Eva Lovelace wants nothing more than to be a stage actress. And not just any stage actress, she wants to be a GREAT stage actress. One of the great stage actors in rank with the Barrymores and the Booths. She waltz’s past their portraits, admiring them and dreaming of her own future as a star. She soon discovers that this pursuit might not be as easy as she had hoped and nearly loses it all trying to get there. But like any good Katharine Hepburn character, Eva Lovelace fights for what she wants until she gets it. And in many ways, Eva and Katharine are one in the same.
Reposted from April 6, 2017.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I and I’m honoring the day by looking at two of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s films about the Great War.
The year 1939 was undoubtedly a big year in movie history. Movies such as Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Ninotchka, premiered in 1939 and continue to be talked about nearly eight decades later. But there’s another movie that came out that year. A timeless swashbuckler that takes you on an journey you’ll never forget and one that has also stood the test of time. Of course, I am referring to the swashbuckling adventure of Gunga Din.
I am not a crier. I am intensely passionate, easily moved, deeply emotional, and perceptive but I am not a crier. However there is one thing that has always been able to pull the tears out of me and that is art. And film is one of the arts that can start the waterworks for me. And it often does. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sad scene or a tragic story to draw a tear. Sometimes it’s simply the beauty of a film or a joyful or triumphant moment in a story.
When I sat down to think about what film I wanted to cover for this blogathon I thought of several movies that make me cry no matter how many times I’ve seen them. I thought of It’s a Wonderful Life, Imitation of Life, Titanic, and even The Lion King. But there was another movie that came to mind that I recently watched and had a good cry over. But it may not be anything you would expect.
Mabel Normand is one of those names. Fans of early cinema know it well and are aware of its significance to both film history and women’s history. To casual film fans it might ring a bell but probably mostly in relation to Charlie Chaplin or to scandal. To the majority of people, (let’s face it, us early film fans aren’t as common as we wish) it is a name that doesn’t ring any bell at all. And isn’t that the awful truth for countless names of great women in history? This is my attempt to share with the world one of those great women who are all too often forgotten.
It is a well-known fact among movie fans that Buster Keaton is the Great Stoneface. The world could be falling to pieces all around him, comedy chaos ensuing, romance a-buzzing, and his face would remain stoic with an expression that says “to hell with it all.” And it is that very expression that makes us, as the audience, fall to pieces laughing. It is a component of his comedic genius that harkens back to his days on vaudeville as a child when he would perform his highly physical slapstick with a deadpan stare. He had mastered this look so well by such a young age that his father was even accused by some of child abuse for their family skits. But when Keaton entered the movies in 1917, he hadn’t yet established the Great Stoneface as his signature screen persona. In these shorts, he smiles, he laughs, and shows a wide variety of facial expressions. We see a Keaton that is just beginning to embark on one of the greatest comedy careers of the silent era. And it is that, along with the equally genius Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Al St. John, that makes the Keaton shorts of 1917 such a treat.
In 1930, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. told The New Movie Magazine the story of the life-changing moment that he realized he wanted to break free of the Fairbanks name.