Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Gifts for My Favorite Movie Characters

Here is my wish list for a few of my needy favorites:

Vivian Revere ("Three on a Match")

I wish Vivian a trip to rehab before her son was kidnapped and she took that final swan dive out the window. It might have helped.

Lina Lamont ("Singin' in the Rain")

I wish Lina a seat on the board at Monumental Pictures. After all the money she made that studio, she needs a nice cushy job. I guess I should wish Kathy Selden a job at MGM, as I'm sure Lina would not hire her.

Max Von Mayerling ("Sunset Boulevard")

I wish Max one more chance behind a real camera. I also hope he has Norma's power of attorney, so that he can pay her legal fees and maybe move the chimp to a pet cemetery.

Rocky Sullivan ("Angels with Dirty Faces")

For the boy who could not run as fast as his pal, Father Jerry, a brand new pair of sneakers. Maybe these would have helped him avoid a life of crime.

Mr. Bernstein ("Citizen Kane")

I wish Mr. Bernstein a visit from the girl in the white dress with the white parasol. She will tell him all about her life and confess that not a month has gone by since she saw him over 20 years ago that he has not crossed her mind.

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday and a very happy new year. See you in 2015!

Saturday, December 6, 2014


I am not a fan of using animals as accessories, but there is no denying that a beautiful beast can class up a joint. lately, all of the "it" people like to have a mini  pooch stuffed in a carry-all, but back in the day, nothing said elegance like the sleek Borzoi (also know as the Russian Wolfhound). They were the dogs of royalty, fashion, and of course, movie stars.

1923: A Chic Parisian Needs 2 Borzois For the Ultimate Style Statement
Borzois of the Stars

Theda and her Borzoi

Olivia de Havilland and her elegant Borzoi

Mary Pickford has 2 Borzois! One for hubby Doug, perhaps?

Harlow and Borzoi: which is more glamorous?

Mae West and her Borzois. I'll bet they are a male and female

Lovely Olive Thomas and her Borzoi

Pola Negri and Borzoi, a dog fit for a diva
Garbo snuggles with a Borzoi
Ethel Barrymore likes the dramatic appearance of the Borzois

Kim Novak vamps it up with a couple of Borzois

A poetic portrait of Leila Hyams and her Borzoi

Marilyn's Borzoi looks a bit apprehensive
Author Anita Loos knows what adds elegance to a portrait
Carroll Baker as Harlow: Borzois add a touch of '30s elegance

Carol Kane on the set of "Valentino" -
again the Borzoi suggests elegance of an earlier time

Diana Rigg updates the elegance of the Borzoi
Hopefully, all dogs in the photos were loved and cared for. Being a sex symbol is no fun when there are no treats and belly rubs at the end of the day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I recently came across a list I made about 20 (yikes!) years ago of those stars who I considered to be the 10 most beautiful male and female stars. I have always viewed film as  a medium designed to pay tribute to and honor the beauty of the human face, form and spirit. But what, exactly, is beauty? I am wondering if my reasons for selecting them have changed over the years...

Here they are in no particular order.


Edna Purviance

While never the greatest of beauties, Edna holds a special place in my heart. Her onscreen relationship with Chaplin never fails to enchant me. Add to that a sense of mystery and intrigue (who was Edna Purviance?) and she still makes the top 10.

Clara Bow

Yes, Clara still does it for me. She is excessively pretty, but her verve and joy elevate mere prettiness into beauty for me.

Mary Pickford

Yes - they had faces then. Mary, by virtue of her face and physical grace and indomitable spirit still holds a place in the top 10.

Grace Kelly

Sheer beauty, style and a cool that is inexplicably warm, Grace still is top-10 royalty.

Audrey Hepburn

Same goes for Audrey. She remains golden for me. Her style is legendary, but it is her charm and smile that do it for me.

Vivien Leigh

One of cinema's most beautiful faces. True then, true now, true forever.

Rita Hayworth

Simply a beautiful woman - but there is an almost shameless aching that goes beyond a beautiful face and form.

Jean Harlow

I still adore the electroplated platinum Jean, but I think, for now, she falls out of the top-10.

Judy Garland

Ah, a most unique beauty. Her's is a heart beating on the screen. None is more worthy of our love. She stays.

Ann Sheridan

She's a down to earth beauty and one half of one of my favorite screen teams (with James Cagney). She is teetering in the top and might fall to 11, but I still love this lady.


Buster Keaton

Ah, that face. Beautiful. He stays.

Charlie Chaplin

His face, his genius, his physical grace, his humanity and courage. He stays.

Laurence Olivier

I am not as mad for him as I once was, but, really, he was a god. He stays.

James Cagney

Never the most handsome guy, his beauty comes from his irresistible charisma. It makes him beautiful and he stays.

Clark Gable

Well, he sure was a manly man and gorgeous. Oh, and sexy. Should he stay? Not sure.....wait, what am I - nuts?

Douglas Fairbanks

Ah, he is the illusion of a beautiful adventure. Maybe not my favorite actor, but he is beautiful. I might not place him in a new top-10, but he holds an honorary place for the sheer joy he brings to the screen.

Cary Grant

No debate here. Handsome, charming, sexy and funny, he not only stays, but is in the "most beautiful" Hall of Fame. Case closed.

Fred Astaire  

Like Cagney, it has nothing to do with conventional looks. He is a charmer, he is joy and he stays.

Gene Kelly

Well, my hormones certainly got the best of me. He stays.

John Wayne

Never my favorite actor, or even star, but he was beautiful the way the American west is beautiful. He is undeniable and, I guess, he has to stay.

So, it looks as though my taste hasn't changed much over time. If anything, I could greatly expand my choices. Certainly, I would swap out Garbo for Harlow and throw in young Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Gary Cooper for starters. But, it was fun to revisit my earlier choices and know that I still love them all so very much. I guess beauty really is in the eye - and the heart - of the beholder.

Which stars define beauty for you?

Monday, November 17, 2014

WHAT A CHARACTER! ANN DVORAK and the road less traveled

This is my entry in the What A Character Blogathon hosted by Paula at Paula's Cinema Club, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled and Aurora at Once Upon a Screen. Check out their sites for more fabulous film characters.  

I admit to being an Ann Dvorak freak and have written about her often. However, most of my gushings have been over her as the almost A-list star and rarely about her later shift into secondary and character roles.
Ann was a limber veteran of the chorus

Ann Dvorak did it all. The daughter of silent film actress Anna Lehr, Ann did a short stint as a child actress and then, as a teenager, because a member of the chorus in early MGM musicals (she is all over the chorus in 1929's "The Hollywood Review"). She exploded on the screen as Cesca in 1932's "Scarface," and made a dramatic impression in such films as "Three on a Match," "The Strange Love of Molly Louvain," and "Housewife." It was a testament to Warner Brothers' faith in Ann that she was top billed over Bette Davis in both "Three on a Match" and "Housewife" (later re-issues featured Bette, but originally Ann was billed first). 
As Cesca in "Scarface"

Coked up and ready to jump out of the window
to save her son in "Three on a Match"

In 1932-1934, Ann seemed to be on her way to super-stardom, but she lacked something that Bette Davis had in abundance: a single-minded dedication to her career. She placed her marriage to actor/director Leslie Fenton  before her career and simultaneously took on Warner Brothers in a lengthy, and ultimately futile, pay dispute. After that Ann free-lanced, but never again got a shot at a starring role in a top flight film. She veered between leading roles in poor films and supporting roles in good films. But, whatever Ann did, she always improved the quality of the film just by being there. She was quirky, individualistic and not at all like anyone else.

Three of Ann's most notable character roles were in these films:

Out of the Blue (1947)
No star billing for Ann, but she stole the show
George Brent and Virginia Mayo were the stars and Carole Landis was getting the star treatment, but Ann, as the perpetually drunk Olive steals the show. In a rare chance to show some comedy flair, Ann is the only reason to see this fluffy, kinda-like weekend at Bernie's affair.
Ann spent a great deal of her time passed out in "Out of the Blue"

Our Very Own (1950)

As the unwed birth mother who gave up Ann Blyth, Ann gives perhaps her strongest supporting performance. In a part that could easily have become a cliche, she gives the part of Gert great depth and complexity. She is a poor soul, a miserable housewife trapped in miserable marriage and resigned to her fate. She doesn't want her husband to know she had a child out of wedlock, but she agrees to meet her birth daughter nonetheless. It is a small part, but showy and Ann Dvorak showed audiences what they had been missing.
Ann Byth was sure glad to get home to her adoptive
family after meeting Gert

A Life of Her Own (1950)

Ann only had 10 minutes of screen time in this film, but she is unforgettable as the aging model whose decline and demise proves a cautionary tale to Lana Turner. As Mary Ashlon, Ann wipes the floor with poor little Lana. As her career fades, a bitter Mary turn to drink and finally commits suicide by taking a swan dive out of a high rise window (just as she did when Ann Dvorak's career was on fire in "Three on a Match." Turner Classic Movies named Ann's performance as Mary Ashlon one of its 10 great overlooked performances.

Ann as the chic, doomed Mary Ashlon
Ann Dvorak was always more than her career. She was a passionate wife (3 times), an ambulance driver in WW II London, and a woman of many non-theatrical interests. Unfortunately,her acting talent was her bread and butter and, in that, she faltered. While she always played a prominent part in all of her films, she never again found that comeback hit. Her last film was a supporting role in the Humphrey Bogart/Gene Tierney film "The Secret of Convict Lake." She made a few TV appearances after that and then quietly chucked it all for a retirement in Hawaii, where she died in 1979.