Sergei Eisenstein

Drawings and Sketches by Sergei Eisenstein

People who are passionate about cinema are familiar with Sergei Eisenstein’s films and cinema theory; fewer people know of his enthusiasm for drawing. Ever since his childhood in the Latvian city of Riga, Eisenstein has been drawing, eventually producing five thousand works over the course of his lifetime, with only a short break in the 1920s when he made his first films. The drawings were playful, funny, provocative, and inventive. 

Drawing for Eisenstein was a means to develop a visually effective language, which he applied in his work as film director. He drew circus scenes, story boards for his films, sketches to map out his filming process, as well as erotic, sacrilegious, and sexual scenes. The drawings were private affairs to Eisenstein, sources for his amusement and also a form of freedom, emotionally and artistically, from the pressures, often political, he experienced in his work. Some of the drawings were in-jokes meant to be shared with close friends; and some drawings were given away as gifts.

In 1931, Sergei Eisenstein worked in various locations of Mexico on the film project “¡Que viva México!”, produced by Upton Sinclair and a small group of investors. During this time, which included an intimate affair with his Guanajuato guide Jorge Palomino y Cañedo, the production of Eisenstein’s drawings resulted in a dramatic increase. His interest in line and the interplay of figures showed his connection to the work of Mexican muralists including Diego Rivera, whom Eisenstein first met in 1927, and whose work he greatly admired. At the end of his Mexican adventure, he told his friend Anita Brenner, that drawings were just as important to him  as film writing and film production.

“it was in Mexico that my drawing underwent an internal catharsis, striving for mathematical abstraction and purity of line. The effect was considerably enhanced when this abstract, ‘intellectualized’ line was used for drawing especially sensual relationships between human figures.” —Sergei Eisenstein, 1947

Drawings done after Eisenstein’s return to the Soviet Union are no less provocative than the Mexican ones, but they are more sparsely articulated. In these later works, Eisenstein used line only, minimizing the shading and shaping of figures. Included in these, we find two sketches for an unrealized film on Alexander Pushkin; several drawings done during the filming of his “Ivan the Terrible”; and а series that appears to have been inspired by George Grosz’s images of maimed war veterans.

After Eisenstein’s death, his widow, Pera Atasheva, gave most of his drawings to the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. She did not release a relatively small cache of about 500 drawings that had sexual subject matter, because Atasheva feared that they might be considered harmful to the Eisenstein’s legacy. Later, she passed them for safekeeping to Andrei Moskvin, a friend and the cameraman who had worked with Eisenstein on the filming of “Ivan the Terrible”. After perestroika, Moskvin’s descendants sold the drawings to a private collector in the west. 

Eisenstein’s drawings kept at the Russian State Archive were first shown in 2000 at the Drawing Center, a not-for-profit art institution, in Soho. New York, A first-show  exhibition of the drawings, once held safely by Andrei Moskvin, were shown at the contemporary art gallery Alexander Gray Associates in New York in early 2017.

Olivia de Havilland

Scotty Welbourne, “Olivia de Havilland”, 1935, Publicity Shoot, Silver Gelatin Print

Born in July of 1906 in Tokyo, Japan, Olivia de Havilland was an American motion-picture star remembered both for the lovely, gentle roles of her early career and the later, more substantial roles she secured. With a cinematic career spanning from 1935 to 1988, she appeared in forty-nine feature films, becoming one of the leading actresses of her time.

Olivia de Havilland moved, along with her mother and younger sister Joan Fontaine, to California in 1919, settling in the village of Saratoga. After graduating from high school in 1934, she attended Mills College in Oakland, hoping to pursue a career as a teacher. De Havilland was chosen from the cast of a community theater production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by director Max Reinhardt to be first the understudy, and then the star of his theater production of the play. 

Impressed by her performance, Reinhardt offered Olivia de Havilland the same role of Hermia in his upcoming Warner Brothers film version of the stage production. She signed a five-year contract with Warner Brothers in November of 1934, beginning her  professional acting career. De Havilland appeared in many costume adventure movies with then little-known actor Errol Flynn in the 1930s and 1940s. Their first film together was the 1935 “Captain Blood”, the success of which resulted in four Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. 

De Havilland appeared in Mervyn LeRoy’s 1938 historical drama “Anthony Adverse” playing the role of peasant girl Angela opposite actor Fredric March. The film earned six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, giving de Havilland good exposure and a chance to renegotiate her contract with Warner Brothers for a seven year term with higher salary.

De Havilland worked again with Errol Flynn in the 1938 “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and the 1939 Technicolor western, her first, entitled “Dodge City”. In early 1939, De Havilland exerted her influence to get the role of Melanie Wilkes/Hamilton in the upcoming  David O’Selznick film “Gone with the Wind”, giving her the opportunity to play a substantial role she understood, and resulting in her first nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 

Winning a precedent-setting case in 1945 against Warner Brothers Studios, Olivia de Havillland was released for a six-month penalty obligation added onto her contract. The result of extending greater creative freedom to performers enabled her to take more challenging roles. She gave an Academy Award-winning performance as an unwed mother in the 1946 “To Each His Own”, played twin sisters in the 1946 psychological thriller “The Dark Mirror”, and won an Academy Award nomination for her role as a psychiatric ward patient in the 1948 “The Snake Pit”. 

Olivia de Havilland was the recipient of numerous honors: the American National Medal of Arts in 2008, an appointment as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 2010 in France, and was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017, shorty before her 101st birthday. Olivia de Havilland passed away peacefully of natural causes on July 26, 2020, at her residence in Paris, France.

Sergei Eisenstein

Sergei Eisenstein, “The General Line (The Old and the New)”, 1929, The “Cream Separator” Sequence, Co-directed by Grigori Aleksandrov, Cinematography by Eduard Tisse

Born in January of 1898 in Riga, Latvia, Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was a film director, scriptwriter, film theorist, and a pioneer in the theory and development of montage. Using his technique of montage film editing, he portrayed the rapid developments of events on the screen, separating each scene into fragments and rearranging them into his preferred order.

Eisenstein studied engineering at the Petrograd Institute of Civil Engineering, leaving in 1918 to join the Red Army in the revolution. Still a member of the Red Army after the Bolshevik seizure of power, he took part in many theater productions and was eventually assigned to organizing productions and ensembles. In 1920 Eisenstein returned to Moscow and worked with the Proletkult Theater, becoming co-director and later the most noteworthy theater director in the USSR.

While still a theater director, Eisenstein wrote a manifesto, “Montage of Attractions,” for the literary journal “Lef”, rejecting the idea that dialogue is the dominant element in theater and claiming that all the elements function on equal terms, forming a fusion or montage that made the entire work. Montage in film, as Eisenstein understood it, means that a film should be constructed not in narrative fashion but from brief segments that serve to reinforce and counterpoint one another. The meaning of the film arises from the interplay of these elements, leading the audience into new recognitions.

In the spring of 1924, Eisenstein proposed that Proletkult undertake a series of films portraying the Russian revolutionary movements before 1917. Working with cameraman Eduard Tisse, a Latvian newsreel photographer who would go on to be the cameraman on all his films, he took on the making of “Strike”, the fifth film in the series. In 1925, Eisenstein made his second and probably his greatest film “Battleship Potemkin”, examining the  mutiny carried out by sailors of the Russian warship, Prince Potemkin, stationed in the Black Sea fleet near Odessa. 

Sergei Eisenstein’s film “The General Line”was an experiment in presenting the feeling of ecstasy in film. Directed by both Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, the film, centering on a rural heroine instead of a group of characters, was a celebration of the collectivization of agriculture, a policy championed by Bolshevik Leon Trotsky.  Eisenstein used his montage method with great success in the filming of the milk coop, its sequence conceived as a enthralling spectacle of raptured faces and the triumphant introduction of new farm machinery. After Trotsky’s fall from grace, the film was quickly re-edited and released in 1929 as “The Old and the New”.

Eisenstein’s vision of Communism brought him into conflict with officials in the ruling regime of Stalin. Frequent attacks on Eisenstein and then subsequent rehabilitation would be a repeated pattern throughout his life. His popularity and influence in his own land thus waxed and waned with the success of his films and the passage of time. In 1930, Eisenstein was approached with offers from Paramount Studios for several films; however, because of his artistic approach and disagreements with scripts, the contract was declared void by mutual agreement. 

Eisenstein came back into prominence with the 1938 “Alexander Nevsky”, in which Eisenstein exchanged his montage style for one that focused and developed the individual characters to a greater extent. This was due to the rise of Socialist Realism in the arts which was becoming the cultural and artistic policy of the state. Well received, the film won Eisenstein the Order of Lenin and the Stalin Prize.  

Eisenstein’s 1944 “Ivan the Terrible, Part One”, a film presenting Ivan IV as a national hero, also won the approval of Stalin and a Stalin Prize. However, the sequel “Ivan the Terrible, Part Two, although finished in 1945, was criticized by the government and not released until 1958. All footage from the unfinished Part Three was confiscated by the state and mostly destroyed, with only a few scenes still existing.

Sergei Eisenstein suffered a heart attack in February of 1946, recovered, but died from a second heart attack in February of 1948, at the age of fifty. His body laid in state in the Hall of the Cinema Workers, was cremated two days later, and his ashes buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

Ramón Novarro: 1925 Ben-Hur

Photographers Unknown, “Ramón Novarro”,  Vintage Photographic Cards, 1925 “Ben-Hur”, Ross Verlag Company

Ramón Novarro was Ben-Hur to moviegoers long before Charlton Heston appeared in the role. The 1925 film of author Lew Wallace’s epic novel made Novarro one of Hollywood’s most beloved silent film idols. His impressive and varied career spanned silent films, the ‘talkies’, the concert stage, theater, and television.. 

Ross Verlag was first known as the ‘Ross Bromsilber Vertriebs’ company , a seller and distributor of photographic postcards located in Berlin. The company later became the publisher as well. The familiar ‘Ross Verlag’ logo first appeared in the early 1920s. On the front of the cards were the words ‘Verlag “Ross” Berlin SW 68’. (Verlag: publishing company; “Ross”: company name; Berlin SW 68: southwest Berlin with the area code). 

Usually a set of cards of one or more actors would be from the same film or photographer. Some of the film-scene sets would contain twenty cards; but generally most series would have fewer. In 1941 there was a name change by the company to “Film-Foto-Verlag”, which remained until the cessation of its card publishing in 1944.

