The Siren is honored to be the subject of this month's Behind the Blog feature at Film in Focus.
She is still working on more things Bennett but fate has intervened in the form of a truly rotten disease. Mr. C keeps insisting it's a cold, the Siren firmly believes it's pneumonic plague. In the meantime the Siren has been tracking the effects of congestion on her voice. Sunday she started out very basso profundo and Tallulah-like. Monday she met Dan Callahan for a screening of Doubt (verdict: Streep terrific, rest of film not bad) and the Siren found her voice had developed a squeak in the upper register, like Jean Arthur. Wednesday was Harpo Marx day--basically no voice at all. Thursday and today, Lizabeth Scott territory.
Anyway, on to this week's anecdote and some links. The Siren was originally going to do an excerpt from Louise Brooks's Lulu in Hollywood, for its touching paragraphs about the doomed middle Bennett sister, Barbara. But after throwing such gloom over the place with her biographical sketch of Constance, the Siren really couldn't do that to her readers. So instead, here are Richard Griffith and Arthur Mayer, from their splendid (but, alas, out-of-print) The Movies, describing Constance's early career in what they dubbed "confession" movies:
Constance Bennett had the most screen offspring (with Joel McCrea usually fathering them, so that it was no shock to the movie public when they beheld in 1933 a title credit which read: "Constance Bennett in Bed of Roses, with Joel McCrea"). Miss Bennett's children came in handy for many plot purposes, including breach-of-promise suits, marriages in name only, and the foreswearing of promising careers. [Click to enlarge the Griffith and Mayer photo montage of Constance's usual romantic trajectory, above.]
Glad tidings. Turner Classic Movies is running two hard-to-find sound-era Frank Borzages on January 12. First, at 7:15 am EST, is Big City from 1937, with Spencer Tracy and the Siren's beloved Luise Rainer, who will turn 99 years old that day. The rest of the day's programming is given over to Rainer, including rarities like The Emperor's Candlesticks and Toy Wife.
But the real joy comes in the evening, as at 8 pm, TCM is showing No Greater Glory, which the Siren had listed as a "dying to see" some time back. Set the clocks, turn off the phones, ship the kids to their grandmother for a day or two, and the spouse too if you must, but that film really is an essential.
Meanwhile, David Cairns has now finished his series on Frank Borzage. Given that this great director and his frustratingly difficult-to-find movies are a constant subject in the Siren's comments, she urges you all to go to this link and read all of the posts.
Speaking of "dying to see" movies--Marilyn Ferdinand has a very detailed and fascinating post up on Only Yesterday, the seldom-seen debut movie of the great Margaret Sullavan. A must-read.
Noel Vera has a terrific post about the reactions he got when he showed three films--Zhang Yimou's Not One Less, Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies, and Yoshifumi Kondo's Whispers of the Heart--to some young American students.
The Siren has long since gotten over her childhood love affair with the Three Stooges. Sorry Ivan, I know you love them, and so does Raymond de Felitta. But no matter what your opinion of the Stooges, Raymond has put up one fascinating post, about Curly and the real, and fake, Shemps.
The Siren never wants to have another discussion of Roman Polanski: Boiling Oil, or Absolution? But she could talk about Chinatown all day. Anyone with doubts about that movie's mastery needs to look at Pilgrim Akimbo's post, Chinatown and the Rule of Thirds, which uses screen shots to show the classical perfection of John Alonzo's cinematography.
Stinky Lulu put up her A-Z Meme and it rocks, of course. But boy, do you ever want to check out Lulu's writeup of Susannah York in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Fabulous. I only hope Kim Morgan saw it. And also do not miss Lulu's breakdown of the Best Supporting Actress Race for 2008, including such timeless questions as whether "the cutest nun" has a real chance this year.
And we end with Jonathan Lapper asking, why should we automatically think of an unhappy ending as more authentic?