WEIRDLAND

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Dana Andrews: Hollywood Enigma, Dick Powell: Marlowe's tough exterior

“A doll in Washington Heights once got a fox fur outta me.” -Dana Andrews as tough detective Mark MacPherson in the classic film noir "Laura" (1944) directed by Otto Preminger.

Dana Andrews (1909-1992) worked with distinguished directors such as John Ford, Lewis Milestone, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, William Wyler, William A. Wellman, Mervyn Le Roy, Jean Renoir, and Elia Kazan. He played romantic leads alongside the great beauties of the modern screen, including Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Greer Garson, Merle Oberon, Linda Darnell, Susan Hayward, Maureen O'Hara, and most important of all, Gene Tierney, with whom he did five films.

Retrospectives of his work often elicit high praise for an underrated actor, a master of the minimalist style. His image personified the "male mask" of the 1940s in classic films such as Laura, Fallen Angel, and Where the Sidewalk Ends, in which he played the "masculine ideal of steely impassivity." No comprehensive discussion of film noir can neglect his performances. He was an "actor's actor."

Here at last is the complete story of a great actor, his difficult struggle to overcome alcoholism while enjoying the accolades of his contemporaries, a successful term as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and the love of family and friends that never deserted him. Based on diaries, letters, home movies, and other documents, this biography explores the mystery of a poor boy from Texas who made his Hollywood dream come true even as he sought a life apart from the limelight and the backbiting of contemporaries jockeying for prizes and prestige.

Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews in "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) directed by William Wyler

When you watch Dana Andrews in his best, most complex performances, you wonder what he is thinking. The cerebral quality of his greatest work is striking. He is holding back something, and that quality is the enigma. Some part of him --at least in some performances-- seems not to want to emote. He became a star after Laura, but he never became quite the star that Bogart or Cooper or Gable were. They were Hollywood. Dana Andrews was only in Hollywood.

Discovered in 1938 by one of Sam Goldwyn's scouts, Dana slowly made his way up the ranks of supporting roles to stardom with Laura in 1944. The decade of his greatness, with roles in The Ox-bow Incident (1943) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), still did not making acting entirely suitable to his temperament. He studiously avoided affairs with leading ladies--most notably Joan Crawford--and cultivated a homebody image. Devoted to his wife and four children, he went to Hollywood parties only when "the job" seemed to call for it. His closest friends tended to be character actors and directors.

Dana Andrews wanted to be a great actor, and to get the best roles he also needed to be a star. Sure, he enjoyed the limelight, but he did not grouse when the plum roles began to elude him in the early 1950s, and he had to settle for lesser parts. That Hollywood--for all it gave him--was not his final aim became clear when he quit drinking for good in 1970 and returned to the stage in dinner theater. He often co-starred with his wife, Mary Todd, a consummate comedienne who decided marriage to Dana Andrews and a family were more important than her career. Unlike a lot of husbands in his business, though, Dana never forgot what his wife sacrificed for him, and it gave him profound pleasure to reunite with her on the stage, where he first met her in a production at the Pasadena Playhouse.

How this wonderful human being made his way through the phoniness and glitz of Hollywood is quite a story. He was hard to grasp. Few of his fellow professionals ever got to know him. Read Gene Tierney's autobiography, and you will see what I mean. She starred with Dana in five pictures, and yet she has very little to say about the man who always showed up for work on time, always knew his lines, and was never less than a gentleman. To Sam Goldwyn, Darryl Zanuck, and other producers Dana was an enigma. To many of his fellow actors, he was a hero. In the end, though, I thought my reader's title better than my own. He suggested: "Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews".

Called "one of nature's noblemen" by his fellow actor Norman Lloyd, Dana Andrews emerges from Hollywood Enigma as an admirable American success story, fighting his inner demons and ultimately winning. In his small boat named "Katherine", Dana Andrews raced Bogart's boat "Santana" [a fifty-five-foot sailing yacht, which Bogie had bought from Dick Powell and June Allyson] near Catalina, the only place [where] Dana really fraternized with stars like John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, and Dick Powell. -"Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews" by Carl Rollyson (which will be released on September 1, 2012)

Peggy Cummins and Dana Andrews in "Night Of The Demon" (1957) directed by Jacques Tourneur

"Night Of The Demon" was adapted from M.R. James's supernatural story "Casting the Runes" (1911). One of Hitchcock's screenwriters Charles Bennett owned the rights to "Casting the Runes" and adapted it into a script entitled "The Haunted", which initially sparked some interest with the likes of Robert Taylor and Dick Powell before independent producer Hal E. Chester sealed the deal for the film rights. -"Dana Andrews: The Face of Noir" by James McKay (2010)

Linda Darnell and Dana Andrews in a promotional still of "Fallen Angel" (1945) directed by Otto Preminger

Dick Powell and Linda Darnell in "It Happened Tomorrow" (1944) directed by René Clair

STUDIO EXPRESSIONISM (1944-1947):

The early developments of film noir paved the way of the trio of films released in 1944: "Double Indemnity", "Laura" and "Murder, My Sweet" whose success was crucial to the establishment of the cycle.

Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe in "Murder, My Sweet" (1944) directed by Edward Dmytryk

"Beneath Marlowe's tough exterior, [Dick] Powell neatly implies in his superbly underplayed performance, [there] is a humanity that can be reached."

"Claire Trevor, as the bewitching platinum blonde temptress who is deadlier than any male, played the dangerous noir siren Helen Grayle to perfection." -Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir" (2000) by Gene D. Phillips

Dick Powell and Evelyn Keyes in "Johnny O'Clock" (1947) directed by Robert Rossen

"This is a smart whodunit, with attention to scripting, casting and camerawork lifting it above the average. Pic has action and suspense, and certain quick touches of humor to add flavor. Ace performances by Dick Powell, as a gambling house overseer, and Lee J. Cobb, as a police inspector, also up the rating.

Plot concerns Powell's operation as a junior partner in Thomas Gomez's gambling joint, and his allure for the ladies, especially Ellen Drew, the boss's wife. A cop tries to cut into the gambling racket and is murdered. The hatcheck girl, sweet on the cop, is also killed. When the checker's dancer sister (Evelyn Keyes) comes to find out what happened to the girl, she steps into a round of mystery centering about Powell.

Although the plot follows a familiar pattern, the characterizations are fresh and the performances good enough to overbalance. Dialog is terse and topical, avoiding the sentimental, phoney touch. Unusual camera angles come along now and then to heighten interest and momentarily arrest the eye. Strong teamplay by Robert Rossen, doubling as director-scripter, and Milton Holmes, original writer and associate producer, also aids in making this a smooth production." Source: www.variety.com

"Rossen deftly handles the complex plot of Johnny O'Clock, from a story by Milton Holmes. Pete Marchettis (Thomas Gomez) is the senior partner and owner of a New York gambling house. The junior partner and overseer of the casino is the self-assured Johnny O'Clock (Dick Powell). A local cop on the take, Chuck Blayden (Jim Bannon), cozies up to Pete and tries to convince him that he would be better at Johnny's job.

Chuck's girlfriend Harriet (Nina Foch) is found dead in her gas-filled apartment and Police Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb) investigates. Harriet was murdered, and Koch and Harriet's sister Nancy (Evelyn Keyes) know it. Johnny O'Clock agrees to help Nancy prove that Harriet was murdered, but he must be careful to conceal his past relationship with Pete's wife Nellie (Ellen Drew). Inspector Koch suspects that Johnny and Pete are involved in the murder, and proceeds to make life difficult for both of them, especially after Chuck is found dead in the river.

Johnny O'Clock features many strong elements of Film Noir, such as the brooding black-and-white photography by Burnett Guffey. (Guffey went on to photograph Rossen's All the King's Men [1949], as well as such important 1950s Noir dramas as Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place [1950], Dmytryk's The Sniper [1952], and Fritz Lang's Human Desire [1954]).

Certainly Johnny O'Clock also features the sort of seedy urban settings and labyrinthine plotting that Post-War Noir favored, but critic Carl Macek argues (in Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style) that the movie does not quite qualify for the term: "...the film is emotionally detached and the character portrayed by Powell was not obviously vulnerable. It is through a sense of the protagonist's weaknesses that most films of this nature approach the noir classification. But Johnny O'Clock is not privy to this important attitude, although the motivations are correct and the settings are particularly corrupt and ambiguous. The elements lacking are a sense of fear and powerlessness." Source: www.tcm.com

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th July!!

Jane Greer saluting the American flag and eagle.

Joan Blondell and the statue of Liberty

Piper Laurie and her fireworks

Ava Gardner

Ann Miller

Jinx Falkenburg

Virginia Dale

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Dick Powell scenes video

Dick Powell and Evelyn Keyes in "Johnny O'Clock" (1947) directed by Robert Rossen

Rhonda Fleming and Dick Powell in "Cry Danger" (1951) directed by Robert Parrish


A video featuring some scenes starring Dick Powell in the films "Murder, My Sweet" (with Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley), "Cornered" (with Micheline Cheirel), "Johnny O'Clock" (with Evelyn Keyes), "Cry Danger" (with Rhonda Fleming), and "The Bad & The Beautiful" (with Gloria Grahame).

"Farewell, My Lovely": metaphors and allusions in a literary hard-boiled novel

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart and Peggy Knudsen in "The Big Sleep" (1946) directed by Howard Hawks

Philip Marlowe, a private detective, is hired by Mr. Sternwood, an old man who is looking for Rusty Reagan, a friend of his daughter Vivian. Mr. Sternwood has two daughters. Their names are Vivian and Carmen. Marlowe gets some information about Rusty and begins to look for him. He starts his search at Geiger’s bookstore. He notices that there is something wrong about the bookstore. People go into a secret room and after about half an hour they come back. Marlowe follows one man and he gets hold of the suitcase he has got at the bookstore. In it there are a lot of dirty pornographic pictures.

Martha Vickers as Carmen Sternwood in "The Big Sleep" (1946) directed by Howard Hawks

Next he sees somebody kill Geiger in his apartment. Carmen Sternwood is in the same room, without clothes. The next day a man calls Marlowe and says that Owen Tayler is dead. Owen Tayler was Sternwood’s chauffeur. Later Marlowe is held prisoner by Eddie Mars. Eddie Mars is a crook who has killed some people. Finally Marlowe finds out that Geiger was using Carmen to blackmail her father, but also that Eddie Mars was behind Geiger.

Claire Trevor plays the femme fatale in "Murder, My Sweet" (1944) directed by Edward Dmytryk, based on Raymond Chandler's novel "Farewell, My Lovely".

Philip Marlowe tells Police Lieutenant Randall in his novel "Farewell, My Lovely" (1940): "I like smooth shiny girls, hard-boiled and loaded with sin."

Dick Powell plays the detective Philip Marlowe in "Murder, My Sweet" (1944)

"Farewell, My Lovely" is famous for its metaphors. Chandler's second novel also features one of the richest troves of grotesque characters in American literature. This was Chandler's favorite novel, and many critics think it his best. There are three previous short stories whose parts or motifs are contained in "Farewell, My Lovely": “The Man Who Liked Dogs” (1936), “Try the Girl” (1936) and “Mandarin’s Jade” (1937). “The Man Who Liked Dogs” and “´Try the Girl” were originally published in Black Mask magazine. Chandler later changed publisher and “Mandarin’s Jade” (1937) was published in Dime Detective, which was contemporary alternative medium for pulp crime fiction.

Lindsay Marriott calls with a job: Marlowe iss to pay an $8,000 ransom for a jade necklace. The two drive to the rendezvous, but no one appears; when Marlowe investigates, he is sapped. Anne Riordan is waiting the next day in Marlowe's office, with the news that Mrs. Lewin Lockridge Grayle owned the jade necklace. Anne has persuaded her to hire Marlowe. The plots of the two stories begin to merge when it is revealed that Mr. Grayle owns KFDK radio, for Malloy's girl Velma was a singer. Anne then introduces Marlowe to the Grayles. After she and Mr. Grayle leave, Marlowe and Mrs. Grayle talk, drink and share a brief kiss.

"The house itself was not so much. It was smaller than Buckingham Palace, rather gray for California, and probably had fewer windows than the Chrysler Building. The floor was covered with Oriental rugs and there were paintings along the walls. We turned a corner and there was more hall. A French window showed a gleam of blue water far off and I remembered almost with a shock that we were near the Pacific Ocean and that this house was on the edge of one of the canyons."

"She reached for my glass and her fingers touched mine a little, and were soft to the touch. "George gets Thursday evening off. That's the usual day, you know." She poured a fat slug of mellow-looking Scotch into my glass and squirted in some fizz-water. It was the kind of liquor you think you can drink forever, and all you do is get reckless. She gave herself the same treatment."

-"I was wearing a white fox evening wrap"
-"I bet you looked like a dream," I said.
-"You're not getting a little tight, are you?"
-"I've been known to be soberer."

She put her head back and went off into a peal of laughter. I have only known four women in my life who could do that and still look beautiful. She was one of them.

-"You'd better sit over here beside me."
-"I've been thinking that a long time," I said. "Ever since you crossed your legs, to be exact." She pulled her dress down.

-"These damn things are always up around your neck."

-"I have to work in my own way." I took a long drink and it nearly stood me on my head. I swallowed a little air. "And investigate a murder," I said.

-"That has nothing to do with it. I mean that's a police affair, isn't it?"

-"Yeah -only the poor guy paid me a hundred bucks to take care of him- and I didn't. Makes me feel guilty. Makes we want to cry. Shall I cry?"

-"Have a drink." She poured us some more Scotch. It didn't seem to affect her any more than water affects Boulder Dam.

I took the refilled glass out of her hand and transferred it to my left and took hold of her left hand with my right. It felt smooth and soft and warm and comforting.

-"You're a little old-fashioned, aren't you?" She looked down at the hand I was holding.

-"I'm still working. And your Scotch is so good it keeps me half-sober. Not that I'd have to be drunk-" She slapped my wrist. She said softly:

-"What's your name?"
-"Phil. What's yours?"
-"Helen. Kiss me."

"She fell softly across my lap and I bent down over her face and began to browse on it. She worked her eyelashes and made butterfly kisses on my cheeks. When I got to her mouth it was half open and burning and her tongue was a darting snake between her teeth. The door opened and Mr. Grayle stepped quietly into the room. I was holding her and didn't have a chance to let go. I lifted my face and looked at him. I felt as cold as Finnegan's feet, the day they buried him."

"The blonde in my arms didn't move, didn't even close her lips. She had a half-dreamy, half-sarcastic expression on her face. Mr. Grayle cleared his throat slightly and said: "I beg your pardon," and went quietly out of the room. There was an infinite sadness in his eyes. I pushed her away and stood up and got my handkerchief out and mopped my face".


Marlowe wakes in a private sanatorium in "Bay City," modeled on Santa Monica, suffering withdrawal from an unknown drug. He overpowers an attendant and escapes, glimpsing Malloy on the way out. Anne Riordan's house is nearby; she feeds and repairs him and asks him to spend the night, but he returns to his apartment.

Marlowe and Riordan clear up loose ends over drinks. Mrs. Grayle killed Marriott, because he knew she was Velma and was blackmailing her. She used him to keep Jesse Florian quiet. Jesse gave Marlowe's card to Marriott and was accidentally killed by Moose. But the case does not conclude neatly. Mr. Grayle still loves Velma, who he elevated from vaudeville. He won't cooperate with police.

To spare him, Velma flees East and sings in nightclubs until a Baltimore policeman recognizes her, then she commits suicide. Like Othello, to whom Marlowe alludes in the novel's last lines, Malloy and Mr. Grayle both "loved not wisely, but too well." Spying on Malloy and necking with Velma, bringing him to face her infidelity, Marlowe could function as Iago. But Chandler avoids that implication by his final burst of empathy for Velma.

Perhaps the most literate hard-boiled novel ever written, Farewell explodes with metaphors and allusions. Their density is manifest on the first page: Moose Malloy "looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food" is not only a stunning contrast of black and white, the edible and the poisonous, but an allusion to Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, in which a spider emerges from Miss Havesham's wedding cake. When he and Marriott drive to the rendezvous, he remarks that "this car sticks out like spats at an Iowa picnic": This refers to the well-dressed politicians who courted the votes of immigrant Iowans at the Iowa Society picnic every January 18 in Long Beach.

Beneath the novel's frantic action, the theme is tightly knit. In the astonishing revealed plot, all the crime results from Velma's rise to become Mrs. Grayle. She believes in the great American economic myth, but must give up her profession, her name, and her boyfriend to succeed – and then lives in constant fear of discovery. Chandler, as an immigrant living in the foremost city of migration, shows not only the cost of success, but that it is antithetical to that sentiment called love, represented in Malloy.

Some of Marlowe's wisecracks in "Farewell, My Lovely":

"We sneered at each other across the desk for a moment. He sneered better than I did."

"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room."

"The wet air was as cold as the ashes of love."

"His dinner clothes were midnight blue, I judged, because they looked so black. I thought his pearl was a little too large, but that might have been jealousy."

Marlowe alludes to soured romance and love interests that could only come through personal experience:

"All men are the same. So are all women — after the first nine."

"Dead men are heavier than broken hearts."

Marlowe is, described by Chandler: "a complete man and a common man and an unusual man… I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things."

"Therefore, while the reader may be concerned with the intimate details of Marlowe’s private life, wondering about his past romances and relationships, Chandler is telling us simply to take Marlowe for what he is —a man of honor. What is inside his heart does not matter. If he is honorable, we just know that it is there. Instead, Chandler has to focus on making Marlowe into the ideal man. This gives Marlowe a tempered, unemotional machismo that shields us from seeing what is inside him. Therefore, masculinity can be seen as a driving force behind Chandler’s novels. They are works into which men can escape and be the hardboiled tough-guys they only dream about, and that give women an icy yet attractive man they want to get to know better." Source: home.comcast.net

In "The Little Sister", Marlowe describes the Los Angeles that used to be: “There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard. Beverly Hills was a country town. Westwood was bare hills and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars and no takers. Hollywood was a bunch of frame houses on the interurban line. Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful. It had the climate they just yap about now. People used to sleep out on porches.” He admits that he “used to like this town… a long time ago” and laments its transformation from the so-called “Athens of America” to “a neon-lighted slum.” The transformation of the city and the feelings it engenders in Marlowe are made clear when he spies a club with a packed terrace and parking lot. It is so overcrowded, that the people are “like ants on a piece of overripe fruit.” The image immediately tells the reader what has changed Los Angeles: the population boom of the early twentieth century. Marlowe, too, is reminded of what Los Angeles has become, and begins to name its faults. Source: ue.ucdavis.edu

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Jake Gyllenhaal having lunch date with a mysterious brunette

Jake Gyllenhaal out & about with a lady friend in NYC, on 30th June 2012

Jake Gyllenhaal shows he has moved on from Minka Kelly fling as he enjoys New York lunch date with mystery woman

He was recently linked to Minka Kelly but if these pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal are anything to go by, it didn’t take him long to move on.

The hunky actor was spotted going to have lunch with a mystery lady in the Soho section of New York City on Saturday and only had eyes for his companion. The pair enjoyed a joke as they strolled along in the sunshine and Jake appeared to have put Minka completely out of his head.

Eyes only for each other: Jake Gyllenhaal was spotted in New York with a mystery lady and the pair were oblivious to everyone except each other. The dressed down star is still sporting a bushy beard and went incognito in a baseball cap and sunglasses.

He also wore camouflage shorts and a white T-shirt. Jake’s pretty companion was equally casual in jeans and a long sleeved white top with her long, curly hair left loose.It is unclear if the mystery lady is a love interest or simply a friend but Jake is available again after his previous romance fizzled out.

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk