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Herbert Marshall's Forehead

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  • Michal Oleszczyk
    „You re strong, he s weak , says Marlene Dietrich to Cary Grant in Josef Von Sternberg s Blonde Venus (1932), the weak implied being Herbert Marshall.
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 28, 2007
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      „You're strong, he's weak", says Marlene Dietrich to Cary Grant in
      Josef Von Sternberg's "Blonde Venus" (1932), the 'weak' implied being
      Herbert Marshall. Pairing Marshall and Grant (sparse as the latter's
      presence is in here) was a brilliant piece of casting, bringing
      together two most sexy male voices in all cinema (had Sternbeg had
      Roger Livesey and Orson Welles on the set, Marlene could do without
      singing).

      It's hard to think of two more different characters than cuckold
      husband in "Blonde Venus" and suave thief `Gaston Monescu' that
      Marshall plays in Lubitsch masterpiece, "Trouble in Paradise" (1932).
      Both movies were released the same year and both brilliantly make us
      believe opposing things (Marshall's `weakness' mentioned by Dietrich
      in "Venus", and his obvious sexual power as Manescu in "Trouble"). Why
      is, then, that Marshall's appeal in both movies seems so much alike...?

      He was a great frowner and a great brow-raiser, for one thing. I
      counted: there are at least four long horizontal lines crossing his
      forehead boldly and coming wonderfully alive each time Marshall's
      character is becoming agitated, or moved, or concerned. The inward
      tips of his eyebrows point upwards, which stands in striking contrast
      to Dietrich "V" brows (complete with daring mascara) in "Venus".

      Come to think of it, Marshall's forehead and his voice are the only
      things really alive about him, and that I believe is the key to his
      enormous (also sexual) appeal: even when devastated, he seems
      composed. What's more: he's composed even while devastating others, a
      characteristic that comes to the surface only once in "Venus"
      ("Johnny, do you want to say good-bye to your mother...?" – forever!),
      but is fundamental in Manescu's getting in and out of complicated
      "Trouble...".

      I think Sternberg realized what dynamo Marshall's forehead was (only
      Walter Matthau's seems to match it in later cinema) – and that's
      probably why the in most difficult scene between him and Dietrich he
      has a hat covering his head and shadowing his eyes. The contrast of
      his composure and hidden passion burning on a low boil somewhere deep
      in his body (when Grant confronts him, he breaths in an out with such
      effort that his chest moving seems almost an artifact, but the rage is
      so real) – that's what makes him fascinating to me.
    • LiLiPUT1@aol.com
      Michal, your recent spurt of list activity reminded me that I had this post lodged in the recesses of AOL s evil new inbox program. An eccentric, beautifully
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 10, 2007
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        Michal, your recent spurt of list activity reminded me that I had this post
        lodged in the recesses of AOL's evil new inbox program. An eccentric,
        beautifully written post, that is. I'm particularly in love with this comment on BLONDE
        VENUS:

        <<Pairing Marshall and Grant (sparse as the latter's presence is in here) was
        a brilliant piece of casting, bringing together two most sexy male voices in
        all cinema (had Sternbeg had Roger Livesey and Orson Welles on the set,
        Marlene could do without singing).>>

        You deserve an evening of ravishment with Gaston Monescu for that!

        Have you seen my beloved ANGEL FACE? There, Preminger plays the weak and
        powerful Herbert Marshalls off one another, capable of charming money out of his
        Mrs., all the while being mainpulated by his freeze-dried daughter Jean
        Simmons.

        Kevin John
        Austin


        **************************************
        See what's new at
        http://www.aol.com


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Michal Oleszczyk
        Kevin, I don t know a man or a women who would deny themselves an evening (or night) with Monescu -- and weren t willing to get rid of all their jewelry in the
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 11, 2007
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          Kevin,

          I don't know a man or a women who would deny themselves an evening (or
          night) with Monescu -- and weren't willing to get rid of all their
          jewelry in the process.

          No, I haven't seen ANGEL FACE, but your post made me buy it at Amazon
          a minute ago -- I'll let you know how I liked Marshall in it.

          Greetings from Pennsylvania!
          M.
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