Diary of a Lost Girl

Diary of a Lost Girl, the second of Georg Wilhelm Pabst's productive collaborations with Louise Brooks, is a potent and gorgeously stylized depiction of an innocent young woman's destruction at the hands of the not-so-innocent. Brooks plays Thymian, a beautiful and sheltered pharmacist's daughter whose dawning realization about the cruel ways of the world coincides with the loss of the security of her family. The opening of the film enacts a lurid symbolic struggle between innocence and sin, naïveté and knowledge. Brooks' Thymian, dressed all in white on the occasion of her confirmation, her eyes wide beneath the iconic ridge of her dark bangs, looks around her with a complete lack of guile, sweetly accepting presents from family and friends, glowing with courtesy and grace.

She seems entirely unaware of all the sexually charged glances being exchanged all around her: the exaggerated leer of her father's assistant Meinert (Fritz Rasp) who all but licks his lips and bulges his eyes like a cartoon wolf when he looks at her; her father's (Josef Rovensky) sexual liaisons with one maid after another; her aunt's (Vera Pawlowa) grim knowledge of these constant affairs; the knowing glances and raised eyebrows of the party guests when they see the new maid Meta (Franziska Kinz), who brazenly stares at her employer with an invitingly wicked smile that openly suggests that the cycle is going to start again. Everyone but Thymian seems to know exactly what's going on, but she is blissfully unaware of the sexual drama surrounding her.

In her pure white confirmation dress, a band of flowers wrapped around her head, she's a vision of innocence so pure and unstained that the mere realization that sin and sexual predation exist in her household produces a fainting spell, confining her to bed as though she's taken ill. She sees the corpse of her beloved maid — who'd committed suicide after being abandoned by Thymian's father — then runs up the stairs in a daze, sees her father with his arm already around the new maid, both of them staring at the camera in a frozen pose, a sly smile on the face of the new maid in contrast to the serene blankness of the dead girl downstairs, and in one fluid motion Thymian swoons to the floor, overcome by the taint of impurity infiltrating her home.

This is only the beginning of Thymian's suffering, as Meinert takes advantage of her vulnerability and rapes her. Pabst freezes the frame at the moment when the creepy druggist lowers Thymian's limp form into bed, and then immediately cuts to a baby carriage being taken out of Thymian's room, months later, carrying the fruit of that forceful union. Thymian's family casts her out, and she's sent to a reformatory, which she soon escapes with her friend Erika (Edith Meinhard), only to fall into a life of prostitution. The man she believes is going to save her, the disgraced and disinherited Count Osdorff (André Roanne), is actually a lazy and pathetic outcast who settles easily into a life of comfort at the brothel with Thymian and Erika. Pabst, though, doesn't portray the brothel as an entirely unpleasant life; the girls have fun and like each other, and Thymian certainly seems happier and better off there than she was under the care of the strict Christian moralists at the reformatory.

The reformatory is run by a stern mistress (Valeska Gert) whose usually stony face betrays an expression of ecstatic joy when whipping the girls through a frenzied gymnastics routine, and a bald-headed, looming movie monster giant (Andrews Engelmann) who first pops comically into the frame by standing up in front of a sign listing the many things that are "verboten" in this dismal place. This cartoonish giant delights in punishing the girls, grabbing them with a clawed hand at the scruff of their neck as though picking up a disobedient puppy, and his leering sadism is both creepy and hysterical — particularly when he runs a confiscated tube of lipstick across his own mouth, grinning impishly, then uses it to write a reminder to punish the girl he'd taken it from, a note signed with a heart to indicate his sadistic love of punishment.

Lesbian eroticism is another obvious subtext here, especially in the reformatory, where most of the girls have clipped, close-cropped boyish haircuts, and Erika introduces herself to Thymian by surreptitiously touching the new girl's leg with her foot and winking at her, echoing Meinert's leering winks. At bedtime, as Pabst pans down the line of girls getting ready for bed, two girls sit in the same bunk, giggling, and fall back into bed together. The scene where the matron tries to seize Thymian's diary is also loaded with suggestive intimacy, with the stern woman grabbing at Erika's bare legs, looking up at the two girls sitting in the top bunk, grasping at them with clawed hands. Later, when Thymian visits Erika at the brothel where she's staying, Pabst emphasizes the brothel's madame putting an intimate hand on the bare back of one of her girls — the gesture is repeated when the madame pushes Thymian together with a male client to dance — and then has Erika kneel before Thymian, taking off her shoes and undressing her, unbuttoning her demure reformatory blouse with its high collar to expose a V of flesh at her neck.

The film is steeped in this kind of sexual suggestiveness. Thymian's downfall has everything to do with sex and money, and sex and money come to be linked in very intimate ways for her. After her first night at the brothel, after she's spent the night with a man — swooning in his arms so that her limp form very much recalls her unconsciousness during Meinert's exploitation of her — the madame hands her an envelope of cash and makes it clear that it's from the man. Only then does the very naïve Thymian realize what's happened, and she recoils from the cash, which Pabst nevertheless emphasizes in a closeup. Much later, when her father dies and she receives an inheritance from Meinert for buying out the pharmacy, the camera glances from the pile of cash to Meinert's smug, cartoonishly grinning face, making it seem as though this too is a transaction, a belated payment for that long ago night when he'd taken her to bed.

It's not all grim tragedy here, though, and there's some limited comedy relief along the way. Among the humorous scenes is a very strange sequence where a goofy guy with a billy-goat beard (a possible anti-Semitic caricature) comes to see Thymian for "dance lessons," and she leads him in a bizarre calisthenic workout inspired by her reformatory exercise drills, while holding a drum protectively/suggestively over her crotch and beating it with a mallet in the way the reformatory mistress had done. The sexual symbolism is especially naked here, but those undercurrents are everywhere in this film.

The plot unravels a bit towards the end with a predictable tonal shift towards an optimistic, redemptive conclusion, seemingly foisted upon Pabst by censors eager to end on a positive note after all this barely coded sex. Even here, though, Pabst's emotional poetry shines through. The film is never less than beautiful, its style fluid and expressionist while also remaining grounded in social realism. And Brooks is just magnificent, with a beautiful and vibrant face that was perfectly suited to the silent cinema. When she smiles, the screen glows, and when she's suffering her eyes seem to contain unimaginable depths of feeling, often assisted by Pabst's very sympathetic photography of her, as in the stunning shot where she stares out a rain-streaked window, the raindrops on the glass standing in for her tears.

Posted in Cinema

Magnificent Obsession

Douglas Sirk was a master of the lurid Hollywood melodrama, transcending often outrageous and contrived material with the sheer force of the emotion and the visual rigor that he invested in these stories. In films like All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind, Sirk found profundity and great beauty in what would have been trash in the hands of others. In Magnificent Obsession, a forerunner to the Jane Wyman/Rock Hudson pairing of All That Heaven Allows, not even Sirk can truly transcend what must be one of the worst plots and the worst screenplays in Hollywood history, a ridiculous pile-up of contrivances and silly plot twists in the service of a saccharine Christian-themed drama. It's a clunky and deeply strange film, and its absurd narrative prevents it from ever really being great, though Sirk's mise en scène and keen eye for painting in Technicolor elevate it at least to the level of a campy, emotionally intense tearjerker.

The story concerns the redemption of the callow playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson), who gets a wake-up call when his boating accident indirectly causes the death of a prominent, well-loved local doctor because an important piece of medical equipment was being used to treat Bob when the doctor had a heart attack. Bob falls in love with the doctor's widow Helen (Jane Wyman), but his clumsy attempts to pursue her — using a bastardized version of the philosophy of Christian charity practiced by her husband, and taught to Bob by the husband's friend Edward Randolph (Otto Kruger) — only results in further tragedy, when an accident leaves Helen blind. It's soapy in the extreme, particularly when Bob dedicates his life to medicine, becoming a doctor and using his wealth and his knowledge in an attempt to cure Helen's blindness even as he courts the blind woman (who apparently doesn't recognize his voice) under the laughable assumed name of Robby Robinson. Once one starts trying to pick apart the plot, it's difficult to stop, so it's best to just let it be, to try to overlook the unending cavalcade of absurdities and foolishness and sudden emotional reversals, to focus instead on the undeniably rapturous power of Sirk and cinematographer Russell Metty's images, which are as always some of the finest examples of Technicolor extravagance.

Sirk makes this insane plot come alive with the sensuous power of his images. Resonating with the theme of literal and metaphorical blindness, Sirk continually bathes the characters in alternating blocks of light and shadow, draping the film in darkness. Walking across a room, they step into the light for a moment and are then swallowed up again in darkness, the shadows falling across faces and erasing features into black silhouettes in the night. For all his obvious love of bright, pastel colors, Sirk seems equally at home in inky blackness, stretching shadows across the frame so that the characters are perpetually shuttling back and forth between seeing and unseeing, between flashes of light and dark pools in which nothing can be seen. When Helen visits Switzerland for a barrage of tests with some famed eye surgeons, her face is totally profiled in shadow until the doctor pans a small light across her face, highlighting each of her eyes in turn, creating a tiny circle of light, a pinprick reflected in her shining eye.

This approach reaches its apex with the scene where Bob takes Helen out for a romantic evening. The whole sequence is draped in these kinds of shadows, simultaneously creating a sumptuously romantic mood and suggesting a visual analogue for Helen's blindness, the darkness all around them shading their faces, hiding them from one another. As they dance together, they twirl and their faces are alternately shaded and lit up, passing in and out of the shadows with each turn. Sirk's aesthetic has a meticulousness that works against the raw, oversized emotions of his material. At one point, Helen, blind, picks her way across a darkened room, carefully feeling for obstacles and making her way slowly through the shadow-strewn room, until she comes to a balcony where her extended hand knocks a potted plant off the ledge. The camera follows the plant's fall down to the street below, where it shatters with a loud crack, triggering Helen's breakdown at precisely that instant, as though a starter's pistol had been fired.

In another scene, when Bob is about to perform the climactic surgery that will inevitably restore Helen's sight and redeem him from his careless and wasteful past, he hesitates until he looks up to the viewing gallery, where he sees Randolph, this film's kindly incarnation of God, looking down on them with a benevolent smile, the operating table and the doctors around it reflected in the glass around Randolph. He then steps away, satisfied that Bob will perform this task, and Sirk holds the shot of the now-empty viewing gallery, the operating room still reflected in it, visually communicating that God has done his work of inspiration, and the rest of the task must be left to the hands of man.

The film is rich in this kind of loaded visual symbolism. Sirk often transcends the frankly stupid plot with the sheer emotional power of his images, which crackle with vitality and feeling even when the twists and turns of the script barely make a bit of sense. But, even though Sirk often worked with such lousy material, and routinely transformed it into masterpieces, here, for whatever reason, he can't quite perform that miracle. The result is a film that's as visually beautiful as one would expect, and often seething with raw and over-the-top emotion, but never comes together on the multiple levels that characterize Sirk's best work.

Posted in Cinema

Under Capricorn

Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn is one of the director's more divisive films, but it certainly doesn't deserve its unflattering reputation. This lavish period melodrama, set in 1800s Australia, might be deliberately paced, but it's as emotionally, psychologically and formally complex as any of the director's best work. The core of the film is a twisted three-way relationship that develops between the wealthy ex-convict Sam (Joseph Cotten), his disturbed, alcoholic wife Hattie (Ingrid Bergman), and Charles (Michael Wilding), who had known Hattie as a boy in Ireland and claims to Sam that he can awaken Hattie from her self-destructive, near-insane mental state. Indeed, the charming Charles is able to shake Hattie out of her stasis and mental collapse, but he also preys on her, seducing her away from her husband even as he cures her. Sam watches this situation unfold, glowering and brooding, under the watchful eye of his maid Milly (Margaret Leighton), who obviously desires Sam and resents his wife. There's a dark history here that slowly, patiently unfurls, but the emphasis throughout is not really on narrative, past or present, but on the churning, potent emotions of the protagonists and the engulfing visual style that Hitchcock springs like a trap around the characters.

Hitchcock made this film immediately after the long-take formal experiment of Rope, and he applies a similar aesthetic here, albeit not quite as rigorously. This was Hitchcock's only collaboration with Powell/Pressburger cinematographer Jack Cardiff, whose sumptuous use of color and glossy, unreal aesthetic is a perfect complement to Hitchcock, and especially to the particular qualities of this lush period drama. Using the unbroken take style of Rope, Hitchcock and Cardiff hold shots for minutes at a time, the camera unmoored, drifting around the rooms of Sam's palatial home, its gentle movements subtly but definitively defining the relationships between the characters. Who's in the frame and who's not means everything in this film, particularly in terms of the central love triangle, as Charles' friendship with and seduction of Hattie increasingly pushes her own husband out of the picture, shunting him off to the side.

In the first scene where Charles and Hattie meet, she wanders, drunk and dazed, into one of her husband's dinner parties and sits down at the head of the table. Charles holds her chair for her and then sits next to her, leaving his own spot at the table. Once Charles sits down by Hattie's side, it's as though there's no longer anyone else at the table; Hitchcock maintains a two-shot of them as she reminiscences about the past, occasionally glancing across the table, presumably at her unseen husband, but Hitchcock doesn't cut away, doesn't show the reaction of the others to this immediate intimacy, doesn't show anyone else or have anyone else even talk again until Hattie stands up and the camera tracks to follow her, past the others at the table, as Charles walks her to the staircase leading back to her room.

Later, when Hattie dictates a letter to Charles' sister, Hitchcock again keeps the camera on the two of them, Sam forgotten outside the frame, until the camera begins tracking away from Charles and Hattie, past her husband's now abandoned place setting, through the empty room, finally finding Sam, walking away, his back to the camera, in the hallway, as the image fades to black. It's as though, when Charles and Hattie are together, everything else fades away, forgotten, the triangle becoming a two-shot, the room emptying off-camera. Hitchcock and Cardiff have a way of shooting the scenes between Hattie and Charles so that even if someone's standing right next to them, it feels like they're all alone.

In a subsequent scene, Milly, who'd been fired, returns while Charles and Hattie go out to the ball together, again leaving Sam behind. Hitchcock holds a very long and mostly static take as the maid chatters away, delivering her passive-aggressive patter about Hattie, her voice full of gossipy insinuation. The frame slowly constricts and expands as Sam wanders in and out of view, sometimes glowering in the background, sometimes strolling towards the camera, his face dark. All the while, Milly's barely disguised bile dominates the soundtrack, and she remains the visual center of the shot, but it's Sam's darkening expression and stalking walk that actually serve as the scene's viscerally felt focus even when he's peripheral or outside the frame altogether. Only at the very end of the scene, the end of the shot, does Sam finally step forward into the foreground of the frame, and Milly's voice fades away, his anger finally blotting out her words.

There's another fantastic long take when Hattie tells the story of her past with Sam. The camera maintains a medium distance as she paces around the room, and the camera glides with her, often with Charles' head in the foreground of the frame, placing the spectator in his position as he listens to her. She often resists facing him, though, showing the camera her profile more than her full face, which makes the sudden closeup, when she confesses to shooting her brother, all the more startling: the camera suddenly floats upwards and presses in at precisely the moment when she steps forward and leans into the shot, nearly facing the camera for her confessional moment. It's especially striking because immediately afterward she returns to avoiding this direct, forward-facing manner, turning her profile to the camera or turning away altogether, looking up, down, anywhere but straight-on.

This patient, elegant style pays off especially well in the final act, when all the long-bubbling resentments and conflicted emotions come to the surface in an eerie, dreamlike climax. Hattie, returning to her drunken hysteria after a series of dramatic twists and turns, sinks back into her isolation, terrified of the horrifying things she imagines seeing around her room. As Sam tucks Hattie in and comforts her, there's a long, rumbling roll of thunder that sounds like a blown-out speaker, and it continues to roar throughout the nightmarish scenes in which Hattie discovers a ghoulish shrunken head in her bed and collapses, with Hitchcock suggesting the passage of time afterwards with a gorgeous image of a rain-streaked window superimposed over the unconscious woman's face. This whole sequence is haunting and gorgeous, with every detail heightened: the single beaded tear glistening on Hattie's cheek, the tracking shot along the rough terrain of the pillowcase and bedsheets, the continued rolling of the thunder, the sinister tinkling of Milly's keys as she creeps around the room, the light glinting off the poisoned glass that's so resonant of other sinister drinks in Hitchcock's oeuvre.

It's a dream, a nightmare, and the subsequent scenes in which the plot begins reversing gears to move inexorably towards a happy resolution have the feeling of waking up from a dream, finally shaking off the narcotized slumber that afflicted these characters and kept them trapped in a recurring cycle of self-destruction and recrimination. Under Capricorn is a stylish and beautiful movie, its aesthetic seductive and hypnotic, with a psychological complexity that makes it enthralling throughout.

Posted in Cinema

Deep in My Heart – 1954

Deep in My Heart (1954) is a delightful musical, a biography of composer Sigmund Romberg that is perhaps not so much biography as it is pastiche—but this is what makes it so successful.

It is long a common complaint of classic film fans, even fans of musicals, that filmed biographies of composers fall short of the mark when it comes to being authentic or factual.  I won’t disagree.  However, neither do I expect a musical, even in the form of a biography of a composer, to be a documentary.  It is first and foremost a revue of his music, and Deep in My Heart, though giving us a smattering of Romberg’s experiences as in immigrant to the U.S. in the days of Tin Pan Alley, nevertheless firmly keeps to his music as a method of telling the story of his aspirations as a composer.  To this end—fighting the “modern” trends of music with its soul-crushing disposable fads, and yearning for the opportunity to express himself in his own way—these ideals are timeless among creative people and in telling this story the film is completely successful.

Stanley Donen, I think, was an exceptional director of musicals, and his quick style and expressive camera work reminds me a little of the work of Michael Curtiz in a way, the way the camera sweeps, pans, and catches little things.  It is never static.  But it is the unlikely cast of this musical that is the most intriguing.  José Ferrer stars as composer Sigmund Romberg.  A star on Broadway in Shakespearian roles, and, of course, his Tony-Oscar-Emmy win for Cyrano—who in the world suggested, “Ah, a frothy musical on a Viennese composer of operettas!  Let’s get José Ferrer!”?  I don’t know whose idea it was, but it was a serendipitous choice.  Mr. Ferrer is astounding in this role.  A true Renaissance man, his abilities not only in dramatic acting, musicianship, languages, and a beautifully silly flare for comedy, Ferrer is perfect in this film.

Helen Traubel, another in the “how did they ever think of her?” category, is splendid as Ferrer’s longtime buddy, an immigrant like himself from the Austro-Hungarian Empire who carries the sentimental veneer of Old Vienna, while at the same time espousing a scrappy American immigrant’s idealism and love for her new country.  She owns the café where Ferrer, a newcomer to the New World himself, plays piano, sometimes his own lovely compositions, and also waits on tables.  She is with him through thick and thin throughout his career, just as much a part of his life at the beginning as at his triumphant final moments before the fade out.  Miss Traubel was something of a Renaissance woman herself: one of the Metropolitan Opera’s Wagnerian sopranos in the 1940s, she later wrote mystery novels and was a long-time baseball fan, eventually becoming part-owner of her favorite, and unhappily unsuccessful team, The St. Louis Browns.  She and Ferrer play off each other well, as much celebrating as parodying the gemütlichkeit of their culture.

