Thursday, January 28, 2010

Old Beauties

This week I watch "Thrill of a Romance" (1945) with Esther Williams. This is is the second Esther Williams collection. The movie was good and very entertaining. One thing that I enjoy about this and other movies made in the 1940's is the use of Technicolor.

Technicolor was used in film earlier than the 40's, but this is when it really took off. I am usually one who defends the black and white movies, but when films are filmed originally with this color the end result is beautiful! This is one reason that I love Betty Grable movies too. Most of them were also filmed in Technicolor. The 1940's style of clothes, hair, and make-up were also best in color. You can't see that bright red lipstick in black and white!

Some actresses I believe were made for Technicolor movies. The above mentioned Esther Williams and Betty Grable are obviously two of them. I have heard that Maureen O'Hara is counted as the queen of Technicolor though, I don't know who came up with that but she did film beautifully. Some actresses shunned color films because they believed that they looked better and more glamorous in black and white. In the 1939 film "The Women" there is a color sequence of a fashion show, but not one of the stars of the film were in this.

Movies filmed in Technicolor always had a kind of unreal feel to them, nothing is that bright and colorful in real life! But that is why they were so popular and are still one of a kind today. Which actors or actresses do you think were made for Technicolor?

Within the last couple of years I have turned into a huge Don Ameche fan! A few posts back I listed my top 10 favorite actors, and I really should have listed Don Ameche among the others. As I wrote in that post my list changes from time to time.

Don Ameche was born May 31, 1908, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He became a popular radio personality in the 1930's in Chicago, then quickly was offered a film contract with 20th Century Fox. His first couple of films were uncredited in 1935, but it did not take long for him to become a star.

One of his most famous roles was the title character in "The Story of Alexander Graham Bell" (1939). He also did a popular teaming with Tyrone Power and Alice Faye in "In Old Chicago" (1937) and "Alexander's Ragtime Band"(1938). Don Ameche made many other films with costars such as Betty Grable, Gene Tierney, and Claudette Colbert.

His popularity in film seemed to dim into the 1950's, he then turned to television. There, he worked of and on for many years until he was virtually forgotten. In 1983 he was offered a part along side Ralph Bellamy in "Trading Places". His career once again took off!

In 1985 he played in "Cocoon" and received the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. He continued to work in film until his death on December 6, 1993. His last film "Corrina, Corrina" actually came out in 1994.

I watched "Cocoon" just recently and really enjoyed seeing him in his twilight years. He had such a recognizable voice that did not change with age. I have always enjoyed hearing him sing in the musicals he appeared in too! I know that I put a lot of movie clips on this blog, but I figure that since I blog about classic film and it's stars I may as well show them in action!

I absolutely LOVE Tyrone Power, and I love watching his movies! Tyrone Power made a couple of movies with Sonja Henie. After watching these, I had to get some more of her films. Even though Tyrone Power is the reason I started watching her movies, my first Sonja Henie movie I watched a couple of months ago was Sun Valley Serenade, a non Tyrone film.

Sonja Henie was born April 8, 1912 in Oslo, Norway. She became the Norwegian Skating Champion at the age of 14. She won her first Olympic gold medal in 1928 when she was 15, and went on to win two more gold medals in 1932 and 1936. She also won ten World Championships!

Sonja Henie followed this success with going professional, and signed a film contract with 20th Century Fox. Her first movie was in 1937 when she made "One in a Million". She shot to stardom and made another ten movies during her Hollywood career. During this time she also starred and produced many Hollywood Ice Reviews.

Sonja Henie became an American Citizen in 1941, but eventually moved back to her home country of Norway. She continued to perform and produce until she retired in 1960. In 1961, she died of Leukemia. She and her third husband are buried overlooking the Henie-Onstad Art Center near Oslo, a museum holding a great collection of modern art owned by the couple.

Each of the Sonja Henie movies that I have seen have been delightful. They do not have a complex plot and are very predictable, but sometime these movies can be the best to watch. Each film is quite entertaining, and Sonja Henie skates throughout the films. She really was not the best actress in the world. I don't think anyone ever thought she was, but her screen presence and style of skating is so enjoyable! Below is a clip from her first film "One in a Million" (1937).

The list of silent movies that I have seen is relatively short. I really enjoy watching them, especially those that were the big hits of their day. The silent stars are fascinating to watch as well. Most did very good acting on screen. They really had to use their eyes, since there was no sound to emphasize emotion with their tone of voice.

