Amph Hollywood Death Watch

Discussion in 'Community' started by Zaz, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Yes, this thread seems on a par with the Oscar Death/Applause meter (the segment where Oscar shows photos or film clips of actors or actresses that have died in the last year. Winner is the one who gets the most applause. This year's winner: Marlon Brando.

    However, this thread is not meant that way. I noticed that Teresa Wright passed away recently, aged 86, and thought that most of you wouldn't have a clue who she is. That's a pity, because she was a very good actress and starred in some interesting movies.

    So listed below are movies in which Teresa Wright starred and which you should see if you get a chance:

    1941: "The Little Foxes" as Bette Davis' daughter. At the end, La Davis gets a surprise.
    1943: "Shadow of a Doubt" the female lead in one of Hitchcock's best movies. She holds her own with Joseph Cotten's extremely dynamic performance as a serial killer.
    1944: "Casanova Brown" pleasant lightweight comedy with Gary Cooper;
    1946: "The Best Years of Our Lives" one of a large, very good cast;
    1947: "Pursued" with Robert Mitchum. A western film recently promoted by Martin Scorsese. Very perverse.
    1950: "The Men" Brando's first film.
    1954: "The Actress" Good period film with Jean Simmons and Spencer Tracy.
    1955: "The Track of the Cat" This film doesn't work but is extremely interesting.

    Don't bother:

    1942: "Mrs. Miniver" She won best supporting actress for this, but it's awful, dated, did I mention bad?

    Anyway, RIP, Teresa Wright. You did better work than many a bigger star.
  2. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    I think this year's loser at the OScars was Ronald Reagan who suffered through a painful pause where the audience seemed to be deciding whether or not to applaud for him, Conservative that he was. To their credit, they finally did, but, boy, for a second I thought they weren't going to.

    RE: Wright. I agree. She was a fine actress.

    I agree with you about The Best Years of Our Lives, a truly great film with all around great performances.

    And Shadow of a Doubt is top line Hitchcock and Wright comes across incredibly well, though Cotten steals the show, surprise surprise.

    The Little Foxes was solid as well. Once again Wright sort of suffers by comparison with all the scenery chewing going on around her, but her performance is an excellent one, understated and pitch perfect.

  3. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Shows you how different Hollywood was in the 40's and 50's: when she was 35, she was already playing mothers.

    I want to use this thread to discuss the careers of people who have died recently or die this year.

    Next up:

    Janet Leigh (1927-2004)

    Basically known for being the mother of Jamie Leigh Curtis, she was never a GBS (Great Big Star), but like Teresa Wright, worked with some interesting directors in some interesting movies. First movie in 1947.

    Worth seeing:

    1953: "The Naked Spur" A good role in one of the interesting Westerns directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart. Robert Ryan plays the villain and is also highly convincing.
    1958: "Touch of Evil" Later Orson Welles. Very florid movie, but interesting.
    1958: "The Perfect Furlough" Long time since I've seen this movie, but I remember enjoying it. Co-starring her husband at the time, Tony Curtis.
    1960: "Psycho" Extemely perverse Hitchcock film in which he chuckles while the audience says to itself: "He's not gonna to kill off the biggest name in the movie 40 minutes in, is he?" He is.
    1962: "The Manchurian Candidate" Cult film withdrawn after the assassination of President Kennedy. Drawn from an even better book. See the original.
    1963: "Bye Bye Birdie" Musical satire on Elvis's army service.


    Don't bother:

    "The Vikings"; "The Black Shield of Falworth"; "Prince Valiant"; etc. etc.




  4. Drac39 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2002
    star 6
    I dont know about Ronald Regan,I think the pause was for as you said Rouge if they were remembering his film or politcal career,both were outstanding IMO.I was kind of expecting for them to do something for Marlon Brando like they did for Johnny Carson,I mean Brando actually won oscars.

    I really dont think Janet Leigh is only known entirely for being Jamie Lee's mother,in fact I think Janet is better known.
  5. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Not if you're born since 1980. Though Jamie Leigh Curtis is also a good actress who didn't get much of a break in Hollywood.



  6. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Leigh was a fine actress. She could play remarkably edgy, witness her great turn in The Manchurian Candidate. She's great in that. There's a fantastic scene with Frank Sinatra where they have one of the strangest introductory conversations of all time.

    I'd forgotten that was her in Touch of Evil. Darn good flick though. "They want me to make a movie with Charlton Heston . . . as a Mexican!"
  7. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Next: Marlon Brando 1924-2004

    When he first came along, he was an incredible change from the old studio-produced stars. Very dynamic, fearless, open.

    But: and it's a great big but, since he was the first great non-studio star, he didn't have the protection of a studio either. Or the guidance. He chose his movies on his own, and often badly. Great talent, and an even greater ego made a tough combination with Brando. The talent was instinctual, and quite often his intelligence didn't match it. So his career is a roller coaster.

    Don't miss:

    The early good period includes:

    1951: "A Streetcar Named Desire"
    1954: "On the Waterfront"
    1954: "The Wild One" a dumb B picture elevated by Brando as a biker and this line: Local: "What are you rebelling against?" Brando: "Whaddyeya got?"

    Then he goes into a period of stupid studio flicks, "Teahouse of the August Moon", "Sayanara", "Desiree", etc. He seems bored. You may be, too. This ends in a spectacular flame-out in "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1958) where his miscasting (as Fletcher Christian) and bad behaviour leads to huge cost overruns. Hollywood loses interest, and he starts appearing in stranger non-studio stuff, though not necessarily better. "The Nightcomers", "Night of the Following Day" and "The Appaloosa" are in here. Occasionally there is a fearless performance: "Reflections in a Golden Eye" but the movie is disappointing.

    Then there is a recovery, starting in 1969:

    1969: "Burn!" Stupid damn title, but directed by Pontecorvo.
    1972: "The Godfather" Nuff said.
    1974: "Last Tango in Paris" Don't like this film much.
    1979: "Apocolypse Now" His participation can be ignored, since it doesn't add much to the movie.

    He's bored again, and has a weight problem and a good too many children (9, I think). The career peters out in high camp "The Island of Dr. Moreau"; trivia: "Don Juan de Marcho" and parody: "The Freshman."

    Some great work, but a lot less than there should be.


  8. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Yeah, this career is a true cautionary tale, in my opinion.

    He was a great actor and On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire prove that all by themselves, even without later works like The Godfather.

    He used to say that his first scene on any movie, he'd do two takes, one coasting, the other giving it his all. If the director picked out the one where he was giving it his all, he'd give the director a great performance. If not, he'd coast, since he figured the director didn't deserve better. I think what's key here is that Brando, for all his ego, didn't mind being in a lousy movie and coasting through it. That's not really too great when you're as good an actor as he was.

    The Nightcomers is truly bizarre, finding Brando cast as a pre Turn of the Screw Peter Quint and muddling with a suprisingly good Irish accent. His death scene remains one of the most idiotic ever filmed. Also from this period, The Appaloosa, a hilariously bad western where he gets drunk, beaten up, his horse is stolen and he goes undercover as a Mexican to find it. Yes, as a Mexican. If you can make it through his first scene faking that accent without laughing out loud, you're not human.

    And to even talk about The Island of Dr. Moreau would be cruel. Let's skip it.

    I haven't seen Last Tango in Paris, Don Juan De Marco, The Freshman, or The Score, though all are on my list to see eventually.

    But yeah, he should have showed better judgment.

  9. bright sith Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 1999
    star 5
    Stanley Kowalski, Zapata, Johnny, Terry Malloy, Vito Coreone, Paul, and Kurtz--how many actors could claim to have so many different and memorable characters on his or her resume? Not Bogart or Grant, or Stewart or Tracy, and certainly not those early death icons of Dean or Monroe. So cut the man some slack, go watch that monologue in Last Tango again, and instead remember the great actor he was. As you can guess, I'm tired of the ol' wasted talent storyline.

    And speaking of which, why wasn't Teresa Wright in more movies? She had similar roles in The Best Years of Our Lives and The Men (another film where Brando was in fine form), but Shadow of a Doubt was a great role; there's some perverse Hitchcockian sexual tension there.

    Leigh was thrust into a more blatant aggression in Touch of Evil. How did Welles get away with it?

    Film moment for the ages: John Cassavetes, independent autuer, slaps the future conversative president silly.

    Btw, have you ever read David Thomson's (New) Biographical Dictionary of Film? It just Thomson's opionated essays on film careers.
  10. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    You have to watch Brando's interviews: he had a tendency to ham it up no matter how serious the occasion (his son's murder trial got a dose of it), and also had a tendency to play interviewers. Capote did a notorious one with him and made him look like a clown, but Capote was like that.

    But he did coast and show contempt for his job, and I believe the current attitude, so beloved of the current crop of actors (ie. that being an actor is not a job for a 'man') originated with him. I think that attitude sucks. If people pay to see you, you owe them a good effort, even if you don't like the director, your fellow actors, the script, or yourself. So grow up.

    Sorry to bore you, bright sith, but 'not living up to potential' and discussions of Brando's career go hand in hand. (And I think both Grant and Stewart had a greater range than they're given credit for.) If you seize power for yourself, don't waste it. And camping it up (which you can find in Brando's career as far back as the fifties) is an unacceptable (to me) means of demonstrating your power.

    Have read David Thomson. He has some throughly wrong-headed opinions (and some good ones) and a bad case of wanting to tell us stuff we don't want to know (ie. about himself). But highly entertaining, no error.
  11. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Next: Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

    The reason he garnered so little reaction in the Oscar telecast was that most people don't even remember him as an actor. There are reasons for that, of course.

    Started out in 1938; originally on radio. Nice voice, lightweight presence. Warners gave him bit parts in good movies:

    Worth seeing:

    1938: "Brother Rat"
    1939: "Dark Victory" a bit. Bette Davis tear-jerker; Bogart also has a bit...as an Irish groom!
    1940: "Sante Fe Trail" Errol Flynn movie
    1940: "Knute Rockne--All American" He played George Gipp, of "Let's win one for the Gipper" fame. Hokey.
    1942: "King's Row" He plays a victim of a sadistic doctor. Held to be his best performance.
    1943: "Desperate Journey."

    His career never really recovered from WWII service.

    1951: "Bedtime for Bonzo" A must for disgruntled liberals.
    1954: "Cattle Queen of Montana" With the wonderful Barbara Stanwyck. Camp classic. You won't notice him while she's on the screen.
    1957: "Hellcats of the Navy." He co-stars with Nancy Davis, his wife: creepily fascinating. His last movie, if you're counting.

    I think he had more success as a politician...


  12. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    I've yet to see King's Row, but I want too.

    His performance in Knute Rockne is pure icon. He was likeable and interesting in Dark Victory, which is a fine film, at times ludicrous, but good on the whole.

    There's a great moment in Back to the Future when Doc Brown asks Marty who's President in his time (being facetious and not believing that Marty's a time traveller). Ronald Reagan, Marty responds. The actor? Brown snaps in disbelief. And the first lady? Jane Wyman?

    He's an icon both politically and, to a lesser degree, as an actor. Whether you agree with his politics or the arguement that he was a great actor, he was significant and important. And a great success story to boot.
  13. Drac39 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2002
    star 6
    His movies were okay,but yes his politcal career is a million times better than his film
  14. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    This will chill your blood: he was considered for the Rick Blaine role in "Casablanca". Thank god cooler heads prevailed.

  15. severian28 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2004
    star 5
    Anyone thinking that Reagen should have gotten the finale shot thats reserved for the cream of the crop is botz. Marlon Brando gets that spot, and he would have in almost any year except for last with Hepburn passing away. That " pause " everyone is talking about was a mixture of conservatives being pissed that Reagen didnt receive the most honorific spot and liberals being pissed that he was shown first, which is also reserved for a high caliber movie personality -which Reagen is. He was a totally passable character actor that in his prime was a great supporting actor and occasionally even a lead man in some lesser touted movies. He was chairman of the Academy Awards, Gov. of California, and the President of the U.S. Of course Hollywood is going to salute him, but for the type of pageant that the Academy Awards is, Marlon Brando trumps Ronald Reagen every day of the week. He was by far more influential in the arena of acting. He wasnt in alot of movies and most of his movies werent even that good. Only about ten or twelve of them are considered top notch, but HE himself was mesmerizing in all of his movies, good or bad, and his method style of acting was copied by almost every great, top-flight actor thereafter.
  16. Han_Solo_Fan_03 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2005
    star 1
    We will never see another Marlon Brando. He created his own style of acting, that can not be duplicatd. I've always been a Brando fan. I have all of his films hes ever been in, and I just like to watch him, how he moves, talk, relates to his character. If you study his acting, you'd understand what I'm saying. Brandos death hit me hard. The only one that may have hit me harder, was Rodney Dangerfields.

    I really don't have much to say about Reagan. I don't know much about his film career, as I do his political career. So yeah..
  17. Vaderbait Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 6
    To me, Marlon Brando wasn't that great. He was a guy who only appeared in a few movies, and really didn't do anything different from anyone else.
  18. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Don't agree.

    Next:

    Ann Miller (1923-2004). No, not Penelope Ann Miller.

    Known to current generations as the plump lady who danced in soup commercials. Was a tall, curvaceous knock-out dancer, that generally played second bananas in some classic musicals:

    Was quite possibly older than she was prepared to say unless she was 14 when she started her career (which she claimed she was)

    Don't miss:

    1937: "Stage Door" First movie.
    1938: "You Can't Take It With You" I do not like later Capra. YMMV.
    1948: "Easter Parade" The villainess.
    1953: "Kiss Me Kate: Has great numbers. Wish to God she played the female lead instead of Kathryn Grayson.
    1956: "The Opposite Sex" Musical remake of Cukor's "The Women."
    2001: "Mulholland Drive"
  19. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Ann Miller was in Mulholland Drive?!

    Okay, I did not know that. Interesting.

    You leave off a great film of hers, coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, the only one of hers I've seen: On the Town where she gives a winning performance as a museum worker who supplies the film's most stunning musical number.

    She was, judging from my one film of hers I've seen, a charming on screen presence, no great shakes as an actress but adequate and a heck of a dancer.

  20. Han_Solo_Fan_03 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2005
    star 1
    She was good in You Can't Take it With You , that was a pretty good movie. Kiss me Kate was enjoyable, but not the greatest musical, she was a very good dancer in that one. Muholland Drive looks interesting, I just haven't gotten around to renting it.
  21. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    You're right, Rogue, sorry about that. She was in "On the Town", but not, typically, the female lead. Why not? My theory? She was very tall.

    Next:

    Howard Keel: (1919-2004)

    His death didn't get much play, but he was in a lot a decent musicals, though when they stopped being made much in the mid-50's, his career ended. He did do acting in television and in some movies. Terrific voice, lots of charm, good looks; he could even act. Most of the time, he outclassed his leading ladies.

    Came from the stage:

    1950: "Annie Get Your Gun" as Frank Butler. He's so much better than Betty Hutton as Annie, it ain't even funny.
    1951: "Show Boat" as Gaylord Ravenal. The awful Kathryn Grayson as Magnolia (shudder.)
    1951: "Across the Wide Missouri" Enjoyable Western starring Clark Gable. He's the narrator.
    1953: "Calamity Jane" as Wild Bill Hickok. Doris Day is Jane, and she's pretty good, really. But "Deadwood" this ain't.
    1954: "Kiss Me Kate" A good musical if you can ignore Grayson, again his leading lady. She's awful. He's excellent.
    1954: "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" as Adam. Set in pioneer Oregon. Jane Powell is good, the dancing is terrific, and he gets to sing a couple of great songs.
    1955: "Kismet" a pretty bad Vincente Minelli musical. As usual, though, he's good.


  22. bright sith Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 1999
    star 5
    Zaz, I agree with everything you wrote on Brando. My emphasis is that he had done many great things (and reached great heights in them), and unfortunately the wasted talent story seems to obscure that.

    BTW, earlier I wrote that Cassavetes hits Reagan. That happens in the Don Seigal TV movie, The Killers--for those that want to see it. :)

    The "That's Entertainment" series has quite a bit of footage on Miller and Keel; they also appear as themselves (much older) in the third film.
  23. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Next: Katherine Hepburn (1907-2003)

    Last seen in 2004's "The Aviator" as played by Cate Blanchett. And of course, Cate as Kate won an Oscar.

    Hepburn won 4 in competition, all as Best Actress.

    A very long career, starting on the stage. Her first movie was in 1932 (she was then 25).

    Very distinctive in both appearance and manner. A good actress, in both drama and comedy, but on occasion, she hammed it up, or just plain misjudged it.

    Don't miss:

    1932: "A Bill of Divorcement" She plays John Barrymore's daughter. Over the top, but fascinating.
    1933: "Christopher Strong" as (more or less) Amelia Earhart
    1933: "Morning Glory" Haven't seen this, but it's her first Oscar role.
    1933: "Little Women" Cukor's version.
    1935: "Alice Adams" Her best early role. You can ignore the tacked-on happy ending. She plays a small-town social climber.
    1937: "Stage Door"
    1938: "Bringing Up Baby" Her best early comedy
    1938: "Holiday" Dated a bit, but she and Cary Grant are a great pair.
    1940: "The Philadelphia Story"
    1949: "Adam's Rib" with Spencer Tracy.
    1951: "The African Queen"
    1952: "Pat and Mike" with Spencer Tracy;
    1955: "Summertime"
    1956: "The Rainmaker" with Burt Lancaster.
    1962: "Long Day's Journey into Night." Her best dramatic performance;
    1967: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" Hokey, but she and Tracy make it worth seeing. Second Oscar.
    1968: "The Lion in Winter" Third Oscar. Very well cast as Eleanor of Aquitaine, but she and Peter O'Toole are let down by the script.
    1975: "Love Among the Ruins" with Olivier; directed by Cukor.

    Don't bother:

    1934: "Spitfire" I've actually seen this. She's cast as a hillbilly. I kid you not.
    1935: "Break of Hearts" I've seen this, too. Conventional weepie. She's wasted.
    1935 to 1938: the roles that got her branded "Box Office Poison" in a poll: "Quality Street", "Sylvia Scarlett" (well, you can see this if want, but you won't believe it); "A Woman Rebels"; "Mary of Scotland" (directed by John Ford, but awful);
    1940's: the rest of the Tracy movies;
    1944: "Dragon Seed" as a Chinese!
    1946: "Undercurrent" with Robert Mitchum, but a woman in peril movie. You'd have to be a brave man to imperil Hepburn.
    1947: "Song of Love" As Clara Schuman (!)
    1969: "The Madwoman of Chaillot."

    After "Love Among the Ruins" she developed a head tic due to a medical condition. Not her fault, but it made her performances difficult to watch. Avoid "On Golden Pond" (her last Oscar), "Rooster Cogburn"; and
    any TV movie of any description.

  24. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Hepburn was a pioneering figure for women in Hollywood, becoming incredibly powerful before it was cool for women to be powerful. Also, she's not classically beautiful. She is, however, striking and has a unique voice, which probably helped her out a great deal.

    She could be both very funny and very intense, sometimes both at the same time. Here's a rundown of the film's I've seen her in.

    Bringing Up Baby - very, very funny movie with Hepburn very convincing as a free spirited nutjob and Grant very good as the straight laced man who she destroys. Just a laugh a minute.

    The Philadelphia Story - just incredibly funny movie with nice flourishes of drama. Really, in my opinion, this is the rare film where the whole cast is at the top of their game.

    Woman of the Year - the feminists don't like this movie, but if you watch the whole thing it really isn't anti-female empowerment. It's anti-empowerment to the detriment of personal relationships. She's very good as is Tracy.

    Adam's Rib - top notch comedy with, again, some nice flourishes of drama. Tracy and Hepburn with wonderful support from DAvid Wayne as a neighbor smitten with Hepburn.

    The African Queen - an excellent pair of lead performances, but the film has little energy, little drive, doesn't really go anywhere and can't figure out how to end. It's worth watching once for the great performances, but it's not as great as most argue.

    Desk Set - Hepburn and Tracy lite, but entertaining enough.

    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - preachy, too long and a bit simplistic. Again, both she and Tracy rise above the material. As with African Queen, it's worth watching once.

    Grace Quigley - avoid this train wreck about assisted suicide at the hands of down on his luck Hitman Nick Nolte at all costs.

    On my list to see:

    Little Women
    Alice Adams
    Stage Door
    Holiday
    State of the Union
    Pat and Mike
    Summertime
    Long Day's Journey Into Night
    The Lion in Winter
    The Madwoman of Chaillot (sorry, Zaz, it's on my list . . . :p )
    On Golden Pond
  25. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Recommend bumping The Lion in Winter to the very top of your To See list.