Exciting Hats

Today has been rough. Really rough. Like, my brain has turned into tasty, tasty tapioca and I can no longer pronounce polysyllabic words kind of rough. That’s why I thought this was the perfect time to unleash one of the most pointless posts that has been sitting in my Drafts folder: A post about hats. Is it me, or do costumers make men’s hats too tall? Seems as though in movies from the 1970s and on, the hats are often the wrong shape or size. Look at Depp’s fedora, it’s the size of his whole head! They weren’t usually that large in proportion to the head back in the 1930s. Warren William agrees: So does Clark Gable, although he’s too sleepy to say so: Even Spencer Tracy agrees with me, and we never agree on anything! Jimmy Cagney agrees with me… …usually. Perhaps shorter guys tried to add height with too-tall hats, and I’m not just saying that out of anger because Jimmy’s thrown a wrench into my theory. Modern fedoras just don’t seem to fit the same as they did in the golden age. Has fedora technology changed, or is this the product of evolution gone horribly, terribly awry? Are heads shrinking at an alarming rate? Even science cannot say! Speaking of awry, I don’t even know what’s going on with Jack. His hat is pulled down too far, the brim is sticking straight out like an Ed Wood spaceship hubcap, and Nicholson has stolen Edith Head’s glasses. Give … Continue reading

Blogiversary IV: The Voyage Home

Four years ago today I started this crazy mixed-up blog, and not a day goes by when I don’t wonder what the hell I have gotten myself into. As has become tradition, I present a lovely selection of my favorite photos to celebrate SBBN’s fourth blogiversary: Ann Sheridan, 1934 Constance Bennett Edward Woods Edwina Booth, Trader Horn courtesy Film Noir Photos Harold Lloyd Genevieve Tobin James Stewart and Lew Ayers in Ice Follies of 1939. Ingrid Bergman and Isabella Rossellini Judy Garland, 1940s

An Infinite Patience for Stupidity: Big Trouble (1986)

  There’s a palpable loathing for the 1986 film Big Trouble, mainly because it was John Cassavetes’ last and worst film, a bad combination for a man revered as a god by the stringent hipster crowd that film criticism seems to court with saddening regularity. How Cassavetes even became involved in Big Trouble is a question as yet not fully answered. American National Biography states that Cassavetes only stepped in to replace first director Andrew Bergman as a favor to the producer; Independent Film Distribution states he replaced not Bergman but Elaine May; Hollywood Incoherent claims he only did the film for the money. Accidental Genius and Guide to American Cinema claim he didn’t even direct the film at all, but was saddled unfairly with the credit. The abundance of tales told about Cassavetes’ involvement is likely a symptom of fans being upset that their hero’s last film wasn’t a stunning end to his career, but it’s also the product of the initial 1986 impression coloring every subsequent mention of the film. The idea that this movie is worthless is repeated by those who, for whatever reason, don’t want to take the time to re-evaluate the film. I held off writing about Big Trouble initially so I could submit it as my White Elephant Blogathon selection. It was reviewed, of a sort, over at United Provinces of Ivanlandia, where the illustrations are mostly unrelated Penthouse-type nudes and semi-nudes. I don’t know why. Maybe because many people consider Big Trouble a … Continue reading

Annette Kellerman

Above: A page of diving positions depicting swimmer and silent film star Annette Kellerman from Bernarr Macfadden’s 1928 book The Encyclopedia of Physical Culture. Interestingly, I stumbled across a slideshow of photos by Frederick W. Glasier. As you can see, he apparently took the photos for Macfadden’s book: And just to add to the Kellerfun, more Annette:

Jogging in Jeans

Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Bill Boggs, Mason Reese, Dina Merrill, and Gordon Parks. Thank the gods for United Studios blog, because otherwise I never would have identified Boggs or Merrill. I believe they’re in Central Park, but why are they jogging? And couldn’t someone have lent poor Andy some sweats?

Tallulah, Redux (Again)

This photo has appeared on SBBN before, but it’s the iconic image from this photo set so I had to include it. This is a series of photos credited as anywhere from 1930 to 1955, most often as September, 1951 at the infamous Ritz Hotel press conference. Yet I noticed her outfit didn’t match the dress she was wearing in pics from the press conference, so I did a little digging and discovered these are from 1955, a series of photos by Phillipe Halsman — you can see the complete series here. For added fun, check out an auction of original prints of these photos a few years ago here, shown next to a Billy Haines sofa and chair. Neat! If you compare this version with the version sold in the auction (link above), you’ll see the cigarette is airbrushed out of this copy. It’s possible that some poor cropping is to blame, as much of the very light grey background behind Tallu on the left is missing. Courtesy Stirred, Straight Up, With a Twist And now more Tallulah Bankhead, just because I can: Tallu is drunk, Marlene is falling out of her dress, and someone who looks a lot like John Huston is leering at them both. Positively glorious. Tallulah and Warburton Gamble in Thirty a Week (1918). Tallulah in 1928. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, 1937. Yes, I have had technical problems with this post. Keen readers will have noticed this showed up early in the RSS feed … Continue reading

The Nicholas Ray Blogathon: "The Janitor" (1974)

“That’s the way film should be. An artist should not moralize. A person who has the audacity to make a film in the first place should never consciously put his own neuroses on the screen.” — Nicholas Ray, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, 1975   *** Wet Dreams is a 1974 compilation of short films about sex, with segments directed by Max Fischer, Lasse Braun, and others, including a somewhat surprising entry by American director Nicholas Ray. Though the origins of this film and its production are apparently lost to time,  the internet attributes the film’s creation to an unnamed wealthy Dutch man, often described as eccentric. Elsewhere, Mark Betz in Beyond the Subtitle reveals that the project was spearheaded by International Film Festival Rotterdam, while John David Slocum claims Wet Dreams director Max Fischer produced the film entirely by himself; this latter theory was repeated in 2005 by Vanity Fair. Fischer’s heavy involvement is hardly in question, and the rich, nameless Dutch eccentric seems to have been a real person, but neither appear to have acted on behalf of International Film Festival Rotterdam, nor is it verified that the film showed at the festival at all. Wet Dreams, for all its artistic claims, seems to have been just another 1970s porno, albeit with a somewhat unusual pedigree.  Fischer and another Wet Dreams director, Dusan Makavejev, would make the cult-sex film Sweet Movie that same year. Lasse Braun, director of other 1970s adult films such as Sex Maniacs and Kinkorama, … Continue reading