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DownGoesFrazier

THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER

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Tonight's Essential is the best selection in a long time. A  big favorite of RO, and also of mine. I think it's Lubitsch's best film.

It's on my top ten list, which you can find by clicking on my profile. I think it is pure cinematic perfection.

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I think it's Lubitsch's best film.

 

What is special about Lubitsch films for you? And why do you like this one the best?

 

I'm reading about Fritz Feld and while working for Lubitsch, he asks Feld to join him for lunch. Feld said, "I can't go anywhere, I'm in this crazy costume!" to which Lubitsch replied, "If you're with me, don't worry, no one will even notice you."

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I think it's Lubitsch's best film.

 

What is special about Lubitsch films for you? And why do you like this one the best?

 

I'm reading about Fritz Feld and while working for Lubitsch, he asks Feld to join him for lunch. Feld said, "I can't go anywhere, I'm in this crazy costume!" to which Lubitsch replied, "If you're with me, don't worry, no one will even notice you."

The indefinable "Lubitsch touch". This one is the best because Stewart and Sullavan are great together and separately. It is also Frank Morgan's best role.

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The indefinable "Lubitsch touch". This one is the best because Stewart and Sullavan are great together and separately. It is also Frank Morgan's best role.

 

This is a great movie.    I'm not a fan of Sullivan (in some ways she is like June Allyson with an unlikeable voice, a look I'm not into and an annoying screen persona),  but she is very good in this movie since her character is annoying.    I'm also not much of a fan of early Stewart.   Too put-upon and clueless for my taste,  but in this film the two work great together since each of their characters really minors their screen personas.    Stewart's more mature performances after the war are where I feel he really shines as one of the great actors of the era.

 

PS:  Note I say 'in some ways' as it relates to Sullavan and Allyson.  Don't worry Allyson is still at the bottom of the barrel! 

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This is a great movie.    I'm not a fan of Sullivan (in some ways she is like June Allyson with an unlikeable voice, a look I'm not into and an annoying screen persona),  but she is very good in this movie since her character is annoying.    I'm also not much of a fan of early Stewart.   Too put-upon and clueless for my taste,  but in this film the two work great together since each of their characters really minors their screen personas.    Stewart's more mature performances after the war are where I feel he really shines as one of the great actors of the era.

 

PS:  Note I say 'in some ways' as it relates to Sullavan and Allyson.  Don't worry Allyson is still at the bottom of the barrel! 

I feel that the performance by Sullavan in this film may be the best comic performance by any actress, ever. This is a long way from my dislike for Allyson.

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I feel that the performance by Sullavan in this film may be the best comic performance by any actress, ever. This is a long way from my dislike for Allyson.

 

I agree that Sullavan's performance in the film is one of the best low key comic performances (verses a more animated comic performance one would see in a screwball type comedy).     Her use of a phase or look was fantastic.     But overall I still find her screen persona to be a tad annoying i.e. lacking a certain charm.     But again it works great in the film since she isn't charming to the Stewart character.    That is the basis of the plot;  that both characters are not charmed by the other but end up falling in love despite that.

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I agree that Sullavan's performance in the film is one of the best low key comic performances (verses a more animated comic performance one would see in a screwball type comedy).     Her use of a phase or look was fantastic.     But overall I still find her screen persona to be a tad annoying i.e. lacking a certain charm.     But again it works great in the film since she isn't charming to the Stewart character.    That is the basis of the plot;  that both characters are not charmed by the other but end up falling in love despite that.

I agree. In no other film do I find Sullavan especially appealing.

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I feel that the performance by Sullavan in this film may be the best comic performance by any actress, ever. This is a long way from my dislike for Allyson.

I've always found Sullavan a captivating personality, and a remarkable actress with one of the most distinctive and deeply personal voices of anyone in film history. I guess I'm in the minority on both opinions on this board (or at least in this thread), but that's OK. That's what makes discussions like these so interesting. Her voice inspired one of the most memorable comments I've ever read from one star about another. Sullavan was reportedly Louise Brooks' favorite actress, and Brooks described her voice as having a "strange far away quality...like singing in snow."

