Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Centennial

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) (also here), 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 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).

December 9, 2013 Update: A new review this year: LITTLE CAESAR (1931).

December 2015 Update: Here are more reviews of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. movies: ONE NIGHT AT SUSIE'S (1930), GUNGA DIN (1939), and SINBAD THE SAILOR (1947), plus a movie he produced where he makes an onscreen appearance at movie's end, CHASE A CROOKED SHADOW (1958).

December 2020 Update: Here are several new review links!  I've now reviewed Warner Archive DVD releases of LOVE IS A RACKET (1932) and HAVING WONDERFUL TIME (1938) and a Kino Lorber Blu-ray release of THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938), plus OUR MODERN MAIDENS (1929), I LIKE YOUR NERVE (1931), and IT'S TOUGH TO BE FAMOUS (1932).

Additionally, here are links for photo posts on visits I paid to his final resting place at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2014 and 2019.


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

GUNGA DIN is still the best manly men, comraderie style movies ever made- and still one of my all time favorites. Fairbanks was excellent in almost anything he did.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I agree, J.C., he was wonderful, always engaging!

Best wishes,

10:54 AM  

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