Category Archives: Movies

The last link to Pre Code Movies

Alright, for those of my readers who havent a clue what I mean by that, lets do a brief history of movies. Back before the end of the 1920’s, all movies were silent, in a voice sense at least. Then, the much hyped at the time, Jazz Singer came along, and the movie world slowly transformed into a world of sound, and not silence. The early movies were quite wild for their time, though by modern standards, most would seem pretty tame,, but drinking, smoking, and costumes that barely covered anything were quite often the norm back then. One movie, the chorus girl outfit for some consisted of a long blonde wig, and that was it! Oh, and they were chained up at the time too! This is what was known as the pre code era. Then in 1934, though not totally acted on for another year or so, there was a clampdown on this wild stuff, called the Hays Code, which spoilt most of the fun! It actually took until the mid 60’s before the code started to loosen again, far too long.

Until yesterday, we had one remaining lady from that era in our lives, Mary Carlisle. Sadly, yesterday, at the amazing age of 104, she finally passed away. There is an interview with her on You Tube, done when she was 100, where she’s doing dance kicks, albeit supported by her chair. And yes, in terms of adult actors of the Pre Code era, she was the last! There are a couple still alive who are slightly older than her, but neither appeared in their first movie until well after the Pre Code era was over.

Every year from 1922 to 1934, there were a new set of ‘baby stars’ introduced, and in 1932, Mary was one of them, at the grand age of 18! She had in fact worked in the movies for a couple of years by then, but that was her breakout moment. Oh, of the others that year, some dancer type named Ginger Rodgers! Oh, and Gloria Stuart, the old lady at the end of Titanic! Some made it, some didnt, some had long lives, others didnt, but anyway… All gone now!

Mary was never a massive star, but she had a decent career that lasted until 1943, all the same. For a few years now, she’d been looked upon as the last link back to that wild movie era, but now even she’s gone. RIP, Mary, and thanks for the memories.

Oh, and lastly on the subject, 113 years ago today, in Montana, Myrna Loy was born! In the same year, 1 month, and 4 days after that, in Oklahoma, a certain Clara Johnson was born! Still, she’ll get her day, I’m sure, given this is the first year I’ve known her birthday, lol.

So, video time. A suitable title to sum up the pre code era? This, maybe? Warning, the song is dreadful, but just seemed apt!

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A Modern Love?

As regular readers of my blog(s) know, they tend to vary from the very serious, to the wildly wishful,  with a large lump of silliness thrown in for good measure. This definitely falls into last group, though some might say there is an element of the second one in here too.

So fine, lets go back 90 years, to about 1930 (though the earliest date I have strict confirmation of Miss Johnson as being a Goldwyn girl is 1932, but suspicions of 1931), but… And meet my past life self, and…

Ooh, hi, well the regular author here has asked me to take over tonight, just for one night, and write this. Mr Mayer tells me that this weird thing I’m typing this on is called a laptop, and when this time travel portal thing (whatever that may be?) works for the internet, well, if I’m a good girl, I might get one of my own. Mind, I know he’s said the same to those more important folk like Loy, Powell, Harlow, Gable and a few others, so I’m going to be way down the list, giggle!

But apparently I’m now at the top of the queue for something called a cell (or mobile) phone. I’ve been told not to ask how they work back here, but they do. Yeah, I know, Jean, sorry, Miss Harlow, has shown me hers, and…they’re so much the cats whiskers! What, you dont believe sweet little Clara, oh? Fine!

 

 

See! 😀

Anyway, I’ve now got sufficient standing that I’ve been given one too! I’m told its a pretty basic model, but thats fine by me, in truth. Just means that if they need me for an extra scene, or to tell Mr Berkeley that one of his dance routines is just too crazy (Most are crazy, but doable. Some though…rolls eyes…), I’m able to do so. Equally, if the trolley bus is running late, just call in, and they know! 🙂 Oh, and if I want to ring Marion Davies, and tell her I’ll be late for one of her nice parties (Yes, she’s got one too), I can do that now!

So fine, I’m told to say that if you have a good reason for needing to know said modern person’s phone number, feel free to ask. Either when you see her, or by something called email, or just in comments with a contact email address on here, whatever suits you best.

