Tuesday, March 29

John Derek

Pretty Boy is what they called him and not just behind his back.  When he made costume dramas and had to wear tights, they told him he had pretty legs.  Despite the handsome looks and being the progeny of a Hollywood family, John Derek had a pretty tough time trying to make a name for himself in his birthplace, the city of broken dreams. He always said he found Hollywood to be a degrading place.  One wonders if he would have thought that had he found people to take him seriously.

Friday, March 25

Vincent Price

I suspect he would have been a fascinating dinner companion.   He was a writer, a gourmet, a noted art connoisseur and collector, opera lover, an engaging character actor and second leading man, horror film guru and one who likely knew where all the bodies were buried in Hollywood. I see him as overly mannered and principled but I sense he could dish with the best of them.

Tuesday, March 22

Ann Sheridan

Largely forgotten today, she wasn't nominated for an Oscar, there were no scandals, no children wrote a tell-all, and while she made a number of films, only three truly stand out to this day. Nonetheless, Ann Sheridan was a fine actress, equally capable in drama and comedy and she could sell a song when she needed to. Heavily counted on at Warner Bros. to deliver the goods, she always did... never a false note.  And she is perfect for this tribute to the 1940s because that's when the folks flocked to her films. 

Friday, March 18

Good 40s Films: Out of the Past

1947 Film Noir
From RKO Radio Pictures
Directed by Jacques Tourneur

Robert Mitchum
Jane Greer
Kirk Douglas
Rhonda Fleming
Paul Valentine
Virginia Huston
Richard Webb
Steve Brodie
Dickie Moore

Tuesday, March 15

RKO Radio Pictures

I will forever think of RKO as the home of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1930s... the young Katharine Hepburn... King Kong.  In the 1940s it was film noir that captured my attention in general and in particular with this studio who made some of the best.  Because of RKO and its loyalty to film noir, I came to revere Robert Mitchum, Gloria Grahame, Robert Ryan and Jane Greer, some of the icons of the genre.  It was one of the top five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age and occupies a unique place in the history of film-making.

Friday, March 11

The Directors: Henry King

He wasn't as famous or as flashy as a lot of directors from his day.  He didn't care to be as well-known as his actors or to be bigger than his movies.  He wanted his films to stand on their own as good product but when he was done with them, he happily let the studio handle all remaining matters and he was on to his next film, his new adventure.  That is exactly what he thought of all of his films... they were great adventures.

Tuesday, March 8

The Brothers

Sons of a New York aqueduct police chief who had show business aspirations himself, Larry and Jerry Tierney, five years a part in age, grew up to be movie actors as did, briefly, a third brother, Edward.  Larry would enter the business as Lawrence Tierney and Jerry would change his name to Scott Brady.  It always astonishes me when the kids of cops and ministers go bad and both Tierney brothers had scrapes with the law as adults, although presumably no actor ever had more notoriety in this regard than Lawrence.  The brothers fussed and feuded with one another and spent a lot of their adult years not speaking.  Both would probably have cringed to think they were combined in one piece like this.

Friday, March 4

The Great Hoax: Kate & Spence

Movie-making is about illusion.  Quite often that illusion spills over into what the public is fed about the lives of movie stars.  In the good old days, it often took quite an army of friends and family, publicity people and sycophants, police and press to push the public's heads in the sand.  It was perhaps never done so completely, so beautifully than that which was accomplished by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

Tuesday, March 1

Good 40s Films: Crossfire

1947 Film Noir
From RKO Radio Pictures
Directed by Edward Dmytryk

Robert Young
Robert Mitchum
Robert Ryan
Gloria Grahame
Paul Kelly
Sam Levene
George Cooper
Jacqueline White
Steve Brodie
William Phipp