HAPPY 106th BIRTHDAY, GEORGE!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is difficult to believe that a whole year has gone by since I published a post to celebrate George’s 105th birthday.   Ah well, time does fly when one is having  fun and it is fun for me to have this blog to George.  My goal is to try to present the real George to  people instead of the caddish facade he presented to the public. George was a very private and a very vulnerable man and he sought shelter from the public eye within his cad facade. George was so very private and averse to publicity that he was married to his first wife for TWO years before the marriage was discovered.

George arrived in this world early on the morning of Tuesday, July 3, 1906 in St. Petersburg, Russia.  This will be somewhat lengthy, but I want to give George’s account  of his birth as, using rather British tongue in cheek humor,  he describes it on the first page of  his wonderful, well-written, and witty memoir,  Memoirs of a Professional Cad (New York: Putnam, 1960).

“On July 3, 1906, the world was at peace.  Nothing of any consequence seemed to be happening in the capital cities of any of its countries.  Nothing disturbed the summer lethargy of its population.  Everywhere people dozed contentedly, unaware that an event of major importance was taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia.  At number 6 Petroffski Ostroff, to Margaret and Henry Sanders, a son of dazzling beauty and infinite charm was being born.  It was I.

I emerged somewhat reluctantly from my mother’s womb at 6 o’clock in the morning.  My father, who had been warned of the impending event only a short time prior to its occurrence, had rushed off to get the midwife who lived across the Neva on the Vassilsky Ostroff.  He drove in a droshky to the Toochkoff Bridge, a wooden bascule, or drawbridge, which was opened sometimes in the summer to let the river traffic through.  It was opening when he reached it.  Alighting from the carriage and disregarding the warning cries of the boatmen, he leapt across the widening gap and ran the rest of the way to the midwife’s house.  He brought her back across the river in a rowboat, and in a state of exhaustion, pushed her into my mother’s room, where she accomplished a successful delivery.”

I know we fans are all very thankful for the successful delivery!  I hope all of you will join me in toasting George with a dry vodka martini  on his 106 Birthday next Tuesday, July 3rd!  Cheers, George, and the “best of British luck” to you!

The slide show is called “Some Happy George Photos, Plus a Few More” (Did your recognize Gene Tierney in the photo where she is dancing with George? She is 5’7″ and you know she must be wearing heels and George still dwarfs her! He is just so tall and magnificient!)

George’s “bad boy” antics behind the scenes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The other day I was reading a very entertaining book by Mark A. Vieira entitled Hollywood Horror:From Gothic To Cosmic  (New York : Harry N. Abrams, 2003) when I came across some anecdotes about George which I want to share. The first incident  recounted happened when George was hired in 1942 for the lead in a movie titled The Undying Monster. George went on suspension rather than “report for work…dressed as a gorilla”  That certainly sounds like George.  The second incident occurred during the filming of the 1945 film Hangover Square. The filming had been rocky because of the behavior of the other lead actor, Laird Cregar who was on a severe diet and taking medications which led to erratic behavior on his part. Then George decided to put in his oar and show his temperament.  One of the producers, Robert Bassler, wanted George to say the line “He’s better off this way”. George, however, did not wish to say that line believing it to be inappropriate. This was causing a delay in filming a very expensive scene. According to Vieira, when Bassler found George sitting in a canvasback chair at the edge of the seat he confronted George and when George didn’t respond Bassler said “How dare you , you arrogant s** of a b****!”  As Vieira puts it “Sanders blithely reached forward and punched Bassler, knocking him out”.  How like George to do that!  As far as I am concerned George had every right since the guy called him a nasty name. I’ll bet George used his famous right jab.(remember George was inter-scholastic heavyweight boxing champion in college)

I remember reading in some book about an occasion where George showed his temper in a passive-aggressive way.  After his tremendous success in Lloyd’s of London and Lancer Spy  George was extremely peeved when he was casted in a small part inMr. Moto’s Last Warning. He showed his ire by appearing for one of his scenes drunk.  Naughty, naughty George!  Another amusing anecdote concerns the following incident.  George had asked  the studio to paint and spruce up his dressing room.  One of the studio head men came to George’s dressing room and said they would be glad to make the repairs if George would stop making disparaging remarks about the studio managers. George thought for a minute and then said “No, it isn’t worth it”.  Typical George!

George occasionally acted up and he could give studio management and producers a hard time, but he was always generous with other actors.  Although George always knew his lines perfectly and his delivery and timing were perfect, he was always patient with other actors who muffed lines or messed up their timing. He was never resentful when other actors caused retakes of a scene and he never tried to upstage other actors.  If you watch George in movies when the other actors are peforming ( which I do, at NO time do I take my eyes off  George) he never does anything to distract the audience from the other actor’s performance.

By the way, I don’t have any photos of George pulling “bad boy” antics behind the scenes, so for the slideshow I used photos of George being, haughty, supercillious, and just plain bad on the screen.

Hopefully, in my next blog I will get around to discussing George’s last Saint movie, The Saint In Palm Springs.

“April is the cruellest month…”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

“The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain…”

The Waste Land

T.S. Eliot

 

This post is in memoriam to the most handsome, marvelous, intelligent, and talented man who ever lived, George Henry Sanders.  George was what all men should be and so few are.

Next week April 24/25 will mark the 40th anniversity  of George’s death.  To those of us who love him so devotedly  he is still very much alive in our minds, our hearts, and our souls.  Please pray for his soul, as I do every night.

“Remember, O Lord, this your servant, George,  who has gone before us with the sight of faith, and now rests in the sleep of peace.” ( paraphrase from the Book of Common Prayer) 

I refer you to the beautiful YouTube tribute to George posted last year by wobble 108. Thank you for that wonderful biography of George’s life.

This slideshow is entitled “George Through the Years”

A Paean To George Sanders, A True Renaissance Man

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am reposting this from my first two posts to George, because many new viewers may not have seen them and don’t realize how truly talented, brillant, and accomplished he was.

It is difficult to find enough superlatives to describe George Sanders. He was tall (6′ 3 1/2″), handsome, sexy, brilliant, talented, artistic and blessed with the most marvelous deep seductive voice and a gorgeous English accent.  He was incredibly gifted–able to speak five languages, played at least four musical instruments, composed music for the piano as well as at least two beautiful love songs. One of these “Such Is My Love” was included on the album of love songs he released in 1958.   George could build anything and drew up the blue prints for his first house as well as building the furniture. His friends were amazed at his mechanical abilities and he held several patents at the US Patent Office.   He loved to invent things and was a genius with anything involving electricity.  He was even good at rewiring houses.  When George bought a car he would often take the engine apart to arrange the steering to suit his needs.  He was a noted amateur astronomer and built several telescopes, including the large 9″ one that Universal Pictures bought from him and used in the 1945 movie “The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry” in which Sanders starred.

Although presenting himself as a non-physical man George was actually a natural athlete. When in college he was an inter-scholastic heavyweight boxing champion. He was so physically fit he was made a PT (Physical Trainer) in the Officers Training Corps in college.  George was also very good in the water, winning many diving and swimming competitions. This was a gift which he put to good use when he dove into the Thames and saved a man’s life. For this he was given a medal by the British Humane Society.
In addition to being blessed with all of these physical gifts,  he was a natural actor and an amazingly versatile one. He was equally effective as a sweet cad (“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”, 1947) or an unscrupulous one (“Rebecca”, 1940), as a hero (“Appointment In Berlin”, 1943, and “They Came to Blow Up America”, 1943), as a “nice chap” (“Rage In Heaven”, 1941, and “Foreign Correspondent”, 1940) and, my favorite, as a “hen-pecked” brother and lover in “The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry”, 1945. Although he finally received some of  the recognition he deserved for his role as Addison DeWitt in “All About Eve” (1950), receiving an Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actor”, he was equally as good in all his movies–for example “The Moon and Sixpence”(1942).  It is a pity that he was not featured as the leading man in more pictures for he was a splendid one. After seeing George in “Rage In Heaven” (1941) and “Her Cardboard Lover”, (1942).  Louie B. Mayer wanted to make him into a romantic leading man, a role for which he was incredibly fitted.  This was of no interest to George who claimed he didn’t want to worry about eternally maintaining his looks.

George’s career as a screen detective, part 4 “The Saint Takes Over”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Saint Takes Over  is the second Saint movie Most Handsome George filmed in 1940.  In this movie Simon Templar, played of course by Gorgeous George Sanders , known to the police of two continents as The Saint , is returning to New York from London when he discovers that his old friend and sometimes foe, Inspector Fernack ( Jonathan Hale ), a detective on the New York police force, is in trouble.  Fernack is unable to explain the presence of fifty thousand dollars in his safe. He had just arrested a character known as Rocky Weldon on charges of race fixing, but the case had blown up when the chief witness  for the state, Johnnie Summers, had been killed.  It now appears that someone had bribed Fernack to try to convict Rocky.  Astute Saint George (no dummy he) realizes at once that Fernack is being framed.  The Saint had become interested in a pretty girl (naturally) named Ruth ( Wendy Barrie ) on the ship from London.  When the ship docks, two thugs try to kidnap her.   Able-bodied Saint George prevents this, but Ruth disappears during the scuffle.

Fernack has been framed by a combination of crooks headed by Big Ben Egan ( Pierre Watkin). Others in the gang are Rocky Weldon (Roland Drew ), Max Bremer ( Cyrus W. Kendall), Sam Reese (Morgan Conway),  and Leo Sloan ( Robert Emmett Keane).  Egan collects ninty thousand dollars from the gang members to cover the cost of framing Fernack and protecting Weldon, which he then places in his safe.

That night, Rocky sends his stooge, Pearly Gates ( Paul Guilfoyle (who also is with George in “The Saint In Palm Springs)), to rob Egan’s safe. Pearly is surprised by Egan who sends him back to Rocky with instructions for Rocky to come to Egan’s. When stealthy Saint George breaks into the house a little later he finds Egan killed. Fernack comes in a second later.  Observant Saint George finds a hidden camera rigged up near the safe and when he and Fernack develop the exposed film it shows Pearly in the act of opening the safe.  With this evidence they force Pearly to help them in their efforts to clear Fernack.

Rocky is killed before Good-Looking Saint George can question him.  With Pearly’s  assistance, Saint George and Fernack then kidnap Sloan, but the unknown assailant kills Sloan while he is being held in Fernack’s  basement.  Suave Saint George meets with Ruth and from her takes the gun with which she has killed Egan, Sloan, and Rocky.  Savvy Saint George finds, as he expected (not being born yesterday), that Ruth’s name is Summers, and that she is avenging the murder of her brother, Johnnie Summers, by Egan’s gang.  She agrees to let Saint George try to convict the rest of the gang.

However, the police arrest Fernack who had been left with Sloan’s corpse.  Agile Saint George  wrests a gun from one of the officers and escapes. Pearly and Crafty Saint George then fool Reese and Bremer into confessing that they killed Johnnie Summers and framed Fernack.  A radio tuned to the police wave-length and hidden by Shrewd Saint George picks up their speech and the police locate the source.  When the police close in on the gang, Bremer escapes but is killed by Ruth. In the process Bremer shoots Ruth who then dies in Saint George’sarms. He is devastated.  Fernack is cleared and, as he is wont to do, Eye-Candy Saint George quietly disappears again.

In my next post I will be talking about  classy George’s last Saint movie “The Saint in Palm Springs” (1941)

George Sings! In Russian! In “Summer Storm” (1944)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is my last post of 2011 and I hope you enjoy it. I had planned to do a post on George in “The Saint Takes Over” (1940) but change my mind and here is why.

I was looking at a photo I have of George from the movie “Summer Storm”(1944) and he  looked so d***ed handsome that I just had to watch the movie again. For some reason I had only watched it once–I think because he dies in it and I always hate that!  The movie is based on the novel “The Shooting Party” by Anton Chekhov.

The film, directed by Douglas Sirk, is a tale of power and passion in which a Russian siren, a peasant girl  played by Linda Darnell, who wants the finer things in life, sinks her hooks into a judge, played by the Gorgeous George Sanders, and a decadent aristocrat, played by Edward Everett Horton. While spreading her feminine wiles around she marries Horton’s estate superintendent, played by Hugo Haas.  Meanwhile she has seduced George (and who can blame her). George’s fiance, Nadena Kalenin, played by Anna Lee, sees Gorgeous Judge George kissing Lucky Linda and breaks off the engagement.

Darnell decides she can  do better than the superintendent so she tells Horton that her husband beats her. Horton gives her refuge while she goes about securing a divorce. She seduces Horton and he proposes to her. Gorgeous George, who is a close friend of Horton’s, finds this out and goes to a bar/cafe and gets drunk with one of his old girlfriends. It is while he is drinking in the bar that he sings a bar-type song in Russian.  He is magnificient!  I really don’t want to give away any more of the plot, suffice it to say Darnell is justifiably murdered.  I won’t say by whom because I think you would enjoy watching it.  Also, watching it is an opportunity to hear George use his fantastically beautiful voice to sing.  The movie is readily available.

Many times it is said that George sang on screen for the first time in “Call Me Madam” (1953). This isn’t true.  He sang “Home on the Range” while playing the guitar in the 1940 movie “Green Hell”.  He sang “Seeing Nellie Home”and one of the choruses of “Little Brown Jug” , playing the piano this time, in the 1945 movie “The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry”.  In the 1947 movie “The Private Affairs of Bel Ami”, he played the piano and sang a lullaby to the small daughter of the leading lady in the film. So I know there are at least four movies in which he sang before “Call Me Madam”.

Sorry there was not enough time to add live links.  Happy New Year to all George Sanders fans! It is so sad that George is not here to toast in the new year with us, but he is in our hearts…

George’s career as a screen detective, part 3, “The Saint’s Double Trouble”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first Saint film that George made in 1940,“The Saint’s Double Trouble” , was filmed from November to late December 1939 and released on 26 January 1940.   I love all of George’s Saint films but I think this is my favorite for two reasons: (1) George plays a dual role so he is on the screen almost all the time (which is a visual delight), and (2) in my opinion George is his most handsome self in late 1939 and 1940.  The movie is also intriguing because  Bela Lugosi has a role and it is not as Dracula!  Interestingly, in 1947 George  made a non-Saint film “Lured”  in which another movie monster actor, Boris Karloff, aka Frankenstein, was featured.

“The Saint’s Double Trouble” is the first Saint film which wasn’t based directly on one of Leslie Charteris’ novels. However, Charteris did contribute to the developing of the story for the film. The second Saint film which George made in 1940, “The Saint Takes Over” (which I will discuss in my next post), was also not based on one of the novels.  In this film Saint George, master criminal turned crime-fighter, also plays the role of his doppelganger, Duke Bates, who has smuggled some diamonds into the U.S.  One of members of Bates’ “gang” , “”The Partner”,  played by Lugosi had cleverly concealed the diamonds in a mummy encased in a coffin. The mummy was sent to Professor Bitts who was a sort of mentor of Saint George’s when George was in college and to whom Saint George had promised to send the best specimen of a mummy he could find.  A note in the coffin tells Professor Bitts that the mummy comes from Saint George who is making good on his promise.  Consequently when the smuggled diamonds are discovered and several murders are perpetrated Saint George is blamed.  Saint George has his hands full proving his own innocence and getting the diamonds back.  Of course, he does accomplish this task beautifully and also regains the love of Professor Bitt’s daughter. You will see another familiar cast member of The Saint series in the film since Inspector Fernack (Jonathan Hale) is on vacation and visiting the Police Department in Philadelphis where the story is set.  You can find a more detailed overview of the plot at Turner Classic Movies.

Sorry not to have added “live links” to this post, but I wanted to publish it before I go on holiday tomorrow.   I wish George were here to enjoy the holidays with his dedicated fans.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah,  Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year to all you George fans!

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries