Silents are Golden: Silent Superstars – The Unique Career of Theda Bara

Silents are Golden: Silent Superstars – The Unique Career of Theda Bara

With her pale makeup, thick black hair, and large eyes rimmed heavily with black makeup, she was – and is – one of the most iconic actresses of the silent era. Her image as a screen “vamp” is still fairly well known, although people tend to recognize her from a few well-circulated stills (an album cover by The Lumineers is a recent example). Which is all mighty remarkable, considering that only a small handful of her films survive.

Theda Bara Vamp Style
Theda Bara pioneered early “Vamp” style

So why is Theda Bara remembered today, when other actresses with far more existing films have fallen into obscurity? It’s more than a little due to that dramatic makeup, a look both very dated yet intriguingly Gothic. She remains a striking sight amid her many fellow actresses with soft curls and flower-like features. And with her unusual, “exotic” costumes and more than a few peculiar headdresses, she has a distinct theatricality that makes her stand out today–just as much as it did back in the 1910s, in fact.

Theda Bara and a crow
Often played the role of a temptress whose beauty and dangerous allure led good-hearted men to their doom.

Today, one of the biggest misconceptions about Theda is that her fanciful backstory–she was said to be a daughter of an Italian sculptor and a French actress, born and raised “in the shadow of the Sphinx” before moving to glorious Paris – was swallowed hook, line, and sinker by a credulous public. In reality, her rise to fame was due to a smart marketing campaign by newspapermen Al Selig and John Goldfrap, who were tasked by producer William Fox with selling his new “Arabian” type of actress. “And how!” they could’ve added.

Practically rubbing their hands together with glee, Selig and Goldfrap went to work. They concocted Theda’s bizarre origin tale, dubbed her “the Wickedest Woman in the World,” and had her dress up in luxurious furs and give interviews in Middle Eastern-bedecked apartments full of incense and exotic trinkets. The piece de resistance was a press conference she gave in a Chicago hotel room. It had been liberally perfumed and filled with flowers, the heat turned up high because the actress was ostensibly “used to desert heat.” When the reporters finally shuffled out of the sweltering room, one was allowed to remain–a young Louella Parsons. She witnessed Theda rush to open a window, gasping: “Give me air!”

Theda Bara Eyeliner
Although Bara made more than 40 feature films between 1914 and 1926, complete prints of only six of these films are left in existence.

The press conference was, of course, an elaborate hoax by Selig and Goldfrap that was designed to be leaked to the public. A quasi-mystical, romantic temptress of Egyptian origin was a hard sell even in that more innocent age–but letting people know it was an act would certainly create buzz. And of course, it would also give a lot of publicity to Theda’s upcoming film A Fool There Was (1915)–her first starring role.

Theda Bara in A Fool There Was (1915)
Theda Bara in A Fool There Was (1916)

In reality, Theda’s past included neither Sphinxes nor an upbringing in Paris. She was born Theodosia Burr Goodman on July 29, 1885, and her upper-middle-class family lived in Cincinnati. Her background was Swiss and Jewish, and both parents owned businesses. As a child, Theda loved to perform for family and friends, so after graduating high school she decided to try her luck in the theater. For a few years, she only nabbed small roles, and by the 1910s she started seeking opportunities in moving pictures. After getting a small role in The Stain (1914) she was recommended to Fox, who decided she was a perfect candidate to be his first wholly manufactured star. (“Theda Bara” was a shortened version of “Theodosia” and an old family name.)

Theda Bara Black Hat Black Dress
Bara in a sultry black dress and hat

All the publicity helped make A Fool There Was a hit. Theda’s role as a “vampire” or “vamp” – in the 1910s, this was a seductive woman with a quasi-supernatural power over men –was considered extraordinary. Combined with her theatrical image, it made her a star almost overnight. While she wasn’t the only actress who played vamps, she quickly became the most identified with them.

Over the next two years, Theda would make 15 films for Fox Studios, playing an assortment of vamps and even an innocent maiden or two (such as Juliet in the 1916 Romeo and Juliet). Now one of the biggest stars in films, she moved to Hollywood to film her biggest picture yet, Cleopatra. No expense was spared on this ambitious epic, one of the sensations of the year. However, a lot of the material making up Theda’s bizarre costumes was spared. Even today they’re surprisingly skimpy, with gauze, strips of fabric, and even a brassiere shaped like coiled snakes exposing as much skin as possible.

Theda Bara Cleopatra (1917)
Theda Bara in Cleopatra (1917)

In the meantime, Selig and Goldfrap kept churning out ludicrous stories to the press, such as a supposed “contract” stipulating that Ms. Bara “must not appear in public without veils” and “must have curtains put over her car windows so as not to be seen.” They also spread the story that a 2500-year-old prophecy “found in a tomb near Thebes” foretold the coming of Theda Bara. All in good fun, of course. In reality, the star “whose kiss is destruction” enjoyed quiet nights at home after long days of filming, and her sole marriage to director Charles Brabin would last her whole life.

By 1919, after several years of superstardom, Theda’s contract with Fox Studios was up. After taking a holiday in Europe, she returned to Hollywood to find that her iconic vamp image was backfiring. Mystical, dangerous Edwardian vamps were going out of style, soon to be replaced by flappers and the more stylish, 1920s versions of vamps. A stint in the 1920 play The Blue Flame, where Theda’s performance was panned, didn’t help matters. Her final films would be The Unchastened Woman (1924) and the comedy short Madame Mystery (1926). The latter gave her a chance to use a big of her natural comic timing but to little avail.

Hal Roach and Theda Bara in Madame Mystery (1926)
Hal Roach and Theda Bara in Madame Mystery (1926)

After retiring from the screen Theda would live comfortably with Charles, often entertaining friends at their elegant Beverly Hills home. She occasionally went on the radio or gave interviews, showing pride in her past career while also having a sense of humor about it: “…The wickedest thing I ever did on the screen would seem tame now.”

Theda Bara would pass away from colon cancer in 1955.  Although much of her filmography has vanished, possibly forever, the mysterious figure with the thickly-lined eyes and pale makeup still has the power to lure in curious viewers. And with any luck, we’ll hopefully rediscover a few more of this unique performer’s films in the future.

Theda Bara Dramatic Head dress
A photo of Bara as Cleopatra is the album artwork for The Lumineers record Cleopatra released in 2016.

–Lea Stans for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Lea’s Silents are Golden articles here.

Lea Stans is a born-and-raised Minnesotan with a degree in English and an obsessive interest in the silent film era (which she largely blames on Buster Keaton). In addition to blogging about her passion at her site Silent-ology, she is a columnist for the Silent Film Quarterly and has also written for The Keaton Chronicle.

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Western RoundUp: Western Stars in The Military

Western RoundUp: Western Stars in The Military

Memorial Day Cemetary Path

With Memorial Day being celebrated this month and thoughts turning to those who have served our nation in the armed forces, I’d like to pay tribute to several Western stars and directors who were veterans. In doing so, I’ll share photos of their final resting places, which I’ve taken at several Southern California cemeteries over the past few years.


John Russell Headstone
John Russell (1921 – 1991)

We start with a visit to the beautiful Los Angeles National Cemetery, where actor John Russell was laid to rest after his passing in 1991. During World War II Russell served in the Marines on Guadalcanal. Russell’s acting career included numerous Westerns, including favorites such as Yellow Sky (1948) and The Gal Who Took the West (1949), and he’s best known for playing Marshal Dan Troop in TV’s Lawman from 1958 to 1962.


Richard Carlson Headstone
Richard Carlson (1918 – 1990)

Actor/director Richard Carlson is also buried at Los Angeles National Cemetery. Carlson spent four years as a Navy pilot during WWII. Carlson appeared in Westerns such as Seminole (1953) and The Last Command (1955), while his TV work included starring in the series Mackenzie’s Raiders (1958-1959). As a director, Carlson made one of my favorite Rory Calhoun Westerns, Four Guns to the Border (1954).


Charles Holt Headstone
Jack Holt (1888 – 1951)

Over his long career, Jack Holt starred in many Westerns, including Trail of Robin Hood (1950) which I wrote about last Christmas. Holt was also the father of Western stars Tim and Jennifer Holt. During WWII Jack Holt joined the army at the age of 54, serving as a horse buyer for the United States Cavalry, and he is also buried at Los Angeles National Cemetery.


James Stewart Headstone
James Stewart (1908 – 1997)

James Stewart had a distinguished military career which began as a pilot during WWII. In the ensuing years, he rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve, finally retiring in 1968. Stewart appeared in many Westerns; those he made with director Anthony Mann are considered some of the finest of his career. Last month I wrote about their first Western together, Winchester ’73 (1950). Stewart is buried at Forest Lawn Glendale.


Lee Van Cleef Headstone
Lee Van Cleef (1925 – 1989)

Lee Van Cleef achieved fame as a villain in countless Westerns, including Ride Lonesome (1957) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962); indeed, his gravestone at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills says “Best of the Bad.” During WWII Van Cleef spent four years serving in the U.S. Navy, achieving the rank Sonarman First Class.


Glen Ford Headstone
Glenn Ford (1916 – 2006)

Glenn Ford was a Marine Corps sergeant from 1942 to 1944; he then served in the Naval Reserves through the Vietnam War, ultimately retiring as Captain. Ford appeared in Westerns from the earliest days of his career, in films such as Texas (1941) and The Desperadoes (1943), with many more well-known Westerns to his credit including 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and Cowboy (1958). He’s interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica.


George Montgomery Headstone
George Montgomery (1916 – 2000)

Actor/artist George Montgomery served in the Army Air Force from 1943 to 1946. Montgomery, who was raised on a ranch, began his film career as a rider and stuntman in several Westerns, then played leads in pre-war films such as Riders of the Purple Sage (1941) and starred in numerous additional Westerns after his military service. He also starred in the Western TV series Cimarron City (1958-1959). Montgomery’s ashes are divided between Forest Lawn Cathedral City (seen here), near his longtime home in the Palm Springs area, and a family plot in Montana.


Jeff Chandler Headstone
Jeff Chandler (1918 – 1961)

Jeff Chandler spent four years in service during WWII, including in the Aleutian Defense Command, rising to the rank of Captain. Early in his film career he was nominated for the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor playing Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950), going on to star in many additional Westerns. After his passing in 1961, he was interred at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.


Robert Taylor Headstone
Robert Taylor (1911 – 1969)

Robert Taylor served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1945, where he was a flight instructor and made numerous training films. Some of Taylor’s finest films were Westerns, including Devil’s Doorway (1950), Westward the Woman (1951), and The Last Hunt (1956). His final resting place is at Forest Lawn Glendale.


John Ford Headstone
John Ford (1895 – 1973)

Oscar-winning director John Ford was in the U.S. Navy Reserve and filmed memorable documentaries; he was wounded while photographing the Battle of Midway as it unfolded. He later retired as an admiral, which is noted on his gravestone at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. Many of Ford’s greatest Westerns followed his service in WWII, including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Searchers (1956), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).


Memorial Day Cemetary Flag

The above are just a handful of Western stars and directors who served our country, and I’m sure readers join me in feeling a deep appreciation for their service to our nation.

– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub

Laura can be found at her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she’s been writing about movies since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film fan, Laura loves the classics including Disney, Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns.  She regularly covers Southern California classic film festivals.  Laura will scribe on all things western at the ‘Western RoundUp’ for CMH.

