WEIRDLAND

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bogart & Cagney, Gene Kelly & Fred Astaire

"Bogart had the crucial friendship of John Huston, who wrote and/or directed most of his best movies. And it was Huston’s script for the first great one, “High Sierra”, that established the persona the actor would embody for the rest of his career — the wounded idealist who pretends to be a cynic, the fighter who loves best the battles he can’t win.

“Casablanca” wrote that character large and made Bogart an icon, but it was Huston who first made Bogart “Bogie”. And that is why, whatever their merits as actors, Bogart remains the more mythical figure. Scrappy, up-from-the-slums Cagney was the emblem of the first half of the American century; weary, wounded, cynical Bogart became the symbol of a post-war nation that had seen its own blind confidence shaken. And so, when the nostalgia craze first hit college campuses in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the recently deceased actor seemed more current than ever.

By then, it was increasingly hard to truly identify with Cagney’s cocky, whaddaya-hear-whaddaya-say optimist; Bogie’s existentialist loner seemed absolutely made to order. And he remains so. Combine them, though, and you have a picture of the country’s 20th-century entire — as well as deft, different performers and perhaps two dozen classic films.

Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney in "Angels With Dirty Faces" (1938) directed by Michael Curtiz

James Cagney & Humphrey Bogart in "The Roaring Twenties" (1939) directed by Raoul Walsh

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, rivals and co-stars in "What happened to Baby Jane" (1962) directed by Robert Aldrich

Bogart vs. Cagney? It’s as endless — and unnecessary — a quarrel as Davis vs. Crawford, or Astaire vs. Kelly.

Who’s best? Luckily for real film lovers, we don’t have to choose. We can have both, forever — striding down those mean, rain-washed streets, their eyes squinting against the wind, a thin, tight smile on their lips". Source: www.nj.com

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in "The Band Wagon" (1953) directed by Vincente Minnelli

Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly in "It's Always Fair Weather" (1955) directed by Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly

"At 14, I discovered girls. At that time, dancing was the only way you could put your arm around the girl. Dancing was courtship. Only later did I discover that you dance joy. You dance love. You dance dreams." -Gene Kelly

Marilyn Monroe dancing with Gene Kelly on the set of "Let's Make Love" (1960) directed by George Cukor

“Kelly’s appearance in the film was due entirely to producer-director Stanley Kramer, who cast the picture with precisely the actors he wanted: “I’ve always thought Gene Kelly was a wonderfully sensitive actor. He had a sharply satirical quality in ‘Pal Joey’ on the stage and he seemed a natural choice for a character based on H.L. Mencken in ‘Inherit the Wind’.” -Director Stanley Kramer about Gene Kelly in "The Films of Gene Kelly" by T. Thomas (1976)

Gene Kelly in "An American in Paris" (1951) directed by Vincente Minnelli (ballet sequence). Minnelli decreed: "It has to be something to do with emotions, the time in his mind, the way he feels just having lost his girl, and a whole thing about Paris".

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Making of 'An American in Paris' with Gene Kelly - A Memoir by Leslie Caron

"August 15, 1944: the first American GIs came marching in, along the road to Grasse, friendly, relaxed, and smiling. They were distributing Hershey bars to the children who were lining the road, giggling, waving, and crying out whatever English exclamation they had heard, such as “Hi!” and “Hello!” and shouting “Bonjour! Les Américains!” The women cried, “Bravo! Vive les Américains!” and threw flowers, kissing the boys as they trooped along. I smiled, thinking, I must always remember this. The enormous dark lead weight had lifted from our lives after four years of distress and shame. The war was over".

"At fourteen I entered the national ballet school, Le Conservatoire, and did quite well. I also took classes with the great Russian teacher Alexandre Volinine, a gentle and charming man in his seventies who had been partner to Anna Pavlova. But I found it hard to withstand the pace of this heavy schedule and became anemic. I now started going to Madame Rozanne’s class, back at the Studio Wacker. The Ballets des Champs-Élysées confirmed the resurrection of Paris. Its home was the most prestigious of all the Paris theaters, Le Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, built in 1913 by August Perret in the purest art deco style".

"MGM decided to hire me, after the test that Gene Kelly had shot with me some two or three weeks earlier. Gene had seen me dance at the Ballets des Champs Élysées the previous year, on the opening night of La Rencontre, the ballet I starred in with Jean Babilée. He had come to meet me at the end of the evening, but, inexperienced as I was with backstage protocol, I had already gone home. A year later, though, a meeting was arranged, and I met Gene in his suite at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. He was gentle and respectful and spoke of doing a film test".

“I’m going to do a film called 'An American in Paris', which is the story of a young American painter in Paris who meets a French working girl who seems to slip away every time he wants to declare his love for her. He discovers she is engaged to marry one of his best friends. There is a twenty-minute ballet at the end of the film. I want to test you for the part of my leading lady. I might get fired for doing this —the studio only gave me permission to test Odile Versois. I know you can dance, but I want to see how you photograph and if you can act.”

Leslie Caron in her dressing room during the filming of "The Man with a Cloak" (1951)

"Gene Kelly, who kept his car in front of his bungalow, very democratically walked to and from rehearsals. He wore the same kind of informal clothes every day—beige cotton pants, a Lacoste polo shirt hanging out, white socks and brown loafers, and, on his head, what was then called a beanie—a baseball cap to cover his baldness. I expressed my admiration with perhaps the wrong words. “What tremendous fun you must have had!” “Fun!” he retorted, and I received five minutes of dressing-down as he pointed out the hard work all this represented. I stood corrected. That was lesson number one".

"I started every morning by doing my ballet warm-up, about a half hour alone, as every dancer does before rehearsing or performing. Gene Kelly’s two assistants —Carol Haney, who would later star on Broadway in 'The Pajama Game' and was a remarkable Jack Cole dancer and lovely Jeanne Coyne, freshly divorced from director Stanley Donen and later to become the second Mrs. Gene Kelly— were watching my exercises to give Gene ideas for my introductory solos".

"Gene was a great partner, strong, skillful, and with a perfect sense of rhythm. But more than a dancer, he was also smart, a born leader, and liked to take command. He could assess the qualities of his partners and knew how to make the most of them. Gifted with a sense of space on the screen—camera moves held no secrets for him—he was interested in the technical side of camera equipment—lenses and filters, tracking and support equipment".

"As a choreographer, he was inventive, daring, and more of an athlete than a dancer. Gracefulness wasn’t his thing; you felt he was after strength —a modern man’s physical expression. As a dance director, he was exacting, very much so, but he also had a sense of fair play and would indicate, in measured tones, his approval. His disapproval was sharp, straightforward, and didn’t allow for any excuses".

"Gene and Betsy Kelly offered the warmth of a few dinners at home, Gene told you to help yourself at the bar, and you did a turn if you felt like performing. Saul Chaplin, our musical director, was at the piano, and everyone knew the words to the songs by Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Rodgers & Hart or Hammerstein, Irving Berlin. Betsy Blair sang enthusiastically but completely out of tune. It didn’t seem to disturb anyone. Gene did the Irish thing—drink whiskey and talk. Surprisingly enough, Stanley Donen slept soundly on the sofa, undisturbed".

"Judy [Garland] started to sing every song in her repertoire. She sang for several hours, her eyes locked to Vincent’s. No one could foresee that the marriage would soon break up. She sang “The Trolley Song” and “Over the Rainbow,” but I particularly remember her poignant interpretation of “Someone to Watch over Me.”Her voice came straight from the heart. There was in her a feverish intensity; she seemed to be living at a pace that burned her, with her brown eyes wide open, revealing her extreme vulnerability".

"Gene called me Lester the Pester. He loved me a lot. Gene was my guide" -Leslie Caron in "The Making of An American In Paris" DVD (2008)

"I can remember Gene forever yelling at me 'Keep your feet straight, bend your knees'. He was a sort of a father figure, a brother figure in my life". -Leslie Caron in "Biography of Gene Kelly, Biography Channel" (1996).

