Friday Photos: True Hollywood Confessions

“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”
—Sophia Loren

Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – ?)
Venetian Woman in the Guise of Lucretia
oil on panel
95 × 110 cm (37.4 × 43.3 in)
National Gallery


Irving Penn
Woman in Feather Hat, New York City, 1991


Vacheron Canstantin
American 1921
Modern interpretation of an Art Deco classic.
Price is $30,000 in rose gold


Cary Grant & Virginia Cherrill (1908-1996) on their honeymoon in Rome, 1934. They divorced in 1935. Cherrill is best known for her exquisite performance as the Blind Girl in Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece City Lights, 1931.


World War I propaganda poster, 1917
Wake Up, America!
illustration by James Montgomery Flagg.


In 1961 Elizabeth Taylor garnered a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Butterfield 8, a film she loathed. After the ceremony, behind the curtain, clutching her Oscar, Taylor said: “I still think it’s a piece of s**t.”


French poster for The Maltese Falcon, 1941


Shin Yanagisawa (1936-2008)
From the series In the Street, Toyama
Gelatin silver print on Baryte paper
Museum der Moderne Salzburg
© Estate of Shin Yanagisawa


Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940


Norma Jeane Baker
Photo by Andre de Dienes


Flair magazine, 1950
photo by George Hoyningen-Huene (Russian-French, 1900–1968)


In 1942 the great director Frank Capra screened Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi film Triumph of the Will. Stunned by the film’s power he said: “We’re dead. We’re gone. We can’t win this war.” He further commented that “All film is propaganda” Capra enlisted right after Pearl Harbor and produced the splendid Why We Fight series for the U.S. Armed Forces.


Rick McGinnis
Chinese eggplant, Macdonell Ave., Toronto, 2000


Photo by André Kertész


A fish swallows an Egyptian soldier in a mosaic scene depicting the splitting of the Red Sea from the Exodus story, from the fifth-century synagogue at Huqoq, in northern Israel. (Jim Haberman/University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)


Picture Play
April, 1935


Livia Yarden wishes all our friends and relatives a lovely and peaceful Shabbat.


Ed Ruscha, The End, 2003

This entry was posted in Art, Art Deco, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Fashion, Frank Capra, Friday Fotos, Hollywood, Hollywood Stars, Hollywood Still Photography, Judaica, Judaism, Movie Posters, Movies, Myrna Loy, Painting, Photography, Propaganda War, Quotes, Rick McGinnis, Sophia Loren and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. Michael Kennedy
    Posted July 14, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    “A Place in the Sun” was a cult movie for a lot of us in college at the time it came out. I probably saw it ten or fifteen times. It came out before I was in college but there were showings in downtown LA that we would go to. I was an SC freshman in 1956 and it was around a lot then.

    Then 20 years later, “Lifeguard” was a cult movie for a lot of my doctor friends. Sam Elliot turned down the studio’s plan to make him a sex symbol and has done very well since in westerns.

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  2. Barry
    Posted July 13, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Re Butterfield 8 and Taylor in it. The film is just awful, and she is nearly so, but John O’Hara’s novel is insightful and smart, capturing as it does the 1930’s, New York, and America.

    Oh, Eddie Fisher remains likeable, but even worse than the material, although not worse than Laurence Harvey.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted July 13, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      I never read the novel. Never read anything by John O’Hara. Laurence Harvey is usually a fine actor, but here, as you say, he’s pretty bad. I do think that Elizabeth Taylor gives the best performance in the film. And let’s face it, she looks incredible in the mink and negligee. Her Oscar, I think, was really for A Place in the Sun. Not surprisingly, BUtterfield 8 was a huge hit, grossing 18 million dollars——which was a lot of money in 1960.

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      • Barry
        Posted July 14, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Not read John O’Hara — my hope is that you shall. I have read it all and despite critical acclaim would not begin with Appointment In Samarra, but Sermons and Soda Water, a lovely collection of three novella’s. The, of course, the short stories. Waiting For Winter, and the title has several implications, And Other stories, well all of them.

        Look forward to hearing from you after a taste or two.

        Oh, and being best in BUtterfield 8 isn’t much. Certainly A Place In The Sun for Taylor. The book is pretty strong stuff, or at least it was.

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  3. Posted July 13, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    I once wrote a book review where I compared Riefenstahl’s Olympic games photographs with the work Dorothea Lange did for the FSA, both at roughly around the same time. I talked about them both as forms of propaganda – the artist in the employ of the State, producing images to serve official purposes. That was over twenty years ago. I doubt that anyone would print it today.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted July 13, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Really smart comparison. Maybe that’s why most of Lange’s work leaves me cold. Same for most of the WPA photographs which strike me as paternalistic, Stalinesque, and just plain boringly obvious.

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      • Posted July 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Some of the cityscapes produced by the WPA photographers are excellent – wonderful snapshots of vernacular architecture and the look of cities and towns before the war. Many of them are downloadable at high-res from the LoC website and suitable for printing. But a lot of it is retail misery, in the service of Roosevelt’s mission to increase gov’t size. Lange and her cohorts made Americans look beaten; Riefenstahl made Germans look like supermen. Both were doing the bidding of their government.

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  4. David Foster
    Posted July 13, 2018 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Interesting about Frank Capra and the Leni Riefehstahl film It would be interesting for someone to compare Nazi and Communist propaganda, especially movies, from the standpoint of the power of the emotional symbolism.

    Aldous Huxley would probably have argued that the Nazi propaganda was more effective:

    “In the field of politics the equivalent of a theorem is a perfectly disciplined army; of a sonnet or picture, a police state under a dictatorship. The Marxist calls himself scientific and to this claim the Fascist adds another: he is the poet–the scientific poet–of a new mythology.”

    There is something similar in Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon’..a Communist explains why his side is failing in his country, apparently Germany:

    “Perhaps it is too cold up on our mountain path. The others—they have music and bright banners and they all sit round a nice warm fire. Perhaps that is why they have won.”

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  5. Posted July 13, 2018 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Sophia Loren had a way with a phrase. I like the watch… much more economical than last week’s (?) $120,000 model! I’ll take you word for it, but I wouldn’t have recognized Cary Grant (and their marriage lasted a whole year… wow). Elizabeth Taylor looks genuinely happy in that photo — I’ve never seen Butterfield 8, what’s your opinion of the film? I LOVE the French poster for the Maltese Falcon. I want one! I also love the Hopper painting. Norma Jean seems to defy the laws of gravity, if you get my drift. And then there’s Myrna, but the text seems almost negative. Perhaps she (or her studio) didn’t like Picture Play so she was less-than-forthcoming in her interview…? Well done, Robert, and your grand daughter is adorable.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted July 13, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Butterfield 8 is beyond terrible. I don’t think I ever watched the entire film. Elizabeth Taylor is as good as she can be in such a dog. Eddie Fisher is… dreadful.

      The high cost of fine watches is an amazing phenomenon. This is one area where classic craftsmanship, rarity (most of the watches I post are limited editions) and beauty are wrapped into one package that defies the modern fetish for the high tech.

      I wish I had more info about the Myrna photo and caption.

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      • Posted July 13, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        What are Taylor’s best films, in your opinion?

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        • Robert J. Avrech
          Posted July 13, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          IMHO, these are her best performances and her best films.
          National Velvet (’44)
          Little Women (’49)
          Father of the Bride (’50)
          A Place in the Sun (’51)
          Giant (’56, but you have to put up with the dreadful, scene-chewing James Dean)
          Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (’58)
          Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (’66)

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  6. Bill Brandt
    Posted July 13, 2018 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Always enjoy this series Robert. One can’t say Liz Taylor had a swelled head! On the WW1 propaganda pposter there was an excellent 2 hour program on PBS’ American Experience on Wilson and WW1.

    Apparently they would throw you in prison for refusing to get behind the War – there were some shocking stories.

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    • pkoning
      Posted July 17, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Respect for the Constitution is a fairly recent thing, and unfortunately still very spotty. The 1st Amendment gets a reasonable amount of respect (less so than a decade ago, though). The other articles, not so much. For example, the ACLU flat out refuses to have anything to do with supporting the 2nd.

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