I have a collection of old movie magazines from which I will pick an issue now and then and show you some of the articles, reviews and gossip of the time.
First up is an issue of Film Pictorial from 1936, with cover girl Merle Oberon, who had just starred in These Three (1936), a William Wyler picture also starring Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea, which was a version of The Children's Hour (William Wyler later, rather splendidly, remade the film in 1961 with the lesbian theme intact from the play with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine ). The same-sex origins of the story are never mentioned in the accompanying two-page article, calling the picture a 'drama of school life' instead.
Then there's an article about James Cagney who, apparently, is angry because he's convinced he's been blacklisted by Hollywood because he hasn't worked for a year. (Cagney had just fought Warner Brothers about his contract, and more or less won. However, other studios were now not so keen to hire him as they saw him as a troublemaker. Bette Davis would later go through an almost identical phase in her career.)
Another article, under the headline 'HUNTED!',tells how George Brent had on numerous occassions escaped death. He had been an Irish freedom fighter before becoming a star and was forever on the run from the authorities. The whole piece smells of a lot of studio image-building. If the article is to be believed he virtually single-handedly fought the English for his native Ireland and he was the most wanted man in Britain.
Which brings us to the gossip pages, which don't seem to be very gossipy at all. Ann Harding had a difficult divorce, Irene Dunne is moving into a new home ("It's all to be white! White rugs, Chippendale furniture painted white, sculptures in white Carrara marble. The only touch of colour will be my green pet turtle!"), The Marx Brothers are taking forever filming their new picture A Day At The Races, there's a budding romance between 'young' Jimmy Stewart and Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor is overwhelmed by adoring fans wherever he goes, restricting his mobility and he receives over 8000 letters a week.
One of the most entertaining features in the magazine are the letters from readers. Here's a few samples:
- "Sir, Margaret Sullavan should speak her lines more clearly, instead of sounding as if she were suffering from a severe bronchial complaint!"
- "In recent films such as The Tunnel and Things To Come, the new invention of television has been prominently featured. There seems little doubt that, within a few years, it will have advanced to such an extent as to form part of our home lives, much as the radio does today. Accepting this as a fact, what steps will the film industry take to combat this threat?"
- "Patric Knowles is far more attractive and manly than Robert Taylor will ever be!"
Ofcourse there are some great ads in the magazine as well: