- Title: Swanson on Swanson
- Author: Gloria Swanson
- Year Published: 1980/This Edition: 1981 (Random House/Pocket Books)
- Year Purchased: Mid-1990s
- Source: Antique Barn, Ohio State Fair
- About: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”-George Bernard Shaw. Every Hollywood memoir should come with the preceding GBS quote as a disclaimer. That, or the generic perception is reality. Either will do. With that out of the way, we could get down to the important business of enjoying good Tinseltown autobiographies for what they are: damn fun entertainment. Underneath the ego and the stage-managed pathos, these one-person exercises in reputation preservation usually contain heaping amounts of self-deprecation, humor, and memorable industry anecdotes, with the self-subjects somehow, through a strange, magical process, coming across as down-to-earth and larger than life; normal and privileged; lucky and talented; flawed and beautiful. Continue reading
The essay I wrote yesterday in honor of my friend Frank really took a lot out of me. I’m drained. I’ve decided that I deserve a break from wading through my creativity. Tonight’s entertainment?
- Title: Max Factor’s Hollywood Glamour
- Author: Fred E. Basten (with Robert Salvatore & Paul A. Kaufman)
- Year Published: 1995 (W. Quay Hays)
- Year Purchased: 2003/2004
- Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
- About: Max Factor isn’t just a name on wands of mascara and tubes of lipstick found in the beauty aisle at your local grocery store. The Max Factor cosmetics line wasn’t invented and branded by impersonal, slick-suited admen in a glossy boardroom. He was a pioneer who not only shaped and defined the aesthetics of classic cinema (from glamour girls to tough guys and everything in between) but he brought make-up to the masses in a way that was, and is, distinctly modern. His genius for invention and marketing, as well as his humble beginnings in Central Europe, make his story a neat parallel to those of the movie moguls who were his contemporaries. Continue reading
- Title: Me Stories of My Life
- Author: Katharine Hepburn
- Year Published: 1991 (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.)
- Year Purchased: Summer of 2010
- Source: My momma
- 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
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: Leading Ladies
- Author: Don Macpherson
- 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++
Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law.
Wuthering Heights, starring Kaya Scodelario and James Howson.
On the Road, starring Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund.
- Title: Forgotten Films to Remember
- Author: John Springer
- Year Published: 1980 (The Citadel Press)
- Year Purchased: 1990s
- Source: Unknown
- 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.”
- Happiness Scale: 9
Two of my favourite things, together at last.