"The Artist", "Humoresque", "The Big Knife", "Sunset Boulevard", "Singing in the Rain"

Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller in "The Artist" (2011) directed by Michel Hazanavicius

"The Artist"´plot borrows not just from "A Star Is Born" but also "Singin' in the Rain" and several other Hollywood classics.

"The Artist" is a delightful and unique experience because it cares about things most movies no longer do. "The Artist" is a terrific showcase for Dujardin not only because the lack of dialogue gives his expressive face a workout but also because the film goes out with an exhilarating 1930s-appropriate finale" Source: www.twincities.com

John Garfield and Joan Crawford in "Humoresque" (1946) directed by Jean Negulesco

"Humoresque" is a remake of the 1920 film of the same name. The original title of this 1946 version was, "Rhapsody In Blue."

In the suds-drenched ''Humoresque'' whose walk-into-the-sea ending wrings a twist on ''A Star Is Born'', John Garfield is a self-absorbed genius violinist involved with Joan Crawford, playing an unhappily married alcoholic society woman. The lather reaches a mountainous peak in the scene where Crawford's Minnie Mouse eyes brim with tears as she listens to a radio performance of Wagner's ''Liebestod'' alone in her lavish beach house, and drinks herself into a suicidal mood. Source: www.nytimes.com

Janet Gaynor and Fredric March in "A Star is Born" (1937) directed by William A. Wellman

Judy Garland and James Mason in "A Star Is Born" (1954) directed by George Cukor

Jack Palance and Ida Lupino in "The Big Knife" (1955) directed by Robert Aldrich

"Hollywood, the mythical land of dreams. Though it's often glamorized on the screen, occasionally an industry insider dares to bite the hand that feeds him by showing us the flip side of fame and fortune in tinseltown; 'What Price Hollywood?' (1932), both versions of 'A Star is Born' (1937 & 1954), 'The Bad and the Beautiful' (1952) and 'The Player' (1992) are just a few examples. Yet, none of these films can match the negative depiction of the movie business and its power brokers offered in 'The Big Knife' (1955), directed by Robert Aldrich and based on Clifford Odets' 1949 Broadway play.

On the Broadway stage, John Garfield played Charlie Castle, which was ironic considering that Odets modeled his protagonist on Garfield. For the film version, Aldrich wanted Burt Lancaster for the lead role but when he declined the offer, the part went to Jack Palance.

Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in "The Big Knife" (1955)

Shelley Winters: "The Big Knife was my personal salute to the angry and gifted, great, sad and sweet John Garfield. It was also my personal tribute to my many friends who had been so brave, facing that truly un-American HUAC Committee."

It was actually the casting of Palance, however, that Aldrich identified as the major flaw. Most viewers refused to accept him as "a guy who could or could not decide to take $5,000 per week. We failed to communicate to the mass audience... that it was not primarily a monetary problem; it was a problem of internal integrity." Source: www.tcm.com


William Holden and Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) directed by Billy Wilder

In 1949 Hollywood, down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) tries to hustle up some work at Paramount Studios. He meets with a producer who shoots down his proposed script as well as a request for a loan to bring his car payments up to date.

“Fame was thrilling only until it became grueling. Money was fun only until you ran out of things to buy.” —Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard

“You see, this is my life. It always will be. There’s nothing else. Just us and the cameras. And those wonderful people out there in the dark.” -Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond

Who better to play a once glamorous and popular silent screen actress than a real former silent screen actress than Gloria Swanson? Gloria Swanson was hugely popular in the 1920s staring in many silent films. Her life was splashed all over magazines with millions of adoring fans. By the time sound came her career ground to a slow halt. She made some sound movies in the 1930s such as 'Tonight or Never' but she accepted the end of her major career. Apparently Norma Shearer, Mae West, Mary Pickford, Pola Negri, and Greta Garbo were considered and asked to play the part of Norma Desmond.

Gloria Swanson is so perfectly eccentric and wonderful that to imagine someone like Norma Shearer (who would have been awful) or Mae West would not have made as much of an impact. Gloria Swanson just had what it took to play an old star who was stuck in the past.


There is no movie musical more fun than "Singin' in the Rain,'' and few that remain as fresh over the years. Its originality is all the more startling if you reflect that only one of its songs was written new for the film, that the producers plundered MGM's storage vaults for sets and props, and that the movie was originally ranked below "An American in Paris", which won a best picture Oscar.

The verdict of the years knows better than Oscar: "Singin' in the Rain" is a transcendent experience, and no one who loves movies can afford to miss it. One of this movie's pleasures is that it's really about something. Of course it's about romance, as most musicals are, but it's also about the film industry in a period of dangerous transition. The movie simplifies the changeover from silents to talkies, but doesn't falsify it. Yes, cameras were housed in soundproof booths, and microphones were hidden almost in plain view. Source: rogerebert.suntimes.com

"And there’s that fade-out kiss between 40-year-old Kelly and 19-year-old newcomer Debbie Reynolds beneath a movie billboard. The kiss that many moviegoers saw but few know about. The one that Kelly put extra effort into.

The French kiss was such a shocker to Reynolds that she had to leave the set to gain her composure. “Filming was held up for about an hour while I drank Coca-Cola and gargled,” Reynolds says. She was eventually persuaded to return and reshoot the scene. This time around, an embarrassed Kelly promised that it would be a “simple kiss.” “I don’t know why he wasn’t aware that I had never had a French kiss. I was such a young girl. I was really upset". Source: articles.orlandosentinel.com

"Debbie Reynolds was 17 when she made 'Singing in the Rain'. In many ways, she says, she was surprised as much as anyone by her own stardom.

She was smaller and lacking in sex appeal compared with the Lana Turners and the Lauren Bacalls, the icons of the era who became her close friends. She had never danced before 'Singing in the Rain', and she had never kissed, either.

“I was taking ballet and acting,” she recalled. “I had no interest in boys, and I certainly didn’t want to be taking a class in kissing.” She says that if you take a look at the last scene of the film, you’ll see a mightily annoyed Gene Kelly giving her the tiniest of unromantic, closed-mouth smooches at what should have been the happy triumph of a couple over all manner of Hollywood adversity". Source: businessghost.com