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slaytonf

Painfully inappropriate casting.

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The studio system was renowned for manufacturing actors personas.  Along with the formidable output of their respective PR departments, of course, they excelled at a careful tailoring of roles calculated to take advantage of their successes and strengths.  But like all human undertakings, they sometimes fell away from the mark.  Far away.  Sometimes actors were given roles so inappropriate watching the movies makes you cringe in embarrassment for them.  I noted elsewhere how disconcerting the appearance was of Edward Robinson as a Chinese tong hitman in The Hatchet Man (1932).  His phony eyelid make-up coupled with his trademark voice and mannerisms, so effective elsewhere, make it almost impossible to watch.  I don't know why I kept with the movie.  Perhaps out of respect for Mr. Robinson and the director, William Wellman.  Perhaps out of perverse fascination with the grotesque.  We also see Loretta Young and Leslie Fenton submitted to the same enormity.  

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Here are my picks. Some of them are just bad performances while others were shamefully bad and are uncomfortable for me to watch. I know the studios often chose these roles so there were many times when the actor/actress had no choice because of the studio system. But I also know that some of these roles were chosen by the stars themselves so they had no one to blame but themselves. I do wonder sometimes if someone did try to say “Maybe this isn’t the right role for you” but a star’s ego just couldn’t handle that. Anyway, here are some of my picks:

Humphrey Bogart as a Mexican in "Virginia City"- terrible! I think he was probably just trying to pay the bills at the time since he wasn’t the legend he would become. Maybe I should let him slide on this one….

Errol Flynn as Sebastian (a musician) in "Escape Me Never" - I love Errol but this role was completely wrong for him. I think the studio was trying to punish him for his bad behavior so they stuck him in this awful film. I love Ida Lupino & she was good even in the worst films so I guess it’s not a total loss.

Jean Harlow in “Reckless” – Jean Harlow should have never been cast in a musical. Watching her dance (poorly) & sing (even though her voice was dubbed) is just plain wrong.

John Wayne as Genghis Khan in “The Conqueror” – I don’t know how or why anyone thought that role was a good idea.

This one is the epitome of 'painful to watch' films.

Joan Crawford & Jimmy Stewart as ice skaters in “The Ice Follies of 1939” – awful! Speaking of these two great actors, Joan’s role in “Trog” was actually much worse so maybe “Follies” wasn’t so bad after all! And Jimmy Stewart singing “Easy to Love” from 1940's “Born to Dance” is pretty bad too.

Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is hard for me to watch. I know times were different back then but it’s still pretty bad.

Laurence Olivier in the 1965 British version of “Othello” – In outrageous all-over black makeup. Awful!!!

Norma Shearer & Leslie Howard as “Romeo & Juliet” – both were way too old. The costumes were stunning but they were just not believable. I love John Barrymore but he too was too old (although he stole every scene he was in IMO). I liked Norma Shearer better when she was in silent films, To me, she always overacted in her speaking roles.

Ramon Novarro & Lupe Velez as Native Americans in “Laughing Boy” – I love Ramon Novarro’s silent film work but not so much his career in talkies. This film was just awful and one of his worst talkies. Their Mexican accents & Lupe’s bad acting make this movie unbearable in my opinion. I always thought Lupe Velez was much better suited to comedies rather than serious roles.

There are so many more but I'll stop there......for now.

Sorry about all the crazy font changes. I'm at work posting this!😉

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Actually DAWN---

That WHOLE CAST of "whettoes" as Mexicans  in TORTILLA FLAT is a much bigger abomination. My wife used to laugh out loud whenever she caught a glimpse of that stinkbomb.  She once told me; "I never knew anybody, either in my family or neighborhood who looked OR sounded like that!"  :D 

She also used to do similar kidding about ELI WALLACH in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.  ;)

Sepiatone

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6 hours ago, DawnM74 said:

And Jimmy Stewart singing “Easy to Love” from 1940's “Born to Dance” is pretty bad too.

I actually like Stewart's singing in "Easy To Love." It's like Audrey Hepburn's version of "Moon River", heartfelt and with a good sense of phrasing. I know most folks disagree, though. Even Jimmy said in THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT "The song was so good, even my singing couldn't ruin it!"

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The worst example I ever saw of this was on a TV soap opera. No, not Joan Crawford subbing for her daughter on The Secret Storm (that was before my time).

It involved Eileen Fulton on As the World Turns. Ms. Fulton played Lisa on the show for over 50 years (from 1962 to 2010, with a few breaks). In the early 90s, I think it was around 1992 or 1993, the headwriter decided to do a retcon and give Lisa a long-lost son that she supposedly had off-camera during one of her breaks from the show in the mid-60s. 

They could have creatively used old footage of Fulton as Lisa. But I guess they didn't want to do that, because a lot of footage from the 60s no longer existed and it was in black-and-white. Plus this new storyline was more about things that occurred when she was off camera.

Anyway, they decided to create new flashbacks of her being pregnant and having the baby circa 1965/1966. At this point Fulton was 60 years old. She was already playing younger than her actual age because Lisa was said to be in her early 50s. Having her do the scenes as a pregnant 25 year old in 1966 was outlandish. She looked like a 60 year old woman with a pillow under her blouse. It was the most cringeworthy thing I've ever seen on daytime television. Totally inappropriate.

They should have just found a similar looking actress in their 20s to do the flashbacks. They could have dubbed Fulton's voice over the dialogue if they wanted it to seem like it was still "her" doing those scenes set in the past.

You have to wonder why the producer and headwriter allowed something so ridiculous to even go on the air. This was in the days before the internet and soap message boards, but there was negative feedback about it in the soap magazines. Viewers had written letters making fun of it. I can only imagine the kinds of letters Ms. Fulton received at the studio.

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3 hours ago, TopBilled said:

The worst example I ever saw of this was on a TV soap opera. No, not Joan Crawford subbing for her daughter on The Secret Storm (that was before my time).

It involved Eileen Fulton on As the World Turns. Ms. Fulton played Lisa on the show for over 50 years (from 1962 to 2010, with a few breaks). In the early 90s, I think it was around 1992 or 1993, the headwriter decided to do a retcon and give Lisa a long-lost son that she supposedly had off-camera during one of her breaks from the show in the mid-60s. 

They could have creatively used old footage of Fulton as Lisa. But I guess they didn't want to do that, because a lot of footage from the 60s no longer existed and it was in black-and-white. Plus this new storyline was more about things that occurred when she was off camera. 

Anyway, they decided to create new flashbacks of her being pregnant and having the baby circa 1965/1966. At this point Fulton was 60 years old. She was already playing younger than her actual age because Lisa was said to be in her early 50s. Having her do the scenes as a pregnant 25 year old in 1966 was outlandish. She looked like a 60 year old woman with a pillow under her blouse. It was the most cringeworthy thing I've ever seen on daytime television. Totally inappropriate. 

They should have just found a similar looking actress in their 20s to do the flashbacks. They could have dubbed Fulton's voice over the dialogue if they wanted it to seem like it was still "her" doing those scenes set in the past.

You have to wonder why the producer and headwriter allowed something so ridiculous to even go on the air. This was in the days before the internet and soap message boards, but there was negative feedback about it in the soap magazines. Viewers had written letters making fun of it. I can only imagine the kinds of letters Ms. Fulton received at the studio.

I remember this! It was a hoot!

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3 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

I remember this! It was a hoot!

Yeah. It was unintentionally funny. The idea of giving her a new son was not the problem. It's the way they did it.

Incidentally, I made an error in my previous post. I said she joined the show in '62, but she had actually joined in 1960. So from 1960 to 2010 she spent five decades in the role. 

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1 minute ago, TopBilled said:

Yeah. It was unintentionally funny. The idea of giving her a new son was not the problem. It's the way they did it.

Incidentally, I made an error in my previous post. I said she joined the show in '62, but she had actually joined in 1960. So from 1960 to 2010 she spent five decades in the role. 

They were trying to make Eileen the blonde bombshell divorcee seductress  at least through the 1970s and into the 80s , long after she was too old for that persona, and long after she looked too old for that persona.

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1 hour ago, calvinnme said:

They were trying to make Eileen the blonde bombshell divorcee seductress  at least through the 1970s and into the 80s , long after she was too old for that persona, and long after she looked too old for that persona.

Yes, Eileen Fulton never lost her spunk or her charm, but she did start to lose her looks in the early 80s. She had a famous grandma clause where the writers could not make her character a grandmother, since she was still trying to maintain a younger image.

But in the mid-80s, after she'd been away for two years, she came back on a new contract without the clause. And the minute they were able to make her a grandma, they had her son on the show find out he'd fathered a Vietnamese girl in the war. So now Fulton's character suddenly had a 17 year old granddaughter!

The writers never had the granddaughter get pregnant, which makes me wonder if by that point she had a great-grandma clause!

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Bleached blonde American Jan Sterling as the (in the book) brunette, British, freckle-faced Julia in 1984.  The semi-Americanization of the ultra-British novel made it unwatchable.  Frankly, Sterling couldn't act even when she was playing bleached blonde American women.

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john wayne was cool as Genghis khan unquestionably better than omar sharif who was just plained outacted by Stephen boyd in that boring 1965 film....

and so Duke conquered the American cinema screen for 50 years.

:)

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For me, it's whenever famous, attractive personas play shy, loner characters. WAY too many films come to mind. 

Marcello Mastroianni as the shy, celibate priest in The Priest's Wife. (because of course Mastroianni is the first to come to mind when you think "celibate" :lol: )

image-w1280.jpg?1445893299

Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. I know this one is a classic but I feel his role would have been much better given to Harold Lloyd or someone like that instead.

bringing-up-baby-1024x722.jpg

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Yes, those nerdy guys always end up with the heroine--provided that they are played by Cary Grant (Bringing Up Baby), Henry Fonda (The Lady Eve), or Gary Cooper (Ball of Fire). Marcello Mastroianni also plays the shy type in both White Nights and The Organizer.

The best qualification for any role is always someone who is, at that very moment, hot at the box office, who is then perfect to play any kind of character. Case in point: Ryan O'Neal as Barry Lyndon. Dozens of Irish or British or even American actors would have played the role better, but O'Neal's bankability meant that the film was made.

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5 hours ago, karlofffan said:

Bleached blonde American Jan Sterling as the (in the book) brunette, British, freckle-faced Julia in 1984.  The semi-Americanization of the ultra-British novel made it unwatchable.  Frankly, Sterling couldn't act even when she was playing bleached blonde American women.

Wow, karlofffan! Gotta say I always thought Jan Sterling was not only EXTREMELY well cast by Billy Wilder in Ace in the Hole, but I also always thought she ACTED great in the role of that frustrated and desperate women stuck out in the middle of nowhere and looking for her one and only chance to escape her predicament.

Quote

And then kingrat said:

The best qualification for any role is always someone who is, at that very moment, hot at the box office, who is then perfect to play any kind of character. Case in point Ryan O'Neal: as Barry Lyndon. Dozens of Irish or British or even American actors would have played the role better, but O'Neal's bankability meant that the film was made.

Now, THERE'S ya an "actor" who CAN'T act! Case in point AGAIN:

(...eeh, I probably shouldn't be so hard on the hack here...he was probably just high on some kind'a drug at the time when this was filmed!!!)

 

 

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Dargo, that's hysterical. Although I'll give the poor guy this: that's one of the worst lines anyone has had to deliver.

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16 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Yes, Eileen Fulton never lost her spunk or her charm, but she did start to lose her looks in the early 80s. She had a famous grandma clause where the writers could not make her character a grandmother, since she was still trying to maintain a younger image.

But in the mid-80s, after she'd been away for two years, she came back on a new contract without the clause. And the minute they were able to make her a grandma, they had her son on the show find out he'd fathered a Vietnamese girl in the war. So now Fulton's character suddenly had a 17 year old granddaughter!

The writers never had the granddaughter get pregnant, which makes me wonder if by that point she had a great-grandma clause!

 ???

So, are you saying you think EILEEN FULTON was a FIFTY YEAR "MISCAST", or what?!?  :blink:

But if you're going the SOAP OPERA route, I'll nominate SARA MICHELLE GELLAR, who played Erica Kane's(Susan Lucci) daughter Kendall for two short years.  Not seen( by the show's fans I knew) as a good fit for the daughter of the feisty Erica, she left the show after that short stint because( according to soap gossip) she didn't get along well with Dame Lucci.  In fact, neither of the two other actresses that took on the role over the years seemed good fits.

Sepiatone

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32 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

 ???

So, are you saying you think EILEEN FULTON was a FIFTY YEAR "MISCAST", or what?!?  :blink:

But if you're going the SOAP OPERA route, I'll nominate SARA MICHELLE GELLAR, who played Erica Kane's(Susan Lucci) daughter Kendall for two short years.  Not seen( by the show's fans I knew) as a good fit for the daughter of the feisty Erica, she left the show after that short stint because( according to soap gossip) she didn't get along well with Dame Lucci.  In fact, neither of the two other actresses that took on the role over the years seemed good fits.

Sepiatone

I'm glad you asked this. I don't think Fulton was miscast, certainly not in the early years. But in this particular storyline, where she did flashback scenes as a 25 year old pregnant woman, when she was 60 and looked 60, she was miscast as Young Lisa. As I stated, they should have picked a 25 year old actress who resembled Fulton. It wasn't necessary for them to put Fulton in those scenes. I still don't know why they did that. It was literally unbelievable, and the viewers and soap mags criticized it.

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Humphrey Bogart and William Holden both were miscast as brothers Linus and David Larrabee in SABRINA. Both are tool old for their respective parts - as well as out of their appropriate range. I'd have cast Holden as the older brother (a role that requires some believable duplicity as well as ultimate decency) and someone more known for silliness and callowness (e.g., Robert Cummings) as the younger brother.  ...That this movie remains well regarded has to do with the appeal of Audrey Hepburn and the overall production headed by Billy Wilder.

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1 minute ago, Brrrcold said:

Humphrey Bogart and William Holden both were miscast as brothers Linus and David Larrabee in SABRINA. Both are tool old for their respective parts - as well as out of their appropriate range. I'd have cast Holden as the older brother (a role that requires some believable duplicity as well as ultimate decency) and someone more known for silliness and callowness (e.g., Robert Cummings) as the younger brother.  ...That this movie remains well regarded has to do with the appeal of Audrey Hepburn and the overall production headed by Billy Wilder.

Cummings at age 44 would have been too old by that point as well. But Montgomery Clift at age 34 would have been the right age for the younger brother.

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6 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Cummings at age 44 would have been too old by that point as well. But Montgomery Clift at age 34 would have been the right age for the younger brother.

I'd go with that. Clift's career could have been improved with a few lighter pieces. But it's actually not a very demanding or rewarding role. They might have done well with an actor of less prominence, like Barry Nelson or Tommy Noonan.

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3 minutes ago, Brrrcold said:

I'd go with that. Clift's career could have been improved with a few lighter pieces. But it's actually not a very demanding or rewarding role. They might have done well with an actor of less prominence, like Barry Nelson or Tommy Noonan.

One thing that occurred to me is how the older brother is almost meant to be like a father to the younger brother. So having an age gap between the brothers lends the story something unique. 

A cousin of my mother's had a sister who was 15 years younger than her. They had no other siblings and were not half-sisters. The parents just happened to have their daughters 15 years apart. 

In this story, Linus can still be considerably older than David. And in fact, the remake adheres to that idea, since Harrison Ford is 21 years older than Greg Kinnear.

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I'm not sure how atrociously "un-Mexican" Eli Wallach's voice can be claimed to be. There's plenty of genuine Mexican or Mexican Actors in various films down through history and his accent doesn't sound wildly far off from them. Maybe he delivered his lined more precisely, with more English style of diction--is that what you mean? Well, he was a trained stage and method actor. And as I recall from the production trivia for 'Seven' he rode and lived with Mexican Americans prior to filming.

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43 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I'm not sure how atrociously "un-Mexican" Eli Wallach's voice can be claimed to be. There's plenty of genuine Mexican or Mexican Actors in various films down through history and his accent doesn't sound wildly far off from them. Maybe he delivered his lined more precisely, with more English style of diction--is that what you mean? Well, he was a trained stage and method actor. And as I recall from the production trivia for 'Seven' he rode and lived with Mexican Americans prior to filming.

There's an episode of The Big Valley where Martin Landau plays a Mexican rebel. 

screen-shot-2019-03-18-at-7.40.50-am.jpg

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3 hours ago, Brrrcold said:

Humphrey Bogart and William Holden both were miscast as brothers Linus and David Larrabee in SABRINA. Both are tool old for their respective parts - as well as out of their appropriate range. I'd have cast Holden as the older brother (a role that requires some believable duplicity as well as ultimate decency) and someone more known for silliness and callowness (e.g., Robert Cummings) as the younger brother.  ...That this movie remains well regarded has to do with the appeal of Audrey Hepburn and the overall production headed by Billy Wilder.

I've always said Robert Taylor would have made a very good Linus in this movie.

Yeah yeah, I know. Many people think he was a big stiff as an actor, but considering the Linus character IS one staid dude, this aspect of Taylor's would have worked to his and the film's advantage.

(...and besides, he would have been 43 years old at the time, almost a decade younger than Bogie and the perfect age for the part, and when this movie was made he still had leading man looks and sex appeal enough to be believable as the man that young Sabrina would have ultimately picked over whoever played the younger brother)

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