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Stephan55

Charles Laughton, Romantic Poet

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I was watching THE PRIVATE LIVES OF HENRY VIII (1933), which featured the Great Charles Laughton and his lifelong wife and love, Elsa Lanchester, and was reminded of a poem I read that he had written.
Laughton and Lanchester were married in 1929, and remained together 33 years, until his death in 1962.

 

I remember walking along the strand late one evening in Southern California, around 1969-1970. There were a few psychedelic head shops that I passed along the way. They sold the expected paraphenalia, as well as posters, incense, and various knick-knacks, along with books of poetry.

Though this particular store was closed at that late hour, the front window was lit, displaying some of their wares. Among which were several frameable onion skin sheets with inspirational and thought provoking poems that could be read, such as 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost, 'A Different Drummer' by Henry David Thoreau, 'No Man is an Island' by John Donne, and poems by Kahlil Gibran, D.H. Lawrence, Walt Whitman, John Keats, Yeats, Shelly, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Emily Dickinson, and a particularly lovely poem by none other than Charles Laughton, dedicated to his wife, Elsa.

 

I cannot remember the exact poem, but it addressed in so many descriptive adjectives that a woman becomes all beautiful women to the man who's in love with her.... :wub:
 It was quite eloquently written and impressed me to such an extent that I returned the following day, during business hours, and purchased several of these sheets of poetry, including that one by Charles Laughton.

 

I have long since lost all of my books, and collected works of poetry from those days, but that poem remained hidden, sleeping within the recesses of my mind, waiting to be reawakened.
I cannot remember the title or exact words, and have googled and googled, but cannot bring anything up that is specific to poetry written by Charles Laughton.  :unsure:

 

I wished to include it here, in this thread, for those of like mind and interest to appreciate, but alas, I now find myself requesting assistance from TCM board members in trying to locate this beautiful poem.

Anyone whose in love, or ever been in love, will likely appreciate and relate to it. 
And, perhaps as I, be equally impressed by the actor, the man, the husband and lover who formed such words for his lady love.

 

Does anyone know of this poem, or can anyone assist me in the quest to find it?  :mellow:

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When one woman gives herself... You possess All women...

Charles Laughton - Rembrandt (1936)

 

 

I had the good fortune to be watching another vintage Alexander Korda biopic, REMBRANDT, starring the great Charles Laughton, along with his wife and lifelong love, Elsa Lanchester.

 

When early in the film Laughton delivered the lines from the "poem" that I had referenced in my earlier post.

 

The scene is in a rowdy Holland inn.

Rembrant was asked  why a man should want to paint his wife after seven years of marriage...

 

Whereupon Laughton (as Rembrant) delivered an elegant tribute to his wife Saskia, describing her as "all women..."

 

"A man in the land of whores and the lord gave him all that the human heart could

desire. But beyond all, this man was in love with his wife.

 

The secret he possessed was a vision...

 

A creature, Half child, half woman, Half angel, half lover, brushed against him.
And of a sudden he knew that when one woman gives herself to you, you possess all

women.

 

Women of every age and race and kind, and more than that, the moon the stars, all

miracles of legend, are yours.
The brown skinned girls who inflame your senses with their play...
The cool, yellow haired women who entice and escape you...
The gentle ones who serve you...
The slender ones who torment you...
The mothers who bore and suckled you....

All women who god created out of the teaming fullness of the earth are yours and

to love as one woman.

 

Throw a purple garment lightly over her shoulders and she becomes the Queen of

Sheba.
Lay your tousled head lightly upon her breast and she is a Delilah, waiting to

enthrall you.
Take her garments from her, strip the last veil from her body, and she is a chaste

Suzanna, covering her nakedness with fluttering hands. 

 

Gaze upon her as you'd gaze upon a thousand strange women, but never call her

yours, for her secrets are inexhaustable, you'll never know them all.
  
Call her by one name only...   I call her Saskia.
"
 
 
Rembrandt (1936 film) British biopic
85 minutes

Produced & Directed by Alexander Korda

Written by June Head & Lajos Bíró,
From a story by Carl Zuckmayer
 
Featuring: 
Charles Laughton,
 Gertrude Lawrence,
 Elsa Lanchester,
 Edward Chapman,
 Roger Livesey,
 John Bryning,

 

Music by Geoffrey Toye
 
Distributed by 
London Film Productions
 United Artists
 
Release dates
6 November 1936 (UK)
 25 December 1936 (US)

 

After hearing this, I realized that I had mistakenly given Laughton credit for the writing, when in fact he was the deliverer of this beautiful soliloquy.

My memory from that time was that Charles Laughton had received credit on the parchment, and that the poem had been dedicated to his wife, which I had mistakenly construed to be Elsa Lanchester, as opposed to Rembrandt's wife Saskia.

 

This explains why all my searches for this poem had failed me as Laughton was not the author. And perhaps these lines originally appeared in the script of the movie, written by June Head & Lajos Bíró, or from the story by Carl Zuckmayer.

 

In any event, I think the lines are a beautiful tribute to womankind, and within them perhaps lies one of the secrets to a lasting monogamous relationship.

 

I always marvel at such life long relationships, and if Laughton can only receive rightful credit for rendering those beautiful lines with his wonderful voice, it appears obvious (to me) that he was a practitioner of its sentiment.

 

I was unable to upload a 2.5 minute clip from this scene as the size exceeded the allowance.

But for those interested in hearing the words from a master, I have provided a YouTube link below.

 

The scene begins at about 6:50 minutes into the movie, and ends at  9:05 min (lasting  about 2:15 min).

 

I heartily recommend this little film for those that enjoy Alexander Korda biopics, and especially for fans of Charles Laughton. 

 

Rembrandt (1936) - Alexander Korda
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNZK6DN_tW4

 

Images from the film
http://www.artcrimeillustrated.com/2014/07/rembrandt-1936-charles-laughton-as.html

 

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It's pretty obvious to me that Laughton was reading some one else's poem. While I love Laughton's acting and am so glad his talent has been captured on film, I'm not a fan of his personality.

He didn't treat women well, and did not play well with others. We could put him in the megalomaniac thread for his huge ego alone. I just finished reading Claude Rain's biography, and in it were a few incidents of Rains' encounters with Laughton. Rains wanted to be friendly with Laughton, as they had similar "roots".

 

Laughton was not very kind to Rains, in a jealous, adolescent, snarky way, making rude comments and eventually Rains had to simply ignore him.

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It's pretty obvious to me that Laughton was reading some one else's poem. While I love Laughton's acting and am so glad his talent has been captured on film, I'm not a fan of his personality.

He didn't treat women well, and did not play well with others. We could put him in the megalomaniac thread for his huge ego alone. I just finished reading Claude Rain's biography, and in it were a few incidents of Rains' encounters with Laughton. Rains wanted to be friendly with Laughton, as they had similar "roots".

 

Laughton was not very kind to Rains, in a jealous, adolescent, snarky way, making rude comments and eventually Rains had to simply ignore him.

Yeah Laughton was a real prick. I do love his acting,but very much doubt I would like to meet him.

If you haven't before,read the backstory on The Mutiny on The Bounty -'35

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I've always felt that Laughton's acting was too OTT for movies -- it comes across as a kind of hamminess that's sometimes mistaken for good acting. He may have been better suited to the stage. Of course, the parts he played were rather extreme characters, so at least he chose well.

 

As to Laughton's personal life, Scotty Bowers makes a claim about Laughton in his book, Full Service. I haven't read the book, but there's a reference to it on Laughton's Wikipedia page. Too creepy to mention here.

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Yeah Laughton was a real prick. I do love his acting,but very much doubt I would like to meet him.

If you haven't before,read the backstory on The Mutiny on The Bounty -'35

 

Such venom. :unsure:

 

I confess I know very little about Charles Laughton, the man.

He is an actor that in many roles I loved to "hate" such as in "Mutiny On The Bounty," and "Island of Lost Souls," etc.

Though he brought incredible pathos to Quasimodo that brought tears to my eyes as a child in what I still consider the best film version of Hugo's classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939). And he was instrumental in 18 year old Maureen O'Hara' first U.S. screen appearance in that film. O'Hara seems to have only good things to say about him.

I also really enjoy him in his Korda biopics.

Elsa Lanchester  remained married to him for 33 years which may also mean that she found something endearing about the man.

 

So he was mistakenly given writing credit for a lovely poetic tribute to the fair sex, when in fact he just recited it.

No harm, no foul.

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Such venom. :unsure:

 

Elsa Lanchester  remained married to him for 33 years which may also mean that she found something endearing about the man.

 

Or it was a marriage of convenience.

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As to Laughton's personal life, Scotty Bowers makes a claim about Laughton in his book, Full Service. I haven't read the book, but there's a reference to it on Laughton's Wikipedia page. Too creepy to mention here.

Damn, I wish I hadn't read that.... :o

You have destroyed the illusion I had about the man.

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Such venom. :unsure:

 

I confess I know very little about Charles Laughton, the man.

He is an actor that in many roles I loved to "hate" such as in "Mutiny On The Bounty," and "Island of Lost Souls," etc.

Though he brought incredible pathos to Quasimodo that brought tears to my eyes as a child in what I still consider the best film version of Hugo's classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939). And he was instrumental in 18 year old Maureen O'Hara' first U.S. screen appearance in that film. O'Hara seems to have only good things to say about him.

I also really enjoy him in his Korda biopics.

Elsa Lanchester remained married to him for 33 years which may also mean that she found something endearing about the man.

 

So he was mistakenly given writing credit for a lovely poetic tribute to the fair sex, when in fact he just recited it.

No harm, no foul.

It's not venom,it's the truth. I love his acting,just not him. If you want to see real venom,you should see my NFL forum!!! Ruthless on that board...Loool

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I've always felt that Laughton's acting was too OTT for movies -- it comes across as a kind of hamminess that's sometimes mistaken for good acting. 

 

Guess I'm one of those people who do not discern between overacting & hamminess. I think hams are enjoyable fun like performances by:

 

Bette Davis

John Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore

Kirk Douglas

Charlie Chaplin

 

just to name a few fave hams.

 

I especially love hams in comedy, usually the straight-man. For example Laughton in RUGGLES OF RED GAP and Bette Davis in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER. Was Monty Woolley a ham too?

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