Happy Birthday, Claire Trevor

Claire Trevor was one of those excellent-excellent
actresses. She was underrated and often overlooked.
Claire was excellent in Dead End (1937), Stagecoach
(1939), Murder, My Sweet (1944), Raw Deal (1948),
and Key Largo (1948). I read a lengthly interview
where she discussed her drunken has-been singer
part in Key Largo, the role that earned her a Best
Actress Oscar. Film director John Huston kept
telling her that they would dub her singing in the
scene where gangster Edward G. Robinson makes
her sing a song for a drink. Claire knew she couldn't
sing and wanted to make sure her own voice wasn't
used. Huston assured her that they would use a
real singer's voice for the film. On the day they
shot the scene, Huston told her that the dubbing
was canceled and that she would just have to sing
the song herself. Claire's actual singing voice was
perfect for the part of Gaye Dawn, the washed-up
drunken torch singer. Sly old Huston had gotten a
performance out of her that she didn't know she
had in her. That interview, from William M. Drew's
book At the Center of the Frame: Leading Ladies
of the Twenties and Thirties, is fascinating. Reading
her own words helped me appreciate what a quality
actress she was.

Happy Birthday, Claire.

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