In Hollywood, it isn’t uncommon to find friendships that pleasantly surprise you.
One of these close duos happen to be the unlikely paring of Ava Gardner and Lena Horne.
Much has been heard about these two, and we all know about that infamous “battle” for a coveted role in Showboat. But, if you were to go behind the scenes and take a deep dive into these two women, you’ll see that they were quite possible the closest pair of friends you’d ever meet.
As part of the Summer Under the Stars lineup, TCM has dedicated two separate days for both LenaHorne and AvaGardner. Airing on the 6th and 8th respectively, Gardner and Horne have much more in common that most people would be led to believe.
After movie shoots, Ava and Lena would go to each other’s apartments, drink, laugh, and tell stories of sleazy co-stars that tried to hit on them.
Ava would tell Lena how difficult it was up-holding the status of being a sex symbol and Lena would open up about the struggles of being a light skin black actress in a notoriously prejudiced Hollywood.
There were even times where Lena, being the brilliant singer that she was, would help Ava sing her way through her own recordings in order to help her prepare for the role of Julie LaVerne in Showboat.
Both of these women have incredible bodies of work and I urge you all to check out at least a couple of their films. They both persevered and fought through the crazy system that was the Hollywood golden age.
If you know anything about classic Hollywood, then you know that on set romances are as common as chain smoking.
People made up, broke up and repeated the process all over again.
In the case of Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, they did all of things – and then some.
Perhaps the most infamous couple is Hollywood history (besides Brad and Angelina) Joan and Clark had a long history of lust filled glances, late night phone conversations, and on set dalliances.
It first started all the way back in 1931 with Dance, Fools, Dance. Crawford‘s star was quickly rising in Hollywood and Gable was struggling to find his footing on the silver screen. It wasn’t until Crawford specifically chose Gable to star alongside her that his career really started to kick into gear.
“it was like an electric current went through my body…my knees buckled…if he hadn’t held me by the shoulders, I’d have dropped.”
– Crawford on meeting Gable for the first time
The production of this movie went pretty swiftly, and after filming ended, Crawford wanted to work with Gable again.
The next project they worked on was 1931’s Laughing Sinners. It wasn’t a memorable film, but Gable and Crawford continued to get to know one another. I will say that it is an enjoyable film and I hope I get to watch it again someday.
For all the flirtatious looks they had on set with this movie, it doesn’t compare to the blazing fire that they sent into overdrive on their next movie, Possessed.
This is where Hollywood lore was made.
By this point, Gable‘s star was rising and he was a hot commodity. Crawford was a bonafide star, at this point she was dubbed the ‘Queen of Hollywood.’
So, what happens when you combine a handsome young actor with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars?
Well…, let’s just say that many things were exchanged between the two, in more ways than one.
Here’s a quote from Crawford on how she felt about Gable during this time:
“In the picture, we were madly in love. When the scenes ended, the emotion didn’t–we were each playing characters very close to our own.”
– Joan Crawford, from Clark Gable by Chrystopher J. Spicer
While filming Possessed their affair become public knowledge, and naturally the MGM studio higher ups weren’t too pleased with this. Gable and Joan‘s affair nearly turned Hollywood on its head
It got to the point where Louis B Mayer requested that the two stop their romance. Of course, they didn’t comply and Mayer then threatened to destroy their careers.
Eventually they did separate after enough pressing from studio heads, but they didn’t quit seeing each other.
According to some sources, they continued to fool around even while they were married to other people.
Not my cup of tea, but I digress.
In the end, the couple never stopped loving each other, and it shows when Joan talked about him after Gable‘s death.
“Lovemaking never felt with anyone like what it did with Clark.”
– Joan Crawford, from Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography by Lawrence J. Quirk & William Schoell
As you may know, Grace Kelly left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier the third of Monaco. This decision was met with elation by many, but, there are also people who wonder: “what would’ve happen if Grace never left Hollywood?”
This popped into my head recently due to an assignment I had during my mass communications class at university.
We had to pick any person in history and ‘ask them’ ten questions that would provoke a breaking news headline.
Here are my 10:
What was it like on your wedding day?
Were you nervous marrying into a royal family?
Do you still keep in contact with any of your ex co-stars?
If so, who is the one you spoke with most recently?
Do you ever want to get back into acting?
Do you think about how your life may be different had you continued acting?
What would you do if Alfred Hitchcock gave you the opportunity to come out of retirement?
Would you accept his offer?
What if one of your three children wanted to go into acting?
How do feel about the shift in social attitudes since your twenties?
As you can tell, these are questions that I’m sure every classic film fan would love to hear the answers to.
I often wonder what it would’ve been like had Grace returned to the silver screen. But alas, all we have are pipe dreams and daydreams to keep us satiated.
I’ll leave with with this: a letter correspondence between Hitchcock and Grace when the former offered the role as ‘Marnie’ in the movie title of the same name.
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 woman 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
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.
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.
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.
Released in 1947, MGM’s The Hucksters is a rather unique film.
Starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, and our blogathon’s star, Deborah Kerr, the movie is particularly unique because it was the American silver screen debut for the Scottish actress.
Directed by Jack Conway, MGM specifically imported Kerr to play the role of Kay Dorrance, which I believe was a brilliant move.
Kerr‘s performance in this movie was a solid one, one that most classic film viewers would very much enjoy.
Like most British actresses, Kerr made the rounds in British films before Mayer decided she should be plucked from obscurity and plastered on every movie screen in the United States.
To get acquainted with her coworkers, Kerr’s husband, a former airman, greeted Clark Gable with great gusto. Seeing as the both of them met during the war, it took no time for not only the Kerr‘s but also Gable to become very comfortable around the both of them.
This pre-production meeting set the tone for the rest of the film, with Kerr and Gable both being standouts.
As for the movie itself, Kerr was absolutely magnificent in the role. The movie was a joy to watch. I don’t want to play spoiler so I won’t describe in detail for you. But it’s safe to say that the director and the cast did not disappoint.
From Gardner to Gable, and Kerr to Greenstreet, The Hucksters is not only a solid Clark Gable flick but also a perfect way for Kerr to start out her American film journey.
If you would to read more entries in this blogathon… click: here.
A classic Hollywood legend, an icon, a woman of character, and one of the greatest actresses to ever live. Most people know her as Humphrey Bogart‘s wife, the “Slim” to his “Bogie,” but classic film fans know that Bacall had a rich, and wonderful career, even without the Bogart connection.
This is especially true, even after Bogart‘s death in 1957.
When Bogart and Bacall met, it was the stuff of legends. She was young, he was a mentor who turned into something more. Fast forward a couple of months and they start dating, fast forward even further and they’re getting married – much to the chagrin of Bogart‘s ex-wife, Mayo Methot.
A couple of years and two children later, the Bogart‘s relationship was progressing quite nicely.
The same can’t be same for Lauren‘s career, however.
When Bogart died in 1957, it was as Bacall describes it, “the worst night of her life.”
Left alone with two kids and a dwindling (more or less) acting career, what was Lauren supposed to do? Well, throw herself into work, of course.
The first film Bacall did after the death of her husband was 1957’s Designing Woman, a nice romantic comedy co-starring Gregory Peck. Not to be confused with the tv series, Designing Women, the movie about two newlyweds from polar opposite worlds and their attempt to conform to each other’s quirks.
It’s a cute film, I recommend you check it out, actually. It gives you a look at post-Bogart Bacall in all of her glorious form.
The thing about Lauren was that her voice was so deep and velvety smooth that you worried about the number of cigarettes she smoked per day. Some may say she had a voice for the theatre…
After a myriad of films that include The Gift of Love in 1958, North West Frontier in 1959, Bacall moved to the theatre in the 1960s and 70s.
Starting on Broadway with 1959’s Goodbye, Charlie and starring in plays like in Cactus Flower and, of course, Applause, Lauren slowly made the transition from screen to the stage.
Naturally, she would dabble in a few films as well with the highlight being Murder on the Orient Express, but the majority of her work was set on the stage.
In the end, Bacall would enjoy a successful career after her husband’s death.
I see too many people writing her off after his death and I think it’s fair, Bacall had such a solid career in the late 50s through the 70s. Even though we tend to equate Bacall with Bogart, Lauren had a brilliant career all on her own.