Monday, February 28, 2011

Platinum Blonde and Beyond

It was her trademark, her calling card and, in 1931, the name of a film for which she received third billing. Platinum Blonde had originally been intended as a vehicle for top-billed star Loretta Young but, by the time it was released, the film's title had changed and changed again until it was an outright reference to pale-haired co-star Jean Harlow. It was not Harlow's breakout picture, that had come with Hell's Angels (1930), nor is it generally cited as one of her great classics, but Platinum Blonde was pivotal - it proclaimed her stardom.

Monday, February 21, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir): About Ida Lupino

This review was part of the For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.

One of the great dames of film noir, and quite a bit more, Ida Lupino was born in London in 1918. Her father was Stanley Lupino, a star of the West End stage who wrote many of the productions in which he appeared. Lupino Lane, an important British music hall star, was a cousin. And Ida's mother, Connie, was an actress. Of her father Ida Lupino once said, "I knew it would break his heart if I didn't go into the business," and so she did, even though her first love was writing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

For the Love of Film (Noir): Renoir, Ryan and a splash of vodka...

This review was part of the For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon to benefit the Film Noir Foundation.
San Francisco's annual film noir festival, Noir City 9, ran for ten days at the end of January. From all reports the festival, an event that showcased 24 films, was a great success. I would say, from my own experience, it was a smash.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

San Francisco Film Locations...a mini-tour on video

Huntington Park at the top of Nob Hill, San Francisco
One day not too long ago my friend Dave and I went on an excursion into three San Francisco neighborhoods to shoot video of classic film locations. I'd done some research and worked out a way to cover many films in just a few hours.

The Fairmont Hotel has appeared on film and TV many times
 We began our tour on Nob Hill where such sites as Huntington Park, Grace Cathedral, the Brocklebank Building, the Pacific Union Club, The Fairmont Hotel, the Mark Hopkins Hotel and steep cable car-tracked hills have long figured in films shot or set in the city...films like The Lady from Shanghai, DOA, Dark Passage, The Line Up, Vertigo, Bullitt, various of the Dirty Harry movies, etc. We moved on to North Beach and made three more stops in that colorful neighborhood to check on sites featured in films like Vertigo, Pal Joey, Play it Again, Sam, Basic Instinct and Foul Play. Our final destination was Pacific Heights where we shot just one building, a "mid-century modern" monolith used in Days of Wine and Roses that is no longer contemporary and is now a bit of an eyesore in an upscale part of town.

Dave edited the video, added a music track and recorded my narration. I then tried but was unable to upload the video to Blogger and eventually gave up...and forgot about it. Then, a few days ago,  a Twitter friend tweeted about a photo contest his site, Writing with Hitchcock, was sponsoring that involved posting personal photos of Hitchcock film locations. After I entered a still photo I'd taken of the building at 900 Lombard where Scottie Ferguson lived in Vertigo, I remembered the video.  Once I'd managed to post it on Facebook, I posted it on YouTube and, only slightly it mini-tour of San Francisco film locations. Dave and I hope to get back out there again one day. I'd love to venture into other neighborhoods as well as do a "Hitchcock tour" of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Marlene Dietrich...another facet of her legend

Marlene Dietrich is one of very few film stars whose career not only spanned 60+ years but who also enjoyed icon status for most of those years. Her life in film began in the early 1920s with silent pictures. It came to a close with Maximillian Schell's 1984 Oscar-nominated documentary, Marlene, in which she speaks but does not appear on camera.