Sergei Parajanov

Sergei Parajanov, “The Color of Pomegranates”, 1969, Computer Graphics, Film Gifs

The 1969 Soviet art film “The Color of Pomegranates”, written and directed by Sergei Parajanov, is a visual, poetic treatment of the life of the eighteenth-century Armenian musician and poet Sayat-Nova. The film is presented in a series of chapters depicting the poet’s life in active tableaux, presented with little dialogue. Each chapter, framed through Sayat-Nova’s poems, is indicated by a title card: Childhood, Youth, Prince’s Court, The Monastery, The Dream, Old Age, The Angel of Death, and Death. Narration on the film was done by Armenian-born renowned actor Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, known for his role in the 1979 “The Meeting Place Can Not Be Changed”. 

Four actors took the role of Sayat-Nova at different stages in his life, with Soviet Georgian actress Sofiko Chiaureli, notably playing six roles in the film, both female and male. The film was shot at numerous historical sites in northern Armenia, many being medieval churches in the Lori Provence, including the Sarahin Monastery and the St. John church at Ardvi. Filming was also done at the Old City of Baku, Azerbaijani, and in the countryside near the David Gareja Monastary in Eastern Georgia. 

Objections were made by the Communist Party and the Soviet censors  to Parajanov’s poetic, stylized treatment of the poet’s life, citing that it failed to educate the public. As a result, the original title “Sayat-Nova” was changed to “The Color of Pomegranates” and any references to Sayat-Nova’s name was removed from the credits. The Soviet officials also objected to the amount of religious imagery in the film and removed a substantial portion of it. Although the State Committee for Cinematography initially refused to allow the film to be shown outside Armenia, it did allow the film, now with a seventy-seven minute running time, to premiere inside Armenia in October of 1969.

Filmmaker Sergei Yutkevich,  the 1962 People’s Artist of the USSR and a script-reader on the State Committee, recut the film by a few minutes to appease the authorities and created Russian-language chapter titles for easier understanding by the public at large. He also changed the order of some of the sequences in the film. This seventy-three minute version ultimately received only limited distribution in the rest of the Soviet Union. 

The digital restoration of “The Color of Pomegranates” was completed in 2014 by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation with the help of Cineteca di Bologna. It was re-edited as close as possible to the Sergei Parajanov’s original version, with its premier held at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. Parajanov’s film premiered in the US at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in September of 2014 and the 52nd New York Film Festival in October of 2014.

Marlene Dietrich, “Lili Marleen”

Marlene Dietrich, “Lili Marleen”, 1945, Decca Records

Marlene Dietrich was born on December 27th of 1901 in Berlin, Germany, with the given name Maria Magdalene Dietrich. Growing up, she studied French, English, and the violin at a private school, with the aspiration of becoming a professional violinist. Later in her teen years, Dietrich decided to explore acting, enrolling in Austrian-born theater director Max Reinhardt’s drama school, eventually acting in small parts on stage and in films. Because of her family’s disapproval of theater as a profession, she changed her name to Marlene Dietrich.

Dietrich married Rudolf Sieber in 1923 and, with his help, was able to get the small role of ‘Lucy’ in director Joe May’s 1923 “Tragedy of Love”. After the birth of their only child Maria in 1924, the marriage began to fail, leading to a separation but not a divorce. During this time, Paramount Studios signed to a contract director and filmmaker Josef von Sternberg, who already had produced a number of notable films. In 1929, Sternberg was sent to UFA, Paramount’s studio in Berlin, to direct the sound production of “The Blue Angel” based on Heinrich Mann’s book “Professor Unrat”.

Sternberg cast the little-known Marlene Dietrich in the female lead role of Lola Lola, the cabaret singer and dancer whose allure would attract and lead to the decline of Professor Unrat. With her sophisticated manner and sultry looks, Dietrich naturally fit into the role and became a star. The 1930 “Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)”, the first talking picture in Germany, became a big hit, eventually making Dietrich an international star with its English language version in the United States.

In April of 1930, Marlene Dietrich moved to America. Working once again with Sternberg, she starred in the 1930 romantic-drama “Morocco” with actor Gary Cooper. The film received four Academy Award nominations; Dietrich was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, her one and only Academy Award nomination.She continued in her next films to play the femme-fatale roles, creating new more-masculine fashion trends for women and challenging accepted views of the female image.

Dietrich made several more films working with director Sternberg: the 1931 successful spy film “Dishonored”, “Shanghai Express” in 1932, “The Scarlet Empress” in 1934, and her personal favorite film “The Devil is a Woman”, a 1935 romance film set in Spain in which she played a cold-hearted temptress. A strong opponent of the Nazi government in Germany, she disassociated herself from the German film companies and became a US citizen in 1939, resulting in the banning of her films in Germany. During the war, Dietrich traveled extensively, entertaining the troops, selling war bonds, and recording anti-Nazi messages to broadcast in Germany. 

Following the war, Marlene Dietrich worked with director Billy Wilder on his 1948 film “A Foreign Affair” and the 1957 film “Witness for the Prosecution” with actor Tyrone Power, based on the book by Agatha Christie. She also played strong supporting roles in director Orson Welles’ famous 1958 film-noir “Touch of Evil” and in Stanley Kramer’s 1941 courtroom drama “Judgement at Nuremberg”. As her acting career faded, Dietrich began a successful singing career in the mid-1950s performing from Las Vegas to Paris, and finally singing in Germany in 1960, her first visit since the war.

