Wednesday, January 21, 2015


This is my entry in the Miriam Hopkins Blogathon, hosted by Silver Screenings and a Small Press Life. Click HERE to read more, more, more about the saucy Miss Miriam.
Miriam as Julia Hurstwood: she's not taking
 a philandering husband laying down
Your suave and elegant husband leaves you for a younger woman and takes the money, too. What is a woman to do? Cry or put on her big girl panties and set forth like a steamship on the ocean crushing everything in its wake? If you are Miriam Hopkins as Julia Hurstwood in 1952’s “Carrie,” it is the latter. Oh, and add some jewels and choice words for the husband and the chippie, too.
The men in Carrie's life: there really is no competition

See this film if you can for one of Laurence Olivier’s greatest, most romantic screen performances. Based on Theodore Dreiser’s novel, “Sister Carrie”, published in 1900, William Wyler’s  film version, “Carrie,” tells the story of a dumb, young lovely (Jennifer Jones) who leaves the farm for the big city (Chicago) to live with her sister. Sis lives in a cramped apartment with her husband and children and makes it clear to Carrie that she needs to get off her pretty little behind and earn her keep. Carrie soon decides factory work is not for her and allows herself to be picked up by flirty traveling salesman, Charles Drouet (played with oily charm by Eddie Albert).  The next thing you know they are playing house and Carrie has new duds and a kitten. Charlie is often gone, so Carrie has lots of time on her hands.  She takes an interest in amateur theatre and George Hurstwood (Laurence Olivier), the manager of an upscale watering hole.

Carrie loves the lifestyle George gives her - at first
George is everything Charlie is not: he is refined and cultured. Unfortunately, he is also married. And not just a little married, but a lot married – to the formidable Julia Hurstwood.  She is presented as such a bitch that you really do feel sorry for George. Sorry enough to forgive him stealing money, lying to Carrie to whisk her away to New York, marrying her while still married to Julia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. 

George tries to hang on to Carrie,
but he knows his star is falling and hers is rising

Olivier is the whole show here. His descent into homeless despair while Carrie's star rises is heartbreaking. He risked all for love and ended up empty-handed. Carrie feels remorse, but loves the materialism of the new century. In that, she is not unlike Julia Hurstwood. I'll bet Julia was not such a bitch so very long ago, but when George tells her he means to have some happiness she says no - not if it hurts her. Sir Larry is at his best, but Miriam is not to be overshadowed. When she steams into New York to find George and Carrie living together she looks her younger rival up and down and drawls, ice cubes laced with molasses, "I thought you'd be prettier." Well, she kept the money and got rid of the future bum. Good going, Julia. Like they say, if she were a man she'd be ruthless and strong, but as a woman, she's just a bitch.

All for love: his old life is gone and so is Carrie

Check out Julia giving George what for:

I also found this very touching video someone made about George and Carrie's romance.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tragic Star: Beautiful Olive Borden

2015 is the year of the Tragic Star at A Person in the Dark. January's Tragic Star is Olive Borden.

Beautiful Olive Borden had it all, but she ended up making beds, washing dishes and scrubbing floors at a mission for destitute women. How did this happen?

This striking beauty was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1906. Raised by her mother, Sibbie (her father had died when Olive was a baby), lovely Olive convinced her mama that she had the stuff to make it in Hollywood. Sibbie believed in her girl and Olive proved her right. By 1922 she was appearing as a bathing beauty in comedy shorts and by 1925 she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star. Signed by the Fox Studio, Olive quickly became one of the studio's highest paid stars and one if its most popular.

By all accounts, Olive loved being a star. She spent lavishly, loved to party and engaged in a 4-year affair with one of Hollywood's hunkiest stars, George O'Brien. She was renowned for her beauty, her form, her style and even her acting.  Between 1925 and 1927 she appeared in a string of successful films for Fox.

Beautiful in pearls and basic black

Fig Leaves: Directed by Howard Hawks with fashions by Adrian
and one of Olive's biggest hits

Olive Borden models Adrian's fashions in "Fig Leaves"

Olive and George O'Brien were one of Hollywood's most beautiful couples

The Joy Girl (1927)

In 1927 Fox starred Olive as "The Joy Girl," a successful comedy that gave Olive the same nickname. In 1927 Hollywood's Joy Girl was on top of the world.

The film that gave Olive her short-lived nickname

The Joy Girl looking lovely
And then, suddenly, it all went wrong. Apparently Fox, who had a lot of high-paid stars, began to experience financial difficulties. As a result, they attempted to reduce some of the highest salaries, including Olive's.  Olive refused and walked out on her contract. From there, things went from bad to worse. O'Brien, tired of her hard partying ways, ended their relationship. Talking pictures and the lack of studio support put the nail in the coffin. Her last film was 1934's "Chloe, Love is Calling You," directed by fellow alcoholic and former great, Marshall Neilan. It was not a success. She was 28 years old.

Olive made a couple of bad marriages and attempted some vaudeville work, but nothing seemed to click. In 1941 she was broke and finished. She worked as a nurses aid and an army chauffeur and served as a WAC during the war.

After the war she tried to reestablish herself in Hollywood, but all doors were closed. During the last years of her life she found religion and joined Mama Sibbie at the Sunshine Mission, a refuge for homeless and poverty stricken women. In 1947 she fled the mission and was found by her mother in a motel. Olive was close to death. Sibbie brought her back to the mission, but Olive died soon after from complications arising from pneumonia and alcoholism.

Olive as she should be remembered

For much more about the lovely Olive Borden, please check out these informative sites:

OLIVE BORDEN: Silent Star - a completely comprehensive site about all things Olive - you will learn a lot here.

Looking for Mabel: A stunning site about Mable Normand and her world.

There is also a well-reviewed bio by Michelle Vogel called Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood's "Joy Girl" that I just bought with one click at Amazon!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mirror Mirror on the Wall......

Can you pass a mirror without a primp or a frown?  Are you the type that is satisfied at the image that stares back at you or would you prefer to cover all mirrors in the vicinity with back cloth? Do you think the way you see yourself is the way others see you?

Mirrors have always been a provocative movie star accessory. Whether it be a reflection of the soul, a hidden desire or just a beautiful face, the image in the mirror sometimes tells us more than flesh and blood.

"The mirror is my best friend because when I cry it never laughs."
                                                            Charles Chaplin

For Chaplin, the mirror was a reflection of his soul and psyche. 

Chaplin hides in a house of mirrors in "The Circus"

Chaplin hides behind the makeup in "Limelight"

Photographer George Hurrell frequently used mirror images when capturing his subjects

The glamour of Carole Lombard x 4
A mirror shows Lombard's profile to a gorgeous advantage

A mirror amps up the elegance for Betty Grable

Susan Hayward gets the Hurrell mirror treatment

Kay Francis's troubled image betrays her
seeming nonchalance in "Mandalay"

A mirror only serves to emphasize
Norma Shearer's beautiful profile

Hurrel gives Norma his mirrored table treatment

Rosemary Lane's beauty is evident in her reflection

The Great Stone face reveals nothing and
everything in this stunning portrait
Some non-Hurrel portraits of some beautiful reflections

When you look like Cary Grant there can never be too many mirrors

Deanna Durbin's image lets us know what is
really going on behind that innocent face

Tallulah Bankhead practices her sexy smoking
pose before her mirror
Ty Power wonders if it is him or Dorian Gray

Madcap Mabel Normand shows her sweet
and feminine side in her reflection 
Super chorus girl Toby Wing with her weapons of choice

Both sides of the beauty of Judy 

Lillian Gish's reflection is serious business

Janet Gaynor likes what she sees

Katharine Hepburn channels her inner thespian

Elizabeth Taylor takes a moment from being fabulous

Joan Blondell's image challenges her to up the perkiness

Cagney's reflection is as charming as the real thing

Vilma Banky practically plotzes over a double image

The mirror is a key tool in the transformation
from Norma Jean to Marilyn

And sometimes it talks back.....

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!