Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Notorious Gertrude Michael

One of the lesser known stars of the pre-code era has been featured in six of the films in the Balboa's Paramount series - and once you see Gertrude Michael, you immediately want to know more about her.

I first saw Gertrude Michael in "Search for Beauty" which plays the Balboa November 16th. Her sharp tongue, comic flair and somewhat manic energy make her a standout in the film. I soon discovered she had a long and varied career spanning the stage and screen, even scoring several lead roles while at Paramount in the 1930s. She appeared most often as a hard-edged woman who was not to be tangled with (see "Murder at the Vanities.") Perhaps her best starring role was the title character in "The Notorious Sophie Lang." She plays a glamorous master jewel thief trying to one up a male rival from across the pond. Good pacing, clever dialog, and a touch of risque humor made this comedy a big enough hit to spawn two sequels. "Sophie Lang" was the mystery feature mentioned in my last post, and I have a feeling Gertrude gained a few more fans after the screening. Though bouts with the bottle may have hurt her career, she continued to work into the '60s. A manuscript for a Michael bio exists, so let's hope that it will be published someday to shed some further light on this versatile performer.

Michael also appears in DeMille's "Cleopatra," playing this Saturday at the Balboa and turning up from time to time on TCM.

3 comments:

Brian said...

wish I could have made that one! I'm headed off to my last pre-code screenings tonight, and I hope it was successful enough for the Balboa to deem it worthy of a reprise next fall!

Leslie said...

I saw Gertrude Michael in "I'm No Angel", with Mae West and "Murder At the Vanities" (1934), both highly recommended films. I always felt her, and feel that she projects "animal magnetism", also known as "IT" on the screen. I was not at all surprised to hear that she had many men friends! She was a hot woman. I'm sorry to hear of her personal difficulties with alcohol and a lack of acting roles. I pray that she is at peace! I take this opportunity to pay homage to her as a woman and actress.

Terry Sully said...

"The Notorious Sophie Lang." was surely my favorite film she was in. Like Leslie I also enjoyed both of those movies as well

- Terry
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