"We remained friends ever since. My bond of friendship tightened with the years. Very few girls had the luck to meet their Gene Kelly. Gene was invited to present me with an honor, during a charity gala (1995). Already very ill, he came nevertheless – to whisper a few words in a voice that had lost all its strength. I followed him backstage, where he said : “Only for you Lester.” I was never to see him again". -Leslie Caron in her Foreword to "Gene Kelly, A Celebration" by Sheridan Morley & Ruth Leon (1997)

"Gene guided me in front of the camera with patience and good humor. I spoke my first lines phonetically. He would say to me, “Lester, if you want your grandmother to see you in this scene, you had better turn toward the camera when you speak your line.” I wasn’t used to expressing myself with words and definitely not in English; inhibitions were seriously blocking me. I remember the following lines, spoken in the waterfront scene, to Gene, who was already running up the stairway, ten yards away from me: “Jerry! If it means anything to you, I love you!” I was of a deep red hue under my makeup and had broken into a sweat out of fear of being ridiculous".

"For a musical comedy, especially, it was imperative to have the Hays Office certificate of approval. In my introductory number, my solo with a chair was filmed twice because of “censorship difficulties.” A lady with a very plunging neck-line came from the Hays Office to watch rehearsals. She was particularly taken with Gene Kelly’s charm, while he did his wicked best to make her feel welcome. The physical pressure of filming began to tell on me".

"I came down with strange, insidious symptoms—low-grade fever, swollen glands throughout my body (mostly in the groin), unbelievable exhaustion, a feeling of insurmountable lethargy, incapacity to lift my legs, as if they were made of lead. A broken leg is visible, but you can’t see the exhaustion of glandular fever. The studio doctor, Dr. Blank, was called in. He diagnosed mononucleosis. My mother was not sympathetic. 'Vivien Leigh goes on filming with tuberculosis. You can carry on'."

"But Gene Kelly, my protector, arranged for a lighter filming schedule: one day on, one day off. I spent a lot of time in bed. Dr. Blank gave me three shots twice a week—vitamin C, the B vitamins, and iron. Slowly, slowly, the disease left me. The first preview of 'An American in Paris' was considered a disaster—there were sound problems, and work was undertaken immediately afterward to remedy this. The second preview, at the Bay Theatre in Pacific Palisades, was very successful. One hundred and five patrons rated the film “Outstanding!” “One of the best musicals ever,” and so forth. Arthur Freed, Vincente Minnelli, and Gene Kelly had won their bet".

Gene asked me how I was feeling. “Gene, I think I caught the flu.” He looked at me and laughed. “Honey, you don’t have the flu. You’ve just seen yourself on the screen for the first time!”

Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)

"Debbie Reynolds, had achieved a nice success with a song that the radio stations played in a loop, “Aba-Daba Honeymoon.” With the royalties Debbie ordered a swimming pool for the backyard of her family’s house in Burbank. Somehow Jack Larson and I were both invited to the poolwarming barbecue, and a long friendship ensued, still close to this day".

The Making of "An American in Paris" - "Thank Heaven: A Memoir" by Leslie Caron (2010)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Awkward On-Screen Sex Scenes - Talking Dirty

The Movie Geek's Guide to Talking Dirty from FilmDrunkDotCom on Vimeo.


“The Movie Geek’s Guide to Talking Dirty”: a pretty comprehensive cut of cinematic nasty sex talk and post-coitus whisperings (and by nasty I mean NSFW for language — and lots of humping, but no actual nudity). Movies, in many ways, are about fulfilling our wishes and seeing our fantasies lived out on screen. Sometimes, it's being a sports hero or brave soldier; others, it's creating fairytale romances. And then there's the dirty stuff.

Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando in "Last Tango in Paris" (1972) directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

While buckled down society frowns on certain words, turns of phrases and bursts of charged, breathy ecstasy, Hollywood embraces it. Very often, in a hilarious fashion, too (films such as "Last Tango In Paris," "Me, You and Everyone We Know," "Superbad," "Knocked Up"). Which is why the geniuses over at FilmDrunk surveyed their audience and put together this amazing clip of the greatest, raunchiest, most hilarious non-porn dirty talk and sex scenes in recent film memory. Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Celebs Talk About Their Awkward On-Screen Sex Scenes:

Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal in a torrid scene from "Love & other drugs" (2010) directed by Edward Zwick

"There is that revoltingly embarrassing moment when you have to take your clothes off in front of strangers," Hathaway told Entertainment Weekly. "I mean, I don't go to the beach in a bikini for a reason. Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gene Kelly ("Love is here to stay") video, Invitation to the dance


A clip from "Invitation to the Dance" (1956) directed by Gene Kelly - Street Dance with Tamara Toumanova (The Streetwalker)

Street Dance videoclip: Pierrot/The Marine (Gene Kelly) is hopelessly in love with Columbine/The Loved (Claire Sombert), but she’s happily involved with Scaramouche (Igor Youskevitch). Eventually Pierrot kills himself by walking halfway across a tightrope and falling off.

Gene Kelly embracing Diana Adams in "Invitation to the Dance" (1956)

A hat-check girl (Diana Adams) goes home to find her soldier boyfriend (Gene Kelly) unexpectedly returned; he finds out that she’s cheated on him, takes her bracelet, does a sexy dance with a hooker, and gives her the bracelet. Why she would cheat on Gene Kelly with a pseudo-Frank Sinatra (Irving Davies) is never explained.

When he was a young aspiring dancer in New York City, Gene Kelly used to sit up late with his then-girlfriend, a dark-eyed Jewess named Helene Marlowe, expounding his theories of the relationship between music and dance. He wanted to perform to the kind of music that made regular people get to their feet—music that made people want to dance and had a beat. At the time, he was talking about Porter and Gershwin and Kern. Kelly starts using that kind of music halfway through "Invitation to the Dance".


Gene Kelly video featuring stills with his co-stars, friends and family. Jazz soundtrack "Soukha" by Baptiste Trotignon

Jake Gyllenhaal in the Berlin Film Festival

Meryl Streep receives from Jake Gyllenhaal a Honorary Golden Bear in the Berlin Film Festival, on 14th February 2012


Jake Gyllenhaal attending the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival (Closing Ceremony) on 18th February , 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Losing a poker hand in "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Marlon Brando, in his second screen appearance and recreating his Broadway role, delivers an overpowering, memorable performance in "A Streetcar Named Desire". During a drunken, losing poker hand, Stanley becomes uncontrollably beserk and assaults his wife Stella, causing a fight to break out to control his "lunacy." His poker buddies hold him under a cold shower to sober him up.

John Garfield wardrobe test for “Nobody Lives Forever”, 1946

On Sunday, 18th May in 1952, John Garfield emerged from the Warwick Hotel. The final three days of his life would be a strange odyssey. People reported that they saw Garfield Sunday night wandering the streets of his old neighbourhood in the Bronx. Monday evening was spent playing poker with Howard Lindsay, Russell Crouse and Oscar Levant. Robert Whitehead would later tell reporters that he understood Garfield sat up late playing cards with friends in a hotel Monday and had attended to personal affairs on Tuesday, without getting much sleep.

"Every time I hit Las Vegas take a good look at it just to make sure it's still there" -"The Prowler" (1951) directed by Joseph Losey

Officer Webb Garwood (Van Heflin) returns to Susan Gilvray's (Evelyn Keyes) residence initiating a romantic relationship game. With no prowler in sight, a looming Californian hacienda in front of him and a beautiful woman alone inside, Garwood decides to take on the titular role without even changing out of his uniform.

He and Susan reunite and Webb pledges both innocence and love. The couple gets married. Webb quits the police department and fulfills his dream: buying a truck stop motel next to a busy freeway in Las Vegas, Nevada! Garwood believes that his ship has finally come in. A closer view reveals that Webb's ambition isn't a gold bargain.

Susan Sarandon received her first Oscar nomination for playing croupier Sally Matthews, in "Atlantic City" (1980) directed by Louis Malle, who handles poker chips with aspirations to become a blackjack dealer and move to Monte Carlo.

In "Casino Royale" (2006) there are thrilling adventures and romance amidst rounds of poker culminating in an engrossing high-stakes poker game in Montenegro. “Money Penny” Lynd (Eva Green) assists James bluffing her way through poker and later a love story.