THREE FOR THE SHOW

It’s not every day that it’s the birthday of three ‘giants’ of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but this is such a day: Bette Davis, born April 5, 1908; Gregory Peck, born April 5, 1916; and Spencer Tracy, born April 5, 1900.

This post will not go into biographical detail. The lives of these legends can easily be Googled by anyone who’s interested. Instead, I will focus on something about each of them which I (and, hopefully, you) find particularly interesting or appealing.

In previous posts, I included clips of two film stars singing — Jimmy Stewart and Alan Ladd — who few knew ever sang in a movie. To those unlikely vocalists, I add the Oscar-winning actress BETTE DAVIS, whose fourth & final husband, Gary Merrill, once said, “whatever Bette would have chosen to do in life, she would have had to be the top or she couldn’t have endured it.” I think you will find this WWII-era vocal more than endurable:

In his 1979 book THE WORLD’S GREAT MOVIE STARS AND THEIR FILMS, Ken Wlaschin says GREGORY PECK “has been the Great Liberal of the American cinema for more than 30 years because he usually conveys conflicts in social values, forced to act in a manner disturbing to his inner morality.” He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Here he is with Audrey Hepburn in a scene from one of my favorite Peck films, Roman Holiday:

Last but not priest (overlooking his role as Father Flanagan in Boys’ Town — pardon the pun), we have “the actors’ actor,” Spencer Tracy. I’ve covered Tracy before (in my 6/5/17 post as the star of Bad Day at Black Rock); for this post, I’ll go with this retrospective:

For me, the most memorable moment from that clip is his answer to this Burt Reynolds question:

“Mr. Tracy, you’re so good at everything. Is there anything you’re not good at?”

“Life.”

 

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ROMANCE WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY

To a romantic girl, all roads lead to Romeo. –Evan Esar

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August is ROMANCE AWARENESS MONTH. I’m not sure why a month is needed to raise awareness of romance (a week, or even a day, seems more than sufficient to awaken all but the most world-weary of libidos)….however, if it must take a month, I suppose August will do as well as any other. But then who needs Valentine’s Day  — enough is enough!

That may sound tantamount to telling Cupid to take a hike, but before you Romeos and Juliets go Roman off in a huff, be aware I have nothing against romance so long as it doesn’t get out of hand….which, as it happens, makes the title of my previous post (DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD) appear as if I’d simultaneously had today’s post in mind. Alas, I am not that far-sighted, but as a killer of two birds with one stone, and as a preview of coming attractions, I must admit the title was prescient (and I assure you that the two birds killed weren’t lovebirds).

Anyway, what can I say about romance that hasn’t already been intimated by many others? Not much, I’m happy to say, because it comports with my creative energy level in these dog days of August. Therefore, I shall turn to those others who have already waxed eloquent about puppy love and the like, and relieve myself of further arduous cogitation:

Love is the emotion that a woman always feels for a poodle, and sometimes for a man. –George Jean Nathan

Romance has been elegantly defined as the offspring of fiction and love. –Disraeli

Marriage is a romance in which the heroine dies in the first chapter. –Cecelia Egan

This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, Doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. The doc says, Well, why don’t you turn him in? And the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that’s how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational, crazy and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs. –Woody Allen

Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties. –Jules Renard

The realist always falls in love with a girl he has grown up with, the romanticist with a girl from “off somewhere.” –Robert Frost

Fools rush in where bachelors fear to wed. –Evan Esar

Men always want to be a woman’s first love. That is their clumsy vanity. Women have a more subtle instinct: what they like is to be a man’s last romance. –Oscar Wilde

By the time you swear you’re his, shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is infinite, undying —
Lady, make a note of this: One of you is lying.

–Dorothy Parker

Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy. –Henry Kissinger

In as much as we began this romantic excursion with several punning allusions to Rome, it seems fitting to close with scenes from one of my favorite films, the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck romantic comedy, ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953):