RICK’S JOURNAL (My Film Career)
I still regret a brief moment in an aisle in a specialty foodstore in Westwood. I was looking at the assortment of olives when I felt pushed by a pushy lady and her cart looming on my left. I stepped back with an arrogant “Excuse ME!” I was young and full of snot. A twice-as-arrogant voice said, “Well pardon ME!” I turned and looked for a moment into the changeless face of Claudette Colbert. As she swooped past I had the presence of mind and observation to realize that she looked the same. She always did. No Hepburn cheek bones or metabolism; but she looked the same.
To this day I feel bad about the encounter. I had long admired her and respected the technique gleaned from years of experience. She was a pro — and proved it on stage as well as screen. I had the opportunity to thank her, but I didn’t.
Entertainment Weekly for October 26 quotes producer Craig Zadan on plans for the next Oscar telecast. “A lot of the shows have been awards, awards, awards…”
“We have a concept…”
I can’t wait.
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MORE FROM CINESATION
On the last blog I discussed Private Worlds, the Gregory La Cava film shown at Cinesation in late September. The program notes by ERIC GRAYSON include an interesting paragraph on ownership and distribution that I thought my readers would find enlightening:
“So why is a major film with an Oscar nomination [Claudette Colbert}, a major director and a great supporting cast almost unknown today? When Paramount sold its library to Universal, it was Universal that decided which films they would reprint for television. This generally meant that anything that was a horror film, a musical, or starred Bob Hope or Bing Crosby made it into circulation. Dozens of great films have languished for years in the vaults, the studio at a loss for what to do with them. This particular print [shown at the festival] was made for tv distribution in the late 1950s, during that brief window in 1957-8 when they reprinted a lot of titles for the one and only period they’d be seen on television. Happily, Universal is now in a phase of rediscovering the gems in its collection, so it may be possible that new 35mm films will be struck of this title.”
starring Jack Pickford
This was a severe disappointment. I may have looked forward to it too much. I am interested in Pickford and follow his career to the extent of film availability today. But this is a weak script: the small town, the boy, the girl he wants to win (Marguerite de la Motte here), his rival for her affections (a visitor from New York). Its obviousness is dated, and it all goes on too long. This time Pickford’s small town boy isn’t even all that likeable. Conversely (Cinesation’s program notes show this as a Jack Pickford Film Corporation production), the character is so put upon that we clearly are supposed to spend all our time feeling sorry for him.
This title does not appear in Ephraim Katz’s Pickford credits (The Film Encyclopedia, 1st ed.), nor in Maltin, Halliwell, Variety (’96 guide) or Jacobs. It appears on imdb which favors comentary by Silents Fan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
LOVE AMONG THE MILLIONAIRES
I would walk across the Sahara without water to see a Clara Bow film new to me, so I did not miss Love Among the Millionaires at Cinesation. I was disappointed, though. I had seen Clara Bow in sound film before and had concluded that critics were unfair about her voice and her accent. But here I found her gestures and constant movement — charming in her silents — just too large to accompany sound dialogue. Her singing is adequate but not impressive. She remains her inimitable self, though. You cannot watch anyone else once she enters a scene.
It seems a critical convention that the role of Pepper in this film was too sweet a character for the It girl. I think the real problem is that the character is unbelievable as written. One interesting script moment, however: She has decided that she is wrong for her beloved but educated, wealthy fiance and that she is hurting his career. At a party she pretends to be drunk to embarrass him before his family and friends. As she is leaving and her enemy prospective father-in-law, impressed and moved, stops her, what she says is anything but what we expect: ” I know, I’m great — now that you’ve got what you wanted.”*
* My quote may not be verbatim.
NEXT FRIDAY POST November 2