27 July 2009

Now with 50 percent more needless pictures!

Louise Brooks: Pistol Packin' Mama

I learned two new words yesterday..."garrote" and "kabal." Also did some research on Erica Jong, who is a psycho, and Marge Piercy, who is not. Then I was reminded of Looking for Mr. Goodbar (for some reason, shady feminist writing almost always makes me think of Diane Keaton), thus spent some time researching that as well. All in all a productive day, as far as summer days go. I adore days like that...just reading about arbitrary topics and learning. I think William Desmond Taylor is my favorite go-to topic, but the gal who offed herself on TV --Christine something-- gets an honorable mention. Even when I was little I enjoyed researching...mainly conspiracy theories and Jim Jones and all that contentious jazz. Ah well, it passes one's time.

Esther Williams and her sisters. Or maybe not.

Speaking of attempts to pass the time, I've been trying to write another short story. But it's always difficult to start, because names are so terribly hard to invent. Either you're trying too hard or not hard enough. My names always sound put-on, almost too perfect...detectives names from the forties or something (think: Sam Spade).

I'm not sure either if it should be a girl or boy, man or woman, etc. If it's a female, people will automatically assume it's me. If it's a guy, they'll take it that I'm doing one of those gender swap deals...y'know, putting one's traits to the opposite sex. There's no winning...or perhaps I'm just paranoid. It's because of that quote, that anything in art is a narrative, whether we want it to be one or not. That really has influenced the way I write (or don't write, ha-ha). I was toying with the name Rue, but it's too unique. No one in life is named that, only people in stories. People in life are named Jessica or something. Ho hum.

Jean Harlow about to get whacked by Anita Loos.

I don't really know what'd make me happy now. I'm restless, but don't want to go anywhere, do anything. I want to be still...sit, write. Forget about whatever. But the thing is-- I've nothing to forget, not really. I'm not troubled or plagued by any malady, physical or otherwise. What's a normal girl to do?

Fred, Ginger, and Judy...judging by costumes, about 1948.

Oh! I know...I was thinking earlier (oh really?) and tried to make a list of things (actors and actresses, what have you) I've never really "gotten into," as they say. Funny thing is, I can totally see myself becoming interested with these names in say, a year or so. But I guess I shall have to wait and see.

First off: The Marx Brothers. Hear me out...I've been willing...wanting to see something of theirs, but every time I ask someone what would be best to start with, I get a different answer. I was thinking Duck Soup, but then some chump down the street told me A Night at the Opera was better. Then, another kid gave me the idea to start with a lousy one (well, not lousy, but you know) so all the others'd seem better by comparison. So I thought maybe The Big Store. It does have Virginia O'Brien after all. But that one doesn't seem to be available. So I ask you...which would be best?

Next is Ingrid Bergman. Sorry, I know she's "mahhvelous," I just never knew why. Then again, I've only seen the more famous stuff she's done plus The Bells of St. Mary's. I've never disliked her, just haven't gone wild over anything she's done either. And for that I blame Christopher Andersen, the guy who wrote An Affair to Remember (the book, not the movie) about Tracy and Hepburn. He said some things about Bergman that didn't rub me in quite the right way, so there you have it. As I said earlier, though, I'm sure my mind will soon as I watch the right movie. In fact, I can see the Ingrid thing turning into a full blown obsession.

Then there's Myrna Loy, though I can see now she won't be on this list very long. As soon as I thought of her, I YouTube'd (Is that a verb? I'm making it a verb.) her name...she seems likeable enough, but I have a feeling I'll have to view some of her earlier stuff before I make up my mind. I've always liked the Thin Man series, but more for William Powell than anything. We'll see, I suppose. :)

Marlene Dietrich finishes off the list...for now, at least. I've seen her in Judgment at Nuremberg, Witness for the Prosecution, and Destry Rides Again. 'Fraid I know who's influenced me in this case too-- Judy Garland. Judy made me like oh so many people....Jack Jones, Martha Raye, even Mickey. Fortunately, she's only made me dislike two. Unfortunately, however, one of those two is Marlene Dietrich. But like I said, I can be quite fickle about stuff like this, so maybe The Blue Angel will change my mind. Your guess is as good as mine. Close, anyway.

Took this little quiz and got 26 correct. And no, I didn't look 28 up, you silly online quiz-judge, you.


Matthew Coniam said...

Nobody else is going to give you this advice so ignore them and just listen to me. You start with Monkey Business. The Marx Brothers I mean. You start with Monkey Business and then any of the other Paramount ones, then all the other Paramount ones, then Night at the Opera. Then you become addicted to the greatest comedians in history and spend the rest of your life poring over the posts at and exclaiming "My God! That man's absolutely right again! Why, he must be the greatest writer in the history of Marx Brothers blogs!" I mean, I don't want to put words into your mouth or anything. But something like that.
Then watch the Dietrich films she made with Von Sternberg: Scarlet Empress, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus.
And here are some good names for your characters:
Female - Venetia Glass-Fawcett, Philomena Trott, Sybil X. Perineux.
Male - Tony Le Cocoanut, Bobby Lischk, J. Scott Fitzgerald.
Rue is a good name. How about Rue Morgue?
Now a question I would genuinely like to know the answer to. I've not yet seen the Beales film with Drew Barrymore. Is it any good?

Juliette. said...

Thanks for being so presumptuous-- it's always been one of my favorite qualities in a person, actually. Paramount means Duck Soup, right? 'Cause I think Night at the Opera was MGM, but I've really no I said, I'm a dope when it comes to anything Marx (with the exception of Karl, of course).
Sounds like pretty good advice, especially the bit about the Marx Council blog.

Oh good, I will...I've just ordered Blonde Venus, so I can get started straight away.

Haha, those names are swell...have kind of a Vonnegut quality to should use 'em, 'cause whith me they're not likely to get discovered, y'know?

Rue Morgue would be great...sounds familiar though. ;)

Yes, quite good, actually. Well...I liked it. Drew's no Edie, obviously, but it's a neat movie to watch if you're okay with that fact. Check it out, but don't hate me if it's not to your liking...please?

Matthew Coniam said...

Hello again.
Yep, MB and DS are Paramounters, but - and this too you won't get from anyone but me - DS is my least favourite of the P's. It's not really in their style; a bit too visual and silly. NATO is the first and best MGM, the only really good one, actually. Who knew until now that the initials of Night at the Opera spelled NATO? What were the chances?

I will take your advice on Grey Gardens. I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Truth is, I'm a bit of a Drewbie as well as an Edieomaniac (and a Love Hewittite).

Juliette. said...

Wow, that is surprising, really. I'd heard DS (ha, look at me-- so hip with my initialisms ;) was really chaotic, and was sort of turned off by what everyone told me they'd loved about I s'pose it's kind of a relief to hear one person say it's his least favorite.

Haha, I'm with ya kid. Except the J-Love thing...not that I dislike her. I used to be a gigantic fan of Drew' she's on the back burner as they say.

Meredith said...

myrna adele is one of my favorite actresses ever. that doesn't mean i think she's the best actress (though quite good) but i just love her screen persona and the person behind it. very arch, very witty, and in life very passionate about her ideals and her causes. watch any of the films with william powell you haven't seen as well as the best years of our lives for starters.

i can't decide about marlene either. i really liked her in witness for the prosecution, but i can't decide if that was just the great script or partly her doing.

Juliette. said...

Hahaha, thanks for the recommendations, but I was right about her ephemeral status on this list-- I love her already. Last night I re-watched a few of The Thin Man movies last night, and I've no idea what I was on the first time I saw it not to have liked her...she's terrific. Haven't seen The Best Years of Our Lives though, and I adore Frederic March, so I shall definitely have to check it out, thanks! :)

Ah, that's a good way of putting it, yeah. I like everything I've seen Marlene in, but I never knew if it was her or just the movie.

Christopher said...

Any one of the Paramount Marx Bros. would be good..My pick is Duck would be Horse Feathers..but Duck Soup sums up alot of things..don't bother with the MGMS(and please don't start with The Big Store!!).except for A Night at The fact Duck Soup and "Opera" would be great starters of differen't sorts, both just as hilarious..

Juliette. said...

Oooh, now I want to see you and Matthew battle it out over Duck Soup. Why so great to some and not so to others? ;)

Either way, I'll probably watch all of the ones I can get my hands on eventually. I'm like that with most things.

Hahaha, I won't start with The Big Store...promise. :)

Christopher said...

Monkey Business is great too..Since its not based on a broadway play like the first 2 before it,Cocoanuts and Animal dosen't have romantic leads and stagy song numbers bogging it down..just straight out Marx Madness..check out Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life tv series sometime..those are a ton of fun ..and a good slice of 50s and early 60s life and folks..

Juliette. said...

Interesting-- I'd no idea the other two were based on Broadway plays. So does Monkey Business have all four brothers?

Christopher said...

yes..Zeppo was there for all 5 of the Paramounts ...

Juliette. said...

Excellent, thanks for the info! :)

Lauren said...

Have you seen Gaslight? That was a movie I liked with Ingrid.

I love Myrna Loy. You've seen the Thin Man probably. Maybe you could try seeing some of her other movies with William Powell outside of that series?

I wanted to try some of Marlene's movies too! I am planning to start with Shanghai Express. I have no idea if that is a smart move, but I have the film, so...


Meredith said...

HUZZAH! welcome to the club :D

Juliette. said...

Lauren-- I've seen only the original "Gaslight," but two days ago ordered the one with Ingrid. Hopfully that'll do the trick.

Great you think "Libeled Lady" or "Manhattan Melodrama" would be a good idea?

I think Shanghai Express would be considered a smart move, from what I've heard. Lemme know what you think of it. :)

Meredith-- Haha, I thought I was the only one who "huzzah"ed :D

Anonymous said...

Just wandering around the web and ran into this blog now. Probably too late (?) to recommend Marx Bros pix, but anyway...

The single most important thing is to see them on the biggest screen you can. I saw them first in a triple feature of not very good pix and spent hours barely able to breathe they were so funny, (It helped I was only 14 then.) Watch even their best films on TV and almost never laugh.

Usually I recommend chronological order. Especially since you're a film buff with some knowledge about the context of their films. Even though they were mostly just bringing their vaudeville act to the screen, they were kinda revolutionary at the time.

Most women slowly have their hearts stolen by Harpo. It's a shame Harpo and Cary Grant never did some vaudeville style physical comedy together. They would have been great. Just in case you don't get a case of the Harpo from watching the films, remember he was also intelligent enough to be a wit in the Algonquin Round Table crowd.

There's a weird thing about the Brothers. Everybody's list of the greatest 100 films has a slot for the Brothers but they can't name one film that deserves it, just their whole body of work. And the lists never let anybody else get named that way. All the others have to have one single film that's great.

A good thing to find out from a guy on a first date is how he compares the Marx Bros, The Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin. If he hasn't really seen enough to talk about them, that's okay. He can be educated, and that can be delicious fun.

Remember: the key to the Marx Bros is a big screen. (Size matters!)

Anonymous said...

Hi, me still. Merry Xmas, by the way.

Welcome to our party, we've been hoping you'd join us. Everyone in this party loves Myrna. The actress and the person. To think the studios took many years to get it, with her right under their noses.

The Best Years of Their Lives is a very special movie. And so many incredible performances on top of the great writing and directing. Capra had been gone to war making combat documentaries and this was his first one when he got back home. He wasn't doing USO stuff entertaining the troops, he was going places he could easily have been killed. That movie didn't win enough Oscars, if you ask me. If I get reincarnated I want to come back as either Dorothy Parker or Myrna Loy, although they both had seriously unhappy aspects (Myrna's many divorces, Dorothy's being so single so much of the time even though most of her male friends were at least half in love with her. And her drinking.)

I love Ingrid Bergman, but really as a person not an actress as much. Wonder if you'll feel the same?

Marlene Dietrich was really great for me but then it wore off really fast. If anyone can explain why, please do.

Your other blog post about the quiz had the question about favorite American silent movie and that got me thinking. Sunrise, of course, unless you want to claim it was really a German movie. And the other answer doesn't really qualify, but... I watched My Fair Lady all the way through with the sound off once (it's a long story why). Try it and see if you think Audrey Hepburn was one of the greatest film comediennes of all time!? And Rex Harrison was so blah. It wasn't that she carried him through the film, it was that she was sooo good that he or anyone else could just go along for the ride.

Not long ago Craig Ferguson was joking around in that way he does during the monologue and for no reason did his Italian accent and it was instantly recognizable as Chico Marx. You could even pin it down to which specific movie. I think it was Day At the Races, but my memory is weird and unreliable. You could tell he noticed it too, and that he had surprised himself. He made a comment about it. He's been doing his "Italian" accent the same way several other times, too.

Sorry I didn't create an account. I promise to make one if it turns out I'm going to babble some more.

It really is weird about the size of the screen making a huge difference. My theory is you need to perceive the subtleties of their facial expressions the whole time, and the smaller screen makes their expressions too obscure. Your explanation will probably be better, though.

Anonymous said...

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Matthew Coniam said...

I copied this for my college assignment and got a D. Mind you, the assignment was on the Italian Renaissance and its influence on the electric toothbrush industry.
Still, good brief.

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