Thursday this and that

I woke up with this song in my head, the original version, but the Mel Tormé recording always pops into my head when I'm thinking about it. 

When I was little, and older vocalists who sang "standards" would try to score with pop hits, it made me so uncomfortable. Now I understand they were just trying to stay relevant in a world that no longer had teams of songwriters churning out [music by/lyrics by] for singers to eventually take and make their own. Little wonder they hated early rock and roll; it must have seemed so silly and ephemeral (as it largely was,) but later pop hits seemed like fair game at first, only they weren't. Even singing a banal Carpenters song took a certain light youthful touch most of them didn't have.

It feels sorta sad to realize that now. Most of those people were relegated to singing the same old thing they'd started with, to ever aging and shrinking crowds and during guest appearances on afternoon talk shows, prime time variety shows, and The Love Boat. And then all of that went away, too. 

Only a few of them lived long enough to see their music revived and appreciated again during the file-sharing years and nascence of YouTube. But here we are, fighting over the original goods at estate sales alongside west coast jazz and classic rock collectors. And we have room in our hearts for many more different styles of music than previous recent generations did.

this is too long. but I really appreciate the slow, slow tense build-up. eight minutes will do, though, to love humans for awhile.

Here is a conversation I had with someone my age about his first complete viewing of The Lion King. Of course if I'd realized he wouldn't have checked the connections before asking about the problem, most of it would be unnecessary. But then I was thinking this is something else we need to do a lot less often these days, and he just took his setup for granted. It's funny or alarming or I don't know, how quickly our patterns change. Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 9.16.41 AM

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 9.16.23 AM
The Lion King is pretty epic, and it has sumptuous sounds and visual artistry, and I'm mildly disappointed in his reaction to it. Oh, well. I wonder what he would think of Marvel's live version of African landscape? He'd notice you enter Wakanda from it in a similar manner to entering Themyscira from the sea, but hopefully he wouldn't pick up on that note so singularly as to lay down the rest. 

Next, here is a blog post I wrote just about nine years ago. Gosh, nine years ago me was so young. And comparatively full of mental energy. It's incredible how much has changed since then. My sons are grown up, the daughter mentioned in it has her own family now, and that New Jersey garden is hundreds of miles away. But it was a sweet though brief time in my life. I will probably share some other posts like this one now and then for awhile.

Do you watch The Orville? It's one of a handful of current TV shows I am very happy with. People sometimes complain that all the nostalgia and pop culture knowledge in it is from mid-late 20th century U.S.A. I think that's a hilarious conceit, personally, but I also wonder if some specific future era will look back at our youth and find that time one of the most appealing, the way people are currently fascinated with (a highly fictionalized version of) 15th century Europe? It could happen. 

Hmm, not wanting to end this post on what is essentially a commercial, let me just say that I'm still thinking over what the space is best suited for these days, however, I like having it as a collection container for whatever happens to be on my mind, and can only hope a few other people like seeing what's there, as well. Let's find a photo in the Bussard Collector to finish the page! (Probably the whole blog could just be devoted to whatever I have saved on my hard drive over the past few years, tbh.)Addio-a-Gabriele-FerzettiThis is Gabriele Ferzetti. Wasn't he dreamy? Click on the photo to see a film clip featuring him with Monica Vitti; you see mostly her face rather than his, but, well. And then so. You should just watch this whole movie, L'Avventura, if you've never seen it. 

Julius Caesar fangirls...

 Brutus is utterly dreamy! Brutus
I like Mark Antony better. He gives much better speeches.

But Brutus's voice is better. It's so manly.

He's not very manly when he sees Caesar's ghost.

Yes, he is, just hear how he growls, "Well, then I shall see thee again!" Brutuswithghost
Mark Antony would have stood right up to him!

Mark Antony would have tried to kiss him.


But it's true. He would have been all over that ghost, putting his tongue in all his wounds.

You are disgusting, and besides that is not what he meant.

Well, what about Cassius?


Not that old! Not really older than Brutus, anyway. And he has really good hair. Cassiusbrutus
That is totally a wig, you can tell when he falls down dead.

He had nice eyes, though.

I guess so. You like the old ones, anyway.

Not that old!

Much older than Mark Antony, though.

Mark Antony is younger than Brutus, but Brutus has a better body.

How can you tell?

Why do you think Mark Antony kept wearing robes while everyone else was wearing armor? Smugantony
Maybe. He wears it later on. And also, he's practically the only one who doesn't die, so he wins in the end. Marcantony
He didn't actually win. That is the whole point of the movie. Weren't you paying any attention at all?

