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Cesar Romero in The Devil is a Woman

Published June 23, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Cesar Romero Devil is a Woman

This Pride Month we are exploring some of the many projects of the distinguished and eclectic Cesar Romero. Best known for his comic villainy on the ‘60s television version of Batman, Romero opened up about his homosexuality toward the end of his life. His many credits include such horror offerings as Two on a Guillotine, Mortuary Academy and Night Gallery.

The last collaboration between director Josef Von Sternberg and his grand muse Marlene Dietrich, 1935’s The Devil is a Woman is full of visual flourishes that should appeal to fans of such stylistic masters as Dario Argento, Ken Russell and Guillermo Del Toro. From freight trains stranded in avalanche beds to the majestic hair pieces that Dietrich sports in a variety of scenes, this film is a kaleidoscopic delight…even though it was filmed in black and white. Cesar Romero Devil is a Woman 2

Reportedly Dietrich’s favorite among her many films, this tale recounts the adventures of Concha Perez (Dietrich), an unrepentant schemer who destroys the finances and the emotional health of the honored Captain Costelar (old school terror stalwart Lionel Atwill). Costelar’s misadventures with Perez are detailed via flashback remembrances as he warns the bold Antonio Galvan (Cesar Romero) to avoid her charms. Naturally, Galvan can’t resist this wicked enchantress and soon finds himself upon the receiving end of her brutal capriciousness. 

Cesar Romero Devil is a Woman 3Here Romero, the only gay man (thus far) in the DC universe to play the Joker, brings his typical smooth and roguish charm to the role of Galvan. But despite his magazine slickness, he also resonates with a boldness that makes the slightly criminal nature of his character truly believable as well. (Indeed, this project is doubly interesting to the gay community due to Dietrich’s own love of androgyny and oft chronicled lesbian relationships.)

Interestingly, while Romero, Dietrich and Atwill all went on to many other projects, Sternberg, despite his genuine genius, was not so lucky. His directing credits after Devil were few and he was even fired from Macao, his last high profile project, due to his onset fussiness and an incoherent vision for the project.

Thankfully, due to home media and the internet, we will always have Concha and Galvin and Spain.

Until the next time…SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

 

 

Cesar Romero in Happy Landing

Published June 15, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

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Best known to many generations as the penultimate Joker (from the Batman television series), the elegant Cesar Romero actually began his career co-starring against the likes of such golden megastars as Marlene Dietrich, Betty Grable, Shirley Temple and Alice Faye. His midrange career, meanwhile, added some megawatt luster to such horror offerings as Two on a Guillotine (above), The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe and (silly spoof) Mortuary Academy. He even applied his smooth charisma to a take on Count Dracula for Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in the early ‘70s.

Cesar Happy Landing 1But the scariest force that Romero came up against may have just been booming theater goddess Ethel Merman. In 1938’s Happy Landing, a vehicle for perky Olympian skater Sonja Henie, Romero plays the smarmy Duke Sargent, a bandleader with a woman in every port. Ultimately, the roving Sargent meets his match in Merman’s Flo Kelly. Kelly spends the last half of the movie beating Romero’s calculating operator into romantic submission and the two emerge at the finale as a devoted (if slightly bruised) couple.

Interestingly, while the scenes where Merman clobbers Romero over the head with hotel room lamps (and the like) are supposed to read as humorous, this aggressive slapstick actually has the opposite effect. Often these encounters read more as domestic violence than comedic gold.Cesar Happy Landing 3

Despite this, the suave Romero practically steals the show here. Her majestic routines on the ice notwithstanding, Henie as a leading lady mugs her way throughout her intimate moments and tends to gaze, off camera, with moony eyed dreaminess at every fade-out. Merman, meanwhile, is a bit too forceful, the power of her stage presence not fully transferring to film. Thus, Romero commands this (rather flimsy and stereotypical) story with an easy flow and an undeniable photogenic presence.
Cesar Happy Landing 2

Rather bravely, considering the era in which he was popular, Romero, known as a lifelong bachelor, officially acknowledged his homosexuality in an interview with writer Boze Hadleigh for his 1996 book Hollywood Gays. Done towards the end of his life, this honesty may be just as significant as any of his beloved screen roles.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Tallulah Bankhead

Published February 28, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan
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Madame Bankhead strikes a cutting pose with Stephanie Powers in Die! Die! My Darling!

Wrapping up an illustrious (yet controversial) acting career with a Hammer Horror may not seem like a fitting exit to some, but her appearance in Die! Die! My Darling! (AKA Fanatic) allows thankful terror freaks to claim the irreplaceable Tallulah Bankhead as one of their own. (Note: Bankhead would go on to appear on shows like Batman and do vocal work for a film called The Daydreamer, but this was her last major onscreen cinematic experience.)

Of course, even the most heartfelt admirers of this notorious theater doyenne would probably never claim that her charms belonged, full time, in a concert hall. Yet the adventurous Bankhead was known to warble a tune or two in various revues and on select radio programs.

Granted, her singing voice is not a technical wonder, but this hard living broad brought the breadth of her experience to the numbers she performed, allowing audiences to believe that she had truly lived every wrangled syllable.

Such is the case with this 1930 recording of What Do I Care? Viva la life experience, darlings!

 

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan