Sunday, April 15, 2012
Allow Me To Bore Thee
If you've ever had the chance to browse my blog here, you might easily think that my sole interest in this world is attending rowdy rock & roll shows. While you wouldn't be completely wrong, there are other things that I am passionate about. One of these things is old Hollywood. I am a massive fan of old movies, particularly those from the 1930's-1960's. I have my grandparents on my father's side to thank for that. I've made a decision that every now and again, I might use this forum to "nerd out" on any unsuspecting human that may come across this blog about an old flick I adore.
Tonight, my favorite channel in the whole universe Turner Classic Movies showed a grand movie I'm sure you've heard of. A Star Is Born, the original from 1937. Not to be confused with the remake from 1954 starring Judy Garland. I actually saw the Judy Garland remake first and didn't enjoy it nearly as much. The 1954 version was turned into a musical with Judy howling all over the place for 2 hours. If you've seen this version and feel the same way about it, don't let it sour you on the original.
If you have not seen A Star Is Born (1937) I'm about to spoil it for you (you've had 75 fucking years). It's a story about a young actress moving out to Hollywood looking for her big break. She eventually get's her break from an actor who happens to be on his way down the ladder. His alcoholism has helped him to fall out of favor with fans and industry types alike. The two fall in love and are soon married. Wife "Vickie Lester's" star power continues to rise while husband "Norman Maine" continues his downward spiral causing Vickie to decide to end her acting career in order to take care of Norman and see to it that he ends his drinking. Norman overhears this conversation with her producer and ultimately decides to end his own life by swimming out into the ocean, never to return.
The most interesting part of this movie for me is that the Norman Maine character is based partly on real life happenings just a year before this film was released in 1937. In 1936, actor John Bowers rented a boat and sailed off to the shores of Santa Catalina where he intended to audition for the film Souls At Sea. When he arrived, he was disheartened to find that the film had already been cast. He set sail and departed the island never to return to land...alive. His body was found on the beach of Santa Monica. John Bowers was a star from the silent film era. Like many of those actors, he was unable to make the transition from silent films to "talkies" as they were known. Maybe it's just me but I think it's interesting that Hollywood would base a character on one of their own before his body had a chance to go cold so to speak. Can you imagine if they would have produced a film with a character based on Heath Ledger a year after his death? The horror!
Maybe I'll do more of these short write ups one day. I'm fascinated with all the silent film star suicides that took place when sound in movies came in to play. It's unreal. Perhaps I'll touch more on that next time. Over and out.