Archive for January, 2011
“This ‘King’ stuff is pure bullshit. I eat and sleep and go to the bathroom just like everybody else. There’s no special light that shines inside me and makes me a star. I’m just a lucky slob from Ohio. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I had a lot of smart guys helping me – that’s all.” — Clark Gable
Clark Gable was one of the most dashing and succesful actors to have ever appear on the big screen. During his career he starred in over sixty-five motion pictures and appeared opposite some of the most beautiful and famous actresses of all time. Joan Crawford, who was his favorite actress to work with, starred with Gable in eight films, Myrna Loy was with him seven times, and Jean Harlow starred with him six times. He also starred with Lana Turner in four features, and with Norma Shearer in three. Gable was often named the top male star in the mid-30s, and was second only to Shirley Temple who was the top box office draw four years running from 1935 to 1938. In 1938, he was overwhelmingly selected “King of Hollywood” in a poll of entertainment readers. Gable is the only man to have ever starred in three films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year, “It Happened One Night” (1934), “Mutiny On The Bounty” (1935), and “Gone With The Wind” (1939). He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in all three films, winning it for his role as Peter Warne in “It Happened One Night”. He was named the seventh greatest actor of all time on ‘The 50 Greatest Screen Legends List’ by the American Film Institute.
“The things a man has to have are hope and confidence in himself against odds, and sometimes he needs somebody, his pal or his mother or his wife or God, to give him that confidence. He’s got to have some inner standards worth fighting for or there won’t be any way to bring him into conflict. And he must be ready to choose death before dishonor without making too much song and dance about it. That’s all there is to it.” — Clark Gable
Cyd Charisse was, in my opinion, the most beautiful and elegant dancer to ever grace the silver screen. She is also one of six women to have danced with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in a movie.
Fred Astaire in his 1959 memior, “Steps In Time”, referred to Cyd Charisse as “beautiful dynamite”. Fred also went on to say of Cyd,” That Cyd! When you’ve danced with Cyd, you stay danced with”.
Gene Kelly was also very enamored with Cyd Charisse as a dancing partner. “She wasn’t a tap dancer, she was just beautiful. trained, very strong in whatever we did,” said Kelly, “When we were dancing, we didn’t know what time it was.”
Louise Brooks, nicknamed “Lulu” after her role in the 1929 silent classic, “Pandora’s Box”, is the ultimate 1920’s flapper. Born in Kansas in 1906, she began dancing at a young age with the Denishawn Dancers, and eventually made her way to New York City where she became a chorus girl in George White’s Scandals. From there she became a featured dancer in the 1925 Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. While at the follies, she came to the attention of Paramount Pictures producer Walter Wanger who signed her to a five year deal with Paramount. Brooks hated the ‘Hollywood’ scene and left for Europe after her contract was up with Paramount. It was in Europe where she made her two best films,“Pandoras Box” (1929) and “Diary Of A Lost Girl”. Both by the legendary silent film director G. W. Pabst and both are considered cinematic classics. She made twenty-five films in her short acting career with her last in 1938. After she retired from films, she led a quiet life, spending her time reading and painting. She eventually became an accomplished author, writing several books, including her own biography. She died of a heart attack on August 8 1985, in New York. She was 78 years old. Although Brooks is widely praised by modern critics for her acting ability, she is mostly remembered for her bobbed haircut, her beauty and china doll like face, and her sexually liberating lifestyle.
One of my favorite sites about old classic movies is called Silent Stanzas. On this site a young lady writes poetry and anecdotes about silent film. Her writings are very, very good. A step above most and many steps above what I’m capable of. It was there I found “Scrubbie’s Sonnet”, an ode if you will to Louise Brooks. I liked it so much, I included in my post below. I hope she doesn’t mind.
Her liquid gaze could melt the coldest heart,
Her perfect face framed ‘round by ebony;
Since early on her dancing was an art –
Lithe hands and limbs in quaking ecstasy.
Not one to walk on eggshells, biting wit
And knife-blade tongue would often trouble make;
But unrelenting, in the face of it
She’d stand, too proud to let it see her break.
From featured player to forgotten star,
To author/critic, razor-edged and quick:
A sharpened, honey-coated scimitar,
A heady blend of sex and arsenic.
With such a life – complex beyond compare –
How strange her strongest legacy’s her hair
In 1998, Roger Ebert reviewed Pandora’s Box, giving the film much praise and saying of Louise Brooks, “she regards us from the screen as if the screen were not there; she casts away the artifice of film and invites us to play with her.”
Pandora’s Box (1929) is a silent movie directed by the Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst. The movie is based on two plays, Earth’s Spirit and Pandora’s Box, written at the beginning of the 20th century by the controversial German playwright Frank Wedekind. It is said that he wrote them “with the deliberate intent of shocking his middle class audience by talking bluntly about the consequences of sex, violence, and hypocrisy”. If that was the playwright’s intent, Pabst succeeded in doing the same in the film. Louise Brook’s stars as ‘Lulu”, a child/woman who’s open sexuality has a disastrous effect on all who love her. The film follows her in her downward spiral as she takes everyone who desires her down with her into her descent. Pandora’s Box also stars Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer, and Alice Roberts. Although released in 1929, the movie is incredibly modern, daring in it’s use of sexuality and violence, and cutting edge in it’s inclusion of a lesbian countess (Alice Roberts) who also falls for Louise Brook’s character ‘Lulu’. Initially panned by critics, it was rediscovered in the 1950’s, and modern critics call it “a cinematic masterpiece”, thanks in large part to the beautiful and sensual Louise Brooks. The Internet Movie Database says “this movie is one of the great treasures of cinema, and Louise Brooks one of the most talented and fascinating actresses to ever appear in movies, on either side of the Atlantic.”