Discussion in 'Community' started by Zaz, Mar 17, 2005.
They're dropping like flies.
Put "Alice Adams" at the top of your list. Little known today, and a terrible flop at the time, but Hepburn is just plain great in it. I would have never cast her in this movie, but she nails the pained self-consciousness of a social climber perfectly. You know this young woman is a fool; but you want her to prevail so badly that the movie is quite excruciating to watch. (I know why it flopped). Based on the Booth Tarkington novel. Directed by George Stevens in his early, good period.
Second: "Long Day's Journey into Night" in which she plays Eugene O'Neill's mother (thinly disguised). Her husband is played by Ralph Richardson, who's up to the job. She is a morphine addict in the story.
Third: "Pat and Mike." This isn't as well known as "Adam's Rib" but it's a good movie. Hepburn is a female athlete, and Tracy's her trainer. Most famous line: "Not much meat on her," Tracy says to a sidekick as Hepburn walks off in the distance, "but what there is, is cherce."
Fourth: "Stage Door" Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Eve Arden, and Hepburn as a spoiled rich girl. The fur flies. She mocks her own image.
Fifth: "Holiday" A bit stagy, but still a good movie.
Sixth: Okay, "The Lion in Winter." An excellent cast, which also includes Anthony Hopkins (as Richard the Lion-Hearted) and Timothy Dalton (as Philippe Augustus, King of France); Hepburn and O'Toole are perfectly cast. That said, this movie has a bad case of Braveheartitis. Since I know this doesn't bother you, you may well enjoy it. I wouldn't shoot the piano player, but I certainly considered wounding the scriptwriter a time or two. Or three.
And you are so wrong about "The African Queen." It's not about adventure per se. But we've had this argument before.
Next, Sir John Mills, who died yesterday. He was 97, and active right up until the end (he did an acting job this year). 1908-2005.
Sir John seems to have been a pleasant enough man, and reasonably, if not notably, good at his job. Not a whole lot of temperament, which may be why he lasted so long. It may also be why his work often isn't terribly interesting. Tony Blair called him 'an English Everyman.' Which is fairly accurate, and perhaps not very complimentary, or as complimentary as Blair thought it was.
He started in 1932 (Real name: Lewis Ernest Watts)and had roles in the sort of British movies that never got exported. By 1939, he had a small role in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", which meant progress; in 1942, his two movies "In Which We Serve" and "Young Mr. Pitt" were both exported. But most North Americans didn't take note until "Great Expectations" in 1946, in which he played Pip. He was good, but not specially memorable, and it became a pattern.
Throughout his career, he often played British soldiers. At times, he over-acted: his Oscar-winning role in "Ryan's Daughter" was awful, and he was poor in "War and Peace" as a peasant and in "The Wrong Box" as one of the survivors of a tontine. Often he was one of many names playing small roles in British movies: "Lady Caroline Lamb", "Young Winston" and "Gandhi."
He starred in literally a ton of trivia, and several movies I haven't seen. I hesitate to recommend anything, because usually he's not the reason I would recommend it, or his role is small. Even the movie I liked him in the most, "Hobson's Choice" (1954), would have been better with the original casting, which was Robert Donat.
But anyway, these are recommended:
1939: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"
1942: "In Which We Serve"
1946: "Great Expectations"
1950: "The Rocking Horse Winner" (Not entirely successful, but quite interesting.)
1954: "Hobson's Choice." As Willie Mossop. Playing working class usually caused him to overact, but this is a Lean film.
1960: "Tunes of Glory"
1966: "King Rat"
1966: "The Wrong Box"
Well, you've got to love an actor with such a long, long career, who isn't afraid to take nothing parts . . . I see in 2003 he played Man Taking Cocaine at Party in Bright Young Things. Kudos! He's not pretentious, we know that right off.
I see that he also played one of my all time favorite literary villains: Brigader General Douglas Munro as created and used by Jack Higgins in several of his WWII era novels. He seems an odd choice for that part . . . I might have to track that one down and watch it.
