When we left off, Gene and Jeanette had just gotten engaged. Their engagement was formally announced August 20, 1936.
Maytime started production that same week, the third co-starring vehicle for Jeanette and Nelson. Without delving too much into why Maytime was in production for such a long while, suffice to say there were basically two versions of the film—Irving Thalberg was heavily involved the first one, but then he died, so they pretty much scrapped the whole thing, changed the story, changed a lot of the cast and tried again.
So here they are at some sort of rehearsal/script meeting for the first Maytime. Jeanette had JUST announced her engagement to Gene and look at these faces:
That’s the thing that’s so cool about these guys—there is always SOMETHING going on…sometimes they look like they need to get a room, sometimes they look like they hate each other, but never is there nothing going on.
Nevertheless, as the director talks to them on the set sometime after this picture was taken, you see where their hands are….
She’s marrying somebody else, they’ve screwed themselves over in the way they’ve handled things (but it is NOTHING compared to how much more screwed over they would eventually get) …and yet they are still sitting here, obviously not happy, but holding hands. Because they love each other, people. In spite of everything and through it all, for the rest of their lives. And here they are in a private candid moment on the same set:
So, once again, they become a couple–engagement or not. By the time the original Maytime was scrapped and the “second version” was beginning, there was a distinctly different tone in their candid pictures on the set. For instance, here is probably one of the most telling candid pictures EVER of them:
She’s sitting on his lap, guys. His arm is around her. They are holding hands and talking and neither of them is looking at the camera. WHAT COULD THIS POSSIBLY MEAN??????
And another, in a lighthearted vein. Robert Montgomery visits the set, and Jeanette can only pay attention to Nelson’s antics behind him:
But Maytime was a real struggle for our twosome, emotionally. The duet Will You Remember was a damn nightmare. They couldn’t get it in the can without one or both of the stars becoming emotional. Finally, in desperation, “Pop” Leonard told Nelson to look at the tree–if you watch the duet, you can see that he, at times, does just that, and doesn’t look at her face. Here is a picture of Jeanette trying to pull herself together during the emotional filming of that sequence:
This is not the only candid picture that shows her with a crumpled Kleenex in her hand, either. At the end of that sequence, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that that kiss was “juicy” enough for the now-infamous Maytime Spit String to occur:
Bahahahahahaha. Sorry, this post was making me sad. Nothing like lightening the mood with a little MacSpit.
When they shot the Czaritza sequence, our dear Nelson was a hot mess, and the clarity of the Warner Archive DVD lends itself to the finding of ManTears. You see, she was willing to call off her engagement, but it was very public (Hollywood’s answer to the recent Royal Wedding, don’tcha know) and so that was a big fat No Can Do from the front office. There’s more to that, which I will explore in Part 3. So they were in love and screwed. Story of their lives. Here is the “wooden” Eddy being quite emotional (thanks to Kitty for the capture of this excellent find!):
She sees it, too. This is the moment right before she reaches up and strokes the back of his head. You know—either Nelson was a REALLY REALLY GREAT WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND AWESOME ACTOR…………….or he wasn’t. Just as in the opera sequence he’s singing, he’s in love with this girl and he knows he’s going to lose her and it’s beyond his control. Worst feeling in the world? Yeah, probably.
One more candid from the set of Maytime, this time thanks to Angela:
Hand on her back/the back of her chair, just resting there because he likes to touch his girlfriend a lot.
Coming up in Part 3: the wedding looms closer, and we will explore some attempted negotiations to call it off, as well as analyzing some extremely telling notes, handwritten by Jeanette, that deal with this time in her life.
For those of you who don’t think there’s anything to see here….please get your eyes checked. In all seriousness, if all I do with this blog is make you QUESTION what you’ve been told by some old crusty politically correct fan club…I’m doing my job.
I’ll be back!