look at Gabe’s perfect face.
What/who is your favorite animal character from a movie?
I love Asta from The Thin Man series. That dog is such a boss.
What years do you consider to define the era of “classic movies”?
This is a great, hotly disputed question, and as Margaret implies, the answer varies from person to person. I personally consider the classic movie era to be from around 1905-ish to 1960.
Astaire or Kelly? Audrey or Katherine? Bette or Joan? Olivia de Havilland or Joan Fontaine? Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin?
Astaire or Kelly: love them both with all my heart and soul, but I think I will go with Kelly here. It was a close shave, though!
Audrey or Katharine: Easy. Kate the Great of course! I might get crucified for this, but I CAN’T STAND Audrey Hepburn. The most overrated actress who ever lived, if you ask me.
Bette or Joan: I love Bette, but Joan wins this. Sorry Bette, but Joan is my homeslice for life.
Olivia de Havilland or Joan Fontaine: Livvy is my fave sister. She’s an amazing talent and a delight to watch on the screen. From what I’ve seen of Joan Fontaine’s work, she seems a lot more…forced…than her sister. Just look at the faces she makes in Rebecca and you’ll see what I mean.
Who is your favorite Barrymore?
My fave Barrymore is definitely Lionel. He’s like an old cuddly teddy bear! Who seriously knows how to act.
What is your favorite silent movie? Who is your favorite silent movie star?
Oh geez, this is a toughie. I’m gonna bend the rules here and give two favorite silent movies: Metropolis and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. I’m gonna bend the rules again with my favorite silent stars: Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino.
If you could spend one day with your favorite star, who would it be and what would you do?
I’d spend the day with the lovely Clark Gable and we would tour Hollywood together and visit all of his favorite places there
Now I shall award eleven of my favorite blogs (that meet the qualifications) for a Liebster Award! You guys have to list eleven facts about yourself, answer the eleven questions I give you, and award eleven other blogs with the Award! Congratulations to:
All Good Things http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/
Classicfilmboy’s Movie Paradise http://www.classicfilmboy.com/
Dear Old Hollywood http://dearoldhollywood.blogspot.com/
Deep Glamour http://deepglamour.net/
Critica Retro http://criticaretro.blogspot.com/
Gone with the Wind Fansite http://gwtwfansite.weebly.com/
Marlene Dietrich Collection http://marlene-dietrichcollection.blogspot.fr/
The Hollywood Revue http://hollywoodrevue.wordpress.com/
Alexander’s Sanctuary http://alexandersanctuary.wordpress.com/
The Kitty Packard Pictorial http://kittypackard.com/
Old Hollywood Glamour http://oldhollywoodglamour.blogspot.com/
1. If you could have a dinner party with seven classic film stars, who would they be?
2. Who is your favorite classic movie director?
3. Who is your favorite most-underrated actor?
4. Have you ever watched a film in which you had NO IDEA what was going on?
5. Who is your favorite Hollywood costume designer?
6. Who is an actor/actress that you would take out of one film and put into a different one?
7. Do you mix up any classic movie actors/actresses.
8. Favorite movie musical?
9. Have you hated an actor/actress whom you now love?
10. What is your favorite performance that was overlooked by an Oscar?
11. What is your most-quoted film?
And if you don’t have a blog and just want to answer the questions, please feel free to do so in the comments! X
As all of you, my lovely readers, know, the name of my blog is called An Elegant Obsession. It’s pretty straightforward why I christened my blog with this name: I am obsessed with all things classic Hollywood and vintage, and unlike most other obsessions, mine is an elegant one, if I do say so myself. After all, I am obsessed with an era of glamour and class. Part of what made classic Hollywood so elegant is the art of glamour photography.
Glamour photography is, sadly, a dying (ore pretty much dead) art. Nowadays, the idea of photographing celebrities is to show that they are “just like us”: they go shopping, they get coffee from Starbucks, they mow their lawns…whatever. The purpose seems to be to capture them at their most UNglamorous. However, in the olden days I so love, the purpose of photography was to depict these stars as gods: too perfect, too beautiful to be living in this world.
George Hurrell was perhaps the greatest and most prolific glamour photographer. With a career that spanned over seventy years, he photographed the faces of every important star from Norma Shearer to Sharon Stone. Hurrell’s photography is so great because it’s so dramatic. His hallmarks were dramatic lighting with strong blacks and whites. But the Hurrell trademark I want to talk about today is “The Hurrell Hair.”
As seen on the beautiful ladies Bette Davis, Veronica Lake, Carole Lombard, and Jean Harlow, George Hurrell loved to spread out the long, luxurious waves that all Hollywood actresses had back in the day. Any picture with the hair like that is a guaranteed Hurrell. Hurrell used a backlight on his subjects when taking a photo like this, as it added a shimmer or “halo” effect to the hair…which goes back to what I said about the whole “goddess” thing.
So, not being a photographer and having NO equipment but an iPhone 5 camera, I set out to do some Hurrell hair pictures of my own.
It isn’t so good, as my hair isn’t long enough, the photos are in color, I don’t have photography equipment, and I am an overall strange-looking person. But achieving a cheap knockoff of Hurrell Hair was not as difficult as I would’ve thought it would be!
If you are interested in doing a Hurrell experiment of your own, or if you just want to have long 1930s-1940s style waves everyday like I do, let me know and I will be more than happy to make a tutorial!
Meanwhile, I’ll be growing out my hair to get it as long as Vivien Leigh’s in GWTW:
P.S: does anyone have tips on getting rid of dark under-eye circles? I have them all the time, and no matter how much rest I get, I always seem tired and sick-looking! Thanks in advance for any advice!
I might be getting into personal territory here, but here’s a little something to know about me: in an increasingly atheist world, I believe in God. I pray, I believe in Creation and the existence of Adam and Eve and every single Biblical figure, and I ask God to help me when times are tough. You might as call me an endangered species.
But sometimes, things happen that you lose faith for awhile.
As you have probably seen me talk about on this blog, things have been extraordinarily difficult for me in the past several weeks. I could not believe that so many things could go wrong at once! I was pretty much like, “God, if you don’t love me, then I won’t love you.”
But then I understood that God works in mysterious ways…he TOOK AWAY all these things to give me something BETTER.
What was this wonderful thing, you may ask?
FINALLY THIS INJUSTICE HAS BEEN CORRECTED!
This is better than an all-day shopping excursion.
This is better than free food.
This is better than HAVING FRIENDS.
This is better than BOYS.
This is better than TRUE LOVE.
FINALLY, I can own the sexiest Gable/Harlow film and my favorite Gable/Harlow film so I pull all-nighters crying over the beauty of this screen couple. Alone. My favorite thing to do!!!!!!
This was enough to fully restore all faith I have in God and all the beautiful things he does for us every day.
Hello Everyone! I’m back and ready to blog! Thank you all so much for the kind and encouraging words, it really touched my heart to see this outpouring of love <3 I truly do have the best readers! So here’s a funny post for you guys.
Us classic movie fans like to think of our favorite stars as flawless, effortless, and absolutely perfect. We tend to forget that they too, are people just like you and me, so of course things weren’t always so smooth for them. They, like us, have done some pretty awkward things in their lifetimes. But worse for them, some of these moments have been caught on film. Here are some of my favorite classic movie awkward moments. Don’t forget to comment with your faves! <3
That Awkward Moment When John Wayne Got Beaten Up By A Little Girl
I don’t know what film this is from or who this adorable little girl is, but this picture is hilarious. Look at the big, strong Duke, the paragon of manliness the world over…getting his nose tweaked by a toddler and screaming in pain. I guess even the most manly men have their Achilles’ Heel.
That Awkward Moment When Cary Grant Flips The Bird
Oh Cary. This gem is from “North by Northwest.” He’s holding a ring, but I know he actually thinks that everyone around him is just a mean, nasty, fuck. Good thing the censors were starting to let up around this point!
That Awkward Moment When Clark Gable Says The Wrong Name
This is one of my favorite awkward moments, mostly because I can’t believe no one in the cast or crew realized it. In “The Misfits” the name of Thelma Ritter’s character is Isabelle. However, there is a scene towards the middle of the film in which Clark Gable seems to have completely forgotten this and instead calls her by her actual name…Thelma. And NOBODY noticed. Except me. And I die laughing every time.
That Awkward Moment When Jean Harlow Has A Wardrobe Malfunction
This one’s for the boys. Not that they would mind. In the film “China Seas” there is a particularly intense scene in which Jean Harlow’s character and Wallace Beery’s character fight over half a bank note which can incriminate Beery and send him stuh-raight to the slammer. At one point, Beery pulls on Harlow so roughly that her flimsy little robe almost slides right off…leaving very little to the imagination. Jean recovers quickly, but not quick enough. I guess the Hays Code review board loved what they saw so much that they let it slide. Poor Baby Jean
That Awkward Moment When James Cagney Danced Better Than Ruby Keeler
James Cagney: little Brooklyn-born little Irishman with flaming red hair and blue eyes famous for always shooting up the joint as a gangster in films. Ruby Keeler: blue-eyed Canadian darling married to one of the greatest entertainers of all time (Al Jolson), famous for being a professional dancer and performing in lavish Busby Berkeley musicals. Obviously Ruby is the better dancer, right? Wrong. What many people don’t know about James Cagney is that this favorite film gangster was a hoofer since he was a wee child on the streets of New York. So, he pretty much started out as a dancer, and a damn good one. And it shows in the “Shanghai Lil” number of the film Footlight Parade (1933) my personal favorite of all the Berkeley musicals. Towards the middle of the number, Cagney and Keeler do a little tap dance together, and let’s face it, he beats her at her own game. Cagney has this smooth, light, almost sexy way of moving his body when he dances, and Keeler by comparison just looks clumsy, amateur, and…heavy. Just look at her in the picture above, she looks like she’s about to fall over! A truly awkward moment right here.
That Awkward Moment When Buster Keaton Shows Up For Five Minutes In A Chaplin Film And Steals The Whole Show
When people ask me about my stance on the whole Keaton/Chaplin debate, I usually just run away in tears. I love them both so much! It’s almost impossible for me to choose one over the other! However, there is an exception to every rule. And that exception is the film “Limelight,” which is a Chaplin film made much later in his career. “Limelight” is an extremely SAD film, not something you’d usually associate with Chaplin. This story of a suicidal ballerina and a lonely clown never fails to turn me into a big, tearful mess. However, Buster Keaton has a cameo appearance here that is enough to make you cry too…but from laughing too much! Chaplin knew he was taking a risk by giving the equally funny Keaton a role in his film…and Chaplin realized that maybe it was a mistake, because Keaton was obviously the funnier one here. Chaplin was so irked by this that he dramatically cut Keaton’s role…because he was too funny.
That Awkward Moment When Franchot Tone Has A Giant Wedgie
One of my all-time favorite classics is 1935′s “Mutiny on the Bounty.” It’s the perfect sea story, a swashbuckling adventure, and it even has a dash of romance. But another reason it’s so great is that it has plenty of hilariously awkward moments. Like this one. First of all, it’s embarrassing enough that Franchot Tone and Clark Gable had to wear these giant white Tahitian adult diaper things. Secondly, it’s embarrassing that these diapers had to get wet. Clark was smart enough to stand facing the camera. But Franchot, on the other hand, got stuck giving us The View. JUST LOOK AT THAT THING! It’s like, a Super Wedgie. I’m surprised he wasn’t crying in pain during this scene. Honey, you got a letter in your mailbox…
That Awkward Moment When Charles Laughton Picked His Nose In “Mutiny On The Bounty”
HE DOES THIS ABOUT SIX TIMES IN THE FILM, I SWEAR!!! Here’s the last awkward moment for this post, again from “Mutiny.” Charles Laughton literally spends the entire beginning of the film wiping his stray boogers and flicking them off somewhere else. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. Where he’s flicking these boogers off to, only God knows. Maybe on Clark Gable. They famously hated each other. Speaking of Clark, the look on his face is priceless. He looks like he’s about to vomit at the sight. My poor Fletcher Christian
That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed!
Today I’m going to teach you guys how to do the perfect flapper nails! You know, that elegant vintage nail look often sported in the 1920s-early 1930s and seen on actresses like Jean Harlow and Joan Crawford:
As you can see, only the center of the fingernail was painted. The half-moons and the tips were left bare.
Things didn’t change until (legend has it) Carole Lombard began to paint her full nails, something that was seen as quite shocking in the world of fashion and beauty. However, the trend caught on like wildfire, and women haven’t reverted back to only painting half of our nails ever since!
But if you’re a vintage-obsessed nerd like me, you have a fondness for these old trends and love bringing them back. I’ve taught myself how to recreate the flapper nail look. My lovely, cooperative new boyfriend took pictures of me modeling my nails. They may look a little weird, but hey, the focus is on the fingers, not the face (or in this case, half the face) here! I hope the nails are easy to see in these photos (UPDATE: you can click the pictures if you need to see the nails better!):
It just occurred to me that I probably should’ve taken pictures of each step of this nail look…oy. I’m going to try describing each step as best I can, but if those of you who are trying to achieve this look need a picture for any step, let me know and I can redo this post with pictures!
What You’ll Need:
Top Coat and Base Coat (I use OPI Start to Finish Base & Top Coat, two in one, less hassle!)
Red Nail Polish (I use OPI’s “The Thrill of Brazil”)
How to Do It:
1. Start off with clean nails. (duh) Make sure they are long, but not too long. Just a little over your fingertips (like the way my nails look).
2. Give your nails that pointed look those flappers and 1930s dames had. Use the nail clipper to trim off A LITTLE BIT of the sides OF THE GROWTH (the part that is a little over your fingertips) ONLY. If you go any deeper, you will clip off the part of your nail that is attached to your finger, and trust me, it hurts. Like. A. Bitch.
3. After that, file the sides of your nails so they can look clean and pointed.
4. Now, take your base coat and paint one coat on each nail. They will look clear and shiny. Wait for them to dry (this depends on the type of base coat you have. Mine dries almost instantaneously, so I only wait a minute or so.)
5. Now, take your red nail polish and VERY SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY paint a thin arc right over your half-moon and another right under your growth. Now, you should have bare tips, a stripe of red, a bare nail, another red stripe, and a bare half-moon.
6. Now fill in the space between the two red stripes with red nail polish. Do this for all your nails!
7. Wait for your nails to dry. Then repeat steps five and six for a second coat (yes, a second coat is necessary, because it will give you the true color you are hoping to achieve).
8. Wait for your nails to dry again (completely!!! It’s most important at this time).
9. At this point, you might have some mess or stray nail polish around your fingers. My tip to cleaning messy nail polish (and this can go for any look, not just flapper nails) is to dip a cotton swab into a bottle of acetone and use it to clean around your nails. It’s thin enough to clean without removing the nail polish that is actually on your nails. Here, use this technique not only to clean any skin around your fingernails, but to also clean any nail polish that may have gotten onto your half-moons or tips. Many people complain that DYI nails are messy because they can’t paint the nails on their right hand with their left hand or vice versa. But with this tip, you can make as much mess as you need and you can clean it all up, resulting in salon-perfect nails!
10. After your nails have dried and you’ve cleaned any mess, paint on your top coat.
11. Voila! You now have shiny, red, glamorous, authentic-looking flapper nails!
**I’m not going to lie and say that doing this look on your own is easy. It might not come out 100% great the first time you try, but like with anything else, practice makes perfect. You might also find it easier to get someone else to help you or paint your nails for you. Do not be discouraged, since it is a difficult look! Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
P.S: Have you guys noticed the ring I’m wearing in my pictures? That’s the ring the incredibly handsome and talented actor Paul Zivkovich gave me in a one-on-one in my favorite play, Sleep No More. Sometimes the ring is on my finger, sometimes around my neck on a necklace, but I’m always wearing it! I’m quite devoted to this guy.
Many people would list Red Dust as their favorite Gable/Harlow pairing, but I have a special fondness for Hold Your Man, perhaps their least-known, most serious, and most scandalous pairing. It’s a great, dramatic Pre-Code through and through, and one of those films I watch again and again and again.
Gable is a con man named Eddie Hall. While running away from the cops (just another day in the life I suppose!) Gable barges into the apartment of a nineteen year-old Brooklyn dame (hey, sound familiar?) named Ruby Adams (Harlow). She helps him hide from the cops and covers up for him. Ruby is an expert manipulator of men, and Eddie is a hit-and-run guy, but sparks fly between them, they realize their love is real, and soon they are sleeping together (the film makes this blatantly obvious…gotta love the Pre-Codes!). When one of Ruby’s admirers writes her a letter, Eddie and his cronies quickly hatch a plan to con him out of money, and much to her chagrin, Ruby is forced to participate in the plan. However, it doesn’t work out when Gable gets jealous and accidentally kills the man. When the cops get to the apartment, Ruby and Eddie are on their way back from getting a marriage license, and Ruby is wrongfully arrested for the murder and sent to two years in a women’s penitentiary. While there, she discovers she’s pregnant, and she and her inmates map out a secret plan to get Eddie and marry them. Will it work or will Ruby get caught by the matrons and Eddie arrested by the cops?
Although this film deals with a lot of serious topics (murder, imprisonment, illegitimate pregnancy, abandonment) it does have its comedic moments. There is a cute running gag in the film about Gable’s crooked smile, which Harlow imitates to a T. In return, Gable imitates her famous hip-swaying walk. The script is excellent, with lots of acidic, witty one-liners, with which Harlow practically steals the picture from Gable. This film also reprises the famous bathtub scene from Red Dust (MGM as we all know, was never ashamed of repeating its successes). Not only does Gable walk in on Harlow bathing, he gets some tub time too–with a face full of soap, hiding from the cops!
I also love the scenes with Harlow in the women’s penitentiary. She has some crazy inmates there: a Socialist, a daughter of a preacher, a girl who’s obsessed with sailors, and one of Eddie’s ex-girlfriends, Gypsy Angikon. Funny moments include: a scene in which the Socialist girl rips a missal in half during a church service, a scene where Eddie has to pretend to be one of the girl’s brother and kisses her, and the whole “sneak Eddie into the penitentiary chapel for the secret wedding” part is quite funny. Another great thing about the film is that it takes place in Brooklyn! (Flatbush to be exact) We all know that the film was shot on the MGM lot and not really in Brooklyn, but I think they did a really good job portraying Old New York: organ grinders, children playing on the sidewalks, mothers popping out of windows to tell their kids that dinner is ready…it’s so cute!
For you Pre-Code fans out there (and who isn’t?) Hold Your Man is chock full of racy-for-the-1930s dialogue and scenes. There’s a great bit in which Gable tries to lure Harlow into his bedroom, and a not-so-subtle scene with Gable and Harlow the next morning after their first night together. As the film goes on, it becomes obvious that Harlow is living with Gable. But most scandalous of all is Harlow’s–GASP!–unplanned pregnancy. Of course, the poor girl becomes the talk of the women’s jail. This is why I like Pre-Codes: they are a lot more realistic and they aren’t afraid to show the more difficult, and in some other Pre-Codes, the more ugly side of things (remember Three on a Match?). And from what I understand, this film was supposed to be even racier, and suffered some cuts from the Legion of Decency.
Hold Your Man also gave us the rare opportunity to see Harlow as a dramatic actress. In the beginning of the film she is all sass and dry humor, but the second half of the film allows her to show emotions such us love, hate, angst, and sadness. The scene in which she sings the title song, “Hold Your Man” on the piano is poignant because it shows the confusion over her feelings for Eddie, her worry over her own situation, and the angst that comes with difficulties in love. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s a real terjerker, and Harlow does a great job of breaking your heart with her performance. I wish she got to act in more dramatic films like this one.
I hope you see why Hold Your Man is my favorite Gable/Harlow pairing. It has it all: great acting, snappy script, comedy, drama, murder, romance, scandal, and a very strong message. It also proves that Harlow isn’t just some dumb blonde like so many idiots out there think; she was a smart, intelligent woman with great talent. The film isn’t on DVD, sadly, and it’s so rare to come across, but it’s worth the trouble trying to find it. You’ll thank me later!
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!
Like The Humphrey Bogart Murder Case before it, The William Powell and Myrna Loy Murder Case is just another cheap knockoff of a novel-turned-movie, this time The Thin Man. It’s not the plot that’s a copy of The Thin Man, but the characters. My my, Dashiell Hammett must be turning in his grave.
The plot: Basking in the success of The Thin Man series, best friends and costars William Powell and Myrna Loy are suddenly thrown into real detective work when Claire Young, madam to the stars, is diagnosed with an inoperable cancer and threatens to reveal the contents of her little black book in order to get some money from her famous patrons so she provide for her secret son after she’s dead. This blatant blackmail leads to the murders of Claire’s best friend Fern Arnold, and her secretary, Amelia Hubbard (to whom Claire was dictating her memoirs). Of course, there’s your usual cast of weirdos, including a Hungarian prostitute who works for Claire, her violinist, a young naive prostitute, and a notable doctor. It’s up to detective Herb Villon, along with Nick and Nora…I mean Powell and Loy…to figure out who would be desperate enough to kill for this little black book.
Many things about this book both shocked and disgusted me. First was the characterization of the celebrities. Baxt doesn’t understand that Powell and Loy have personalities of their own. Instead we get a very poor rendition of Nick and Nora Charles, their characters from The Thin Man. The two of them speak purely in quips and are never found without a martini in hand. They also never show any emotion towards the murders, instead making sarcastic jokes about them. This appalled me more than anything else in this book, especially when it comes to Myrna Loy, who was one of the most compassionate, kindhearted Hollywood figures. If someone she knew got murdered, she never would sat there, said “the poor bastard” or something to that effect, and take a swig from her martini. But that’s precisely the Myrna Loy we are presented with here. I find it so sad that Baxt obviously knew nothing about the actors he was using in his books, and instead resorts to bad imitations of their famous film characters. Actors are not always like the characters they portray! There’s also Louis B. Mayer, who does nothing but bang his fists on his desk and pass out in a dead faint (was Mayer always this prone to fainting? He faints at least three times in the book) and Jean Harlow, who does nothing but pout at William Powell and sashay down the MGM in a sheer swimsuit. Again, Harlow wasn’t a loose woman like those she played on-screen!
The friendship that Powell and Loy have with the madam, Claire Young, also confuses me. Each MGM contract player had a morality clause in their contract, correct? Now, I know that many of them had extramarital love affairs and in fact did visit prostitutes, but all this was done in secret and I’m not so sure but I guess it was considered okay as long as it wasn’t publicized and as long as the movie-going public didn’t get wind of it. At that time, stars could get fired for breaking this clause. So why was it okay for Bill and Myrna to publicly visit a whorehouse, get their picture taken by every camera in Hollywood, and get interviewed by reporters!?!? They literally just barge in on this mystery! They had NO point being there. They just walked right into this whorehouse and said they were “researching for their next Thin Man film.” The hell?? THEY HAVE A MORALITY CLAUSE, REMEMBER? And what does Mayer do? Faint in his office. I think the real L.B. would’ve wiped them off the face of the earth!
The way the dialogue in the book is written is dizzying. It’s very dialogue-driven (which in itself gets annoying after awhile. Sometimes you need a break from all that talking and need to read a description or something) so it should always be clear exactly who is speaking. But Baxt rarely ever mentions the speakers. He does only once in the beginning of the conversation and then you have to follow for a good couple of pages. It gets so confusing, and sometimes you have to start again from the beginning to figure out exactly who is doing the talking by the bottom of the page. Talk about frustrating.
I also hated how everyone was an alcoholic in this book. Loy and Powell never stop drinking martinis (God knows how they were still sober enough to do detective work) and you also have drinkers in Hazel Dickson (Herb Villon’s girlfriend) and in Hellman and Hammett. Just because it’s Hollywood doesn’t mean everyone lives solely for their next drink! Honestly, I was waiting for Powell and Loy to die from liver failure by the end of the book.
Another shocking plot point was, believe it or not, Paul Bern’s death. Firstly, Baxt states that Bern was the one who got Claire Young her start in the prostitution business, but then he goes so far to say that Bern was involved with silent film actress Barbara LaMarr and provided her with the drugs that would end up killing her. I don’t know much about LaMarr, let alone her relationship with Bern, so if someone knows anything about this and can tell me, I’d appreciate it! He’s also definite that Bern’s death was not a suicide but a murder. It is a possibility, and there’s evidence that can point that way, but it’s also equally possible that it could’ve indeed been suicide. How can Baxt be so sure? And in this book, the person who murders Claire’s friend and her secretary also murdered Bern, since he was in a way connected with Claire as well. In my opinion, fooling around with an actual murder mystery in a fake murder mystery is playing with fire!
If you want a real murder mystery, read The Thin Man instead.
Some of you may know that I love art. Drawing, painting, printing, carving, I’ve done it all and I love it all. So of course, for my art class in school, most of my subjects dealt with classic films. Here’s some of the work I’ve done recently:
Jean Harlow…not really happy about how this one came out…
Gable and Lombard, publicity shot for No Man of Her Own (1932).
I know this is a bit of a short post, but I wrote a review of Lone Star (1952) and WordPress decided to just delete the entire thing >:( I’m way too frustrated to re-do the entire post now, so keep your lovely eyes peeled for it tomorrow!
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!
Today is a very special day here at An Elegant Obsession. Exactly one year ago, this bored dame decided to share her love of classic films with everyone, and thus, this blog was born! I never knew that it would still be going strong today, or that it would become such an important part of my life. I feel like it’s my child :’)
At first, we started small. But my, we’ve gone far in just one year! We’ve made a name for ourselves amongst all the other classic movie blogs that have been doing this for ages. We’ve associated with many top websites (The Kitty Packard Pictorial, DearMrGable, and Carole and Co, for example) participated in a blogathon (and will be participating in two more!) contributed research (we sent out a plethora of Gable-related articles to Michelle Morgan, author and creator of an upcoming Gable biography and documentary), and have associated with The Hollywood Heritage Museum in promoting their upcoming events. Whew!
