Screen Snapshots

Screen Snapshots

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Happy Birthday Bob Hope !

Recently I was at a Q and A with living legend and modern deity Bruce Campbell for the screening of his film My Name is Bruce and I decided to ask him a question. After seeing the film (which I really enjoyed) I asked him if he was a fan of Bob Hope, since I thought that at times he was positively channeling him in his role of an exaggerated version of himself. Bruce's answer was " You mean the young Bob Hope, not that guy who played golf with Reagan?". I qualified the question and said that I meant the former and he added "Oh yeah, I love all those ham actors".

It struck me that it was a very interesting reaction to my simple question. A lot of people like Bob Hope but there is a degree of uneasiness about Hope due to his later Republican years, the guy who went to Vietnam and who campaigned for Reagan and Bush Senior. Personally I don't care about his politics or personal views, Bob Hope makes me laugh and that's all that I bother about.

The other problem with Hope is the issue of his reliance on writers. Recently in Britain there was a show chronicling the 100 greatest stand up comedians "of all time", as voted by some spurious online poll. Bob Hope came 50th but all the talking heads they used for his segment on the show talked about how awful he was because he didn't write his own material. It's such a stupid argument though sadly it is a common one. I've found myself on more than one occasion having to argue the merits of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to popular musical history to people who think they have no value based on the same criteria. If you have the modern mindset of thinking that being an auteur makes you somehow more important (thanks for that Bob Dylan) than those with the talent of interpretation then basically we'll have to agree to disagree. When it comes down to it, Hope was one of the sharpest gag tellers of all time and whether he wrote his own material is or not is pretty much irrelevant in the face of his results.

Basically, I feel a whole lot of negativity against poor Bob Hope these days, which loses sight of the facts of his talents and career. These facts are: 1. He was a fantastic stand up comedian, a really quick witted and natural gag teller with superlative timing. You only have to listen to his radio shows to realise how sharp his delivery was, and if you ever listen to his guest appearances on other radio shows (such as Jack Benny's) you see what a powerful presence he was, he virtually takes over whatever show he guests on. 2. He was a hugely popular film star, in the top ten box office attractions for most of his peak years. He also created numerous movie moments and a distinct screen persona (with or without Bing Crosby) that struck a real chord with film goers stretching over several generations and which provided the basis for people like Woody Allen to launch their own comedy careers. 3. Despite what anyone can say about Bob Hope, and heaven knows, Sam Marx's book tries hard enough, he did more than anyone else in show business for the armed forces. You can say what you like about him but no one spends the better part of fifty Christmases away from home entertaining troops without some real love for what they are doing. Bob Hope dedicated his life to the troops, regardless of the rights or wrongs of each conflict and I think that deserves real respect.

I thought I should outline the above because for many Bob Hope is seen as a reactionary figure these days. Recently I've been watching the Hope in Vietnam DVD box set collecting his TV specials from the duration of the conflict. It's interesting watching the first few gung ho specials as they give way to the later ones where he has to make jokes about the anti-war demonstrations at home and where he sympathises with the GIs who just want it all to end. You can sense that he's playing to a different audience than from the Second World War and that he really doesn't know how to make everyone happy other than to parade a host of bikini clad women out on stage to raise the troops' spirits. The knowledge of that, and the fact that he's trying to bring a little happiness to troops in a difficult situation at Christmas gave me a whole lot more respect for Bob Hope that I had before. However, this loses sight of Hope's real skills as a joke teller, as he manages to make ordinary people laugh and forget their troubles (despite political and geographical problems) mainly due to his pacing and delivery (at one point he gets a big laugh despite reading his cue card wrong!). It's this wandering troubadour spirit, ready for anything that sets Hope apart from his peers.

Personally, I got in to Bob Hope when I watched The Ghost Breakers aged 15. I'd never heard of him but the familiar character of a cowardly braggart really struck a chord with me as a natural coward and I decided that this was a film star that I wanted to follow. In the mid nineties I wrote my first and only film star fan letter to him and got a nice reply from his secretary. I guess by that time it was too late to get a signed picture or personal reply but I'd like to think that the letter was at least passed to him.

