ANNOUNCING THE CAROLE LOMBARD: THE PROFANE ANGEL BLOGATHON

dswq

A consummate actress, with an indelible flair for comedy, Carole Lombard will forever be immortalized as the ethereal beauty whose amiable charm and fun-loving nature lured her into the arms of Hollywood’s iconic legend and movie king, Clark Gable.

tregg

Almost seventy-five years since her tragic and untimely death in the catastrophic plane crash that extinguished her young life, Carole is primarily remembered for her wisecracking portrayals of maniacal heroines from the Screwball Comedies, but what many people don’t realize is that there was much more to Carole Lombard than these performances. In short, Carole Lombard was a successful motion picture actress whose versatility shone through in a diverse range of roles that epitomized Lombard’s skillful adaptability.

It is for this reason that Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies, and myself have decided to commemorate Carole Lombard on the 75th anniversary of her passing by hosting a blogathon, which will be solely dedicated to this immensely talented actress whose illuminating presence continues to adorn television screens worldwide.

csz

With all that said, and without further ado, lets get onto the rules.

dog-cute

BLOGATHON RULES

1.  Bloggers are more than welcome to write about any topic related to Carole Lombard, or any aspect of her life and career. If you have a subject in mind, but your unsure whether it qualifies, just run it by Laura or me.

2. Because Carole Lombard has an illustrious filmography that consists of 79 acting credits, we will be allowing no more than three duplicates. There are a wealth of topics to go around, and remember, your choice doesn’t have to be a movie.

3. When: The Blogathon will be held on January 16th – 18th, 2017, so please post your entries on either of these dates.

4. If you want to write more than one entry, you’re more than welcome. However we will not be accepting links to previously published entries. All posts must be new material.

5. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog or on Laura’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: carolelombardforever@yahoo.com or by contacting Laura at solidmoonlight@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 advertising the event on your blog. Below are a few banners, so grab yourself a banner, and let’s start honoring the one and only Carole Lombard.

carole-banner-1

carole-banner-7

carole-banner-2

carole-banner

carole-banner-4

carole-banner-6

carole-banner-3

carole-banner-5

ROSTER, WITH THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING BLOGS:

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: TBA

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: In Name Only ( 1939 ) and a profile on Carole’s life

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: My Man Godfrey ( 1936 )

Old Hollywood Films: Carole Lombard: The Screwball Queen

A Shroud Of Thoughts: Mr. & Mrs. Smith ( 1941 )

All Good Things: Carole Lombard tribute.

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Hands Across The Table ( 1935 )

Karavansara: To Be Or Not To Be ( 1942 )

The Old Hollywood Garden: Twentieth Century ( 1934 )

Christina Wehner: Made For Each Other ( 1939 )

Smitten Kitten Vintage: Twentieth Century ( 1934 )

Musings Of A Classic Film Addict: True Confession ( 1937 )

Sleepwalking In Hollywood: Carole Lombard and Clark Gable ( Relationship and marriage )

Carole & Co: Carole Lombard Blog: TBA

Silver Screenings: Nothing Sacred ( 1937 )

Back To Golden Days: Carole’s WWII work, and TWA Flight 3, plane crash.

The Flapper Dame: In Name Only ( 1939 )

Critica Retro: Now and Forever ( 1934 )

The Stop Button: Vigil In The Night ( 1940 )

Pop Culture Reverie: Nothing Sacred ( 1937 )

Mike’s Take On The Movies: Virtue ( 1932 )

Lauren Champkin: My Man Godfrey ( 1936 )

Cinema Cities: To Be Or Not To Be ( 1942 )

That William Powell Site: Carole Lombard & William Powell.

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: The Princess Comes Across ( 1936 )

Goose Pimply All Over: In Name Only ( 1939 )

Taking Up Room: My Man Godfrey ( 1936 )

Movie Rob: To Be Or Not To Be ( 1942 ) and Made For Each Other ( 1939 )

Widescreen World: Made For Each Other ( 1939 )

The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog: Lady By Choice ( 1934 )

FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS, IT’S BETTE DAVIS IN ‘ALL ABOUT EVE’ ( 1950 )

 

“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!”

bette-davis-all-about-eve-1

They make our life more memorable and fun, they support you in all your latest endeavors, they give you total freedom to just be yourself, they are always there for you in your time of need, they make you feel valued when you feel that the rest of the world is against you, they are the confidante of our utmost secrets, but most of all, they are our best friends with whom we share a deep abiding friendship that is based on mutual understanding, loyalty, and trust.

all-about-eve-06

One of the most important things in life is friendship. Everyone needs at least one close friend. It is for this reason that the topic is often explored in fictional novels, motion pictures, and television series that in most cases epitomize the irreplaceable role of a true friend who helps to divide the good in life, and subtract the evil.

ewq

Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s, All About Eve ( 1950 ) is a pivotal film when it comes to friendships. Adapted to the screen by Joseph L. Mankiewicz from a short story titled, The Wisdom Of Eve by Mary Orr, and featuring an all star cast, the film examines the many different types of human bonding and interpersonal relationships that are developed in the theater.

bette-in-all-about-eve-bette-davis-4476922-636-480

There is only one person to thank for All About Eve, and that is Elisabeth Bergner, the notable stage actress, who became the unfortunate victim of an aspiring young hopeful whose only motives were to destroy and take advantage of her newfound employment that was granted to her by Bergner. Years later, Bergner reflected back on the past, and recalled the incident to Mary Orr about the young girl who she first met while performing in the stage play of The Two Mrs. Carrolls. Orr was that immersed in the story that it became the basis for her proposed mini project.

all-about-eve

The idea of a young ingenue upstaging and charting the territory of an already established actress was a worthy subject for a film. Previously, a similar premise had been generating in the minds of a few studio executives, especially Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who saw this sort of plot as great material. However, the thought quickly diminished until Mankiewicz read The Wisdom Of Eve, and suddenly realized that he could make movie magic with this type of story.

“I can think of no project that from the outset was as rewarding from the first day to the last. It is easy to understand why. It was a great script, had a great director, and was a cast of professionals all with parts they liked. It was a charmed production from the word go.”

( Bette Davis on All About Eve )

Euphoric with what he just read, Mankiewicz started to improvise plans for a screenplay, and sent a memo to producer, Darryl F. Zanuck about casting Susan Hayward in the lead role of Margola Cranston, which was later changed to Margo Channing. Like Mankiewicz, Zanuck was positive that this type of production would be well received by audiences and critics, but he rejected Mankiewicz’s request about casting Susan Hayward, who he considered too young for the role. Initially Zanuck wanted to hire Barbara Stanwyck to play Margo Channing. He thought that the part was tailor made for Stanwyck, but when word came back that Stanwyck was busy working on other assignments, he assigned the role to Claudette Colbert, who was later forced to withdraw from the project after suffering an injury. For a while Ingrid Bergman was being favored for the part. However Zanuck dismissed that idea, and contacted Bette Davis, who heavily campaigned for the role once she discovered that this was the type of film she needed to put her back on the pedestal.

bettedavis-allabouteve-edithhead-b

Bette Davis was definitely the inspired choice to play Margo Channing. Davis who had just ended an eighteen year association with Warner Bros., was desperately in need of a project that would help revive her career. When the offer for All About Eve came along, Davis instantly knew that this part was for her. Due to her willingness to play characters with an unpleasant nature, Mankiewicz adjusted the script to suit Bette Davis, and altered the personality of Margo Channing by making her more feisty and abrasive.

“Funny business, a woman’s career – the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you’ll need them again when you get back to being a woman. That’s one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we’ve got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we’ve had or wanted. And in the last analysis, nothing’s any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed, and there he is. Without that, you’re not a woman. You’re something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings, but you’re not a woman. Slow curtain, the end.”

Once all the arrangements were made for Davis’ character, Margo channing, Joseph L. Mankiewicz started canvassing around for an actress to fulfill the role of Eve Harrington. Jeanne Craine whose career was in the middle of ascending to great heights was his first preference, but when Crain fell pregnant, the role went to Anne Baxter, an immensely talented individual, who was still being cast in supporting roles that very rarely garnered her the recognition she deserved.

lasw

Altercations also ensued while trying to find actors for the remaining supporting parts. The role of Bill Sampson was initially intended as a starring portrayal for John Garfield or Ronald Reagan with Reagan’s future wife, Nancy in the role of Margo’s best friend, Karen Richards. That was until things changed, and Gary Merrill, and Celeste Holm were hired to fulfill the parts.

lk

Marilyn Monroe, who was still relatively unknown in Hollywood was assigned the role of Miss Casswell, a part that was originally slated for Angela Lansbury, while acting veteran, George Sanders won the role of Addison DeWitt over their first preference, Jose Ferrer. One part that wasn’t in the short story, but was written in the movie adaptation by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, was Birdie Coonan, who was played by the renowned character actress, Thelma Ritter. Mankiewicz, who had previously worked with Ritter in A Letter To Three Wives ( 1949 ), deeply admired Ritter, and considered her to be ideal to portray the first character to become suspicious of Eve Harrington’s motives.

all-about-eve-all-about-eve-14441081-1686-1312

In addition to the relationships being formed on-screen, there were also a few memorable partnerships developing off-screen. During filming, Bette Davis fell in love with co-star, Gary Merrill, who was seven years her junior. The couple married in July 1950, and adopted two children, who they named Margot, after Davis’character, Margo Channing, and Michael. Aside from Gary Merrill, Davis built a great rapport with Anne Baxter, which resulted in the two becoming lifelong friends.

bette-in-all-about-eve-bette-davis-4477076-636-480

All About Eve not only resurrected Bette Davis’ career, it also opened the door to many endless opportunities, as well as creating a new life for her and Gary Merrill. In Davis’ autobiography, The Lonely Life, Davis wrote, “I found out Gary had spent all his summers in Maine. He had gone to Loomis in Windsor, Connecticut, where he was born and brought up. I had known the current headmaster, Frank Grubbs, years ago. Gary use to vacation as a child at Prouts Neck, Maine-just across the bay from Ocean Park, Maine, where I spent all my summers as a child. I found him an excellent actor to work with-one with integrity. Our scenes went well together. By the time we played out our story and the actress had retired to be the little woman, I had fused the two men completely. Margo Channing and Bill Sampson were perfectly matched. They were the perfect couple. I was breaking every one of my rules. I always swore I’d never marry an actor. Gary told me that years before he had been inducted into the army directly behind Ham. Everyone had realized Ham had been married to me. Gary had said, “How the hell could a guy let himself get into a deal like that?”. Now here he was. The cards were all reshuffled and we didn’t either of us see the jokers in the pack.”

all-about-eve-pdvd_035

On its release, the film was a triumphant success, and received fourteen Academy Award nominations. Bosley Crowther from The New York Times wrote, “It is a fine Darryl Zanuck production, excellent music, and on air ultra-class complete the superior satire.”. Bette Davis’ performance also garnered critical acclaim with Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun Times, stating, “Bette Davis’ character, veteran actress, Margo Channing in All About Eve was her greatest role.”, while Boxoffice.com, stated, “It is a classic of the American cinema – to this day the quintessential depiction of ruthless ambition in the entertainment industry, with legendary performances from Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and George Sanders anchoring one of the very best films from one of Hollywood’s very best Golden Era filmmakers: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It is a film that belongs on every collector’s shelf – whether on video or DVD. It is a classic that deserves better than what Fox has given it.”

all-about-eve-bw-still-005

THE PLOT:

Partially based on true events, All About Eve, follows the story of Margo Channing ( Bette Davis ), an aging stage actress whose success has transformed her into a distinguished icon of the theater. Because Margo is an established star, who is presented as a legendary figure, she very rarely allows fans to get a glimpse into her personal life, but when she does hire Eve Harrington ( Anne Baxter ), a young fan with a facade of innocence, she soon realizes that she made a big mistake that proves to be threatening when she discovers that the conniving and duplicitous, Eve has mapped out a plan to eclipse her career in every way possible by stealing her parts and fiance, as well as breaking up relationships.

bette-in-all-about-eve-bette-davis-4477079-636-480

All About Eve may not be categorized as a vehicle about best friends, but while the film mostly revolves around performing arts, the subject of friendship is rather dominant throughout the picture. In fact, relationships and companionship is an underlying theme in All About Eve.

bette-in-all-about-eve-bette-davis-4477000-636-480

When you think about it, All About Eve is really a movie about an association of theater folks, who maintain solid friendships with other people of their caliber. The chief protagonist in this close knit group of individuals is Margo Channing, who despite her abrasive manner is friends with just about everyone in their circle. To outsiders, Margo is often considered to be a self-centered egotist, who utters a cavalcade of harsh and rather offensive remarks, but in truth, Margo is a lonely person, who is in desperate need of a man to welcome her home each evening. She relies solely on her boyfriend, Bill Sampson, and her close friend, Karen Richards, who has remained her pillar of strength through thick and thin.

“I’ll admit I may have seen better days, but I’m still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut.”

Even though the friendship between Margo and Karen is real, the film also makes an effort by detouring away from the true and glorious friendships that are often depicted in movies. Instead it addresses another aspect of friendship that is largely common today, but is very rarely approached in movies. This is the subject of betrayal and deceit, in which All About Eve paints a clear picture of the topic by representing Eve Harrington, an aspiring young hopeful, who is befriended by Margo and Karen after delineating her admiration for Margo, and sharing a moving story that personifies her as the poor victim. However, Eve Harrington is far from the embodiment of a sweet and innocent ingenue, who cares for the welfare of Margo Channing. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Her ambitions stretch far and beyond, and her main goal is to antagonize Margo Channing, and her fellow friends and acquaintances, just so she can attain a part in a play, and capitalize on her own undeserved success.

bette-davis-and-celeste-holm-in-all-about-eve-1950

The key scene in All About Eve that really exemplifies the importance of maintaining a solid friendship is displayed prominently in the Cub Room scene when Karen’s husband, playwright, Lloyd Richards, delivers an honest acknowledgement and toasts, “To each of us and all of us, never have we been more close, may we never be farther apart.”. This is a very poignant and touching moment of the film. After watching this scene, it is clearly evident that they have an enduring friendship that is their foundation for support.

bette-in-all-about-eve-bette-davis-4477091-636-480

All this and more is the result of a masterfully crafted production that still manages to evoke positive memories from movie enthusiasts worldwide. In addition to the intriguing plot that is filled with amiable and scheming characters, All About Eve is blessed with memorable crisp and sharp dialogue that gloriously stains every scene. This is the epitome of the fine art of movie making.

f1c33a30f6403fb3a62914d84ef20d01

TRIVIA:

All About Eve was the first of only two films to receive 14 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

Bette Davis‘ marriage to William Grant Sherry was in the throes of breaking up while she was making the film. Her raspy voice in the film is largely due to the fact that she burst a blood vessel in her throat from screaming at her soon-to-be-ex-husband during one of their many rows. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz liked the croaky quality so he didn’t have Davis change it.

Upon learning that he had cast Bette Davis, one of her former directors, Edmund Goulding, rang up Joseph L. Mankiewicz and warned him that she would grind him down into a fine powder. This proved to be an unnecessary warning as Davis knew better than to mess with Mankiewicz’s finely tuned screenplay. In fact, Mankiewicz found her to be one of the most professional and agreeable actresses he’d ever worked with.

Bette Davis filmed of all her scenes in sixteen days.

In 1970 the story was adapted into a Broadway musical called “Applause” and in 1973 a made-for-TV movie (Applause (1973)). Lauren Bacall played Margo Channing. When Bacall left the show, the actress who took over the role was Anne Baxter, who had played the role of Eve in the film.

dew

CAST:

Bette Davis: Born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5th, 1908 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Died: October 6th, 1989 in Neuilly, Sur Seine, France. Aged 81. Cause of death: Breast Cancer.

Anne Baxter: Born Anne Baxter on May 7th, 1923 in Michigan City, Indiana. Died: December 12th, 1985 in New York. Aged: 62. Cause of death: Brain Aneurysm.

George Sanders: Born George Henry Sanders on July 3rd, 1906 in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire. Died: April 25th, 1972 in Barcelona, Spain. Aged 65. Cause of death: Suicide.

Celeste Holm: Born April 29th, 1917 in New York. Died: July 15th, 2012 in New York. Aged: 95. Cause of death: Heart attack.

Gary Merrill: Born Gary Fred Merrill on August 2nd, 1915 in Hartford, Connecticut. Died: March 5th, 1990 in Falmouth, Maine. Aged 74. Cause of death: Lung Cancer.

friendsbanner2

This post was written for the You Gotta Have Friends Blogathon, which is being hosted by Moon In GeminiTo view the other articles being exhibited during this event, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

FOURTEEN HOURS ( 1951 )

“Look, I almost had him a couple of times. I – I know I can con him in if I can just get my hands on what’s bothering him.”

vgorh83rlwspfdkeaau9yykryrm

It’s a peaceful, crisp clear morning in New York City. Many people are heading to work for what seems to be another ordinary and mundane day in the office, but what they don’t know is that their normal monotonous day is about to turn into an exhilarating fourteen hour ride that beats any humdrum task that the workplace has in store for them.

fourteenhours1

The above caption perfectly encapsulates the Fourteen Hours, a tense but chilling Film Noir that is now known as the production that gave birth to a legend, a new star on the horizon, who in a few years time would become one the greatest and most influential stars to ever adorn the silver screen. Her name as known the world over is Grace Kelly.

graz

Grace Kelly, the prominent actress, who is best remembered by many as the gorgeous blonde in the Hitchcock films, would have celebrated her 87th birthday on November 12th. Noted for her luminous beauty, her refreshing charm, and her fairy tale marriage to Prince Rainier, Kelly is among the most recognizable icons from Hollywood’s golden age.

fourteenhours3

The legend known as Grace Kelly may have never materialized if it weren’t for Edith Van Cleve, the notable actress and theatrical agent, who witnessed potential in Kelly, and paved the way for her future success in motion pictures. Van Cleve, who had been introduced to Kelly by Don Richardson, gained full control over the aspiring young hopeful, and started sending her to auditions and casting calls for roles that met the requirements of a star who was not yet established in Hollywood.

th-31

For Grace Kelly, this was a long journey that ensured many triumphs and rejection, but at the end of the road, Kelly finally reached her dream destination in 1951, when she made her silver screen debut in Fourteen Hours, a film that is based on true events.

agnes-cosick

For a film that has faded into obscurity, and is very rarely mentioned today, some find it hard to believe that Fourteen Hours has a wealth of history behind it. The inspiration for the film came from the series of events that occurred on July 26th, 1938, when John William Warde, a twenty six year old native from Southampton, New York, plummeted to his death from the seventeenth floor of the Gotham Hotel after standing on the ledge for eleven hours, contemplating suicide.

duy

Twelve years later, this tragic disaster made history once again when Hollywood transformed the incident into a motion picture spectacle, that was written for the screen by John Paxton, and based on a short article by Joel Sayre, titled, The Man On The Ledge, which reflected back on the 1938 debacle. The film featured a prominent array of stars, who all delivered solid dexterity under the masterful direction of Henry Hathaway, the renowned director who became notable for helming a string of financially successful westerns.

ipsy

Based on a real life catastrophe that shocked the nation, Fourteen Hours chronicles the unfolding of events that take place on the fifteenth floor of New York City’s Rodney Hotel. The central protagonist in this story is, Robert Cosick ( Richard Basehart ), an emotionally unstable and despondent man, who decides that the only way to elude all the troubles in life is to commit suicide by jumping to his death. His attempts are halted however, when a waiter delivering breakfast witnesses the horrific sight of Robert standing on the ledge, and immediately calls for help. All of a sudden, Robert’s secret attempt at contemplating suicide turns into a media frenzy when a deluge of people on the streets watch on while Robert is being aided by Charlie Dunnigan ( Paul Douglas ), a traffic control police officer who along with others try their hardest to implore Robert to vanquish his suicidal thoughts.

