November 01, 2015

#SOTM - TCM's Star of the Month Nov. 2015 - Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer, born Edith Norma Shearer on August 10, 1902 in Montreal, Canada, was a motion picture actress known for her glamour, charm, sophistication and versatility. She is remembered largely for her portrayals of rich and worldly women in films that, though not very challenging, were enlivened by a moderate raciness—or what seemed like raciness in those days—reflected in such titles as The Divorcee, Strangers May Kiss, A Free Soul and Riptide. Shearer was dubbed the "First Lady of the Screen" by M-G-M because of her marriage to Hollywood producer Irving G. Thalberg.

She was nominated six times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for Their Own Desire (1930), A Free Soul (1931), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), Romeo and Juliet (1936), Marie Antoinette (1938), and won once, for her performance in the 1930 film The Divorcee. Miss Shearer's family in Montreal helped financed her first fling at show business, in New York, by selling the family dog and piano.

After that impoverished start, it was not long before her beauty, her hard work, her down-to-earth charm and her marriage to Irving Thalberg, the film executive, made her a leading light of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios and a pillar of California film society.

In her early Hollywood days, Miss Shearer played innocent, girlish heroines on the silent screen. Her best known films then were 1924's He Who Gets Slapped, which starred Lon Chaney, and 1927's The Student Prince, in which Ramon Novarro had the title role. But she made the transition to sound movies with uncommon ease, and her silken voice was then heard largely in sophisticated, somewhat daring parts.

Even after Miss Shearer had long been a star, Louis B. Mayer, the producer, liked to say that she did the most magnificent acting of her career in his office one day in 1923.

She was new in Hollywood, but she had had much experience at the fringes of show business: hunting for acting jobs during that first, family-financed sojourn in New York, later eking out a living as an artist's model and bit-part movie actress.

Then Mr. Mayer's staff had sent word East that his movie company needed a cultured-looking young woman—any young woman. Miss Shearer answered that call, went to Hollywood and was lucky enough to be cast as the socialite heroine of Pleasure Mad. But when the cameras began rolling, she could not seem to get along with the director, Reginald Barker, who decided to get rid of her.

Mr. Mayer, hoping to keep the production on the rails, called Miss Shearer to his office and heard her side of the story. Then, deciding to use a little psychology, he shouted at her, "You're yellow!"

"Here you are given the chance of your life, and what do you do?" he cried. "You throw it away because maybe you don't like the director or something! I'm through with you."

Miss Shearer rose splendidly to the challenge, Bosley Crowther, the critic and film historian, later reported. "I am not yellow!" she exclaimed. "I'll show you I can do it! Give me another chance."

She went back to work, turned on the charm, finished the film without further major problems, made several other movies in quick succession, achieved moderate success and began a romance with Mr. Thalberg, a film industry boy wonder who was working with Mr. Mayer. They were married on September 29, 1927, and in the years that followed he did much to make her a great star.

In her heyday, Miss Shearer was lavishly gowned for her movie roles, and her hair was stylishly bobbed, in the fashion that was then the height of sophistication. Gossips said that skilled camera work hid a flaw in her beauty. Her eyes were not perfectly aligned.

Her eyes became a delicate subject in M-G-M circles. A director who was so crass as to complain, "She is cross-eyed!" was punished by being sent to film a western in the Mojave Desert.

Over the years, Miss Shearer made some forays into high comedy, such as Noel Coward's Private Lives in 1931. And she plunged herself with all the necessary verve into costumed period films, such as the sentimental Smilin' Through, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, which was an enormous critical and commercial hit, and the lavish Marie Antoinette, her first film after Mr. Thalberg's untimely death from pneumonia at age 37.

Miss Shearer tried to broaden her dramatic range by playing Shakespeare. As the heroine of M-G-M's 1936 version of Romeo and Juliet, she showed skill in reeling off the dialogue; she delivered her lines "with sincerity and effect," as Frank S. Nugent, a New York Times critic, put it, although he found her "not at her best in the balcony scene."

Miss Shearer's fame was so great, and her fans were so admiring, that she helped to focus national attention on one young actor just by having an on-screen affair with him, despite the fact that he played a gangster.

The year was 1931—the year she gave up her Canadian citizenship and became a United States citizen—the movie was A Free Soul, the actor was Clark Gable and his vicious slapping of Miss Shearer jolted movie audiences.

The ladylike quality that Miss Shearer projected came partly from her shabby-genteel girlhood in Canada, where she was born in a suburb of Montreal, the daughter of Andrew Shearer and Edith Fisher Shearer.

Miss Shearer went to public schools in Montreal, took piano lessons and persuaded her mother to go with her to New York. She applied to be a "Follies" dancer, but Florenz Ziegfeld told her: "I can do nothing for you. You are not tall enough for a show girl, you have fat legs and a cast in one eye."

Struggling to make a living, Miss Shearer developed a practical outlook. Once, when she was posing for a magazine cover illustration, the artist asked how she managed to keep smiling so long.

"I can't help smiling," she said, "when I think I'm getting paid for it."

Miss Shearer kept some of her down-to-earth style in later years, even after Mr. Thalberg's death had made her rich; he left her and their two children $4.5 million.

Miss Shearer's popularity proved strong during her 20-year career, with many of the studio's plum roles hers for the taking, and approved by her husband. One example was the Lynn Fontanne role in the 1939 Idiot's Delight, opposite Clark Gable in the Alfred Lunt part. The movie was adapted from Robert E. Sherwood's antiwar play. She drew good reviews for another Broadway transition, The Women, and for Escape, a strong anti-Nazi drama co-starring Robert Taylor. Miss Shearer retired from the screen after making Her Cardboard Lover, which received poor notices in 1942.

In that year, she was married to Martin Arrouge, a 28-year-old ski instructor. He was 12 years her junior. Her brother, Douglas, was also well-known in the movies as M-G-M's sound chief. Douglas Shearer was a pioneer sound designer and recording director who played a key role in the advancement of sound technology for motion pictures. He won seven Academy Awards for his work. Douglas Shearer died in 1971.

Norma Shearer died of bronchial pneumonia on June 12, 1983 at the Motion Picture and Television Country Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She was 80 years old and had lived at the hospital since 1980.

Miss Shearer was survived by her husband, a son, Irving Thalberg, Jr., a daughter, Katherine Thalberg Reddish Anderson Stirling, and three granddaughters, Brooke Anderson, Ashley Anderson and Deva Anderson.

Irving Thalberg, Jr. (August 25, 1930 – August 21, 1987) was a teacher of philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago until he died of cancer in 1987. He published two books of philosophical studies through the Muirhead Library of Philosophy: "Enigmas of Agency," Allen and Unwin, London, 1972, and "Perception, Emotion and Action," Blackwells, Oxford, 1977.

Katherine Thalberg Reddish Anderson Stirling was born June 14, 1935 and passed away on January 6, 2006 after a two-year battle with cancer. Click here to read her obituary.

Did You Know?

Athole Shearer (November 20, 1900 – March 17, 1985) was an actress most noted as the sister of Norma and Douglas Shearer. She suffered from bipolar disorder. She was married to Howard Hawks from 1928 to 1940.

Historians call her "the exemplar of sophisticated 1930s womanhood... exploring love and sex with an honesty that would be considered frank by modern standards."

Shearer is celebrated as a feminist pioneer. "She was the first American film actress to make it chic and acceptable to be single and not a virgin on screen." Her films continue to be exhibited and studied.

Norma Shearer on her first screen test: "The custom then was to use flat lighting, to throw a great deal of light from all directions, in order to kill all shadows that might be caused by wrinkles or blemishes. But the strong lights placed on either side of my face made my blue eyes look almost white, and by nearly eliminating my nose, made me seem cross-eyed. The result was hideous."

Norma Shearer on what D. W. Griffith told her: "The Master looked down at me, studied my upturned face in the glare of the arc, and shook his eagle head. Eyes no good. A cast in one and far too blue; blue eyes always looked blank in close-up. You'll never make it, he declared, and turned solemnly away."

Shearer consultated with Dr. William Bates, a pioneer in the treatment of incorrectly aligned eyes and defective vision. He wrote out a series of muscle-strengthening exercises that, after many years of daily practice, would successfully conceal Shearer's cast for long periods of time on the screen.

Shearer converted to Judaism so that she could marry Irving Thalberg. Even after he died, she continued to observe Judaism until her own death in 1983.

She would not remove her wedding ring for a role, preferring to cover it up with flesh-colored tape.

She and her brother Douglas Shearer were the first Oscar-winning brother and sister.

Shearer and Thalberg are reportedly the models for Stella and Miles, the hosts of the Hollywood party in the short story "Crazy Sunday" (1932) by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Said to have been a major influence on the life of Eva Perón after Peron saw her in the role of Marie Antoinette.

She is the only actress to portray Juliet and Marie Antoinette on screen and receive Academy Award nominations for both performances.

Turned down the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), the title role in Mrs. Miniver (1942),  the role of Charlotte Vale in Now, Voyager (1942) and the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. (1950).

She is one of the celebrities whose picture Anne Frank placed on the wall of her bedroom in the "Secret Annex" while in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.

Shearer has been praised for her patronage of George Hurrell, of M-G-M designer Adrian, of actress Janet Leigh, and of actor-producer Robert Evans.

She is entombed in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, in a crypt marked Norma Arrouge, along with her first husband, Irving Thalberg.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Shearer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6636 Hollywood Boulevard.

On June 30, 2008, Canada Post issued a postage stamp in its "Canadians in Hollywood" series to honor Norma Shearer, along with others for Raymond Burr, Marie Dressler and Chief Dan George.

In 2008, she was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

Norma Shearer Films on TCM November 3, 2015

Lady of the Night is a silent romantic drama film directed by Monta Bell. Norma Shearer was very much an up-and-coming young actress when she played the dual role of Molly Helmer and Florence Banning in this M-G-M drama. Shearer's stand-in for this picture was a very ambitious young starlet by the name of Lucille LeSueur -- better known later on as Joan Crawford.

A Lady of Chance is a silent film directed by Robert Z. Leonard. The film is based upon the story "Little Angel" by Leroy Scott and is Norma Shearer's last silent film. Although the film was released with added dialogue scenes, Shearer can't be heard. Shearer manages to believably depict both facets of her none-too-realistic character: the mercenary chiseler and the ladylike charmer. To a modern audience, in contrast, several blithe references to "singing darkies" and an establishing shot of African-American children eating watermelons remain much more disturbing than Miss Shearer's dual personality.

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, also known as The Student Prince and Old Heidelberg, is an M-G-M silent film based on the 1901 play Old Heidelberg by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster. Ernst Lubitsch directed the picture. The cinematography of John Mescall is crisp and suitably lush when needed, enhancing the fine performances of Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer as the prince and the woman for whom he is willing to sacrifice his crown. Many critics consider it one of Lubitsch's finest silent films, and it has received better reviews than M-G-M's 1954 color remake based on Sigmund Romberg's operetta version of the story.

He Who Gets Slapped is a 1924 silent drama film starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, and John Gilbert. It was directed by Victor Sjöström. (See more about this film below and watch it if you wish.)

Norma Shearer Films on TCM November 10, 2015

Private Lives is a comedy film starring Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery. It was directed by Sidney Franklin. The screenplay by Hanns Kräly and Richard Schayer is based on the 1930 play Private Lives by Noël Coward.

The studio filmed a performance of the play with Coward and Gertrude Lawrence, which the director and cast closely followed. According to Coward biographer Cole Lesley, the playwright was pleased with the outcome and described the leading performers as "perfectly charming." The film's critical acclaim and financial success proved instrumental in helping Coward sell the film rights to several other plays.

The song "Someday I'll Find You," sung by Shearer and frequently heard as an underscore on the soundtrack, was written by Coward.

A Free Soul stars Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore, and Clark Gable (the first screen appearance together of the future Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler).

A Free Soul became famous for a sequence where Barrymore delivers a monologue that is said to be the main reason he won the Academy Award for Best Actor that year. Gable made such an impression in the role of a gangster who pushes Shearer around that he was catapulted from supporting player to leading man, a position he held for the rest of his career.

According to the Guinness World Records (2002), A Free Soul holds the record for the longest take in a commercial film, the final courtroom scene at 14 minutes. Since a reel of camera film lasts only 10 minutes, the take was achieved by using more than one camera.

Let Us Be Gay is a comedy-drama film produced and distributed by M-G-M. It was directed by Robert Z. Leonard and stars Norma Shearer, Marie Dressler and Rod La Rocque. It is based on a 1929 Broadway play by Rachel Crothers starring Tallulah Bankhead. I enjoy Shearer's change from a frowsy hausfrau to a sexy, sophisticated lady.

The Divorcee is a drama film starring Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Conrad Nagel and Florence Eldridge. It was written by Nick Grindé, John Meehan and Zelda Sears, based on the novel Ex-Wife by Ursula Parrott. It was directed by Robert Z. Leonard, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. The film was also nominated for Best Picture and won Best Actress for its star Norma Shearer.

M-G-M production head Irving Thalberg bought the rights to Ex-Wife in the summer of 1929. Thalberg's original choice for the role of Jerry was Joan Crawford.

Norma Shearer, Thalberg's wife, was originally never in the running for the lead role in The Divorcee because it was believed that she didn't have enough sex appeal; it was only after Shearer arranged a special photo session with independent portrait photographer George Hurrell and Thalberg saw the result, that he relented and gave her the role.

Their Own Desire is a romantic drama film starring Norma Shearer, Belle Bennett, Lewis Stone, Robert Montgomery and Helene Millard. The film was adapted by James Forbes and Frances Marion from the novel by Sarita Fuller. It was directed by E. Mason Hopper.

Shearer was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, but lost to herself, for The Divorcee.

The Last of Mrs. Cheyney is a comedy-drama film starring Norma Shearer and Basil Rathbone. It was directed by Sidney Franklin. The screenplay by Hanns Kräly is based on the 1925 play of the same name by Frederick Lonsdale which ran on Broadway for 385 performances. The Last of Mrs. Cheyney was remade in 1937 (with Joan Crawford in the lead), and again in 1951 as The Law and the Lady, starring Greer Garson.

Norma Shearer Films on TCM November 17, 2015

Strangers May Kiss is a drama film produced and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and noncredit-directed by George Fitzmaurice. It stars Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery and Neil Hamilton. Keep an eye peeled for an early appearance by Ray Milland as one of Lisbeth's suitors.

Smilin' Through is a romance film based on the play by Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin.

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was adapted from Cowl and Murfin's play by James Bernard Fagan, Donald Ogden Stewart, Ernest Vajda and Claudine West. The movie was directed by Sidney Franklin (who also directed an earlier version in 1922) and starred Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Leslie Howard and Ralph Forbes.

The 1922 silent version starred Norma Talmadge and (the other) Harrison Ford. Smilin' Through was once again adapted in a 1941 version directed by Frank Borzage and starring Jeanette MacDonald and Brian Aherne.

Strange Interlude is a drama film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Norma Shearer and Clark Gable, and is based on the play Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill. It is greatly shortened from the play: the stage production lasts six hours and is sometimes performed over two evenings, while the film runs one hour and 49 minutes.

This is the first film in which Clark Gable sports his trademark mustache.

Of all the films adapted from his plays released in his lifetime, this is the adaptation Eugene O'Neill reportedly liked the least, maintaining that Hollywood had "censored it into near-imbecility."

The Barretts of Wimpole Street is a drama film depicting the real-life romance between poets Elizabeth Barrett (Norma Shearer) and Robert Browning (Fredric March), despite the opposition of her father Edward Moulton-Barrett (Charles Laughton). The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Shearer was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. It was written by Ernest Vajda, Claudine West and Donald Ogden Stewart, from the play by Rudolf Besier. The film was directed by Sidney Franklin.

It is a surprisingly entertaining and quite cinematic version of a rather static play, teeming with the kind of performances that became the trademark of Irving Thalberg's brief reign as Hollywood's wunderkind.

My favorite is Charles Laughton's manipulative, nearly incestuous Edward Moulton-Barrett. Borrowed for the occasion from Paramount, Laughton is never allowed to indulge in his usual scenery-chewing and Barrett remains among the very best of his early Hollywood performances.

Riptide is a drama film starring Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery and Herbert Marshall, written and directed by Edmund Goulding, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The film was released a few months before the Production Code was enforced. This film had a noteworthy appearance by Mrs. Patrick Campbell, a famous stage actress known for her friendship and correspondence with playwright George Bernard Shaw and her creation of Eliza Doolittle in Shaw's play Pygmalion.

Be sure to catch the opening costume party scene, in which the revelers are dressed as insects.

Romeo and Juliet is a film adapted from the play by Shakespeare, directed by George Cukor from a screenplay by Talbot Jennings. The film stars Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma Shearer as Juliet.

The New York Times selected the film as one of the "Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made," calling it "a lavish production" which "is extremely well-produced and acted."

Producer Irving Thalberg pushed M-G-M for five years to make a film out of Romeo and Juliet, in the face of the studio's opposition: which stemmed from Louis B. Mayer's belief that the masses considered the Bard over their heads, and from the austerity forced on the studios by the Depression. It was only when Jack L. Warner announced his intention to film Max Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream that Mayer, not to be outdone, gave Thalberg the go-ahead. A popular 1934 Broadway revival also instigated a film version. It starred Katharine Cornell as Juliet, Basil Rathbone as Romeo, Brian Aherne as Mercutio and Edith Evans as The Nurse. Rathbone is the only actor from the 1934 revival to appear in the film albeit he plays Tybalt rather than Romeo. In the play Tybalt was played by nineteen-year-old Orson Welles.

On the night of the Los Angeles premiere of the film at the Carthay Circle Theatre, legendary M-G-M producer Irving Thalberg, husband of Norma Shearer, died at age 37. The stars in attendance were so grief-stricken that publicist Frank Whitbeck, standing in front of the theater, abandoned his usual policy of interviewing them for a radio broadcast as they entered and simply announced each one as they arrived.

Norma Shearer Films on TCM November 24, 2015

Marie Antoinette is a 1938 film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starred Norma Shearer as Marie Antoinette. Based upon the 1932 biography of the ill-fated Queen of France by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, it had its Los Angeles premiere at the legendary Carthay Circle Theatre, where the landscaping was specially decorated for the event.

The film was the last project of Irving Thalberg who died in 1936 while it was in the planning stage. His widow Norma Shearer remained committed to the project. This was reportedly Shearer's favorite role.

With a budget close to two million dollars, it was one of the most expensive films of the 1930s, but also one of the biggest successes.

The film boasted thousands of expensive costumes and lavish set design. The array of costumes created for the film are among the most expensive in film history. Costume designer Adrian visited France and Austria in 1937 to research the period. While there he purchased vast quantities of antique materials, french lace, and period accessories for use in the film. He studied the paintings of Marie Antoinette, even using a microscope on them, so that the embroidery could be identical. Miss Shearer's gowns alone had the combined weight of over 1,768 pounds, the heaviest being the 108 pound wedding dress created using hundreds of yards of white silk satin hand embroidered in gilt thread.

Robert Morley's performance as King Louis XVI remains Marie Antoinette's true tour-de-force. He should have won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He lost to Walter Brennan, who won that year for his work in Kentucky.

The Women is a comedy-drama film directed by George Cukor. The film is based on Clare Boothe Luce's play of the same name, and was adapted for the screen by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, who had to make the film acceptable for the Production Code in order for it to be released.

The film stars Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Lucile Watson, Mary Boland, Florence Nash, and Virginia Grey, as well as Marjorie Main and Phyllis Povah, the last two of whom reprised their stage roles from the play. Ruth Hussey, Virginia Weidler, Butterfly McQueen, and Hedda Hopper also appeared in smaller roles.

The film continued the play's all-female tradition—the entire cast of more than 130 speaking roles was female. Throughout The Women, not a single male is seen — although the males are much talked about, and the central theme is the women's relationships with them. Lesbianism is intimated in the portrayal of only one character, Nancy Blake. The attention to detail was such that even in props such as portraits only female figures are represented, and several animals which appeared as pets were also female. The only exceptions are a poster-drawing clearly of a bull in the fashion show segment and an ad on the back of the magazine Peggy reads at Mary's house before lunch.

On his November 5, 1939 radio broadcast, Jack Benny presented a sketch parody of The Women with all the male cast members in female roles.

Filmed in black and white, it includes a ten-minute fashion parade filmed in Technicolor, featuring Adrian's most outré designs; often cut in modern screenings, it has been restored by Turner Classic Movies. On DVD, the original black and white fashion show, which is a different take, is available for the first time.

Idiot's Delight is a comedy-drama with a screenplay adapted by Robert E. Sherwood from his 1936 Pulitzer-Prize-winning play of the same name. The movie showcases Clark Gable, in the same year that he played Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, and Norma Shearer in the declining phase of her career. Although not a musical, it is notable as the only film where Gable sings and dances, performing "Puttin' on the Ritz" by Irving Berlin.

Joan Crawford desperately wanted the role of Irene. But Shearer's late husband, producer Irving Thalberg had left his M-G-M stock to her, so she had first choice of parts.

Norma Shearer's elaborate hairstyle in this film was copied from the hairstyle worn by Lynn Fontanne when she played the same character in the Broadway production of the stage play.

In 1973, Norma Shearer arranged for author Gavin Lambert to have a private screening of this film at M-G-M. After she had been onscreen for a few minutes as Edwards Arnold's "protégé," Shearer asked Lambert if he understood what she was doing; he thought for a moment and said, "You're parodying Garbo; rather wicked!" To which Shearer replied, "You do understand!"

Escape is a 1940 drama film about an American in pre-World War II Nazi Germany who discovers his mother is in a concentration camp and tries desperately to free her. It stars Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Conrad Veidt and Alla Nazimova. It was adapted from the novel of the same name by Grace Zaring Stone.

Escape is distinguished by a surprisingly subtle performance from Norma Shearer, though she gives in to her tendency to "ham" in her final denunciation of her Nazi paramour.

Her Cardboard Lover is a comedy film directed by George Cukor. The screenplay by Jacques Deval, John Collier, Anthony Veiller, and William H. Wright is based on the English translation of Deval's play Dans sa candeur naïve by Valerie Wyngate and P.G. Wodehouse.

The Broadway production of Her Cardboard Lover had been staged in 1927 by Gilbert Miller, with Jeanne Eagels and Leslie Howard in the leading roles. Although it ran for only 154 performances, the film rights were purchased by M-G-M for Marion Davies, and a silent film adaptation called The Cardboard Lover was released in 1928 starring Davies and Nils Asther. In 1932 the play reached the screen in two versions, The Passionate Plumber, directed by Edward Sedgwick, and Le plombier amoureux, directed by Claude Autant-Lara, both starring Buster Keaton. In December 1934, M-G-M production chief Irving Thalberg announced his plan to adapt the play for a musical starring Maurice Chevalier and Grace Moore, but the project never came to fruition.

Joan Crawford and Hedy Lamarr were offered the role eventually accepted by Norma Shearer, who selected The Cardboard Lover over Now, Voyager and Mrs. Miniver. The eventual commercial failure of George Cukor's remake prompted her to retire from the screen, although at the time she claimed she merely was taking an extended vacation.

We Were Dancing is a romantic comedy film based loosely on Noël Coward's 1935 play of the same name, together with ideas from Ways and Means, another play in Coward's Tonight at 8:30 play cycle, and Coward's Private Lives. It was directed by Robert Z. Leonard, written by Claudine West, Hans Rameau and George Froeschel, and starred Norma Shearer and Melvyn Douglas.

I'll never understand why Norma Shearer decided to star in We Were Dancing and Her Cardboard Lover instead of Now, Voyager and Mrs. Miniver.

Norma Shearer on the Radio

"The Last of Mrs. Cheyney" on Lux Radio Theatre: May 11, 1942 - Norma Shearer, Walter Pidgeon, and Adolphe Menjou

"Waterloo Bridge" on Screen Directors Playhouse: September 28, 1951 - Norma Shearer, Mervyn LeRoy as director

"Smilin' Through" on The Screen Guild Theater: December 17, 1939 - Norma Shearer, Basil Rathbone, Louis Hayward

"No Time for Comedy" on The Screen Guild Theater: February 9, 1941 - Norma Shearer, Walter Abel, Mary Astor, Hattie McDaniel, Franchot Tone

Watch Norma Shearer in He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

He Who Gets Slapped is a 1924 American silent drama film starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer and John Gilbert. The film is based on a play by Russian playwright Leonid Andreyev.

He Who Gets Slapped was the first production that began filming under the production of the newly formed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was not, however, M-G-M's first released movie, as the release was postponed until the Christmas season when higher attendance was expected. The film was highly profitable for the fledgling M-G-M, and was critically hailed upon release. It was also the first film to feature Leo the Lion as the mascot M-G-M logo.

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