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GordonCole

What's wrong with actors nowadays?

74 posts in this topic

Okay, maybe I'm just being an old fogie, but actors nowadays seem so boring to me onscreen. Could it be because since birth they have been planning to be actors, so their bios say things like "Benjamin Gaybar was almost born acting since his mother auditioned him in the Neonatal Unit at the hospital to do his first tv ad for a diaper company. He then went on to play many parts in his kindergarten class, in preparation for his hoped for goal of being a movie star. Working behind the scenes to get his foot in at theatrical parts at Northwestern, he graduated to playing romantic leads in their productions of Georgy Girl, and  the revival of Charley's Aunt, in which he played the aunt in drag. Finally in his first film, The Mighty Redux, he was nominated for an Oscar for his fine portrayal of a bird-brained coach and now is one of the fastest rising stars in Hollywood."

Now in the olden days of films, a lot of bios of stars [besides the ones which lied about Merle Oberon and had Errol Flynn born in Australia] were actually really reflective of why the actor might actually have a real life in their past to aid in portraying people in films, due to interesting experiences, way beyond taking acting classes from the ages of 2-22 years. For example, one might read something like this in an actor's bio:

Ralph Piedmont was born in Wyoming to a cattle ranching family. He learned to rope steers as a child and was injured once while angling when a giant adder bit him, resulting in him being in a coma for two months. In high school, he enlisted under age in the Air Force and became a tail gunner, whose plane was shot down and he suffered injuries due to nerve gas which affected him greatly. After the war, he had jobs being a soda jerk, a hardware salesman, worked on the road in vaudeville with Aimee Semple McPherson as a stooge for her religious tent shows, and sold women's undergarments door to door. As a bartender he put himself through college at Dartmouth and became an architect, only to be noted for his prognathous jaw at a building opening event and asked to play a man's man in an upcoming film. Having dated Ayn Rand on his off days, he became the one person she wanted to portray John Galt in a proposed film, but their relationship issues prevented that. He worked alongside miners when there were protests about Black Lung problems and later married the widow of Gummo Marx, retiring after being in 327 films at the age of 82."

Now it is my belief that good acting comes from real life experiences, that translate on-screen through the actor who experienced real life, not from people who have trained themself in only being an actor from their early days. This is false acting, based on false beliefs. If one is playing a carpenter in a film, if they have had some carpentry or similar trade experiences they will probably portray the character in a more pleasing way. Not saying, every actor has to have already performed every task noted in a film, but a person with no life experience tends to not be able to really transmit something that one who has had life experiences has inherently. This is why I see few movies anymore, as everyone seems like they are robotic imitations of life.

 

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2 minutes ago, GordonCole said:

Okay, maybe I'm just being an old fogie, 

Could have just stopped there.

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Good one, wish I'd said it myself!

But seriously does this mean that you are admiring of actors nowadays as being as moving as ones from the past?
 

Obviously my opinion is a generalization, but I feel there is some truth to it. But perhaps I'm wrong and would appreciate some rebuttal, if I am just being an old fogie, where everything in the past is better than what is current. Like if I said I think Tin Lizzies can beat all new cars, I should appreciate being corrected with logical thought by someone with a differing idea.

I respect your opinion, as your posts are always of intelligent content. What is your true feeling about actors of today as opposed to those of the past, in general, Lawrence? Do they really come up to the standards of past ones, or is it not even worth discussing, as you imply possibly, since it might be construed as comparing apples to rowboats, I guess.

 

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I find there to be just as many good actors today as there were in the past. Screen acting is not the same in many regards, and therefore it becomes an apples and oranges thing. Drop a 1930's actor in a film from the 2010's and he'll look like a fool for the most part, and the opposite is also true. Modern actors would not come off well trying to deliver 1930's style dialogue, especially with other performers from that era.

I'm not a classic movie only fan, nor a modern movie only fan. I'm a movie fan. I like films from all decades, nations, and genres. There are good films and bad films from every year. I understand that's not the most common belief around here, and I try to accept that. I try not to participate in the "Kids these days!!!" threads that wail at the perceived failures of the modern world in comparison to the "good old days". I usually just let people have at it, if if it makes them feel better. But I just couldn't resist. I'll try to in the future.

I'm in the minority in that I like to discuss movies, not just specific movies from specific eras, nations or genres. Every other movie site I perused back in the day concentrated only on modern films, with classic films made the subject of mockery or scorn, often simply dismissed outright. That's why I started posting here, as all films seemed to be embraced, much as was laid out by Robert Osborne on the first night TCM went on the air. However. I know there will always be people who are just as misguided and/or close-minded in their regard to modern films as those other sites were about classic films. I just try to avoid those topics unless I'm bored or surly.

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4 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I usually just let people have it, if if it makes them feel better. But I just couldn't resist. I'll try to in the future.

 

Banish the thought, to resist going for the joke, when you see the opening!

I think Jerry Seinfeld said that, and to me there is no time when humor is not appreciated, even at my own espense. I enjoyed your dig!

Thanx for responding and I see your point. Of course, there are always good films and I was just in a curmudgeonly type mood perhaps. I still probably would have to say as personages that I find the old actors to be a more interesting lot, as real folks when I read about their backgrounds, but even Olivier probably never was an on-stage comedian yet played one well on film, so it goes both ways.

 

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I know what you are getting at. I really notice it in Westerns. 

Remember the first Western was "The Great Train Robbery," it was filmed when the Wild Bunch was still active and robbing trains. A lot of the Western actors, once film making moved to Hollywood, were originally out of work real cowboys, or they lived during the transition from the horse and buggy days and knew how to ride horses and drive teams. They had those Western US speech patterns, regional dialects, western slang words, etc., etc. It was a hands on knowledge.

(An old timer friend of mine's father was a teamster. He hauled freight wagons around central Montana to ranches and towns. The old timer told me that things didn't really start to change out West until after WWII. Railroads, and the horse were still predominant before the war, the larger towns had some electricity but the rural areas stayed pretty primitive. After the war the perfection of the technology of tracked vehicles opened it all up fast.)

Anyway getting back to the making of Westerns, so these original filmmakers sort of just turned out these films like a stamp mill, continually polishing their craft through the years, the next generation learned first hand from the first, continuing to perfect their craft. When this second generation started to die off Western production also started to wane. (The end of the "Steam Age" was also towards the end of the 1950s a lot of the Western Shortline RRs that still used steam locomotives converted to diesel) So you also lost that infrastructure background resource for making a Western look realistic. Jet aircraft leaving contrails across big sky country screwed up a lot of Western Landscape shots. 

So the hand me down hands on knowledge on how to make a Western, had no place to go and the old West and interest in Westerns was gone by 1980s. After that any Western made had to be recreated from scratch, with highly variable and inconsistent results. Today you got screenwriters who don't know squat trying to write Westerns with no knowledge of the West other than them watching Westerns and inserting PC ideas into stories, and it just don't feel right.

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I see two different questions here as it relates to current actors and those from prior eras.

Is their acting ability about the same?     The other is:   can one relate to them (e.g. be moved by them, inspired),  about the same?  

Note that these are common questions at the jazz guitar forum. 

As for ability;  For most professions,  I believe each generation improves upon previous ones.   Newbies learn from the old-masters and this continues generation after generation.     This is clearly the case with jazz guitar.

Being able to relate to an actor (or jazz musician and their music, or a work of art), falls mostly on the consumer (viewer,  listener).    I don't think the ability of the creator has much to do with that.

I don't relate to current actors like I do those from the 30s - 70s (as well as most jazz musicians).   Current talent just doesn't move-me emotionally in the same way.    But I don't believe it is because they lack ability or were poorly trained.       

 

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11 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I don't relate to current actors like I do those from the 30s - 70s (as well as most jazz musicians).   Current talent just doesn't move-me emotionally in the same way.    But I don't believe it is because they lack ability or were poorly trained.       

In many cases, as people age they begin to edge away from the current cultural trends. A lot of that has to do with life's priorities changing, as work and family become more of one's focus, and keeping up with cultural trends falls by the wayside. This really kicks into high gear around age 40, and only increases after that. When one has time for cultural pursuits, be it film or TV, they'll tend to look to the things of their youth, or the things of their parents' generation, as that group will always seem like the adult ideal, as one looked up to their parents or other authority figures. People want to see themselves, or their parents. They want the familiar and the safe. Most do not want to see their kids' generation or their grandkids's generation, and that has been the norm for a long time.

Now, this isn't always the case. There are people who always liked much older stuff more, or older people who will continue to watch, and more importantly enjoy, new things as they come out. And there are those who like it all. But by and large, older people not liking newer things as much or at all is the norm, and it doesn't seem like it's going to change anytime soon. The "Kids these days!" and "Get off my lawn!" cliches didn't become so out of nowhere.

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6 hours ago, GordonCole said:

What's Wrong with Actors Nowadays?

Too much soy in their diets.

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I've heard a similar thought to your "opening argument" here expressed in the past Gordie, but it was about directors not actors. And, which was a similar thought to what CJ brought up, but it didn't pertain to just the Western genre, but to the directors of all genre of films.

It pretty such says that the "original master" directors of early Hollywood such as Wellman, Wyler, Ford and many others drew from their own life experiences in order to make movies that more closely resembled "real life". And, that then later the second and later generation Hollywood directors such as Scorsese and Tarantino having less of these real life experiences and being brought up in the world of cinema, were too much influenced by the those earlier directors' works that their own movies have become too derivative or non-original or more distanced from real life, and thus in some way "inferior".

I have to say I disagree with this thought, because as it often said about The Arts: "Before one can truly create a fine work of art, one must first know The Classics that were done by the Old Masters". And, which I suppose is just another way of saying what James said earlier about Jazz.

And in regard to actors here...

I guess the best way I can express my doubts about your contention that moderns actors seems to be less watchable or poorer actors than those who plied their craft during the so-called "Golden Age of Hollywood" would be to say the following:

Sure, while back in the day there certainly were great film actors such as Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Bogart, lets not forget there were also ones like George Raft, and of whom it was said had quite a few "real life experiences" under his belt, but who really was never much of an actor.

But then taking this same thought to the present day and in sort of a reverse order, lets just say we do have Keanu Reeves(sorry Keanu) out there, but we also have Daniel Day-Lewis too!

(...and I think DD-L is as good an actor as ever was, and I also think there are actually a few others around now who occasionally come close to his on-screen brilliance)  

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9 hours ago, darkblue said:

Too much soy in their diets.

;)

Or maybe not enough GLUTEN!  :D

Sepiatone

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It'd take a dissertation the size of a TELEPHONE DIRECTORY to tackle the issue. It'd take a LONG-PLAYING PHONOGRAPH RECORD to document it all! :P

But even to do so--can you imagine the backlash? This is just not a timeperiod where you can attack anything in print --however gently--and get away with it. Being 'negative' in general, is not what America want to hear.

Privately, I think much of what made classic Hollywood so great was the diversity of origins and backgrounds from which men and women in those days, entered the profession. Think of it! Hollywood had former vaudevillians in its ranks; and then all sorts of European immigrants like the Marx Bros starring...you had guys like James Garner and Robert Mitchum take up acting after living as wildcat oilmen, ranch hands, and hoboes... you had actors trained on the great stages of New York and London, (they'd hop on the Super Chief too)...and of course famous stories of how producers 'discovered' stars like Kirk Douglas and Gregory Peck working in clothes stores, or Ginger Rogers discovered sitting on a stool in a Schwab's Drug Store.... [PLEASE CORRECT these last few items, I can't remember every little detail]

...anyway all that, compared to today's media fluffheads who grew up watching television. TV, was their #1 activity. It's grotesque and bizarre. No genuine life experiences at all! Never served in military, never worked on a farm, never married, never sailed anywhere...never fled from a bombed-out city, never experienced nuttin! These imps grew up in a cookie-cutter world of mass-produced drivel. What can they bring to the table except their (stupid) 'looks'?

This is the most striking difference to me. Actors in the Golden Age of Hollywood were a rich cross-section illustrating not just the true diversity of the American people; but really from all over the world. [What kind of 'diversity' do we have today--even though everyone screams for it, what 'diversity' is there in an age of globalism?]

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14 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

It'd take a dissertation the size of a TELEPHONE DIRECTORY to tackle the issue. It'd take a LONG-PLAYING PHONOGRAPH RECORD to document it all!

Still back slapping and agreeing with Gordon Cole?

I think there are good actors and actresses working today.

I sometimes go to films with the following people because I admire their work:

Johnny Depp

Bradley Cooper

John C Reilly

Frances McDormand

Saoirse Ronan

Sally Hawkins

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I'm just speaking in very broad generalities when I made my above points Jimbo. Naturally, if you are a modern-day filmgoer you have your 'faves'. Nothing wrong with that! :D

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11 hours ago, Dargo said:

I've heard a similar thought to your "opening argument" here expressed in the past Gordie, but it was about directors not actors. And, which was a similar thought to what CJ brought up, but it didn't pertain to just the Western genre, but to the directors of all genre of films.

It pretty such says that the "original master" directors of early Hollywood such as Wellman, Wyler, Ford and many others drew from their own life experiences in order to make movies that more closely resembled "real life". And, that then later the second and later generation Hollywood directors such as Scorsese and Tarantino having less of these real life experiences and being brought up in the world of cinema, were too much influenced by the those earlier directors' works that their own movies have become too derivative or non-original or more distanced from real life, and thus in some way "inferior".

I have to say I disagree with this thought, because as it often said about The Arts: "Before one can truly create a fine work of art, one must first know The Classics that were done by the Old Masters". And, which I suppose is just another way of saying what James said earlier about Jazz.

And in regard to actors here...

I guess the best way I can express my doubts about your contention that moderns actors seems to be less watchable or poorer actors than those who plied their craft during the so-called "Golden Age of Hollywood" would be to say the following:

Sure, while back in the day there certainly were great film actors such as Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Bogart, lets not forget there were also ones like George Raft, and of whom it was said had quite a few "real life experiences" under his belt, but who really was never much of an actor.

But then taking this same thought to the present day and in sort of a reverse order, lets just say we do have Keanu Reeves(sorry Keanu) out there, but we also have Daniel Day-Lewis too!

(...and I think DD-L is as good an actor as ever was, and I also think there are actually a few others around now who occasionally come close to his on-screen brilliance)  

Great minds do think alike particularly when they are afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and thanks for noticing the similarity of my post to CG's.

I see your point, but in my quest to be continually argumentative and an old fogie, shall resist its logic.

But that's a good thing, as one might say, since my position elicited your position which was a good read and well expressed and probably very accurate an assessment. DD-L [had to think about that one for a while, since at first I thought you were talking about Diana Dors-Lustinspiringgoddess] is a good actor to be sure even when he can just move a foot or single appendages. Thanx.

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2 minutes ago, GordonCole said:

Great minds do think alike particularly when they are afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and thanks for noticing the similarit of my post to CG's.

Do you think you have a similarity to Sgt Markoff?

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I do. I must agree with you since my significant other says that Sgt. Markoff is the utmost and the ginchiest poster she's ever read any posts by at the TCM Lounge.

It is difficult to believe there could be two such unique individuals in the universe.

Personally though, I find Sgt. Markoff way more intellectual, sophisticated and worldly than I. He is my superior and I am just his follower.   

I've gotta say I think this is kind of an insult to Sgt. Markoff though.

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13 minutes ago, Michael Rennie said:

Universe? Did someone say Universe?

Okay, I shoulda said earth and the Lesser Antilles.

Satisfied now? Yeeeesh...

I'm sorry Patricia Neal helped revive you if you are gonna be this picky, Mister Carpenter!

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I'm definitely full of pungent retorts...300px-Distillation_by_Retort.png

Its a failing, I know.

Remember though, that I warned everyone from the very first that despite my best intentions, I can come off as abrasive and stentorian. Its something idiosyncratic in the way I phrase my opinions, I realize I can sound very curt and condescending.

Several fine people here have already placed me on 'ignore' for which I can hardly blame them. I suppose it remains to be seen whether I am an incorrigibly cantankerous crackpot or not. Maybe someday I'll shake myself out of these truculent mannerisms. If only I had a career which was less stressful, perhaps. Or, if I could relocate to a different city. Maybe I'm going mad, who knows?

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1 hour ago, GordonCole said:

Okay, I shoulda said earth and the Lesser Antilles.

Satisfied now? Yeeeesh...

I'm sorry Patricia Neal helped revive you if you are gonna be this picky, Mister Carpenter!

I was just displaying a tiny bit of humor. 

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6 minutes ago, Michael Rennie said:

I was just displaying a tiny bit of humor. 

Me too, Klaatu.

Keep up the good work. Earth's survival depends upon it.

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The title of this thread is bound to appear a number of times in just about every

comment section for a studio era flick on YT, along with its companion How come

they don't make movies like this anymore. It even appears on films that are on

the mediocre side, which always amuses me. They should make more films like

this rather pedestrian thing. 

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