I watched Road to Morocco recently and was moved by how young and dynamic he was, and also by how easily his interplay with Crosby came. You get the feeling that the two of them could genially ad lib forever and continue to one up each other with effortless glee. There's a freshness to their conversation that has rarely been seen in pictures before or since. That is the Bob Hope I'd like to remember, though to be honest I find him funny in pretty much all of his appearances. He belongs to that select band of comedians with such perfectly drawn persona that pretty much everything they do is clever and funny.

When it comes down to it, all I'd like to say is that Bob Hope has got me through some tough times and continues to make me laugh regardless of his personal life and political leanings, which make absolutely no difference to me. It's sad but I always feel that these days he suffers in comparison to Jack Benny, who seems more modern and relevant (and by all accounts a nicer person in real life) but to me it's like comparing apples and oranges. They are both extremely funny in their own way and have their own unique styles.

So Happy Birthday Bob Hope, here's to more fun times (and with a bit of luck some DVD releases of you TV shows!). If you feel like putting on a Hope film to celebrate, I'd recommend (leaving out the obvious ones), Casanova's Big Night, My Favorite Brunette and The Ghost Breakers. And if you want to go for a classic you can't go wrong with, it has to be The Cat and the Canary. I'd also recommend any of his radio shows as once you get past the topical references, his interplay with Jerry Colonna is hilarious and you get to see him (especially in the early ones) honing his comic timing to perfection.

I know it's a cliche, but...thanks for the memories Mr Hope.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Law of the Jungle (1942) - Monogram and the Importance of Mantan Moreland

Watching Law of the Jungle marked two important firsts for me. It was my first Monogram Picture and it was my first exposure to Mantan Moreland (looking back, I doubt this actually the case as I remember regularly watching Charlie Chan films as a kid, but it's certainly my first exposure as an adult). It's odd that it's taken this long to visit the Monogram corner of poverty row as I grew up being as familiar with the Republic logo as those of the major studios. Now, being new to this I have little idea of which films are the best or worst examples of Monogram's output but in this showing they managed to create a fast moving and thoroughly enjoyable adventure comedy. And since their goal wasn't to make Oscar worthy dramas (I believe they would try that later though) but cheap and cheerful double bill fodder for the masses, I think Law of the Jungle works very well.

The plot is the typical matinee mix of thrills, involving a singer stranded in Africa meeting an archaeologist and getting involved with a Nazi plot to create unrest within the local tribes. Add to that a comic sidekick, an unconvincing gorilla, some unexpected characterisation and lots of silly slapstick and you have a winning formula, with the emphasis on formula. Of course, none of this really matters, it's just an excuse for some action, a couple of songs, some knockabout fun and a guy in a flea bitten gorilla suit. Who could resist?

As would be expected from a studio bound jungle picture, the direction by Jean Yarbrough (later to become the producer of Abbott and Costello's TV show) is serviceable and the cast are generally solid. Arline Judge (here ten years removed from her turn in Girl Crazy) brings enough life to her part to keep it interesting though John 'Dusty' King (known mostly for his appearances in westerns) as our leading man is painfully wooden. Some of the supporting cast are quite interesting, with Arthur O'Connell giving an odd, twitchy performance as Judge's shady nightclub boss. He slithers and slopes about in his early scenes like he's trying to bring some hidden depth to an otherwise one dimensional character and as as a result becomes one of the better remembered elements of the film. He would go on to find later success as a character actor in film and television, eventually receiving two Oscar nominations. At this point in his career you can tell he's possibly a tad more 'method' than his co-stars. Also of note is Laurence Criner as the tribal Chief who almost steals the show with his appearance in the last reel of the film, but we'll get to that later.

Of course, if it wasn't for the man billed third, Mantan Moreland, I doubt I'd be writing this review and nor would anyone be interesting in watching this film. Regardless of the thorny issue of race, he simply makes the film worth watching. If his representation of an African American is considered mildly offensive to some then so be it, but the fact of the matter is that we care a whole lot more about him that we do the stiff supposed stars of the picture. He stands out as the only real person we can connect with and share in the adventure with and he brings an element of spontaneity to every scene he is in.

Mantan Moreland specialised in the comedy sidekick, usually playing butlers, manservants, chauffeurs and the other assorted menial jobs that were the only way for black actors in the 30's and 40's to get screen time. He played up the bug eyed, superstitious manservant, constantly afraid for his life. However, to this stock character he added his own impeccable timing and charisma to create a lovable everyman that stole every scene he was in and who always got the upper hand with a zinging one liner. Of course, this sort of act quickly fell out of favour when the growing civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1950's and it's only really now that Moreland and his contemporaries are beginning to be reassessed.

