Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dolores Del Rio - Second of 3 postings

In 1930, after her divorce from Jaime del Rio, Dolores married Cedric Gibbons, one of MGM's leading art directors and production designers. With the advent of talkies she was primarily relegated to exotic and unimportant roles, but did score successes with the lead roles in 1933's Flying Down to Rio (the film that launched the careers of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) and Madame DuBarry in1934.

In 1939 or 1940, a 25 year old Orson Welles fell madly in love with Dolores although he was 10 years her junior. In fact, the affair with Welles was reported to have been the cause of her divorce from Gibbons, though some contend it was Gibson's sexual orientation that caused the split. In 1943 she collaborated with Welles in the film Journey Into Fear.

As mentioned in the previous post, after abandoning Hollywood in the mid-40's, Dolores continued her career in Mexico where she won the Ariel (Mexican Academy Award) three times: on 1946 for Abandonadas, Las (1945); in 1952 for Doña Perfecta (1951) and in 1954 for Niño y la niebla, El (1953).

BTW, on Turner Classic Movies this Friday, March 30 at 7:45 A.M. Eastern, Dolores can be seen in 1932's Bird Of Paradise.

I wonder if Cher ever saw this picture?

Dolores Del Rio - What do you think? Allure?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

1927 Blog-a-Thon

Visit 1927 Blog-a-Thon to get to all the great 1927 Blog-A-Thon links.

What a year. Wings, Sunrise, The Jazz Singer, Hula, It, Cat and the Canary, College, Underworld, Flesh and the Devil, The General, King of Kings, Berlin: Symphony of a City, The Love of Jeanne Ney, Napolean, And...METROPOLIS! I've seen them all with the exception of Underworld, but my money is on Fritz Lang's Metropolis as the watershed moment in 1927 cinema. Now admittedly, I'm a Metropolis fanboy, but I suspect I am not alone in my love of this film. I will leave it to others to engage in scholarly film criticism, but if one gives kudos for imagery and imagination, ambitious scope and the fact that it was to become a film to be emulated and measured against since its release, Metropolis comes out a winner. I first saw it at the old Bleeker Street Cinema at a time when "Bird Lives", was still scrawled on the walls of the West 4th Street station in Greenwich Village. Fifteen or so years later I got a copy in Beta (opps - who knew that VHS would wipe Beta off the map). Then of course came the 1984 Morodor mash-up, which I admit to liking, followed by releases of several sub-par editions. Now we have the "to date" definitive edition available on DVD. It was issued in February 2003 after a limited theatrical release. BTW, if for some reason you are not well acquainted with film, check the link in the "You Can Get There From Here" list on this blog. There is a good Wikipedia entry as well. And, if you can find it, there is a great book titled "Metropolis, A Cinematic Laboratory for Modern Architecture", that is in German and English and was published in 2000 by Menges.

What follows is the series of twelve postcards that the German company Ross issued to coincide with the film. However, I have a feeling the the Ross folks didn't see the film before issuing the cards, because although they are sequentially numbered they have no relation to the film in terms of flow. That being said the images are great. I only wish Ross had made some of the stills of the amazing city of Metropolis as part of the set.

Now that you have seen the postcards, here is a selection of Metropolis Images that can be found around the web, assembled here for this 1927 Blog-a-Thon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dolores Del Rio - First of 3 postings

Born Dolores Martínez Asúnsolo y López Negrete in Durango, Mexico, in April 1905, she was the second cousin of actor Ramón Novarro. Her family lost all their assets during the 1916 Mexican Revolution. Then in 1921, at the age of 16, she married a wealthy Jaime Martinez del Rio, and through a Hollywood friend the couple emigrated to the USA with the plan of establishing show business careers for themselves: as screenwriter and actress, respectively. The marriage ended in divorce, but Dolores retained her married name, continued to pursue a career as an actress, and made her first film appearance in Joanna (1925). Hollywood immediately noticed her appeal and she was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars (search other posts to learn more about the WAMPAS stars) in 1926 along with fellow newcomers Joan Crawford, Fay Wray, Janet Gaynor, and Mary Astor. Her career flourished through the silent era, and continued in Mexican cinema during the 40's and beyond.

Dolores Del Rio - What do you think? Allure?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sylvia Sydney

Sylvia Sidney was born in the Bronx, NY, on August 8, 1910. As an early teen, Sylvia decided she wanted a stage career and fortunately had the full support of her parents who enrolled her in the Theater Guild's School for Acting. Her early career was all centered on the stage, but her rave reviews attracted Hollywood and after a year or two of transition, she was a full fledged film star. She gravitated toward roles of women involved with unsavory situations and unsavory men. The titles of many of her thirties films tell the tale - City Streets, Street Scene, Ladies of the Big House, Merrily We Go To Hell, Pick-up, Good Dame, Fritz Lang's Fury and the classic Dead End. To quote Sylvia, "I'd be the girl of the gangster...then the sister who was bringing up the gangster...then the mother of the gangster...and they always had me ironing somebody's shirt." Other roles showed her overall versatility, for instance she had the starring role in Madame Butterfly. Sylvia continued to make films through the forties and then made the transition to television. Her last film role was in 1996's Mars Attacks as Grandma Florence Norris. Sylvia died in 1999.

Sylvia Sydney - What do you think? Allure?


Turner Classic Movies had its premiere showing last week of Ladies in Retirement, a 1941 thriller starring Ida Lupino, one of my favorite actresses (who was never nominated for an Oscar BTW - tsk.tsk.), and I highly recommend you trying to catch it. It hasn't been released commercially, but should hopefully now be part of the TCM rotation. The film also stars Louis Hayward, Ida's husband at the time.

If your taste runs to little known and out of print films, I would suggest a trip to the Internet Archive:Movies (link on this page). There you will find hundreds of films for free viewing or download.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lili Damita - Fourth of 4 postings

Lili retired from the screen after her 1935 marriage. As mentioned in the previous post the marriage with Errol fell apart in 1942, but they did have a son, Sean, to whom Lili was extremely devoted. Sean did some acting, then found his true calling as a photojournalist at the height of the Vietnam war. He disappeared in Cambodia in April 1970 while covering the war for Time and Life magazines. Lili spent tremendous time and money trying to locate him, but to no avail. He was declared legally dead in 1984. Lili died in West Palm Beach, FL in 1994, a few months shy of her 90th birthday. The pictures in this post show her during the happy times.

Lili Damita - What do you think? Allure?