Not really. I already read the play in 8th grade, so I knew how it ended. Caesarantonycalpurnia


Joan Fontaine: 1917-2013

Here are some Photoplay clippings from 1937 to 1940. This first set is from 1937. I don't know why they're expanded for page width, contrary to "full-size" settings. I'll look into that later on.


Here are some clippings from 1937 and early 1938, about Joan's role in Damsel in Distress with Fred Astaire.


Here's a bit more from 1938.


Fontaine was rushed hard by RKO-Radio Pictures, and then dropped like she was hot or like...any number of pieces of drama created or fostered. In any case, they hadn't worked out how to tap into the depths beneath her self-conscious demeanor. Before moving onto Selznick International, she appeared in Gunga Din, which starred Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


In MGM's The Women, Joan Fontaine played a character much like people saw her in real life.


In 1939, Joan Fontaine married Brian Aherne and began filming her role in Rebecca. Here's an interesting story of how that movie was cast and filmed, if you're interested.




    Many or most people know that Joan Fontaine had a nearly life-long feud with her sister, Olivia de Havilland. The internet is replete with tales of their disagreements, which stemmed, depending on who was asked, from early childhood, from Joan's being treated as an also-ran when she got to Hollywood, or the period in which they both achieved star stature. It's actually pretty clear they never really got along. So it's interesting to read through old movie magazines which attempted, at first, to show them on glowing terms with each other, then begin slowly to hint at the growing rift between them.  

    Joan Fontaine: 1917-2013















Here's the link to TCM Remembers Joan Fontaine. I can share it directly every place I have an account except this one...

Introducing Gene Kelly

Here is Gene Kelly as Photoplay introduced him to readers in the December 1942 issue, then February and June of 1943.
Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.43.47 AMScreen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.43.47 AM

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.44.21 AM

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.48.56 AM Profile
Lew Ayres was totally on a few minds while For Me And My Gal was being made. Stay tuned for a post on the nearly overlapping tearing down and subsequent building up of his character. The movie itself was one of a burgeoning set of stories that both entertained and sent a message about our Duty to the Free World.

Hollywood and the Homefront

I think my first big project here will be about the Homefront, as Hollywood related to or pretended to relate to it. Advertising and editorials in Photoplay and LIFE, a few stories of what was going on, reactions to who fought, who boosted morale, and who objected, here in the United States.

Sometimes what people knew just at the moment could later be seen in a different light. For example, Lew Ayres is a topic all on his own. He was a serious conscientious objector, and people said, "But wait, he played that great war hero in that movie!" They were angry that he would not fight. Well, the movie was All Quiet on the Western Front. Have you seen it or read the book? It affected him deeply—how could it not?—and he refused to take up arms. But he did his bit nonetheless, and all the bits mattered. But more on that later.

Something I noticed in the 1940 issues of Photoplay is that they were already hinting toward economy and making the most of what you have, talking to girls and women about sewing patterns and interchangeable wardrobe pieces. How to make things last. A few months later, still before America entered the war, there were several articles on how the stars cooked with preserved food. And then there was a whole campaign about making America Strong! by having everyone eat lots of eggs, drink lots of milk. Rations came later; sugar was one of the first commodities to be limited.

Finally, the motion picture industry had a careful position to maintain. Always there were people crying for more lightheartedness, and other people saying they had a duty to seriousness and propaganda. Eleanor Roosevelt had some very intelligent things to say about it all. The studios themselves had stars they wished to protect, and a position to maintain; to be thought of in a positive light whenever the war ended.

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 9.12.54 AM

But in between posts on this subject, I'm likely to add random or serendipitous items, as well, so I'll make sure the titles reflect the content.

Golden Boy

These are clippings from Photoplay in the latter half of 1939. I think the first few are from August, then, as it was released in October, it was much discussed in the October issue and reviewed in the November one. The original owner of this set tore out quite a few pages and parts of pages, but it affected this topic less than a couple others I want to group together.

So Golden Boy (watch at YouTube) was William Holden's first role, and it's not apocryphal that he hung onto it because Barbara Stanwyck went to bat for him and also helped him learn how to act in a movie. But then praise for his performance followed, and he was considered someone from whom great things were expected. The film is now hopelessly dated, Lee J. Cobb's performance in particular, yet at the time it was thought to be a worthy adaptation of the play by Clifford Odet.
Golden1Golden2Golden3 Goldeng