The issue of race is always a difficult subject when watching Hollywood films of the Golden Age as generally, the only representation black actors get is in the stereotypical manservant or housemaid role. Of the films I've watched in the last few years I can only recall a few instances where attempts were made to reverse this trend and portray black characters as real people. Frank Capra's Broadway Bill (1934) has a black stable hand character played by Clarence Muse who at times is almost treated as an equal of star Warner Baxter (and also is shown the true pecking order by him at other times). Despite suffering occasional racial slurs, Muse almost steals the picture, investing dignity and humanity into a character that I'd imagine the script didn't give much to. Another good example is Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) directed by Robert Z. Leonard. In this, Ernest Whitman plays Sam (he's even given a name), a porter on the train the leads (Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas) are travelling on who is roped into pretending to be a lawyer for them. Sam, at first speaking in the sort of grammatically incorrect "yassuh!" voice that all black people have to use in these films, drops the accent and reveals that he's been taking correspondence courses in Law and is actually very knowledgeable on the subject. We then see him with spectacles on and law book in hand quoting all sorts of complicated by-laws as he does his job and becomes the catalyst that brings Loy and Douglas together. All this happens in the last ten minutes of the film and is a really pleasant surprise. He even get the last line of the film, as if to highlight his sudden guardian angel role.

Sadly, these examples are the exceptions when it comes to black actors on the screen, though I don't doubt that there are a few more examples out there. Into this social mix with its hard glass ceiling step actors like Mantan Moreland. The frequent criticism of him being a sell out to black people just doesn't stand because without actors like him there would be no black people at all in these films. Where he, and others like Eddie "Rochester" Anderson triumph, is in making the most of the situation and by attempting to overcome their second class status by sheer talent and charisma. Anderson, of course for the most part had the protection of Jack Benny and his writers always giving him the best lines and never putting him in any demeaning situations. Moreland didn't have this protection so using his vaudeville training he just went ahead and stole the show from everyone he starred with.

Given this argument, brief mention needs to be made of the other prominent black actor of the time, Stepin Fetchit, whose particular version of the stereotype character involved making him lazy, slackjawed and backward, every racist film goer's expectation of the average black man. Though he was very successful at his peak, his particular brand if comedy plays quite uncomfortably nowadays and it's frankly difficult to defend other that to say that at least he was making money to feed his family. I'd contend that the likes of Moreland and Anderson have little connection to him in terms of their film legacies. For a start, as stated before Moreland comes out of Law of the Jungle as the most human and most real of all the characters and almost single-handedly saves the film (and I'd imagine many other films) from the doldrums. This is something Monogram clearly understood due to the number of times they used him and the prominent billing they gave him in all his appearances, something possibly no other black actor in Hollywood was regularly getting.

However, Law of the Jungle is by no means a fully integrated non-racial film. Typically of poverty row productions its humour is aimed low and its characters painted in broad strokes. Most interestingly it shows some sort of racial hierarchy as Mantan Moreland constantly swindles the gullible natives and gets them to work for him, thus reversing the position he has with his own master, archaeologist King. The main tribesman is also called Bongo, which tells you everything you need about the depth and subtlety of the characterisation.

The best moment in the film comes at the end, where our three leads (King, Judge and Moreland) have been captured and awaiting some terrible fate at the hands of savage tribesmen. King supposes that they are cannibals to which Mantan makes a crack about how that's bad because everyone loves to eat "dark meat"(it's a low brow line but his delivery was hilarious). The leader of the tribe has a fat, ugly daughter who takes a shine to Mantan for some absurd comic business before they are led off to meet the Chief. In a brilliant twist, the Chief, played by Laurence Criner is college educated and speaks in clipped Ronald Colman -like tones while puffing stoically on his pipe. It further turns out that he belongs to the same Lodge as Mantan in Harlem. This juxtaposition of the educated savage is also used to good effect in, of all places, Old Mother Riley's Jungle Treasure (1951) where all the supposed cannibal tribesman are in actual fact ex-Oxford graduates who spend their time (in full tribal dress) listening to the cricket on the short wave radio. In the end Criner and Moreland catch the Nazis, save the day and between them save the film.

It's a real shame that actors like Mantan Moreland are still criticised for giving a negative portrayal of black people on the screen. All these films have to be seen in their context and with the consensus racial views in place. I feel that often people make too much of it, as Moreland was merely using his comic gifts the only way he knew how. His round, big eyed face lent itself to over the top expressions and his short, portly stature and street wise accent suggest a non violent coward who lives on his quick wits. In the scenes where Moreland freaks out in a dark cave before discovering a giant ape, I couldn't help thinking that his expressions, reactions and mugging could have been replicated, double takes and all by Lou Costello and no one would have batted an eyelid. Okay, so he's playing a manservant character, but he always comes out smiling and gets the best lines. If you asked anyone who saw Law of the Jungle, either at the time or now, who their favourite character was I guarantee that everyone would side with Mantan Moreland, he just has a special charm about him. People of all races and creeds have obstacles stopping them from achieving their potential, and Hollywood was perhaps the hardest place for anyone (black or white) to get noticed, but some way or another talent always finds a way to be seen. Moreland can't be criticised for his performances, rather the criticism needs to be leveled at a system who only made certain types of roles available for him to play. He's simply overachieving in the situation he was given and was and remains a very talented and funny man. Monogram Pictures deserve some credit for realising this and for giving him the opportunity to become one of their most bankable and entertaining stars.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Dangerous Curves (1929) - Clara Bow's New Beginning

Early sound films, particularly those made in 1929, are always fascinating to watch. Virtually overnight the shockwave of sound sent Hollywood back to the Stone Age, and once the silent films that were already in production were completed and sent out into the world (ironically including some of the greatest pieces of cinema ever created), the real work of getting the big stars ready for their sound debuts begun in earnest. It's almost heartbreaking to see the lyrical, fluid camerawork and complex adult storytelling of films such as The Wind, The Crowd or The Wedding March wiped out in a matter of months for the sake of tinny sound and stilted acting, and all in the name of progress. As a result the language of film and the artistic strides being made were damaged irrevocably and in fact really never recovered, but that's an argument for another day. The fact remains that sound was in and silence was consigned to history, and the stars had to earn their place in Hollywood all over again.

The first few sound films of established silent stars are always the most interesting to watch. Sometimes, such as in Dangerous Curves, you can almost see the fear in their faces. I'd say that pretty much all the major stars survived the test, unless they had impenetrable foreign accent or fell foul of studio politics. Of course, some such as Ronald Colman, Laurel and Hardy and W.C. Fields did so well that it made their silent films an almost forgotten afterthought. With Clara Bow, her success and failure in sound seemed to be mostly out her hands. However, for some reason, silent stars that didn't go onto long and enduring sound careers (like for example Harold Lloyd) are deemed by modern critics to have been failures regardless of the reason for their lack of output and despite their actual critical and financial success at the time.

Clara Bow, by all accounts made a successful transition into sound with her early films receiving good reviews and box office. However, by that time her private life was spiraling out of control and faced with court cases, scandals, debts and near mental and physical collapse, the studios and Hollywood society in general backed off from supporting their former "It" girl and her movies were quickly withdrawn from exhibition, and eventually ended up playing to empty houses. I haven't seen her sound debut, The Wild Party as of yet but consensus opinion states that it was popular but an artistic disaster and that under the supervision of Ernst Lubitsch, the follow up was a vast improvement. Now having seen Dangerous Curves, I'm a bit fearful of watching it's predecessor.

It's not that Dangerous Curves is a bad film as such, it's just that it shows the typical teething pains of an industry finding it's feet once again. The story concerns a circus high wire performer played by Richard Arlen who is in love with fellow performer Kay Francis, while good girl and wannabe tightrope walker Clara Bow looks on. When Arlen falls during a performance after finding out that Kay is two-timing him he retires and it's up to love sick Clara to coax him back and convince him that she's the right one for him. The film is typically short and snappy and the stars generally carry the action but as you find with these early sound films, there are some wayward and at times bizarre moments.

Clara Bow's performance ranges from charismatic and sincere to out and out train wreck. Sound films were a good opportunity for her to emerge as the character she really was, not the character others perceived her to be. Rather than the formulaic flapper, in sound she uses her natural Brooklyn accent to become a fast talking streetwise go-getter with a good heart, a character much better suited to the times and one that stood out amongst the clipped theatrical tones of the many stage actors unaccustomed to sound. However, even with the patronage of Lubitsch, a good script and a fresh screen character, Bow could not escape her fragile health and nerves.

It feels awful to say it but there are times in the film where she just looks a little too overweight for a leading lady. She had always struggled with keeping in shape for the screen but she loses the battle here, and the skimpy circus outfits she has to wear don't help matters much. As well as that, as was common in classic movies of the golden age (Bette Davis I'm looking at you), star actresses frequently played teenage girls well into their thirties and beyond. I thought that she looked far too old to be playing the 17-18 year old character, until I realised that when making the film Clara Bow was only 23. Not good. Clearly the partying , the over-work and the stress had taken it's toll. Added to that, according to on set accounts, Clara developed a bad bout of microphone fear and broke down several times after making repeated mistakes during the particularly wordy scenes. Clearly, she was on the verge of some big problems and her performance in the film veers uncomfortably close to reality at times.

There is one very odd scene where she is sitting talking to Richard Arlen as they rehearse their act in the circus ring. The director, Lothar Mendes who infuriatingly refuses to use close ups at all throughout the film, frames her sitting down from a medium shot in one seemingly continuous take. She sits there really awkwardly in her circus tutu, with her legs at a strange, almost unladylike angle. She then begins her long monologue and continually pauses and stutters, at times visibly looking like she's trying to remember her lines. She also keeps looking up, presumably at the looming microphone above her, and generally looks very nervous and uncomfortable. The scene seems to never end and is just horrible as she trails on indeterminably with her speech. There are moments when time just stands still and and you feel she really is going to burst into tears at any moment.

Thankfully she shows moments of real sparkle in the rest of the film, though ultimately she never really connects fully with the viewer. This is mainly due to the absence of close ups, making it hard for the silent screen veteran to use her trademark expressions to charm the audience. Despite her constant giggling and bouncing about like a love sick teenager she just about wins out, and certainly audiences in 1929 took to her new persona with no questions asked. There's a charming scene where she woos Richard Arlen over coffee where you get the feeling that if she had just held her private life at bay and gotten studio backing (a tall order in reality) that she really could have made her mark in 30's popular cinema.

The rest of the cast fare well, especially Kay Francis in her third film appearance. Kay was just beginning the short-haired villainess phase of her career (for another great example see The Marriage Playground) where she ably played slightly aristocratic "other women" constantly trying to lure the hapless leading man away from their true loves. She's good in this despite the plainly ridiculous premise that she's supposed to be a top high wire performer. Her cultured accent and worldly ways make a good contrast to Clara Bow's love struck teen. Based on her real life, I bet she could have had a great time off set comparing notes on bohemian high living with Miss Bow. Then they could have met up 15 years later to discuss having their careers shortened due to studio politics. In many ways they were very similar, just from different decades.

Previous to this movie the only other Clara Bow sound film I'd seen was the frankly astonishing Call Her Savage, which is without a doubt the most jaw droppingly outrageous pre-code movie I have ever seen. Living up to the retina scarring memory of that little epic was always going to be hard and Dangerous Curves, doesn't reach such giddy heights. However, all in all it's an interesting snapshot of the movie industry adapting to sound. It doesn't live up to its hype (even the "dangerous curves" of the title refer to Richard Arlen's character's career path, not the literal curves of Clara Bow, sadly) but it does show what could have been a new beginning for her as a 'good' girl. Alas, it was not to be and after a few more under promoted films, combined with the pressure of several major court cases and the onset of mental illness she retired from the screen aged only 28. I'd have to say that although it's not a particularly good film, there are still moments when she shines like the Clara Bow of old and you see hints of what made her one of the biggest stars in the world, and personally that's enough for me.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Too Hot to Handle (1938) - The King and Queen of Hollywood Revisited

When it comes down to it, Myrna Loy is my absolute favourite film star and I have been besotted by her for nigh on twenty years. I remember vividly trying to find out if she was still alive in the early 90's (this was before the internet, kids and up to date information was hard to come by) and literally on the week that I found out that she was alive and living in New York, I opened the local newspaper to find a small article entitled "Perfect Wife Myrna Dies Age 88". Talk about bad timing - always the bridesmaid, never the bride...

Anyway, the film that got me started with her was Too Hot to Handle. I'm not sure why I watched it, I may have been giving Clark Gable a try or it may just have happened to be on one afternoon and sounded good. It's all lost in the mists of time, but I do remember being hugely entertained by the sparkling dialogue between the two stars and in particular by the poise and presence of its female lead, whose exotic sounding name was new to me. The movie zipped by in a screwball blur and I immediately decided that I needed to find out all I could about this Myrna Loy person.

Recently I realised that I had been amassing a substantial library of classic movies but not actually watching many of them, and so have been making an effort to catch up just in case I meet by an untimely demise and on my deathbed regret never having seen The Horn Blows at Midnight (you never know, morphine drips make you think all sorts of things). This has involved watching films that I haven't watched since way back in the day, with sometimes a gap of fifteen years or more. This was one of them and when it's number came up (I'm ashamed to admit it but I pick the films to watch by way of a highly complicated lottery - I have too much time on my hands, sorry), I knew this was going to be interesting due to it being the one that started it all. In my sepia tinted, soft focus memory it outshone all others as a perfect example of star comedy complete with sizzling chemistry and zinging one liners. Like His Girl Friday (another film I haven't seen in about twenty years) and Bringing Up Baby all rolled into one. Or something.

Having watched it again, it's still the great film I remember and hugely entertaining, it's just that the chemistry between Myrna Loy and Clark Gable that I'd remembered just...wasn't there. What was immediately apparent from the start is that although the film was made to capitalise on the Gable-Loy success of Test Pilot, made the same year, is that this one is really all about Clark Gable. Myrna admits as much in her autobiography, saying her role "wasn't much of a part, rather routine". I'm a big admirer of Clark Gable rather than a fan and I have to admit he's just a force of nature in this one. He does action, drama and comedy and sometimes does them all at once, just to show how easy in is for him. He shouts from the top of Hollywood's Mount Olympus at the ant-like lesser stars below, taunting them with his palpable charisma and lust for life. The film made me realise what huge, huge deal he was in his day in a way that I don't think has been matched. If you look up the definition of 'film star (male)' in the dictionary, there should be a big picture of Clark Gable and nothing else other than 'see also: charisma and screen presence'. Faced with this whirlwind of manly activity it's hardly surprising that Myrna finds herself somewhat sidelined. In some scenes she's positively restrained. I've heard the word "bored" bandied around by some critics but I choose not to believe such uncharitable accusations.

However, it starts off promisingly for the pairing as Gable rescues Loy from a burning plane for complicated plot reasons. They argue like cat and dog, doing the characteristic screwball comedy patter of men and women talking in a really fast snappy way that seems to be another lost art these days. For a second Loy is playing the part as Katherine Hepburn or perhaps Joan Blondell would, and the viewer is led to believe that this will be one of those battle of the sexes comedies where the plucky and stubborn woman shows that she's really the equal of any man. Sadly it's not to be and as soon as Myrna is out of her aviator outfit and into a rather stylish hat she adopts a mildly passive pose as Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon take up the battling and squabbling. Ah, well it wasn't to be. I never believed she was an ace pilot anyway and I don't think she did either.

Throughout the rest of the picture she does her bit but she shows little of the intelligent charm, sly humour and sophistication she's known for, despite a decent script. It's like she decided to let Gable shine in this one, for the good of the picture. If so, it was the right call and shows the instincts of a clever and generous performer. Nevertheless, a toned down Myrna Loy is better than none at all but it's strange how memory plays tricks on you. If she shows little of her established screen persona, I wonder what it was that made her stand out so when I first saw the film? Personally, I think it was all of the above characteristics, and that when I saw more of her films I realised that I hadn't really seen her at her best. and it goes without saying that her looks may have helped a little too. Even though, it's always disappointing when you see a (usually minor) star in a film then find that they are never quite as good in anything else as they were in that first film you saw them in.

So there you have it, Too Hot to Handle fifteen years on. Still a fantastic film with two fabulous stars, but with one of them shining slightly brighter this time around. After all these years I've realised that Gable is great, but Myrna is still my favourite.