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Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

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Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby moira finnie » September 23rd, 2015, 7:13 pm

The Silver Screen Oasis is pleased to welcome Scott Nollen this weekend on Saturday, Sept. 26th and Sunday, Sept. 27th to participate in an online Q & A about his latest book, Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame (Midnight Marquee Press).

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In the hectic '30s this character actress broke all the rules--she tempted Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. away from a life of crime with Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar (1931), she thought motherhood might cramp her style in Life Begins (1932), she jockeyed with Ruth Donnelly over unlikely boy-toy, Frank McHugh in Heat Lightning (1934), and she got the story first (and the marital commitment later) in several Torchy Blane films. In the '40s, Glenda could be found as a world weary gal in Johnny Eager (1941), sharing the screen for a few choice moments with Ronald Colman in Talk of the Town (1943), and stole the movie from several marquee names in I Love Trouble (1948) with her snappy way with a line and a raised eyebrow. In her five decade career, Glenda Farrell worked on film with every director from Mervyn Le Roy to George Stevens and actors as varied as Spencer Tracy (Man's Castle in 1933) and Elvis Presley (Kissin' Cousins in 1964), making her mark in every type of role and every medium.

As many of our members know who delighted in his 2014 visit to discuss Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, and Ward Bond (McFarland), Scott is a research historian with a gift for blending hard facts with humanizing detail and an abiding love for the studio era and the too-often neglected figures who gave it such zest and the lasting qualities we cherish in classic cinema. In his well-written and carefully researched books on varied topics such as Paul Robeson, Boris Karloff, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robin Hood and The Cinema of Frank Sinatra, our guest has regularly illuminated the abiding influence of people and authors who shaped popular imagination. One such individual is Glenda Farrell, an actress of considerable range and warmth, whether cast as one of a series of fast-talking dames, a hard-working reporters, brassy mob dolls or--as she proved on stage in in several memorable dramatic roles on screen--a singular actress. In her five decade career, Glenda Farrell worked on film with everyone from Spencer Tracy (Man's Castle in 1933) to Elvis Presley (Kissin' Cousins in 1964), making her mark in every type of role and every medium.

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Off-screen, as the author describes, the polished performer Farrell was an intelligent, independent woman who eluded the fatal traps of the Hollywood system and managed to find monetary and artistic rewards in her career, while consistently seeking a balanced home life.

Please consider this your invitation to visit the world of Glenda Farrell with Scott Nollen this weekend!

Links to More about Glenda Farrell and Scott Nollen:

Scott Nollen Facebook Page for this book:

https://www.facebook.com/hardboileddame?ref=nf

Scott Nollen on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Scott-Allen-Nollen/e/B000APV7M0

Midnight Marquee Press:

http://www.midmar.com/biofarrell.html

Glenda Farrell on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=glenda+farrell

Glenda Farrell In-Depth Quotes & Timeline from SSO Member Hardwicke Benthow:

https://thoughtsandramblingsofhardwicke ... press.com/
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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby moira finnie » September 26th, 2015, 6:52 am

Thanks for joining us here, Scott. To get things the discussion rolling, could you please describe what compelled you to write about Glenda Farrell? Why does she deserve more recognition among classic film fans?
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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby moira finnie » September 26th, 2015, 9:24 am

What distinguished Glenda Farrell from her fellow tough-talking gals in movies of the '30s?
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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Scott_Nollen » September 26th, 2015, 10:12 am

moira finnie wrote:Thanks for joining us here, Scott. To get things the discussion rolling, could you please describe what compelled you to write about Glenda Farrell? Why does she deserve more recognition among classic film fans?


Thirty years ago, when I first saw her in “I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang” (1932), she became my favorite actress. I instantly knew that she wasn’t a glamour girl. On the screen, she was a gimme girl—in more ways than one.

Even though she was playing a completely unsympathetic character, Glenda was instantly appealing—and very sexy. I could immediately see how Paul Muni’s character, James Allen, could get so easily taken in by her manipulative Marie Woods.

Regardless of the hundreds of witty one-liners she tossed off in countless films, she really wasn’t hardboiled at all. In real life, Glenda usually didn’t deliberately say things to be funny; she said them to be honest. In fact, she was so unlike her screen image that she often disappointed eager fans who met her when she wasn’t working.

During the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, Glenda was considered a bit of a rebel. Her dislike for the typical Tinsel Town social scene and refusal to show skin on the screen or in promotional photographs made her a quiet “women’s libber” before that mantle was taken up more brazenly by the likes of Bette Davis (and even Bette posed for cheesecake stills).

I'll answer the second part of this question along with the one below.

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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Scott_Nollen » September 26th, 2015, 10:29 am

moira finnie wrote:What distinguished Glenda Farrell from her fellow tough-talking gals in movies of the '30s?


