Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Mary Astor and The Maltese Falcon and "...the empty horses."


Recommended Posts

I just watched "The Maltese Falcon" for the "umpteenth" time ... and it is still one of the best, perhaps THE best detective movie ever made.

 

All the characters in the story fit in the mold and do what you would expect, except Shaughnessy, the part played by Mary Astor. She's the lose cannon, the killer disguised as a pretty face. But there is a delightful irony to the story of Mary Astor in this role. I learned about it when I read David Niven's book, "Bring On The Empty Horses."

 

Niven explains that Astor, was as unpredictable as the character she played. While she was always on time and knew her lines, Astor spent her evenings in discrete liaisons. She never indicated the identity of the man or men with whom she spent her evenings. Astor was a Lady ... and a mysterious one at that.

 

By the way ... I highly recommend Niven's book. It is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Niven was such a great story teller.

 

Cheers

Link to post
Share on other sites

you know I was just watching Mary Astor in The Palm Beach Story last night thinking how incredible an actress she was, and how underrated, and how each performance is so brilliant and so different she makes you forget every single other performance she's ever done. Look how different Palm Beach Story and Maltese Falcon are, and how different they are than Meet Me In St Louis!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess Mary was usually discreet, but she got in some kind of court trouble over

her affair with the playwright George S. Kaufman. I believe her steamy love letters

were read in court. It was quite a scandal way back when. Have to do a few clicks

and refresh myself on all the dirty details.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to recommend Mary Astor's two memoirs, My Story and A Life on Film. Astor was pushed into the movie business as a fourteen-year-old by her ambitious stage parents. They saw money in her pretty face. She worked from the very early 20?s through the mid-60?s, which covers quite a large and interesting piece of film history. Life on Film is about her career working in movies and on TV (she had quite a career in live TV drama, including working with James Dean). Very, very interesting behind the scenes perspective. My Story is about her personal life: her overbearing and avaricious parents; her first love and lover, John Barrymore; her first husband, Kenneth Hawks, Howard?s brother and also a director. Kenneth was killed in a mid-air accident while shooting a film over the Pacific Ocean. My Story covers her affairs and other marriages, her drinking problems and eventual turn to faith.

 

Another great memoir is Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges. He was writing it at the Algonquin in 1959 when he died suddenly. He?d planned to call it ?The Events Leading Up to My Death.? Years later his wife assembled the material he?d been working on with other papers and the book, with revised title, was published in 1990.

 

Message was edited by: theladyeve

Link to post
Share on other sites

pacific.jpg

 

Mary and Bogie on the set of Across the Pacific, discussing their picks

in the Sydney Greenstreet weight gain pool.

 

 

Oops. One brief correction. It wasn't love letters that were read in court in the divorce case,

it was excerpts from Mary's diary, concerning a night of bliss spent with Kaufman. Apparent-

ly the diary was locked up under the court's jurisdiction and later destroyed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In My Story, Mary Astor writes about the Kaufman affair and the diary scandal. She doesn?t deny the affair, but says that matter of her diary was overblown and that much of what was reported about it was fabricated by her husband and/or his attorney. She was going through a divorce at the time and there was a custody battle.

 

And to JackFavell, about the title of the Sturges? memoir. The last paragraph he wrote is poignant and indicates that his own title would not only have been more fitting but also ironic:

 

?These ruminations, and the beer and coleslaw that I washed down while dictating them, are giving me a bad case of indigestion. Over the years, though, I have suffered so many attacks of indigestion that I am well versed in the remedy: ingest a little Maalox, lie down, stretch out, and hope to God I don?t croak??

 

(he was only about 20 min. from the end when he wrote that)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, eve, for that. The man was witty and deep to the very end.... I love him.

 

And thanks for clarifying the Astor diary information. I too had read that the diary had been tainted by her ex-husband and his attorney. I believe they had the diary in their custody for some time before it was introduced as evidence, and then the judge had the contents sealed from public view. There is no way of knowing what is really true in it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=GeorgeBailey1951 wrote:}{quote}

> All the characters in the story fit in the mold and do what you would expect, except Shaughnessy, the part played by Mary Astor. She's the lose cannon, the killer disguised as a pretty face. But there is a delightful irony to the story of Mary Astor in this role. I learned about it when I read David Niven's book, "Bring On The Empty Horses."

>

> By the way ... I highly recommend Niven's book. It is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Niven was such a great story teller.

 

"Bring on the Empty Horses" (an allusion to one of the more memorable malapropisms uttered by director Michael Curtiz on the set of CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, as he ordered a herd of riderless horses to gallop across the frame on cue) is the second of Niven's memoirs. The first, and equally charming "The Moon's a Balloon," should really be read before "Empty Horses."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Re The Moon's a Balloon: Did you ever notice that Niven uses the word "trubshaw" in Bachelor Mother, Trubshaw being David's great army friend. He says it as a "Swedish" word in the hilarious New Years Eve dinner scene where he's supposedly speaking Swedish to his Swedish dinner companion, Ginger.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite story was the one about why he always felt superior to other kids. He attributed this to the fact that when reciting the Lord's Prayer in church, he thought for several years that the correct phrasing was, "Our Father, who art a Niven . . . "

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's so choice, thanks for remembering. I'm going to have to dig out my copy of Moon Balloon and reread. Then there's Niven's side-splitting description of the polo game at Will Rogers' little place...

 

I have read both of Mary's books and was overwhelmed by her perceptive outlook on her own life. Honest, down-to-earth lady. So very smart.

 

PS I snagged a copy of Elsa Lanchester's autobio at the library used book sale yesterday. It still had the original bookstore price tag of $7.50!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I should have added that I only paid $1 for Elsa's book. I've read the intro and a bit of the first chapter and am wishing for a dictionary of Britishisms...I always have that trouble when reading something in "English."

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=Poinciana wrote:}{quote}

> I should have added that I only paid $1 for Elsa's book. I've read the intro and a bit of the first chapter and am wishing for a dictionary of Britishisms...I always have that trouble when reading something in "English."

 

Ha! Sometimes one can't tell it's the same language....

 

I will have to go back and reread the book one of these days.....if I can get past the British slang.... :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=Poinciana wrote:}{quote}

> Re The Moon's a Balloon: Did you ever notice that Niven uses the word "trubshaw" in Bachelor Mother, Trubshaw being David's great army friend. He says it as a "Swedish" word in the hilarious New Years Eve dinner scene where he's supposedly speaking Swedish to his Swedish dinner companion, Ginger.

 

It's actually Trubshawe, Michael Trubshawe, to be precise. When Niven became a star, he found acting work for his old British Army buddy, and there are characters called Trubshawe in several of his later films (from at least A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH onward).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi- To all you David Niven buffs out there I have a question- In one of his books he describes a famous actress with emotional problems {MISSY} Any one know who this could be??? I can not think of one that fits the description. Thanks!!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2021 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...