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Sally Field as Essentials co-host

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A truly great essential, especially in my book of lists. Steve McQueen's Bullitt (1968) a screening I have made 50-100 times and I feel I know this film backwards and forewords with many footnote documented attributes in between.  After the viewing the movie again last Saturday night (June 13th) and re-confirming my love and appreciation for a film 98% flawless, I was surprised at Sally Field's remarks about Jacqueline Bisset's part.  True it was a very small part as was the majority of supporting players but just as vitally important to the overall picture. 

 

Over the last number of recent viewings I have made of Bullitt trying to break it apart (analytically) to try and figure out just what makes it such an awesome and entertaining film. My conclusion, like the film itself is multi-layered.   First and foremost Steve McQueen fits his part like a tailor made suit.  And as Sally pointed out, often Frank Bullitt did not have to speak.  His eyes and expression spoke volumes.  When he did speak it was direct and to the point.

 

 Jacqueline Bisset, of course she is very beautiful but much more than just eye candy in this film.  She is a professional, working in her opening scene, on the water flow problem to an art sculpture fountain (which by the way is a real functioning fountain located at the Embarcadero in San Francisco).  According to director Peter Yates in the documentary The Making of Bullitt, he mentions how careful he was to cast the woman in Steve McQueen's Frank Bullitt's life and she had to be of a sincere quality to be with this type of man.  I believe it is also an important factor to show Frank Bullitt's love interest to round out and complete his character.  He is much more than just a shoot'em cop. He's a thinking man's detective, he cares about Cathy and works hard to keep the violent aspects of his work out of their relationship.  That private glance he makes of her, as she chats with friends in the jazz club, beaming of admiration and/or love is a priceless scene.  Yet he doesn't say a word, it's all mimed and framed with the sound of cool jazz.  Later they are in bed together but being the total professional he is, he still keeps tabs on his team of partners watching over Ross, the informant.  With all due respect to Sally Field, I believe Jacqueline Bisset's part was well played and an important integral part of the film.  I think it fair to say that all of these supporting parts, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Duvall, Simon Oakland, Don Gordon and Norman Fell were "small parts" only in terms of "screen time", but we would all love to have seen bigger and juicer expanded parts for this super talented cast but that would be a much different movie.  Sally pretty much said the same of Robert Duvall's part at the end of the show.  I just felt that observation should apply all the way around to the rest of the cast.  Great movie!

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A truly great essential, especially in my book of lists. Steve McQueen's Bullitt (1968) a screening I have made 50-100 times and I feel I know this film backwards and forewords with many footnote documented attributes in between.  After the viewing the movie again last Saturday night (June 13th) and re-confirming my love and appreciation for a film 98% flawless, I was surprised at Sally Field's remarks about Jacqueline Bisset's part.  True it was a very small part as was the majority of supporting players but just as vitally important to the overall picture. 

 

I think two things are happening in Sally's remarks. First, she's a feminist-- so she is evaluating the weight and importance of a prominent (or not so prominent) female lead. Also, she's an actress-- so she is looking at these roles in terms of whether or not she would have done them. 

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Sally field's remarks about, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," really disappointed me.  She said she hated Hurd Hatfield's performance because it was so stiff, showing that she failed to understand that his flat affect throughout the film was part of what informs the character.  From the very first, people loved Dorian entirely because of his looks. His awareness of that was part of the reason he was willing to sell his soul to keep his youth. The Angela Lansbury character loved him in exactly the same way she loved the picture of a knight on her bedroom wall, superimposing fine qualities on nothing more than a handsome face. 

 

Several times Miss Field has criticized a film because the acting was not the relatable, realistic acting of today.  Part  of what makes these many  older movies so great is that style and mystery were valued as much as realism and actors worked with greater subtlety.

 

"The Picture of Dorian Gray," is a masterpiece.  A brilliant study of the nature of morality and the sliding temptation of cynicism. 

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COMPLETELY agree with AndreaDoria. Hurd Hatfield's performance is arresting to me. So different from the typical approach that Ms. Field seems to be looking for. The point is that he is portraying one of those "beautiful people" who don't have to show how "good" they are because for the majority of folks, their beauty is enough. The shallowness of Dorian's circle of friends is somewhat to blame for his susceptibility to the suggestions of the George Sanders character. Sometimes the unique approach to characterization is what makes the movie work. I love this movie as is.

 

 

 

 

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Sally field's remarks about, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," really disappointed me.  She said she hated Hurd Hatfield's performance because it was so stiff, showing that she failed to understand that his flat affect throughout the film was part of what informs the character.  From the very first, people loved Dorian entirely because of his looks. His awareness of that was part of the reason he was willing to sell his soul to keep his youth. The Angela Lansbury character loved him in exactly the same way she loved the picture of a knight on her bedroom wall, superimposing fine qualities on nothing more than a handsome face. 

 

Several times Miss Field has criticized a film because the acting was not the relatable, realistic acting of today.  Part  of what makes these many  older movies so great is that style and mystery were valued as much as realism and actors worked with greater subtlety.

 

"The Picture of Dorian Gray," is a masterpiece.  A brilliant study of the nature of morality and the sliding temptation of cynicism. 

Interesting viewpoint. But is it wrong for Sally Field to evaluate a film in terms of acting, or overall performance style? We do have to admit that some of these films produced in the 40s were made differently, and stage trained performers approached the craft of acting in a way that was often not subtle or naturalistic. Maybe the films ultimately help Sally and people like her appreciate the method acting style that became prevalent a decade later. So she is not finding fault with Hatfield's work as much as she is saying that there were new techniques developed that could have brought viewers an even richer realization of the character.

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Of course that's not what Field said at all. She said she didn't like the film very much because she thought Hurd Hatfield was awful in it and that anyone else would have been better.  She suggested that Peter Lawford, who was in the movie, would have been better, so she was hardly saying that the lack of modern method acting was the problem. 

 

I'm not blaming her for evaluating his performance or stating her opinion.  I just disagree with her and think her opinion, in this case, shows a lack of understanding of the character and a lack of appreciation for the subtlety of Hurd's performance.  Robert Osborne disagreed with her, too, saying that he loved the sense of mystery he brought to the part.

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One would think that Sally Field being an oscar winner and star of many films would be a great choice.

Not the case!  

I just saw her and Robert's discussion on Picture of Dorian Gray.  I thought she showed no knowledge and seemed unprepared, she couldn't even remember the name of the lead actor. The director wanted something different from the Oscar Wilde book he wanted Dorien to be cold and distant.  It worked and was a great performance!  Sally seems to think all movie characters have to be "liked"!.   I personally can't wait for better co-host or just have Robert talk by himself as he clearly know what he is talking about!

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One would think that Sally Field being an oscar winner and star of many films would be a great choice.

Not the case!  

I just saw her and Robert's discussion on Picture of Dorian Gray.  I thought she showed no knowledge and seemed unprepared, she couldn't even remember the name of the lead actor. The director wanted something different from the Oscar Wilde book he wanted Dorien to be cold and distant.  It worked and was a great performance!  Sally seems to think all movie characters have to be "liked"!.   I personally can't wait for better co-host or just have Robert talk by himself as he clearly know what he is talking about!

Interesting points, Shannon. I think this is a tricky film to talk about, just like Wilde's written works are often tricky to analyze. What we see on screen is supposed to be somewhat enigmatic and open to multiple readings. Sally's interpretation may not be one we agree with, but that's beauty of discussing DORIAN GRAY-- that we can reach and understand the text in whatever way works best for us.

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I was so happy when they did away with Baldwin and Drew Barrymore took over.  I as sad to see her go, but expected Sally Field to be able to do as good or better of a job.  Unfortunately, Sally is inarticulate and it does not seem that she watches the films, just reads cue cards that someone at TCM writes up for her.  She is worse than Baldwin, and I really wish they would bring Drew back.  Drew seemed to have actually watched the film, and some for the first time.  She was articulate and insightful.  Sally is not.

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I was so happy when they did away with Baldwin and Drew Barrymore took over.  I as sad to see her go, but expected Sally Field to be able to do as good or better of a job.  Unfortunately, Sally is inarticulate and it does not seem that she watches the films, just reads cue cards that someone at TCM writes up for her.  She is worse than Baldwin, and I really wish they would bring Drew back.  Drew seemed to have actually watched the film, and some for the first time.  She was articulate and insightful.  Sally is not.

That is an interesting comment. Personally, I did not think Drew expressed herself well and repeated a lot of the same phrases over and over when expressing one or two basic emotions she felt about the films. But I do agree with you one hundred percent that Drew did watch every film all the way through. While her vocabulary may have been limited, she was definitely not faking her feelings that could only have come from having actually watched the week's given selection.

 

As for Sally, she seems like someone who has integrity and I am sure she has watched the films being presented. But some of them may be titles she watched long ago and did not feel the need to re-examine. So that could be why her statements are unusually vague. Just a theory.

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On today's "Essentials" Sally Field and Robert Osborne introduced "Now, Voyager". One of the greatest films ever made starring one of the greatest actresses ever in film, Bette Davis. Mr. Osborne asked Ms. Field her opinion of Bette Davis as an actress. She gave a rambling response indicating her feeling that the general film acting style of the 40's was "big", and by that, she quite obviously meant "bad". She further included Bette Davis in this opinion. In the condescending way Field expressed it, she might just as well have called Bette Davis a "ham". If Ms. Field wants to discuss "acting styles" we might begin with her jarringly out of step performance in the awful "Beyond The Poseidon Adventure". Through the entire film Ms. Field seems to be under the misconception that she is appearing in a comedy. We even get a scene of her patented "cute cry". There are numerous other of Ms. Field's films that I could bring up along this line. Yes, she has two Academy Awards for Best Actress, but so does Bette Davis. If you want to hold them up as equals, simply try to imagine Field attempting the range of roles that Davis excelled in. The horror of that should be self-evident. I have lost a great deal of respect for Ms. Field.

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On today's "Essentials" Sally Field and Robert Osborne introduced "Now, Voyager". One of the greatest films ever made starring one of the greatest actresses ever in film, Bette Davis. Mr. Osborne asked Ms. Field her opinion of Bette Davis as an actress. She gave a rambling response indicating her feeling that the general film acting style of the 40's was "big", and by that, she quite obviously meant "bad". She further included Bette Davis in this opinion. In the condescending way Field expressed it, she might just as well have called Bette Davis a "ham". If Ms. Field wants to discuss "acting styles" we might begin with her jarringly out of step performance in the awful "Beyond The Poseidon Adventure". Through the entire film Ms. Field seems to be under the misconception that she is appearing in a comedy. We even get a scene of her patented "cute cry". There are numerous other of Ms. Field's that I could bring up along this line. Yes, she has two Academy Awards for Best Actress, but so does Bette Davis. If you want to hold them up as equals, simply try to imagine Field attempting the range of roles that Davis excelled in. The horror of that  should be self-evident. I have lost a great deal of respect for Ms. Field.

I think you have to understand that Field is a disciple of the Actors Studio. This method of performing is very much against the old school hamminess that we do often find in films of the 30s and 40s (since some of the stars had transitioned over from silent pictures, where they were required to over-exaggerate certain gestures). Field and her colleagues advocate a more naturalistic approach to acting.

 

I am sure that if Field was asked about some of Davis' later performances, where she had used a lot more subtlety, Field would be a fan of those. So I would not take this to be an indication that Field entirely dislikes Davis-- just that she sort of frowns on Davis' technique at the time NOW, VOYAGER was made.

 

Am I making sense here?

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I think you have to understand that Field is a disciple of the Actors Studio. This method of performing is very much against the old school hamminess that we do often find in films of the 30s and 40s (since some of the stars had transitioned over from silent pictures, where they were required to over-exaggerate certain gestures). Field and her colleagues advocate a more naturalistic approach to acting.

 

I am sure that if Field was asked about some of Davis' later performances, where she had used a lot more subtlety, Field would be a fan of those. So I would not take this to be an indication that Field entirely dislikes Davis-- just that she sort of frowns on Davis' technique at the time NOW, VOYAGER was made.

 

Am I making sense here?

The Actor's Stuidio? The studio that through "The Method" produced the Ultra-Ham! I defy you to find ANY performer from the 30's or 40's that even begins to compare to the mind-numbing hamminess of: Shelley Winters, Rod Steiger, Eli Wallach, or Al Pacino. "The Method" does not produce "natural" acting. It produces hysterical, histrionic excess. Field is, at best, a "good" actress. She is utterly mediocre compared to Bette Davis

 

It is quite obvious that you are a knee-jerk Field apologist. If she said water was dry and light was dark you would find some justification. It's quite ludicrous.

 

Furthermore, do not attempt to tell me what you "think I have to understand". You are not a sage, and I am in no way your disciple. Kindly do not condescend to me. I fully assure you that my knowledge of film and acting is every bit as weighty as yours.

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The Actor's Stuidio? The studio that through "The Method" produced the Ultra-Ham! I defy you to find ANY performer from the 30's or 40's that even begins to compare to the mind-numbing hamminess of: Shelley Winters, Rod Steiger, Eli Wallach, or Al Pacino. "The Method" does not produce "natural" acting. It produces hysterical, histrionic excess. Field is, at best, a "good" actress. She is utterly mediocre compared to Bette Davis

 

It is quite obvious that you are a knee-jerk Field apologist. If she said water was dry and light was dark you would find some justification. It's quite ludicrous.

 

Furthermore, do not attempt to tell me what you "think I have to understand". You are not a sage, and I am in no way your disciple. Kindly do not condescend to me. I fully assure you that my knowledge of film and acting is every bit as weighty as yours.

I think you are perceiving an attack where there was none.

 

I don't see where trashing Sally Field to defend Bette Davis' honor would help make a valid point.

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I think it's fine for Sally Field to state her opinion but as she clearly doesn't like the acting style of most actors of the classic period, I have to wonder what she's doing on TCM.

 

Her intro tonight, to, "Now Voyager," was damning with faint praise if I ever saw it.  She said she loved the movie, and then immediately qualified it by saying she didn't like Bette Davis's performance and that she thought her acting didn't really get good until, "All About Eve."  Wow.  That's a whole lot of great performances to diss in one statement.

 

Her lack of enthusiasm for the filmsshe selected sure does put a damper on my anticipation right before the movie starts.

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The Actor's Stuidio? The studio that through "The Method" produced the Ultra-Ham! I defy you to find ANY performer from the 30's or 40's that even begins to compare to the mind-numbing hamminess of: Shelley Winters, Rod Steiger, Eli Wallach, or Al Pacino. "The Method" does not produce "natural" acting. It produces hysterical, histrionic excess. Field is, at best, a "good" actress. She is utterly mediocre compared to Bette Davis

 

It is quite obvious that you are a knee-jerk Field apologist. If she said water was dry and light was dark you would find some justification. It's quite ludicrous.

 

Furthermore, do not attempt to tell me what you "think I have to understand". You are not a sage, and I am in no way your disciple. Kindly do not condescend to me. I fully assure you that my knowledge of film and acting is every bit as weighty as yours.

 

It is quite obvious that you are a knee-jerk 30s - 40s actor apologist.    It is quite ludicrous.

 

While Bette Davis is my favor actor it is possible to have a discussion about the different acting methods and styles. 

 

I do find Sally's comments to be overly broad.  Therefore to fully understand her POV I would have to ask her very specific questions.

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I do find Sally's comments to be overly broad.  Therefore to fully understand her POV I would have to ask her very specific questions.

Exactly. I would want Sally to clarify some of her points. 

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....She had me ....then she lost me.  I was really enjoying the Essentials segments with Sally and host Robert until Sally began to go on a political/gender rant.  I dont tune into TCM for a lecture on politics and values by the Flying Nun..  We already get enough indoctrination from the popular media.  One reason I watch TCM is to get away from it.....Time for Ms Field to move on....nuffsaid.

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....She had me ....then she lost me.  I was really enjoying the Essentials segments with Sally and host Robert until Sally began to go on a political/gender rant.  I dont tune into TCM for a lecture on politics and values by the Flying Nun..  We already get enough indoctrination from the popular media.  One reason I watch TCM is to get away from it.....Time for Ms Field to move on....nuffsaid.

Perhaps you can clarify whether it was a comment she made tonight during the airing of I REMEMBER MAMA, or if there have been previous comments she made regarding other movies you took issue with.

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While I haven't seen all of Sally's appearances as Essentials' co-host, I confess that I've been disappointed. She doesn't seem to have the passion for classic film that, say Alec Baldwin or Rose McGowan, had. Nor does she seem to have the willingness to learn or even think deeply, such as Drew Barrymore. Some of her commentary even leads me to believe that she hasn't watched the entire film in question. Bummed. Because I have always counted myself as a fan and am now looking forward to the next co-host.

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I was so happy when they did away with Baldwin and Drew Barrymore took over.  I as sad to see her go, but expected Sally Field to be able to do as good or better of a job.  Unfortunately, Sally is inarticulate and it does not seem that she watches the films, just reads cue cards that someone at TCM writes up for her.  She is worse than Baldwin, and I really wish they would bring Drew back.  Drew seemed to have actually watched the film, and some for the first time.  She was articulate and insightful.  Sally is not.

I agree. I thought Drew grew into the role beautifully. A real passion for film there - and a really smart cookie to boot. Disappointed in Fields.

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I think two things are happening in Sally's remarks. First, she's a feminist-- so she is evaluating the weight and importance of a prominent (or not so prominent) female lead. Also, she's an actress-- so she is looking at these roles in terms of whether or not she would have done them. 

Even as a very strong feminist myself, I've found some of Sally's comments sort of off-putting. How can you apply TODAY'S standards to films made years ago? And of course, Jacqueline positively shone in everything she was in.

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I agree with this.

 

Another good idea would be to have a critic co-host the series. The first season Robert Osborne was hosting the show, his co-host was film critic Molly Haskell, and they were very good together. R.O. might not want her back though because she's been very critical of the Academy Awards of late and with Osborne's interest in the history of AMPAS, he might as well be called 'Mr. Oscar'. They could also get New York magazine film critic David Edelstein to co-host The Essentials -- he filled in for Robert Osborne during his leave of absence in 2011, and was very good hosting last month's spotlight on Orson Welles.

 

Of course if TCM is insistent on bringing in celebrities to co-host the series, I would welcome back Alec Baldwin. Of all the recurring celebrity co-hosts I've seen on TCM, Alec Baldwin, Illeana Douglas and Cher are the only three people who have consistently been able to converse with Robert Osborne on an intellectual level.

Great point! I would add (you'd probably disagree) Drew Barrymore, who, while perhaps not an intellectual, has such passion for film, such innate intelligence, and is always learning.

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Great point! I would add (you'd probably disagree) Drew Barrymore, who, while perhaps not an intellectual, has such passion for film, such innate intelligence, and is always learning.

I think you're fundamentally right about this. I was not enamored with Drew as a co-host and ached for her to be replaced. But given the fact she had three years on the job, she had plenty of time to grow (and she did grow/improve as a co-host).  I agree that she usually approached the films in a respectful and appreciative way.

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While I haven't seen all of Sally's appearances as Essentials' co-host, I confess that I've been disappointed. She doesn't seem to have the passion for classic film that, say Alec Baldwin or Rose McGowan, had. Nor does she seem to have the willingness to learn or even think deeply, such as Drew Barrymore. Some of her commentary even leads me to believe that she hasn't watched the entire film in question. Bummed. Because I have always counted myself as a fan and am now looking forward to the next co-host.

Usually by late October or early November, word leaks out that a new co-host is about to start filming wraparounds with Robert for the upcoming season. Since we have not heard anything along these lines, I have a feeling Sally Field will be returning for a second year of Essentials.

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