Wednesday, September 30, 2009
one of my own fave creations are the twin brothers 'twee' and 'yins.' twee is the younger of the two. even though they may only be one minute apart in age, yins is infinitely wiser. this makes me think that the 'older' ought to know better. not so in the case of screen siblings born on the same day.
i know that jeremy iron's wife, sinead cusack, suggested he pass on the remake of 'lolita.' smart woman. the fact that irons was great as the lamentable 'humbert humbert' is a mute point as the actor is faultless. i wonder what sinead thought of 'dead ringers.' this creepy cronenberg 1988 offering starred the adorable genevieve bujold alongside the two jeremy's, but i am not the one to give an accurate review as i had my eyes closed for much of it.
in 1964, when they made films i did not have to shut my eyes for, the divine ms. bette acted with herself in 'dead ringer', a similar title but very different picture. both bette and j. irons (as i fondly refer to him since he was kind enough to send me a lovely reply with 'j. irons' on the stationary) fill me with admiration. there were identical twins in my school so i know how sane they can be! not so these cinema creations.
by the way, twee and yins are very nice guys.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
'sweet smell of success' came out in 1957. every role was colorful in this very black and white drama. among all the parts that held the power hungry vs. sincere characters together, the two leads could not have been more different. barbara nichols was typecast in her long career as a 'brassy' gal with the baby voice and a heart of gold. in this she is so abused it hurts to watch. barbara has 77 screen credits. susan harrison played the soft spoken and innocent girl who is deeply in love with a jazz musician. it was her debut on the big screen. in her ten year acting career did some t.v. but only one other film.
top: barbara nichols below: susan harrison
i don't know too much about this intense guy but he has surely been in several films i love:
the rose tattoo
sweet smell of success
a child is waiting
judy garland owns one of those films, anna magnani another, but no one can claim 'sweet smell of success' but burt. if he was a sweetheart of a guy he deserves two oscars for his role as the ruthless immoral popular columnist 'j.j.' as the british say, he was a 'right bastard.' this 1957 slice of noir is an amazingly satisfying film. everyone is excellent in it. the good are good and the bad are rotten. the groveling publicist played by tony curtis actually plants 'pot' in the pocket of 'j.j's' kid sister's boyfriend..... kooky.
photo: burt, tony curtis and susan harrison
one could do worse than name their daughter ava. aside from it being a lovely name, it was made famous by one of most beautiful actresses in hollywood. ava gardner hailed from the south and brought her accent along with a love of cigarettes, men, and liquor. unabashedly honest about herself, she must have made some interesting friends. her and writer hemingway were close and she appeared in three filmns based on his books. she adored director john huston. marriages, lovers, a reputation for being lovely to go to bed with but awful to wake up to never seemed to make her bitter. she had a smashing career and seemed to take it all in stride.
she was nominated for an academy award for the 1953 film 'mogambo.' she is so ridiculously gorgeous in this movie that i actually shake my head while watching some scenes.
here is a darling quote:
Ava Gardner: Maybe I just didn't have the temperament for stardom. I'll never forget seeing Bette Davis at the Hilton in Madrid. I went up to her and said, "Miss Davis, I'm Ava Gardner and I'm a great fan of yours." And do you know, she behaved exactly as I wanted her to behave. "Of course you are, my dear," she said. "Of course you are."
photo: ava with burt lancaster in 'the killers.'
Monday, September 28, 2009
museums are filled with incredible portraits, some in which the sitter is forever unknown. in the case of sylvette david, the one time model for the most famous painter in the world, the mystery came to light. during the fifties, she inspired picasso to paint dozens of works of art. picasso's pretty neighbor sylvette worked as a potter in the town of vallauris, a town that must have wept for joy when the grand artiste moved into his new home in the hills above the french mediterranean.
sylvette, known as lydia corbett, has been painting all her life and her work is truly delightful. the notion that she may have been the inspiration for bardot's role in the 1956 film, 'and god created woman' is legendary enough, but being a muse to picasso as a means of discovering the painter within is immense.