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Cooking with the Stars: Joan Crawford’s Meatloaf

Cooking with the Stars: Joan Crawford’s Meatloaf

Robert Montgomery and Joan Crawford in No More Ladies (1935)
Robert Montgomery and Joan Crawford in No More Ladies (1935)

When I first began my Cooking with the Stars column, I knew that there were two Old Hollywood icons who were destined to be a part of it. The first, Vincent Price, was featured in one of my first articles. The master of horror was nearly as acclaimed as a chef as he was as an actor, hosting his own cooking show in the UK called Cooking Price-Wise in 1971 and writing four bestselling cookbooks along with his wife, Mary.

Considering his success onscreen and in the kitchen, I honored Vincent by creating my Cooking with the Stars rating system in his likeness, but I’ve neglected to pay tribute to the other classic movie star who was just as skilled with a spatula as she was in front of a camera: Joan Crawford. From the 1930s on, Crawford’s dinner parties were considered the stuff of legend, and Crawford herself often prepared her own mouth-watering dishes for her guests. Food was such an important part of her life that she even included some of her recipes in her memoir and self-help book, My Way of Life, in 1971.

Unlike Vincent and many other stars who would follow, Joan never published an official cookbook, but fortunately, my dear friend and archivist Jenny Hammerton of Silver Screen Suppers compiled Joan’s recipes for the world to try and published Cooking with Joan Crawford in 2014. The recipe that I’ll be recreating today is from that compendium, and I strongly encourage everyone to give this book a read, as it contains a fascinating glimpse not only into the life of the legendary actress but also into vintage American cuisine.

All in all, I owe this month’s spotlight on Joan Crawford not only to Jenny but also to another close friend of mine, blogger Gabriela of Pale Writer. She’s one of Cooking with the Stars’ biggest fans and she simply adores Joan, so I knew that this was the time to properly honor not only such a prolific chef and movie star but also someone who supports this column so wholeheartedly! Thank you, Jenny and Gabriela, and if you’re a fan of Cooking with the Stars too, be sure to leave a comment with a star that you’d like to be honored next and you just might see them in a future edition!

Joan Crawford as a child
Joan Crawford as a child, c. 1911.

Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23 in San Antonio, Texas, though her birth year continues to be a mystery — it ranges in biographies, various census lists and on her own tombstone from as early as 1904 to as late as 1908. Her parents, Thomas E. LeSueur and Anna Bell Johnson, separated only a few months prior to her birth, and Anna soon remarried Henry J. Cassin and relocated to Lawton, Oklahoma with Lucille and her siblings.

Lucille believed that her stepfather, who ran The Ramsey Opera House, was her biological father for most of her childhood. His association with stellar performers like ballerina Anna Pavlova motivated her interest in show business, though her first aspiration was to become a dancer. After a charge of embezzlement after which he was eventually acquitted, Crawford’s stepfather moved the family again to Kansas City, Missouri. While there, Lucille began attending St. Agnes Academy, but her lack of funds forced her to become a working student and spending so much time cooking and cleaning to earn her room and board meant that she was unable to find time for her own education.

In 1922, she attempted to enroll in Stephens College in the nearby town of Columbia but quickly realized that she was insufficiently prepared for university and left after mere months. Lucille began dancing as a chorus girl in various traveling productions and was soon spotted by producer Jacob J. Shubert, who cast her in a minor role in his 1924 Broadway show, Innocent Eyes. With the desire to add more work to her repertoire, Lucille contacted publicist Nils Granlund, who arranged for her screen test and sent it along to producer Harry Rapf. Still using her birth name, Lucille was cast in her first feature film, Lady of the Night (1925), as a body double for Norma Shearer.  After watching the picture, MGM publicity head Pete Smith saw potential in the vivacious newcomer but loathed her name, so he opened a contest in Movie Weekly that encouraged fans to submit their own ideas for her new moniker. The winner was Joan Arden, but after the studio found another actress who shared the name, they settled on Joan Crawford (which Lucille detested, preferring to be called Billie when the cameras weren’t rolling).

Joan was devoted to her fans. Here she is replying to some of her fan mail in the 1930s.

Crawford took control over her own publicity far more than other aspiring stars of her day, making personal appearances in nightclubs and putting herself in the limelight by winning local dance contests. Little by little, Joan made a name for herself, garnering larger and larger parts and gaining even more exposure after being named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1926 alongside other future icons like Janet Gaynor, Dolores del Río, and Fay Wray. She starred in the silent thriller The Unknown (1927) with Lon Chaney the following year, later claiming that she learned more about acting from Chaney than she did from anyone else she worked with in Hollywood.

Through the success of The Unknown (1927) and her other silent leading roles that followed in Across to Singapore (1928) and Our Dancing Daughters (1928), Joan established herself as one of the premier flappers of the late twenties. Her success continued through the introduction of sound features with Montana Moon (1930) and Dance, Fools, Dance (1931), her first of eight movies opposite Clark Gable.

By the time Joan Crawford was cast in Grand Hotel (1932), MGM’s first all-star production that also featured Greta Garbo and John Barrymore, she found herself ranking third in the first published list of Hollywood’s Top Money-Making Stars. The majority of the thirties proved to be a golden period for Crawford as she appeared in hit after hit, mostly with Clark Gable, in pictures like Chained (1934) and Love on the Run (1936), as well as in films that highlighted her own acting talents like The Gorgeous Hussy (1936). After the release of The Bride Wore Red (1937) co-starring then-husband Franchot Tone, Crawford, Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, and more were notoriously and arbitrarily labeled “Box Office Poison” by Harry Brandt in the Independent Film Journal, and it appeared that Joan’s days with MGM were numbered. She would achieve critical and commercial success in one more movie with the studio, the legendary comedy The Women (1939), before she and MGM mutually terminated her contract on June 29, 1943, after eighteen years.

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in between scenes from the film ‘What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?’, 1962.

All was not lost for Crawford, however. She would soon claim the ultimate revenge on the studio that lost interest in her by signing with their competitor, Warner Bros, and starring in her magnum opus and one of the true pillars of the noir genre — Mildred Pierce (1945). The role proved to be sufficient evidence of her dramatic prowess, earning Joan her only Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The films that followed at Warner Bros were stylistically similar, such as Humoresque (1946), Possessed (1947), and The Damned Don’t Cry! (1950), but they still offered her a chance to shine and were each box office successes.

Throughout the next decade and the latter part of her career, Joan’s pictures progressively blurred the line between drama and melodrama, even verging on camp at times. Still, she continued to work steadily in movies like Sudden Fear (1952) and Johnny Guitar (1954). In 1955 Joan married her final husband, President of Pepsi-Cola Alfred Steele, becoming deeply involved in the company. Pepsi-Cola attempted to distance themselves from Crawford following Steele’s death in 1959, but after revealing their actions to the press, Joan was elected to fill her husband’s position on the brand’s board of directors.

The thriller genre was especially kind to Joan Crawford in the sixties, and at the age of fifty-eight, she starred as Blanche Hudson in what would become one of her most recognized movies: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), opposite her most famed and notorious rival, Bette Davis. An attempt was made to re-team Crawford with Davis in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), but Robert Aldrich replaced Joan with Olivia de Havilland after her poor health delayed production, a decision which deeply upset the actress despite loathing her would-be costar. Instead, she spent most of the decade in horror films that boosted the careers of newcomers like Diane Baker in Strait-Jacket (1964) and Sarah Lane in I Saw What You Did (1965).

Joan’s final film was Trog (1970), and after winning the Cecil B. DeMille award the same year of that picture’s release, she retired to her New York apartment and passed away of a heart attack three years later on May 8, 1977 at the age of seventy-three. She’s interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, NY.

As I mentioned above, I found this recipe in Jenny Hammerton’s book, Cooking with Joan Crawford. There appear to be multiple versions of her meatloaf recipe, but today I’m testing the version that was originally published by Joan herself in her second book, My Way of Life, in 1971.

Joan Crawford’s Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds minced sirloin
  • 1 pound minced pork sausage
  • 1 pound minced veal (It may be difficult to find pure minced veal in your local grocery store, but you’ll find that many meatball mixes contain minced veal, or you can ask your local butcher!)
  • 3 unbeaten eggs
  • 1 large Bermuda onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, divided use
  • 3 tablespoons Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, divided use
  • 3 teaspoons A-1 Steak Sauce, divided use
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs

  1. Combine meats, unbeaten eggs, onion, peppers, one tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, one tablespoon Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, and one teaspoon A-1 Steak Sauce. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Shape mixture into oval loaf form in large shallow baking pan. Gently press hard-boiled eggs into a loaf.
  3. Sprinkle remaining Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Worcestershire and Steak Sauce on top of the loaf as a crust.
  4. Pour 1 cup of water into the base of the roasting pan.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 min, then turn down the oven to 300 degrees F and bake for another 30 min.
  6. Turn the oven down once more to 250 degrees F and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, basting frequently with pan juice. Serves 10.
Joan Crawford Meatload Recipe
My rendition of Joan Crawford’s Meatloaf.

This recipe takes quite a bit more effort than something like Frank Sinatra‘s Fettucine a la Sinatra would, especially when it comes to purchasing and storing so many different kinds of meat. But was it worth it? My answer… kind of.

In all honesty, I’m not used to meatloaf, as I haven’t prepared it myself before and the only version I know is the one that my mother made as a child. I’m not even sure what my mother’s recipe is, but I know for certain that this isn’t it. I think the biggest drawback of this recipe is the use of the pork sausage, which gives a texture that’s tougher and a flavor that’s stranger than what I was used to in meatloaf. With the wide variety of meats, spices, and sauces that were used in creating this entrée, you would think that it would be full of delicious flavor, but another issue is that the ratio of spices and sauces to four whole pounds of meat was meager at best.

I ended up using quite a lot more than the amounts that I measured, and the meatloaf was still under seasoned, not quite forming the crust that was promised in the recipe. The inclusion of hard-boiled eggs was strange, of course, but nothing that I’m not already used to after making Old Hollywood recipes for as long as I have. Everyone I knew turned away from the meatloaf for this reason, and if you decide to use eggs in the recipe, slightly undercook them and let the oven do the rest. Sure, the finished product was slightly pink in the center, bland, and included overcooked eggs, but you know what redeemed this dish? Pouring a hefty amount of tomato sauce on top of the whole thing! As soon as I tried the meatloaf by itself, I immediately craved that acidity and flavor that I knew and loved.

If you’re not a stickler for following recipes to the letter, I would recommend doing the same to your meatloaf and tasting the difference! Overall, I would give Joan Crawford’s Meatloaf a solid three out of five Vincents. I wouldn’t make this again, but it was by no means inedible, and I’m still very encouraged to test more of Joan’s recipes in the future so I can find my favorites!

Cooking with the Stars Recipe Rating – 3 out of 5 Vincents:

Vincent Price Rating
Joan Crawford’s meatload gets 3 Vincents

–Samantha Ellis for Classic Movie Hub

Samantha resides in West Chester, Pennsylvania and is the author of Musings of a Classic Film Addict, a blog that sheds light on Hollywood films and filmmakers from the 1930s through the 1960s. Her favorite column that she pens for her blog is Cooking with the Stars, for which she tests and reviews the personal recipes of stars from Hollywood’s golden age. When she isn’t in the kitchen, Samantha also lends her voice and classic film knowledge as cohost of the Ticklish Business podcast alongside Kristen Lopez and Drea Clark, and proudly serves as President of TCM Backlot’s Philadelphia Chapter. You can catch up with her work by following her @classicfilmgeek on Twitter.

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TCM Classic Film Tour NYC Ticket Giveaway (May/June)

The TCM Classic Film Tour NYC Ticket Giveaway
We’re giving away THREE PAIRS of Tickets in May and June!

“New York, New York, It’s a Wonderful Town”

We’re VERY EXCITED to announce our 2nd giveaway with NYC’s On Location Tours, the Concierge Choice Award Winner for Sightseeing and Tours, and the operator of the fabulous TCM Classic Film Tour of NYC!

That said, CMH will be giving away THREE PAIRS of Tickets to hop on board the TCM Classic Film Tour.  So, if you live in NYC, or if you’re planning to visit NYC over the next few months, please feel free to enter. Our lucky winners will be able to pick the day of their preferred tour and work directly with On Location Tours to book it.

TCM On Location NYC Bus Tour Bus
Hop on board for a good old TCM classic movie time!

I took the tour a few years ago, and loved it. If you’d like to read my review, click here, as it’ll explain much more in depth about what the tour covers – and it does cover a lot.

In a nutshell, you’ll traverse the city, seeing over 60 filming locations and stopping for photo opps at some very iconic places, including Holly Golightly’s brownstone (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), the gothic Dakota apartment building (Rosemary’s Baby), the famous Seven Year Itch subway grate (which I walked over hundreds of times and never even knew it was there!), and, if you’re a fan of the ‘newer’ classics — the “I’ll have what she’s having” deli aka Zabar’s (from When Harry Met Sally).

TCM-On-Location-NYC-Classic-Film-Tour-Holly-Golightly-Breakfast-at-Tiffanys-House
Look familiar? That would be the Holly Golightly brownstone from Breakfast at Tiffany’s

In order to qualify to win a pair of tickets for the TCM Classic Film Tour via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, June 29th at 9PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on three different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • June 1: One Winner (wins one pair of tickets)
  • June 15: One Winner (wins one pair of tickets)
  • June 29: One Winner (wins one pair of tickets)

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 9PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winners on Sunday June 2 around 9PM EST.

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by June 29 at 9PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message in its entirety*:
Just entered to win tickets for the “TCM Classic Film Tour” in NYC courtesy of @OnLocationTours and @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Why do you want to win tickets for the TCM Classic Film Tour? 

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

Please allow us at least 48 hours to approve (and publish) your comment, as we have an unprecedented amount of spam to sift through…

PLEASE NOTE for all prizing:  Each winner is entitled to receive a pair of tickets for the TCM Classic Film Tour in NYC, and will work directly with On Location Tours to book the tour date/time. Currently the tour runs on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:30am, but may run less often from January through March due to the slower season. Tickets are subject to availability. Winners will be responsible for their own transportation to/from New York City and/or the Tour meeting place. Prizes do not include hotel accommodations, travel or ancillary expenses.

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About the Tour:  Hop on tour with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and On Location Tours for this one-of-a-kind sightseeing tour of the Big Apple and explore the most filmed city in the world! We’ve selected the best movie sites around Manhattan to share with you in person and in movie clips. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at some of your favorite classic films set in New York City, as your guide entertains, informs and quizzes you with trivia questions while showcasing over 60 filming locations! Not only will you get a taste of New York film history, you’ll receive a great sightseeing tour of Manhattan. By bus, we’ll take you to neighborhoods rich with history, where some of the most iconic films of all time were made.

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And — If you can’t wait to win tickets, click below to purchase tickets at a 10% discount.

300×250 TCM classic film tour banner

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And stay tuned, because we’ll be giving away lots more Tour Tickets next year!

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

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Olivia de Havilland: Lady Triumphant – Book Giveaway (May and June)

Olivia de Havilland: Lady Triumphant
We have SEVEN Books to Give Away via Twitter or this Blog

A tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest legends…

It’s time for our next book giveaway contest! And we’re very excited about this one! That said, CMH is happy to say that we will be giving away SEVEN COPIES of Olivia de Havilland: Lady Triumphant by Victoria Amador, courtesy of University Press of Kentucky, from now through June 29.

Olivia De Havilland: Lady Triumphant

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, June 29 at 9PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on seven different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • May 18: One Winner
  • May 25: One Winner
  • June 1: One Winner
  • June 8: One Winner
  • June 15: One Winner
  • June 22: One Winner
  • June 29: One Winner

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub, the day after each winner is picked at 9PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday May 19 at 9PM EST on Twitter. And, please note that you don’t have to have a Twitter account to enter; just see below for the details…

Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton (Wilkes) in Gone with the Wind

And now on to the contest!

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, June 29 at 9PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the “Olivia de Havilland: Lady Triumphant” #BookGiveaway courtesy of @KentuckyPress & @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Why do you love most about Olivia de Havilland and/or her movies?

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

olivia de havilland, last scene the heiress
Olivia de Havilland as The Heiress, her 2nd Oscar-winning role

About the Book:  Legendary actress and two-time Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland is best known for her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939). She often inhabited characters who were delicate, elegant, and refined. At the same time, she was a survivor with a fierce desire to direct her own destiny on and off the screen. She fought and won a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over a contract dispute that changed the studio contract system forever. She is also noted for her long feud with her fellow actress and sister Joan Fontaine―a feud that lasted from 1975 until Fontaine’s death in 2013. Victoria Amador utilizes extensive interviews and forty years of personal correspondence with de Havilland to present an in-depth look at the life and career of this celebrated actress. Amador begins with de Havilland’s early life―she was born in Japan in 1916 to affluent British parents who had aspirations of success and fortune in faraway countries―and her theatrical ambitions at a young age. The book then follows her career as she skyrocketed to star status, becoming one of the most well-known starlets in Tinseltown. Readers are given an inside look at her love affairs with iconic cinema figures such as James Stewart and John Huston, and her onscreen partnership with Errol Flynn, with whom she starred in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Dodge City (1939). After she moved to Europe in the mid-1950s, de Havilland became the first woman to serve as the president of the Cannes Film Festival in 1965, and remained active but selective in film and television until 1988.

Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase the on amazon by clicking here:

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

Win Tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: Field of Dreams” (Giveaway runs now through June 1)

Win tickets to see “Field of Dreams” on the Big Screen!
In Select Cinemas Nationwide Sun June 16, Wed June 18

“If you build it, he will come.”

CMH continues with our 4th year of our partnership with Fathom Events – with the 7th of our 14 movie ticket giveaways for 2019, courtesy of Fathom Events!

That said, we’ll be giving away EIGHT PAIRS of tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: Field of Dreams” – on the Big Screen — starring Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan.

In order to qualify to win a pair of movie tickets via this contest, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, June 1 at 6pm EST.

We will announce the winner(s) on Twitter on Sunday, June 2, between 6PM EST and 7PM EST. If a winner(s) does not have a Twitter account, we will announce that winner(s) via this blog in the comment section below.

The film will be playing in select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day-only event on Sunday June 16 and Wednesday June 18 at select times. Winners will be responsible for their own transportation to the Event. Only United States entries are eligible. Please click here before you enter to ensure that the Event is scheduled at a theater near you and that you are able to attend. (please note that there might be slightly different theater listings and/or screening times for each date)

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday June 1 at 6pm EST…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
Although not officially a classic-era film, what in your opinion makes “Field of Dreams” a classic? And, if you haven’t seen it, why do you want to see it on the Big Screen?

2) Then TWEET* (not DM) the following message:
I just entered to win tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics Presents: Field of Dreams” on the Big Screen courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @FathomEvents

*If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas…@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

About the film: “If you build it, he will come.” With these words, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is inspired by a voice he can’t ignore to pursue a dream he can hardly believe. Supported by his wife Annie (Amy Madigan), Ray begins the quest by turning his ordinary cornfield into a place where dreams can come true. Along the way he meets reclusive activist Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), the mysterious “Doc” Graham (Burt Lancaster) and even the legendary “Shoeless Joe” Jackson (Ray Liotta). A heartwarming experience that has moved critics and audiences like no other film of this generation, Field of Dreams is a glowing tribute to all who dare to dream. This special two-day event includes exclusive insight from Turner Classic Movies. 

Please note that only United States residents are eligible to enter this giveaway contest. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 23 Comments

Uncommon Ladies of Noir: Jeanne Crain

Uncommon Ladies of Noir: Jeanne Crain

Sweet-faced Jeanne Crain was perhaps best-known for her performances in such fluffy, lighthearted romps as State Fair (1945), Margie (1946), and Cheaper By the Dozen (1950). But Crain also shared her talents with the dark side, with appearances in three features from the noir era: Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Vicki (1953), and The Tattered Dress (1957). This month’s Noir Nook takes a look at the actress and her contributions to the shadowy era of noir.

Born in 1925 in Barstow, California, Crain was the older of two girls born to educator and once-aspiring singer George Crain and his wife, Loretta. (Crain’s sister, Rita, would serve as Crain’s stand-in during her some of her 1940s films.) While an eighth grade student at St. Mary’s Academy, Crain was bitten by the acting bug after landing the role of a disfigured Indian maiden in a school play. “I was a quiet, introspective child,” Crain said years later. “I came out of my shell in school plays when I could be somebody else but Jeanne Crain.”

Crain appeared in numerous productions throughout high school and was screen-tested during her sophomore year for The Magnificent Ambersons after director Orson Welles spotted her in the RKO Studio commissary. She didn’t get the part (it went instead to Anne Baxter), but just a few years later, at the age of 17, Crain tested for 20 Century-Fox and was signed to a contract earning $100 a week. This time around, what really helped, Crain later said, “was that I had a great deal more determination.”

During the next several years, Crain earned favorable reviews in several films, was named as a “Star of Tomorrow” by Motion Picture Herald, and signed a new four-figure contact with Fox. She also entered the realm of film noir.

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Leave Her to Heaven (1945) Jeanne Crain, Cornel Wilde
Jeanne Crain and Cornel Wilde in Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

One of my favorite noirs – and a rare color entry in the canon – Leave Her to Heaven stars Gene Tierney as Ellen Berent, a beautiful but psychologically damaged woman with a domineering, smothering persona that leads to the ruin of the objects of her affection. Crain plays Ellen’s adopted sister, Ruth, whose sweet, easy-going nature is a direct contrast to her sibling’s. As Ellen’s possessiveness and jealousy slowly erode her marriage to her new husband (Cornel Wilde), Ruth finds herself in the midst of a maelstrom of madness and murder.

Vicki (1953)

Vicki (1953) Jeanne Craine, Jean Peters
Jeanne Craine and Jean Peters in Vicki (1953)

Vicki, the remake of the 1941 Betty Grable noir I Wake Up Screaming, focuses on the murder of the title character (Jean Peters), a waitress-turned-famous model. The crime is doggedly investigated by a New York police detective (Richard Boone) who immediately zeroes in on the publicity man, Steve Christopher (Elliott Reid), who turned Vicki into a star. Crain plays Vicki’s sister, Jill, who is in love with Steve and works with him to find the real killer.

The Tattered Dress (1957)

The Tattered Dress (1957) Jeanne Crain and Jeff Chandler
Jeanne Crain and Jeff Chandler in The Tattered Dress (1957)

Here, Crain portrays Diane, the estranged wife of James Cordon Blane (Jeff Chandler), a ruthless criminal attorney who, as he himself describes – with no shame – is “the mouthpiece for racketeers, dope peddlers, and panderers.” When he is hired to defend a wealthy resort town resident accused of murder, Blane goes up against the local sheriff (Jack Carson), who turns out to be even more unscrupulous than the attorney.

