The Easter Sunday Intertitle: Faded Starlight

Watching the LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD series from 1927 is like reading Ring Lardner’s short stories, which I recently did, where the characters are always discussing their favourite movie idols, and it’s always people you’ve barely heard of, if at all. Did Lardner have a sense that name-dropping also-rans would add pathos, or did he aim for the latest and hottest celebs and it’s just that fate was unkind to nearly all these transitory meteorites of the Hollywood firmament?

Of course, I do know Dorothy MacKail as that brilliant, sloppy girl in pre-codes. I use the term in its Rivettian sense, sort of. He described Kate Winslett as “the sloppiest girl we have seen on the screen for some time.” (Not sure what his original French word was.) And that sums up KW, but I like her for it. Ditto DM.

Aileen Pringle dated H.L. Mencken then married James M. Cain and then divorced him and wrote to Mencken in 1946: “If I had remained married to that psychotic Cain, I would be wearing a straitjacket instead of the New Look.”

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10 Responses to “The Easter Sunday Intertitle: Faded Starlight”

  1. La Faustin Says:

    I became aware of Aileen Pringle through S.J. Perelman’s wonderful “Cloudland Revisited” series — ever read it?

  2. La Faustin Says:

    I realized, while looking for the Perelman piece in the New Yorker archives, that Aileen Pringle also turned up in a 1926 Dorothy Parker story, “The Last Tea” — a girl says that a man from the movies told her she ought to be doing “sort of Aileen Pringle parts.” When the story was published in The Collected Dorothy Parker, which was on my parents’ bookshelves, that was changed to “Garbo parts.”

  3. Oh, that’s terrible! Rewritten out of history! Thankfully nobody thought to do that to Lardner. who brims with Buster Colliers and Lois Morans.

    I remember reading at least some of the Perelmans, but didn’t like how he seemed so down on silents, eager to consign them to the bin, it seemed to me…

  4. The word Rivette used was “débandante”, which Kent Jones translated to “slovenly”. Here is is in French (which I do not speak or read).

    That interview put me off of exploring Rivette for years, though I ended up loving his work once I moved past that.

  5. bensondonald Says:

    Aileen Pringle sounds like a name Perelman would relish, but where does she figure in “Cloudland Revisited”? That is a series of pieces within the book “Listen to the Mocking Bird”, each piece being Perelman re-reading a sizzling novel of his youth (with dandy illustrations by Hirschfeld): “The Sheik”, “Graustark”, “Three Weeks”, etc. No mention of film stars or film that I could find on quick browse. But fun reading.

  6. La Faustin Says:

    Re: Rivette — oh dear. The French verb “bander” means to get an erection (also, to bandage, worryingly enough). So “débandante” would mean erection-quelling.

  7. La Faustin Says:

    Aileen Pringle was the star of the second (1924) movie adaptation of Three Weeks, sinning on a tiger skin with Conrad Nagel — another Perelmanesque name, come to think of it.

  8. La Faustin Says:

    About Cloudland Revisited — I may be wrong, but I believe the films Perelman roughed up were, with the exception of Foolish Wives, on the same artistic level cinematically as the prose stylings of Elinor Glyn. I don’t think Perelman would have wrung yocks out of Greed or Broken Blossoms.

  9. I hope not! I know he looked at A Fool There Was, which deserves everything it gets. But he was in the position of looking at silent films when hardly anyone else was, and he was looking at corny ones and mocking them and saying, it seemed, that the effects of Time have done this to all old popular culture. There didn’t seem to be any acknowledgement that any other silent cinema was still watchable.

    Of course, he was a humorist being paid to get laughs, so too much respect would have gotten in the way of his earning a living, but still…

  10. La Faustin Says:

    I’m a big Perelman fan, thus possibly biased, but I don’t think you can mock and parody as well as he did without appreciation. His Cloudland pieces also target his own boyhood enchantment … Plus, he saw a lot of sausage made in Hollywood in the 1930s. Did you ever read his wonderful “Scenario” piece? It’s in the book Crazy Like a Fox, and here’s an abbreviated version: https://www.kylegann.com/Scenario.html

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