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”
Unlike in real life, in the cinematic world, thieves are usually lovable rogues thanks to their charm, intelligence and ingenuity. I blame Ernst Lubitsch. Long before we knew the names of John Robie, Thomas Crown or Danny Ocean, Lubitsch introduced us to the ideal image of a suave international thief in Trouble in Paradise.
Our first introduction to Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) comes just after a wealthy guest in a Venetian hotel has been robbed of 20,000 francs. Gaston, masquerading as a Baron, waits in a nearby hotel room for his dinner date, instructing a waiter on how to arrange the dinner. Before leaving to complete his instructions, the waiter picks a leaf off of Gaston’s dinner jacket. This is our first clue that Gaston is not all he seems.
Cue the arrival of Lily (Miriam Hopkins), a glamorous blonde claiming the title of Countess. She enters bemoaning the gossip of her peers, which will soon disclose her private dinner date with the Baron. But Lily is not what she appears to be either. Over dinner, the two confront each other over their real identities while also preening with pride over their skills as they reveal what they have stolen from each other. However, it’s not just wallets, watches and garters which are stolen this night, but hearts. It seems light fingers serve as an aphrodisiac. Gaston and Lily are instantly smitten. Continue reading “It Takes a Thief Blogathon -Trouble in Paradise (1932)”