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alwaystcm

How about days honoring the character actors?

13 posts in this topic

Maybe I missed it in the many years of TCM, but how about spending some time honoring the character actors? How about a day(s) showing exclusive films that included "Cuddles" Sakall, Frank McHugh, George Tobias, Eve Arden, Walter Brennan, etc.? These actors added a depth to the main characters in every film they were featured. Let's do it!

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I'm WITH you, except one problem might arise. For instance, it would require more than a day for many of them, like CHARLES LANE and TOBIAS.

 

 

But I don't have a problem with it.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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There's such alot of variety in their films, so it would not be monotonous, no matter how many they showed. Charles Lane was in so many films and types of films.

 

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There WERE some character actors who've had somewhat larger roles with more screen time than others. Damned if I can THINK of any at the moment. But they COULD start THERE. You know, larger roles, but STILL technically CHARACTER roles.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

PS: OK, one that comes to mind is both BRENNAN and TOBIAS in *Seargent York* .

 

 

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Well the last time this was discussed I made a point somewhat similar to the point Swithin is making with regards to days honoring character actors; that any 'tie in' between movies can be difficult (odd), other than the character actor being honored, and the theme of the honor is lost.

 

Note I made this point when they had the Joan Blondell day for SUTS (and Joan wasn't a character actor in these films). But since many of Joan's best early films were with Cagney and these movies were Cagney films more so than Joan films, the day looked more like Cagney day than a day for Joan.

 

The same thing might happen with honoring a character actor (especially if the role isn't a key one). But starting with bigger roles for a character actor might work. i.e. by doing so, the movies would appear to feature that character actor and NOT the leads in those movies, and thus the theme of the day would still be intact.

 

 

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It would be nice if they got some big old stars -- Shirley Temple, Jane Powell, Dick Moore, Mickey Rooney, Olivia, Joan, et. al. to talk, NOT about their own careers, but ONLY about the character people. For example, Shirley Temple worked alot with Helen Westley, one of my favorites, on four films. Even younger actors worked with some of the character actors. Early in his career, Kirk Douglas worked with alot of the old timers. But it would be important that these "stars" kept to the subject and away from their own work. Many interesting screenings could result from this treatment, I think.

 

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Lew Landers' tribute today is chock full of character actors.

 

Best line comes from Twelve Crooked Hours (what a title!): Newspaper editor yells, "OK, which one of you lushes got into my rye?"

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That's a good idea but for the month you would have to break it into days per actor. And they would have to have a significant part in the movie, not a cameo or a very small part where they are only shown once. Because then it would be confusing as to why the viewers are watching...

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It doesn't have to be so complicated really. Whether it's done during the day, or in the evening with Robert/Ben hosting, either could introduce the movie with "Tonight we're honoring . . . ". It could be done with a few films where the character actor/actress truly shined. That shouldn't be too much homework on TCM's part. They could even do a poll of the fans to help with the programming.

 

The only reason any of this came to mind was when I was watching Frank McHugh & Alan Hale in "Manpower", they just added a richness to the story. Then I remembered all the times Walter Brennan added depth to "Rio Bravo", "To Have and Have Not", or Eve Arden in "Mildred Pierce" etc.

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Among us true TCM junkies a Character Actor month might prove the most popular month ever. Just don't leave out Nat Pendleton!

 

There *is* one issue that would have to be resolved, and that's the one raised earlier about the Blondell SUTS day at times seeming more like Cagney day, since in so many of her earlier movies Cagney was the lead. Of course the ideal solution to that would be to give preference to the B-movies where the character actors weren't overwhelmed by the stars. That'd ensure more variety.

 

 

The other question is how to define "character actor", because there are several distinct types.

 

 

The first type never plays anything close to a leading role, but rather always fits into a "character" part. Franklin Pangborn, Tom Kennedy, Eric Blore, Edward Brophy, Margaret Dumont, Alison Skipworth, Marjorie Main, etc. Those are the "purest" type of character actors.

 

Then you've got the ones who often play leads or co-leads in factory farm movies or even occasionally a forgotten A-movie or two. Joan Blondell falls into this category, as well as Edward Arnold, Charles Coburn, and the mighty and magnificent Glenda Farrell. These would be easier to stage a full day for.

 

 

And then there's what I'd call the Twilight Zone type: Actors who often play leads or major roles, but whose "character" is as well defined as any of the first type: Peter Lorre would maybe be the perfect example of this, although he could also easily qualify for a "regular" SUTS or even SOTM tribute.

 

 

Bottom line, though: Let's do it! However you want to break them down, these actors and actresses have been the heart and soul of American movies from the very beginning, and they more than deserve their due.

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I think the characters actors should be honored but as you noted there are some 'technical' issues in doing so.

 

For example, take one guy that I love; Frank Pangborn. Well two of the most famous movies he was in, Now Voyager and My Man Godfrey. Great movies but showing them as part of a day (or time period), for Frank? Doesn't really made much sense to me.

 

Now, as you noted, a lot of interesting things could be done with someone like Charles Scour, since his roles in the movie often cover the entire span (or a vast majority) of the movie screen time.

 

But I agree: Let's do it. It is about time.

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