Robert Taylor: the Perfect Star

This gallery contains 14 photos.

  Robert Taylor The “Perfect Star” Picturegoer Magazine by Margaret Hinxman February 4, 1956 In a little over twenty-two years, no star has given M-G-M better cause to thank its lucky stars than a lean, dark, perennially young, young man … Continue reading

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Robert Taylor: Gone Fishing

This gallery contains 26 photos.

The Compleat Angler, first published in 1653 by Izaak Walton is a “celebration of the art and spirit and fishing in prose and verse.” (Wikipedia).  The subtitle is The Contemplative Man’s Recreation. For centuries people have commented on the sport, … Continue reading

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Robert Taylor Behind the Scenes: “Valley of the Kings,” 1954 (updated)

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Valley of the Kings 1954 Valley of the Kings was a difficult shoot for several reasons:  Robert Taylor and director Robert Pirosh had differences; Eleanor Parker and Robert Taylor were having an affair; the physical conditions in Egypt were harsh. … Continue reading

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“The Gorgeous Hussy,” 1936, Is Playing on TCM on September 3 (USA)

“The Gorgeous Hussy,” 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies at 4:15 a.m. Closed captioned.  *NOTE*:A TCM programming day begins at 6:00am EST on the calendar day listed and runs to 5:59am EST in the morning on the next day. Hours listed at 12:00am to 5:59am EST in your reminder will be shown on the NEXT calendar day

RT and Joan Crawford in "The Gorgeous Hussy." 1936

Robert Taylor and Joan Crawford in “The Gorgeous Hussy.” 1936

It’s a story about Washington D.C. It’s about dirty tricks, sleazy operatives, scurrilous personal attacks and lies. The 2012 presidential campaign? No, “The Gorgeous Hussy.”

The story centers around Peggy O’Neill, Joan Crawford, an innkeeper’s daughter called “Pothouse Peg,” for her politics and her men. The men are a list of Metro’s best—Robert Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, Franchot Tone, Melvyn Douglas and Lionel Barrymore. Robert Taylor dominates the first quarter of the picture with his enormous energy, his playfulness, his rapport with Crawford and his skin-tight costume. Taylor even sings and dances.

After Bow Timberlake’s (Taylor’s) heroic off screen death, things settle down. Andrew Jackson (Barrymore) dominates every scene he’s in. Beulah Bondi, as Rachel Jackson, is equally good. She won an Oscar nomination for her role. Joan Crawford is usually criticized for appearing in an historical picture because she was too “modern.” Here she handles her costumes beautifully, using her skirts to express a range of emotions. While her acting is fine, she is overwhelmed by the male contingent.

Franchot Tone, Crawford’s husband at the time, is quietly effective as Peg’s second husband John Eaton. Melvyn Douglas brings strength and intelligence to his role as Virginian John Randolph. Jimmy Stewart is wasted as Peg’s failed suitor. “The Gorgeous Hussy” is fun, sometimes moving and a reminder that political behavior wasn’t all that different in the 1820s.  Review by me for the IMDB.

 

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Calling All Robert Taylor Fans

This post also appears under the header picture on the home page of this blog. It will stay there so you can see it any time. Thanks for your help. Judith

RT4640I am asking my fellow Robert Taylor fans to contact Turner Classic Movies to ask them to include Robert Taylor on next year’s “Summer Under the Stars,” preferably on his birthday, August 5.*  TCM appears to like snail mail letters although they also accept phone calls.

 

 

You can write to:

Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz
TCM
1050 Techwood Drive NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

Charles Tabesh
Sr. Vice President of Programming
TCM
1050 Techwood Drive NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

or You can leave TCM a message via phone at 404-885-5535, but please note that due to heavy volume of calls and letters, they are unable to answer all questions.

Use your own words but I would thank them for the two times in 2001 and 2010 that Mr. Taylor was Star of the Month.  Just let them you know you appreciate the many Taylor films that they show.  Then make your request pleasantly.  You know how to do this.

After all, we don’t want to see the end of Robert Taylor.????

*This year TCM honored Barbara Stanwyck on Robert Taylor’s birthday.

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Letters to LIFE Magazine about Robert Taylor

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Letters to Life Magazine Robert Taylor and Time/Life publications were not a good match.  They looked at him as a good looking star and nothing more.  Mr. Taylor didn’t think much of them, either.  The following is a selection of … Continue reading

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The Epic “Quo Vadis,” 1951, Is Playing on TCM on August 26 (USA)

“Quo Vadis” (1951) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 10:45 a.m..  Closed captioned.  If you haven’t seen this, you’ve missed something truly special.

