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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Star of the month in November at TCM (2)

Well, well... Here we have at last TCM's list of the films that lucky North Americans shall be able to watch in November, when our dear Charles shall be starring on that channel for a month.

Of these 18 films there are some unmissable by anyone who wants to know where Laughton's prestige comes from, some whose inclusion is questionable, and some which are inexplicably absent. Let's comment briefly on them.

Our lad Charles in a beautiful still taken during his early Hollywood days (Fellow Laughtonian Alceo has contributed with this wonderful 1932 picture from his collection)

Of these 18 features, we have two classics directed by Korda: his filmmaking may have become a bit dated, but Charles' performance as the Tudor king in The Private Life of Henry VIII is still the gold standard on the character (despite the recent "sexy Tudors on sweaty T-Shirt" trend), and his Rembrandt remains a sensible portrait of the struggles of a creator.

Despite recent historical revisionism depicting Captain Bligh as the hero of the story, Laughton's portrayal in Mutiny on the Bounty has connections with the real man: If the real Mr. Bligh was not the tyrant depicted in Nordhoff and Hall's novel, He was, as Laughton's Bligh, an excellent sailor (something quite forgotten in some later versions), a man isolated from his subordinates and crew, and a poor manager of human resources with an explosive temper. The real Bligh also had those bushy eyebrows ;p

Welcome are also the tyrannical Victorian father he plays in The Barrets of Wimpole Street, where he managed to manoeuvre past the Hays Code, by suggesting the more unwholesome aspects of father Barret's overprotectiveness of his daughter Elizabeth Barret, without the need of explicit dialogue. And his memorable Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which he makes trascend into a powerful metaphor of human suffering.

We also have his inimitable Sir Wilfrid Robarts Witness For The Prosecution, a man seriusly concerned with Law and justice, in spite of his unlawful penchant for smuggling forbidden pleasures. We'll also see him in a court in a minor Hitchcock, The Paradine Case as a corrupt, ruthless and concupiscent judge. We also have an earlier joint effort with the master of suspense, Jamaica Inn , again, it may not be a top-notch Hitchcock, but it has a suitably dark atmosphere, and an over-the-top, and fairly enjoyable, performance by film producer Laughton.

Lesser known movies and parts, but fairly worth of re-discovery, are given a chance. Among them we have the film version of the stage success that brought Charles to Hollywood, Payment Deferred, a film which certainly lets you know that it is based on a play, but Laughton's clerk which commits murder, in spite of being quite unsuited for crime, is a fairly strong composition. There is also his supporting role, and first Hollywood work, as a Northern tycoon in James Whale's riotously bizarre The Old Dark House, which is both the paragon and the parody of the "haunted house" genre. The tropical noir The Bribe, in which he plays a small-time briber with bad feet, is a film, and a performance, worth re-discovering. And Captain Kidd may lack the lavish production values of Mutiny on the Bounty, but certainly has a strong central performance.

Surprisingly in!
As for some others, I find the TCM selection to be a bit odd at points, particularly considering that this monthly homage lacks some legendary performances, I mean, there is fun and charm in The Canterville Ghost, but it still makes you think what a film could have resulted if MGM had not watered down the original story by Oscar Wilde with circumstancial war propaganda and coarsened it with squaddy jokes (Think, for instance, in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir).

Young Bess, is posh -but not terribly exciting- costume drama, which I bet has been included to compare Laughton's performance as Henry VIII with his Oscar-winning performance of 1933. And one wonders why Salome is there: it is one of those films of the Somniferous Bible Epic genre, and not even Laughton's Herod can shake it up... I wonder why they don't show Cecil B. De Mille's The Sign of the Cross, instead: It's full of saucy pre-code naughtiness, bizarre fights at the Roman circus, and Claudette Colbert's Poppaea and Laughton's "wild Wilde Nero" (as Elsa Lanchester fittingly put it) really nail their characters (As with Henry, Laughton's Nero is pretty much the Nero to end all Neros: Peter Ustinov in Quo Vadis was like an Ursuline nun in comparison)

But when one sees that turkeys like Stand By For Action and The Man From Down Under, films only suitable for a Laughton completist (and a very hardened one,) are included in a 18-film season (out of a filmography of more than 50), the reason is clear: TCM is programming what he's got in its stock, and The Canterville Ghost, Young Bess, Stand By For Action are all MGM productions... still, how far are these from The Barrets of Wimpole Street or Mutiny on the Bounty!! The reason for this is, in his thirties' films for MGM, Laughton worked for Irving Thalberg, an intelligent producer who had more appropiate ideas as to what to do with Laughton's talent than Louis B. Mayer. I have read that Mayer kept Laughton under contract at MGM out of respect for the late Thalberg, who was a friend of Charles. Yet Mayer was evidently at a loss of what to do with Laughton, otherwise, one can't understand how he miscast him in parts like the old Aussie warrior of The Man From Down Under (a part and film Laughton woefully -and adequately- described to a friend as "You Can't Keep The Wallace Beery Tradition Down"), or the old Admiral which becomes suddenly obsessed with obstetrics in Stand By For Action, which Laughton has left no option but to play in an avant-la-lettre Monty Pythonese fashion.

Honest, rather than including these last two, I'd rather go for the rarely screened Mayflower productions Vessel of Wrath/The Beachcomber and St. Martin's Lane/Sidewalks of London , or some rather good performances of Laughton in anthology films like If I Had a Million, Tales of Manhattan, O'Henry's Full House or, why not? recover the long-lost-in-some-vault The Blue Veil.

I won't extend my criticism, however, to Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd, Hey! it's an Abbot and Costello film... You won't expect something like The Seventh Seal, won't you?

Actually I think that it makes for a fun double bill with Captain Kidd, and Laughton admired Lou Costello and wanted to work with him. You may consider it a silly movie, but I don't think it's actually that harmful... If you ask me, as far as Laughton doing comedy goes, I'd rather see him in Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd than in Hobson's Choice... Oh, I know this may sound blasphemous to some of you (so here I'm rushing to my artillery-proof concrete parapet), but I have to confess that my feelings about the David Lean film are quite similar to SImon Callow's, or to what Groggy Dundee says in his blog .

Surprisingly out!
Now, If I have complained about the inclusion of some films, it is because I feel they are stealing room to some really memorable performances which are let out... I suppose that the "films in stock" thing is the only explanation to that, but it still hurts that we have Stand By For Action, but lack This Land Is Mine , Island of Lost Souls , Les Miserables, Ruggles of Red Gap, The Big Clock or Advise and Consent... All I can say about that is.. ouch!.

Ouch, ouch, ouch!... And ouch!

Furthermore, Wouldn't it be a grand chance to broadcast the legendary BBC documentary The Epic That Never Was, containing tantalizing excerpts of Laughton as Emperor Claudius?

Lastly, and, understanding that the "Star of the Month" refers to actors, it wouldn't have been much of a stretch to include The Night of the Hunter? I mean, after all he could only direct that film... and then, Robert Gitt's Charles Laughton Directs The Night of the Hunter.

Oh well... It's good enough that Charles has a season of his films on TCM, but then... it could be even better!


Eudora said...

Difícil escoger entre tantas películas, Rembrant sigue siendo una de mis favoritas. Lástima que no incluyan Esta tierra es mía, o pequeñas joyas como Because of him.

Echo de menos reportajes buenos osbre la trayectoria de cieretos artistas, y en el caso de LAughton nunca he visto nada al respecto. En fin, esperaremos.

Un saludo!!

Gloria said...

Eudora, totalmente de acuerdo: yo creo que puestos a poner un filme "menor" de la filmografía de Laughton, "Because of Him" tiene muchos más méritos -y encanto- que tochos fílmicos como "Stand by For Action" (que la he visto/sufrido) y probablemente "the Man From Down Under (que no he visto/sufrido hasta ahora pero la cual visionaré estoicamente por aquello del sentido del deber, ja, ja... igual me llevo una sorpresa y todo).

