Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

1930s discoveries

When I was younger the female '30s stars we were all into were the usual suspects: Garbo and Dietrich, West and Lombard, the young Davis and Hepburn, Stanwyck and Crawford, Jean Arthur.

Its really only now I have discovered how wonderful (and prolific - 9 films in 1933 alone) Loretta Young was, and also Irene Dunne, Margaret Sullavan and Constance Bennett.

Loretta's career was really over by the time I began cinema-going in the mid-50s and I never saw her tv shows so only knew her as her later roles in films like THE BISHOP'S WIFE. Back in the early 30s she was radiantly beautiful and attractive in films like William Wellman's snappy thriller MIDNIGHT MARY, risque for its Pre-Code era, and as the Depression waif of MAN'S CASTLE with Tracy for Frank Borzage (it was being on the rebound from an affair with Tracy which caused her romance with Clark Gable and the child that resulted, which she adopted). She is so modern and attractive in the 1936 three-girls-sharing-an-apartment movie LADIES IN LOVE (opposite young Tyrone Power, with whom she co-starred several more times) looking much more modern than co-stars Janet Gaynor or Constance Bennett. I also like her in ZOO IN BUDAPEST, De Mille's THE CRUSADERS and she plays Chinese (with Edward G Robinson, also Chinese!) in THE HATCHET MAN. I shall now be looking out for more of her '30s roles.

I only knew Margaret Sullavan from a tv screening of THE MORTAL STORM, one of those movies that one never forgets, so it was great catching up with her in other Borzage films like THREE COMRADES or Lubitch's THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. I also like her final film in 1950 NO SAD SONGS FOR ME, with young Natalie Wood at her daughter.

Irene Dunne is of course wonderful in THE AWFUL TRUTH which I unaccountably had not seen until recently, and MY FAVOURITE WIFE and I now like her in THEODORA DOES WILD from 1936, plus SHOWBOAT, ROBERTA and others, and I still have her last role in I REMEMBER MAMA to watch!

Constance Bennett is wonderful too in NO BED OF ROSES, a saucy Pre-Code, from 1933, with Joel McCrea, and she also shines in LADIES IN LOVE.

Next: my 1940s discovery: Linda Darnell.

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