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John Gilbert's Later Career on TCM


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That's funny, AnnieLaurie. I was thinking about Barrymore when I was writing about the other silent stars who were cast aside when sound came in. Aside from one or two performances, Barrymore had to transition from a romantic leading man into a comic character actor. Though admittedly, he was more of a character all along than a screen lover......

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I agree that Gilbert's salary was probably an issue for Mayer because Lillian Gish's big salary (and control of her films) also galled Mayer. Mayer seemed more able to "deal" with potentially troublesome stars (like Garbo) if their salaries were in line. Indeed, Mayer's fondness for his stars seems to have been in direct proportion to the smallness of their salaries (like Marie Dressler's or Anita Page's).

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I just love these pics of lovely Anita Page. There was a wonderful obit in the Washington Post after her recent passing which was carefully researched by a fan. She was the real deal, with a long life and clearly, was quite a beauty. I adore the pearl flapper cap, too sweet. I wish ladies dressed up more nowadays. I cringe when I see women wearing jeans and sweaters to the opera

or to the theater. I guess I am old school.

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I adore John Barrymore nearly as much as John Gilbert...he is unique and 20th Century is one of my favorite films. I think Lombard was a good match for the Great Profile...I also love him in Dinner at Eight which will be shown this weekend, I believe, as an Essential. It makes sense that Gilbert and Barrymore were friends, since they were both charming, likable and from what I have read, romantic men. They lived practically next door and were drinking buddies.

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Annie,

 

Glad you like the Page Photos, The photo of Anita on the bottom with the flowers is a little bit to contrasty, and not real sharp for some reason like the others are. It was hard to do much with it. Still not real satisfied with the results. I have posted probably a dozen other pictures of her over the past several months. These are three of my favorites among those:

 

 

AnitaPageVeryLovelySmile.png

 

 

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Renee Adoree is of course one of my favorite subjects so, I couldn't resist the notion to post more colorized photos. This first one in the Gypsty outfit I worked on several months ago, so you may not have seen it before? I wish I could find a higher resulotion graphic of this photo someplace? The second one I was not all that happy with, and so I had never posted it before.

 

 

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Oh yes, here is a portrait of Constance Talmadge you may not have seen as well.

 

ConstanceTalmadgeBigblueEyedPortrai.jpg

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The item you mentioned about Boardman alleging Chaplin offering her 100K for her son intrigued me. Were they an item? Chaplin had so many children, wives and girlfriends, I wonder why he would do such a thing. It does not sound plausible to me but who knows.

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*The item you mentioned about Boardman alleging Chaplin offering her 100K for her son intrigued me*. >>

 

Annie,

 

Scott Eyman wrote about it in his book on Mayer The Lion of Hollywood but he didn't give any details about Boardman's claim other than what I had in my post.

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According to TCM's Boardman bio, she had two daughters with second hubby Director King Vidor. There is no mention of a male child in this bio or a romance with Chaplin. Though I am sure they knew eachother since they traveled in the same circles. Caplin's bio does not mention Boardman either, among his many wives and girlfriends, which included Pola Negri, Lita Grey, Paulette Goddard, Louise Brooks and Oona O'Neill. So I guess it is another Hollywood myth.

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*So I guess it is another Hollywood myth.*

 

Which was likely Eyman's point in linking it to Boardman's other story about the Garbo/Gilbert wedding and the ensuing fisticuffs between Gilbert and Mayer.

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I think all you have to do is examine the chronology and surrounding facts to realize that the reported Gilbert/Mayer fracas at KIng Vidor and Eleanor Boardman's wedding probably didn't happen

 

Vidor and Boardman were married on September 8, 1926. John Gilbert and Greta Garbo had started shooting FLESH AND THE DEVIL on August 9. As Lynn pointed out earlier, that's only a month from first meeting (supposedly) to wedding bells, which seems out of step for the shy and retiring Garbo -- especially since she was still grieving over her sister's recent death. She had just finshed working on her second feature, THE TEMPTRESS, on July 26, so the studio was keeping her pretty busy. In fact, she was working at the studio on September 8, and there's no evidence that a double wedding was planned that day.

