Hair to dye for

Classic film stars are known for their impeccable style and flawless looks. But like everyone else, they didn’t always look perfect.

One thing that I am very aware of on movie stars and in daily life is a bad dye job. Here are a few actresses that suffered from bad hair color changes in films or changed their look that helped state their career.

Some of these hair color made and broke careers.

Cyd Charisse in “Band Wagon” and “Two Weeks in Another Town”

Through the main part of Cyd Charisse’s career, she was brunette.  The dark hair opening up Hispanic roles like in “Sombrero” and “Fiesta” or as a Native American in “The Wild North.” However, as her career began to wind down in the 1960s Cyd started styling her hair with blonde highlights that she wore until her death, a style that didn’t look bad on her. However, Cyd Charisse did not look good with red hair in “Two Weeks In Another Town (1962).  I think it’s safe to assume though, that more people look at Cyd’s legs rather than her hair.

Doris Day in “Romance on the High Seas” and “It’s a Great Feeling”

Doris Day is known for her sunny demeanor and blond locks.  But in the comedy “It’s a Great Feeling” (1949), we get to see what brunette Doris would’ve looked like. In the film Doris is desperately trying to land a job as an actress. To trick a producer she dresses up like a French woman with a brown wig and sings “At the Cafe Rendezvous.” Later she is brunette again wearing the above outfit in a dream sequence singing “There is Nothing Rougher Than Love.” I don’t think Doris looks bad as a brunette, but I prefer her as a blonde.

Dorothy Malone

In my opinion, Dorothy Malone looked prettiest with her natural brown color, however her career didn’t take off until she dyed her hair blonde in 1956 for “Written on the Wind” and started playing bad girl roles in movies.  Prior to this she played small or forgettable parts in movies like “Janie Gets Married” (1946),  “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948) or -the role that got her noticed-the sexy library in “The Big Sleep.”

Eleanor Parker

Eleanor Parker is another example of role types changing with hair colors. A natural red-head, Parker started her career playing in war-time comedies and romances in the 1940s, such as “The Very Thought of You” (1944), “Never Say Goodbye” (1947)  and “Pride of the Marines” (1945).  She was beautiful, fresh-faced, sweet and gave heartfelt performances. With the dawn of the 1950s, Parker’s roles started to change- with prison drama “Caged!” (1950) catapulting her into disturbed women and bad girl characters. Her hair was dyed blonde in a few films, particularly ones that she was up to no good. Movies like “Detective Story” (1951), “Lizzie” (1957) and “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955) showed a different side of Parker. Though she still made some lighter films, they weren’t the same heartwarming movies from the 1940s. In my opinion, red-hair Eleanor Parker is much prettier than blonde Parker, which really washes her out.

Jane Russell

Jane Russell was a natural brunette but went red in “The Revolt of Mamie Stover” (1956) and blonde in “Fuzzy Pink Nightgown” (1957). She’s perfect with her natural color, but red doesn’t look that bad. However, Russell’s blonde hair is about as bad as the film she had it in.

Jeanne Crain

Jeanne Crain is another sweet 1940s sweetheart with natural brown locks who starred in light, family comedies like “State Fair” (1945), “Margie” (1946) or “Cheaper By the Dozen” (1950).  However,  younger actresses like Terry Moore and Jean Peters were signed to 20th Century Fox and replaced actresses like Crain and Betty Grable, according to Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. In 1953, Crain dyed her hair red, hoping to appear sexier and get sexy, young roles to help boost her career. But this didn’t work out for her.  She continued acting in films until the 1960s, but nothing overly notable. Her only sexy role was in “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes” (1955) with Jane Russell. I really hated when Jeanne Crain dyed her hair red. I think it looks horrible.

Jennifer Jones

Through all of her career, Jennifer Jones had brown hair.  But in the quirky film, “Beat the Devil” (1953), Jones sported a blonde hair-do. It looked pretty bad, and I’m not sure why they decided Jones needed to blonde in this film. However, her character is very flighty and talkative so it may have been a way to enhance that persona.

Joan Bennett

Joan Bennett started off her career as a natural honey blonde. Bennett starred in several forgettable films, until “Trade Winds” (1938) with Frederic March.  In the film, Bennett kills a man, dyes her hair brown and flees the county. Dying her hair in this film changed her career for the better and she was a brunette for the rest of her life, according to TCM’s host Robert Osborne. At the time Bennett dyed her hair, actress Hedy Lamarr was emerging as a success in “Algiers” (1938).  Several comparisons were made about the two actresses’ appearance, and they were publicized as rivals, according to Hedy Lamarr’s autobiography “Ecstasy and Me: My Life As A Woman.” To make matters even more interesting, Lamarr also married Bennett’s ex-husband Gene Markey. Personally I think Bennett looks better as a blond, brunette made her look harsh and older.

Linda Darnell

Linda Darnell is a natural brunette, usually cast in Spanish roles such as in “My Darling Clementine” (1946) or “Blood & Sand” (1941). But in 1947, Darnell went red for the film adaptation of the spicy novel “Forever Amber.” The film was supposed to help Darnell’s career and was the most expensive 20th Century Fox film at the time.  The film was successful in the box office, but did not get very good reviews-not reviving Darnell’s career. Though Darnell doesn’t look bad with reddish hair, she certainly looks her best as a brunette.

Olivia De Havilland

Academy Award-winning actress Olivia de Havilland went platinum blonde for her role in “Not As A Stranger” (1955). In the medical drama she plays Swedish nurse Kristina Hedvigson, and de Havilland’s accent in the film is just as bad as her hair.

Rita Hayworth

Famous for her flaming red-hair, Rita Hayworth is of Spanish decent and has naturally dark hair.  When she signed to a studio, studio heads decided her hair-line was too low and performed electrolysis for years to raise it, and dyed her hair red.  The hair color transformation made her famous, but another hair color change wasn’t so popular. Hayworth’s husband Orson Welles decided she needed to cut her hair short and dye it platinum blonde. Welles wrote the screen play and directed “The Lady From Shanghai” (1948) and wanted his wife to play the wicked lead woman; thinking no one would believe her in the role with red hair. The film bombed, because of Hayworth’s blond hair. I think Hayworth is beautiful with any hair color, but looks the best as a red-head, hands down.

Ginger Rogers

Like Hayworth, the hair color Ginger Rogers is most famous for, isn’t her own.  Through the 1930s until her death, Roger’s usually had blonde hair. Her natural hair color is actually auburn, which you can see in some of her very early films likes those with Joe E. Brown, according to Ginger Rogers’ autobiography. In the 1940s, Ginger Rogers decided to change her look and wore her hair brown in a few films such as “Primrose Path” (1940), “Kitty Foyle” (1940) and “TTom; Dick & Harry” (1941).  Rogers is one of the few people who can pull off both brunette and blond hair. I’m really not sure which I like better.

Who knew hair color could be so important?

What do you think? How do you feel about these actresses’ hair colors? What are some other actresses who changed the color of their feathers and either looked great, bad or changed their career?

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Take me out to the ball game: Athlete Biopics

Biographical films have been a popular film genre since the 1920s. There are films about actors that you may have never heard of, scientists who did great things and musicians who died young.

It is no secret Hollywood took creative liberties with the lives of famous people in their films. To quote George M. Cohen after seeing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942), “It was a good movie. Who was it about?”

Life stories were changed to make a most interesting film, but also to protect individuals who were still living when the film was made.

Along with the fabricated biographical information, I have also wondered how similar actor and the person they are portraying look alike.

I am starting a series of posts that will compare the appearances of the actor and the role they are playing. I thought it would be fun and interesting.

I’ll be dividing these up by categories (i.e. presidents, actors, writers), making athletes my first one.


Babe Ruth and William Benedix

The Babe Ruth Story (1948): I haven’t seen this movie, but I have heard it’s not very good. William Benedix plays Babe Ruth. Benedix is great as a comedian or a bad guy, but I have a hard time picturing him in a biography. Appearance: They both have that “big oaf” look, but don’t look very much alike.

Lou Gehrig and Gary Cooper

“Pride of the Yankees” (1942):  This is one of my all time favorite movies. I love Teresa Wright, who plays Gehrig’s wife, and Gary Cooper does a wonderful job in the film. Very touching and sweet. Appearance: Cooper looks fairly similar to Gehrig. This is probably one of the best “look-a-likes” as far as biopics go.

Monty Stratton and James Stewart

“The Stratton Story” (1949): This film stars June Allyson and James Stewart as a husband and wife. Stewart is baseball player Monty Stratton who loses his leg during a hunting accident.  The film follows his struggle to attempt to play baseball again with his prosthetic leg. Appearance: Other than the fact that both men are skinny, I don’t think they look very much alike.

Jim Piersall and Anthony Perkins

“Fear Strikes Out” (1957): Perkins plays Jim Piersall (still living) who has a nervous breakdown while trying to please his father (Karl Malden). I don’t think these two look alike at all. Appearance: Piersall is the attractive, fresh all-American guy while Perkins is much more dark and brooding.

Grover Cleveland Alexander and Ronald Reagan

“The Winning Team” (1952): The film starts off happy as Aimee (Doris Day) and Grover Cleveland Alexander (Ronald Reagan) get married.   Just as Grover is rising to the top as a pitcher, he suffers an eye injury which impairs his vision. Grover is bitter and turns to alcohol which makes him unreliable.  Appearance: I don’t think  Alexander and Reagan look anything alike. Alexander has harsh, rough features and you can tell he went through a tough time. Reagan has clean looks. I think Grover Cleveland looks more like Harry Carey, Sr.

**I know I left out “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950), but he played himself so no look-a-like comparison.


Knute Rockne and Pat O’Brien

“Knute Rockne: All American” (1940): My family isn’t fans of Notre Dame football. But Knute Rockne is the only reason I might be, because I really like this movie. The film covers the life of the football player and coach. Rockne is known as “America’s most renowned football coach” and also popularized the forward pass.  However, it drives me crazy when they pronounce his name as ‘K-nute’ in the movie instead of ‘Newt.’ Appearance: Along with Gehrig and Cooper, Rockne and O’Brien look very similar as well. Rockne has a rougher look, but they have similar facial features. It appears O’Brien was given a false nose for the role.

George Gipp and Ronald Reagan

“Knute Rockne: All American” (1940): Also from “Knute Rockne,” Ronald Reagan plays George “Gipper” Gipp. Gipp is known today as one of the most versatile athletes playing halfback, quarterback and punter.  Gipp died at age 25 in 1920 of either pneumonia or strep throat (the cause is debated).  His death spawned the famous quote by Knute Rockne, “Win just one for the Gipper.” Appearance: Ronald Reagan does a great job in the film, but looks nothing like the Gipper. Gipp was much bigger and had very broad features. I can’t think of a 1940s actor that he looked like.

Jim Thorpe and Burt Lancaster

“Jim Thorpe-All American” (1951): Burt Lancaster plays Jim Thorpe, early 1900s football player of American Indian ancestry. Thorpe was All-American in 1911 and 1912 at Carlisle University. He was in the 1912 Olympics for decathlon and pentathlon and was awarded two gold medals that were taken away. Appearance: Thorpe and Lancaster don’t really look alike, but they have similar facial shapes. Thorpe is bigger while Lancaster is thinner and most likely shorter.


“Gentleman” James J. Corbett and Errol Flynn

“Gentleman Jim” (1942): This is an overlooked film of Errol Flynn’s which I think is quite good. Flynn plays James Corbett who is a crude, bare knuckled boxer in San Francisco.  In the late 1800s, boxing isn’t considered a “gentlemanly” sport so the gentlemen of the area sponsor Corbett at an exclusive sports club to change the sport’s image. Corbett is best known for defeating John L. Sullivan (played by Ward Bond).  In between the fancy footwork, Corbett finds time to romance Alexis Smith (who plays Victoria Ware) and make wise cracks with Jack Carson (playing Walter Lowrie). Appearance: Corbett and Flynn look nothing alike. Flynn is thinner and has a more debonair look. Corbett is handsome, but in a rugged sort of way.

John L. Sullivan and Greg McClure” 

“The Great John L.” (1945): I’ve never seen this movie, but I couldn’t talk about boxing films and not mention John L. Sullivan.  Sullivan is one of the most famous boxers and was the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing in 1881 and 1882. The film about his life stars Greg McClure in the title role, Linda Darnell and Otto Kruger. Appearance: These two men couldn’t look any different. Sullivan looks gruff, mean and like someone I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.  I think McClure looks more like boxer Jack Dempsey, heavy weight champion of the world in 1919 and 1926.

Rocky Graziano and Paul Newman

“Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956): I’m not much for dark, angsty, brooding 1950s films, but I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Instead of being a downer, it ended up being rather uplifting. Newman plays Graziano who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Constantly arrested and goes AWOL from the Army. He meets his wife Norma, played by Pier Angeli, and starts his career boxing which helps straighten out his life. Appearance: Graziano and Newman don’t look much alike. Graziano has a much thinner face while Newman’s is more chiseled.

That’s all for sports! Stay tuned for more biopic comparisons!

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Helen Rose vs. Sarah Burton

Princess Grace Kelly in 1956 and Princess Kate Middleton in 2011

I don’t think I’m the only person who thought “Grace Kelly” right when I saw Kate Middleton in her wedding dress this morning during the Royal Wedding.  Both looked lovely in their timeless dresses. The dresses are similar with the lace sleeves, high collars and flowing skirt.

Grace Kelly’s dress was designed by Hollywood costume designer Helen Rose who also designed the wedding dresses for Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds.  Rose created costumes for movies like “Dangerous When Wet” (1953), “Father of the Bride” (1950), “The Harvey Girls” (1946) and “The Swan” (1956).

I love this style of gown and want sleeves whenever I get married too. Though I hate film remakes, I love to see fashion homages. I secretly hope that the designer had Grace Kelly in mind when the dress was created. Probably not though, but maybe!

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Musical look-a-likes: Harve and Howard

I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s Or maybe like the Prisoner of Zenda post about classic celebrities who look alike.

I talked about how singer/actors Howard Keel and Harve Presnell looked and sang similarly.  To recap, Keel was in movies like “Kiss Me Kate” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” while Presnell was in “Paint Your Wagon” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

The photos I posted showed their physical similarities, but I am posting two videos to show their similar vocal styles.  The first video is Keel in his role as Petruchio in “Kiss Me Kate” singing “The Life I Lead.”  The second video is Presnell in “Paint Your Wagon” in his role as Rotten Luck Willy singing “They Call the Wind Mariah.”

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Or maybe like The Prison of Zenda

Back in September, I wrote a blog post called Just like the prince and in the pauper about actors who have an uncanny resemblance. I realized I left out a few actors who look like they could be relatives.
This post, like the other, is named after another famous mix up of identities. In the “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1937), commoner Ronald Colman looks exactly like prince Ronald Colman and is asked to impersonate him for the prince’s safety. There was a 1954 remake with Stewart Granger as well, but I like Colman better.

Nelson Eddy and Gene Raymond

Nelson Eddy and Gene Raymond: These two men have an uncanny resemblance and I can’t believe I forgot to add them in my last look-a-likes post. I only remembered when I was telling my grandmother about the post and she mentioned that she always thought they looked similar. The odd thing about these two men’s similar appearance is that they both had strong connections to actress and opera singer Jeanette MacDonald.
•Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald were married from 1937 until her death in 1965. They were paired in “Smilin’ Through” (1941) together.  They seemed to have a long and happy marriage, both gushing about the other in quotes.  Gene seemed to love Jeanette very much. In 1972, seven years after her death he said, “”We had 28 glorious years. Jeanette and I respected and loved each other, very deeply. We put one another before anyone or anything. I am blessed to have known her, loved her and been loved by her – absolutely, an incredible lady!”
Jeanette seemed equally enthralled with her husband. In 1943, Jeanette said, “I can’t believe how blessed I am! I’m married to the most wonderful man, Gene Raymond, whom I’m deeply in love with, and, my career is right where I want it to be. I can live like this forever!”  And again in 1947 she gushed, “Gene, is the most wonderful man I’ve ever known. He’s warm, sensitive, loving, funny and very handsome. Being Mrs. Gene Raymond, I admit I’m biased!”
•However, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald had a curious and rumored connection. I’ve heard that they hated each other and would eat garlic when they had to sing to each other. I’ve also heard that they had a secret love affair. I’m really on the fence about both, because I’ve seen a lot of conflicting information. Supposedly during the 1950s, Jeanette MacDonald was asked by her friend Samuel Griffin why she married Gene instead of Nelson and she said, “I must have had rock in my head.”  I still really don’t think they had an affair though, especially when in 1957, Nelson said, “I don’t know why people still want to believe that Jeanette MacDonald and I were a couple off the set. There’s no truth to that rumor, at all. She’s happily married to Gene Raymond and I’m happily married to Anne. I guess people want to believe that what they see on the screen is reality while in actuality, it’s just a movie!”
Regardless of romantic involvement with Jeanette MacDonald, both men looked startlingly similar.

Harve Presnell and Howard Keel

Harve Presnell and Howard Keel: Not only do these men look very similar, they also have the same deep and bellowing baritone singing voice. Howard Keel broke into the MGM musical extravaganza in the early 1950s with his rich, vibrating voice. He stared in big budget musicals like “Annie Get Your Gun” (1951) and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954).
Similarly, Harve Presnell has the same semi-operatic, rumbling voice and physique, but was about five or 10 years too late for the musical game. His first big musical was “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” in 1964, which was toward the end of the golden age of musicals and a major turn in films. He was in other musicals like “Paint Your Wagon” (1968) and acted until his death in 2009, but one can only wonder what his career could have been like in the 1950s. You can really see the resemblance if you compare Presnell in “Paint Your Wagon” and Keel in “Kiss Me Kate.”

Dick Powell and Kenny Baker

Dick Powell and Kenny Baker: Dick Powell was the ultimate crooner and Kenny Baker was a singer on Jack Benny’s radio show. Both singers look very similar, sing the same crooning style, but Baker was never the same star caliber as Powell.
Powell was every woman’s heartthrob as he cuddled Ruby Keeler and sang about June and the moon. He was clean cut, attractive, always grinning and the sweet young all-American guy who won the girl. His career rocketed in “42nd Street” and never looked back as he went on to do film noir movies like “Murder, My Sweet” and even direct films.
The first time I saw Baker in “Goldwyn Follies” (1938), I thought “This must be Sam Goldwyn’s answer to Dick Powell.” Baker looks like Powell’s twin brother, who is slightly less attractive. Baker started his film career two years later than Powell, but ended it earlier as well. His film appearances in low budget movies like “Goldwyn Follies” and “52nd Street” (1937) are forgettable. He was in the larger budget “The Harvey Girls” (1948) as Cyd Charisse’s love interest, but does not have a substantial role. One could wonder if his lack of fame is because of Powell’s and Baker’s similar mugs.

Andrea Leeds and Olivia deHavilland

Andrea Leeds and Olivia deHavilland: Olivia deHavilland was compared to Anne Shirley in the last look-a-like post, but one cannot over look the similarities of Leeds and deHavilland’s film demeanor and appearance. Both have delicate features, soft eyes and soothing voices. Leeds and deHavilland were both Warner players, so I often wonder if Leeds was groomed to be a deHavilland replacement. Her first substantial role was in “Stage Door” in 1937, which is when deHavilland was in the midst of court battles with Warner Brothers.
However, there probably wasn’t a motive, they just happen to look nearly the same with the same mild mannerisms. Interestingly enough, Leeds was strongly considered for the role of Melanie Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind,” the role deHavilland made famous and was nominated for.

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The Muppets, Cee Lo Green and Elton

I know the Muppets aren’t considered classics by my stands. Their television show and movies were made in the late 1970s and 1980s, but they also have a classic family feel to them.

My favorite Muppets movie, “The Muppets Take Manhattan” (1984), even was a take on the Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney “let’s put on a show” movies.

I just finished watching a clip of Cee Lo Green’s Grammy performance from Sunday night. When I saw his crazy bird/robot outfit with the muppet-like puppets in the background I immediately knew it looked familiar.

His outfit is similar, if not nearly the same as Elton John’s outfit from his “The Muppet Show” appearance in 1977 when he sang “Crocodile Rock.”  I distinctly remember seeing him in a rerun when I was probably four years old and taken by the glitter and bright colors, so it has stuck with me ever since.

Here are the two videos so you can compare. Enjoy!

Elton John’s performance on “The Muppets Tonight” in 1977:

Cee Loo’s performance of “Forget You” at the 2011 Grammy’s:


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Once more, Miss Grable?

Top pin-ups of WW2: Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth

Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth.

The two pin-up girls that almost all soldiers pinned on their barracks and hearts during World War II.  The two glamour girls duked it out to be Number 1 pin-up thanks to two famous LIFE photos.  Betty with her coy over the shoulder bathing suit glance, and Rita perched on a bed in lacy negligee.

Both women were no doubt enviously beautiful but in very different ways. Hayworth had major glamorous sex appeal. Long wavy red hair, a slender figure and smoldering beauty.  Grable’s sparkling eyes, blonde hair and sunny smile gave way to an all-American girl look.  In the 1940s Time magazine said, “She can lay no claims to sultry beauty or mysterious glamour.  Her peach-cheeked, pearl blonde good looks add up to mere candy- box-top prettiness.” 

This was no doubt the reason Grable was the top pin-up girl.  She had attainable beauty that soldiers could find in their wives and childhood sweethearts.

But though Grable wins in the pin-up photo battle, she may lose in other areas.

I adore Betty Grable so in the past week I’ve been watched both “Springtime in the Rockies” (1942), “Song of the Islands” (1942) and assorted YouTube clips of Betty. While watching these, I’ve noticed something that very much disturbs me. Betty Grable isn’t the best dancer.

In “Rockies” her dance numbers were good but not exciting. In “Song of the Islands” I felt like her hula dancing was a bit haphazard.  She almost frantically waved her arms and hips around. I will say the sand that she was dancing on looked like a hindrance. I was pleased to note that several of her hula moves were authentic based off my “Island Girll” work out DVDs.

In comparison, a recent clip I watched of Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire dancing in “You Were Never Lovelier” (1942) or Hayworth dancing solo in “Down to Earth” (1947) were impressive to say the least.  Her moves were graceful and well thought out, and footwork was complicated but done with ease.  Hayworth was an excellent tap dancer, but-to be fair- she also had the upper hand since she was part of her father’s dance troop.

Grable can really sell a song and do a fun dance number, but when compared to her contemporaries like Rita Hayworth- Grable really falls short.

Here are too numbers I found to compare their dancing styles.

I chose these two clips for specific reasons:
1. Both Grable and Hayworth are wearing pants, so you can see their feet better
2. They are both meant to look like practice routines
3. Hermes Pan and Fred Astaire have very similar dancing styles

Betty Grable and Hermes Pan in “Footlight Serenade” (1942):

Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire in “You’ll Never Get Rich” (1941):

Both dance well, but I think Rita does a better job.  Astaire and Hayworth seem to be on the same skill level in their number while Pan is much more graceful than Grable.

What do you think?

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Boola boola and rah rah rah: College in the movies

A typical day at Winthrop…not. (From “Good News

After a fast Christmas break, I have moved back into my Winthrop University dorm for the last time.  In honor of my last semester as a college “co-ed”  here is a blog with different representations of college in classic film and judge at how realistic the films portray college.

*I’d like to point out that all of these are classic films, so don’t be disappointed that I didn’t review “National Lampoon’s Animal House” or “Accepted.”


Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston in “The Freshman”

•The Freshman (1925)-

Harold Lloyd is very excited about going to college after seeing a movie about a popular campus. Lloyd’s only purpose at college is to be the big man on campus. He achieves this by doing a silly dance before he shakes people’s hands and fumbling around the football field. However, he just makes a fool of himself. To review: I’m not a huge fan of Harold Lloyd actually (I am loyal to Buster Keaton), but this is actually one of my favorite silent movies. It’s heartbreaking to see how people make fun of him but also hilarious at the same time. I really don’t know what college life was like in the 1920s, but in my college experiences there is not one BIG popular person. I will say, I am on a fairly small campus of 6,500 people so there are notable figures but no one person who I would say is the most popular.

Pigskin Parade (1936)- Winston and Bessie Winters (Jack Haley and Patsy Kelly) are college coaches trying to have a winning season. Things are going rough until hillbilly Amos (Stuart Erwin) and his sister Sairy (Judy Garland)-also a redneck- come to campus.  Amos can throw a winning football pass after throwing melons on the farm. To review: Its been a long time since I’ve seen this movie but I remember it being pretty excruciating. Between Judy’s country accent and the Yacht Boys singing, it was pretty obnoxious.


Rosemary and Priscilla Lane publicity shot for “Variety Show”

•Varsity Show (1937)-

Priscilla and Rosemary Lane (as Betty and Barbara) and friends are trying to put on a show on Winfield Campus, but the faculty doesn’t like swing music. They pull in former student and Broadway star Chuck Day (Dick Powell), to help with the show, but his last performances have laid eggs. To review: I love Priscilla Lane and Dick Powell, and its fun to see them in a movie together. However, this is another stereotypical song and dance college musical. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in college put on as big of a show as they do in this movie.

Vivacious Lady (1938)-Francey (Ginger Rogers) marries college chemistry professor Peter (James Stewart). The marriage is a secret from his family because he is already engaged and his father (Charles Coburn)  is the college president. Stewart and Rogers go to extreme measures to stay together, including Rogers becoming a student at the college. To review: This is one of my favorite movies. Rogers and Stewart have wonderful chemistry and there are several funny moments. I did think most of the college students in Stewart’s class looked a lot older than college students though.

Bathing Beauty (1944)- Caroline (Esther Williams) goes back to her old job as a teacher at a girls’ college after a misunderstanding with her boyfriend Steve (Red Skelton). Steve tries to win Caroline back by finding a loophole in the rules and enrolling in the school. Comedic moments ensue with Red in a tutu and Harry James jazzing up music class. To review: I love this movie. Esther is beautiful in Technicolor. Xavier Cugat and Lina Romay spice it up with Latin rhythm along with other musical talents like Ethel Smith and Harry James. I know that James and Cugat don’t come and jazz up “I’ll Take the High Road” in music class in college, but it certainly does make college look fun. I also love the ever pert and fun Jean Porter in this movie. She really seems like the quintessential college/high school young lady of the 1940s to me.

Susan Peters is a co-ed with “Young Ideas”

Young Ideas(1943)- Romance author Josephine Evans(Mary Astor) marries college professor Mike (Herbert Marshall) and cancels her book tour.  Astor’s children, Susan (Susan Peters) and Jeff (Elliot Reed), oppose of the marriage, especially since it may mean their mother’s book career is over. Susan and Jeff enroll in college and do whatever they can to break up the marriage. To review: This is a classic, fun MGM movie from the 1940s. I love Herbert Marshall and he was really funny in this movie. Susan Peters and Elliot Reed were pretty bratty but Richard Carleson gave a nice balance to it. This movie seemed the most of what college might have been like-though I do wonder if freshman really wore little beanies.

•Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble (1944)- Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) goes to college and is surrounded by beautiful girls-his dream. Two twin blondes trick him and he falls for the icy Kay Wilson (Bonita Granville). Hardy competes with professor Dr. Standish (Herbert Marshall) for Kay’s attention. To review: I don’t like the Andy Hardy movies as much when he goes to college. However, the way college was represented seemed to be pretty realistic.

Peter Lawford and June Allyson in “Good News”

Good News (1947)- In the 1920s, co-ed librarian June Allyson isn’t exactly what you would call a vamp. Allyson falls for popular, football star Peter Lawford but he is interested in modern woman, Patricia Marshall.  Several songs are fit in during the pursuit of love, including a great number involving “The Varsity Drag.” To review: Once again, I wonder if in the 1920s, schools were so small to have one person who is the most popular? The movie is fun and colorful, but it seems more a vehicle for Joan McCracken and Patricia Marshall-neither who did much else in movies. I wish June Allyson was in the movie more, because she was the whole reason I watched it.

Apartment For Peggy (1948)- Peggy (Jeanne Crain) and Jason (William Holden) are married, and Jason is going to college as a chemistry major using the G.I. Bill.  Professor Henry Barnes (Edmund Gwenn), a professor at the college, has decided he has lived long enough and wants to commit suicide. The couple lives in a trailer, but needs more room because Peggy is expecting. The professor agrees to let the couple rent out his attic as an apartment and his views on life begin to change. To review: This is a really fun and cute movie. It is very light hearted but let me warn you for some sad parts. I think the college aspect is pretty realistic when put in perspective of post-war men using G.I. Bill to go to college and their wives and their struggles.

Mr. Belvedere Goes to College(1949)- Clifton Webb as Mr. Belvedere decides to enroll in college since his highest level of education is from the fifth grade.  Though he is older than all the students, Belvedere is considered a freshman and has to deal with ritual hazing. During all of this he makes friends with Tom Drake and beautiful Shirley Temple who has a secret. To review: The movie is very funny, and Clifton Webb gives a droll perfomance as always. Other than the hazing, I thought this seemed pretty similar to a real college. It was pretty large and it didn’t seem like there was that one person in charge.

The Varisty Drag from Good News:

Other college films:
College (1927)- Starring Buster Keaton
College Swing (1938)- Starring Bob Hope, Gracie Allen and Martha Raye
Dancing Co-Ed (1939)-Starring Lana Turner, Ann Rutherford,  and Artie Shaw
These Glamour Girls (1939)- Starring Lana Turner, Lew Ayres and Anita Louise
Second Chorus (1940)- Starring Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith and Artie Shaw
The Feminine Touch (1941)- Starring Rosalind Russell and Ray Milland
The Male Animal (1942)- Starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Leslie
The Falcon and The Co-Ed (1943)- Starring Tom Conway
Mother Is A Freshman (1949)- Starring Van Johnson and Loretta Young
HIGH TIME (1960)- Starring Bing Crosby, Tuesday Weld and Richard Beymer
Joy in the Morning (1965)- Starring Richard Chamberlin and Yvette Mimeux

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Who is the fairest one of all?

Hollywood in the 1940s employeed a pleathora of attractive men: Van Johnson, Clark Gable, John Hodiak, James Stewart, John Wayne…

The list could continue for hours, but who are the two men that stand on top of the whole stack of them?

Robert Taylor and Tyrone Power


Famous for their good looks, who is more attractive: Tyrone Power or Robert Taylor

In April 2010 when Robert Taylor was the TCM Star of the Month, Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies’ prime time host, said the MGM star was dubbed the most attractive star in Hollywood. His only competition was Tyrone Power of Twentieth Century Fox studio.

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor emerged as a young and handsome actor in the mid-1930s in movies like “Broadway Melody Of 1936” (1935) and “Camille” (1936). With his slicked back black hair, attractive smile and pleasing disposition, he left many women swooning and his male counterparts seething, Robert Osborne said. Taylor’s career was successful from the start and was in top notch films until the mid-1950s.

On the other side of the spectrum, Tyrone Power was signed to 20th Century Fox in 1936 as their answer to MGM’s Robert Taylor.  Power’s career didn’t launch as quickly as Taylor’s, acting in small roles in a bit part in “Flirtation Walk” (1934). “Marie Antoinette” (1938) as Norma Shearer’s lover. His career launched when he was paired with Alice Faye and Don Ameche in both “In Old Chicago” (1937) and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1938).

Interestingly enough, after both being hired as the pretty boys of the studios, their careers and lives were very similar.

Tyrone Power

Both men struggled with only being seen as a pretty face.  Robert Taylor took on “manlier” roles like “Valley of the Kings” (1954) and “The Law and Jake Wade” (1958) that offered rougher, meaner characters.  Sadly, I have to plead ignorance when it comes to Tyrone Power’s career. However, from looking at his film list and reading about his career, it looks like his peak was in the 1940s.

In the 1950s, Tyrone was unhappy with the roles he was getting and turned to stage work. Probably his best role in the 1950s was his last role, “Witness For The Prosecution“(1957) with Charles Laughton.

Both men were married to actresses (Power-Annabelle, Tayor- Barbara Stanwyck) and also had several love affairs. One affair in particular was with one glamorous actress: Lana Turner.  Turner called Power the love of her life, according to her book LANA: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies. However, though Lana Turner successfully seduced Taylor during the filming of “Johnny Eager” (1941), she told her best friend Ava Gardner that Robert Taylor was a lover you “shouldn’t waste your mouth on.”

Lana Turner and Tyrone Power

Later in life, careers and looks took turns for the worse for the two men.  Neither Robert Taylor or Tyrone Power aged very well, and both were not recieving quality roles. Robert Taylor was one of the actors who stayed until MGM studio’s fall in the early 1960s even though his roles grew increasingly worse, according to Esther Williams in her autobiography “The Million Dollar Mermaid.”

Tyrone Power died at the young age of 44 in 1958 due to aheart attack.  Eleven years later, Robert Taylor died in 1969 at a similarly young age of 57 of lung cancer. Ronald Reagan and Robert Taylor were close friends, after the death of Taylor, Reagan was anti-smoking.

It’s funny how two attractive actors lived such seemingly parallel lives. But it all boils down to one question:

Which one was more attractive?

Which one was the most handsome man in Hollywood during the 1940s?

I know my answer. What’s yours?

My dream boat

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I’m ready for my close up: Photography in films

Photography and moving pictures walk hand-in-hand, especially when shooting in black and white. Many people prefer color and dismiss black and white as cheap. However, some don’t realize the skill it takes to shoot black and white: making sure you have perfect lighting or having the shadows just right are just a few things to consider.

For being so closely related, it’s surprising that there aren’t many classic films about photography. I was only able to find an handful:

James Stewart in “Rear Window” spying on his neighbor

1. Rear Window (1954): James Stewart plays L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, a free lance photographer who is laid up with a broken leg that was a result of a dangerous assignment. I’m not sure if this movie paints photographers in the best light. Jeff is in love with high society Grace Kelly but doubts that she could go on assignments with him even though she says she could. Jeff is also a bit of a peeping Tom, spying on his neighbors with his telephoto lens.
However, his peeping Tom-ery isn’t all bad since he uses it to solve a murder that he partially witnesses in an apartment across the way. Jeff cleverly mixes his career and survival techniques as he thwarts the murderer by blinding him with flash bulbs.

2. Roman Holiday (1953): The movie is more about  journalism than a photography, but the photographer certainly plays a large part in the film. Journalist, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), is trying to get an exclusive story on a visiting princess (Audrey Hepburn) who just happens to be staying in his apartment.
Eddie Albert plays Peck’s photographer friend who tags along to get the photos for the story. This movie seems to depicts photographers as deceitful playboys. When Peck calls Albert about the story, Albert is photographing and kissing a woman in his apartment. When he is getting pictures of the princess, he doesn’t openly take pictures of her but uses sneaky little spy cameras. A real photographer wouldn’t be so afraid…
Actually, from a journalism student’s point-of-view, it doesn’t paint the newspaper business in a good light either. It has the “anything for a story” undertones and Peck goes to unethical measures to get a story. Even though he doesn’t publish it, if he was doing that in today’s journalism world he would probably face a law suit.

Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in “Funny Face.” Their characters were modeled after Richard Avedon and Dovima.

3. Funny Face (1957):

This movie is simply about fashion photography. It has many interesting and pretty scenes with fashion, dresses and dancing. The thing I like about the movie is that Fred Astaire’s character, Dick Avery, and Audrey Hepburn’s character is supposed to be like the relationship between one of my favorite photographers, Richard Avedon and his muse, Dovima.
Fashion photography is fun and pretty to look at, but the photographer I can’t imagine it being very exciting. From a journalist/writer view point, it would be like writing the same story over and over again. For example, how does Danielle Steel get any excitement out of writing when all of her books basically have the same plot?


4. Weddings and Babies (1958): This is an independent film about a photographer (John Myhers) who is trying to save money in order to get married to his girlfriend, Viveca Lindfors.
I think this movie gives the most realistic depiction of a photographer. He feels unfulfilled because he is only taking pictures of just weddings and babies and wants to do something with a purpose. I’ve heard several photographers say that, others take the wedding route because it’s easier and pays well, but the ones with a drive don’t care so much about the money.
My philosophy of photography is that it should inform just like a newspaper article. You can write a story about how the Yanomamo are losing their indigenous life style, but a picture can better show how it is devastating them. Photography should be about truth, not about how to show in the best light.


5. Blowup (1966): This movie is a mod 1960s, English film. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it means that it’s rather odd, has little plot and a few naked women thrown in for good measure. However, in comparison to the photographer in “Rear Window” who is a photojournalist and travels the world, the photographer, played by David Hemmings, is a successful commercial fashion photographer. He is also bored with life…go figure, wouldn’t you if you were just photographing fashion?
Anyways, the movie is about his career as a photographer, but it is rather long and drawn out. He thinks he might have photographed a murder, but we never really find out and the murder is never solved. It is a treat though to see the beautiful Russian model, Verushka, at the beginning of the film.

Those movies are the only real pre-1970s movies that used photography as a basis of the plot. I was disappointed and surprised that there are so few movies that have main characters playing photographers, since photojournalism was a big field in the 1940s and 1950s due to publications like LIFE that revolved around photography. I just can’t believe that there are so many movies about stewardesses, nurses and architects but so few about photographers.

Here are a few films that the main characters are photographers, but it is not a main point in the plot:

-One More Tomorrow (1946): Anne Sheridan plays a photographer who falls in love with high society Dennis Morgan. The fact that she is a female photographer means she is lower class and could never fit in Morgan’s social circle.

-If a Man Answers (1962): Sandra Dee marries photographer Bobby Darin. She plans on keeping her new husband using a dog training book, because she worries about him photographing other women.

-Wait Until Dark (1967): Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman terrorized by men trying to get a heroine filled doll. Her husband in the movie is a photographer.

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