Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who Are They?

Jack Holland
Motion Picture Magazine
January, 1941


EVERYONE who attends the flickers each week is pretty sure he knows all about the stars who flash across the scene, yet some of their best known characteristics are mysteries to many. Hence, the game of—Who Are They? 

The idea is simply to put a well-known star in a short scene, describing something relating to him as a person or as an actor. Then it's your job to guess who the character is.
All right—let's go. Let's see how well you know your movies!

1. A suave gentleman sits flippantly drinking cocktails and playing the detective in the game of "Murder." Who is he?

2. A young chap sits at his drums and gives out with a snappy swing solo while his mother accompanies him on the piano. Who is he?

3. A sophisticated lady turns to a gentleman beside her and says, "Why shouldn't I play this part? I don't care if it's a mother role. Why, I'd play Wally Beery's grandmother if it were a good part!" Who is she?

4. A young man with traces of a once adorning beard is haunting a Hollywood night club with a dark, exotic beauty on his arm. He turns to her and says, "Really, I'm too busy to be a husband." Who is he?

5. A charming lady who's not as old as people think she is waits patiently at home while her husband of a few years slaves for hours as an assistant cutter at M-G-M. Who is she?

6. A former great tragedienne of the screen laughs heartily as she imbibes glasses of champagne in a comedy. In private life she takes carrot juice on the advice of her escort. Who is she?

7. An intense actress does not deny that she is still unhappy because of her recent divorce from her former orchestra leader and agent husband. Who is she?

8. A prominent blond singer-actress returns home from work one day only to see her new house burned to the ground. Later she sees her marriage go up in smoke. Who is she?

9. A comely brunette looks at herself in the mirror and says, "I do look like Hedy Lamarr at that!" Who is she?

10. A rather thin but romantic looking man went on a ski trip, jumped the wrong way, and came back with a cut knee and a loss of athletic ambition. Who is he?

11. A former blonde who is now "natural" puts away a pair of dancing shoes and sits down to read "How To Be a Dramatic Actress." Who is she?

12. A plump individual writes out a nice sized check addressed to the Income Tax Department. In his budget he puts down the size of the check and adds a note, "Price of return to the United States." Who is he?

13. A short man who chews cigars and leers like gangsters and who recently discovered a scientific cure for a social disease in a recent picture, tries to find a vacant space on his walls at home for a newly purchased painting. Who is he?

14. A brash young man sits writing a book, the title being "The 1940 Version of Casanova." Who is he?

15. A stalwart man passes a theater where a picture of his is showing and says to himself, "I wish I'd never taken that woman." Who is he?

16. A portly man sits in a barber shop reading a book called "Lorenzo Goes to Hollywood." Who is he?

17. A pert little blonde throws a picture script aside but doesn't listen any more to the swing recordings of her ex-husband. Who is she?

18. A sultry brunette puts a pin in a flowery and sketchy garment and says, "I wish this thing would wear out." Who is she?

19. A handsome man sits reading a travel book while his dog, Arno, gazes suspiciously at him on the floor. Who is he?

20. A singer spends his evenings teaching his twins to vocalize while they, intermittently, ask him if his nag has come in yet. Who is he?

21. A beautiful brunette sends a wedding present to her newly married young sister and then wonders why she hasn't married yet. Who is she?

22. A petite girl divorces her husband to marry the man whose wife divorced him so he could marry the petite girl. Who is she?

23. A long, lanky gentleman says, "At last I know who John Doe is." Who is he?

24. A red-headed girl pens a letter to the collegiates at Harvard and says, "You're not so hot either!" Who is she?

25. An exotic blonde motions to a friend, then exclaims, "My legs are tired. Will you please see what the boys in the back room will have?" Who is she?

26. A wavy-haired and handsome young man looks at himself in the mirror and says, "These dimples burn me up!" Who is he?

27. A tall, dark, and handsome man sits looking at the ocean and wonders why brooks used to intrigue him so much more than the sea. Who is he?

28. A fellow pulls out a saxophone from his trunk, blows a few dulcet tones, reminisces a bit, and then decides he'd still prefer eating pop corn with Claudette Colbert on a bench. Who is he?

29. A pert little woman says to a reporter, "My husband does all the talking for me, thank you!" Who is she?

30. A personable and fleet-footed gentleman sits surrounded by music manuscripts, tears his hair, and says, "If I could only write just one hit tune I'd be so happy!" Who is he?

31. A handsome man buys a ticket on a liner and asks, "Do all state-rooms come equipped with girls under the bed?" Who is he?

32. A reddish-haired and rather quiet gentleman putters in his garden at home and wonders if Martha still has her vineyard. Who is he?

33. A cultured and refined gentleman looks at the charming lady beside him and says to her, "There's nothing like hume." Who is he?

34. A husky man guides his tractor over his ranch and gazes admiringly at his blonde wife who has learned that nothing is sacred. Who is he?

35. A delightful and intriguing lady falls in a mud puddle and says, "Oh well, let the chips fall where they may." Who is she?

Answers are posted below this photo!


Answers to—Who Are They?

1. William Powell
2. Jackie Cooper
3. Joan Crawford
4. Orson Welles
5. Mary Astor
6. Greta Garbo
7. Bette Davis
8. Alice Faye
9. Joan Bennett
10. Tyrone Power
11. Ginger Rogers
12. Charles Laughton
13. Edward G. Robinson
14. Mickey Rooney
15. Spencer Tracy
16. Edward Arnold
17. Lana Turner
18. Dorothy Lamour
19. Errol Flynn
20. Bing Crosby
21. Margaret Lindsay
22. Vivien Leigh
23. Gary Cooper
24. Ann Sheridan
25. Marlene Dietrich
26. Richard Greene
27. Cary Grant
28. Fred MacMurray
29. Jean Arthur
30. Fred Astaire

31. Robert Taylor
32. James Cagney
33. Ronald Colman
34. Clark Gable
35. Greer Garson



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Incredible Selznick

Hollywood, January 1938
by Lupton A. Wilkinson

The only logical answer to David O. Selznick's career is, "It's a lie!" True, he started young, as well as broke and under dramatic circumstances. Yet he had to take time to batter his way into the consciousness of Show-me Town, which for two years let him knock on doors and sent out word, "Go and get a reputation." Then, when the portals opened, he broke a world's record for getting fired fast; bounced back and (it's on the records, Mr. Ripley!) forced himself into attention as a producer of Westerns.

Here are a very few examples of what his remarkable genius for production and casting has given to Hollywood, a town long since cured of being skeptical concerning Lewis J. Selznick's son. These are reasons why moviedom says "Sir" to "the man with the medals": Brought Katharine Hepburn to Hollywood; produced A Bill of Divorcement, which made her a star. Prepared production plans for Little Women, and cast Hepburn in that. Launched William Powell in a career of stardom, in Street of Chance. Produced Sarah and Son, Ruth Chatterton's best, and Honey, Nancy Carroll's best. Recognized Fred Astaire's screen possibilities, opened the negotiations which brought him to Hollywood; produced Fred's first picture, Dancing Lady. Introduced Leslie Howard to the screen; co-starred him with Myrna Loy in The Animal Kingdom; bought the story, Of Human Bondage, that was to lift Howard (and Bette Davis) to cinema heights. Discovered Freddie Bartholomew in a world search for David Copperfield. Produced a long string of Box-office Champions for M-G-M, including Night Flight, Viva Villa and A Tale of Two Cities. Snatched Janet Gaynor from virtual retirement and startled the world with her in A Star is Born. Smashed long-standing admission records with A Prisoner of Zenda. Searched every state in the union and, from 25,000 applicants, selected an Irish-American boy, Tommy Kelly, from the East Bronx, New York City, who will be the nation's Christmas present in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Bought Gone With the Wind from the proof sheets, before the book's sale started.

David O. Selznick

What's the use? The rest is mostly a list of hits. The long trail started at a place as busy as Hollywood — the corner of Forty-Second street and Broadway, New York. It was a sad place for that particular eighteen-year-old boy to stand. Right, left and before him he could see new signs where two years earlier the seven biggest, brightest signs in the area had blinked and heralded: LEWIS J. SELZNICK.

The elder Selznick had been the kingpin of the movie business. Over-expansion and one of those sudden slumps in audience attendance (plus the bankers, those jolly fellows) had crashed the Selznick company. Creditors had received home, fine furnishings, automobiles. Lewis Selznick, under that strain had died.

David stood on that busy corner with just one dollar to his name—a dollar and the offer of a job clerking. From earliest school days the boy had studied showmanship at his father's knee. Now he made up his mind. Some day there'd be another Selznick company, not only national but international. David spent that dollar in a barber shop and went to see a man who might still listen to a Selznick talk showmanship. A two thousand dollar loan was the result and two of the quickest quickies ever made. One starred Luis Angel Firpo, the prizefighter, and was called Will He Beat Dempsey? It was made in one day, on a Manhattan roof. The second was the result of neat ingenuity. David persuaded Rudolph Valentino to review a beauty parade. He photographed the contest(and Valentino) from every possible angle. Both pictures made money; David went to Hollywood.

There followed two bitter years on Poverty Row, and plenty of trudging, before Metro gave a chance to this youngster who insisted he was a movie producer. The first day on Metro's lot found young David in an argument with an associate producer. M-G-M had bought a book. The associate producer thought the plot ought to be changed. David thought the plot ought to be followed—he still tries to keep his pictures true to their author's stories.

"I guess I was impudent," Selznick admits. He was fired. The boy asked for two weeks' grace. In that two weeks he bombarded executives with ideas until they agreed: "We'll have to put this fellow to work, or he'll run us crazy."

They put him to work, as assistant story editor. He never let them forget he was really a producer, and finally he drew the Tim McCoy Westerns as his particular charge. He cut costs, turned out popular pictures; Paramount offered him his chance at serious drama. The rise at Paramount; equal success as production head at RKO; marriage, after his success was made, to Louis B. Mayer's daughter; the time when all the studios bid for his services and Metro bid the highest; those years of happiness and accomplishment comprise vital motion picture history. One of the noteworthy things about Selznick is that he rates audience intelligence far above what many wiseacres and wise-crackers contend is the fact; further, he believes that human nature reacts to true emotion more promptly than to cynicism or "smartiness." Before A Star Is Born was completed he talked with me about why he had faith in that picture. "The only film concerning Hollywood that ever made money," he said, was What Price Hollywood? The reason was that it played the town "straight" instead of gagging it. Hollywood is a community of real drama —struggle, triumph, disappointment, folly and sacrifice—more thrilling than most stories on the screen. The public would rather have that genuine drama than the smart cracks of writers who think themselves sophisticates."

At Metro, the young producer became "the man with the medals," winning almost every important award offered, nationally and internationally, for fine pictures. He left that studio because of that old, never-forgotten dream, conceived on Forty-second street and Broadway— to put the name Selznick at the masthead of a world-famous motion picture company. John Hay Whitney and others offered him backing. What a result! Four Selznick International pictures, playing the Music Hall in New York, grossed a total of $1,024,000 in that one theatre alone. The pictures were Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Garden of Allah, A Star is Born and A Prisoner of Zenda. If you really love B pictures, you will never be a Selznick fan. He can't see the idea of making one big one and selling four skimpy ones on the reputation of the smash. He thinks that what you want is none but the best, and that none but the best is good enough for you. His name will never be associated with anything except the $1,000,000 stab or the $2,000,000 stab at the finest possibilities of the screen. I've an idea he'll go to his grave as A-picture Selznick.