All posts tagged: Broadway

“An Amiable Icicle” – 1929

This article first appeared in MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC, August 1929. Rathbone was at that time poised to become one of the new generation of talking picture stars imported from Broadway.

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Letters to Madame X c.1940 – 1963

These are all the letters we currently have that were allegedly written by Rathbone to “Madame X” between c. 1940 and 1963. They’re numbered as they were when received by us. Nos. 13, 15 and 16 are currently missing. We’ve only received one letter in autograph. The rest are typed copies, seemingly quite aged and pretty hard to read. Some are annotated, but not always legibly. Everything in black is original text, my notes are in blue and the annotations are in red. LETTER 1: no date, possibly 1939-40 Dearest X – what an extraordinary amount of enquiry crammed into such a small and charmingly violet note. How do I begin? 1. Tell him Dietrich is an angel – for the first week that you know her. Thereafter all bets are off. Her self-interest is boundless. Her sense of ensemble non-existent. If she can erase you in front of the camera she will. She is legendary for being very accommodating in other ways, but it barely compensates for the sheer flaming hell of working with …

“Basil Rathbone Eulogizes the American Actress” – 1923

This article first appeared in THE BILLBOARD, November 1923. Just a few weeks later Rathbone would be taken to a party by Clifton Webb, where he would meet unemployed screenwriter “Ouida Bergere” (as she called herself). Click on pdf button to download a copy of the original article Basil Rathbone Eulogizes the American Actress The Billboard, November 24 1923 When our dramatic critic, in his review of “The Swan” defined Mr Basil Rathbone as “the leading man par excellence with the looks, bearing and acting capacity which should go with the genius” we decided that we had a clue worth following in our search for interesting personalities. But getting a seat for a performance of “The Swan” was like getting poor Humpty up a again. It was only due to the cancellation of a third balcony box reservation that we succeeded in viewing that ideal couple, the fair LeGallienne(sic) and the stalwart Rathbone. We gazed so long from our dizzy heights thru the lenses of an opera glass that we became dizzy and were obliged …

Letter from Aldous Huxley to Rathbone

We’ve read Huxley describing his first encounter with BR and Huxley – possibly – featuring him as a character in one of his novels ANTIC HAY.  Now here is Huxley writing to Basil. It’s 1950. BR is about to appear in Huxley’s play  THE GIOCONDA SMILE  and Huxley is writing to him about changes to the text…. Taken from  The American Reader 31  Pond Street Hampstead, N.W.3 ca. June 1950 Dear Basil, I hope that all goes well, in spite of the miserable state of the world at large, with you and your family. London is a good deal more cheerful than it was two years ago, when I was here last; and one prays that the respite from war and the improvement in conditions may continue for a while longer. Meanwhile I have seen Valerie Taylor and talked with her about the play, gaining some useful ideas about it from the Janet’s-eye point of view. She made two points which I thought were good. The first was that, when she played the part with Clive …

The Captive (1926) – NYT Review

The Play by J. Brooks Atkinson The New York Times September 30 1926 Expertly written and admirably played, M. Bourdet’ tragedy, “The Captive,” put on at the Empire last evening, may be set down as a genuine achievement in dramatic producing – a long, engrossing, haunting play. Most of the theatrical news from Eruope for several months has hung about this drama, known in Paris as “La Prisonniere.” Vastly popular, sensational in its theme, and recriminations. But whatever emotions the Parisian performance may be conveying, Mr Hornblow’s adaptation, staged perfectly by Mr Miller, emerges as a hard, brittle chronicle, horrible in its implications, terrible to contemplate at times, but sincere and cleanly finished. Seldom has a play been so intelligently cast; nor do we often see a performance so thoroughly disciplined in every detail. For the American version of “La Prisonniere,” does not truckle no smirk. It tells its unpleasant story in a straightforward manner, without evasion or sordid emphasis. And the splendid spirit of the production may protect it from being misunderstood. Like a …

Quotation: James Agate, 1921

“…like a painting by a Renaissance master (his profile reminds me always of Michelangelo’s study for the head of Leda), with such vibrant colour, such dark grey eyes and sooty lashes, such cream and olive skin, and the lithe body of an athlete. He is perfection, but he has eaten the fruit, is a David, with knowing eyes, and he bestows himself like a royal gift, expecting royal tribute in return…” JAMES AGATE, THEATRE CRITIC, About Basil Rathbone, 1921 cited on “The Most Gentle Magical Person…”

THE HEIRESS 2012

The new production of THE HEIRESS opened in NYC yesterday, at the Walter Kerr theatre on West 48th, starring Jessica Chastain, David Strathairn and Dan Stevens. This is the second or maybe third revival since the Baz created the role of Austin Sloper on Broadway almost exactly 65 years ago, in September 1947. Here’s Ben Brantley’s NYT review , which also links to Brooks Atkinson’s review of the original with Rathbone. Brantley doesn’t altogether like the production or Strathairn’s interpretation of Dr Sloper, describing him as “surprisingly low-key and deferential.” Rathbone, by contrast, won a Tony for his performance and was described by Atkinson as playing “perfectly with irony and arrogance.” And yet,interestingly, Brantley doesn’t compare Strathairn with the Baz, even though they both played the part on Broadway. No, indeed, with wonderful irony, Brantley ignores Rathbone completely and instead compares Strathairn with none other than Ralph Richardson who played in the 1949 film, opposite Olivia de Havilland, after Rathbone was inexplicably passed over for the part. Rather a neat little illustration of how fate …

RATHBONE & LE GALLIENNE

The Q&A with Helen Sheehy about the Baz’s relationship, professional and otherwise, with Eva Le Gallienne continues to get a lot of feedback and there have been several interesting points raised in the comments. Opinion seems scattered over a wide spectrum between those who refuse to believe Rathbone would sleep with a lesbian and those who think he and Eva were lost loves for one another. I’m inclined to agree with Helen that the truth lies somewhere in the murky middle ground between. I think it’s probably pointless to refuse to believe Rathbone had a physical affair with Le Gallienne, when Le Gallienne herself and her friends all said he did. Likewise I think the chance they were ever in serious danger of marrying each other seems remote. Their affair only lasted for something like five or six months. Le Gallienne moved fairly swiftly on to other lovers, and Rathbone was already involved with Ouida Bergere when it began. So it’s important to remember this in order to keep it in proportion alongside other events …

Interview with Helen Sheehy

Today The Baz is talking to Helen Sheehy, author of Eva Le Gallienne: a Biography. Le Gallienne was Rathbone’s lover and Broadway co-star, yet her name is not even mentioned in his autobiography, and in consequence her role in his private life and artistic development will be entirely new to many of his admirers and indeed his past and future biographers! The Baz is very grateful to Helen for taking the time to talk about this neglected subject. It will certainly be a surprise to numbers of his longterm fans. TB: Let’s begin with you telling me a little bit about your book “Eva Le Gallienne: a Biography.” How you came to write it and what drew you to your subject. SHEEHY: When I finished my first biography, Margo: The Life and Theatre of Margo Jones, I looked around for another subject. Margo had single-handedly pioneered the resident theatre movement in this country – her legacy lives in the hundreds of non-profit theatres from coast to coast. So when I finished the book, I looked …