Christ is born!

Thought strictly, as that line is sung in Latin here, it might give you a clue to the song, if not the group singing it! No, not Steeleye Span!

And yes, here at least, Christmas Day is nearly over, but in American Samoa, its 8.26 in the morning, and presents probably arent even handed out yet! No, I have no idea what Christmas Day is like in American Samoa, nor am I ever likely to, but all the same…Samoa itself, 9.26 on Boxing Day, other side of the dateline, so…

For me, today has been quiet, apart from 2 cats I’m minding demanding food at very regular intervals. No, they’re not starved, though you would think they were, the noise they make! Presents so far, just one, a gift from America, from a lovely lady. Rest I will open tomorrow (the few there will be), when the others get back from the South of England, said I’d be a good girl and wait! That one present, oh fine, it is lovely, so…

Digital Camera
Digital Camera

No, the aliens have failed to deliver the flying saucer, the alien body suit, or the robotizing pod I hoped for, guess I will have to wait until next year, unless they’re delivering tomorrow too! 😛

One delight I found this afternoon, was an (almost) silent movie. Yes, they showed The Artist on TV over here today, and unsurprisingly, I lapped that up. Actually thought it was really well done, and can see why it won so many awards. I’d have to ask my former self if it was really true to the era, but it felt that way to me!

Anyway, to all my readers, however much of the day you have left, or dont have left, let me send my Christmas greetings to you.

Right, the video, you might have worked out by now that its Gaudete, at least. I found this version by chance on You Tube, but given its medieval roots, I liked the video style here, because lets face it, only monks sang it back then! I know its modern synthesizer music, but those bells give it the right sound, I guess? Suspect its something you either love, or hate, in all honesty.

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A tribute to a legend

Yes, you’re getting a bonus, extra blog this weekend, due to the fact that today would have been Lillian Gish’s 123rd Birthday, if anyone actually lived that long! She actually managed to live within 8 months of her 100th Birthday, but thats beside the point. Its pretty fair to say that she is one of the absolute legends of the silent movie era, though it actually needs to be pointed out that her final movie role was actually 75 years after her first, in 1987, at the age of 93!

In a sense, you could say she lives on today, though not strictly true, as someone delightfully provides postings for her, on Twitter, under the handle of @MsLillianGish which I’m sure isnt really her, but who knows, it might be her ghost lol? Regardless, the person posting for her does it in the most wonderful way, and I’m sure she’d approve! Not sure that Marion Davies would approve of her teasing of her, or maybe she would?

Its fair to assume that nowadays no one is going to have a movie career that lasts 75 years! Even when not making movies, she worked in the theater, never seemed to stop. She never married, it has to be said, probably because she could never find the time to stop, to fit it in. I suppose it is possible that her preferences couldnt be solved by marriage back then, but in truth, if that was the case, surely by now, someone would have said something about the dear old lady, and no one ever did!

Until this time last year, I dont think I’d seen her in a major role, but then in an amazing twist of fate, while I was in Hollywood, TCM decided to show one of her famous movies, The Wind, on an afternoon/evening (might have been her birthday, not sure?), and I wasnt going to miss that for the world. Yes, she truly was an amazing actress, and if you get the chance to see this, or any of her other major roles, take it!

So I’ll close by saying, Happy Birthday, Miss Gish, wherever you may be. And if that really is you on Twitter, then you already knew!

The video, I did think of a film clip, but in truth, if you want to do that, just go on You Tube, and find one. However, in 1991, shortly before her death, The Smashing Pumpkins released their debut album, and called it Gish, as a tribute to her. This is a live version of an apt song from that album

Double Whoopee (1929) – An actress’ point of view

This post is part of the Shorts Blogathon, hosted by the queen of all things silent film related, Fritzi Kramer. Check out her Movies Silently website to dig into other bite-sized goodness!

Given that @moviessilently has already covered this film with an excellent review, at http://moviessilently.com/2015/03/01/double-whoopee-1929-silent-film-review/ I decided to tackle this piece in a slightly different way. Supposedly, this is the film where an agent saw Jean Harlow working, and suggested her to audition for the role in “Hell’s Angels”, and as they say, the rest is history.
So I ‘invited’ Jean to tell us the story of the movie from her point of view, as follows.

Double Whoopee (1929) – An actress’ point of view

When I first walked into the studio, and was offered a part in the movie, I didn’t think a lot about it. They showed me the script: pretty standard Laurel-and-Hardy slapstick stuff, in which I would lose part of my dress, not for the first time in my life. Hey, it was a paycheck, a couple of days’ work for a small-time actress, not the sort of part I tended to turn down … at the time.

Hey, they even offered my friend, Clara, a bit part, too, so both of us would eat for a few days after this.

As I say, the movie was nothing special, and if it wasn’t for future events, it probably wouldn’t have survived very long, and certainly not been remembered nearly a century later. But …

The plot? Oh, fine. Stan and Ollie go to a hotel, to start work as a footman and doorman, respectively. Thing is, they arrive, just as some Highness from some distant country arrives at the hotel, and people think they are the royalty. The staff fawn over them until Ollie hands over the letter of introduction, and then things change. They get sent off to get ready for work, and the real Highness and his main man sign into their suites, then head to the elevator. The royal gets in the lift, then gets asked to make a brief speech. He then goes to get back into the lift. In between, Ollie has called the elevator, and the VIP falls down to the bottom of the shaft. Yes, you’ve guessed it, by the time he’s been rescued, and the elevator called, Stan is now ready for work.

Repeat formula!

Next, Ollie gets to test his doorman’s whistle, and of course, the cab driver thinks it’s genuine business, and drives up. Standard annoyance, with a warning to Ollie, follows, and he drives off.

Meanwhile, inside the hotel (just a movie set), it’s my friend’s time to do her thing with Stan. She and her man for the night are getting ready to go out. Stan puts his coat on, and it doesn’t look right, so he tries to adjust it. Tugs underneath his coat, out comes his shirt. Yes, it was rigged: the moment Stan put the slightest pressure on it, it would come away—a bit like most of my dresses, but anyway …
He undoes his coat, Clara looks duly shocked at the sight of his shirtless body, and that’s it, her pay is earned for the day.

So then it’s back outside, and building up to my big moment. First though, Stan tries out Ollie’s whistle, and the same cab driver pulls up: another false alarm. Much pulling of clothing, including that of a policeman, ensues, and the cab driver rushes off.

By now, Clara has returned, recovered from her “shock” in time to watch me do my thing. The cab ride, about 20 yards! Firstly they open the cab drivers door, then finally get to letting me out. Ollie sees this glamorous blonde get out, and rushes to act the gentleman. I look flattered, take his arm, and he instructs Stan to shut the cab door behind me. Yes, you guessed it, not all of the dress was out of the cab, and I reveal a little more leg than a lady normally would. The pretence is that nothing happened, and Ollie escorts me to the hotel desk, where I start to book in. Then, and only after much effort, do we all discover that I’m revealing my legs, as the back of my dress has been torn away. I look duly shocked, exit right, and that’s it. Like I said, it’s a pay check.

Another scene with the lift, as Stan and Ollie leave the job in disgrace, and in all truth that’s pretty much it. As I said, a pretty standard twenty-minute slapstick short that would never win any awards, and would soon be forgotten, I had no doubt. But, it was money, and struggling actresses don’t object to getting paid a day’s wages for an hour of work!

Oh fine, yes, you’re right; it’s still around today. And most of the reason for that isn’t Stan, or Ollie, it’s me. Let’s face it, they had to add me to the credits a few years after the release.

What I knew was that silent movies were in decline. The big new thing was talkies. What I didn’t know at that point was that Howard Hughes was making a big movie, called “Hell’s Angels,” and that he was planning to remake it as a talkie. The thing was, the actress in the part of Helen was some Swedish lady, whose accent was never going to work with audiences. So, he decided he needed to find another actress for the role.

Equally, what I didn’t know was that he had agents out everywhere looking for the woman who could replace her. One of them was around the set of “Double Whoopee” that day and saw me. No idea why (even I admit I wasn’t the world’s greatest actress), but he saw something, got me an audition, and I got the role.

That’s why, a year later, an extra name got added to the credits of “Double Whoopee.” Up until then, only Stan and Ollie were credited, but, because of an actress who had made it big, they added my name to the screen. Didn’t get me any extra pay, but, by then, that was less of a concern.

Oh, what’s that, my name? Well, I was born Harlean Carpenter, but you’ve probably heard of me by another name. Yes, that’s right: Jean Harlow.

I have no idea if Double Whoopee really was my big break, or whether I was just in the right place, at the right time, but anyway …

So yes, the film is worth watching if you really like Laurel and Hardy, or if you want to see Jean Harlow’s moment that made her. You can find it at

Let’s face it, it’s not the most leg that I showed in a movie, but …

(And yes, honest, I told Stevie Nicholls all this. If you believe that … 😉 )

(Oh, and an additional footnote: I have no strict evidence that the lady mentioned as Clara was, in fact, Clara Johnson, another bit part actress from that era, whom I discovered under regression was me in a previous life. That was just a fun bit, a cameo for me.)

I can get writing done, I really can!

Well, today, I’d sort of had plans to go to the rugby league, over Keighley, but I never made it, thanks to the weather. Most of the morning was wet, part of the afternoon was too, and in between, it was grey, and miserable, so I never bothered. I might regret it, it probably was my best chance this year, but anyway…this early in the season, and all that. Hopefully I can get in some cricket at least, somewhere, when its a bit warmer.

So fine, its enabled me to catch up on things of a writing nature instead. I have a friend over on Twitter (well, contact at least) who runs excellent blogathons on movies of the distant past, usually silent ones, which given her handle of @movies silently is a bit of a give away! I’ve often read them, but never taken part, mainly due to work, and commitments. Well, as I havent got those at present, I volunteered to do one for her next series, which is all about short movies.

Did you know, before she became famous, Jean Harlow worked in a series of small, uncredited parts? Probably not, but she did. Some of those (including the one I’m going to mention), she quickly got added to the credits once she became famous, others she didnt.

Probably the most famous of those bit parts, was in a movie with Laurel and Hardy, called Double Whoopee. Possibly famous, because Jean (with Stan’s help) manages to lose most of her dress in this, and reveal plenty of leg! So despite my friend having reviewed it expertly recently, in a recent readers request thing (yes, it was my request), it was the one she suggested I tackle.

Her expert review can be found at http://moviessilently.com/2015/03/01/double-whoopee-1929-silent-film-review/

So, I couldnt compete with that, so I had to do something new with it, and have! I’ve taken a look at the movie from the eyes of Jean Harlow, and what happened during the movie, and afterwards. You can find the movie on You Tube, both the full 20 minutes, and just the section with Jean in, if thats what you prefer?

In addition to this, after far too long, I’ve started work on a new story. First 3 chapters are written, of about 10, I would guess. If you’ve ever read, or seen the movie of ‘A Christmas Carol’, you have an idea of how things play out, though not exactly the same as events in that story, all the same. I’m guessing it will be a few weeks before I release it to the public, especially given the holiday, but it will depend how the writing goes, and how busy my poor editor is.

But sometime soon…

I thought long and hard about a video, and then I thought of this. Were these 2 gentlemen involved in Jean’s big break? Who knows?

A beau, to see Miss Bow

No, seriously, even on Valentine weekend, I dont expect that to happen, but you never know! Hey, I dont even expect to be wined, and dined, and if I am, I’d split the bill! But company, at the movie might be fun. Not that I will be on my own, I suspect there will be a good number of people at Bradford Cathedral, to see the first Oscar winning movie, ‘Wings’, which as you guessed, includes a certain Miss Clara Bow.

Link

http://www.bradfordcathedral.org/calendar/event.php?event=3787

Its going to be a rare delight, accompanied by the Cathedral organ (Yes, its the only silent movie to win the best movie Oscar), in the incredible setting of Bradford Cathedral.

Its probably one of the 2 movies that Clara Bow is best remembered for, the other being ‘It!’, as in the ‘It Girl’ of the time. For many years, ‘Wings’ was thought to be one of those lost movies, that there are so many of from the silent era, but then a copy was found in France, and we all get the chance to see her at work. Many of her films sadly still are, and probably always will be lost, a hazard of the methods used to store film back then, plus many of the studios thought no one would want to see silent movies, once talkies started up, and just destroyed them!

Many of Louise Brooks’s films met the same fate, and indeed the first movie of a certain Harlean Harlow Carpenter (uncredited), Honour Bound met the same fate. Thankfully, she went on to make a number of talkies in the 30’s, under her better known name today, Jean Harlow!

Oh, the last film I saw out, just 2 years younger, Pandora’s Box, at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, starring Louise Brooks. The last modern movie that I saw at a cinema, I think its ‘I, Robot’ in 2004!

So, if you’re in the area, and want to see a moment of history, in an amazing setting, get there. No, you dont have to sit anywhere near me, though I dont mind if you do. Oh, and if anyone asks, just say ‘Jean Harlow’ sent you. 😉

The video, given the movie, quite apt

A different line of thought

One line of thought that seems to be gaining momentum over my look, isnt the Harlow one! Oh, dont get me wrong, its still very popular with me, and with many others, but one other name seems to keep getting mentions, and ironically kidney failure played a part in her death too, but at least she lived to 50! Her name, Veronica Lake. A picture, for those who dont know

veronica lake1

And yes, I can definitely see the resemblance in many ways, apart from the hair length! No, I’m not sending that picture to my hairdresser if I ever want it trimmed again! Also looks like it takes a lot of maintenance, something I really dont have the time for.

The thing that picture doesnt give away, is how tiny she was, just under 5 ft! Yes, she would have looked up to Jean Harlow, and that is saying something! And no, I dont know how she put up with that peek a boo look, it would annoy the hell out of me! But other than that…

Oh, and she could sing, ‘of sorts’, as shown in this wartime effort

But being compared to all these glamorous ladies, I’m not complaining!

And lastly, to complete my early movies foursome, the other lady I havent mentioned before, and another one, like Brooks, I definitely dont resemble, Clara Bow!

Clara, like Louise made most of her films in the silent movies days. Thankfully, more of her movies have survived the test of time, though an awful lot are still described by that awful term, lost film. Clara, like Louise, was never a fan of the talkies, mainly because she hated working to a mic, rather than to the audience. Like so many stars, her Brooklyn accent is used as an excuse, but if you hear her talk, like Brooks, it wasnt true. Just that Bow didnt enjoy talkies, and Brooks hated the whole Hollywood thing, but both soon stopped making movies, Bow’s last was in 1933.

The thing that made me write about her tonight, an interesting find that suggests she auditioned for the part of Scarlett O’Hara! But all in all, what Clara deserves to be remembered for, is her bubbliness in films like this one

Last interesting point, in 1933 Jean Harlow made a film called Bombshell, a pastiche on Clara Bow, made by one of her former loves.

Very last interesting point, both Bow, and Brooks worked for Paramount.

There, all 4 in 1 blog, how’s that?