Category Archives: TCM Classics Corner w/Nicole
Bette Davis (1908 – 1989)
We celebrate TCM‘s showing of DARK VICTORY with a quick & sassy tribute to Bette Davis…Empress of the Silver Screen. Betty considered her role in DARK VICTORY her favorite.
Who doesn’t like a good Bette Davis movie, quote or anecdote? “From the moment I was six I felt sexy. And let me tell you it was hell, sheer hell, waiting to do something about it.” Bette Davis. There are so many delicious tidbits about BD that I won’t even try to cover the scope of her career, her audacity, her bigger-than-life persona!
In an uber-abridged nutshell, she was born as Ruth Elizabeth Davis in Lowell, Massachusetts. Her father was a patent attorney and her mother was a portrait photographer. Her mother was the one that encouraged Bette to become an actress. Davis started out as a stage actress but moved quickly into a film career. After a rocky start with Universal Studios she was snagged by Warner Bros., which brought her much success. But it did not take long for BD to become the staunch character she is known for…she challenged the male dominant film industry on all sides and with almost everyone, winning the reputation of being difficult. So I’m thinking, when she was not hirable as an actress, she went for endorsements…found this jewel:
She was judicious, she was relentless, she was charming and she IS incomparable! Some still attempt to find a comparison like Susan Hayward, often called the “Bargain Basement Bette Davis”; or Joan Crawford (she is rolling in her grave on that one) or perhaps even Glenda Jackson, but there really was no one like her or ever will be…ever, ever, ever! Not many stars who are alive, even, have websites dedicated to them, but Bette does: www.bettedavis.com
Can’t you hear her screaming: “But cha are Blanche, ya are in that chair”!
Thanks to Ms. Davis for the fabulous movies you have given us! You will be studied for decades and centuries to come.
AND THERE WAS A SONG!
The only Bette Davis line made famous by another star. The original “What a Dump”:
She played the QUEEN that she is…thanks for this video Steve Hayes “Tired Old Queen of the Movies” (love how well he inpersonates BD). Follow him on Twitter: @SteveHayesTOQ
She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes
TAKE THE POLL Blanche!
If you love Mel Brooks, then you love Madeline Kahn and can probably throw out some her unforgettable movie quotes immediately, like:
“Hello, handsome, is that a ten-gallon hat or are you just enjoying the show?”
“Flames, on the side of my face, breathing-breath- heaving breaths.”
“Hurry up, Doctor. This baby gots to go winky tinky!”
“Ah, but the servant waits, while the *master* baits!”
And I am sure you can name the movies these quotes came from, above, because she is JUST that memorable!
And GAWD could she sing. What a set of pipes, no wonder Broadway snatched her up for “On the 20th Century” which Kristin Chenoweth will be playing her role in the upcoming revival…great match. And did you know Madeline sang “Glitter & Be Gay” from CANDIDE…so maybe Kristin is our answer to our modern Ms. Kahn. Listen to this amazing version of “G & G” – I had NO IDEA:
I wanted to be Madeline Kahn and would practice “I’m Tired” in front of my mirror for hours when I was kid! I thought this was the single best song on the planet.
My friend, Stephen Cole, in the Broadway industry, responded to a Facebook post I wrote about Madeline Kahn’s Birthday. He worked with her on two different occasions. He posted the following:
“I do remember one phone call. I can see myself in my kitchen talking to her. She said, “I don’t want to sing anything funny this year.” I said, “Anything you sing will be funny.” I let her do a ballad…What Makes Me Love Him from Apple Tree…She broke the place up. She sang Bewitched from Pal Joey. Everyone screamed. She was brilliant. She was very dear and sweet and just had no idea how fucking funny she was.” – Stephen Cole
She was taken way to early, but her legacy lives on. In Central Park there is a bench erected by her husband and her brother, dedicated in her memory. What a class act.
Sound bites of some of Ms. Kahn’s famous movie lines:
It’s Marlene Dietrich Day on TCM, Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Known for her sultry eyes, smokey German accent and the hottest pair of legs in Hollywood! Marlene Dietrich could turn a room of men into crying babies. I grew up, in awe, of a pen & ink pointillism portrait, by my father, of MD poised against the railing of a winding staircase. When she was performing in Dallas, he asked to have the portrait sent up to Ms. Dietrich’s hotel room for an autograph. She thought is was so lovely, signed it & sent it back to my father. Wish I had a photo, it was quite amazing.
POP CULTURE ICON:
Mont Blanc created & named a pen after MD.
She is one of the most renowned drag & gay icons.
Madonna & Marilyn copied Marlene:
“Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.”
“I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for the fashion, not for men.”
“Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.”
MUST SEE VIDEOS:
Marlene puts a little Voodoo on you you!
And who could forget MADELINE KAHN’s outrageous performance in “Blazing Saddles,” parodying “The Boys in the Backroom” from “Destry Rides Again.”
For more great stuff on Marlene Dietrich check out TCM:
Mildred’s House of Wire Hangers!
Joan Crawford: the mother of all mothers, a drag queen icon, she runneth over with jungle red blood, she had a stare that could melt through steel/
Hurry, name 5 Joan Crawford films…and go!
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
There are some common themes up in there! I associate Frau Crawford with the garish, pop-culture, eccentric woMANIAC.
Don’t you want to scream out, “Butcha are Blanche, ya are in that chair!”
So many lines, so little time!
OCD ALERT: Joan never wore any costume twice without it being properly cleaned.
TURN AWAY JOAN:
The role in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte played by Olivia DeHaviland, was originally Joan’s. The famous beach scene in From Here to Eternity was JC’s, but apparently she was not happy with the costumes, so the role went to Deborah Kerr, which Oscar granted her with a nom. I bet Joan was regretful of that decision.
SILVER SCREENS BEST SLAPPER:
Someone needs some anger management
Lots more on the FORCE of Ms. Joan Crawford: http://www.tcm.com/summer/#/day22/mildredpierce/bio
TCM hosts CARY GRANT Day Sunday, April 21…set your DVRs!
Who doesn’t like a Cary Grant? He makes women swoon and men “MAN-up”! And thank gawd Hollywood changed his name; ARCHIBALD LEACH would not have been a kind name in lights. I think he is such a sizzlin’ manski, I drew a pic of him (okay, so I didn’t finish it).
He played the silver screen with the most tenacious, intelligent & striking actresses: Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Joan Fontaine, Deborah Kerr, Rosalind Russell, Rita Hayworth, Loretta Young, Eva Marie Saint, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield (Hmmm…Seems like a revolving casting couch). Even Hitchcock had a movie love affair with this man!
Born in the United Kingdom, he came to the United States in his mid-late teens where he performed in Vaudeville as a stilt walker, juggler, acrobat & mime (hence his incredible physique & graceful physical comedy timing. He went on to perform on Broadway in light comedies before he travelled across the U.S. to Hollywood, where they immediately changed his first name to Cary, after a character he recently played on stage. His last name, well it came from a list the studios moguls perused through. The big bust, I mean boost, came from Mae West when she personally chose him to star in her most famous films, SHE DONE HIM WRONG & I’M NO ANGEL (sizzle).
And the rest of his career brought his incomparable screw-ball comedies like BRINGING UP BABY (he was so sexy in that feather trimmed robe) & HIS GIRL FRIDAY.
Then onto his reign of Hitchcock (I’ll save this info for an entirely new column). He went on to form his own production company & produce delightful works like OPERATION PETTICOAT, FATHER GOOSE & CHARADE.
JUST THE FACTS :
- There is a statue of CG in Millennium Square in Bristol, UK
- Nominated for 2 Academy Awards & 5 Golden Globe Awards
- Originally considered for a possibility to play James Bond in Dr. No
- First actor to “go independent” and walk away from a studio contract
- Made 72 feature films
- Married 5 times, has one daughter by Dyan Cannon
- He believed movie stars should never make public declarations about politics
CARY GRANT on TCM’s SUMMER UNDER THE STARS
I am so excited that my dear friend, Stephanie Spaulding has agreed to write a column on TCM Film Classics, highlighting featured classics, showcases, and backstage stories. She is quite an authority on the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’.
BELLY UP TO THE TV Y’ALL! TCM is hosting “Summer of the Stars” in August and America’s girl next door, Ms. Debbie Reynolds, is the star of the day, Friday, August 19. And she is a Texas gal, born in El Paso in 1932. She got her big break in 1952 with “Singing in the Rain,” but did you know at the time of filming, she was not a trained dancer? Could have fooled me! This gal can do anything! With dancing under her belt she went on to add several vocal chart-topping hits like “Tammy”. “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” earned her an Oscar nom in 1964. But she was a busy lady outside of her career with 2 children, her daughter, is Carrie Fisher (we all kinda knew that). Debbie even tried her own talk/variety show in 1969-70. Again, is there anything this woman could or can’t do? Thanks to Nicole Barrett, I met and saw DR in action, talk VERY CANDIDLY about her career and life at a benefit luncheon in Dallas this past April.
Why I do believe Ms. Reynolds, at the age of 79, has a future in stand-up. Come on Vegas book her…she is amazing…Sharp, edgy, tenacious and a ball of fire; she has more energy than my 5 & 6 year-olds combined! Oh, and I saw her daughter “Princess Leia” perform on Broadway 2 years ago in “Wishful Drinking”. Carrie is an amazing writer, capturing and sharing moments of her “unnatural” life for the layman to understand. When you come from talent, sometimes you don’t have a choice but to be talented.
For more on Debbie Reynolds read the fabulous synopsis in this link from TCM: http://www.tcm.com/summer/#/day19/singinintherain/bio Take the poll below:
‘If you really want to help the American theater, don’t be an actress, dahling. Be an audience’. -Tallulah Bankhead