I admit, I’ve not posted for the entire month of November! But I have a few things up my sleeve for December. I wanted to try something new and post an update here that may be of interest to my readers and/or other old Hollywood fans of what is happening this month.
In the 1920s, Douglas Fairbanks found great success in and popularized the costumed hero. Never before had moviegoers seen such a spirited, all-American, brawny man dash across the screen in such a dazzling manner. It drew movie fans in and resulted in Fairbanks becoming dubbed the King of Hollywood. Despite his reluctance to become a costumed hero, Fairbanks has been immortalized in film history as the first swashbuckling hero of the silver screen and set the standard for future generations of movie heroes.
What could possibly be better than a movie starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.? Why, a movie starring two of him! And that is just what The Corsican Brothers gives us. Fairbanks plays a set of swashbuckling twins tragically torn apart at birth after the cold-blooded murder of their royal parents. It marks the first time Fairbanks played a hero swashbuckler and he more than proves his ability!
Two traits are often mentioned alongside the name John Barrymore: First, that he is one of the greatest American actors who ever lived. And secondly, that he was an alcoholic who lived a highly publicized and tumultuous life. Like many great artists, Barrymore was plagued by an inner darkness that ultimately led to his demise. But if there is anything I’ve learned about the great John Barrymore through Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., it is that he truly was a class act. In a sense, Barrymore was a real life Jeckyll and Hyde. For Douglas, he shunned away his worst traits and presented an illusion of greatness to the young devotee.
In 1922, at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, on the very balcony that Charles Lindbergh would later stand to a cheering crowd of thousands after his great flight, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Jr. had what Douglas, Jr., referred to as, “the worst row in my life!”1 The issue at hand: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s, entry into a film career. The last thing Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., wanted for his son was for him to become a movie star. After all, he was the King of Hollywood and represented to many Americans the ideal model of youth and masculinity. Having a teenage son in the movies had the potential to make him seem old to audiences and there was certainly a fear of possibly being embarrassed by his own son. On top of it all, he feared his son was being taken advantage of because of the name he carried. Whatever the true reasoning for his disapproval, the rift between father and son significantly impacted and shaped the film career of Douglas, Jr.
Our Modern Maidens hit the silver screen in the final year of the roaring 20s. The movie captures the youth culture of the 1920s, which consisted of alcohol filled parties, jazz music, dancing the Charleston, and a sense of reckless abandon. The youth of the Twenties were living life at lightning speed and never dreamed that it could come to a crashing halt. They were much to busy living in the moment. As Our Modern Maidens exemplifies, this lifestyle has potential consequences. Living too fast can lead to unexpected detours and collisions if one does not slow down enough to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.
For the Hot & Bothered blogathon hosted by Once Upon a Movie Screen and CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch, I chose a lesser known film called Scarlet Dawn, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Nancy Carroll.
In 1932, as the Great Depression raged on, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., was looking for an escape from financial and personal struggles that were beginning to creep up on him. At seemingly just the right time, he was offered the the role of Baron Nikita Krasnoff in Scarlet Dawn, a sultry tale of betrayal and romance set during the Russian Revolution. The film served as the perfect escape for Fairbanks when he needed one most.