Friday, 15 May 2015

Top 5 Luxurious Precode homes

Despite the passing of over 80 years, nothing much in the lifestyles of Hollywood’s greatest stars has changed. Like their seemingly incapable wages, Hollywood stars of the Precode era also liked to lash out on cars, parties, clothes and let’s not forget property.

Here is the top five Precode mansions:

5) Clark Gable

 

 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Jack La Rue: the Internet versus the Truth

It turns out that there is more to Jack La Rue than meets the eye. Even more interesting that most of the information available on La Rue on the internet and even in several newspaper articles were wrong. Now, I can believe that Wikipedia and IMBD got facts wrong but some were even more long term and in grained. Thanks to the help of La Rue's nephew, Ronald Cognata, for ensuring I get my information correct and even revealing an interesting picture and story never seen before on the internet.
For those not familiar with Jack La Rue, he was born Gaspere Biondolillo in New York City, New York on May 3, 1902. He began acting in the early 1920’s when he was offered a role as an extra. He began trying to land more film roles but moved into stage work and debuted at the Empire Theatre in 1921 in a production of “Blood and Sand”. He was discovered by director Howard Hawkes who auditioned him for the role of Rinaldo in “Scarface” (1932). He was unsuccessful; however, subsequently received roles in “Night World” (1932) and “While Paris Sleeps” (1932). His first break-through role was in the Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes film “A Farewell to Arms” (1932). His next big break and first starring role would come the following year as Trigger in Paramount’s controversial film, “The Story of Temple Drake” (1933). Jack La Rue’s was married three times. First to socialite Connie Simpson then briefly to Austrian Baroness Violet Edith von Roseberg lastly to Anne Giordano. He died January 11, 1984 from a heart attack.
 
For a full biography check out my original post here.

Now lets delve into it:

What the internet says:
“Jack La Rue…is the father of actor Jack La Rue Jr.”
IMDB also states that ‘Jack La Rue Jr’ appeared in Crypt of the Living Dead (1973) and The Young Nurses (1973).

What Ron says:
“Jack La Rue did not have ANY CHILDREN. I will not tell you the name of the person known as Jack La Rue Jr. however this person was married to Kim Darby (for a short time) after her divorce from James Stacy. Do some research.”

Monday, 2 March 2015

Pre-code Nudity Update and Film Guide


Nudity whether in glimpses, through clothes, in silhouette or in the distance was strictly banned by the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code. According to the code nudity in any form was “immoral” and should be completely avoided. Despite this, Pre-code films are full of it. Instead of straight “in fact” nudity, directors became sneaky but attempting to make the nudity tantalisingly quick or part of the plot. Several actresses, like Jean Harlow and Norma Shearer created screen legends based on what they or didn’t wear. Thankfully, this clever film making has been preserved and audiences today can view scenes that Joseph Breen and code makers would later ban from cinemas for over fifty years. Let’s take a look at the methods this generation of Hollywood directors, writers, cinematographers and actors used to bypass the code:  

Friday, 20 February 2015

Wild Bill Wellman and his resume of Precode Oscar ‘should-have-beens’

This is my entry to the 31 Days of Oscar blogathon hosted by Kellee, Aurora and Paula from Paula's Cinema Club. To check out the other posts from the blogathon as well as other great cinema related content click here  
Classic film fans – like flavours of ice-cream – are not all the same. They have different main tastes, like sweet or citrus. Prefer diverse additions, as conflicting as chocolate topping and nuts and some even have movie length preferences akin to the cone versus cup ice cream debate. Still comparing sweet treats and the film industry, if director William Wellman aka Wild Bill’s career was condensed into an ice-cream flavour it would be lemon gelato mixed with dark chocolate covered in sprinkles and dried apricots. Wild Bill, as his son William Wellman Jr later dubbed him, made films in pretty much every conceivable mainstream genre and all – except arguably his brief turn into musicals – proficiently. Looking for a great drama – think ‘Public Enemy’ (1931) or ‘A Star is Born’ (1937). An entertaining and fast-paced war film – ‘Wings’ (1927). A screwball comedy with the great Carole Lombard herself – ‘Nothing Sacred’ (1937). A western for a Sunday afternoon – ‘The Ox-Bow Incident’ (1943). And even if you has a craving for a weird musical/ mystery film starring a barely clothed Barbara Stanwyck, Wellman offers ‘Lady of Burlesque’ aka ‘The G-String Murders’ (1943).
 
 Wellman said in a 1978 interview:
 
“I've only had one real desire in this business: to make every kind of picture that was ever made. And I did. I made musicals, I made kid pictures, I made romantic comedies, the whole list. I'm very proud of that. Now, how many directors have done that?”
I first noticed Wellman in the old fashioned credits of some of my all time favourite Precode films, like ‘Midnight Mary’ (1933), ‘Safe in Hell’ (1931) and ‘Night Nurse’ (1931). To me he seems a genius at creating fast-paced, hard-hitting Depression-era ‘social issue’ pictures. His ability at shooting action scenes and clear love and experience with planes came to my attention in ‘Wings’ (1927) which, despite its lack of sound, I simply loved. I wasn’t surprised to read, therefore, that ‘Wings’ (1927) received the Academy Award for Best Picture in the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Name that Star (because I can't)

I was going through a couple of Photoplay Magazines and came across this picture. Perhaps I am overthinking things but is this really a picture of Una Merkel? It does say it’s her in the blurb but the image has no resemblance to the actress I know and love in several classic Precode films. I have added a few more Merkely pictures after. What does everyone else think?

The Questionable Merkel Portrait:
 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Norma Shearer and Manic Pixie Dream Boys

Who’s that girl? It’s not Jess, it’s not even Norma, it’s the men Miss Shearer seemed to gather around her in almost every film role. In her Pre-code performances Shearer is not relegated to a supportive role nor is she doomed to a one-dimensional outlook or perpetually unalterable journey. In most cases she is in a constant struggle between a life of sexual and emotional liberation and an existence of a conventional wife and mother. Some might say in even a ‘soulful’ or ‘brooding’ manner. Her adventures through films from 1929 to 1934 are constantly peppered by the standard array of male leads. Unlike the screen heroes of the 1940’s and 50’s, these male counterparts display flowery, emotional qualities and seem to pander only to the wants of Shearer’s more domineering persona. They appear to mirror the characteristics of the typical subordinate, quirky female roles of the 21st Century, recently more controversially coined ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girls’ (MPDG).







Sunday, 5 October 2014

Free Pre-code Screenings

Running from 26 September – 2 November 2014, the Forbidden Hollywood: The Wild Days of Pre-Code Cinema festival is a celebration of the best films of the era. Making use of a rare selection of prints from museums and collections all over the world, it is not to be missed. Unfortunately, the collection is only screening at Brisbane at Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). The films will be screening during the months of October and November and best of all its free! All the film information and timings are below: