She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes

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I’m very pleased to say that I am going to be taking part in The Fourth Annual Bette Davis Blogathon hosted by The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. So please watch this space!

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Hitchcock’s Blondes: A Director’s Ideal

Cool, calm, sophisticated, icy and untouchable. That is what a Hitchcock blonde is supposed to be. She is supposed to a woman whose icy locks are never out of place. Her blue eyes are clear, appraising. Always sizing her leading man up. But she is also the symbol of sexual repression. According to Hitchcock, “We’re after the drawing-room type. . . An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she’ll probably pull a man’s pants open.”  

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Announcing the Joan Crawford: Queen of the Silver Screen Blogathon

Joan Crawford is one of the most famous and identifiable faces of the classic film era. It’s difficult to gauge the extent of her impact on popular culture because it has been so wide and varied. Along with her supposed rival Bette Davis, and her friend Barbara Stanwyck, she has become synonymous with strong, often ambitious women in film. Women who went out and got what they wanted, and hardly, if ever, apologised for this ambition. Her career spanned six decades: from the gentle waved haired beauty of the silent screen, to the champion of the “shop girl” in the 1930s, to the symbol of the powerful, ambitious, and vulnerable, woman of the postwar era, most memorably through her role as Mildred Pierce, and finally to the “scream queen” of the 1960s. Very few actors and actresses of Joan’s or any era have or will enjoy the long, varied, and very successful career that she maintained.

 

 

 

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A New Adventure

“I have the face of an ageing choirboy and the build of an undernourished featherweight. If you can figure out my success on the screen you’re a better man than I.”

–Alan Ladd

And that was the thing about Alan, despite being a leading man, a sex symbol and star of big money making films, he had the face of an innocent. Sullen and closed off at times, almost ponderous. But when he smiled, his face became open and sweet. That was the dichotomy though. Alan had never really been allowed to be innocent or young. He had never fully experienced the carefree privileges of childhood. He had grown up malnourished and humiliatingly poor. And these experiences haunted him. Carved into the memory of the boy and then the man, making his stardom feel hard won but also dreamlike, transient. Likely to fade away at any moment, leaving him as he was before.

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My Top 15 Classic Film Discoveries for 2018

I’d like to preface this by saying that although I’ve been a classic film fan since I was a small child, I’ve only been active in the classic film Twitter community since the end of last year, and I only started my blog this year. So I still have many films to discover. And while I discovered so many gems 💎 this year thanks to the wonderful classic film fans on Twitter, the Mad About Musicals course hosted by TCM and Ball State University, and some of my own tireless digging, these are the ones that left the largest impression on me.

From the pre-code to the Western to the film noir and musical, these films expanded my insights into the classic film era and also exposed me to some very memorable performers. These are in no particular order as I’m not very good at countdowns, so I like to think of it as a list that could really be in any order.

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Putting on the Hits

Sextette (1978) is based on Mae West’s 1961 play of the same name, which was also her last stage performance. At the time of the film’s release, Mae was eight five years old, although for her entire professional career Mae had claimed she was seven years younger than she actually was; so there have been reports that everyone on set had to pretend she was only seventy eight.

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Despite her advanced age, Mae cast herself as the romantic female lead, admired by hordes of men, most notably Timothy Dalton, who was fifty three years younger than her. And although this shocked audiences at the time, and continues to do so today, it shows the glaring double standard of Hollywood. No one seemed to bat an eyelid that Rex Harrison was twenty one years older than Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady or that Gary Cooper was twenty eight years older than her in Love in the Afternoon. And if you think that those are exceptions, then may I draw your attention to the fact that fifteen year old Linda Darnell was eight years younger than twenty three year old Tyrone Power and twenty nine years younger than forty five year old Warren William in Daytime Wife.
In both of her hit films, She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel, made and released in 1933, Mae was already forty years old. An “advanced” age for a Hollywood leading lady, especially one who was supposed to be sexually desirable and permissive. Mae broke the mould from the moment she became famous, and Sextette shows how she continued to do so almost right up until her death.

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Smooth Talker: Alan Ladd in Film Noir

Alan Ladd had his start in film noir at the age of twenty nine, when he starred as the contract killer, Raven, who had been made rather than born a killer, in This Gun For Hire (1942). Although he was not the lead nor Veronica Lake’s romantic interest in the story, the film would catapult him to stardom and establish him not only as Lake’s perfect match onscreen, but also as the indelibly cool noir male lead. He would play characters who were unflappable under pressure. And despite his start as an amoral character, he would go on to often play roles that usually had a strong moral centre.

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