Bethluvsfilms

Why is Fredric March forgotten?

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He was an excellent actor, who always turned in a great performance (even in movies that were a little beneath his talent) yet I noticed he isn't as well known as Tracy, Bogart, Cagney, Fonda, Flynn, etc.

Which is a shame because he was considered one of the best actors during the hey day of the 30's up to the 60's, yet he is mostly forgotten today (only classic film viewers really know who he is).

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I certainly haven't forgotten him, as I'm a big fan. The reasons modern audiences don't remember him as well are manifold I would think. He doesn't have a lot of "iconic" film roles that stand out to the casual viewer. He wasn't in many perennially shown favorites outside of The Best Years of Our Lives (which has plenty of detractors among younger critics who view it unfavorably) and Inherit the Wind. Many of his movies were with Paramount, and as such they aren't shown very much. I had watch many of his early films on YouTube or archive.org. Plus he didn't have a larger than life screen persona, at least not in the way his better known contemporaries like Cagney, Robinson, Gable, Cooper, etc., had.

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True, March did have bit more of a subtle screen persona than Cagney, Bogey, Flynn and Robinson, but Gary Cooper seemed to have a more subtle approach to his acting style as well and yet more people know of him than of March.

It's just a darn shame that he doesn't get the recognition that he deserves.

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I agree with LawrenceA's observations - for a long while, March was someone who's face I recognized, without really ever knowing who he was. Not a slight on his acting chops, but more how the media in general concentrated on other personalities.

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I haven't forgotten him, either.  I think he's great.  Very good looking and very talented.  I love him in The Best Years of Our LivesDr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeExecutive Suite, Seven Days in MayA Star is BornNothing SacredSmilin' ThroughTrouble in Paradise and more.  I've never seen The Royal Family of Broadway but I'd love to.  Classic movie fans who aren't familiar with him should check him out.  If younger film critics don't appreciate him, that's their loss.

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I don't want attempting to answer this question to be in any way interpreted as a knock on March, but a few thoughts in addition to the above comments: he tended to "lose himself" in his roles more than most of the other personalities you mentioned, something he himself acknowledged (if I can find that quote, I'll post it). Bogart, Grant and Flynn, great as they were, very often projected the exact same personality from movie to movie (maybe Bogie not until he became a big star). Also, harsh as it may sound, sex appeal might have had something to do with it. Women still love Cary Grant to this day.

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22 minutes ago, limey said:

I agree with LawrenceA's observations - for a long while, March was someone who's face I recognized, without really ever knowing who he was. Not a slight on his acting chops, but more how the media in general concentrated on other personalities.

I remember March either for Mr. Hyde, or for his older 50's "retirement" roles in Inherit the Wind and Seven Days in May.

He was the "Great" actor of the studio, but apart from his early 30's leading-man roles, there didn't seem to be enough of a studio-created persona for him to set him apart from history.  

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47 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

He was an excellent actor, who always turned in a great performance (even in movies that were a little beneath his talent) yet I noticed he isn't as well known as Tracy, Bogart, Cagney, Fonda, Flynn, etc.

Which is a shame because he was considered one of the best actors during the hey day of the 30's up to the 60's, yet he is mostly forgotten today (only classic film viewers really know who he is).

I agree that of all the very fine actors March is one of the top 'unknowns' by Non-studio-era movies fans.   The bottom line is that non-studio-era movie fans only known a handful of iconic actors (Wayne, Bogie, Dean, Monroe, Taylor,  Audrey Hepburn),  and don't know much about all the others.

After reading the other post,  I question how well known actors like Cagney, Cooper,  Flynn etc.. are by non-studio-era movie fans.   I assume all of us here are studio-era movie fans (or trolls, ha ha), so that makes it difficult for us to know which studio-era actors are known by non-studio-era movie fans.    Again, I assume only the iconic ones AND, as we have discussed before,  even when known many can't name ONE movie the iconic actors were in.   E.g. they are known for being feature in commercials, fashion,  how they died,  and other things NOT related to their career as an actor. 

 

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I think most people of my generation (I'm on the older end of Gen X; if I was born just a few years earlier, I would have been among the youngest of the Baby Boomers), after Marilyn Monroe, knowledge of studio-era stars get pretty sparse. Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant would be probably the most-known below Marilyn, especially among females. Some males my age probably know Marlon Brando because of The Godfather and probably nothing else (well, maybe The Freshman). Most of them I think would be hard-pressed to actually name any movies they were in. I assume it's even worse for Millennials and whatever comes after that.

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22 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

I think most people of my generation (I'm on the older end of Gen X; if I was born just a few years earlier, I would have been among the youngest of the Baby Boomers), after Marilyn Monroe, knowledge of studio-era stars get pretty sparse. Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant would be probably the most-known below Marilyn, especially among females. Some males my age probably know Marlon Brando because of The Godfather and probably nothing else (well, maybe The Freshman). Most of them I think would be hard-pressed to actually name any movies they were in. I assume it's even worse for Millennials and whatever comes after that.

I assume Liz Taylor is the first or second most well known studio-era star due to the fact she is still on T.V. perfume commercials and her relationship with Michael Jackson.  (I.e. Monroe and Liz are the top 2).

 

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21 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I assume Liz Taylor is the first or second most well known studio-era star due to the fact she is still on T.V. perfume commercials and her relationship with Michael Jackson.  (I.e. Monroe and Liz are the top 2).

Maybe...I think they'd recognize the name, but I don't know how many would bring her up without prompting. White Diamonds commercials for 2 weeks a year and a friendship with a deceased, disgraced pop star don't hold a lot of cachet to Millennials or younger, I would hazard. 

They still sell a lot of James Dean merchandise, even if the buyer isn't sure who he is. And most everyone still knows John Wayne, even if they couldn't name a specific movie.

Edit: I have two Millennial age nieces and a nephew. I'll ask them when I speak to them next to name any classic movie stars they can think of. None of them are movie people, beyond the casual blockbuster at the theater type fare.

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John Wayne, yep, that's another one. I would say most people my age know that name and could probably say he was in Westerns. I do see James Dean T-shirts pretty regularly ... and Che Guevara! Though what most people under 50 could tell us about either of them, I'm not sure. I'm drifting outside of movie stars here. I also see a lot of Bob Marley T-shirts worn by people who may have never heard a Bob Marley song, but they know he smoked a lot of weed.

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The cartoon stars have out lived 99% of the flesh and blood ones.

Everyone knows Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny.

But a comedy team no one has mentioned that I suspect many, of not most, of the modern generation have at least heard of:

maxresdefault.jpg

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I certainly haven't forgotten him, as I'm a big fan. The reasons modern audiences don't remember him as well are manifold I would think. He doesn't have a lot of "iconic" film roles that stand out to the casual viewer. He wasn't in many perennially shown favorites outside of The Best Years of Our Lives (which has plenty of detractors among younger critics who view it unfavorably) and Inherit the Wind. Many of his movies were with Paramount, and as such they aren't shown very much. I had watch many of his early films on YouTube or archive.org. Plus he didn't have a larger than life screen persona, at least not in the way his better known contemporaries like Cagney, Robinson, Gable, Cooper, etc., had.

Big fan of the great Fredric March here also.

And yes, once again I believe we Boomers would best remember him and what a great actor he was, would be due to so many of us watching the films of the '30s and '40s being telecast on local broadcast television back in the '50s and '60s during our formative years.

And btw Lawrence. Who ARE all these "younger critics" who have been puttin' down MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME, dude???!!!

(...eeh, never mind...what the hell do the kids today know anyway, huh...well, other than how to send meaningless text messages on their little freakin' smartphones, anyway!) ;)

LOL

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24 minutes ago, TomJH said:

The cartoon stars have out lived 99% of the flesh and blood ones.

Everyone knows Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny.

But a comedy team no one has mentioned that I suspect many, of not most, of the modern generation have at least heard of:

maxresdefault.jpg

Might be a UK thing, but knowledge of the Marx Bros & in particular Groucho seemed more prevalent than the Stooges, at least from what I remember.

In contemporary culture, classic movies & their makers are essentially, a niche area. Folks may remember some of the more iconic elements from the classic era - from the movies been shown on mainstream TV if the viewer is old enough, or from the likes of T-shirts/posters for the younger ones. Some will only remember things they've picked up from references in newer works, or from skits (like the misquoted next choice of piano music from Casablanca). 

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I have a friend who is 39 years old. She collects anything to do with Fredric March and is writing a book about him. It’s a work in progress. Her 7 year old treats him like he’s a long lost uncle. Not exactly what that proves other than he does have younger fans. 

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Before I'd ever seen TCM, I rented Best Years of Our Lives at my local Blockbuster (you see, kids, once upon a time there was this store where you rented movies ...). Though I'd seen very few classic studio-era films at that time, I'd read some of those books about the Oscars and who won in what year (Robert Osborne's may well have been among them, though I wouldn't have known him by name back then). So, I knew it was a Best Picture winner, and I knew someone named Fredric March had won Best Actor in the film. But as I watched, I was struck how I didn't know WHICH actor Fredric March actually was! I thought the alleged Best Actor of the year would just leap off the screen at me, but as I watched, I thought well, the guy playing the sergeant and the guy playing the bomber are both pretty great. I came away from the film thinking the guy playing the bomber was probably the award-winner. It seemed like more of an award-bait role, what with the temptations of infidelity and the PTSD (though that term wasn't around yet). Only some years later did I learn who Dana Andrews was.

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Really great input from everyone. I first discovered March through Inherit the Wind and The Desperate Hours, which led me to Seven Days in May, then I got curious to see more of his earlier stuff and discovered so many great gems (I really adore Death Takes a Holiday, Les Miserables and Nothing Sacred from his 30's film output).

I am the only one in my family who seems to have an appreciation for the actors and films of days long gone by. With the exception of Gone With the Wind, none of my siblings will watch a movie any earlier than 1980. They are really missing out, but what can you do?

 

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Movies are written in sand: applauded today, forgotten tomorrow.

D. W. Griffith
 

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12 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Only some years later did I learn who Dana Andrews was.

When I first saw that name in some film credits, I assumed that Dana was an exclusively female name & wondered who was this woman & what character was she playing... Oops.

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36 minutes ago, Dargo said:

And btw Lawrence. Who ARE all these "younger critics" who have been puttin' down MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME, dude???!!!

Yeah, it annoyed me the first time I read some would-be critic writing about which Oscar Best Picture winners were overrated or unjustly forgotten, and one of the ones mentioned as being sub-par was Best Years, which is one of my favorite films of the 1940's. This was several years ago, and since then I've seen it on a few other lists of Worst Best Picture winners! :o

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20 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Before I'd ever seen TCM, I rented Best Years of Our Lives at my local Blockbuster (you see, kids, once upon a time there was this store where you rented movies ...). Though I'd seen very few classic studio-era films at that time, I'd read some of those books about the Oscars and who won in what year (Robert Osborne's may well have been among them, though I wouldn't have known him by name back then). So, I knew it was a Best Picture winner, and I knew someone named Fredric March had won Best Actor in the film. But as I watched, I was struck how I didn't know WHICH actor Fredric March actually was! I thought the alleged Best Actor of the year would just leap off the screen at me, but as I watched, I thought well, the guy playing the sergeant and the guy playing the bomber are both pretty great. I came away from the film thinking the guy playing the bomber was probably the award-winner. It seemed like more of an award-bait role, what with the temptations of infidelity and the PTSD (though that term wasn't around yet). Only some years later did I learn who Dana Andrews was.

You definitely have a point about MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME, sewhite. ;)

You have to remember though that in 1946, Fredric March was considered one of, IF not THE best screen actor at the time, and along with Spencer Tracy.

Dana Andrews hadn't yet quite reached A-List status by that time, and so I'm sure the reason March got the nomination AND the win that year as Best Actor was due to his great reputation as such.

Although, and with that being said, yes, Andrews' role was perhaps a little more complex and "showy", and his performance was excellent, BUT I have to say the more I've watched MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME--perhaps two dozen times now-- I've come to appreciate March's performance in it more and more each time.

(...and besides, March's Al Stephenson DID have his own "issues" to bear, as his drunken scenes were performed as well and as believable as any you'll ever see in a movie)

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3 minutes ago, limey said:

When I first saw that name in some film credits, I assumed that Dana was an exclusively female name & wondered who was this woman & what character was she playing... Oops.

Yep. For a good 30 years, I thought the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was named for a woman.

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10 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Yeah, it annoyed me the first time I read some would-be critic writing about which Oscar Best Picture winners were overrated or unjustly forgotten, and one of the ones mentioned as being sub-par was Best Years, which is one of my favorite films of the 1940's. This was several years ago, and since then I've seen it on a few other lists of Worst Best Picture winners! :o

Simply UN-believable, ol' buddy. There's not a false note in the thing.

What, they don't like the hopeful ending in it or somethin'? What, it's not "cynical enough" for 'em or somethin'?

(...aaah, but then again and as I was sayin' earlier about "the kids today"..........) ;)

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