Author: Ursula Dempsey
In addition to contributing to this blog I also write mymarilynmoments, a blog inspired by the wisdom and words of Golden Hollywood. I also run a styling business, zeldazonkstyling.com, that operates under the guiding principle of finding the best 'style for your style.'
You can visit my personal site here
August 30, 2014
With Lauren Bacall’s death on August 12 another ‘star’ from the Golden Age of Hollywood takes their place amongst the other stars that shine so bright over my little house each night. And as I look up at them and think of Bacall and all the other names that I know, the faces I love, I can’t help but feel eternally grateful for their presence in my life. The newspaper coverage of her death will undoubtedly introduce new fans to the world of ‘old movies’ so I figured this might be a good opportunity for a seasoned enthusiast like myself to introduce and familiarise such novices with some of the other memorable and distinguishable characters that await them.
Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation…
Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter? The Maltese Falcon (1941)
1. Razor sharp, and I mean blade-of-hair-slicing-sharp dialogue. Prepare yourself to be dazzled with wit, humour and the acerbic tongue that was an instrumental element of any script. Whether it was Bogey, Bacall or Barbara or some other dame the point was the men and women in these movies fought with words as much as anything else. The insults, the jab, like knives were expertly thrown and always hit their target.Borrow this line from Casablanca the next time you cross paths with a foe – “You despise me, don’t you? If I gave you any thought I probably would.” Now that’s a put down. In Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford’s daughter inspires the following juicy line from Crawford’s closest friend – “Personally Veda has convinced me that alligators have the right idea. They eat their young.” A line Crawford herself might well have said years later given what her own children would eventually say about her.
2. Mind blowing,heart-stopping, fantastic clothes. The men and women of these films are always look stunning and are phenomenally turned out. The dresses alone are worth the 93 minutes or so and as a bit of a fashion hag, I don’t say that lightly. Whether its Crawford’s ridiculously wide,in a good way, shoulders, or West’s slinky sexy dresses that scream come up and see her some time, or the red sparkly number that worked on both Monroe and Russell – the blond and the brunette, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or everything Grace wears in Rear Window. I mean it’s enough to make you burst or explode in a bubble of glitter it’s all so fabulous. And these are just a mere trifles, the full banquet awaits you dear neophyte.3. The cigarette and the cigarette holder. No matter how you feel about the evils of smoking, you must accept that in ‘old’ movies everyone smokes, a lot.Smoking is used to add punch to the deliverance of a line, that smoke itself is used to blur, to hide, to reveal and/or hide character flaws. And in truth, it all looks good. Whether it is striking a match, opening a cigarette box, showing off an engraved silver cigarette case, lighting a cigarette or blowing out billows of cigarette smoke, especially directly into the face of your opponent, smoking looks glamorous – get used to it.
4. Coffee- always black, martinis, old fashioneds and of course bubbly. All of these are consumed in large quantities throughout ‘old’ films. The tinkle of the ice-cube as it ricochets against the sides of the glass will become as familiar as the roar of the lion that opens all MGM reels. It is never too early, there is always a bottle or decanter to hand and everyone drinks and drives. However again it all just looks so appealing, so much fun. I dare you to watch The Seven Year Itch and not long for some champers and potato chips (crisps). I know I never manage to get through that movie without either trying to make a martini or opening up some fizz. So what better way to pay homage to the passing of the wonderful, the sultry, the sassy Bacall than by taking the time to step back in time and savour all that Golden Hollywood can offer. As the man himself,Bogey, promises in Casablanca, it will be “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”