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Beauty vs. Beast

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Entries in celebrity portraiture (53)

Tuesday
Nov052013

Curio: Vivien's Many Faces

Alexa here, weighing in with some curios for TFE's Vivien Leigh Centennial Celebration.  It seems unbelievable that Vivien made only 19 films, with her face leaving such an indelible mark on the cinema landscape.  And, oh (as Kendra's book celebrates), that face! I think only Cate Blanchett can today approximate the expressive prisms that were Vivien's eyes.  With that in mind, here are some lovelies that celebrate her cinema career.

Three costumes from Caesar and Cleopatra, painted by C. David Claudon, available in print form here.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug282013

Beauty Break! Which would you find most (artistically) flattering...?

We're having daily nooners with the supporting actresses of '52 in preparation for this weekend's Smackdown. But I hope I'm not burning out all our comment juice with these lead-up posts. So today, an "artistic" detour. Though we sometimes lament that movies are made by committee or that artistic decisions are determined by bank ledgers at huge corporations, it's always been true that the movies have been been hybrid babies, born from both business decisions and artistic concerns. Still, even for the fame-craving, what draws (most) people to showbiz is some kind of creative urge or spirit. So the movies have more than their share of artistically inclined characters within them. Moulin Rouge (the 1952 version) is about a famous artist, Singin in the Rain is about (singing & dancing) actors, and The Bad and the Beautiful is about all sorts of creative types: actors, writers, directors. Which led me to this train of thought...

Gloria Grahame's character in The Bad and the Beautiful gets a Pulitzer winning novel written about her and Colette Marchand's character in Moulin Rouge gets her portrait painted by Henri Touluse-Latrec.

Which would you find most flattering: your portrait painted by a great artist or a book written about you by an esteemed writer? OR...

Are you the type who'd rather do the immortalizing yourself for someone else? That's what Terry Moore does as almost-horny college student "Marie" in Come Back Little Sheba when she brings Turk (Richard Jaeckel) local star jock home for a bit of live modelling.

Lola: That's a beautiful drawing Marie!"

CONFESS IN THE COMMENTS! Painting, Novel, or Do It Yourself?

P.S. After the jump we have to talk about that scene in Come Back Little Sheba cuz it is everything.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug202013

Curio: John Stezaker's Forgotten Faces

Alexa here with some art for your Tuesday. John Stezaker has been a conceptual artist in Britain for more than 40 years. His most recent series mines studio images from cinema's golden age, and resulted in his winning the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Stezaker collects old studio portraits of long-forgotten actors and actresses, juxtaposing two images to create new identities.  Or, as he puts it...

 

 

when they got broken up and recombined, real people seemed to emerge."

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun252013

Great Moments in Gayness: "Fasten Your Seatbelts"

Happy Gay Pride Week Everyone!

The best screenplay I’ve ever come across is from Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (1950). It tells a deceptively simple story in a straightforward manner, but does it in such a gloriously telling, bitchy manner that it remains to this day, one of the only films I can’t stop watching once it’s started.

Its most iconic moment is when its leading lady, Margo Channing (played by ours, Bette Davis) literally ascends the stairs in her New York apartment. A party is about to take place that changes the direction of the narrative and the relationships between its characters; a climax that comes only halfway through the picture, which manages to sustain its level of suspense and biting humor thereafter. 

Margo, putting on the facade of genteel, warm host is instead preparing her plan for the evening; to oust the titular Eve Harrington (a wonderful turn from Anne Baxter), and reveal her deceptions to their friends. This is, of course, a plan that goes awry once Davis becomes intoxicated and spends the rest of the party moping about, making her pianist play Liebestraume by Franz Litze and effectively dampening the mood of the entire occasion. But for one brief moment, as her partner and closest friends inquire whether or not the storm has passed or if it’s just about to begin, she gives a beautiful telling look, sashays over to the steps in a way that would make Tyra Banks weep with envy, and like a betrayed Cassandra, intones that classic line:

Margo Channing Portrait © Trevor Heath. Read about it here!

Fasten your seatbelts.
It's going to be a bumpy night.

Her prediction holds true.

All About Eve is a hallmark in gay cinema, not just because of the sexual ambiguities of Eve Harrington or the effervescent, snakelike charm of Addison DeWitt, but because of its diva, Margo Channing. A light that shines from a tower Joe Mankiewicz built that, like any great architect of the cinema, is at once inimitable and forever desired.

We all want that entrance, and we all want such an exit.

Tuesday
Apr162013

Curio: McDermott & McGough

Alexa here. David McDermott and Peter McGough formed an artistic partnership during the 80s in the East Village, dressing as turn-of-the-century dandies in the scene that included Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Known as McDermott & McGough, they've worked in photography, painting, sculpture and film.  They continue to collaborate, even though McDermott lives in Dublin and McGough in New York (in quite the apartment).  

 

I thought their latest work, photorealistic paintings that celebrate actresses in classic films, would be of interest to TFE readers.  The work often pairs actresses from different films together in moments of intense emotion, or nestles them in modernist compositions with other elements of pop culture.

Here's a selection... 

Click to read more ...

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