fourteen_hours-22

In many ways, Fourteen Hours should be made essential viewing for people struggling with depression or other psychotic disorders that trigger unwanted suicidal thoughts. Looking through our own personal lens, we witness from a birds eye view the struggles of a dispirited person whose depression has affected him emotionally. In this case it’s Robert Cosick, a perturbed individual whose lifelong rejection has led to him envisioning the advantages of being deceased, and free of life.

hqdefault-5

As the movie progresses, snippets of Robert’s life is revealed through family, who paint a clear picture that slowly pieces together the information on what made the depression evolve. First we are introduced to Robert’s mother, Christine Hill Cosick ( Agnes Moorehead ), an hysterical woman whose frantic behavior exacerbates his mood, and lures him into jumping. We then meet his father, Paul Cosick ( Robert Keith ), a man who his mother has brought him up to despise, but while putting together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, police come to question the motive as to why his mother made his father into being his biggest enemy.

fda

In addition to the commotion happening at the hotel, there is also a story revolving around Louise Fuller ( Grace Kelly ), who is in town to sign her divorce papers, but once she witnesses the spectacle, Fuller decides not to go ahead with the proceedings, and realizes that reconciling with her husband is more important than getting a divorce.

fourteen-hours-1951-4

The shooting process for Fourteen Hours was not a happy experience for Richard Basehart whose wife Stephanie Klein passed away of a brain tumor that July, leaving Basehart distraught for most part of the production. Despite the fact however that he was grieving for his wife, Basehart’s delivery of a mentally disturbed man earned him a multitude of accolades.

movie-trailer-fourteen-hours-1951-08

Fourteen Hours is a film that captures the essence of realism. It is for this reason that Henry Hathaway was assigned as director. However, the film was initially suppose to be directed by Howard Hawkes, who declined once he found out that the production delved into a very heavy subject matter, which could be considered quite controversial at the time. As soon as Hathaway stepped into directorial duties, he commenced work on the picture, and started filming at the Twentieth Century Fox lot before moving to New York where the exteriors were filmed.

esay

The film is also particularly notable for it’s impressive cast. While Robert Cosick and Charlie Dunnigan are the main focal points of the story, Agnes Moorehead steals every scene she’s in as Robert’s neurotic mother whose guilty instincts are about to be unraveled. Grace Kelly is also worthy of note. Even though her screen time is very limited, Kelly’s character, Louise Fuller is a pivotal figure in the movie. Also starring in the film is Barbara Belle Geddes, who plays Robert’s girlfriend. Though, Geddes only appeared towards the end of the film, she received third billing behind Paul Douglas, and Richard Basehart.

hours

On its release, the film opened to many positive reviews. Bosley Crowther from ‘The New York Times’ stated that Fourteen Hours is a “gripping suspense, absorbing drama and stinging social comment in this film. He also went on to praise Hathaway’s directing technique, and the performances of Richard Basehart, and the other fellow cast members, while ‘Time Out Film Guide’ remarked that the film was a, “Vertiginous melodrama that recounts the event in professional low-key journalistic fashion.”. Coincidentally, Fourteen Hours was voted one of the best films of 1951.

sas

Fourteen Hours may not have led to any immediate film offers for Grace Kelly, but it did open the door to a world of opportunities, as well as planting her in a reputable position in Hollywood’s constellation of stars. Her greatest epiphany occurred that Summer when an actor of the first magnitude visited the set of Fourteen Hours, and was immediately captivated by the alluring presence of Grace Kelly. The star was no other than Gary Cooper, an iconic figure from motion pictures, and one who Grace had always admired. From the moment that they first met, Cooper’s eyes were instantly fixated on this intriguing new star, who he said embodied all the characteristics of female virtue, and was unlike any other screen goddess that was in vogue at the time. Gary Cooper later stated, “I thought she looked pretty and different, and that maybe she’d be somebody. She looked educated, and as if she came from a nice family. She was certainly a refreshing change from all those bombshells we’d been seeing so much of.”

sv

At the time of her chance meeting with Gary Gooper, Grace Kelly had no conception of what the future would bring, but even if she did have the slightest inkling, she certainly would never have dreamed that the following year she was going to make movie magic with Gary Cooper in the perennial western classic, High Noon.

fourteen-hours-34

TRIVIA:

A nonprofessional performer named Richard Lacovara doubled for Richard Basehart in long shots on the ledge, which had been enlarged to minimize risk of falling. Lacovara was protected by a canvas life belt hidden under his costume, connected to a lifeline, Even with the double, Basehart still had to endure over 300 hours of standing on the ledge with little movement during the fifty days of shooting in New York, even though he had a sprained ankle and his legs were ravaged by poison oak contracted on the grounds of his Coldwater Canyon home.

The production used a real bank building in New York (The Guaranty Trust Co.) and they planned to film all of the outdoor crowd scenes over Memorial Day weekend. However, the ledge on the bank building turned out to be too narrow, so an extension was built (12 inches deep, 42 feet wide)) and filming ended up taking two weeks. The entire bank building was dressed with curtains, a new entrance canopy, metal nameplates, and marquee. The replica of the hotel ledge that was built on Fox’s Stage 8 cost $32,000.

Richard Basehart‘s performance impressed Federico Fellini, who subsequently cast him in La Strada (1954).

agnes-cosick

CAST:

Richard Basehart: Born, John Richard Basehart on August 31st, 1914 in Zanesville, Ohio. Died: September 17th, 1984 in Los Angeles, California. Aged: 70. Cause of death: Stroke.

Paul Douglas: Born, Paul Douglas Fleischer on April 11th, 1907 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died: September 11th, 1959 in Hollywood, California. Aged: 52. Cause of death: Heart attack.

Agnes Moorehead: Born, Agnes Robertson Moorehead on December 6th, 1900 in Clinton, Massachusetts. Died: April 30th, 1974 in Rochester, Minnesota. Aged 73. Cause of death: Uterine Cancer.

fourteen_hours-22

This post was written for The Second Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathonwhich is hosted by The Wonderful World Of CinemaTo view the other entries being exhibited during this event, please click here.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS ( 1939 )

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul.”

ac869e4248b430a28f4cb702995976c4

There is something special about classic films. They not only contain charm and a high absorption level, they have an alluring mystery, and the power to attract a whole new generation of fans who will continue to marvel over a masterful, nostalgic creation that adorned cinema screens decades ago. These films define and epitomize magic in every sense of the word.

wuthering-heights-cathy-heathcliff-on-the-crag

Almost half of today’s generation wouldn’t understand the historical importance of classic film. Many people believe that movies are just a form of entertainment. What they don’t know is that these films have a cultural impact on society, and its because of this that audiences are shaping their lives and strengthening their moral fiber according to the movies.

wuthering-heights-1939-wuthering-heights-7893831-393-500

Many of Hollywood’s spectacular motion pictures that continue to stand in a pivotal position in the history of cinema have been adapted from famous novels. A large majority of these novels were published more than a century ago, but to the movie industry they are a great source of inspiration that they draw upon for success.

Probably the most famous of these novels is Emily Bronte’s, Wuthering Heights. Published in 1847, the book was first adapted to the screen in 1920 by A.V. Bramble. Since its initial release the film has endured several remakes, and dramatizations, but none of these were as commercially successful as the distinguishable 1939, version starring, Laurence Olivier, and Merle Oberon.

thgf

From the moment that Wuthering Heights became a proposed assignment on the horizon, Samual Goldwyn Productions started canvassing heavily for a prestige cast who had an illustrious resume of films to their credits. For many this may seem like an arduous task, but the studio executives accomplished their mission when the characters of Heathcliff and Cathy presented themselves in the form of Laurence Olivier, and Merle Oberon, two highly extolled individuals whose immense talent proved that they embodied all the essential characteristics of the doomed couple.

What the studio executives didn’t know is that their decision ensued a few obstacles that would disrupt their goal if things didn’t pan out. They had their mind set on Laurence Olivier playing the dark and brooding, Heathcliff. This was the ideal part for the British born star, and there was absolutely no reason why an actor of his caliber would turn it down, but Olivier had different opinions. At the time his main focus was on his blossoming romance with Vivien Leigh, and he certainly didn’t want to leave Leigh when they were at the height of their love affair.

“No matter what I ever do or say, Heathcliff, this is me – now – standing on this hill with you. This is me, forever.”

The only way to resolve the situation was to extend their search for another actor to play Heathcliff, or accept Olivier’s request and cast Vivien Leigh in the role of Cathy, which was highly impossible as Merle Oberon was already selected for the part, and for the reason that Leigh was still relatively unknown in the United States. The next best thing to do was offer Leigh the role of Isabella Linton, but Leigh declined, stating, “I’ll play Cathy or I’ll playing nothing.”. Fortunately, Olivier eventually wavered, and agreed to take on the role. On the other hand, Vivien Leigh made the best decision. She went on to attain the coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara in the endearing masterpiece, Gone With The Wind.

Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939

The real life connection between Laurence Olivier, and Merle Oberon was a lot different then their relationship that was depicted in the film. On-screen, Cathy and Heathcliff were sometimes inseparable despite their complexities, and their turbulent romance, but off-screen, they barely tolerated each other. Incensed with anger over the dismissal of Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier unleashed his temper on Merle Oberon, and director, William Wyler, who allegedly stated that Olivier’s harsh treatment on the set resulted in many violent-fueled altercations that would lead to Oberon running off the set crying.

wuthering-heights-1939-2

William Wyler also caught the brunt of Olivier’s anger. Forever dismayed with Wyler’s exhausting and uncommunicative style of film-making, Olivier often verbally abused Wyler because of his directing technique, and on one occasion when Wyler demanded that a certain scene be shot seventy two times, Olivier remarked, “For God’s sake, I did it sitting down. I did it with a smile. I did it with a smirk. I did it scratching my ear. I did it with my back to the camera. How do you want me to do it?”. In later years however, Laurence Olivier had a different opinion on William Wyler, and credited him for teaching him how to act in films, as opposed to on the stage.

annex-oberon-merle-wuthering-heights_nrfpt_01

To add to the tension on the set, both stars had their minds preoccupied on their loved ones, who they left behind in the United Kingdom. Prior to the commencement of the film, Merle Oberon had embarked on a passionate romance with the renowned producer, Alexander Korda, whom she would marry in 1939, and Laurence Olivier was deeply in love with Vivien Leigh, who later flew to the United States to start work on Gone With The Wind.

wuthering_heights-9

Wuthering Heights is a powerful film that required a crew of consummate professionals. The screenplay was written by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, whose work has greatly impacted American cinema. William Wyler, the prolific director helmed the production, while Gregg Toland, and Alfred Newman were in charge of the cinematography and the music, which help make Wuthering Heights the beloved classic that it is today.

wuthering-heights-2

On its release, Wuthering Heights garnered an array of positive reviews. Frank S. Nugent from the New York Times described the film as being, “A strong and somber film, poetically written as the novel not always was, sinister and wild as it was meant to be, far more compact dramatically than what Miss Bronte had made it… It is, unquestionably one of the most distinguished pictures of the year, one of the finest ever produced by Mr. Goldwyn, and one you should decide to see.” . On the other hand, Variety gave a less than impressive statement by claiming that the films slow pace would make for rather dull material. However, Wuthering Heights sure made up for any flawed remarks when Film Daily wrote, “Brilliant screen version of Bronte novel. William Wyler has given the love story warm, sympathetic direction, gaining fine performances from his cast.”

kids-gh

PROLOGUE

On the barren Yorkshire moors in England, a hundred years ago, stood a house as bleak and desolate as the wastes around it. Only a stranger lost in a storm would have dared to knock at the door of Wuthering Heights.

merle-oberon-14

Wuthering Heights is a haunting and atmospheric production that tells the story of Heathcliff ( Laurence Olivier ) and Cathy ( Merle Oberon ), two lovers who are first brought together as children by unforeseen circumstances. Years later the two embark on a passionate but stormy romance that proves to be doomed once Cathy decides she can’t marry him due to societal wrongs that ultimately tears them apart. Will Cathy and Heathcliff meet again? or will Heathcliff’s consumed hatred take revenge on their relationship? Watch the movie and find out.

wuthering-heights-1939-03

Even though Wuthering Heights is masterfully crafted with splendid cinematography that garnered Gregg Toland an Academy Award, it would have been interesting, and a lot more captivating if the film closely followed the novel. Instead the second half of the famous book was eliminated, and what we are given is Hollywood’s fictionalized account of a fictionalized novel.

wutheringheights2

In the latter part of the story readers are introduced to Cathy and Heathcliff’s children, but in the film adaptation the kids are non existent. The absence of the children fueled many altercations with fans of the novel, who dismissed the film version of Wuthering Heights by claiming that its a poor adaptation when an array of prominent characters have been eliminated. That being said, the movie did make up for its non appearance of characters by the bitterness and self destruction of Hindley, the intoxicated brother of Cathy, whose tyrannical nature towards Heathcliff and other individuals darkens the mood of the picture.

wuthering-heights-1939

One of the major highlights of Wuthering Heights is the assembled cast of stellar players. Laurence Olivier was perfectly cast as the dark and gloomy Heathcliff, and Merle Oberon was certainly well suited for the role of Cathy, a tragic figure, who will always remain the light of Heathcliff’s life, no matter what obstacles comes between them. The supporting cast are also worthy of note. David Niven plays an important role as Edgar Linton, a rich man from upper society, who falls in love with Cathy, and eventually marries her despite her romance with Heathcliff. Geraldine Fitzgerald, who previously made her American film debut that same year in the Bette Davis film, Dark Victory, attained an Academy Award nomination for her role as Isabella Linton, Edgar’s naive sister, who much to the chagrin of Cathy gets swept into the destructive lifestyle when she marries Heathcliff.

wutheringheights6

Despite the dramatic changes, and the detouring away from the original story line in Emily Bronte’s novel, the film was an overall success. A large portion of the cruelty and brutality that was depicted in their relationship in the novel was eclipsed by Heathcliff’s humanity and kindness in the film. A lot of this has probably got to do with the escapism in movies that was largely dominant at the time. Audiences would much rather see a passionate love affair being portrayed on-screen rather than one that sometimes represented a combination of fondness, devotion, enmity, and mutual hatred.

annex-oberon-merle-wuthering-heights_01

The vision of Cathy and Heathcliff standing on top of the Yorkshire Moors. The tumultuous romance of these two powerful fictional figures, and the magnetic chemistry of the couple whose relationship was doomed from the start is what makes Wuthering Heights a cinematic attraction for movie enthusiasts worldwide.

wuthering-heights-cathy-heathcliff-on-the-crag

TRIVIA:

David Niven remembers the filming of Merle Oberon‘s deathbed scenes (recorded in his bestselling book, The Moon’s a Balloon) as less than romantic. After telling Wyler he didn’t know how to ‘sob’, he had been given a menthol mist substance to help it appear as if he were crying, which instead had the effect of making “green goo” come out of his nose. Oberon immediately exited the bed after witnessing it.

Ronald Colman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., James Mason and Robert Newton were all considered for the part of Heathcliff. Charles Boyer’s biography, “The Reluctant Lover” claims he turned down the role also.

David Niven dreaded the film not only because he was playing a thankless, secondary role, but because he dreaded working with William Wyler again. Merle Oberon was uncomfortable working with Niven after their year long love affair ended in 1936.

In a departure from the novel, there is an afterlife scene in which we see Heathcliff and Cathy walking hand in hand, visiting their favourite place, Penistone Crag. Wyler hated the scene and didn’t want to do it, but Samuel Goldwyn vetoed him on that score. Goldwyn subsequently claimed, “I made “Wuthering Heights”, Wyler only directed it.”

wutheringheights2-1

CAST:

Laurence Olivier: Born, Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier on May 22nd, 1907 in Dorking, Surrey, United Kingdom. Died: July 11, 1989 in Steyning, West Sussex, United Kingdom. Age: 82. Cause of death: Renal failure.

Merle Oberon: Born, Estelle Merle Oberon Thompson on February 19th, 1911 in Bombay, Bombay Presidency British India. Died: November 23rd, 1979 in Malibu, California. Age: 68. Cause of death: Complications from a stroke.

wuthering-heights-1939

The following was my entry for the Second Annual Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier Blogathon, which was hosted by Joseph at Wolffian Classics Movies Digest. Click here to view the other entries being exhibited in this blogathon.

HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE ( 1964 ), AND WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? ( 1962 ) COSTUMES

hush-hush-sweet-charlotte-169

It was the year 1964, a time when most stars of their caliber were facing a career decline, but for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who were back on the radar after enduring triumphant success for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, future work prospects were imminent, and their territories were not yet uncharted.

e4c498321587406a81a0c488881db6a8

To capitalize on the success of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, director Robert Aldrich was eagerly intending a follow up sequal that would reunite both stars whose verbal sparring and alleged feud had garnered packed audiences and critical acclaim on the release of the predecessor.

early-joan-scene

Agnes Moorehead with Joan Crawford, before Crawford was replaced by Olivia de Havilland.

The thought of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford starring together for the second time in a horror film with a ghostly ambiance kept Robert Aldrich stimulated. Determined to surpass his previous record, Aldrich added a stellar array of seasoned acting veterans which include, Agnes Moorehead, in an Academy Award nominated performance, Joseph Cotten, Cecil Kellaway, and Mary Astor in her final film role.

dre

Agnes and Joan on the set of “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

With a cast that boasted prominence, Robert Aldrich was expecting another masterpiece, but unfortunately only part of this was achieved. After ten days of filming on location at Houmas House in Louisiana, Joan Crawford was beginning to succumb to the troubles that were fueled by Bette Davis, who made it clear several times that she did not want Crawford in the picture. Problems mounted on the final day of location shooting when Crawford fell asleep in her trailer and awoke hours later to discover that the cast and crew had packed up and left Louisiana, and were headed back to Hollywood, where they were to continue on filming. The lack of communication which was coupled by Davis’ harsh treatment infuriated Crawford, who was left alone in the dark colossal fields of the Houmas plantation with little knowledge to where everyone was. Alone for the night in Baton Rouge, Crawford made her own travel arrangements, and departed for Los Angeles later that evening.

th-27

On her arrival in Los Angeles, Joan Crawford reportedly fell ill, and admitted herself into Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for much needed recuperation. Whether or not Crawford was sick is not truly known. Many people believe that Crawford feigned illness because she wanted out of that picture, while others state that Crawford was inflicted with a respiratory infection, but whatever the truth, Joan Crawford’s time on the set was a complete nightmare. She was sick of playing second fiddle to Davis, who she felt was always overacting and chewing up the scenery, trying to take all scenes away from Crawford.

hush-hush

Following her stint in the hospital, Joan Crawford left the production completely. With Joan gone, Robert Aldrich was faced with an even bigger problem. If Crawford couldn’t be replaced, shooting of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte would have to be suspended indefinitely. Aldrich however was determined to make this film work. He began canvassing around Hollywood for an actress to take Joan’s place. After approaching notable Hollywood stars like, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, Loretta Young, and Vivien Leigh, who all declined, Aldrich took Davis’ advice, and asked Olivia de Havilland, who reluctantly accepted due to her close friendship with Bette Davis.

hushhushsweetcharlotte_stairs-1

Olivia de Havilland, who had been friends with Bette Davis since making It’s Love I’m After, their first film together, felt she owed the favor to Davis, and to Robert Aldrich, who desperately traveled to her summer home in the Swiss Alps to persuade her to accept the part of Miriam Deering. Thankfully she did because if it weren’t for Olivia de Havilland, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte would never have eventuated.

hush-hush-sweet-charlotte_650_20130712

After enduring weeks of physical and emotional burden due to the extreme animosity and tension on the set that was caused by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, Robert Aldrich was relieved when Olivia de Havilland entered the picture. At last he was able to fully concentrate on his responsibilities as a director without the interference of the two bickering stars. With Olivia, the atmosphere on the set was more congenial, and the amicable nature that was displayed by the cast made for a much happier union.

wrjjwst53wsgw1ozghzqz0igmio

As filming progressed, Agnes Moorehead was starting to maintain a hectic work schedule. By August, Moorehead was heavily involved in the shooting of Bewitched, which first debuted on September 17th of that year, and with the air date of the series about to commence, Agnes was often absent on the set of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. This caused slight altercations for Robert Aldrich and his crew, who were considering having Moorehead replaced, or her part wiped out completely.

cruther

The filming of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte was completed in October 1964, and opened to critical acclaim the following year. The film garnered seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Agnes Moorehead, who lost to Lila Kedrova for her role in Zorba The Creek, while Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland both went unnoticed at that years Oscars ceremony.

ag-be

The success of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte sure made up for the catastrophic disasters that occurred during the early phrases of the filming process. On its release the film attained many positive reviews. Variety wrote that “Davis’ portrayal is reminiscent of Jane in its emotional overtones, in her style of characterization of the near-crazed former Southern belle, aided by haggard makeup and outlandish attire. It is an outgoing performance, and she plays it to the limit. De Havilland, on the other hand, is far more restrained but none the less effective dramatically in her offbeat role.”. Time Out London also made an effort to observe the solid performances delivered by the stars when they stated, “Over the top, of course, and not a lot to it, but it’s efficiently directed, beautifully shot, and contains enough scary sequences amid the brooding, tense atmosphere. Splendid performances from Davis and Moorehead, too.”.

gfda

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte was directed and produced by Robert Aldrich, and was based on an unpublished short story titled, Whatever Happened To Cousin Charlotte? by Henry Farrell, who along with Lucas Heller wrote the screenplay. The films musical score was provided by Frank De Vol, the eminent arranger and composer whose illustrious achievements can be heard in an array of cinemas best remembered productions. Joseph Biroc, the renowned cinematographer attained an Academy Award nomination for his masterful contribution to the film, but was overshadowed by Walter Lassally. However, Joseph Biroc would go on to receive the Academy Award ten years later for The Towering Inferno.

ohgf

Set in the deep south, this atmospheric production tells the story of Charlotte Hollis ( Bette Davis ), an aging recluse who has lived a prisoned life with her disorderly but loyal housekeeper, Velma Cruther ( Agnes Moorehead ) in her Louisiana ancestral mansion since the brutal death of her married lover that took place in 1927. Many years later, Charlotte Hollis is the prime suspect in the gruesome murder case, and is considered to be psychotic by the rest of the towns folk. When the government threatens to destroy her unhinged lifestyle by tearing down her dilapidated residence for a road construction project, Charlotte refuses to elude her premises, which ultimately leads to many obstacles for the construction team and authorities.

Problems arise when her cousin Miriam ( Olivia de Havilland ) and the local doctor, Drew Bayliss ( Joseph Cotten ) accepts Charlotte’s invitation, and arrive at the mansion to supposedly offer their help, but when Charlotte takes a sudden descent into madness, all hidden secrets are slowly unearthed after a series of unsettling episodes occur that take Charlotte back to that formidable night of the murder.

hush-hush-sweet-charlotte-001

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a masterfully crafted Southern Gothic and psychological thriller that features many elements of horror and revulsion. While the film runs in parallel directions as its predecessor, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, it also makes a point of hearkening back to previous productions that had Bette Davis portraying similar characters. For instance, Davis’ character of Julie Marsden in Jezebel ( 1938 ) is largely represented in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Julie who also hails from Louisiana embodies many of the same characteristics as Charlotte. Even though Julie is a lot younger than Charlotte, both women are tenacious, difficult, and at war with the world. It is also interesting to note that the large portrait that adorns the walls of the Hollis mansion is a photo of Bette Davis as Julie Marsden in Jezebel.

annex-davis-bette-hush-hush-sweet-charlotte_nrfpt_01The cast of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte are impressive. Agnes Moorehead made up for losing the Academy Award by receiving a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Velma, the slovenly housemaid who is Charlotte’s only companion. Despite her dowdy appearance, Velma is intellectually smart, and possesses enough knowledge to realize that Charlotte’s deterioration is caused by the scheming and calculating Miriam and Drew Bayliss who have only arrived on the scene to torment Charlotte by playing tricks on her mind.

“So you’re finally showin’ the right side of your face. Well, I seen it all along. That’s some kinda drug you been givin’ her. Isn’t it? It’s what’s been making her act like she’s been. Well, Ah’m goin’ into town and Ah’m tellin them what you been up to.”

( Agnes as Velma Cruther in “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” 1964. )

hush-hush-sweet-charlotte-099-1

Olivia de Havilland always serves as a great counterpart to the indomitable Bette Davis who was fierce competition, though it would have been interesting to see Joan Crawford play the duplicitous Miriam whose facade of charm and convincing act of compassion and tenderness makes for a good whodunit mystery where audiences are to determine who the antagonist of destruction really is.

hhsc-de-haviland

The rest of the ensemble cast are worthy of applause. In many cases its the character actors in their supporting roles that help hold the film together. In Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, this is truly evident. In addition to Agnes Moorehead, who manages to steal the spotlight away from top stars like Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, and Joseph Cotten whose unparalleled performances continue to immerse audiences worldwide, the other players are also competent enough to have their own shining moments. The renowned character actor, Cecil Kellaway, who spent many considerable years under contract to Australia’s foremost theatrical manager, J.C. Williamson in Australia, delivers a laudable performance as Harry Willis, an amiable insurance investigator who shows profound interest in the Mayhew case, and has met and corresponded with John Mayhew’s ailing widow, Jewel Mayhew, played by the legendary Mary Astor, who retired from motion pictures after filming was complete.

edsa

Then there is Bette Davis, the main protagonist of the story. Without Bette in the role of Charlotte, there would be no plot. Charlotte is the central character that the film revolves around. She’s the alleged driving force behind the murder of John Mayhew, and she’s the victim of a fallacious human being whose only motives are to send her into a state of insanity.

bette-davis-hush-hush-sweet-charlotte-1964

Portraying a character with a complex nature was no foreign territory for Bette Davis who was never afraid to take on challenging roles that forced her to appear villainous, unglamorous or grotesque looking. As Charlotte, Davis displays a wide spectrum of emotions that range from her being incensed with anger, and suddenly becoming well established with a severe case of hysteria once the horror sets in.

z1

When discussing Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, the costume aspects of the film should be taken into consideration. After-all, Norma Koch received an Academy Award nomination for ‘Best Costume Design’, for her involvement in the production, but lost to Dorothy Jeakins for her efforts in The Night Of The Iguana.

husj

For someone who had no initial experience as a costume designer, Norma Koch sure came a long way since her days as an aspiring hopeful who was looking for the chance to establish herself in the profession of her dreams. Born on April 23rd, 1921, in Kansas, Missouri to a working class family, Koch displayed profound interest in costume design from a young age, and started perusing the newspapers for dress designs to copy. In 1943, her work captured the attention of Edith Head, who offered her a position at Paramount. After a successful tenure with Edith Head, and after taking the advice from Bing Crosby, Koch branched out as a freelance designer, and secured her first design job in The Scandal In Paris ( 1946 ).

During her first few years as an independent designer, Koch preoccupied most of her time creating elaborate period costumes, but after a while, she started to explore western clothes, and ordinary, non formal wear for gritty dramas, the most famous being, Marty ( 1955 ).

Her work in the gritty dramas would ultimately lead to a collaboration with Robert Aldrich, where she would design costumes for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, among others. She attained her first Academy Award for her costume creations in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, and would go on to receive a nomination for her efforts in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Attaining an Academy Award is no easy feat for anyone in the motion picture industry, but Norma Koch proved several times that her distinguished virtuosity was worthy of acclaim. In a career that spanned over thirty years, Koch designed costumes for almost every genre of film, and excelled at creating a wide array of garments from different decades in time. Whatever the occasion, Koch was able to conjure up a multitude of fashion aesthetics that would illustrate the character of the film in focus.

annex-davis-bette-what-ever-happened-to-baby-jane_nrfpt_01

In Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, the costumes were unlike anything that she had ever created before. Instead of conjuring up something elegant and refined, Koch had to design something very naivete, and that lacked sophistication. At the 1963, Academy Awards ceremony, Audrey Hepburn presented the award for ‘Best Costume Design’, and during her announcement speech she stated, “This award is not only of great interest to every actress, who depends on the artistry of the designer to help her create her roles, but it is also important to women throughout the world. Historical or modern, every film with beautiful clothes launches some new trend in fashion. It would be impossible to imagine that any woman would have left the theater after seeing, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, and run to a store to emulate what they had just seen on-screen.”

The above speech uttered by Audrey Hepburn clearly defines the importance of costume design, and gives us a brief example of how the garments worn in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? epitomize the spirit of uncultured life.

full-what

In Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Bette Davis plays a washed-up former child star whose fame was eclipsed in later years by her sister, Blanche Hudson. Plagued with resentment and sibling rivalry, Jane torments and abuses Blanche, and confines the paraplegic Blanche to the upstairs bedroom of their decaying Hollywood mansion.

reag

As is the case with Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, costume design is not just about creating beautiful fabrics or historical accuracy. It is about conveying the essence of the character through clothing. It wouldn’t be right if Norma Koch was to design fancy and impeccable chiffon dresses or elegant robes for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford when their roles required them to be sporting unfitting attire that is not palatable to the outside world. To clearly define the character of Jane Hudson, Koch provided Bette with macabre style clothing, such as a hideous, old fashioned white dress that is adorned with a girlish pink ribbon around the waist. For her hair, Bette wore a white straggly wig, which was previously worn by Joan Crawford in an MGM production years earlier. Both stars were incognizant of this fact, and due to the chance that an altercation may evolve, the truth about the wig was never revealed.

baby-jane-costume

While Monty Westmore served as one of the main makeup artists for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Bette Davis had full authority over her own makeup. She suggested that Jane Hudson should wear heavy makeup that consisted of strong white blush that resembles paint, thick black eyeliner and lashes, along with heavily rouged lips, covered in bright red lipstick. She also imagined that older Jane was a person who didn’t use makeup remover, and instead of cleaning away the old makeup, she demanded that Jane just add another layer of thick makeup on top of the old makeup. When Davis’ daughter, B.D Hyman, caught her first glimpse of Bette in full makeup, she said, “Oh, mother, this time you’ve gone too far”.

babyj-bfi-00n-1e4

Joan Crawford, who always said, “I never go out unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star.”, would be a bit of a shock for first time viewers who are use to her being dazzling and glamorous. For her role as Blanche Hudson, Joan had to appear informal, wearing a long unkept dress for her reclusive lifestyle. However, Crawford tried her utmost hardest to have Norma Koch change her costume. She insisted that because Blanche Hudson is a former movie star that she should still be able to retain her charismatic charm, and be seen wearing alluring dresses that would emphasize her sophistication and elegance, but Koch along with Robert Aldrich and Bette Davis explained to Crawford that Blanche Hudson is the victim of an abusive sister who locks her away in the upstairs bedroom without worrying about her vanity and appearance, and just has her wearing old, and sometimes dirty clothes.

what-ever-happened-to-baby-jane-041

The only time in the film that we see Joan Crawford dressed in more stylish attire is during her first scene when she is seen wearing a sixties style vintage dress while watching the re-runs of her old movies on television. This is only a short scene however, and for the rest of the picture, Crawford is gaped out in her distinguishable Blanche Hudson outfit.

costumebabyjanenormakochx-1

In Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Norma Koch was stepping into familiar territory once again, and designing costumes that were similar in appearance to the garments she created in the predecessor. This time however, Koch was displaying more artistry by designing a wide array of different clothing that made her deal with the aesthetic facets of fashion design. She also delved into contemporary fashion in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, since the character of Miriam Deering had more of a refined taste when it came to her wardrobe.

th-29

Though not as grotesque looking as she appears in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Bette Davis donned a long unconventional dress that demonstrated the fact that her character of Charlotte Hollis was still living in the past, and wearing archaic fabrics that were the latest trend of 1927, when the murder took place. When we are first introduced to Charlotte, it is on the night of the murder at the start of the picture where we get a glimpse of her wearing the blood stained white frock at the party. This dress was also designed by Norma Koch, and has often been exhibited at costume exhibits.

th-30

On the other hand, Agnes Moorehead required a different type of wardrobe altogether. Her character of Velma Cruther, the slovenly housemaid, didn’t care about her appearance, and what others thought of her. In every scene she’s in, Velma appears disheveled, and negligently dressed with baggy, unflattering clothes that looked like the used apparel you’ll find at the garbage tip.

agnes-moorhead-hush-hush

Behind the scenes of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Moorehead was that ashamed of her look in the film that she refused to eat in the studio commissary. If it weren’t for her close friend, Debbie Reynolds, who was working on the production, Goodbye Charlie at a nearby soundstage, she probably would have starved, but thankfully Debbie knew how Agnes felt, and made sure that Agnes was always present in her dressing room at lunch time. Later Agnes described her dress sense in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as, “A slob, a blob of sagging flesh in a shapeless house dress that had seen better days. I looked so awful that I refused to eat in the studio commissary, and I’d suppose I’d have starved if not for Debbie Reynolds who invited me to join her for lunch each day in the privacy of her dressing room.”

acad

Agnes after accepting her Golden Globe Award for “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” ( 1965 )

In a way the dress styles depicted in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? really shape the evolution of costume design. Back in the days when motion pictures and stage productions first evolved, the cast members all appeared in similar outfits that made it difficult for audiences to distinguish their character, but through the years as the movies further developed, the costumes became a pivotal focus, and actors were required to wear garments that would clearly delineate the personality and the traits of each character. By the time that Norma Koch commenced work on Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, costuming in film was well established, but even then there was still room to explore the different aspects of costume design, and these two films symbolize how costume design has improved during the years.

hh54

The following was my entry for the Characters In Costume Blogfest, which is being hosted by Christina Wehner, and Into The Writer Lea. Click here to view the other entries being exhibited during this event.

POSSESSED ( 1947 )

possesed

Hollywood has been blessed with a plethora of notable actresses during the years, but not many of them possessed the distinctive talent and conveyed the heightened emotions to portray a lonely psychotic woman trapped in a catatonic state like Joan Crawford in Possessed ( 1947 )

novposa

When witnessing Joan Crawford in Possessed, you would think that Crawford came from a long lineage of show business personalities, and was forced to attend acting lessons from a young age, but in truth Joan Crawford was far from a child prodigy of the arts. She was born into humble beginnings in Texas, and really had to work hard to reach the status that she attained in later years. Her mother worked long days in a laundry, and after enduring years of harsh treatment as a work student in schools, Crawford joined her mother in the laundry business to make ends meat.

poss127-1

For Joan Crawford, landing a career in motion pictures was a stroke of luck. Originally Crawford wanted to be a dancer, a goal that she first expressed when she was still a child, but a severe accident when she was six years old almost put a stop to her dream. Luckily she fully recuperated, and was able to continue on pursuing a career in dancing, which would eventually lead to her appearing as a chorus girl in traveling revues, where she captivated the attention of Jacob J. Shubert, the renowned producer who was canvassing around Detroit looking for new talent for his 1924 show, Innocent Eyes.

Not only was Joan Crawford the successful candidate, she was one step closer to embarking on a journey that would take her to Hollywood, the motion picture capital of the world, a place that only existed in her dreams. But now it was about to happen, and young Lucille LeSueur became Joan Crawford, and was ready to take the world by storm.

poddd

Hollywood in 1925, seemed like a foreign territory to Joan Crawford, an inexperienced hopeful who was waiting for her chance to make big. With no training in the acting department, Crawford had to rely solely on exploring the MGM grounds, and watching other seasoned actresses at work by studying their techniques.

Like other actresses who were asked to do a screen-test on their arrival, Joan Crawford began to tremble with nerves. Years later she remembered having to improvise a series of emotions, and admitted that her formidable past that consisted of her mother and her brother along with the drab existence that she had eluded made crying the easiest thing to do in front of the camera.

poss107-2

As the years progressed, Joan Crawford overcome her shyness. She had appeared in a handful of films before her breakthrough role in Our Dancing Daughters in 1928. Her role as Diana Medford ultimately led to major roles in an array of critically acclaimed Pre-Code productions, but just when Crawford had garnered a reputable reputation, the Hays Code was rigorously enforced, and Crawford’s career was slowly floundering. During most of that period, Crawford was mostly seen in “rags to riches” stories, her usual formula that MGM always seemed to cast her in.

Tired of playing a shop girl who hailed from the wrong side of the tracks, and climbed the ladder to success, Joan Crawford wanted to be cast in different roles that would display her potential as an actress. For a while Crawford’s demands worked, and MGM supplied her with a few movies that didn’t parallel Joan Crawford’s common stories of a working girl who vanquishes her poverty stricken lifestyle. However, the chance of a favorable outcome was halted when the films were largely panned on their release, forcing Crawford to give MGM consent to terminate her contract once it expired.

osss

Departing MGM, and moving to Warner Brothers. was definitely a turning point in the career of Joan Crawford. For the first time in years she discovered that she had a sense of freedom, and the right to open privileges that she never had at MGM. Instead of being forced to appear in a picture with a tactless script, she had full authority over her scripts, directors and leading men. In addition to all that, she had the chance to resurrect her career, and metamorphose herself into a new woman.

That is exactly what she did. Joan’s work at Warner Brothers. was antithetical compared to the roles she was being offered at MGM. Instead of playing a person who rises from poverty to wealth, Joan Crawford easily adapted to more challenging roles in Film Noir and melodramatic productions. In 1945, she was cast in Mildred Pierce, in which she received an Academy Award for her performance.

oscar-m

Joan Crawford receiving her Oscar in bed for Mildred Pierce.

Mildred Piece revitalized Joan Crawford’s career, and firmly cemented her in a reputable position. By 1947, Crawford’s career was flourishing. That same year she garnered an Oscar nomination for Possessed, a film that has Crawford portraying a woman whose romantic affair inflicts mental instability that eventually creates tension and turmoil in the lives of everyone involved.

poss-street

Possessed was directed by the renowned German directer, Curtis Bernhardt, and produced by Jerry Wald, who had a successful influence in Hollywood, producing an array of lavish Film Noir productions, including Mildred Pierce. The film was written for the screen by Silvia Richards and Ranald MacDougall, and adapted from a novel titled, One Man Secret by Rita Weiman.

posw

Possessed was the perfect vehicle for Joan Crawford, whose solid repertoire of films consisted of diverse and challenging roles that would increase as the years progressed. The previous year, Crawford had garnered critical acclaim for portraying a wealthy neurotic socialite whose insecurity which is coupled by her extreme addiction to alcohol sends her on a downward emotional spiral that ends up vanquishing her entire being in Jean Negulesco’s film, Humoresque  ( 1946 )

“I love you” is such an inadequate way of saying I love you. It doesn’t quite describe how much it hurts sometimes.”

Joan Crawford as Louise Howell in ‘Possessed’

At the time that Possessed was made, it was considered daring for an actor to tackle a role that hints at mental illness or the restrictions that are faced by people with disabilities, but Crawford who was yearning for a second Academy Award went that extra step, and portrayed a mentally unstable character whose mind is possessed with demons.

aqq

The task of delivering a true depiction of a neurotic manic involved countless hours of research. As a result, Crawford spent many days conducting interviews with doctors who specialized in the field, as well as observing patients who suffered from similar disorders. These patients painted Crawford a clear picture of what it was like to be a victim of schizophrenia, and after exploring the daily happenings of these people, Joan Crawford was confident that she could embody the exact same characteristics, and convey it all on the screen.

poss120

Filming for Possessed commenced in June 1946, but due to Joan canvassing around psychiatric wards in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and Pasadena during the summer of that year, the production went over schedule. To further escalate problems, Warner Brothers. was forced to pay a substantial amount of money to a relative of a patient undergoing electroconvulsive shock therapy after she complained that Joan and Curtis Bernhardt had invaded the patients privacy without being granted permission.

saz

Once filming finally finished, Joan Crawford took a short hiatus away from making movies. After months of delivering a thorough in-depth performance in a film that required extreme effort and intense concentration, the daily struggles of motion picture acting began to take its toll on Crawford who had succumbed to stress and fatigue, which was coupled by the personal hardship that she was enduring off-screen with the tribulations that came with her affair with Greg Bautzer, who she first started dating in late 1945.

“Normally, I’m a happy person. But after I finished making that film I was melancholy for two months. Although I was exhausted, I knew I had done a good job – had met the challenge. That was important to me. Give me a challenge any time and I’ll come out a better person for it. Meeting the challenge of Possessed made it my favorite film.”

( Joan Crawford )

fds

Possessed is an impressive Film Noir that is told in flashbacks, and revolves around the struggles of schizophrenia and other related mental disorders. Headlining the production is Joan Crawford, the critically acclaimed actress who received an Academy Award nomination for her electrifying portrayal of Louise Howell, a former nurse whose extreme obsession leads to paranoid delusions which ultimately send her on a downward spiral, where catastrophic circumstances ensue.

We are first introduced to Louise when we see her in a daze, walking aimlessly down a busy Hollywood street, uttering the name “David” repeatedly at the start of the picture. From the moment that we become acquainted with Louise, we are automatically drawn into a web of intrigue as we watch Louise metamorphose herself from a qualified respected nurse to a deranged and maniacal individual who winds up in a psychiatric ward in a non-traumatic stupor after months of suffering from psychological problems that are fueled by forbidden romance and obsession.

gun-david

Possessed is a character study of a complex woman who takes a sudden descent into madness. Joan Crawford who inhabited immense talent, and who was naturally gifted at playing troubled women with innate problems gave a realistic portrayal of an insecure woman who is madly in love with a man who is not interested in engaging himself in a love affair with her, and pursues romance with the much younger, Carol Graham, the daughter of Louise’s former patient.

As Louise Howell, Joan Crawford explored many facets of emotional expressivity, and clearly demonstrated the behavioral changes that Louise experienced during her unfortunate chain of events. Throughout the film audiences witness a wide spectrum of exacerbating moods that result in an unresponsive state of catatonia when the demons begin to vanquish Louise’s entire being.

possessed3

Aiding Joan Crawford in this emotionally charged drama is a stellar cast of seasoned acting veterans. Van Heflin, who played David Sutton, Louise’s forbidden love interest in the film delivered a laudable performance as the engineer who is immersed in mathematical equations, and forming a romantic relationship with Carol Graham.

poss116

Raymond Massey, who was best known for portraying a string of archetypal U.S. historical figures in an array of productions proved to be a great asset to the movie. Noted for his commanding, stage trained voice, Massey brought an air of compassion to the role of Dean Graham, the suffering husband of Louise’s former patient who is desperate for love, and marries Louise once his wife dies. These days however, Massey’s performance is often overlooked when Possessed piques a discussion point. Some people state that Massey appears wooden in his scenes with Joan Crawford while others have concocted the notion that Massey was simply miscast, but despite the negative accusations, Raymond Massey holds up extremely well in Possessed, even though Joan Crawford’s performance surpasses the rest of the cast.

poss123

Possessed also marked the film debut of Geraldine Brooks, who would later appear in Cry Wolf opposite Barbara Stanwyck, and would go on to attain considerable success in the television medium. Brooks who played the role of Carol Graham, instantly developed a close bond with Joan Crawford, who was eager to support the young star in every way possible during her first picture. Coincidentally, Geraldine Brooks passed away in June 1977, a month after Joan Crawford died in May of that year.

poss113

In addition to all the other redeeming features that abound this spectacular Film Noir, Possessed is blessed with masterful cinematography, which is accompanied by an impressive musical score by Franz Waxman, the renowned composer who helmed an array of notable productions that are now labeled as cinematic masterpieces.

hqdefault-4

On its release, Possessed opened to mixed reviews. Joan Crawford garnered many favorable remarks for her performance, but according to the reviews of other critics, the fault laid in the hands of Curtis Bernhardt’s direction, which was in a lot of cases considered flawed. Variety stated that “Joan Crawford cops all thesping honors in this production with a virtuoso performance as a frustrated woman ridden into madness by a guilt-obsessed mind. Actress has a self-assurance that permits her to completely dominate the screen even vis-a-vis such accomplished players as Van Heflin and Raymond Massey … Despite its overall superiority, Possessed is somewhat marred by an ambiguous approach in Curtis Bernhardt’s direction. Film vacillates between being a cold clinical analysis of a mental crackup and a highly surcharged melodramatic vehicle for Crawford’s histrionics.”, while Time wrote, “Most of it is filmed with unusual imaginativeness and force. The film is uncommonly well acted. Miss Crawford is generally excellent.”

utr

It’s also interesting to note that Possessed is the second film that Joan Crawford starred in that had the same title. However Clarence Brown’s 1931 film of the same name was a completely different story line. When Crawford first heard word about the 1947 production, she had originally wanted it to be called The Secret, but Curtis Bernhardt and the other crew members rejected the idea.

fds

All in all, Possessed is a masterfully created production that gives viewers a glimpse into the unhinged lifestyle of a psychotic woman suffering from manic depression. Not only is it an absorbing tale of schizophrenia, and the struggles that are faced while dealing with split personalities, it is a pivotal film that should be crucial for educational purposes. It’s a shame that Joan Crawford’s performance was surpassed by Loretta Young, who received the Oscar for The Farmer’s Daughter.

poss104

TRIVIA

The hospital that the ambulance pulls into appears to be the Los Angeles County, USC Medical Center at 1200 N. State St., Los Angeles, CA..

During production director Curtis Bernhardt accidentally kept referring to Crawford as “Bette” as he had just finished filming A Stolen Life with Bette Davis.

Geraldine Brooks delivered one of the eulogies at Joan Crawford’s memorial service. A month later, Brooks passed away.

gun-david

CAST

Joan Crawford: Born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23rd, 1904, 1905, 1906 or 1908 in San Antonio, Texas. Died: May 10th, 1977 in New York. Cause of death: Pancreatic Cancer/ Heart attack. To this day Joan’s birth year remains a mystery.

Van Heflin: Born Emmett Evan Heflin, Jr. on December 13th, 1908 in Walters, Oklahoma. Died: July 23rd, 1971 in Hollywood, California. Aged 62. Cause of death: Heart attack.

Raymond Massey: Born Raymond Hart Massey on August 30th, 1896 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Died: July 29th, 1983 in Los Angeles, California. Aged 86. Cause of death: Pneumonia.

Geraldine Brooks: Born Geraldine Strook on October 29th, 1925 in New York. Died: June 19th, 1977 in Riverhead, New York. Aged 51. Cause of death: Heart attack and cancer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOUBLE THE FUN, AND ADD A DOLLOP OF SPICE, AND YOU GET A MULTIPLE OF ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY

zzz

The Montgomery family were an illustrious group of show business folks whose immense talent and unparalleled performances left an indelible mark on cinematic history.

The chief protagonist in this dynasty is Robert Montgomery, the notable actor, directer and producer whose prolific body of work left a large impact in every medium of the entertainment industry. His wife, Elizabeth Allen was a Broadway star who had considerable success on the stage, but didn’t quite garner enough recognition to join her husband in motion pictures. And last but not least is his children, Elizabeth and Robert ( Skip ) who both inherited the acting genes, and enjoyed fulfilling careers on the screen.

screen-shot-2013-09-04-at-6-02-07-pm

When it comes to the children of Robert Montgomery, Elizabeth Montgomery is the most famous. Noted for her spirited personality, and her willingness to take on challenging roles, Elizabeth endured a triumphant tenure in film and television, and attained critical acclaim for her role as Samantha Stephens in the classic television sitcom, Bewitched, in which she is best remembered for today.

mv5bmti5ota5ndkzmv5bml5banbnxkftztywmde3mzm2-_v1_

In many ways, Bewitched helped shape Elizabeth’s career. If it weren’t for the central role of Samantha Stephens, Elizabeth Montgomery may have never had the recognition and the continual fame that Bewitched brought her, but as a result to appearing in a weekly television series, her popularity catapulted to great heights. Audiences wanted to see more of Elizabeth Montgomery. They were forever in awe of the sweet and vivacious witch whose presence was gracing television screens worldwide. Luckily for all these ardent fans and admirers, their wish was granted when it was discovered that Samantha had a duplicate that would come to the fore in season two when her identical cousin, Serena made her entrance.

Audiences couldn’t be more elated. They were being awarded with a double dose of Elizabeth Montgomery who agreed to play Serena under the pseudonym of Pandora Spocks, but this time there was so much more to eagerly await. Instead of all that sugar that came with Samantha, Serena inhabited a large dollop of spice.

Even though Serena had a recurring role, she didn’t actually make her Bewitched debut until episode eighteen in season two’s, And Then There Were Three, when Samantha is in the hospital giving birth to Tabitha. This is the first time that Darrin encounters Serena, and due to the fact that they were never introduced, their first official meeting creates havoc when Darrin automatically assumes that Serena is an adult Tabitha, thanks to Endora who threatens Darrin that she will cast a spell on Tabitha that will have her age overnight.

mv5bmty0mji0njy5m15bml5banbnxkftztgwmje5mdgzmje-_v1_

The appearance of Serena propelled a vigorous response from audiences who were enthusiastic about seeing Elizabeth playing dual roles. After her first appearance as Serena, director and producer, William Asher decided to make her a recurring character, though it wasn’t until season five that this was fully put in place. She did however make three more appearances during the next two seasons, the most notable being season fours, Double, Double, Toil, And Trouble, where Endora plots with Serena to have her masquerade as Samantha in front of Darrin in an attempt to break up the mixed marriage. She would then make a brief appearance in That Was No Chick, That Was My Wife during the same season.

mv5bmtg4mtk0mde4nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnze2mdgzmje-_v1_

Fast forward to February 1968 when the episode Hippie, Hippie Hooray premiered. This time Serena emerges as a hippie, which ultimately leads to problems once Larry stumbles across her picture in the newspaper and mistakes her for Samantha. Assuming that Samantha has metamorphosed herself into a hippie, and has been arrested in a riot charge, Larry becomes concerned for Darrin who is married to a nonconformist. The already perplexing situation escalates when McMann & Tate lose a conservative client due to Serena’s actions. Now Darrin must address the situation by proving to Larry that the person in the newspaper was Serena, but the only way to achieve this is to invite Larry and Louise over for dinner, and to have both Samantha and Serena present.

sam-serena

Once season five arrived, Serena became more of a prominent figure. Her unexpected arrivals at the Stephens household were getting more and more frequent, meaning that Darrin had to contend with the cataclysmic disturbances of both Endora and Serena.

We would next see her in the fifth episode of that season, titled, Samantha Goes South For A Spell, where Serena eludes a vengeful witch named Brunhilde, and takes refuge at Samantha and Darrin’s, but once Serena discovers that it was Samantha who he was tracking down, Serena punishes Samantha and transports her back in time to New Orleans in the year 1868.

mv5bmjk5ndazodkxnf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzc2mdgzmje-_v1_

A few weeks later, Serena played an eminent role in the episode, It’s So Nice To Have A Spouse Around The House. The basis for the plot goes like this: When Samantha is notified that she must attend the witches council, Darrin automatically refuses. As a result, Endora arranges for Serena to masquerade around the house as Samantha, to make Darrin think that Sam took note of his advice, and decided not to appear at the council. At first the task is simple for Serena, but once Darrin surprises her by taking her on a second honeymoon to the destination where they originally honeymooned five years earlier, the situation intensifies as Serena begins to find it difficult to pose as Samantha when romance is pivotal.

yass

The next episode where Serena is present is a two part story arc, titled, Cousin Serena Strikes Again. Here we witness Serena at her most mischievous. The night before an important dinner with their wine enthusiast client, Clio Vanita, Serena gate crashes the Stephens home, and threatens to intrude in on their dinner party. At the commencement of the dinner however, Serena is non existent. This makes Darrin believe that luck is on his side. That is until Serena invisibly appears and turns Clio into a chimpanzee in order to save her cousins marriage. Throughout the next episode, Samantha is pleading for Serena to return to change Clio back, but unfortunately for Darrin who needs Clio present for a meeting that morning, Serena has completely vanished.

In the next episode, Mrs. Stephens, Where Are You, Serena meets Darrin’s mother for the first time while she is babysitting Tabitha. For the first few seconds their introduction runs smoothly, but once Mrs. Stephens starts to express her displeasure with Samantha’s mothering ability, Serena immediately is fueled with anger, and turns Phyllis into a cat.

ccc

In almost every episode that Serena makes an appearance, it is clearly apparent that she is willing to take on new challenges. For example in Marriage Witch’s Style from season five, Serena begins to realize that Darrin is the key to Samantha’s happiness, and after witnessing their intimate relationship, Serena wants to follow in Samantha’s footsteps by marrying a mortal. This particular episode clearly illustrates how progressive and understanding Serena is towards mortals. Though she would never admit it, Serena could see the positive aspects of Samantha’s marriage while the rest of her family constantly displayed their disdain for mortals.

samantha-and-endora-bewitched-5562962-410-360-1

The following episode takes a similar approach. In season fives, Samantha’s Power Failure, Sam is stripped of her powers by the witch’s council, who have been trying to break up Samantha and Darrin’s marriage for years. When Serena and Uncle Arthur arrive the next day, and show their compassion, they too lose their powers. As a result, they decide to live as mortals, and go as far as securing employment at a local cafe, where disastrous consequences ensue.

ohg

Five months after the Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart single, I’ll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind was released, a Bewitched episode titled, Serena Stops The Show premiered. In this episode Serena uses her powers to make the ascending popularity of Boyce and Hart flounder, so she can hire them to perform at the Cosmo Cotillion in the witchy realm.

elizabeth_montgomery_sam_and_serena2_gkvemts-sized

A few weeks later, The Generation Gap aired. This is one of the lesser known episodes from the series, but it shouldn’t be dismissed. As an added bonus, Endora is back to her usual plotting with Serena. This time their task is to cast a spell on the daughter of Darrin’s client to make her enamored by Darrin’s charms. The next episode was another obsolete title called , A Chance On Love, which features a case of mistaken identity when Darrin’s client romantically pursues Samantha thinking that she is Serena.

Despite the major cast change with Dick Sargent replacing Dick York in the role of Darrin, Samantha’s Hot Bedwarmer along with the other Salem outings are among the most memorable episodes of Bewitched. In the second of six Salem installments, the truth about the mysterious bed warmer that prominently appeared in the first Salem episode is unearthed.  When it is revealed that the bed warmer is a rejected suitor of Serena’s, she is forced to return to 17th century Salem to undo the spell.

In the following Salem episode titled, Darrin On A Pedestal, Darrin and Samantha are exploring the sights of Massachusetts when Serena constructs a plan that will have the fisherman’s memorial statue replaced with Darrin.

serena

Once the Salem episodes came to a close, and the Stephens returned home to Morning Glory Circle, the ratings began to drop. With the decline in popularity, scripts from old episodes were sometimes recycled, and plots with similarities were employed. That being said, the episodes were still enthralling. Each cast member delivered something special to the episodes. By now, Serena’s recurring role was well established, meaning that her appearances were marked as daily arrivals. Her next appearance is in The Corsican Cousins, where Endora zaps Samantha, and makes her the victim by feeling everything that Serena feels both physically and emotionally.

After a two month hiatus from making appearances, Serena returned in February 1971, when she appeared in the episode, The Return Of Darrin The Bold, where Darrin starts to exhibit signs of wish-craft when Serena injects Darrin’s ancestor, Darrin the Bold with magic powers. She would then make another entrance a few week later in Samantha And The Troll, when she masquerades around and takes over the household while Samantha is attending a medical appointment.

mv5bmjaxmze3njm1nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdk1mdgzmje-_v1_

One of Serena’s funniest appearances is in her next episode, Darrin Goes Ape. After an altercation with Serena, Darrin is turned into an ape while Samantha is out with Tabitha and Adam. Problems arise when Gladys Kravitz notices the gorilla, and calls the police to investigate the Stephens home. Following the pattern of hilarious, Serena makes another appearance in Samantha’s Psychic Slip, an episode which is often labeled as corny. In this segment, Samantha is suffering from a severe bout of hiccups. As a result, strange things are popping in and out after each hiccup. To make matters worse, Darrin’s mother phones Samantha, and asks her to go shopping with her. As they are leaving, Serena arrives to take care of Tabitha and Adam.

Once season eight approached, Serena would only appear in three episodes, the first being, Samantha And The Lochness Monster, which is the third installment of a seven part story arc in which Samantha and Darrin are vacationing in Europe. This particular episode takes place in Scotland, and focuses on the Lochness Monster, who is really an old suitor of Serena’s.

In her second last appearance on the series, she starred in an episode titled, Serena’s Richcraft, where she finds herself powerless. Due to inhabiting no witchcraft, she falls hard for Darrin’s client. Serena’s final appearance is a memorable outing titled, Serena’s Youth Pill, and I classify it to be among my favorite episodes where Serena is featured. In this episode Serena reunites with Larry Tate, whom she calls “Cotton Top”. When Larry unexpectedly pays Samantha and Darrin a visit, Serena entertains him while Sam and Darrin are out. During the visit, Serena gives Larry a youth pill that makes him younger until eventually he’s a child again.

mv5bmji0mdq4mjm5ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwota2mdgzmje-_v1_

The idea of having an identical cousin emerge on the scene was a clever one. Originally, Serena was going to be Samantha’s long lost sister, but after some serious thinking, Elizabeth decided that she wanted it to be more imaginary, and thought it would be more creative if Serena served as Samantha’s look a like cousin, who at times can be a carbon copy of Samantha. It has been said that Serena was based on Elizabeth’s real life cousin, Amanda. However Montgomery denied those accusations, stating that even though her and Amanda were very close as children, Amanda was not the inspiration for Serena.

Once Serena was fully decided on, cast and crew members faced a tough decision when it came to deciding what Elizabeth should be billed as for playing Serena under the credits. Montgomery herself suggested that she be called Lizzie, but a Bewitched co-worker hinted that they didn’t like that name, and wanted her to be billed as Pandora’s Box. Elizabeth however stated that her choice was a little subtler and funnier. After taking it into consideration, they eventually decided to bill her as Pandora Spocks, a subtle not to the famous Greer myth of Pandora’s Box.

zzs

Playing dual roles in a movie or a television series is no easy feat. In fact many stars have shied away from it, fearing that they would get lost in translation, but Elizabeth who was always eager to display her full potential as an actress, was more than ready to take on that challenge, and it is with no doubt that she enjoyed doing it. As Serena, Elizabeth was given the chance to be free spirited, and totally wild. The character of Serena was certainly a lot more hipper than the role of Samantha, an amiable and conservative housewife who takes pleasure in preparing breakfast and dinner for her husband, and tending to the needs of her children.

Employing dual roles in movies and television productions can be difficult. In Bewitched however, this was easily achieved. In the scenes that required both Samantha and Serena to be present, Elizabeth Montgomery’s stand-in Melody McCord was used to help fulfill the process. Seventeen years later in 1989, Elizabeth reflected back on the experience, and explained the following for the Samantha-Serena transformation process:

“Melody McCord was my understudy. We would go into my dressing room and go over dialogue, so she could get the timing right, so there wouldn’t be any gaps. She was exactly my height and looked very much like me. That’s why we could do the wonderful crossover scenes on camera. We were lucky that she worked out that way. There are times when you have an understudy that don’t look anything like you at all, except for light coloring. She and I are built alike, same coloring. Then they would have to tie-off all the cameras and wait until we changed clothes and makeup. For her, makeup was no problem unless we were using 3/4 of her face, and not just changing her wig. With me, it would be a complete makeup change. It was always easier to go from Sam to Serena than Serena to Sam. Serena wore a lot more makeup….. That crazy person.”

After Serena’s last appearance, Bewitched would only run for seven more episodes before terminating in March 1972. In the years that followed, Bewitched has continued to evoke fond memories, and occasionally it is still being referenced to in today’s popular culture.

in-yo-face-bewitched-30424098-500-373

This entry is part of the Dual Roles Blogathon, which is hosted by Ruth at Silver Screenings, and Christina at her blog, Christina Wehner. It is with apologies that my entry is late.