I've not seen him in much, and as Zaz says, he's often not the main reason to watch the movies he was in. Regardless, I'll recommend:
The Wrong Box - he's over the top here, wildly so, but then so is everyone else. This is a great British comedy about murder, coffins and love. The entire cast, in my opinion, which includes Richardson (stellar), Caine (great), Moore (fine), Sellers (Cameo) are all solid. Hilarious movie.
Hamlet - Okay, he played Old Norway in Branagh's version, Fortinbras' boss, which means he's in it for about ten seconds and has no lines. Regardless, this is one of my personal top ten, the finest Shakespeare film of all time and Branagh's greatest performance. Oh, and Patrick Doyle's finest score. In other words, watch this one, Mills or not.
The Parent Trap - apparently he was in this, uncredited. Don't recall his part specifically, but didn't care for the movie.
On my list to see:
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Hmm, all G's that I want to see. Anyway, haven't seen much of the fellow, but he's a familiar face, of course.
Ice-Cold in Alex is probably my favourite film featuring John Mills in a starring role (I think it's called Desert Attack in the States). Mills plays an alcoholic army captain trying to cross the desert and evade the enemy; not a showy performance, but a good one.
He has a much smaller role in King Rat, but that's such a good movie it's worth recommending anyway.
Yeah, I laughed when I saw 'man taking cocaine at a party' in his filmography, Rogue. He'd do anything! The role in "The Parent Trap" is as a golf caddie, apparently.
The Mills family used to be known as 'the poor man's Redgraves'; a snotty remark, but not entirely inaccurate. The elder daughter had the most talent in both cases, though Juliet Mills got nowhere in Hollywood or anywhere else, unfortunately. (Try "Avanti", in which she is a lot better and more interesting than Jack Lemmon). The younger daugher, you-know-who, was a fairly long-term child star. Things got dicier as she got older, however. The son is an alleged screenwriter.
The problem with "The Parent Trap" is that the central gimmick is not believable (what parent in their right mind divides twins at birth and never sees the other one?) The reason it was widely successful and remade recently is, like "Home Alone", it panders to childhood fantasies, and these days there is no more potent one than getting your parents back together.
I actually enjoyed "The Wrong Box", but he wore out his teeth chewing on the scenery. Ralph Richardson, OTOH, was sublime.
Haven't seen "Ice Cold in Alex", but I have read the book. These type of British movies are incredibly hard to rent or see on television, unfortunately.
Eddie Albert (1906-2005). He was illegitimate, so his mother apparently falsified his birth certificate as 1908. Real name: Edward Albert Heimberger.
An extremely long career, on the screen (starting 1938), the stage (even in musicals!), and television (appeared in 1936 television, when it was experimental).
Was an agreeable, lightweight presence in a number of movies. Though he was good, he was rarely a reason I'd recommend a movie. He did appear in some good ones:
1947: "Smash-Up" Mostly notable for Susan Hayward's performance;
1952: "Carrie" An adaption of "Sister Carrie" most notable for one of Olivier's great performances (as Hurstwood);
1953: "Roman Holiday"
1956: "Attack" A good performance as a panicked soldier;
1972: "The Heartbreak Kid" as the golden girl's nasty dad; and
1974: "The Longest Yard" as the nasty Warden.
But the real reason anybody remembers this actor is, of course, "Green Acres", the 60's television series. Described as 'agarian psychadelia' (agarian surreality is more like it), it literally has to been seen to be believed. Albert played Oliver Wendell Douglas, a Wall Street lawyer who wants to get back to the land. He does, but he discovers it covered in eccentrics. This show is one of the few that 'jumped the shark' in reverse: it starts out very conventionally, and about five episodes in, the characters start commenting on the credits, among other things.
Anyway, RIP, Eddie.
Albert is a fine lightweight comic presence in a film most of the time. He is rarely, as you stated, the big draw at a movie, but he generally does a good enough job you remember him.
Green Acres is indeed a classic. The UFO episode will forever remain one of the touchstones of television for me, with it's public service announcement for those with black and white televisions and whatnot. The first season is available on DVD and I want to pick it up but haven't yet.
As far as movies, I've seen him in:
Roman Holiday - a fine supporting performance. An all around fine movie, with both Peck and Hepburn being excellent. Great photography and a witty script too.
Oklahoma! - one of his not as fondly remembered roles to my mind as the fakir/peddler/snake oil man Ali Hakim. My feelings about this whole movie are mixed, so it is not perhaps fair to comment.
The Heartbreak Kid - he was the one good thing about this meanspirited and ugly little movie. He got a lot of laughs from me, something that was quite a relief after I'd spent the bulk of the film staring in stone faced disgust at the cruel antics of Charles Grodin. Steer clear of this one, but it's not Albert's fault that it's so hideous.
Ones I want to see:
The Sun Also Rises (as Bill Gordon, huh? That's interesting casting to say the least!)
The Longest Day
The Longest Yard (there's a coincidence!)
Peter and Paul
Sandra Dee (1942-2005)
She started at the age of 13, and starred as a teenager in a series of forgettable movies: "Gidget", "Tammy and the Doctor", etc.
There are some entertaining movies on the list: "Until They Sail" or "The Reluctant Debutante" for two, but they are generally not recommended because of her (the first has a great cast, and the second has the terrific Kay Kendall in one of her few movies before she died young of cancer).
There's movies like "A Summer Place" (1959), a huge hit which gives you a historic view of the tastes of America at the time. That movie also stars Troy Donahue, who like Dee, had a short-term career as a teen actor. Francis Coppola once said that Donahue was the big man on campus while he was at college. Later he gave Donahue, then down on his luck, a tiny role in "The Godfather, Part II" as a gigalo. Revenge of the Nerd.
One movie is interesting: the remake of "Imitation of Life" directed by Douglas Sirk; his last Hollywood movie. Warning: soap alert, but it is weirdly fascinating.
Dee is mainly interesting as one of those actresses who want to tell you all about their life whether you want to know about it or not. Her mother was a smother; her step-father a predator; she married Bobby Darrin (see "Beyond the Sea") and succumbed to anorexia and alcohol once tastes changed and her career ended.
We all know her name, mainly because she's a joke. See Grease for a good example of this.
The Reluctant Debutante - hilarious movie. I loved Rex Harrison in this and, yes, Kay Kendall was fantastic as well. Very funny, very witty, but not really recommended because of Dee.
Portrait in Black - weird little thriller in which Dee stars as the virtuous daughter of the villainous Lana Turner. Turner and Anthony Quinn are the villains and the film surprisingly succeeds occasionally. Not an essential by any stretch, but there are a couple of nice moments.
On my list to see:
Gidget (hey, it's an icon!)
Imitation of Life
An icon for whom?
I think I've seen "Portrait in Black" and it was fairly entertaining.
A sad one today: Anne Bancroft (1931-2005). Real name: Anna Maria Italiano.
Another talented actress who got very little time in Hollywood. Started in 1952, with "Don't Bother to Knock" and spent the next five years in trivia ("Gorilla At Large") or westerns, mainly because of her ethnic looks. Then she went to the stage. She was successful there in "Two for the Seesaw" and "The Miracle Worker" and repeated her stage performance in the film of "The Miracle Worker". She won a Best Actress Oscar for it--it's a great performance. She still worked very little, and after another great performance, Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate", she didn't work for five years. She was Jennie Jerome in "Young Winston" (miscast) and seemed to get stuck in small roles in big budget crap ("The Hindenberg", "Lipstick", "The Turning Point", et. al.) She was miscast again in "The Elephant Man." She was the best thing about her husband's (Mel Brooks') misguided remake of "To Be or Not to Be." The roles got even smaller thereafter, though I notice she was still acting until recently: she has a movie is post-production.
"The Miracle Worker" (1962)
"The Graduate" (1967)
I haven?t seen a tremendous amount of movies that really feature this actress, but she did a lot of supporting work and cameos and such . . . and what I?ve seen has been tremendous for the most part. She?s certainly extremely talented.
The Slender Thread ? great psychodrama, almost unbearably suspenseful near the end. Poiter really steals the show, but Bancroft is excellent in the less showy role as the woman creeping towards death by suicide.