I believe that Glenda was just a BETTER actress than her fellow tough-talking gals. She was one of the first, really, beginning with LITTLE CAESAR in the very early sound era, when the Hollywood studios were looking for performers who could talk. And, man, could she TALK--reportedly faster than any other actor at that time.

Glenda was also unique. She was stage-trained but also had a natural timing that was razor sharp--and it was both verbal AND non-verbal. Just watch her films with the wonderful Joan Blondell. Glenda had a double take equal to that of Stan Laurel, and his was the best in film history. It was SO quick and SO natural that I am nearly laughing right now, just thinking about it. And Glenda had a unique look--there were so many bleached-blonde, fast-talking dames during the early '30s, and most of them disappeared rather quickly. Glenda really had light brown hair, which she gradually segued into after a few years of films, but it was that little pout that she had that immediately attracted me--that immediately gave her an "attitude"--that this was a WOMAN who could take care of herself. She did that in her personal life (as a working single mother) all during the period of her film stardom, and she did it many times with her screen characters.

Today, more than four decades after her passing, Glenda’s naturalistic performances are as fresh as ever, while the work of many of her star contemporaries seem overly stylized and theatrical by comparison. And, if comedy truly is more difficult to play than drama, then Glenda may have been an even better actor than she realized. That comic timing is exquisite; and she makes it look so effortless.

The main reason she isn’t as instantly recognized as some of her contemporaries is due to the fact that, by the end of the 1930s, after the “Torchy Blane: series, she was ready to move back to her original love—the stage—but she did continue to make films and become involved in every other mass medium, as well. She performed on radio and, later, she was ubiquitous on television, on nearly every anthology drama show (including “Wagon Train,” ‘Frontier Circus,” an excellent show in the “Wagon Train” mold that ran only one season, “Route 66,” “The Fugitive,” and then winning an Emmy for her performance in a superb two-part “Ben Casey” program) and also an occasional comedy. In fact, her final television episode was on “Bewitched,” before she headed back to Broadway for the final production of her career and life.

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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby moira finnie » September 26th, 2015, 10:47 am

Thanks, Scott. I find it interesting that Farrell did not really think she was suited to film initially. Could you please touch on her life before acting? Do you think that Glenda valued her stage career more than film?
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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Scott_Nollen » September 26th, 2015, 11:39 am

moira finnie wrote:Thanks, Scott. I find it interesting that Farrell did not really think she was suited to film initially. Could you please touch on her life before acting? Do you think that Glenda valued her stage career more than film?


I think Glenda didn't think she was "conventionally pretty" enough to act for the screen. In reality, all of Glenda's unconventional qualities are what made her so wonderful, and her unique look, as I described above, is what made her stand out on the screen.

Glenda began her acting career as a child with a prestigious stock company, the Virginia Brissac Players, so the stage was "in her blood." In fact, it really was in her from birth. It's what she always wanted to do. Her other main interest as a small child was a love for animals, which stayed with her all her life--so much so that she actually had a pair of eyeglasses made for one of her cats that was nearsighted and kept smashing into her furniture at her Hollywood home!

She actually said that she enjoyed film very much, as she did television later, but--as many "true" actors do--she loved the stage more than anything else because it was live, always different every night, and always much more of a challenge than acting for film, when the art of acting is so manipulated by retakes and editing. (And now acting barely matters when nearly anything can be done by machines. Like most actors who actually worked with FILM, I think today's rampant digital fakery (plus nonstop camera movement and attention-deficit-disorder editing), where EVERYTHING can be UNREAL, would bother her very much. I can't watch the DIGITALS they make today. "Pure cinema," so beloved of the great film theorist Andre Bazin--and ME--is deader than a sledgehammer. And that is an absolute abomination. At one time we had Rembrandt. Now just let a bloody computer do it, and the humans can all be idlers wearing out their couches while pounding down fast food. How could all this happen in just one generation? But I digress... Well, not really.)

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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby moira finnie » September 26th, 2015, 12:05 pm

Image
Above: Glenda Farrell in Little Caesar, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, and Heat Lightning.

In the '30s, Farrell worked with Paul Muni twice (I Am a Prisoner from a Chain Gang, Hi, Nellie!) and director Mervyn LeRoy six times (Little Caesar, Three on a Match--in an uncredited bit, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Hi Nellie!, Heat Lightning, & Johnny Eager).

How did she regard Muni as an actor and co-worker? Were there other actors she admired?

What was LeRoy able to bring out in Glenda Farrell in their films together?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Professional Tourist » September 26th, 2015, 12:48 pm

Scott_Nollen wrote:In fact, her final television episode was on “Bewitched,” before she headed back to Broadway for the final production of her career and life.

That was a good fifth season episode, "The Battle of Burning Oak." Miss Farrell played Hortense Rockford, and had one scene with Agnes Moorehead. She is seated here on the left side of the couch:

Image

Here is the episode; Miss Farrell is quite good:

phpBB [video]


That Broadway production was the hit comedy Forty Carats with a stellar cast, including Julie Harris, Gretchen Corbett, Nancy Marchand, and a young Michael Nouri. :)

From reading your responses, Mr. Nollen, it sounds like Miss Farrell and AM had much in common as actors. I don't know how well they knew each other, but they might have made good friends.
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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby moira finnie » September 26th, 2015, 12:49 pm

"It's the same script, we just changed clothes" was a line attributed to the 8-time co-stars Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell. Thanks to your recommendations, I've recently been enjoying the twosome in Havana Widows (1933). This little-known movie is now available on DVD for the first time and demonstrates the lovable sass of both ladies. Here's a brief clip, spotlighting Blondell, but including a sharp tongued Glenda as well:

phpBB [video]


The two actresses seemed like sisters! Were they friends in real life?
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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby WarrenHymersMoll » September 26th, 2015, 12:52 pm

Hi Scott!

I've noticed and read that many actresses had to reinvent their screen personas when the motion picture production code became more rigorously enforced in 1934, did Glenda have to change her screen persona in any way or was she pretty much established early on?

Thank you very much for taking time out of your weekend to answer our questions!! :D

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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Scott_Nollen » September 26th, 2015, 2:55 pm

moira finnie wrote:Image
Above: Glenda Farrell in Little Caesar, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, and Heat Lightning.

In the '30s, Farrell worked with Paul Muni twice (I Am a Prisoner from a Chain Gang, Hi, Nellie!) and director Mervyn LeRoy six times (Little Caesar, Three on a Match--in an uncredited bit, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Hi Nellie!, Heat Lightning, & Johnny Eager).

How did she regard Muni as an actor and co-worker? Were there other actors she admired?

What was LeRoy able to bring out in Glenda Farrell in their films together?

Thanks in advance for your replies.


Glenda really didn't talk at length about her leading men, but she loved Edward G. Robinson; but, then, EVERYONE loved Eddie. He was such a nice man, and such a brilliant man, that he really didn't have anyone who didn't like him--except the time he and George Raft got into a fistfight while shooting MANPOWER and Ward Bond had to pull them apart. But that's a story for another day!

Paul Muni was a gentleman and generally very quiet on the set, because he took every role very seriously, but he and Glenda got along very well. I wish they had more screen time together in CHAIN GANG, but we viewers already feel badly enough about the way Glenda's Marie Woods treats Muni's poor James Allen (I'm now writing about the real man, Robert Burns, and most of what you see in that film is true--except the depiction of the minister brother, which enraged Vincent Burns--for good reason--it's really the only misstep in anotherwise superb film). Glenda and Muni worked together a lot more on HI, NELLIE!, which is a very charming film, and they even got to messing around with the still photographer's equipment one day and took some of their own candids.

Other actors Glenda always loved working with were the peerless Guy Kibbee (who could play any kind of role that fit his physicality), the serious nutcase Hugh Herbert, and Lyle Talbot, whom she also dated off and on for a time during the 1930s. Lyle Talbot was a wonderful man, and when he passed away, he had been the longest-standing member of SAG. (People wonder why he ended up in PLAN 9 and GLEN OR GLENDA? for Ed Wood. He was blacklisted, that's why. He had some tough years, as did so many wonderful actors who were so helpful to their colleagues with SAG.)

As far as Mervyn LeRoy goes, Glenda LOVED him. He directed several of her early films, so of course he was a kind of mentor for her on the process of filmmaking, and he really let her see what she could do acting for a camera rather than what she did on the stage, and for Glenda, it was just as natural as, say, playing with her beloved Persian cats! The camera loved Glenda, but LeRoy was her most important director, and they became lifelong friends. Since LeRoy already had worked with her AND Muni, HI, NELLIE! was a very pleasant shoot. HEAT LIGHTNING is a wonderful film, with such a brilliant cast, and LeRoy REALLY let Glenda cut loose. Here was an actress who refused to do cheesecake stills, but LeRoy got her to do that "nude" outdoor bathing scene which is hilarious! And since it involves Frank McHugh, it's twice as funny as it would have been with anyone else. He did some splendid comic scenes with Glenda in several films (HAVANA WIDOWS, especially). The only reason Glenda has the cameo in 3 ON A MATCH (a brilliant film) and the small role in JOHNNY EAGER is because of LeRoy. In fact, Glenda had returned to the stage for an extended time in the early '40s, and LeRoy said he wouldn't use anyone else in that role, even though it was only one scene--and you get to see her with really dark hair in that film.

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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Scott_Nollen » September 26th, 2015, 3:17 pm

Professional Tourist wrote:
Scott_Nollen wrote:In fact, her final television episode was on “Bewitched,” before she headed back to Broadway for the final production of her career and life.

That was a good fifth season episode, "The Battle of Burning Oak." Miss Farrell played Hortense Rockford, and had one scene with Agnes Moorehead. She is seated here on the left side of the couch:

Image

Here is the episode; Miss Farrell is quite good:

phpBB [video]


That Broadway production was the hit comedy Forty Carats with a stellar cast, including Julie Harris, Gretchen Corbett, Nancy Marchand, and a young Michael Nouri. :)

From reading your responses, Mr. Nollen, it sounds like Miss Farrell and AM had much in common as actors. I don't know how well they knew each other, but they might have made good friends.


Yes, I like "The Battle of Burning Oak" very much. Again, I wish Glenda had a little more screen time, but she gives her scene just what it needs. I don't know if Glenda was actually friends with Agnes Moorehead, but I certainly can imagine their conversations on the BEWITCHED set. They were both superb, versatile actors, but they probably talked about what they'd been doing in New York recently. When Glenda looked more to the stage and married Dr. Henry Ross, she settled into a beautiful home in New York state and was quite happy to be there.

I have an original PLAYBILL from FORTY CARATS signed BY THE ENTIRE CAST AND THE DIRECTOR! That is a real treasure for a Glenda-phile like me! I used to correspond with and talk on the phone with Julie Harris (a lot about her working with Boris Karloff in THE LARK, and she was SO helpful), but I can honestly say that she was the strangest person on the telephone I've ever encountered. Every time I'd ask her a question, I'd have to prompt her to answer, like pushing a button--very bizarre!

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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Scott_Nollen » September 26th, 2015, 3:33 pm

WarrenHymersMoll wrote:Hi Scott!

I've noticed and read that many actresses had to reinvent their screen personas when the motion picture production code became more rigorously enforced in 1934, did Glenda have to change her screen persona in any way or was she pretty much established early on?

Thank you very much for taking time out of your weekend to answer our questions!! :D


Hey, there, you lovely young MOLL, you! How's WARREN? I bet he has that big sideways smile on that kisser of his! (Just think when, in a couple years, you and I will both be doing this about WARREN! (I have really intense indigestion right now, and had to eat half a bottle of TUMS before I could physically type again--but, here, I am, back in the trenches, doing my job for all you wonderful people! :D Tell HYMER to "have one on me, Pally!")

Glenda didn't really change a thing about her performance style after the Code came in on July 15, 1934. Of all her films with Joan Blondell (all of which I like), HAVANA WIDOWS (1933) is my favorite, partly because it was made before the Code, and all the shenanigans that happen with Glenda, Joan, Guy Kibbee, Frank McHugh and Lyle Talbot is such a delight that I never get tired of seeing it. In fact, I think it's a comic masterpiece.

The films Glenda and Joanie made after the Code aren't quite as good, but they still slip a zinger or two in there. That's the ONE positive thing about the Code: It really made filmmakers be VERY clever in working in things that would just sail right over the censors' dullard heads! (Look what James Whale did with THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. One of the reasons that film is such a unique masterpiece is that it was made DURING the Code. How in the world he worked in all the religious mockery and gay material is simply extraordinary, but that's why he was a genius. And the censors were certainly not artistic nor intellectual giants, should we say?)

Hey, T'anks for showin' up, HYMER'S MOLL. We'll talk more later, as long as it's okay with WARREN, ya understand!

Bye for now 8)
SCOTTY BOOKS

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Re: Welcome Scott Nollen to Discuss Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hard-Boiled Dame on 9/26 & 9/27

Postby Scott_Nollen » September 26th, 2015, 3:43 pm

moira finnie wrote:"It's the same script, we just changed clothes" was a line attributed to the 8-time co-stars Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell. Thanks to your recommendations, I've recently been enjoying the twosome in Havana Widows (1933). This little-known movie is now available on DVD for the first time and demonstrates the lovable sass of both ladies. Here's a brief clip, spotlighting Blondell, but including a sharp tongued Glenda as well:

phpBB [video]


The two actresses seemed like sisters! Were they friends in real life?


YES, Glenda and Joanie absolutely loved each other. In fact, all of those actors from what we can call "The Warner Bros. Stock Company" were good pals and actually did quite a bit of socializing off the set. Glenda and Joan spent a lot of time with each other, and actually wrote about each other for some of the movie fan magazines. Sometimes Hugh Herbert would drop over at Glenda's when Joan was there, and can you just imagine being a fly on the wall with those three together? I'm sure it was more subdued than when they were playing their screen characters, but I'd love to "time travel" back to hang out with them! What massive talent all in the same room. I would go so far as to say that, for all those years at Warners, Glenda and Joanie were like sisters who actually liked each other! :lol:


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