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New titles from others and research in progress

Marilyn 50 Years later

The first edition cover of my biography
It has been fifty years since Marilyn Monroe died and interest in her continues to increase. Why? Of course, many reasons can be offered. As a biographer, I want to repeat what Matthew Bruccoli said when he was asked why he was publishing another biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald: more facts. And it is true. We continue to learn more about Marilyn Monroe, about the books she read, the meals she prepared, the letters and poems she wrote, and so on. In other words, we are learning more about the person. I just read a piece about the photographer Lawrence Schiller, who pointed out that in the 1970s there was great interest in nude Marilyn Monroe photographs, but that now there seems more interest in pictures that show her as a real person. We are still learning just how complex she was. Let me just mention three books that show how much more there is to know about Marilyn Monroe: Lois Banner's new biography, which has fascinating pages on Monroe's affinity for Christian Science (just to mention one of many revelations); Fragments, a fascinating collections of her letters, notes, and other writings; and Michelle Morgan's biography, which contains testimony from many people whom the other Marilyn Monroe biographers did not interview. I'd love to hear about your own reading of books about Marilyn Monroe and why she remains such a cynosure.  Read More 
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Dana Andrews in A Walk in the Sun

I'm participating in the Dana Andrews blogathon at Classic Movie man. I've chosen to discuss his work in A Walk in the Sun. Dana plays a corporal taking over from his sergeant who has broken down under the stress of war. The director, Lewis Milestone, had different actors in mind for this ensemble of soldiers, similar to what he was attempting in The Purple Heart, another WWII film starring Dana Andrews. It was that experience with Dana that made Milestone never waver in his decision to put Dana in the pivotal role of leading the men after their sergeant collapses. Dana's matter of fact nobility is often a feature of his greatest work. Near the end of the film there are unforgettable closeups of Dana as he forges relentlessly ahead--but without the usual heroics and melodrama of war films. If there has ever been a better performance in such a film I don't know what it is.  Read More 
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Celeste Holm, dead at 95

Celeste Holm in her prime

Celeste Holm just died. I know her best from her role in All About Eve where she is taken in by Eve, played by Anne Baxter, a seemingly innocent fan of Margo Channing (Bette Davis). But Baxter's Eve is cunning, and quite a contrast to Miss Caswell (Marilyn Monroe), who is on the arm of George Sanders, playing the critic Addison De Witt. It is Sanders who has that wonderful line about Miss Caswell as the graduate of the Copacabana School of Acting. I write about this wonderful film in my biography of Marilyn Monroe. I would love to get your memories of watching Celeste Holm on screen. Or--remind me of who is left from Hollywood's golden age. Olivia de Havilland still lives. So does that wonderful character actor, Norman Lloyd, who is in his late 90s and starred in two films with Dana Andrews. Lloyd, last I checked with him, was still playing doubles tennis! Read More 

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Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film

Ruth Barton.  Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful woman in Film.  University Press of Kentucky, 2010.  281p ISBN 9780813126043, $29.95  

Barton's subtitle is no exaggeration.  It pinpoints what movie producers and reviewers remarked about Lamarr (1913-2000) nearly every time they mentioned or wrote about her.  An impeccable researcher, Barton (film, Trinity College Dublin) has written an engaging biography that also serves as a history of Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1950s.  She is especially insightful about Ecstasy (1933), the scandalous film in which Lamarr appeared in the nude, establishing herself as the quintessential sexualized figure of modern cinema for nearly two decades. Read More 

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Budd Schulberg

Budd Schulberg
From time to time, I'm going to invite guest bloggers to post and to invite your comments. This time, my guest is Marion Meade, biographer of Dorothy Parker, Buster Keaton, Woody Allen, and Nathanael West. I thought of her when I saw so many references to Budd Schulberg on this blog. Below you will find an account of her firsthand experience with a very controversial subject.

BUDD, BLACKLIST, BIOGRAPHY, AND THE INTERVIEWS THAT GOT AWAY

My first meeting with Budd Schulberg took place on December 9, 1982, in midtown Manhattan, in a dark chilly apartment that appeared to be uninhabited. (A pied-a-terre, he explained.) I was surprised to be introduced to his attorney, the first time in my experience that an interview subject brought legal backup.  Read More 
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Film Noir: a new book by William Luhr

Studies of film noir have multiplied in recent years. The term has been around since about 1946, but was certainly not in use in Hollywood's heyday. When Dana Andrews was complimented on his performance in a "film noir," he responded, "What's a film noir?" Well, even if you think you know what a film noir  Read More 
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A late noir classic performance by Dana Andrews

Playing the mean husband opposite Anne Francis
Some of Dana's best work occurred in supporting roles in the 1960s, an overlooked period in his career. In Brainstorm he plays a sadistic husband, a rather unusual role for him. But he is a good villain, and Anne Francis is a good foil. I interviewed her. She remembered that he was  Read More 
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The Dana Andrews Dozen

With Joan Crawford in Daisy Kenyon
Can you name any actor in the 1940s who gave great performances in a dozen films?. Here are the Dana Andrews dozen: SWAMP WATER (very dear to a man who cared about his Southern roots), THE PURPLE HEART, WING AND A PRAYER (one of his favorite performances), THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (he was really proud of the picture and of his performance), LAURA (the film that made him a star), FALLEN ANGEL (my personal favorite), A WALK IN THE SUN, CANYON PASSAGE, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (he should have won an Academy Award for this one), DAISY KENYON, BOOMERANG, WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. Read More 
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Hollywood's Golden Age

From Laura (Gene Tierney getting the third degree)
Welcome to the Hollywood Legends Blog. I am the consulting editor for the Hollywood Legends Series, published by the University Press of Mississippi. I will be writing on the subjects of my biographies (Dana Andrews and Marilyn Monroe) but also about anyone who might qualify as a "legend," and that includes directors, producers, and  Read More 
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