Friday, July 25, 2008

Douglas & Lucille @ the beach

Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Lucille Le Sueur, newlyweds, lounge in the sun. Fairbanks was born into Hollywood stardom (his father being the silent film star --subtract the "Jr") and Lucille was on her way to household name status as "Joan Crawford". They were 20 and 23 years old respectively (yes, Joan was an older woman... always a rebel, that one)


This photo was taken for Vanity Fair's October 1929 issue. Crawford had been toiling away in silent films for 4 years and Douglas for even longer (he started acting @ 14. Ah, sweet sweet nepotism) The seismic shift of silents to talkies --the industry was still reeling -- forced a recalibration of the galaxy of movie stars and many new vacancies opened up. Both Joan & Douglas's fame soared. It helped that they were one of the hottest Young Hollywood couples; she a beautiful ambitious woman; he, the son of a screen legend. This double your pleasure fame augmentation still happens all the time ... ever wonder why actors date actors? (That's one of the reasons, he said with no cynicism intended) The Fairbanks Jrs. divorced in 1933. By then Joan had become one of MGM's biggest stars with hits like Best Picture winner Grand Hotel (previous post), Rain (both in 1932 and both are prime examples of her star mojo if you're looking for DVD choices) and Untamed (1929) under her belt.

studio portraits from 1933, the year of their divorce

Douglas never reached Joan's lofty heights but he was oft employed in plum supporting roles in classics like Little Caesar (1931), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) and Gunga Din (1939), making good of his family name.

fun trivia note: Douglas Fairbanks Sr was the host of the first ever Oscar ceremony in 1928

time capsule (Oct 1929): Crawford's vehicle Our Modern Maidens was in movie theaters (Untamed was opening soon) as was Alfred Hitchock's first sound film Blackmail. Disraeli, the eventual next Best Actor Oscar winner was also starting its run. Brazil's most lauded actress Fernanda Montenegro was born, so was best-selling fantasy author Ursula K LeGuin (strange that only one of her books has ever been adapted for a feature film). At the end of the month the NYSE crashed sending the US economy plummeting and ushering in the Great Depression.

Moviegoing was very very popular.
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4 comments:

JS said...

And that picture of the Fairbanks just became my new wallpaper.

Carl said...

I have generally felt that LeGuin's work would not translate well to the screen. Way too much of what goes on in the pages takes place in the minds of the characters. For all that she is a gifted written communicator, her material does not lend itself to visual interpretation. "The Left Hand of Darkness" is a fine example - a great story that explores the nature of sex and relationships from a wildly novel (sorry) perspective, but that has almost no narrative thread and no action or scene-setting that the visual medium would amplify.

I admit that there are auteurs who could make a straight-to-arthouse masterpiece with this, but it would have no chance commercially. If Bergman or Von Trier would have done it, that might be something. But who would do the screenplay?

whitney said...

I like how fairbanks and crawford are not the hottest of people (pretty average to ugly (crawford) actually) but they take the most beautiful pictures sometimes.

-Whitney

NATHANIEL R said...

crawford ugly? say whaaaaaa?