Archive for Douglas Fairbanks

Suppose they gave a blogathon and nobody came?

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on December 7, 2012 by dcairns

Private Life of Don Juan

It was touch and go for the first day, but I can now say I’m delighted with how this has gone, and it’s not over yet — the response today has been so exciting, I’m saving my last post for tomorrow. Here’s STILL MORE –

Douglas Fairbanks (Snr) makes his last bow over at Mythical Monkey, and regular Late Show collaborator Gareth’s Movie Diary celebrates Jacques Brel’s final appearance in L’EMMERDEUR, which I only knew as the original of Billy Wilder’s own final film, BUDDY, BUDDY.

The Sunday Intertitle: Home Help

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on October 14, 2012 by dcairns

From the early Douglas Fairbanks vehicle THE NUT. That dead polar bear is doing more than tying the room together, by the way — it’s radiating influence.

Heroine Marguerite de la Motte is a social reformer, opening her house to slum kids in the hopes that the attractive furnishings will improve their morals. Hey, it could work.

Charming movie, with many Heath Robinson contraptions built by Doug’s character — maybe the first film to depict an automated house, and a character’s morning routine as he’s conveyor-belted from bed to bath to wardrobe. He also has a parrot trained as an alarm clock. Not sure how you could train it to know the time, but these birds are very smart…

The superimposed speech bubble is an uncommon device, but it’s absolutely the right gimmick for the gag: it removes any ambiguity about where the words are coming from, and allows us to see the bird and word at the same time — instantaneousness is vital for comic effect, you know. You want the viewer to put it all together at once, so that the idea clicks into place and a laugh is triggered. And when a whole audience clicks at the same time, the laughter is multiplied and amplified.

I want to see more by director Theodore “Ted” Reed.

Hollywood Forever

Posted in FILM, Painting, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by dcairns

My LA jaunt wasn’t a sight-seeing tour, nor a social visit (managed to meet Glenn Erickson because he popped by, but only achieved a phone call with David E — both encounters I wished could have lasted much longer) but I did manage to see a couple of things…

This used to be Lana Turner’s house. And what’s this we can see lurking at the threshold – ?

THE GHOST OF JOHNNY STOMPANATO!

Knifed to death in the kitchen by Lana’s daughter Cheryl. By all accounts she was defending her mother from her abusive partner, a known gangster. Lana got Cheryl off by giving an award-worthy performance at the inquest — visible at 4.55 in this clip.

“Oh mother, stop acting!” Actually, I’m sure the emotion is sincere, but it uncannily resembles any of a dozen Lana Turner movie performances. Poor Lana had pretty bad taste in men: apart from Fernando Lamas (for God’s sake), she had relationships with Tarzan Lex Barker who sexually abused Cheryl, and Stompanato, who physically abused Lana.

This bijou bungalow belonged to Clara Bow, and is the site where she supposedly ravished the entire USC football team, including at the time a young John Wayne. I don’t believe this story though — the house looks too small to cram all those guys in, at least not without them removing their padding, which I think rather spoils the mental image. I totally believe the one about Tallulah Bankhead and the boy scouts though.

The DeMilles! I prevailed upon my generous hosts to give me a whistle-stop tour of Hollywood Forever, graveyard of the stars. I missed out on John Huston’s grave, which I imagine as the statue from the end of BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (hey, who wouldn’t want a weeping orangutan grave marker?) but caught DeMille’s, Hitchcock’s and Toto’s.

This was my day for recovering from jet-lag, and it was a suitably restful outing. Stayed so long it was too late to go on the Universal Studios tour, but I can’t imagine that being any better than this.

This is the last resting place of Doug Fairbanks Snr and Jnr. The inscription reads “Goodnight, sweet princes, and flights of angels sing the to thy rest. Adapted from Shakespeare.” Yeah. “It’s what you call a paraphrase.”

Still, you feel rather sorry for the Fairbankses when you see what they’ve got to face for all eternity… no, not a weeping orangutan (because that would be grand), but Joey Ramone.

Kind of tacky, no? I find it hard to conceive of a statue with an electric guitar in hand achieving the level of dignity suitable for a memorial, but perhaps this is mere snobbery. Anyway, this is what we came to see –

Valentino’s shrine. Fresh flowers, too — good to know the woman in black is still out and about. Given the historical duration involved, one has to suspect a dynasty of women is in operation, passing the flowers from mother to daughter like a relay-runner’s baton.

Interesting to find Rudy hemmed in by June Mathis and Peter Finch. Death makes for strange bedfellows.

And then my host dropped a six-pound award on his foot –

The disc of Melies’ moon made earthfall first, chipping the cement, then the award snapped in two and the heavy base landed on his toe. Suspected fracture. This necessitated a trip to another place of great interest –

“There’s Mr Skirball’s name again.” This is part of the motion picture retirement home, and thus of enduring fascination, especially to a fan of LA FIN DU JOUR, which is set in a retirement home for actors. I didn’t feel right buttonholing the resident crusties and demanding their life stories, however, so I contented myself with photographing the exhibits until politely ordered to stop.

Cooler even than Ann Miller’s Golden Boot Award (an item unlikely to inspire my host with warm feelings considering his recent experiences with golden awards and feet), cooler than Elsa Lanchester’s Dracula Society certificates, these caricatures by esteemed Hollywood-by-way-of-Romania director Jean Negulescu are lovely indeed. I can recognize everybody except the upper and lower central figures. What do you reckon?

And so, as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we say a fond goodbye to Los Angeles — I love this pic, taken from my host’s back yard. The flash illuminates the foreground while the distance sinks into silhouette, creating an unreal effect not unsuited to La La Land. Dumb luck.

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