Friday, 21 December 2012

"Why I would kiss Cate Blanchett's feet if I had the chance" and other tales about legacy

(That was a long title.)

Hello, my pals and gals!

I told you you'd be seeing more of me now that Christmas break is in and I have finally taken a breather from my busy routine. I'm here inspired by my friend Rianna, over at Frankly My Dear (I feel like you hear more about her here than at her own blog), who made a post about Lifetime's disastrous "Liz and Dick" and how biopics may ruin or enhance a dead star's legacy. I'm going to take it a step further. Other than biopics, how else can we carry on a star's legacy? How do we keep them from being forgotten? Who has done it right? Who has done it wrong? These are the questions we will be answering in...
Marcela's Old-Time Tales About Legacies And So Forth
Ready, set, go!

Tale #1: Why I would kiss Cate Blanchett's feet if I had the chance

Catherine Elise Blanchett is a young (some people don't consider 43 young  - I consider 105 young, so bare with me) actress from Melbourne, Australia, and if I ever had the chance, I would kiss her size 10 and a half feet like there's no tomorrow. And here's why.
First, for the bad news: Most people under 30 today do not know who Katharine Hepburn was. I have had to listen to my hero being less-than-gracefully called "that old fart", "KathErine What's-Her-Face", "whoever the hell has more Oscars than Meryl Streep".
I used to think the fans were alone in our task of carrying on the legacy of our favorite dead stars and making sure they weren't completely drowned into oblivion and I used to worry we wouldn't suffice for the task. However, I was secretly afraid of the media taking hold of Kate's image and distorting it completely, thus preserving an unreal and unflattering image to which the new generation would gave free access to. When my friend told me about "The Aviator", I cringed. I thought no one would be able to play Katharine Hepburn. "Katharine Houghton Hepburn, of all people!" I would say, "It's gonna be a train wreck " I would've been prophetic had I made a like prediction about Elizabeth Taylor, but luckily, I was wrong about Kate.
I got a hold of the movie as fast as I could. The actress recruited to play her was no less than Cate Blanchett. I knew who she was, was familiar with her work on Lord of The Rings, and, not being a fan of the trilogy, I anticipated a disappointment when I pressed play. But from the first time she took the screen (and I use the verb "take" purposely), I was blown away. The accuracy of her portrayal is breath-taking.
Let's look at this scene.

Despite the Hepburn family being portrayed a little exaggeratedly, in my view, all eyes are on Cate. From the clothes, the makeup (or lack thereof), the obvious Bryn Mawr accent, her screaming to her family from the car, down to the way she runs. Her laugh at 1:46, "The press can be a damn nuissance", "My goat, my goat". The fascinated look she throws Howard at 3:10 has an uncanny resemblance to her look to Spencer Tracy. Blanchett and DiCaprio beautifully complemented each other.
Here's how she looked, dressed to the part (and what a beautiful doll that Aussie is!): 

Notice the eyebrow. Standing ovation, Scorcese. 
Cate Blanchett saw an opportunity to help keep Katharine Hepburn alive and she took it. She did justice to The Great, and, although no one will ever touch Ms. Hepburn, Blanchett has given the world the right idea about who she was. Now, people will see The Aviator and they will hear about Katharine Hepburn from a trustworthy source. This is why, us, fans of the first lady of cinema, would all kiss Cate Blanchett's feet if we had the chance. She carried on the legacy. And now that she was so memorable in her performance, there is no question of who to ask if and when a biopic is ever planned, knocking the Lohan possibility off the table. She won an Oscar for it. Cate's first, Kate's fifth. I can almost see her nodding approvingly from up there.

Smile away, Aussie. You deserved it. God bless Cate Blanchett. Phew.

Tale #2: "An Elegant Spirit" and the power of Sean

Sean Hepburn-Ferrer is a very lucky man. He grew up with a mother that was also his best friend. A mother who, by loving him, taught him about the power of love. A mother who raised him on the standards of altruism, respect and an almost angel-like selflessness. Audrey Hepburn's only dream was to be a mother, and no matter how many people he knew, she remained the idol of her son Sean and the unmatched love of his life. Sean never shied away from speaking about his mother and about the daily delight of living with Audrey Hepburn; and after her passing devastated his world in 1993, he took over her duties as a good-will ambassador. To this day, Sean Hepburn-Ferrer is one of the leading executives in funding for the under-privileged children of the world. The "Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund", of which he is now in charge, is associated with Unicef, still working towards ending hunger in Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia. Audrey's most important legacy - what she did for the children - is well taken care of.