Marlene Dietrich gave up performing in the middle of the 1970s, moving to Paris and living in near-seclusion. She did agree to provide some audio commentary for the documentary “Marlene”, filmed by Maximillian Schell in 1984; however, she would not appear on camera for the film. Marlene Dietrich, one of the most glamorous leading ladies of the 1930s and 1940s, died in her Paris home on May 6th of 1992 and was buried next to her mother in Berlin.

The song “LiLi Marleen” is a German love song that became popular during WWII throughout Europe and the Mediterranean among both Axis and Allied troops. Written in 1915 as a poem of three verses by Hans Leip, a school theacher, it was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938 and recorded for the first time by Lale Andersen in 1939.  In 1944 the Morale Operations Branch of the US Office of Strategic Services initiated the Muzak Project. Marlene Dietrich recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including “Lili Marleen”, which became a massive success. This version of the song with Dietrich singing eventually became recorded as a single by Decca Records in 1944 and released in 1945.

Busby Berkeley, “By a Waterfall”

Artist Unknown, Busby Berkeley,’s “By A Waterfall” Scene, Computer Graphics, “Footlight Parade” Film Gifs

Lyricist Irving Kahal and composer Sammy Fair had a sixteen year collaboration which started in 1926 and lasted until Kahal’s death in 1942. Among their many notable songs was the 1933 “By a Waterfall”, written for Warner Brothers Picture’s “Footlight Parade”, the third film in the 1933 Gold Diggers Trilogy. The vocal performances were done by actor-singer Dick Powell and actress-singer Ruby Keeler. 

Directed by Lloyd Bacon and presenting great cinematography by George Barnes, “Footlight Parade” contained opulent musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley whose routines contributed to the film’s success. Berkeley’s extravagant arrangement features his trademark human waterfall with its synchroniised water ballet of diving and swimming chorus girls, who produce elaborate, geometric patterns in the water.

One entire sound stage was filled with a twelve by twenty-four meter swimming pool with walls and floor made of glass. Two weeks were required for the one hundred chorus girls to practice their routines in it before shooting began. The six days of actual filming required that twenty thousand gallons of water per minute be pumped across the set to produce the required effects.

Besides the placement and movement of the dancers, the cameras also had to be positioned to film the entire scope of the choreography. Berkeley set his cameras in motion on monorails and custom-built booms to get the correct angle of shot. Since Berkeley was not hampered by the need to shoot multiple images at once for continuity, he was able to expand his creative potential by fluid camera motion and the use of intricate editing, creating fantasy out of the movement.. 

Pierre Emō

Pierre Emō: Scenes from Vann Gonzales’s “Un Couteau dans ke Coeur (Knife + Heart)”

French model and actor Pierre Emō first came to the attention of audiences in Germany and France with his appearances in the 2013 film “Only the Fire” by  director and cinematographer Christophe Pellet and the 2014 film “While the Unicorn is Watching Me”, by director Shanti Masud, known for her 2013 “Pour la France”. Emō’s first appearance in a film by director Noel Alejandro was the short award-winning LBGT film “Call Me a Ghost” shown at the 2017 Chéries-Chéris film festival in Paris.

At the age of twenty-four in early 2017, Pierre Emō had already  appeared in five movies, He next co-starred with French actress and singer  Venessa Paradis and actor Félix Maritaud in director Vann Gonzales’s 2018 LBGT murder mystery thriller “Un Couteau dans le Coeur (Knife + Heart)”, which premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. 

In 2018, Emō appeared in several films including “Lemon Taste” by Nicky Miller and “Les Fantômes”, a horror thriller directed by Alexandre Vallès. Director Noel Alejandro again cast Emō in two more of his films, the 2018 “The Seed”, a short erotic art film, and the short 2018 drama film “The End”. Emō appeared in a small role for Latvian director Rosa von Praunheim’s 2019 crime thriller “Darkroom”, which was based on a true story and filmed in Germany. 

Pierre Emō lives and works in both Paris and Berlin. On stage, he has played small parts with the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, a German theater company established in 1949 by actress Helene Weigel and playwright Bertoit Brecht.

The photo Images and gifs are from “Un Couteau dans le Coeur” by director Vann Gonzales. The film was shot on 35mm under the direction of cinematographer Simon Beaufils, who oversaturated some scenes in shades of blue and red. The soundtrack features the Gallic band M83.

The images and gifs were reblogged with many thanks to: https://doctordee.tumblr.com

The Lumière Brothers

Artist Unknown, (Paris Scenes), Computer Graphics, Film Gifs from “A Trip Through Paris, France, 1896-1900”

The Belle Époque was a period in the history of Paris between 1871 to 1914, from the beginning of the Third French Republic until the first World War. The nostalgic term came into use, after the despair and deaths of World War One, for what seemed a simpler time of elegance, optimism and progress. This “Beautiful Age’ brought dramatic advancements in art, culture, and technology. 

In the field of architecture, Paris saw the construction of the Paris Metro, the completion of the Paris Opera House, the building of the Eiffel Tower, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre. During the three Universal Expositions of 1879, 1889, and 1900, millions of visitors came to Paris to see the latest marvels in commerce, the arts, and science. Paris was also the birthplace of the Ballets Russes, the most influential ballet company of the twentieth century, and the new art movements of Impressionism and the experimental Modern Art.

