WHO WEARS THE PANTS…


I’m going to steal, plagarize, imitate ( yeh, that’s the ticket… ) ~ …no, better yet: PAY HOMAGE to a feature from one of my favorite bloggers’ set-pieces: FRIDAY FOTO FOLLIES. And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hope my friend approves.

What Aurora over at ONCE UPON A SCREEN does, is post a lot of photos that illustrate a theme. She does all manner of these. Click on Audrey and see what I mean.

We have seen some of the most beautiful women in classic Hollywood wearing designs fit for a Queen…gowned by Edith Head, Irene, Givenchy, Orry-Kelly, Yves St. Laurent et al. But I’m a jeans and boots girl. Casual is my speed. I think slacks are the most comfortable, freeing thing to wear. Taking a page from Once Upon A Screen, my post is self~explanatory: WHO WEARS THE PANTS. Here are some of my favorite actresses in outfits either from a movie, photo~shoot or just lounging around. Some of you might think this look is very unfeminine. But you’d be wrong.

I’ll start with the Patron Mistresses of Pants…Dietrich and Hepburn. And Garbo. Can’t forget Garbo. Comfort Queens.

  
Dietrich                                                     Hepburn


Hepburn wears this beautiful smoking jacket lounging outfit in “Woman of the Year
( 1942 ) and it’s one of my absolute favorites.

  

Androgyny, much?

   
Top hat, white tail and tails. No one wears this better. Alright…if you must count Fred Astaire.

The Great Garbo

Ninotchka” “Anna Karenina” “Queen Christina” and for me, her greatest performance… “Camille” ~ Garbo reigned supreme in classic films of the silent and talkie era. Her mystique is unique. She wore a lot of exotic styles in her films and could carry them off. Not glamorous here, but I love her casual look:


Comfort over style

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Here are some other actresses wearing the pants off…pants.


When I was a kid and watched her in tv’s “Bewitched” I probably had little idea of the fabulous career she had as a leading character actress. My favorite performances of AGNES MOOREHEAD are “Dark Passage” “Caged” and “Magnificent Obsession.” She can cut you to the bone ( “Citizen Kane” ) ~ She wasn’t afraid to be what her character needed her to be. But she also could be a friend. Doesn’t Aggie look marvelously relaxed and youthful here?

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She didn’t care for the name, but ANN SHERIDAN was the Oomph Girl and with good reason; she had it in spades. She was Warner Bros’ glamor girl, but if they gave her half a chance, she showed ’em she could act. Whether comedy or drama, Sheridan could handle both with equal aplomb. She’s pictured here with her director Vincent Sherman, who did two pictures with her: “The Unfaithful” and “Nora Prentiss.” Look at those shades and the hair…do a pair of slacks look like it deters Vinnie? He’s at her feet. 

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Here’s my petite Force of Nature…the Queen, BETTE DAVIS. She built many a soundstage at Warner Bros. from the box office success of her films. Seeing her in pants was such an unusual thing because it’s all about dresses for women back then. I like her riding outfit in “Dark Victory.” For me, that look is prognosis positive. Oooh look, Cora Witherspoon who could play to the manor born or W.C. Fields’ wife. I also like Davis’ outfit in “The Great Lie” when she was keeping Mary Astor company while waiting for “their” baby to be born.

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CAROLE LOMBARD ~ 1930’s icon. She was much more than a screwball comedienne. See her in “Vigil in the Night” “In Name Only” or “Made for Each Other.” But gosh darn it, it’s “My Man Godfrey” and “Twentieth Century” that cements her in our memory almost ninety years later. Looks like she’s talking to the great Lubitsch and comfortable doing it. Could it be… or not to be?

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CLAUDETTE COLBERT could wear the hell out of clothes with that petite little figure of hers. ( Her wedding gown in “It Happened One Night” is to die for! ) She had a great career in film ( “The Palm Beach Story” “Midnight” and “Since You Went Away“…to name a few ) but look at her here at home, chilling out…just as you’d expect from Cleopatra.

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One of my all~time favorite movie stars is DORIS DAY. I am just over the silvery moon about her. Pretty nautical here in her decidedly 1940’s stylized look. What a career she’s had ( comedy/drama/sing/dance ) working with some of the great leading men in Hollywood like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, David Niven, Jack LemmonKirk Douglas…and three guys name Jim: Garner ~ Cagney ~ Stewart. She could also wear her clothes, without them wearing her, whether she’s Calamity Jane or a suburban housewife.  She could do anything. Really. 

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There she is, A girl’s best friend. The great EVE ARDEN who comes in a movie with five minutes of screen time and out she memorably exits, screen left. Here she is in her “Stagedoor” chill. The woman can wear anything. She’s as statuesque as a super model and as sharp as a laser beam. See “Mildred Pierce” if you need proof.

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GINGER ROGERS ~ She could do comedy, drama and dance her *** off. She can put on the glam with the best of ’em ( have you seen her outfits w/dance partner Fred Astaire? ) Doesn’t she look great in these wide legged pants? I always found her to be a natural onscreen.

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HARLOW in satin…is a dream. In slacks…sort of like you and me. I mean, if you and me were glamorous movie star bombshells being relaxed. My favorite films of hers are “Bombshell” and “Libeled Lady” and of course, “Dinner At Eight.” Harlow…you were gone too soon.

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This is my favorite look of IRENE DUNNE’s. She’s on set of “A Guy Named Joe.” She had a nice slacks outfit in “The Awful Truth” too. Never over the top, her talent is always under the radar.

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JENNIFER JONES looks rather pensive. A far cry from her “Portrait of Jennie” “Duel in the Sun” “Madame Bovary” looks. People blow hot or cold over Jones, but I think she’s a fine underrated actress able to exhibit wells of emotion. Her trying to retrieve her love letters from a burning fire brings me to tears. xoxoxo these pants and boots!

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KEEPING UP WITH THE JOANS ~

   

Blonde in the 30’s, brunette in the 40’s. The great underestimated JOAN BENNETT. She can fit any place: on safari or a scarlet street or be the mother of a bride. Yes her sister Constance is known as THE fashion plate. But little sister Joan’s not bad. She’s stylish as diamonds with attitude for days. Whew!!

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She looks like she stepped out of 2018 with those shades and jumpsuit. What can I say about her. No one wore clothes like her. They say no one loved being a movie star more than JOAN CRAWFORD. Well if you’re going to be good at something…

Her career spans decades. I’m partial to her Oscar-winning role in “Mildred Pierce.” But she was good in “Rain“, “Daisy Kenyon” and with Gable. Hell, she’s a STAR!

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“THE LOOK”

You know how to whistle don’t you? LAUREN BACALL is worth whistling for. She was known as “The Look” in her modeling days, and boy she had it. She was never the frilly feminine type. Very tailored. Pants suit her, don’cha think? I like her in “Dark Passage” and “Written on the Wind.” I dunno…I kind of think she was never really given a chance to bloom as an actress. Perhaps not getting good scripts. Perhaps overshadowed by her more famous husband. Perhaps there was more to Life for her. In movies, she always seems down~to~earth, no nonsense; a little intimidating. If you approach her, you’d better bring it. 

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You can’t get more doe-like, more feminine than Loretta Young. Even in this staged photo shoot, she’s a vision. ( Pssst! See her strong performances in “The Stranger” and “Midnight Mary.” )

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For this flaming redhead, comedy or drama, gowns or slacks…LUCILLE BALL could do and wear it all with ease. Yeh, I love Lucy.

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This is MERLE OBERON playing George Sand in “A Song to Remember.” And I have to tell you, I’m floored by this costume. Isn’t it smart? Merle, a unique looking beauty, hasn’t made movies were so memorable other than the towering “Wuthering Heights.” ( I personally like her and Dana Andrews in “Night Song” ). My claim to fame is when I went to see the throngs of stars attend the premiere of “The Godfather” ( 1972 ) back in NYC, I saw Merle Oberon with Robert Wolders. Very few people were excited by seeing her. Boy, I was.

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One of my favorites…PAULETTE GODDARD walks with her beau, Charlie…swinging her shades. Looking sassy, stylish, comfortable and nonchalant. I understand her collection of jewels and paintings is unparalleled in Hollywood. Another actress with not a stellar filmography, her role in “The Women” is a standout. My friend Wendy writes a wonderful essay for my blog on Goddard I urge you to read.

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The Love Goddess is looking mighty casual here in a pair of slacks. Hell, I confess…I don’t care WHAT  RITA HAYWORTH  wears.

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MY STANY!!!!

These are my two favorite fotos of Stany. One she looks younger than one remembers her, and the other she’s so disheveled in “My Reputation” ( 1946 ), her hair and plaid jacket just kill me. 

    

But the theme is pants…

Her career is legendary. But get a load of that blouse, the belt, those leopard print shoes, her attitude. That’s BARBARA STANWYCK alright. See her hand in her pocket? Damn, she’s ready to kick ass, and she ain’t takin’ names either. Elegant.

     

Thank you all for perusing my Friday Foto Follies. I might try this again in the future with another theme I’ve gathered along my way. Once again, I tip my hat to Aurora over at Once Upon A Screen who can REALLY show that a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out her photo galleries by clicking on this photo of 40’s horror Queen, Evelyn Ankers:

…and this?  Oh…it’s just my indulgence. I’m an Evelyn Ankers fan:

[   H  O  M  E   ]

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TORCH SINGER ( 1933 )

I don’t know why Colbert was Oscar’d for IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT when clearly, her performance the year before in TORCH SINGER ( 1933 ) puts her through her paces royally, and shows her off to good advantage in a grand way.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! FOR GOSH SAKES…SPOILERS!

TORCH SINGER II
CLAUDETTE COLBERT

In “Torch Singer” Colbert plays a pregnant unmarried woman who has to give up her child, SALLY, for adoption. We see the repercussions of her decision as she goes from hopeless and helpless, to ‘torch singer’ ( based on life experience…and a very clever montage showing her move UP the show biz ladder ), to becoming a radio diva. Colbert does a good job in each phase of her life. Underneath it all, is a woman missing her child.

TORCH SINGER V TORCH SINGER XI TORCH SINGER XIV

She figures out a way how she can find her daughter, but gets depressed when faced with the possibility the child might already be dead. She starts to spiral downward as only alcohol can lead you. Colbert goes through a slew of emotions in this movie like a champ, very believably. She’s not showy or actress-y. Her line readings are very down-to-earth and natural. Oh….and she wears the hell out of her outfits. She’s very glamorous. How come that’s news to me? Why am I the last to know? No one tells me any thing!

TORCH SINGER XXII  TORCH SINGER XIX

Mildred Washington plays her maid and confidante, Carrie. Now bear with me while I digress from the movie for a moment, thanx! However brief her appearance, it is apparent Washington has personality. She is saucy, not subservient. Young and attractive too. If it were another time in American history, she could even be construed as a…friend ( ? ); she could be more of a friend in the context of those times than the Louise Beavers character in “Imitation of Life.” ( To be fair to Ms. Beavers, I direct you to watch her moment opposite Una Merkel in “Bombshell” at the start of that movie. ( There’s fire there. )

TORCH SINGER X  TORCH SINGER XII TORCH SINGER XIII

TORCH SINGER XXV TORCH SINGER XXX

Washington was a very popular singer and personality in show business. And even with the constraints of the time, might have really broken through in movies in a big way. Read about her here on IMDB and her tragic death at 28.

A scene that positively shocks and blows away 21st century me is when a hopeful Colbert goes to visit a little girl named Sally, who’s written into the radio station to try and win a doll. The child is not hers, but the scene shocks me as it plays out. I must say, Colbert is very loving to children in her movies. ( Well..at least in the two movies I’ve seen of hers recently; this one and Imitation of Life. ) She’s very tender with them, and I hadn’t really known that before. I know I know…where have I been.

What’s also interesting for me is the bifurcation of Colbert’s character. At night she works in a nightclub, torching the blues like nobody’s business, and she does it in backless slinky sparkly shiny satin-y tight-fitting outfits. ( Yeehaw, let’s hear it for pre-code! ) By day, in a fluke, she’s a wholesome children’s radio show storyteller. She also sees that her radio backers want her for just her Voice and not what’s going on in her internally. She’s a commodity and that’s not quite sitting well with her. I like how she goes from mocking a song, to seeing its meaning…all within the one reading.

TORCH SINGER III   TORCH SINGER XVI

There are also two men in her life: the one who runs away ( David Manners ) and a radio program manager ( Ricardo Cortez – who doesn’t hit a woman ONCE in this movie. Boo! ) It’s just too neatly tied in a predictable bow for me when Manners returns and wins her over. ( I usually like Manners but this time, I wanted her to be with Cortez. ) 

What probably would have been unpalatable for the 1930’s audience, was if Colbert re-connected with her child but, chose NOT to be with the the child’s father ( Manners. ) That would have been radical choice for Colbert’s Mimi Benton to make.

TORCH SINGER XV

TORCH SINGER XX

I like the way Cortez is in the movie. There’s a hint of shadiness in him, not so much white bread. But I might be reading into it because he IS the same guy who mistreats Loretta Young in Midnight Mary ).

tTORCH SINGER XXIV

 TORCH SINGER XXXI

I guess for me, Colbert suffers from what Loretta Young suffers…suffered for me. It’s like they had two different personas. I discover them in the 1940’s, when they were scrubbed maternally clean without a trace of the ‘hotcha’ in ‘em. But again, like my friend told me, it’s in the 30’s, the pre-code 30’s, where Colbert’s slinky and sexy and uses that dulcet voice to great advantage. 1930’s look out. I’m-a comin’. Heck, I’m here with these series of posts on 1930’s films. I’m taking a time machine. I’m ready to get my preconceived notions turned inside out on Claudette Colbert.

Wait…what?!!! What the heck just happened to me?

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Claudette Colbert passed away July 30th, 1996. Please, check out the video from film maker Sarah. The clips chosen, music, editing and poignancy her video evokes, moves me to tears. And yes…you’ll find Colbert featured amongst the clips. Of course…

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THE SMILING LIEUTENANT-1931

Ra-ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-tahhhhh! WHEW!!! I need a cigarette. STAT!!!

SEX BLOGATHON LOGO COLLAGE

Well wouldn’t you if you were participating in the Sex Blogathon? Yep. Click on this banner and dive
<—into the smorgasbord of sex and desire in classic cinema by bloggers all over the blogosphere. My contribution will be the Ernst Lubitsch 1931 film THE SMILING LIEUTENANT.”
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SMILING ( V )I first saw this movie at TCM’s 2015 Classic Film Festival this past March. It’s the pre-code era where folks slept in single beds (!!!) and there was a certain frankness to things. This whole movie, from soup-to- nuts, is an open unabashed love fest to sex, desire and love, with no shame and no guilt to muck up the fun. It’s a soufflé of sexy silly fun all whipped together. With songs and metaphors thrown in all over the place, you know “exactly” what they were getting at, getting on and getting into. This frothy, sexy farce drips with the Gallic charm of a very young Maurice Chevalier. Forget him in “Gigi” – an old man thanking heaven for little girls. ( Wha’?! ) You’ve got to see him as a young man; a randy lieutenant, whose smile and wink gets him into loads of trouble, both good and bad.

Imbued with the masterful Lubitsch Touch, the gossamer plot of “The Smiling Lieutenant” is stitched together with the sheerest threads. Chevalier is a Lieutenant in the King’s Guard. While on parade, he sends an ill-timed smile and wink across the courtyard to his lover, Claudette Colbert. Just as he does that, the King’s procession rides by and the princess
( Miriam Hopkins ) mistakenly thinks that wink is intended for her.

SMILING ( IV )  SMILING ( XI )

To say, Chevalier likes sex in this movie, would be an understatement. He rolls in it, swims in it, is satiated by it. When the movie opens, a smiling blonde cutie is leaving his apartment in the morning. Lubitsch takes us inside where Chevalier takes us into his confidence and jauntily sings a song about being a boudoir brigadier. He’s positively giddy. He mugs. He’s all over himself. Moments later, he’s visited by a fellow soldier
( Charlie Ruggles ) who is married but smitten and dying for a rendezvous with violin band leader Colbert. We have a married man openly lusting for someone other than his wife. The film doesn’t judge him. He just doesn’t get the girl.

SMILING  ( I )  SMILING ( II )

Chevalier steals Colbert right from under Ruggles. ( He never really stood a chance, did he? ) There’s a bit of haggling and negotiating between Chevalier and Colbert about her staying the night with him.

HE:   “Don’t make me wait twenty-four hours. I’m so hungry.”

SHE: “First tea. Then dinner. And then…maybe breakfast.”

Chevalier’s on top once negotiations’re complete.

SMILING ( III )

It’s breakfast time, and their cute little “morning after” song is fraught with metaphoric lyrics like: “You put the magic in the muffin.”   Ahhhh oui. Bon appétit. The audience looooved it.

SMILING ( XV )

Chevalier has to make it right with the King ( played so wonderfully jolly  by George Barbier ) and the Princess and explain himself to them. Lubitsch just digs the hole deeper for Chevalier. Chevalier wins over the Princess’ dour, middle-aged ladies-in-waiting by being able to spell the name of their country:
F-L-A-U-S-E-N-T-H-U-R-M.

 

SMILING ( XIII )   SMILING ( XIV )

 “What a speller.”

I’m telling you, Chevalier is just catnip to the ladies. He’s won them over. Pheromones waft through the Royal Palace. Hopkins is hooked, lined and sinkered in love ( or is that lust ) with Chevalier. There’s a cute cross-cutting scene between Hopkins extolling his charms with her posse, while Colbert experiences his charms up close and personal. A lot of kissing and hugging and lap sitting. Yaaaaay, pre-code!

The machinations and snowball effect of this crazy smiling plot force Chevalier to make an “honest” woman of Hopkins by marrying her. ( In other words, he’s just hoodwinked! ) But he will not seal the deal on their wedding night, much to Hopkins’ frustration. What a topsy turvy world Lubitsch puts us in.

SMILING ( XX )

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make
him drink. That’s as far as I go. That’s my limit.”

He does not love her; and with her bloomers, Princess Leia hair buns and sheltered ways …does not desire her. He hooks up again with Colbert with a most ingenious ruse. Complete with orchestra to accompany a night of love, they get to putting more magic in the muffins.

   SMILING ( I )    SMILING ( XVII )

If music be the food of love, uhmmmm, well, you know what to do…

SMILING ( XXII ) SMILING ( XXI )

SMILING ( XXIII )

NOW he can come back home a happy satisfied man. The guy is walking on air again. Lubitsch is killing me. Chevalier’s stand-offish manner with his wife and father-in-law changes to  profuse happiness, which is promptly misinterpreted by the poor and clueless King and Princess. ( Look at that face. I’m telling you, I am in love with the Daddy King and would love to play checkers with him.  )

SMILING ( XXIV )“He called me Daddy.”

Colbert has sex without marriage – Hopkins has marriage without sex. One is protected, the other…without protection.

SMILING ( XIX ) SMILING ( XVI )

We’ve seen Wife vs. Mistress scenarios since 1931 but Lubitsch puts a refreshing take on it. First they fight, then they commisserate and then:

SMILING ( XXV ) SMILING ( XXX ) SMILING ( XXXI )

SMILING ( XXXII )

“Let me see your underwear.”

See…the one thing women bond over: clothes. Bloomers, underwear and such. This is a great fun scene, the transference of power from Colbert to Hopkins. Colbert makes a jazzbaby out of Hopkins by jazzing up her lingerie ( rhyme it with melody ) and making her the woman Chevalier would desire. She teaches and trains her well. ( Mmm…those lessons. )

SMILING ( XXXIII ) SMILING ( XXXIV ) SMILING ( XXXV )

SMILING ( XXXVI )

“Girls who start with breakfast, don’t usually
stay for supper. Take good care of our Niki.”

Colbert generously and painfully gives him up. I didn’t quite see that coming; the generosity of Colbert to do this. I think I’m still at a lost as to why she does this. She does love Niki.

SMILING ( XXXVIII ) SMILING ( XXXIX )

It’s a very poignant  scene; Colbert’s very expressive as she writes her Dear John letter and leaves her garter and apartment key. These two gals could become friends but I think this is the end for them. Colbert’s walking away puts a lump in my throat.

But Lubitsch switches the tone on us once again.

SMILING ( XXXX ) SMILING ( XXXXI )

There will be no checkers tonight. Lets see how apt a pupil Hopkins is…

SMILING ( XXXXIV )

When Chevalier sees the transformed Hopkins, he is deeeeeeeeelighted. She’s sexy wearing a short cute little negligee, smoking cigarettes and playing a modern tune on the piano. He can’t believe his eyes, gets fortified with some alcohol, and finally runs down to Hopkins’ Galatea, to reap the benefits of Colbert’s Pygmalion. He’s a happy camper. They both are.

Now if I were to go by the Letter of the Law with “The Smiling Lieutenant” instead of the Spirit of the Law, I could get my dander up. Chevalier uses women, marries under false pretenses instead of telling the truth, and cheats on his wife. He suffers from the Peter Pan syndrome: he won’t grow up, juvenile, immature, wants what he wants. Is he interested in love or just his own pleasure? Is he simply led around by his own hap-piness? ( Didja see what I did there? ) Why do Colbert AND Hopkins become allies instead of competitors all for Chevalier’s pleasure and neither of them kick his butt to the curb?

Unh unh!!!

THAT WOULD BE CRAZY!!! What am I, NUTS?!! The Letter of the Law? HA! WHY would I cut off my nose to spite my face, instead of just going along with the flow and Spirit of Lubitsch.

SMILING ( XXXXV )

And we come full circle. He’s at his bedroom door talking to us again; mugging and singing to us about how happy he is. Inside we hear Hopkins chime in with a “ Ra-ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-tahhhhh!” And you know she’s happy too. This was a light fun movie with its double entendres and metaphors and all manners of whoopeeee…the movie doesn’t pass judgment on any one, so why should we? “The Smiling Lieutenant” is good clean sexy fun. Ernst Lubitsch says so.

LUBITSCH & MIRIAM
Lubitsch with his “Design for Living” stars Cooper, March and Hopkins

Don’t stop here folks. If you’re curious about films like The Long Hot Summer”  “Design for Living” “She Done Him Wrong” “Born To Kill” Pillow Talk “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and many more films, click this link—> The Sex ( Now That I Have Your Attention ) Blogathon for more. This will be our secret. Don’t worry. I won’t tell…    😉

 

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