More Colman in colour & another treasure

OK, just one more Ronald Colman post (it’s been sitting in my drafts for a few weeks) and then I’ll shut up (for now). In an earlier post I was wishing for more Ronald Colman in colour as he seems to mostly be immortalized in black and white. I’ve been collecting images over the past few weeks and found some interesting things.

The most exciting bit is a very short promotional film in two-tone technicolour from 1929(!!) where he introduces the then-governor of California. They promote talking pictures, which was still a new phenomenon at the time. Alas only the governor gets a close-up, a pity they didn’t give Ronnie the same treatment! I would have loved to see his expessions better and his brown eyes properly.

There’s also a 1952 colour clip of Ronald Colman presenting the Best Actress Oscar with a funny little intro with Danny Kaye as well. I love how unfazed he is by Danny Kaye and plays along. And I just love Danny Kaye too, he was a great comic. In this clip Greer Garson accepts the Oscar on Vivien Leigh’s behalf and even gives Ronnie a little kiss, which gives me lovely Random Harvest vibes.

Apart from those two clips, I also found a few late in life pictures of Ronnie in colour. The first picture includes his wife, Benita; the last one includes Zsa Zsa Gabor.

I found a few colour images for a TV show called The Halls of Ivy that he did with Benita (after their radio show of the same name had been a success). However, these do look like they could originally have been black and white as well.

The radio shows are available on YouTube but I wish I could somehow get my hands on the TV show. So far, except for one episode, no such luck.

I also found a cool all-star picture that seems to have been coloured in from an original black and white image (I’ve seen mostly black and white versions of this). This is apparently a radio broadcast at NBC in 1939 by the ‘English colony’ of actors in Hollywood on occasion of the visit of the English King and Queen to the US.

From left to right: Greer Garson, Leslie Howard, smoking in the background is George Sanders (tidbit: he married Benita after Ronnie died), Vivien Leigh, Brian Aherne, Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone.

Except for a large amount of coloured in movie posters and stills (there are more than I share here, but this is to give an idea) there really isn’t that much Colman in colour that I can find…

And last but not least, as I was searching for the Colman in colour pictures, I also came across this one about a month ago…

Yes, another book. It’s from Ronald’s Oscar winning performance and I just couldn’t resist. I almost paid more in shipping and customs fees than I paid for the book but still it was quite affordable. Worth it too, as I also imagine it’s quite a rare one. The book arrived today to my great joy! It tells the story of the film in prose form and inside there are also black and white images from the movie. I’m not including all images here as some of them are real story spoilers. I know these aren’t in colour but I couldn’t resist sharing my new little treasure here as well.

And while I’m off the original topic anyhow: I also made another Ronald Colman video that I put up on YouTube a few days ago. It’s all about the love in his and his leading ladies’ eyes…

For the coming weeks there will be very little Ronnie to focus on: I’m going on a holiday! It only came up a few weeks ago and we very impulsively just went ahead and booked. Mr Esther, Junior and I will be flying to Israel this Saturday, along with my younger brother and a distant cousin. We’re heading to the wedding of another cousin’s son and then adding on some extra time before and after. Last time I was in Israel was 9 years ago, I’m so excited to be going back to my childhood home again.

Anyway, anything more Ronnie related will have to wait until I get back. I still need to find that ultimate Ronald Colman colour picture because I so want to see what his eyes really looked like and how deeply brown they actually were. His role in Kismet gives me a little bit of an idea…

… but the images are not clear enough.

Funny Ronnie

Jack Benny was not a big name over here as far as I know and I have only vaguely been aware of him and his name as a comedian. I never heard or saw him in action until recently. He had his own comedy radio show in the 1940s which later became a TV show. While reading up on Ronald Colman’s life I also read about him and his wife Benita very succesully occasionally guest starrring on the Jack Benny show as Benny’s long-suffering neighbours in Beverly Hills.

The first radio episode Jack Benny made with the Colmans was an episode where Jack comes over to dinner. That same episode was later also filmed for the TV show and is up on YouTube. Jack Benny really was very funny and Ronald has great dry comedy timing, as does Benita.

I then also read that Ronald Colman winning his Oscar had been a theme on the Jack Benny radio show in the spring of 1948. I found the sound clips of that on YouTube as well. And they certainly make me laugh! I loved how Ronald spoofed his own career and spoofed the adoration of his Oscar and how very annoyed he gets with Jack Benny who even loses Colman’s Oscar! I edited out the Colman and his Oscar bits of the Jack Benny show (from two episodes) into one video. It’s a bit of a listen but if you need a laugh and don’t mind taking 28 minutes out of your day, I’d say it is well worth a listen! I made this video for my own personal use, then thought I’d try putting it up on YouTube and see if it is allowed. So far it’s up there without any restrictions…

I love the running gag of Jack stealing/’borrowing’ Ronnie’s things, I love how Ronald curmudgeonly reacts to Jack, I love how about 10 minutes into the video Ronald does some terrible acting in voicing a cowboy, I love how gleeful he gets in the second half of the video (at 19:50 minutes) at tricking Jack Benny and I love how he tries to get rid of him as quickly as possible.

I understand there are something like 20 Jack Benny shows that star Ronald and Benita. I will go in search of them as well, especially as I am confined to my room now for at least the next 24 hours. There is a real possibility that I too may finally have fallen victim to the Corona virus. Had the slightest of positives on an at home test earlier this afternoon and I have a PCR test appointment tomorrow morning.

I get it!

I completely understand why they gave Ronald Colman the Oscar in 1948 for his 1947 movie A Double Life

I’ve been holding off watching the movie as I read about it being very depressing and I don’t need depressing when I decompress in the evenings. However, I do still need a Mr. Colman fix and as I have watched pretty much everything else that I really wanted to see, I felt the time had finally come.

In A Double Life Ronald plays a successful actor named Anthony John who becomes obsessed with his roles. When he plays charming roles, he is charming in real life and when he plays tragedies, he is difficult to be around. These ups and downs have cost him his marriage, even though he still is close with his ex wife Brita, whom he sees as his only true friend. He gets offered to play the part of Othello on stage and is at first reluctant, as he knows that he will be consumed by it. He can’t resist, however, and accepts the role. Slowly, as he plays an all-consuming Othello on stage for two years, the lines between Anthony and Othello start to blur and Anthony starts to become more and more like Othello, with tragic consequences.

This film really is as described on the tin: a film noir. As depressing as it is, it certainly is a fascinating watch and the mood does stick with you. It made me dream weird as if I was in a black and white film noir movie myself. In it I saw through my car mirror how Mr. E drove himself to death in his car. It was scary and when I woke up I needed to reassure myself he was breathing safely beside me. There are no car scenes in the film, but the dream really was the very same mood.

Ronald is at the top of his game in A Double Life. Every time he is off the screen, I wish him to come back as soon as possible. He is completely mesmerizing in this role. I took a buttload of screenshots, for instance of him being distracted by the text of Othello, then slowly starting to see himself in the role, then rehearsing the role, dreaming about the role and finally going on stage with it, with his ex-wife Brita in the role of Desdemona…

By the way, Ronald is 56 in this and looking (and sounding – I love his voice!) very handsome. I love him in glasses.

He and Signe Hasso (a Swedish actress I didn’t know who plays Brita) play very nicely off each other…

He gets to be sexy too as he flirts with a waitress (Shelley Winters) and even goes home with her. He pays her another visit much later in the story as well…

And his descent into mad spells and paranoia is unsettling to see, to the point where he can’t distinguish between real life and stage life anymore…

Even though I still think he should have won that Oscar for Random Harvest as well, I am glad that he actually won it for this role. It really is a depressing part but it also is one of his career best performances. It makes me wonder how much Ronald Colman was able to shake off Anthony John after a day of shooting. It also makes me wonder how any good actor doesn’t completely lose himself or herself in a part. How did Richard Armitage shake off John Proctor, for instance, after walking around in his skin for months? Or Doctor Astrov? And does he become as unbearable to be around, hence making private relationships complicated? It would be so interesting to watch this movie with him and then get his take on it. I wonder if they show this at acting schools. Lots to ponder, which is always the sign of a good movie.

So, here I am, 74 years after that Academy Awards ceremony, saying congratulations and well deserved, Ronald Colman! Now I can finally get around to reading those scholarly articles about A Double Life that I dug up the other week.

Oscars 2022 takeaway

Yes, I was up again all night with my friend and we watched live! I’ve seen quite some famous Oscars moments happen live, like that famous Ellen selfie in 2014…

… or that LaLaLand and Moonlight Best Picture announcement mix up in 2017 or when I first realized in 2009 that Hugh Jackman could dance and sing in that ‘low budget’ musical number he did which for me, in its enthusiam and gentle humour, is the best opening ever of an Oscars ceremony…

And so I too was there to witness live that scandal that happened at this year’s Oscars, where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock because of a (somewhat tasteless) joke. I don’t want to rehash and go into it all here, as I know it has been rehashed and debated everywhere else and there’s not much for me to add. Suffice it to say that when it happened, my friend and I really were in shock and for a moment there we weren’t sure if it was an act or if it was real until Will Smith started ranting from his seat and we knew it was real after all. There’s violence everywhere nowadays but I didn’t expect to see something like that play out at an awards ceremony. Alas, I think that is what will be remembered most from these Oscars and not the truly unimaginable feat that a tiny movie about the deaf community and a hearing girl took away the most important award of the evening!

I loved the movie CODA (it’s not necessarily a cinematic masterpiece but it’s just so compelling in its heartfelt simplicity with such wonderful acting performances) and I have been recommending it to people ever since I saw it last fall. I just never expected them to get all these awards, precisely because it’s such a small movie and about deaf people to boot, but they actually won Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay the other night. I was so stoked about that! I did have high hopes for Troy Kotsur winning the Best Supporting Actor award and am so glad that fervent wish came true. The movie had only those three nominations and they won them all. How cool is that? I also loved catching a glimpse of Troy Kotsur’s wife Deanne Bray as Troy got up to receive his Oscar. Deanne was the star of the early 2000s TV series Sue Thomas FB Eye, which I discovered last year and loved and made fan videos for. That show was also my introduction to Troy, who was an occasional guest star on it and he was really good and intense in that too.

I loved the warm heartfelt presenting of the Oscar done by last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner Youn Yuh-Jung and I loved Troy’s speech and I loved that a deaf actor got recognized and that such a little gem of a film about deaf people has become so popular.

Another sweet moment was at the end of the show when Lady Gaga came on stage with Liza Minnelli to present the Best Picture Oscar. Minnelli looked vulnerable and Lady Gaga said softly to her, a few times, “I got you!” It was a balm after the violence and anger we had witnessed earlier during the ceremony.

I saw virtually none of this year’s nominated movies so, other than CODA, there wasn’t that much to root for. Before watching the ceremony, my friend and I did watch Belfast and while we liked it, it felt a little overhyped to me (I liked CODA better). Still, I did like to see Kenneth Branagh win an Oscar for screenplay, because I quite like him and some of the stuff he has done…

In a way I would have liked to see Ciaran Hinds win an Oscar as well (such a gent, I loved briefly meeting him at the stage door of Uncle Vanya two years ago and it would have been cool to say that I am in possession of an Oscar winner’s signature) but he was in the same category as Troy Kotsur and in the end I did feel Troy’s win was the more deserved win. Ciaran may win any other year, though, I wouldn’t mind! It was cute seeing a picture of Ciaran and his wife Hélène Patarot on the red carpet.

Speaking of red carpets, there were some lovely looks there! My fave may have been Zendaya’s look and the dress Kevin Costner’s wife wore.

Dame Judy looked immaculate and I liked Kenneth Branagh’s blue suit…

There were many alarmingly low plunging necklines that I didn’t like. For the women, I just worried about the boobs jumping out and for Timothee Chamolet I wished he had worn some sort of shirt.

But there were also some looks that I really did like, like these…

And this CODA group also looked good…

My takeaway of this year’s Oscars is that it all felt a little weird: I hardly knew the movies, the ceremony wasn’t so memorable either and I hated that a violent incident overshadowed it all. I hope I will mostly remember the Oscars 2022 for this little movie that I loved that somehow made it as a big surprise winner.

Muted Oscars

As is our yearly tradition, our family friend came over last night to watch the Oscars with me, despite us having seen none of the movies. Well, I saw one, the Borat movie, but it hardly qualified me to pick favorites.

We had a nice dinner, then played Yahtzee with the family and then watched the red carpet arrivals. There’s a nice overview of red carpet looks here at Vogue, in case you’re interested. Lots of plunging necklines and bare skin for the ladies (I was sometimes worrying about possible wardrobe malfunctions) and glitter. My favourite was what the singer H.E.R. wore (never heard of her before), she looked gorgeous; I loved the colour of her outfit and that it was a pantsuit and the scarf on her head, also the long hair cascading down and even the glasses.

Most handsomely dressed man on the red carpet was Riz Ahmed to me (simple, sleek, elegant) and his wife looked quite gorgeous too.

I liked that there was less frenzy on the red carpet…

By the time the awards show started at 2 am our time, Mr Esther and the kids had already gone off to bed and it was just my friend and I who were still up. To keep ourselves awake and invested, I had a printout of the nominees at the ready where I could mark the winners and keep a tally of what movie won how many awards…

… and of course my friend and I gossiped throughout, which is always fun. We stayed awake with coffee (for her) and coca cola and M&Ms and some other snacks and it worked, we didn’t fall asleep.

I’ve heard several news outlets call the ceremony ‘muted’ and I’d have to agree with that. I liked the smaller venue and the tables making it all look a little more intimate…

… but even so, somehow there was a detachment, like no one knew quite how to act or react. It felt like everyone was making sure there was no jumping up and hugging and maybe they weren’t allowed to be too vocal for fear of spreading respiratory droplets as no one was wearing masks? In any case, there was this sense of detachment. There were very few clips, the nominees were just read out without any fanfare, apart maybe from the acting categories, where each actor received a short, cringy speech which only Joaquin Phoenix refused to participate in when he announced Best Actor.

I wasn’t really invested in any of the wins this year as I hadn’t seen the movies but I was quite happy when Emerald Fennell won for Best Original Screenplay, just because I like her and really liked her on Call the Midwife a few years back. I was pleased for Daniel Kaluuya as well for Best Supporting Actor.

His speech, however, did ramble on and I kinda wished he would just stop. He even thanked his parents for having sex at one point which prompted this reaction from his mother…

You can clearly see her mouthing “What’s he going on about?” and I was wondering the same thing.

There was a weirdish music quiz moment which ended with Glenn Close doing a “da butt” move…

I really liked her outfit too, by the way. Speaking of music, I’ve got to say that I didn’t really like any of the nominated songs. It was nice to see H.E.R. win but only because that meant I could admire her in her lovely outfit.

Nomadland ended up winning 3 Oscars, it’s already been on my “I want to watch” list as I quite like Frances McDormand and the director Chloé Zhao (in the middle below) made a good impression on me as well.

My favourite speech of the evening was given by the Best Supporting Actress Winner, the Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn. She had already disarmed me at the Bafta’s two weeks ago and I really enjoyed her at the Oscars too. She was fangirling over Brad Pitt and Glenn Close, she spoke about how weird it is to be competing for Best Actress when the films are all so different and the jokes about her sons made me laugh. She really makes me want to watch Minari as well.

The evening had a weird last hour. First off, the In Memoriam section was completely rushed, maybe because it was set to the upbeat tempo of Stevie Wonder’s I’ll Be Loving You Always. Some images lingered, while others just flew by. In honesty, I, with my limited skills, could probably make a better fan video than that… What was also weird was that the Best Picture Oscar came not at the end but before the Best Actress and Actor Oscars, that felt strange.

Last, but not least, the ending of the show was really abrupt. Apparently everyone had expected Chadwick Boseman to win Best Actor posthumously but in the end Anthony Hopkins won (again, I had no preference and was pleased for Hopkins, as I would have been for any of the others). Hopkins wasn’t there and there was no one to accept the award for him and so after the announcement of his win the show abruptly just ended. Totally weird. My friend and I just looked at each other in a “what was that?” kind of way. So, we switched off the TV at around 5.20 am and 10 minutes later we were snoozing in our beds.

There was a reaction from Anthony Hopkins this morning, which was quite endearing…

Overall, I was left feeling that I liked that this show had been more intimate, diverse and a little less flashy but it also missed some enthusiasm and it all felt a little strange. Quite fitting, maybe, as we do live in very strange times now.