 

Anyway, I guess I picked up on some of the extraordinary qualities Sullavan apparently projected offscreen. In that remarkable Massachusetts summer stock company where she began her career, her co-workers included Henry Fonda (who she married), James Stewart (who reportedly developed a lifelong infatuation for her which he, according to some sources, never entirely got over) and Joshua Logan, who later recalled: "One of my old girlfriends used to complain that I talked too much about Maggie Sullavan and she was right...We were all in love with her."

 

As for her performance, I think it's one of the finest romantic comedy performances in film history, mixing humor, asperity, annoyance, cattiness and wistfulness and a host of other emotions and doling them out in perfect doses as the screenplay/situation requires. Her shock and sorrow at "discovering" how mistaken she's been about her beau ideale is beautifully and sensitively conveyed, and makes the viewer realize how pathetic her life is without the energizing prospect of romantic fulfillment. 

 

In a film that may very well be Lubitsch's best, and is almost certainly his most personal, she offers a near flawless performance that perfectly compliments that of her friend Stewart and the rest of the cast.

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I've always found Sullavan a captivating personality, and a remarkable actress with one of the most distinctive and deeply personal voices of anyone in film history. I guess I'm in the minority on both opinions on this board (or at least in this thread), but that's OK. 

I happen to agree with you about Sullavan. I think she's charming in most films she's cast in...this said, there were certain roles that she excelled at and other roles she could not have done very well.

 

For instance, on the DVD for REBECCA, there is a bonus feature that shows both Vivien Leigh and Margaret Sullavan's screen tests for the role eventually played by Joan Fontaine. Leigh was still doing an imitation of Scarlett and slightly over the top. And Sullavan's screen test was unbelievably dull, showing that she had no real conception of how to play a dramatically complex part. She would have been mince meat up against Judith Anderson's Mrs. Danvers. 

 

I think Sullavan was best in frothy comedies and by-the-numbers tearjerkers. She probably could not have succeeded in suspense dramas directed by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock or Carol Reed.

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Interesting...I've never seen Sullavan's screen test for REBECCA, but I've read that both Hitchcock and David Selznick wanted her for REBECCA but ultimately agreed that, though her vulnerable quality was right for the role of the new "Mrs. DeWinter," she was not the type to be frightened by Mrs. Danvers, and based on what I've seen of her work, I'd agree with that appraisal.

 

Sullavan didn't make many films, and some of them weren't very good, but for me, she's one of a handful of actors, whether the film itself was any good or not, who made a film better simply by her performance. For me, her work was always intelligent charismatic, spontaneous and understated. and her personality and voice absolutely unique. She also made a fair variety of films which called upon her at various times to be: demure and ingenuous (THE GOOD FAIRY), selfish and vain (THE SHOPWORN ANGEL) comedically acerbic and combative (THE MOON'S OUR HOME) and genuine and "real" when faced with a "too good to be true" role (THREE COMRADES and NO SAD SONGS FOR ME). In fact, I find her much more natural in a self-sacrificing part like SAD SONGS than I do Joan Fontaine in a similar challenge. I find Fontaine's performance in a film like the saintly sickly teen in THE CONSTANT NYMPH (or as I call it THE EXCRUTIATING ELF) to be unbearably coy and arch.

 

From what I've seen there's no doubt that she could handle the most complex roles available (provided they suited her many talents, of course), and probably better than most of her contemporaries.

 

There's an absolute rave about Sullavan in David Shipman's essay on her in  THE GREAT MOVIE STARS: THE GOLDEN YEARS, which approximates my high opinion of her talent. (I don't think even I would be as unstintingly admiring as I recall Shipman being in this comment.) I'll try to find it and post it.

 

Anyway, it's always good to hear different reactions to a star's work. I'll definitely keep your opinions in mind the next time I watch a Sullavan film.

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Interesting...I've never seen Sullavan's screen test for REBECCA, but I've read that both Hitchcock and David Selznick wanted her for REBECCA but ultimately agreed that, though her vulnerable quality was right for the role of the new "Mrs. DeWinter," she was not the type to be frightened by Mrs. Danvers, and based on what I've seen of her work, I'd agree with that appraisal.

 

Sullavan didn't make many films, and some of them weren't very good, but for me, she's one of a handful of actors, whether the film itself was any good or not, who made a film better simply by her performance. For me, her work was always intelligent charismatic, spontaneous and understated. and her personality and voice absolutely unique. She also made a fair variety of films which called upon her at various times to be: demure and ingenuous (THE GOOD FAIRY), selfish and vain (THE SHOPWORN ANGEL) comedically acerbic and combative (THE MOON'S OUR HOME) and genuine and "real" when faced with a "too good to be true" role (THREE COMRADES and NO SAD SONGS FOR ME). In fact, I find her much more natural in a self-sacrificing part like SAD SONGS than I do Joan Fontaine in a similar challenge. I find Fontaine's performance in a film like the saintly sickly teen in THE CONSTANT NYMPH (or as I call it THE EXCRUTIATING ELF) to be unbearably coy and arch.

 

From what I've seen there's no doubt that she could handle the most complex roles available (provided they suited her many talents, of course), and probably better than most of her contemporaries.

 

There's an absolute rave about Sullavan in David Shipman's essay on her in  THE GREAT MOVIE STARS: THE GOLDEN YEARS, which approximates my high opinion of her talent. (I don't think even I would be as unstintingly admiring as I recall Shipman being in this comment.) I'll try to find it and post it.

 

Anyway, it's always good to hear different reactions to a star's work. I'll definitely keep your opinions in mind the next time I watch a Sullavan film.

There are many great Margaret Sullavan performances on film. Especially some of the ones you mentioned. But I suspect that her talent was best conveyed on stage, and on radio (because of her wonderful voice). 

 

It's a bit difficult for me to pick a best Sullavan film. Some films I enjoy, but not because she is in them (THE SHINING HOUR comes to mind, because it is essentially a Crawford vehicle). And other films I enjoy because they are making a powerful statement (like THE MORTAL STORM). But she does not ever get in the way of the story-- in fact, she usually helps it along and she also seems to be graciously playing off her costars, not trying to upstage them.

 

I still have yet to see her version of BACK STREET, which I am hoping to get the chance to watch someday. 

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Well, as Sullavan herself admitted, she disliked Hollywood and making movies, but unlike some talented stage stars who didn't make the transition to films successfully, she was, despite her reservations, a unique and luminous presence on film, and a gifted actress as well.

 

I copied Sullavan's version of BACK STREET off of American Movie Classics years ago on VHS. (Remember those?) It was back when "AMC" really DID show classic films. I think I still have that VHS copy somewhere. If I can make a copy of it to DVD, I'd be glad to send one to you if you're interested.

 

(I realize that's a lot of "Ifs," so why don't I start with seeing whether I can find the VHS and go from there.)

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Well, as Sullavan herself admitted, she disliked Hollywood and making movies, but unlike some talented stage stars who didn't make the transition to films successfully, she was, despite her reservations, a unique and luminous presence on film, and a gifted actress as well.

 

I copied Sullavan's version of BACK STREET off of American Movie Classics years ago on VHS. (Remember those?) It was back when "AMC" really DID show classic films. I think I still have that VHS copy somewhere. If I can make a copy of it to DVD, I'd be glad to send one to you if you're interested.

 

(I realize that's a lot of "Ifs," so why don't I start with seeing whether I can find the VHS and go from there.)

 

I admit I've only seen Sullavan in a handful of movies so I'll keep my eye open and try to catch her on TCM in the future.  

 

Maybe I'm mistaken but TCM shows Shop and Moral Storm a lot but not many of her other films.   

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I admit I've only seen Sullavan in a handful of movies so I'll keep my eye open and try to catch her on TCM in the future.  

 

Maybe I'm mistaken but TCM shows Shop and Moral Storm a lot but not many of her other films.   

 

Hi jamesjazzguitar:

 

No, you're not mistaken. Sullavan started out at Universal, so like the Deanna Durbin films and the Universal films of Irene Dunne (SHOW BOAT excepted) and others, her Universal vehicles are not shown by TCM. The Sullavan films which DO show up on TCM with some regularity are the ones she made for MGM, which, obviously, TCM owns (or leases) as part of the MGM library.

 

I think SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is the one most frequently shown, but others including THE MORTAL STORM, THE SHINING HOUR, THREE COMRADES and THE SHOPWORN ANGEL do show up occasionally, and I've also seen THE GOOD FAIRY, one of Sullavan's early Universal films, on TCM (Don't know how that one got in when her others haven't.) I think TCM has also shown her last film, NO SAD SONGS FOR ME at least once.

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Hi jamesjazzguitar:

 

No, you're not mistaken. Sullavan started out at Universal, so like the Deanna Durbin films and the Universal films of Irene Dunne (SHOW BOAT excepted) and others, her Universal vehicles are not shown by TCM. The Sullavan films which DO show up on TCM with some regularity are the ones she made for MGM, which, obviously, TCM owns (or leases) as part of the MGM library.

 

I think SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is the one most frequently shown, but others including THE MORTAL STORM, THE SHINING HOUR, THREE COMRADES and THE SHOPWORN ANGEL do show up occasionally, and I've also seen THE GOOD FAIRY, one of Sullavan's early Universal films, on TCM (Don't know how that one got in when her others haven't.) I think TCM has also shown her last film, NO SAD SONGS FOR ME at least once.

From 1936 until 1947, Sullavan was married to super-agent Leland Hayward. Their daughter, Brooke Hayward, was at one time married to Dennis Hopper. Their other two children, like Sullavan, committed suicide.

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From 1936 until 1947, Sullavan was married to super-agent Leland Hayward. Their daughter, Brooke Hayward, was at one time married to Dennis Hopper. Their other two children, like Sullavan, committed suicide.

 

Yes I know. Very sad. I think their daughter, Bridget, committed suicide less than a year after her mother did, while their son, Bill, took his life fairly recently. Although both Bridget and Bill had been treated for mental illness in their teens, Bill's suicide may have been related to a bad motorcycle accident he was in a few years before he died which left him with debilitating physical injuries and mentally diminished.

 

Several years ago, there was a well done TV movie adaptation of HAYWIRE, Brooke Hayward's sympathetic memoir of life with her family, and, most especially, her mom. Lee Remick played Margaret Sullavan, Jason Robards  Leland Hayward and Deborah Raffin, Brooke. Sadly, Raffin also passed away a few years ago at far too young an age. (late 50s?)

 

Prior to her marriage to Hayward, Sullavan was married to Henry Fonda and William Wyler (who reportedly took her out to dinner to see if they could come to some agreement over production of THE GOOD FAIRY and ended up marrying her.) She certainly married successful and interesting men. I understand she had a professional and personal rivalry with the young Katharine Hepburn. She was considered perhaps the only young actress to be as unique and charismatic as Hepburn was at that time.

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Well, as Sullavan herself admitted, she disliked Hollywood and making movies, but unlike some talented stage stars who didn't make the transition to films successfully, she was, despite her reservations, a unique and luminous presence on film, and a gifted actress as well.

 

I copied Sullavan's version of BACK STREET off of American Movie Classics years ago on VHS. (Remember those?) It was back when "AMC" really DID show classic films. I think I still have that VHS copy somewhere. If I can make a copy of it to DVD, I'd be glad to send one to you if you're interested.

 

(I realize that's a lot of "Ifs," so why don't I start with seeing whether I can find the VHS and go from there.)

Yes, if you can find your copy of BACK STREET, I'd very much love to see it. You can private message me here on the TCM boards, or else reply to this thread and I will find it. Thank you for offering to do that.

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Yes, if you can find your copy of BACK STREET, I'd very much love to see it. You can private message me here on the TCM boards, or else reply to this thread and I will find it. Thank you for offering to do that.

No problem.  I"ll let you know within a week if I've found the VHS and if I'll be able to make a copy of it.

 

In the meantime, here's the comment on Sullavan by David Shipman I'd mentioned earlier:

 

Margaret Sullavan's Hollywood career wasn't very lucrative, but she made some good films-which, if there was any justice, would be as readily available as those of Garbo. She was, quite simply, an enchantress, always offering a very real woman in the patient and suffering heroines she was most often given. She was warm and winning, honest and independent, always playing with an underlying sense of humor; she could add malice, as in her portrait of the film star in THE MOON'S OUR HOME, or harshness, as in her small-time chorine in THE SHOPWORN ANGEL, and thus no other actress managed so well the suggestion of smiling through tears. Her eyes, in fact, were ever on the brink of laughter or sadness and she spoke lightly and quickly in a husky voice that seldom dared risk a definite inflection. Her mastery of both comedy and drama was complete. Yet in life she suffered from a lack of self-confidence and a dislike of show business and was consequently considered temperamental. She certainly did not care for filming, which did not help matters.

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