The Graduate ? it?s one of those rare performances that can?t be called anything but bravura. She just throws it all out there and is absolutely stunning. The rest of the cast is equally good, with the exception of Katherine Ross. But Bancroft has the villain part and she plays it like a shark. She absolutely sinks her teeth in. Good film on its own terms too.
Blazing Saddles ? an uncredited extra? Didn?t see her. Funny movie, if a bit overrated.
To Be or Not to Be ? an unnecessary remake of a great Jack Benny/Carole Lombard film. Brooks isn?t as funny as Benny, Bancroft isn?t as sexy as Lombard, and the movie isn?t as suspenseful OR as funny. A misfire pretty well.
Honeymoon in Vegas - she was the mother in this. Her scene was pretty funny. It was the only funny scene. It?s a shame she?s reduced to playing eighth freaking billed in crap like this.
Malice ? she had a great cameo in this as (again) the mother of Nicole Kidman?s bizarre and psychopathic character. Her scene was totally bizarre, funny in a twisted way and absolutely brilliant. Much like the rest of this underrated little thriller. A great cast all the way around. This one deserves to get rediscovered.
Dracula: Dead and Loving It ? she was the old Gypsy woman who does the thing with her throat. Three times. This isn?t great Brooks, but it?s funny. Didn?t realize that was her though.
Antz ? a pretty funny movie really. The only film to have BOTH Woody Allen and Sly Stallone and still be funny. This one just had great voice talent all the way around and Bancroft was perfect as the Queen. Not a real showy thing, like Walken?s role here, but she?s solid.
I want to see:
Demetrius and the Gladiators ? sequel to The Robe, which I liked
The Miracle Worker ? I?ve seen the play, but not the film
The Elephant Man
Jesus of Nazarath
Agnes of God
On the whole, she was always arresting and sometimes (see Malice) so chameleon like that you don?t even recognize her until the credits roll. A myriad of different roles and she always brought something to it. Occasionally (see Honeymoon in Vegas and To Be Or Not to Be) the best thing about a movie.
This is a very sad one . . . especially since it really doesn?t seem that she should be this old. She always had such vitality that it was hard to think of her as being in her seventies. It?ll be even harder to think of her as dead.
I loved her in Jesus of Nazareth. She did a really good job as Mary Magdalene. She will be missed.
I heard about this days ago. I can't believe she's gone.
Lois & Clark's Lane Smith Dies
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman star Lane Smith has lost his battle with neuromuscular disease Als and died in California, according to internet reports. The actor, 69, played Perry White in the hit TV series. In a posting on Superman fansite Kryptonsite.Com, a family statement reads, "Thanks for your concern and good wishes and prayers. We are sorry to tell you that my uncle Lane Smith died yesterday, a blessed relief from his Als. Thank you so much for your support." Smith's other credits include roles in Red Dawn, Air America and The Mighty Ducks.
Read a book about the Oscars, in which the "In Memorium" segment in each Oscar telecast is discussed. They only have limited space and dread the fall-out from cutting someone from the show. The producer said that a person in the movie industry---someone he hadn't heard of---died in the summer, and the very day he died, his daughter was on the phone, demanding confirmation that he'd make the Oscar "In Memorium" segment. That's how seriously the families take it. Bancroft will make it. She's an Oscar winner and married to a famous director. I don't think this gentleman will--don't know him myself.
Next: Ernest Lehman 1915-2005
Don't know who he is? Join the club. He's a scriptwriter and the author of the novella on which "The Sweet Smell of Success" is based.
Started in 1948, and wrote the following movies of note:
"Executive Suite" and "Sabrina" (both 1954)
"Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1956)
"The Sweet Smell of Success" (1957)
"North by Northwest" (1959)
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966) and
"Family Plot" (1977)
He also wrote, but I can't recommend:
"The King and I" (1956)
"West Side Story" (1961) (at least, on the basis of the script--the music and dance is generally good)
"The Sound of Music" (1965)
"Hello, Dolly" (1969)
I'd agree with all of your recommendations, but I'd switch Family Plot and West Side Story. Just me.
Next: Geraldine Fitzgerald, 1913-2005, from Alzheimer's.
Laurance Olivier once said, upon viewing "Wuthering Heights" (1939) on television: "Geraldine Fitzgerald is the only thing that holds up in that one."
Sounds unduly modest, except that it isn't. Olivier is hammy, Oberon is pouty, and Niven--early in his career--is a stiff. But Fitzgerald, who plays Isabella Linton (a supporting role) is a natural on screen.
Irony: Vivien Leigh was offered the role of Isabella before Fitzgerald was cast. She turned it down; she wanted the lead or nothing. Reportedly, a huffy studio executive told her: "You won't get a better first role in Hollywood." Of course, Leigh's first role in Hollywood was Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind."
You do wonder if her career would have been like Fitzgerald's if she had accepted it.
Because Fitzgerald didn't get much of a chance in Hollywood. She was under contract to Warner Bros., who tended to be cheap and hard on the help. Both Bette Davis and James Cagney fought with, and sued the studio. Olivia de Havilland eventually sued them and won, thus breaking the old studio contract system (they were no longer allowed to add time spent on suspension to a contract). Fitzgerald fought the studio, but got nowhere.
Movies worth seeing:
"Wuthering Heights" (1939)
"Dark Victory" (1939)
"The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry" (1945)
"The Pawnbroker" (1964)
"Rachel, Rachel" (1968)
"Harry and Tonto" (1974)
and the only movie you've probably seen "Arthur" (1981) (though she's not very good in it)
I don?t really recall too much about her roles in her films. I?m not sure what that means . . .
Wuthering Heights ? a bit stagy, yes. Don?t really recall Fitzgerald in it.
Dark Victory ? a fine film, very nice really. Again, I don?t recall Fitzgerald. She was overshadowed by a young Ronald Reagan shouting about scrambled eggs and Humphrey Bogart putting on a hilarious Irish brogue.
O.S.S. ? I really recall next to nothing about this one . . . saw it years ago.
Arthur ? very, very funny movie, but again, I don?t remember her at all . . .
Wow, that was just sad. I need to see some more of her stuff, I guess.
I want to see:
Harry and Tonto
*Sigh.* Maybe that's why she had no great career. Beautiful, talented, well-spoken, but nobody remembers her. No presence.
(She played Arthur's grandmother)
Well it's quite hard to have presence when your opposite Bette Davis (no disrespect to Miss Davis) - the woman chewed the scenery like there was no tomorrow!
I think I remember her in Dark Victory though, she's Bette Davis' assistant/secretary with her 'at the end'.
Hell yeah. Fight the system.
Today: Barbara Bel Geddes (1922-2005) of lung cancer
Best known as "Miss" Ellie, the matriarch of the Ewing family on the long-running (13 years) prime-time soap, "Dallas".
Well, you have to pay the bills somehow.
Daughter of Norman Bel Geddes, a stage designer.
Long time stage actress, originating roles that were then played by other actresses in the movies: Maggie the Cat in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and the Showgirl in "The Prince and the Showgirl" were two of them. These movie roles were played by Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe respectively, pointing up what Hollywood deemed her chief deficiency: a lack of sexiness.
Well, maybe. She did have a sort of fresh-faced Scandavian look, but then so did Ingrid Bergman. Like so many other talented actresses, she didn't have much luck in Hollywood, but she did appear in quite a few film noirs: "The Long Night" (1947); "Blood on the Moon" (1948) with Robert Mitchum; the terrific "Caught" (1949--directed by Max Ophuls and featuring a galvanizing performance by Robert Ryan as--basically--Howard Hughes); and "Panic in the Streets" (1950). But her most famous film appearance was in "Vertigo", (1958) as James Stewart's nice girlfriend (and of course, loser in the sexiness stakes to Kim Novak). Hitchcock also used her in one of the most famous of his television episodes--"Lamb to the Slaughter" in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
The only other movie on her resume that had much success was "I Remember Mama" in 1948. It has dated rather badly.
I did not recognize her name, but after what you say about her, I remember her. Had I been a fan of the Ewings, I might have remembered her. I was not.
Vertigo ? I think everyone who knows me knows I think this is very possibly the finest movie ever made. That extends to Geddes? performance here. She?s very good, if very overshadowed by, well, everyone else.
I want to see:
Blood on the Moon
Panic in the Streets