Constance Bennett Marathon!

Capture d’écran 2019-02-07 à 14.44.05
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(silenthollywood.com)

When choosing a star for this year’s Marathon Stars Blogathon I actually had a hard time choosing a star. Choosing Constance Bennett came to me after I had watched two movies with her in them- by coincidence- and like magic, the choice was clear that Miss Bennett was the Marathon Star for me!

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(IMDB) Looking gorgeous!

Constance Bennett was an actress who transitioned successfully from the silent era to the talkies, but sadly had a career decline once the 1930s were over. Oldest daughter of silent star Richard Bennett and sister to actresses Joan and Barbara, she was first known in movies for the clothes she wore, rather than her performances. It wasn’t until her 1937 breakthrough in Topper (alongside Mr. Cary Grant!) that made audiences and critics see her acting ability. Prior to this Blogathon, I had only seen Constance in Topper, and it was only recently I decided to give the sequels a watch. I then realized, Wow, Constance is a great actress, and I really want to do the Blogathon- so it was a perfect opportunity to watch more of her movies!!

For this marathon I watched:

Topper Takes a Trip (1938)

The sequel to the smash hit Topper, this movie follows the silly ghost shenanigans of Marion Kirby without husband George. While George has moved on due to his good deed in the previous film, Marion has another chance to prove herself by helping Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) win back his wife (Billie Burke). With a trip to Paris, this movie is every bit delightful as the original and even stars Asta Atlas too!! Personally, it was this movie when I realized Constance can hold her own in a movie, without a being a love interest!

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(TCM)
 Topper Takes a Trip
(TCM)

Merrily We Live (1938)

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(Wikipedia)

A look at the high-society rich, containing an all-star cast, this movie is one of those great screwball comedies from the 1930s. The Killbourne family’s matriarch (Billie Burke) is constantly hiring ex-convicts to be the household servants, and when the previous butler Grosvenor (Alan Mowbray) steals the silver she then vows to never hire another. However, when a handsome, yet mysterious man named Rawlins (Brian Aherne) shows up at the doorstep, the family is so charmed they decide to make him the new chauffeur!! It gets even crazier when Rawlins falls for eldest daughter Jerry (Constance)!!

Sin Takes a Holiday (1930)

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(TVtropes.com)

A pre-code in which Constance plays Sylvia, a secretary to Gaylord Stanton (Kenneth MacKenna), a rich divorce attorney, who only has affairs with married women. When Gaylord’s latest gal, Grace (Rita La Roy), says she’ll leave her husband to be with him, Gaylord gives Sylvia a proposition to be married in name only. With Slyvia secretly in love with him, she agrees, and soon after the wedding he sends her alone on a trip to Paris. When in Paris she meets Reggie Durant (Basil Rathbone) and he falls in love with her. But, when Reggie proposes, is Sylvia really willing to divorce her husband?

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(TCM)

What Price Hollywood (1932) (slight spoilers)

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(Wikipedia)

The prototype to A Star is Born, this movie is a pre code version of the timeless story. However, there are enough differences to make this stand out. While waitressing at the Brown Derby, Mary Evans (Constance) catches the sight of alcoholic director Maximillian Carey (Lowell Sherman), she accompanies him as his date to a movie premiere, and before she knows it, she’s landed herself a screen test for producer Julius Saxe (Gregory Ratoff). While Max is attracted to Mary, he avoids a romance with her fearing his alcoholism will take her down with him. With her newfound fame, Mary catches the eye of polo player Lonny Borden (Neil Hamilton); the two fall in love, and marry despite Max and Julius’s warnings. With fame taking its toll on both their careers, they divorce, and soon Mary is at the top of her game after winning the Academy Award. Her happiness is cut short however after Max commits suicide. With Max’s death plaguing the news, Mary then seeks comfort in her husband and they reconcile.

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(Wikipedia)

Ladies in Love (1936)

Three ladies (Constance; Janet Gaynor and Loretta Young) share an apartment and hope to find love and adventure in exotic Budapest. Although the three share an apartment they all wish for something different when Martha (Gaynor) insists they follow gypsy superstition after moving in. Susie (Loretta) wishes for independence and to be a hat shop owner, Yoli (Constance) wants a rich man, and Martha wants it all: the impossible- a home, a man, and kids! Tyrone Power, Don Ameche and Simone Simon also co-star. This film is notable for being the start of the Loretta Young- Tyrone Power film duo.

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(IMDB)

MY OPINIONS

Looking back, Merrily We Live and What Price Hollywood were stand outs for me! Merrily We Live surpassed my expectations (and was so wonderfully written up by Ginnie in her article!), while What Price was interesting to see what changes and similarities there are to A Star is Born. Sin Takes a Holiday was good- but very slow moving for a 75 minute movie. Constance and Basil had good chemistry but the pacing took forever!! Topper Takes a Trip was in fact so great that I bought it for my collection! Ladies in Love was a bit similar How to Marry a Millionaire in terms of set up and was a film I have never heard of prior to this. It may take another viewing for me to fully appreciate it.

What I do appreciate though is Constance Bennett’s acting. I feel sad that she couldn’t have made the transition like Joan and also have been a Noir Queen- that would have been super cool. Sure she would have looked great in those 40s fashions, but she would have been an even tougher femme fatale! Nonetheless, we have her wonderful movies of the 30s when she was a Queen of the Silver Screen!

