Tag Archives: Robert Taylor

Breaking Bad and The Bribe (1949)

RobertTaylor_thebribeA husband with a fatal medical condition, trying to provide for his family by performing illegal services for a conglomerate. A wife doing what she can to get through it and make ends meet with a simple job. A cop who is too close to the situation and questions whose side he is on.

Sound familiar? Nope, I’m not actually describing the plot of Breaking Bad. The above are the main highlights of The Bribe, a lesser-known Noir from 1949 starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, John Hodiak, Vincent Price and amazingly enough, Charles Laughton.

[Warning – there will be some frank talking about plot points of Breaking Bad here. If you wish to avoid spoilers and have not seen the final season, avert your eyes now!]

To anyone who has seen the film, it’s not a really solid parallel, no. John Hodiak’s character is pathetic, pitiable and rather annoying, but he is by no means Walter White. He merely develops a medical condition that grounds him as a flier and then uses his knowledge of planes to help a deliciously evil Vincent Price test planes for nefarious ends. Ava Gardner as his wife does not experience the incredible transformation of character Skyler White goes through, but she does show glimmers of the calculating femme fatale Skyler became. Especially when her family (in this case, husband John Hodiak) is on the line. Robert Taylor shines as the special agent sent to ferret out the illegal dealings. He’s straight as a pin when he begins the crusade and by the end of the film, his feelings for Ava have so changed him, he questions everything he ever believed in. It’s somewhat like Walter White’s DEA brother-in-law Hank Schrader, who suffers such a betrayal with Walt’s choice of career, it causes him to become obsessed with taking Walt down.

The movie is an enjoyable Noir with some gorgeous 40s fashions, a fun little song and a host of remarkable stars. But by far, my favorite aspect of all is Charles Laughton’s Pie Shape. The fact that the great Charles Laughton would ever deign to play such a preposterous character is notable in itself. And then to have played him with such sincerity and perfection, it’s just unforgettable. Pie Shape is hard to peg at first. He’s just in the background, being remarked upon with bewilderment by Robert Taylor’s character. In between his whiny complaints about the condition of his feet and his completely serious showcase of the foot x-rays explaining his pain, he somehow becomes endearing. And that is the genius of Laughton: the ability to make even the most unlikable of characters human.

So, perhaps my parallel is a stretch, but it’s similar enough to deserve commentary, even if it’s purely coincidental. And being the rabid classic film fan I am, I would love to believe The Bribe was a source of inspiration to Vince Gilligan. Plus, there is one little line that connected a few dots for me in the similarities. When Ava Gardner is having a particularly hard time of it with her husband, Charles Laughton walks in, sets down his rain soaked poncho and asks “Things breaking bad?”

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Filed under Movie Review, Noir, Uncategorized

How to Tie a Turban Like Hedy

Much excitement today! I have a tribute post to Hedy Lamarr up on Silents and Talkies, complete with an eye-popping portrait of Hedy drawn by Kate herself! In honor of this momentous occasion, I’ve prepared a tutorial for all my dear readers. But first, a little explanation about my Hedy ardor.

Quite awhile ago, Kate asked her readers which star had sparked their interest in classic film. At the time, I couldn’t remember, so I didn’t participate in the discussion. (sorry, Kate – I really wanted to!) But, as I’ve been pondering the question, I’ve come to the realization that my hook into classic film was Hedy Lamarr. My premier Hedy Lamarr film was Lady of the Tropics (1939) with Robert Taylor. Hedy plays an exotic woman of European and Asian descent residing in the Orient. In one important scene, she wears a modest white turban accented with long earrings and a matching necklace. (See photos above)

The image of this uncommonly exquisite woman in her striking head wear made an enduring impression on me as a 12 year old. I seized a kerchief at the time and tried to tie a turban like hers, to no avail. While I moved on to other films and other stars as my fascination for classic film intensified, Hedy and her turban were unforgettable.

And then I saw Come Live With Me (1941). Come Live With Me is a typical 40’s feel good flick – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl live happily ever after in the end. Of course there are some other twists, but that’s the major plot. It’s an enjoyable film and I’ve seen it several times. But there is one scene which makes this film a must see for any Hedy Lamarr fan: when Hedy demonstrates how to tie her turban. For me, finding this scene was like Hedy personally visiting me and teaching me how to recreate her iconic look.

I had forgotten about Hedy and her lovely turban… until I started experimenting with pin curls about a year ago. When you set your hair in pin curls and try to sleep in it, the pins can be dreadfully painful. I needed a head covering that would stay put and – voila! Hedy’s Turban Training came to the rescue! I even wear my turban to the store now (Walmart, no less!) and get treated like a duchess because of it. The cashiers in my local Walmart are ridiculously truculent, so this is a major victory. And I owe it all to Hedy…

On to the instructions! The title of Duchess of Walmart awaits you, my friends!

Doesn’t George look dashing? I think it quite suits him. :) You can find these instructions in my flickr set, if you want a better look at them. If you have any trouble with the tutorial, please let me know. Even if you just see a typo, please tell me! I want everyone to be able to recreate the Hedy look successfully. Happy Turban Tying!

***March 25, 2010 Update: This post was featured in the Queens of Vintage Turban post today! I’m so honored to be included in it.***

 

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Filed under Fashion Backward, Film Bloggers, How to

Frivolities: The Mash Game

mash quiz

This little game has been floating about in the blogosphere, and being a person who loves a bit of silliness, I’m playing along. Kate has one at Silents and Talkies, which is totally hilarious because of her hatred for Randolph Scott (I’m totally with you on that one, Kate). It looks like Kate is destined to end up with Dana Andrews, and I think they’ll be very happy together.

As for me, I’m going to marry Robert Taylor. Take that! ;) Our fabulous house in England will be out in the country, with a thatched roof and a fence all around the front garden. It may just be painted white, if I can get Bob to paint it for me when we move in. Mash says we’re going to have 21 kids… this may be one point on which I’ll have to take control of my own future, because I know I’d be lost with 21 kids.  I’ll just slice one of those numbers off and make it 2. One boy and one girl. That’ll suit me perfectly. The orange Duesenberg disturbs me a little, as orange is the color I hate most in all the world. Well, maybe Bob can paint that, too. And of course, I’ll be a graphic designer working on nifty logos and promotional material for all the farmers living around us. And we’ll all live happily ever after.

If you’re curious about what I entered into the boxes to get such a lovely future, here’s a screenshot:

mash quiz 1John Garfield is my Randolph Scott (yuck), as Kate likes to say. I think ending up with him would be a torment, mostly because he was always such a jerk. How could anyone like a man who stole Priscilla Lane away from Jeffrey Lynn? He’s just a bad lot.

I had some trouble remembering the brand names of the cars, but I did pretty good. And California is my “place I’d never want to live,” at least for right now anyway. I probably don’t need to explain which job is my dud. Thinking about it now, though, it’s a job that doesn’t even exist anymore!

Now, go check out all the other bloggers who MASHed:

Mrs. Dana Andrews (aka Kate Gabrielle)

Mrs. Tyrone Power (aka Millie)

Mrs. Richard Conte (aka Ginger Ingenue)

Mrs. Rudolph Valentino (aka Elizabeth)

Mrs. Gower Champion (aka Nicole)

Mrs. William Holden (aka Wendymoon)

and the lone man to play so far… Mr. Myrna Loy (aka C.K. Dexter Haven)

So… why not MASH for yourself?

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Filed under Film Bloggers, Pick-me-ups

Top Twenty Classic Film Actors

I was tagged by the terrific Raquelle at Out of the Past to list my top 20 favorite movie actors.  It was a hard order to fill, because I really like so many of them.  The first five are according to my esteem for them, the rest are in alphabetical order.

(All images from Dr. Macro, unless otherwise stated)

1. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

2. Tyrone Power

(and the lovely Maureen O’Hara in The Black Swan – I just love the red scarf he wears in this movie!)

3. Robert Taylor

4. Errol Flynn

5. Gary Cooper

6. Marlon Brando

(I adore him in Guys and Dolls as Sky Masterson!)

7. Ronald Colman

(Photo from Arrowsmith)

8. Robert Donat

(This pic comes from The 39 Steps.)

9. William Holden

(from The Bridge Over the River Kwai)

10. Van Johnson

(Shown here with Lana Turner in Weekend at the Waldorf)

11. Jack Lemmon

(From The Apartment which is such a lovely love story.)

12. Victor Mature

(Shown here with Gene Tierney and Phyllis Brooks in The Shanghai Gesture – which, incidentally, if you’ve never seen it, it’s a quirky must!)

13. Robert Mitchum

14. Robert Montgomery

(My favorite Montgomery film is Lady in the Lake, although this photo is not from it)

15. Chester Morris

(The Boston Blackie series is so great!)

16. John Payne

(This photo is my scan from a vintage 1942 copy of Modern Screen magazine.)

17. William Powell

(Asta is pretty cute too!)

18. Gene Raymond

(I found this photo on the internet years ago now.  I can’t remember where it came from, so if it’s yours or you know whose it is, I’d appreciate a little heads up.  Thanks!)

19. Ronald Reagan

robert-sterling-120. Robert Sterling

(I just adore him in I’ll Wait for You (1941).  And, remember, he was Ava Gardner’s husband in the 1951 version of Show Boat!)

This is another photo that I cannot remember where I found it.  Link info would be very much appreciated!

Okay, there it is.  I know I’m going to feel guilty about who I listed and who I didn’t.  I like so many more actors, but when you can only pick 20, it puts a limit on your ardor.  Oh well.

Off to finish my art project!

[1/25/09 Edit:  I am supposed to pass on this tag, but when I wrote this, I couldn’t decide on who to award it to.  Since the lovely Jen was kind enough to be the first to comment on this post (other than my crony in film admiration, Raquelle) I’ll pass it along to her.  Here ya go, Jen.  Have fun!]

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Filed under Film Bloggers, Tags & Awards