Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Elaine Hanelock "Hollywood Royalty" Prints (1968)

Good morning!

I'm reading a killer, K-I-L-L-E-R book right set in Hollywood in 1918-- I'd planned to review it some time this week and though I've been tearing through the chapters in my off-desk time, I'm still only about halfway through. Zut alors. It may be into next week before I finish it. The brilliance of the novel, however, has me thinking about the blinding passion I have for golden age of the studio system, which in turn had me trawling Etsy and Ebay for keyword "silent movie stars" under memorabilia, which in turn led me to discover these AMAZING psychedelic prints from the late sixties' by Elaine Hanelock. Some are silent, some are talkie...all are excellent.

Let's look at the goods, shall we?

Jean Harlow:
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As I mentioned in my review of her 1936 movie Reckless a few months back, no one seems to remember how "cute" Jean Harlow was! Sexy, of course, but something about the petulant, childlike cuetness of her translates on screen in a way that doesn't come across in her down-to-there, bias cut silk gown glamour shots. Her weird, faux-Anglican screen voice and that squeakiness, those flashing, baby doll eyes. She was just a cupid of a girl. I love the embellishment of stars and stripes instead of sequins no the Harlow poster's costume, and the acid-drip of the pink, white, gold, black, and fuscia palette of the background.

Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler:
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Comedienne Marie Dressler was a battle-axe of a woman, all mugging eyes and stout swagger, yet before her death in 1936, she enjoyed screen-queen level status as one of the top paid and most popular actresses of the thirties'. Her career spanned an impressive forty plus years, from her start as a vaudeville singer in the 1890's, to silent pictures in the teens and twenties, and finally talkies. Wallace Beery was Gloria Swanson's first husband (I still find this hard to wrap my head around) and one of the best of the brusque, blustering brutes of the thirties'. Dressler won an Academy Award in 1931 for her performance in Min and Bill, the picture from which Hanelock based this print.

Clark Gable:
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THE KING! ALL HAIL THE KING! Cary Grant and Clark Gable are two of the only actors I will watch in anything. Anything. And have! I've seen both CG's in almost every picture in their respective filmographies. One of my favorite facts about Gable-- in 1932, he stars with Jean Harlow and Mary Astor in Red Dust, a romance set on a rubber plantation in the wilds of Indochina (now Vietnam). Twenty-one years later, in 1953, he plays the same part in the remake, Mogambo, reset in Africa, this time with suitably young and glamorous actresses Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly in the roles Harlow and Astor played in the thirties. Why is that so funny to me? (Sidenote: both pictures are excellent...Red Dust is slightly better) I think this print is referencing the many foulards Rhett Butler wore in Gone With Wind, and bully for him! I think it's one of the most glamorous art pieces of the bunch. Aren't the purple highlights neat?

 Will Rogers:
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 I never "got" Will Rogers until I saw one of his last pictures, shot just before his untimely death in an Alaskan plane crash in 1935, called Steamboat Round the Bend. It was playing at the Belcourt a year or two ago and I was like, "Ah, let's give him a shot". The aphorisms he's famous for ("I never met a man I didn't like", etc, etc) read even better on screen than they do in print-- while a lot of that movie is ve-e-e-ry slow, there was a line Rogers delivers, mutteringly, about someone's joke being old enough to have come off Noah's ark, that snapped up my attention. A thrill of recognition ran through me as I remember my garroulous grandaddy saying just about the same joke, in just about the same way, a few years earlier at a family gathering. There's an old time morose, everyman humor to Will Rogers that appeals, appeals, appeals.

Clara Bow:
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While I don't think this looks as much like Bow as the others look like their real-life counterparts, this is still a GREAT print. How about those pink highlight hues or the graphic boldness of her bustier top? Bow has the most expressive eyes out of any silent movie star actress I can think of-- a competitive category, when you get down to it! Large, and dark, and just like exclamation points every time she's in a close up. As much as I think Garbo and Pickford and Louise Brooks and Lillian Gish are better actresses from the silent period, nobody seems as immediate as Clara Bow, as if you could just reach out and touch her whenever you see her on screen. It's not just the photogenic quality of her face (in which Garbo would have her beat), but the vitality of it. This print lavishly misses the point in that, but such in life.

John Barrymore:
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Acknowledged as one of the greatest stage presences of the early twentieth century, John Barrymore was, (more importantly, obviously) a bi-i-i-i-ig crush of mine back in high school. I was batty about him after reading a play called I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick, and read a stack of biographies about his real-life exploits as a romantic young rouĂ© at the top of his field and later an alcoholic, tragicomic figure of pity in forties' Hollywood, a long way from success as the Danish prince in his greatest stage role. He's also fantastic in two perfect MGM early thirties' talkies, Dinner at Eight (Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, and Jean Harlow are in that one, to boot!) and Grand Hotel (Garbo and Crawford and brother Lionel co star!). What irks me most of all? Despite being attached to three of the most important figures of early 20th century stage craft (sister Ethel and the aforementioned Lionel were equally famous actors, the latter of which you might remember as the villainous Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life), the last name "Barrymore" is most easily associated with Drew. I don't even dislike the woman, but seriously.

You can see the rest of the 10 print set on this live auctioneers site. I love them all!

Well, what do you think? Which one would you most like to have in your home? Are any of these actors or actresses particular favorites of yours? Do you think the sixties'-heavy style of them is attractive or distracting? Let's talk!

That's all for today-- I'll see you kids back here tomorrow!

5 comments:

  1. Those are great! I think that the Clara Bow one is my favorite. I have a bit of a Will Rogers crush though so....maybe it's a tie!

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  2. um...those are awesome. I like the psychtropic clark cable. I now like to imagine him as a laugh-in character.

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  3. ahhh - clark gable!
    great images, i like this sixties-does-art nouveau/art deco thing.........

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  4. These are totally my style. I'd choose the Jean Harlow one... If only Miss Crawford had been represented.

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  5. I read an interview with Jackie Coogan, who made "The Champ" with Wallace Beery. It's such a tearjerker of a movie, and little brown eyed Jackie is so charismatic! Anyway, he said he'd do an emotional scene with Wallace Beery, and the second the director yelled "Cut"! Beery would dump him off his lap.

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