One particularly important technological invention that emerged at this time was the projected motion picture, patented in 1895 by Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean Lumière. With this new technology, the Lumière brothers captured contemporary life in 19th-century Paris, culminating in the priceless black and white footage we can still see today.

Shot between 1896 and 1900, the compilation  “A Trip Through Paris, France, 1896-1900” takes viewers on a journey back in time to Paris. In six minutes, it showcases several sites around the French capital, including still-standing landmarks like Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Champs-Élysées, and the ten-year-old Eiffel Tower. In addition to featuring specific locations, it also offers a glimpse of daily life, from a scene showing firefighters on horseback to footage of children playing with little boats in the Tuileries Garden.

In order to set a lifelike scene, film restorer Guy Jones slowed the footage to a natural speed and added ambient noise. When coupled with the video’s strikingly high quality, these alterations make it possible for people today to wander through the Golden Age of Paris.

The complete film “A Trip Through Paris, France, 1896-1900” by the Lumière brothers with restoration and soundtrack can be found at Guy Jones’ Youtube site:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpUBuSn_Io93AMpOSw88afQ

Greeks Come True

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Konstantinos Rigas by Vangelis Kyris, “Greeks Come True”, 2019

“Greeks Come True” is a movie filmed by Vangelis Kyris in conjunction with a photo shooting for the Greeks Come True annual print calendar which is available every December. Filmed entirely on a Greek mountain farm, the eighty minute film follows the fifteen men and athletes involved in the calendar shoot. The film’s multi-genre sooundtrack features some of Greece’s promising musical artists.

Gloria Grahame

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Gloria Grahame in Fritz Lang’s 1954 “Human Desire”

Gloria Grahame Hallward, born November 28, 1923, was an American film star, singer, and stage and television actor. After appearing on Broadway for several years, she was signed to a contact with MGM Studios in 1944 . Two years after her film debut in “Blonde Fever”, she was given the role of flirty Violet Bick, saved from disgrace by Stewart’s George Bailey,  in the 1946 “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Her contract was then sold to RKO Studios in 1947 which featured her in several film noir pictures, portraying beautiful, flawed but seductive, women.

Gloria Grahame received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role portraying Ginny Tremaine in the 1947 “Crossfire”, a film noir drama based on the theme of anti-Semitism. In 1950 she appeared with Humphrey Bogart in Columbia Pictures’ film “In a Lonely Place”, garnering praise from critics. Her very short role of nine minutes playing southern belle Rosemary Bartlow in the 1952 “The Bad and the Beautiful” won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Grahame appeared in two films directed by Fritz Lang: the 1953 film noir “The Big Heat”, a crime drama co-starring Lee Marvin and Glenn Ford; and the 1954 film noir “Human Desire”, playing the femme fatale Vicki Buckley opposite her jealous film husband played by Broderick Crawford. As her film career began to wane, Grahame returned to the stage and made several guest appearances on television, including “The Twilight Zone” and “The Fugitive”.

After an initial bout with breast cancer in 1974, which had gone into remission, Gloria Grahame was again diagnosed with its return in 1980. Despite her failing health, she continued to work on stage in England and the United States. At the age of fifty-seven in 1981, Gloria Grahame was admitted to Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, where she passed a few hours after admittance. She is buried at the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. For her work in the film industry, Gloria Grahame has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. An account of Grahame’s final years of life, based on recollections of actor Peter Turner, was presented in the 2017 film “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”.

Image reblogged with thanks to http://doctordee.tumblr.com

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 2nd of December,  Solar Year 2018

The Craving of Human Touch in Form

December 2, 1933 was the release date of Fred Astaire’s first film, “Dancing Lady”.

“Dancing lady” is a 1933 pre-Code musical film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and produced by David O Selznick and John W Considine, Jr. It starred Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, and featured Franchot Tone, Fred Astaire, Robert Benchley, and Ted Healy and His Stooges, who later became the Three Stooges. It was also one of Eve Arden’s first uncredited appearances on film.

The film featured the film debut of extraordinary dancer Fred Astaire, who appears as himself, as well as the first credited appearance of actor and singer Nelson Eddy, a classically trained baritone who became the highest paid singer at that time in the world. The film was a box office hit upon its release, receiving many positive reviews from critics.

After appearing in “Dancing Lady” for MGM Studios, Fred Astaire returned to RKO Radio Pictures and received fifth billing In the 1933 Dolores del Rio film “Flying Down to Rio”. It was in this film that Astaire first danced with Ginger Rogers. Astaire was reluctant to become part of a dance team; however, the obvious public appeal of the pairing persuaded him. The Astaire-Rogers partnership, and the choreography of Astaire and collaborator Hermes Pan, helped make dancing an important element of the Hollywood film musical.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made nine films together at RKO, including the 1934 “Gay Divorcee”, “Top hat” in 1935, the 1936 “ Swing Time, and “Carefree” released in 1938. Six films of the nine became the biggest moneymakers for the RKO studio, bringing the studio the prestige and artistry it coveted. The Astaire-Rogers partnership elevated them both to stardom.

Fed Astaire was given complete autonomy over the dance production. He is credited with two important innovations in early film musicals: Astaire insisted that a closely tracking dolly camera film a dance routine in as few shots as possible, typically with just four to eight cuts,  while holding the dancers in full view at all times. This gave the illusion of an almost stationary camera filming an entire dance in a single shot.

Astaire’s second innovation involved the context of the dance. Astaire was adamant that all song and dance routines be seamlessly integrated into the plot lines of the film. Instead of using the dance as a spectacle such as a Busby Berkeley routine, the dance was used to move the plot along. A typical Astaire film would include three dance routines in the plot: a solo by Astaire, a partnered comedy dance, and a partnered romantic dance routine.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 30th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Sextant-Carrier

November 30 1937 was the birthdate of British film director and producer Ridley Scott.

Ridley Scott grew up in West Hartlepool, England, and attended the West Hartlepool College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. He worked as a set designer and a director in British television. In 1967, Scott began to direct commercials, known for their visual stylization and their distinctive atmospheric lighting effects.

Scott brought these effects into his feature films which he began directing in 1977. His directorial debut was the 1977 film “The Duelists”, a period film set in Napoleonic France base on a short story by Joseph Conrad. This film won the best first-feature award at the Cannas Film Festival. Scott followed the success with three more films, now widely regarded as classics:

The first, the science fiction horror story “Alien” was released in 1979. It was met with critical acclaim and box office success. It won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, three Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Scott and Best Supporting Actress for Veronica Cartwright. The second was the 1985 “Legend”, an allegorical fairy tale, was fleshed out with the help of American author William Hjortsberg, with the final screenplay going through fifteen revisions. The makeup effects were designed by special effects artist Rob Bottin, who had worked on “The Howling” and Carpenter’s “The Thing”.  The third, a dystopian fable of a dark, grim and polluted future, “Blade Runner” was released in 1982 and was based on a Philip K Dick novel. This contemporary film noir heavily employed Scott’s use of set design to enhance the mood of the film. It later became an acclaimed cult classic, hailed for its retrofitted future.

Ridley Scott’s 1991 “Thelma and Louise was acclaimed for its visual style as well as the lead characters and the feminist theme. Scott received an Academy Award nomination for his work on the film. After a series of commercial failures, Scott directed the 2000 “The Gladiator”, starring Russell Crowe in the title role. the action drama set in ancient Rome was a critical and commercial success, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. It also earned Scott his second nomination for best director.

Scott revisited the eerie world of “Alien” in the sci-fi Thriller “Prometheus” in 2012. He brought his spectacular sensibilities to bear on the biblical story of Moses in “Exodus:Gods and Kings” in 2014, following that with the taut space drama “The Martian”, released in 2015 and starring Matt Damon as the astronaut who must survive on Mars. Ridley Scott also served as producer for a number of films and television programs, including the series “Numb3rs” from 2005-2010 and “The Good Wife” form 2009 to 2016.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 29th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Trade

November 29, 1895 was the birthdate of choreographer Busby Berkeley.

Born William Berkeley Enos in California, Busby Burkeley, enlisted for service in the military during World War I. He oversaw military drills for both the American and French forces, an experience which would give him inspiration in later years. Taking advantage of his mother’s theatrical connections, Burkeley became an entertainment officer, directing and producing plays for the American troops in postwar Germany.

Taking the name of Busby Berkeley, he turned to the stage after the war, finding his forte was directing musicals. In 1927, Berkeley choreographed the Rogers and Hart musical “A Connecticut Yankee”, which was a tremendous success, making him one of Broadway’s most-coveted choreographers. Following that success, he choreographed, directed, and produced the 1929 musical “The Street Singer”.

Success brought Busby Berkeley to the attention of Hollywood. Samuel Goldwyn had him work on comedian Eddie Cantor’s film “Whoopee”, previously a production on Broadway by Flo Ziegfeld. Berkeley choreographed and directed the dance numbers in the film. He late worked on the Bert Lahr musical “Flying High” and the 1932 “Night World” with its night club scenes.

Busby Berkeley decided to move to the Warner Brothers Studio; this is where his most famous work was done. In 1933, he staged the dances for three musicals now regarded as classics: “Gold Diggers of 1933”, “42nd Street”, and “Footlight Parade”. All three films were backstage stories, concerned with the production of a Broadway show. The musical numbers Berkeley created were a opulent fantasy universe, using camera angles and movements that produced views unable to be seen by a sitting audience. Placing his camera directly above the action, he often showed his ensemble of performers moving in precise geometric formations.

In 1935, Warner Brothers made Busby Berkeley a full-fledged director, He produced one of his best works, “Gold Diggers of 1935”, an account of the events at a summer resort showcasing the musical number “Lullaby of Broadway” sung by Wini Shaw. This song won an Academy Award in 1936 and Berkeley was nominated for an Oscar for best dance director. He won his second Oscar for his work of choreography in “Gold diggers of 1937”.

Beginning in the 1960s, Berkeley’s films enjoyed a nostalgic revival, with both critics and film lovers showing renewed interest in his work. He himself returned briefly to Broadway in 1970 to supervise a production of “No No Nanette” with Ruby Keelre, the star of his three great 1933 films.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 27th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Lure of a Blue Room

November 27, 1920 marks the release of Douglas Fairbanks’s “The Mark of Zorro”.

“The Mark of Zorro” was a 1920 silent adventure romance film, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery Senior’, based on Johnston McCulley’s 1919 “The Curse of Capistrano” which introduced the character of Zorro. The story was adapted into a screenplay by Fairbanks, under the name of Elton Thomas, and Eugene Miller.  “The Mark of Zorro” was the first film released through United Artists, formed by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks played Don Diego Vega, the effete son of a wealthy ranch owner, who has the secret identity of a masked Robin Hood- like rogue, known as Zorro, or The Fox. He is the champion of the people who appears out of nowhere to protect and right wrongs. He has a love interest, Lolita played by Marguerite De La Motte, and is pursued by the authorities, including Sergeant Pedro Gonzales played by Noah Beery Senior.

“The Mark of Zorro” is a landmark in the career of Douglas Fairbanks and in the development of the action adventure film. This was Fairbanks’s thirtieth motion picture; and he used it to transition from comedies to costume adventure films, which is how most people remember him. The audiences responded with enthusiasm to Fairbanks’s  new persona, which allowed him to flaunt his considerable athleticism to its fullest advantage. Fairbanks’s stunts have lost none of their impact; no later cinematic superhero has ever been half so convincing as his Zorro leaping from rooftop to rooftop, and over the heads of his enemies.

This film helped popularize one of Americas’s most prominent creations of fiction; the enduring character of the superhero. It established the pattern for future caped crusaders with dual identities. “The Mark of Zorro” was remade twice: in 1940 starring Tyrone Power and in 1974 starring Frank Langella. The United States Library of Congress selected it in 2015 for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In DC Comics, it is established that “The Mark of Zorro” was the film that young Bruce Wayne saw just before the death of his parents outside the movie theater. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce Wayne’s childhood hero and an influence upon his Batman persona. Bill Finger, co-creator with Bob Kane of the character Batman, was inspired by the Zorro played by Fairbanks, leading to similarities in costumes, the secret caves, and the unexpected secret identities.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 25th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Jaguar Hunter

November 25, 1920 marks the birthdate of actor Ricardo Montalban.

Born in Mexico City, Mexico, to Spanish immigrants, Ricardo Montalban made his New York stage debut in 1940 in a small role in “Her Cardboard Lover”, starring Tallulah Bankhead. In 1947 he landed his first major Hollywood film role in the musical “Fiesta”, playing twin siblings with Esther Williams. Montalbam had a memorable dance number in that film with Cyd Charisse.

The dark, handsome Montalbam with the Spanish accent would go on to play numerous Latin romantic-types. He teamed up again with Esther Williams in two more films, the musical romantic comedy “Neptune’s Daughter” and the 1948 romantic comedy “On an Island with You”. In 1949, Montalbam broke from his romantic typecast to play a border agent in the suspense drama film “Border Incident” directed by Anthony Mann.

During the 1950s and 1960s Montalbam was one of only a handful of actively working Hispanic actors in Hollywood, often playing characters of different ethnicities, such as the character Nakamura in the 1957 “Sayonara” and Tokura in a “Hawaii Five-O” episode. He also starred as a naive, penniless French duke in the romance comedy “Love is a Ball” released in 1963.

Ricardo Montalbam’s best known television role was that of the man in the white suit with the cultured demeanor, Mr. Roarke, on the television series “Fantasy Island” which ran from 1977 to 1984. The series was one of the most popular on television at that time, making him and his co-star Herve Villechaize, playing Tattoo, popular icons.

Montalbam’s most well-known film role was the character of Khan Noonien Singh in the 1982 “Star Trek II: The Wrath of khan”, in which he reprised the role he had originated in the 1967 episode of “Star Trek” titled “Space Seed”. Montalbam was already physically fit; so Khan’s costume was specifically designed to display his physique. He agreed to take the role at a significant pay cut because he relished reprising his original character. His only regret, he said, was that he and William Shatner never interacted in their roles; the scenes were all done through video communication, filming their scenes months apart to accommodate Montalbam’s schedule for “Fantasy Island”.

Montalbam reacted to the poor way Mexicans were being portrayed by establishing with other stars the Nosotros (We) Foundation in 1970 to advocate for Latinos in the movie and television industry. He served as its first president. The foundation created the Golden Eagle Awards, an annual awards show that highlights Latino actors. The awards are presented in conjunction with the Nosotros American Latino Film Festival, held at the now named Ricardo Montalbam Theater in Hollywood.

“Sebastiane”

“Sebastiane”, 1976, Directed by Derek Jarman and Paul Humfress

Sebastiane” is a 1976 Latin-language British historical thriller directed by Derek Jarman and Paul Humfress. The screenplay, written by Jarman, Humfress, and James Whaley, portrays events in the life of Saint Sebastian, including his martyrdom by arrows. The film, which was targeted to a gay audience, was controversial for the homoerotism portrayed and for being dialogued entirely in vulgar Latin. It was the only English-made film to have required English subtitles.

Intensely erotic, “Sebastiane” was filmed in Sardinia, near the town of Buggerru, and in locations in Italy. The film is an early film by the noted experimental and outspokenly gay director Jarman and features the debut of actor Leonardo Treviglio in his role of Sebastian. A bold film having the distinction of being the first non-porn film to show a male erection, “Sebastiane” now is probably only for the film aficionado who loves film- making and its history. A milestone in the history of non-porn gay films.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 22nd of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Treasure of the Island

November 22, 1932 was the birthdate of actor Robert Vaughn.

Born in New York City, Robert Vaughn studied at the Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, earning a Master’s Degree in theater. He received a Ph. D in communications from the University of Southern California in 1970. He published his dissertation as a book, “Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting” in 1972.

