Wednesday, January 18, 2012
For reasons I don't need to explain to you, this is a very famous picture of three incredibly famous men.
From left to right: Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks: Senior, not the Junior many of us came to know later on.
Three gods, just casually basking in the sun, sitting cross-legged, perhaps asked to pose that way by someone who happened to have a camera. Three extremely good-looking middle-aged men whose fame had already peaked: but supernova fame like that does not ever really die. As the love song says, "But after you have gone/There's still some stardust on my sleeve".
But soft! what's this? It's not the same photo! This is an apparent outtake from the same session which I have never seen before.
Take a good look. It's quite different. Harold, probably already bored, has changed position (revealing saddle shoes to die for) and is eyeballing the camera lens, causing it to melt. Charlie is looking up wistfully like some waif, and Fairbanks is cracking up about something that apparently does not particularly amuse the others.
And, oh my heart, here's another one! It's not quite as good technically as the others - Fairbanks' face is in shade and his expression isn't clear, though he appears to be saying something to Charlie. The trellis on the left takes something away from the pristine whites in the shot. Harold looks like a bird (a falcon, maybe?) gathering itself up to take wing, and Chaplin is unusually serious. Though it's hard to tell, it looks like he has no shoes on.
Probably they were all playing golf together, perhaps at Harold's massive Greenacres estate. The sunlight seems to bless them, to fall lightly on their shoulders like some solar mantle of greatness. At the same time, they could be getting ready to play a game of marbles in the grass. Never were there three more childlike men, boy geniuses of the screen whose like we will never see again.
To die for.