“I pay as I go. My heart is slave to my head. Men are as pleasant and exciting to me as the lavish gowns I adore. I drink the sparkling cup of love because I know my heart will never betray me. I am TALLULAH the MODERN.” — Publicity poster for “Tarnished Lady” “For ten days, Tallulah rose in time to be at the Desilu Studios at six in the morning. She made jokes there about the tight black pants suit that she was required to wear for the part (‘There goes one ball,’ she sad to Batman, as she was being fitted into it) and yelled a good deal.” — from Miss Tallulah Bankhead by Lee Israel Portrait by Eugene Richee. Truman Capote and Tallulah Bankhead attended the dinner party where Dottie (Dorothy Parker) met the actor Montgomery Clift, who was widely rumored to be homosexual. Capote recalled the scene: “‘He’s so beautiful,’ murmured Miss Parker. ‘Sensitive. So finely made. The most beautiful young man I’ve ever seen. What a pity he’s a cocksucker.’ Then, sweetly, wide-eyed with little girl naivete, she said, ‘Oh. Oh dear. Have I said something wrong? I mean, he is a cocksucker, isn’t he, Tallulah?’” Bankhead: “Well, d-d-darling, I r-r-really wouldn’t know. He’s never sucked my cock.” –From Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker by Stuart Y. Silverstein In “The Dancers,” 1923. Photo dated September 18, 1951, The Ritz. “We stopped at a roadside cafe for Cokes. Inside, we sat at … Continue reading

TV Party #1

First things first: I’m tired of using labels in my subject lines, stuff like “Recently Watched” or “Short Subject, Feature Film,” so I’m gonna stop doing that. On occasion, I’ll still use a label if I think the situation specifically calls for it, but for most posts I figure tags are enough. So there. At the risk of being permanently disowned by my good friend Ivan, I must confess that I don’t really enjoy much television. I know, I know, I’m weird. Maybe I watched so much TV when I was a kid that I nearly filled my lifetime quota. Having said that, I shamefully confess that my television is on constantly, but tuned to reruns of animated shows I’ve seen 100 times before already… …or the weather or to a movie channel. Usually TCM, of course, especially since IFC now interrupts their movies for commercials. It’s true! Jack Pendarvis confirms it! I’ll never tune in to IFC again. Do I look like someone who enjoys commercials? No. No, I do not. But I digress. While I usually don’t care for TV, a few months ago I found myself buying a bunch of TV shows on DVD, partly because it was my birthday, partly because they were on sale at Amazon UK. Then Ivan, who by now is so scandalized that he has stopped reading this post and is removing all traces of my name from his inbox, sent me the most amazing thing ever: The Tony Hancock Collection. Mmm. … Continue reading

Of Blackglama and William Desmond Taylor (no relation)

Out of extreme curiosity, can anyone tell me why hundreds of people all over Canada would have been looking for the Barbara Stanwyck Blackglama advertisement last Saturday? Update: An answer! From Anonymous in comments: A CBC radio show called the Age of Persuasion (an EXCELLENT show) mentioned that ad in a episode about Luxury Advertising. http://www.cbc.ca/ageofpersuasion/episode/2011/01/15/season-5-luxury-advertising-full/ I’m glad I know. I got several hundred hits on this page, all from google.ca, but that wasn’t the weirdest part: No one downloaded the picture or hotlinked to it, and several people spelled “Blackglama” wrong. One person searched for “black llama.” Ha! I hope someone can solve this mystery for me. Now that I know, I can say with certainty that what was going on in Canada on Saturday was a hell of a lot more fun than what was going in Kansas on Saturday. Anyway, the main reason I wanted to post was to tell you about the most amazing thing I just saw on The Daily Mirror: William Desmond Taylor’s tuxedo jacket from 1911, still in the Paramount costume wardrobe and looking terrific. Here’s Willie in a tux. No, I have no idea if it’s the same tux or not. Update, January 20: It happened again! This time I got hundreds of hits for “Mae West’s interesting request for a glass of wine in the 1933 movie ‘I’m No Angel.’” Guess this is for a trivia contest? The answer was “off the vine,” unless I’m reading the keyword analysis wrong.

Short Subject, Feature Film: Condemned (2010) and Double Take (2009)

Many months ago, writer-director Oren Shai was kind enough to send me a copy of his short subject “Condemned” (2010), a tight, engaging film that combines exploitation cinema with the feel of a 1950s genre Western.  Fortunately, Oren has just released the film online here in streaming video. Because it’s online, I won’t spoil a bit of it for you. It’s a terrific short, and I highly recommend you give it 14 minutes of your time. *** Our feature today is Double Take (2009), a quasi-documentary and meditation on Alfred Hitchcock, commercialism, mortality, and the Cold War. The film combines four main elements: Footage of Hitchcock from his movie cameos and TV series, interviews with Hitchcock lookalikes, clips of Cold War events focusing mostly on the Space Race and Folger’s commercials from that era, all overlaid with a fictitious account of Hitch meeting an older version of himself based on Jorge Luis Borges’ short story August 25, 1983. It seems many reviewers don’t know what to make of Double Take, and I admit, if you go into it expecting solid, concrete links between the four main elements of the film, you will be extremely frustrated. That said, however tenuous they may be, the links between these themes are compelling. Hitch dealt extensively with the idea of doubles and doppelgängers, which connects to a series of clips showing political figures moving fluidly from one double relationship to another: Khrushchev and Nixon, Nixon and Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro, Kennedy and Castro. It … Continue reading

Alice, Gertrude, Cecil

Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, 1935, as photographed by… …Cecil Beaton, 1937, courtesy Chateau Thombeau.