Vaughn made his television debut in November of 1955 on the series “Medic”, the first of more than two hundred appearances on the show. He first film appearance was as an uncredited extra playing a golden calf idolater visible behind Yul Brynner in a scene from “The Ten Commandments”. Vaughn’s first credited movie role was playing Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James, in the 1957 western “Hell’s Crossroads”.

Vaughn’s first film appearance of note was in “The Young Philadelphians”, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. He next appeared as the gunman Lee in “ The Magnificent Seven” in 1960, the western adaption of Kuorsawa’s epic “ Seven Samurai”.

Robert Vaughn was offered his most memorable role in 1964, starring in his own series as secret agent Napoleon Solo in the television series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”. His co-star was Scottish actor David McCallum who played fellow agent Illya Kuryakin. This role would make Robert Vaughn a household name even behind the Iron Curtain. This series which ran from 1964 to 1968 created a spin-off show, large amounts of merchandising, overseas theatrical movies, and a sequel.

After the series ended, Vaughn was given the role of playing the ambitious California politician Chalmers, in the critical and box-offise smash film “Bullitt” starring Steve McQueen. Vaughn was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. He won an Emmy for his portrayal of Frank Flaherty in ABC’s 1977 “Washington: Behind Closed Doors”. Vaughn did acting work in England also, appearing on the BBC drama “Hustle” and the British soap opera “Coronation Street”.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 19th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Superman Tattoo

November 19, 1959 marks the release date for the television show “Rocky and His Friends”.

“Rocky and His Friends” was a serialized animation show, produce by Jay Ward Productions, that ran from November 1959 to June of 1964. During its history, it appeared under several broadcast titles, most notably “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”. The series was structured as a variety show, with the main feature being the adventures of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and the moose Bullwinkle. Their main adversaries were the two “Russian” spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. both who worked for the Fearless Leader.

The animation show included three other supporting segments: the old-time melodrama styled “Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties”; “Peabody’s Improbable History”, in which the dog Mr. Peabody takes his boy Sherman to different historical events in time; and “Fractured Fairy Tales”, a new look, albeit slightly askew, at the classic fairy tales.

The idea for “Rocky and His Friends” was from Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, who had both collaborated on “Crusader Rabbit”, the first animated series created specifically for television. Production began in February of 1958 with the hiring of the voice actors: June Foray who voiced Rocky, Natasha, and every female character on the show; Paul Frees who voiced Boris and Inspector Fenwick,; Bill Scott who voiced Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and Mr. Peabody, and William Conrad who narrated the Rocky and Dudley Do-Right segments..

“Rocky and His Friends” was sponsored by the cereal-manufacturer General Mills, who insisted that the show have an late-afternoon time slot, targeting it toward children. The writers and designers were hired; however, no animators were hired. Instead in a move to save cost, the advertising agency for General Mills outsourced the animation to a Mexican company called Gamma Productions, which caused many productions problems because of its quality of animation and mistakes in the continuity of the animated characters and scenes.

“Rocky and His Friends” abounded with quality writing and wry humor, appealing to adults as well as children. Its segments mixed puns, self-humor, and satire on the existing culture and topics in life. The animation art has an unpolished look with limited action compared to the other animated series produced at that time. Despite this, the series is still held in high esteem by critics, with some viewing it as a well-written radio program with visual images. The series was influential to the development of other animated series and, to date, has aired in one hundred countries.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 18th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Cross

November 18, 1908 was the birthdate of American comic actress Imogene Coca.

Imogene Coca, born Imogene Fernandez de Coca in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the daughter of José Fernandez de Coca, a conductor, and his wife Sadie Brady, a dancer and magician’s assistant.

In her youth, Imogene Coca received piano, dance, and voice lessons. While still a teenager, she moved from Philadelphia to seek a living as a dancer, starting in the chorus of the 1925 Broadway musical “When You Smile” which ran forty-nine performances in New York City. Coca came to be featured as a headliner, appearing in Manhattan nightclubs, with music arranged by her first husband, Robert Burton. She came to prominence when she began to combine music with comedy. Coca’s first big critical success was in Broadway musical revue “New Faces of 1934”. A well-received part of her act was a comic striptease, during which Coca made sultry faces and gestures but would manage to remove only one glove.

Imogene Coca played opposite Sid Caesar on “The Admiral Broadway Revue” from January to June in 1949. In the early days of live television, she again played opposite Sid Caesar in a sketch comedy program, “Your Show of Shows”, which was immensely popular from 1950 to 1954. Coca won the second-ever Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1951 and was nominated for four other Emmys for her work in the show. Her success in that program earned Coca her own series “The Imogen Coca Show which ran from 1954-1955.

Imogene Coca continued to appear on comedy and variety series from the 1950s to the 1980s. She appeared on “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Hollywood Palace”, made guest appearances on “Bewitched” and “The Brady Bunch”, and occasionally appeared in films such as “Under the Yum Yum Tree” in 1963 and the 1963 “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, as Aunt Edna.

After having appeared in several Broadway musical-comedy revues and plays between the 1930s and the 1950s, Imogene Coca returned to Broadway at the age of 70 with a Tony Award-nominated performance as religious zealot Letitia Primrose in “On the Twentieth Century”, a 1978 stage musical adapted from the 1934 film. Her role, that of a religious fanatic who plasters decals onto every available surface, had been a male in both the film and the original stage production, and was rewritten specifically as a vehicle for Coca.