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John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

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John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby moira finnie » May 10th, 2013, 10:59 am

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"He was always an enigma...many people...have been likened to mercury but Jack Gilbert was mercury. You'd touch him and he'd vanish."
- Leatrice Joy, actress, John Gilbert's ex-wife and the mother of Leatrice Gilbert Fountain

"One of Gilbert's problems was that when he finished a picture...he didn't have a character to do. He had to live with himself. That is one of the big problems, why he died so young..."
- King Vidor, director and friend of John Gilbert

"Why would they want to destroy one of their greatest stars?"
-Adela Rogers St. John, journalist

The Silver Screen Oasis is pleased to announce that Eve Golden, the author of John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars (The University Press of Kentucky) will be our guest on Sat. May 18th and Sun. May 19th. In her recently published critical biography, our May guest author catches something of the quicksilver appeal of John Gilbert's appeal and mystery between the pages of a book, separating myth from reality through her extensive research and insights into the individuals involved in his story and in the context of the period. Reviewers have commented that this new biography is destined to be "the definitive biography of John Gilbert." Others pointed out that this look at the one of the great stars of his day is "well-balanced and far from dull, trashy movie star adoration," while "[d]ebunking the longstanding myths" and "paying heartfelt tribute to his talent and versatility." Ms. Golden's biography was recently chosen by Turner Classic Movies as their featured book of the month, offering the May Book Corner Sweepstakes for those who would like a chance to win this book.

Eve, who delighted us with her visit here at the Oasis in 2008, has written several books about film and theater history, including Vamp, a biography of Theda Bara, Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld’s Broadway; The Brief, Madcap Life of Kay Kendall; Vernon and Irene Castle’s Ragtime Revolution, and Platinum Girl: The Life and Legends of Jean Harlow. This time, Eve will be answering members' questions about the silent star and early talkies actor John Gilbert. Please consider this announcement your invitation to join us next weekend for a lively Q & A with Eve--especially since it will most likely be as entertaining as it is informative.

John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars @The University of Kentucky Press

Eve Golden's Author Page at Amazon

Eve Golden's Website

Below is an excellent segment from Kevin Brownlow and David Gill's documentary series Hollywood: A Celebration (1980) dealing with the difficulties of stardom during the transitional period between silents and talkies. This episode features several particularly interesting first person interviews with those who knew John Gilbert:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOQN5vNVYvo[/youtube]
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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby JackFavell » May 10th, 2013, 11:41 am

Thanks, Moira! This is great news. I have been keeping an eye out for the book ever since I first heard about it. Can't wait till next week!

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby moira finnie » May 10th, 2013, 4:12 pm

In addition to reading Eve Golden's biography of John Gilbert, readers can whet their appetite for a discussion of John Gilbert's life and career by viewing the actor's swan song on film in Lewis Milestone's The Captain Hates the Sea (1934), which is being aired on TCM on Monday, May 13th at 3:45pm (ET). If you cannot see this movie on TCM, it is available on DVD as well.

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A strange floating Grand Hotel from Columbia Pictures, the movie has a dream cast of character actors but is strangely off-kilter, with burlesque touches (The Three Stooges), conmen, coppers (Victor McLaglen) and revolutions (courtesy of Akim Tamiroff and company) among the memorable moments on screen.

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The large cast of The Captain Hates the Sea...all pointing toward director Lewis Milestone.

The performance of the painfully thin John Gilbert is nevertheless quite touching, in part because his role paralleled his life. He plays an alcoholic writer who clambers on board a ship bound for South America in the vain hope that at sea he will actually write something and sober up. His character's Garboesque girlfriend (played by the exquisite looking Tala Birell) loves him, despite his insatiable thirst and self-destructive path.

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The film was actually filmed on board an old, reportedly for $2500 a day, but very expensive cost overruns due to the weather were compounded by strikes, illness, docking costs and the presence of many drinkers among the cast members...and then there was the script. Veering from poignancy (as Gilbert listens to a record with his girlfriend's loving voice and Tamiroff makes his farewell) to weirdly comic (Donald Meek in a bizarre beard, and Walter Catlett's understandably jaundiced bartender), the movie is enjoyable if a bit incoherent at times. BTW, you would have thought that the talented director Lewis Milestone might have avoided any films with the hint of salt air about them after this experience. Unfortunately, almost 30 years later he endured one of the worst disasters in Hollywood history at sea again while trying to helm the out-of-control production of The Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), starring an obstinate Marlon Brando.
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Lewis Milestone in his prime: the director of All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and many other memorable films.
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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby JackFavell » May 10th, 2013, 4:30 pm

Thanks for that info on The Captain Hates the Sea, Moira. This is maybe the best Gilbert film in existence that I haven't seen yet. I'm so excited! I'll think of it as my belated Mother's Day present from TCM.

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby moira finnie » May 10th, 2013, 4:39 pm

I'd love to see your take on the movie, Wen. I thought it was a likable mess, but maybe my assessment of it will be different seeing it a second time. Now that this movie and Downstairs are both out on DVD, I am hoping that The Phantom of Paris (1931) finds its way to video along with Gentleman's Fate (1931), both of which I liked quite a bit.
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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby JackFavell » May 10th, 2013, 4:47 pm

I really liked Gentleman's Fate a lot, too, though it put Gilbert just a bit behind the eight ball again... there's no way you would think of him and Louis Wolheim as brothers. I'd also love to see Phantom of Paris. I think his talkies have been rather misjudged over the years. I still think he's the most expressive leading man the silents ever had.

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby moira finnie » May 10th, 2013, 5:13 pm

JackFavell wrote: I'd also love to see Phantom of Paris. I think his talkies have been rather misjudged over the years.

It's two months away, but The Phantom of Paris is on TCM on Thur. July 11th at 3:30am (ET)
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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby JackFavell » May 10th, 2013, 5:23 pm

Fantastic! :D :D :D

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby Rita Hayworth » May 10th, 2013, 8:33 pm

Saints Alive! ... I love John Gilbert as a Silent Movie Actor and I will get my thinking caps on to give EVE GOLDEN a question or two!

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby CoffeeDan » May 11th, 2013, 4:37 pm

HUZZAH! As some of you may know, I myself started out as a somewhat reluctant John Gilbert scholar 40 years ago, and I know first-hand that writing Gilbert's life is not an easy task. (Needless to say, that reluctance turned into enthusiasm as I saw more of Gilbert's films.) Hard to believe that it was about 10 years ago when I wrote on the TCM forums,after complaining about Dark Star, that "the definitive biography of John Gilbert has yet to be written."

Well, last week I just finished reading Eve Golden's biography of Gilbert. No, I should say I DEVOURED it! What an evocation of the man's life and career -- and such a splendid transport into old Hollywood as well. Nevertheless, there's some parts of Gilbert's life I want to know more about, so I'm looking forward to asking Eve a lot of questions next weekend . . .

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » May 11th, 2013, 6:12 pm

Coffee Dan, so glad to see you post here!

I cannot wait to read Eve Golden's new book!
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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby JackFavell » May 12th, 2013, 5:12 pm

Hey CoffeeDan! Nice to see you!

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby sandykaypax » May 13th, 2013, 2:31 pm

I'm so excited for this! I remember Eve Golden's visit to the Oasis back in 2008. A delight.

CoffeeDan, blast from the past. Good to see you here!

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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby moira finnie » May 13th, 2013, 8:42 pm

Thanks so much for your responses. I know we have a hit when Coffee Dan and Sandykaypax are interested in a topic! (It's great to see you both online).

I hope some of us had a chance to see Gilbert's final film, The Captain Hates the Sea on TCM this afternoon. In the interests of seeing more of John Gilbert's films, I started to compile a playlist of relevant material. I hope that this might be interesting to others getting primed for Eve's visit this coming weekend. Some of the films are full length and others are clips. The playlist begins with a teenage John Gilbert in a small, uncredited role in William S. Hart's Hell's Hinges (1916). Gilbert plays a "Rowdy Townsman" in that film and the list includes clips and films as his star rose and faded. The films can be seen here.
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Re: John Gilbert Author Eve Golden Returns on May 18th & 19th

Postby JackFavell » May 14th, 2013, 10:33 am

Moira, that's a WONDERFUL selection of clips and movies! Thank you so much for taking the time to compile them.

I thought Redemption was a wonderful role for him, even if the movie itself is not top notch and he hated it. I thought him very effective, as usual. And Downstairs is a treat! Hell's Hinges is a super movie, very stark and modern to me, and one can instantly recognize Gilbert in it. He's unmissable and very effective as one of the jerky townspeople.

He had something that few actors now possess - deeply expressive eyes and a way of moving, a way of looking at another actor that communicates all. His gestures are extremely revealing, and the way he uses his hands is remarkable, even for a screen actor. he can, by a simple piece of business, a gesture, communicate so much. I've never seen any actor who could speak with gestures as well as he did. I think he was brilliant, especially at the top of his game.

Watching him in The Merry Widow, which can be a little silly at times, I was struck with emotion at the scene where he comes into Mae Murray's bedroom with the intention of seducing her. His realization of her virtue is so smoothly done, so moving. He looks down in remorse, and then does something amazing.... i believe even a guilty tear falls down his cheek. His changeover is so complete, done SO well that it literally turns the movie into something different, a grand love story. I was incredibly moved by it. He had such feeling, such artistry that he could take a well worn plot contrivance and make it into art.

I was not able to give my full concentration to The Captain Hates the Sea. It seemed wildly offbeat, but that's never stopped me before! I like a movie that tries for too much and fails, and it seemed to be such a movie. I'll have to watch the recording I made before I say more, but I really liked seeing all those different types thrown together.


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