Monday, November 11, 2019

Transforming Rita


Back in the 1930's, a young actress named Rita Cansino, was having a hard time breaking away from small exotic roles, in part due to her name, and in part to the jet black hair of her Spanish ancestry.

As a starlet at Fox Studios, Rita Cansino married salesman and promoter Edward C. Judson.  Judson knew potential when he saw it.  Not only was Cansino beautiful, she was a dancer with a charismatic stage presence, and a spark that Judson knew would propel her to stardom.

Judson got her the lead roles in several independent films and arranged a screen test with Columbia Pictures. Columbia studio head Harry Cohn signed Cansino to a long-term contract, then cast her in small roles in Columbia features.

Cansino appeared in several roles in the mid 1930s playing an exotic foreigner.  Cohn claimed that Cansino's image was too Mediterranean.  That reduced her opportunities to being cast in "exotic" roles, which were more limited in number. 

At Cohn and Judson's urging, Cansino changed her hair color to auburn and her name to Rita Hayworth. By using her mother's maiden name (Haworth), she allowed the public to see her British-American ancestry and became a classic "American" pin-up.

And the rest is history...Rita Hayworth became a screen siren superstar of the 1940s! 

My favorite Rita Hayworth movie is GildaWhat's yours? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Previously posted 9/23/13.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Pre-Code Hollywood: No Restrictions Apply

When one of my kids was about fourteen, he complained about not being allowed to watch rated R movies. He said, “You and Dad are I’m too overprotective and you're not giving me a chance to see what life’s really like.” Excuse me for being a parent. Instead of letting him watch today’s restricted movies, perhaps I should have let him watch some of these:

The Cheat, 1931
A compulsive gambler will do anything to pay off her debt – including turning to a wealthy businessman behind her husband’s back.

Events take an unhappy turn for Bill and Jack, two locomotive engineers, after Bill is attracted to his best friend's wife.
Dorothy Mackhaill in Safe in Hell, 1931
After accidentally killing the man who raped her and forced her into prostitution, a New Orleans woman flees to a Caribbean island. While she awaits her fiancé, the vicious local police chief sets his sights on her.

 Hot Saturday  1932
Scandal erupts after a young woman innocently spends the night with a notorious playboy and neglects to tell her fiancé.
Merrily We Go to Hell, 1932
An abusive alcoholic reunites with a woman from his past driving his wife to drastic measures.


They Call it Sin, 1932
With time on his hands during a business trip, Jimmy Decker (who's engaged to his boss's daughter) romances small-town church organist Marion Cullen.  She follows him to New York only to learn Jimmy's true colors after she's burned her bridges.
Attractive Nan, member of a bank-robbery gang, goes to prison thanks to evangelist Dave Slade...who loves her.
Letty, a young woman who ended up pregnant, unmarried and on the streets at fifteen is bitter and determined that her child will not grow up to be taken advantage of. Letty teaches her child to lie, steal, cheat and do anything else he'll need to be street smart.

Once upon a time in Hollywood, movies of the past were just as gritty as the movies of today. Well, maybe not just as gritty, but back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it wasn’t unusual to find sexual innuendo, profanity, illegal drug use, promiscuity, prostitution, infidelity, abortion, extreme violence and homosexuality in films.

This period in cinema history is known as the Pre-Code era, the time before movies were censored and sugar coated to reflect all American wholesomeness.
Ina Claire publicity still for The Greeks Had a Word for Them, 1932
According to DVD Beaver, “In 1934, Hollywood was turned upside down by the enforcement of a strict “Production Code” that would change the way movies were made for the next 34 years. During the “pre-code” period (1929 to mid-1934), censorship barely existed in Hollywood and filmmakers had free reign to make the movies they wanted and the public demanded. No subject was taboo...”

To read more about Pre-Code Hollywood click here.

The sensational subject of sex sold back then, just like it does today.  However, Variety blamed women for the rise in such steamy films:

Women are responsible for the ever-increasing public taste in sensationalism and sexy stuff. Women who make up the bulk of the picture audiences are also the majority reader of the tabloids, scandal sheets, flashy magazines, and erotic books ... the mind of the average man seems wholesome in comparison.... Women love dirt, nothing shocks 'em.

The more times change the more they stay the same...

Were you familiar with the Pre-Code Era of Hollywood? Do you have any favorite Pre-Code films?  

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 1/20/14.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Aging Gracefully

I don't know about you, but I think there's a lot of truly "questionable" plastic surgery going on out there making some in the spotlight appear like they need to hide in the shadows. I won't post any of those pictures, but I'm sure some unfortunate celebrities come to mind.

I have, however, posted some photographs of lovely Loretta Young. I've mentioned before that she is one of the most beautiful women to have ever graced the silver screen. If I assume correctly, Ms.Young never "went under the knife." I've read that as a Catholic, she didn't drink and lived a clean life. Of course there's the matter of her first child, Judy Lewis, but that's another blog post.


These photos aren't dated, but I believe the one on top was taken sometime in the 1930s, so Ms. Young would have been in her twenties. From the small print in the bottom photo, I'm figuring it was taken in 1999, which would put her at 76. Loretta Young was gorgeous at every age!

Can you think of any other celebrities today who are choosing to age gracefully?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Hedy Lamarr: Beauty and Brains

What does a 1940's glamour girl-superstar have to do with Bluetooth technology? Keep reading to find out!

Hedy Lamarr was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen. If you've never heard of her, here's some information, courtesy of Wikiepedia:

Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, 9 November 1914 – 19 January 2000) was an Austrian and American film actress. She appeared in numerous popular feature films, including Algiers (1938) with Charles Boyer, I Take This Woman(1940) with Spencer Tracy, Comrade X (1940) with Clark Gable, Come Live With Me (1941) with James Stewart, H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) with Robert Young, and Samson and Delilah (1949) with Victor Mature. After an early and brief film career in Germany, which included a controversial love-making scene in the film Ecstasy (1933), she fled with her husband and secretly moved to Paris. While there, she met MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood, where she became a film star from the late 1930s to the 1950s.

Okay, so now you're wondering about her relation to Bluetooth technology. Here's more from Wikipedia:

At the beginning of the World War II, Lamarr was told that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell war bonds, which she did with great success. But she wanted to do more, particularly by using her interest in science to aid in the defeat of Nazism. This desire only intensified as Hitler continued his relentless attacks on Europe. When German submarines began torpedoing passenger liners, she said at one point, "I've got to invent something that will put a stop to that". This desire would give rise to the invention for which she would become famous many years later.
Lamarr's reputation as an inventor is based on her co-creation of a frequency-hopping system with George Antheil, an avant garde composer and neighbor of Lamarr in California. During World War II, Lamarr was inspired to contribute to the war effort, and focused her efforts on countering torpedoes. In her home, explains author Richard Rhodes during an interview on CBS, she devoted a room to drafting her designs for frequency-hopping.

Lamarr and Antheil discussed the fact that radio-controlled torpedoes, while important in the naval war, could easily be jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, causing the torpedo to go off course. Lamarr had learned something about torpedoes during her marriage to Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy munitions manufacturer. Lamarr and Antheil developed the idea of using frequency hopping to avoid jamming. This was achieved by using a piano roll to unpredictably change the signal sent between a control center and the torpedo at short bursts within a range of 88 frequencies in the radio-frequency spectrum (there are 88 black and white keys on a piano keyboard).

The specific code for the sequence of frequencies would be held identically by the controlling ship and in the torpedo. It would be practically impossible for the enemy to scan and jam all 88 frequencies, as computation this complex would require too much power. The frequency-hopping sequence was controlled by a player-piano mechanism, which Antheil had earlier used to score his Ballet Mécanique.

On 11 August 1942, US Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Hedy Kiesler Markey, Lamarr's married name at the time, and George Antheil. This early version of frequency hopping, although novel, soon was met with opposition from the U.S. Navy and was not adopted. The idea was not implemented in the U.S. until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba after the patent had expired. Lamarr's work was honored in 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her a belated award for her contributions. In 1998, an Ottawa wireless technology developer, Wi-LAN Inc., acquired a 49% claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock.

Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea served as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as GPS, Bluetooth, COFDM (used inWi-Fi network connections), and CDMA (used in some cordless and wireless cell phones). Blackwell, Martin, and Vernam's 1920 patent seems to lay the communications groundwork for Lamarr and Antheil's patent, which employed the techniques in the autonomous control of torpedoes.

So, Hedy Lamarr wasn't just another pretty face! Had you ever heard of her? If so, have you ever seen any of her movies? Did you know she was an inventor? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 11/2/15

Monday, October 14, 2019

Slow Cooker Chinese Barbecue Pork


I've recently discovered the website Chefsavvy.com, and I absolutely love the recipes there! Easy and delicious are what counts with me, and this recipe has become my go-to pork loin favorite (even though they suggest using pork shoulder or butt). Serve this with jasmine rice and a salad, and you have a great and very tasty meal! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 4 pound pork shoulder/pork butt trimmed of excess fat and cubed

Sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup hoisin
1 teaspoon sriracha or more to taste
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I love ginger, so I use 2 t)

INSTRUCTIONS

Add the pork and the sauce ingredients to the slow cooker and toss to coat the meat.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Once the pork is tender shred it with two forks. I just do this in the slow cooker.
You can drain some of the liquid or serve the extra liquid over rice!

Serve immediately with sesame seeds if desired.

Have you ever tried Chinese barbecued pork? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!