Hollywoodland Mar 21 2024
ON BENDED KNEES
Strange ideas from the minds and lenses of mid-century promo photographers.
A while back we shared a promo photo of Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame from 1953's The Big Heat that was meant to imply oral sex (it absolutely was, and you can see for yourself here). We commented on its weirdness, and noted that an actress would probably not be asked or made to pose that way today. The shot got us thinking about whether there were other kneeling promo shots from the mid-century era, and above you see two others from The Big Heat.
 
Below we have more such shots, and while none are as jarring as that previous promo, they're all interesting. We assumed there would be few if any featuring kneeling males, but we found a couple. Even so, there are probably scores more kneeling actresses that we missed. While many of shots took the form they did to highlight the criminal/victim themes in their parent films, you still have to wonder what else—consciously or not—was in the various photograhers' minds. Anyway, just some food for thought this lovely Thursday. Ready, set discuss!
Rod Taylor and Luciana Pauluzzi swap subordinate positions for 1967's Chuka.

Edmund O'Brien goes for the time honored hair grab on Marla English for 1954's Shield for Murder.

Marilyn Monroe swoons as Richard Widmark snarls for Don't Bother To Knock, 1952.

Inger Stevens and Terry Ann Ross for Cry Terror, an adaptation of a novel we talked about a few years ago.

Kim Hunter soothes an overheated Marlon Brando in a promo for 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire.

George Raft menaces Marlene Dietrich in the 1941 comedy Manpower.

As promos go, these actually make sense. They show three unidentified models mesmerized by vampire Christopher Lee for 1970's Taste the Blood of Dracula.

Glenn Ford is at it again, this time looming over Rita Hayworth for the 1946 classic Gilda.
 
Aldo Ray and Barbara Nichols for 1958's The Naked and the Dead.

This one shows less domination and more protectiveness, as Humphrey Bogart prepares to defend Ida Lupino for High Sierra, 1941.

Humphrey once more. Here he's with Lizabeth Scott for Dead Reckoning, 1947.

This shot shows Brazilian actress Fiorella Mari with an actor we can't identify in a movie we also can't identify.

Shelly Winters and Jack Palance climb the highest mountain together for I Died a Thousand Times, 1955.

As we said, we didn't find as many examples of kneeling men, but we found this gem—Cappucine makes a seat of director Blake Edwards on the set of The Pink Panther in 1963. Does this count, though? While Edwards is subordinate, he isn't kneeling and it really isn’t a legit promo.

And lastly, in a curious example, Hugo Haas seems to tell Cleo Moore to stay in a shot made for 1953's One Girl's Confession

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Hollywoodland Mar 18 2024
THE WEEKLY THAT WAS
Over a long enough timeline all fame is fleeting.


Let's see how many names you recognize from this issue of Movie Weekly published over a century ago, today in 1922. Most of you, we think, will remember Lillian Gish. But how about her sister Dorothy? You'll possibly remember Norma Talmadge? But how about Elsie Ferguson? Helen Chadwick? Fleeting are the works of humans, and especially fleeting are the works of Hollywood. But it's fun to look back, especially in a magazine as well put together as Movie Weekly. Multiple scans below.

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Hollywoodland Feb 21 2024
THE SHOW STOPPER
She's one act you shouldn't miss.

How many times have we circled back to Gilda? Four or five, we guess. It isn't because it's good, which it is, of course, but rather because it has excellent promo materials. Above are two images (plus a crop we made) from the Hollywood set of the film showing Rita Hayworth performing her signature number “Put the Blame on Mame,” which was one of the more provocative sequences put onscreen post-Hays Code. For those who don't remember or haven't seen it, just after the number ends she's willing to let audience members undress her. Supporting actor Joe Sawyer prevents it by intercepting the guys struggling at Hayworth's zipper. But nothing is preventing you from watching Gilda. We consider it at least a top fifteen film noir.

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Hollywoodland Jan 8 2024
BURNS IN THE FIRE
You’re nobody ’til somebody loves you.


The above photos show Barbara Burns when she was busted for drugs today in 1958 after LAPD officers found track marks on her arms. Burns was the well-to-do daughter of famed comedian Bob Burns, but her father had died of kidney cancer in 1956. Barbara Burns was sentenced to probation after the arrest, and the story got some play in national newspapers, with several calling her probation sentence a storybook opportunity at a second chance. But she didn’t cooperate in the role. She managed to cobble together some behind-the-cameras television work, but was arrested for heroin possession in 1959. That time she served ninety days in jail and admitted in an interview, “I’m really hooked. I had nothing else to do, and my mother wouldn’t talk to me. I wanted to be a singer but I was too heavy and they told me it would help me lose weight.” 

Burns had always called herself an ugly duckling, compared herself unfavorably to her siblings, and felt she could never live up to family expectations. But even though her own words told the world that low self esteem was the root of her problems, a dead father and an estrangement from her mother probably didn't help things. The downward spiral continued. She was arrested for marijuana possession in early 1960 and
earned ninety days in Camarillo State Hospital. In November 1960 she was snared in another weed bust, but that time she walked after a jury acquitted her. When she was arrested for heroin possession again in June 1961, she lamented what had probably been true for longer than she admitted—that she had doomed her chance to have a career in show business.
 
At some point she sought medical treatment for an eye problem and was told by a doctor that she was losing her vision in her right eye. In both August and September of 1961 she attempted suicide, and in January 1962 while awaiting trial on one of her narcotics busts she was found overdosed and unconscious on a Hollywood street, and died a few days later in the hospital. Her suicide note said all she wanted was to be loved but everyone hated her. Many of her obituaries, ironically, described her as “tall and beautiful,” which she certainly would not have believed. They also noted her advantages in life—how she had won the crucial lottery of being born to wealth. But Barbara Burns didn’t see it that way. She once said, “I wish I had been born in some poor, obscure family that nobody knew. Then maybe I would have tried to become somebody.”
 
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Hollywoodland Dec 23 2023
BOND RESTRUCTURING
Diamonds are forever, but Connery wasn’t.

Sean Connery made as many appearances in sixties and seventies tabloids as just about any celeb of his time period, so here he is again in an article promoting his role in Diamonds Are Forever, which would premiere just a couple of weeks after this December 1971 National Police Gazette hit newsstands. we talked a bit about the source novel for the film, and author Ian Fleming's troubles with his publishers. It's interesting, so check here if you wish.

In Gazette, Connery speaks of his futile struggle to portray James Bond as a balding hero, and quips about making his stylist thin his wigs so there was almost no point in wearing them at all. Connery said about Bond’s aging, “No one is immortal—not me, not you, and not James Bond.” It was a commendable sentiment, but naïve. Seems as though Connery didn’t realize United Artists had already branded Bond well beyond the point where the character was tethered to any concept of aging.

The studio proved that when it brought the much younger Roger Moore on the scene for 1973’s Live and Let Die. Moore would later give way to Dalton, who gave way to Brosnan, who gave way to Craig, as Bond himself remained eternally forty-ish through the passing years. Elsewhere in the Gazette you get a report on the hash capital of the world, the world’s greatest racing systems, and the usual assortment of random beauties in bathing suits. All that, plus hashish toasted cheese, below.

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Hollywoodland Dec 10 2023
BANG GANG
If you want to be taken seriously bring serious backup.


This promo image, with a Columbia Pictures serial number in the lower lefthand corner, was made for the 1949 crime drama Mary Ryan, Detective, and shows Paul Bryar, Marsha Hunt, Ben Welden, and William Phillips. We love the shot, and because of it we'll watch the movie and report back. 

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Hollywoodland Oct 24 2023
SEE YA ROUND
So long, suckers! There'll never be a star like me again.


Richard Roundtree, during his long show business career, appeared in scores of movies and television shows, but his first film role was in Shaft and he'll always be known for what can only be described as a cultural awakening, a watershed moment that moved black-centered cinema into the mainstream. It precipitated a flood of capital brought to bear on the genre by investors seeking easy returns, which undermined blaxploitation cinema much same way capital brings a flood of condos to a thriving ethnic neighborhood. Even so Shaft has stood the test of time, is one of the better action movies of the 1970s, generated the sequels Shaft's Big Score and Shaft in Africa, as well as a series of novels, and has remained within the American consciousness thanks to its popular soundtrack, its many lyrical references in hip-hop, and its one-of-a-kind star. Roundtree died today at age eighty-one.

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Hollywoodland Sep 9 2023
FACE TIME
Movie stars were always willing to give each other a hand.


Once again we've been struck, so to speak, by the sheer number of cinema promo images featuring actors and actresses pretending to slap each other. They just keep turning up. The above shot is more about the neck than the face, but it still counts, as Gloria Swanson slaps William Holden in 1950's Sunset Boulevard. Below we have a bunch more, and you can see our previous collection at this link. Since we already discussed this phenomenon we won't get into it again, except briefly as follows: pretend slaps, film is not reality, and everyone should try to remember the difference. Many slaps below for your interest and wonder.
Diana Dors smacks Patrick Allen blurry in 1957's The Long Haul.

Mob boss George Raft menaces Anne Francis in a promo image made for 1954's Rogue Cop.

Bud Abbott gets aggressive with Lou Costello in 1945's Here Come the Co-Eds.

Jo Morrow takes one from black hat Jack Hogan in 1959's The Legend of Tom Dooley.

Chris Robinson and Anita Sands get a couple of things straight about who's on the yearbook committee in Diary of High School Bride.

Paul Newman and Ann Blyth agree to disagree in 1957's The Helen Morgan Story.

Verna Lisi shows Umberto Orsini who gives the orders in the 1967 film La ragazza e il generale, aka The Girl and the General.

What the fuck did you just call me? Marki Bey slaps Betty Anne Rees loopy in the 1974 horror flick Sugar Hill.

Claudia Cardinale slaps (or maybe punches—we can't remember) Brigitte Bardot in the 1971 western Les pétroleuses, known in English for some reason as The Legend of Frenchie King.

Audrey Totter reels under the attentions of Richard Basehart in 1949 Tension. We're thinking it was probably even more tense after this moment.

Anne Baxter tries to no avail to avoid a slap from heel Steve Cochran in 1954's Carnival Story.

Though Alan Ladd was a little guy who Gail Russell probably could have roughed up if she wanted, the script called for him to slap her, and he obeyed in the 1946 adventure Calcutta.

Peter Alexander guards his right cheek, therefore Hannelore Auer crosses him up and attacks his left in 1964's Schwejk's Flegeljahre, aka Schweik's Years of Indiscretion.

Elizabeth Ashley gives Roddy McDowall a facial in in 1965's The Third Day.

Tony Anthony slaps Lucretia Love in 1972's Piazza pulita, aka Pete, Pearl and the Pole.
 
André Oumansky goes backhand on Lola Albright in 1964's Joy House.

Frank Ferguson catches one from Barbara Bel Geddes in the 1949 drama Caught.

This looks like a real slap, so you have to credit the actresses for their commitment. It's from 1961's Raisin in the Sun and shows Claudia McNeil rearranging the face of Diana Sands.

Gloria Grahame finds herself cornered by Broderick Crawford in 1954's Human Desire.

Bette Davis, an experienced slapper and slappee, gets a little assistance from an unidentified third party as she goes Old West on Amanda Blake in a 1966 episode of Gunsmoke called “The Jailer.”

There are a few slaps in 1939's Gone with the Wind, so we had our pick. We went with Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard.

Virginia Field takes one on the chin from Marshall Thompson in Dial 1119.

Clint Eastwood absorbs a right cross from nun Shirley MacLaine in 1970's Two Mules for Sister Sara.

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Hollywoodland Aug 21 2023
OUT THERE HAIR
A long time ago in a hairstyling session far, far away.


And you thought the people at Lucasfilm thought up Princess Leia's double-bun hairdo. Nope. We'll admit they tightened it up a bit, but the earliest version of the style we've ever seen is in the above test shots with Peggy Cummins made for an unidentified movie. We thought we'd be able to identify the film because there are other shots from the session, and in some the slate being held in front of her bears a character name—Betty Cream.

But a scan on the interchannels shows no character by that name ever played by her. Possibly, it was a character whose name changed or whose part was cut, but here's what we think really happened. The only character in Hollywood history named Betty Cream was played by Helen Walker in 1946's Cluny Brown. That year was just before Cummins began scoring featured roles, so it's possible she did the hair/make-up sessions, but was axed. It happens, for various reasons.

Cummins and Walker had similar careers. They started near the same time, and had nearly the same number of roles, but while Walker did appear in a few notable crime movies such as Nightmare Alley and Call Northside 777, it was Cummins who made an indelible mark on crime cinema by playing the lead in Gun Crazy. It's a movie that remains much discussed today due to its depiction of a character obsessed with firearms, and what it implied about the U.S. You can read a little more about it here.

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Hollywoodland Aug 6 2023
AN OCEAN APART
Before we go any farther I need to tell you something—I'm loaded with mercury and microplastics.


Above: Ann Blyth and William Powell in a production photo made while they were filming 1948's fish-out-of-water romance Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid. We wrote about it here.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 23
1973—Peter Dinsdale Commits First Arson
A fire at a house in Hull, England, kills a six year old boy and is believed to be an accident until it later is discovered to be a case of arson. It is the first of twenty-six deaths by fire caused over the next seven years by serial-arsonist Peter Dinsdale. Dinsdale is finally captured in 1981, pleads guilty to multiple manslaughter, and is detained indefinitely under Britain's Mental Health Act as a dangerous psychotic.
June 22
1944—G.I. Bill Goes into Effect
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen's Readjustment Act into law. Commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or simply G.I. Bill, the grants toward college and vocational education, generous unemployment benefits, and low interest home and business loans the Bill provided to nearly ten million military veterans was one of the largest factors involved in building the vast American middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
June 21
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
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