Of course, none of this would be possible without you, the curious reader and film lover. Thank you to the hundreds of thousands that have viewed my work! I appreciate it, truly. But most of all, what I really enjoy out of this blog is speaking to you guys. I’m eternally thankful for the wonderful people I have met and befriended through this blog. You’ve really kept me going, and whenever I felt like giving it up altogether, you guys always encouraged me <3 Thank you thank you thank you!
To celebrate, I’ve given the blog a new look! I’ve always felt it was a bit dark, so I decided to brighten things up a bit. The background is now a poster of Jean Harlow’s famous film “Platinum Blonde” (1931) and the header is once again the Hollywoodland sign, but this time it is lit up at night
I hope you like the new look, and will continue to read my blog! I love you, my wonderful readers!
I’ve recently realized that I’ve never really written about music. Yet, music was such a major part of the golden age. My taste is quite wide and varied. I have almost every genre of music on my iPod, except country (no offense to those who like it, but NO, just no, to it all) . I love classical music (my fave is Tchaikovsky), show tunes (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked…)foreign music (especially French and Italian), pop/dance music (Michael Jackson <3), and last but DEFINITELY not least, vintage music! I have more of this genre than any other on my iPod, and since this is a golden age blog, I will concentrate on the golden age songs that I’m playing at a constant loop nowadays:
Adelaide by Frank Sinatra
Any song that comes out of Frank Sinatra’s mouth is instant gold. From the 1955 film Guys and Dolls, this song has a lilting rhythm and is really fun to sing to. It also makes me wish my name was Adelaide since it sounds so nice when sung. Now can someone help me with the Nathan Detroit/Sky Masterson debate? I’ll never be able to choose one over the other!
All I Do Is Dream Of You by Debbie Reynolds and Chorus
This is the first of many Singin’ In The Rain songs that I’m listening to right now. I got the film on DVD for my birthday in April so I’m always watching it. This song is fast and fun, and very 20s (the decade in which this film takes places, duh).
Anything You Can Do by Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, and Dick Haymes
This song is so much FUN. There are five people singing in it, and they’re all making unusual sounds and voices, so it’s a great exercise in harmonizing. It’s pretty witty to boot. You can totally let out your inner goofball with this one.
Babalu by Desi Arnaz
This song is entirely in Spanish, but who cares? It’s so much fun! Between the sultry beat of the conga drum and screaming “BABALU! BAAAABAAALUUUU!” on the top of your lungs, who needs to understand the language?
Beautiful Girl by Jimmy Thompson
All songs from Singin’ In The Rain are absolutely fantastic. But this romantic number is about fashion (the fashion show in this song is epic). I like fashion. It teaches that beauty is not based on looks alone. As Thompson sings: “A beautiful girl is like a great work of art. She’s stylish. She’s chic. And she also is smart.” If we all had this guy in our lives to serenade us with this song, life would be bliss, wouldn’t it ladies?
Because of You by Gloria DeHaven
This song is so lovely and romantic, and brings out that inner dreamer in me (which I always try to suppress!) “Beautiful Girl” plus “Because of You”, is a formula for a lasting relationship.
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen by The Andrews Sisters
Everyone loves the Andrews Sisters. In my opinion, this is one of their best. It’s a clever, modern, jazzy love song. The kind of thing that expresses feeling while being fun to dance to.
Blue Moon by the Casa Loma Orchestra
If you’ve seen the film Manhattan Melodrama, you’re probably familiar with the song “The Bad In Every Man”. Unfortunately, I can’t find an mp3 with these lyrics, so I’ve settled with “Blue Moon”, which has the same music and rhythm, but different lyrics. This song is now a great jazz standard, covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis Presley.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by The Andrews Sisters
Yes, the Andrews strike again. Probably their most famous song, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” is a gem of the swing/big band era. And everyone loves to sing along and dance to it! If my sister’s airhead Jersey Shore-loving friends know this one, you should too.
By A Waterfall by Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, and chorus, choreographed by Busby Berkeley
This is the song I’m obsessed with the most. I listen to it on a constant loop! Another lovey-dovey romantic song, it’s so whimsical, dreamlike, and so…1930s, a decade marked by escapism. Busby Berkeley’s over-the-top, delightfully unrealistic stage numbers (with their signature dash of pre-code) were the ultimate in escapism. The song by itself is wonderful, but when you watch the full number in the 1933 film Footlight Parade, it borders on the fantastic.
The Charleston by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
It’s the CHARLESTON!!! What’s NOT to love?
Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief by Betty Hutton
Not only is this a good, incredibly fun song, but Betty Hutton makes it okay to sing, scream, and screech on the top of your lungs. Because she does too, and she was a famous singer, right? So when you sing “NO, NO, NO, IT COULDN’T BE TRUEEEEE..” you should feel good about yourself.
Egyptian Ella by Fats Waller
The most important event of the 1920s was the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt. This sparked an Egypt craze in the 1920s (strong lip and eye makeup, jewel tones, beaded, ornately styled clothing). Everyone wanted to look exotic (for example, stars like Theda Bara and Clara Bow), and this song definitely cashed in on the craze, but in the most hilarious way possible. It’s about a dancer named Ella who becomes so fat, she loses her job. So she goes to Egypt to become a bellydancer, because they like their ladies hefty there. I’ve been to Egypt, and it’s 100% true!
El Relicario by Rudolph Valentino
Unfortunately, we will never hear Rudolph Valentino’s voice on-screen. Fortunately, he recorded two (very rare) songs: Pale Hands I Loved (Kashmiri Love Song) and El Relicario. I’ve obsessed over Pale Hands I Loved for so long now, it’s time to rave over this one. I must say, Valentino has a sexy, deep voice. And the way he fumbles a little on the Spanish is simply adorable!
Fit As A Fiddle (And Ready For Love) by Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor
Another Singin’ in the Rain gem! This one is not as well-known, unfortunately. It’s excellent, and shows great chemistry between Kelly and O’Connor (who is seriously now the love of my life). The song is reminiscent of vaudeville and dance halls, and Kelly and O’Connor make dancing look a lot easier than it is(my sister tried one of the moves from this song for two seconds and almost faceplanted).
How Could Red Riding Hood? by the Hot Rhythm Orchestra
Oh those naughty twenties! Messing around with our childhood! Nothing was innocent in the Jazz Age, not even fairy tales, apparently, since this song actually suspects that Little Red Riding Hood was a prostitute! But seriously, it’s a good, jazzy song.
I’ll Sing You A Thousand Love Songs by Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra
I’m back to the slow, romantic ballads. Along with “Because of You” and “By A Waterfall”, this is one of the tops. Featured in the 1936 musical Cain and Mabel, it’s sappy and sweet, with a lot of heart.
I’m Sitting On Top Of The World by Al Jolson
Al Jolson is amazing. Although this song is short, it’s fun, jazzy, and makes you get up and dance like a crazy person. You’d feel like you were on top of the world after this one!
It’s Winter Again By Hal Kemp and His Orchestra feat. Skinny Ennis
I heard this on a commercial about a cruise line and it was so good I had to desperately search the internet to find it. And I love the winter. Enough said.
It’s A Good Day by Peggy Lee
The ultimate in happy, upbeat, optimistic music. It can make any crap day feel like new. And who doesn’t love the line: “I said to the sun, good morning sun!”
Ja So Bin Ich by Marlene Dietrich
We all know Marlene Dietrich was an accomplished actress, but not many know of her prolific singing career. She had a wonderful, husky voice, and even though half her songs are in German, it really doesn’t matter. They were good!
Je Cherche Apres Titine by Charlie Chaplin
This sweet, funny, wonderfully ridiculous ditty from Modern Times (1936) was the first time Charlie Chaplin spoke on-screen. And WHAT a talkie debut! The song is entirely in gibberish, borrowing and tweaking here and there from various languages such as French, Italian, etc. Although it’s comedy gold, it has a deeper message, the Little Tramp is international, he’s an everyman that represents humanity.
La Mer by Charles Trenet
This song was sent to me by a friend. I loved it. I sent it to another friend, who never got back to me on it, even though I worked hard translating all the lyrics, so I’m supposing he hated it But what does he know? This song, (entirely in French), is beautiful. It’s romantic, summery, and very expressionistic. And what gal in her right mind doesn’t like a sexy French guy crooning in her ear?
The Lady Is A Tramp by Lena Horne
This is my theme song every single word in this song describes me perfectly. It’s my personality in a nutshell. Except for the “Hate California” part. Other than that, I’d like to imagine Lena sang this for me!
Ma, She’s Making Eyes At Me by Kay Kyser
This song is fun and hilarious. From Kay Kyser’s opening wail (“MAAAAAAA! SHE’S MAKING EYES AT ME!”) to the jazzy music, I never get tired of this one. And the fact that Kyser comes off as a big baby in this song!
Music, Maestro, Please by Kay Kyser feat. Ginny Simms
With the summer time comes summer love, right? Well, what happens when your summer fling heads for splitsville? You gotta forget about him, that’s what! And that’s the lesson of this song. The music is lilting and romantic, and Simms’ voice is husky and full of emotion. When the going gets tough…music, maestro, please!
My Baby Just Cares For Me by Ted Weems and His Orchestra
This 1930 tune is simply fun and jazzy, and the lyrics are easy to memorize. It’s basically about a guy singing about his dream girl, who wants nothing but him. In some versions, there is a line about Clark Gable’s smile, but alas, it’s not in the version. Gable or no Gable, this is a good song.
My Dancing Lady by Joe Venuti’s Orchestra
This was the theme song to the 1933 film Dancing Lady, a musical that combined the team of Gable, Crawford, and Tone with Ted Healy and his Stooges, and marked Fred Astaire’s film debut. Sounds crazy, huh? This is a cute song that reminds me of all the antics that took place in this film!
Nice Work If You Can Get It by Fred Astaire
All of Fred Astaire’s songs are fun. But this one gets particularly jazzy in the end and it’s fun to dance like a crazy person then! Also, like the rest of Astaire’s work, this can get stuck in your head forever.
Pass That Peace Pipe by Bing Crosby
I first heard this song on I Love Lucy (sung by Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley) and I scrambled to find an mp3 version of it. Thankfully, I found an equally good version by Bing Crosby. I can’t stress how fun this song is, from the Native American style music to listing all the tribe names.
Puttin’ On The Ritz by Clark Gable
This song is 56 seconds of pure hilarity. You need to watch the entire clip from Idiot’s Delight to get the full experience. Even though Clark really can’t sing, I adore his deep, manly voice. And even though he can’t really dance, I replay this scene over and over again like someone who’s hypnotized. This song is an experience, let’s leave it at that!
Reckless by Jean Harlow
Jean Harlow is one of those people whose singing voice sounds a heck of a lot like their speaking voice. Since Jean Harlow’s speaking voice is amazing (she may be from Missouri, but her accent sounds distinctly New York), no complaints! The beginning part of the song is all her, but in the second half, when the real singing kicks in, she is dubbed over by someone else. Oh well, at least we get to hear her sing for a little. This song’s first line also gets stuck in your head forever (“I wanna live, love, learn a lot. I’ll light my candle and I’ll burn a lot!”) and also taught me to say “I wanna go places and look life in the face” whenever people ask me what I want to be when I grow up. It’s the ultimate vintage rebellion song.
‘S Wonderful by Gene Kelly
Who could dislike this song, and the hot French guy that sings with Gene Kelly in it? It’s amazing! ’S wonderful! Okay, that was corny.
Shanghai Lil by James Cagney and Ruby Keeler
One of my favorite Busby Berkeley numbers, from Footlight Parade (1933) when you watch the clip (specifically the opium den scene) you sometimes have to make sure you aren’t seeing things! And James Cagney singing and dancing, and doing it much better than Ruby Keeler? An instant favorite!
Sunday by Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Why do I have a photo of a flapper here? In my opinion, Sunday is the ultimate 1920s song. It has jazzy music, Charleston-worthy moments, chorus girls with high-pitched, child-like voices that were favored at the time, and even a couple of de-oop! de-oop’s!
Teacher’s Pet by Doris Day
This song has a fun rhythm and a good beat. but I hope hope HOPE Doris Day was singing about an all-adult situation here…
Verlaine by Charles Trenet
This song sounds SO romantic, from the slow music to the sexy French the guy says in the middle of the song. But actually, it’s really sad. And that’s when I pretend to stop understanding enough French to translate the song and imagine that I’m dancing with some handsome man to it. Doesn’t Trenet look a bit like Franchot Tone on this album cover?
The Waters of the Minnetonka by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball
This song is from one of my all-time favorite I Love Lucy episodes: The Indian Show (also the episode where I first heard “Pass That Peace Pipe”) This song is hilarious. It’s for the bad singers, the loudmouths, the noisemakers. It’s for people like you and me.
Whatever It Is, I’m Against It by Groucho Marx (and a line sung by Zeppo Marx)
Marx Brothers=hysterical. First of all, Groucho is like, the best dancer ever. He can twist his knees, flap his hands like a bird, dance on tables, and wave his arms like he’s in the middle of a riveting version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. He also has an average singing voice that can go a little high-pitched at times. And he (and the rest of his brothers, including Harpo) also had that traditional New York accent. The way this song ends is PRICELESS.
