The Siren can't believe she never noticed this before, but two of her most treasured, obsessive obsessions share a birthday, October 22. One is Joan Fontaine; the other is Constance Bennett. Tomorrow, Turner Classic Movies will be playing Bennett's films all day, and the Siren has several set to record.
And the Siren says, loudly, that the one worth clearing out the whole DVR for is George Cukor's What Price Hollywood?, which the Siren rhapsodized about at great length in May. Go forth and record, at 8:45 am Eastern, because it ain't on DVD.
Before we get into the other goodies TCM is bestowing on us, here is a bit from Brian Kellow's The Bennetts: An Acting Family. It was 1965, Constance had terminal cancer and was being admitted to the hospital for the last time. And did Death's icy outstretched hand cow Constance? See for yourself.
By midsummer, Constance's condition seemed outwardly stable. One evening in mid-July, she suddenly collapsed, and [husband] John rushed her to the nearby Fort Dix Hospital…Constance was quite unresponsive as she was wheeled in to the admitting desk. John began helping the nurse on duty fill out the entrance forms, but when the nurse asked Constance's age, a clear, strong voice called out from behind them, "I was born in 1914"--cleanly shaving off ten years.
The Siren loves this dame.
Here's what on TCM. All times Eastern.
Lady With A Past (1932)
A good girl raises her popularity when she pretends to be bad. Cast: Constance Bennett, Ben Lyon, David Manners. Dir: Edward H. Griffith. BW-80 mins, TV-G
A comedy, which Constance excelled at; Kellow says she has "a special glow" in this one, and quotes one great line: "I talk so much to myself that I'm all worn out when I meet people." On the Siren's DVR it goes.
A Broadway star tries to hold onto an adopted child and a younger man. Cast: Constance Bennett, Joel McCrea, Paul Lukas. Dir: George Cukor. BW-68 mins, TV-G
One of Constance's mother-love dramas, made the same year as What Price Hollywood? and good, via Cukor, who loved Constance and always spoke well of her: "Constance had one kind of romantic, Scott Fitzgerald look about her. It was the look of the 1930s--or perhaps the 1930s looked like her."
What Price Hollywood? (1932)
A drunken director whose career is fading helps a waitress become a Hollywood star. Cast: Constance Bennett, Lowell Sherman, Neil Hamilton. Dir: George Cukor. BW-88 mins, TV-G
The Siren doesn't need to go on about this one again, does she?
Outcast Lady (1934)
A spoiled rich girl sacrifices her reputation to preserve her dead husband's memory. Cast: Constance Bennett, Herbert Marshall, Hugh Williams. Dir: Robert Z. Leonard. BW-77 mins, TV-G
Oh look, let's see what Constance does to Herbert Marshall, shall we? David Shipman says it's a version of The Green Hat. Recording.
A fun-loving couple returns from the dead to help a henpecked husband. Cast: Cary Grant, Constance Bennett, Roland Young. Dir: Norman Z. McLeod. BW-98 mins, TV-G, CC
Written up here. Most of the Siren's patient readers must be well familiar with this one, but it deserves its classic status.
Topper Takes a Trip (1939)
A glamorous ghost helps a henpecked husband save his wife from gold-digging friends. Cast: Constance Bennett, Roland Young, Billie Burke. Dir: Norman Z. McLeod. BW-80 mins, TV-G, CC
Not as good without Grant, but still diverting.
Merrily We Live (1938)
A society matron's habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants leads to romance for her daughter. Cast: Constance Bennett, Brian Aherne, Billie Burke. Dir: Norman Z. McLeod. BW-95 mins, TV-G
All right, so it isn't My Man Godfrey, but it's an awful lot of fun just the same.
Unsuspected, The (1947)
The producer of a radio crime series commits the perfect crime, then has to put the case on the air. Cast: Claude Rains, Joan Caulfield, Constance Bennett. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-103 mins, TV-PG, CC
Looking forward to this one. The Siren has a copy of the novel, with a great movie tie-in cover, and it's Curtiz, after all.