Right, done? Fine, just going to ring Ginger, sorry, Miss Rogers, and arrange to go out dancing tonight, sounds like fun! I’m told normal service will be resumed in the next blog, so bye for now, darlings!

Love and best wishes,

Clara Johnson (Miss)

Oh, what, a video, whatever that may be? Fine, what I’m told too many people see these phones as?

 

We Came To Dance

OK, so I worked the title to suit the video here, but I’ll include a mention of a certain chorus line dancer, and her various troupes, just to make it work.

As far as I know, no woman has been told to flaunt her body, albeit in the cause of entertainment, without being willing to do so. And no, the President Club hostesses werent given the full picture of what would happen, thats for sure. But any cheerleader, or walk on girl knows what they are at a sporting event for, and in the case of most, getting well paid for, and thats to add ‘an image’ to said event. I have no idea what these young ladies get paid for doing so at F1 races, boxing, US sports, and other sports get paid, but I suspect its a decent wage? Oh, and in the case of certain events, publicity too!

Yes, lets face it, if I was young, pretty, and had all the right bits, in the right places, I’d probably give it a go, and enjoy the experience. Fine, I’m elderly, and not currently owning all the right bits, but fine, if someone can arrange me a twenty something body, and some cute looks, try stopping me, if I got the chance.

Thats why I was sad to read today that the PDC Darts people have bowed to pressure from a Feminist group, and decided to drop the walk on girls, and said group has instantly turned on other sports, now they can sense blood. I am Feminist, but to a sensible degree, seeking equality, not superiority, as some seem to think it should be. Now if these girls were forced to do these roles, then fair enough, its wrong, but if you’re happy to show yourself a little, for publicity, and pay, then go for it.

Thankfully, some are trying to keep these girls in work, good for them. Cant see it, in these PC days, but I can hope.

I know it was a different era, with different attitudes, but seriously, some of the outfits (some were barely outfits, at least one movie, the outfit was a long blonde wig!) those chorus girls wore, revealed far, far more! Did they care? Probably not, they were earning decent money, at a time when many Americans were struggling with the depression. But yes, some happily stayed on the chorus line, a number became stars,and others got to marry rich men, who they got to know through their work.

But yes, there are times I’m sorry to see myself as a Feminist, and this is one of them.

Video? Pretty obvious, I hope?

The Acting Capital Of The World?

I’ll be honest, when I think of the echelon of places to act, my first thoughts turn to Hollywood. No idea why, because I’ve never made a proper movie of any kind, and in terms of theater royalty, Broadway, or Leicester Square should rank higher for me? Not that I have ever got even vaguely close to acting at any of those places either, to be honest.

Me, look at small theaters, village, or school halls would have been places where I was far more likely to perform, lets face it. Then tonight, I was watching something on TV, where the actors involved said that in fact, the acting capital of the world, for them, was Stratford Upon Avon.

I suppose if you’re a classical actor of some note (they are), then I can see the logic of that, given the whole Shakespeare thing, and all. As far as I can remember, I’ve only acted in one piece by Shakespeare (that Scottish play), and amusingly, and probably aptly, with foresight, I played a witch! Let me add, it was being done by a boys Grammar school, so apart from a few main parts, for which we borrowed girls from their grammar school across the road, we were expected to play all the parts. So, with hindsight, probably my first main female role!

Now, if I told you that the first movie capital of the world wasnt Hollywood, wasnt even on the West Coast, would you believe me? Yes, the movie industry was created in, and around the New York/New Jersey area in fact! But the winters made filming tricky, and when they heard about the all year round warmth in California, then history was created! It was really late into the 1920’s before Hollywood began to dominate the scene.

So where, readers, would you say was the acting capital of the world? I still say my vote goes for Hollywood, but thats probably that 30’s chorus girl/movie actress buried within me. No, I dont really expect anyone to answer here (rare that anyone does), but just think about it, for me, OK?

OK, video time. So my vote goes for Hollywood anyway, and besides which, I couldnt think of an apt song that links to Stratford in any way. I did think of using Shakespeare’s Sister, but seriously…? Anyway, fine, this seems apt, as its what the modern day chorus girl would probably be doing nowadays, shows on cruise ships, and the like.

The times, they have changed

Given my love of movies of a certain age (older than me!), I have to accept that some of the things seen as ‘fine’ back then, just look horrid now. In truth, I dont even have to go back that far for a prime example, there was a 1970’s TV series called ‘Love Thy Neighbour’, which at the time was designed to show off the racist attitude of one of the actors, when a West Indian couple moved in next door. In truth, the humour was probably pretty dodgy back then, but if people watched it now, with modern eyes, they’d probably want to burn all the tape of the program. Fine, now, it would probably be for the best, but back then, well, lets just say there were people, like myself, who found the attitudes to be horribly wrong, and there were others who just couldnt see what was wrong with his opinions!

There is a ‘much discussed’ silent movie dating from 1915, called Birth Of A Nation, that, to put it bluntly, shows the KKK in a good light. No, to modern eyes, that isnt good, and hopefully to some at least back then, they felt the same way about the matter, though I suspect the segregation that went on back then, less so. My personal view, the nature of the film, as it portrays, is ghastly, but its film history, that with modern eyes looks awful, but back then, things were different. I’d love to say the whole matter is solved, but as we’ve sadly seen too many examples of in the US recently, sadly there are a few ‘cavemen’ type who still think that is right. No, I’ve never seen the movie, so cant comment in a personal way.

But the one I have seen, that is now starting to cause a fuss, in a similar manner, is Gone With The Wind! Seriously, its a story of the American Civil War, set at a time when white people were in charge, and everyone else was treated with disdain, but…I’ve seen several reports of late of cinemas refusing to show it, because of what its about. I know, if the nature of it upsets you, dont go and see it, but seriously, its a film classic, and trying to stop others watching it, of their own free choice, seriously…? So leave the film be!

No, I agree, it would never be made now, because the times have changed, but back then…So yes, before you comment on these movies, or the Charlie Chan movies (where a white man dressed up as an oriental, rather than getting a Chinese actor for the part) as being horrible in modern eyes, just stop and think. Try, if possible to see them through the eyes of people who were around back in the 1930’s, or before, not through modern eyes. Or better, dont watch them, unless you can! Yes, they are horrible to modern eyes, but these were made 80 years ago, or more, when things were very different.

End of rant!

Video time. Well this isnt quite as old as Gone With The Wind, but its nearly as old as me!

A Musical Moment?

Fine, as my only potential ideas for tonight, were politics, which is never a shrewd move, or making comments about the IQ of people from Brighouse, who travel by bus, lets go with a more pleasant, and surprising third option. Yes, a Clara Johnson moment!

For those with short memories, I did a past life regression a few years back, and discovered that I had been an actress in Hollywood, during the late 20’s, and 30’s. No, not the famous one, whose original name I’ve taken, but humble, bit part actress, Clara Johnson!

The annoying thing about bit part actresses back then, is they never got film credits. So, beyond one movie, working out which films she appeared in, impossible challenge! But yes, thats right, in 1937, she got a credit, albeit in an uncredited role, in a movie called Thin Ice.

I must admit, from what I’d discovered about her (not a great deal, but getting there slowly), I assumed she was a dancer in this. She might actually have been a dancer in this, as well as, or instead of, but look at all these uncredited musicians in the orchestra, trying to pretend they’re playing the music! Yes, all female!

So, is Clara in the band, is she one of the audience watching the show, or is she simply in another scene, who knows? Some day soon, I hope to get to watch the movie in full, but even then, its not likely I will truly know which one is her. Annoying, I guess, but at least I’ve now seen a bit of the movie that I know she’s in!

As always, at this moment, if anyone has any more details about Clara E Johnson, photos of her, can identify what she did in this movie, or knows anyone related to her, or even her married name, I’d love to know. Thanks in advance, I hope!

No popcorn at the movies

Right, a little bit of a mixed bundle tonight, catching up on various things, from the last few days.

Firstly, thankfully the issue with the picture has thankfully been sorted, yes, nothing more than a language issue, which a wonderful lady helped me to sort. So now, I suppose I’d better let you see the picture?

Birthday wishes

A real delight, to light up my birthday, don’t you think?

OK, the reason for no popcorn at the movies, nothing to do with them selling out of the stuff. No, in fact, what has virtually sold out for tonight, is seat tickets! Yes, pretty much, or indeed already is, a full house! So no, given that its quite a trek to Elland, especially on a Saturday night, I’m not going. A shame, as it would have been fun, but in reality, might be a lot easier on my old body by not going. Anyway, not a total loss. I went on You Tube, hoping to find the main one I was going for, the one with Jean Harlow in, ‘Bacon Grabbers’, and lo and behold, found it! Fine, watching it on a laptop is not the same as seeing it on a big screen, but its a good consolation. She only actually appears in the last couple of minutes, but its a good, classic, Laurel and Hardy slapstick comedy.

Fine, I’ll slip the videos in here, as this is what they refer to. Yes, videos, 2 of them, take your pick, or try both. The first is the obvious song, though I had never imagined that Kraftwerk would ever have turned their hands to something as silly as this. Sadly, no pictures, but couldnt find any group performances of this by anyone, so… OK, I found Crazy Frog, but you really dont want that!

The other, is a totally different song, from a totally different era, but probably more apt for me. No, I know nothing about the Fontane Sisters, beyond whats on Wikipedia, so dont ask! Active between 1941, and 1961, but no idea when in that period this was recorded. Most likely from ’48 onwards, but dont quote me on that!

Right, lastly, yesterday was signing on day at the Job Centre. In the middle of discussing my job applications, I was asked if I fancied actually working at the Job Centre. To be honest, even if I wasnt desperate, I would have said yes, as its the sort of ‘something different’ that I’d love to do. So anyway, to cut a long story short, I’ve applied, taken some tests, and now just have to wait and see what happens, I guess? Oh, and any prospective employers out there, I’m open to any full time job offer, thats legal! French maid might not be my dream job, but if the pay is decent, then yes, at the moment, I would! Kidding, I, err, think? Oh fine, I might be lousy at it, but it would be fun! Uniform would be, at least!

I think thats everything, for now at least, so…

Can I have my money back?

No, not literally, even if there is one twisting so and so out there that owes me, but anyway…No, that line gives away the video, and also is a potential clue to something I might go and see on Saturday night. Might, comes down more to travel issues, especially coming back, as the cost of getting to the movie, getting into the movie, and something to eat/drink (maybe?), could probably be done for about £15, or so. I know, but getting out, and having a good laugh, might help to keep me sane! Thats not to say that if someone wants to take me to Elland, or treat me, that I wouldnt say no!

What I’ve discovered, is that there is a delightful little cinema over Elland, called the Rex, very old fashioned look, but fitted with all the modern things you’d want in a cinema. But yes, you’ve probably guessed it, its not a modern movie that I’m thinking of going over there to see, oh no! What they’re showing on Saturday night, is 4 Laurel and Hardy movies. One full length one, 3 shorts, making up just over 2 hours of hilarious entertainment. So yes, I’m tempted to say “what the hell!” and go.

OK, what tempts me even more is that in one of the shorts, is some blonde, bit part actress, playing the wife of one of Stan, and Ollie’s comic victims. Yes, thats right, some unknown (well, she was at the time) named Jean Harlow! The movie, ‘Bacon Grabbers’, which is 20’s slang for a repo man, which is where the blog title, and the video come from. Thats right, I’ve never seen this one, so in that sense, its the one I’m going for, even if its not the main movie, and she’s probably in it for 3 minutes maximum! Still be fun to see the other 3, all the same.

Getting back “should” be fine, though obviously there are less buses around at that time of night, after the movies are finished. Metro convinces me that it can be done, and it is my birthday this week, so…I may well give it a go. And yes, getting out, and having a good laugh, might just do me the world of good, I guess? Oh, and fine, its another Harlow movie I can tick off my list lol! So?

The video, the late great, Gerry Rafferty, with what was pretty much his first solo performance as an artist. It wont keep you long, much as a 20 minute, silent movie would do!

One of those different job interviews

And not just because it was the complete opposite in style to the one I had on Monday either. I’ll be honest, I went in with no great expectations on it, expecting it to be more of the same, but hey, I was wrong, in the end, it was fun! Doesnt mean I’ll get the job, more on that shortly, but at least I managed to leave it behind, probably in a better frame of mind than when I went in, and thats very rare.

No clues, to start with that this would be anything out of the ordinary, just the standard application form, and… Then we went downstairs as a group, and were presented with a letter writing challenge (not a first, part of customer service job would involve writing letters/emails to clients, so… The thing is, I’d looked up a bit on the company in advance, so knew a bit about them. Snag was, the questions in the accompanying quiz were about the collections industry, not the company. I knew a few answers, guessed a few others, so we will see.

First interview (there were 2 guys, each doing their own thing) was standard enough, asking questions about what I’d done, what I could bring to the company, and all the other standard stuff. At the end of that, I was told the other guy would also be interviewing me, and I assumed that was where the dreaded competency stuff would kick in. Wrong!

I’ve heard tales of interviews out of the left field, but this was actually my first experience of one. Fine, it started off with an easy question for me, the perfect job. I decided to go left field in reply, so rather than astronaut, or mad scientist’s guinea pig, I went with a 1930’s actress. Original answer, which he seemed to enjoy. Fine, he fired back, asking me to describe the colour yellow, to a blind person. Well, I went in for things like the warmth of the sun, and a field of daffodils, and was told I’d done far better with an answer to this, than most.

So yes, scarily, I walked out of a job interview, feeling like I’d had a good time, despite the quiz. I may, or may not get the job of course, but for once, I wasnt frazzled when I left the interview, a rare event.

Today, at 8.40, I applied for a job in Halifax. Half an hour or so later, I’m being asked if I can go to a group interview in the morning. Yes, its a big company, so its going to be done in a more traditional (modern) way, and not fun. Then after I get back, the passport will go into an envelope, get taken to the post office up the road, and sent off recorded delivery. When I get return delivery, my passport will say I’m female, going by the name of Harlean Stephanie Carpenter. Yes, another special moment.

Tonight’s video. Well, it relates back to the first of those delightful ‘left field’ questions I got asked today, a real blast from the past!

Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Boulevard

Fine, I lie, strictly I saw it about 100 yards from Sunset Boulevard, but you could see, and hear the traffic on said street, so close enough. Mind, the section of said road featured in the film, is not the section in downtown Hollywood, but who’s counting?

As I’ve joked before, I dont seem to do films in a standard setting any more. A recent one was at Bradford Cathedral, and last night, on the roof of the Montalban Theatre, sat in a deck chair, wearing wireless earphones (classy ones too), with my feet on astro turf grass! A great experience especially as I was an equally short distance from Hollywood Boulevard on the other side.

Sunset Boulevard (1950), the movie, is one of those films that I suspect more people have heard about than seen. Before last night, that was certainly true for me. Yes, Gloria Swanson steals the show totally, as the crazed Norma Desmond, though the supporting cast is pretty decent too. Given the nature of her career, you could say she was playing herself, but given she was only about 4th option (Pickford, Negri, and Mae West supposedly turned down the part first), maybe thats not the case, but it was the feel I got. Some of the lines have gone into cinema lore, and its well worth seeing, I feel.

Alright, the down side for me. Yes, its on the rooftop, but I wasnt expecting to climb 5 flights of stairs to get there, nowadays! Beyond that, no there really werent any, beyond the old bones finding it hard work to get up from the deck chair afterwards. So much so, given there is a film I’ve seen before, and love, being shown there tomorrow night, I might go back. Lets just say the clue is in the video! 😉

But seriously, if anyone had told me that I’d be sat outside, on a roof, watching a 1950 film, in October, just wearing a dress, well…yes, it was nearly 100 degrees here again yesterday, though its calming down a little in the next few days. Fine, it will still be about 80, but…

Lastly, the video, not the original one, which I’ve used before somewhere, so found this live version