Thursday, July 30, 2009
everyone goes to see notre dame cathedral. even if you don't enter you stand there in the square among the throngs of tourists and portrait artists. the size, the gargoyles! i have stood staring up at the splendor many times and always forget this touching scene from 'the hunchback of notre dame.' charles laughton is just incredible as the character 'quasimodo.' such a sad tale.
okay, fun vintage advertisement aside, neither one of the women in the second and third image seems to have a permanent wave going on. the black and white 'eiffel tower' photo was taken, i imagine, sometime in the 1940's so she HAD to be up there. the model's name is lisa fonssagrives. she was considered the first 'super' model. lisa hailed form sweden, married a french photographer, and had an amazing career. her second husband, till her death, was the legendary photographer irving penn.
the last photo is of french actress extraordinaire marion cotillard doing an add for dior. she might have been up there but she did not have to be. i can't decide whether a big budget would make them want to tackle the tower or make them smile and think, 'don't be nervous about going up there. we don't need to, marion! let's open a bottle of champagne and get busy on the computer.'
i have loved 'lolita' forever. i have read the book many times. i know by heart all the dialogue of stanley kubrick's 1962 film. i even sat down and patiently watched adrian lyne's 1997 version, cause i am loyal to jeremy irons. with all the attention i have given to this nymphet, two things i did not know till now:
the genius playwright harold pinter worked on the remake but chose to be uncredited.
it really is the actress sue lyon in the iconic color image.
photos: sue lyon/young harold pinter
lionel and john are not the only barrymores going down in theatre/film history. those two enchanting and irascible stars had a sister sandwiched right between them. her name, ethel.
born in 1879, ethel barrymore followed in her ancestors footsteps onto the stage. all three siblings shared more than a life on broadway before transitioning to hollywood (all three starred in two films together): they all wished to do something other than be actors! these barrymores own the expression 'acting dynasty' although one wanted to illustrate, one wanted to paint, and one wished to play piano. alas, times are always tough and their mother owned a theatre in nyc.
fun facts: ethel played cary grant's mom and won an oscar for that. winston churchill wished to marry her. she is the great aunt of drew.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
i went to see the film 'performance' with my mom. i know, pretty strange. i remember talking about anita pallenberg on the way back to the car. my mother called her, 'sexy.' well, i guess that was true.
being a miserable teen, i idolized the stones and their girlfriends. i just knew their lives were amazing. no matter how mistaken i may have been, i was convinced. at some point my affinity for the beatles shifted onto the stones and i thought anita held all the cards as ex girlfriend of brian jones and current girlfriend of keith richards. she co-starred with mick jagger in that beautiful and interesting movie, 'performance.' i mean, come on. one snapshot of keith and anita strolling in the sun after a boat trip in copenhagen with their tiny kid in tow really made me swoon. a zillion highs later and naturally the picture is not quite as pretty. here is how anita looked back when i was ditching school to go smoke in the park.
filmmaker and muse. academy award winner and mom. ask anyone who possesses innate style and they will tell you that if they could raid but one closet it would be sophia's. film and fashion aside, she and i have one beautiful thing in common: we adore paris. i absolutely agree with her words on the subject:
“Paris has a way of restoring your faith.”
photos: i love 'le smoking' ('le smoking' is an expression coined by designer yves saint laurent to describe a tuxedo for women)/city of light
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
for years i have wanted to see robert bresson's 1966 film, 'au husard balthazar' but i fear it will break my heart. i have never seen such a sweet looking face as this animal. the film stars the russian born french actress anne wiazensky (daughter of a count, granddaughter of a nobel prize winner and for several years married to director jean-luc godard). here is a summary in case you would like to know more about the story:
The sad life and death of Balthazar, a donkey, from an idyllic childhood surrounded by loving children, through adulthood as a downtrodden beast of burden. His life is paralleled with that of the girl who named him, and as she is humiliated by her sadistic lover, so he is beaten by his owner. But he finds a kind of peace when he is employed by an old miller who thinks he is a reincarnated saint... Written by Michael Brooke
images: oil painting by pal shazar/balthazar/anne wiazemsky (the patti boyd of european cinema)
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
in 1967 director ken loach debuted his first feature film. his 'poor cow' starred two british beauties: terrence stamp and carol white. terrence thrived in the world of cinema but carol found the life too difficult. she has left behind few films but this one is super satisfying. the color is right up there with 'last tango in paris' even if painted from a different palette. while 'paris' is all golden warmth, 'poor cow' is starkly chilling. it's just beautiful.
photo: terrence and carol
.... one could buy a used car off a lot. at least that was possible in 1959 in alfred hitchcock presents, 'i'll take care of you' starring ralph meeker as the used car salesman with a super drag of a wife perfectly played by elizabeth fraser. anyone who has seen 'a patch of blue' knows just how horrific a character this actress could play. i had not seen her in anything else till this episode of hitchcock's t.v. series. she was so capable at portraying 'loathsome.' well, sexy ralph meeker eventually has his day, sort of, in this half hour treat available for free viewing on hulu.com
photo: mad man meeker
director ken loach's 2006 'the wind that shakes the barley' took it's title from an old irish ballad. the film was a triumph, an award winner, and another chance for the sad history of ireland's fight for independence from england to reach more minds. the one word i kept reading about this film was 'pure.' watching countrymen pick up arms in defense is sure to be heartbreaking and bloody. the casting, led by cillian murphy, was super convincing. cillian's eyes are as blue as ireland is green. for all those who would like to see a movie based on history that was embraced by those still very inspired by the events, here you go. after decades of heralded indie offerings, ken hit a home run.
I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glen
And shook the golden barley
Saturday, July 25, 2009
there is a moment in hitchcock's 'suspicion' when joan fontaine's 'lena' (who cary grant lovingly calls 'monkey face') slips from her chair while playing scrabble and lands on the floor. all the while wearing a velvet evening gown. it is just too great. she seems to deflate and winds up in a senseless heap looking like a huge georgia o'keeffe flower. i too can't bear competitive games but i don't take it quite so hard. actor cillian murphy says he really likes fainting scenes and he had a great opportunity in 'breakfast on pluto.'
here is a really good example. look what people are up for doing! this is the great joan crawford, as in academy award winner with the questionable private life. she took acting seriously and was nuts in a way i totally understand, things like: demanding a particular temperature on set even if everyone else is FREEZING!
here's joan playing a carnival siren in 'flamingo road.'
my mom loved susan hayward. indeed, she was just a wonderfully feisty actress. she was a nyc kid who overcame her nyc accent and was always great. three cheers to her for taking the role of the hardened aging star in the seriously underrated 'valley of the dolls.' hey, nothing wrong with a film being a cult classic, right?
Friday, July 24, 2009
"The most preposterously
lovely creature in all the world." - John Barrymore, 1925
Cry, laugh but never whine-Dolores Costello
john barrymore and dolores costello were married for seven years. like her granddaughter drew, dolores had a lisp. imagine the grief she suffered when making the transition into talking films. however, she acted for over thirty years and spent her later life growing avocados! way to go dolores!
photos: exquisite dolores/with barrymore
"The moralists," remarked an anonymous editorial writer in the Herald Tribune, "said it was 'sad' that in his latter years he became a 'caricature' of a once magnificent figure. But none of this was news to Barrymore, nor did he allow it to disturb him unduly. . . . Here was an actor. Was ever there a better in America? . . . No matter what he touched, he gave it a manner and a dash. He was born to be an actor, and when he conscientiously set himself to a task he could blend his genius with a thoroughly sound and intelligent craftsmanship. . . . He was a mortal whose head at times reached very close to the stars."
i have read several books on john barrymore simply because he really gets to me. i defy anyone to watch the film, 'attorney at law'
and not fall in love with this actor. he certainly had a beautiful face but it is all that one cannot touch that is so endearing. he was quick, funny, humble (yes), intense, and ultimately disarming. no one drags their tapered fingers through their hair in despair like this guy. from the stage through silents to the talkies he truly danced. he wound up unable to memorize lines and was surely a sorrow to those who loved him, but what a knockout performer he was.
barrymore loving garbo (multiple meanings apply)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
famous for being a man's director, william wellman worked with great actresses too. loretta young stated that all the women were in love with him. i guess that is pretty nice when it comes to showing up on the set. here are four incredible people who had the pleasure of wellman's company:
mae clarke/anne baxter/loretta young/barbara stanwyck