Sunday, February 8, 2009

Marlon Brando [Film God 1]

Brando burst into film and gave acting a new style (method) for the next half a century. He seemed to embody smoldering angst, threatening to burst open at any moment in a volcano of emotion, yet on the surface he appeared confident enough that he 'had the world on a string'. He became an icon to the nation in the biker movie The Wild One (1953), photo rt. and dig the high-heels, as leader of a motorcycle gang that takes over Hollister, Ca. When a local asks, "Hey, son, what are you rebelling against?", Brando replies "what cha got?". He then dazzled everyone in A Streetcar Named Desire, yet was the only cast member of four to NOT win an Oscar, which he got a couple of years later for On the Waterfront ("I coulda been a contenda.")

He aged quite well for awhile, as his next Oscar winning role in Frances Coppola's The Godfather (1972) proved. After that he became the unofficial taster for Haagen-Daas, and showed up for Apocalypse Now! in 1979 so overweight that Coppola had to shoot him at night and mostly just head shots. He did make a film comeback as a parody of his godfather role in The Freshman, a comedy in which he played a mafia don to Matthew Broderick's title role.

You get one actor of this magnitude in your lifetime, and you don't realize it until there's just no one as 'large' half a century later. It's almost as if he escaped from the big screen and descended into our lives like the characters in Woody's Purple Rose of Cairo, becoming part of the cultural lexicon. I suppose a lot of Brando's strength came from his good looks, and not from his script selection as his early career was never matched again for the power of those films.
He even did a musical about gangsters, Guys and Dolls (above rt.), with Frank Sinatra, and his singing wasn't too bad; then a pedestrian remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, which featured his Polynesian wife as his romance in the movie (see below).He later OD'd by "hoggin the daas" (as Apu said in the Simpsons), had to have his stomach pumped, and said "I'm beyond my art, and sex, all I have left is my gluttony."

The photo left is from The Godfather, during which Brando stuck marbles in his cheeks to help make that voice. The photo right is from his early days as an acting student in New York at Actor's Studio.

[After seeing the early Brando pictures, I decided to not ignore male beauty on this blogsite in spite of its title, so expect more film gods: Paul Newman, Burt Lancaster, Brad Pitt, Hrithik Roshan from India, maybe even Valentino!]

Friday, February 6, 2009

Candice Bergen

One of the most photogenic models ever, Candice easily made the transition to films in Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge, and made everyone's fantasies by cheating on boyfriend Art Garfunkel with his roommate, a very young Jack Nicholson. Candice's famous father was Edgar Bergen, a popular ventriloquist whose dummy Charlie McCarthy was just as well known as its creator, and became the most popular character of that lost art. Candice later played photographer Margaret Bourke-White in Gandhi (right), and Margaret never looked so good! She actually had more success later in TV, winning Emmys for her popular liberal reporter, Murphy Brown. She's still beautiful today in her 60's as a lawyer in Boston Legal (btm.rt), with glasses and silver-blonde hair. Eye Candice indeed, and we've been lucky enough to watch her gracefully grow for half a century now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Myrna Loy

You never think of her as the most beautiful 30’s star, nor do you think of her as a siren, but Myrna created one of the most lovable characters in all of film in Nora Charles, wife of detective “thin man” Nick Charles played by William Powell (photo right, the 'thin man' was actually a suspect, not Nick, my review is here: Thin Man Series).
She was deft with comedy, had such a lovable smirk that even when she’s picking on Nick you can still like her. Her wealthy character allows Nick to be a pro 'slacker' and solve crimes as a hobby, so she didn't have to take any guff and called the shots; he called her 'mama'. A definite keeper, I doubt the big screen will ever see such a popular married couple (and dog, in ASTA). Watch the entire box set on dvd, five films and a documentary on “Nick and Nora”, then just try to NOT fall in love with her! I wanted to show some very early shots of Myrna so I shrank these photos drastically – check out the 300 or so of her at Fanpix.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lena Horne

One of the most striking African-Americans stars ever, Lena was so lightly-complected that she first passed for white in order to get work, then starred in the all-black A Cabin in the Sky for Vincente Minnelli, the first big director to make such a film. Lena had the looks and especially the voice, sultry and smooth, to be a star in films or music, so she combined the two. I’m sure she actually helped break racial boundaries by appealing to fans of all races; I loved her right away when I was a white kid in Georgia. You can tell from her smile that she would be a person you’d like to just hang with, she epitomizes “black is beautiful”, and was apparently ageless, just as gorgeous past middle age. "Goodness knows, honeysuckle rose" (!)

Photos from her website:
Lena Horne

Monday, February 2, 2009


Ann-Margret is not only a gorgeous and sexy redhead, but a great all–around entertainer: singer, dancer, actress, author. At home with comedy (Grumpy Old Men), drama (Oscar nomination for Carnal Knowledge, definitely check that out), or musicals (Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas). She’s been in films for over four decades, still does her musical act to sold out audiences, and is still beautiful!

Even though born in Sweden, for some reason she seems like the perfect American girl (self-confidently and independent?), holding her own and in Viva Las Vegas, drawing attention away from even Elvis, the King himself, and the world noticed; the film drags when she's not onscreen. I'm not sure I've ever forgiven husband Roger Smith for taking her from all of us!

She has made herself accessible on the internet, so check out her site, filmography, and eMail her:
Ann-Margret's Official Website

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hrithik Roshan [Film God 2]

Roshan is a popular and award-winning Indian actor, born into a cinema family on January 10, 1974. His first film wasn't until 2000, Kahonaa...Pyaar Hii (2000), followed by Koi.. Mil Gaya (03), Krrish (06), Dhoom 2 (06), and Jodhaa Akbar (07), which I saw, about the Muhgal King who united Hindustan and promoted religious freedom and other humanitarian advances.
I'm sure Hrithik's green eyes and bodybuilder physique have attracted a legion of female fans in Asia (perhaps a few male fans too!) - and he has two thumbs grown together on his right hand! Now, there's your conversation starter. I'm surprised more women here don't know this face yet. Everyone's suddenly ga-ga over John Hamm, but he looks like an Arrow shirt ad, while Hrithik could easily be the next James Bond and become a major world star.

Penelope Cruz

The greatest Spanish export since the guitar, Penelope always brings a zest for life into her performance, and has rarely done a film you can’t enjoy. Classic Mediterranean dark looks, pouty lips, terrific body she doesn’t mind exposing, she’s become one of the sexiest film stars alive – just ask former bf Tom Cruise and current bf Oscar-winner Javier Bardem.

Most first saw her with Cruise in the Cameron Crowe film Vanilla Sky, but this was a remake of the Spanish film Open Your Eyes that she starred in; the first actress to play the same part in a remake? I saw her earlier as the youngest daughter in Like Water for Chocolate (1993). However, I like her more (so do the critics) in the films of Pedro Almodovar, notably her Oscar-nominated role in Volver; and she did a great dance to Kung Fu Fighting in Don’t Tempt Me, so check out all her Spanish films as well. Let’s hope she gets the Oscar this year for Woody's Vicky Christina Barcelona.