THE ORIGINAL ‘LAURA’ PORTRAIT

ROUBEN MAMOULIAN was the first director of LAURA, with OTTO PREMINGER producing for Twentieth Century Fox.

Both men had their own ideas about how the story should be told , until eventually things came to a head and DARRYL ZANUCK fired Mamoulian.

Preminger took over the direction.

But in the time that Rouben Mamoulian was the director, sets were designed and made, and most interestingly, Mamoulian had a portrait of  ‘Laura’ painted by the artist who became his wife, AZALIA NEWMAN (1902- 1999).

That is the portrait in the still below.

 

Looking at it in closeup, it  doesn’t look much like GENE TIERNEY, but the initial casting for the lead role was JENNIFER JONES. The story goes that Ms. Jones didn’t turn up for work on the first day of shooting.

In his autobiography , Otto Preminger said:

“When I scrapped Mamoulian’s sets,the portrait of  Laura went with them.”

According to Preminger, “Portraits rarely photographed well.” So Gene Tierney was photographed by studio photographer Frank Powolny. The photo portrait was enlarged and painted over to make it appear like an original painting.

 

Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews

Boy, is McPherson (Dana Andrews) in for a surprise!

Mamoulian wanted LAIRD CREGAR as Lydecker, but CLIFTON WEBB proved to be inspired casting.

JOHN HODIAK and GEORGE RAFT were considered for the part of McPherson. It turned out to be one of DANA ANDREWS’ s most memorable roles.

 

I was interested to find out more about the artist, Azalia Newman who painted many Hollywood stars including JOAN CRAWFORD and CAROLE LOMBARD.

 

Azalia  Newman with her painting of Joan Crawford

 

The finished portrait of Joan Crawford for THE LAST OF MRS CHEYNEY.

 

 

Azalia Newman, with Carole Lombard posing for her.

Ms Newman did artwork for a large format magazine called CINEMA ARTS which only lasted three issues in 1937. While most fan magazines were 10 cents at the time, Cinema Arts was 50 cents and averaged 100 pages.

It has been described as “the most beautiful and elegant of all film magazines.”

The covers of the three issues are shown below.

First issue of CINEMA ARTS, with Garbo on the cover.

 

Second issue, July 1937. Katharine Hepburn,on cover

 

 

Final issue. Sept.1937. Joan Crawford cover.

 

 

Rouben Mamoulian

 

 

Otto Preminger

 

Gene Tierney

I found this amazing picture, with Laura holding the shotgun, on a website , http://premingernoir.co

An alternative ending to the film was shot in which Laura finds the gun in the clock and she hides it, then goes to Lydecker to warn him to get away before the police catch him. She feels she owes him for all he has done for her -even though he tried to kill her – and did kill the other girl!

In 1955, TV’s “The Twentieth Century Hour” had a version of LAURA, with GEORGE  SANDERS as Lydecker, ROBERT STACK as McPherson, and Dana Wynter as Laura.

 

What  iconic Hollywood  memorabilia – that portrait, and the clock in Laura’s apartment.

Where are they now, I wonder.

 

JANE WYMAN INTERVIEW

You Tube can be a treasure trove for vintage Hollywood fans.

Recently I’ve come across some interesting star interviews, including one with JANE WYMAN from  1996.

Jane , who would have been around 80 at the time, looked very relaxed and spoke well. Very down to earth.

Her memory was excellent as she spoke about the fact that it was WILLIAM DEMAREST ( who, in 1936, was an agent) first saw Jane in a Hollywood restaurant and got her a test at Warners.

Asked about THE YEARLING, Jane said:

“Well, it was Clarence Brown – he had seen ‘The Lost Weekend’ and he liked what he saw ….. I had to bleach my hair because the boy was blonde.    In order to get ready for The Yearling, I had to do the Cole Porter Story as a blonde……

Because of delays, I had to work on the Cole Porter Story and The Yearling at the same time, going between Warners and MGM.”

(Jane referred to NIGHT AND DAY as the Cole Porter Story.)

She also said that she didn’t wear any makeup for The Yearling.

With Claude Yarman, Gregory Peck.THE YEARLING

 

The Yearling

 

JOHNNY  BELINDA

 

In her early days at Warner Brothers, Jane said:  “We worked 6 days a week, from 9am till – eternity – you get pretty tired.

And there is so much waiting between scenes – for the lighting and the camera.The first 2 or 3 years at Warners, I did 5 pictures a year.”

 

Jane with her Oscar for JOHNNY BELINDA.

 

The Lost Weekend

 

Jane ( who had been a radio singer) and BING CROSBY did a great version of  the Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny  Mercer song, ‘In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening’ in HERE COMES THE GROOM. The song was nominated for an Oscar and the twosome were requested to sing it live at the ceremonies.For some reason Bing couldn’t do it, so Jane sang it with Danny Kaye. ( Would love to see that.)

 

With Rock Hudson.ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS

Jane had great success in her two films with ROCK HUDSON, MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS.

She said, “DOUGLAS SIRK was one  of those wonderful directors.”

And she described  Rock Hudson as a perfectionist – “Rock was so appreciative of all the help everybody gave. He made himself a star.”