 

When Boardman related the story for Brownlow and Gill's Hollywood series, she said she did not witness the incident, but was told about it after the wedding. Given all of the above, the story is probably untrue.

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The fight story I heard said this fight, if there was one, was at a Hollywood event and not the actual wedding and Gilbert had been drinking. Gilbert was impulsive. I could see him asking Garbo to marry him multiple times and even getting into it with Mayer. Though I think a physical fight is more in Mayer's character than Gilbert's.

 

Both the Garbo books I read say he pursued her from the moment they met and even when her romantic interest in him waned, he still had deep feelings for her and looked out for her when she needed encouragement. His marriages to Virginia Bruce and Ina Claire, both seem to be rebounds after brief courtships. Garbo was particularly upset about the sudden marriage to Claire, and wished to stop it. Garbo did not have the assertiveness to confront Gilbert directly. Garbo hoped to get her agent and friend involved on her behalf, also a friend of Gilbert's, but he refused saying she should do it herself. My book reports a desparate phone call where Garbo says Gilbert "belonged to her"...it would have been interesting if she had tried to stop it, but then again, it was not in her dour nature to be this way. And at the time she was possibly legally married to Stiller, as has been discussed in this board.

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A reminder to all that DOWNSTAIRS, definitely John Gilbert's best talkie (and the most fun) is airing tomorrow at 7:15 am EST on TCM. In anticipation of that event, I thought I would post Frederick James Smith's review of the film from the Nov. 12, 1932 issue of Liberty magazine:

 

* * 1/2 (out of four) DOWNSTAIRS

 

Jack Gilbert was one of the first stars to climb recklessly into the movie machine and ride into a crash. He has yet to live down that first vocal joy ride. Worried by the sort of stories he has been getting, Gilbert decided to write his own. He provides himself with the role of a dashing chauffeur, a very devil with the ladies above and below stairs. The background is Austria, which permits a frequent waltz accompaniment. An engaging scoundrel, the chauffeur wins the love of the butler's bride while he is conducting an affair with his mistress, a baroness. Karl (Mr. Gilbert) seduces the bride, blackmails the baroness, robs the cook, and moves on to a new and susceptible mistress.

 

It was during the making of this film that Mr. Gilbert met and fell in love with Virginia Bruce, who plays the butler's wife with charm and warmth. The love scenes, let me note, are pretty torrid. Mr. Gilbert, it seems to me, is delightful as the philandering chauffeur.

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Dan: Darn! I missed the first 40 minutes...can anyone fill me in on what happened prior to the ill fated fishing trip? Many thanks. I thought Gilbert was wonderful and this movie proves his speaking voice was just fine. I like him in the role of a cad. Virginia Bruce was prettier than still photos show. This is only the second movie I have seen her in. I hope they show it again.

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I loved it too...I was thinking it is a shame Mayer preferred "family pictures" because Gilbert was a great rogue! He could have played all kinds of scoundrels. He does relish playing the bad boy philanderer and is quite good at it. What a charming devil, what a waste of talent to be in so many romantic costume dramas. Ah, well, at least, the thread is still going...; )

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I still think that Gilbert's biggest problem was that he had been typed as the great lover for quite awhile and audiences really relished him in that role.

 

However, he got caught in the whirlpool of changing tastes and changing technology. When the Depression hit, audiences tastes changed as well.

 

Gilbert became a victim of the great lover type he had played so successfully for so long but when it fell out of favor, so did he.

 

Not many actors during the transition to sound could easily change types and be accepted by the audience and their fans. Those that had supported Gilbert for so long did not support him moving away from the type of character they had grown comfortable with.

 

His audience moved on to other actors leaving Gilbert without much support in his efforts to revive his career.

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