When talking about the quintessential classic Hollywood femme fatale, I’d be remiss not to mention what is arguably the most recognizable character of the genre.
Released in 1946 and directed by Charles Vidor, Gildais with out a doubt, considered one of the best film noirs of all time.
With its shiny glamour shots and acting that would rival even the most dedicated method actors, Gilda will always have a place among the film noir greats. What makes this movie so memorable, is the dress wearing, hair flipping charm of Rita Hayworth‘s title character, Gilda.
Sultry, sexy, and dangerous are just a couple words to describe Rita in this role. A shy women in real life, according to Rita herself, her performance as Gilda is one of the greatest of all time (don’t fight me on this, haha.)
In the film, Gilda is quite cunning, she has most men wrapped around her finger, there’s also a level of manipulation on her part as well. Her leading man in the film, played excellently by Glenn Ford, has this love hate relationship with her.
As the movie continues, we see that Johnny and Gilda had a history together and there are times where we see it get pretty volatile. Gilda openly flirts with men to get Johnny riled up, but on the inside she always loved him.
But, even at the end of the film, Johnny grows power hungry and uses his new found wealth and influence to hurt Gilda for everything she’s put him through.
Fortunately at the end, the pair reconcile, but Gilda essentially drives Johnny to go crazy – emotionally, physically and mentally. That’s the great thing about this movie. Not only does it look stunning, it also has some of the best acting of Hayworth’s career.
Gilda knew what she was doing, maybe to a fault, and perhaps that hurt her in the end.
If that isn’t a femme fatale, then I don’t know what is.
If you like to read more entries on this blogathon, click: here 🙂
Legendary actress Doris Day just recently celebrated her 97th birthday.
It’s an achievement for anybody to reach old age, it’s especially impressive when they’re 97 years young. To celebrate this, I’m going to discuss another side of Doris that, arguably, doesn’t get talked about enough.
As we all know, Ms. Day started out as a singer, eventually transitioning into acting later in her life. If you read up on the early days of Doris, it’s very apparent that her voice was quite the show stopper.
Doris began singing at an early age.
While recovering from an auto accident at a young age, Day began to sing with the radio, listening and humming along to the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller. Doris quickly discovered her hidden talent and eventually it grew into something more.
Doris‘ mother, Alma, put her in singing lessons where her talent proceeded to grow. Day‘s first true singing gig was with band leader Barney Rapp, then she moved on to work with the likes of Jimmy James, Bob Crosby, and Les Brown.
When working with Brown, Day managed to score her first hit with “Sentimental Journey,” and from that point on, her singing career took off.
During the 1940s, Day would go on to have six other top ten hits on the Billboard chart with songs like, “My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time,” “Tain’t Me,” and “The Whole World is Singing My Song.”
Day always had a lovely singing voice, and its no wonder that even today her songs resonate well with listeners. From the classic like “Que Sera Sera” and “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” to her acting career, Ms. Day has always been a quintessential classic Hollywood figure.
I only hope that her next birthdays are as wonderful as this one was.
If you wish to read more entries in this blogathon: click here
When discussing classic Hollywood cinema, there are usually several different actors and actresses that come to mind as you murmur the words, “golden age.”
Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, James Dean, and Audrey Hepburn, are just a couple of many names on the endless list of legendary classic movie performers.
A woman that doesn’t nearly get enough recognition on these lists is Ireland’s very own ‘Queen of Technicolor’, Maureen O’Hara.
Born on August 17th, 1920 in Ranelagh, Ireland, O’Hara‘s career lasted 61 years, triumphantly ending in 1991 with the romantic-comedy Only the Lonelystarring alongside John Candy. During those six decades, she co-starred with some of the most admired actors in film history.
From Tyrone Power to John Wayne and even Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara’s film roles were just an extension of who she was as a woman.
Whether it be sword fighting with Errol Flynn, planning a summer vacation with Jimmy Stewart, or falling madly in love with John Wayne on the mountainous terrain of rural Ireland, Maureen O’Hara’s filmography is perhaps one of the most underappreciated in classic Hollywood history.
Strikingly beautiful and blessed with an aura that the camera naturally gravitated too, O’Hara was raised in the sleepy Dublin neighborhood of Ranelagh.
Born to Charlie and Marguerite (née Lilburn) FitzSimons, Maureen has said that her adolescence was “the most remarkable and eccentric that she could’ve hoped for.”
