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.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Summer re-views: 1930s: Garbo, Marlene, Loretta

Another look at Garbo as MATA HARI (we love Greta as Mata, one of her lesser known roles), Marlene on that SHANGHAI EXPRESS (it was either that or BLONDE VENUS or THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN), and Loretta as one of those LADIES IN LOVE .....
The glamour of the 1930s for me means those two exotic European imports to Hollywood, as the talkies got underway - Garbo and Dietrich. A large part of their mystique of course is not just their looks but those fascinating voices.. Our Sky Arts channel repeated a Garbo programme, so one had to watch again - a whole hour of Garbo clips, they focus though on those best known ones: CAMILLEQUEEN CHRISTINAANNA KARENINANINOTCHKA - I love them too, particularly CHRISTINA and NINOTCHKA, but they ignored THE PAINTED VEIL, from 1934, 
which I loved a year ago, as per my post here, see Garbo label, and I now think everything about MATA HARI in 1931 is utterly fantastic: the art design, her odd but mesmerising dance with the giant statue, Ramon Novarro, her stunning outfits, and that ending as she faces the execution squad ..... its amazing the number of different posters in various colours that are still around.  Jeanne Moreau's MATA HARI AGENT H21 in 1964 though very different is rather dull by comparison! 

I love that dialogue exchange between Lili and her stuffy officer ex--lover Clive Brook, when they meet again on the SHANGHAI EXPRESS in 1932 amid Von Sternberg's moody interiors, talk about light and shade! This is the one where Marlene delivers one of her most famous lines: "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lili". She is now the "notorious white flower of China", a "coaster" plying her trade on the rail line, along with fellow prostitute, the very slinky Anna May Wong.
"I wish you could tell me there'd been no other men" says Clive reproachfully .. "I wish I could, Doc" replies Marlene, "but five years in China is a long time". She is wearing his hat by this stage as he asks her if she has any regrets, to which she laconically replies "I wish I hadn't bobbed my hair".
The delirium increases as Wong uses a knife to dispose of the bandit chieftain who is holding up the Shanghai Express. Clive proves to be unworthy of Shanghai Lili who is prepared to sacrifice herself ... but you can guess the outcome. Its one of my favourite Von Sternbergs, almost as good as THE SCARLET EMPRESS or BLOND VENUS, or THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN. Marlene is again dressed by Travis Banton in furs and feathers and veils and shot in shadows praying ...
See Dietrich/Theatre labels for when I saw her in her 1973 concert tour in London ... 

Three working girls in Budapest pool their resources to get a better apartment and impress their dates (how  very HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE).
LADIES IN LOVE may not be Pre-Code as such, being 1936, but its one I like a lot now and is a great re-view now Probably the first of the Fox '3- girls-sharing-an-apartment-and-looking-for-love' movies it is set in Budapest and teams up Loretta Young, Constance Bennett and Janet Gaynor, with a young Tyrone Power and Paul Lukas in support, as well as Simone Simon. The others may look dated now, but Loretta is lovely and quite modern here, nicely dressed in black and white outfits, with interesting line readings and just being very appealing. [This was just after Loretta's CALL OF THE WILD with Clark Gable which resulted in her having his baby (on the rebound from her romance with Tracy) which she later adopted; Loretta was later one of Hollywood's most prominent Roman Catholics]. She and Tyrone look perfect here, they did several others together too then. I must dig out that Tyrone boxset ....
We must return to the 1930s for more of Katharine Hepburn, Crawford, Stanwyck, Margaret Sullavan, Irene Dunne, Norma Shearer ...

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