The Most Unforgettable Screen Romances of the Studio Era
by Frank Miller
Introduction by Robert Osborne
My favorite line: They were cool before anybody had picked up the word. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were united by their deep love and respect for each other and their disdain for anybody who didn't get it.
I received an advance copy of this book a while back and have been relishing every page. It's a beautiful 4-color paperback book with french flaps. Quite a deal for only $19.95. I should know, I work in the book business.
This is the third in the TCM book series. The first was Leading Ladies followed by Leading Men, both books were released in 2006. This year brings Leading Couples a collection of 37 on screen romantic duos. This book was quite a pleasure to read. So much so, that could be why it took me so long to finish it as I have a tendency to linger over the books I truly enjoy. The book is divided into sections which each couple getting their own. Some starts repeat but you won't find anyone in there more than twice and there is still a lot of variety to keep the reader interested. Some couples were in many films together, others only a few, some even only one but sometimes it only takes one shock of electricity to be memorable.
Each section is pretty consistent (me likey consistency) and the structure works well.
1) Half-Spread image of couple
3) Behind the Scenes
4) Offscreen Relationship
5) Star Bio Stats
6) Key Quote
7) Essential Team-Ups (if applicable)
My favorite section to read was the Offscreen Relationship. Some folks liked each other, some folks LOVED each other and other folks just faked it for the silver screen. I also really appreciated the list of "Essential Team-Ups". That helped me fatten up my Netflix Queue quite a bit.
My favorite of all the couples features came as a surprise to me. I would have thought it would be Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I've watched several of their films and have read a biography on their love affair. Woman of the Year (1942) is one of my favorite films. But I couldn't help but be transfixed by Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. I have never seen them on screen but read their section at least three times!
TCM is doing a Leading Couples film festival in November. (Read their press release here). Their November schedule is coming out soon so watch for it.
I do have a couple of gripes about the book. They kept to the very mainstream. There were only a few obscure pairings like Dick Powell & Ruby Keeler and Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell. I understand that this kind of guide is meant to be an accompaniment to the actual movies and many other obscure pairings (Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery for example) are not necessarily available for viewing on DVD. Also, the author said Jimmy Stewart was a notorious womanizer. No he was not! Hmph! But I did enjoy the bit about Norma Shearer watching Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and singling him out as her next romantic target. Only Norma Shearer could do something like that.
In honor of this new book, I decided to take my peculiar interest in Greta Garbo & John Gilbert as an on screen couple and I will watch and review Flesh and the Devil (1926). Watch for the review here along with a couple of tidbits from the book.