In 1945, Crain eloped with Paul Brinkman, a former actor (under the name of Paul Brook) who later found success as a businessman. The couple would go on to have seven children, the last one born on Crain’s 40th birthday. In later years, Crain started a clothing line called “Jeanne Crain of Hollywood,” and indulged her creativity with a variety of outlets including painting, sculpting, and cooking. Although her screen career spanned more than three decades, she once said, “You have to decide which is more important to you – an armful of babies or a scrapbook full of screen credits.”

– Karen Burroughs Hannsberry for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Karen’s Noir Nook articles here.

Karen Burroughs Hannsberry is the author of the Shadows and Satin blog, which focuses on movies and performers from the film noir and pre-Code eras, and the editor-in-chief of The Dark Pages, a bimonthly newsletter devoted to all things film noir. Karen is also the author of two books on film noir – Femme Noir: The Bad Girls of Film and Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. You can follow Karen on Twitter at @TheDarkPages.
If you’re interested in learning more about Karen’s books, you can read more about them on amazon here:

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TCM Classic Film Festival 2019 Red Carpet Event

TCMFF’s 10th Anniversary Red Carpet Event

Well, another TCM Classic Film Festival has come and gone, and as always, as soon as I start heading home, I also start counting the days until next year’s Festival. For me, the TCMFF is not only about wonderful films and special events; it’s also about community, friendship and bonding — a place where I can reunite with friends and enjoy non-stop ‘morning, noon and night’ classic movie fun… 

That said, this was the 10th Anniversary of the Film Festival, and I was thrilled to be able to cover the Opening Night Red Carpet that kicked off the Festival, this year in celebration of the 30th anniversary of When Harry Met Sally, with Rob Reiner, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in attendance…  I compiled a short video below that includes the highlights of the event for me, with snippets of interviews with Barbara Rush, Diane Baker, Eddie Muller, Mario Cantone and Illeana Douglas among others… Hope you enjoy…

          

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And now for a few photos to wrap things up…

Diane Baker 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8441
Actress Diane Baker and TCM’s Scott McGee
“This is awesome!”
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Leonard Maltin 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub
Film Critic and Historian Leonard Maltin
10x TCMFF Attendee
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Barbara Rush at 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub P4110373
TCM’s Yacov Freedman and the ever-lovely Barbara Rush
Barbara says a heartfelt “Hi” to Robert Osborne
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Kevin Brownlow 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub
Kevin Brownlow, Film Historian and Preservationist
Winner of the 2nd Annual Robert Osborne Award
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Eddie Muller at 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8458
Eddie Muller, Founder and President of the Film Noir Foundation and TCM’s Noir Alley Host
Eddie tells us about his tie 🙂
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Dennis Miller 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub
Comedian Dennis Miller
“I like it when people break out into song and nobody’s embarrassed”
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Floyd Norman and Jane Baer 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8463
Disney Animators Floyd Norman and Jane Baer
“We had the opportunity to work with the Nine Old Men
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Mario Cantone 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8469
Mario Cantone (yes, ‘Anthony Marentino’ from ‘Sex and the City’)
“Ask me about Robert Redford”
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Cari Beauchamp 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8480
Author and Historian Cari Beauchamp
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Illeana Douglas 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub
Actress Illeana Douglas
and of course Melvyn Douglas’ granddaughter
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Ron Perlman at 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8484
Actor Ron Perlman and TCM Host Dave Karger
“I’ll have what she’s having”
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Ted Turner, who founded TCM 25 years ago on April 14, 1994
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Billy Crystal 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8494
Billy Crystal, who will join Rob Reiner and Meg Ryan for a chat about “When Harry Met Sally” with TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz, prior to the movie screening
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Meg Ryan 2019 TCM Film Festival (c) 2019 Classic Movie Hub IMG_8495
And what’s ‘Harry’ without ‘Sally’? Meg Ryan on her way into the Theater
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Happy 25th Anniversary to TCM… Here’s to another 25 years 🙂

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Film Festivals, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, TCM | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“The Broadway Melody” (1929): The Musical that Paved the Way for the Rest

“All singing! All dancing!”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer touted its first full-length musical sound film with these lines that now are immortalized in Hollywood history.

The Broadway Melody (1929) was not only Hollywood’s first full-length talking musical, but also the first sound film and movie musical to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The Broadway Melody (1929)
The Talking, Singing and Dancing Dramatic Sensation!

And in February, when lists come out about the best and worst Best Picture winners, TheBroadway Melody is often ranked as one of the worst. But this really isn’t a fair assessment, because in the sense of film history and movie musicals, this is an important movie.

Warner Bros. The Jazz Singer (1927) starring Al Jolson is often cited as the first talkie musical. It was the first feature-length sound film with a synchronized score.

But MGM’s The Broadway Melody (1929) is now considered the great-granddaddy of the movie musical. It was MGM’s first musical as well as the studio’s first full-length talking pictures.

MGM later became known for their movie musicals but – uncertain how musicals would succeed with audiences – Irving Thalberg instructed for the film to be shot quickly and cheaply to save money in case it bombed.

But The Broadway Melody didn’t bomb — it revolutionized talkies and made musicals popular.

The film is about two sisters Queenie (Anita Page) and Hank (Bessie Love) who travel from the Midwest to New York with dreams of making it big on Broadway. Hank’s boyfriend Eddie (Charles King) is progressing in his own Broadway career and hopes to help the sisters out. However, when the sisters try out for producer Francis Zanfield (Eddie Kane), Eddie is more interested in beautiful Queenie than Hank, which causes a rift between the sisters.

The Broadway Melody with Charles King, Bessie Love and Anita Page

The movie is a “backstage musical,” which revolves around the issues going on backstage and between the actors, with numbers interspersed in the plot. This plot formula would be reused for the next 30 years.

