Thursday, April 23, 2009

TCM Education Continues

As part of funny lady week, TCM aired the comedy, Ruggles of Red Gap, staring Charles Laughton as an English butler taken to the western frontier. I've never seen a comedy with Laughton in it before and hope I can find others he did as well. Mary Boland (The Women), a social climbing oil heiress, is his main foil and has numerous costume changes, which hug her every curve and draw attention to her bouncing gold curls. Zasu Pitts is a local bird-like woman who falls for stuffy Laughton initially because of mistaken identity but latter due to their love of cooking. TCM's Robert Osborne states the film was remade in 1950 as Fancy Pants staring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. Mr. Osborne is always a gem when dispensing...well, gems of classic film knowledge.

A documentary TCM featured also caught my eye last night. Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood. Get the title? She was beautiful and came up through the ranks of Hollywood during silent films solely on girl power. Never being seduced on the casting couch, she didn't sleep with her athletic, actor husband (Fred Thomson) - he was a divinity student - until her wedding night. She was one of the most prolific and most successful early screenwriters. She was highly paid, highly respected and highly sought after by her contemporaries. Marion was the first person to win two Oscars for her screen plays (The Big House, The Champ). Garbo talked because of her and she revived many actors (Zasu Pitts, Marie Dressler) careers with rich and personality driven stories like Dinner at Eight.

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