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Classic Character Actors

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> {quote:title=FloydDBarber wrote:}{quote}http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_McNear

Howard McNear was quite a character off screen as well. Parley Baer used to comment on the pills Howard carried for every possible ailment, real or imagined. Baer also liked to tell of Howard whispering things to make him crack up in very inappropriate settings.

 

To me, Howard's best work was on radio. It seems that a regular listener could hear McNear just about every day of the week on one show or another.

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What is interesting here is your comment 'The studios were factories then'. It is a positive statement but if one only read that comment one could view it as a negative comment.

 

WB is my favorite studio and the character actors they had is one of the key reasons (as well as their grit, hardcore style). But I do admit that sometimes I see a WB movie and it is a little too factory driven.

 

For example, The Conspirators, which was on this week. I caught this movie about 15 minutes in. I said to the wife; well this is WB. The movie had it moments but sometimes I felt I was watching Casablanca meets the Maltese Falcon! At least the movie had Hedy Lamar for a fresh female face.

Overall the WB factory of the 30s and 40s cranked out quality movies, even many of the 'B' pictures. The character actors are a key reason. i.e. they alway brought a certain level of quality to these WB movies.

 

 

 

 

 

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>Overall the WB factory of the 30s and 40s cranked out quality movies, even many of the 'B' pictures. The character actors are a key reason. i.e. they alway brought a certain level of quality to these WB movies.

 

I think that is a very true statement. Movies today do have character actors. It is just that they are dwarfed by the Tom Cruises and Sandra Bullocks. They do not get the chance to really shine like character actors did back in the 30s or 40s. And they most certainly do not, with rare exception, get the chance to carry a major studio film (unless it's a low-budget sleeper that was independently financed and has found distribution through a major studio).

 

John Malkovich is what I would call a character actor today who occasionally gets to do meatier parts.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}

> > Overall the WB factory of the 30s and 40s cranked out quality movies, even many of the 'B' pictures. The character actors are a key reason. i.e. they alway brought a certain level of quality to these WB movies.

> I think that is a very true statement. Movies today do have character actors. It is just that they are dwarfed by the Tom Cruises and Sandra Bullocks. They do not get the chance to really shine like character actors did back in the 30s or 40s. And they most certainly do not, with rare exception, get the chance to carry a major studio film (unless it's a low-budget sleeper that was independently financed and has found distribution through a major studio).

>

> John Malkovich is what I would call a character actor today who occasionally gets to do meatier parts.

Many of the old films actually referred to "The Players" when listing the cast. The old studios were, in many ways, very much like a theatre company. They tried to put the pieces they had into the best places they could.

 

Since films today are each built from scratch, that doesn't happen.

 

When trying to think of more modern character actors, the late Bruno Kirby popped into my head. In his case, being a character actor was the family business.

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Great topic!!! Wow, too many for me to remember to name them all! I just know when I see a flick from the 30s through the middle-40's, and occasionally beyond, I'm gonna see a ton of great character actors and actresses! Especially WB, but really all the studios had 'em! They are SO cool and they make the movie most often for me, a richer and more rewarding experience!

 

Someone mentioned STRANGERS ALL, and I'm really looking forward to catching that from the DVR this weekend, but yeah, that's great! I love May Robson, and it sounds like a great character actor cast in this moving B flick!

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That's the trouble with this thread, Mark. Every day I'll catch a flick and see one or two old character actors that I've always liked but couldn't think of when I named my favorites. Then last night, *12 Angry Men* is shown, and there's MORE!! Of course, this doesn't mean this thread ain't great.

 

 

Malkovich? I remember reading some years ago a profile of him where he claimed, "Movies are stupid." Since then, I've seen him in a few dozen movies. I guess even Prima Donnas have to eat...

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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Amen to Fred Clark nobody could do "bubbling over with barely controled frustration"

 

 

like he could.

 

 

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Also, I think since the advent of Saturday Night Live, we have been given a new variety of the character actor. It is usually a young, loud brash comic (male or female) who is not sexy enough to play romantic leads but who is allowed to carry a film at a major studio if there are enough laughs or outrageous situations to bring in the bucks at the box office. That is the main type of character actor we have in movies today.

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> {quote:title=Sepiatone wrote:}{quote}

>

> Malkovich? I remember reading some years ago a profile of him where he claimed, "Movies are stupid." Since then, I've seen him in a few dozen movies. I guess even Prima Donnas have to eat...

>

>

> Sepiatone

>

I'd have to read the whole profile to be fair to Malkovich, but I do get a bit perturbed at actors who act like we're all idiots for liking their work. It seems to occur way too often.

 

Of course if he's talking about films that are all CGI and no characterizations, I generally agree.

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*Donald MacBride* ( {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}The Killers,The Time of Their Lives)

 

*Harry Davenport* ( The Hunchback of Notre Dame.The Ox-Bow Incident){font}

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Today TCM broadcast ROMANCE FOR THREE (also known as PARADISE FOR THREE).

 

This MGM delight has a good group of character actors: Frank Morgan, Edna May Oliver, Reginald Owen, Sig Ruman, Henry Hull and Mary Astor.

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In June, I am going to post daily on this thread. Each day I will feature one character actor, alternating between the men and women. I will not stick to just the golden age of Hollywood...it will include occasional character actors that are working in films today.

 

Also, it will include former A-list stars who became character actors at the end of their motion picture careers.

 

What will be different about this thread is that instead of listing films or sharing a critic's review, I will just highlight some dialogue they have spoken in a classic movie.

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spring-byington-2-sized.jpg

*Spring Byington*

 

To Fay Bainter in THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY:

 

I just wanted to know what stand I should take about the cherry trees. They're so decorative-- but they _are_ Japanese.

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> {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=FloydDBarber wrote:}{quote}http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_McNear

> Howard McNear was quite a character off screen as well. Parley Baer used to comment on the pills Howard carried for every possible ailment, real or imagined. Baer also liked to tell of Howard whispering things to make him crack up in very inappropriate settings.

>

> To me, Howard's best work was on radio. It seems that a regular listener could hear McNear just about every day of the week on one show or another.

>

>

>

I just remembered that while Mr. McNear was playing Doc on *Gunsmoke,* Parley Baer was playing Chester. William Conrad was Matt and Kitty was Georgia Ellis whom I know nothing about besides this role. That 50's boogeyman TV made stars of all the others to say nothing of the TV cast.

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Never mind the cherry trees. I prefer Ms. Byington as Aunt Ettie at Wilfred Glendon's flower show in Werewolf of London, particularly the scene with the venus fly-trap: "A plant just ate a frog!"

 

 

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One of the important things that early (1950's/60's) television did was give regular work to the character actors, and sometimes made them close to being real stars - people like Bill 'Fred Mertz' Frawley, William 'Uncle Charlie' Demarest, Edgar 'Uncle Joe' Buchanan had all had relatively OK careers doing character bits in films, but TV made them celebrities.

 

It was also mentioned about Jack Webb and his little in-house troupe of actors/drinking buddies/friends. Even after the 60's version of DRAGNET died in 1970, a lot of these people still showed up in its semi-spinoff ADAM-12, and ADAM-12's spinoff, EMERGENCY deep into the 70's. People like Art Ballinger, Bill Boyett, Virginia Gregg. Need a cranky old geezer? Get Burt Mustin. A doctor? Olan Soule. It really is quite interesting to see, as it is almost a continuation of the old studio system way of casting bit parts...

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Webb certainly used Mustin many times, but I'd claim that his number one cranky senior was Ralph Moody. He was the original "get off my lawn" guy. I can't imagine him ever being young.

 

Webb also loved using people like Gregg and Vic Perrin who were successful radio actors.

 

 

 

 

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Spring Byington had some of the best lines in film. The interesting thing is that I think she was portraying women who really did talk and think that way, as exaggerated as it may have been.

 

Someone else mentioned character actors becoming celebrities on television, and Spring certainly accomplished that on the long-running sitcom December Bride.

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I wish shows like "December Bride" would be shown on television. The 50s shows, instead of all the 70s and later stuff that they show endlessly. I'd like to see the Ann Sothern, Gale Storm, and Bob Cummings shows -- lots of old Hollywood actors on those shows. I was recently of "My Friend Irma." I barely remember it, I was a toddler at the time, but I recently read that Margaret Dumont was on a few times.

 

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I'm delighted that Hazel is airing on Antenna TV. I would love to see December Bride in syndication.

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1-mon-oct-yankee.jpg

*Louis Calhern*

 

To Richard Anderson in THE MAGNIFICENT YANKEE:

 

It's a free country. Everybody's entitled to his opinion-- even the President of the United States.

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images-33.jpg

*Dame Judith Anderson*

 

To Joan Fontaine in REBECCA:

 

I watched you go down, just as I watched her a year ago. Even in the same dress, you couldn't compare.

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