East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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27 years is a long time

Today is the 27th anniversary of Ava Gardner’s death.


One of the most beautiful women to grace the silver screen, she was a star in noir and historical movies, including the epic 55 Days in Peking, and in one of my guilty pleasures, Mogambo.
She also played Venus, in a perfect casting choice.

So here is a small gallery of pictures of Ava.


Five classical beauties

guruMy web-thingies guru (don’t we all have one?) tells me it’s “good SEO” whatever that means, and a good way to get some extra traffic, to post list-themed contents.
“The Best Five… whatever”.
And who am I to doubt my guru?

So I thought I’d do a list sort of post – and a few nights back a guy pointed a loaded Marlene Dietrich at me1.
Boy was she heart-stoppingly beautiful!
And yet…

Fact: the world is filled with beautiful women. That’s one of the good things of being alive on this world. And if you love movies – like I do – you are certainly aware that there’s been a lot of incredibly beautiful women that have graced the screen.
Some names are legendary – Monroe, Harlow, Turner, the above-mentioned Dietrich…

So, what about my five favorite actresses from the classic Hollywood era?
Sounds like the sort of thing that might please my web-thingies guru… Continue reading

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Passion in Swahili

50pelisantesdemorirmogambogracekellyavagardnerThere is a very quick personality test that’s pretty popular and well-known1.
It basically goes like this – choose your favorite Beatle.
Everybody knows the Beatles, and choosing is not that difficult.
Based on their choices, you can profile pretty easily the people you meet.
It works.

Another test, that is somewhat more limited but equally good at discriminating between groups goes like this:

You are Clark Gable in Mogambo – do you choose Ava Gardner or Grace Kelly?

Get the answer to that, and you’ll know a lot of things about the person standing in front of you – a lot of them impossible to define in any other specific way2.

For the uninitiated, Mogambo is a 1953 movie by John Ford that has been aptly described as an adventure movie without adventure.
And it goes like this:

Now, as I mentioned somewhere else, I love Mogambo. Continue reading

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Bhowani Junction, the novel

fred_pfeiffer_BhowaniI mentioned a few days back that I was going to read John Masters‘ 1954 novel, Bhowani Junction.

The book kept me up late for three nights, basically compromising my already messed-up sleep patterns.
Because yes, it is that good.

Comparison with the 1956 movie featuring Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger was unavoidable, but I’ll concentrate on the novel in this post.

The novel is set in 1946, as the British are facing increasing independentist pressure in India. In the(fictional) railway town of Bhowani Junction, historical events catch up with a number of characters, and in particular with Anglo-Indian Victoria Jones, fresh out of WAC service and in search of her cultural identity in a rapidly changing nation. Continue reading

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Bhowani Junction

As a long time Ava Gardner fan I was familiar with Bhowani Junction, the 1956 movie.

A big melodrama featuring Stewart Granger as a gallant British officer in India in the last days of the Raj, the movie is a thick mix of politics, derring-do, racial issues and steamy romance. Good stuff.


What I did not know was that the movie 1 was based on a very popular novel by John Masters, published in 1954 and part of a very loose cycle of stories set in India between 19th and 20th century. Continue reading