Top positive review
The leading couples of Hollywood since the golden era
on November 4, 2016
This is definitely a collector’s book, compiled by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) that brings into life some of the most unforgettable couples during studio era. They thrilled audiences and the studios capitalized on a simple theme to attract viewers and create movie fan base. This simple marketing strategy worked and the fans got to see their favorite couples again and again in many films, and perhaps relate their own lives to the stories of the movies. These movie sweethearts teased, flirted, fought, loved, suffered, laughed, sang and danced in several movies. The work of each team is unique. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell made 12 films together at Fox Studios, 1927 to 1934 which were sweet, noble and unsophisticated. Greta Garbo and John Gilbert were teamed four time by MGM Studios and the relationships onscreen were supposed to be stormy, sensual, complex and often doomed. Doris Day and Rock Hudson were playful and fun-loving couple. Myrna Loy and William Powell did 14 films together and gave fans plenty of joy in playfulness and working together as a team. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire; and Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy thrilled audience with their magical performances.
A brief summary of the book is as follows; the work of each couple in this book is narrated with a brief introduction to the movies they did together, a brief history of their onscreen relationship, behind the scenes stories, off-screen relationships, key quotes and a very short bio of each of about 40 couples. Some of they are fascinating stories. For example, in the movie “Casablanca”, lack of proper script delayed production and the actors could barely remember the dialogue, since it was received only few hours prior to shooting. And in the iconic parting scene of the movie, director Michael Curtiz insisted that Rick (Bogart) must kiss Ilsa (Bergman) before sending her off on a plane. Humphrey Bogart refused saying that it is out of character of Rick. Producer Hal Wallis had to step in to settle the matter and he sided with Bogart. When the allied forces landed in Casablanca during the filming, the sales and marketing department of Warner Brothers Studio wanted to include this fact in the movie, but David O. Selznick and Studio Head Jack Warner decided that changing the ending would be a mistake.
Jean Harlow and Clark Gable did five movies together and their last movie was “Saratoga.” When Gable heard that Harlow passed away while he was on the set, he was tremendously sad and overcame with emotion and raced to the hospital. He was one of the pallbearer and an usher at her funeral. Greta Garbo and John Gilbert were fascinating couples and he was the only man in her life who convinced the reclusive Swede to meet him at the altar. He was also the only man who also persuaded her to attend a premiere of a film and smile for a photograph. Their real life romance was doomed, since it started, because of Garbo’s fierce desire to be independent collided with Gilbert’s passion. His love for Garbo also was his downfall from his successful acting career and died shortly after that at the age of 39. Janet Gaynor on her relationship with Charles Farrell said they cared for each other intensely, but “it wasn’t marrying kind of love. No one understands anyway. Actors are terribly attractive but not to commit your life to.” Farrell married actress Virginia Valli and Gaynor married her publicist Lydell Peck. The news hit the press and it hurt at the box office; her fans were baffled. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland’ team work was a match made in heaven. They were great friends. Rooney was brought in to prop up her popularity and appeal with movie goers and it worked, and in fact she became more popular than him. MGM Studios used the pair for their 1939 movie, “Babes in Arms” and it was the most profitable film for the studio and studio head Louis B. Mayer was so happy that he teamed them up in three more musicals produced by Arthur Freed. Busby Berkeley directed her musicals. His wild temperament and long working hours fueled her insecurities and she hit the alcohol and prescription drugs.
There are numerous pictures in this book, but all are in black and white. But one drawback of this book is TCM while playing politically correct, held out some facts. These couple-team had problems in their personal and professional relationship. There are numerous books that discusses this. Problems related to working together on the set and sexual affairs were common among some of the star-couples. TCM attempts to provide a “happy” picture.