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John Gilbert's Later Career on TCM


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Which is why I believe that MGM did not know what to do with John Gilbert.

While I'm sure that Mayer did not like Gilbert, He also was an astute enough businessman to have his producers try to figure out what kind "new" formula that they could cast John Gilbert in.

Which is why he was cast as a salty rough neck in WAY FOR A SAILOR (1930), a tough guy in GENTLEMAN'S FATE (1931), a scoundrel in DOWNSTAIRS (1932), and hired quality directors for these films like Sam Wood, Mervyn LeRoy,and Monta Bell. Sadly, nothing took.

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Annie,

 

No, I sent the message direct to your In-box here on this forum. See the little icon beneath "Control Panel"? This is located under you user name in the right-hand corner of your screen. It should list the number of messages you have to open. if it says One, then I am the first to send you a message on this forum I guess? In any event, check the In-box for messages. I don't have your personal E-mail address, so I couldn't send you a message that way.

 

 

JohnGilbertInDressRobe-1.jpg

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*Downstairs* rocked! I loved it, and I am still excited to have gotten this one on dvd-r for posterity! It was a gem of a movie, and great fun to watch.

 

However, the day before, while watching the 30 seconds that was allotted to Gilbert in "MGM, When the Lion Roars" I realized something. - I am heartily sick and tired of seeing Gilbert portrayed as a victim on specials and in books. Do you actually think that he thought of himself as a victim? I think he probably didn't have the time. He may have had a rough time because of studio troubles, money troubles or wife troubles, but I think there is the possibility that he had many plans for moving on in his life. He just didn't have time to make that comeback.

 

After watching *Downstairs*, I am more and more sure that Gilbert would have rebounded in some way, had he not been ill. His energy and creativity would have found an outlet somewhere. Maybe he wouldn't have been the big star anymore, but Gilbert strikes me as a character actor stuck in a movie star body anyway. I think he had many gifts to share, and that, unfortunately for us is the real tragedy of Gilbert's short life - we can't see another *Downstairs* or a movie directed by Gilbert because he died too soon. What a pity for us. I would have loved to see Gilbert in a slew of films written for him, by him.

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Wendy,

 

I don't have anymore Gilbert photos ready. But I do have this one of Eleanor Boardman in Costume for TELL IT TO THE MARINES. Did you see the photo of John and her trapped in the Snow Storm from WIFE OF THE CENTAUR (1924), that I posted earler in the week? Be sure to check the 1929 Hollywood Review, and Silent Film Gallery thread for many more photos that I will up-load shortly.

 

EleanoBoardman-SportyOutfitFromTell.png

*Eleanor Boardman, Wardrobe from TELL IT TO THE MARINES (1926)*

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Hey, Jeff! How are you?

 

Yes, I have caught up with this thread - but haven't yet on most others.... I loved that pic - it was GORGEOUS! I had never heard of the film, either....

 

Did you like Downstairs? It was very enjoyable, with absolutely no voice problems whatsoever.... in fact, I actually forgot that John was "John Gilbert" for the duration of the film. It was such a solid plot - it reminded me of the British show Upstairs, Downstairs (which wasn't produced until the late seventies)in so many ways. Makes me wonder if the women who wrote the series had seen the movie....? Probably not.....

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Wendy,

 

THE WIFE OF THE CENTAUR is a lost MGM King Vidor feature, with Gilbert, Boardman, Aileen Pringle and Blanche Sweet. Actually, I should mention that a guy on Nitrateville recently uncovered a surviving fragment from this picture, but I don't know how long that it is? Apparently, what he has is in pretty good shape.

 

By all indications, WIFE OF THE CENTAUR and Vidor's HIS HOUR made Gilbert the top Romantic Star in movies, before THE MERRY WIDOW, of THE BIG PARADE. Bare in mind, that Rudolph Valentino was on his self imposed hiatus from the screen for much of 1924.

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Wendy,

 

HIS HOUR is a hugely significant film in the career of Gilbert, as well as King Vidor, and even Elenoir Glyn, so it would be great to see this movie restored. It is not a lost feature.

 

When Thames HOLLYWOOD was produced in 1979, HIS HOUR had not been found yet, but I print was uncovered in a Czechoslovakian archive in the Early to Mid 90's, and now resides at the Museum of Modern Art. It still has Czech Title-cards that haven't been translated to English.

 

Aside from a few live screenings, nothing much has been done with this movie to date. I don't understand at all why BARDLEYS THE MAGNIFICENT was restored right away after being found, while HIS HOUR has been sitting around neglected for the past 15 years???

 

 

HisHour-JohnGilbert-AileenPringle.jpg

 

*John Gilbert And Ailleen Pringle From King Vidor's HIS HOUR (1924)*

 

Everyone,

 

By the way, thought you might be interested, here is a link to a recently formed John Gilbert Fans group on Vintage Life Network. I just discovered the group last night and joined for the first time. There is also a Valentino group, 1920's group, Silent films Group, TCM group, Flapper Beauties group, and much, much more!

 

http://vintagelifenetwork.ning.com/group/johngilbert

 

GilbertColdStare.jpg

 

*Be sure to check out the Brand New On-line Group for John Gilbert Fans on Vintage Life Network. You will also find numerous other neat groups to join!*

 

This is the link to my own Web-page on VLN:

 

 

http://vintagelifenetwork.ning.com/profile/TheGiant

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Thanks, I realized that you did not have my email, but yours is the first PM I have received after something about a message board vote I missed. I will go through my DVD collection and email you back. Thanks again. It is so cold here, a balmy 5 degrees, it is a good day to hibernate and watch movies.

 

I love this photo, just divine. No wonder I always go for guys with dark hair, prominent noses and big eyes...go figure! I love Barrymore too...I think of him as the King of the Rogues.

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Jack: I agree with what you said, but keep in mind that MGM documentary was made in 1992. I think there has been more perspective, a more nuanced view since then about both Gilbert and Mayer. Mayer's repuatation is now seen in a negative light and to those who know silent movies, Gilbert has gained stature and is mentioned prominently in many recent books.

 

I do not think Jack saw himself as a victim. One of my books has a quote late in his life where he says "They liked me once, Oh, well"...I will try to locate his precise words, the gist of it was he knew he was once wildly popular and it faded. This was said with wistfulness and perhaps, a little sadness, but not as a victim by any means. I have read quotes about him being "bitter and angry" in his later years, but they are usually attributed to those who were not close friends.

 

The quotes by close friends like King Vidor, Glyn, Garbo, Dietrich, Joy and others were complimentary, talked about his kindness, generosity and what a good friend he was to both men and women. He was well liked, and I believe, missed by those he left behind. They regretted not being able to save him. There was guilt by some, the 1930s were a tough era with big dissapointments for many, in Hollywood and elsewhere.

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Jack..I am so glad to see this post today. I just finished watching "Downstairs" this

morning. I have a whole new appreciation of John Gilbert. Some of his silents were

fabulous, but this was pure joy. He dominated every scene & with Paul Lukas, that isn't

easy. I enjoyed the supporting cast as well. Virginia Bruce, so pretty. Reginald Owen,

the type part he does so well.

 

We definitely have missed out on the potential pleasure of watching John Gilbert moving

on.

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*I think there has been more perspective, a more nuanced view since then about both Gilbert and Mayer. Mayer's repuatation is now seen in a negative light*

 

Annie,

 

I think Mayer reputation has almost always been seen in a negative light, at least for the last forty some odd years. Judy Garland made the talk show rounds and was always telling stories about working at MGM and what a lout Mayer was. She often embellished those stories either for laughs or for sympathy.

 

Many other MGM stars who grew up on the lot at the same time Garland did would come to Mayer's defense and say they were treated quite fairly by the man.

 

But Garland's stories, like the story of Mayer trying to destroy Gilbert's career by altering his voice in recordings are much more memorable because we like stories of negativity about people like Mayer.

 

I think Scott Eyman's wonderful book The Lion of Hollywood is one of the best books that offers Mayer's story, warts and all, and seems to be the best biography to date of a very powerful man.

 

At least Eyman's book lets the reader decide about the reputation of Mayer instead of painting him as evil incarnate the way other biographers have done.

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I hear you, I am not a Mayer fan, trust me. I think he got what he deserved when he was forced out of MGM. I was thinking of those people in the documentary, such as Mickey Rooney and Lionel Barrymore, who praised him. This sounded contrived to me.

 

Gilbert and Garland were in good company, Robert Taylor was also treated badly by Mayer. Taylor was thrown to the wolves during the Communism hearings, as recounted in my friend Linda Alexander's new book on Taylor Reluctant Witness. This is ironic since Taylor was conservative politically and not a "problem" star. He was a fall guy.

 

I also recall Liz Taylor saying how controlling Mayer could be. My only point was in _this time_, he is seen negatively, despite his success as a mogul for many years. The passage of time has not helped his reputation at all. I will check out that book you mentioned it sounds interesting.

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