Whatever Lola Wants by Sarah Vaughan
This is the ultimate femme fatale song. A song that is enough to make a man kinda fear for his life. With Vaughan’s smoky, cool voice and that (kinda creepy) male chorus, it’s become a very popular song, and was recently featured in a commercial.
Why Am I So Romantic? by Harpo Marx
It’s no secret that Harpo Marx is my favorite Marx brother. He’s cute, funny, and incredibly talented. He’s my go-to man when I’m feeling angry, sad, sick, or nervous. There’s nothing his beautiful harp music can’t cure!
You Are My Lucky Star by Debbie Reynolds
The last Singin’ in the Rain one, I promise! This song is slow, sweet, sappy, and downright romantic. Favorite line: “You’re my Fairbanks, my Moreno, Rod La Rocque, and Valentino”.
You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me by Maurice Chevalier
French men are, and always will be, my greatest weakness. This song by Maurice Chevalier (famously spoofed by the Marx Brothers in Monkey Business) does nothing to quell that desire within me. If I were alive then and he serenaded me with that ditty, can someone say, “shotgun wedding”?
42nd Street by Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell
The ultimate Busby Berkeley number from the ultimate Busby Berkeley musical, 42nd street has it all: a colossal, realistic set, daring lyrics, outrageous costumes, fun tap dancing, the lovely Ruby Keeler and goofy Dick Powell, a metropolitan feel, and even a fake rape and a fake murder. They don’t make musicals like this anymore! Although 42nd street has long since been cleaned up of crime and seediness by former mayor Rudy Giuliani, it’s fun to look back at this piece of Old New York (and when you walk the city streets today and look around you, remnants of Old New York are everywhere, mixed in with the ultramodern glass skyscrapers), and honestly, New York is still pretty much the same. It’s loud, restless, noisy, with people milling about doing what they have to do so help you God, the homeless and the fabulously wealthy sharing the same pavement, cars loudly honking their horns, …it’s all very distinctly American, and what an exhilarating place to be!
In a previous post discussing my tour of Paramount Studios in Hollywood, I mentioned that I bought a book called “Hollywood Poolside” by Frans Evenhuis and Robert Landau.
This book is full of fun, beautiful portraits of golden age stars lounging around the pool, and how these waterside images affected American ideas of wealth and status. Need I mention to all my fellow fashionistas, it’s a great way to see the evolution of swimsuit styles? This book has inspired this post, which not only shows stars by the pool, but shows them rocking their stylish swimsuits anywhere, and is in a way a tribute to the pin-up.
Jane Russell models a cute 50s style powder blue one piece on the diving board.
Ginger Rogers models a 1940s style halter bikini
Jean Harlow modeling the popular black Jantzen one-piece of the 1930s. It had a very demure front, but a revealing back, adding a subtle sex appeal. One of the most popular swimsuits amongst Hollywood’s elite in the 1930s.
Joan Crawford spices up her white one-piece with strappy heels, ca. 1930s
Rita Hayworth in a nautical-themed pin-up shot.
Virginia Bruce models a demure skirt ensemble, ca. 1930s
Grace Bradley in a flattering one piece and chic cape-style coverup, 1936
Una Merkel (cheesy pose!) models a black one-piece and some cute sandals, 1934
A very early photo of Rita Hayworth (socks and sneakers with a swimsuit?), 1938
Marilyn Monroe is very famous for her swimsuit pin-up photos. August 3, 1951
A beautiful candid shot of Monroe laughing, July 1, 1952
Merle Oberon models a cute suit on a diving board, 1939
Who else rocked a swimsuit (and synchronized swimming) better than Esther Williams? January 21, 1948
Although strictly for modeling, Ginger Rogers’ coin suit from Gold Diggers of 1933 is the height of swimming couture!
Yay! A man! Maurice Chevalier (my newest crush) sports a popular men’s swimsuit from the 1930s (men wore it without the shirt as well).
Marilyn Monroe in a cheescake pin-up, July 2, 1953
Grace Kelly and her family on vacation, 1954
Marilyn Monroe in a bikini, May 26, 1952
Claudette Colbert looks adorable in this patterned swimsuit! With Gary Cooper in Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)
Marilyn and a chihuahua, May 17, 1950
The famous shot of Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
Liz in an adorable polka-dot one piece, July 4, 1956
Ellen Drew, Susan Hayward, and Betty Grable, 1939
Ava Gardner in a…straw bikini? Yep! ca. 1950s
Jane Russell’s bikini looks like an optical illusion! 1950s
Elizabeth Taylor (only 17 years old here) and (hairy) fiance William D. Pawley Jr. relax poolside, August 25, 1949
What’s more fashionable: Marilyn’s swimsuit or heels? January 25, 1952
Marilyn having fun on the beach, ca. 1950s
Maurice Chevalier with an unknown actress in Innocents of Paris (1929). Her polka dot suit is tres chic!
Ann Rutherford sunbathing in a cute swimsuit, 1937
Ann Blyth (in a fashionable swimsuit) and Farley Granger in Our Very Own (1950)
Esther Williams teaches Mickey Rooney a thing or two in Andy Hardy’s Double Life (1942)
William Holden rocks patterned trunks in a scene from the greatest Hollywood-themed film, Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Esther Williams in a sequined swimsuit in Million Dollar Mermaid, 1952
Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot (1959)
In a barely there swimsuit in Something’s Got To Give
Rita Hayworth playing cards on the beach (with herself?) ca. 1940s
Cary Grant and Grace Kelly lounge on the beach in To Catch A Thief (1955)
Cary Grant relaxes in some sporty summer clothing poolside
One of the famous Cary Grant and Randolph Scott portraits, ca. 1930s
Cary Grant checks out Marilyn Monroe, ca. 1950s
Clark Gable and Joan Crawford in the pool in Chained (1934)
Ida Lupino lounges around in a bikini and wedges
A lovely one-piece worn by Virginia Grey
Yvonne deCarlo wears a bikini in this pin-up photo
Evelyn Keyes in a sporty black one-piece
Very stylish, Johnny Mack Brown!
Ann Rutherford in a fashionable one-piece
(Blonde) Evelyn Keyes hangs out on the diving board
I must say, my favorite swimsuit pictures are Bette Davis’. There is something so effortless about the way she wears them!
Dorothy Lamour in a cute skirt ensemble
Paulette Goddard models a darling white one-piece!
Here’s a cute style, modeled by Rita Hayworth
Loving Ann Baxter’s suit!
The always-cute Joan Blondell in an adorable swimsuit
Betty Grable in a striped bikini
Sonja Henie, not on ice!
Ann Francis’ swimsuit is CUTE!
Scratch that. THIS is the cutest swimsuit ever created! Modeled by Dorothy Sebastian
Una Merkel in a conventional 1930s one-piece
Paulette Goddard in a wraparound swimsuit
Lookin’ good, Alan Ladd!
Joan Crawford is goddess-like in this white one-piece
Thank goodness Cyd Charisse is modeling a simple black suit here!
Cyd Charisse in a cute halter bikini
A very young Lana Turner in a diving board pin-up
Elizabeth Taylor’s swimsuit is to die for!
Jane Russell in a ruffly one-piece
Ann Blyth modeling an interesting one-strap suit
Ann Harding is 30s chic!
An early Ida Lupino in a patterned one-piece
Another classy Ida Lupino photo
Ava Gardner is gorgeous in this beachfront photo
Ramon Novarro is mighty, mighty fine…
An early Ronald Reagan in a lifeguard suit!
Mamie Van Doren in a pastel pink one-piece
Here she is again in a patterned one piece
LOVE Ann Sheridan’s bikini here!
Betty Hutton in a swimsuit, carrying an umbrella (?)
Jean Harlow in a low-cut swimsuit? Every man’s dream!
Jean Harlow working on her swimsuit body
This I LOVE. It’s glittery!
This one is adorable too!
Jean always looked fashionable
Fooling around in a standard 30s swimsuit
Joan Crawford and Dorothy Sebastian accessorize their swimsuits with cool headscarves, 1925
Joan looks gorgeous in this publicity shot, 1926
Famous photo of Joan with husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr, August 22, 1929
I simply adore this swimsuit!
Joan and Doug im 1931. The men’s swimsuits make me laugh
Joan with Franchot Tone in Dancing Lady (1933). The black fringe is so chic!
Multitasking sunbathing with answering fan mail
I love Joan’s 1940s swimsuits. Here’s my favorite
This one is HILARIOUS. Gloria Swanson in the 1920s
Jane Powell in an itty bitty bikini
Debbie Reynolds goes for a demure look here
But vamps it up here!
Pulling off a classic pin-up pose
A young Doris Day. Love the bikini, not digging the sandals
Bette Davis is so cute here!
Bette Davis in a swimsuit, and Joan Blondell modeling the beach pajama, a 1930s casual beachwear trend
Mary Astor and Manuel de Campo in Hawaii
Tyrone Power always looked good in those tiny swimsuits!
Tony Curtis brings in some much-needed hairy man leg
Oh my God. Rudolph Valentino is SEXY.
Gary Cooper in one of those things…
A (not so good) photo of Johnny Weissmuller and George O’Brein
LMAO who can guess what’s wrong with the above photo of Philip Reed?
Larry checks out Vivien
Larry and Viv at the beach
Johnny Weissmuller and his brother in identical swimsuits
Paulette Goddard in a black one-piece. Nice background!
Jeanette MacDonald is cool in a white one-piece, sunglasses, and a headscarf
Jeanette MacDonald enjoying the beach
Errol Flynn…what a hottie
Susan Hayward, a beautiful, popular pin-up
Susan Hayward flirts with the camera
A fun bikini modeled by Susan Hayward
Olivia de Havilland looking lovely, as usual (LOVE her shoes!)
Olivia de Havilland goes for more natural scenery
Rocking a patterned bikini
Ginger Rogers caught off-guard at the beach
Loving Ginger Rogers’ swimsuit!
Loving this one, too!
Fellow Brooklyn dame Barbara Stanwyck rocks a bikini!
Gene Tierney in an amazing leopard print suit
Myrna Loy lounging poolside in that backless swimsuit I spoke about earlier
Dolores Del Rio in a one-strap bikini
A pin-up era Lucille Ball modeling a gorgeous strapless one-piece
A very young (and still brunette) Lucille Ball in a cute patterned swimsuit and a killer hat!
Esther Williams in a simple black one-piece. She has her own (ADORABLE!) swimsuit line today.
Wearing a tie-front bikini
The always gorgeous Norma Shearer lounging poolside
The lovely and talented Ruby Keeler
Al Jolson with his wife, Ruby Keeler. Nice rubber swim cap!
Claudette Colbert looks glamorous in this one-piece
And even more glamorous in this vintage bathing costume! With actor John Payne
Joan Blondell models an early version of those cutout swimsuits so popular today
Claudette getting some sun, sand, and surf
Here’s a rare one: Greta Garbo!
Greer Garson looking statuesque in a metallic swimsuit
Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster, either before or after that famous scene from “From Here To Eternity”
A colorized photo of Carole Lombard in a glamorous swimsuit and heels
Leggy Lombard was a great pin-up
In a shiny one-piece
Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotten in September Affair (1950)
Kirk Douglas and Brigitte Bardot on the beach
Color photo of Betty Grable in a yellow bikini (with a polka dot pillow)
Ava Gardner in a pinstripe one-piece
In a black tie-up bikini
And in a polka dot bandeau bikini
Humphrey Bogart looking cool in swim trunks and flippers
Hedy Lamarr in a gorgeous one-piece
Veronica Lake in a black tie-front bikini
Maureen O’Sullivan in a knit one-piece and cute sandals
Maureen O’Hara in one of my favorite designs: the skirt ensemble
Grace Kelly in an elegant black one-piece
That thing on Gene Tierney’s swimsuit is a cover-up…I hope
I love this swimsuit that Grace Kelly wore in High Society!
Kelly looking great in a white ensemble
Yep, Dick Powell was the Jantzen guy at some point
Why, Rock Hudson? Whyyyy???
The most famous, greatest swimsuit photo of all: Betty Grable’s leggy 1940s pin-up shot, quite popular with American World War II soldiers.
The Dames Hit Hollywood! Day Six: Sony Pictures/Columbia Tri-Star Pictures, Formerly The MGM Studios (Confused Yet? Good.)
This was the studio tour I was most excited–and most nervous–about. I was excited because I was about to tour the former MGM Studios, where EVERYONE made movies. In the 1930s, MGM boasted “more stars than there are in the heavens” and I totally believe that (maybe because in the five boroughs of New York, starry skies are nonexistent). Stars that worked at MGM: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Norma Shearer, Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Joan Crawford, William Powell, Wallace Beery, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Constance Bennett, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, the Marx Brothers, Jimmy Stewart, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Esther Williams, Lana Turner, the Barrymores, Robert Taylor, Rosalind Russell, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Robert Montgomery, Robert Young, Jimmy Durante, and Margaret O’Brien. The studio chiefs: Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg, etc. were just as interesting and entertaining as the performers. I wasn’t exaggerating about the “everyone” part.
But despite MGM’s rich history (can you IMAGINE all the things that must have happened here?) the studio was bought by Columbia TriStar/Sony Pictures in 1990. I knew the focus of the tour would be on Columbia (which is still cool) but I was hoping that they would acknowledge MGM a bit on this tour as well (because it was MGM so COME ON!!!)
The references to MGM on this tour were so little it’s practically negligible. It was easily the most disappointing, most grueling studio tour I went on in Hollywood.
That morning, I was so ready to go, and a lot more energetic than I normally am (and I’m a pretty hyper person as it is). I made the reservations, booked the tickets…everything was going to go fine. But right after that I felt a bit sick. I didn’t think anything of it, popped three pills, and we headed to what is now known as Sony/Columbia TriStar Studios (I’m going to refer to it as the ex-MGM Studios for short).
On the way there, Baby, with her crazy paparazzi skills, snapped a few pictures of the original MGM gates. I’m glad she did, because we didn’t go near those gates ONCE during the tour:
By the time we got to the entrance of the studio, which is at the new, modern glass Sony Pictures Building, I was officially sick. My medicine failed me, and every curse word in the book was running through my woozy brain. How the heck was I supposed to do a two-hour ALL WALKING tour on a 90 degree day when I was weak, covered in a thin film of cold sweat, and dizzier than a person with vertigo? I was NOT looking forward to this at all.
Thankfully, the office building was large, spacious, and cool, with plenty of nice couches where I could wallow in my self-despair and pray that my medicine, by some miracle, would kick in before the tour officially began. I tried to calm myself down by staring at a huge poster of It Happened One Night (it’s now Columbia Pictures, after all) that was hanging from one of the all-glass walls, but THIS ANNOYING GUY sitting on the couch across from me was having the most “hilarious” phone conversation of all time and his stupid high-pitched voice was giving me a migraine, to add to my pains. Basically, I wasted a half-hour of my life listening to this guy scream”HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! OH YOU’RE SOOOOO BAD! YOU CALLIN’ ME BAD? YOU’RE THE BAD ONE!” My sister was blatantly, hysterically laughing in his face, but he was so into convincing the person on the other side of the line that they’re so bad, he didn’t even notice when she snapped this picture of him:
Anyway, I was feeling too uncomfortable sitting still, so my sister, my dad, and I decided to look at the display cases of props and costumes, even though they were all from modern films:
The costume from Paul Blart: Mall Cop. For some sick, psychotic reason my sister actually LIKES this movie and I’ve been forced to watch this thing too many times for my liking. Oh well, nothing works like gazing into space and pretending like you’re watching something better!
After that, I was too tired to continue, and felt dizzy and in pain, so I sat down on the steps, trying to wrap my delirious mind around how I was supposed to do this, but couldn’t. At that point, this annoying camera guy who worked for the studio INSISTED that everyone who was going on the tour take a picture by the green screen (they would put in a background and the photo would be yours to keep after the tour). This resulted in probably the worst family picture in the history of bad family pictures. Everyone managed to look normal except me, standing an inch shorter than my younger sister, with a lazy eye, a white blouse turned see-through by sweat, and skin the color of Elmer’s liquid glue. This embarrassing, gross photo is now proudly displayed in my home, in a place that where any guest walks in, they can’t help but see it. Epic. Fail.
Anyway, the tour commenced soon after that. Our tour guide was a cheerful blonde hipster guy named Mike or Mark or something that starts with an M. The guy was so perky about everything that the disgustingly stuck-up German family that was also part of the tour group made so much fun of him the entire two hours. I felt really bad for him. At least he likes his job.
Then the kid gave us a lecture about taking pictures and how it wasn’t allowed unless he said so. Or he could lose his job. Although I was way too out of it to comprehend even being on the MGM lot, I could practically feel my camera-happy dad’s disappointment radiating out of him.
Like in Warner Bros, we watched a short film about the history of Columbia leading to its upcoming releases. I used this time to try to forget about my sickness, but it wasn’t working at all. The only time I showed any signs of life during that film was when It Happened One Night popped up on the screen. After that, the tour officially began.
The next stop on the tour was the Thalberg Building, an imposing white Deco-style building that was Irving Thalberg’s offices when he was head of MGM in the 1930s. At that point, everything that I was feeling went from bad to worse. I thought I was going to vomit and pass out right then and there in the ex-MGM lot, in front of Irving Thalberg’s ex-office.
Which was so not an option.
Although I was in no condition to even be out of bed, let alone walking around a Hollywood film studio, I convinced myself to suck it up. Walking on the same ground so many demigods have walked on before me is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was gonna finish this tour and enjoy it!
Unfortunately, the Thalberg Building was one of the many places that was off-limits to photos, so no pictures guys When we went inside, my fried brain was absolutely blown away by the Art Deco decor. I felt like I was inside one of those beautiful hotels or office buildings from the Golden Age films. On display in glass cases were the Best Picture Oscars of some Columbia films, including It Happened One Night and You Can’t Take It With You. Since the rest were for modern films, I just hovered near these two Oscars, unable to comprehend that the only thing separating me from It Happened One Night’s Oscar was a thin sheet of glass.
The tour guide took us to the middle of the lobby for a second. He asked us if anyone knew how the Academy Award statuette got the nickname “Oscar”. Never one to pass up the opportunity of being an insufferable know-it-all, I told him two theories: that AMPAS librarian Margaret Herrick thought it resembled her uncle Oscar and that Bette Davis thought it resembled her first husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson, Jr. After getting weird stares from everyone in the lobby of the Thalberg Building, from workers, security guards, and tourists alike, and a genuine look of concern from the tour guide (I probably looked like I was high on something, no doubt), he said that those two theories are quite popular, but attempted to refute them by going on some spiel about how Cedric Gibbons designed the Oscar. Sorry dude, but that has nothing to do with how the statuette got its name.
Here are two streets on the lot. Which brings me to another point. The MGM lot was HUGE. I’m talking hundreds and hundreds of acres. Yet this was the smallest studio lot I’ve been on from all the tours. It was SO disappointing and so sad. When I looked over at my sister, I could tell she was upset too.
After that we were going to go inside a soundstage. We snaked through the normal, blank studio buildings. However, these buildings weren’t numbered like at the other studios. They were named after great stars. We passed the Tracy Building, the Garland Building, the Gable Building, etc. Our tour guide then stopped us by the Hepburn Building, saying that Katharine Hepburn loved to throw parties on its roof. He never said that no photos were allowed here, and it was nothing but a boring white building, who would even care? So my dad took a picture of me standing in front of it, my hands meekly folded in front of me. But we got busted by the stupid tour guy, and he took my dad to the side and told him to stop taking pictures unless he said so. It was like a parent lecturing a toddler for putting their hand in the cookie jar, and it was the first time I cracked up all day.
Basically, this studio is famous for being the place where game shows such as Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are filmed. We were taken inside the Jeopardy studio and got to sit in the audience seats while the tour guide droned on endlessly about the game show. By this point I was feeling much better, and thanked God in my seat instead of listening to the guy. Although the show was on hiatus and all the sets covered in white canvases and although everyone on the planet has watched Jeopardy at least once in their lives, we were still not allowed to take pictures. Um, tour guide, I bet you the aliens on Mars know what Jeopardy is. It’s not like I’m leaking photos of a blockbuster film set.
Anyway, we moved on to the spot outside the Wheel of Fortune studio, but we weren’t allowed to go in because we “already visited one soundstage” . Puh-leez. So we were set loose to check out the mini Wheel of Fortune museum they had going on there:
The last stop of the tour was the gift shop. And WHAT a gift shop. It had absolutely nuh-thing. No books, no classic films, nothing. Zip. Nada. It was quite a disappointing tour. We barely touched upon MGM’s history. The tour only made it worse.
Here’s a nice poster to lighten things up around here. Cary Grant’s handsome face is always a welcome sight:
Only one more day left, everyone! And WHAT a special day it was! But you’ll just have to wait and see to read just what made my last day in the Land of the Silver Screen so memorable…
June is wedding month, right? To celebrate, here’s a group of photos of actresses posed in bridal glamour shots and of some on their big day (or days, that would be a more accurate term!) A couple of week ago, the wonderful site Carole and Co http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/ had a post featuring Carole Lombard dressed as a bride for a glamour shot. Thank you for the inspiration, Vincent!
Marion Davies in a replica of Princess Mary’s wedding gown, ca. 1922
John Wayne married his wife, Josephine, on June 23, 1933 (78 years ago today!) at the home of Loretta Young (standing behind the bride)
Vilma Banky rocks a flapper-style wedding gown in the film The Dark Angel.
Jean Harlow’s wedding to Paul Bern in 1932. To her left is her stepfather Marino Bello. To her right is Bern, and on the far right is best man, John Gilbert.
Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks in the film Our Modern Maidens
Joan Crawford publicity shot for Dancing Lady
Joan Crawford and Clark Gable in Forsaking All Others (notice the slip-on sleeves of her dress!)
Joan sports a more demure gown in Love on the Run
One of my all-time favorites…Joan in The Bride Wore Red! (this is real color)
Now here’s something modern! Joan and Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s wedding on June 4, 1929. How much do you love her without makeup, her freckles showing?
Gloria Swanson’s wedding dress in Her Love Story (1924) has one epic train!
Gloria Swanson in Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1923)
Jane Powell and Geary Steffen’s wedding on November 11, 1949
Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher on their wedding day, September 26, 1955
Debbie Reynolds marries again, this time to Harry Karl in 1960
Doris day posing in a wedding dress
But she opted for a simple suit on her wedding to Marty Melcher in 1951
Bette Davis cuts the cake with husband William Grant Sherry on December 3, 1945
Mary Pickford poses in a wedding dress, ca. 1925
Mary Pickford (she’s second from left) in quintessential 20s wedding wear on her wedding to Douglas Fairbanks Sr on August 3, 1922
Mary Pickford opts for a suit on her wedding to Buddy Rogers in 1937
Katharine Hepburn’s wedding dress in Woman of the Year is nice and simple
Marilyn Monroe chooses a demure black suit with a white fur collar for her wedding to Joe DiMaggio on January 14, 1954
A young Marilyn Monroe with her first husband, James Dougherty, in 1942
Newlyweds Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe on July 16, 1956
Judy Garland and Vincente Minelli’s wedding, June 17, 1945
Judy Garland and Mickey Dean cut the cake on March 15, 1969 (no effense to anyone, but he gives me the creeps)
Judy Garland and Mark Herron getting married on November 30, 1965
Jeanette MacDonald and her wedding attendants on her marriage to Gene Raymond on June 19, 1937. From left to right: Mrs. Johnny Mack Brown, Mrs. Warren Rock, MacDonald’s sister, MacDonald, Fay Wray, and Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers getting married to Lew Ayres on June 23, 1944 (67 years ago today!)
Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea in Banjo on My Knee
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz kiss on their wedding day, June 22, 1949. Love those gloves!
Lucille Ball and Gary Morton on their wedding day, November 19, 1961
Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg’s wedding, October 3, 1927
Another favorite: Claudette Colbert’s elegant wedding dress from It Happened One Night (1934)
The bridal photo of Lombard featured in Carole and Co
Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth on their wedding day: September 7, 1943
Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra on their wedding day: November 8, 1951
And on her marriage to Mickey Rooney in 1942
Vivien Leigh on her marriage to Leigh Holman, February 1932
The most famous classic movie wedding gown: Grace Kelly’s. She married Prince Rainier of Monaco on April 19, 1956.
The next day we paid a visit to Paramount Pictures, located in Melrose. The tour was pretty much the same as Warner Bros. Studios all do the same thing, so the actual places we were taken to (exterior sets, an interior set of a show, etc), were the same, but the history was different. And that’s what matters, after all!
Famous stars that worked at Paramount: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, Miriam Hopkins, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard, the Marx Brothers, Dorothy Lamour, Cary Grant, Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Alan Ladd, Betty Hutton, Veronica Lake, Lucille Ball, and Desi Arnaz.
Like Warner Bros, we waited for the tour to begin in the gift shop. Unlike Warner Bros, the gift shop was awesome! My family stocked up on Paramount sweats, and I bought myself a book, Hollywood Poolside (which has inspired a future post, so keep your eyes peeled for it!). While skimming through a book about haunted Hollywood (which I regret not buying, since Paramount is the most haunted studio), I got countless compliments on my hair and outfit from the Paramount staff. Thanks! Now why didn’t they give me a job as an extra or something?
The Paramount tour was wonderful, and touched upon a decent amount of history. This studio also gets my vote for most visually beautiful. The architecture is fancy, and the studio is practically littered with manicured lawns, bushes, and flowerbeds.
The tour guide, a short, cute blonde girl named Alyssa, was easily the best we had from all the studios we toured. She was friendly, informative, and quite knowledgeable in the studios’ history. She was quite ecstatic when she saw that my sister was wearing an I Love Lucy t-shirt (smooth move, Baby!), since the studio is steeped in Lucille Ball history. The rest of the tour group itself? Not so great. It was my family and another family: a bimbo brunette teenager with red highlights, jean shorts, and a belly shirt, another bimbo peroxide blonde teenager wearing the same, and their poor, poor father. Since the tour revolved around Lucille Ball thanks to my sister, they were quite clueless 95% of the time. HAHA! The only other complaint I had was the stupid walkie-talkie thing we had to wear so the tour guide can communicate with us easily. The headphone took me about ten minutes to put on, and my sister and I couldn’t make any snarky comments about the other family because the tour guide hears every. single. thing. you. say. through. the. headset.
