Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on 5 November 1913.
She was a very, very fine actress of stage and screen. If you’ve only seen Gone with the Wind or A Streetcar Named Desire, you have missed some wonderful film performances. Her theatrical work has, of course, been lost to time. It’s a shame, because she was a serious and brilliant stage actress obsessively dedicated to her craft. Her film stardom was largely beside the point.-“I’m not a film star, I am an actress. Being a film star is such a false life, lived for fake values and for publicity.”-Vivien Leigh
She was married to this chap for two decades.
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, June 1948
She died on 8 July 1967.
If I ever find a time machine, I will make dozens of stops just to see the magnetic and fiercely talented Vivien Leigh weave her magic across the world’s stages.
About: Dear Kate: You were such an iconoclast. I know, I know; what an over-used word. I’m not proud of trotting out something so stale, especially in reference to
English: Photograph of the actress Katharine Hepburn in the 1932 play The Warrior’s Husband. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
someone as amazing as you were. Really, though, what choice do I have? What else is there? Rebel, nonpareil, maverick? Nonconformist, idol, icon? Legend, paragon, nonesuch? They’re all too pale, weak, humourless. You were too kick-ass to be so neatly boxed-in, anyway. Now let’s get to business. Continue reading →
Title: Drinking with George A Barstool Professional’s Guide to Beer
Author: George Wendt with Jonathan Grotenstein
Year Published: 2009 (Simon Spotlight Entertainment)
Year Purchased: September, 2011 (at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati)
Source: George Wendt
About: George Wendt’s love affair with beer is a thing of epic beauty. Drinking with George is part personal biography and part encyclopedia of beer. It’s a strange combination that pairs as wonderfully as barley and hops. You could really say that he poured his heart and soul into this project. Tee-hee. It’s incredibly funny, informative, and can be read in the time it takes the average person to drink a couple pints of Guinness. It even comes with a bit of real, human romance: his love for his wife Bernadette Birkett (who voiced Vera Peterson on Cheers) is sweet and moving, if nearly as hilarious as his beer-induced exploits.
Motivation: The author hawked his book at last year’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Only a humourless, beer-hating twit could resist buying a copy from the man himself.
Times Read: 1
Random Excerpt/Page 35: “Looking to lighten my load, I packed a leather travel bag I’d overpaid for in Marrakesh with my untouched and completely unnecessary suit and dress shoes. I sent them back to the States via tramp steamer, addressing the bag to my friend Joe Farmar so as not to offend my dad. A few months later, I would try to recover the clothes, only to discover that Joe had torn the suit, the shoes, and even the bag itself to shreds. This was entirely my fault: I hadn’t bothered to include a note, which confused Joe until he put “bag” together with “Marrakesh” and decided that I’d hidden hashish somewhere inside.”
Year Published: 1986/This edition: 1989 (Conran Octopus Limited/Crescent Books)
Year Purchased: 1990s
Source: It was a Christmas gift from my Aunt Lauree.
About: This is a coffee table book, not a scholarly work. The text is nice, but not genre-shattering; it’s the standard drill for this kind of product. The images are from The Kobal Collection, so the writing stands no chance of taking first place, anyway. The whole gang is here, from Theda Bara to Doris Day, Jean Harlow to Jean Seberg, Anna Magnani to Debra Winger, represented by an array of unusually stunning photographs. Since that is the dominant reason for buying a book like this, you’ll walk away happy.
Motivation: I’ve been fond of old movies since I was a child.
Times Read: Multiple
Random Excerpt/Page 22: “By the time she was twenty-five, Colleen Moore was earning a weekly salary of $12,500, a reflection of her value to a studio for whom she was a highly profitable jazz baby. With her bobbed hair, cheeky face and alert eyes, she resembles to modern eyes an uncanny combination of the better remembered Clara Bow and Louise Brooks. But in the 1920s, it was Moore who was the incarnation of the twenties flapper girl.”
Happiness Scale: 10++
Publicity photo of Colleen Moore for Argentinean Magazine. (Printed in USA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Here, in her post-Flapper days.
About: Some of the best classic movies aren’t, well, classic. At least not in the sense of having wide, lasting cultural impact. Maybe they were box office winners in their day, quiet sleepers or cheapie programmers, critically acclaimed or unappreciated gems; most have been long forgotten by the masses, embraced and beloved by fanatics alone. Hollywood studios churned out hundreds of films a year, so it is no wonder that, of those hardy survivors, few are truly iconic. If you want to learn more but are too cowed to wade through the classic film jungle alone and bewildered, Forgotten Films to Remember makes it easy. Covering the years 1928-1959 (with a quick overview of the 1960s and 1970s), John Springer devotes a paragraph each to dozens of remarkable movies that you really need to watch. In the process, a clear, workmanlike but interesting narrative of studio-era Hollywood emerges. The accompanying photographs are mostly from the author’s archive.
Motivation: I love old movies, especially obscure ones.
Times Read: 4 or 5
Random Excerpt/Page 18: “Howard Hawks made a strong movie out of Martin Flavin’s play, The Criminal Code, aided impressively by the performance of Walter Huston. He played a district attorney who becomes the warden of a prison, populated by men he has sent up. Constance Cummings and Phillips Holmes had the love interest such as it was and Boris Karloff skulked about as a squealer.”
About: Audrey Hepburn always seemed so decent. Not goody-goody, but all of those superlatives most of us wish we were (and only sometimes are): compassionate, patient, kind, loyal, curious, gracious, humorous, dignified and empathetic. Decency of character is not something I require of actors, writers, musicians or anyone else whose work I admire; in fact, many of the people I love-those whose talent pierces my core- are at least a bit morally scruffy. Continue reading →
About: There’s nothing like an old movie poster. When art and commerce combine with history and nostalgia, the result is a visually stunning social commentary. In looking at the representative posters of five decades, changing attitudes and mores are as obvious as changing aesthetics. MGM was known for the luxuriousness of its productions, and the top talent of its employees. Although designed as throwaways, the posters that advertised its movies were no exception, and neither were their artists. My favourite era for this exciting medium is definitely the 1920s.The posters are stunning. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety hundred year old, it has been all downhill since then.
Motivation: Old movies are my friends. We’re tight. I’m pretty close with art, too. Continue reading →
About: During the 90 minutes it took to read Me of Little Faith, I did so with Lewis Black’s voice in my head. It was like a book-on-tape experience without the tape part. Or disc, as this isn’t 1984. If you’ve ever seen Black do, well, anything, you know what to expect from his religious diatribe/angry memoir. It reads like one of his stand-up routines, which is a good thing: he’s witty, smart, articulate, inappropriate, honest and decidedly on-point about nearly everything he touches. Unless you disagree with him, in which case you’ll find this book, and my review of it, a miserable read. Continue reading →