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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ETHEL BARRYMORE: “NIGHT SONG”

BARRYMORE.

Maurice & Georgiana Drew Barrymore
Maurice Barrymore and wife Georgiana Drew Barrymore

The name alone is regal. They were the most prestigious acting family America has ever produced. The Barrymore name harkens back to near the end of the 19th century, the Drew name goes back to the beginning of the 19th century and the Lane name goes back to 18th century Ireland…all in the same lineage.

But the crux of the family…the siblings who truly brought the family name into the 20th century, the siblings who appeared in that new medium called motion pictures are: LIONEL, JOHN and ETHEL BARRYMORE.

LIONEL BARRYMORE ( YOUNG ) JOHN BARRYMORE ( YOUNG ) ETHEL ( YOUNG - I )

BARRYMORE BANNER ( III )

I am so pleased to have my writing included in “THE BARRYMORE TRILOGY BLOGATHON” hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood. Clicking this banner on the right, gives you access to other writers’ takes on this illustrious family, either biographically or career-wise. For me, participating in this blogathon gives me the excuse and impetus to read and write about the middle child and my favorite Barrymore: ETHEL.

Ethel Barrymore, born today ( August 15th, 1879 – June 18th, 1959 ), is the only daughter of Maurice and Georgiana Drew Barrymore.

ETHEL ( YOUNG )JOHN BARRYMORE ( PROFILE )I imagine her brothers were more wildly well-known in the movies, what with little brother John being ‘The Great Profile’ making early 20th century ladies swoon, and big brother Lionel really making a name for himself at MGM ( and winning an 1931 Academy Award for “A Free Soul” ). If you’re at all curious about Ethel Barrymore’s transition from stage-to-screen, I wholeheartedly urge you to read Crystal’s post for the recent Classic Movie History Project blogathon where she covers this. Now, I’m a pretty recent convert to Ethel Barrymore. Oh, I’ve seen some of her movies before, but was too blinded by Jeanne Crain, Jennifer Jones, Cary Grant, Dorothy McGuire, Gregory Peck, etc. to pay attention to Ethel. ( “Who’s she? ACK!” ) Then came the dawn. Something poignantly palpable finally registered on my radar while watching Barrymore play Miss Spinney in “Portrait of Jennie.” I’ve been hers ever since. I’ve got to re-visit a lot of those movies I’ve already seen, to watch HER specifically. For right here and right now, one of those movies I’ll re-explore for the Barrymore blogathon, is “NIGHT SONG.”

NIGHT SONG ( 1947 ) starring Merle Oberon and Dana Andrews, is an enjoyable romantic drama about a Society Girl who falls in love with a pianist…a blind pianist…and she pretends to be blind in order to help him. That’s the short of it. Underneath the long of it ( and the story of love at first sight or love at first “sound” ) we see the what, when and why of who we fall in love with when we fall in love. Read a little more about the movie here on my previous blog post: ( “NIGHT SONG” ). What I want to talk about here, and the real stand-out in this movie, for me, is today’s birthday girl, Ethel Barrymore.

BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - I )

She’s 68 years old at the time of this movie and if you think she’s a saturnine old lady well, you don’t know Ethel Barrymore. She plays the aunt and guardian of Merle Oberon. Oberon’s looks are exotically other worldly but Ethel…this is no wizened woman you keep on the shelf. She’s down-to-earth, has tons of common sense, charisma, sage advice she tosses like bouquets and is patently beautiful. Director John Cromwell gives Barrymore lots of bits and moments to flesh out her character and do her thing. She doesn’t really advance the story, but supports it well and give us an insight to her guardian angel role.

BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - XXXXXIII )  BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - XXXXXIV )

She knows when to hold ‘em and knows when to fold ‘em. And she’s a “closer” too. When Oberon has difficulty engaging and encouraging Andrews to play his composition, it’s Ethel who deflects the tense situation and closes the deal. ( And Andrews thinks it’s all HIS idea ). Would you think I’m fresh if I say she is a cutie in this movie? She is…she IS. The proof is in the pudding in her scenes with my man Hoagey Carmichael.

BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - XXIII )BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - XXI )BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - XXXVII )BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - XXIV )

You usually see classic films feature the lead couple and then the supporting couple. Well that’s just what Barrymore is with Carmichael: the supporting couple. His easy down-home way compliments Ethel’s, slightly more upper-crust demeanor but nonetheless down-to-earth ways, wonderfully. They are a joy to watch together. Yes they’re co-conspirators in helping Andrews get what he’s scared to reach for, but darned if Hoagey and Ethel are not flirting. ( Ohhhhkay, am I being too 21st century with my new discovery? ) She has very “knowing” ways. DareIsay she’s not out of the running in the romance department herself?

BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - IX )  BARRYMORE ( NIGHT SONG - VIII )

Seriously, she smokes cigarettes, reads detective stories and check out her manner in this scene below:

Quips and cracks, Barrymore-style on page 2…

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS SORT OF LIKE THE OTHER: “NIGHT SONG” and “VERTIGO”

NIGHT SONG ( POSTER ) VERTIGO ( POSTER )

Do you know the movie: “NIGHT SONG”? You ought to check it out…it’s a very good romantic drama featuring Dana Andrews and Merle Oberon. He’s a blind pianist whom Merle Oberon falls in love with. In order to win him over, she pretends to be blind as well. Our two leads are very good. Dana is an angry blind guy and Merle is in love with him. A match made in movie heaven. They also speak the same language: music and it plays out pretty interestingly. Helping things along in support is Ethel Barrymore and Hoagey Carmichael who have wonderful chemistry with each other. As I was watching it, another movie was tickling the back of my cinematic braincells. “VERTIGO.”

TWISTS and SPOILERS

NIGHT SONG ( III ) KIM NOVAK ( IV )

I’m wracking my brains trying to think of other movies with similar themes ( besides “Batman” or “Superman” ) that deal with dual identities. “Two-Faced Woman” with Garbo? The parallel between what John Cromwell does with “Night Song” and what Hitchcock does with “Vertigo” are interesting to ponder. One director lets us witness the identity ruse from the beginning, and the other does not. I like Hitchcock’s way because at the very least, it does ensure at least one more viewing of the movie to see what might’ve been hiding in plain sight. Cromwell uses a linear, straight-forward approach. But he also throws in a twist. Once our hero can see, well, alright, alright…I don’t really want to spoil things for you.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Both Oberon and Novak play dual roles in these movies: Oberon is Catherine Mallory playing Mary Willey. And Novak is Judy Barton and ‘doppelganger’ Madeleine Elster. I’m hoping the tale of the tape proves my point:
NIGHT SONG ( IV )                               NOVAK in %22VERTIGO%22

* Catherine hides her identity for music                     *  Judy hides her identity for money

* Catherine starts off high society and brings it     * Judy plays the elegant, aloof blonde down a notch to the warmer, natural Mary            Madeleine far from her real brunette self

* Catherine makes herself over to help Dan’s          *  Judy allows herself to be made over music and quickly grows to love him                     by two men for their own needs

* Catherine has at least two angels looking        * Judy must go it alone; after all…she is over her shoulder ( Hoagey & Ethel )                    an accessory to murder

JAMES STEWART ( %22VERTIGO%22   - II)  NIGHT SONG ( I )

Now you’d think it’d be a win-win situation for the boys, Stewart and Andrews. After all, they’re going to get The Girl; their girl. – – – trust and manipulation be damned. When Dan finds out he’s been duped, a slew of emotions run across his face.  But Scottie is a different kettle of fish. He takes the “fall” very hard.

NIGHT SONG ( II ) KIM NOVAK ( IV )

But I say to him, “Scottie! Isn’t a dream better to have, than NOT have?” What matters more, what a person does or who a person is? Let me take my CineMaven and Theresa identities off to prepare for next week’s post: how Hitchcock and Ford are sort of two peas in a pod.

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