First we stopped by this glass booth thing with lots of artifacts from Paramount’s history. Alyssa explained Paramount’s history in a nutshell, from its founding in 1912 as Famous Players (making it the oldest film studio in America) up until today. At one point she was talking about nickelodeons, and in an attempt to get some audience interaction, she asked if anyone knew what it was. The bimbos were staring off into space. Before they could say that it’s a tv channel, I explained that it was a small machine that when you insert a nickel, you could view a short film. She said that was the first time a person got that question right in years. Unfortunately, that was the scariest thing that happened to me in America’s most haunted film studio…
Some things in the glass case:
One day, every single Paramount star was in the commissary at one time, and a smart person took the opportunity to get them to sign a menu. If you click it, you can spot the signatures of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball, Anthony Quinn, Jerry Lewis, Cornel Wilde, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Cecil B. DeMille, Nat King Cole, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Charlton Heston, and Dorothy Lamour, among others.
After looking at the case, the tour guide told us to turn around. Right behind us, looming large in the giant green Hollywood Hills, was the Hollywood Sign! Of course, everyone took the opportunity for some great family photos, with the sign perfectly behind us. Now, onto the tour!
Lucy Park. Lucille Ball’s office was located right across from this park. According to the tour guide, she was such a workaholic that she would pose photos here with her family, pretending that she was spending quality time with them at home, in the backyard, while she was actually at work!
The Bronson Gates, AKA Paramount’s original gates. Back in the 30s, people would line up by the hundreds outside the gate, hoping for a job as an extra for the day. Today, if you touch the Bronson Gates, you’ll have good luck, so of course, everyone patted it (especially me). The Bronson Gates no longer function as the main entrance of Paramount. It’s now…
The soundstage visit: as I explained before, studio tours usually take you on one soundstage to see the interior set of a show. Our tour guide spoke a lot about “Glee” (which is equally bad, or even worse, than a tour guide who was obsessed with “Chuck”) but thankfully we didn’t see the set of “Glee” (apparently it’s that important and highly secretive…whatever). So instead we were taken through the set of “Big Time Rush”, one of the dumbest, most annoying shows on television. So once again, Baby and I could only dream of the greats that have walked through this soundstage before us (Paramount, unlike Warner Bros, does not have plaques outside the doors of its soundstages saying which great films were made there, so my sister and I could only hope and imagine). Remember those bimbos that were with us? Now it was my time to be quiet and clueless and THEIR time to shine! All what I heard was “Ehmagawd! It looks so different on the like, tv!” and “I’ll like, never watch this show the same way ah-gain!” When asked by the tour guide to give a summary of the show: “Umm…it’s about these guys…” Their father stood away from them the entire time. He was that embarrassed. We also got to see an actual shoot (from far away of course) of this show called “Supah Ninjas” (yeah, I’ve never heard of it either). Since I didn’t know the show, let alone the teenage actors, I started once again to daydream of a REAL film shoot…
Anyway, after Paramount, we visited Petersen’s Automotive Museum. The only reason I wanted to visit here was not only that I LOVE vintage cars, but because I read somewhere that cars formerly belonging to Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and Jean Harlow were on display there. Imagine my disappointment when I found out their Hollywood cars section changes every so often, and I came when it wasn’t Gable, Ball, or Harlow season (well, I didn’t mind about Harlow so much since I did see her Packard at the Hollywood Museum). So, enjoy these hot rods:
Hope you enjoyed! More to come soon!
While in Hollywood, we visited three movie studios, one per day. First we visited Warner Brothers, located in beautiful, hilly Burbank. When you visit the studio, everywhere you look you are surrounded by the verdant hills and mountains, and boy was it impressive! (I’ve never seen a mountain until I visited California. I’m an unpriveleged child.)
Before I start showing off the pictures, let’s talk about touring studios in general (if you are planning to visit Hollywood and tour the studios for yourself):
- Plan ahead and make reservations: The tours take a limited number of people per day, so call up the studios and arrange your tour beforehand (the morning of should work just fine). I actually wanted to visit Paramount first, but they could not take us that day. You do not want to make the trip for nothing, only to find out they cannot accommodate you on a tour.
- Bring identification: this is common sense. All film studios need to be uptight about security, so bring an ID card or your passport when you check-in. They will also give you an ID bracelet or something of that nature, so if you don’t want to be thrown out of the studio, you must wear it!
- Photos are limited: there aren’t going to be as many photos in these studio posts (cheer or cry here). Taking pictures is quite limited, and varies from studio to studio (Warner Bros. and Paramount weren’t bad, MGM was STRICT). In any studio, do NOT take photos of the actual movie/tv sets…they’re copyrighted material!
Okay, now to the fun stuff! Warner Bros. was a really good tour, and I highly recommend it. Not only was it thorough, but it has a museum (which they sadly only give you about 20 minutes to view, and they actually make you lock your cameras and cellphones away in the tour cars before you enter, so no photos of it, I apologize), there is not much walking at all (most of the tour is done by a little tour car) and I got to see things here that I didn’t see in other studios. The only minor complaints I had was that (and this is for all studios) they focused A LOT on tv shows and not much at all about films or film history, and my tour guide was an annoying hipster-ish guy named Doug, who was obsessed with the show Chuck (almost all the sets he took us to were used in Chuck as well as other films and tv shows).
So, here are some famous stars that walked through the sets of Warner Bros: Al Jolson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Rin Tin-Tin, James Cagney, Edward G Robinson, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, George Raft, Ruby Keeler, Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Lauren Bacall and Sidney Greenstreet, among others. The Warner Bros. themselves are famous (or infamous) for their business ethic and temperamental natures, and the studio was the home of gangster films, swashbucklers, film noirs, and the Busby Berkeley musicals.
As soon as you get to the studio, you are greeted by giant statues of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck:
After getting through security, you are taken to the waiting lobby/gift shop/mini Harry Potter tribute, where they had some costumes and props from the film series (the museum, which has two floors, devotes its entire second floor to Harry Potter).
Teacups and crystal ball used in the Divination classroom.
The tour starts off with a short film about the history of Warner Bros, from the Jazz Singer (the first sound film) up until today. When you go outside to actually start seeing things, you are first greeted by the sight of that famous water tower!
Now here are various spots around the lot (which is HUGE.) I’ll try to point out as many classic movie references as I can remember. Doug knew a heck of a lot more about tv shows like Chuck and Friends than he did about classic films…
Whenever they get the chance, studios would film using their own land. It’s common sense, but sometimes it seems quite unbelievable. This patch of grass sometimes doubles as…Central Park. That was not a typo.
More of the New York street. Let me say now that many of these buildings that make up the “streets” are actually facades–false fronts with no insides, and only used for exterior filming. So, there are no rooms in these buildings. Interior shots are usually done of the soundstages. And all the materials are hollow and fake. Nothing is real, from the wood to the marble. And you aren’t allowed to lean on them…you might topple them down! Not even the sidewalks are real.
Now here are some photos of the Central Perk set from Friends. It was left fully intact, and we were even allowed to sit on the couch. Interior sets in general are quite small (our group could barely fit in), are built in odd angles (that make them look a heck of a lot bigger on camera), and incredibly fake (you really lose the movie magic when you see how it all works). Oh and all the studios smell quite musty and kinda like a construction job. Which is okay because I like that smell (odd I know):
More from around the lot:
The last thing we did was go inside a soundstage and visit the actual set of a tv show (an aside: all the soundstages there have plaques on the outside that state which classic films were made there. I would’ve much rather learned about that than whatever Doug had to say! We passed soundstages that were home to The Life of Emile Zola, Robin Hood, Dodge City, The Public Enemy, 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Mildred Pierce, Now Voyager, Jezebel, and the Maltese Falcon, to name a few. Did Doug acknowledge ANY of this? Nope!) Instead he took us to the set of…you guessed it…Chuck. Like the Central Perk set, it was musty, fake, and small. And boring as hell. Instead of listening to dumb Doug ramble endlessly on his favorite tv show, Baby and I dreamt about the great luminaries who must’ve walked on the soundstage before Doug and his hipster show did.
About the museum: my favorite part of the tour was the Warner Bros. museum. They’re really dumb about it though. They don’t allow to take cameras or cellphones inside with you, and you only get about fifteen to twenty minutes to see the entire thing! I was able to finish it, but I could only look over things instead of basking in their presence. The first floor has various film memorabilia, the second floor is entirely Harry Potter. Here’s the classic film fan/Harry Potter fan’s guide to the museum, so if you plan to visit, you can allot your time wisely:
First Floor: much more fun (for me anyway). Contained the Best Picture Oscar statuettes for The Life of Emile Zola (1937), Casablanca (1942), and The Jazz Singer (1927), along with two others. I practically peed my pants seeing real Oscars, and for such great films! The Jazz Singer’s Oscar was different. The gold was duller and it was shorter than the others. The museum also had Errol Flynn’s red coat from “The Adventures of Don Juan” Humphrey Bogart’s suit and Ingrid Bergman’s dress from “Casablanca”, Joan Crawford’s dress from “Daisy Kenyon”, and costumes worn by chorus girls in The Gold Diggers of 1933. There are also various costume sketches and contracts (such as Al Jolson’s contract for The Jazz Singer). Oh, and Al Jolson’s suit and shoes were there as well! And of course, you can’t forget Sam’s piano from Casablanca!
Second Floor: all Harry Potter. Contains: the sorting hat, models of various creatures such as dementors and mandrake plants, Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s costumes from all the films, Umbridge’s costume from Harry Potter 5, costumes of all the Triwizard champions from Harry Potter 4, the Triwizard cup, Death Eater costumes, and various props used throughout the films.
And to top it all off, there were costumes from none other than…SURPIRSE!…Chuck on the first floor. Guess where Doug spent his fifteen minutes?
After the tour, we went back to the Boulevard, where I touched Clark’s hands hello at Grauman’s (I did it at least once a day!) and went souvenir and gift shopping. Along the way, we saw these wonderful stars:
Saw These weird souvenirs:
And THIS JUST IN FROM THE PAPARAZZI…Elvis Presley was spotted shopping for plastic glitter sunglasses at a cheap Hollywood Boulevard souvenir shop!
Hope you enjoyed!
Dedicated to Mark, who, like me, is never too old for a good cartoon.
Many people I know are impressed that someone as young as I am can appreciate films that my grandparents watched. It’s sometimes very hard, since I don’t fit in with the crowd (to say the least) but instead of killing my love for classic films, it only intensified it. How did I come to like classic films in the first place? Well, it was kind of always in my family. My grandfather was a theater usher in the 1940s and 50s and my parents were raised on greats such as Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin, etc. Therefore, I was not only raised on the silent comedians, but being a child who absolutely loved cartoons (and which child doesn’t?) I also grew up watching the old vintage Disney, Warner Bros, and MGM shorts, the Merrie Melodies, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny…you name it, I saw it and recorded them on countless of those VHS tapes. However, some of these cartoons featured stars of the time, such as Edward G Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, people I wasn’t familiar with at the time. Now, as I re-watch these cartoons, I have a new appreciation for them. They are quite poignant, and so…vintage (for lack of a better description). It’s quite interesting to see Hollywood make fun of itself, and I hope my love for cartoons would inspire you to look back on them.
The Coo-Coo Nut Grove (1936)
Here’s one of Warner Bros’ many caricatures of Hollywood, “The Coo-Coo Nut Grove”. In the 1930s, one of the most popular clubs was the Cocoanut Grove, located in the Ambassador Hotel. It was one of those places in which you were guaranteed to rub shoulders with the famous, and it was quite famous for its unique decor. Sadly, this legend no longer exists, as the Ambassador Hotel was torn down several years ago. This cartoon places all of our favorite 1930s stars (some in animal caricatures, some as people, which confuses me, but no matter) at this famous club, and of course, the antics begin. The cartoon opens with bandleader Ben Bernie (here as Ben Birdie) and gossip columnist Walter Winchell (Walter Windpipe), then goes on to showcase caricatures of stars such as John Barrymore, Laurel and Hardy, Jean Harlow, Johnny Weissmuller, Bette Davis, Mae West (as a bird) and so on. Musical entertainment was provided by Dame Edna May Oliver (as the Lady in Red!) causing Clark Gable to flirtatiously wiggle his ears (possibly making fun of his penchant to flirt with anything in a skirt), the Dionne quintuplets (who’s lives were unfortunately marred by showbiz), and singer Helen Morgan, who even makes tough guys Edward G Robinson and George Raft cry with her torch song. Through it all, Harpo Marx chases a woman, as usual…but is it really a woman? And Katharine Hepburn caricatured as a horse named Miss Heartburn? Classic!
