Wednesday, February 8, 2012
HOLLYWOOD'S FEMININE STARS BATTLE OVER MALE IDOLS OF THE SOUND SCREEN
Clark Gable, Bob Montgomery and George Brent Are Most Popular
McCrea Is Another
Constance Bennett Insists Upon Joel as Her Hero in Talkies
By Dan Thomas
Hollywood, May 7, 1932
Once more the cry is going out from Hollywood - “give us more leading men.”
To be sure, we have plenty of actors who are classified as leading men, but, with the exception of a scant handful, they don't measure up to the standards set by our very choosy feminine stars. And you have no idea how particular these young ladies can be.
First of all the leading man must have a sex appeal, look interesting enough for the star to appear to have a passion for him and be old enough to make the star seem younger.
If he passes these qualifications, he must then prove his ability as a first-class actor – really better than the star herself, but with sufficient discretion not to steal any scenes from her. Our feminine stars really consider it ungentlemanly for their leading men to steal scenes from them.
There you have the demands made of leading men today – and also the reason why nearly all of the feminine stars fight over a scant handful, while the others trade their Rolls Royces for Fords.
And if you don't think the feminine stars really battle for their leading men, you should overhear one of the conferences sometime. Of course, there isn't any hair-pulling. But from a verbal standpoint the battles are long and loud.
At present, and for some months back, Clark Gable has reigned as the most fought for leading man in the business.
The stars around the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot all know that the presence of Gable in a picture will add plenty to its box office value. And they know that Gable will be a good boy and not steal any scenes from them – or at least not very many.
As a result Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo – the trio most apt to get their own way on that lot – do plenty of begging and flighting for Gable's services.
So far Joan is in the lead, having walked off with the prize for three pictures.
Marion Davies is another feminine actress who appreciates the worth of Gable. Clark saved the day for her in “Polly of the Circus,” even if he was miscast. Miss Davies sought him again for “Two Blondes,” her next film, but was turned down by the studio.
However, the fighting isn't as bad as it might be on that lot, thanks to Robert Montgomery. Although he is rated as a star in his own name, Bob is quite coveted as a leading man by that trio of ladies despite the fact that they know his name will go up in letters almost as big as they command.
But Bob is a nice chap who seldom quarrels because his part doesn't happen to be quite big enough. And he has such a graceful way of stealing scenes that the stars don't realize they are being subordinated.
Montgomery, whose current release is “Letty Lynton,” in which he shares honors with Joan Crawford, is slated to play opposite Miss Davies in “Two Blondes.”
Of course Bob gets his fat roles in his own starring vehicles, in which he has practically his choice of the studio's lesser feminine players for his leading ladies.
Another young man who has caused harsh words between stars who otherwise are quite friendly is George Brent – no relation to Evelyn.
George is a veteran of the legitimate stage, having spent many years on Broadway. But as pictures go, he is only five months old. That hasn't stopped Ruth Chatterton, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell and Loretta Young from requesting, or rather demanding, his services.
Miss Chatterton absolutely insisted upon having Brent emote opposite her in “The Rich Are Always With Us.” And Stanwyck is said to have done the same for “So Big.” Joan and Loretta still are running second to them.
After being in the picture racket for quite some time, Joel McCrea suddenly has leaped into that envious position of having girls whom men usually fight over do the fighting with himself as the object.
Ever since Constance Bennett had Joel opposite her in “The Common Law” he has been her preference as a leading man. And Constance is one young lady in this town whose word is law.
Consequently, her latest picture was postponed until McCrea could finish “Bird of Paradise” and play opposite her.
Joel, incidentally, went into “Bird of Paradise” because Dolores Del Rio was quite insistent upon having him.
While Miss Bennett is making a talkie for Warners, McCrea is to be featured in two adventure stories under the Radio banner. “The Eighth Wonder,” the last mystery story written by the late Edgar Wallace already is in production.
Joel's next will be “The Most Dangerous Game.” Fay Wray is playing opposite in the Wallace opus, under direction of Merian C. Cooper.
Others who might also be placed in the “pet” class are Spencer Tracy, Melvyn Douglas and Wallace Ford. They are constantly in demand and often cause hard feelings when their services can't be procured.
It's tough to be so popular – but, always there is room for a few more actors who would like to start battles between lovely screen stars.