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Old 07-24-2016, 04:06 AM
 
Location: England
17,030 posts, read 4,177,910 times
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Talking on this thread about the Marx Brothers got me thinking about movie making in the 30s and 40s. I have a large collection of movie books from that time period. They sit, all in a long row, in the top shelf of my wardrobe. The years go by, and I rarely look in them anymore. Those beautiful faces, in glorious technicolor photos, are of the long dead, and in the main, forgotten today. I am reluctant to dispose of these books, and I don't really know why.

A few names are recognized to an extent. Maybe Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Judy Garland mainly for 'The Wizard of Oz.' Humphrey Bogart for a few films. The movies themselves, are forgotten. Maybe some young people have seen 'Gone With The Wind'.

My interest, for most of my life, has been in not just the films made by those extraordinary people of that era, but of the studios where they made the movies, the people who made them, and the men who ruled these great artists with an iron fist. People like Louis B Mayer, Jack Warner, and especially Harry Cohn at Columbia. Lots of people went to his funeral. One whispered, "give the people what they want............"

In the early days of the movies, stars like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and especially Charlie Chaplin, made their own films, and even created their own studio - United Artists. They became very rich. People like Louis B Mayer especially, wanted to make the movies into product, made in a factory. The major profit being made by the owners of these studios, rather than the stars of the films.

They developed the star system, and employed thousands of talented people to work under contract in the factories, or as they're better known, studios, to make films for the masses to enjoy. As Hollywood grew in power in the 30s, it was a magnet for talented people. Not just the folks who became stars, but the writers, cameramen, directors, producers, and all the set designers, and the ordinary workers who did all the physical work. The electricians, carpenters, and the amazing clothing designers like Adrian at MGM, and Edith Head at Paramount.

Every studio employed lots of background people, to help the stars shine in the movies themselves. Thousands headed for Hollywood, only a few made it to the silver screen. My biggest regret is those stars were not interviewed for documentaries about their lives in Hollywood at the peak of their fame. A series was made in the 70s about the silent movie stars of the early days. That fascinating series is available on you-tube.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yS37...0UJd0EZpafs2iY

Sadly, nothing similar was made for sound film stars, and they have almost all passed on now. I believe their stories would have been well worth listening to. These amazing people who clawed their way to the top, and then struggled to remain there. You were only as good as your last picture. Joan Crawford, still trying to be a femme fatale in her 50s, struggling to remain relevant against up and coming stars like Marilyn Monroe.

It was a dog eat dog place, full of beautiful people. The producers at the studios had extraordinary power over their stars. The outside world read the movie magazines, and looked on in awe at photos of the stars in their beautiful homes, and sitting in their fancy cars. "Wow...... I wish it was me" they must have thought.

In reality, the stars were constantly undermined, and made to feel insecure. Judy Garland was always aware of talented young singers kept as a threat if she didn't behave, and do as she was told. Watch her old movies........ you will often see a talented young girl singer in a minor role. Judy was told, "waaaaal, if you don't watch it Judy....... you can be replaced." She was made to think that what she did could be done by others. The poor girl didn't realize nobody could do what she did.

Stars were told to behave themselves, and live impeccable lives free of scandal. To place all these beautiful people in one place, and pay them a lot of money, made this just an impossible dream. The main thing was to keep scandal out of the papers. Some stars got away with murder........ literally. The local police were paid off, and as long as stars obeyed the studio boss, they could be protected from most anything they got up to.

I managed to meet three of those stars. James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, and Mickey Rooney. The one I wanted to meet the most, Mickey, sadly was in his mid 80s, and I didn't get the chance to have a proper conversation with him. This massively talented man, was the star I had the most interest in of all.

Now, all that's left of them are their movies. They are mainly very old fashioned, and don't hold the attention of a modern audience anymore. The memories of them is fading with time, but for me, the fascination of them, and the times they lived in, still holds me enthralled....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGk3tY4yP7k

We will never see their like again........


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWW6QeeVzDc
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:26 AM
 
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The 1930s and 40s may have been the golden age for the studios but for the movies themselves I would pinpoint it to 1965-75 or thereabout, the number of great movies released in those few years is astounding.

Only a few made before the mid '60s have held my interest long enough to watch it whole_ Sunset Blvd (1950), Bridge on the River Kwai(1957) , Double Indemnity(1944) are among those , also some Westerns from the '50s are not totally stale.

Like you I find the ''studio'' era fascinating , their movies definitely not.
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Henderson, NV, U.S.A.
8,477 posts, read 4,524,713 times
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30s & 40s from my recently watched list - Hollywood..., and beyond:

Juno and the Paycock (1930), Alfred Hitchcock
Number Seventeen (1932), Alfred Hitchcock
The Skin Game (1931), Alfred Hitchcock
The Petrified Forest (1936), Archie Mayo
Ninotchka (1939), Ernst Lubitsch
Trouble in Paradise (1932), Ernst Lubitsch
The Voice of Bugle Ann (1936), Richard Thorpe
Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Howard Hawks
The Story of Temple Drake (1933), Stephen Roberts
The Awful Truth (1937), Leo McCarey
Alexander Nevsky (1938), Sergei Eisenstein
Olympia (1938), Leni Riefenstahl
Swing Time (1936), George Stevens
Bachelor Mother (1939), Garson Kanin
Osaka Elegy (1936), Kenji Mizoguchi
Sisters of the Gion (1936), Kenji Mizoguchi
Passing Fancy (1933), Yasujiro Ozu
L’age d’or (1930), Luis Bunuel
The Threepenny Opera (1931), Georg Wilhelm Pabst
The Only Son (1936), Yasujiro Ozu

Irene (1940), Herbert Wilcox
That Uncertain Feeling (1941), Ernst Lubitsch
The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942), George B. Seitz
Detour (1945), Edgar G. Ulmer
The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Ernst Lubitsch
Apartment for Peggy (1948), George Seaton
Sullivan's Travels (1941), Preston Sturges
Dumbo (1941), Ben Sharpsteen and 5 others
Out of the Past (1947), Jacques Tourneur
Key Largo (1948), John Huston
I Know Where I'm Going (1945), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburge
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
The Pride Of The Yankees (1942), Sam Wood
The Fighting Sullivans (1944), Lloyd Bacon
Crisis (1946), Ingmar Bergman
Torment (1944), Alf Sjöberg
Paisan (1946), Roberto Rossellini
Day of Wrath (1943), Carl Theodor Dreyer
Late Spring (1949), Yasujiro Ozu
The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942), Henri-Georges Clouzot
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Old 07-24-2016, 03:30 PM
 
Location: England
17,030 posts, read 4,177,910 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonsereed View Post
The 1930s and 40s may have been the golden age for the studios but for the movies themselves I would pinpoint it to 1965-75 or thereabout, the number of great movies released in those few years is astounding.

Only a few made before the mid '60s have held my interest long enough to watch it whole_ Sunset Blvd (1950), Bridge on the River Kwai(1957) , Double Indemnity(1944) are among those , also some Westerns from the '50s are not totally stale.

Like you I find the ''studio'' era fascinating , their movies definitely not.
I'm glad you agree with my interest in the studio era. Just the idea of factories producing films on a massive scale is fantastic to me. I would have loved to have been part of the teams who built those fantastic sets. Plus I like the idea of being quietly in the background watching great stars perform for the camera.

The studio heads like Louis B Mayer interest me. I remember a story about Robert Taylor going to see Mr Mayer, to ask for a better paying contract. Mayer was known for his tears, and pretend heart attacks when required. Taylor came out of the office, and was asked, "did you get a raise?" He replied, "no..... but I got a new father.".......

I agree the 1965-75 time of movies was a great one. That is the time I became a real film fan. I didn't realize it then, but it was a great movie making time. So many stars came along then like Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Barbra Streisand, and many others.
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Old 07-24-2016, 04:14 PM
 
7,030 posts, read 7,112,513 times
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I agree that the 1930s-1940s was an astonishing, brilliant era for movies, and the interesting thing is that the tyranny of the studio system and the censor contributed to the excellence. (By "background people," I assume you mean character actors, not extras, and yes, they contributed greatly.)

I'm wondering if you've ever seen the excellent PBS television series on American cinema, about a half-dozen separate episodes. And do you have in your town any theaters that show the classic movies? It's great to be able to see them in a theater on a big screen. By the way, if you decide to let go of the books, depending on what they are, there might be a cinema library that would be happy to have them.
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Old 07-24-2016, 05:27 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
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Eleanor Powell...just the best tap dancer ever.
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Old 07-25-2016, 12:46 AM
 
Location: England
17,030 posts, read 4,177,910 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cida View Post
I agree that the 1930s-1940s was an astonishing, brilliant era for movies, and the interesting thing is that the tyranny of the studio system and the censor contributed to the excellence. (By "background people," I assume you mean character actors, not extras, and yes, they contributed greatly.)

I'm wondering if you've ever seen the excellent PBS television series on American cinema, about a half-dozen separate episodes. And do you have in your town any theaters that show the classic movies? It's great to be able to see them in a theater on a big screen. By the way, if you decide to let go of the books, depending on what they are, there might be a cinema library that would be happy to have them.
Yes, there were some great character actors back in the golden age. Some I always loved to see were S Z Sakall, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. These folks always helped the star of the movie shine.

I have seen a number of golden age movies in a cinema. In 1971, there was a Humphrey Bogart festival in London, and I saw 'Casablanca.' This was the first time I was aware of large scale interest in those kinds of old movies. I thought it was just me before that....... The same year, Ingrid Bergman was performing on stage in London. To see her perform, and get to meet her, was for me, a great thrill.

My interest in old movies started with the mass showing of such films on tv when I was a very young boy. My dad, also a great fan, had of course seen the films on original release. In those days, these films were shown on prime time tv. In 1966, my dad bought me a book. It was called, 'A Pictorial History Of The Talkies.' I still own this large book, and this was were my interest grew about the lives and times of those great film stars of the past.

Over the years, I got to see other films on a big cinema screen. 'Gone With The Wind' got re-released in about 1968, also the 'Wizard of Oz' about the same time. In the 70s, I got to see 'A Star Is Born' in London. I took my wife to see her first classic movie, James Stewart in 'It's a Wonderful Life' in London, about five years ago. At the end the audience applauded, which she found interesting......

It's strange, but as I grew up, watching the old movies on tv, I didn't realize the day would come, when those stars were forgotten. Their fame seemed so great, I thought they would always be well known. A number of years ago, I mentioned a famous old film star's name. The person I was speaking to, said, "who's that?" Their films had stopped being shown on ordinary television. I think it was the time Ted Turner had brought a massive library of old films. Suddenly, they were only available to be watched on TCM, which many people didn't have. Since then, knowledge of many old stars among the general public, has faded, at least here in England.

I guess it's only to be expected really, but I still find it sad. In the 1970s, the movie 'That's Entertainment' showed a lot of clips of MGM stars in their full pomp and glory. Forgotten stars like Eleanor Powell, were shown going through their paces. I remember sitting there enthralled watching those great stars perform on a large screen. We really, will never see such talent ever again.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEWaqUVac3M


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWryDF_yyH0

I saw Mickey Rooney on a stage talking about Judy Garland, and he sang this song in tribute to her.....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVzJ...hoT_PAluetsRdy

Life as a young movie star sure seemed good fun!!......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYoo...sRdy&index=168

The ultimate golden age film..... 'Gone With The Wind' with a towering performance from Vivien Leigh.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn26pEDEhyY
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Old 07-25-2016, 04:24 AM
 
Location: England
17,030 posts, read 4,177,910 times
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I think even today, the artistry of Fred Astaire is appreciated. He danced with many different women in his movies. But, even though he looked great with trained dancers like Rita Hayworth, and Cyd Charisse, there is only one who appeared like she was born to dance, with only one man. That was Ginger Rogers. Watch the sheer emotion of music and dance here in 'Follow The Fleet'.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrGhweKTbmA

There were constant rumours stating they didn't get on personally, but somehow, someway, the magic of dancing with Ginger, couldn't be repeated with another partner........ here in 'Swing Time'.




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxPgplMujzQ

They worked together from 1933 till 1939, and then went their separate ways. But, at the end of the 40s, Fred was meant to make a film with Judy Garland. She became ill, so Ginger was sent for. It was like the 10 years since they danced, was nothing at all........ here in The 'Barkleys of Broadway'.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcD8h1LWai8

Even at their last ever public performance together, in 1967, a short dance was given to an appreciative audience........


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y86Thi6-gBU
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Old 07-25-2016, 10:09 AM
 
30,469 posts, read 16,042,850 times
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Good topic, Dave. I like the behind-the-scenes stories. The stories that were never printed. There had to be 100s of stories of people who never made it big for whateve reason.

And I am sure the casting couch was not a rumor.
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Old 07-25-2016, 10:30 AM
 
Location: England
17,030 posts, read 4,177,910 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _redbird_ View Post
Good topic, Dave. I like the behind-the-scenes stories. The stories that were never printed. There had to be 100s of stories of people who never made it big for whateve reason.

And I am sure the casting couch was not a rumor.
I heard Joan Crawford had one strapped to her back, just in case.........
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