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'Leading Couples' Book

Leading Couples by Frank Miller

With text by Frank Miller, whose previous books include Leading Ladies and Leading Men, introduction by Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne, and loads of photographs covering about half a century of Hollywood history, Leading Couples: The Most Unforgettable Screen Romances of the Studio Era (Chronicle Books, 2008) takes a brief look at nearly forty successful movie pairings from the studio era (and a little later).

Among those featured are both the obvious – say, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Doris Day and Rock Hudson, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn – and several more esoteric couplings (at least as far as modern film lovers are concerned), e.g., Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery, Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor, Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, Betty Grable and Dan Dailey, Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney.

Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake in The Blue Dahlia

Apart from Fay Wray and King Kong, my favorite couple among those featured in the book are Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake (above, in a publicity shot for The Blue Dahlia), who were ideally cast in their four pairings in the 1940s.

Okay, so neither one could deliver a line without sounding like a school-theater amateur; lines that, generally speaking (no pun intended), weren't all that good to begin with (though both This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key have pretty decent screenplays). But the way Ladd and Lake looked – or rather, smoldered – at one another… In fact, the way the two beautiful blonds looked (and smoldered), period.

So what, if most people today can't get Ladd and Lake? I'll take them over Bogart and Bacall any day.

(Now, in all fairness, Alan Ladd was remarkably effective in This Gun for Hire, while Veronica Lake, sans Ladd, is excellent as a wartime nurse who uses her bosom – I'm not kidding – to wipe out the evil Japanese in So Proudly We Hail.)

Chronicle Books site

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4 Comments to 'Leading Couples' Book

  1. Suellen

    I see a picture of Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland on the cover but are they mentionned in the book? They were fantastic together. Another missing one is my all time favorite: Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. They steamed on film and were very good actors. I make part of the bunch who don't get Ladd and Lake either…They were really good looking but I don't see any chemistry betweend them…Well I haven't seen much about them and feel uncomfortabme criticizing,. Will check them out and then let's see…

  2. Christie

    Are you kidding me, the “couples”/ “actors” can't compare to the couples of yesteryear!

  3. oz

    Sorry, but the greatest movie couple was Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. They couldn't act but neither could most of those other couples, and they could sing and dance and look very sweet together. Bogart and Bacall never looked liked they were made for each other. Ladd and Lake were ok, but I couldn't picture them shuffling off to Buffalo together. Don't get me started on Tracy and Hepburn. The wrost mismatch ever!!

  4. min

    If they do a follow up they should include more recent couples like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. They're just as good as the old ones. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, too.