"NO MATTER my reputation, D'Artagnan, I don't take love lightly."
That was Lana Turner wooing -- for evil purposes, natch -- Gene Kelly in the lush Technicolor 1948 version of "The Three Musketeers." (Even in 1948, pre-Johnny Stompanato, this line drew little hoots and snickers from the audience, familiar with her playgirl ways.) Alexandre Dumas' adventure novel has been filmed at least a dozen times, but not one is more entertaining than the '48 entry, probably because Miss Turner threw herself so completely into the role of Milady, Countess de Winter.
Miss Turner had played a murderess before -- the icy babe from "The Postman Always Rings Twice." But that girl at least had a conscience, and the hubby she and John Garfield bumped off, was pretty awful. But Milady of "The Musketeers" hadn't a scruple left. And she made no bones about it. (Listen, she killed little Miss June Allyson for heaven's sake.)
And when she was finally cornered, Lana sauntered off to her beheading as if she was on her way to a banquet. What a woman! (Lana was much enhanced by the vivid photography of director George Sidney. He loved making beautiful women look even more beautiful.)
Turner Classic Movies televised a lot of Lana's movies this month, including "Ziegfeld Girl," the one that made her an A-list star, half dead from too much partying, but gliding down that staircase to the strains of Tony Martin singing "You Stepped Out of a Dream." (Of course, she collapsed at the foot of the stairs, beautifully.)
This reminds me of a dinner at the Four Seasons last week with tycoon Pete Peterson, "Sesame Street's" Joan Ganz Cooney, the mysterious Suzanne Goodson and Bill Goldman the maxi-screenwriter of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men" and "The Princess Bride."
Bill opined that the greatest, most beautiful, sexiest stars were Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and (surprise!) Jane Russell. Well, let's not forget the immortal line created for Russell's "The Outlaw" poster: "How'd You Like to Tussle with Russell?" And she was never better or brasher than with Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." (Some say Russell was Monroe's "best leading man!")
NEXT MONTH, TCM presents Kim Novak as their Star of the Month. This will include all her major films and a recent interview with the "Blonde Who Got Away," as I always refer to her. Kim's hesitant underplaying looks better than it did in her heyday; she seems quite modern.
Among the movies to be shown are the little-seen comedy, "The Notorious Landlady" with Jack Lemmon, the recently re-discovered gem "Middle of the Night" with Fredric March and two of Kim's most enjoyably overwrought performances -- "Jeanne Eagels" and "The Legend of Lylah Clare." (In the latter, she is some kind of amalgamation of Dietrich, Garbo and Monroe ... with frosted lips.)
Of course, Hitchcock's classic "Vertigo" will play. But I go against the grain of those who say it is her best performance. That, I think, is "Middle of the Night" with "Strangers When We Meet" a close second. Oddly, "Strangers," a supremely glossy but adult soap opera with Kirk Douglas, is not among TCM's choices. Too bad. Kim is most touching as the unfaithful suburban wife and mother.
OUR FAVORITE track star, Nick Symmonds ("The Brad Pitt of runners") gave it his all in Moscow at the World Track and Field Championships. And he almost beat the challenger. But Nick was thrilled to receive the silver medal in the 800-meter race. And he now holds the first American medal in this event since 1997. He boldly dedicated his medal to "all my gay and lesbian friends." Nice touch, what with Russia going back to Medieval times on issues of homosexuality.
WHO COULD have possibly predicted that the child Christian Bale, who in 1987, at the beginning of his career, starred in Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" would survive and thrive into the second decade of the 21st century? (Mr. Spielberg would probably say he knew it all along.)
Just how well has Christian Bale survived? Well, it's being reported that the actor has been offered a staggering $50 million paycheck to reprise Batman -- a role he said he was determined not to return to. But, apparently, the pressure is on Mr. Bale. By now he surely has plenty of money, but let's be real. Everybody can use an extra $50 mil.
My only worry about Mr. Bale are the extremes he often puts his body through for his art. At least for another "Batman" Christian will exercise and build muscle. Then he'll probably accept a role as a concentration camp victim.
LINDSAY LOHAN tweeted a "selfie" portrait the other day, looking fresh, pretty and healthy. She had apparently normal lips again. Naturally, this all was met with almost universal derision in the several hundred replies to the story. But one comment stood out: "I know she's messed up, but I can't help it, I like this girl." Always great (and unusual) to find humanity on the Internet.
NOT THAT I have any respect for Anthony Weiner in his hopeless run for mayor of New York, but I have even less respect for Miss Sydney Leathers, the "lady" who exposed Weiner's continued online trysts. (She confessed because she is deeply concerned with honesty in politics.)
Since the scandal broke, Miss Leathers has posed in the near nude, entertained the possibility of a porn career and basically given us an idea of what Mr. Weiner prefers in his fantasies. (No girls from Mensa, please.)
And the other day, Miss Leathers made an appearance at a strip club. Ten -- count 'em -- 10 people showed up.
Maybe for once, those 15 minutes of fame will be literal. It used to be, but 24-hour media and the Internet have extended those 15 minutes to unbearable lengths.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
Lana and Kim -- Turner Classic Movies goes blond for the summer!
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