However, there is one more of Sean's achievements worth noting. After her death, he knew her story would be told by many people - people who wanted to feed off her tragedy and people who might not have been privy to all the facts. So he was faster than them: He wrote "Audrey Hepburn - An Elegant Spirit", his mom's definitive and complete biography, from the adoring and flattering eyes of a son. It remains one of the most beautiful portraits ever painted of a public personality and it reduced me to tears. 

Tale #3: "Mommie Dearest" and the art of pissing off fans

To divert from Sean Hepburn as radically as possible, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Christina Crawford. Christina Crawford is one of the adopted children of Hollywood actress Joan Crawford and the only one of the four who ever had acting aspirations, which already says a lot about her relationship to Joan. 
It is a known fact that Crawford was a strong disciplinarian at home. She had high standards for her children, she expected a lot from them, and I wouldn't call her an overall great mother. But, that's nothing compared to the child-abusing alcoholic picture that Tina attempted to paint in her "book" (I'd rather call it a rag) "Mommie Dearest". She published it slightly north of a year after her mother's death, and the world was appalled to find out one of their favorite actresses was a child beater. At the time of the release, Joan's old friends Barbara Stanwyck, Bob Hope, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Myrna Loy, Katharine Hepburn and even Bette Davis have denied most of the stories. Since then, there has been a disastrous movie with Faye Dunaway, based on the writings of Tina, and, as much as I hate to say it, Joan's reputation has been tainted forever with a black stain.
What also happened since then was that Christina admitted to lying or exaggerating about most of the child abuse stories on that book. I put myself through most of it, and I soon realized what a terrible piece of writing it is. She reads far too deep into Joan's letters and complains to great lengths about normal parenting problems. It sounds to me like she needs a reality check.

Tale #4: Lauren Bacall and the best children ever

Since the day Humphrey Bogart died, in 1957, Lauren Bacall has vowed to keep his memory and his legacy for as many generations she was lucky enough to witness. She was 32 years old then, and she's a great grandmother now, but her diligence and determination is still the same. However, when you're imprisoned by an almost 90-year-old body, a wheelchair and a lonely apartment in New York City, there comes a time when you can only do so much. So, when the matriarch became too old to handle the Bogart Estate, along came the rest of the clan, eager to bring their father back to life, even if only metaphorically. I speak of Stephen Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard Bogart, the children of Bogie and Betty. 
They (especially Steve) now run the Estate, appear in tribute nights, edit books, promote film festivals and do virtually everything they can to keep their father alive for years to come. In this task, Steve stands out as the primary manager of the Bogart Estate. He has lived a fairly normal life until adulthood, but when his mother started growing too elderly to work, he decided to dedicate his life to his father's memory. 

What's remarkable about it is that Steve was eight and Leslie was five when Bogie died. They couldn't have had a very clear idea of who their father really was out of their own personal experiences. Most of what they heard came from the loving words of their mother, which probably made him an even bigger hero in their minds. Watch this video of Steve talking about his dad at the Casablanca 70th birthday celebration, earlier this year. He is 64. 

Let's remember, however, that Lauren Bacall is alive and doing what she can. I'd like to take this opportunity to urge you fellas to send her some love this Christmas season. She has been alone for a while and needs the comfort and loyalty of her die hard fans.  

Thanks for reading y'all, and I hope to see you here again soon!

So long,

P.S. By the way, since we're speaking of Casablanca, I'd like to share this video I recently found of a Brazilian pianist playing "As Time Goes By". It's gorgeous and I hope you like it as much as I did. 


  1. I also liked Blanchett in THE AVIATOR, though I naturally had to pick it apart. Have you read my post about it. I would like to know what you think, now that you've seen the film.

  2. For sure Stephen is doing a good job to keep Bogart's memory alive, as well as Sean. Some biopics can be a disaster, but The Aviator is a good exception. It was also my first Scorsese film!
    Of course we fans have an important role to keep our idol's memories alive and you're doing a good job with this objective.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you both! I loved that article, Maggie, great job! Merry Christmas, y'all!