Wednesday, June 2, 2010
"THE CHANEY MURDER CASE" : A LOVE LETTER TO LORETTA YOUNG
Recently, I was asked to write a small essay about THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER (1947) for issue #250 of Famous Monsters Magazine. What has this whimsical political comedy have to do with monsters, let alone famous ones? To answer that, you'll have to buy the magazine (see below), but meanwhile, here's a snippet of my little love letter to Loretta Young.
from upcoming issue #250 of FM:
Her career spans an astonishing 77 years (1917 to 1994), all told, where she was on top of every medium she worked in. She was exquisitely beautiful. She had talent and a superb acting range. Is it simply because, in spite of solid work in films and television with virtually every top male star of every era (including Chaney, Cagney, Gable, Tracy and others) that not one of her films is remembered in the AFI Top 100?
To be blunt: because she never starred in a truly “great” film?
Loretta Young began working in films as a child. In 1928, at the age of fifteen, Lon Chaney personally chose her as the female lead in his film Laugh, Clown, Laugh. Looking at her performance in that film, one is struck by her devastating, ethereal beauty and her solid screen presence.
By the time the talkies came around, Young was a seasoned film veteran, but still youthful and beautiful. As her star rose, she took charge of her image and her career (much the same as other strong, savvy women did who had the gumption and backbone to fight the studio system, like Davis and Hepburn).
In the 1950’s, when she was in her early middle-age and new girls were coming up and being promoted by the studios, nipping at her heels and taking roles she once played, Young made the bold and (as the studio heads saw it) traitorous move of moving to the new medium of television. In television, she produced and starred in a string of shows and won numerous Emmy Awards.
The time has come for a full re-evaluation and appreciation of the work of Loretta Young. For those who are fans (but just don’t know it yet), my suggestion would be to start with a screening of Laugh, Clown, Laugh and work chronologically through her filmography.
You’ll thank me later.
Loretta Young makes a brief cameo appearance in my new novel, The Chaney Murder Case, coming in the late fall of 2010.
You can subscribe to the all-new Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, published by Philip Kim, or order issue #250, a tribute to Forrest J Ackerman, that includes my complete essay, and seven others, HERE!
Text © 2010 by Mark Redfield.