Clara Bow is my favorite silent actress. On of the reasons is because of how she used her eyes. I believe that those silent movie actors who had darker eyes looked much better on screen. Clara Bow had those dark, very emotional eyes.

She started her career when she won a contest in a movie magazine. The film that she won a part for has since been lost. After that, she escaped a horrible home life to begin her work in movies.

There were several small supporting roles, and then she played her first flapper role in "The Plastic Age" (1925). Clara Bow, the jazz age flapper was born. Stardom came when she starred in 1927's "It". She plays a shop girl intent on winning her boss, played by Antonio Moreno.

Little did she know that sound films were right around the corner. She still did very well in sound films, but her fear of the microphone drove her out of the movies. Her final film was in 1933's "Hoopla".

Clara Bow married actor Rex Bell and retired to Nevada. They had two sons, and remained together until his death in 1962. She had some personal problems and mental illness for years due to traumatic experiences in her childhood. Clara Bow died of a heart attack in her home at the age of 60 on September 26, 1965.

I have loved each of the Clara Bow movies that I have seen. She put so much energy into each role. Please watch one of her movies soon if you have not seen one.

Gene Tierney is one of my favorite actresses and played in some of my favorite films. Today would have been her 89th birthday. She was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 19th 1920. IMDB says that she was born on the 20th. But books and everywhere else on the web, including her official web site, lists her birthday as the 19th. So I'll be safe and post this on the 19th too!
One of her best known films is of course "Laura", made in 1944. In this film she plays a woman murdered in her home, and Dana Andrews is the detective trying to solve the mystery.

In 1945 Gene starred in "Leave Her to Heaven". She plays Ellen Berent, a very possessive, jealous, and overbearing woman who goes to great lengths to keep her husband (Cornel Wilde) only to herself. Gene Tierney was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her work in this film, but lost to Joan Crawford for "Mildred Pierce".

If you aren't already familiar with Gene Tierney, start by watching these two films.

A while back I posted on my favorite dramas, comedies, and musicals. I now realize that I have not listed my favorite actors and actresses yet on my blog! So today I am listing my top ten favorite actors, and top ten favorite actresses. Along with the names of my favorites, I am adding my two favorite films of this particular actor/actress (it's so hard just to pick one). My list of favorites might change from time to time, but most of them will always be on the list. Here you go!


1. Tyrone Power

-"The Mark of Zorro" (1940)
-"Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1938)

2. Clark Gable

-"Gone with the Wind" (1939)
-"It Happened One Night" (1934)

3. Cary Grant

-"The Awful Truth" (1937)
-"The Philadelphia Story" (1940)

4. William Powell

-"The Thin Man" (1934)
-"My Man Godfrey" (1936)

5. Fred Astaire

-"Top Hat" (1935)
-"Easter Parade" (1948)

6. Errol Flynn

-"The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938)
-"Captain Blood" (1935)

7. James Stewart

-"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939)
-"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)

8. Claude Rains

-"Casablanca" (1942)
-"Mr. Skeffington" (1944)

9. Franchot Tone

-"Sadie McKee" (1934)
-"The Girl from Missouri" (1934)

10. James Cagney

-"Public Enemy" (1931)
-"Footlight Parade" (1933)


1. Jean Harlow

-"Libeled Lady" (1936)
-"Dinner at Eight" (1933)

2. Claudette Colbert

-"Midnight" (1939)
-"It Happened One Night" (1934)

3. Myrna Loy

-"The Thin Man" (1934)
-"Wife Vs. Secretary" (1936)

4. Norma Shearer

-"The Divorcee" (1930)
-"The Women" (1939)

5. Carole Lombard

-"No Man of Her Own" (1932)
-"My Man Godfrey" (1936)

6. Loretta Young

-"Second Honeymoon" (1937)
-"The Bishop's Wife" (1947)

7. Betty Grable

-"Mother Wore Tights" (1947)
-"Moon Over Miami" (1941)

8. Gene Tierney

-"Laura" (1944)
-"Leave Her to Heaven" (1945)

9. Bette Davis

-"Now, Voyager" (1942)
-"Jezebel" (1938)

10. Greta Garbo

-"Grand Hotel" (1932)
-"Camille" (1936)

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