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Natural "Blonde"?


WaldoLydecker
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Last night I watched the new DVD transfer of ?Blonde Venus? (contained on the generically titled ?Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection?) and I kept waiting for a specific scene depicted in a photographic still I own from the film to turn up and although one sequence came awfully close, the exact moment evidenced in the still never appeared.

 

Here?s the scene in my glossy movie still: Dietrich, with significantly torn nylons prominently displayed, is being helped through an open window by friend Hattie McDaniel. Both women seem to be eyeing something on the floor (a dead body, perhaps?) There?s also an interesting detail included: Marlene?s eye-catching diaphanous shoes are noticeably twinkling from the shafts of sunlight streaming through the window.

 

In the DVD version of ?Blonde Venus,? there are a couple of brief shared scenes between Marlene and Ms. McDaniel ? one occurring in the room described above ? and Marlene is dressed in the same way she is in the still but the exact action on display in the photo is never matched in the DVD version of the film.

 

Question: Was ?Blonde Venus? ever trimmed? According to Leonard Maltin, the opening skinny dipping scenes were often excised for television (though they are included on the DVD). Or, was the little window scene presented in my still only staged for the benefit of a studio photographer? Perhaps it?s the latter, as such minute, meticulous attention seems to have been paid to the cosmetic look of the still?but then again, it seems like an awful lot of work involved for only a publicity shot!

 

One Last Sidenote: Although she figures in a pivotal sequence and has a fair amount of lines, Hattie McDaniel isn?t even billed in the end credits ? this only seven years prior to ?Gone With The Wind? and her Oscar! (Cary Grant, in one of his early roles, is listed third ? after Marlene and co-star Herbert Marshall.)

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Well, the only natural blonde I can think of in the movies was Garbo. Her hair was so natural that it didn't even register as blonde! I would assume every other actress, natural or not, enhanced their color one way or another.

 

Now, as to your inquiry, I have no idea. I do know that in Garbo's case, she had extensive photo shoots after every film. She often looked different from the film, with different hair, and posed in ways that were not depicted in the film. So, perhaps this could be what happened with Marlene and Hattie, although like you said it seems a bit too much trouble to stage something so elaborate and not mimic the film.

 

Anyway, I taped Blonde Venus off of TCM years and years ago. I will have to watch my copy again and see if I see Hattie helping Marlene, with torn nylons and sparkling shoes, through a window. I will get back to you on that.

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Ok, Waldo, I just watched Blonde Venus again. I did see her come through a window. She and Hattie were looking down at Sidney Toler who was trying to arrest Marlene. I suppose it didn't happen exactly like your photo. And, I am sure that they probably took some pictures after the film or during which don't quite match the action in the film. Or, they could have done retakes, and changed the film and kept the publicity shots. Either way, the film was EXTRAORDINARY! Wow! What a movie! What a star! And, I can see why Hattie wasn't listed in the credits. Her part was very small.

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Thank you to everyone for your superb detective work regarding the emphasis on Marlene's fabulous footwear. The scene in "Blonde Venus" sort of matches the shot but it definitely isn't verbatim which leads demented obsessives like Yours Truly to wonder if they are actually missing something important!

 

In response to the Garbo comments...I think that technically, Greta was a far more talented actress than Marlene, though Dietrich was a divine example of a certified and uber glamorous movie star (this gets into the same argument that's always applied to Bette and Joan, isn't it?) I think one totally underrated and overlooked film of Garbo's is "As You Desire Me." Not only did GG achieve an astonishing look in those early scenes but the premise of the film (based on a Pirandello play, was it?) is very enthralling. Why is that picture never discussed when GG's films are reviewed?

 

There is a rare MGM LP recording from the early 60's that you can sometimes find floating around in used record shops that features dialogue snippets from Garbo's greatest films ("Camille," "Ninotchka") -- It's "narrated" by Walter Pidgeon and I love to listen to it because even divorced from the indelible images contained in the films, Garbo proves herself a formidable and haunting actress.

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Ah, yes. As You Desire Me is one of my favorites, too. One of the reaons is the beginning. I love her platinum hair and her drunkenness! I also love her whole acting job from harlot to heroine.

 

I think she looked exactly like the painting!!!! No matter what color her eyes!

 

And, I used to have that record with Walter Pidgeon narrating. I lost it in a move. But, I know exactly what you're saying.

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I kind of feel lost on the threads tonight, or I'm just a little quiet tonight.For some reason it took me a while to actually post something.As far as GG goes I unfortunately haven't seen many of her films though I do like her acting skills and screen presence.She was something to look at.

As far as Walter Pidgeon goes, he fits in on the group of actors/actresses w/ very distinctive voices. His was masculine and eloquent.

Another actor w/ a distinctive voice: James Stewart, you could close your eyes and know who the actor was behind the voice

Hey, should we make this the subject of a new thread?It's certainly different than the others.

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Sounds great! Go ahead and write it up! Who could you recognize with your eyes closed? No, that's no good. Ok. Whose voice gives them away? Oh, I don't know. Needs work.

 

Anyway, by all means you should check out Garbo. I would start with her early stuff like Anna Christie, Romance, Inspiration and Grand Hotel (although you really need to see that one after you are accustomed to her because it is an out-of-the-ordinary performance), then you will get a feeling of who she is. Then, move up to Queen Christina, Camille, and Anna Karenina. Then you can watch anything cause you should be hooked. But, some people aren't. You either get her or you don't. Kinda like Scotch. Not everyone likes it, but it's class!

 

What have you seen already?

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Well, you can just watch both of those again or go back. Don't go forward cause the only three left are Conquest (dreary), Ninotchka and Two Faced Woman. You can see those later. Watch any of the early ones. Romance is my favorite but she tries an Italian accent in that. Maybe Inspiration or Susan Lenox. But, definitely watch all three of those in any order. Then go back and watch Camille and Anna Karenina. Or . . . .

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Ok, so you have Camille and Anna Karenina. So, the next one should be Ninotchka! I will keep you current. Garbo's career had many ups and downs but I always categorize her career into three parts. The beginning was her silent career, which also had many sections, but you can pretty much put all of her silents (9) into "The Beginning." Then, the middle, started with Anna Christie, her first talkie, and went right through to the Painted Veil (9). Then, the third part started with Anna Karenina and ended with Two Faced Woman (5). She made 24 films in Hollywood, all at MGM, but one silent is missing.

 

So, if you have Anna K. and Camille, you might as well jump to Ninotchka. Conquest which was right after Camille was a long, dreary, Napoleonic documentary of Marie Walewska's devotion and love for the emperor. Two Faced Woman, after Ninotchka, was her last film, and it was a disappointment to everyone, including Garbo.

 

Yup, Anna Karenina, Camille and Ninotchka are a perfect threesome! Russian and French costume dramas, and a Russian comedy which takes place in France!

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