WEIRDLAND: January 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jake Gyllenhaal, in the top five of "Sexiest Men on the Planet" by Heat magazine

Top 5 Ranking of Sexiest Men in Heat (UK) magazine

David Beckham has been crowned the 'Sexiest Man on the Planet' by readers of Heat magazine.

The Los Angeles Galaxy footballer beat actors Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds into second and third place respectively, while Bradley Cooper and Jake Gyllenhaal complete the top five.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Cinema Comics magazine

The inaugural '101 Hottest Hunks in the World' was voted for by over 1,000 Heat readers, with places 26-101 based upon votes alone. The top 25 is a mixture of reader votes and an expert panel, comprising Premier Models' Carole White, celebrity photographer Nicky Johnston and Heat style editor Jo Hoare.

Robert Pattinson as Georges Duroy in "Bel Ami" (2012)

Twilight star Robert Pattinson, The Dark Knight Rises actor Tom Hardy and Johnny Depp also feature in the top ten". Source: www.digitalspy.co.uk

Friday, January 27, 2012

Barbara Payton, Martha Hyer, Audrey Hepburn


James Cagney and Barbara Payton in the noir film "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" (1950)

Helena Carter, James Cagney and Barbara Payton in "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" (1950) directed by Gordon Douglas

Barbara Payton left her home of Odessa, Texas when she was seventeen to travel west searching for a Hollywood career. After scoring small roles under contract to Universal in 1949, her first major break came in 1950. Spotted by James Cagney and his brother, a producer, they signed her to Cagney's company for a starring role in the screen adaptation of Horace McCoy's "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye". Sadly this was the only major break Barbara had.

"James Cagney was coming to town for a fund drive. I always liked him because he was tough and ruthless on screen and it fitted my theory of what a man should be. I found out that admission to the auditorium was a dollar twenty-five. Not only I couldn't afford that but none of my boyfriends could either. Yet I had to see Jimmy Cagney in person. I was standing in a big crowd by the artist's entrance and a boy motioned to me. 'You're cute', he said. 'Want to see the show, kid?', he asked, 'Cagney gave my father two tickets - see?' I was cautious. I was learning. 'What do I have to do?' He bent toward me. 'A feel or two. So what? You got inside free. Best seats in the house'. 'No, thanks', I said coldly, but I was tempted." -"I Am Not Ashamed" (1963) by Barbara Payton

She appeared in a few more films until 1955, small time roles and mostly B-pictures such as "Bride of the Gorilla" (1951) and "Four Sided Triangle" (1953).

Her lover Tom Neal, with whom she reenacted "The Postman Always Rings Twice" on stage in 1953, called her "alley cat in heat". Any sexual deviancy was considered dangerous in the 1950s, so much so that a Republican Party chairman once claimed that "Sexual perverts... have infiltrated our Government in recent years," and were "perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists."

Much post-war propaganda, fueled by fears of nuclear war and images of happy couples setting up bomb shelters, emphasized the importance of a good family – anchored by a kind, submissive, domestic woman – as the key to keeping society stable in dangerous times. Even the Kinsey Report (which revealed the dirty secrets behind white Americans’ sex lives in the late ’40s and early ’50s) would have labeled Payton’s behavior "outside the norm."

Barbara Payton & Gregory Peck in a publicity photo for "Only the Valiant" (1951) directed by Gordon Douglas

President Jack L. Warner dropped Payton from the studio and left her to wander through the professional abyss of pitiful B-movies like "Four-Sided Triangle" (1953), "Bad Blonde" (1953) and "The Great Jesse James Raid" (1953).

Actress Martha Hyer (born on August 10, 1924 in Fort Worth, Texas) was once in the running for the role of Marion Crane in Hitchcock's "Psicosis" (1960), but lost out to Janet Leigh. She was discovered by an RKO talent agent while acting with the Pasadena Playhouse.

Martha Hyer has a supporting role as Miss Harwick in Richard Fleischer's noir "The Clay Pigeon" (1949) written by Carl Foreman, based on a true story.

Martha Hyer dated Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and John F. Kennedy in the mid 50’s, and married producer Hal B. Wallis (31 December 1966 - 5 October 1986).

Martha Hyer dancing with Humphrey Bogart in "Sabrina" (1954) directed by Billy Wilder

Humphrey Bogart as Linus Larrabee and Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild in "Sabrina" (1954)

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in "Breakfast At Tiffany's" (1961) directed by Blake Edwards

As to the affair of Gene Kelly with Doris Lilly, the gal who was rumored to be Truman Capote's inspiration for the character of Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany"'s and the author of "How to Marry a Millionaire", it is most likely true. Lilly's diaries were discovered after her death in 1991 and she wrote about her "meeting" with Gene Kelly.

According to entries from 1946, they met a a party given by Frank Sinatra. "I fell for him like mad." And then she wrote: "He can never be replaced. Never. He is in a class all his own. We were together for hours. He left me at 6:30 in the morning. He was wonderful." -"Darling Lilly" (1991) by Daniel Shaw.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Déjà Vu Crush: Lana Turner with John Garfield, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth in "The Lady from Shanghai" (1947)

In noir film, déjà vu is prevalent and serves as a common trope, used as a storytelling device or to emphasize a character's blocked memory. Have you ever had the feeling that something that happens has happened at a past time? Have you had an experience that seems very familiar and felt that you've been through it before? This phenomenon called déjà vu is a French expression for 'already seen'. Psychologists and memory researchers say that it is usually life's more unnoticed detailes -the click of a radiator, the movement of some shadows on the curtains- that trigger this sudden and sometimes breathtaking sense of familiarity. In surveys, over half of population report having had at least one déjà vu experience, and the sensation seems to occur most often in persons with lively imaginations. In a series of experiments, researches at Duke University in North Carolina and Southern Methodist Univesity in Texas, have tried to reproduce this déjà vu feeling, showing students pictures of buildings, trying to locate a small black or white cross. The students were asked to say whether they had ever been to the places shown. The expectation was that while the students focused on finding the crosses, the photos would imprint on their memories unconsciously, leaving the impression that they seemed familiar to them time later.

Lana Turner must’ve had a strong feeling of déjà vu when Lora confronts her daughter about her feelings for an older man.

Johnny Stompanato and Lana Turner in 1957

Turner suffered through a similar and very public romantic triangle with mobster boyfriend Johnny Stompanato and her daughter Cheryl. The boyfriend ended up dead and a fictionalized version of the story became the Cool Cinema Trash favorite 'Where Love Has Gone' (1964). Source: www.coolcinematrash.com

John Garfield and Lana Turner in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946) directed by Tay Garnett

Gene Kelly and John Garfield, friends, members of The Committee for the First Amendment and 'Hollywood Players' on Old Time Radio (Hollywood Stars on 'All Through the House': Gene Kelly, John Garfield - with Gregory Peck, Joseph Cotten and Janet Leigh)

Lana Turner with Gene Kelly

Lana Turner and Gene Kelly in "The Three Musketeers" (1948) directed by George Sidney

Lana Turner in a polka-dot blouse dancing with Frank Sinatra (June 1946). Before Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra dated Lana Turner.

Kathryn Grayson and Ava Gardner, friends and co-stars in "Magnolia" (1951) directed by George Sidney

Frank Sinatra married Ava Gardner on 7th November 1951. They got divorced on 5th July 1957.

Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson and Gene Kelly in "Anchors Aweigh" (1945) directed by George Sidney

"I have deduced that he [Gene Kelly] was warm, loving, highly intelligent, amazingly hard working, self-contained, sociable, strong, virile, charismatic, tactile, childlike, charitable, straightforward, pragmatic, unpretentious, fair, tenacious, happy in his own skin, other-worldly, unselfish, emotional, single-minded, generous, funny, honest, serious, home-loving, democratic, protective of those he cared for, self-critical, courageous in the face of personal tragedy, a man of integrity, a born leader and teacher. He was an excellent, natural, actor; a singer who, although being no Caruso, could touch the heart; a highly competent inspirational director and producer; an incomparable dancer who could weave a story without words and move an audience to tears or laughter; and a truly great choreographer. He was a creative genius and a good human being. Is it any wonder that every day, somewhere in the world, someone is still writing about, talking about, reading about, watching or falling in love with Gene Kelly? Source: www.freewebs.com

Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth in "Cover Girl" (1944) directed by Charles Vidor

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Donnie Darko" and "Zodiac" among the 50 best uses of songs in film

Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith in "Zodiac" (2007) directed by David Fincher

22. “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” Donovan, Zodiac (2007)
This near-primal scene starts with two young adults flirting in a Corvair at a lovers’ lane, until the headlights of a mysterious car pull up behind them. Suddenly, the song on the radio can only signify evil. By the time David Fincher returns to Donovan’s sinuous groove in his closing credits, the tune has been transformed. (A clearer clip of the scene is here.)—JR

Jake Gyllenhaal as Donald Darko in "Donnie Darko" (2001) directed by Richard Kelly

36. “Head Over Heels,” Tears for Fears, Donnie Darko (2001)
In a terrific early scene from Richard Kelly’s cult debut, Jake Gyllenhaal’s depressive, time-traveling outcast takes a long walk down his high-school hallway. Assembled into a single, unbroken take, it’s as if we’re gliding through one morning in our own angst-ridden teen existence—but with a better soundtrack.—KU Source: newyork.timeout.com

Gene Kelly ("My Love For You") video


Gene Kelly ("My Love For You") video featuring pictures and stills of Gene Kelly and his female co-stars: Judy Garland in 'For me and my gal', 'The Pirate' and 'Summer Stock', Deanna Durbin in 'Christmas Holiday', Kathryn Grayson in 'Thousands Cheer' and 'Anchors Aweigh', Rita Hayworth and Jinx Falkenburg in 'Cover Girl', Vera-Ellen in 'On the Town', Teresa Celli in 'Black Hand', Leslie Caron in 'An American in Paris', Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen in 'Singing in the Rain', Cyd Charisse in 'Singing in the Rain', 'Brigadoon' and 'It's Always Fair Weather', Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall and Taina Elg in 'Les Girls', Natalie Wood in 'Marjorie Morningstar', Shirley MacLaine in 'What a Way to Go', etc.