Joining Miss Traubel in supporting Ferrer’s career is Merle Oberon as Dorothy Donnelly, Sigmund Romberg’s real-life partner in musical theatre.  Dorothy Donnelly had an interesting and important place in American theatre in the early days of the twentieth century; noted stage actress, even appearing in a few silent films, playwright, producer, and director.  She also enjoyed fame as the librettist to many of Romberg’s most successful operettas.  In this movie, she has the rather shadowy role of being Romberg’s advisor, supporter, partner, but also as played by the fey and lovely Merle Oberon, a woman silently in love with him, who, for whatever reason, keeps her infatuation to herself.  Miss Oberon gives the role an intriguing sadness.  Her best roles, the height of her career was behind her, but she gives this slight role a lustrous charm.

Rounding out the cast we are given more real-life personages, but presented, in typical Hollywood fashion, more as “types.”  Doe Avedon, who enjoyed only a brief career in film, plays the elegant upper crust debutante with whom Ferrer is smitten and eventually marries. 

Walter Pidgeon, now relegated from leading man to character roles, mostly fuddy-duddy businessmen, plays theatre impresario J.J. Shubert. 

Paul Henreid briefly plays Florenz Ziegfeld.  Later this year, we’re going to discuss a bit more about Florenz Ziegfeld and the actors who played him on film.

Paul Stewart, normally relegated to gangster types with that icy stare, here has a prominent role as Bert Townsend, Shubert’s producer who frankly admits to being in the theatre racket for the money and who panders to a public he feels are more likely to attend snappy shows with up-to-date situations, dialogue, and tunes.  He stomps down hard on Ferrer’s artistic bent for presenting operetta with all its cultural, dramatic, and musical richness, and this is the running theme of the story:  The artist being allowed to create what he wants versus what is currently the rage in the marketplace.

This theme pulls this splendid movie from the cozy dream world of the usual MGM musical and plants it firmly in today’s era of art versus product marketability.  It’s the same for music, theatre, books, as it is for any artistic endeavor, and every artist can relate.  The only thing perhaps holding back a modern appreciation of the struggles Romberg faces in this film is that the struggles are over operetta.  Unfortunately, as we discussed last year in our posts on The Student Prince (1954), Rose Marie (1954) and The Great Caruso (1951), operetta, outside of regional theatre, no longer enjoys the popularity it once did.  Paul Stewart, the grumpy producer, feels the same.  He wants no part of these Viennese-inspired cupcakes.  He wants Al Jolson in blackface, college co-eds, and flaming youth.

Needing the money, and the exposure, Ferrer sells his soul, as it were, and allows himself to become the composer of a great number of these now-forgotten topical “hits” of the World War I era and the early 1920s.  He constantly hammers at Mr. Stewart to allow him to write the kind of music he wants to write, constantly shoving the score of Maytime in his face, at which Stewart turn up his nose like smelly garbage.  Maytime would become one of the colossal hits of Broadway, which finally gave Romberg a leg up on doing the kind of music he wanted.

The Student Prince, Desert Song, and Rose Marie were even bigger hits in the 1920s, and it is for these operettas, Romberg’s pride, that he is remembered and not the dreck he was forced to write earlier in his career.

So there, Paul Stewart.

A few scenes of note:  I love how the movie starts, slowly, elegantly, and grandly with a full orchestra, as the camera pans probingly, lovingly on the musicians at their instruments (I doubt close-ups were ever given to orchestra musicians before or probably since), then finally lands on José Ferrer conducting, and then, bang, the credits.  It is a classy way to begin.

The use of a roster of MGM stars to present the various musical numbers is genius: it allows the studio to play its first-stringers, and it allows most of the story to be centered on the music and not on any awkwardly strung-together “biography.”  Jane Powell and Vic Damone, Howard Keel, Tony Martin, Ann Miller all are presented in numbers that show off their best talents.