Being the second oldest of six children (and the only red-head), O’Hara lived a relatively happy and carefree childhood. She would often describe her mother in a kind light, saying that she,”inherited [her] singing voice from [her] and that when her mother would leave the house, men would “leave their houses just to catch a glimpse of her on the street.”
O’Hara has also asserted in interviews that she was a rather “blunt child”, saying that she “didn’t take discipline very well.”
As an infant, she was given the nickname, “Baby Elephant” for having a stout physique. Her tomboyish nature had her take part in a number of physically strenuous activities like fishing, riding horses, judo and even Gaelic Football.
At the age of 5, she began dancing. O’Hara didn’t take the hobby seriously until a gypsy spotted her and prophesied that she would one day become well-known for her acting skills.
She initially scoffed at the idea, but her parents coaxed her into the thought. Her hunger quickly for fame quickly grew and by age 10 she was working for the Rathmines Theater Company, where she honed her skills in amateur theater productions.
It wasn’t until the age of 17 when O’Hara grew into her stunning looks that casting agents started giving her attention.
By 1937, O’Hara was a full-time actress, working at the Abbey Theatre where she swiftly caught the attention of singer/actor Harry Richman. Richman insisted that O’Hara should travel to London to have a screen test done.
She agreed, and when Maureen and her parents landed on the island she was immediately thrust into the limelight, making her screen debut in the 1938 film Kicking the Moon Around.
Although O’Hara didn’t consider Kicking the Moon Around her screen debut, it’s still counted as the first film she’s starred in. However, the movie that she truly believed to be her screen debut was the Hitchcock thriller Jamaica Inn.
Co-starring alongside Charles Laughton, Jamaica Inn is a Hitchcock film through and through. Although it isn’t as recognizable as some of his later drama/thrillers, it holds it’s own as a standalone film.
O’Hara‘s performance received raved reviews, quickly cementing her place amongst Hollywood elite. She was then offered a seven-year contract off the back of her stand out performance.
At first, she and her family declined, citing that O’Hara was far too young to make such a momentous jump in her career. But, after a few drinks and coddling, they caved and Maureen signed a seven-year contract to Mayflower Pictures.
After that she was cast in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1939. Boarding the ship liner from England to New York, then taking a train from NYC to Los Angeles, O’Hara‘s Hollywood journey truly began.
Because of her role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, O’Hara‘s star in Hollywood continued to rise, starring in a number of films like How Green Was My Valley, Miracle on 34th Street and of course The Quiet Man.
She followed those up by starring in a series of John Ford films that, just maybe, cemented her legacy as “Hollywood’s toughest broad.
As O’Hara got older, she continued to act and hold her own against some of the best in the business, even acting up until the early 1990s. Stand outs from that era include, The Parent Trap, Spencer’s Mountain, and the very funny Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.
Unfortunately, after a very long life, Maureen O’ Hara would pass away on October 24th, 2015, leaving behind not only a fantastic filmography, but also and incredible legacy as a human being.
I was recently listening to a You Must Remember This episode on Linda Darnell and I felt compelled to write something about it.
Linda Darnell was, perhaps, one of the most underrated actresses of her time. With her acting ability often downplayed, she managed to prove her doubters wrong, staring in films like Unfaithfully Yours,Anna and the King of Siam, and most famously, A Letter to Three Wives.
Unfortunately, her career would be plagued with personal conflicts, bad management, and poorly time marriages, eventually culminating with her tragic death on April 10 of 1965.
So, let’s take a trip back to the early 1950s and revisit the woefully overlooked career of, Linda Darnell.
Born Monetta Eloyse Darnell in Dallas, Texas on October, 16th 1923, ‘Linda’ as she would later be called by her Hollywood cohorts, she was pushed into show business at a young age.
Being thrust into the limelight by her mother, Pearl, Linda has more or less been groomed for stardom, becoming a model at 11 and a full-fledged actress at 13.
By 1937, Linda was scouted by a talent agent from 20th Century Fox. She and her family went to Hollywood to do some screen tests, but eventually, Mr. Zanuck caught wind of Darnell‘s actual age and sent her back to Texas.
Heartbroken yet determined, Linda honed her craft and continued acting locally, inevitably returning to Hollywood with a new attitude.
She appeared in several smaller films before landing her big break with 1940’s Brigham Young, co-starring alongside her frequent leading man, Tyrone Power. In the summer of that same year, Darnell worked on The Mark of Zorro where, once again, she worked with Power.
The film managed to be successful and further plunged Darnell into the spotlight. But, unfortunately after that ‘Zorro‘, the studio system didn’t allow her to go after the roles she craved, so, she was relegated to B films that typecasted her.
Luckily, she would bounce back with the wonderful Blood and Sand also starring alongside Power. According to Darnell herself, however, her career would take a sharp downturn after this.
“People got tired of seeing the sweet young things I was playing and I landed at the bottom of the roller coaster. The change and realization were very subtle. I’d had the fame and money every girl dreams about—and the romance. I’d crammed thirty years into ten, and while it was exciting and I would do it over again, I still know I missed out on my girlhood, the fun, little things that now seem important.”
Davis, Ronald L., Hollywood Beauty: Linda Darnell and the American Dream.
Several years, and subpar movies later, Darnell’s career would stall because she refused Daryl Zanuck‘s advances. Pulling herself up by her chinstraps and not letting this get to her, she focused on the war effort, raising money, and performing regularly at the Hollywood Canteen.
After that, Zanuck often overlooked her for many film roles, and her star started declining. Instead, she was cast in roles that didn’t fit her and slowly resented show business.
For the rest of her career, she starred in B-movies, forgettable blockbuster and the occasional hit, like A Letter to Three Wives and Unfaithfully Yours.
The unfortunate thing about Linda Darnell is that she never really had the chance to let her career flourish. Between her rushed childhood and her underwhelming adult career, Darnell never got the chance to settle into her acting.
It’s tragic, really.
Darnell wasn’t only absolutely gorgeous and wickedly talented, she also was quite the lady. Raised with southern charms and a witty personality, Linda Darnell will, hopefully, be remembered alongside other Hollywood greats of the era.
Usually recognized as Hollywood’s resident tough guy in the 30s and early 40s, one could argue that seeing a 50-year-old Cagney, “yucking it up” in a throwback gangster flick from his early days could get a little old. But in James Cagney‘s chase, he aged as well as a fine wine.
White Heat, directed by Raoul Walsh and considered one of the “best gangster movies of all time,” is a gritty film noir about one man and his apparent mother issues. Now, having a problem with a parent doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll turn into a vindictive, sadistic killer, but in “Cody” Jarret’s case, it was bound to happen.
The film follow “Cody” and his goal to ,well, just cause havoc.
Aided by wife, cohorts and importantly his mother, “Cody” and company botch a train robbery which sees the tyrant accidentally shoot an investigator. Knowing this madman needs to be stopped (or else,) the authorities send in an undercover plant to ‘catch Cody’s hand in the cookie jar,’ so to speak.
Luckily, and fortunately, “Cody” turns himself in for a lesser crime that sees his prison shortened.
That doesn’t leave him off the hook, though.
Throughout the rest of the film, we see “Cody” get sent to jail, punch a prison guard, and cause general havoc during his jail time. Eventually cavalierly hurting everyone around you won’t get you anywhere, and ultimately, “Cody” gets cornered.
The finale…oh boy, where does one begin?
The ending of the film is perhaps the most memorable thing (aside from Cagney‘s acting) in the entire movie.
Not only do we see Cagney at his best, but we also get to see a piece of classic Hollywood history. With all of its fire, angst, and drama, in 2003 White Heat was added to the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Meticulously crafted, and incredibly acted, the ending was inevitable.
Cody Jarret went out the same way he lived: slightly mad, crying for his mother, and surrounded by fire.
There have been ups, there have been downs, there have even been periods where I didn’t write on this blog for long stretches of time, and for that, I apologize. I have been extremely busy with school work, my new newspaper job, and life in general.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been attending to this blog like I would have liked to, I miss watching classic films and writing about them, and I hate to say it but, this year I was not able to do it as much as I liked.
Lucklily, this upcoming year, my schedule will clear up signifcantly and I have the opportunity to get to doing what I love – exploring the world of vintage films.
So, I’d like to thank everyone who read my work this year, and I hope you look forward to a big 2019.
In 2018, there has been a lot of hubbub surrounding the role of women in the world, especially the entertainment industry.
Films like Ocean’s 8,Girl’s Trip and many other female-centric movies have flooded the market over the past two years or so, but, the concept of women-focused movies isn’t new, however.
Back in 1939, the brilliant cinematic mind of George Cukor coupled with the manpower of Metro Goldwyn Mayer produced one of the greatest female-centered films of all time.
The Women, starring an all-star cast that included Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, and Norma Shearer is perhaps the most wildly entertaining film of 1939, and it still holds up 79 years later. It may have not passed the Bechdel Test, but the film is unique in that there isn’t a single man in sight.
Norma Shearer plays Mary Haines, a rather homely woman with a heart of gold. She and her daughter “Little Mary,” live a nice life riding horses, loving life, and just general happiness shared between the two.
In comes Mary’s husband, Mr. Haines.
The cool thing about this film is, there isn’t a single man that’s present during the duration of the movie. This means that the object of Mary’s affections, and the main subject of the picture, does not show up at all throughout the film’s runtime. Due to this, we get 133 minutes of pure ‘unfiltered’ womanhood.
On to the movie’s (unseen) subject, Mr. Haines.
In typical classic Hollywood fashion, Mr. Haines appears to be cheating on Mary, much to the surprise of no one considering the fact that all of her friends and “close acquaintances” including Sylvia Fowler (played by Rosalind Russell,) knew about it before she did.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The woman in Mr. Haines’ life isn’t his wife at all, it’s actually a 5’5 brunette by the name of Crystal Allen (played by Joan Crawford,) and when, eventually, Mary and Crystal meet, let’s say that….it doesn’t go over too well.
The scene in question is quite a doozy.
Crystal and Mary finally meet at Crystal’s job in the dressing rooms, surrounded by their closest friends, and foes.
Mary ends up confronting Crystal at Sylvia’s insistence and what we have is possibly the wittiest scene in classic movie history.
The two tussle back and forth, spewing all the things that they’ve always wanted to say to each other: Crystal tells Mary to get a divorce and Mary tells Crystal that she’s a hussy (in 1939 terms.)
It really is quite an intense scene. When I initially viewed this I was shocked at the pettiness that stemmed from the two ladies. To be quite frank, I’m not sure why it surprised me, I was just startled at how well the scene was acted.
I suppose that’s why this film is so great. Not only is it unique for its time period, but it also gave the chance for women to flourish on the silver screen during a time where opportunities were few and far between. Knowing that it makes my enjoyment of the film 10 times greater.
Directed by Archie Mayo and co-starring a talented cast of Bette Davis,Leslie Howard, and Dick Foran, The Petrified Forest tells the story of a man, a wanderer, to say the least, the goes by the name of Alan Squier.
He’s a failed writer, a poet – a broken man. Couple that with his Great Depression woes, and that makes a perfect recipe for someone, specifically Alan, to go and bother a homely barkeep and his daughter.
source: Warner Bros.
After getting fed and clothed, Gabrielle (Bette Davis) and Alan start to get on swimmingly.
It’s quite cute, actually. This homely, rather socially awkward (this hits too close to home,) young lady being absolutely enthralled with this mystery man’s presence is, frankly, one of the more underrated parts of this film.
So, the two of them get along very well, and everything appears to be going splendidly for them.
In walks Bogart and company.
Duke Mantee, a gangster, a cheat, an all-around bad guy walks into their bar with a gun in one hand and a point to prove.
After holding hostage a wealthy couple in order to evade police, Duke strolls into this bar looking his girlfriend that he was supposed to rendezvous with.
Duke is a pretty intimidating guy and is precisely the reason why he was picked for this blogathon.
When you initially view this film, especially when you’re used to the “cleaned up” Bogart, his appearance comes as a shock.
Dirtied, 5 O’Clock shadow, and stained clothes galore, this is Duke Mantee in his entire glory.
source: Warner Bros.
What makes him so scary is his lack of control.
Duke has a very quick temper and any little thing (or person) that he perceives to mess up his plans will more or less be caught in his line of fire.
This kept me on edge throughout the entire film.
When he’s holding everyone captive inside that bar, you could feel the tension. One false move and, potentially, your life could be over. Just thinking about it again makes my skin crawl. What a wonderful performance that Bogart put on, absolutely outstanding.
Classic movie buffs could argue that this is the film that put Bogart on the map, and they’d be right.
This was Bogart‘s first major screen role, it essentially put Humphrey‘s acting abilities on the map, not only for the public eye but also in the offices of every major movie studio during that era.
If you haven’t had the chance to see this film, I strongly suggest you do so. You’ll not only enjoy performances from Bette Davis and Leslie Howard, but you will also be able to see Bogart at his career inception and, arguably, in his very best role.
If you’d like to read more entries in this blogathon, click: here
About a year ago, I started this blog. I wasn’t really expecting much to be honest with you. AGAM was more of a place to vent some inner thoughts I had about most of the classic films I’ve seen. Never have I imagined that it would grow to be this big. Even though 100 followers doesn’t seem like much, I very much appreciate the time all of you take to read through my writing.
So, I’m thanking you for all of this. The ups and the downs, and everything in between.