I’m inspired by Wandering Through The Shelves, who has reduced her posting themes to twice per month, to keep posting weekly but I’m choosing my own themes. Since the Oscars were just on( I talked about them on my previous post, with some Hollywood songs), I decided to keep with the Hollywood theme and chose 3 films that’s all about Hollyweird ( like that, Stephen) and I have a little bit of a theme within a theme…
1. A STAR IS BORN-1937
I decided to choose this early version of this oft filmed story somewhat based on a true story ( either based on Elizabeth Bergner’s marriage or Barbara Stanwyck’s first marriage). It’s all about a young woman who wants to make it in Hollywood who meets an alcoholic film star who sees her potential. They fall in love but as her film star rises, his declines. This is a really excellent film starring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March as the 2 lovebirds and they are so good in their roles with Janet exuding sweetness but strength dealing with the man she loves who selflessly promotes her star power. I do prefer the Judy Garland version the best but this is a good one to see.
2. THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL-1952
This film stars Kirk Douglas as a son of a famous film producer who also makes a mark for himself but on the backs of 3 of his former friends, a writer, an actress and a director. A movie producer mogul, played by Walter Pidgeon, brings these 3 together, Dick Powell, Lana Turner and Barry Sullivan and we learn, in flashback, how the producer, brought them to success but at a cost. Each one wants to kill him but, without Kirk, each one would not be famous. They are all a success. This is, apparently, based somewhat on Val Lewton, who was a producer and director most famous for his atmospheric, eerie films like “Cat People.” This film is well done with Kirk Douglas playing a bit of a slime and exceeds at it. Gloria Grahame won a Best Supporting actress Oscar as the wife of the writer.
3. SUNSET BOULEVARD-1950
I normally discuss the earliest film first but I wanted to showcase Hollyweird from a newcomer to established to, finally, forgotten. This is a great film and one that angered some like Louis B, Mayor who thought Billy Wilder, the director, should have been horsewhipped. I spoke about this film before but it is a must see with William Holden as a has been writer on the lamb from 2 guys who want to repossess his car. He takes a turn into an old place from yesteryear and meets a stern butler, the Lady of the house who seems larger than life and a dead chimp. Soon he realizes he has met the once, great Norma Desmond who was a major, silent film star but now is forgotten living in a decaying mansion that once hosted huge parties. Gloria Swanson just nails it as the slowly going insane Norma as does Holden as the insensitive cad who succumbs to Norma’s advances but doesn’t mind being used. So much of this film has great references to what was the dream time of Silent Cinema. Gloria was a famous silent film star who worked with Cecil B DeMille many times and, yes, he did truly call her Little Fella. Erich Von Stroheim, who plays her butler was a famous director during the silents and the house was one of many mansions, most now gone to the developers’ wrecking ball, sadly. I love Mae Murray’s reaction upon seeing this film ( she was a famous actress who, today, would be a reality star but a better one than the dreck that’s on today), “None of us floozies was ever that nuts.” I love that quote.
What a Hollywood films can you think of?