Friday, March 29, 2013

Fashion in Film Blogathon: Shanghai Express (1932)

Clive Brook and Marlene Dietrich

Between 1930 and 1935, Josef von Sternberg filmed six wondrous and surreal flights of imagination for Paramount starring Marlene Dietrich with costumes by Travis Banton. The director and Dietrich had already made their first film together, The Blue Angel (1930), for UFA in Germany and, on the heels of that film's sensational premiere in Berlin, departed for Hollywood. Von Sternberg, who was born in Austria but mostly raised in America, had worked previously with Banton in the U.S. on Underworld (1927), a groundbreaking silent crime drama.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Beauty in Black and White - the Film Noir Art of Guy Budziak

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep

Guy Budziak is a woodcut artist whose striking high-contrast prints evoke dense and haunting images from classic noir, proto-noir and neo-noir films. My recent  Nightmare Alley blog entry featured Guy's rendering of a tantalizing moment from the film:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Birthday Tribute to Francoise Dorleac

71 years ago today, on the first day of spring, March 21, 1942, Francoise Dorleac was born in war-ravaged Paris; she would live just 25 years more.

Catherine (top) and Francoise
Her father was Maurice Dorleac, a stage and screen actor, and her mother, Renee Deneuve, was an actress who re-voiced Hollywood films in French (including Judy Garland’s in The Wizard of Oz). Both Maurice and Renee were prominent performers at the Comedie Francaise. Francoise's younger sister, Catherine Deneuve, was born in October 1943. With their parents in the theater, acting did not seem an unusual profession to the girls. Many years later Catherine would recall, “For us, it was a job like any other.” She and Francoise grew up sharing a bedroom and a bunk bed, and each would go into “the family business” at an early age. 

Francoise first performed on the stage at age 10 and made her screen debut at 15 in the short Mesonges (1957). Later, supporting herself as a model for the house of Dior, she would study acting at the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique. As an in-demand model and actress, Francoise led a wildly busy life from her teens to the end of her life. She appeared on stage (among her roles was "Gigi"), on TV, on magazine covers and in spreads (including Vogue), and on film. Over the seven years from 1960 – 1967 she was featured in 16 films, most notably: