Today marks a century since the birth of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., an engaging actor and multitalented man.
In honor of Mr. Fairbanks' centennial, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is hosting a special screening of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937) tonight at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Sound effects expert Ben Burtt will be on hand to discuss the film's special effects. It sounds like a wonderful event; wish I could be there!
In a nice bit of symmetry, one of the founding members of the Academy was Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
Favorite Fairbanks films I've seen thus far include THE RAGE OF PARIS (1938) and THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938), which was also recently reviewed at Classic Movies Digest.
Other Fairbanks films reviewed here previously: LOVE IS A RACKET (1932), JOY OF LIVING (1938), HAVING WONDERFUL TIME (1938), and ANGELS OVER BROADWAY (1940).
Fairbanks was a charming, elegant leading man in romantic comedies, and he was also dazzling in swashbucklers, a talent he seems to have inherited from his father. Fairbanks' most notable films included LITTLE CAESAR (1931), MORNING GLORY (1933), GUNGA DIN (1939), and the colorful SINBAD THE SAILOR (1947), which marked his return to the screen after several years of wartime service.
Fairbanks had a distinguished Naval record during WWII, as described in the official Naval biography of Commander Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr. His numerous wartime accomplishments included planning deceptive maneuvers for the invasion of Sicily. He was the recipient of several honors, including the Silver Star, which was awarded for his service on PT boats, and the Legion of Merit.
Mr. Fairbanks' influence extended, in a roundabout way, into my own life: my mother-in-law liked him so much that he provided the inspiration for my husband's name.
On the centennial of his birth, it seems fitting to take a moment to pay tribute to a wonderful man who contributed a great deal not only to classic films, but to our nation.
Update: More tributes are posted at Classic Hollywood Nerd and Noir Girl.
December 10th Update: Moira Finnie has written a wonderful tribute at TCM's Movie Morlocks blog.
December 9, 2011 Update: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. films reviewed since this was posted in 2009: THAT LADY IN ERMINE (1948), SCARLET DAWN (1932), THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937), RULERS OF THE SEA (1939), GREEN HELL (1940), and UNION DEPOT (1932).