1930s, Musical

Dance of her Hands by Tilly Losch.

Dance of her Hands by Tilly Losch circa 1933.

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1950s, Adaptation, Drama, Musical

Carmen Jones.

Carmen jones.jpeg

Carmen Jones is a 1954 American musical film starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, produced and directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Harry Kleiner is based on the libretto for the 1943 stage production of the same name by Oscar Hammerstein II, which was inspired by an adaptation of the 1845 Prosper Mérimée novella Carmen by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. Hammerstein also wrote the lyrics to music composed by Georges Bizet for his 1875 opera Carmen.

Carmen Jones was a CinemaScope motion picture that had begun shooting within the first 12 months of Twentieth Century Fox’s venture in 1953 to CinemaScope Technicolor as its main production mode. The historical costume drama, the western and the war film had filled Fox’s production schedule and this all-black musical drama based on an established and popular opera would surely be a box-office success, as proved true. Carmen Jones was released in October 1954, exactly one year and one month after Fox’s first CinemaScope venture, the Biblical epic The Robe, had entered the motion picture houses.

Set during World War II, the story focuses on Carmen Jones, a vixen who works in a parachute factory in North Carolina. When she is arrested for fighting with a co-worker who reported her for arriving late for work, foreman Sgt. Brown assigns young soldier Joe to deliver her to the authorities, much to the dismay of Joe’s fiancée Cindy Lou, who had agreed to marry him during his leave.

Joe: Thanks, but I don’t drink.

Carmen Jones: Boy, if the army was made up of nothin’ but soldiers like you, war wouldn’t do nobody no good.

While en route, Carmen suggests she and Joe stop for a meal and a little romance, and his refusal intensifies her determination to seduce him. When their army jeep ends up in the river, she suggests they spend the night at her grandmother’s house nearby and continue their journey by train the following day, and that night Joe succumbs to Carmen’s advances. The next morning he awakens to find a note in which she says although she loves him she is unable to deal with time in jail and is running away.

Joe is locked in the stockade for allowing his prisoner to escape, and Cindy Lou arrives just as a rose from Carmen is delivered to him, prompting her to leave abruptly. Having found work in a Louisiana nightclub, Carmen awaits his release. One night champion prizefighter Husky Miller enters with an entourage and introduces himself to Carmen, who expresses no interest in him. Husky orders his manager Rum Daniels to offer her jewelry, furs, and an expensive hotel suite if she and her friends Frankie and Myrt accompany him to Chicago, but she declines the offer. Just then, Joe arrives and announces he must report to flying school immediately. Angered, Carmen decides to leave with Sgt. Brown, who also has appeared on the scene, and Joe severely beats him. Realizing he will be sentenced to a long prison term for hitting his superior, Joe flees to Chicago with Carmen.

Carmen Jones: ‘Scuse my dust, gentlemen. The air’s gettin’ mighty unconditioned ’round here.

While Joe remains hidden in a shabby rented room, Carmen secretly visits Husky’s gym to ask Frankie for a loan, but she insists she has no money of her own. Carmen returns to the boarding house with a bag of groceries, and Joe questions how she paid for them. The two argue, and she goes to Husky’s hotel suite to play cards with her friends. When she draws the nine of spades, she interprets it as a premonition of impending doom and descends into a quagmire of drink and debauchery.

Cindy Lou arrives at Husky’s gym in search of Carmen just before Joe appears. Ignoring his former sweetheart, he orders Carmen to leave with him and threatens Husky with a knife when he tries to intervene. Carmen helps Joe escape the military police, but during Husky’s big fight, after he wins the match, Joe finds Carmen in the crowd and pulls her into a storage room, where he begs her to return to him. When she rebuffs him, Joe strangles Carmen to death just before the military police arrive to apprehend him for desertion.

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1920s, 1930s, 1940s, Drama, Musical

Theresa Harris.

Theresa Harris- She is a famous actress who refused to be given roles that portrayed black women negatively. She is one of many black people who stood up for the "thingification" of black bodies that came from fetishes.:

Harris was born on New Year’s Eve 1906 (some sources indicate 1909) in Houston, Texas to Isaiah (1879–1956) and Mable (1883–1964) Harris, both of whom were former sharecroppers from Louisiana.

Harris’ family relocated to Southern California when she was 11 years old. After graduating Jefferson High School, she studied at the UCLA Conservatory of Music and Zoellner’s Conservatory of Music. She then joined the African American musical comedy theatre troupe, the Lafayette Players.

