Friday, May 15, 2009

Broadway Rose

I feel like a little cinematic archaeology today. Back in the day, Marilyn Miller was a name to conjure with, and here, in flickering two-color Technicolor, she shows us why. The number is "I"m Just a Wild Rose", from her 1929 hit Sunny. It has aged, I think, better than much from the earliest days of Talkies, in no small part due to Miss Miller's effervescent charm.

Hers was neither a happy nor a long life, but seeing this one understands why she was, in rapid succession, a Ziegfeld girl, Broadway star, and, briefly, film sensation. She fit into her 37 years three marriages (including a stint as Mary Pickford's sister-in-law), a decade on the road in the U.S. and Europe before hitting New York, and a sad eclipse shadowed by alcoholism and ill-health.

Miller's more or less invented first name was bestowed on another fecklessly charismatic star, one whose own unique brand of fatal magic has eclipsed this earlier model. Fortunately, we can see, and appreciate, her first-hand. I think she's pretty fab, and I hope you do, too.

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