Ruthelma Stevens

April 27, 2009


I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you probably haven't heard of Ruthelma Stevens. I hadn't either until I watched the Adolphe Menjou b-movie "The Circus Queen Murder" last week. The script was pitiful, the acting was mediocre and the plot was predictable. The one thing that stood out above all else was Ruthelma Stevens, playing Adolphe Menjou's sidekick, Miss Kelly.

I watched the film with my mom, who every ten minutes or so would say "she's really good... I wonder why we haven't seen her in anything else!" And so when "The End" appeared on the screen, I dashed off to imdb.com to find out what happened to this b-movie queen. I was very saddened to see her small filmography filled with parts like "(uncredited)... secretary" or "(uncredited)... brunette in theater." Her biography is empty, except for the name of her husband, and her birth and death dates (October 23 and October 23... she died on her 81st birthday.)

When I went looking for photos of her for this post, I couldn't find ONE. I looked on every search engine, every place I could think of, and "Ruthelma Stevens" turned up zero results. I finally resorted to playing my Circus Queen Murder DVD and taking screenshots in order to show you who she was.

Perhaps the saddest part of Ruthelma's story is the fact that she was actually a very good actress. It's easy to turn in a good performance when you have Dark Victory or Gone With the Wind for a script. But when you can turn a supporting role in "The Circus Queen Murder" into a chance to shine, and wring every existing drop of interestingness out of a mediocre, dull script, that's an accomplishment that deserves recognition.

Unfortunately, Ruthelma didn't get any recognition. In "The Circus Queen Murder," the title role went to Greta Nissen, who had about ten lines and one high-wire circus scene. Yet, Greta received top female billing. Squinting hard, staring at my screen I couldn't make out "Ruthelma Stevens" anywhere on the movie poster, at all.

Since her biography was so incredibly sparse, I can only hope that Ruthelma had a very happy life after films; that she and her husband enjoyed life out of the spotlight, and that her unfulfilled stardust dreams didn't haunt her.

Saturday in Princeton {A Photo Diary of modern day Princeton and my family history in the town}

April 25, 2009

I'm back! The art show was a moderate success (it was good, but when I compare it to last year, not so much... the economy has definitely hit my profession!)

This was year #5 at the Communiversity fair in Princeton. And whether the day had been a wipeout or a smash hit, I would have been happy anyway just being in Princeton. (By the way - the picture above is me and my brother, Kyle -- my dad wanted a solo shot of me but Kyle, as usual, would not cooperate... and if Kyle looks familiar to you, it's because he's becoming quite a star on youtube. You can view his funny videos here.)


Before I conduct my little photo-diary tour of Princeton, here are a few shots from my booth at the show--


(yes, I totally changed the layout anyway!)

PRINCETON

Me, my brother and my dad's entire branch of the family were all born in Princeton. My dad grew up there, and I spent many weekends as a kid walking around the campus, visiting the art museum and harboring dreams of going to Princeton University after high school. I didn't actually end up doing that -- (a little biographical background info here: I was very bored my senior year in high school because I had finished every required class except for health, so my parents let me quit high school to go jump into college ahead of schedule. Turns out, Princeton does not accept transfer students-- so I'm going to wait until I have my Bachelors & Masters under my belt before I apply to get my PhD there.. whew!)

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite parts of Princeton, and a little background on why I love it so much. To put this in the context of film, since that is what the blog is about -- just picture Jimmy Stewart and F. Scott Fitzgerald visiting the same spots I show you. I'm sure they did while they were students at Princeton!


These are the gates to the University. It's a really grand entrance, but because all of the architecture in Princeton is very grand and gothic, the gates are not intimidating; they are welcoming. The whole campus is covered in ivy, and you can almost hear the echoes of history as you walk around. The campus has been there since 1756.



Nassau Hall is steeped in history-- for several months in 1783, Princeton was the capitol of the United States, and Nassau Hall was the 1783 equivalent of Capitol Hill -- our entire government was in this building. According to university history, "Here Congress congratulated George Washington on his successful termination of the war, received the news of the signing of the definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, and welcomed the first foreign minister—from the Netherlands—accredited to the United States."



This is me in front of one of the famed Princeton Tigers at Nassau Hall. I've always wanted to have my picture taken here, but the only one I have is from when I was a wee little lass, when I was actually sitting ON the tiger. I'm pretty sure we have a picture somewhere of my dad as a kid doing the same thing.



PJ's Pancake House has been around for ages. It's a really quaint restaurant where they let people carve their names into the wooden tables. I didn't eat there today, so I didn't get any pictures of the tables (sorry!) but the carvings have been there for a really long time-- every time we go my mom tries looking through the hundreds of names on our table to see if she can find my grandmother or my grandfather's names. We're not sure that they ever did carve their names into a table, but we do know that they carved their names into a tree (is that too sweet or what?!) near a lake in Princeton.



Okay, if you are ever, ever within 100 miles of Princeton - drop what you are doing and visit Old World Pizza. They have THE best pizza on the planet! Even the New York Times reviewed them, and said pretty much the same thing! They use a brick oven, have crispy thin crust and they have tons of toppings to choose from. I don't eat cheese, which usually makes ordering Pizza a chore-- but not at Old World Pizza! They have a marinara pie that comes with delicious homemade marinara sauce, garlic and fresh basil. I always get half of my pie with spinach, too. (You're probably learning more about me in this post than you ever wanted to know! I do have very strange eating habits, but I'm a vegetarian/semi-vegan so I guess that's to be expected!)





This is the street my dad grew up on. My great grandfather owned a building block on Witherspoon St. where he had a furniture store in the early 1900's. They also owned, I think, two other storefronts that they rented out, and had an apartment complex on the second & third floors. My grandmother and her siblings owned the building until the 1970's when they decided to sell -- just before the Princeton renaissance, when prices shot through the roof. We all have that one family decision ("if we had only done THIS we could have been millionaires"-- this one is mine!) My dad moved out of Princeton before I was born, and my grandmother died when I was three, but my dad has relayed a lot of my grandmother's stories of Princeton to me -- she said she used to see Albert Einstein in town all of the time, and he always had on mismatched socks. Isn't that neat?! I wish my dad had "interviewed" her like I just did for my great aunt, because she had so many stories to tell. She and my grandfather kept up a very lengthy correspondence during World War II, when he used to send her poems! Unfortunately, we only have my grandfather's letters, but my mom has been transcribing them little by little for my dad.

About a month or two ago, we found a bunch of items mixed in with her bag of letters from my grandfather. This included, among other things, a ticket to a Tommy Dorsey concert when Frank Sinatra was singing with him (OMG!) some photos of my grandparents, a letter that seems to arrange for the marriage of my great grandmother to my great grandfather before she came to America, and a commencement book from 1932 -- the year that Jimmy Stewart graduated! Here are a few photos of the book-




Jose Ferrer



Jimmy Stewart


Here are a few more pictures of items from my grandmother's collection--



This is a Valentines Day card that my Grandfather sent to my Grandmother during WWII. They were courting at the time, not married yet, and you can tell from his letters & poems how much he loved her. I won't publish the letters or poems here because they are private, but my mom thinks that someday their love story would make a great movie.



This is the inside of one of the cards (not the one pictured above)
I loved the verse inside; it's so 1940's-ish, isn't it?


These are my grandparents, Eve and Gordon. Aren't they a sweet couple? They got married and had my dad a lot later than most people at the time; I think they were almost 40 when he was born. So I never got to meet my grandfather, and I only knew my grandmother for three years before she passed away. My grandfather was reportedly the king of corny jokes (a trait my dad has inherited) and my grandmother was a sweetheart who didn't know how to cook. My mom said they were deeply in love for their whole lives-- when my grandfather died, my grandmother did not stop mourning him. It was over a year before my parents could get her out of the house to a restaurant. I wish so badly I could have met them.

I don't have many pictures of my dad's parents, but I have tons from my mom's side of the family-- and I have a lot posted on my flickr account-- I've been scanning and adding a lot of them lately. It's only visible to friends and family, though, so if you want to see them, just go to flickr.com/kategabrielle, and mark me as a friend.


I hope you enjoyed my little tour through Princeton & my family history in the town. I was in a very genealogical mood today, and I had lots of fun doing this post. I'll be back to the normal routine tonight (remember-- song of the week returns!) but I hope you didn't mind this little diversion.

Robert Mitchum - Walk Like a Panther.

April 24, 2009

By Paul Brazill
at you would say that, wouldn't you?

Guest Blogger



‘Some walk like they own the place
Whilst others creep in fear
Try if you can to walk like a man
You've got to walk like a panther tonight’



Or so said, Jarvis Cocker,and, indeed, he could have been talking about the great uncaged beast that was Robert Charles Durman Mitchum. Big Bob, certainly prowled though many films like he ‘owned the place’ although, in typically self deprecating fashion, he said this: "People say I have an interesting walk. Hell, I'm just trying to hold my gut in."

For most of his life Mitchum was also uncaged. After being expelled from High School, he traveled throughout the country on railroad cars, taking a number of jobs including a ditch-digger and a professional boxer. He experienced many adventures during his years as one of the Depression era's "wild boys of the road."

However, in Georgia he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang . Years later, in August 1948, he was arrested by narcotics officers for marijuana possession and sentenced to 60 days at a California prison farm.

But in film he always seemed free. Roger Ebert called Mitchum 'the soul of Film Noir' and this was true in films such as Crossfire, The Big Steal,. Otto Preminger's Angel Face and Out of the Past, directed by Jacques Tourneur ,where Mitchum's cynical, mischievous attitude along with his lascivious droopy eyes and non-committal mouth were ideally suited to the role of the anti-hero.

However, the Charles Laughton helmed The Night of the Hunter is still considered by many to be Mitchum's best performance, playing a psychotic criminal posing as a preacher to find money hidden in his cell mate's home.

Thanks to Paul & Graciebird for their fantastic guest posts this week! To view all of the other guest blog posts so far, click on the "guest blogger" tag at the end of the post!

Gene Tierney

April 23, 2009

By Harley
at
Dreaming in Black and White
Guest Blogger





Gene Eliza Tierney was born in Connecticut on November 20th, 1920 to parents Belle Lavinia Taylor Tierney and Howard Tierney Sr. Belle Tierney felt that her daughter's initials indicated she would be headed for big things in her future, and this led to her being nicknamed the 'Get Girl' in Hollywood. Her trip to Tinsel Town was first fueled in 1938 when on a tour of Warner Bros. Studios, producer Anatole Litvak remarked to her: "Young woman, you ought to be in pictures." Howard Tierney was wary about the idea, though Gene was very much willing to pursue a career in Hollywood. He at first refused his daughter's dream, but relented when one day, after a debutante party in her honor, Gene told her father: "I'm incredibly bored. I think I shall die." She got her first start in the Broadway production, What a Life! in which she carried a pail of water across the stage, leaving a critic to proclaim: "Miss Tierney is certainly the most beautiful water carrier I've ever seen!"

Hollywood soon came beckoning at Gene's door, with a Fox contract in it's hand after she was spotted by producer Darryl F. Zanuck in the Broadway play, The Male Animal (1940). Her first film paired her opposite Henry Fonda in 1940's The Return of Frank James. During one scene, Gene jutted her lower lip out, in an attempt to appear sultry, much to director Fritz Lang's chagrin. He called Gene a very nasty five letter word, thinking that she was mugging for the camera. Henry however came to the rescue, telling Lang never to yell that way to sweet Gene ever again. This led our young starlet to develop an innocent crush on Henry, one that was short lived however when she was invited to dinner at his home and saw him perfectly content with his wife and adorable children Jane and Peter.

She teamed up with Fonda once more for the 1943 comedy, Rings on Her Fingers. While Gene had her turn at comedy (That Wonderful Urge, The Mating Season), she was often seen and cast as the exotic foreigner. (The Egyptian, China Girl). Her notable films include Laura (1944), her most celebrated role, Leave Her to Heaven (1945), the only role in which she was Oscar nominated, The Razor's Edge, (1946) and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). Lucky Miss Tierney made four films with Dana Andrews: Belle Starr, Tobacco Road (both 1941) Laura, and the overlooked Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950). The latter film was the only one in which her fashion designer husband Oleg Cassini designed her gowns.

Her films in the 1950s were sparse however after she was subject to numerous electro shock therapy treatments due to her unstable mental health. These issues came as a result of her grief over eldest daughter Daria being born mentally retarded in 1943. A history of mental health instability on Belle Tierney's side of the family may also have contributed to Gene's mental health problems. Humphrey Bogart noticed Gene's instability while they were filming The Left Hand of God in 1955, and in 1957 she was admitted to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. The incident which prompted her admittance was when a neighbor saw Gene contemplating jumping from a window ledge in her apartment. What convinced Gene not to do it? Vanity. She couldn't bear the fact that her pretty face would be scrambled on the sidewalk if she did.

While Gene is certainly remembered for her striking good looks, she should also be remembered for her acting as well. Laura has remained the noir classic it is today in part because Gene was able to capture not only the heart of Dana Andrews, but also that of the audience. She is forever linked to that role because it is so memorable and enigmatic, and you can't help but picture Gene in your mind when you hear the lyrics to Johnny Mercer's haunting Laura theme:

Laura is the face in a misty light
Footsteps that you hear down the hall
The laugh that floats on a summer's night
That you can never quite recall

And you see Laura
On a train that is passing through
Those eyes...how familiar they seem
She gave your very first kiss to you

That was Laura
But she's only a dream.

Jean Harlow... FINIS!

April 22, 2009




YAY!!! She's finished!

I ended up using a different face entirely from the one in the original portrait, but I actually think this works better, and is more Harlow-ish than the other one. It's 8" x 16" and looks great with the other pop art paintings, because it's exactly double the length of the 8" x 8" ones -- see my picture in the previous post to know what I mean :)


I'm so glad now that the little one didn't turn out right, because she looks so much better on a big canvas!

Clara Bow

I was in a Clara Bow mood tonight... she is my favorite person to draw and/or paint, and after a trying few days of artistic misery, I needed a little Clara Bow art to cheer me up... turns out this first one (the green one) is my new favorite, and I changed all my little icons from the old Clara Bow to this one.

Coming up this afternoon-- FINALLY! I actually got Jean Harlow right! I'll be uploading it later this afternoon-- it's about time! I was about ready to set it on fire or something, it was bothering me so!

Coming up this week -- GUEST POSTS! On Thursday I'll be posting Graciebird's wonderful tribute to Gene Tierney accompanied by my painting, and on Friday I'll be posting Paul Brazill's exceptional piece about Robert Mitchum, also accompanied by my painting. So stay tuned!



Grace Kelly

April 21, 2009




One of the most formidable teams in Hollywood in the 1950's was Alfred Hitchcock and Grace Kelly. Their three movies, Dial M For Murder, To Catch a Thief and Rear Window are three of Hitchcock's best, and definitely Grace Kelly's best.

Comparing her performances in other non-Hitch films to the ones she did in these three movies, it is so obvious that Hitchcock somehow unleashed a totally different actress. While I love her other movies as well, there's no denying that she is much more at ease, and more fluid in her acting under Hitchcock's direction. Personally, I think she deserved the Oscar more for Dial M For Murder than for Country Girl (another Oscar mixup-- if either of the two stars deserved an Oscar I personally think it was Bing) and credit for that performance is partly due to Hitchcock, who pulled from her one of the best performances any of his leading ladies ever gave.

Surprisingly, seeing as how I am a devoted Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby & Louis Armstrong fan, High Society is not one of my favorite musicals at all. The entire production was sort of stiff and stagey -- plus, I was constantly comparing it in my own mind to the superior non-musical version The Philadelphia Story... but there is no denying that Grace Kelly was made for the role of Tracy Lord... It was a fitting way to cap off a marvelous, albeit short, Hollywood career.

A little trivia that will make Grace Kelly fans oh-so-jealous! Me and Princess Grace share a birthday :D

Eve Arden




Eve Arden is one of my favorite First Rate Second Bananas.

She wasn't the typical "tough broad" -- she was more like the wisecracking conscience of the leading lady. In Mildred Pierce, My Reputation, My Dream is Yours and countless other films, Eve Arden tossed out the witty one liners while simultaneously cheering up or cheering on the leading lady in the film.

There are some character actors that are understandably relegated to "supporting" status; even though he was a terrific actor, you really can't picture Eric Blore as the romantic lead in a film, can you? But Eve Arden was really pretty! Except for a few token films, she never really had the chance to get the man, and I think that's a darn shame! I don't know about you, but I think it would have been swell if she stole the leading man away from Joan Crawford!

Now pardon me, while I go on about art for a second--- this Eve Arden painting is NOT the final one. I'm determined to do another one that looks more like her. I've had a very difficult painting day, and nothing has turned out right. I have a new Jean Harlow painting (that red full-body one) and yet again, she is faceless! Ergh! I also painted Grace Kelly, who is drying right now, and depending on whether or not I'm 95% okay with how she turned out, I may upload her tonight... if you paint or write, or do any kind of creative work, you know how I feel-- like my brushes literally beat me over the head today, and my canvases all ganged up together to throw wads of paint at my face. Seriously! So I'll attempt this all over again tomorrow, hopefully with better results!

Hayley Mills {Happy Belated Birthday!}

April 20, 2009



Happy 63rd Birthday to Hayley Mills!

If you are a girl, and you were born anytime from about 1950 to the present, you probably loved Hayley Mills films when you were little... and if you're like me, you never grew out of it.

One of the greatest things about her films is the fact that they span generations. My mom loved the same films as a child that I loved when I was little. Not many stars have that staying power.

When I was a kid, my favorite of her films were The Parent Trap and The Trouble with Angels. I was still pretty young when the remake of The Parent Trap was released, and it was probably my first encounter with Remake Anxiety! Hayley Mills was my favorite actress... how dare anyone try to take her place!

To this day I still love watching her movies. I've found new things to love about each one. And! I finally know who her co-stars are. When I was little, I always thought her dad in The Parent Trap was John Wayne. Now, I know he is Brian Keith. (although, I guess most kids didn't even know who John Wayne was, right? lol) Pollyanna is filled with classic film favorites-- Jane Wyman, Karl Malden, Agnes Moorehead, Donald Crisp and Adolphe Menjou. It's such a delight re-watching these films and seeing so many familiar faces!

But my real, real all-time favorite film as a kid was The Trouble with Angels. I pretty much knew the dialogue from that film by heart. Hayley Mills' character was just the best thing on film. Even now, one of my favorite things to say is "I have the most scathingly, brilliant idea" -- a catch line from the film.

I don't know about you, but I'm the kind of grown-up that is still 90% kid. I still love all the things I did as a child; I love the Disney films (obviously live action & cartoon) I still love using my imagination, playing with crayons, wearing pigtails and using sidewalk chalk. Hayley Mills is just another facet of my childish character; I still love her films, and enjoy watching them just as much today as I did when I was little. Maybe even more so...
PS. If I ever have a daughter, I am SO naming her Hayley! My favorite name, ever!

Leslie Howard news!

April 19, 2009

I saw this in the newspaper this morning and I just had to post it here, because I'm so thrilled about it... The AP is reporting that a monument is going to be erected in Spain to remember Leslie Howard, whose plane was shot down there in World War II. Here is the whole article:

A historical association says it will honor "Gone With the Wind" actor Leslie Howard as a war hero with a monument in Spain near where his plane was shot down by Nazi fighter pilots during World War II.
The Royal Green Jackets association and author Jose Rey Ximena will unveil the propeller-shaped sculpture in July near Cedeira bearing the names of those who died aboard the commercial flight from Portugal to Britain in 1943.

Association President Manuel Santiago Arenas Roca says the London-born Howard joined the Allies and campaigned hard against the Axis powers.
Ximena said Saturday that Germany's government at the time apparently was worried about the negative impact the high-profile actor-director's anti-Nazi publicity was having on its cause.

Two of my classes ended on Friday, so my workload has significantly decreased. Hopefully this week I'll be adding all those paintings I've been saying I was going to add for two weeks!

Our Blushing Brides {The Apartment}

April 18, 2009



As part of my continuing series on bachelor apartments, I'd like to show you one that I've admired for a long, long time... Robert Montgomery's flat in Our Blushing Brides.

Now, I guess I should clarify on this one.. it's not actually an apartment, per se. You might not even believe me unless you've seen the movie when I tell you-- it's a tree house. Yes, a tree house. But it is THE most awesome tree house in tree house history!

The scene begins with Robert Montgomery taking a bewigged Joan Crawford (another darn blonde wig!) for a stroll in his garden. The next thing you know, he flips a switch and voila! The lights in his tree house come on!


I know, you're thinking, "that is the best tree house ever!"
but you ain't seen nothing yet! Wait until you see the inside!!


(You have to climb up the ladder to get there, you know!)

Can you believe THAT?! A giant arching window to
view the moonlight, a giant semicircular couch to
cozy up to his sweetheart. Robert Montgomery has
got it made! Even if he weren't so handsome and
charming, I think Joan would marry him just for
the tree house!


What is completely lovely about this tree house is
the feature that made me go ga-ga over the Sunday
in New York apartment-- split levels! I love the
sunken couch area! Apparently Joan does, too!

And... the obligatory Robert Montgomery screenshot.
How could I resist that boyish smirk? (sigh)

In case you're not aware, Robert Montgomery is one of the select few gentlemen who is in my TOP FIVE favorite actors. I have three that have been there steadily for a long, long time and then the other two fluctuate. My top three are ALWAYS Ronald Colman, Charles Boyer and Robert Montgomery. That's the way it has always been, and that's the way it will always stay!

I finally finished my list of my top 20 favorite actors and actresses, but I only have about 8 of them painted so far.The goal is to have all 40 paintings finished sometime in May. I'm not sure if I should keep them all on hold and post them in one big batch when I've finished all 40 or post them in increments. What do you think?

By the way-- in case you missed the first installment of my bachelor apartment series, here's the link for the whole series!

The Earrings of Madame de...

April 16, 2009


Even if you aren't a fan of foreign films, you will LOVE "The Earrings of Madame de..."


I rented it from Netflix last week, watched it for the first time two days ago, and I'm already itching to watch it again. If you have Netflix, I really recommend renting it instead of buying it. It's a Criterion Collection movie, so it's very pricey to buy -- although since I like it so much now, I may end up just purchasing it eventually anyway!

"The Earrings of Madame de.. is a French film that stars Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio de Sica, and it is directed by the inimitable Max Ophuls. You can probably guess what the basic story is about, what with two men and one woman getting top billing--- yes, it is a love triangle. This scenario has been re-hashed in hundreds of films, but in Earrings, it is as if the concept was totally born anew.

As you probably know, Charles Boyer is one of my very favorite actors, and so I was incredibly excited when I rented this-- there aren't many Boyer movies left that I haven't seen. Once again, he did not let me down. His role is relatively small, and in anyone else's hands it could have been forgettable and uninspiring. But Charles Boyer fills this character with life, hidden motivations and deep feeling.

But as much as I adore Charles Boyer, this film belongs to Danielle Darrieux. It is actually the first film I've seen her in (I know! I'm ashamed!) Her performance is absolutely breathtaking. I don't even know how to really describe her acting; but I'll try to explain one thing that really impressed me. At a certain point in the film, her character is feeling very empty and confused. Her face is awash with emptiness; you can see how hollow her face looks... everywhere except for her eyes. It's amazing how her eyes have so much emotion and depth when she could simultaneously make the rest of her face look so blank.

In fact, I think the whole film could be described in the same way as Danielle Darrieux's acting-- it has a very hollow, empty look about it. (In this scene that I drew, Danielle is walking along the beach in a shroud-like outfit and you can almost taste the emptiness in the air) But if you watch closely, this film is packed with subtle emotion and incredibly well-developed characters.

Splash Award

April 15, 2009

Excuse my tardiness in finally getting around to accepting & then passing on this lovely award given to me by Lolita at Lolita's Classics! Also, please excuse me if I award someone who has already been awarded... it's very hard to keep track!

"The Splash award is given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive, and inspiring blogs. When you receive this award, you must:

1. Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
2. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
3. Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
4. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your Splash award."



Since I follow so many blogs, and love them all so much, I'm beginning to feel queasy when I have to publicly name four or five (or even nine) that I would select for an award. Almost every blog I follow deserves one! How can I narrow it down?!

However, my nerves calmed when I finally decided to take this opportunity to plug a few of the new blogs I've begun following in the last month; all of which are absolutely fantastic & deserve to have 1 million followers each! Please take a look at them when you have a chance-- you won't be disappointed!

Cinema OCD - I just discovered "Jenny the Nipper"'s fabulous blog about two weeks ago, and I am totally hooked. She has a razor sharp wit & an affinity for Brian Aherne-- what could be better ?

Ingrid Bergman Life and Films - Not many people can conquer the task of devoting an entire blog to one person; but Alexis has taken on that challenge & passed with flying colors. I love learning more about Ingrid Bergman with each post she writes!

Riku Writes Mostly About Film - Richard is one of the best writers ever. Seriously-- his sheer brilliance & cinematic insight are astounding. But don't take my word for it-- go read his blog!

The Kitty Packard Pictorial - Another recent find that has me hooked! I spent hours just browsing the first time I stumbled upon the site, gawking at all of the rare photographs, advertisements & interviews!

Twenty Four Frames - Just a sampling of the recent topics on 24 Frames is enough to make your mouth water: I Am A Fugitive From a Chain Gang, The Great McGinty, Wild Boys of the Road (a great William Wellman picture) & a write-up on Gloria Grahame!

Radiation Cinema - A blog devoted to classic sci-fi!! Your eyes will pop when you first land on the site! It's packed with Nuclear PSA's galore, fun polls, great posts & clips!

Charles Coburn

I'm sort of back up and running.... I do have a new painting (Charles Coburn) and I did manage to get it scanned into the computer, but I am having VERY mixed feelings about the new computer! Mind if I steal about one (maybe one and 1/2) paragraph away from Charles Coburn to voice my problems with my new macbook?

1. I cannot figure out how to print things a specific size, like 5x7 on 8.5x11 paper, which is something I used to do ALL the time. 2. I have most of my information stored on an external Free Agent hard drive, and while I can open all of the images, etc. from the hard drive on my new macbook, the entire hard drive is read only!!! I can't even add new paintings to my art folder. 3. I have to re-purchase Photoshop & Illustrator because mine were for XP and I can't live without them. 4. Hence why this scanned painting doesn't look absolutely perfect-- I couldn't selectively edit contrast, brightness and saturation. 5. Only two USB ports (I just ordered a hub so that I can connect all of my many usb cords) 6. I am using the same exact scanner I was using before, and yet I can't figure out how it works with this computer! Update: I figured all of this out, so the paragraph is now redundant :)

On the bright side: I really like a lot of the features, I've always liked apple software better than Microsoft (I used to use the safari browser on my pc) and except for those few MAJOR problems I'm having above, I really hope I can overcome the issues & figure everything out because I want so badly to love my new macbook!

OKAY! On to Charles Coburn... winner of last week's poll!




Who among us does not love Charles Coburn? Personally, I prefer his comedic work (he did do an awful lot of melodramatic movies) like in The More the Merrier, The Devil and Miss Jones and The Lady Eve. He was a comedic genius, often stealing the picture from such heavyweights as Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Henry Fonda and Joel McCrea.

Originally part of a Broadway team with his wife, Charles Coburn made the switch to Hollywood when his wife died in the 1930's.

While my very favorite Coburn roles are all in screwball comedy, ranking right up there is his role in The Green Years. It's one of those movies where the first half - 3/4 of the movie is fantastic and then the rest is only so/so-- and one of the main reasons is because Charles Coburn's character isn't a major presence in the second half. In another stroke of character acting brilliance, Coburn plays a jolly old bearded man who befriends his young, orphaned great-grandson. It's a really sweet performance in (at least the first half) a very sweet movie. If you like Charles Coburn and you haven't seen it yet-- add it to your queue!

ps. I have a Jean Harlow painting drying on my desk, but I'd really like to figure out how my computer works a little better before I do another post. I may end up just hooking up my scanner to my dad's computer until I can work everything out. If anyone has a mac and is willing to give me some tips, they are VERY much welcome!!

pss. To everyone who entered the giveaway- you've probably noticed that I haven't e-mailed you yet... I promise I will do so by tomorrow evening. I'm like a fish out of water with this computer right now, and I need another day to figure it all out :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TCM!

April 14, 2009


To celebrate 15 wonderful years, I asked for you to send me anecdotes about your favorite bits of movie trivia passed on to you by Robert Osborne (or, if you are one of "the unfortunates" and don't have TCM, normal trivia worked fine too!) Thanks to everyone who participated-- I really had fun reading everyone's e-mails! Here are all of the entries- enjoy!

"I think the one thing that I learned from Robert Osborne is that he taught me to appreciate the craft and the dedication put into movies. I never paid attention to the people behind the scenes and Robert so graciously opened my mind to the people behind the scenes. He always feeds my mind with movie knowledge I never thought I would know. So that's what I've learned from dear old Robert Osborne." - Nicole

"One thing that I learned from the classic film man himself, Robert Osbourne, was from the TCM website and the 50 Most Unforgettable Actors Of The Studio Era book when he said that John Garfield was originally considered for the role of Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" but he turned it down because he supposedly didn't want to be overshadowed by the female lead. That I found very surprising because that is one of the roles Marlon Brando is synonymous with and to picture Garfield in it is interesting." - Caitlin

"My favorite was for Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, before Joan Crawford had to drop out. She filmed the scene in which she gets out of the taxi, looks up at Bette Davis, and goes inside all in one continuous take. Someone -- I forget who -- later walked in on Bette miming the whole scene in her room, trying to figure out how Joan did it! In addition to giving me an amusing mental image, I thought it was interesting because all I ever hear about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford is that they hated each other; this tidbit is at least a change of pace from all that." - Caitlin from
Princess Fire and Music

"One thing I've learned is that Robert Osborne is not an oracle. He once introduced Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) as a film featuring Harry Belafonte "with nary a song in sight." The only problem is, Belafonte plays a xylophone player in a nightclub band...and sings two songs in the picture, one a duet with Mae Barnes ("All Men Are Evil")." - Ivan from
The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

[Even with one mistake under his belt, Ivan, I still contend that he IS an oracle! -Kate]


"My favourite bit of movie trivia, think I put it on my blog somewhere, is that the great Sig Rumann plays a medical expert called in to expose a patient with fake symptoms in four separate movies between 1937 and 1966." -Matthew from
Movietone News

"One of the first things I remember learning from the great RO is the importance of 1939 in classic film history. TCM was doing a showcase of the films from 1939 and he talked about it before each one. I found the magic of that year so fascinating. I was a newbie film buff at the time, and the idea that Hollywood had one blockbuster year that has never been duplicated since was just captivating. He offered a few suggestions as to why 1939 worked so well, including the studio system being at full swing. I tried to come up with some ideas of my own, and it fueled my desire to find out more about this whole classic film thing. I still haven’t got the answer, but I’m much smarter than I was before! -- I have one more trivia bit, that you can use or not use – up to you. --I know RO has talked about the kooky Marjorie Main and her fear of germs. I’m pretty sure he said once, possibly at the beginning of Meet Me In Saint Louis, that Marjorie would wear gloves at all times when she wasn’t doing a scene. I just find that image so hilarious: Marjorie sitting in a chair off to the side of a set, with some cotton gloves protecting her hands." - Casey from
Noir Girl

"I've learned so much from Robert Osborne. It all kind of amalgamates in my brain with my other movie trivia so I don't remember what I learned from him or what I learned elsewhere. One thing cool I learned about Film Noir is that when a person is half in shadow and half in light it symbolizes how they are in between good and bad. Noir is always blurring the lines of what is good and what is bad and characters in noir usually have elements of both. I believe Osborne pointed this out once for Double Indemnity. My friend Kevin, who is a Film Noir afficianado, taught me this too." - Raquelle from
Out of the Past

"Bette Davis hated working with Errol Flynn. Yet later, when she was retired, she watched one of their movies she said he did good work." - Jamie

"When Clementine and Joel are in the Montauk beach house in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Clementine finds an envelope that says David and Ruth Laskin. David and Ruth are the first names of Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey's assistants." - Alexandra


"2005: first ROBERT OSBORNE'S CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL in Athens, GA. (guests have included Jane Powell, Parker Posey, Maximilian Schell, Louise Fletcher, Patricia Neal, Mickey Rooney, Roger Mayer, Jean Firstenberg, Pia Lindstrom, Ann Rutherford)" - Sandy

"I just watched the DVD commentary on "Each Dawn I Die." One of the things George Raft is known for is refusing some of the roles that then went to Bogart and made him a star (such as High Sierra and Casablanca). The interesting trivia mentioned in the commentary was that Bogart actually lost the role of Stacey in "Each Dawn I Die" to Raft! A little bit of turnabout, there, and a good thing too. Just as the other films are much better suited to Bogart's persona, this one fits Raft. I'd say it all worked out well. Stacey's dialogue had to be rewritten to switch it from Bogart's style to Raft's before filming." - DKoren from
Sidewalk Crossings

"My favorite piece of film trivia off the top of my head is that the oldest existing animated feature is THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, directed by Lotte Reiniger. the other is a bit more poignant: Lois Weber, the godmother of narrative film, died penniless in the early '20s. Frances Marion, a writer who frequently collaborated with Mary Pickford (to the point of writing her newspaper column), put up the money for her funeral." - Chelsea


"While I can't recall one exact thing I've learned from Robby O (pet name :D), I have learned that it IS possible to see almost every classic movie ever made a few dozen times. If it weren't for him and Ben Mankiewicz, my path on the yellow brick movie road would be hectic
and lead to numerous forks in the road. They've both sort of steered me in the direction of favorite classic movies with their introductions during the weekends or primetime every night. Consequently, after listening to them talk about behind the scenes hijinks or "that wasn't intended to happen, but director ___ loved it so much he kept it in the film", It's kind of opened a door on the old Hollywood glamor that I've come to love and admire so much. -- OY GEVALT, that was long!" - Sarah

"*Spencer Tracy did not star with Humphrey Bogart in Desperate Hours because the two argued over top billing (that still blows my mind). *Marlene Dietrich tried to seduce Robert Donat when they made Knight Without Armor but was chagrined to learn that Donat was faithful to his wife. *Though divorced from one another, William Powell and Carole Lombard got along famously while making My Man Godfrey. *Much of the film Bombshell, in which Jean Harlow starred, was based on Harlow's own life. I could go on and on. Osborne enriches every film he introduces on TCM. He is integral in making it the world's great TV station. Thanks for helping me remember and appreciate him." - Richard from Riku Writes- Mostly About Films

"Only one thing? I've learned so many little factoids from listening to Robert Osborne. One recent one was that Robert Mitchum got the lead in Out of the Past only after Humphrey Bogart and others turned it down." - Wendy from
Movie Viewing Girl

"The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie ever. Here's a bit of Wizard trivia. The man playing the fortune teller/Wizard's costume included an old coat. He wore this as the fortune teller. While on set, he dug through the pockets and found a tag reading Property of L. Frank Baum (the author of The Wizard of Oz). The coat was purchased at a thrift store by the costume department. Mr. Baum frequently donated." - Nichola

If you entered, I'll be e-mailing you tonight to inquire what print you'd like and where to send it... I already started working on some new paintings & the UPS tracking indicates that my new laptop will be on my doorstep any minute now! So assuming all goes well, there will be new paintings up TONIGHT! I'll wait until they're posted to ask which prints entrants would like, just in case you want one of the new ones! In the mean time, if you entered, you can look at my existing art on www.silentsandtalkies.etsy.com to see what you have to choose from :)

Thanks again to everyone who entered, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TCM!!!

More Idiot's Delight..

April 08, 2009

I meant to add this to my previous post, but totally forgot until Raquelle mentioned it in the comments--One of my favorite scenes in any movie, EVER! Grab some popcorn and spend about one minute in a state of cinematic bliss:

Norma Shearer in Idiot's Delight

April 07, 2009


Yes, it's about wigs again...

In the comments on my last post, a lot of people brought up the fact that Stanwyck's character in Double Indemnity is a fake, artificial kind of person, hence the fake artificial wig. The only other instances I can think of off the top of my head in which the female lead sports a very unflattering fake head of hair are Norma Shearer's phony countess in Idiot's Delight and Stanwyck again in Baby Face (where she has several hair costume changes on her rise to the top) So I guess the "fake character? let's give her a fake wig" idea may actually be a pattern in classic film. (Three instances can make a pattern, right?)

What do you think of the Shearer wig, and can anyone help me think of more fake wigs/fake characters?