After Jean Harlow's untimely death in 1937, Lana Turner eventually picked up the mantle as MGM's top blonde. She was perfect for the attitude of the 1940s. The Big Band era. The World War II years. She was a luscious babe who loved the boys and the boys loved her. Onscreen, Lana was at her best playing the good kid who was attracted to the bad boy and excited by the thought of being a bad girl for a little bit. She had simmering passions that she wanted someone to turn up to the boiling point. But acting on those passions, taking up with those bad boys, often caused her turmoil. Onscreen and off. Look at her as the elevator operator who gets discovered for the Ziegfeld Follies and takes the express car up to stardom. She'll party too hard with the wrong guys. She'll wind up a still gorgeous but alcoholic blonde of easy virtue whose career goes downstairs in Ziegfeld Girl. Judy Garland and Hedy Lamarr co-starred in the 1941 movie.
Georgia was the perfect character for Lana Turner to play. She got deeper into that persona and came up with new acting power. She stretched her limited acting range. Hollywood has pretty much kicked Georgia to the curb as a drunk and a tramp. Jonathan Shields gets into her pitiful apartment and sees why she drinks. There's a hole in her heart put there by her hard-drinking, delinquent, show biz legend/actor father. Nevertheless, she's practically made one wall in her apartment to a shrine to him.
He gets a star performance out of her. She's Hollywood's new "It" girl. She races to his mansion to be with him, unaware that he's upstairs with a background actress booty call. Like Georgia, it's not for sex. It's to cover up the loneliness. As Georgia was addicted to liquor, Jonathan is addicted to his career. She tenderly pleads with him not to shut her out. We know that her father shut her out. Then the other woman appears. Jonathan, in a rage, humiliates Georgia to such an extent that it sends her into auto-hysterics. Again, we get "the Minnelli touch." Georgia's breakdown behind the wheel. She seems to be speeding recklessly in the wrong direction. It's light, shadow, hysterics and glamour.
The Bad and The Beautiful and L.A. Confidential -- that's a good weekend DVD double feature.
Lana Turner gets star treatment during the TCM Summer Under the Stars.
For the whole August line-up, go here: sittinonabackyardfence.com
To see some of my 1980s VH1 time with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, play this: