Friday, September 17, 2021

Quips and Quotations (Smiling Soprano Edition)

1929-2021

 People are always fascinated by the so-called golden age of musicals, but it wasn't all that great. Everything was glazed. Those movies didn't reflect reality. I was at MGM for 11 years and nobody ever let me play anything but teenagers. I was 25 years old with kids of my own and it was getting ridiculous. Publicity was froth. Everything you said was monitored. With me, they didn't have to worry. I never had anything to say, anyway. It was hard work, I had no friends, no social interaction with people my age and the isolation was tough. But I had to support my family, so I did what I was told and had no other choice.

--Jane Powell

Despite being pushed into a Hollywood career and pressures from the entertainment world, the stress of work never showed in Powell's performances which were always upbeat and energetic

--Nick Thomas, Bristol Herald Courier


(From 1954's Seven Abductees Brides for Seven Brothers. The movie wouldn't fly today, but whatever its sexual politics, Jane Powell is very good in it. And remember, she was under contract--Kirk)





18 comments:

  1. Hi, Kirk!

    Thanks for letting us know that Jane Powell has passed away, good buddy. I missed the story in the news. I'm glad she lived to the ripe old age of 92. Jane was a major cutie in her younger years and possessed a refined singing voice. Musicals are not my favorite movie genre by any means, but I liked Jane and admired her talent. My favorite picture of Jane's is Holiday in Mexico (1946), the first movie she made for MGM at age 17 as well as her first Technicolor feature. Holiday in Mexico also stars Walter Pidgeon as her dad and Roddy McDowall as her friend Stanley. I have the movie on DVD. There is a scandalous daddy - daughter bedroom scene in the film that is must see. Perhaps it is just my dirty mind, but I think 90% of the people who watch that scene today would agree that it was carefully rehearsed and orchestrated to titillate.

    As I am sure you know, Jane was married to former child actor Dickie Moore whom I watched nearly every day during childhood as he appeared in the Our Gang comedy shorts that were rerun on TV.

    Jane's quote about the reality of her life as a young starlet in Hollywood musicals doesn't surprise me.

    Thanks again for remembering one of the the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema - Jane Powell. Have a great weekend, good buddy Kirk!

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    1. Well, Shady, you may not care for musicals, but you've seen Holiday in Mexico and I haven't. On YouTube I checked out the scene you mentioned. Walter Pidgeon is in what I guess is Jane's bedroom playing the piano, while she operatically sings along to it. I don't know if its scandalous, but it is certainly odd. At least it didn't lead to a real-life romance as it did for Greer Garson when she fell in love and got married to the actor who played her son in Mrs. Miniver (a movie, incidentally, that had Pidgeon cast as Garson's husband.)

      I know Dickie Moore was in the Our Gang (renamed Little Rascals for TV) shorts, but I can't really recall what he did in them. He also played Marlene Dietrich's young son in Blonde Venus (best known as the film where Dietrich appears in a gorilla suit), and when he was in his teens, appeared as the brother of Sergeant York (Garry Cooper) in the film of the same name. When he was in his early '20s, he appeared alongside Robert Mitchum in the film noir Out of the Past. Interesting career.

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    2. No, good buddy. The scandalous scene to which I referred is when daddy Walter was sitting on Jane's (the daughter's) bed, and she was propped up on her pillow a couple of feet away. Jane went into a rambling speech about what happens when a girl comes of age and her thoughts turn to boys nd romance. As she discussed her teenage angst with daddy, she played continuously with a large phallic looking pen or marker, bringing it dangerously close to her mouth, waving it in front of her, holding it up to show its length, etc. Pidgeon sat mesmerized, much the same as Michael Nouri was in the infamous bra removal and lobster scenes in Flashdance. So if you ever watch Holiday in Mexico, play that sequence I mentioned in slow motion and you will see what I mean. I think the director carefully choreographed every move Jane made with that marker, even if the actress was too young and innocent to realize what he was up to.

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  2. I was not a fan of Seven Brides, but Jane Powell made a lot of cute movies, and was one of the group of good singing actresses. Still, I hate to see people who got money and fame from a system complaining about that system. She could equally have had to support her family working as a clerk or whatever at minimum wage.
    -
    I remember in the movie Nancy Goes to Rio, Jane Powell is on a ship at night, but when they showed her crossing the deck, it is impossibly bright day. I wrote that goof in to IMDB!
    --Jim

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    1. Well, Jim, Jane Powell is hardly the only one who complained about the system MGM had going there. In fact, her criticisms are fairly mild compared to Judy Garland's. To listen to Judy tell it, Louis B. Mayer had her pumped up with amphetamines and shoved onto a soundstage with a bunch of alcoholic munchkins (Liza once said that her mother tended to exaggerate things for the sake of a good anecdote.)

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  3. Seven brides is one of my favourites.
    The dancing especially lingers long in my mind
    And I sort of loved Julie Newmar

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    1. John, it did have some excellent musical numbers. The barn raising dance (choreographed by Michael Kidd) is a classic.

      By the way, John, you did check out the Catwoman clip on my recent Batman post, didn't you?

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  4. This is a name I haven't heard in a while. 92? She beat the system big time. Maybe being married 5 times is the key to a long life.

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    1. Lest we forget, Mike, Zsa Zsa Gabor had nine husbands and lived to 99.

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  5. Hey, Hollywood is there to sell the myths and BS of mainstream society. That's just as true today as it ever was.

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  6. Another great gone. I just heard this on the news, as your post opened up for me to read. What a beautiful woman she was. I always enjoyed her films.

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    1. Serendipity, Maddie. The one true religion.

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  7. Generally people don't appreciate what a hard job acting can be.

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  8. Andrew, that's because the ones who are good at it make it look so easy.

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  9. I cannot say I am familar with Jane but have heard of the 7 Brides film...my step-grandfather was a fan but I never watched it!

    You'll laugh Kirk, on my blog you posted about DayGlo! I had to google that, never heard of that before haha.

    We lost a few big names over the weekend, but you wouldn't know them. A soccer player and a comedy actor.

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    1. Ananka, I wouldn't know the soccer player, but I thought there might be an off-chance that I had heard of the comedy actor. I googled "Scottish comedian dies" and an Andy Gray came up. I'm afraid you're right, Ananka, I don't know him. However, I see he was once in a play with Alan Cummings. Him I HAVE heard of, so that's one degree of separation.

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    2. Oh I meant UK...2 English guys. Andy Gray died a while back, but he was a Scottish legend! Yes Alan Cummings - he is very famous.

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