East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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The Lady Vanishes, 1938

My admiration for Margaret Lockwood is on record – a beautiful woman, an excellent actress, protagonist of at least three indispensable films.
One of these happens to be a film by Alfred Hitchcock, whose anniversary was a few days back. The movie is called The Lady Vanishes, and was shot in 1938, based on a novel by Ethel Lina White, called The Wheel Spins, and published in 1936.


Orson Welles watched it, he said, eleven times, and Truffaut pointed it out as his favorite movie in Hitchcock’s opus.

11217And for some strange coincidence I have been browsing White’s novel these days – having acquired a few of her titles. White was beloved by screenwriters, and another of her thrillers was adapted into the classic The Spiral Staircase. Another, was the seminal “haunted wax museum” story. Today she is largely forgotten, but in the 30s she was considered on a par with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers as a thriller writer.
I’ve half a mind of doing a post on her books, because they intersect a number of interests of mine.

But for the moment, there’s a lot of good reasons for a post on the 1938 novie: Hitch’s anniversary, my love of Margaret Lockwood, my recent discovery of Ethel Lina White.
Let’s see…

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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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My poor elephants have nowhere to go

give-us-the-moon-val-guest-1944-L-Mof3d6Forgotten wonders from the past.
Let’s say you’re a film-maker and you’ve got a great story – about a bunch of eccentrics that decide that working for a living’s a waste of time, it’s much better to live for unspecified kicks, trying to improvise a living.
Good idea for a comedy caper movie.
But there’s a catch – it’s 1944, and there’s a war going on – and the Censorship commission would never approve a movie about people unwilling to be valuable members of society.

What do you do?
Simple – you set your movie in the future, after the war is over.

A bona-fide science fiction film (hey, it’s set in the future, right?) Give us the Moon is a strange movie, with machine-gun witty dialogues and a strange prophetic value – the “White Elephants Society” is an uncanny parody of the existentialist and beat crowds that were, at the time of filming, at least 5 years in the future.

The sparkling lady is gorgeous Margaret Lockwood, the twittering girl is future superstar Jean Simmons.
The movie was directed by legendary director Val Guest, based on a novel by Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon, called The Elephant is White.
For interested parties, getting the movie is a little easier than finding a good copy of the book.