Showing posts from January, 2014

Fragments of Fame - Cigarette Cards & Forgotten Film Stars

One morning last summer, while watching The Wicked Lady , I found myself intrigued by the mischievous glint of the actress who'd been cast in the role of the supporting role of  Lady Henrietta Kingsclere, sister-in-law to Margaret Lockwood's character in the film. A quick check of the ever-reliable (except when it's not) Wikipedia advised me her name was Enid Stamp Taylor, a name hitherto unfamiliar to me. After first making her mark in Hitchcock's Easy Virtue,  Taylor had enjoyed moderate success as a leading lady in British films of the 1930's before settling into smaller parts.  As it happens The Wicked Lady  was her penultimate picture; she died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall (most likely caused by a seizure) just a couple of months after it was released, aged just 42.  It was when I ran an image search for Taylor on Google that my attention was grabbed not by a photograph, but an illustration of her that adorned an old cigarette card. Nothing

Margaret Lockwood: Darling of Suburbia - Part 1

Lockwood's former home: 34 Upper Park Road, Kingston ©Richard Halfhide L ondon’s cinematic psychogeography is a varied tapestry; some locations still seem permeated with mystery or drama, others bear no trace of their history. Sequestered in Upper Park Road, a quiet corner of Kingston upon Thames, is a house whose uniform nondescriptness belies its status as the final residence of an actress who was once the brightest light in British cinema.  Yet it’s entirely fitting. While she may have enjoyed its benefits Margaret Lockwood never courted celebrity. The star of The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady was at heart an ordinary, middle-class girl; unpretentious and in some respects almost disappointingly prosaic. If her reclusive later years bestowed an enigmatic quality it probably owes more to Lockwood’s innate reserve than anything intrinsically Garboesque. Nor for that matter did she possess the caustic tongue of Louise Brooks, something borne out by the som

Fade out - 2013 in review

Okay, so this is unfashionably late. Seasoned hacks filed their end-of-year reviews back in early December and here am I, on January 2nd, finally composing mine. Is it any wonder this blog attracts so few visitors? If you're going to be mediocre you should at least have the courtesy to evacuate your verbal effluence in a timely manner. But enough of my long standing problems with indolence and self loathing, what of 2013? For me it was a year in which I ingested more celluloid, figuratively speaking, than ever before. 418 films in total; from Sailor Suit and Machine Gun though to Robot and Frank (the full list can be found at the foot of this post). Am I the richer for this experience? Probably not but cinema works out cheaper than a coke habit and it doesn't dissolve the septum. In terms of summarising all this raw data I've been in something of a quandary. Should all simply reflect my favourite films I've watched this year from any era? That would be too easy