Ferrer, who, among his other talents, can sing a little as well, is presented in a charming number with his new wife, Rosemary Clooney, “Mr. and Mrs.”  And proves to be a pretty snappy dancer.

He also performs the ragtime novelty song and dance “Leg O’ Mutton Rag” with the delightfully game Helen Traubel.  Wagner?  Who’s that?

Cyd Charisse and James Mitchell dance to “One Alone” from The Desert Song in one of filmdom’s most sensual performances ever.  They way they move and cling to each other in perfect interpretation of the music makes her climbing over his body look curiously almost like ice dancing.  You’d swear there is more movement than the camera is capturing.

We see the fun stuff, and the most exquisitely beautiful popular music ever written.  “Softly, as a Morning Sunrise” is tops among these, and Helen Traubel gets to save it, most majestically, from its early foot-stomping mangled version as concocted by the Shuberts and the manic styling of Tamara Toumanova.

Gene Kelly, in a rare film duet song and dance with his brother Fred, appear in the “I Love to Go Swimmin’ with Wimmen.”

But the tops is José Ferrer’s tour-de-force performance in the scene where he is requested to describe his latest work for the Shuberts, a silly romp called “Jazzadadadoo” from Bombo.  Embarrassed about this show, he is reluctant to act and sing it in front of his lady friend and her snobby mother, but once persuaded, he throws himself into it, manic and most hysterically funny.  The performance is incredible; not only does he compresses the entire plot of the ridiculous show in a single scene, but he dances, does mimicry, funny voices, smears on a little blackface to imitate Al Jolson, and will make you laugh until you cry or wet your pants or both.   It’s like a Monty Python skit.

Dignity slowly returns to Romberg, and the movie, when we witness his eventual vindication among the Shuberts and all low-brow folks when his operettas are the hits of the shallow 1920s; when he mourns the loss of his pal, Merle Oberon as Dorothy Donnelly, who sadly died at only 47; and in the final majestic number before a full orchestra, Romberg’s signature tune, “Deep in My Heart.”

But were the Shuberts right, did they have the last laugh in knowing that someday operetta would no longer be what the public wanted?

Listen to the music.  “Softly as a Summer Sunrise” is one of the loveliness, most sensual tunes ever written, and is still performed by jazz/blues singers today, as well as “Lover, Come Back to Me” both from the operetta The New Moon.

And consider that if Linda Rondstadt and Kermit the Frog can perform “When I Grow to Old to Dream,” then it really is a cool song after all, isn’t it?

In this old radio show, we have Ferrer, Rosemary Clooney, Jane Powell and others on the soundtrack promoting the film: 

Deep in My Heart, sometimes shown on TCM, is available on DVD here:

©Jacqueline T. Lynch, 2007-2015. All rights reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Another Old Movie Blog, please be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission. 
Posted in Old Movie Blog

A couple of Dougs.

More photos from Stars of the Photoplay, a 1930 book that lauds the then current screen stars, and how interesting to have a father and son both in the fan mags as heroes and hearthrobs.  The year before Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. had played Petruchio, the dashing rogue in The Taming of the Shrew; and Doug, Jr. had appeared in no less than six films, one of which, Our Modern Maidens, paired him with Joan Crawford, whom he married that year.

Hollywood "royalty," perhaps the first such examples, the book pointedly places them on facing pages, and though they do not face each other, they appear to be gazing off in the same direction.

Posted in Old Movie Blog

A couple of Dougs.

More photos from Stars of the Photoplay, a 1930 book that lauds the then current screen stars, and how interesting to have a father and son both in the fan mags as heroes and hearthrobs.  The year before Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. had played Petruchio, the dashing rogue in The Taming of the Shrew; and Doug, Jr. had appeared in no less than six films, one of which, Our Modern Maidens, paired him with Joan Crawford, whom he married that year.

Hollywood "royalty," perhaps the first such examples, the book pointedly places them on facing pages, and though they do not face each other, they appear to be gazing off in the same direction.

Posted in Old Movie Blog