Have You Got Any Castles? (1938)
It’s midnight at the library, so what happens? Why, all the books come to life of course! This cartoon is all about music and riffs on titles of classic books, and Hollywood caricatures were used to serve that purpose. The cartoon opens and ends with a caricature of Alexander Woollcott as a town crier, and is very zany and busy, to say the least. Frankenstein, Mr Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, and Fu Manchu dance a minuet, a “good earth” prays by his bedside, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson dances on The 39 Steps, Greta Garbo and her infamously large feet grace the cover of So Big, Cab Calloway sings within the covers of The Green Pastures, William Powell as The Thin Man wanders into the White House cookbook, three Jane Withers sing on the cover of Little Women while three Freddie Bartholomews sing on the cover of Little Men, seven Clark Gables sing as a chorus in The House of the Seven Gables, Charles Laughton saunters across the cover of Mutiny on the Bounty, and plenty more where that came from! And as the music gets louder and a rendition of the popular tune, “Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?” begins, the characters get even wilder. But in comes Gone with the Wind (which, by the way, the novel is celebrating its 75th anniversary!) to blow the whole party away. This cartoon has suffered many cuts and censorships over the years, but it is now widely available in its full, uncut version.
Mickey’s Gala Premier (1933)
Mickey’s newest cartoon is premiering at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and all of Hollywood takes part in the festivities! All the A-list actors are there: The Keystone Kops guard the traffic, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, The Barrymores (in costume for Rasputin and the Empress), Laurel and Hardy, and the Marx Brothers arrive in a limousine, Maurice Cheavalier, Eddie Cantor, and Jimmy Durante take turns singing at the mike, while Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis and Harold Lloyd, Edward G Robinson, Clark Gable, and Adolphe Menjou sing in groups. Sid Grauman welcomes all the stars, including Joe E Brown, Buster Keaton, and the Marx Brothers. Charlie Chaplin sneaks in, while Mae West makes Grauman blush with her famous line, “Come up and see me sometime”. Finally the true stars, Mickey, Minnie, and their gang arrive, and the cartoon begins. In the audience are tons and tons of stars, from Helen Hayes to Bela Lugosi as Dracula. the cartoon is a great success, and all the stars congratulate Mickey. Even Greta Garbo gets up on stage and kisses Mickey! However…it’s all a dream. A nice bit of trivia” Walt Disney himself is caricatured in the cartoon. You can see him in the scene where Garbo gets up on stage.
Mother Goose Goes Hollywood (1938)
Another Disney short, this one features parodies on Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes featuring the Hollywood stars. All the usual suspects turn up: Hugh Herbert as Old King Cole, Charles Laughton, Spencer Tracy, and Freddie Bartholomew sail in Rub-A-Dub-Dub, W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Laurel and Hardy as Simple Simon and the Pieman, Edward G Robinson and Greta Garbo in See Saw Margery Daw, and many more stars featured in those nursery rhymes. Then stars a musical sequence, with Eddie Cantor as Little Jack Horner, Wallace Beery as Little Boy Blue, and Cab Calloway and Fats Waller providing plenty of jazz. Then we pay a visit to the Old Woman in a Shoe, where there is more music provided by Edna May Oliver, Joan Blondell, Mae West, ZaSu Pitts, Clark Gable (and his wiggling ears) on flute, George Arliss on sax, and Laurel and Hardy playing clarinet and trombone, respectively. Through it all, my favorite caricature, Katharine Hepburn as Little Bo Peep, looks for her missing sheep. Really, she has! This cartoon has had major problems with censorship, since it depicts African-Americans in an unsavory light, and is rarely shown on television (and usually with the African-American stereotypes cut out), but the full version can still be found. It was also said that Clark Gable was very unhappy with his caricature, and Walt Disney sent him an apology.
The Autograph Hound (1939)
In his first cartoon with his blue sailor hat, Donald Duck tries to sneak into MGM Studios to get some autographs. Although he was deterred the first time, he manages to get through by getting in Greta Garbo’s limousine. When the policeman realizes Donald’s trick, he chases after him for the rest of the cartoon. Donald then sneaks into Mickey Rooney’s dressing room, where a very bratty Rooney tricks him with a variety of magic tricks, frustrating our poor hero. Donald then finds himself on an ice-skating set, and tries to ask Sonja Henie for her autograph. Henie signs her name with her skates in the ice, so by the time he meets the Ritz Brothers on a desert film set, his precious ice block melts. They sign their names on his butt, which makes him angry too. He then bumps into Shirley Temple, who recognizes him and asks him for his autograph! The two happily exchange signatures, but the policeman finally corners Donald. However, Shirley reveals his identity, and soon enough everyone in MGM (and from other studios as well) runs to get Donald’s autograph!
Mickey’s Polo Team (1936)
It’s the Mickey Mousers vs the Movie Stars in this exciting polo match! Team Mickey Mousers: Mickey, Goofy, Big Bad Wolf, and Donald (riding a donkey). Team Movie Stars: Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Harpo Marx (riding an ostrich). Referee: Jack Holt. Let the chaos begin! The audience features both characters from the Mickey Mouse cartoons and Hollywood movie stars: Shirley Temple is next to the Three Little Pigs, Edna May Oliver next to the Hare, and Clark Gable is seated next to Clarabelle Cow. Other Hollywood audience members include Charles Laughton, Eddie Cantor, Harold Lloyd, W.C. Fields, and Greta Garbo. So, after all the chaos and Donald getting his butt kicked by everyone, who wins the match? No one, since the horses end up riding the team members!
Malibu Beach Party (1940)
Jack Benny (spoofed as Jack Bunny) invites all his Hollywood pals for a party at his beachfront home in Malibu. Hailed as one of the most successful parodies of Jack Benny and his radio crew, this cartoon features the usual: Greta Garbo, Edward G Robinson, George Raft, and Clark Gable. But it also features some fresh faces: Claudette Colbert, Cesar Romero, Robert Taylor, Astaire and Rogers, Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, and James Cagney. Like at any good party, there is entertainment provided. Deanna Durbin serenades with a tune…and Jack Benny plays on that violin…
Hollywood Steps Out (1941)
Last but definitely not least, my favorite cartoon of them all, Hollywood Steps Out, which, in my opinion provides the best and most hilarious caricatures of the stars. This cartoon also takes place at a very famous (but sadly gone) club, Ciro’s. We first see the exterior of the club…offering dinner at $50 (over $700 today!). Sitting at the tables are Adolphe Menjou, Norma Shearer, and Claudette Colbert. Then we meet Cary Grant, who says “What a place! What a place! It’s as pretty as a picture. But if I ever told my favorite wife the awful truth I’d land right on the front page. Yessireee Bobby”, referencing several of his films. Greta Garbo is working as the cigarette girl, and Edward G Robinson converses with the “oomph” girl, Ann Sheridan. Johnny Weissmuller and Sally Rand arrive in the coat check room, where Paulette Goddard works. James Cagney, George Raft, and Humphrey Bogart, all famous “tough guys” of the cinema, plan to do something risky…and end up pitching pennies. Harpo Marx chases Garbo and lights up one of her extra-large shoes, to which she coolly responds, “Ooouucchhh”. All the while, Clark Gable spots a girl and chases her throughout the cartoon. Bing Crosby introduces conductor Leopold Stokowski, who begins a conga. When Dorothy Lamour begins to sway to the rhythm, Jimmy Stewart chickens out. Oliver Hardy dances with two women, while Cesar Romero steps all over Rita Hayworth’s dress. When Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland run up an expensive bill, Rooney and his onscreen father from the Andy Hardy series, Lewis Stone, wash dishes to make up for it. Then the final act begins: Sally Rand performing her famous bubble ance. Kay Kyser instructs William Powell, Spencer Tracy, C. Aubrey Smith, Errol Flynn, Wallace Beery, and Gilbert Roland to look, resulting in them whistling and catcalling. Peter Lorre “Has never seen such a beautiful bubble since I was a child!”, a naughty Henry Fonda is pulled away by his mother, Buster Keaton and Ned Sparks (who some say was the inspiration for Squidward in the tv show Spongebob Squarepants) provide their famous poker faces, while Jerry Colonna and “Yehudi” look on with binoculars. Harpo Marx pops Sally’s bubble with a slingshot–she’s wearing a barrel–and Gable finally gets the girl…but is it a girl? This is probably the most famous Hollywood-themed vintage cartoon, and it deserves its place immensely!
Since I love history and Hollywood, I was excited beyond belief to visit the Hollywood Museum, located at the former Max Factor building. I’ve heard beforehand that the museum is chock-full of rare artifacts and collectibles…and boy was that an understatement! If you ever visit this museum (which you totally SHOULD!) I recommend you take two or three days to see it, so you can fully view and appreciate everything it contains. Obviously, this was one of my favorite parts of the vacation.
The entrance to the museum, which has the scariest Marilyn Monroe statue of all time waiting there. “Hooray for Hollywood” from the film Hollywood Hotel was playing on a constant loop there, which meant that I was whistling along on a constant loop as well!
The people who work there are very nice. They complimented me endlessly on my hair and makeup (yay!) A lot of people complimented my style in Hollywood in general. Hollywood people are a lot nicer than New York people for sure! Anyway, The entire first floor is intact from the Max Factor days, and is now a tribute to the master behind our favorite faces and hairstyles. So, they still got the pink lobby (which has a ton of stuff to look at as well), and you know that Max Factor’s makeup was created based on hair color, right? (he would create a line for redheads, another for brunettes, blondes, etc) Well, he actually had rooms for the hair colors as well, where he would treat the actresses. Today, each room features a famous actress well-known for having that hair color. The room “For Redheads Only” features Lucille Ball and Rita Hayworth, and even some Joan Crawford. “For Blondes Only” features mostly Marilyn Monroe. “For Brunettes Only” features mostly Judy Garland.
In the pink lobby:
Another pair of Joan’s eyelashes, and what I suppose is the stuff she would use to apply them. I think the black thing is mascara, which was dry at that time and quite different from what we have today.
In the Redhead Room:
In the Brunette Room:
In the Blonde Room:
Randomness inside the museum (second and third floors):
Then there was a “portrait room”, full of nothing but glamour photos and shots of vintage Hollywood. That room on its own would take hours! Here’s some highlights:
More bits of vintage Hollywood awesomeness:
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I saw the Harlow at 100 exhibit at this museum. Here are the photos from it:
A souvenir program from the premiere
A menu from the MGM commissary signed by all the major stars of the time: Jean, Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone, William Powell, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Robert Montgomery, and Myrna Loy, among others
Beyond the Harlow exhibit:
More vintage film equipment:
The entire basement of the museum was replicated to look like the prison from Silence of the Lambs. Since my family and I were the only people in the museum that day, it was 364237623 times creepier than it should’ve been:
I promised this book review waaaay back in March, when Harlow month was in full swing. Obviously, I’ve been a slack-ass and it never happened, and since I never go back on my promises, here it is.
Today Is Tonight, Jean Harlow’s only foray into literature, is a rare book, and quite an interesting read. Legend has it that Jean Harlow was inspired to write this book through a dream, and while on a salary strike from MGM in 1934, she drafted it. unfortunately, it was not published until 1965, and despite talks, it was never made into a film (if it was published in the 1930s as Harlow intended, a film version would NEVER have made it past the Hays Code). Having read the book twice, it’s pretty obvious that from the outset Harlow’s novel is very heavily influenced by others: the dedication is written to her mother (who as we all know exerted a strong influence over her daughter’s life) and she was helped out by screenwriter Carey Wilson. Despite this, you can hear Harlow’s voice resonating throughout if you read between the lines.
The plot of the novel is quite thin and unremarkable. It focuses on the opulent 1920s lifestyle of a married New York couple, Peter and Judy Landsdowne. Their wild, fancy parties flowing with alcohol come to an end after the stock market crash of 1929 and a horse riding accident that leaves Peter blind. Suddenly the Lansdownes are bankrupt, living in a small house, facing tensions in their marriage, and are basically miserable. In desperation, Judy gets a job in a nightclub performing as Lady Godiva–totally in the nude. In order to fool her blind husband, she switches night and day on him–hence the title–so it could seem she was working a normal day job instead of as a nude performer at a nightclub. What did I tell you? It’s quite racy, and very absurd. It actually even disturbed me a little bit.
Thankfully, the plot is not what is important about this book. It’s all about looking for Harlow herself throughout the novel. Being an actress, Harlow wrote the book in a very cinematic style (just look at that plot…it’s quite melodramatic!) and the book is littered with references to the film/performance world, and even discusses some tricks of the trade.
But most important of all, I saw the plot as a thin disguise of the problems Harlow was facing in her own life. “Tragic” is an understatement when describing it. The trials and tribulations of the book’s heroine, Judy, greatly mirror Harlow’s own. Judy and Harlow, though having lots of money (although Judy loses it in the book) were quite miserable. Both were forced to “exhibit” themselves: Harlow was always depicted as a fast, loose floozy, and Judy was forced to literally expose herself. Both used this exposure to hide their problems and miseries, and to support other people (Judy, Peter and Jean, her mother). Both were involved in show business, and ultimately, realized that it’s promise and allure was a sham, and not an escape from their problems. Both felt that because of this, they had to constantly prove themselves and live up to the expectations of their audiences and critics. In a nutshell, “Today Is Tonight” is Jean’s personal message to her fans, telling them that her life was not sunshine and daisies like it seemed, and that she was quite lost and alone in a world that she felt was out to get her.
Despite the flaws of the book, “Today Is Tonight” is quite a haunting novel, and it feels as though Harlow’s ghost is in between the pages (maybe that’s why the plot disturbs me so much) Reading it really helps you to understand the tortured soul of its author, and exposes her vulnerable nature. It’s so sad. Not the most creative choice of words, but there’s no other way to describe it. The book ends on a hopeful note, showing that Harlow was probably positive in a way out of her despair (probably her romance with William Powell?) But when you close the book, it sits heavily on you, because we all know the tragic truth of what happened to Harlow.
This is a teeny bit off topic, but while in Hollywood I had the wonderful opportunity to see the Harlow At 100 exhibit at the Hollywood Museum located at the old Max Factor Building (where Jean herself would get her hair and makeup done by the master himself, Max Factor). It had everything, from Jean’s car and one of her famous white gowns and foxcapes to her makeup, handkerchiefs, and high school love letters. It was so…chilling. My family and I were literally the only people in the entire museum that day. The section with the Harlow exhibit was quite cold, and “Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life” playing on a constant loop did not help to rid my arms of goosebumps. The area detailing her marriage to Paul Bern was especially eerie (remember that Renaissance-style mural he got especially made for her as a wedding present? It was there) but nothing, I mean NOTHING compared to seeing the row of yellow fragile newspapers from 1937 with the blaring headline JEAN HARLOW DEAD. I was both in awe and in such low spirits at the exhibit. Ultimately, I had a lump the size of a baseball in my throat and tears in my eyes for this remarkable woman. Even my parents, who had no idea who Harlow was, were left grim and sober after the experience. You could actually feel Harlow’s presence there. I’ve never felt more close or connected to her than after reading her book and seeing the very intimate details of her life, from her baby pictures, her glittering car, and those yellow newspapers. I will post pictures as soon as possible of the Harlow exhibit, and of the rest of my Hollywood vacation.
Us seniors got our yearbooks last Wednesday, and since then, it’s been nothing but yearbook MANIA. Everyone is scrambling for signatures, passing the book around to friends, running after teachers with pens in hand, allotting valuable page space among people (empty front and back pages for close friends, divide these pages among the close friends, everyone else can sign by their photo in the book, so on and so forth). Of course, there’s also the frustration of what to write and where to begin writing. There’s also the dread of someone you really don’t know well asking you to sign their book, and you’d have to end up writing some weak, obviously fake, generic message to them (“I’m glad we got to know each other! Good luck in college!”). An ex-friend of mine (she’s a SEVERE NUTCASE and as soon as I found out, I dumped her faster than a hot potato, and you have no idea how much I was made to look like the bitch after that!) asked me to sign her yearbook. To my inner satisfaction, I was probably the second person to sign. I told her to be happy in life (she’s faking being depressed about everything. Sorry for the amount of parentheses in this post).
But what if I was lucky enough to go to school with Classic Hollywood? What would they have to say to me? Look no further!
Hooray for having big beaver teeth like me girl! Go us!
Clark knocked me up so take THAT!
So…wanna go out for dinner at a five-star restaurant tonight? Just kidding! And please stop laughing hysterically at me when I trip/fall on my butt/make pigeon-like motions with my head/get constantly confused and baffled by what’s going on around me.
DAAAAAAAHHHHHHH-LIIIIINNNNGGGG! Best in luck with everything you do dahling, but dahling, you ain’t ever gonna be better than me dahling!
Your dahling friend,
Tallu (DAHLING) (DUH)
You’re butt-ugly! What else can I say, being a blonde bitch?
So…wanna go out for dinner at a five-star restaurant tonight? You get full access to my schnozz!
THE HIIIIILLLLLLLSSS ARRRRRRREEEEE ALLLIIIIIIVVVVVEEEE WITH THE SOUND OF MUUUUUUSSSIIICCC! Please stop calling me “Judy” Andrews. MY NAME’S FRIGGIN JULIE, GET WITH IT GIRL!
With Kindest Regards,
I’m so glad we are friends! I’m not the only cheapskate who badly plays an instrument!
From Your Pal,
Admire the profile! Wanna go out for a drink? Don’t worry about getting a fake ID!
Thank you for tormenting me with duck jokes you meanie!
Robert “Quack” Young
I AM THE FUNNIEST MARX BROTHER! Just wait and see!
I am in love with our friendship! Who else says “MONEY!” instead of “CHEESE!” when we take pictures??
I’m glad you are one of the few who appreciate my brand of humor and acknowledges my talent…even though you often say I look like a turtle.
BABALU! BAAAABAAALLLUUUU! Keep on Babalu-ing, amiga!
~~Desiderio (I know you have an obsession with my full name)
Congratulations to the Queen of Sheba! You, like me, can throw a swell left!
YOU NEED SOME PIANO LESSONS STAT.
We’re two of a kind! But I’m the prettier, thinner one!
Your accent, loud voice, fast way of speaking, sprinkling of your speech with disgusting swearwords, and tendency to make rude noises while conversing are shameful to the integrity of the English Language. I, a mere child, can speak with better diction than you ever will in your entire lifetime. Please try to make an effort to see me sometime this summer so I can attempt to alleviate your situation.
Mr. Freddie Bartholomew
So we share birthdays! How about I eradicate you off the face of the earth so I can be the only one eh?
You’re just jealous of my mumbling voice and brooding persona, so stop making fun of it! And you have to admit, I was cool as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls!
HOW MANY TIMES MUST I TELL YOU I DO NOT LOOK CONSTIPATED THROUGHOUT GWTW! I hope you will become blinded by my shiny golden locks!
So you think you have big eyes huh?
Thank you for always hoping that someday I will get the girl over Clark Gable.
Voules-vouz le taximeter?
I AM NOT EVIL.
I hope you someday find your very own pale hands by the Shalimar. Stop making fun of my thick Italian accent and my incredibly long name. I know it’s sexy, but please contain yourself.
The only time you ever showed any promise in dance is when you badly needed to use the restroom.
I’m very happy for you really I am.
Aww, I dunno what to say…ummm…aw gawsh!
Sir Laurence Olivier
Aww baby, you should be sittin’ on top of the world!
Al (which rhymes. New song!)
Gentlemen prefer blondes!
I thoroughly enjoy terrorizing everyone with our caustic remarks!
Why do all of your tights look strangely like mine?
Errol Flynn (aka In Like Flynn…please stop randomly saying that)
I’VE NEVER SEEN SUCH A BEAUTIFUL BUBBLE SINCE I WAS A CHILD! You can imitate my voice so well it even creeps ME out!
PS: I LIKE MONEY!
Please excuse me while I count my cocoanuts
Louis B Mayer:
There’s room for only one tyrant around here!
Fellow Brooklyn dames!!!
Please remove this monstrosity of a yearbook away from me! By the way, I still can’t get rid of the botanical freak from Life With Father.
Please stop playing with my nose and calling me Myrna Boy! I’m not a boy!
I did NOT steal my cable-knit sweaters from Clark Gable!!!
We have so many inside jokes! From, “a little bit of laryngitis baby” to “I got the gobloots from the booshoo bird?” I never fail to bust your lungs!
Come up and see me sometime! Oh wait, you’re a girl, not a sexy muscleman.
You’ll be “singin’ in the rain” at your prom tomorrow!
Every time you sing “42nd Street” I have a brain aneurysm
Love, Ruby K.
Stop offering me your retainer!
Women should be obscene and not heard.
May I have my name back?
The Real Carole
Here’s NOT looking at you, kid
Great balls of fire! Stop fancying yourself as Scarlett O’Hara! And there are SOME non GWTW movies in which I don’t die!
Please tell them to stop comparing Kate Middleton to me.
You are a very nice girl. Now stop stalking me and get a life.
Today I’m beginning the play-by-play of my Hollywood vacation! By the end of this series, you’ll hopefully feel as though you’ve been there with me vicariously through tons of photos and explanations. It’s your guide of modern-day Hollywood for the Classic Film Fan!
On my first day in Hollywood, I took no time to rest, and went straight to Hollywood Boulevard (which is where most of the action is!) We then did some of the Walk of Fame (my parents were so not going to do the whole thing. Me, being a big walking person, would not have at all minded seeing all 2500 stars that go on for miles on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Oh well.) It’s amazing to see them in person! Unfortunately, some people graffittied the empty ones, which is just low, cheap, and disgusting. Some are also ruined, and need to be fixed. Nonetheless, here are some of the luminaries we saw:
Now let me take the opportunity to post a picture of an extremely pale-faced statue of James Dean outside a gift shop:
Heheheh. Anyway, let’s continue. Baby and I quickly lost interest in the Walk of Fame, however, when we saw one of the spires of the legendary Chinese Theatre, the location in which thousands of stars attended glamorous premieres of their films and entered their hand and footprints in a specially made cement. It gave me the CHILLS just to be in its presence! But since we were across the street from the Theatre, we decided to take our chances and sneak into the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, founded by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin and once home to Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and Gable and Lombard. It was also the home of the first Academy Awards celebration (which lasted fifteen minutes) and it is nothing short of a LEGEND in every sense of the word. It is beautiful inside, with a medieval castle theme mixed with wonderful 20s and 30s Deco:
After acting like criminals at the Roosevelt, Baby and literally pounded down the pavement into Grauman’s. It was just so overwhelming and beautiful, I broke down and cried like a little baby. It was the biggest thrill of my life, and I didn’t wash my hands for a full 24 hours afterwards.
Hope you enjoyed day one of my Hollywood vacation! Plenty more to come!
Red Dust needs an alternate title. It should also be known as The Sexiest Film You Can Get Without A Sex Scene. Period.
Red Dust is famous for being the steamiest of all The Gable/Harlow films, and it is probably the steamiest film of both of their careers. The film is about Dennis Carson (Gable), the owner of a rubber plantation in Indochina. Carson finds a prostitute named Vantine (Harlow) in his quarters one night, and the two soon become an item. Vantine is truly in love with Dennis, but he (being the ladies’ man that he is), sees her only as an object to fulfill his desires. Dennis then gets a new surveyor, Gary Willis (Gene Raymond), who brings along his wife Barbara (Mary Astor). Mr. and Mrs. Willis are very proper and high-class, unlike the red-blooded, earthy Dennis and Vantine. Soon, Barbara and Dennis fall in love and Vantine is sent packing, only to return when her boat breaks down. Of course, rivalry between the girls occurs. Barbara and Dennis plan to marry, but when Dennis goes to tell Gary, he backs out, seeing how much Gary loves Barbara. He goes home to wallow in despair and drink with Vantine. When Barbara finds them, Dennis pretends to have used her all along, causing her to shoot him. Eventually, Gary and Barbara leave, and Dennis recovers and realizes his love for Vantine.
The decision wasn’t easy, but Harlow and her charms won out in the end!
There’s no denying that I simply love this film. The chemistry between the leads is off-the-charts and the film is a wonderful mix of action, romance, and snappy humor. Harlow especially shines, with her colorful zingers and sarcastic comebacks. It’s enjoyable to watch her bust Gable’s chops (as she does to him in all their films together, but this one takes the cake). This film is also a wonderful example of the Pre-Code. It’s sexy, raw, and very very entertaining. The dialogue is full of double-entendres and there is an enjoyment for manhandling by the characters that adds to their heady natures (Vantine loved being pushed around by Dennis and being dunked by him in the tub, Dennis enjoyed being slapped by Barbara, you get the drift). Oh, and don’t get me started about that rain-soaked Gable/Astor kiss. Easily one of the most famous classic movie kisses ever (hmm…do I see a future post?)
The famous bathing scene. According to legend, Harlow really is wearing absolutely nothing in that there tub.
A lot of things get me thinking about this film as well. When Red Dust was released, Harlow was only 21 years old. Despite her young age, she exuded so much sensuality on that screen it seemed so beyond her years. She did it better than any actress today, and they take off everything! Gable is interesting to watch here as well. That opening scene, when he swaggers through the rubber plantation with his macho friends, caked in dirt and sweat and wearing a worn-down, flimsy shirt, is the essence of what Gable had and other actors didn’t. He was carnal and lusty, not at all like the suave urbane William Powells that dominated Hollywood at the time. Mary Astor as well was interesting. She was quite infamous for her love affairs, and looking at her struggle to hold in her desire for Gable’s character kinda makes you wonder…was it really acting?
Some less intelligent observations about Red Dust: I’ve seen this film quite a number of times, and only the last time I watched it did I notice that there was a freaking butterfly flitting all over the place throughout various parts of the film! I swear! It was everywhere! Okay, sorry about that, but it really irked me.
Oh, and another thing…WHO LOOKS THAT GOOD AFTER GETTING SHOT IN THE STOMACH! Goddammit, he’s so attractive! I could KILL to have been Harlow in the final scene of the film, in which she reads him a children’s story from a newspaper, and he flashes that Gable Grin, his hands snaking up her leg…
If you haven’t already seen this gem, see it now! It’s our Girl of the Month at her best!