Mourning the death of a celebrity

I have met quite a few people in my life who have said that they don’t understand why people cry when a celebrity dies. ‘I mean, they’re just a singer/an actor/a writer/whatever, I didn’t know them personally, so why would I cry?’. Needless to say, those monsters have no heart or feelings and are probably the same people who say they don’t understand why someone would watch a movie more than three times. These are people who don’t know or feel ‘art’ (in all forms), probably troll people in the YouTube comment section and only go out once a week to go get a loaf of bread. Heartless, boring plonkers. I don’t understand how someone can live their lives without watching films, or listening to music and subsequently being emotionally attached to whoever has provided that for them. It is indeed possible to cry over the death of a celebrity, if they’ve affected your life in one way or another. You don’t necessarily have to have Sunday dinners with them, or buy them presents for Christmas to have a deep connection with them. You don’t choose your family, but you do chose the things that are part of your every day life. It’s not just the death of a family member or friend that can make you cry. And the irony is, those people are so shallow they probably wouldn’t cry then either. And then, the thing that really boils my piss is when a celebrity that they DID like dies, they’ll go ‘Oh, I usually don’t cry when a famous person dies, but he/she really got to me’ YES EXACTLY. See, it’s just the one person but it is possible! NOW you understand. If that person did that to you, then why is it so hard to understand that some other famous person might have had the same impact on someone else? I’ve cried over many a celebrity death and I shall continue to cry, thank you very much. In fact, I sometimes think about Bowie and start to cry. And that’s OK. Those entitled, arrogant dipsticks will never understand and that, sadly, is never going to ch-ch-ch-ch-change. Ha! Get it? *sigh* anyway, rant over. You can carry on with your day.

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Impressions

Now, I’m no Charles Pierce, but I can do an impression or two. Although, admittedly, they are mostly impressions of impressions, rather than… impressions. Bit confusing, I know. But anyway, here’s a list of people I can kind of do an impression of.

  • Bette Davis
  • Eve Arden
  • Tallulah Bankhead
  • Jean Arthur
  • Alfred Hitchcock (bit of a stretch)
  • Gregory Peck (almost)

And here’s a list of impressions I WISH I could do:

  • Katharine Hepburn (believe me,  I’ve tried)
  • Jimmy Stewart
  • Jack Lemmon
  • Gloria Grahame
  • Greta Garbo
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Marlene Dietrich

So there you have it.

I shall post a video someday. Maybe.

I’ve done it!

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I have finished my screenplay. I have actually, finally, really finished it. I’ve been writing it for about a year and I actually followed through with it. That feels good. I’m happy but nostalgic at the same time. But mostly happy. Cheers!

‘I never could do that!’

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Comedy demands more timing, pace, shading and subtlety of emphasis. It is difficult to learn but once it is acquired, it can be easily slowed down and becomes an excellent foundation for dramatic acting’ Irene Dunne

She was one of the reigning queens of screwball comedy, and while Rosalind Russell’s performance in His Girl Friday (1940) is often thought of as THE defining screwball comedy performance by an actress, it’s Irene Dunne’s performance in The Awful Truth (1937) that stands out in my mind. 

She and Cary Grant play a couple who is about to get a divorce. The problem is, they’re still in love and because of that, they will try their best to get in the way of each other’s romantic plans. Cary Grant is perfect as always, but Irene Dunne ‘steals the show’ – yet another expression I don’t like.

Her performance as Lucy Warriner is a rollercoaster of emotions and she plays them all to perfection. Her natural ability to be funny (‘I never could do that!), her impeccable delivery and hilarious facial expressions that go with it, as well as those heart-breaking moments when her character’s true feelings come out – it’s one of the most layered and carefully constructed performances ever.

She was rightfully nominated for an Oscar but lost out to Luise Rainer (The Good Earth, 1937). In fact, she was nominated a total of 5 times and never won. What was the Academy thinking?

Birthday wishes

 

Happy Birthday to Bette Davis, Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck, Melvyn Douglas and Walter Huston.

What a great day for celebrity birthdays! I love April 5th. It’s like ‘oh, it’s that day, marathon galore!’

And since it’s Gregory Peck’s 100th birthday, TCM is showing his movies all day. Heaven.

Mr Skeffington (1944)

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The powerhouse that is Bette Davis is the subject of the latest blogathon, hosted by the lovely Crystal (In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood). So for this blogathon, I thought I’d write a little something about one of Bette’s lesser-known films, Mr Skeffington (1944), directed by Vincent Sherman. If you weren’t already pumped that Bette Davis is in it, here’s something else for ya: Claude Rains is in it too. I can almost hear you running down the stairs to go get the DVD. And so you should! Mr Skeffington is a great film, and if you like melodramatic films, you’ll love this one. It’s as melodramatic as  Douglas Sirk directing Greer Garson and Tyrone Power in a CinemaScope film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Bette Davis plays Fanny Trellis, the most beautiful and sought-after girl in town. She boasts many suitors but doesn’t love any of them. The one man she loves is her brother and after she finds out that he has embezzled money from his boss, Job Skeffington (Claude Rains), she decides right then and there that she is going to marry Mr Skeffington. Their marriage and its ups and downs have a saga feel to it and no one else in Hollywood could have played Fanny Trellis like Bette. Every emotion known to man is there. It’s a great performance and one that I suspect impersonators have studied very, very carefully over the years. It is simultaneously an unusual performance for Bette Davis and the most Bette Davis-like performance ever, if that makes sense. Which I’m sure it doesn’t.

Both Bette Davis and Claude Rains were nominated for Oscars and rightfully so. Mr Skeffington probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but it’s one of those films that you can watch on a rainy afternoon with a nice cup of tea.

Fritz Lang and Joan Bennett

Joan Bennett and Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang and Joan Bennett aren’t the first director/actor duo one thinks of when the subject comes up. In an era that gave us John Ford/John Wayne, George Cukor/Kate Hepburn and Alfred Hitchcock/Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant, it’s perhaps not surprising that Lang and Bennett have unfairly been forgotten as a duo, unless you’re talking to really massive fans. However, theirs is one partnership that you shouldn’t overlook.

They made five (underrated) films together. Of those five, two of them are inseparable in the classic fandom’s collective mind: Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945). This is mostly due to the fact that Eddie G. Robinson and Dan Duryea are also in them, thus making this a… I don’t know, quartet, or something. The four of them got together to make two very similar, yet very different films. They both have the same kind of strange and far-fetched plot, but there’s a sense of unending doom to Scarlet Street that you don’t find in Woman in the Window. To put it bluntly, there’s nothing comforting about Scarlet Street. Absolutely nothing. I mean, even for a noir. I think I read somewhere that it was the ‘bleakest noir ever made’. I think that’s about right. It’s still great, though. But not as good as Woman in the Window, which, if we’re going for labels here, I personally consider to be the quietest noir ever, and I mean that literally.

Now, I love both films, but Woman in the Window takes the cake for me. The reason for that is because the twist at the end makes you take a huge sigh of relief. Scarlet Street, great as it is, drags you down with it and beats you over the head with a wooden spoon.

But even with all of that going for them, they are still, to this day, hidden gems of 1940s noir. You will never see them alongside Double Indemnity (1944) or Out of the Past (1947) in a ‘Noir top 10 list’ or something, but that’s kind of what makes them special. In a weird, slightly frustrating way, Bennett and Lang’s partnership and those two films in particular will always be underrated, and that’s okay.