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Those Silly Movie Publicity Photos - Where's the Dignity?


TomJH
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Sometimes when I look at the publicity photographs to which the stars had to submit I have to wonder, well, just how foolish they may have felt at times with what was asked of them. Or I ponder how silly they may have felt with the costumes they had to wear. At times it just couldn't have had quite the dignity they may have envisioned when they originally took up their profession. Here are a few pictures that have me wondering just how silly the actors may have felt when they were told to do stuff like this.

 

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Now here's a shot of Cary Grant talking to his Mock Turtle costume that he wore in Alice in Wonderland. That's right, he's talking to a costume, his little trick or treat getup for the 1933 Paramount production. Maybe Grant didn't mind. It was early in his career and he was not yet a big star. I guess this is called paying your dues. Somehow, though, I don't quite envision the same Cary Grant willing to pose for a shot like this after he had become a star. Nor, of course, would he have been willing to play the Mock Turtle later on.

 

 

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Here's Errol Flynn posing as Captain Blood. And doesn't he look kinda special in that frilly costume. Flynn was a nobody when he was cast in the film so he had to submit to this sort of thing (he sure wouldn't once he became a star). I mean, look at those cuffs, and that oversized haberdashery shop belt they got on him. No wonder Flynn's so stiff as he stands there. He's probably thinking they have him looking like a . . . well, you know what he's thinking.

 

 

Director Mike Curtiz deserves a lot of credit for Flynn's performance in this film. However, just to show you what a collaborative effort it is into making someone into a star, it was not Curtiz but producer Hal Wallis that insisted that they do away with the silk and lace look. Lucky thing for Flynn, or this pirate may have wound up looking like he had more swish than swash.

 

 

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And here's Errol's co-star in the same film, Olivia de Havilland, dressed up as a some kind of sexy female pirate. This is obviously a publicity shot since she actually plays a proper young lady in the film, not some kind of cross between Anne Bonney and a flirtatious tavern wench. Guaranteed that any of the men associated with the making of Captain Blood enjoyed watching the young actress do these kind of poses, though. Somehow I have the feeling that Olivia may have been less thrilled by it.

 

 

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Now we fast forward to a 1950 western, Dallas. I guess this is a pretty standard pose required of a lot of actors. What with bad guy Steve Cochrane manhandling fair damsel Ruth Roman, now he's about to get a konk on the head from our hero, in this case Gary Cooper. As these actors hold these poses for the studio photographer for a shot like this (as well as a lot of others similar to it) I don't doubt that they would rather be home sipping a cool one by the backyard pool. Or maybe going grocery shopping. Or clipping their toe nails. Maybe doing just about anything other than stuff like this.

 

 

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More of the same, only this time the western's called Rocky Mountain, and it's an action pose that has absolutely nothing to do with what will appear on screen, as there is no mano-a-mano action in the film. Yep, I don't have much doubt that Errol Flynn wished he was just about anywhere else (his yacht perhaps?), rather than doing this kind of silly stuff. And the poor guy underneath playing the Indian, he doesn't even have a yacht!

 

 

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And now I've saved the best (or worst) for last. It's Flynn again, and the western is San Antonio. Obviously the public is never going to see what Flynn is sitting on for this rootin' shootin' western pose. I hope Flynn didn't have to sit like this too long. No one wants to walk around barrel legged for the rest of the day.

 

 

Again, when an actor is asked to do this kind of stuff I assume he just sloughs it off and does it. He knows he will be well paid for it (or, should I say, at least a superstar like this one was; pity those actors who don't have the same financial compensation). Still, money or not, he must feel more than a little silly at times, especially if there's anyone else in the room watching, as it's time for him to mount up and ride that barrel, cowboy!.

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Tarzanandtheamazons10-1.jpg?t=1347196843

 

Maybe it was a bit different for someone like Johnny Weissmuller. After all, he's a former Olympic swimming champion, hardly a classically trained actor. Now he's getting paid fabulous sums of money in Hollywood for making faces before a camera.

 

Still, look at this still to promote Tarzan and the Mermaids, and look at Johnny. He looks like he can barely suppress a smile. And the girl that the oversized statue has his hand on: now isn't that pose a study in abject terror? Just how silly is she feeling? I wonder what the guy inside the costume is thinking, too. Maybe, "Isn't it time for lunch yet?" or "I'm so hot in this stupid outfit that my glasses are fogging up. That is the girl I'm supposed to grab, isn't it? I hope it's not Johnny."

 

 

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The kid, Johnny Sheffield, probably enjoyed this kind of stuff promoting Tarzan's Secret Treasure. Maybe Johnny Weissmuller, too, at least in the earlier years. But Maureen O'Sullivan. This was a "serious" actress posing as Jane and pretending to yell for a still photographer. She had to be wondering, "What am I doing here? This sure isn't playing Ibsen."

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Remember, you're showing comics in those shots of Belushi and Varney, and they're in the business of producing laughter. That's really not what I'm talking about in this thread. Now I know of no shots in which Laurence Olivier posed with a couple of pencils up his nose but that's the kind of thing that I'm talking about here.

 

Comics are a different breed.

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The photo of Laurence Olivier reminds me of 2 others that shares something in common - Gene Kelly and Joan Crawford in that they appeared in films that told the public, they were quite desperate for a role in their latter years.

 

They swallowed their pride and their dignity took a back seat and did the film critics ever took note of it at the time.

 

When we see them like this, its a reminder that they should had retired and left Hollywood on a good note.

 

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To be fair ham, at the time they might have thought they were part of something different, or better. There's the case of some well known football "hero" who had a small part(no pun intended) in the porn flick *Behind The Green Door* . At the time of his shooting, he claimed not to know what the film was about, never saw anything untoward going on when he shot it, and didn't learn of it's pornographic nature until AFTER it's release. Got plenty pizzed about it, too.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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How the mighty have fallen:

 

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John Carradine hamming it up in this promotional still for House of Frankenstein. One wonders what was going through the mind of a Shakespearean stage actor and former member of John Ford's stock company when Carradine was doing a dumb over-the-top pose like this as Dracula for this Universal wartime B. Mind you, this film itself is virtually a complete artistic masterpiece compared to some of the other lemons that would await an aging character actor badly in need of work. Anyone ever heard of Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula?

 

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Or Hillbillys in a Haunted House, a 1967 celluloid blemish in which Lon Chaney Jr. and Basil Rathbone shared the pain with Carradine. I could find no promotional stills made by any of the three actors for this film. Perhaps they refused, embarassed at just having to appear in the thing because, well, times were bad for them.

 

This was Rathbone's final film, and it was a sad way for the former stage actor and distinguished thespian who had once played, among other roles, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Guy of Gisbourne and Tybalt in Thalberg's production of Romeo and Juliet, to end his career.

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Tom,

 

 

The shot of Flynn promoting CAPTAIN BLOOD does not look undignified, but seems to have been designed to promote the handsome young unknown selected to star in their big budget swashbuckler. Seems that women at least would have been intrigued by his appealing contenance.

 

 

 

 

 

Now, oth, Cary looks silly with th mock turtle, but with his latter day image as a comedian, doesn't seem all that incongruous for him.

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Olivia DeHavilland, as a young starlet, she had to endure many publicity photos of just this type, whether in conjunctionn with the promotion of a film, as here, or of herself (as the susequent postings of Monroe, Crawford and Greer attest). Seems women had to endure endless photo sessions doing cheesecake or otherwise silly poses; many times they were tied to holidays (Monroe/4th of July, Crawford/Halloween); calendars for the year were often produced thus. The studios saw it as a way of occupying starlets (and stars) during the 40 weeks of the year they were paid, since obviously evethe most in-demand star could not be filming the whole period. Th studios sent the stills out by the millions to every media outlet available; hopefully a newspaper or magazine would use some and thus provide the starlet (and studio)some free publicity.

 

 

 

 

 

Th silly posed shots spposeedly recreating scenes from a movie were something different, and everyone,no matter how big, had to submit to them as a matter of course.

 

 

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Paulette Goddard in promotional stills for The Cat and the Canary or Halloween, or possibly both

 

 

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The next year Goddard had to play it sexy for this shot promoting DeMille's North West Mounted Police. This is the kind of standard stuff that was expected of pretty actresses, as silly as it is. The husky looks content, at least.

 

 

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Typical WWII cheesecake shot, primarily done for troops' morale. Maybe actresses doing this kind of thing thought they were being patriotic and didn't mind. It all comes down to the individual.

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TomJH wrote:

<< How the mighty have fallen: >>

 

LOL, is that ever true, especially regarding Elizabeth Taylor playing Fred Flinstones mother in law. Like to time travel back during the shooting of "Cleopatra" asd ask Liz would she like to have a role in a movie bringing the Flintstones to life.

 

Probually get a good slap instead of a resounding NO!!

 

The-Flintstones.jpg

 

Edited by: hamradio on Sep 9, 2012 4:57 PM

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LOL, is that ever true, especially regarding Elizabeth Taylor playing Fred Flinstones mother in law. Like to time travel back during the shooting of "Cleopatra" asd ask Liz would she like to have a role in a movie bringing the Flintstones to life.

 

Probually get a good slap instead of a resounding NO!!

 

 

hr:

 

 

Maybe she would've agreed if she had been offered a lead like Wilma or even Betty, but Wilma's mom?!

 

 

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That pic of MM with the firecracker reminds me of a couple of others I have in a book on her: one for Christmas, where she is posed in front of a fireplace, but stuffing a stocking, or at least in large sheer blac stockinglike garment; quite sexy.

 

The other has her in a short fitted dress made of burlap (with an Idaho potato stamp on it); I believe the photo was taken due to a columnist's comment that she would look good even in a sack of potatoes).

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