WELCOME ABOARD THE EMPRESS OF INDIA: NORTH WEST FRONTIER ( 1959 )

“The British never seem to do anthing until they’ve had a cup of tea, By which time it’s too late.”

After the death of Humphrey Bogart in 1957, Lauren Bacall followed a path that would lead to a career lapse before embarking on a treacherous train journey through rebel-held territory in British India.

Legendary actress Lauren Bacall endured a successful tenure in motion pictures. Although she is best remembered for her story-book marriage to Humphrey Bogart, Bacall was steeped in acclamation outside of their relationship. After her four-film collaboration with Bogart, Bacall decided to nurture a solo career of her own. It was during this period that she starred in such classics as, How To Marry A Millionaire ( 1953 ), Written on the Wind ( 1956 ) and Designing Woman ( 1957 ), in which she made while Humphrey Bogart was deteriorating from esophagus cancer.

While Lauren was celebrating the success of Designing Woman, tragedy struck the home front when Humphrey Bogart passed away on January 14th, 1957 from esophagus cancer at age 57. In spite of the tragic turn of events that eclipsed all the fond memories of making the film, Bacall often reminisced about her time on the set and her lifelong friendship with co-star Gregory Peck.

Humphrey Bogart’s death caused major heartbreak in the family, and with all the emotional turmoil she was enduring, Lauren found her career capsizing. For the rest of the decade, Bacall would only appear in two more films. In 1958, she starred alongside Robert Stack in The Gift of Love, a remake of the 1946 film, Sentimental Journey, and the following year she was cast in the British production, North West Frontier, titled Flame Over India in the United States. Both films were positively received at the box-office, especially the latter, which was a major hit in Britain.

North West Frontier is one of those films that plunges straight into adventure. Masterfully directed by J. Lee Thompson, and starring Lauren Bacall, Kenneth More and Herbert Lom, this glorious technicolor production came from the pen of Robin Estridge and Frank S. Nugent, who provided a screenplay that was infused with an undercurrent of suspense and razor-sharp dialogue.

The film opens in British India in the year 1905. The country is at the brink of rebellion. The moral focus is five-year-old Prince Kishan, the leader of the Hindu population. After Kishan’s father is killed, the young boy becomes the target for Muslim rebels whose motive is to end the family line by murdering Kishan. All plans prove to be impenetrable when Captain Scott ( Kenneth More ) is assigned the dangerous task of rescuing Kishan and taking him to safer territory in Kalapur. The adventurous escapade begins the next morning when Captain Scott along with the boy’s governess Catherine Wyatt ( Lauren Bacall ), two upper-class British aristocrats, a Dutch journalist and potential traitor, plus a team of others embark on a perilous journey through enemy lines on board a dilapidated old train. With the rebels in full pursuit and an engine that is liable to break down, the question is – will the Empress of India manage to successfully escape through firing lines? or will they be vanquished by the enemies?

Two years before the film went into production, Kenneth More announced that he was planning to play a romantic adventure part in a film adaptation of Night Runners of Bengal, but when the film never came to fruition, legend has it that More transitioned into a similar role in North West Frontier, where he portrayed Captain Scott, who is charged with the duty of escorting a young Indian prince to safety.

Initially, Olivia de Havilland was scheduled to play the female lead, but at the time de Havilland was tied to other work commitments and was unable to break her contract. Finding another actress whose talents closely mirrored Olivia’s was an erroneous task. The films requirements would not be suitable for all stars, and almost all possible candidates were attached to other motion picture engagements.

Finally the unquestionable search was over when Lauren Bacall was approached about taking on the role. For Bacall, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. When she was handed a copy of the script, Lauren was enduring hardships back home in Los Angeles. She was still mourning over the death of Humphrey Bogart, and she had recently ended her relationship with Frank Sinatra, but while she was struggling to come to terms with her series of mishaps, the news of the tragic passing of her aunt Rosalie who was killed in an air-line disaster fueled even greater problems.

Along with all the excitement about filming abroad, came the worries that was attached to this sort of assignment. Bacall realized from the onset that it was not going to be easy making a movie outside of her native country. After all she had two young children to care for, and it would be hard on them when their mother is jumping between cities for work, but after much consideration, she enrolled Stephen and Leslie at the American School while she lent her efforts to the film.

Despite the fact that she was carrying a burgeoning load on her shoulders, Lauren Bacall embraced the project with utmost enthusiasm. Work was her soul focus at this point and being in front of the camera gave her a sense of security that she felt was lacking in her personal life. The most challenging obstacle she faced was the separation from her children, but as much as she wanted to have Stephen and Leslie with her, she also felt that it would help prepare them for the future.

Adding to the worries of leaving her children for a few months were the emotional strains inflicted by a house robbery that left her tormented. Although, Bacall knew she had a trusted confidante in Stephen and Leslie’s carers, she still feared for the safety of the kids after hearing that the burglar had reportedly entered through Steve’s bedroom window late one night while he was sleeping. What disturbed her the most though, is that she was warned that there was a strong possibility that another home invasion might occur. To ensure that Steve and Leslie wouldn’t be exposed to danger, Bacall hired a detective to watch over the house at night, but fortunately, no other event of this sort came to fruition.

Lauren Bacall with her children, Leslie and Stephen Bogart.

You’ll have to forgive me for speaking my mind. I happen to believe that’s what it’s for.

By now the films commencement date was fast approaching. In order to prepare for the location shooting, Bacall conducted many hours of research into the destinations she was visiting. She was especially interested to learn more about the Indian culture and after her studies she was left with an ingrained knowledge on the subject. Her astuteness transcended the vast information that the rest of the cast and crew had on hand, and the fact that she was transmitting all sufficient details onto them sure made her feel like she was embodying the image of a consummate professional.

The thought of filming in foreign territory could be nerve-wracking, but nothing hints at Lauren displaying even the slightest fears of the project. If anything, she was marred with waves of excitement, which was caused by meeting the Queen Mother at the Royal Command performance of The Horse’s Mouth prior to shooting. This particular moment was forever etched in her memory, and for a long time after she realized that her life was beginning to be re-shaped.

After undergoing rehearsals in London, the cast and crew sprang right into action. The first destination was Bombay, which is now known as Mumbai. This lively city is nestled in the state of Maharashtra, and is famous for being the second most populous city in India and the fourth most populous in the world. For Lauren Bacall, India was a world away from home. The country was unlike anything she ever envisioned. If Lauren wasn’t initially apprehensive about visiting India, she soon lost her equilibrium on her arrival. In her autobiography By Myself and Then Some, Bacall reflected back on the experience and wrote “I felt the impact of a totally different world. There is no way to imagine it – veiled women in saris, red dots in the center of their foreheads; colored turbans on men dressed in white; cows – sacred, of course – walking in the street. The streets teeming with humanity. In India, awareness grows of how many people are alive on this earth. We get so caught up in our own worlds, we forget. And some of us never know.”

No photo could capture the exotic beauty of India. You have to physically be there to witness the many natural wonders the country has to offer and to appreciate its majestic charm. The destination is surreal, and its culture is so linguistically diverse. Lauren Bacall was that transfixed that she thought about eschewing all work commitments to explore the region as a tourist. Fortunately, the production allowed the cast and crew time to sight-see. Lauren took great advantage of the opportunity and devoted all her free days to embarking on an odyssey of discovery. As their time in India drew to a close, Lauren and Kenneth More wanted to avail themselves to one last final picture-perfect day before that chapter of their journey ended.

That final picture-perfect moment was captured in front of one of the world’s most iconic monuments. The Taj Mahal is the main tourist attraction in India. Millions of visitors’ flock to the famous landmark each year. Built with an optical illusion and perfect symmetry, the red stone and gleaming white marble facade dazzles any time of the day, but it is believed that the Taj Mahal is even more magical at dawn or dusk when the colors glisten over the moonlit waters. Based on recommendations from natives, Lauren and Kenneth More made sure they were present at the prominent architecture at the aforementioned hours. The Tah Majal as Lauren describes was “breathtakingly beautiful and better than she had ever imagined.”

I went to see a woman in Delhi who told my fortune – she was so convincing I almost believed I might really be a blade of grass or a butterfly next time around. And I met a wise old man who sat guru-like on a raised platform in his house, greeting people who had been sent to him or whom he had known in another world.

( Lauren Bacall )

Most of the India locales were filmed in Jaipur, the capital and largest city in the state of Rajasthan. Voted in a 2008 survey the seventh most popular city to visit in Asia, this exotic destination offers a wide array of cultural activities for tourists. One of the main attractions are the desert themed buildings, an artifact that adorns almost every vicinity. The uniqueness of the area provokes a strong interest in many visitors. Lauren Bacall perfectly captured the essence of Jaipur in her autobiography and considered it to be the highlight of her journey.

Lauren Bacall may have enjoyed her time on Indian soils, but Kenneth More on the other hand, was on a different wavelength. In his memoirs, More recalled how physically grueling the filming process was. The many obstacles that the cast and crew endured were intensified with frequent bouts of illness. Almost every member of the cast was sick with Dysentery and other health issues. This meant that production was often delayed until everyone was well enough to resume work. The constant hold-ups were a major impediment – especially since location shooting was a key component and that relied heavily on time.

The rail sequences took six weeks to complete. The filming of these scenes commenced in the Province of Granada on May 10th, 1959. Finding the perfect locales was often time consuming, but the dry Arid Steppe was an ideal backdrop for British India. The Anchurón Bridge that crosses over the Solanas de la Carreta, situated near the hamlet of Belerda in Granada was used for the bomb-damaged bridge in one of the films most electrifying scenes. After the work in Spain came to a close, the cast and crew returned to London for final preparations. Lauren Bacall looked back on the making of the picture as an experience of a lifetime. Although the long separation from her children was a challenge, the six-week shooting schedule in India was monumental for her.

The Anchurón Bridge that was used for the bomb-damaged bridge in one of the films most electrifying scenes.

While Lauren Bacall enjoyed basking in all the Indian glory, she was anxious to return to London to spend time with her children before traveling to Spain for the rail sequences. It was during her time in Granada that Bacall started plotting her next move. She knew that it would be impossible for her to live in California and face the same hardships she endured after Bogart’s death. What she really wanted was another career path to follow. Her problem was solved when Leland Hayward called and told her that he was producing a stage play titled Goodbye Charlie, and asked her to read it.

If Lauren Bacall pursued a part in Goodbye Charlie, she would be stepping out of her horizons – though she soon realized that in order to further succeed in her career she would have to charter different territories. The idea of appearing on Broadway had always appealed to Lauren. After all, the theatre was her initial destiny, and chasing after her unfulfilled dreams was one of her most pivotal goals. This sort of work also meant that Lauren would not have to return to Los Angeles – a city that she could no longer bare to live in. She saw the idea as her one way passage to New York, where she was serious about setting up permanent residency.

At last, Lauren Bacall felt like she was back on the radar. She had just attained a role in Goodbye Charlie, and she was elated about reestablishing herself as a New York citizen. Perhaps her biggest thrill though, was the news that North West Frontier was a major success in the United Kingdom, and was considered to be among the six most popular films of the year. Considering that Bacall’s last few pictures had floundered at the box-office, this was quite an achievement, and many believe that it helped set the next chapter of her career in motion.

Although it is believed that North West Frontier made a significant impact on her career, the 1960’s would hardly be considered a monumental decade for Lauren Bacall. This period was particularly notable for her successful venture on the stage in the 1965 production of Cactus Flower, which earned her critical acclaim and would help pave the way for her future work in the theater. The very few films she did appear in did nothing to enhance her motion picture work, and instead she decided to embrace a more domesticated life on the home front by caring for her son Sam Robards, who was born in December of 1961.

At the mention of Lauren Bacall or Kenneth More, North West Frontier is never the first film that springs to mind. Audiences consider it a viewing experience that will always be embedded in their memory and the stars who made it call it a great picture with a lousy title.

CAST

Lauren Bacall: Born Betty Joan Perske on September 16th, 1924, inAfter the death of Humphrey Bogart in 1957, Lauren Bacall followed a path that would lead to a career lapse before embarking on a treacherous train journey through rebel-held territory in British India. The Bronx, New York. Died: August 12th, 2014, in New York. Aged 89.

Kenneth More: Born Kenneth Gilbert More on September 20th, 1914, in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. Died: July 12th, 1982, in Fulham, London. Aged 67.

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This post was written for the 2022 edition of the Rule, Britannia Blogathon, hosted by Terence at A Shroud Of Thoughts.

THE GREAT DISPUTE: BETTE DAVIS VERSUS WARNER BROS.

To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.

( Bette Davis )

Bette Davis was one of the most celebrated actresses to ever grace the silver screen. Her indomitable presence coupled by her sheer intensity were among her greatest assets that helped signify her reputable star status, but as powerful as she was, Davis had to struggle and fight her way to the top of the ladder.

From the moment she arrived on Hollywood soil in the Winter of 1930, Bette Davis discovered that she would have to reach high for her dreams. As she was growing up, Davis had become accustomed to getting things her way, but in the early days of her cinematic career, Bette soon realized that Hollywood was not willing to cater to her strong demands.

For years, young Bette Davis had dreamed about visiting Hollywood and conquering the world, but on her arrival in the sun-drenched paradise with the palm-tree lined streets, Davis could feel her dreams shattering. Los Angeles was not the place she had envisioned. She had expected to receive full movie-star treatment and a warm welcoming. Instead, she disembarked the train at foreign territory with no studio cars there to greet her.

Bette Davis’ entrance into motion pictures can be described as tumultuous and often times humiliating. After the harrowing train station ordeal when Davis and her mother Ruthie stepped foot on an empty platform and were forced to find their own way to the studio, Davis was summoned to the office of Carl Laemmle who immediately quipped, “She has as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville”. Episodes like this really bruised her confidence, but as the criticisms mounted, Bette learned that the only way to survive in Hollywood was to be tough.

Hollywood was always eclipsing talent and experience with sex appeal and beauty. When Bette Davis arrived on the scene, she was viewed as awkward, unattractive and automatically she was made to feel like a misfit trapped behind those iron gates of Universal. All she wanted to do was act, but when nobody wanted her, she desperately searched for a way to elude her miserable situation and return to New York, but the problem was, she was tied to a three month contract.

As hard as it was, Bette managed to endure the boredom. She spent her days posing for photos and doing screen-test after screen-test until Carl Laemmle announced that he was considering terminating Davis’ contract. Bette couldn’t be happier when she heard the news. Her experience in Hollywood was full of misfortunes, and with no acting roles being offered, she wanted to leave. Coincidentally, Karl Freund had other ideas. He thought Davis had unique eyes, and wanted her for the role of Laura Madison in The Bad Sister ( 1931 ). 

After spending weeks biding her time on the studio lot, Bette Davis finally made her film debut in The Bad Sister, a Hobart Henley directed production that also brought Humphrey Bogart to the spotlight. Neither Davis or Bogart made a considerable impression, but it did land them roles in other films, though success and critical acclaim was not imminent.

Her film appearances that followed failed to do anything to enhance Bette’s reputation, and after making a total of six unsuccessful films, Universal decided to terminate Davis’ contract. Bette Davis had once conjured up the highest fantasies of becoming a prominent and extremely revered motion picture actress, but here she was, despondent and ashamed that her days in Hollywood were over. She would have to return to New York a failure.

The chapter of events that ensued next are the stuff of legend. As the story goes: A teary eyed Bette and her mother Ruthie were packing their cases ready to return to New York that same day when suddenly the telephone rang. On the other end of the phone was legendary actor, George Arliss, who told Bette that she would be the ideal female lead to play opposite him in The Man Who Played God ( 1932 ) and wanted her to report to Warner Bros. that afternoon.

George Arliss not only rescued Bette from destruction. He became the instrumental force behind the resurrection of Bette Davis. If it was not for Arliss saving her that day, Davis would have returned to New York, and the world may have never discovered the unparalleled unique artistry that Bette possessed.

In the years that proceeded, Davis always credited George Arliss for establishing her career. The Man Who Played God garnered Bette the recognition that she so rightly deserved, and Warner Bros. was that impressed with her performance that they signed her to a five year contract.

