slaytonf

Why does Stanley Donen Never Get His Due?

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Robert Osborn said it, and now Ben Mankiewicz continues it.  They say 'Charade is the best thriller he never made.'  It seems Stanley Donen will always be robbed of credit for putting together a smart, entertaining, and stylish serio-comic thriller.  That other thriller director, not content with plaudits for his own work, must be garnering the laurels from others.  And so, they say it.  Why don't people say 'North By Northwest is the best thriller Stanley Donen never made?'  The fact is that there is nothing in the look, style, or atmosphere of the movie remotely reminiscent of him.  Donen's movies have a human dimension to them that is lacking in those of the other director.  And Donen is certainly better at humor, and integrating it with a serious and exciting story.

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11 hours ago, slaytonf said:

They say 'Charade is the best thriller he never made.

Has Hitchcock suddenly become a dirty word?

Anyway, "Charade" is a terrific piece of entertainment, but unless you never seen a Hitchcock film, it is hard not to compare it. It has one of Hitch's favorite actors, Cary Grant, as well as suspense, romance, a MacGuffin, plot twists, menacing villains and a lot of comedy, probably more comic moments than in a Hitchcock film.

Donen certainly deserves the credit for making a great film, his next would be an equally great comic thriller "Arabesque" with another Hitchcock actor Gregory Peck. 

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10 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I never liked Charade.

Well then. We can always play Pictionary instead if you like, Lawrence?!

(...oh...wait)

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2 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I never liked Arabesque.

Although I noticed last night while again watching Cary in Charade that in some scenes it seemed to me as if he was almost "phoning it in" as they say, I think he was still better than Gregory was in Arabesque. Cary was just better at delivering little throwaway lines intended to be witty than Greg ever was, and which in my view makes Arabesque suffer by the comparison between these two Donen thrillers.

(...Ben also made a good point last night when in his wraparound he said that the excellent supporting cast of Matthau, Coburn and Kennedy elevates this film)

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Yeah, but then remember....

ARABESQUE had the very voluptuous SOPHIA LOREN, while CHARADE had who.... AUDREY HEPBURN?  :huh:  And really....

I liked CHARADE because of Grant, and in spite of Hepburn,  But then too, liked ARABESQUE because of Loren and in spite of Peck.  :D 

Peck, in an interview, claimed that Loren did that shower scene actually completely nude, with him in the shower with her,  and quipped, "After Donen yelled "cut!" it was 20 minutes before I could stand up and leave the set."  :D 

I think he was kidding, but too, wouldn't be difficult to believe.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Has Hitchcock suddenly become a dirty word?

Anyway, "Charade" is a terrific piece of entertainment, but unless you never seen a Hitchcock film, it is hard not to compare it. It has one of Hitch's favorite actors, Cary Grant, as well as suspense, romance, a MacGuffin, plot twists, menacing villains and a lot of comedy, probably more comic moments than in a Hitchcock film.

Donen certainly deserves the credit for making a great film, his next would be an equally great comic thriller "Arabesque" with another Hitchcock actor Gregory Peck. 

Charade is good but since we are talking about Hitch and Grant,  how would you rank the 3 thrillers they made with Charade?   My order would be:

Notorious,   North by Northwest,   To Catch a Thief and lastly Charade.

Others here have hinted at the reasons; e.g. Grant being 58 when this was film and bringing just a little less of that 'Grantness' to the role. 

But I will admit that a major reason for me is that my expectations were too high.   The film contains the two actors I find the most charming of the studio-era,  Cary and Audrey;    I was expecting their chemistry to really, really burn up the screen,  but I don't find them as good as a match as Cary's parings with Dunne, Kate Hepburn,  Bergman, etc..  

Of course I did a lot of what-ifs last night related to Sabrina and Love in the Afternoon;  A younger Grant in those roles,,,,with Audrey,,,,,.     I can only imagine the chemistry and unfairly to all involved in the making of Charade,  I'm still chasing this imaginary chemistry.  

 

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2 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Charade is good but since we are talking about Hitch and Grant,  how would you rank the 3 thrillers they made with Charade?   My order would be:

Notorious,   North by Northwest,   To Catch a Thief and lastly Charade.

Others here have hinted at the reasons; e.g. Grant being 58 when this was film and bring just a little less of that 'Grantness' to the role. 

But I will admit that a major reason for me is that my expectations were too high.   The film contains the two actors I find the most charming of the studio-era,  Cary and Audrey;    I was expecting their chemistry to really, really burn up the screen,  but I don't find them as good as a match as Cary's parings with Dunne, Kate Hepburn,  Bergman, etc..  

Of course I did a lot of what-ifs last night related to Sabrina and Love in the Afternoon;  A younger Grant in those roles,,,,with Audrey,,,,,.     I can only imagine the chemistry and unfairly to all involved in the making of Charade,  I'm still chasing this imaginary chemistry.  

I agree with your sentiments here. But you forgot Suspicion. I would rank it behind the other Hitchcocks, but ahead of Charade, despite Suspicion's cop-out ending.

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53 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I never liked Arabesque.

I thought it was well used in Portrait of Jennie:

 

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21 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I agree with your sentiments here. But you forgot Suspicion. I would rank it behind the other Hitchcocks, but ahead of Charade, despite Suspicion's cop-out ending.

Funny,  but I purposefully left off Suspicion thinking someone would post back that this wasn't a 'thriller' in the same way as those other Hitchcock \ Grant films.

I need to get a backbone!    (and I agree with your ranking).

 

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Has Hitchcock suddenly become a dirty word?

Anyway, "Charade" is a terrific piece of entertainment, but unless you never seen a Hitchcock film, it is hard not to compare it. It has one of Hitch's favorite actors, Cary Grant, as well as suspense, romance, a MacGuffin, plot twists, menacing villains and a lot of comedy, probably more comic moments than in a Hitchcock film.

Donen certainly deserves the credit for making a great film, his next would be an equally great comic thriller "Arabesque" with another Hitchcock actor Gregory Peck. 

I think the unexamined point in this comparison is whether Hitchcock would have cast Audrey Hepburn in anything... Personally, I doubt it. She's much too needy, lacking in self-possession, etc. Furthermore, CHARADE is about her, not about the Cary Grant character: Hitchcock would have created a more interesting role for Grant.

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9 minutes ago, Brrrcold said:

I think the unexamined point in this comparison is whether Hitchcock would have cast Audrey Hepburn in anything... Personally, I doubt it. She's much too needy, lacking in self-possession, etc. Furthermore, CHARADE is about her, not about the Cary Grant character: Hitchcock would have created a more interesting role for Grant.

Speakin' o' which...I thought the most interesting role in the film was Matthau's.

Saaay, maybe if Cary and Walter had exchanged...ummm...oh never mind.

(...nope, can't quite see Walter getting Audrey at the end, can ya)

;)

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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Charade is good but since we are talking about Hitch and Grant,  how would you rank the 3 thrillers they made with Charade?

Here's my ranking

1. North By Northwest- the best comic thriller I have ever seen. Grant gives one of his best performances, crop dusting and Mt Rushmore scenes are highlights. And Grant's forced drunk driving scene is hilarious. Eva Marie Saint's character is intriguing and she looks great. 

2. Charade- yes, I like it more than the other two Hitchcock-Grant films for reasons I state in my above post.

3. Notorious-good film, I have seen it all the way through once, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains are very good, I found the film a bit dull at times, not much humor, the above two are definitely lighter in tone. Grant is deadly serious here as the tough government agent. 

4. To Catch A Thief-it's pretty good, not a big fan. More of a romantic film, not enough suspense. A fairly enjoyable bit of fluff, nice locations, suave Grant, gorgeous Grace Kelly.

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He made arguably the greatest musical of all time, "Funny Face".

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20 hours ago, Brrrcold said:

I think the unexamined point in this comparison is whether Hitchcock would have cast Audrey Hepburn in anything... Personally, I doubt it. She's much too needy, lacking in self-possession, etc. Furthermore, CHARADE is about her, not about the Cary Grant character: Hitchcock would have created a more interesting role for Grant.

Hitchcock came close to using Audrey in a late 50s film with Laurence Harvey called No Bail for the Judge. But Audrey had qualms about a rape scene in the film, then became pregnant which allowed her to back out of the project. Hitchcock was so p-ssed he shelved the project and it was never made. I think Samuel Taylor (Sabrina) wrote the script.

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10 minutes ago, rayban said:

He made arguably the greatest musical of all time, "Funny Face".

YES! I think Funny Face is my favorite Hollywood musical (not based on a stage musical, though it used some of the score from Fred's version). Loved watching it again Sunday night. Great songs; numbers; casting; PARIS!

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41 minutes ago, rayban said:

He made arguably the greatest musical of all time, "Funny Face".

 

29 minutes ago, Hibi said:

YES! I think Funny Face is my favorite Hollywood musical (not based on a stage musical, though it used some of the score from Fred's version). Loved watching it again Sunday night. Great songs; numbers; casting; PARIS!

I love Funny Face.  My favorite part is the photo shoot in Paris.  Audrey looks fantastic in that red strapless gown.  I also love Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson's "Clap Yo' Hands" number. 

This is such a great film--so much color, fun music, Fred, Audrey, what else more could you want?

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1 hour ago, rayban said:

He made arguably the greatest musical of all time, "Funny Face".

I didn't like Funny Face, either.

When I voiced as much in the "I Just Watched" thread, I received multiple death threats. 

Not really. But it kind of felt that way. I think of that whenever people say that they enjoy seeing dissenting opinions on here. My dissenting opinion was certainly not enjoyed that day.

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8 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I didn't like Funny Face, either.

When I voiced as much in the "I Just Watched" thread, I received multiple death threats. 

Not really. But it kind of felt that way. I think of that whenever people say that they enjoy seeing dissenting opinions on here. My dissenting opinion was certainly not enjoyed that day.

Well that isn't right.   Sad that some people get defensive about their favorites. 

Anyhow, I really like Funny Face.    But hey I watched it with my gay brother-in-law and his fashion designer friend and my wife.

The real star of the film is Hubert de Givenchy.

Ok, I'm partly joking.   I also like that the film features Gershwin music and the fine chemistry between Fred and Audrey (despite Fred being just as old as Cary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon,  Fred is full of life and works very well with Audrey).    The entire film has such energy and 'life' and that reels me in.

And of course there is 50's Audrey;  Yea,  I'm a sucker for her charm.    I'd buy swamp land in your neck of the woods if she was selling it!

 

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4 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

 

I love Funny Face.  My favorite part is the photo shoot in Paris.  Audrey looks fantastic in that red strapless gown.  I also love Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson's "Clap Yo' Hands" number. 

This is such a great film--so much color, fun music, Fred, Audrey, what else more could you want?

I know. And there's not a dull moment in the entire movie. It just moves from one gorgeous scene or number to the next......Very funny script too.

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

Hitchcock came close to using Audrey in a late 50s film with Laurence Harvey called No Bail for the Judge. But Audrey had qualms about a rape scene in the film, then became pregnant which allowed her to back out of the project. Hitchcock was so p-ssed he shelved the project and it was never made. I think Samuel Taylor (Sabrina) wrote the script.

Thanks... I know various anecdotes of Hitchcock's misfires and never-weres. I'd not seen or heard this one.

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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Well that isn't right.   Sad that some people get defensive about their favorites. 

Anyhow, I really like Funny Face.    But hey I watched it with my gay brother-in-law and his fashion designer friend and my wife.

The real star of the film is Hubert de Givenchy.

Ok, I'm partly joking.   I also like that the film features Gershwin music and the fine chemistry between Fred and Audrey (despite Fred being just as old as Cary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon,  Fred is full of life and works very well with Audrey).    The entire film has such energy and 'life' and that reels me in.

And of course there is 50's Audrey;  Yea,  I'm a sucker for her charm.    I'd buy swamp land in your neck of the woods if she was selling it!

 

Excellent observation on Givenchy!

And you're right about Fred Astaire. At this time he was like 57 years old, but obviously from his physical danceability,

he was quite equal to any person half his age.

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On 8/18/2019 at 11:46 PM, slaytonf said:

Robert Osborn said it, and now Ben Mankiewicz continues it.  They say 'Charade is the best thriller he never made.'  It seems Stanley Donen will always be robbed of credit for putting together a smart, entertaining, and stylish serio-comic thriller.  That other thriller director, not content with plaudits for his own work, must be garnering the laurels from others.  And so, they say it.  Why don't people say 'North By Northwest is the best thriller Stanley Donen never made?'  The fact is that there is nothing in the look, style, or atmosphere of the movie remotely reminiscent of him.  Donen's movies have a human dimension to them that is lacking in those of the other director.  And Donen is certainly better at humor, and integrating it with a serious and exciting story.

So much of what happened to Stanley Donen in his life happened early on. He started out as Gene Kelly's assistant and actually was his stand-in/ understudy on Broadway. But working with Gene Kelly on those musicals oh, no one ever really gave him fair credit for "Singin' in the Rain" or "On the Town" or anything.

So I think this carried into the rest of his life. I saw "Charade" first run in a movie theater and it's even more scary and entertaining on the big screen than it is on television. What was also so fascinating about this film is that he actually catapulted two actors into the big time after their performances here: George Kennedy and Walter Matthau.

And of course you have to say no one shows Paris in Technicolor better than Stanley-- both  "Charade" and "Funny Face" were shot on location in Paris.

So in some regards Stanley never got out of that big Gene Kelly Shadow. And Gene Kelly did cast a very big shadow. LOL

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