Amoeblog

Remembering Virginia O'Brien

Posted by Whitmore, April 19, 2009 07:40pm | Post a Comment

One of my all time favorite comedic actresses was Virginia O’Brien, and yesterday would have been her 90th birthday. She was also a popular singer in the 1940’s and often co-starred in MGM musicals with Red Skelton. O’Brien was best known for her deadpan expression as she sang, a gimmick she stumbled upon by accident at the Los Angeles Assistance League Playhouse's opening night performance of a musical comedy revue called Meet the People. The 20 year old O’Brien became literally paralyzed with stage fright as she performed her number. In her terror, standing completely still, wide eyed and expressionless, she managed to finish her song, and the audience thought she was absolutely hilarious. Two weeks later she signed a film contract and in less than a month Virginia O’Brien found herself opening on Broadway.
 
Some of her films include The Big Store (1941) with the Marx Brothers, Ship Ahoy (1942), Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), and Merton of the Movies (1947), all with Red Skelton. Then there are Thousands Cheer (1943), The Harvey Girls (1946) with Judy Garland, Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Francis in the Navy (1955) and Gus (1976). After a guest appearance in 1948’s short film Musical Merry-Go-Round, O'Brien was dropped from her MGM contract, a victim of the old Hollywood studio star system fading. But she found continued success on stage and with television appearances on a variety of shows such as Ed Sullivan, Jack Carter, Steve Allen and Merv Griffin. She also created a cabaret act, mostly a retrospective of her MGM career, and during the 1980’s released an album, recorded live at the legendary Masquers Club in Hollywood.
 
On January 16, 2001 at age 81, Virginia O’Brien died suddenly of a heart attack at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. She’s buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.



[Insert wordless visual here.]

Posted by Job O Brother, March 30, 2009 03:55pm | Post a Comment
silent film

Not to lure you away from the safe and nurturing environment that is the Amoeblog, but, for those of you interested in reading it with your eyes, here is a link to a recent interview I had with one of my favorites, Marianne Faithfull.

Now then, on to a topic that is not oft spoke of; that is, silent films. Amoeba Music Hollywood has a small but rich silent film section which, at this writing, is located on the mezzanine. I’m taking this opportunity to advocate a greater appreciation and exploration of this antiquated genre.

For many people, silent films are a known but ignored craft, as though the technological progress that married sound to film rendered the silent precursors an inferior product. While I do hail “talkies” as a wonderful invention, I still feel there is much joy to be had in silent cinema. If nothing else, knowing a bit about it can be enough to get you laid by art-school chicks taking a break from experimenting with bisexuality.

louise brooks

The first silent I saw that rocked me was the tragic drama Pandora’s Box [original, German title: Die Büchse der Pandora]. Released in 1929 and directed by Austrian Georg Wilhelm Pabst, it stars the gorgeous and gifted Louise Brooks in the lead role.


Another gem I treasure is Wings, the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture (and the only silent film to do so). Released in 1927 and directed by William A. Wellman, it stars Clara Bow, the quintessential flapper icon, and has a cameo by not-yet-superstar Gary Cooper.

(In which the writer takes a break from writing to write.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 9, 2009 08:02pm | Post a Comment
sick card

My baby’s been under the weather. And by baby I don’t mean a child I gave birth to; I mean it as a euphemism for “that one dude I smooch and go to Target with.” Baby is just much easier to say.

Anyway, when my baby’s feeling poorly, he likes to watch predictable films, like... well... anything you can come up with that stars Jennifer Aniston or Sarah Jessica Parker and ends with them proving that they really were destined for true love, after all. Normally I protest and suggest we watch something with more substance, such as The Killing of a Chinese Bookie or The Cranes Are Flying – y’know, something that provides perspective and/or promotes psychological examination, to which my baby will argue that he just wants to “be distracted and get lost” in a film, not be intellectually stimulated. I argue that it’s hard for me to “get distracted” watching a film that makes me want to stab a Phillips-head screwdriver into my left aortic arch.

It's like this:

ME...


...VS. MY BOYFRIEND...


A Year in the Life of Amoeba Hollywood -- Year of Sanitation, the Potato, the Frog, the Planet Earth, Languages, Intercultural Dialogue & the Rat

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 30, 2008 01:33am | Post a Comment
Baby New Year Foundling 

2008 The Year in Review

silent running poster jason x poster lake house poster
movies set in 2008

Well, first of all, I’d like to point out what 2008 wasn’t. I mean, probably 2000 and 2001 are the most famous years of the oughts in speculative fiction. However, 2008 also piqued the imagination of Science-Fictionalists. Silent Running didn't resemble my 2008 much, although something kept knocking the ficus in my back yard over which did make me angry. I didn't hear about anything that fit in with the prophecies offered in Jason X. But perhaps no speculation about what 2008 would be like was the 2006 film, The Lake House. I mean, come on. They really thought that in just two years we'd have magic mailboxes that would allow us to send love letter to the past. People get real!

ajax and cassandra billy joel
Cassandra moaning about something                                                                  I don't know

CAUTION: FLAMMABLE!

Posted by Job O Brother, November 18, 2008 11:37am | Post a Comment
fire
The view from my window. That store in the middle is Linda Thai - they have great food.

*Cough, cough!*

Hello! Greetings from *cough* Hollywood!

Sorry about the grey ash everywhere. It’s from the fires. And the heat. Strange, isn’t it? To be in the middle of November and planning your day around which businesses have air conditioning? (Amoeba Music, by the way, has air conditioning.) This is how we do winter in LA: pretend the blazing heat is an Arctic chill and those flakes of ash falling from the sky are snowflakes.

Also, that fat man laughing loudly on Sunset Boulevard is Santa. Nevermind that you’ve never seen Santa throw-up in the gutter and scream that the government put wires in his cereal. This is how we do winter in LA.

*Cough, cough* Word.

I must admit, I kind of like the way the air smells when Los Angeles is consumed in hell-fire. Kind of like everything’s hickory smoked. Kind of delicious, and reminds me of Christmas gifts of Hickory Farms, like you might find a smoked and dried Pasadena nestled in a box of fake grass, next to some strawberry candy. Sounds good, right? Who wouldn’t want to spread a little smoked Pasadena on a poppy-seed cracker? Maybe add a sprig of dill. Mmm!
meat gift
The last seven days – we’ll call it a week for short – have been packed with all sorts of activities. Let’s start with the most improbable of them:

BACK  <<  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  >>  NEXT