Archive for God’s Gift to Women

Perfectly Frank

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on August 10, 2011 by dcairns

This is Frank Fay in GOD’S GIFT TO WOMEN — he’s been told to avoid excitement or he may drop dead. Fortunately, Louise Brooks, Joan Blondell and Yola d’Avril are here to make sure that he’s kept calm.

Fiona and I have become big FF fans — his extremely camp manner is a surprise at first, but his movies play with this in a variety of interesting ways, and he’s a brilliant comic. My appreciation is now up at The Chiseler.

Here’s Frank Fay and Mrs Frank Fay. If you don’t know him, you may know her.

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Intertitle of the Week: of It-Girls and Intertitles

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on March 23, 2009 by dcairns

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From Dorothy Arzner’s THE WILD PARTY.

If you’re like Fiona and I, one of the symptoms is a willingness to watch anything with Clara Bow in it. Clara, who suffered an irrational fear of microphones, made relatively few talkies. THE WILD PARTY, her first, is a fascinating early attempt at sound film-making, using inter-titles (see above) for scene-setting between acts, and serving up lashings of pre-code spice, and HOOP-LA, her last, is a slightly desultory carnival melodrama enlivened by racy attitudes and a nude swimming scene.

But none of this prepared us for the hilarity of CALL HER SAVAGE…

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Seven years’ bad luck…

The movie gets off to a rough start by following two generations of Bow’s ancestors, explaining how she gets her “savage” nature — her grandfather was a murdering adulterer and her father was an Indian. Now she’s “Nasa Springer,” (great name!) a simple rich Brooklynese girl from Texas with a tendency to flip out and literally bullwhip everything in sight ~

Believe it or not, we actually stopped watching around here, convinced that the film was uninteresting, so we watched Frank Fay (Fay by name and fey by nature) ironically cast as GOD’S GIFT TO WOMEN, which deserves a lot more attention sometime, but then we returned to Clara and found that actually the movie is a demented work of anti-genius that’s well worth anybody’s time. The peculiar and slightly sinister racial attitudes, the camp singing waiters (I didn’t think it was possible for anybody to be more camp than Frank Fay and be in a movie, but WRONG AGAIN), the endless parade of improbable scandals, cat-fights, mental breakdowns and dead babies, this is like watching seven years of daytime soap compacted into 88 minutes of fast-forward debauchery. We were left giddy and google-eyed.

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As fine a display of mincing as you could hope to see.

Based on this experience, I’d say that CALL HER SAVAGE and GOD’S GIFT TO WOMEN make an ideal Fever Dream Double Feature, provided you watch one film inside the other, forming a sort of bad film sandwich. Both movies exploit the shady entertainment value of the cat-fight, with Bow tackling Thelma Todd while the Fay vehicle pits Joan Blondell against Louise Brooks.

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But only CALL HER SAVAGE utilises the less-known dogfight, with a noticably bra-less Bow wrestling a huge mutt. This kind of scene, bra-less dog wrestling, never quite caught on, I suspect.

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And then there’s the early scene where Clara elevates music criticism to the level of contact sport, a sequence apparently intended to establish her as an adorable hot-head rather than out-of-control psychopath ~

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Footnote: Clara’s horse-riding mishap seems an attempt to hark back to her glory days in silents ~

HULA.

‘It’ Plus Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl