Norma Shearer has long been a subject of interest for me. I am an ardent admirer of her work, particularly since she successfully made the transition from silent pictures to become a film star in sound films, a feat many others couldn’t accomplish.
Then there is of course my fascination with the mythos behind Norma’s marriage to MGM wunderkind Irving Thalberg. She benefitted from this relationship but also had to fight for her place, not only has his partner but for the roles he didn’t think she could play. I’ve also always wanted to know more about her life post Thalberg and MGM.
Thankfully, I finally had the chance to read the biography written by Gavin Lambert who was a screenwriter, novelist and who also wrote biographies on Alla Nazimova and Natalie Wood. Lambert was able to meet Norma several times before she passed away, interviewed her son and some of her friends and was also granted access to personal papers owned by MGM, all of which help add personal knowledge and details that are vitally necessary in his tribute to a woman who rarely shared or even hinted at the inner Norma Shearer. Continue reading “Book Review -Norma Shearer: A Biography by Gavin Lambert”
Apart from hardcore classic film fans, actress Miriam Hopkins is not often mentioned, which is a great shame in my opinion. She was an electric screen presence who achieved her greatest film success during the Pre-Code era. As a fan of her work, I’ve always wanted to know more about her and after eyeballing her biography for several years, finally made the time.
Though I’ve never encountered any of Allan R Ellenberger’s work before, he has written a handful of books on other film celebrities. Using multiple source materials he fleshes out a full-bodied portrait of the actress that has been sorely needed. Right away he sets the tone for his subject in his title choice, naming Miriam the Hollywood rebel that she was. Ellenberger paints a portrait of a cunningly intelligent, often appealing woman whose independence and determination helped her succeed in a difficult business while also occasionally alienating people along the way. Continue reading “Book Review – Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel by Allan R Ellenberger”
It’s rather easy to rattle off the most well-known films of famous silver screen stars. And I’m rather glad those movies are still bringing attention to faces who are no long with us, but who contributed greatly to the popularity of moving pictures.
However, it would be a shame not to dig deeper into the filmography of these stars as there is much of their work that is just as deserving of attention. Some, because of the quality of the production and others simply for great entertainment value.
It’s only in recent years that I’ve developed an appreciation for silent film, much less for the people who made up of the world of early Hollywood.
John (“Jack”) Gilbert was one of silent film’s success stories but also one of Hollywood’s great cautionary tales. He was a real star. But not the kind affixed in the firmament. Gilbert was more like a shooting star; a man who toiled unnoticed for years, slowly climbing his way up, until he flashed brilliantly across the screen for a handful of years before experiencing a sad descent. Continue reading “Book Review – John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars by Eve Golden”
George Sanders was one of classic Hollywood’s most popular character actors who was occasionally cast as the leading man. He often played elegant, suave villains whose acerbic wit made his performances memorable.
Can you believe that it is only in recent years that I have gained a deep appreciation for Jack Lemmon’s skill as an actor? And yet despite my new found sense of awe, I really don’t know much about the man himself.
You would think this would lead me to discover more about him through a typical biography or documentary, but no. Instead, I picked up a book written by his son Chris Lemmon.
A Twist of Lemmon is exactly the type of book I love to read about a celebrity I respect. Just about anyone willing to diligently research can write a good biography. But it is rare to get the personal perspective from the subject’s friends or family, which is exactly what I’m interested in. And it is a quick little read at under two hundred pages. Continue reading “Book Review – A Twist of Lemmon by Chris Lemmon”
I grew up with old school Disney. Though I never understood the appeal of Mickey Mouse, I adored Donald Duck. And thanks to a well-stocked local video store, I also watched many of Disney’s live action movies from the 1950’s on. Films like Shaggy Dog, Pollyanna, Swiss Family Robinson, The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Monkey’s Uncle and others offered wonderful family entertainment for a girl whose mother was very careful about what she was allowed to watch. To this day these films also hold a high nostalgia factor for me. Which is why when choosing a film for the James Garner Blogathon, I had to pick The Castaway Cowboy.
Carole Lombard is much lauded for her skills as a comedienne, but not as much so for her dramatic performances. Perhaps, it is for this reason, that it took a while for her to grow on me.
Screwball comedy is my favorite genre, and Carole is one of its’ heroines. But when I viewed her popular films, like My Man Godfrey, Twentieth Century and Nothing Sacred, I felt I must be missing something important. To me, her performances were shrill, occasionally manic and sometimes painful for me to watch. And yet, everyone raves about her talent.
Once again Aurora over at Once Upon a Screenis challenging everyone to pay it forward this Christmas by choosing classic film recommendations utilizing the Twelve Days of Christmas theme.
I’ve decided to stick as close to that theme as possible by creatively interpreting the lyrics of the song. I didn’t have as much time as I would like to elaborate on all the films and actors who are named in this post. But hopefully, they will pique your interest enough to discover them for yourself. Continue reading “#PayClassicsForward Christmas Challenge 2019”