Theresa Harris - early black film star.:

In 1929, she traveled to Hollywood where she embarked on an acting career. She made her film debut in Thunderbolt, singing the song “Daddy Won’t You Please Come Home”. As she entered the 1930s she found herself playing maids to fictitious Southern belles, socialites and female molls played by such actresses as Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Sylvia Sidney, Frances Dee, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, Esther Williams, Thelma Todd, Kay Francis, and Barbara Stanwyck. These parts, however, were sometimes uncredited. She also floated around studios doing bit-parts, usually at Warner Bros. or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Aside from maids, she also specialized in playing blues singers, waitresses, tribal women, prostitutes, and hat check girls.

Harris had a featured role as a friend of Jean Harlow in MGM’s Hold Your Man (1932), also starring Clark Gable. In 1933, she starred as Chico in the Warner Bros.Pre-code production of Baby Face, starring Barbara Stanwyck. That same year, Harris starred in a substantial role opposite Ginger Rogers in Professional Sweetheart. As Rogers’ character’s maid, Harris’ character subs for Rogers’ character as a singer on the radio. Despite the fact that Harris’ character was a major point for the story’s plot development, she was uncredited for the role.

Throughout the 1930s, Harris played many uncredited parts in films such as Horse Feathers (1932), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Mary Stevens, M.D. (1933) and Morning Glory (1933). She also played Bette Davis’s maid Zette in the film Jezebel (1938). In 1937, she appeared in the race film Bargain With Bullets opposite Ralph Cooper for Million Dollar Productions which was owned by Cooper. While doing promotion for the film, Harris spoke about her frustration over the difficulty African American actors faced in the film industry stating, “I never had the chance to rise about the role of maid in Hollywood movies. My color was against me anyway you looked at it. The fact that I was not “hot” stamped me either as uppity or relegated me to the eternal role of stooge or servant. […] My ambition is to be an actress. Hollywood had no parts for me.” She also praised Ralph Cooper for starting a production company that produced films starring African American actors. She said, “We have nothing to lose in the development of an all-colored motion picture company. The competition will make Hollywood perk up and produce better films with our people in a variety of roles.” Harris continued to lobby for better parts but found few opportunities within Hollywood. In the 1939 movie, “Tell No Tales” she was credited for her part as Ruby, the wife of a murdered man. Harris played an emotional scene with Melvin Douglas at the funeral.

In addition to films, Harris also performed in many radio programs including Hollywood Hotel. Harris was often paired with Eddie Rochester Anderson, who portrayed her on-screen boyfriend. They appeared together in Buck Benny Rides Again (1940) and What’s Buzzin’ Cousin (1943). In Buck Benny Rides Again, Harris and Anderson performed the musical number, “My, My,” where they sing and dance tap, classical, Spanish, and swing. She also appeared in several prominent roles for RKO Pictures as she was a favorite of RKO producer Val Lewton who routinely cast African American actors in non-stereotypical roles. In 1942, Lewton cast Harris as a sarcastic waitress in Cat People, followed by roles in I Walked with a Zombie (1943), Phantom Lady (1944), and Strange Illusion (1945).

Actress Theresa Harris as she appeared in the 1948 film, “The Velvet Touch,” which starred Rosalind Russell. Ms. Harris was the inspiration behind Lynn Nottage’s play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” which starred Sanaa Lathan. From Donald Bogle’s Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood: “Harris - who was both outspoken and highly intelligent - didn’t mince words about the plight of colored actresses. She told Fay M. Jackson, of the California Eag:

During the 1950s, Harris appeared several times on television on such shows as Lux Video Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Letter to Loretta. She made her last film appearance in an uncredited role in The Gift of Love in 1958. Harris later married a doctor and retired from acting, living comfortably after having carefully invested the money she made during her career in the movies.

On October 8, 1985, Harris (then known as Theresa Robinson) died of undisclosed causes in Inglewood, California. She was buried in Angelus-Rosedale Cemeteryin Los Angeles, California.

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1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1960s, Fashion, Musical, Silent Era

Lili Marlene

I am at heart, a gentleman

Marlene Dietrich, 20th century film and fashion icon most famously known for her provocative, often-times androgynous film roles. She remained enormously popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself.:

Marlene Dietrich the Berlin born actress is remembered for many things one being her trademark suits and how she would wear masculine clothing of course this is nothing new the fashion began in the 1920’s that some young women pushed aside the tradition of wearing a dress simply because they were a woman and Marlene fully embraced this, one could argue if we were to give her a modern label that she was almost gender fluid.

Dietrich:

Marlene Dietrich as the cabaret singer Amy Jolly in the film Morocco (1930):

Openly bisexual Marlene married Rudolf Sieber on May 17th 1926 he was a Bohemia born assistant director their marriage would last until his death in 1976 but after five years of marriage and one daughter together the couple split, she never remarried but did conduct affairs with both men and women by her own admission we can assume that she actually preferred women to men but I also assume that Marlene wouldn’t have labelled herself as Lesbian or even Bi.

Sex is much better with a woman, but then one can’t live with a woman!

Damn, but Dietrich had style... Cross-dressing with effortless panache, leaving a trail of guys and gals panting in her wake.:

She became pregnant in 1938 as a result of an affair with James Stewart during the filming of Destry Rides Again (1939) but she underwent an abortion. Stewart did not even know she was pregnant another of her acting conquests was Gary Cooper, despite the constant presence on the set of the temperamental Mexican actress Lupe Vélez, with whom Cooper was having a romance. Vélez once said: “If I had the opportunity to do so, I would tear out Marlene Dietrich’s eyes.”.In 1938, Dietrich met and began a relationship with the writer Erich Maria Remarque, and in 1941, the French actor and military hero Jean Gabin. Their relationship ended in the mid-1940s. She also had an affair with the Cuban-American writer Mercedes de Acosta, who was Greta Garbo’s periodic lover. Her last great passion, when Dietrich was in her 50s, appears to have been for the actor Yul Brynner, with whom she had an affair that lasted more than a decade; still, her love life continued well into her 70s. She counted George Bernard Shaw, John F. Kennedy and John Wayne among her conquests. Dietrich maintained her husband and his mistress first in Europe and later on a ranch in San Fernando Valley, California.

Marlene Dietrich:

Gary Cooper was neither intelligent nor cultured. Just like the other actors, he was chosen for his physique, which, after all, was more important than an active brain.

Dietrich on her one time lover Gary Cooper

Marlene Dietrich: Effortlessly blended glamour and menswear in a time when women rarely wore pants. #benefitglam:

From the early 1950s until the mid-1970s, Dietrich worked almost exclusively as a highly paid cabaret artist, performing live in large theatres in major cities worldwide.

In 1953, Dietrich was offered a then-substantial $30,000 per week to appear live at the Sahara Hotel  on the Las Vegas Strip. The show was short, consisting only of a few songs associated with her. Her daringly sheer “nude dress”—a heavily beaded evening gown of silk soufflé, which gave the illusion of transparency—designed by Jean Louis, attracted a lot of publicity. This engagement was so successful that she was signed to appear at the Café de Paris in London the following year; her Las Vegas contracts were also renewed.

Marlene Dietrich: another iconic tomboy of yesteryear--when this was much harder to get away with.:

he would often perform the first part of her show in one of her body-hugging dresses and a swansdown coat, and change to top hat and tails for the second half of the performance. This allowed her to sing songs usually associated with male singers, like “One for My Baby” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”.

“She … transcends her material,” according to Peter Bogdanovich. “Whether it’s a flighty old tune like ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby’ … a schmaltzy German love song, ‘Das Lied ist Aus’ or a French one ‘La Vie en Rose’, she lends each an air of the aristocrat, yet she never patronises … A folk song, ‘Go ‘Way From My Window’ has never been sung with such passion, and in her hands ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ is not just another anti-war lament but a tragic accusation against us all.”

Francis Wyndham offered a more critical appraisal of the phenomenon of Dietrich in concert. He wrote in 1964: “What she does is neither difficult nor diverting, but the fact that she does it at all fills the onlookers with wonder … It takes two to make a conjuring trick: the illusionist’s sleight of hand and the stooge’s desire to be deceived. To these necessary elements (her own technical competence and her audience’s sentimentality) Marlene Dietrich adds a third—the mysterious force of her belief in her own magic. Those who find themselves unable to share this belief tend to blame themselves rather than her.”

Marlena Dietrich:

Marlene Dietrich with her husband, Rudolf Sieber, at a train station in Paris. Both arrived from Hollywood, May 20th, 1930: gdfalksen.com:

[after returning to West Germany in 1960] The Germans and I no longer speak the same language.

MARLENE DIETRICH "You can bet your life the man's in the navy" Seven Sinners 1940. Directed by Tay Garnett. From a 2001 Marlene Dietrich German calendar. (follow minkshmink on pinterest):

I have a child and I have made a few people happy. That is all.

Dietrich in Disguise:

Marlene-Dietrich:

Dietrich was made an honorary citizen of Berlin on 16 May 2002. Translated from German, her memorial plaque reads

Berlin Memorial Plaque

“Tell me, where have all the flowers gone”
Marlene Dietrich
27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992
Actress and Singer
She was one of the few German actresses that attained international significance.
Despite tempting offers by the Nazi regime, she emigrated to the USA and became an American citizen.
In 2002, the city of Berlin posthumously made her an honorary citizen.

“I am, thank God, a Berliner.”

Marlene Dietrich wearing white tail and top hat at ball for foreign press, photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, Berlin, Germany, 1929:

 

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