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on August 21, 2000
I presume that this edition is special because it is highlights from the original, as it only runs 30 mins. However for such a short running time it does manage to cover 16 victims of scandal and tragedy in a reasonable fashion - "Fatty" Arbuckle, Roman Novarro, Sharon Tate, Sal Mineo, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, George Reeves, Freddie Prinze, Lenny Bruce, Vivien Leigh, Montgomery Clift, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Bela Lugosi, and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer. This material is similar to the Hollywood Babylon books and series which expose the underbelly of the showbiz capital. It makes no pretense of representing these people as actors or even try to analyse their appeal as stars. Their infamy is based on their private exploits. Consider Vivien Leigh's triumph as Blanche Du Bois, doubly difficult since she had to better her Scarlett O'Hara, and then see how she is reduced here to a tuberculor tramp, scouring the London streets for any lowlife to satisfy her appetites. Even the mention of her Blanche is accompanied by the wrong still (we see her in The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone). The narrator (who hisses his words in disdain) offers his aesthetic rationale, without apology. We are told that some of the more "exotic" details exhibited may be considered by some in poor taste, or insensitive to the memories of the celebrities, but one must remember that these accounts remain the final signal that each has left for posterity. Whether you find the Rock Hudson or Tyrone Power jokes amusing probably depends on how low you are willing to submit yourself, though the comment that Linda Evans condemned Hudson for their Dynasty kiss after he had been diagnosed with AIDS, is plainly untrue. Of note is the nude picture of James Dean with an erection, sitting in a tree, that was used in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean, and here covered by a red circle titled "censored". Perhaps the red circle does not appear in the full edition.
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