Monday, March 30, 2009
keepin' up with the corleones
Yup, got sucked into watching Part I tonite on AMC. To be honest, doesn't take much suction at all to draw me in. Parts I and II are in my Top Ten of All Time Favorite Movies. Pressure me and I'll even add Part III to the list, even though it is my least favorite of the trilogy. (Actually, I cheat and list the Trilogy as one slot on my list...too many movies, too few slots.)
The thing about the Godfather that sucks me in is the intensity of the details: of mafia life, of family life, and the details of the awful transition of Michael Corleone from a likeable innocent into a driven monster. Frankly, by Part III, I'm rooting for someone to do him in. Alas, nature takes its course and makes it anti-climactic for me. Michael, as does his father, goes out with a whimper, not a bang.
I was reading Internet Movie Database (again - it's like Trivial Pursuit Solitaire for me), and somehow I ended up on Spencer Tracy's biography. There I read the most interesting thing about his long time lover, Katherine Hepburn. She purposefully never saw Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, because it was Tracy's last movie (he died just 17 days later) and she feared it would just be too hard on her because she would want to watch it with him.
This alone would be one of those stories only told in Hollywood, but it gets even more amazing when you realize that Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar for that performance! Wrap your head around that for a minute. Could you, or anyone else you know, have won THE award in your profession and not watch the movie and your winning performance? That's gotta be a first and last. I highly doubt Bette Davis would ever be able to resist. And just forget today's actors.
But then, this was a woman who never had a mirror in her home because she thought it vain and silly to gawk at oneself.
I also learned a few juicy tidbits about Loretta Young, who had a TV show when I was a child where she was a mercurial domestic goddess, the kind you could almost believe was still a virgin, just a married one...with children.
That was an image she carefully cultivated later on in her career and life, becoming a daily Roman Catholic communicant. But when she was younger she was apparently quite the risk-taker. I had known for a while that she'd had a torrid affair with Clark Gable on the set of Call of the Wild in 1934, became pregnant, went off in secret to have his child and then kept the paternity a public secret for a good many years.
Now, check this out. At the time, Loretta was single and unmarried, Gable was married - to someone else. Both were Catholic and both had clauses in their movie contracts that forbid scandal. Loretta kept their daughter in an orphanage for 2 years, then "adopted" her. So, the daughter, Judy, lived her entire childhood in the home of her real mother thinking she was her adopted mother, and never knowing who her real father was, although most of Hollywood knew, including her classmates. Many of them knew just by looking at the girl. She eventually found out about Gable when her fiance told her on the eve of her wedding.
This all makes my head spin. Unbelievable! But, maybe totally believable...my Catholic mother-in-law can convince herself of almost anything.