Saturday, October 25, 2008

Asides - Who is third from the left and what film is that?

Here are a couple of fun (IMHO) images that I put together a few weeks ago .

The first relates directly to this blog. It is a montage, collage, mash-up, whatever, of a large number of magazines in our collection. It comes without a "key" so you are on your own if you can't identify someone. It is large enough to be used as wallpaper, but frankly, it would drive me crazy trying to pick out a program icon sitting on top of it. Hope you enjoy looking.

Click on the image for a larger view.

The second image is film related, but not tied to an actress or era. You are looking at some title screens for films in our library. I use a program called DVDpedia to catalog our collection. It is a Mac only program, but there is a similar program on the PC side called MediaMan. One of the best things about these programs is that to add a film, you enter the name in the search field and it goes out to Amazon, IMDB and a number of other sources and downloads all the information about the film into the database. However, especially for older and obscure films, images are not downloaded (films on DVD usually return the cover image of the DVD), so I do a screen capture of the title screen and drop that in. Two things; it shows my passion for old B-movies, and that I clearly have too much free time. How many of these films have you seen? It could be a decent number if you like old films and have TCM on cable. :-)

Click on the image for a larger view.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy (Myrna Adele Williams) - What can I say that hasn't already been said in hundreds of articles, reviews, books and biographies over the years. Born in Montana on August 2, 1905, she was early on the exotic femme fatale in films like The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), then the witty sophisticate in the Thin Man series in the mid-thirties, and next the straight dramatic actress in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Between 1925 and 1982 she appeared in over 135 film and television productions. Personally, I have enjoyed every film of hers I have had the chance to view. If you are not fully familiar with Myrna's work, let me point you to the Wikipedia and IMDB entries for details.

In my post(s) on Dietrich, and with apologies to Bette, I crowned Marlene the true "Divine Miss M."

I now think it is fitting and hereby crown Myrna the "Delightful, Delicious, De-lovely, Miss M." There are hundreds of images on Myrna on the web, but I hope at least some in this post are new to you.

Picture Play magazine February 1929 - Publicity portrait for The Desert Song (1929)

Picture Play magazine April 1930 - Artist: Modest Stein

Picture Play magazine September 1931 - Artist: Modest Stein

Postcard for The Woman in His House. Don't know that film? It is actually the British title for The Animal Kingdom (1932) and this is a British postcard.

Screenland magazine December 1934 - Artist: Charles Sheldon

Two more reasons to smoke Gallaher and Player brands.

Myrna's life as a blonde vamp, late twenties I believe.

Publicity still from The Squall (1929)

Myrna Loy - What do you think - Allure?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

June Collyer

June Collyer was born Dorothea Heermance in New York City on August 19, 1906. She began her career in the film East Side, West Side (1927). She made a total of eleven silents before a successful transition to talkies. In 1928 she was one of thirteen starlets named a WAMPAS Baby Star. In 1930 June appeared in her first talkie, The Three Sisters. That same year found her with Claudia Dell and Walter Pidgeon in Sweet Kitty Bellairs. She had appeared earlier with Pidgeon in Woman Wise (1928).

Her first starring role in talkies was in Extravagance (1930). June went on to appear in nineteen films from 1930 to 1936, including Alexander Hamilton (1931) starring George Arliss, and Before Midnight (1933) opposite Ralph Bellamy, but few made it out of B movie status and her career never really took off. Her last film role was in A Face in the Fog (1936). However, during the 1950's she returned to acting, having a five year role on her husband's (they were married in 1931) television series The Stu Erwin Show. Note that her brother, Bud Collyer, who early TV fans will remember as host of Beat The Clock, had the title role from 1940 through 1949 in the radio series The Adventures of Superman. He also voiced the character in the must see animated Superman shorts by Fleischer Studios.

June died in March, 1968, approximately three months after the passing of her husband.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Picture Play, March 1929 - Artist: Modest Stein

Stars of the Photoplay 1930

Undated publicity photo

Frame captures from three of June's films. Drums of Jeopardy (1931) and Lost in the Stratosphere (1934) are fairly entertaining.
The Ghost Walks (1934), not so much.

June Collyer - What do you think - Allure?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Asides - It Takes Two To Tango

In Mid-November, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will offer a festival of films revolving around "Leading Couples". Chronicle Books has just published a book that TCM is offering in conjunction with the festival. I was fortunate enough to be given a pre-release copy for review.

The book features 40 leading couples, including those in a singular film, think Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca, and who those starred together in a number of films, Astaire and Rogers for example. And I was happy to see a certain playfulness with the inclusion of Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont, and King Kong and Fay Wray. The period covered spans what is commonly called the studio era, the late twenties through the early sixties, so while we see Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, we also see Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The book highlights each couple using the following format: A short bio, notes about the particular film or films including an Essential Team-ups area, a Behind the Scenes section, an Off-Screen Relationship page, key quotes, and a very nice selection of stills.

Each section is a factoid and trivia lovers dream.

For instance, in the couple specific Behind the Scenes sections we learn that Ginger Roger's pirouette down the flight of stairs in Swing Time (1936) took forty-seven takes and they had to stop shooting at times because her feet were bleeding. Hedy Lamarr, featured in the book due to her performance opposite Charles Boyer in Algiers (1938), turned down the role in Gaslight which garnered Ingrid Bergman an Oscar. Glenn Ford, we discover only agreed to star opposite Rita Hayworth in The Loves of Carmen (1948) because she asked him too. He so hated the result that in later years, whenever it showed up on TV he is quoted as saying "I pull the plugs out of all the sets." Last little bit of Behind the Scenes comes from John Wayne and Maureen O'hara. The author relates: Angered by John Wayne's teasing on the set of The Quiet Man (1952) she really tried to knock John out during a fight scene, but he caught the punch and accidentally broke her wrist. She hid her swollen hand in the folds of her skirt during the early filming.

In the appropriate Off-Screen Relationship writeups we find Errol Flynn had a "thing" for
Olivia de Havilland, but being ultimately rebuffed, put a dead snake in her underwear drawer while filming The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936). When it comes to Garbo and Gilbert, quote, "Greta Garbo resisted all of John Gilbert's efforts to marry her. He even tried proposing in front of other people, hoping that this would embarrass her into saying yes." She never did. It is revealed that when Bogart was interred, Lauren Bacall put a gold whistle in the urn that holds his ashes. The inscription on the whistle reads, "If you need anything, just whistle." On her off screen relationship with William Powell, Myrna Loy is quoted: "It wasn't a conscious thing. If you heard us talking in a room, you'd hear the same thing. He'd tease me a little, and there was a sort of blending that pleased people. Bill is naturally a witty man. He doesn't have to have lines."

I have barely scratched the surface on all the information contained in the book's 230 plus pages. Author/editor Frank Miller and TCM have put together a delightful book, not solely for its purposed tie-in with the upcoming festival.

Here is a shot of the back cover - it lists all the couples featured.

When I thought about the book, before receiving it, I felt I would use it as more of a reference work, to be used when a particular film was being shown. However, the style, pictures, pleasing layout, and great anectdotes had me reading it from cover to cover in a couple of sittings. It is available now at Amazon, nicely discounted off its 19.95 cover price. It think readers of this blog would really enjoy it. Click here: Leading Couples (Turner Classic Movies) to learn more or pick up a copy.

A truly leading couple.

Lastly, tell us who is your favorite (and alluring) leading couple.