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(tumblr) In a scene from Three Face East (1930)

Thanks for hosting Ginnie, Crystal and Samantha!!! You’re all super swell!

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Jean Harlow steals the meal in Dinner at Eight (1933)

Happy March everyone! I’m back today for an entry for my two fellow awesome bloggers that I absolutely positively adore, Ginnie at the Wonderful World of Cinema and Samantha of Musings of A Classic Film Addict, as they are hosting a blogathon in honor of another fabulous lady (like themselves)- Jean Harlow.

Jean Harlow was the original blonde bombshell who had a brief spell in Hollywood, a tragic end, yet had an enormous impact on movies and was certainly a Queen of the Screen in the 1930s.

Dinner at Eight (1933)
(AMC filmsite)

In Hollywood, its sometimes hard to stand out, but Jean always made her presence known- and the best part of was she didn’t even have to draw extra attention to herself- she was was herself and people noticed her. And it’s exactly that quality about her that made her stand out in George Cukor’s 1933 comedy of manners pre-code flick Dinner at Eight.

Dinner at Eight is tricky to categorize and even write about. Its a comedy of manners, contains an “all star” cast (Marie Dressler, John Barrymore AND Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe, Billie Burke!) is episodic in plot structure, and is pre-code in its themes (they vividly talk about topics such as suicide, infidelity, alcoholism, financial destitute, and more).

The flick is often seen as a “twin” to 1932’s Grand Hotel and a precursor to all of the comedies of the high society rich we all know and love such as: My Man Godfrey (1936), Merrily We Live (1938) , Holiday (1938), and The Philadelphia Story (1940) to name a few. While this movie is all about the preparation for the dinner and we never see the actual event, we do however see the more interesting conflicts of what the guests are dealing with before they put on their facade being “rich and stuffy” at dinner.

But because this is Jean Harlow’s blogathon, I thought it would be more fun to write why Jean makes herself the scene stealer in a picture filled with stars!

1- She makes the most of her role: Jean plays the part of Kitty Packard (wife to Wallace Beery’s Dan). In this movie there is a cast of 25 (according to wikipedia!) with 8 actors getting main billing above the title. Jean is also acting amongst some of the most famous veteran players of her day: John and Linonel Barrymore! Silent star Marie Dressler! Beloved stage star Billie Burke! But in it all, here we are talking about Jean’s legacy in the film. Many today cite this was not only her finest but most complex performance: she just wasn’t Clark Gable’s girl to win or the pretty blonde girl at the party- she had a real interesting layers to her character that made you want to keep your eyes on her in the scenes she was in.

2- She has a gorgeous wardrobe: This movie in general is just so pretty to look at! Everything is art-deco and beautiful, including Jean’s wardrobe! Don’t you just want to borrow her outfits!?

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(wikipedia)
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With Marie Dressler (hollywoodreporter.com)
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Pintrest
CAN I BORROW THIS!!??

3- Jean gets the snappy lines: This may be the reason we remember Jean so instantly when we discuss this movie as Jean has some of the best dialogue lines in the film. Here is just a sample of her best ones!

Dan: You mean to tell me you’ve been putting it over on me with some other man? 
Kitty: Yes, and what are ya gonna do about it, ya big gasbag?


Dan: Remember what I told you last week? 
Kitty: I don’t remember what you told me a minute ago.

and finally this last exchange which happens to be the final scene in the movie: I’m leaving it as a video so you can watch if you choose

Gotta love Jean!!! Check out the other entries here

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THANKS FOR HOSTING LADIES!!!!

Why I love The 39 Steps (1935)

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For starters, I love the characters. Mr. Memory (Wylie Watson), an amazing fact file that puts Google to shame! Mr. Richard Hannay played by the ever so suave (but not as suave as Nathan Page 🙂 ) Robert Donat. Hannay has a perfect mustache and I love it how he just has to go with the flow- every twist and turn- no matter what happens to him he stays as cool as a cucumber. Of course, he has his frantic moments- the train scene– but who can blame him- (NOT ME!). And naturally I must mention the lovely Madeleine Carroll, the first Hitchcock blonde.  I love the feisty personality, and her ability to match Hannay word for word- their banter is just perfect.
Hannay: Now let’s make ourselves as comfortable as possible. What about that skirt of yours? It’s still pretty damp, you know. I don’t want to be tied to a pneumonia case on top of everything else. Take it off. I don’t mind.
Pamela: I’ll leave it on, thank you…My shoes and stockings are soaked so I think I’ll take them off.
Hannay: That’s the first sensible thing I’ve heard you say.

As much as I do adore North By Northwest, I do feel this film is somewhat superior. It just has something about it that makes it intriguing. Maybe it just has so many “moments” that make me say both “Awww” and “Ahhh!” at the same time or maybe it’s the fact it’s a British… Hitchcock… Film. Or maybe it’s this scene…

(dvdtalk.com)

Maybe this one????

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The Famous Train Scene!   (The 1000 Frames of The 39 Steps Hitchcock Project )

OR perhaps I love this film so much because it’s this film introduces the world to the most famous Hitchcockian element, “The MacGuffin”. WHAT IS The 39 Steps? Who are they? What do they need? And what makes them so dangerous???? Well.. I’ll tell you, you see they are….