For the next eighteen years, Bette Davis called Warner Bros. her home. She would go on to make some of her most acclaimed productions with the studio, but like a large majority of newcomers, immediate prosperity was not on the doorstep. She was cast in a succession of films that fared moderately at the box-office, though Bette Davis was yearning to be acknowledged.

After appearing in sixteen films for the studio, Bette Davis made her breakthrough performance as Mildred in Of Human Bondage ( 1934 ). The film was a hit at the box office, and Davis’ performance was revered by both critics and the general public, but to get this far, Bette had to be loaned out to RKO to attain the accolades that she was desperately seeking. Initially, Jack Warner was reluctant about sending Bette to RKO. He thought that playing a shrewish character like Mildred would destroy her glamorous image, but to his amazement, the film restored Bette’s reputation.

Of Human Bondage cemented Bette Davis in a reputable position on the cinematic charts, and for the first time in her life, she felt that success was looming. Davis couldn’t have been more correct. The following year she received an Academy Award for Dangerous. In the film Davis played Joyce Heath, a washed-up former Broadway star whose destructive path of alcoholism sends her on a downward spiral.

Her next project was The Petrified Forest ( 1936 ), which teamed her with Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart, her co-star from The Bad Sister. The film was based on the 1935 Broadway production that featured both Howard and Bogart in his first leading theatrical role. On it’s release, the film garnered critical acclaim, and helped established Bogart’s career in motion pictures.

Despite the success of The Petrified Forest and all of her previous achievements, Bette Davis was cast in a series of undistinguished films that had the capability of decimating her eminent status. After attaining her first Academy Award, Davis had confidence in herself, and her hopes of starring in a prestige production had elevated, but when she was obtaining mediocre scripts, her dreams began to unravel.

Shortly after, she was assigned the role of Valerie Purvis in Satan Met A Lady ( 1936 ), an uninspiring adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Maltese Falcon, which was remade into an enduring classic five years later with Humphrey Bogart as the lead. Upon reading the script, Bette was incensed. She vied for quality material and did not want to have anything to do with the film. The only way to escape the project was to consult with Jack Warner, who assured her that she would have pivotal assignments on the horizon if she agreed to make the film.

Once again, Bette had developed high hopes, but was let down with the arrival of the next script for a film titled, God’s Country and the Woman. This time Bette was not about to let anyone persuade her to star in the picture. As much as Jack Warner enticed her, Bette continued to stay firm on her promise. As a result, her salary was stopped and she was put on a three months suspension, but Bette didn’t care. Instead, she embarked on a vacation to Leguna Beach while the cast and crew for God’s Country and the Woman left for location shooting in Washington.

After a long vacation at Leguna Beach, Bette refused to leave. If she couldn’t influence decisions and have full control of her career, she was not about to crawl back to the studio that never gave her the power of selectivity. For a while she considered accepting other offers from production companies that would allow her the freedom she yearned for, but with the standard contract that she was currently on, this was deemed impossible.

In her absence, Warner Bros. was having a field day. Fabricated stories that depicted Bette as a greedy and ungrateful antagonist were being printed. These articles left Davis feeling like a villain instead of a victim who was constantly relegated to secondary roles in menial low-budget productions. This kind of publicity was degrading and could have easily sabotaged Davis’ career if the delicate situation was not handled appropriately.

The altercations between Bette and Warner Bros. were only exacerbating with each printed article. She tried to reason with Jack Warner by requesting a new deal – a one year contract that came with the option of renewing for another five years. The salary would be $100,000 for the first year and rising as high as $220,000 as the years progressed. This deal also came with other bonuses that included: Three months of vacation, a work schedule that would allow her to star in no more than four films per year. After designing her proposed contract, Bette stated that if her terms were not approved, she would refuse to work until something more plausible gets set in concrete.

Unfortunately for Bette, Jack Warner was not about to accept her proposal. His reply came in the form of a three month suspension notice. This ordeal also spawned a deluge of printed publications that painted Bette Davis as an overly demanding and rebellious star whose most pivotal goal was to chase after a large sum of money. The accusations that were made against Bette threatened to thwart her career as well as putting her in a bad light. As a result of all this, her chances of being hired by any other producer in the country was impossible – nobody wanted to be embroiled in a legal showdown with Warner Bros.

The chapter of events that happened next have been documented that many times. As the story goes – Bette was left in a quandary, and with nobody willing to take their chances on her, she had to pursue other avenues. Her next venture was to make movies abroad, but with all the tarnishing publicity that she was receiving, this could have easily been plagued with difficulties.

By now, all the unfavorable publicity was running at full speed. The only way to elude all the chaos was to flee the country and hide out in solitary. Finally, a wave of hope headed in Bette’s direction when the Anglo-Italian movie mogul, Ludovic Toeplitz entered the picture at the height of all the drama.

Ludovic Toeplitz was in Hollywood to save Bette Davis from destruction. From the moment he approached her, Davis had a slight inkling that something positive was around the corner. She didn’t exactly know what was going to happen, but she knew that Ludovic had plans for her. Bette was right about this – Ludovic Toeplitz had mapped out a two picture deal for her. This deal would have Bette filming one movie in Italy and the other in France. She was offered twenty thousand pounds plus both scripts would have her stamp of approval.

At last, Bette had found the answer to all her problems. After a long suspension, she was eager to work, but in order to do so, she had to step foot into foreign territory before she would reach her final destination. The prospect of making pictures in Europe seemed exciting to Bette. She had never traveled outside of the United States, and she was euphoric to see what the other corners of the world had to offer.

Now that Bette had made up her mind, she was not going to let anybody prevent her from pursuing that offer. She was anxious to get her career back on track, and fortunately her mother Ruthie supported her decision, and encouraged her to sign the contract with Ludovic Toeplitz. That was exactly what she did. Shortly after Bette and her then husband, Harmon Nelson flew to Vancouver late one Saturday night, where they were to travel to Montreal by train. Once in Montreal, Bette and Harmon boarded the Duchess of Bedford and embarked on their journey to England.

From the onset, Bette maintained that there was something special about this vacation. She didn’t utilize the entire holiday for work related activities. She used it as part honeymoon for her and Harmon. Bette and Harmon arrived in Europe on their fourth anniversary, and more than anything, she wanted to spend quality time with Harmon, something that she was often denied with her profession.

The first destination was the Firth of Clyde at Greenock in Scotland. Bette and Harmon were greeted by a deluge of fans and critics, who welcomed them with a warm reception. In her autobiography The Lonely Life, Davis states that the Scottish press called her an “unemployed movie star”. At the time those words didn’t seem to phase Bette – she was more impressed by her popularity and her worldwide fame than her current employment status.

After a memorable visit to Scotland, Bette Davis and Harmon Nelson touched down in Liverpool. This was perhaps the most fascinating place Davis had seen during the vacation. She had heard so much about Liverpool in the past, and now she found herself right in the heart of the city. Bette later summed it up as an amazing experience and embraced all the sights with child-like enthusiasm.

Bette Davis had anticipated the entire vacation to be memorable. Her biggest thrill was that she was privileged enough to be working under the strings of Ludovic Toeplitz, but along with all her excitement was a devastating piece of news that instantly confirmed that part of her dreams were crashing down. The last thing that Davis was expecting was an injunction notice from Warner Bros. that prohibited her from working anywhere and under the guidance of any director. Needless to say, Bette was incensed with anger. The thought of being denied the advantage to work under the helm of a top European director deeply perturbed her.

Bette Davis was known for exuding fierceness and being intractable. She realized from the start that her latest crisis with Warner Bros. was not the end of the world, and she was certainly determined to put up a fight. Bette had reached the point in her career where she was not about to play a puppet on a string to Warner Bros. If they were going to put a huge restriction on her, she was going to free herself from their restraints. As a result, Davis stuck to her initial plan and met with Toeplitz and Monty Banks at the Claridges Hotel in London to discuss her upcoming work schedule. 

To the chagrin of Warner Bros., Bette finalized her contract with Toeplitz. She was scheduled to begin her first picture in a few weeks, which meant that Davis had ample time to continue on with her honeymoon. While they were away, the news of Davis’ meeting with Toeplitz spread fast, and soon Jack Warner himself was on his way to Venice to have the most unpleasant consultation with Ludovic Toeplitz.

It didn’t take long for Bette to find out about Jack Warner’s meeting with Ludovic Toeplitz. From the moment she heard word of their consultation, she knew something was fishy and that Jack was only in town to sabotage her chances of working in Europe. As it turns out, Bette couldn’t have been more correct. Warner was irascible when it came to Davis’ legal obligations and wanted to take the matter to the English courts. The whole situation indicated trouble. Bette realized that there was no easy road out. Every avenue she could possibly follow contained many uncertainties. Defying Warner Bros. and remaining under contract to Toeplitz would jeopardize her career, but if she returned to California there was a chance that she would still be relegated to secondary productions that lacked prestige. No matter what it could have cost her, Bette was a hard target. She constantly thought about her position as an actress and where she wanted to stand on the pedestal. Instead of swallowing her pride and taking Jack Warner’s advice, Bette finally arrived at the decision to stand her ground and stay in Europe.

“I had been living abroad in the naive knowledge that I was about to prosper with the now maligned Signor Toeplitz. See you in court! I was so cocksure of myself. Right always triumphed.

( Bette Davis: The Lonely Life )

Bette Davis’ decision was met with dissatisfaction from Warner Brothers. To prevent Bette from seeking temporary work, Messrs, Denton, Hall and Burgin, solicitors for Warner Bros. and First National Pictures, issued Bette an Ex Parte Injunction on September 9th of that year. Meanwhile Jack Warner and his wife Ann had set up momentary residence at William Randolph Hearst’s commodious property outside of London. Convinced that the whole situation was being blown out of proportion, Mrs. Warner earnestly tried to persuade her husband to put a stop to the action, but Jack remained adamant about going ahead with proceedings. As a means to confirm his power, Jack Warner enlisted Sir Patrick Hastings as the barrister. Noted as one of Britain’s most renowned barristers, Hastings served as a model for Sir Wilfrid Robarts, the lawyer in the 1957 film Witness For the Prosecution.

If Jack Warner was going to hire a barrister of authority, Bette made sure that her lawyer would be of equal supremacy. Signor Toeplitz recommended Sir William Jowitt, one of the best legal minds in the country. Bette was impressed with Jowitt’s experience in the field and felt confident about him handling her case. However, she soon found out that attached to his services was a ten-thousand-dollar retainer. In Hollywood, Bette was the subject of criticism. Gossip moguls for newspapers and magazines had continuously contextualized on Bette’s affluent wealth and had painted her as a spoiled rich girl, but in truth, she was financially broke. That kind of money was out of reach for Bette. There was no way that she would be able to afford the cost of hiring Jowitt without assistance. To make matters worse, both Bette and Ham were receiving no income. The only way out of this perplexing situation was for Ham to return to New York to try and pursue employment as a means to acquire money to help support his wife. Although Bette largely depended on Ham, she soon realized that Ham’s decision was the most sensible thing to do. In the meantime, Bette had to survive on the minimal savings she did have, and this meant downsizing to a tiny cell at the Park Lane, where she insisted on absolute silence.

Since Ham’s departure, Bette seemed to dwell over the court case. She knew she was facing an uphill battle. The entire motion picture industry would be backing Warner Bros. Given her notoriety for declining scripts that she deemed inferior, no other studio in Hollywood were willing to take a chance on her. What some of these top movie producers didn’t understand is that Bette cared about her career. She just wanted to be treated equally like a star and have more control over her projects. If any form of slavery on her part was to continue, Bette would not fulfill Warner Bros. demands. Trying to get Jack Warner to understand this was the hard part. He constantly underestimated Bette’s dedication to her craft. It was only on the day of the trial that Jack Warner would come forth and openly admit that Bette was a serious actress who fully embraced her work.

On the day of her hearing, Bette felt like she was pitted against top authority figures. As she entered the large English courtroom that was fitted with wood-paneled walls and leaded windows, Bette began to cower. The entire room emanated a foreboding and intimidating ambiance. Years later, Davis described the situation as one of the most painful experiences of her life. It was clear from the start that Bette would have to fight hard. She was dealing with the elite who succeeded in tearing shreds out of your self confidence. Throughout the hearing, Bette was depicted as being spoiled, uncooperative and demanding. These words were demoralizing. Bette had worked like a slave driver for the studio and now she discovers that Jack Warner displayed no ounce of gratification for her services. It was obvious that Warner had failed to look at the big picture. Bette was eager to appear in films that had substance and that was guaranteed to be financially successful, but she refused to work against her will in what was destined by critics to be a disastrous flop.

The entire court battle lasted three full days, but for Bette Davis the nightmare seemed to be never-ending. During this time everyone involved had a chance to express their plight in a open court room. Amidst this on going crisis a lawyer named Gerald Gardiner appeared out of nowhere and proceeded to close in on Sir Patrick. He was representing Signor Toeplitz. According to Davis’ autobiography The Lonely Life, Gardiner was condemned to silence. His speech was deemed irrelevant and his presence there was highly unnecessary. Before he could utter another world he was quickly reminded that his client was not on trial and was not among the parties concerned in the case.

Sir William was the perfect representative for Bette’s case. He delivered his speech with such heart and really fought for his clients rights. Although he was no authority in the acting industry, he clearly understood Bette’s plight and addressed the fact that it was wrong to force an actress or any employee to work against their will. Perhaps the most crucial point was when he detoured away from Bette’s impotency in choice of material and evoked the topic of freedom. He distinctly outlined that the studio was holding Bette prisoner. It was acceptable for a contract to come with a few stipulations, but he viewed Bette’s contract as a life sentence. Among the rules that were reinforced was that Bette was denied access in to any theatrical shows and was banned from making private appearances. Even a simple candid photograph taken at home was deemed improper and considered an appearance or arranging a party for a charity was more or less breaking the guidelines. Whatever Bette wished to pursue she would be required to seek permission before proceeding. At the core of this scenario was that Jack Warner owned Bette, which often made her feel like she was his guardian.

In The Lonely Life, Bette remembered that Sir William’s speech stultified both Jack Warner and Sir Patrick. Deep down Jack Warner knew he was partly to blame, but he was not one to openly admit that he was at fault. Instead he sat through the entire hearing looking uncomfortable. As Sir William hammered every aspect of the contract, he cringed more and more. Patrick Hastings looked as though he was ready to tear Bette apart, but the only way he could unleash his feelings was by taking off his wig and throwing it across the courtroom. He’s actions caused quite a commotion and its a scene that was permanently ingrained in Bette’s mind.

The verdict came as no surprise to anyone. It was decided that the final decision would be announced after the weekend. The thought of waiting to hear the unwelcoming news only increased Bette’s anxiety. She knew she was going to lose, but she would have preferred to hear of her defeat sooner rather than later. During this time Bette was residing at the Tudor Close in Sussex. Her mini apartment was less expensive than her previous dwellings and its ideal location boasted absolute seclusion and privacy, an aspect that was a necessity at this particular period in her life. In an attempt to elude her frustration and anguish, Bette found pleasure in taking leisurely walks along the beach. Coincidentally, Bette was basking in the sunshine at the beach when the results of the court case were reported. Although she had an inkling of what was going to happen, she was still overcome with sudden waves of melancholy. Her biggest worry was her financial status. She owed a large fortune to Sir William for his services and coupling this was the fact that she was morally bound by law to pay Jack Warner’s costs, which alone would make a tremendous dent in her bank account. After taking all this into account, Bette regretted her decision to fight. She wished she could turn back the clock, but that was not possible.

During her time of despair, Bette relied on a great support team to help carry her through. Her savior at this point was her mother Ruthie. Although Ruthie was back in the United States, she was a pillar of strength for Bette and remained her tower of comfort. This experience certainly made her realize the importance of a mother. Absolutely nobody could fulfill Ruthie’s role. She always replied to Bette’s letters, offering her sage advice and assuring her that everything will turn out alright in the long run. Ruthie tried her hardest to instill positivity in her daughter. Her words may not have fully alleviated Bette’s feelings, but they were a tremendous help.

Back in Hollywood, the studios were having a field day celebrating Bette’s defeat. The sardonic behavior of others really increased Bette’s dysphoria. She was determined to fight the case, but her current loneliness was weighing a heavy burden on her. At that instance she called her mother and insisted that she come over and stay with her while she appealed. Ruthie never gave it a thought nor did she need convincing. Her place at that moment was with Bette and that was the only thing that mattered. Those days before Ruthie’s arrival were punctuated with sorrow. Bette was alone and depressed. When she wasn’t walking along the beach or cycling she was hounded by the press who kept descending upon her tiny hotel situated by the sea.

In the midst of this gloomy situation entered an unexpected visitor who had arrived to rescue Bette from ruin. Standing in the lobby was no other than George Arliss, the man who was responsible for launching Bette’s career. Once again Arliss was here to release Bette from all her troubles. From that moment on, Arliss became the instrumental force behind Bette’s career resurrection. The two sat down and engaged in a long discussion. He advised Bette to return to the United States. She would be in a much better position if she accepted her defeat and went back and faced the music than if she decided to stay in the United Kingdom and fight for justice. Arliss convinced Bette that the key to success was positivity and failure is the root to negativity. Bette needed to have complete confidence in herself in order to further succeed in the acting business. These were the most encouraging words Bette had heard in a long time. Finally she came to the realization that George Arliss was right. Shortly after, Bette cabled her mother Ruthie about her homecoming and told her to stay in New York.

On a cold November day, Bette boarded the Aquitania and sailed to the United States. By the time she arrived home, Ham had released one record with Tommy Dorsey, but he was still adamant about launching a successful career of his own. Due to the very few opportunities Ham had in California, the most sensible thing to do was remain in New York, where he had a greater prospect to achieve. This arrangement meant that Bette and Ham would be separated again, though that was the least of their worries at that point. Ham was more interested in making a name for himself and Bette was overwhelmed with nerves about what was awaiting her in Los Angeles.

During the flight home to California, Bette sat nervously next to Ruthie. She was constantly weaving different scenarios into the chapter of events that she depicted will happen when she arrived back in Hollywood. Ruthie kept reminding her to eclipse all negativity and focus on the positive. If Bette had a slight inkling of what was awaiting, she wouldn’t have the spent the entire journey in a worrisome state of mind. Fortunately, her return was met with surprising results. Not only did Warner Bros. give her a warm welcome, they relieved her of all financial pressure by paying for the Kings ransom and Sir William’s retainer. For once their feelings were shifted towards Bette. They knew that Bette was serious about her career and only wanted to accentuate her star power. They also realized the dire situation she would be in if she had to pay the large sum of money. Bette was comforted to know that she was an asset to the studio and not just another employee. This sort of reception really made her change her outlook on her future as an actress.

At first the court situation threatened to thwart any plans that were on the horizon, but in the long run, Bette was not completely vanquished. Failure was a word that was not in Bette’s vocabulary. Success was her destiny and she was determined to conquer the world. That was exactly what she did.

“In a way, my defeat was a victory. At last we were seeing eye to eye on my career. I was aching to work and they were eager to encourage me.”

Instead of feeling restricted, Bette was now experiencing the newfound joys of being a Warner Bros. employee. Compatibility in the workplace is important. If your boss is not compliant of your every wish, it often impacts your ability to succeed or furthermore, forces you to become demoralized and lose inspiration. In Bette’s case, the close affinity between her and Jack Warner was a stepping stone to eminence. Bette’s career was her life’s blood. She was yearning to get back in front of the camera and the studio made sure that there were no barriers in her way.

In 1937, Bette Davis made her motion picture comeback with Marked Woman. Warner Bros. had recently purchased the screen rights for a film based on the Italian born gangster and bootlegger Lucky Luciano. Jack Warner reportedly found inspiration in the story and envisioned it to be the perfect material to bolster Davis’ career. Upon reading the script, Davis herself was impressed and seen Marked Woman as the springboard to endless dramatic possibilities that will enhance her potential as an actress. The predictions were right. The public reacted positively to Bette’s performance and Warner was generally pleased with her ascending popularity.

Marked Woman was of symbolic importance to Bette Davis’ career and opened up doors that led to a world of opportunities. Her next picture was 1937’s Kid Galahad, a prizefighting film, which pitted her against acting veteran Edward G. Robinson. There are a myriad of parallels between these two productions. Both vehicles gave her the boost she needed to build her public image. Once she had generated enough favorable publicity, the studio decided it was time for her to make a splash in the comedy genre. Bette always maintained that she would have liked to have been given more of a chance to explore her comedic roots. When she did venture into that territory, she was cast in farcical roles that didn’t suit her type of acting. Although, Bette stated that farce was not her forte, she was elated to secure the part of Joyce Arden in It’s Love I’m After. This was the third movie she made with Leslie Howard and it was the first time she shared the screen with close friend and soon to be frequent co-star Olivia de Havilland.

After starring in a succession of critically acclaimed films, Bette Davis had a premonition that luck wouldn’t remain on her side. As it turns out, Davis’ forecast for the imminent future were accurate. That same year Warner Bros. cast her in That Certain Woman, a remake of Gloria Swanson’s 1929 film The Trespasser. The end result was disastrous. The picture was a financial failure. The only redeeming feature was that Bette was given Henry Fonda as her leading man. Bette had known Fonda from her early days in the theatre, but once they became famous they traveled down separate career paths. For Bette, working with Fonda was a real blessing, but the inferior script hindered any chance of success.

At the studio, Bette Davis was working on full speed and was ascending to the top echelon of players, but on the home front, Bette was fighting a tumultuous battle with her first husband Harmon ( Ham ) Nelson. Although their marriage had been crumbling for a while, Bette continued to cling to hope that a divorce would not come to fruition. Despite the fact that she still cared for Ham, the light had burned in their relationship. At the core of their marital crisis was Bette’s success and accomplishments. Ham was a struggling musician who was fighting for recognition. He often felt like he was competing against Bette and was losing the battle. Exacerbating these problems was Bette’s heavy schedule. Harmon’s perspective on married life was that a wife should be dutiful twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When Bette was unable to fulfill his wishes, he moved out of the Coldwater Canyon house they shared together.

Instead of staying home and letting her marital problems with Ham weigh on her, Bette returned to work in the midst of crisis. No man was ever going to try and tear her away from her career. Her determination knew no bounds and whenever an opportunity came along, Bette was always the first to pursue it. Around the same time Paul Muni was in preparation to play the titular role in 1937’s The Life Of Emile Zola. Bette’s latest endeavour was to land the small part of Nana in the film. Davis reportedly put forth her proposition to the studio and approached Muni himself, but her requests were denied.

Shortly after, a bigger and better opportunity arose. There was a nation wide search for the perfect actress to play the coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara in a civil war epic entitled Gone With The Wind. Warner Bros. had initially promised Bette the lead, but her hopes had vanished when Warners had dropped the option. Almost everyone in Hollywood had tested for the part. The hunt was over when Vivien Leigh was cast. Once again Bette’s feelings were crushed. This would have been a dream come true for Bette and now that chance was shattered. At this stage in her career, Bette was use to hard knocks, but what infuriated her the most was the broken promise. To Bette, this was pure robbery; though deep down she realized that Leigh exuded the fragility and all the right qualities that was needed to portray Scarlett.

As it turns out, Bette Davis’ screen test for Scarlett O’Hara served as a stepping stone to an opportunity that was on the horizon. Warner Bros. had recently acquired the rights for the 1938 production Jezebel. The films protagonist Julie Marsden closely mirrored Scarlett in many aspects. She embodied the manipulative Southern Belle, who defies societal rights and dominates everyone around her. When she missed out on the role of Scarlett, Bette felt like she was ascending to the bottom heap, but once she was assigned the part of Julie, she was taking a step in the right direction. Her consultation prize was a second Academy Award.

Throughout the years, Bette Davis often exclaimed that Julie Marsden was the best part she had since playing Mildred in Of Human Bondage. She also credited William Wyler for being the first director to make her realize that she was an actress with full potential and not just a personality. Wyler instilled a great deal of qualities in Bette and she was forever in debt to him for his sound advice and all that he taught her.

For Bette Davis, Jezebel was the beginning of a lot of things. It was the beginning of career fulfillment and happiness, but more importantly, it was the beginning of the triumphant path that she would follow for the rest of her life.

The story of the infamous court case battle weaves tales of hope, sacrifice and triumph to produce a compelling portrait of a great dispute that would ultimately end in victory. Less than ten years later a similar event transpired when Bette Davis’ close friend Olivia de Havilland challenged the studio system and took Jack Warner to court over an immoral suspension clause and won.

Bette Davis died on October 6th, 1989, at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine in France, from breast cancer. She was 81 years old.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Patricia Nolan-Hall – known by many as Paddy Lee. She was a prolific blogger, a talented writer and a friend to all. Her passing on March 7th was a tremendous loss to the classic film and blogging community, but the many hours of reading she left behind is a gift to us bloggers. I will always value her constant support and encouragement. Rest In Peace Paddy.

ANNOUNCING THE ANNE BANCROFT 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION BLOGATHON!

For those of you who did not see my previous post, I want to fill you in on my whereabouts before I proceed. As most of you are aware, I suffer from severe headache attacks, which have resulted in me being hospitalized more than once this past year. During my first stay that lasted for four months, I experienced by far the worse headache in my entire life. The pain was that serious that it instantly made me fall into a coma. Needless to say, it was an extremely terrifying situation that I hope I never endure again. In addition to my incapacitation in hospital, I am detained with my research for my Katharine Hepburn book, which I am under contract with Pen & Sword for, and I’m also a freelance journalist for the entertainment section of an online publication. Juggling two careers is not easy and sometimes its near impossible to write for my blog, even though I try to allocate some time for blog maintenance.

Now that I’ve explained the reason for my absence, it’s time to shine the spotlight on the honoree of my next blogathon. The legendary Anne Bancroft would have been celebrating her 90th birthday on September 17th. For the occasion, I’ve decided to pay tribute by hosting a blogging event dedicated to this endearing actress whose name will continue to echo throughout the decades.

Many people remember Anne Bancroft for donning the famous roles of Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” ( 1967 ) and Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker” ( 1962 ), but in addition to these two ground-breaking films, Anne’s prolific career in motion pictures was punctuated by continuous bouts of success – thanks largely to her versatility that transcended genres. Away from the cameras, Anne enjoyed a peaceful life with her husband Mel Brooks, who she first met in 1961. The couple remained married until her premature death from uterine cancer on June 6th, 2005. Fifteen years later, audiences worldwide follow her ingenious trail of artistry that she left behind and are forever reminded that her flawless embodiment of characters is a testament to her diverse talents.

Without further ado, bloggers and writers in general are invited to join me on September 17th – 19th, as I salute one of the greatest actresses to ever grace cinema screens. Let’s make this a popular event. Anne Bancroft more than deserves it.

THE RULES

1. Bloggers are welcome to write about any topic pertaining Anne Bancroft. You can cover her films, her career on stage, her story-book marriage to Mel Brooks or all aspects of her personal life, as long as its kept truthful.

2. Due to the diversity of the subject matter, I am only allowing no more than two duplicates per topic. I want to give everybody the chance to participate. Act fast.

3. If you wish to write multiple posts, that’s fine. The more articles showcasing Anne’s diverse career is the merrier. However, I am proposing a three entry per person rule.

4. The purpose of this blogathon is to honor Anne Bancroft. Any post that appears to be derogatory and disrespectful towards Anne will not be accepted.

5. All contributions must be new material only. Previously published posts are verbatim.

6. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, please leave a comment on my blog, along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: crystalpacey3@gmail.com. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by selecting one of the banners created by me, and advertise the event on your blog.

TOPICS NO LONGER AVAILABLE

DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK ( 1952 )

THE ROSTER

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood : TBD

The Stop Button : 7 Women ( 1966 )

Taking Up Room : How To Make An American Quilt ( 1995 )

Real Weegie Midget Reviews : Garbo Talks ( 1984 )

KN Winiarski Writes : Don’t Bother To Knock ( 1952 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood : Don’t Bother To Knock ( 1952 )

Critica Retro : Fatso ( 1980 )

Caftan Woman : The Raid ( 1954 )

Celluloid Dame : Prisoner of Second Avenue ( 1975 ) and The Slender Thread ( 1965 )

The Wonderful World Of Cinema : The Elephant Man ( 1980 )

18 Cinema Lane : The Elephant Man ( 1980 )

Journeys In Classic Film : The Graduate ( 1967 )

ANNOUNCEMENT: THE SILENT MOVIE DAY BLOGATHON

It’s been a long time since I last updated my blog, but now after several months I’m ready to make a comeback. Before we get down to business, I want to fill you in on my whereabouts. As some of you know, I suffer from excruciating headache attacks, which have resulted in me being hospitalized more than once this pass year. During my first stay that lasted for four months, I experienced by far the worse headache in my entire life. The pain was that serious that it instantly made me fall into a coma. Needless to say, it was an extremely terrifying situation that I hope I never endure again. In addition to my incapacitation in hospital, I am detained with my research for my Katharine Hepburn book, which I am under contract for and my freelancing work for an online publication.

Now that I’ve explained the reason for my absence, it’s time to get to the core of this post. September 29th was recently inaugurated National Silent Movie Day. The idea was initially coined by Chad Hunter, the executive director of Video Trust and director of the Pittsburgh Silent Film Society, Brandee B. Cox, archivist of the Academy Film Archives, and Steven K. Hill, one of the leading archivists at UCLA Film & Television Archive. For the occasion Lea from Silent-oligy and myself are hosting a blogathon dedicated to the lost art of silent cinema. This event serves as a great excuse for us to honor the bygone era and its an occasion for newcomers to take their first steps into the world of silents.

Anyone can participate! Ask your local cinema to show a silent picture with live music; watch a silent movie on a streaming platform or on disc; write a blog or an article for your local newspaper; read a book about your favorite silent movie star; or create a podcast. Use your imagination and post on your social media on September 29 to show how you celebrate the day. This is our moment as silent movie fans, academics, programmers, and newcomers to share our mutual love and appreciation for this unique period in motion picture history. It is also an opportunity to rally around surviving silent pictures that are still in need of preservation.

Without further ado, bloggers and writers in general are invited to join Lea and myself on September 29th, as we flashback in time for this fun one-day event that is guaranteed to thrill movie audiences worldwide.

THE RULES

1. Bloggers are welcome to write about any topic that pertains to silent cinema. You can choose any film, an actor or an actress whose career harkens back to the silent era, a director from that particular period in time, or even a top list. Whatever subject piques your interest. The sky is the limit.

2. Despite the diversity of the subject matter, we are allowing duplicates. We realize that not all silent films have been preserved and not all folks have easy access to these movies – so duplicates are 100% allowed. Besides, everybody has a different take on things.

3. We are not proposing any hard restrictions. We only ask that there be no more than two posts per participant.

4. The purpose of this blogathon is to honor the films and the stars who graced the silent screen. Any post that appears to be derogatory and disrespectful will not be accepted.

5. All contributions must be new material only. Previously published posts will not be accepted.

6. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, please leave a comment on my blog or on Lea’s blog, along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: crystalpacey3@gmail.com. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by selecting one of the banners created by Lea and advertise the event on your blog. The more publicity we get, the merrier.

THE ROSTER

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: TBD.

Silent-ology: TBD.

Cinematic Scribblings: Tokyo Chorus ( 1931 )

Real Weegie Midget Reviews: Silent Movie ( 1976 )

MESSAGE FROM CRYSTAL’S BROTHER JARRAHN BRETT AND AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOG EVENT. SEND YOUR CONRRIBUTIONS HERE.

Hello this is Crystal’s brother Jarrahn here. I am writing on my sisters blog to tell you the sad news about Crystal. Anyone who knows Crystal would know her history of violent headache attacks. Ever since her high school years my sister has suffered horribly from severe headaches that has landed her in hospital many times. She’s had heaps of tests and scans done and has seen different specialists about her headaches and nobody has been able to work out whats causing them. In May & June my sister was admitted to hospital again & that time another specialist diagnosed her with a serious form of Thunderclap Headaches. My sister recovered in about over a week and came home. She was sent back to hospital again in October and recuperated and was discharged a week later. When she was discharged she took a trip down south to the country for a week and was in good health. When she came back from the country she didnt complain of headaches and was feeling ok. Then on the 17th of November Crystal started to get sick with very bad headaches again. The next day my mother took her to the emergency ward and she was seen to by a nurse and was sent home without being admitted. On the next day the Thursday the 19th she was feeling headachish but she said she wasnt that bad and she could cope. During the day on that Thursday she watched her daily viewings of Lucille Ball I Love Lucy and early that night she put a Joan Bennett dvd on and was lying on the couch watching it. She was still feelimg not that bad. Later on that night her headaches worsened and by the next day, Friday November 20th her headaches were severe. After lunch on the Friday she was no longer able to cope and she was crying in pain. We raced her to the emergency and she was seen to right away and was admitted into hospital. When we were at the hospital my mother spoke to her specialist about an operation on her head that she was to undergo in a few weeks. My mother and I stayed with her until she was settled in her ward at the hospital then we went home when Crystal complained she was very tired. That night she apparently tried to watch an Olivia Dehavilland movie she likes on a hospital television set she borrowed but was crying because she couldn’t see. We visited her the following day on Saturday November 21. In the afternoon of that Saturday while we were with her Crystal suffered from a really massive and violent headache attack ( the worse she has ever had ) and she fell into a coma instantly. Ever since Crystal has been in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and is on temporary life support and has got machines to help her breathe as she can’t breathe without them. It’s now been 2 weeks and 1 day since Crystal had that massive attack that made her fall into a coma and she hasnt woken up from her coma since.

We’re worried shitless. We’ve spoke to the head specialist in ICU and he said that theres a 50/50 percent chance that Crystal will fully recover when she wakes up from the coma. There is a strong chance that she may never fully recover and could be dependant on us. He also said that it is very possible that she could receive brain damage . We hope and pray that she will fully recover and be back to normal. It is really upsetting seeing my sister laying there so helpless in a coma. We want her to wake up n be good as gold. They are going to do tests on her brain while shes in the coma so they will get a idea on if she will have damage to her brain. If my sister ends up with brain damage we wouldnt know what to do. She would hate living that way and she would want her life support turned off. The ICU staff say its impossible to know when she will wake up from her coma. It could be days it could be weeks it could be months. We dont know.

While she has been in a coma we’ve tried playing her favourite actresses to her ears hoping she willhear but she hasnt twitched at all and shown any signs that she can hear so we dont know if she can. She also received a recorded get well message from Petula Clark who she has met 4 times and we have played that message to her ear hoping she’d hear it but no signs.

We hope she fully recovers. My sister was lucky to get a Katharine Hepburn book contract with a publishing company and she was excited about landing a book contract on Katharine and was offered a book.contract on Lucille Ball afterwards. She has those to look.forward to.

I normally wouldnt write on my sisters blog but today I have to. Crystal is holding a Agnes Moorehead blog event and I have to inform you of why she is absent. Crystal wouldnt want to cancel the Agnes Moorehead event entirely. She adores Agnes so the event is still on but I am doing it on my sisters behalf. I dont know about blogging and I dont know if I am doing this right. I ask that you be patient while I work out how to hold this event. You can send your contributions to me and I will work out how to do it or perhaps someone can help me?

This is the last photo taken of my sister before she got sick.

THE SIXTH ANNUAL BARRYMORE TRILOGY BLOGATHON IS HERE

Are you guys ready for three full days of the Barrymore siblings? The Royal Family of Hollywood are back again for the sixth consecutive year, and I am glad to be honoring the phenomenal trio with you all.

Bloggers, please submit your entries on the comment section below, and I will showcase them as soon as I can. Thank you.

THE ENTRIES

Century Film Project – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ( 1920 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood – Lady Be Good ( 1941 )

KN Winiarski Writes – It’s A Wonderful Life ( 1946 )

Taking Up Room – A Yank At Oxford ( 1938 )

Caftan Woman – The Secret Of Convict Lake ( 1951 )

Movie Rob – Malaya ( 1949 )

Movie Rob – It’s A Big Country: An American Anthology ( 1951 )

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society – Pinky ( 1949 )

Along The Brandywine – David Copperfield ( 1935 )

Pale Writer – Lionel Barrymore as Dr. Gillespie

Movie Rob – Night Flight ( 1933 )

Musings Of An Introvert – Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge on the radio: A Christmas Carol ( 1939 )

18 Cinema Lane – Twentieth Century ( 1934 )

Whimsically Classic – The Spiral Staircase ( 1946 )

Along The Brandywine – You Can’t Take It With You ( 1938 )

ANNOUNCING ‘THE THIRD FRED ASTAIRE AND GINGER ROGERS BLOGATHON’

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Two iconic screen legends who epitomized American cinema, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were a dynamic dancing duo and successful acting veterans whose names will continuously echo throughout the years.

At least everyone should have heard of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The unparalleled artistry that both stars possessed, which is coupled by their enduring legacy, continue to evoke interest in today’s popular culture. In the blogasphere Fred and Ginger are among the most celebrated screen teams. It is for this reason that Michaela from Love Letters To Old Hollywood and myself have decided to launch the second addition of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Blogathon, a blogging event that we hosted for the first time in July 2018.

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THE RULES

1. This blogathon is not just restricted to the ten films that Fred and Ginger made together. The purpose of this event is to celebrate the indelible legacy and illustrious filmography of both stars. Bloggers are welcome to write about any film that starred either Astaire or Rogers or any topic pertaining to the two legends.

2. Due to the diversity of the subject matter, we are allowing no more than two duplicates per topic. I know this sounds extremely fair, but we want to give everybody the opportunity to participate. If you have a topic in mind, act fast. Also, you are welcome to write more than one entry if you wish. However, we are limiting it to three posts per blog.

3. This blogathon is a loving tribute to both Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. All bloggers are welcome to participate, but we will not accept any post that appears derogatory or disrespectful to either star.

4. All contributions must be new material only. Previously published posts will not be accepted.

5. The blogathon will take place on December 28th – 30th, 2020. Please submit your entries on either of these days or early if you wish. For those of you posting early, just remember that your entry won’t be linked until the event starts.  In case your wondering why the event takes place on dates that aren’t specifically connected to either star – the answer is that we simply wanted to end the year with a bang, and because the borders are closed I can’t fly back home interstate to visit family like I usually do – so why not celebrate all things Fred and Ginger?

6. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog or on Michaela’s blog along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: crystalkalyana@yahoo.com or by contacting Michaela. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by advertising the event on your blog. Please take one of these beautiful banners that were designed by Michaela, and advertise in on your blog. We look forward to seeing you in December.

THE ROSTER

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood Stage Door ( 1937 ) and TBD.

Love Letters To Old Hollywood – The Barkleys Of Broadway ( 1949 )

THE THIRD SPENCER TRACY AND KATHARINE HEPBURN BLOGATHON IS HERE

The legendary Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are at the forefront of the blogging world this weekend, and Michaela and I are elated to be presenting the iconic screen duo for the third consecutive year with our blogathon dedicated to both stars.

Bloggers, if you are participating in the blogathon, please submit your entry on the comment section below or on Michaela’s blog, and we’ll link it as soon as we can. Thank you. We can’t wait to celebrate Kate and Spence with you.

Let’s raise a toast to my career – my proposed book on the one and only Katharine Hepburn.

THE ENTRIES

Real Weegie Midget Reviews – Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner ( 1967 )

Widescreen World – Love Among The Ruins ( 1975 )

Poppity Talks Classic Film – Sylvia Scarlett ( 1935 )

Thoughts From The Musical Man – Father Of The Bride ( 1950 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood – Stage Door ( 1937 )

18 Cinema Lane – The Sea Of Grass ( 1947 )

KN Winiarski Writes – Bringing Up Baby ( 1938 )

Taking Up Room – Adam’s Rib ( 1949 )

Poppity Talks Classic Film – Mannequin ( 1937 )

Goose Pimply All Over – Desk Set ( 1957 )

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society – Mary Of Scotland ( 1936 )

Pale Writer – Mannequin ( 1937 )

Here’s Booking At You Kid – Holiday ( 1938 )

The Wonderful World Of Cinema – The Iron Petticoat ( 1956 )

ANNOUNCING ‘THE SECOND AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOGATHON’

Before donning the coveted role of Endora on the perennial television sitcom Bewitched, Agnes Moorehead garnered success in all corners of the entertainment industry and proved that her versatility transcended every genre. After she first emerged on the scene in Orson Welles 1941 epic Citizen Kane, Moorehead became one of Hollywood’s most distinguishable character actresses.

Anyone who knows me would be aware that Agnes Moorehead is permanently engraved in my heart. I’ve been in awe of this tremendous woman from the moment I first caught glimpse of her presence gracing the screen right in front of me. As the years progressed I’ve discovered that behind the meddling witch mother in law from Bewitched, was a seasoned veteran who had an extensive resume of achievements under her belt.

Back in 2016, I hosted a blogathon tribute dedicated to the legendary Agnes Moorehead, which coincided with her 116th birthday on December 6th of that year. Unfortunately, at the time, I was about to fly back home interstate to reunite with my beloved aunt, who was terminally ill with stage four cancer and passed away on New Year’s Eve – so with the rapid demise of my aunt, my mind was too preoccupied to really focus on the event.

Agnes would have been 120 this coming December 6th. For the occasion, I’ve decided to host a second edition of the blogathon. If you wish to take part in the event, there are a few rules that must be adhered to. Please read the following.

THE RULES

1. Bloggers are welcome to write about any topic that pertains to the life and career of Agnes Moorehead. For example, you can write about a film starring Agnes, an episode or episodes from Bewitched ( only episodes featuring Agnes as Endora are allowed ), a profile/life story, personal tribute, her radio work or her involvement with Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre. There is absolutely no restriction on subjects.

2. Due to the diversity of the subject matter, I am only allowing two duplicates, so if you have a topic in mind act fast. If you wish to write more than one post, that’s fine. However, I am limiting it to three entries per blog. 

3. To coincide with the 120th anniversary of Agnes’ birth on December 6th, the blogathon will take place on December 6th- 8th, 2020. Please submit your entries on either of these days or early if you wish. For those of you posting early, just remember that your entry won’t be linked until the event starts.

4. This blogathon is a loving tribute to Agnes Moorehead. All bloggers are welcome to participate, but I will not accept any post that appears derogatory or disrespectful to Agnes.

5. All contributions must be new material only. Previously published posts will not be accepted.

6. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: crystalkalyana@yahoo.com. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by selecting one of the banners below and advertising it on your blog. Thanks in advance.

THE ROSTER

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood – Agnes on the radio, and TBD.

Wide Screen World – Fourteen Hours ( 1951 )

Real Weegie Midget Reviews – Dear Dead Delilah ( 1972 )

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society – Citizen Kane ( 1941 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood – Meet Me In Las Vegas ( 1956 )

Whimsically Classic – The Magnificent Ambersons ( 1942 )

Goose Pimply All Over – Bewitched ( episodes to be decided )

Dubsism – Caged ( 1950 )

Caftan Woman – Agnes’ episode on The Wild Wild West: The Night Of the Vicious Valentine ( 1967 )

KN Winiarski Writes – Jeanne Eagels ( 1957 )

Taking Up Room – Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte ( 1964 )

ANNOUNCING ‘THE SIXTH ANNUAL BARRYMORE TRILOGY BLOGATHON’

The Barrymore’s are a prominent theatrical family whose name will continue to echo throughout the years. Younger audiences will be familiar with today’s top Hollywood drawer Drew Barrymore, the legendary actress who first rose to super stardom in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, but its Drew’s grandfather John and his two siblings Lionel and Ethel that initially broke the mould in motion pictures.

Lionel, Ethel and John Barrymore were born into a family of thespians. From a young age the siblings were surrounded by actors. Louisa Lane Drew, their grandmother owned the famous Arch Street Theater and had been acting since she was eight, while their parents and uncles were all seasoned veterans of the stage. It is no wonder that the children all followed the theatrical path.

Initially, Lionel, Ethel and John were reluctant to break into the family business. They had a strong interest in nurturing non acting careers of their own, but when they realized that the stage was their only destiny, they were determined to utilize all their time and effort in crafting a successful legacy for themselves.

That was exactly what they did. Despite dealing with their own set of obstacles that threatened to thwart their careers, the Barrymore siblings all managed to achieve greatness and spawn success in whatever journey they embarked on. These days however, Lionel, Ethel and John don’t seem to receive the recognition that they so rightfully deserve and sadly they are unjustifiably underrated.

After conducting a considerable amount of research on the Barrymore’s and writing extensively on their respective careers, my mission is to rectify their current status and put them back on the radar. It is for this reason that I am inviting you all to take part in the sixth edition of the Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon, an event that pays tribute to the incomparable acting dynasty who continue to inspire me in every way possible.

As some of you would know, I am now employed and under contract with Pen and Sword Publishing Company to write a definitive biography on Katharine Hepburn. Due to my book research schedule, I was unable to host this event on Ethel’s birthday in August. However, I am currently taking a break from my book related work – so I see this as the perfect opportunity to bring the Barrymore’s book for the sixth consecutive year. Hopefully this event will evoke enough interest in the blogging community. Ethel, John and Lionel more than deserve it.

THE RULES

FOR THOSE BLOGGERS WHO WISH TO JOIN THE BLOGATHON, THERE ARE SOME RULES THAT MUST BE ADHERED TO. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING.

1. Bloggers are welcome to write about any film that stars either of the three Barrymore siblings, or any topic pertaining to Ethel, John or Lionel. Previous years, I have allowed posts on Drew Barrymore, but this year however, I have decided to keep things classic, and that means that I am omitting Drew from the blogathon. 

2. Due to the diversity of the subject matter, I am only allowing two duplicates, so if you have a topic in mind act fast. If you wish to write more than one post, that’s fine. However, I am limiting it to three entries per blog. 

3. To coincide with the anniversary of Lionel’s passing on November 15th, the blogathon will take place on November 15th- 17th, 2020. Please submit your entries on either of these days or early if you wish. For those of you posting early, just remember that your entry won’t be linked until the event starts.

4. This blogathon is a loving tribute to the Barrymore siblings. All bloggers are welcome to participate, but I will not accept any post that appears derogatory or disrespectful to either star. I also want to state that entries focusing on John’s alcoholism will not be allowed. By all means, you are welcome to mention it in your articles, but posts that are strictly about that subject are verbatim.

5. All contributions must be new material only. Previously published posts will not be accepted.

6. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: crystalkalyana@yahoo.com. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by selecting one of the banners below and advertising it on your blog. Thanks in advance.

SUBJECTS CLAIMED THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF TIMES

PORTRAIT OF JENNIE ( 1948 )

THE ROSTER

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood – Ethel tribute and TBD.

Love Letters To Old Hollywood – Lady Be Good ( 1941 )

The Wonderful World Of Cinema – Midnight ( 1939 )

Caftan Woman – The Secret Of Convict Lake ( 1951 )

Strictly Vintage Hollywood – Portrait Of Jennie ( 1948 )

Century Film Project – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ( 1920 )

Pale Writer – Lionel as Dr. Gillespie in the Dr. Kildare movies

Real Weegie Midget Reviews – Portrait of Jennie ( 1948 )

KN Winiarski Writes It’s A Wonderful Life ( 1946 )

Poppity Talks Classic Film – Spawn Of the North ( 1938 )

Along The Brandywine – You Can’t Take It With You ( 1938 ) and David Copperfield ( 1935 )

The Stop Button – Rasputin and the Empress ( 1932 )

18 Cinema Lane – Twentieth Century ( 1934 ) and Young At Heart ( 1954 )