We remember Lana Turner most vividly in glistening movie stills and in carefully-staged film sequences where she didn't have to talk. The most impressive moment in 1941's "Ziegfield Girl" occurs when she walks down a staircase in a spectacular black gown by Adrian. She's made a mess of her life, and it's all her own fault, not Ziegfield's, as the script carefully explains. It's a gallant effort: Her character is dying and she knows it, but she is determined to have one last walk as a breathtaking showgirl. Earlier in the film, she's had to play drunk scenes and hysterical scenes and her lack of histrionic skills is painfully obvious. But on the staircase, she really does appear to step out of a dream, just like the song accompanying her finest moment says. For understandable reasons, "Ziegfield Girl", her 14th of 55 movies, is Lana Turner's all-time favorite. Her favorite ROLE was her 25th: Cora Smith in the 1946 film noir "The Postman Always Rings Twice". She makes a stunning entrance all in white and drops a tube of lipstick in front of her favorite leading man, John Garfield as Frank Chambers, on loan-out from Warner Bros. Cast opposite a former member of the legendary Group Theatre, Lana Turner finally attracted serious attention for the first time in her career. For most of her 43 years on screen, she was required to supply her audiences with a gorgeous, glamorous & gullible icon with all the trimmings. It was enough. When people think of Hollywood as a source of magic: as a place where a fatherless teenager could skip typing class, get discovered at an ice cream parlor across the street from her high school & become a movie star forever and ever, the youthful image of Lana Turner remains indelible, alluring & bright. For Movie Magazine, this is Monica Sullivan.
Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan
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