News Muse – Six Degrees of Hollywood: A trip down memory lane

I’ve always had a thing for Hollywood movie star biographies, but I mean old-school Hollywood, like 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Some great reads so far have been Ava Gardner – Love is Nothing by Lee Server, Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine, Rita Hayworth: If This Was Happiness by Barbara Leaming and Rock Hudson by David Bret. I’ve also really enjoyed reading books about other important people in Classical Hollywood like Louis B Mayer and David O Selznick who are key figures through whom many of these iconic stars interlinked. That’s why I liked Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham. Apart from it being an intriguing read about the obsessive compulsive, mad genius of the famous aviator and industrialist, his movie producing and directing got him in (rather close) touch with the likes of Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, and Joan Fontaine.

Cate Blanchett in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator

And you get the impression that everybody knew everybody the more of these biographies you read, confirming that Hollywood was and still is pretty incestuous and nepotistic. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon…need I say more?

If you’ve read a good Hollywood biography, do tell me about it as I’m currently between books.

What brought this whole trip down memory lane on – yes, let me get to the point already, this is a blog post not a novel –  is that I watched the trailer for Me & Orson Welles the other day.

Orson Welles always reminds me of watching Citizen Kane for the first time while doing Film Studies at university, and while doing that being introduced to the magical world of Film Noir and therefore being introduced to femme fatale Gilda, one of my favourite movies ever, starring Rita Hayworth, who was married to Orson Welles… Other than that, I adore Claire Danes in that oh-I-wish-we-were-friends kind of way. I caught the second half of The Family Stone on telly the other day and I just had to watch it again because of her. And of course because it’s a really funny movie with great characters.

Speaking of classical Hollywood, do you remember News Hound mentioning back in August that Steven Spielberg is remaking the 1950 classic Harvey? Now there are rumours going that Robert Downey Jr is going to play the James Stewart character, Elwood P Dowd. I’m not a fan of remakes but I think he might just pull it off, as long as he has his own take on the character.

Another remake that I do not look forward to though is Let Me In, the US version of the well-received Swedish horror thriller Let the Right One In. The original was a very personal experience for me since it reminded me of being a kid growing up in Sweden in the 80s (when we still had proper winters with lots of snow), sporting similarly geeky clothes to the main character, Oskar. Many of the actors are well-known in Sweden and one of them, Ika Nord (who played Virginia), used to do a rather weird children’s porgramme called Ika i Rutan. It was very popular and even though the show was a bit like CBBC on acid, my friends and I loved it.

They’re filming Let Me In in New Mexico this autumn and expect it to be ready for release as soon as January 2010.

Now I know how Japanese people must feel when Hollywood keeps remaking their horror films.

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