Saturday, March 28, 2009

Movie Alphabet - part I

I saw this thing a while back on "Blog Cabins: Movie reviews" about "Name a fave film for each letter of the Alphabet" and so I thought that could be fun and then I thought I would take it a step further and post my list but with pics for each of the films listed scanned from stills, lobby cards, books or magazines in my collection. So I'll list 4 or 5 at a time until it's done, probably with other blog posts mixed in between so no one gets too bored. Some choices were no-brainer's other's were tough, anyway here goes . . .

A - "Angels with Dirty Faces"(1938)

My all-time fave Cagney film! This one had me enthralled as a 3 or 4 year old kid, sitting in front of the TV completely and utterly oblivious to any and all things going on around me, totally mesmerized by Cagney's "Rocky Sullivan"! Almost 40 years later and it still has the same effect on me! This was one of the "no-brainers" I mentioned!

Rocky in the Death House on his way to the Chair! Will he turn "Yellow"? This is one of those instances where every aspect of a film; direction, writing, casting, acting, cinematography, music, etc, meshed perfectly.

Cagney with frequent co-stars Ann Sheridan and Pat O'Brien. Cagney and O'Brien made several very enjoyable films together but this easily stands at the top of the list for me.

B - "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)

"Yes, I want friend . . . like me!"

Karloff in between takes. Arguably the greatest monster movie ever made and certainly one of the most unique! And what a performace by Karloff! Btw, they used to use the same kind of board for Jean Harlow over at MGM because sometimes her dresses were so tight she could not sit down between takes while wearing them!

A great shot of Elsa Lanchester as the "Bride"! I would nominate her and husband Charles Laughton as possibly the most bizarre Hollywood couple ever!

"Do you like gin?... it is my only weakness!"

One of my fave lines, spoken in inimitable fashion by the utterly outrageous Ernest Thesinger as "Dr Pretorious", here in a neat pic with director James Whale.

C - "Captain Blood" (1935)

A great publicity shot of Flynn and Olivia. Neither were Warner Bros. first choices to appear in this film but afterwards there was no looking back for either of them. I rate this as one of the greatest action-adventure-romance films ever made. Pure escapist entertainment and great fun!

Even at this very early point in her film career Olivia gave honest, 3-dimensional characterizations. She continued to excel at that in the years that followed without resorting to scenery-chewing histrionics and became, in my opinion, one of the finest actresses that ever worked in Hollywood. And she sure was beautiful *sigh*!

D - "Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929)

Louise Brooks in what appears to be a wardrobe test pic. This is my fave of her films and also one of my fave silent films as well. Totally bizarre and filled with reprehensible examples of humanity (or more precisely, a lack of!) and through it all Brooksie mezmerises with her black helmet haircut, flawless face, imperious neck and unsettling mix of innocence and candor.

Louise Brooks, the Kansas farmgirl who wanted to be a dancer and became one, who never wanted to be in films but did anyway, who went to Germany and became an actress, who then became a has-been, then a streetwalker, then a recluse, then a writer and then finally, a legend!

Apparently Louise never considered herself an "actress" until she worked with director G.W. Pabst. He treated her with respect and guided her through 2 remarkable performances, first in "Pandoras Box" in 1928 and then this film. It didnt hurt that Pabst fell for her and according to Louise she gave "the greatest sexual performance of my life" during the one time she spent the night with him!

The scenes of Louise at the "Home for Wayward Girls" are utterly bizarre and totally unforgettable, the "orgasm scene" will change your life as you know it! Two books I highly recommend as essential reading for anyone interested in old Hollywood are "Lulu in Hollywood" by Louise Brooks and the bio of Louise written by Barry Paris. Both are fascinating reading!


Gloria said...

"I would nominate (Elsa Lanchester) and husband Charles Laughton as possibly the most bizarre Hollywood couple ever"

They may look odd at first sight, but with all the disagreements (Laughton was gay, so the divergences were inevitable), they gave each other a good amount of freedom, sahred a good deal of common interests, and adjusted each other, I've got to say, better than other -and more idealized- film couples: I'm thinking of the Olivier and Leigh, which one reads, were rather unhappy under the glitter of their "Darlings of the Gods" public image.

Aldous said...

Well, you've whetted my appetite for 'Diary of a Lost Girl' at any rate.

I will keep an eye out for it on DVD.

Joe Bloke said...

hope you don't mind, matey.