After watching other movie musicals, The Broadway Melody may feel old-fashioned, but you have to remind yourself that audiences were seeing a full-length musical for the very first time.

You will recognize several songs from this musical, written by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed (who later became the great MGM musical producer). Brown and Freed’s songs include “Broadway Melody” and “You Were Meant For Me” which was later reused for Singin’ in the Rain (1952).

Some of the staging of the musical numbers may seem a bit muddy. This is because the camera is aimed straight at the stage trying to capture the overall choreography, rather than having the camera move along with the dancers and dance moves, as musicals did later on. This straight-on camera approach can be seen in the “The Wedding of the Painted Doll” musical number which features lots of dancers on the stage who seem to be dancing around in an uncoordinated fashion.

While The Broadway Melody (1929) may not be the best musical released by MGM or any studio, it should be respected for its place in film history. To fully appreciate how far musicals had come in just a few years, you can compare The Broadway Melody with films from 1933 like 42nd Street.

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– Jessica Pickens for Classic Movie Hub

Jessica can be found at cometoverhollywood.com and on twitter at @HollywoodComet. In addition to her overall love of classic movies, she has ongoing series on her site including “Watching 1939″ and “Musical Monday.”

Posted in Musical Interlude, Posts by Jessica Pickens | Leave a comment

Classic Movie Travels: Leslie Caron

Classic Movie Travels: Leslie Caron

Leslie Caron Headshot
Leslie Caron

The musical genre is one that is incredibly multifaceted in terms of how it tells a story. Though there are scripts and lyrics that can further the plot along, musicals also tell stories where words fall short. Musicals employ a wide range of expression and one of these is dance. The musical genre has showcased the dancing abilities with many a star, with one of them being Leslie Caron.

Leslie Claire Margaret Caron was born in the suburbs of Paris, France, in Boulogne-Billancourt, Seine, now Hauts-de-Seine, France. Her father, Claude, was a French chemist, pharmacist, perfumer, and boutique owner, while her American-born mother, Margaret Petit, was a ballet dancer. Though her older brother became a chemist, Caron was encouraged by her mother to pursue a career in performance. As a result, Caron began taking dance lessons at age 11. Her family soon relocated to Paris, where Caron attended the Convent of the Assumption and started her ballet training.

Young Leslie Caron
Young Leslie on a bike

Caron studied at the National Conservatory of Dance, where she appeared in The Pearl Diver at age 14—a show for children in which she danced and played a little boy. By age 16, she was hired by Roland Petit to join the Ballet des Champs-Elysees, where she was immediately given solo parts.

While performing for the Ballet des Champs-Elysees, she was seen by then-married Hollywood couple, Gene Kelly and Betsy Blair. Caron did not meet the couple at the end of the show that night and dutifully went home. Later, when it came time for Kelly to recast the lead female role in An American in Paris (1951) due to initial co-star Cyd Charisse’s pregnancy, Kelly remembered Caron’s performance when he returned to Paris to search for a partner. Caron secured the role, making her film debut alongside Kelly.[

An American in Paris (1951) Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron
Kelly and Caron in An American in Paris (1951)

Both Kelly and Caron offered elegant and enthusiastic performances, which captivated audiences. The film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film was only the second color film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, 12 years after the first—Gone With the Wind (1939). Caron signed a seven-year contract with MGM.

During her time with MGM, her skills would be displayed in both musical and non-musical roles. Caron appeared in the drama The Man with a Cloak (1951) and the musical The Glass Slipper (1955). She worked with Fred Astaire in Daddy Long Legs (1955), becoming one of the six actresses who danced with both Astaire and Kelly at some point in their careers. Caron also starred in Lili (1953) with Mel Ferrer and Gigi (1958) with Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier.

Gigi (1958) Leslie Caron
Gigi (1958)

In the 1960s and thereafter, Caron worked in European films, as well. Her film assignments during this period included Father Goose (1964) with Cary Grant and Valentino (1977), in which she appeared in the role of silent screen star, Alla Nazimova. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in Lili. Caron won the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress and an Oscar nomination for her performance in the British drama, The L-Shaped Room (1962). Caron was also one of the many lead actresses under consideration for Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) but lost the role to Angela Lansbury.

L-Shaped Room (1962) Leslie Caron
Caron in L-Shaped Room (1962)

Caron has continued to act long after her time at MGM and continues to appear in films and television shows. She also attends film festivals and retrospective concerts regularly. She currently alternates her residences among Paris, London, and New York City.

There are few places of relevance to Caron’s early years in France. Today, the Convent of the Assumption still exists in Paris.

Convent of the Assumption, Paris, France
Convent of the Assumption, Paris, France, today

While the National Conservatory of Dance still exists as an institution, it now exists in a new building.

National Conservatory of Dance, Paris, France
National Conservatory of Dance, Paris, France, today

In Hollywood, Caron was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2009 with a motion pictures star. Her star is located at 6153 Hollywood Boulevard.

Leslie Caron Hollywood Walk of Fame, Star
Leslie with her Star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, 2009

Her autobiography, Thank Heaven, was published in 2010 in the UK and US, with a French version released in 2011.[

Leslie Caron Memoir, Thank Heaven, Book
Caron’s memoir, Thank Heaven

As of the publication of this article, Caron is still with us at age 87. It is well worth celebrating both her past and current career achievements.

–Annette Bochenek for Classic Movie Hub

Annette Bochenek pens our monthly Classic Movie Travels column. You can read all of Annette’s Classic Movie Travel articles here.

Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is a PhD student at Dominican University and an independent scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for Classic Movie Hub, she also writes for Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco SocietyMagazine.

Posted in Classic Movie Travels, Posts by Annette Bochenek | Tagged , | Leave a comment