RT6154The 1st century Roman Empire, the fire of Rome, early Christianity, martyrdom…this historical content was dealt with in many films before and after 1951. Yet, it is LeRoy’s QUO VADIS most viewers associate with the infamous period of Roman history, the reign of Nero (A.D. 54-68). Why? There are, I think, several reasons. One is, definitely, the source, a Noble Prize winner novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz. The Polish writer, being an acknowledged historian, contained detailed historical facts and a vivid fictitious story in his novel. As a result, QUO VADIS is a universal masterpiece, absolutely worth reading for anyone. But, since the film, though an adaptation of the book, skips many events or even characters, we may treat Mervyn LeRoy’s QUO VADIS as a separate Hollywood production. In this respect, the movie is also well known as a gigantic spectacle with great cast, lavish sets, crowds of extras, which constitutes a magnificent journey to ancient Rome, the Rome which was on the verge of becoming “Neropolis”. Then, a viewer does not have to know the novel and will enjoy the film.

THE STORY: If we consider QUO VADIS? as an entertaining movie only (which is, of course, a limited view), then anyone more acquainted with cinema will find much in common with Cecil B DeMille’s great epic THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932). Yet, comparison does not work that well concerning the perspective of QUO VADIS (1951). After deeper analysis of the films, a lot of differences occur. While DeMille’s film based on Wilson Barret’s play shows early Christianity in Rome, it foremost concentrates on the clash between the new religion and the Roman order being put in danger. LeRoy’s movie, since based on Henryk Sienkiewicz’s, focuses on the undeniable victory of Christianity. Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) at first finds a new faith meaningless. He has reasonable arguments from the Roman point of view (what about slaves, conquest, enemy treating, etc). Yet GRADUALLY thanks to love for Lygia (Deborah Kerr) and the courageous faith of the martyrs, he shouts out with confidence “Christ, give him strength!” The story of Nero and “the imperial companions” is also much more developed. Yet, Nero (Peter Ustinov) is not only the one who heads for delicious debauchery but also wishes the crowd to have one throat that could be cut. He is an artist who burns Rome in order to create a song. He is a coward who blames the innocent for his own guilts. He is a cynic who collects tears in a weeping phial after the death of his “best friend” Petronius (Leo Genn). Finally, he is a lunatic who praises his “divine ego” and screams at his death seeing no future for Rome without him.

CAST: Anyone who has seen ancient epics must admit that most of them can boast great performances. Nevertheless, I believe that QUO VADIS is one of the top movies in this matter. Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr are a gorgeous couple portraying a Roman leader and a Christian girl. Taylor naturally expresses a change of heart. Kerr appealingly portrays innocence, gentleness and true love. Leo Genn is excellent as Petronius, a man of art and elegance who is fed up with Nero’s “secondary songs and meaningless poems.” Peter Ustinov gives a fabulous performance as Nero combining all wicked features of his character. I also loved Patricia Laffan as lustful empress Poppaea with her two pet leopards. There is no milk bath of hers, she does not imitate Ms Colbert but Laffan’s Poppaea is foremost a woman of sin, a woman of lust, and a woman of revenge. The Christians, except for a number of extras, are portrayed by very authentic-looking actors: Abraham Sofaer as Paul and Finlay Currie as Peter…not more to say than that they look identical to the old paintings.

SPECTACLE: The movie is a visually stunning epic that can be compared in its magnificence to BEN HUR (1959) and even GLADIATOR (2000). There are numerous breathtaking moments: arena scenes, lions, bull fighting, triumph in the streets, and foremost the fire of Rome. We see the real horror within the walls of the burning city. A moment that is also worth consideration is Vinicius hurrying to Rome on a chariot being chased by two other men. When he comes nearer, we see the red sky… The authenticity is increased by a lovely landscape of Cinecitta Studios near Rome where the film was shot. For the sake of spectacle, I went once to see QUO VADIS on a big screen in cinema and felt as if I watched a new film made with modern techniques. It was a wonderful experience.

All in all, I think that QUO VADIS by Mervyn LeRoy is a movie that has stood a test of time. Although it is 55 years old, it is still admired in many places of the world. It’s one of these movies that are the treasures of my film gallery. Not only a colossal spectacle, not only great performances but a very profound historical content at which Henryk Sienkiewicz was best.

QUO VADIS DOMINE? Where are you going, Lord? These are the words that Peter asked Christ while leaving Rome. After the answer that Peter heard from his Lord, he turned back… in order to proclaim peace to the martyrs and to be crucified. Yet, where once stood decadent “Neropolis” now stands the Holy See where people yearly pilgrim to the tombs of the martyrs and where the blessing “Urbi et Orbi” is goes to all the corners of the world. Sienkiewicz writes about it in the touching final words of the novel. Yet, LeRoy changes it a bit in the film…

A small group of Christians who survived, including Lygia and Marcus, are on a journey. But after a short stop at the place where Peter met Christ, the journey seems to turn into a pilgrimage towards “the Way, the Truth and the Life”   Review by Marcin Kukuczka from Cieszyn, Poland for the IMDB


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