photos: sylvette/painting by picasso/watercolors by lydia corbett
ah, to be a muse. patti smith once said, 'inspire as opposed to aspire.' well, in those sun drenched days when picasso was painting up a storm in the south of france, one such person appeared and claimed the coveted spot of becoming his muse. at the time pablo was married with two young children, when he spied his pretty young neighbor and a working relationship began. pablo found his, 'girl with a ponytail' and the girl found the man who would instill in her the love of creating art.
photos: picasso's 'girl with a pony tail'/painter and muse, lydia corbett/picasso and lydia with his young children pablo and paloma
brigitte bardot visited the great picasso with hopes that he might paint her portrait. at the time pablo was occupied with his current model, a young woman who lived next door. he told bardot he focused on one model at a time. hah! i have a feeling they had a good time together anyway. of all the nice snaps taken during their meeting, this is my favorite. as one who likes to paint i know it can feel uncomfortable to have someone watching over my shoulder. either picasso did not mind or else he was being very gracious to the queen of the cote d'azur.
today bardot turned 75. this is one of cinema's most alluring actresses who chose to not age before the camera. the mythic garbo appears to have made that choice but studying her life has taught me that she did try to make more films before giving up at 36.
well, today france must be in jubilation mode. bardot represents many aspects of french culture and mores. independence of spirit, unabashed sexuality, and that pout.
one writer brought forth the idea that bardot did not so much imply that she was 'having' sex as much as the 'possibility' that sex may be had. this is a very important distinction that helps us to understand the french custom whereby flirting is a very important element of communication.
happy birthday free spirit, animal loving, french icon brigitte!!!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
david goodis is one of the great writers of noir nightmares. many of his novels have been adapted for films including:
the moon in the gutter
shoot the piano player
'the blonde on the street corner' has yet to be made into a movie but the paperback cover has me thinking actress abbie cornish could play the role.
could be she was looking for trouble. could be he was. they found each other and raised serious hell. the story of bonnie parker and clyde barrow continues to fascinate. it seems to me that the lives of famous criminals surely become distorted, either by false reports or the need to glamorize. bad idea.
photos: warren beatty and faye dunaway as the losing lovers/brigitte bardot and serge gainsbourg french hit single/bonnie herself
that is just what the domain of monaco became when actress grace kelly married prince rainier in 1956. what a beautiful first lady for fancy little monte carlo! as she gazes out across the french riviera she just may be thinking, 'all mine.' bye bye hollywood....
Friday, September 25, 2009
natalie wood had something 'imperfect' about her wrist. in every single scene in every single film this gorgeous woman appeared in you will see something covering up her flaw. amazing, isn't it? this is the first time i see both her wrists in hiding.
i love patty duke. even when i hear one of her singles on the '60's radio station i listen with respect. from her t.v. show to her awesome portrayal of the talented and beastly 'neely o'hara' in the film 'the valley of the dolls' i am a fan. an unexpected treat came to me when i first watched the movie 'the goddess.' the actress who played the lead character as a child was none other than little patty. pure delight.
last night i rewatched 'the goddess' starring kim stanley. where to begin.... here are some facts:
kim was considered the female brando. she was a queen of the ny stage and made only a handful of films. there is NO ONE like her.
i found a few early television plays on youtube which proved to me that she was mesmerizing from the start. her genius only deepened with time. like a little ball of mercury, she cannot be pinned down. i have tried to come up with adjectives but a little ball of mercury is the only satisfying image.
strangely, in 1958 when marilyn monroe was very much alive and making films, kim portrayed her in 'the goddess.' there is absolutely no mistaking this story is based on monroe. one of the beautiful things about the movie is that is brings one's heart closer to monroe's life. kim and marilyn shared the ability to project insecurity, need, and enthusiasm better than any others. these qualities in common allow us to really see marilyn in kim, even though they did not resemble one another physically. the actresses that do come to mind while watching kim are kim basinger and laura dern. so, all three combined and voila!
i cannot put into words just how much this actress moves me. her strength/fragility, her fury/genteelness are astonishing to me. 'the goddess' is available on dvd from indie sources.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
my favorite color will always be blue. as a painter i am very particular of which blue i use. you don't want to know how i felt when 'antwerp blue' was discontinued.
from flowers to films, this hue has been an inspiration.
from top: meadow grass/yves klein sculpture/'betty blue' film poster/frank sinatra (old blue eyes)/film poster for 'blue denim'