Thursday, June 28, 2012

William Wyler's "The Letter" (1940) - Starting with a Bang


Of director William Wyler, Bette Davis once declared, “It was he who helped me realize my full potential as an actress.” Of the actress, Wyler would recall, “She was a director’s dream.” Together they made three very popular and critically acclaimed Hollywood films. The pair first collaborated on the 1938 Warner Bros. production of Jezebel. For her performance Bette Davis won the second of her two Best Actress Academy Awards. Davis was sorely disappointed that Wyler had not received a Best Director nod for his work on the film and would later credit her Oscar-winning portrayal to him, “It was all Wyler,” she wrote.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Songwriter Jack Lawrence: What Will I Tell My Heart?

Garbo Laughs is co-hosting the second annual Queer Film Blogathon starting today and running through June 22. This post, a snapshot of the life and career of composer/lyricist Jack Lawrence, is my contribution to the event. Click here for a link to more information and participating blogs.


Jack Lawrence, songwriter
Oscar-nominated songwriter Jack Lawrence was born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 7, 1912, and gained acclaim as a tunesmith during the halcyon days of "Tin Pan Alley" via the hit parade of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. His songs include signature hits for some of the most popular singers of the 20th century, and many of his tunes made their way onto the silver (and Technicolor) screen. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.

I discovered Jack Lawrence through the Preston Sturges comedy, The Lady Eve. The film's main theme is the song "With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair," a lyrical and wistful melody that lingers long after the final credits. In my quest to know more about the music, I came upon Jack Lawrence's website. There I found the story behind the song that was a big hit for Stan Kenton in 1940 and was covered by many others including Kay Kyser's orchestra with vocalist Ginny Simms.

Friday, June 8, 2012

50 Years Ago Today, in Hollywood...

Marilyn Monroe was scheduled to work on Something’s Got to Give, a George Cukor film in production for 20th Century Fox, on June 1, 1962, her 36th birthday. That Marilyn arrived on the set on time and worked all day, managing to complete scenes with leading man Dean Martin and co-star Wally Cox, was a cause for celebration in itself, considering Marilyn had worked on only a handful of the film’s 30+ days in production. At the end of the day, a birthday party was thrown on the set featuring a cake festooned with sparklers and Marilyn's favorite champagne, Dom Perignon. Afterward Marilyn attended a charity baseball game at Dodger Stadium and was serenaded with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” during the event.