Bette Davis Project: Pretty, Pretty Pictures!

Over the years (years!) I have collected pictures of Bette, and at any given moment I have scads of promotionals for films but, because I didn’t always file photos under the name of the film or year they were taken, they get looked over when I do a post for the Bette Project. That’s my excuse for how these wound up here in a potpourri post, but really, is there a bad excuse for posting a dozen photos of Bette Davis? I submit to you that there is not. From “The Bad Sister” (1931). “The Bad Sister” From “Hell’s House.” “Cabin in the Cotton “(1932) “Fog Over Frisco” (1934) “Front Page Woman” (1935) Front Page Woman from Stirred, Straight Up, With a Twist “The Great Lie” (1941) “Hell’s House” (1932) “The Rich Are Always With Us” (1932) “Jimmy the Gent” (1934): Per the rules of the Project, I’m not watching films I’ve already seen, and “Jimmy the Gent” is one I watched years ago. “Jimmy the Gent” From “Dark Victory”, which also falls under the already-watched rule. I’ve seen this credited to George Hurrell, but it’s not on the Hurrell website, so I can’t confirm if it’s a Hurrell or not. But here are two bonus Hurrells I can confirm: Have a good weekend, everyone!

Marie Prevost Project #3: "His Hidden Purpose" (1918)

We’re still in the midst of the Marie Prevost Project, and we’ve jumped all the way from Marie’s 1916 short “A Scoundrel’s Toll” to one made two years later, “His Hidden Purpose.” It’s evident from Marie’s role in the film that, by 1918, she was a Sennett star. Many Sennett shorts — at least the ones I’ve seen — involve a few lead actors in the main plot with Beauties (or Kops or some similar group of slapstickians) in a secondary wacky plot. While researching, I’ve noticed that some people get very, very touchy if you refer to the female lead as a Beauty if she’s not strictly in a Beauty role, and Gloria Swanson apparently denied she was ever a Bathing Beauty. In the Beauties’ heyday, they were definitely considered second-tier actresses, background fluff at best; here, nearly a century later, many still feel the same way. I don’t really know what to make of that. It’s interesting to see these movies in order and realize that Marie started out as a background Beauty but was promoted to lead actress in short order. Released 2 1/2 years after her (allegedly) first film in “Those Bitter Sweets,” it appears that “His Hidden Purpose” was Marie’s first starring role in a Sennett short. And folks, she is adorable. This cat is cross-eyed with rage.   I wish I could tell you what “His Hidden Purpose” is about, but this short is a difficult and confusing 12 minutes. The editing is so … Continue reading

Artists and Models (1937)

Artists and Models (1937) is the full 1930s Hollywood entertainment spectacle, complete with music, dancing, celebrity cameos, comedy, romance, and hot chicks in skimpy clothes. Because of all those things and the stars — Jack Benny, Ida Lupino, and Gail Patrick — I was sure I’d love it. I didn’t. I didn’t hate it, but it has some serious flaws that even Jack, Ida, and Gail can’t fix. Jack is Mac Brewster, head of the big name Brewster ad agency, and owner of one of the most fabulous offices I’ve ever seen: We open with a wacky number by The Yacht Club Boys where George Kelly does a Max Bialystock theater producer routine; truthfully, I would not be surprised to learn that at least a few aspects of the Bialystock character came from this film. By the end of the Yacht Club Boys number, a few thousand cast members are on stage, crowded amongst the sets for a dozen plays. It’s wacky, remember. Brewster is asked for his opinion: “It stinks!” Ha! I love you, Jack Benny. Brewster’s ad agency is in financial trouble, but all is saved when rich Alan Townsend (Richard Arlen) gives Brewster a large contract, contingent on finding a new Townsend Silver Girl for advertising their silver products. The Silver Girl should also be the winner of the upcoming Artists & Models Ball, it’s decided, for maximum publicity. Brewster figures his girlfriend and top model Paula Sewell (Ida Lupino) would be perfect. Townsend, though, has visions … Continue reading

Bette Davis Project: "Fashions of 1934" Redux

Bette Davis and William Powell in “Fashions of 1934”.

Tura Satana 1938-2011

Very sad news from The Sheila Variations: Cult actress, dancer, and all around kick-ass lady Tura Satana has passed away. Rest in peace, Tura. You will be missed.

TV Party #2

I’m still watching a lot of TV, and I don’t know why! Maybe once it gets above 25F outside, I’ll be inclined to do something that involves moving off the couch occasionally. Can’t make any promises, though. In the last TV Party post, I mentioned that I thought “The X-Files” had lost much of its cleverness by season 6. Although I enjoyed episodes “Drive” and “Dreamland”, the Christmas episode left me cold, and the Nazi-heavy “Triangle” basically Godwinned the series. But then Bruce Campbell guested. Then came “The Rain King,” which I had trepidations about because some people online listed it as one of the worst episodes ever. Worst? No, best! Despite being set in Kansas and not being 100% Victoria Jackson free, “The Rain King” was a solid episode. Yet this is not another “X-Files” post. The other two shows I have been watching are John Thaw vehicles, series I bought from Amazon UK for an early birthday present last year. When I was a kid, my dad insisted we watch “Mystery!” on PBS every Thursday night. I loved the shows on “Mystery!” so much, and I have a lot of pleasant memories of watching “Rumpole of the Bailey,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Poirot” and a dozen others. Oh, the crush I had on Sam Neill after watching “Reilly, Ace of Spies.” I remember Gene Shalit hosting the show before Vincent Price did, and I became a huge Vincent Price fan entirely because of his years as host. Introduction by Vincent … Continue reading