Archive for Gene Tierney

Happy Birthday, Gene

Posted in FILM with tags , , on November 20, 2008 by dcairns

Nothing to do with Borzage — he wasn’t making films much for most of her career — but it’s Gene Tierney’s birthday for a few hours yet, and I stumbled across these pictures of her in costume but not in character for THE SHANGHAI GESTURE, so here she is:


And again here:


Now that I’m off-topic, I’ll just mention that a friend is looking for suggestions for the title of a film he’s written, but for SECURITY REASONS I can’t tell you anything about the film. But if you think you can improve on HIS BUTLER’S SISTER, we want to hear from you!

Pin-Up of the Day: Gene Tierney

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2008 by dcairns

“Without any question the most beautiful woman in the history of the silver screen,” said Darryl Zanuck, or words to that effect, and he ought to know, having slept with most of them. (He HAD to sleep with several at a time, honestly, otherwise he could never have racked up such a total. It’s not troilism, it’s just efficiency.)

Gene Tierney moved from early incompetence as an actor, through decent performances, and into really good work, aided by a truly amazing face that made her a pleasure to watch even when she sucked. Those distinctive features could suggest madness and evil in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, innocence and decency in HEAVEN CAN WAIT, wisdom and goodness in THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR.

I now list the features, and excuse me if I get overcome and have to go lie down:

The eyes: large, long, and very wide apart. I have a vision of walking up to Gene and putting my hand over the centre of her face, and of her looking back at me from around either side of my palm. THOSE EYES IS WIDE APART.

The big pale moonlike forehead. I am a man who likes a forehead. (Paulette Goddard, what a forehead that is! An eighthead, in fact.)

The nose, apparently hand-shaped from some soft, wonderful material — butter, perhaps – by tiny master craftsmen.

The cheekbones, beautifully defined, as if constructed especially to receive Von Sternberg’s light.

The mouth, completely redesigned by ambitious lipstick in these images, but in reality a wide, full and elaborately flared labial sculpture, balancing the eyes, and containing slightly erratic teeth which add charm to what could otherwise be chilly perfection.

In THE SHANGHAI GESTURE Tierney has moments of strange, erratic, embarrassing emoting that rival Elizabeth Berkeley’s mad flailing in SHOWGIRLS, but who’s to say what’s appropriate in a Sternberg menagerie such as this? Her perfect nose tilting under the lights, which seem to be dissolving into a dew the all-butter mannequin that is Victor Mature, she shows no trace of the control and grace that focus her best performances, but she certainly throws herself into the spirit of the thing. A gutsy, dynamic, original and deeply dreadful performance that’s never less than eye-catching. More decorous work was to come, but with the high frontal key-light shading her cheekbones, and the very hot backlight on the top of her head, Tierney showed she could be lit like Dietrich and come out just as well.

Blue Sky Casting: Preston Sturges’ MATRIX

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2008 by dcairns

 I know kung-fu

There’s an unproduced Preston Sturges script, first written in the thirties, later floated in the forties as a possible Gene Tierney vehicle, called MATRIX. I once contacted the Sturges family via their website, asking if there were any plans to publish the document. It would be more useful to have out there than all the scripts of the Sturges films that WERE made, excellent though they are.

Alas, the Sturgeses (Sturgi?) replied that they preferred to keep MATRIX to themselves, which struck me as slightly selfish, but it’s their right I suppose.

So we must use our imaginations as to what Preston Sturges’ MATRIX might have been…

We don't know who struck first, us or them

The Cast:

Eddie Bracken … Neo (Let’s be honest, how many computer geeks look like Keanu Reeves?)

William Demarest … Morpheus (I want to see him do that pratfall [above] in “bullet time”)

Ella Raines … Trinity (my octogenarian friend Lawrie said, “I was always very interested in Ella Raines, because I’d heard she was a lesbian, and of course… I had no idea what that meant.”)

Al Bridge … Agent Smith (he’s got the DRAWL)

Jimmy Conlin … Oracle

Franklin Pangborn … The Architect 

Veronica Lake … Persephone

Akim Tamiroff … Twin #2

Lionel Stander … Twin #1

Eric Blore … the Merovingian (and why not?)

The body cannot live without the mind

I feel a little guilty about casting a white guy in Larry Fishburn’s role, but I would feel more guilty about casting Sturges’ favourite black actor, “Snowflake”… although he’s a very funny guy.

Sturges had the best stock company of supporting players of any filmmaker. I bet you could cast any movie with that troupe. As Easter approaches, I’m thinking about doing KING OF KINGS.


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