Friday, August 01, 2008

Anecdote of the Week: Ingrid Also Loved Charles

This one is for Dan, Gloria, X. Trapnel, Karen and all the other Charles Boyer lovers.

He was such a peerless actor. I remember he was in Jean Paul Sartre's play Red Gloves in New York. I was in the theater and there were two women sitting behind me and as soon as he came on they started, "Good God. Is that Charles Boyer! So small! And that stomach! And he's nearly bald." And after a few seconds of this I turned around and said, "Just wait. Just wait until he starts to act." And they waited. And he acted. He acted like he always did with such magic, he held the audience in his hand. And the two ladies didn't say anything else. Only applauded very loudly at the end. And didn't look at me as they went out.

--Ingrid Bergman, My Story


The Siren's favorite links from the past week:

At Cinema Styles, the Siren's beloved Joan Fontaine tells Adlai Stevenson a joke. Jonathan, did you know that they dated? It ended when Adlai took her to lunch and told her that in his position, he simply couldn't marry an actress. Joan froze, then came back with "It's just as well. My family would hardly approve of my marrying a politician." In a nice bit of synchronicity, Jonathan also celebrates his witty new banner with a post on Gaslight through the years.

At House of Mirth and Movies, a simple list of 25 favorites, assembled with unerring taste and the best screen caps this side of Six Martinis and the Seventh Art.

The fearless Goatdog, Nick Davis and Nathaniel R forge ahead with their Best Pictures from the Outside In, this week tackling the double-Cs of Cavalcade (1933) and Chicago (2002).

A lovely tribute to the late Jo Stafford, with song links, at Another Old Movie Blog. The Siren has had "Shrimp Boats" stuck in her head all week.

Two from Category D: a brief meditation on lens flare, which effect always says "instant hippie" to the Siren, but in a good way. And another, longer and equally interesting one: Are Themes Important? ("It's not just that historical distance has allowed us to see art in classical Hollywood, but that even the flimsiest A pictures - and many Bs - borrowed a thematic approach from literature.")

Stinky Lulu posts about the odd habit of nominating tots for Oscars, as part of the Rugrats Blogathon at My Stuff 'n Crap. (The Siren would love to see Lulu write up Bonita Granville, the deliciously evil child villain of These Three, above.) Next up for Supporting Actress Sundays in August: 1966. StinkyLulu welcomes participation from anyone with a blog who's able to screen the movies.

The Cinetrix shows herself a kindred spirit: "I kinda don't want to see The Dark Knight. I know that's wrong and it's a cinematic achievement so magnificent it'll also do my taxes..." Another take on The Dark Knight, from Filmbrain, focuses on how pans from Keith Uhlich and Jurgen Fauth resulted in a fanboy inferno it would take Irwin Allen to film.

At Carole and Co., a post, with photos, about Marion Davies' stupendous beach home, Ocean House. It's gone now, like so many other beautiful buildings of the past. The Siren still curses the name of Pia Zadora, not for Butterfly--okay, maybe a little for Butterfly, but mainly for pulling down Pickfair.

An appreciation of Tod Browning's great The Unknown, with awesome screen caps, at Long Pauses.

Did the plot of Kevin Costner's Swing Vote seem familiar? According to Lou Lumenick, if you are a fan of John Barrymore, it definitely should.

Yes, it's another Greenbriar Picture Shows link. What can I say. This one is about trailers and is not to be missed.


For those who read the Siren's post about Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, the documentary will be playing in New York August 8-14, and in Los Angeles August 22-28. Here is the schedule:

In New York, screenings will be at

IFC Center
323 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
Showtimes: 1:25 PM and 6:40 PM daily

Tickets are/will be available for purchase at the IFC Center Box Office or on line at

In Los Angeles, screenings will be at
Arclight Hollywood
6360 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Friday 8/22 - 5:05 PM, 9:45 PM
Saturday 8/23 - 12:00 PM, 7:20 PM (Q&A with director Kurt Kuenne follows the 7:20 PM screening)
Sunday 8/24 - 2:30 PM (Q&A to follow this screening), 9:45 PM
Monday 8/25 - 12:00 PM, 4:45 PM
Tuesday 8/26 - 2:35 PM, 7:15 PM
Wednesday 8/27 - 5:05 PM, 9:45 PM
Thursday 8/28 - 12:00 PM, 7:20 PM


Gerard Jones said...

Thanks for the bounty of links, Campaspe. As a fan of Boyer, Bergman, Fontaine, Stevenson, Cavalcade, Jo Stafford, literary themes, and nearly everything else listed except lens flare, I'll enjoy wandering through them.

To help you feel better about letting The Dark Knight slide, here's an unintentionally amusing and stomach-churning op-ed from Andrew Klavan interpreting the movie as an apologia for George W. Bush--and seeing that as a GOOD thing:

And an amusing response to the same from a younger, hipper, leftier blogger pointing up the absurdity of reading silly summer movies as political allegories:

Gerard Jones said...

Hmmm...looks like my attempt at links didn't work. Well, if anyone's interested, search "Andrew Klavan" and "The Dark Knight." Should bring up both his fatuous original op-ed and Drew Grant's clever skewering. Between them, they should relieve you of all feelings of obligation to see the movie.

Greg said...

I'm sure I should know they dated and even if I don't I should pretend like I do to save face but I must admit to my ignorance and say no I did not know they dated. Those old movie books of mine I scan photos from don't always give a great deal of pertinent information like that. But I love that story, it seems so fitting for both of them. I'll have to look for more photos of the two of them.

The Siren said...

Jonathan, the only way to know that they dated would be to read Joan's memoirs I think, so no loss of film-nerd cred there. They were very discreet, she says. She also said that politicians are very like actors and they both enjoyed their dramatic parting very much.

Gerard, I had seen Mr. Klavan's editorial and while my initial reaction was, shall we say, skeptical, for all I know he's got a case. I mean, does anyone know what Nolan's politics are? I have corresponded with Mr. Klavan a couple of times when I was trying to post comments at Libertas. He was quite gentlemanly so I avert my eyes from his politics as I am sure he would from mine if ever he glanced over here. He did write a very nice piece about Remember the Night too so he also gets major "Appreciates Mitchell Leisen" points. I don't know where he stands on the all-important Borzage DVD issue, however.

All that said, I am still enjoying Grant's post. :)

Gerard Jones said...

Nolan, I'm almost positive, leans left of center. I know a lot of people in the comics-to-movies world, and nearly all of them can be ranged from center to pretty far left politically. Same's true of the original creators of the superheroes.

It's just that there's an inherently right-wing quality to all superheroes, just because of the nature of the fantasy. They all speak to that part of us that would like to take the law into our own hands, ride roughshod over everyone else's rights, and crush what we perceive as the greatest evil. So a right-wing commentator can basically interpret ANY superhero movie as a defense of his views if he wants to get too literalistic about things.

I think the fantasy particularly appeals to people who lean left because we're not inclined to take such ideas into the public arena. One has less need of a Batman fantasy if one has already cast G. W. Bush as a personal superhero. I guess that's what makes the Klavan analysis ultimately silly to me: we can enjoy Batman's shenanigans when it's clearly a masquerade. He essentially says (implicitly), "This works against the Joker in Gotham City...why not do the same in the real world?" Which, to me, only underlines the component of his (and Bush's) thought that is based in early-adolescent fantasy.

I will, however, cut him a ton of slack for being a Leisen fan. Old Hollywood unites us all.

Lou Lumenick said...

Thanks for the link, Siren. Re: Bonita Granville, back in the early 1980s when I was employed by a provincial journal in New Jersey, I interviewed a former child actress whose name is lost to middle age. She was acquainted with the marvelous Ms. Granville -- I was quite taken with her Nancy Drew movies at the time, still am -- and agreed to pass on an interview request to her pal Bonita. A few weeks later, I was informed that Bonita's BFF Nancy Reagan had advised her not to talk to the press! Bonita is long gone -- I did finally get to meet her frequent co-star Jackie Cooper, who told me she was a great kisser -- but another one of his co-stars, Deanna Durbin is still around (Jackie sings in that, not well). The stories Deanna could tell, if she just talked to the press. I'd settle for asking her about Lady on Train, the only noir with performances of both "Ave Maria'' and "Give Me a Little Kiss'' (Deanna kills!) and the only time she was directed by her future third husband.

The Siren said...

Lou, I quite like Deanna Durbin and did a post on "It Started With Eve," which is charming. "Lady on a Train" would be a good post with "Christmas Holiday." But I am sort of saving them for the holidays.

Durbin is one of the very very few stars to just up and walk away when still a very marketable commodity. She published a photo a while back to kill rumors she'd gotten fat but has remained resolutely mute to the press. And that, I agree, is a shame. Maybe she's got memoirs tucked away somewhere.

StinkyLulu said...

Thanks so much for the link. (And click here for my write-up of Bonita Granville in These Three.)

I revisited the performance briefly to capture the image for the little poster thing I worked up for the "Rugrats" blogathon and was once again delighted by her.

I s'pose I really should make a point to screen one of her Nancy Drews...

Gloria said...

Lovely Boyer anecdote. Her pairing with Ingrid in Gaslight was memorable... Their pairing on Arch of Triumph didn't work so well (but I've seen it anyway, because there's the Other Charles there too, ha, ha). Incidentally, when Other Charles was looking for actors to play a Shaw piece ("Don Juan in Hell" an act from GBS's Man and Superman), he cast Boyer as Don Juan... Surprising as the choice might seem, I think Boyer makes a memorable <>Burlador<> (because, thank the gods, it was preserved in vinyl)

While an occasional reader of Batman comics, I'm staying out of Dark Knight. The comic geek in me decided long ago to avoid -as a general rule- attending to films based on comics: with few exceptions (like "Road to Perdition") films tend to trash excellent comics.

P.S.: Oh, yes, let's hope Deanna Durbin has plans to piblish a book on her life sometime! I recall enjoying Christmas Holidays, among other things, for seeing Deanna and Gene Kelly out of their usual roles... But then, why shouldn't have enjoyed it? it was signed by Robert Siodmack ;D

Uncle Gustav said...

One good thing about The Dark Knight in this new world of ours: in a month, nobody will be writing or talking about it anymore.

Gerard Jones said...

I kind of like Bonita in the first couple of Nancy Drews. She's a little too peppy, but she can't help being mostly charming. She's about the only reason to watch them, I think, but worth 65 or 70 minutes of your life.

Karen said...

Wow--almost too much to deal with here!

But first--blushing thanks for the namecheck in the anecdote dedication. I do SO love me some Charles Boyer. (Have we discussed The Happy Time yet?) Shame on those two women for not admitting their mistake to Bergman!

I'm also with you on the quality of the screen-caps at House of Mirth--that shot of James Mason from Odd Man Out is magnificent. That shot makes me wonder why he never played Heathcliff. And the screencap of Moira Shearer is like the entire Powell/Pressburger color oeuvre in one frame. I was also pleased to recognize that I'd seen all of them--except The New World (I don't get out to the movies much these days).

The child actress Oscar nominees list points yet again to how awkward Oscar is with women (maybe his lack of genitalia is a bigger problem than we thought). We already knew that women can get nominated--and often win--for playing ugly, for being deaf-mutes, and now for being pre-pubescent. Oscar is starting to creep me out.

I'm heartbroken that the SFSFF crowd laughed at The Unknown, which is chilling and beautiful and horrifying. Gerard, can you give us any further insights on this? Were you at that screening?

The NYTimes review of Swing Vote also notes its resemblance to the earlier film. Manohla Dargis writes, Directed by the relative newcomer Joshua Michael Stern (“Neverwas”), who wrote the screenplay with Jason Richman after, it appears, watching Garson Kanin’s 1939 movie “The Great Man Votes” (in which John Barrymore’s boozer has a decisive vote), the film takes its sweet time getting going. It's shocking that the Barrymore film isn't acknowledged by the new version.

The Siren said...

Lulu, thanks for the link and I hope everyone follows it! she is so, so good in that movie, and you nail precisely why. You also reminded me of how good Marcia Mae Jones was too. The remake just didn't have the juice of the original, even with the lesbian plot angle restored.

Gloria, I haven't seen Arch of Triumph but most people seem to agree it was unfortunate all around. One of those can't-miss agglomerations of talent that still does.

Flickhead, you are so right. It seems like only last month I was feeling guilty about not wanting to see Iron Man and in fact it was.

Gerard, Granville is even good in Hitler's Children. I have Dmytryk's autobio on my nightstand and when I read it I hope he goes into that one, it's such a lurid treat.

The Siren said...

Karen, I was distressed too, especially since Mr. Maddin's intro was so insightful. You know how I feel about treating older movies as automatic "camp." For a masterpiece like The Unknown it's a trite reaction unworthy of an informed audience. But Darren's observations are great, especially when he breaks down how the visuals are what is prompting the strong emotions of melodrama in this movie, and not just exaggerations of performance or plot.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Love the Ingrid anectode, and thanks for the mention. Shrimp boats are still coming.

Pia Zadodra pulled down Pickfair? Aww.

Gerard Jones said...

Regarding The Unknown at the SF Silent Film Festival, it wasn't the movie they were laughing at, it was Maddin's campy reading of the titles. It was an odd contrast, his respectful introduction followed by his over-dramatic, almost mocking approach to the lines.

Maybe he wanted to ease our tension over some of the more overwritten titles. Maybe, despite his philosophical approval of melodrama, he felt self-conscious participating in it. Or maybe he's just too much of a showman to pass on a laugh. I don't know.

But the audience was clearly in synch with the movie itself. As they were with every movie in the festival. The SFSFF is always a great experience.

I saw Dark Knight last night, in case anyone wants my quick reactions.

Vanwall said...

Boyer could act with that unconscious ability of an old master - whatever happened to that breed of man? Great Jo Stafford link, thanks - I was perusing youtube for her the day she passed on. BTW, I was at the Comic-Con last weekend, and while most movies based on graphics works just croak and disappear after their week of fame - or pain, if you're so inclined - this version of The Batman has some serious legs, mostly due to Heath Ledger's connection; he was VERY popular outside of the usual crowd who watches comic-book fare, and I suspect he'll get the full James Dean treatment. I believe the word reverent was bandied about once, and not one discouraging word was heard, at least for the press. Great? I daresay it wouldn't have any such cachet without the post-mortems that have attached like leeches to an otherwise moderate but action filled summer release - Iron Man was the superior film of the two, IMHO. My main objection to all of the comics films is just that - a Bradburyian lessening of the written word and personal imagination based on interpretation, replaced by visuals made from the input of the few is becoming all too 451 for me.

Gerard Jones said...

Vanwall, this makes at least three Siren regulars who were at Comic Con, and I know of one other who hopes to make it next year. Maybe we should try to get together next time to raise a toast to Campaspe. Those $4 Cokes are great for toasting.

Vanwall said...

Gerard - done deal. We'll coordinate next year for sure, but please, not over what they laughingly call food service in the Con Center. There are plenty of excellent eateries thereabouts. Be seeing you.

Gerard Jones said...

Wonderful. Karen? Frank? Anyone else expecting to be at San Diego Comic Con 2009? Maybe we can coordinate mass commenting on Siren's latest post.

As for Dark Knight, it wasn't much as a movie. Too long, too much going on. Batman looks really silly (although no sillier than he's looked in any other movie incarnation). And it was cornier than I expected--though in kind of an endearing, even romantic way. Lots of wooden speeches, the sort of thing they made merciless fun of in the 1966 version, delivered with great earnestness. (Much more Obama than Bush, in that regard.)

But poor Heath--he was truly brilliant. I don't think it's just the mystique of death making me say that. It was shtick, but dazzling shtick. Made the movie worth seeing.

Karen said...

A Siren-toasting outpost in San Diego in 2009? Count me in!

It'll be my first SDCC, though, so be gentle.

Vanwall said...

Trust me, karen, I'm not like the others.

Karen said...

Oh, I've heard that before.

The Siren said...

Vanwall, our views on the comic-book movies seem quite simpatico despite your being at Comic-Con and my knowledge of comic books sort of beginning and ending with Asterix and Archie. San Diego 2009 sounds like great fun despite my "meh" reaction to San Diego.

Gloria said...

Archie and Asterix? Campaspe, I really think you'd love James Robinson & Paul Smith's "Leave it to Chance" or jeff Smith's "Bone" (which are, incidentally, rather kid-friendly, so could be shared with your children).

I'd also recommend you to give a look to any collection of the Hernandez Bros "Love & Rockets" (los Bros are great fans of Archie's Dan De Carlo, and it shows even if their stories are post-punk, adult fare)

Karen said...

Personally, I think the Siren should cut right to the chase and read Watchmen. You don't actually need to be a long-time comics fan to appreciate it, and I think its big themes and the power of its delivery will appeal to her.

Gloria said...

Oh, I don't think one has to be a hardcore comics reader to appreciate the comics I mentioned... But, Yes, Watchmen is one helluva read, regardless whether you're a fan of the medium or not. ("Maus" would be another accessible recommendation)

Karen said...

Sorry to sidetrack the discussion, Siren...

Gloria, I wasn't trying to imply that your choices required comics experience--on the contrary, los Bros are most accessible! Rather, that many people might think that Watchmen WOULD, since it has such a towering reputation and it does involve superheroes, and I wanted to make it clear that that wasn't the case.

The Siren said...

um, well, I may be about to lose all my readers ... but Mr. C is a big graphic novel guy. I tried Watchmen and it wasn't much of a success with me. Love & Rockets = also not my thing.

before everybody stampedes off I will express my liking for the Adele Blanc-Sec books, also Kyle Baker and Joe Sacco. And I did read Maus many moons ago.

Gloria said...

hey, Im not stampeding ;D Kyle Baker & Jacques Tardi are very good choices!

Gerard Jones said...

I have to confess that Watchmen isn't among my very favorites either, although I certainly admire its craft. I like some of Alan Moore's other stuff more--Swamp Thing, Supreme.

Given Campaspe's fondness for Archie, Tardi, and Sacco I will second the Bone nomination and add Persepolis. And I'll ask: did you try BOTH Bros Hernandez, C? Even if Jaime's punky stuff didn't appeal to you, Gilbert's small-town stories set in Palomar might.

Vanwall said...

Campaspe, I'll forgive your San Diego meh, as it is not for everyone...until you live here for while and bask in our weather. ;-) I won't go into my long and sordid history of comics, much of it before most of you were born, I daresay, but I am quite catholic - in the real definition of the word - in my tastes, and range from Little Nemo to Lenore and back again, so I'm quite sensitive to the fact that purty pitchers can sway even the most stodgy of minds when presented with lottsa explosions and scantily clad dames, which shows I can go to the Con and not be swayed. I keep saying that, tho, until I see Olivia's latest Bettie Page calender. ;-) If you do decide to sacrifice for the Comic-Con, by all means, dive right in!

Gerard Jones said...

But you know what's sad? There are no decent reprints of Archies from when they were good. I can read '50s and '60s Archies now, as a pseudo-sophisticated adult, and be quite pleased and impressed by a lot of the stories and art. But the only anthologies are cheesy "nostalgia" commodities, with stories selected for their ham-handed use of pop-culture icons more than any actual sort of quality.

This is the comic book equivalent of the Borzage DVD problem.

Greg said...

um, well, I may be about to lose all my readers ... I tried Watchmen and it wasn't much of a success with me.

That's it! I am outta here! Cancel my subscription to Self Styled Siren POST-HASTE!

Campaspe, you could hate my favorite stars or movies and I'd not hit the road. Although if you did hate my favorite stars and movies, especially the ones from the thirties, I would no longer trust your judgment. ;) But I'd still come back. Besides I like Karen and Gerard's comments too much. And I love Lulu's new avatar. And then there's always a witty comment from Flickhead. Oh I could go on.

Peter Nellhaus said...

Campaspe: No book by or on Dmytryk at the Denver Public Library. Let me know if it's worth buying. His 100th is coming up in September.

By the way, for me Batman and Archie pretty much get defined by the "Mad" comic book parodies which I treasure. (see the collection "Mad about the Fifties".)