|Jane Russell posing for poster art for Howard Hughes' The Outlaw (1943)|
The actress best known for starring alongside Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes died today at her home, she was 89. Her career began when she was discovered by Howard Hughes, she was working as a receptionist at his dentist at the time. Immediately Howard Hughes' controversial western The Outlaw got the unknown Jane Russell noticed.
I always really liked her performance in Gentleman Prefer Blondes, as Marilyn Monroes less flighty dance and singing partner. Me and sister used to watch this movie religiously, her solo olympic pool side number "Ain't there anyone here for love" always gave us a laugh with the half nude back ups, not to mention she was also a really great singer. She made only 29 films in her career that spanned from 1943 - 1986, but she never really got to show off her singing and comedic talent in a movie as good as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which seems like a shame. You will be missed!
Players: Erich Von Stroheim (Nicki/Prince Nickolas), Fay Wray (Mitzi), Matthew Betz (Schani - The Butcher), ZaSu Pitts (Cecelia Schweisser), George Fawcett (Prince Ottokar), Maude George (Princess Maria), George Nichols (Fortunat Schweisser), Dale Fuller (Mitzi's mother), Hughie Mack (The Wine Grower), Cesare Gravina (Mitzi's Father), Sidney Bracey (Navratil), Anton Vaverka (Emporer Franz Josef)
“In its entirety an Erich von Stroheim creation.” - (With Erich Von Stroheim lol at poster) just in case we missed his name on all the major opening credits, we get a courtesy reminder.
Length: 1 Hour and 52 Minutes
(Erich Von Stroheim reminisces about pre WW1 Vienna) - "One day when I was homesick I felt physically ill. It is not because I do not love my adopted land -- it is the natural feeling of one far from home, who remembers those happy, carefree days when life flowed at full tide, without responsibility, flashing past one like the drama in a fascinating story of adventure and romance... How beautiful were the Viennese women -- like magnolia blossom -- and the flowers and music and perfume, and uniforms covered with gold braid! I can see it all just by closing my eyes -- a panorama of life lived each day at its highest tempo; each morning bursting with all the freshness of a new appleblossom; each night a dream of waltzes, music and joyousness; a Paradise on earth destined to perish like a butterfly at sunset."
The Wedding March tells the story of Prince Nicki (Stroheim); a penniless prince who falls in love with a lower class girl named Mitzi (Wray), but nevertheless chooses to marry another girl named Cecelia (ZaSu) for money. Prince Nicki becomes swayed by the idea of having millions and allows his greed to over power his true love, so he goes down the aisle a fraud. This familiar plot of love vs. the divide between social classes has been put to the screen loads of times, often in comedy, Arthur comes to mind. But here in Erich Von Stroheim’s story, there is no happy ending. I think what drives people to separate this from other spins of melodrama or other films with a similar tale and mark this as the masterpiece, is that it’s been put onto the screen in such an unprecedented fashion which makes it stand out. Stroheim's movies belong in a class of their own.
I view The Wedding March as a timeless melodramatic love story with all the Stroheim trimmings that make his films unique. It's an honest story, Stroheim chooses to display his aristocrats as vulgar and the poor as mean and both classes are about as greedy as each other.
(Above is Fay Wray as Mitzi)The films opening line "Love** without thee marriage is a sacrilege and mockery" is basically the theme of the film and is obviously pointed out to us throughout the film, which is a good thing. I mean this being a silent film broad story telling is what keeps us engaged since no one can speak. I've come to expect the unexpected when watching a Erich Von Stroheim film for the first time, especially being used to watching American films that followed the rules by sticking to studio policy. Erich Von Stroheim notoriously didn't follow the rules, and his 1924 film Greed is a prime example of his maverick take on film making, his own final cut of the film was 8-9 hours long, and this was exactly how he wanted it to be shown to audiences. But at a length that could of been made into four separate films the studios had no choice but to cut the film to 2.5hours. When Stroheim saw this cut of the film he said it was like viewing "a corpse in a graveyard". The film has since been restored but not to the same Film Stroheim created.