Freewheelin' Pilgrim

The Ramblings and Misadventures of a Wayward Gentleman

Archive for March 2011

MarkGable’s Golden Age Zoo

with 113 comments

Step right up folks, and welcome to MarkGable’s Golden Age Zoo! Here, all your favorite stars from the golden age have been transformed into their wildlife counterparts!
Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Carole Irene of Golden Age Dames for the inspiration!

The Lion- Clark Gable

The King of Hollywood has become, of course, the King of the Jungle! But that’s not all, the Lion, like Gabe, has a dominating presence, an aura of importance and a ferocity which not many could match.

The Elegant Cat- Carole Lombard

Ok, so I WAS tempted to make Carole a lioness, but that’s too easy. So I made her a cat. Cats, like Carole, instantly convey an elegant personality. But also, and perhaps more importantly, they have a playful, fun side to them.

The Squirrel- Jack Benny

The Squirrel hoards his food. Jack Benny (in his radio persona) hoarded away his money. Both also have a fondness for chattering away happily and being generally amusing.

The Koala Bear– W.C. Fields

Chubby, and kind of sweet-looking, the Koala Bear is naturally W.C. Fields. Koalas are also more or less permanently drunk from their diet of eucalyptus leaves.

The Badger– Spencer Tracy

The Badger. Kind of an approachable animal, hey? Keep to themselves, don’t cause much fuss, and generally a pleasant little creature. But when something bothers them or they’re provoked, they’re a different story and become fierce. Just like Spence.

The Bush-Baby- Myrna Loy

Cute with wonderful eyes. Pretty much describes both Myrna Loy and the Bush-Baby!

The Canary– Jean Harlow

Best known for two things, it’s distinctive sound and it’s bright yellow color. Jean had a very distinctive speaking voice and whilst she wasn’t yellow exactly, she was platinum blonde which is close enough! Both are also tiny and cute.

The Bloodhound– Humphrey Bogart

The Bloodhound is renowned in police circles as being the dog who always gets it’s man. Bogie in his films (or the majority at least) always got his man too. Both also look kind of sad.

The Pigeon– Cary Grant

Honestly, this was Carole’s idea. I have no idea how it clicks. I guess there’s a certain vague resemblance…

The Wolf– George Sanders

Ferocious, brooding, lurking and exuding an aura of menace. The Wolf is just like George Sanders’ screen persona.

The Boar- Wallace Beery

Large, gruff, fierce and very intimidating, the Boar not only has the same fiery personality as Beery. He also kind of looks like him haw haw haw!

The Anglerfish- Marie Dressler

*sniggers* Nuff said.

The Kangaroo– Errol Flynn

Distinctly Australian, muscular and pretty darn tall. How could Errol be anything BUT a kangaroo? Plus the one in the picture is boxing 😀 Like Errol!

The Lemur- Joan Crawford

Like the Lemur, Joan has very distinctive eyes and is quite lithe. But instead of being a Bush-Baby with a plain bushy tail, Joan is the Lemur with an elegant striped tail.

The Chimpanzees- Groucho, Harpo and Chico Marx

Does this really need explaining?!

The Flamingo– Rudolph Valentino

This one’s for Carole: The Flamingo is the most effeminate looking animal in the world. Rudy was a pink powderpuff 😉

I had a whole HEAP more, but for the sake of keeping it short and sweet, I removed them. I hope you enjoyed the animals which made the final cut!


Written by Gypo Nolan

March 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Posted in Golden Age Stars, Humor

The Famous Cigarette

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Some of you may not know that I am a smoker. I love to smoke cigarettes, cigars and most of all my beloved pipe (I am the only 20 year old I know who smokes one!). However, much to my dismay, there is a stigma attached to smoking and smokers. Namely, when someone enters the room smelling slightly of tobacco (mmm-mmmm!), people run for the hills crying “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!”.

Soooo in defense of smokers everywhere, I thought I’d post images of Golden Age stars enjoying a cigarette and try to bring some of the glamor back into our Diva Nicotina.

Apologies to D.D.C.I 😉

First on the list is Humphrey Bogart who is perhaps the patron Saint of cinematic smokers, consuming 3-4 packs of cigarettes a day. His female counterpart in cinematic smoking would have to be…

Joan Crawford, a picture of elegance with her cigarette. Joan starred in Today We Live in 1933 with

Gary Cooper. According to Elinor Glyn, Gary Cooper had “IT”. He also looks very dapper with his cigarette. Someone else who had “IT” was…

Clara Bow. Clara was in fact the “IT” Girl. If there had been an “IT” Boy, it surely would have been…

Rudolph Valentino! The original movie-star sex symbol! Another famous sex symbol smoker was…

Cary Grant! But Cary didn’t just stop at cigarettes, oh no. He also loved to smoke a pipe! Cary was hassled by the British Foreign Office for not immediately enlisting in the British Army at the start of W.W.II., as was…

Sir Laurence Olivier. Olly enjoyed a cigarette, as did his wife…

Vivien Leigh! Doesn’t she look stylish with her long cigarette holder? Vivien is best remembered for her role of Scarlett O’Hara in the classic Gone With The Wind. However, the author of the novel, Margaret Mitchell, really wanted…

Miriam Hopkins for the role. Miriam had a particularly bitter rivalry with…

Bette Davis. Another person to have a rivalry with Bette was…

Errol Flynn. As you can see, Errol is looking very suave with his pipe. Another person who enjoyed a pipe was…

Clark Gable, who also smoked cigars and cigarettes. You can just picture Ol’ Gabe lounging around in his ranch, lighting up a cigarette before leaning over and lighting…

…his lovely wife, Carole Lombard‘s. Carole got her start in Mack Sennett comedies, as did…

Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin was born in England, but came to America and made it BIG in comedy. Another person with a similar story was…

Bob Hope. Hope was one of the last Great American icons of the Golden Age, along with…

Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy starred in a remake of The Big Sleep. The star of the original was…

Humphrey Bogart! And so we come full circle! I hope you have enjoyed my little trip down a cigarette-butt littered Memory Lane 🙂


Written by Gypo Nolan

March 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Golden Age Stars, Humor

Why I Can Never Watch Another Carole Lombard Film.

with 176 comments

At the request of my Golden Age pal, the Dizzy Dame Carole Irene, I have been making a BIG effort to appreciate William Powell.

I don’t know what it is about him, but I just don’t like him much. Something about him really bugs me. Ok, so he was really good in the “Philo Vance” series and was…passable…in the “Thin Man” series (I wish they would have cast Cary Grant in the Nick Charles role), but I just cannot see his appeal! I mean, he was a great actor, but I just don’t like him!

Anyways, in an attempt to appease D.D.C.I, today I watched “My Man Godfrey”. One of my many sins is that I have had this DVD sitting on my shelf for 3 years now but have never watched it.

(Get a load of William Powell! Egghead Extraordinaire!)

I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly because Eugene Pallette was in it and he is always a treat. He’s such an old grump, with his pot belly and his gravelly voice. Kind of like my grandfather minus a foot in height.

I’m sorry Li’l C.I., I still haven’t been won over to William Powell.

What I DID find was that I found Carole Lombard INCREDIBLY attractive. I mean, I’d seen her before in No Man Of Her Own, Mr & Mrs Smith and To Be Or Not To Be, but I’d never really been struck by her beauty.
Boy, how that changed!

But then I thought “hold on, she was the love of Gabe’s life! Gabe is my idol!”. I fell into deep contemplation. How could I be attracted to Gabe’s true love?! Gabe, who has bought me hours of entertainment and inspired me in pretty much everything!
I realize how ridiculous this sounds, both Gabe and Carole are no longer with us, but I couldn’t shake this feeling of betrayal of coveting the love of my idol!

So Gabe, the (FAR) better man has won! I will bow out gracefully and never ever watch another Carole Lombard film for as long as I live!

Written by Gypo Nolan

March 2, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Posted in Golden Age Stars, Rants

Jean Harlow, or The Boy Who Loved The Bombshell

with 174 comments

In celebration of Jean Harlow’s centenary in two days time, people are organizing a large-scale “blog-a-thon”. So your Freewheelin’ Pilgrim hereby offers his humble contribution to this auspicious occasion.

Jean Harlow is my celebrity crush. Sounds a bit strange doesn’t it? I mean, I’m 20 years old and she’s been dead for nearly 74 years. But it’s true. Whenever my friends sit around discussing who is “the hottest actress”, I always say “Jean Harlow”. This, naturally, gets a chorus of “huh?”s and “who’s she?”s. I simply tell them to look her up.

My love for “Baby Jean” (my nickname for her) began at the tender age of 16. I was in Big W (a department store like K-Mart) for their quarterly DVD sale. I had my eyes set on the “Warner Brothers Gangster” DVDs I’d seen in the catalogue and, thankfully, I managed to get all 6.
So I went home and put The Public Enemy on. As is my habit, I watched the documentary feature (and while I’m at it, can I just shout out a big thanks to Warner Brothers for their Golden Age film releases? The special features are FANTASTIC).
In the documentary, the various interviewees were raving about this little actress called “Jean Harlow”.

(“The Public Enemy” 1931)

“Jean Harlow?”, I thought, “I’ve never heard of her…”. But I didn’t give it much of a second thought, and then watched the film.

Harlow’s entrance made me realize what these people in the documentary were raving about.
Clad in an adorable little white outfit, this petite little platinum blonde swaggered onto the screen. Without sounding too pretentious, she looked just like an angel oughta look. She wasn’t “beautiful” in the classical sense, but she was glamorous, a real knock-out. Speaking from a male perspective,  if she walked by me today, I’d lower my sunglasses to get a better look. Then I’d probably follow her with my eyes for a piece.

Then she spoke. That voice. I dunno if that’s what angels oughta sound like, but there’s something special about that voice. So distinctly metropolitan, you really believe she is a “city dame”. In an era in which a lot of leading ladies were beginning to speak, Harlow’s voice was so distinct. Far from the sort of “standard” female accent of a Bette Davis, a Norma Shearer or a Katherine Hepburn.

(Here’s a not-so-good picture of her in her introduction in “The Public Enemy”. Still, you can see how she looks angelic. And get a look at those eyes!)

So “star-struck” was I, that I rewound the scene twice. I was encapsulated by this tiny little bombshell. In fact, I got jealous of James Cagney for having her on his arm.

Once the film was over, I grabbed my “Halliwell’s Who’s Who” from the shelf and frantically turned to “Harlow, Jean”. I was devastated to find out that she died at the age of 26, but also quite astounded that she had made so many pictures in 10 years)

The next day I took my trusty “Who’s Who” to my grandparents’ place. I was eager for more Jean, and my grandpa has an extensive collection of silents and early talkies on VHS. Maybe, just maybe, he would have one of her films. Imagine my joy, my sheer ecstasy, when I discovered he had four: Platinum Blonde (1931), The Beast of the City, Red-Headed Woman (both 1932) and Dinner at Eight (1933).

I don’t think I could have chosen four better films to introduce me to Baby Jean.

She was so sultry and alluring in Platinum Blonde, so brilliantly dramatic in The Beast of the City, so wicked in Red-Headed Woman, and hilarious in Dinner At Eight.Every film on the list strengthened my love for Baby Jean, but out of the four of them Red-Headed Woman had the most lasting impression.

A film about a woman who uses her sexual wiles to move up in the world wouldn’t raise eyebrows in today’s world. BUT IN 1932?! As I watched the film I was like “My God! So much for the ‘good old days of clean, wholesome fun’ my grandparents talk about!”. I could hardly believe that such a deliciously wicked and sexual film had been made in the early ’30s!  And Jean is just fantastic in it. She practically embodies the idea of male lust.

(Harlow in Red-Headed Woman. Say no, I DARE you.)

Unfortunately Baby Jean’s private life was fraught with despair. Her mother was what we would now today call a “Showbiz Parent” and dominated Jean’s life in a manner which caused her great distress, professionally and personally.
Her first marriage ended in divorce, her second (to MGM Executive Paul Bern) left her a widow after Bern’s suicide, and a third marriage also ended in divorce. At the time of her death, she was engaged to actor William Powell, whom had been courting Baby Jean for some time. Her marriages were fodder for the gossip tabloids, drawing arrows particularly after Bern’s death where all sorts of accusations were hurled at her in regards to the relationship she had with her late husband.

Add to this the professional indignity she often had thrust upon her by reviewers. Early in her career, critics were unduly fierce on Baby Jean, doubting her acting ability and suggesting that her career was due to her “friendship” with producer Howard Hughes. It wasn’t until Red Dust in 1932 that the critics were turned around and began to treat Jean in a fairer light.
In my opinion, Jean’s performance in 1935’s Reckless, particularly in the scene in which she responds to hecklers, is one of the great unsung performances in Golden Age era Hollywood.
Perhaps Clark Gable, a close friend and frequent co-star, said it best when he said of Jean: She didn’t want to be famous. She wanted to be happy.

I don’t know what sort of star Jean Harlow would’ve become if she had lived to a ripe old age, I don’t even presume to make any judgements on it. With such a unique personality and talent, it could have literally been ANYTHING.
What I do know is this: that for the world to be robbed of such a talent is nothing less than tragic.
Actresses today can work for thirty years and not achieve the sex appeal, the charm, the immortality that Baby Jean achieved in 9 years, only being a star for 5 or 6 of them.

Harlean Harlow Carpenter (Jean Harlow)

March 3rd 1911 – June 7th 1937

Rest in Peace Baby Jean.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness; but still will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing”.
John Keats.

Written by Gypo Nolan

March 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm