Friday, November 30, 2012

Million Dollar Mystery: Marguerite Snow

What better way to kick off the holiday season than with some Snow?  ;)

photo courtesy Looking For Mabel Normand

Marguerite Snow was another of the big Thanhouser stars, and played the second lead -- the mysterious Countess Olga Petroff -- in The Million Dollar Mystery.  Like Florence LaBadie and so many other early film stars, the information about her is spotty and confusing.  Just trying to pin down her date and place of birth is bewildering:

Marguerite Snow was born on September 9, 1889 (some accounts say 1891 or 1892; she kept moving her birth date forward) in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Some listings give Savannah, Georgia; a 1916 listing in Motion Picture News Studio Directory gives her birth date as September 9, 1892, in Atlanta; an obituary in The Los Angeles ExaminerFebruary 19, 1958, gave Denver as her natal city.) [courtesy  Thanhouser]

Regardless of the year, we know Miss Snow was born into a performing family.  Her father was a comedian, and with her mother formed the vaudeville act Snow & West.  Young Marguerite, "Peggy" for short, grew up in Denver, and made her first stage appearance in 1907.  She quickly rose to prominence, playing leads in shows like The Christian and Peter Pan.  By 1910 she was working for Thanhouser, and a year later her popularity was great enough for her to place second in a "favorite photoplay star" contest.  (Mary Pickford placed third!)

Also, by 1911, she had met James Cruze, the aforementioned "intrepid reporter" of Million Dollar Mystery and Thanhouser's best-known leading man.  They were married in January (some sources say February)  1913, and a daughter, Julie Jane, was born in October of that same year.  (I'll pause while you all do the math.)  The marriage was an unhappy one, and Snow later testified to frequent physical abuse by Cruze, including one famous incident in public:

The couple were at a party when the actress requested James take one of her women friends home. The ensuing quarrel ended with Cruze beating his wife about her face and body. She was knocked to the floor and one of her teeth was dislodged.  [courtesy Wikipedia]

images courtesy Thanhouser and

They divorced in 1923, with Snow retaining primary custody of Julie.  Towards the end of Cruze's life, they appeared to have reconciled enough for both Marguerite and Julie to visit him frequently at his home.  (Cruze died in 1942; you'll hear more about him -- what a character -- in my next Million Dollar Mystery piece.)

Marguerite left Thanhouser in 1915, but continued to work in films for studios such as Metro and Artcraft.  While still married to Cruze, she held dual addresses in both New York City and California, but after the divorce she remained primarily on the West Coast.   Her screen career lasted until 1925, when she remarried and retired; her marriage to comedian Neely Edwards lasted until her death.  

Marguerite Snow died of complications following kidney surgery on February 17, 1958.  She was 68.

image courtesy Thanhouser

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks

For all the folks in the US, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  So much has happened in the last couple of months, and I see the lives of many in my own neighborhood changed.  I am blessed and grateful for what I have, and that includes all of you!

I will be returning soon with the long-promised article on Marguerite Snow, as well as new poetry and tidbits to amaze and delight.  (Or at least keep you occupied over your morning coffee.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Million Dollar Mystery: Florence La Badie

Ironic that Florence La Badie starred in "Million Dollar Mystery" - since her own life both began and ended under mysterious circumstances.  In between the cradle and the grave, she was one of Thanhouser's brightest, most beautiful stars.

Look at those eyes:

Florence was born in New York City, on April 27, 1888.  She was adopted by the La Badies as a baby, and lived in Montreal.  As to her biological family, we have but one clue.  From the Thanhouser website:

A deposition by Marie C. Russ, a patient at the Home for Incurables, New York City, October 8, 1917, stated that: "Florence Russ, my daughter, is an owner of lot no. 17187 in the Greenwood Cemetery, being a grandchild and heir of Mrs. Louisa Russ, the purchaser of said lot. That some years ago said Florence Russ was legally adopted by Joseph E. and Amanda J. LaBadie, and her name legally changed to Florence LaBadie.…"

Given that the only person who ever came forward with this info was institutionalized for mental illness, we can only speculate to its truth, but most seem to accept it as fact.

She began acting on stage in 1908, and toured through 1910 in productions like The Ragged Robin and The Blue Bird.  But in 1909, it was a chance studio visit, a tag-along with her best friend, which would start her film career.

Guess who that best friend was?

Hint: it's not Ben Turpin.

Florence got a bit part that day in a Biograph production, but only remained with them a year; in spring 1911 she signed with Thanhouser.  Here's where she flourished, quickly moving up to lead roles (doing her own stunts, too) and becoming their best known (and most publicized) player.  

image courtesy Thanhouser

Florence was also a great supporter of the peace movement; a soldier's letter from the trenches, complete with devastating photographs, moved her so much that she converted them into slides - on her own dime - and toured the country giving lectures and displaying the horrors of war.

Sadly, while at the height of her fame, tragedy struck:

While Florence was driving an automobile near Ossining, New York on August 28, 1917, with her fiancé, Daniel Carson Goodman as a passenger, the brakes failed, after which the car plunged down a hill at a frightening rate, causing it to overturn at the bottom. While Goodman escaped with a broken leg and minor injuries, Florence was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a compound fracture of the pelvis. She was hospitalized in Ossining, under the care of Charles C. Sweet, M.D., of 13 Maple Street, who first attended her the day following the accident. Complications ensued, and her condition worsened.

Florence La Badie died on October 13, 1917.  She was only 29 years old.

photo courtesy Thanhouser

After her death, her adoptive mother, Amanda La Badie, disappeared.  She did not attend her daughter's funeral, and her house was simply abandoned.  To this day, only Florence rests in the double plot meant for her and her mother.  No word of Amanda was heard ever again.

Florence's death was surrounded by controversy.  There were those who believed that she'd had an affair with President Woodrow Wilson, and that something occurred between the two that necessitated her being "removed".  From the wonderful blog Silence is Platinum (I highly recommend you read her entire post on Miss La Badie):

[Florence] accepted [Pres. Wilson's] invitation to visit the White House during Christmas of 1914. She returned from the trip a different person. She was an emotional wreck, forgot her lines on set, stopped answering her telephone or speaking to her friends...

Any details were pure conjecture; those closest to her refused to talk about any of it.  The Legion of Decency notes:

On more than one occasion, Mary Pickford was seen to become very agitated when someone asked about her friendship with Florence LaBadie. Once, she told a reporter, "There are some things better left unresolved!" and fled the room.

We will never know what happened towards the end of Florence's life, or what shadow was cast over her death...but thanks to the preservation efforts of Thanhouser, we can see this lovely woman doing what she should be remembered for: acting.   There are twelve of her films available for viewing on their website for free:  Click here to watch.

image courtesy Thanhouser

Next time, we'll delve into the drifts around Marguerite Snow.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thanhouser Builds a "Mystery"

In 1914, the Thanhouser Film Corporation undertook quite a project: a 23-chapter serial named The Million Dollar Mystery.  Each two-reel chapter focused on the attempts of a secret organization, "The Black Hundred", to recover one million dollars from the clutches of evildoers.

Now, serials weren't new -- the first one, What Happened To Mary? starring Mary Fuller, had been done by Edison two years before -- but this was to be a whole new animal: it starred three of Thanhouser's biggest names, an action-filled and suspenseful plot, and planned to let the audience decide the ending.

The beautiful Florence La Badie played the lead, "Florence Hargreaves".

"Countess Olga Petroff" was the lead antagonist, played by the lovely Marguerite Snow.

Every good mystery needs an intrepid reporter, and James Cruze provides us with "Jim Norton".

TMDM was a tremendous hit, raking in $1.5 million dollars (remember, folks, this is 1914 money).  Most of that was due to La Badie, who was at the time Thanhouser's most popular star.  (She did all of her own stunts, too!)  22 chapters were filmed, all near the studio in New Rochelle NY, with the last chapter up to the masses: a contest was run awarding $10,000 for the best solution:

(click to enlarge)

Response was HUGE!  Thousands of letters came in, and they were swamped with ideas.

Finally it was announced that a St Louis stenographer named Ida Damon won the prize (though there is speculation that she was a publicity gimmick, and that the final installment had been ready all along).

TMDM was so lucrative for Thanhouser that it began filming a SECOND serial, Zudora, before Mystery was even finished...but lightning didn't strike twice.

Sadly, all 23 chapters of The Million Dollar Mystery are presumed lost.

Next time we'll get to know Florence, Marguerite, and James -- private lives so complex that even Ida couldn't invent them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

And Then There's Maude

Laugh and Get Rich (1931) is a cute little diversion with a familiar plot: good-natured blowhard gets the family into financial trouble, then gets into bigger trouble trying to get them out of it.  Hugh Herbert is the blowhard, Edna May Oliver his long-suffering wife, and cute-as-a-button Dorothy Lee is their daughter whose love life inadvertently saves the day.   Simple, amusing, and the perfect movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The one person I enjoyed most however had little to do with the plot, and she was barely in the movie:

(photo courtesy Can't Stop the Movies)

Maude Fealy plays Miss Teasdale, a throwaway character who adds some comic relief in the beginning and end of the picture.  She has a couple of lines, and is instantly forgettable.  But!  How much fun it was to see her, especially when she's more familiar like this:

Born Maude Hawke in 1881, her elegant and heartfelt stage portrayal of Juliet in (what else?) Romeo and Juliet put her on the map.  Two years later, at only age sixteen, William Gillette himself selected her as his leading lady.  She was supremely talented, well-regarded, and -- as you can see -- colossally beautiful.  Having performed in films for them in 1911 and 1912, Thanhouser signed her to an exclusive contract in 1913; to get such a stage actress as her was a VERY BIG DEAL™.  She quickly became their most publicized photoplayer:

Fealy acted with Thanhouser until 1914, then went back to the stage, perfoming only sporadically in films (and then mostly around 1915-1917) until her bit parts in the 30s and 40s.  She also ran a drama school in Colorado.  Cecil B DeMille, a long-time friend of hers, always made sure she had a role in whatever picture he was working on -- her last being a laborer's wife, as well as voice dubbing, in 1956's The Ten Commandments.  Maude Fealy died in her sleep in 1971, at age 88.  Her funeral arrangements and interment were courtesy DeMille, who had provided for them in his will (he predeceased her in 1959).  

(Much thanks to the Thanhouser website for biographical info -- I have become quite the Thanhouser junkie!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shirley Chambers, the First "Dumb Blonde"

Was in the mood for something fun Wednesday night, so I popped in "The Half-Naked Truth", with Lee Tracy and Sofia Vegara Lupe Velez.   A fast-talking bit of fluff: Tracy plays a carnival barker/publicity hound  who, after a narrow escape from some trouble, decides to turn Velez into a "Turkish princess" (and manage her all the way to the bank).  Many twists and turns befall them (as you can imagine), none the least when the Ziegfeld-like Farrell (Frank Morgan) and his stage show get roped into the whole mess.  Silly and sparkling and very, very funny!  Good luck getting "Oh! Mr Carpenter" out of your head after it -- thanks again, Cliff Aliperti, for getting it even more firmly jammed in there!

She's got a big job for you.

Those of you who read FF + SS know my weakness for pre-Code platinum blondes, so of course I sat up and took notice when Ella Beebee (Shirley Chambers) entered the fray:

image borrowed from Immortal Ephemera

She was the perfect early-30s loveable ditz!  I just had to look her up and see what else she'd done.  No surprise then, when I discovered she was crowned "Hollywood's First Dumb Blonde".  Shirley began as a model in the late 20s, then became a Goldwyn Girl along with Toby Wing, Lucille Ball, and Betty Grable.  From there she garnered small, often uncredited parts in some pretty big-ticket films: Diplomaniacs, Dancing Lady, Viva Villa!, The Merry Widow, Nothing Sacred, The Women, and the role for which she was probably best known, "Belle's Girl" in Gone With the Wind.

She toured for a while in the early 40s with the USO, did some Broadway, and moved to television roles after returning to California in the late 40s.   Shirley Chambers died on September 11, 2011, at the age of 97.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Come visit the SpeakEasy!

Indulge me in a little self-promotion here, kind readers. It's worth it -- at the end is a FREE offer!

Do you like the poems I write about silent film stars and wish you had one for a dear friend or relative?

Are you expected to "say a few words" at an event and have no idea where to start?

How often have you wanted to express to someone what they mean to you, but just couldn't get the words right?

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•Personalized poetry
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Visit the official SpeakEasy Facebook page today and claim your FREE four-line poem! Offer is good from now until 11:59 pm Friday, Sept 21.