Soundtrack: The Glenn Miller Orchestra - 'My Love For You', 'My Ideal', 'People Will Say We're In Love', and Helen Forrest & Artie Shaw Orchestra - 'Love Is Here'

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen in the first dance noir

Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly as Abigail Martin and Robert Manette in "Christmas Holiday" (1944) directed by Robert Siodmak. With script by Herman J. Mankiewicz ("Dinner at Eight", "The Pride of the Yankees", "Citizen Kane") based on W. Somerset Maugham's novel.

"Kelly’s grin here becomes the Devil’s, he comes home with blood-stained trousers and finally materializes to "straighten out the family"; Durbin first sees him at a recital of Liebestod and then performs "Always" to celebrate their union. "I guess maybe there’s another meaning to love than what I was taught," Harens says after hearing the tale. Melodic noir, and unsettling delirium -- the ripely masochistic former child-star and the stubbly, grounded dancer face each other in the shadows, and Siodmak wonders how America got to this point. (Hitchcock similarly reimagines Robert Walker in 'Strangers on a Train')." Source: www.cinepassion.org

"Starring in the role of the homme fatal and also playing against type is the master of acrobatic dance, Gene Kelly. That said, in an obvious tongue in cheek move there is a scene in which Kelly asks Durbin to dance. Precisely upon the point of arriving on the dance floor the band concludes the number and the dance never comes off". Source: www.noiroftheweek.com

Vera-Ellen and Gene Kelly in "Words and Music" (1948) directed by Norman Taurog

"Set in a sleazy New York neighborhood, Kelly's Dancer encounters the wonderful Vera-Ellen as The Blonde. The couple dance seductively, and their mutual interest seems to grow as the music changes to a breezy, cheerful melody. Together they enter a saloon that seems to be populated by the city's finest gangsters and prostitutes. The music grows jazzy...the couple is smitten with each other. Vera-Ellen is the epitome of sensuality with her short skirt and seductive manner. Gene is equally seductive in what could possibly be his sexiest outfit as he dances a very masculine "ballet" to win the girl over". Source: genescene.blogspot.com


Vera-Ellen and Gene Kelly performing in the tragic ballet "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" composed by Richard Rodgers from the 1948 movie "Words and Music".

Gene Kelly stated to several writers that he considered Vera-Ellen among the very best dancers in film. Vera-Ellen learned from Gene Kelly how to dance with deep-felt emotion. She portrays a saucy Bowery girl with a wild blonde wig, a too-tigh yellow top and a bright orange skirt slit almost too far up the side, all cinched with a thick black belt with overlange ring buckle.

As she struts in under the Tenth Avenue she attracts the attention of a local thug (played by choreographer/dancer Jack Baker) who makes a crude pass at her. Quickly we learn her interest in focused on Gene Kelly's tenement flat. Kelly, at his most muscular and athletic, rises from bed and climbs down to the street where Vera is strutting, preening and slithering around him, even rubbing herself up against a phallic pole. It is a mating call and Kelly takes the bait. Once again she moves away from him, but they finally end their teasing courtship and come together in a sensuous dance as he dips and drags her body along the street.

Vera-Ellen: This dance not only changed my career, it changed me. From Gene Kelly I learned the modern knee drops, slides, and the earthy, almost brutal, approach to rhythm. Gene and me worked ten weeks on the number and when I was through with it I was also a different person; my walk changed and I even switched from a flower-scented perfume to something called 'Shameless'. Gene really influenced my life. For my money, he's just about the greatest in the business.

Staged by Gene Kelly, the "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" number was serious, different from Ray Bolger's slaphappy dance routine. It has been termed the first "dance noir", echoing the popular film noir genre of the '40s.

Vera Ellen went on to work with Gene Kelly again in the classic 'On the Town' (1949) directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.

Gabey (Gene Kelly) and Ivy (Vera-Ellen) discuss where they should meet in the film "On the Town":

Gabey: Top of the Empire State Building.
Ivy Smith: But it's so high up!
Gabey: Oh it won't seem high to me. I'm in the clouds right now.

At the University of Arizona, once a year, there is a Vera-Ellen day in the "Art History of the Cinema" class, right there next to Alfred Hitchcock, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly. TCM, American Movie Classics and the American One network with their periodic revivals of classics such as 'Words and Music', 'Three Little Words', 'White Christmas', 'Happy Go Lovely', 'The Belle of New York' and 'On the Town' have made a whole new generation ask: "Who was that amazingly talented Vera-Ellen and what happened to her? -"Vera-Ellen: The Magic and the Mystery" by David Soren (2008)

This post belongs to the Noir Blogathon 2012 called by the Self-Styled Siren and Ferdy on Films.

Donations this year go to the Film Noir Foundation under the leadership of Eddie Muller, in order to restaurate and save classic noir films.

I've already made a small donation. Please, donate to the Film Noir Foundation following this Paypal Donation Link. Thanks!