Of that  scene in “All That Heaven Allows”, when her children buy her a television :

“That was the most eerie scene I’ve ever done in my life. I’m sitting there and they leave me flat , and I’m seeing my own image in the television set.  In my own personal life I said, I hope that never happens to me!”

All That Heaven Allows

 

The interviewer , a documentary maker called Carole Langer , has also interviewed Lizabeth Scott, Ann Miller, Tony Curtis and many others. Many of the interviews can be seen on the You Tube account,Soap Box  Productions.

This interview with Jane Wyman must have ran about an hour. I did wish that the questions had been more structured because Miss Wyman was ready and willing to talk at length about her career.

I’d like to catch some of the TV series Jane did from  1955 to 1958, JANE WYMAN PRESENTS  THE FIRESIDE THEATRE.

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY. VERTIGO

 

What  really happened – James Stewart , who couldn’t get to the top, is about to see ‘Madeleine’ fall from the church tower, with help from Tom Helmore as the murderous husband.

Such an elaborate plot. I still don’t understand how shop girl,Judy, was able to pull off such a great acting job.

 

Kim Novak, James Stewart

VINTAGE FILM POSTER FIND

It was reported recently that 70 vintage film posters will go on sale on 15 September,2017 at Rogers Jones & Co, auctioneers in Cardiff, Wales.

Dating from 1936 to 1941, the posters were discovered in 1985 in a house that had been owned by a cinema owner/executive. The two builders who were renovating the house, took up the carpets and found the posters which had been used as underlay!

 

Somehow, the posters were still in very good condition and included some which were 12-sheet size ie 10 feet high, billboard size.

The builders who do not wish to be named, kept the posters in plastic containers in a lock-up for 30 years, and have finally decided to sell them after realising they might have some value!

 

The posters would have been in use in several cinemas in Cardiff, such as the Capitol, the New Theatre and the Empire.

 

The auctioneers have said they were not sure about prices. I read that they will be sold as 70 separate lots, with asking prices of £30 to £150 – which seems awfully low. I wonder if any American dealers will be bidding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the above pictures are of the amazing find. I’ll be checking out the sale on the 15th. A pity no one has established who the cinema owner was. The auctioneers website is at https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/rogersjones/catalogue-id-rogers10117

I read that the twelve sheets are extremely rare. They were introduced and primarily used by Paramount during the 1940s as small billboards. Made of paper, they generally measured 9 feet by 12. It proved to be an unpopular size and was discontinued. Most of them were destroyed when being removed from the billboard.

 

 

ON THE SET 34

Joan Crawford, Clark Gable. LOVE ON THE RUN

Let’s step out!

 

Jack Lemmon, Peter Lawford. IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU

 

Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr 1959.

 

Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable,Victor Fleming.GONE WITH THE WIND.

(Man in white hat – any ideas?)

 

Howard Hawks in the side car, Cary Grant, Ann Sheridan.I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE.

 

Gene Kelly making faces, Deanna Durbin.CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY

 

Cary Grant, Raymond Massey ( pretending to be Mr. Karloff), Peter Lorre.ARSENIC AND OLD LACE.

 

Judy Garland, Fred Astaire.EASTER PARADE

 

Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis.DARK VICTORY.

 

Michael Dante, Randolph Scott, Budd Boetticher.WEST BOUND

 

 

THE LAST OUTPOST (1935)

After watching THE LAST OUTPOST, I can well understand why CARY GRANT was glad to leave Paramount .

Both he and CLAUDE RAINS deserved better. This was  Paramount trying a ‘Lives of a Bengal Lancer’ on the cheap.

The extensive stock footage used was so obviously from poorer film stock and speed.

Cary Grant, Claude Rains

There really isn’t much story. It’s set on the Eastern Front during the Great War. Rains is an intelligence officer who saves Grant’s life. Grant’s character falls for GERTRUDE MICHAEL playing his nurse who looks after him when he is injured.

Turns out she is married to Rains but hasn’t seen him for three years.

 

Cary with a moustache . Big mistake!

 

Cary Grant, Gertrude Michael.

Historyonfilm.com got it right:

“It is hard to imagine a boring movie starring Cary Grant and Claude Rains, but The Last Outpost succeeds……..it is more of a western than a WW1 movie, and the cavalry literally saves the day.”

Cary’s next film was SYLVIA SCARLETT with Katharine Hepburn and George Cukor. For the next two decades, he became a screen legend.

Another ten years , and Cary and Claude would do NOTORIOUS . I wonder if The Last Outpost ever came up in their conversations!

 

 

 

 

DOES ANYONE STILL WEAR A HAT?

 

Composer Stephen Sondheim wrote a song called “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the stage musical , “Company. ” It was first sung, very much in the style of Eve Arden , by Elaine Stritch.

So here is Eve in some of her hat extravaganzas!

 

 

With Eleanor Parker. The Voice of the Turtle

 

Did Eve ever smile? She always had that quizzical look as if she’s thinking, ‘ Are you serious!’

 

 

And why not have a personalised door mat recommended by Our Miss Brooks.