 Thanks and back to your regularly scheduled blogging ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Apology to Lillian

When it comes to 1920s actresses, I admit to being fond of the flappers and vamps.  Crawford, Bow, Bara...Anita Page and Marie Prevost...they all simmer with vitality, the badasses of the silent screen.  Because of this, I found myself avoiding other actresses, afraid they'd be too ingenue-like, too dainty and frail to be interesting.  Foremost in this category was Lillian Gish.

I knew she was one of the greats, but something about her just put me off.  Too virginal, I thought.  Too sweet, without even the saucy edge of a Mary Pickford.  But in the interest of equal time, I recorded some of her films during TCM's recent "Summer Under the Stars" day.

"Broken Blossoms" convinced me I was very, very wrong.  

Gish and "The Yellow Man"

The film started quietly enough, beautifully enough; shots of Cheng Huan ("The Yellow Man") preparing to come to America to spread his message of peace and tolerance were delicate, soft and yielding as their subject.  Richard Barthelmess, in a role we see as racist today, imbues his character with dignity and honor, playing him with a subtlety that rescues Cheng Huan from becoming a caricature.  

We then meet Battling Burrows, played broadly (and frighteningly) by Donald Crisp.

A pugilist by trade and an angry bastard by birth, his method of stress relief is to regularly beat his waiflike daughter, Lucy (Gish).  Lucy was dumped on his doorstep and he's resented it ever since.

One day, after a particularly violent episode, Lucy crawls out to the street and makes her way to Cheng Huan's shop (alas, as in real life, his dreams were not realized).  Little did she know that he has been watching her, loving her from afar, a bright and pure point in a painful world:

He rubs his eyes, thinking her an after-effect of the opium he's been using to dull the pain of his disillusionment.  After discovering she is very real, he takes her under his wing, dressing and caring for her as for a goddess.  She spends happy days there, comforted, receiving 

until an associate of her father discovers her there and brings word back to Burrows.  He drops what he's doing and runs to drag his daughter home, away from "the dirty Chink".  He is most displeased and plans to show her how much:

What follows is one of the most harrowing, terrifying, raw scenes I have ever seen in any movie, much less a silent.  This is what made me sit up and realize Lillian Gish is a marvel.  The famous "closet scene" where Lucy becomes a feral animal, desperate to get away from her father's fists.  Lord, rewatching it brought tears to my eyes:

In her book "The Movies, Mr Griffith, and Me" Gish relates that the set went quiet after that scene, and that Griffith himself whispered "Good God, you should have told me you were going to do that."

I will not spoil the rest of the movie for those who have yet to see it, but trust me -- I will never, ever judge a book by its cover again.  By all means, if you haven't seen it yet, go get it right now.  Five stars.

Waiting at home for me is "The Wind", "La Boheme", and "The Scarlet Letter".  I cannot wait to watch more of this riveting woman's work.

(Special thanks to A Silent Film Diary and Golden Silents for providing the images in this post.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Movies, Ms Gish, and Me

I've had a copy of Lillian Gish's autobio for ages now.  Got it from one of those book-swapping sites, and unfortunately, it smelled so strongly of someone's wet basement that I couldn't even hold it, much less read it.

Well, after almost two years of airing and deodorizing: success!  I've tamed the mildew to a dull roar!  I celebrated by diving in and promptly losing myself in young Lillian and Dorothy's world.   A perfect time for it, too, since I'd taped a couple of Lillian's silents during her TCM Summer Under the Stars day.

Started watching "Orphans of the Storm" last night (no spoilers!) and so far I'm enjoying it.  Started a bit slow, but I know they had to build up the history part in order to have the rest of the movie make sense.  It's fun to see the sisters together, and pardon me for saying, but I do believe Dorothy is even lovelier than Lillian.  

Evening permitting, I'll finish this tonight, and then it's on to "The Wind", with Lars Hanson.  I'm really looking forward to that one!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


In silent film, George Valentin
was the era's greatest treasure,
with Fairbanks' joie de vivre and Gilbert's
charm in equal measure.

They'd said in Twenties Hollywood
his star power was unmatched.
I'd heard enough -- a poem was due!
A research plan was hatched.


I've searched for bios, stills and clips
until almost demented,
with no results!  I swear, it's like
this artist was invented!

George Valentin

Monday, August 13, 2012

An Audience With the Queen

On the passenger side lay my notebook and pencil:
I drove along, lost, by the studio fence, 'til
a blonde girl yelled "Photoplay?"  In her arms she bore
Some scripts.  "For Miss Stanwyck?  Right through this door."

"That's Barbara."  She pointed.  "Some folks call her Missy.
She's down-to-earth, sweet, and not a bit prissy."
I took off my hat and walked over to her.
She sat down and smiled like I already knew her.

"Well, where to start?  When I was born, I was Ruby.
(If I only knew then what life planned to do to me!)
I grew up too quickly, an adult at four;
Mama was killed, then Pop bailed.  We were poor.
My nine-year-old sister watched me and my brother.
When she started to work, we got foster mothers."

She paused, and I offered a Lucky, a light.
She thanked me and exhaled.  "I worshiped Pearl White!
Dreamt only of stardom when I was fourteen.
I felt destined for show biz, the stage and the screen."

"By sixteen, I danced at The Strand and the Follies."
She smirked. "All those phonies, out getting their jollies."
"Those phonies?" I asked as I scribbled a note.
She nodded.  "My focus was different: a meal, a coat,
and working my way up the ladder of fame.
After that came 'The Noose', where I got my new name."

With that, Barbara faltered.  Her eyes glazed with tears.
"My goodness, I haven't thought about that in years.
That's where I met Rex.  May his soul rest in peace."
She regained her composure. "Don't print that, if you please."

"I moved on to pictures from Burlesque, my last play,
I married a friend that I met there - Frank Fay.
That's ended now.  Boy was that all a mistake.
But that's life; you move on.  You don't get a retake."

"And that brings us to now and that brings us to here."
I could tell she was finished.  She called past me.  "Dear!"
The blonde girl came over. "Please get my script, Alice."
(I peeked at the title.  It said "Stella Dallas".)

I stood up and offered my hand, and she took it.
"A pleasure," I told her, and meant it.  She shook it
and smiled at me warmly as I strode away.
A day in my life, for her life in a day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dear "Penthouse", I've got quite the sleeper

I was intrigued, while watching "Penthouse", by a pretty brunette with an interesting name: Martha Sleeper.  (The film is a snappy little 1933 gangster picture, worth watching for the chemistry between Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy alone.)  Her face seemed familiar but I guessed she was one of the hundreds of minor starlets, featured in one or two pictures and then relegated to party scenes or chorus lines for the rest of her short career.

Not so with Miss Sleeper, who achieved lasting fame -- though not in the way you might think.

Martha was born in 1910 (some older sources incorrectly say 1907), and by 1924 was under contract to Hal Roach Studios.  She was discovered after a ballet photo of hers caught the eye of director Emory Johnson's mother -- who wrote recommending her for films immediately.   She worked extensively in comedy shorts through the 20s, and her career continued (albeit sporadically) until 1945, when she did her last film, "The Bells of St Mary's".  She then went on to success on the stage before leaving suddenly in 1949.

That same year, she and her husband decided to take a vacation to the Virgin Islands...but once she saw Puerto Rico, it was love at first sight.  She made her home there, spending her remaining years designing and sewing clothes for her own fashion line.  

However, all of that pales in comparison to the reason she is most remembered for today: jewelry.

Martha had always been creative, and in the 30s started making her own baubles out of a sort of papier mache.  They got a lot of attention, says Decotini:

Her earliest pieces, grasshoppers and spiders, were made from paper towels and glue.  Her first tarantulas were arranged in a row down her own sun suit. Delores de Rio and Fay Wray saw her and demanded to know where she got them!  

By 1937, she had a buyer for her line of "gadget jewelry", featuring items you wouldn't expect on necklaces or bracelets:  globes, cigarettes, matches, pencils.  Lots of whimsical animals were featured as well.


Andy Warhol was a huge fan of her work and in the 70s collected it voraciously, almost single-handedly starting the renewed craze for vintage Bakelite.

So there you have it!  From a lovely face in a old film to a pop-art superstar, all in one post.  

If you'd like to learn more about Martha Sleeper's jewelry and fashions, make sure you click the Decotini link above, or:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Evelyn, Norma, and Missy

Been running through my DVR backlog, and I'm just about done now.  Caught "The Mating Call", with Thomas Meighan, Evelyn Brent, and a surprisingly charming Renee Adoree.

Cute picture, a bit slow in spots, but I enjoyed it. Without spoiling it for folks who haven't seen it: does anyone else think it really scary and bizarre how Meighan gets a wife?  I was horrified thinking of how many men might've done just that!

Also watched "Kiki", with Norma Talmadge, and I can't recommend that one highly enough.  How much fun is this movie?

A shout out to the LoC, Greta de Groat and all the other wonderful people whose hard work made this just-about-complete print possible.   Norma plays Kiki, a spunky girl who desperately wants to be in show biz; then, one fateful day, she gets her chance -- and changes not only her life, but the lives of everyone she touches (or bumps into, as the case may be).
I can't believe how great a job Norma did at comedy -- why didn't she play against type more often?  She comes across as a loveably klutzy Clara Bow type, fluffing her hair and putting up her dukes and generally being hyper-adorable.  Near the end she performs an extended physical bit that is marvelous in its execution -- and hysterical to boot.   Thanks to "Kiki" I'm now on a Talmadge kick!  I must have more!

Still working on the poem for Barbara Stanwyck.  I keep on getting great ideas (usually at 3 in the morning). Thank goodness for the notebook near my bed!

Don't worry, Missy, I'm not giving up on you!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Prodigal Daughter Returns

Good to see you all again!  *waves*  I've been away a long time, haven't I?

Something happened to me and my beloved classic films...they stopped being fun to watch.  Why?  Because I was perched on the edge of the sofa with a notebook all time time, furiously scribbling.  As much fun as the reviews were, they started to feel like homework.  I couldn't watch a movie without feeling like I needed to be documenting it.

So I took a break.  In the process, I've decided to change the format a little bit.

Look for me to write about the things I love, the movies I adore and the people I can't get enough of -- but in no formal fashion.  Hoping the poetry bug bites soon too, so I can share those again.  Those were always my first love.  :)

Caught "Untamed" over the weekend (thank you, DVR) and Joan Crawford as Bingo has to be one of  my favorite characters of hers.  How in the world did she manage to look ten years younger in the beginning?  Her "spirited tomboy" was feisty and adorable and I missed her when Bingo went all proper.   The beautiful (hell, he was more beautiful than Joanie in this, and that's saying something) Robert Montgomery played his usual sophisticate self, all 85 lbs. of him.

Joanie said herself that the picture was "silly but fun" and she's exactly right.  However, she also said she was awful, which is not.  Only her reaction over her father's death in the beginning was waaaaay too melodramatic, but it was her first talkie.  You can't blame her.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Purchase Price (1932)

Barbara Stanwyck.  I've lost the ability to write anything objective about her.  Was there ever a more perfect person for the pre-Code era?  (Possibly Joan Blondell, but I digress.)

Miss Stanwyck is a torch singer in a bit of trouble, and decides to escape it by becoming a farmer's mail-order bride.  The result is a warm, funny, charming picture, with more than a bit of Frank Capra about it (though actually directed, and beautifully so, by William Wellman).  George Brent plays the farmer and is immensely likeable -- he and Stanwyck have terrific chemistry and are (at the risk of sounding cliche) a delight.

The ending is a bit abrupt after the easy flow of the film, but I still enjoyed it very much.  Highly recommended!

I give this one:  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Miss Tomboy

Dresden Doll, or Gotham Girl?
Infection grin and golden curls
Mixed, a blend of tough and sweet -
Perfection born of Brooklyn streets.
Leading lady of a series,
Even teamed with Bunny's fame,
Stars like yours should be remembered.

(Now can you guess her secret name?)

Lillian Walker

Monday, April 2, 2012

God's Gift to Women (1931)

 I can't really write a proper review of this picture, because I fast-forwarded (do they still say that?) through most of it.  Oh, I tried to watch it; but after about 20 minutes my agonized screams pierced the quiet neighborhood and I shot the screen with my trusty rifle and I am totally not exaggerating.

Frank Fay is insufferable.  Not funny, not charming -- to have him play the "great lover" descendant of Don Juan is too ridiculous to even be a joke.  What I did see of the movie was, quite frankly (ha, frankly, oh how I kid), boring.  Lots of Laura La Plante mooning incessantly over Fay while he attempts, against all odds, to have her.

There are two things that saved this movie from being a complete zero, in my opinion: the all-too-few glimpses of Louise Brooks, sadly in career decline but looking as beautiful as ever; and the catfight between Brooks, Joan Blondell, and the always fun Yola d'Avril.  Oh!  Keep an eye out for the Sisters G as part of Fay's inexplicable entourage, too.

I give this one: