Cinevent, , the Columbus, Ohio film festival now in its 45th year, enjoys surprising its attendees. As the lights dimmed last week for the initial showing and we were all expecting George O’Brien on a horse in The Golden West, we found ourselves watching Maurice Chevalier singing to Claudette Colbert in a gondola. You could sense the audience’s rapt attention throughout this curtain raiser, a selection of three scenes from The Big Pond (1930). Two of the three scenes were musical numbers by Chevalier.
The first is a love ballad, and what Claudette Colbert does is listen. And oh! how she listens. She listens sensitively. She listens not just sensually but sexily. Chevalier’s other song, “Having a Wonderful Time,”is sung to a men’s club.
Colbert and Chavalier, like other celebrated stars of the commercial cinema’s golden years, exhibit lasting charisma. Last Friday, we sat lost in them, in Ohio 83 years later. Who today — and I have many admired favorites today — BUT who today could hold us spellbound by the way she listens to a singer singing? It’s not simply that these forever-remembered stars filled the needs of a country’s growing pains. It is not just that they filled needs of my own while growing up. These were special people. How were they special? What made them more than entertainers and more than artists? I look forward to any answers my readers may offer.
The inimitable Richard Shickel offers answers of his own about these and many other individual celebrities in his important book The Stars (Dial Press, 1962).
The Big Pond
Personal note: For a description of my personal encounter with Claudette Colbert, see blog for October 26, 2012.
NEXT FRIDAY POST will be Saturday, REPEAT, Saturday, June 8 — more reflections on Cinevent 45.
See you at the movies,