Joan Crawford studies on the set of No More Ladies, 1935
A gem of a movie released sixty years ago .. French.. but you don’t have to read the subtitles to understand the story. As Peter Bogdanovich says there are no old movies - just ones you haven’t seen yet.
Academy Award noms: Best Writing, Screenplay and Best Art Direction
Stream for free at Hulu thru 2/17.
Thanks to the Criterion Collection I streamed for free last night the hit 1938 version of Pygmalion with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller. This was the third adaptation of Shaw’s play in the 30s; the others were German and Norwegian. The movie was nominated for four Oscars: Best Picture, Screenplay, Actor and Actress. It won one for Shaw’s adapted screenplay - whom acted nonchalant and dismissive about the award although Mary Pickford later claimed Shaw kept it on a mantle for all to see.
This was the first of four Shaw movie adaptations by Hungarian born UK based producer Gabriel Pascal. Leslie Howard is charming but Hiller comes across as to regal to play a poor Cockney girl of the streets. The musical filmed version of My Fair Lady was constantly on my mind while watching this version and I kept waiting for someone to burst out in song. Costumes(Worth and Schiaparelli) and the Production Design are top notch. Not insignificantly, the great Brit filmmaker David Lean has an early job on this film as an editor too.
Last nite I watched Charles Laughton’s 1934 Oscar winning performance as Henry VIII. The movie, The Private Life of Henry VIII, was the first major international success for a British made film, and made it’s director, Alexander Korda, a major force in the British and American film world. Merle Oberon, Wendy Barrie, Elsa Lanchester, Binnie Barnes and Everly Gregg play Henry’s wives.
The movie opens with the beheading of Anne Boleyn, played by Oberon, whom later married director/producer Alexander Korda; she’s perhaps best known for playing Cathy in Wuthering Heights (1939). Elsa Lanchester(Anne of Cleves) was married to Laughton in real life and Wendy Barrie(Jane Seymour) was at one time gangster Bugsy Siegel’s fiancee. Binnie Barnes(Katherine Howard) later married famed Hollywood producer Mike Frankovich(Bob&Carol&Ted&Alice, Butterflies Are Free).
On ceremony night, March 16, 1934, another nominee, and fellow Brit, Leslie Howard, accepted the Best Actor award on Laughton’s behalf.
Yesterday was Stockard Channing’s 69th b’day. Everyone remembers her as Rizzo from Grease, but she’s had a distinguished career on the stage too. When I lived in New York City I saw her in Other Desert Cities, about this time last year, paying money I should’ve been buying food with. It was worth it. However, at one point, during Stockard's monologue, someone's phone went off in the audience and her face froze. Her expression was like, WTF!? Seriously? If I never see a show in New York again, or even if I do, that's one theater-going experience I will always remember.
It’s the month of the Oscars so I’ve been watching movies that have won or been nominated. Last night I watched True Grit (1969), a John Wayne western that I could barely finish. It was so hokey. Kim Darby, as Mattie, a young girl seeking revenge for father’s murder, is so cheeky and annoying I wish either Mia Farrow, Sondra Locke or Tuesday Weld hadn’t passed on the part. Weld would have been smashing. Anyway, Wayne won for his career and he deserved it because one thing about the Oscars is it’s not always the performances that win; members take other considerations into account. His speech below is touching, and Wayne obviously was humbled. Also, love Barbra’s outfit!