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Monday, 8 March 2010

Cute


.

File:Lilli Palmer & Rex Harrison by Toni Frissell 1950.jpg





Symptom of the disease of the age:
Movie stars being referred to as cute.

Think about the beautiful people
In the old films.

Their looks, which
Had made them famous

Were never so simple
As merely good.

There were
Mysteries. There was

An aura. Much
In the end

Remained open to Cartesian
Dispute.





Lilli Palmer, with Rex Harrison in background: photo by Toni Frissell, 1950 (George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

13 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Ah, yes, how timely! The picture seems to says it all, and then your words clinch it.

Robb said...

Free Paris Hilton

Curtis Roberts said...

A point well made and a wonderful image of Rex and Lilli I'd never seen before but could easily imagined or dreamed (featuring Rex or Lilli or many other stars). Not cute.

TC said...

Robb,

That horrible old Mr. Clark has gone off to the lavatory well old men are always doing that aren't they hahaha and so I have snuck in here and ohmygod I have never SEEN such a gnarly old Mac but what I really want to say is I have visited your blogs and I think you are really cute but what's this about my not being free, are you making a joke, oh that's so awesome.

Anyway uh-oh gotta go now :)

Love Paris

PS Hey Robb did you check out J-Lo texting at the after party that was so cool!

Anonymous said...

The glorious Lilli seems to have evidenced a preference for spy flicks, according to IMDB. She appeared as a small player in an early Hitchcock, "Secret Agent". And now I must see it in order to pinpoint her beauty in his serpentine plot.

I believe I have a dvd copy of it, I kid you not, in my top dresser drawer...a dollar-store purchase a few years back. So later, with pleasure, I get to unwrap Lilli.

Now unlock Mr. Clark from the lavatory, Paris. That's not nice. If you persist in this pattern of bad behavior, we're going have to send a secret agent in after you.

Lucy in the Sky said...

I guess they brought that dose of glamour from the world of fantasy they became immersed in whenever they went for a ride inside the magic of the silver screen.

human being said...

ah... yes... that aura... is missing...

TC said...

Ah, the magic. My favourite Lilli Palmer film is still her Hollywood debut, 1946.

Though the material is entirely grim and somber, Lilli appears at her most darkly glorious, playing an Italian partisan girl opposite OSS agent/nuclear physicist Gary Cooper in Fritz Lang's Cloak and Dagger. Here she is plainly cast for her beauty not her acting talent, but the gaze of battered doubt she wears throughout this tale of relentless Nazi brutality and elusive atomic secrets seems perhaps to come close to touching her cinematic essence. (Lang made the film for Warners, and the studio forced him to leave on the editing room floor an even darker extension of the story, which has Nazi scientists escaping to Argentina with the secrets of the Bomb... which reminds me that much later Lilli played the wife of the Nazi Hunter, on the trail of Mengele in Paraguay, in The Boys from Brazil.)

Of course Lilli's own background made the Lang casting not too bad a fit for her, she was Jewish, had been born in Posen (later Poznan), the daughter of a surgeon, and had been set on the run by the Nazis. She made 84 films in all, most of them in Europe, was also a painter, wrote several books. She was married for a while to Rex Harrison. Ah, what beautiful people, what aura, what mysteries...

This little anthology of Lilli Palmer moments is quite nice, but it was compiled in 2007 and thus bears the traces of the Cute Generation... in fact, at the end a summary legend appears which left me devastated:

"intelligent, cute, charming... fantastic!"

There is it seems no escaping Cuteness.

A good antidote to Cuteness is the wonderful four-part interview Dick Cavett did with LP in Berlin in the 1970s. Here this extremely sophisticated, worldly and well-spoken actress recalls her flight from the Nazis, her wartime marriage to Harrison, her friendship with Noel Coward, and some interesting career moments -- among other things the fact that her first great crush was on a screen actor, Gary Cooper, resulting from having seen him kiss Marlene Dietrich on the lips in El Morocco.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

(The one director with whom she had difficulties, Palmer says, was Lang, who was unkind on the set -- but then "I demolished him in the car, driving home".)

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Great to see all this, including s glimpse even of Cavett -- more than one ever knew of Lilli Palmer (what have I been missing!), and doesn't DC make those doing it these nights look rather pale? Anyway, an offering from 'over here' for you ---

3.9

pale blue whiteness of sky above shadowed
green ridge, white curve of moon by leaf
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

according to the eye, speed
of reading impression

present consequence of this
order, portrait, more

line of white cloud above shadowed ridge,
whiteness of gulls flapping toward point

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

ps. Ron has a link to "Natural Science" on his 'link page' today (in case you didn't see it) -- people must be talking! (!)

Anonymous said...

Oh Lilli, Lilli...Lang might have been difficult, but what a scene! And that Cavett interview. Neither miss a beat. What a gift. Thank you for this. I even got to an original rendition of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen." Nice morning in Miami.

TC said...

Well, there is perhaps something to be said for virtual reality.

white curve of moon by leaf
in foreground, sound of wave in channel... and a beautiful morning in Miami. Ah, the beauties of which I am deprived, everywhere but in this comment box.

(Caught out in a freezing downpour last night, glug...)

Annie said...

It helps to have been immortalized by the right photographers...