Tag Archives: Fay Wray

My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

My week started in a glamorous gothic fashion when I went to the opening night of The Rocky Horror Show in Glasgow. I may have been disappointed in the show but enjoyed the references to 1930s horror movies as I loved all those films – Bride of Frankenstein especially – when I was a teenager.

I’ve only met a handful of genuine stars among the many celebrities I’ve interviewed – and I’ve probably only interviewed one bona fide movie legend: Fay Wray (left), the actress who was dangled over the Empire State Building in King Kong back in 1933.

When I interviewed Miss Wray in 1998, she was already on the wrong side of 90 but before she would let me start firing questions, she insisted – in a distinctly non-diva-like way – on applying some lipstick. The still striking nonagenarian realised that she had no mirror and asked if I had one. I lent her my Bobbi Brown compact and she proceeded to apply a shocking pink lipstick.

A couple of weeks later, I spied a compact with two mirrors – one of them a magnifying one – in a shop near my office. I bought it and sent it to Miss Wray at her Trump Towers home. Imagine my surprise and delight when she wrote back to thank me … The power of lipstick and a compact – unites all women!

TUESDAY

And speaking of horror movie legends, that was one of the subjects of conversation over a dinner at the elegant Blythswood Square hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday. The occasion was to celebrate the arrival of Giorgio Armani Cosmetics at Frasers in Glasgow.

I was sitting next to Frederic Letailleur, who has the impressive title “international face designer”  for Giorgio Armani Cosmetics, and we discovered that we had much in common – notably a passion for old movies, and, especially, movie music. Frederic is also a fan of old horror movies and actually began his career doing the make-up for monsters and aliens on stage and screen. (Perhaps that should have rung an alarm bell when he offered to do my make-up, but he was so charming that it didn’t.)

We all had a great time – indeed, at one point there were so many animated conversations going on round the table of glamorous people that I felt I was in the party scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Right down to the fact that I was sitting next to a Fred. Luckily, nobody’s headgear caught fire.

After a considerable amount of champagne (bubbles like company, I find), I really could not be bothered with the palaver of washing my face with my usual rinse-off cream. Instead, I turned to what is currently my favourite beauty short-cut, Clarins Water Purify One-Step Cleanser (£17.50; www.clarins.com), pictured above. This gorgeous-smelling liquid cleanser removes all traces of make-up in one fell swipe, and leaves the skin feeling soft, smooth and refreshed. Hope they do a travel size…

WEDNESDAY

I was reunited with Fred on Wednesday for the promised makeover.  The new Giorgio Armani space in Frasers’ beauty hall is impressive – large and elegant – and I was able to have my make-up done fairly discreetly, which is always a good thing if you don’t want passers-by spying you with a naked face..

What was striking about the Armani makeover was how fast and effective it was. Fred used a wonder cream, called Crema Nera (£180) to prepare my skin. This luxurious moisturiser calms redness and evens the skin tone. Then, before it had completely sunk in, he was applying Fluid Master Primer (£32) to mattify and ready the skin for the utterly gorgeous foundation, Luminous Silk Foundation 2 (£32) which he brushed on. Of the various aspects of the makeover, I think it was the base which impressed me most – Fred gave me a glowing, healthy-looking complexion by using a dash of bronzing liquid.

He said: “I mixed Fluid Sheer 10 (£28) in to the foundation to give you an added touch of warmth, then I dabbed it with a blusher brush over the cheekbones and along the hairline. This builds the warmth on areas which would be exposed to the sun but in a more natural manner than any powder bronzer could achieve.”

On the eyes, Fred used two eyeshadows, 13 and 14 from the new Eyes to Kill collection, plus the vampish, Excess Mascara (£23)  fromthe same range.  The coppery colour palette matched my leopard print beret a treat!

THURSDAY

If you aspire to femme fatale eyes a la Joan Crawford (right) but can’t afford the Armani price tag, treat yourself to 17 Wild Curls Mascara (£5.99; www.boots.com) in Wildest Black, the latest budget wonder wand.

It certainly gives good lash – plenty of flappability and come-hither potential but, as with the last under-a-tenner mascara I tried out, it left me with smudges under the eyes. If you’re prone to panda eyes, avoid this mascara – but if not (lucky you!), I’d highly recommend it for the party season when black lashes are as essential the little black dress…

FRIDAY

Joan Crawford would probably have scratched my mascara’d eyes out to get her mitts on the lipstick in Clarins’s limited edition Christmas collection. Clarins Rouge Prodige in Barocco (£16) is a beautiful deep claret shade which is a terrific alternative to the dark purples that are around just now – especially if you fnd that that shade can drain you.

Not only does it look good on the lips – though those of us with dry lips may need to stick some balm on first – but it also looks drop dead fabulous in its rococo tube and would be a lovely present for anyone who loves old-fashioned Hollywood glamour…


Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty

My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I’ve been recovering from my recent jaunt to Norwich for the annual “jazz party”. Jazz and parties are, as you know, both late-night affairs – organisers of this jamboree don’t take that into account when planning their concert schedule, which starts BEFORE LUNCHTIME! I should really have taken a bottle of Guerlain Midnight Secret (£58) with me – since it makes your skin look like it’s had its beauty sleep – but I was too excited at the prospect of three days of wall-to-wall jazz.