La ausencia de filmes como "Esta Tierra es mía" o "Los miserables" en un ciclo dedicado a Laughton me parece poco menos que imperdonable: sería como hacer un ciclo dedicado a George Sanders y programar "el hijo de Montecristo", pero no "Eva al Desnudo" o "Te querré siempre".

En cuanto a reportajes, haberlos haylos, aunque por alguna razón no se suelen emitir por estos pagos... Para no quitar audiencia a "Gran Fulano" y similares, imagino. Ah, ah, nuestras televisiones siempre pensando en el interés general...

Entre los reportajes existentes, tenemos el mítico "The Epic that Never was" de la BBC, presentado por Dirk Bogarde, en el que se reconstruia el rodaje de la inacabada "I, Claudius", y que incluía algunas de las escenas filmadas. Cuando se publicó la biografía de Simon Callow, el mismo Callow presentó un documental de una hora sobre Laughton. Estos dos los he visto y me gustan bastante.

Luego está el documental de Robert Gitt con tomas descartadas de "La noche del cazador" en las que se puede oir a laughton dirigiendo a sus actores: un auténtico "Making Of" de la película, por lo que me han explicado los afortunados que lo han visto.

Entre otros que no he visto, hay una de la serie "Hollywood Greats" de la BBC dedicado a Charles... aunque por el libro basado en la serie se me antoja que caía un poco en el rollo "En Hollywood-Babylon son una panda de viciosos e infelices" que tantas rosquillas vende por los sitios. También se anuncia por Amazon un documental visionable en TIVO dedicado a los "Grandes Romances de la pantalla", en el cual se dedica un episodio a Charles y Elsa: no lo he visto pero la premisa de "Grandes Romances" me resulta un poco chusca, si mas no, ja, ja...

Eudora said...

"Grandes Romaces", ja, ja, ja, sí, suena a guasa.

He visto en youtube un trozo de una entrevista a la Lanchester, que aparece con un traje rojo con una "apertura de falda" infinita. Dos o tres comentarios sobre Laughtonn y su manera de trabajar y poco más.

No conozco la famosa biografía que de él hizo su esposa, pero, a fin de cuentas, yo supongo que alguna química tendría que haber entre ellos cuando trabajaron juntos tanto tiempo. Pero eso sí, no puedo comprender cómo, ya muerto Laughton, fuera ella que admitiera su homosexualidad y todo eso, me parece de mal gusto.

Gloria said...

Si, la entrevista con Dick Cavett, la verdad es que la deja a una con la miel en la boca, aunque imagino que ello se debe más al formato de programa: estoy segura de que a Elsa no le hubiera disgustado tener más rato para explicar anécdotas, ja, ja...

Por cierto, mira que link he encontrado: Click, click. Es un fragmento de un documental francés sobre lo Eiuropeos exiliados en Holluywood: en él aparecen Charles y Elsa en escenas domésticas... La verdad es que Charles sabía desenvolverse delante de una cámara, verdad? fuera como profesional o amateur.

Respecto al libro de Elsa, la verdad es que... no hay uno: hay tres!

Una de las cosas que quiero ir haciendo aquí, es reseñar toda la bibliografía relacionada con Laughton, pero te lo comento brevemente a nive informativo: Elsa escribió tres libros. Una autobiografía escrita en 1938 "Charles Laughton and I" (en la que evidentemente no revelaba nada: eso hubiera acabado con la carrera de Charles), Una biografía escrita en 1976 por Charles Higham (un "especialista" en escandalos) pero con ámplio apoyo logístico y documetal por parte de Elsa, que fué la que reveló la homosexualidad de Charles (John Gielgud escribió que el libro le parecía "horrid" y como tu, se preguntaba como Elsa había sido capaz de eso). En 1983, Elsa escribió otra autobiografía, en la que daba más detalles de su infancia y juventud bohemias y de su matrimonio con Charles. Elsa es ambivalente cuando habla de Charles: por un lado, el cariño es obvio, por otro, a ella no le gustaba nada, nada, que se le fuera de picos pardos, y es evidente que no le perdona ni una... así entre nosotras, eso no le gusta a ninguna esposa, ja, ja... pero una vez que quedó claro que él era gay... ¿Qué se podía esperar? Si no le gustaba lo que era inevitable, una se pregunta porqué, simplemente, no se divorció, dejando a Charles ejercer de "gay divorcé" (dicho así, en plan gamberro).

Dicho esto, también he de añadir que la revelación de la homosexualidad de Laughton, también nos ayuda a conocerlo mejor, aunque el análisis de a relación entre su vida privada y su trabajo, lo haría mucho mejor, y de manera más asentada, Simon Callow. A Elsa quizá el exceso de cercanía le impedía ver las cosas desde la perspectiva, ciertamente empática, pero más racional, que le dió Callow. Pero el hecho de que Elsa lo revelara post.mortem, deja un poco de mal sabor en la boca... Y más teniendo en cuenta que fué "la santa" y no ninguno de los novietes de Charles (quienes nunca le cayeron simpáticos a Elsa, que muchas veces los describe sin mucho afecto) la que hizo la revelación: tal vez los chicos de Charles le tenían más respeto, aunque fueran los otros, los otros y a nada tuvieran derecho, por no tener un anillo con una fecha por dentro.

En base a lo que he leido, yo diría, como dejó dicho un buen amigo de Charles, que su relación era simbiótica... Quizás de no haberse casado, habrían sido amigos del alma, pero en su matrimonio hay muchos factores más allá de la simple tapadera: Charles era un admirador de Elsa y realmente le tenía mucho afecto, y viceversa en lo que a Elsa respecta. Charles tal vez pensaba que la homosexualidad se "curaba" por vía de matrimonio y paternidad (eran otros tiempos, sí...), y Elsa estaba un poco cansada de sus amistades bohemias, ninguna de las cuales le ofrecía el apoyo emocional que necesitaba: a este respecto, Charles fue un novio de los más formal, tal vez por venir de un entorno familiar más tradicional. Por supuesto, sus caracteres eran dispares y quizás a la larga, la relación, en tanto que matrimonio, estaba destinada a no funcionar. Sin embargo, y como Elsa admitiría, era una relación que les protegía del mundo exterior. Lo interesante era que Charles otorgaba libertad a Elsa, y en cambio ella tendía a sentirse traicionada cada vez que Charles tenía una escapada: yo creo que la gran frustración de la Lanchester era que en el fondo, ella quería un matrimonio tradicional.

Así entre nosotras, qué ganas de pedir peras al olmo.

Eudora said...

Gracias por el link, son unas imágenes muy simpáticas.

Es dificil saber qué paso en ese matrimonio exactamente; Laughton podría haber vivido su homosexualidad sin utilizar el matrimonio como coraza, entiendo que, de alguna manera, su unión con la Lanchester no sería un mero disfraz. Si Laughton, como en su momento Guinness, pensaba que podía dejar de ser homosexual por estar casado... eso ya es difícil de adivinar, aunque yo supongo que sus amigos cercanos debían saber más de este asunto y tendrían su propia perspectiva.

Y la Lanchester, si no le apetecía vivir una situación que considerara humillante, siempre podría haber optado por el divorcio.

Muy compleja esta relación de matrimonio y artistas que trabajaron tanto juntos, ya que en su caso la unión era doble.

Gloria said...

Sabía que te gustaría el link, ja, ja... (por cierto, que el rersto del documental es muy interesante).

La verdad es que el caso del matrimonio entre Charles y Elsa es complejo, se mire por donde se mire. Tenían varios puntos y gustos en común. Elsa admitiría en el libro de Higham que, una vez supo de la homosexualidad de Charles (segun ella tras un año de casados -más un año previo de convivencia pre-matrimonial al estilo moderno-) ella, tras el "shock" inicial, optó por la "segunda mejor opción", que era permanecer junto a Charles, pese a que ello comportaba.

Yo creo que un divorcio honesto les hubiera evitado mucha mala sangre, pero es sólo mi opinión. La verdad es que Laughton, a decir algunos, no estaba preparado, por la moral de su tiempo y su educación (católica y rígida) a asumir su homosexualidad sin problemas. En aquellos tiempos, los más valientes permanecían como "solterones empedernidos" conviviendo discretamente con sus parejas, pero incluso esta era una opción con riesgos para aquellos con un trabajo de cara al público.

De todas maneras,

Y por cierto, Simon Callow se preguntaba en su libro algo que también me llama la atención...¿Realmente Elsa, con todas sus amistades bohemias -entre ellas James Whale- no se dió cuenta? Quiero decir.... Charles incluso la acompañaba -y encantado!- a probarse vestidos en la modista... Yo ya me hubiera olido algo, ja, ja...

Ya volveré sobre el tema en un post, pero hay un episodio de celos, a principios de su matrimonio, que Elsa atribuyó a sospechas sin fundamento por parte de Charles... Aunque lo que ella consideraba algo sin importancia, tal vez le pareció más serio a Charles. me pregunto si entonces Charles no estaba haciendo heróicos esfuerzos para serle fiel a su reciente esposa, y ese episodio resquebrajó su confianza en Elsa llevándolo a "recaer"... Bueno posiblemente hubiera acabado por recaer de todas maneras, pero tal vez para él fué un trauma como para ella lo seria luego descubrir que Charles era gay.

Eudora said...

Este vídeo es reciente, el what's my line con Laughton:


Me queda la impresión de que el público y colegas norteamericanos le tenían un gran respeto y afecto a Charles Laugthon.

Gloria said...

Gracias por el link!

Lo que me ha hecho mucha gracia es eso "are you in a straight show as against a musical show"... Ya sé que los musicales tienen fama de tener muchos seguidores gays, pero de eso a llamar "Straight" a todo lo demás, ja, ja...

Bromas aparte, es un link estupendo. Me gusta la coña entre colegas de Laughton y Meredith, y también hay que reseñar el elogio que se le hace a Laughton sobre sus "reading tours"... que la verdad es que sí que hicieron mucho por promocionar la literatura allà por donde pasaba.

Y sí, el público americano le tenía mucho cariño... aunque eso también era cierto en muchas otras partes del mundo, incluyendo su nativa Inglaterra, en donde se le quería mucho. Lo que pensaran algunos críticos y algún que otro envidioso cascarrioso no era representativo de lo que pensaba el público de a pie... Y ciertamente, el tiempo ha demostrado ser un excelente juez: a Laughton se le sigue considerando un gran actor, mientras que otros no dejaron plasmadas en el celuloide las razones de su fama en escena.

galileosdaughter said...

I've just found your site, in a casual search for info on "The Blue Veil" and am enchanted by it. I've had some difficult posting comments-let's hope this one appears. I can read Spanish easily but not write it well and was much intrigued by the discussion of the marriage of Laughton and Lanchester. It seems to me that there was not merely sexual jealousy on her part but slso professional--she was less known than he and typecast as an "eccentric". They were not on an equal footing in that way, and I feel this caused a wedge. Laughton strikes me a a homosexual who was uncomfortable with his body, but who liked women--he had many women friends,and seemed fond of them, from O'Hara, Baxter and Winters as daughter figures, Gish as a sister or even idealised love figure, and Dietrich and Gabrielle (excellent quote from that lovely Renoir memoir!) as women who saw something attractive in him despite his own recalcitrance. I sometimes think the Lanchester/Laughton marriage was a little like the relationship of Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey, and symbiotic and dependent, as well as fraught, in similar ways.

Gloria said...


Glad to have you here! I hope you enjoy the blog! Incidentally, if you like "The Blue Veil", here's an interesting link about Joan Blondell , who got nominated for her role in it.

I think that you're right about the reasons of the drift between Charles and Elsa: While shedescribes herself as a celebrity when Charles was still an struggling actor, it is true that she was so on certain circles, but not so much a "mainstream" celebrity: by the time she met Charles, famous as she may have been in cabaret, she usually got only bit parts in the West End... Her circle of acquaintances, however, was indeed impressive (BTW, Your Carrington/Strachey paralel is very interesting!)

Maybe Charles and Elsa's relationship wasn't exactly like that, but, as I've said, there was more in them than just a lavender marriage: Elsa once stated, about their early friendship and eventual relationship prior to their marriage "We found in each other a friendship that we both needed badly_ Charles because hefelt lonely and was called ugly, and I because I was too 'bohemian', with too many odd friends who stayed up half the night", It seems that both seemed to feel that they didn't "fit" in the world, and they fitted with each other much better than with others. It is interesting to note that she probably had as many relationships as she wanted, back then, but it is obvious that she didn't feel fulfilled by them, on the other hand, Charles may have felt "lonely", but he had a good supportive friends, apart from Elsa: in my list of "to-do" things there is a post on Elsa's point of view on Charles, sometimes I feel she described herself as Charles' only trustable companion, but, having read about Charles' other friends, he had trusted people and friendly shoulders to cry on beyond Elsa.

It is true that, while Charles felt attracted to men, he was aware of female beauty, and had a good number of female friendships (whether they were of the father-daughter type or not), and was quite good at praising a woman's good looks: I could add Myrna Loy, Deanna Durbin or Ruth Gordon, Ava Gardner, Belita or Sybill Thorndike, among others (Sybill helped Charles early in his career)

As for your difficulties sending commenst, let me know when you have them. I have the word checkout thing for posting, so people who is not registered with blogger can post too. It is a practical way to allow anonymous comments without allowing spam.

galileosdaughter said...

Gloria, I have now gone through and read every entry in your site, though not all the comments and links--yet. I should have started off saying that of course, I am a huge fan of Charles Laughton. My admiration for him goes back to my childhood, and seeing "Hunchback of Notre Dame" at age six, and then "Night of the Hunter" at the age of 12. Between these years I saw him many times--I always "looked out for him" and was never disappointed, no not even by "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd". And then, like you, "This Land is Mine" caused me to see him in a totally new way. This great film is still underappreciated, as is all the work of Renoir in America. In any case I thank you for your hard work and your creative insight in making this haven--I do indeed "Root for Laughton". I think he would be very pleased indeed to know how much people loved not just his performances but the film he directed. I do hope you get a chance to write about his work with Deanna Durbin, for even though they are "light comedies" his work in them is very beautiful and his rapport with his co-star one of his greatest. They are lovely films and deserve to be better known. He had an uncanny ability to transform himself and yet remain himself--I am from Tennessee and I can tell you his accent in "Advise and Consent" is exactly right, he convinces one that he is a Southerner born and bred, an old political hand, and yet, there he is, echt Laughton somehow. What a good thing it is to know he is still loved and respected by so many.

Eudora said...

Siempre me interesó la pareja Carrington-Strachey. Pero, en el caso de Lanchester-Laughton, creo que una cuestión importante no los hace comparables, la fidelidad de Carrington a Strachey fue extrema, de haberle sobrevivido no creo que se hubiera dedicado a escribir biografías de Lytton escandalizándose de su homosexualidad.

Creo que el resentimiento de la Lanchester es muy extraño, me hace pensar que Laughton debía ser consciente de eso y por ese motivo se confiaba a otros.

Y en cuanto a la facilidad que algunos hombres tienen para hacer amistades femeninas, bueno, les suele ocurrir a muchos homosexuales, supongo que porque una mujer tiene más facilidades para confiarse a un hombre del que saben que no pretende aprovecharse de ellas; y en el caso de actrices estrella es más comprensible en un mundo en el que tendrían que estar a costumbradas a situaciones que les hicieran desconfiar. Pero de Laughton no tendrían nada que desconfiar, al contrario, debía ser el amigo perfecto, esto le pasó a otros muchos actores como Alec Guinness.

Gloria, como siempre a la espera de tus maravillosos posst sobre sir Charles.....

Gloria said...


Thanks for sharing your recollections and favourite films ;D.

"This Land IS Mine" has been gaining status within renoir's filmography with teh years. A Renoir expert like Alexander Sesonske devoted an excellent article vindicating the film, and France, who gave the film such a poor reception on its first release (a reception which has weighed on negatively in the critical appreciation of the film), is the first country that gave the film a DVD release. I think that Renoir's American films deserve a better reputation than they have had so far... While, say Fritz Lang's American films are every inch as fascinating as the ones he had shot in Germany, it is true that none of the renoir's American films are as remarkable as "La règle du jeu", yet they are very good films (apart from TLIM, I'm a great fan of "The Southener" ans "Swamp Water").

As for Laughton's performance, one friend who also became a fan of Charles by watching TLIM, he told me that he was sort of disappointed when other performances didn't show the same sensitiveness his Albert Lory has. I think Simon Callow was quite right at pointing to the performance as a critical self-portrait of Charles. In fact, I think that Albert Lory has cripto-gay traits: sensitive, mother dominated, with a trusted father figure in Professor Sorel (who describes himself as a "confirmed bachelor", Lory has a secret self who has dreams of being braver and able to declare his love in public (a love he dares not to reveal). Add to this Coronel Von Keller's friendly, nearly flirty manner when he wants to ideologically "seduce" Lory... OK, maybe I'm reading too much in the performance? Anyway, I think one could describe Albert's speeches in court as his "coming out" from the closet of fear.

Re films: inn the long -term, the idea is to make, at least, one post related to every film Charles made, plus one post, at least on books about Charles, but there are still so many interesting subjects related to him that the task is going to be undending. With every post, I let go a bit of the pending load, and then go down the mountain to push the stone up again, LOL... So many things about Charles, *sigh*

BTW, glad to hear the kudos to Charles' Southern accent from a Southerner! For what I know, Charles took great care to get the right accent, and got coached, at least, by two different people. Re his Seab Cooley, I got this comment by film writer Richard Schickel, a keen appreciator of laughton's work: "(...) One sensed that Cooley (...) was a disappointed intellect - Someone who except for the accident of birth in a region denied national political power (until recently) and his unrepossesing appearance might have exercised his talents in a larger arena tan the United States Senate's inner circle (...) it was a perfect valedictory for him, because for one last time he was playing (...) a man testing the limits of power, and discovering, in the process, the circumsscriptions imposed on him by his own flaws or the world's rules"

Incidentally, Schickel is fascinated by Charles' Claudius: to him it si his Great Lost Work, and one is sad we only got a few fragments of it... Still, I believe that some Claudius aspects made it into his performance as Albert Lory.

Gloria said...


Lo del resentimiento de Elsa, creo que la cosa va, por un lado, por donde apunta Galileosdaughter, es decir, por el tema de vivir a la sombra de Charles, profesionalmente. En su juventud, Elsa era una estrella en ambientes bohemios (aunque no lo que se diría una estrella "mainstream, por otro lado), y cuando Charles la conoció, él era un joven valor en alza del que todo el mundo hablaba, pero menos célebre, en ese momento que ella. Él por supuesto ascendió como un cohete en poco tiempo mientras ella se quedaba relegada mayormente al ámbito de secundaria y a ser la "señora de..."

Por otro lado, Y como ya he comentado antes, creo que, en el fondo a Elsa también le frustraba no tener un marido más convencional.

Con todo, he de decir que Elsa, en sus memorias, suele describir a los chicos de Charles como unos aprovechados, pero resulta interesante que no me consta que ninguno de esos hombres haya nunca aprovechado su relación con Charles para sacar provecho escribiendo una biografía llena de "jugosos detalles"... Yo creo que una cierta leyenda negra de Charles se debe al resentimiento conjunto de Elsa y el que fuera agente y asociado de Charles, Paul Gregory: Elsa Y Gregory no se podían ver, pero me da la impresión de que llegaron a una especie de pacto tras la muerte de Charles para no hacerse pupa... El perjudicado, por supuesto, fue el difunto, que al estar muerto no podía replicar a las declaraciones de la una ni del otro.

Yo lo resumiría, como que tanto Elsa como Gregory, en expresión inglesa, tenían "an axe to grind", y pardiez que no es un hacha normal, sino una "Cimmerian King-Size Battle-Axe" que al mismísimo Conan le costaría blandir.

Una aclaración: ya se que suena un poco raro, pero Charles no fué nunca "Sir". Las reclamaciones, a su Graciosa Majestad, más interesada en repartir honores entre futbolistas que no meten goles como el chico de la Spice pija.

Y sí, respecto a Laughton y sus amigas,la verdad es que esa es la gracia que tienen los chicos gays: tienden a estar sinceramente interesados en tu conversación, ja, ja... (con los heteros nunca sabes si fingen interés con aviesas intenciones ;p)

Eudora said...

JA,ja, sí, ya sé que no fue sir, pero se lo merecía igualmente.

Allison said...

Thank you for the comment on my blog, Gloria. I haven't come across "This Land Is Mine" yet, but I look forward to watching it. I recently saw Renoir's La Bete Humaine and think it would be great to see more Renoir.

Gloria said...

Alison... I quite like Renoir: Check la Grande Illusion or La Regle du jeu if you have the chance, too!

galileosdaughter said...

Gloria, I apologize for being slow about checking the responses, but I am fascinated by the range of them. Firstly, I agree with Eudora, was it--that Dora Carrington would not have "exposed" Strachey. She loved him with a protective passion that was also quite possessive, and she would not have wanted to share him with the world in that way, much less humiliate or disgrace him, as exposing him would certainly have done. It's not till the Hoyroyd biography of the late Sixties that the general populace discovered the "truth" of their relationship. I sometimes wonder if the people inside a relationship can really know "the truth" anyway--it's a bit like being inside a car or train, hurtling forward and passing through life, but unable to see the vehicle carrying you clearly.

I am a great fan of the Renoir film "Woman on the Beach" about which Scorcese has written. It's got some of the same dynamic in a way as "TLIM" in that there is a trio with one character relatively weak and the other strong--until the situation is reversed. But I love the films you cite as well.

I very much look forward to your comments about Laughton's films when and as you are able to write about them--I am sure it will be worth any wait! And may I add that this is a perfect time of year to listen to Charles reading from "The Christmas Carol"?

In a totally off topic aside, I have been reading the romans policiers of Henning Mankell with the protagonist Inspector Wallander. The character is middle-aged, burnt out on life, overweight, with a sagging face and heavy lips. He is marked by a sense of world weariness, and yet he can't help but still struggle against the forces of crime and of bureaucracy. When I read the books I can't help but "cast" Charles in them, and I think he would have done a fantastic job--and of course, he did play in "The Man on the Eiffel Tower" a character not dissimilar...

Feliz Navidad to all, if I don't return before then--

galileosdaughter said...

Have you heard Laughton's reading, done in the Fifties, in which he recites a poem from "Dharma Bums" and tells a story about Chartres Cathedral? Would you like to?
Give me an address...

Gloria said...

Galileosdaughter... as you can see, I can be awfully slow myself (it usually happens when I am on the night shift, as I have been all december, ugh)

Yours is an interesting point of view about how relationships are... I think that, while Elsa was undoubtedly close to Charles in many regards, he could be a bit clueless in others, I mean, while it may be true that Brecht smoked ill-smelling cigars, one feels that that was her main impression of the man, but if you read James K. Lyon's "Brecht In America" or Brecht's notes on his work with CL in Galileo it is obvious that there were other sides of the playwright. We have a saying here that goes "Los arboles no dejan ver el bosque", and it could be a good way to put a good part of Elsa's portrait of Charles.

I have not seen "Woman on the beach" which, as many of Renoir's American output, has been overlooked, and most possibly, unfairly so: the cast really sounds very interesting.

I have not read Henning Mankell's books (even though I must say that they are being published regularly in my country), so I'll take your casting call as good ;D... Still, I have to say that Wallander is being played in movies by a very capable Swedish actor, Rolf Lassgard: Have you seen him in "Under Solen"? Its story reminds me a bit of "They Knew What They Wanted", and the sensitive way Lassgard plays a farmer is the way I feel Laughton should have gone for as Toni Patucci.

BTW, I have the record "The Storyteller", including the Dharma Bums and the Chartres Cathedral story... Great Stuff! This record should be re-released, I don't have his reading of "A Christmas Carol, tho'... But I don't lose hope of catching it on ebay or a similar place sometime in the future...