Sometimes I’ll watch a film and become so taken with an actress that I spend more time screencapping scenes rather than actually paying attention to the film! Not all the time, of course, but I have a tendency to live tweet while I’m watching a film or I’ll post about it on my instagram and so screencaptures are necessary. So I’d like to introduce weekly picspams where I’ll choose a film once a week and spotlight an actresses or actor through photos from the film.
Our first picspam is Lana Turner in Ziegfeld Girl (1941). I actually began watching this film for Hedy Lamarr (in an attempt to watch more of her films) but it was Lana Turner that I ended up focusing all my attention on. Not only is she absolutely stunning but her performance in Ziegfeld Girl is simply mesmerizing and I couldn’t look away. Lana plays Sheila, a young elevator operator turned Ziegfeld girl after being discovered by Mr. Ziegfeld’s assistant. Caught up between the success and temptation that being in the Follies offers, she is torn between the glamour of being Ziegfeld girl and her loyal boyfriend (Jimmy Stewart) Gil who has been with her since before she became famous. The life of a Ziegfeld girl begins to take a toll on her and she becomes entangled in gambling and drinking. She arrives at a Follies show drunk and collapses after a performance forcing the director to fire her. Sheila is then taken back to her family’s home to recuperate but her heart is weak due to the heavy drinking. Sheila and Gil both profess their love for one another and agree to marry. Sheila then sees Sue (played endearingly by Judy Garland) on the cover of a newspaper in her Follies debut and she promises herself that she’ll be there one last time, too.
Happy birthday to Laura La Plante, born on this day in 1904! As most of you know, Laura is the subject of my film project so I feel like it’s only natural that we start off the project with a birthday post dedicated to our girl.
Laura was born Laura LaPlante in St. Louis, Missouri on November 1, 1904. She was discovered by Al Christy and began her career at the age of 15 when she entered films as a Christie Comedy Bathing Beauty for Mack Sennett. Her first “official” uncredited role was in the 1919 serial The Great Gamble, directed by Joseph A. Golden, starring Charles Hutchison, and produced by the Western Photoplays Inc. production company. In 1923 she was named as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars and eventually made over sixty films in the 1920’s alone.
In 1921, Laura signed with Universal Pictures and continued to make films with the company until 1930. Within those nine years, Laura starred in such films as Smouldering Fires (1925), Skinner’s Dress Suit (1926 – directed by then husband William A. Seiter), Show Boat (1929), The Love Trap (1929) and the early technicolor King of Jazz (1930). However, she is often best remembered as lead Annabelle West in the fantastic 1927 silent horror film, The Cat and the Canary. With the invention of talkies, Laura’s career effectively stalled for a bit but she was able to survive sound and made her first talking talking picture in 1929 with Hold You Man. She made her last film for Universal in 1930 with King of Jazz but continued to freelance for a while and starred in Columbia’s Arizona (1931) with John Wayne and God’s Gift to Women (1931) directed by Michael Curtiz.
Laura subsequently divorced William Seiter in 1934 and in the same year married Irving Asher who was the managing director for Warner Bros.’ Teddington Studios in Britain. While in Britain she would make several films over the years with Teddington Studies including Man of the Moment (1935) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Laura would return to the United States in 1935 with her husband and retire from the screen. She did make two more later films: Little Mister Jim in 1946 and Spring Reunion in 1957. An appearance on the show You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx in 1954 brought her more popularity (she is actually introduced as Laura Asher but Groucho Marx calls her by her maiden name much to the delight of the crowd who instantly begin cheering!) You can watch the appearance below:
In her later years she kept a low profile and would rarely talk about her Hollywood career. Laura La Plante died at the age of 91 in Woodland Hills, California due to Alzheimer’s Disease. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea.
Recommended Viewing: Skinner’s Dress Suit (1926)
The Cat and the Canary (1927)
The Love Trap (1929) – reader, this is probably my favorite La Plante film!
God’s Gift to Women (1931)
Lonely Wives (1931)
Man of the Moment (1935)