Thank goodness I did have two key weapons from my Clinique skincare arsenal with me, to help with my skin’s recovery from over-indulgence at the bar. Clinique Redness Solutions Soothing Cleanser (£15; www.clinique.co.uk) and their Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF15 (£14) are both top choices for countering the effects of Gin Night, White Wine Night and, especially, Red Wine Night …  I am prone to flushed cheeks and can vouch for the fact that the cleanser takes the sting out of nippy skin, while the green-coloured base evens out the red and doubles as a great primer for the rest of your make-up.

TUESDAY

It may look as if jazz singer Annie Ross is applying nail varnish in this photo from the 1950s – and that would be entirely apt.

When I met the great lady – still a vision of glamorous chic at the age of 79 – in Norwich last week, I was impressed by her bold make-up, not least her shocking pink lipstick which looked terrific with her flaming red hair. (What is it about stylish old dames and hot pink lipstick? When I met King Kong star Fay Wray back in 1998, the 92-year-old wouldn’t start the interview until she had applied some lipstick in that colour..) So I gave her my bottle of hot pink nail polish – the now unavailable Estee Lauder Michael Kors Nail Lacquer in Bungalow Pink – to complement the look.

Anyway, inspired by Annie, I have been on a bit of a quest to find a shocking pink lipstick for myself and it turned up on Tuesday, in the shape of one of the new Dior Addict Lipcolours (£21.50) which come out at the end of May.

The Ravishing Rose shade (left) is a brilliant choice if you fancy a slash of neon colour. And, unlike many shocking pinks, it’s not flat and matte, but moist, glossy and very, very comfy.

WEDNESDAY

The promised goody bags may not have materialised but my trip into the sleek and spacious new beauty hall at Boots in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries was not entirely wasted. I was given a very educational makeover by one of the ladies at the Lancome counter – though “zone” is probably a more apt word.

I may write about beauty but I’m still learning tips and techniques and Jackie helped me overcome my aversion to kohl eyeliner (love it on other people; find it gives me panda eyes) by using a waterproof eyeliner pencil – Lancome Crayon Khol Waterproof (£17.50; www.lancome.co.uk), and giving me a 1960s look. Not only did it look great but it lasted till bedtime – and came off easily with a bi-phase eye make-up remover.

THURSDAY

After the success of the Dior Addict Lipcolor in Ravishing Rose, I was keen to give the new Dior 5 Couleurs Iridescent Eyeshadow palette in Ready-to-Glow (£39; available May 17) an evening outing.

A book launch on Thursday provided the perfect opportunity to experiment. And I was thrilled with the results.

These colours are fantastic – they blend easily and last fabulously – and it’s not very often I can say that about eye make-up. The gorgeous shimmering shades flatter and emphasise the bone structure and add a bit of colour at the same time ..  and they look great with Ravishing Rose lips. Summer nights here we come!

FRIDAY

I finally made my mind up today about Guerlain’s new mascara, Le 2 de Guerlain Volume Mascara (£24). I love it – but only for the first couple of hours it’s on.

The latest in the French beauty house’s collection of two-wand mascaras, this one is different because its second step is painting on a glossy top coat for the lashes: after you’ve brushed on your volumising mascara and teased your lashes into the desired curve, you are supposed to go over them with the lacquer.

While the traditional first step does indeed add oomph to lashes and is perfect for creating a lash-heavy look a la Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, I found that this mascara didn’t stay put on my lashes and I ended up with smudges below and above my eyes. Maybe, as with the kohl pencil, I need to hold out for the waterproof version…



1 Comment

Filed under Beauty

Hold The Front Page!

The Glasgow Film Theatre is currently showing a mini-season of films from a genre which is routinely overlooked but is as quintessentially American as the gangster movie and the western.

The season, Heroes and Villains, celebrates journalism on the silver screen and belongs to a bigger genre – the newspaper movie, which had its heyday in the 1930s.

The newspaper building (or at least newspaper buildings until ten years ago, when journalists became  bogged down by bureaucracy and cost-cutting) is an obvious setting for a Hollywood movie. All human life can be found there, and the pace – leisurely and laidback at the beginning of the day; frantic and frenetic as deadlines approach – is quite unlike that of any other workplace.

Many of the great newspaper movies have been based on true stories: after all, this was – like the gangster movie – a genre born out of topicality. The 1933 James Cagney comedy Picture Snatcher, for example, was based on the scandal surrounding the New York Daily News’s secretly snatched photograph of murderess Ruth Snyder in the electric chair. Cagney – like Jude Law in The Road to Perdition – played a snapper who often beat the cops to grisly crime scenes.

Some of the most memorable characters in newspaper movies were inspired by real people, proof that newspaper people are not only excellent sniffers-out of stories but also great material in themselves. It took only a handful of tyrannical editors to furnish Hollywood with enough material to create the stereotypical kick-ass editor character we see in such classic newspaper movies as Nothing Sacred (1937) and His Girl Friday (1940).

Both these films were comedies but the newspaper movie can also be a hard-hitting drama (in the case of Five Star Final), a fantasy (Superman) or a crime drama.

Indeed, the newspaper movie has most often functioned as a variation on the traditional crime movie, with the reporter playing the detective role. The Humphrey Bogart film Deadline USA (1952) and Ron Howard’s all-star comedy-drama The Paper (1994) focused on newspaper investigations into mob murders.  And, of course, All the President’s Men (1976) concerned the Washington Post’s investigation into what proved to be the scoop of the century – the Watergate scandal.

But what sets these films apart from crime dramas is that they are as much about the putting together of a newspaper and the people involved in that process as they are about the investigation.

The newspaper genre is one of the few which showed women working as men’s equals from day one:  in 1931, the year in which the newspaper genre broke through, Fay Wray starred as a hotshot reporter battling corruption in The Finger Points, and Loretta Young (above) played Gallagher, just “one of the boys” in the newsroom and the press bar, in Platinum Blonde.

The most popular film version of the hit Broadway play The Front Page was the second one, His Girl Friday, in which ace reporter Hildy Johnson was rewritten as a woman, and played – with great panache – by Rosalind Russell. And Katharine Hepburn portrayed a leading political columnist in Woman of the Year in 1942.

Roles like these were among the best that Hollywood had to offer since the characters were – by necessity, since they were operating in a male-dominated environment – feisty and street-smart.

THE newspaper genre came about as a result of coincidence. The 1920s had been a boom time for the newspaper and magazine industry in America. A new style of tabloid emerged in the 1920s: the sensationalistic rag which shied away from no topic and which would publish photos of murder victims, suicides, illicit lovers caught offguard – anything likely to titillate the readership. There was no level to which these papers wouldn’t stoop for a scoop. And the truth was rarely newsworthy.

Against this backdrop came the sound era in Hollywood, and studios suddenly found themselves in need of snappy, realistic dialogue.  The idealised characters and situations favoured by many of the filmmakers of the silent era were now passe, and audiences,  reeling from the effects of the Depression, demanded films which tackled the problems facing society.

Prohibition and gangsters quickly became favoured topics, and movies set in newspapers were seen as the perfect vehicles for debates about corruption, crime and poverty. The role of newspapers themselves could be dealt with in this new genre, and there was plenty of comic material to be found in the crazy stunts pulled off by some of the tabloids in the bid to increase circulation.

Five Star Final and The Front Page were two of the first newspaper movies. Both were made in 1931, both had their roots in reality, and both had been successful Broadway plays. Five Star Final was written by Louis Weitzenkorn, former editor of one of New York’s most salacious rags, The Evening Graphic (fondly known as the Pornographic). Randall, the editor, played by Edward G Robinson, was based on another Evening Graphic editor, Emile Gauvrau, who, like Lady Macbeth, was always washing his hands as if to rid himself of guilt for some of his dirtier deeds.

Five Star Final spared no detail about the way in which the sleazier papers operated. The opening shot is of an old news vendor being beaten up by thugs employed to ensure that the Evening Gazette is given the prime position on the news-stands.

Written by former newspapermen BenHecht and Charles MacArthur, The Front Page (remade as His Girl Friday, then again in 1974 as The Front Page, and then re-worked as Broadcast News in 1988) was a black comedy about a newspaper finding an escaped death-row convict, and trying to keep him hidden to protect its scoop. The editor, Walter Burns (most famously played by Cary Grant in His Girl Friday), was based on Walter Howie, the Chicago editor whom Ben Hecht claimed he would not work, “being incapable of such treachery as he proposed”.

Clearly, there was no scheme too odious for Walter and Hildy who, at one point reminisces: “Remember the time we stole old Aggie Haggerty’s stomach off the coroner’s table? We proved she’d been poisoned, didn’t we?”

Hecht also satirised the tabloids’ desperate publicity stunts in his 1937 comedy Nothing Sacred (above)  in which reporter Frederic March and his newspaper shamelessly exploit an apparently dying girl (Carole Lombard), little realising that she is in fact exploiting them.

Exploitation was also the theme of Billy Wilder’s blackly cynical Ace in the Hole (1951)  in which reporter Kirk Douglas artificially prolongs a human interest story so he can get as much mileage out of it as possible.

In the 1930s, when it was fashionable to look down on hacks, the newspaper genre was at the peak of its popularity. When the papers tidied up their act, and journalists – especially war correspondents – were looked on in a more respectful manner, the genre began to die. And by the 1980s, the setting for journalism-themed movies had switched to the TV newsroom. But I’ll bet there are still would-be hot-shot reporters and girl fridays out there who seek the thrills of the 1930s-style newspaper offices..

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies