Monthly Archives: February 2020

Charles Boyer Was Among Greatest Screen Lovers: Off-Screen, Star of Gaslight, Algiers, Love Affair Was One-Woman Man

Boyer was best known for a series of romantic roles in the 1930s and 40s — films that proved you didn't have to be classically handsome to be a Hollywood leading man.

Charles Boyer's Appearance Needed a Lot of Hollywood Help

Filmmakers worked hard to shore up Boyer's physical limitations. Just 5-foot-9, the star wore lifts to bring him close to six feet. Studio dressers labored to disguise a distinct paunch. And Boyer, who lost his hair in his 20s, wore a toupee — but only on screen; he refused to wear it in public.

The studio-honed image of the Great Lover was aided by Boyer's magnificently deep, resonant French-accented voice. With impeccable manners written into most of his roles, Boyer was the personification of European sophistication, charm and culture.

Boyer Studied Philosophy in College

Charles Boyer was a shy country boy from the south of France. As a hospital orderly during World War I, he reportedly staged comic sketches to cheer up wounded soldiers.

To appease his mother, the bookish Boyer majored in philosophy at the Sorbonne. He later studied acting at the Paris Conservatory before pursuing a stage career in the early 1920s. The young actor made a number of French films during those years, before MGM signed him to a contract at decade's end.

Boyer's American film career didn't gain traction until 1932. That year, playing a chauffeur in the Jean Harlow vehicle Red-Headed Woman got him noticed, thanks in part to his voice, which played well in the new sound era.

After the success of a couple more European films — director Fritz Lang's Liliom in 1934 and Mayerling two years later — Boyer became the object of Hollywood desires.

Boyer's Classic Romances Co-Starred Hedy Lamarr, Marlene Dietrich, Others

His image as a Continental lover was cemented in such glossy American productions as Algiers ( a remake of the French hit, Pepe Le Moko), History is Made at Night, The Garden of Allah and Love Affair, opposite Hedy Lamarr, Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich and Irene Dunne, respectively.

Other leading ladies included Bette Davis, Margaret Sullavan and Olivia De Havilland.

Offscreen, the former philosophy student was a bookworm who enjoyed Los Angeles but shunned the Hollywood night life. A romantic in real life, Boyer was decidedly a one-woman man. He met British actress Pat Paterson at a party in 1934. Within two weeks, they were engaged and they wed three months later. By all accounts, theirs was a devoted, lifelong union.

An international star of both American and European films, Boyer became a naturalized American citizen in 1942.

Honorary Oscar in 1943

The following year, he received an honorary Oscar for "progressive cultural achievement" for helping establish the French Research Foundation in Los Angeles.

But Boyer never won a competitive Oscar, despite four nominations — for Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944) and Fanny (1961).

Instead, Algiers brought him a kind of unwanted immortality. As Pepe Le Moko, the thief who steals Hedy Lamarr's heart, Boyer never actually says, "Come with me to the Casbah." But thanks to generations of impressionists, he was (mis)identified with the line in the same way Cary Grant was unfairly tattoed with "Judy, Judy, Judy," which he never said in a movie, either.

Charles Boyer Inspired Iconic Cartoon Character Pepe Le Pew

Probably Boyer's best-known role was in Gaslight, in which he was cast against type as a scheming husband trying to drive insane his new wife, played by Ingrid Bergman.

In 1945 came a different kind of immortality. Legendary Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones modeled his passionate cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew after the French star. The name was an obvious play on Pepe Le Moko, and completing the homage was voice specialist Mel Blanc, whose imitation of Boyer was spot on.

After the war, Boyer's international career continued with film work in Europe (including The Earrings of Madame De…) and stage roles in London and New York. He won a 1951 Special Tony Award for Don Juan in Hell, directed by and co-starring Charles Laughton.

Boyer Partnered With Other Stars in Television Production Company

Boyer also became a powerful television presence in the United States. He partnered with movie greats David Niven, Dick Powell and Ida Lupino in Four Star Productions, appearing in the company's Four Star Theatre series in the early 50s. A decade later, he appeared regularly on Four Star's short-lived anthology series The Rogues.

On film, the aging actor moved into character parts in the 1950s and 60s, with diverse supporting roles in Around the World in 80 Days, Barefoot in the Park, Is Paris Burning?, Casino Royale, a remake of the Frank Capra classic Lost Horizon and The Madwoman of Chaillot.

Suicide Plagues Boyer Family

Boyer endured the loss of his only child, son Michael Charles Boyer, in 1965. Michael Boyer shot himself to death at 21 playing Russian Roulette, reportedly after his girlfriend broke up with him.

In August, 1978, Boyer was retired and living in Paradise Valley, Arizona when his wife of 44 years, Pat, died of cancer. Two days later, a deeply grieving Charles Boyer decided he could not live without her and took an overdose of the powerful barbiturate Seconal. He was two days shy of his 79th birthday.

Charles Boyer is buried beside his wife and son, and near many entertainment luminaries, at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, not far from the studios where he made many of his films.

So, You Have an Idea for a Movie, Huh?

So, you've got a great idea? Do you dream of it being on the big screen? Well stop dreaming and make it happen. If you've got a great idea run with it. Ideas and scripts are sold everyday to major studios, independent companies and ambitious filmmakers. Sometimes these have six figure pay days attached to them, other times it's just a credit but either way it's you idea up there on the screen. Sounds like fun, huh? So where do you begin?

Let's start with the basics, a film is shot based upon a script, also known as a screenplay. The screenplay is an organized telling of the story written in both storytelling and film terms to express what should be seen and heard on screen. While films and television shows are structured defiantly the underlying format is essentially the same. If you choose to set out on this adventure alone you may want to purchase screenwriting software such as Final Draft or Movie Magic to assist you. It will make the logistics of proper formatting much simpler so you can spend more time on the story itself.

Alright, so you have an idea. One of the first things you'll need to decide is if you want to write this yourself, have someone else write it for you or simply try to go "pitch" and sell the idea. While the last option may sound the best it is also the most difficult if you have no contacts to do so. Pitching, involves gong into an executive's office and giving a quick "sales pitch" of you movie idea. You'll have two or so minutes to really grab their attention and get them to wrap their heads around your concept. This is an art in itself. There are plenty of terrific writers who fall apart in pitch meetings.

The opposite is also common, great sales men who don't know the first things about how to develop a character and escalate conflict. If you have the contact necessary to just make a call and set a meeting with an executive you choose good for you. If you don't you should just stick to the old fashioned way and prove your worth because in the long run you'll probably garner a lot more respect that way anyhow.

So, do you write it yourself or hire someone else? There are positive and negative aspects to both. It depends on your writing skills, time and money. If you are that great of a writer or know nothing about writing it would be best to hire someone else if you can afford to. If you're low on cash you might try finding a student studying screenwriting who would be willing to write for low pay or a share of profits. If you want to try your hand at it and see what happens but know nothing about the format and structure of screenwriting get ready to start reading.

There are numerous books on screenwriting that you can read as well as seminars you can attend if you're not the book type. The best seminar I can recommend is given by a screenwriter named Blake Snyder. He knows what he's talking about. But what's more is the way he breaks things down, he makes it simpler to figure out how to best tell your story. Not mention he's a really nice guy. Go to blakesnyder.com for more information about his weekend workshops and seminars. You can also read his book Save The Cat. The sequel, Save The Cat Goes To The Movies will be out soon.

So that's just a starting ground for your ventures, if you have an idea run with it. You never know what will happen and even if nothing ever does the adventure alone is worth it all.

So, You Have an Idea for a Movie, Huh?

So, You Have an Idea for a Movie, Huh?