Friday, March 29, 2013
Brooklyn Orchid, Hard-Boiled
I love the Internet, and the random things it lets you discover. This afternoon, for no good reason except procrastination (I know, at a rational level, that those cupboards aren't going to clean themselves out. But I live in hope.), I was aimlessly surfing and somehow ended up doing an image search on the phrase "hard-boiled gal." As one does.
And this was one of the first pictures that popped up, and I thought, well she fits the bill. And, as it turns out, she did in spades.She is in fact one of my favorite things: a working actress of the Hollywood golden age of whom I'd never heard. She's Grace Bradley. Ring a bell? Didn't think so.
She had a fairly typical fourth-or-so tier career, starting on the New York stage, in nightclubs and revues. Like hundreds of other hopefuls, she was picked up by Paramount, and by 1933 she was a contract player out West. She made 30-odd films before retiring a decade later, happily married to William Boyd, a fixture of low-budget Westerns as Hopalong Cassidy. She was his fifth wife, but it stuck, until his death in 1972. She herself went on until just three years ago, when she went to join Hopalong out at Forest Lawn at the fine age of 97 (she died on her birthday).
The still above is from the appropriately titled 1941 opus The Hard-Boiled Canary. She played Madie Duvalie, which certainly fits. Most of Bradley's characters have a charmingly other-side-of-the-tracks ring; during her ten years in the spotlight, she played JoJo La Verne, Flossie, Bonnie LeTour, Trixie La Brey, Lily Lamont, and Sadie McGuerin, among others, all of whom sound like they could fend perfectly well for themselves, thank you very much. Most of her films are, like most of the programmers of the day, virtually forgotten. The only really familiar title is Anything Goes. Beyond that, it's a string of intriguing mysteries on the order of Girl Without a Room, Wharf Angel, Come on, Marines!, Rose of the Rancho, Brooklyn Orchid, and Taxi, Mister! (her last feature).
So that's what I learned today. How about you?