After watching The Artist a couple weeks back, I went looking at reviews, and found one—generally negative, but with some positive parts—that included this line:
The Artist plays less like an original take on the early sound era than it does as fan fiction set in the world of Singin’ in the Rain.
Hee! Cute. And it's remarkably close to something I was thinking during the movie—it didn't occur to me to call it fanfic, but I did wonder for a moment whether it was set in the world of Singin' in the Rain (and specifically whether we were going to see an explicit mention of The Dancing Cavalier).
The other thing I did after watching the movie was make a list of people who I think George Valentin was intended as an homage to:
- William Powell, or rather Powell as Nick Charles, for the mustache and the dog (who I kept wanting to call Asta) and the drinking.
- Clark Gable for the mustache and the fans' swooniness.
- Gene Kelly (and especially Kelly as Don Lockwood) for the movie star grin and the dancing and the various homages to Singin' in the Rain.
- Douglas Fairbanks (maybe both Junior and Senior) and maybe Errol Flynn for swashbuckling.
- Rudolph Valentino for the name.
- Fred Astaire in one particular dance number.
- One reviewer says Charlie Chaplin; I can vaguely see that.
- Another reviewer mentions John Gilbert, who I had never heard of, but yeah, seems to fit. And oh my, that's quite a photo.
- The actor himself apparently referred to “Douglas Fairbanks' playfulness, Gene Kelly's smiles, Clark Gable's moustache, and [Italian actor] Vittorio Gassman's body language. And a bit of Jean-Paul Belmondo.”
Of course there's more to the character than just homage/melange; still, I was impressed by the combination of all those actors/characters.
(Peppy Miller was also, in part, an homage to/amalgam of various film stars (“Marlene Dietrich, Clara Bow, Janet Gaynor and musical star Eleanor Powell” says the abovelinked Independent article), but I'm less familiar with them and so didn't notice as much. I was thinking, superficially, more a mix of Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain and perhaps a bit of Judy Holliday as Gladys Glover in It Should Happen to You, though on further thought, Miller isn't really anything like Glover.)
(Wrote this as an email at the time, decided to repurpose it as a blog entry.)