Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hit the Deck and the Always Adorable Jane Powell

Starting a new blog can be difficult. I feel like I have to post fairly often, at least at first, so I can have plenty of content so I'm more likely to gain readers. But I don't have any readers yet, so I don't have very much motivation to post things. I'll try to keep it up, though.

I just finished watching the MGM musical Hit the Deck (1955), which was a pretty cute movie but nothing spectacular, but it did star three beautiful and talented ladies: Jane Powell, Ann Miller, and Debbie Reynolds. I really loved their costumes in this movie too, which were designed by Helen Rose. Here is a still of all three of them singing "Why Oh Why" while wearing amazing dresses:

Ann Miller, Debbie Reynolds, and Jane Powell in Hit the Deck (1955).
And here is a video of the "Why Oh Why" number that I just found on YouTube:

I really like that song, so I wish it were a bit longer.

Now let's take a moment to appreciate how adorable Jane Powell is.

 Here she is being adorable in a 1951 MGM publicity portrait.

And here's Jane holding a Siamese cat. The cat appears to be grumpy because he's been out-cuted.
Bonus adorable points for those shoes!

Pulling off an adorable AND glamorous look!

Jane turned 84 this year and is still adorable, by the way.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy 105th, Carole Lombard!

Carole Lombard, born Jane Alice Peters on October 6, 1908, was one the biggest stars of the 1930s, famous for her roles in screwball comedies. She was married to William Powell and then later to Clark Gable. In 1942, she died at the age of 33 in a plane crash while returning home from a World War II bonds tour.

It's difficult for me to put into words just how much I love Carole Lombard. She was so beautiful and elegant, an amazing actress, yet also down-to-earth and wacky. While her films weren't my introduction to screwball comedy, once I saw hers I began to truly love screwballs.

Carole Lombard in Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)
If you've never seen a Carole Lombard film, or if you've only seen one or two, I recommend the following:

-Twentieth Century (1934)
-My Man Godfrey (1936)
-Nothing Sacred (1937) (her only color film)
-Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)
-To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Sadly I haven't yet seen all of her available films but of the ones I have seen, these are my favorites.

If you have a Netflix account, Nothing Sacred is currently available to stream.

The following are available to stream for free (with ads) on Hulu:
Nothing Sacred
My Man Godfrey
To Be or Not to Be

Carole Lombard in color, circa 1940.
"She was so alive, modern, frank, and natural that she stands out like a beacon on a lightship in this odd place called Hollywood." -- Barbara Stanwyck

"We called her The Profane Angel because she looked like an angel but she swore like a sailor. She was the only woman I ever knew who could tell a dirty story without losing her femininity." -- Director Mitchel Leisen

"Carole, while doing the antics of a clown, disheveled, rain-soaked, disregarding how she looked even with mud all over her, could make you laugh, and yet at the same time, make you want to go to bed with her." -- Desi Arnaz

Happy birthday, Carole.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Vintage Scans: Elizabeth Taylor

Here's a lovely color photograph of Elizabeth Taylor from the June 1955 issue of Modern Screen magazine.

No photographer credit was given.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Happy 118th, Buster Keaton!

Born October 4, 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton is considered one of the greatest comic actors of all time, and many of today's stars still cite him as an influence.

Buster's parents were vaudeville performers, and he joined their act at the age of three and continued to perform with them for nearly 20 years as The Three Keatons.

In 1917, he befriended Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and he was featured in over a dozen of Fatty's films over the next few years.
Buster Keaton with Fatty Arbuckle and Alice Lake in the 1917 short film Coney Island.
In 1920, Buster began appearing on his own in shorts and feature-length films, which turned him into a star. Just a year later he started his own production company and was writing, directing, and starring in his own films.

In 1926, Buster made The General, which today is considered one of the greatest films ever made, but at the time it was a huge box office failure.

Buster Keaton in The General (1926).

He was then persuaded to sign with MGM, a decision he later deeply regretted as he found the studio system severely limited his creative input. Buster started to drink excessively, and by 1933 he found himself fired from MGM and divorced from his first wife, Natalie Talmadge.

He continued to make short films for Educational Films and Columbia Films throughout the 1930s, and in 1940 married dancer Eleanor Norris, a marriage that lasted until his death.

Buster had smaller roles and cameo appearances in a number of films throughout the 1940s and 1950s, notably In the Good Old Summertime (1949), Sunset Boulevard (1950), and Charlie Chaplin's Limelight (1952).

In 1959, Buster received an honorary Academy Award for his contributions to film.

He continued to work throughout the 1960s, mostly in television, until his death from lung cancer on February 1, 1966, at the age of 70.

Happy birthday, Buster.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Conversing in Secret with Ava Gardner

I recently read the book "Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations" by Peter Evans, published in July of this year. It's a fascinating look at what Ava was really like as a person (or at least what she was like in the late '80s). If you've heard of the book before then you probably have already heard the story behind it: Ava Gardner wanted Peter Evans to ghostwrite her autobiography, then after only part of it was written she backed out of the project, probably due to the fact that she realized she was being too open and honest with Evans, and possibly also because Frank Sinatra may have asked her not to go ahead with it. Twenty years after her death, Peter Evans got permission to publish what material he did have.

I'm not going to review the book, but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed it very much, but if you want a true biography then I suggest reading "Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing" by Lee Server (I have yet to read this book but I've heard it's the best, and uses real sources).

A good portion of The Secret Conversations focuses on Ava's relationship with her first husband, Mickey Rooney, whom she married not long after arriving in Hollywood, which inspired me to scan and share this photo:

Ava and Mickey at a party in Hollywood with Mickey's frequent Andy Hardy co-star, Ann Rutherford, in November of 1941. I scanned this photo from the February 1942 issue of Modern Screen magazine. Ava was so unknown at the time that Modern Screen thought her name was "Ava Gardiner" (a spelling that was used both in the caption for this picture and in a separate article about Mickey Rooney).

I'm not quite sure why Ava and Ann are wearing costumes and Mickey doesn't appear to be.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Hello! My name is Rachel, and I'm obsessed with Old Hollywood. I'm 30 years old and I've loved old movies since I was a little girl. In more recent years I've become more focused on the stars of these movies. I started collecting vintage fan magazines and reading biographies. And now I figured it was time to start blogging about my love for Old Hollywood and its many stars.

I've been running a Tumblr blog focused on Old Hollywood since Spring 2012, but Tumblr is too popularity-based, text posts are often overlooked, and it's easy for your posts to gain thousands of notes without anyone bothering to actually look at your blog. I needed a place where I could have more freedom to make the kind of posts I want to make. I'll continue to post the occasional movie star photo on Tumblr, but I'm putting my heart into this Blogspot blog now.

This isn't a film review blog; it's an anything and everything related to old movies blog. I'll mostly be focusing on the 1920s through the 1950s, but films and stars from the 1910s and 1960s will occasionally get some attention.

I am most definitely not an expert on Old Hollywood; I'm just a huge fan.

Thanks for reading,