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Guest Alix

Norma vs. Joan

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Guest Alix

Much has been written regarding the two top divas at MGM--Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. Both ladies were extremely active during the pre-Code era in Hollywood. Between these two,do you have a favorite, and if so why? Do you think Norma got all the prime roles because she was married to Irving Thalberg? Was Norma the trendsetter? Was Joan the better actress? What are your thoughts?

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Guest SHEARERROCKS

I'm very dissapointed that TCM,feel it neccessary to show Norma Shearer movies at the wee hours of the morning.I only hope that they will show her in primetime.I would like to know if their are any Norma Shearer fans out there,If you have seen 'The Women'tell me who was your favorite character.

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My mom always told me that Norma Shearer, born in Canada, was a distant cousin of ours. I've always believed it because my grandmother was from the French-Canadian provinces.

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Guest grey

I thought the manicurist at the salon was hilarious! But I loved all of the roles.

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Guest drednm

who played the manicurist. She also had a swell role in Sylvia Scarlett with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

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Guest EJBernson

As a great fan of Miss Shearer, I too am dumfounded why TCM feels it must show her films in the early A.M. or at 3:00 P.M. With the exception of September 1999, when Norma Shearer was "Star of The Month" and the month when TCM introduced "Complicated Women" by Mick LaSalle, Norma's films are never in prime time.Norma Shearer was the "First Lady of MGM" from 1928 to 1941, winning the Oscar in 1930 for "The Divorcee" and being nominated FIVE more times through 1938.Fans should check out "Norma Shearer" by Gavin Lambert, a MUST READ, with actual interviews with Miss Shearer before her death.Few stars have shined as brightly and have been loved as much by the American public.Miss Shearer TURNED DOWN the leads in "Gone With The Wind" and "Mrs. Miniver"...It is great to see Norma being rediscovered all over again!!!

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Guest Cindy

I agree! Mostly all of the movies from like the 1920's and 1930's come up in the wee hours of the morning! As far as I am concerned the movies from the 1950's on up should be put on in the wee hours of the morning. I mean give us 1930's fan's a break!

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Guest Edelweiss

I love Norma Shearer.Her character in "The Women' is my favorite.I also love silent movies,and "The Student Prince of Old Heidelburg" is one of my all-time favorites.I wish TCM could show some of the silent movies,and more early talkies, in prime time,even around 9-10PM central.Sometimes on "Silent Sunday" they don't even show a silent.It would also be nice to see some of the really early silents,and more of the "popular"type silents, instead of so many artistically acclaimed or historical landmark kinds.

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Guest Alix

I absolutely LOVE "The Women," and would have an impossible time choosing only one favorite, so I'm going to choose three. I believe this whole movie was especially well cast. I am both a big Shearer and Joan Crawford fan, and if forced to choose between those two, I'd say Joan's "Crystal" is my favorite. Rosalind Russell's "Sylvia" is tied in second place though, with Norma Shearer's "Mary." And although she has a relatively minor role, Marjorie Main as the lady at the Nevada dude ranch is one in a million. Another character I liked very much was "Countess De Lauve." George Cukor was an excellent director for this movie, and I am constantly amazed everytime I see this one, how much fun it is!

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Guest alicky

In Rosalind Russell's autobiography she tells some hilarious stories about the making of this film.

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Guest Alix

Probably between the two, Norma Shearer was more of a trendsetter. In his book COMPLICATED WOMEN, Mick LaSalle states that she was the actress who pioneered those "liberated women" roles on screen. Although others followed her lead, she was the first.Of all Norma's movies, I enjoy her pre-Codes the most. I love THE DIVORCEE, LET US BE GAY, and I even like THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY! Go Norma!

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Guest Alix

There was no harder working actress, in my opinion, in the pre-Code era than Joan Crawford. Although she started off as a "jazz baby," she quickly had to chuck all that and became the shopgirl's idol. She and Clark Gable sizzled together and made an awesome couple. I always find her movies enjoyable. I don't think she got the choicest roles, but she seemed to do a lot with them.

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Guest Eve

have you seen the hollywood revue of 1929? it's so strange that it's hillarious. one of the first talkies that mgm released, it even had a few color sequences that weren't half bad. course, they weren't half good, either. norma shearer was there. she was playing juliet in a scene from romeo and juliet. joan crawford was there, too and she sang some song and was dancing around, which i could watch a thousand times and still laugh. in fact just thinking about it makes me laugh. hehehe. ok... i'm composed now... then, the whole cast wound up singing singin' in the rain in front of a backdrop of noah's ark. marie dressler, jack benny, laurel and hardy, and ukelele ike were there, too. anyway... i'm getting off the subject... when i saw this, i was not as cultured in the classic movie world as i am now, and had no idea that norma shearer had been around that long. anyway... i think i would have to lean towards joan crawford as far as acting goes, but norma shearer as far as personality.

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Guest Kavan

I used to buy into that Norma Shearer got all the good roles because she was married to the head of the studio stuff. And honestly probably prior to a year or so back I'd probably only seen a couple of Shearer flicks. But the more I see of her work and the more I learn about the pre-code era the more my respect for Shearer's work grows. She was really capable of doing a lot of stuff well. She did comedy, drama, sang. Watching her films after she does something like forcing herself to the window to watch a suitor leave in Barretts of Whimpole Street you always think, yes that's exactly what the character should have done. As to Thalberg I do think he helped so far as to give her advice on what sort of parts to play. I think she made poorer choices without him. But people paid to see Shearer because she was a talented actress not because she was married to the head of MGM.I just think she was an extraordinarly talented actress and my respect only grows from books like Complicated Women. She was willing to go against the sweet girl next door type and play the complexity of women, marriage, motherhood. I think she was just so important to film and it's a shame more fans know virtually nothing about her.As for Crawford I really think her best performance was as Joan Crawford. I find the story of her passing Davis to pick up an Oscar for another actress more entertaining than anything she did onscreen. All the fueds and the catty remarks I think have ensured her a place in cinema history. She was a hard worker but she seemed to play the same role over and over.

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Guest Alix

This picture is definitely what I call a "curio." I guess it must have caused quite a stir, with the advent of sound and all the biggies of MGM in it, but oh my...this one is kind of hard to sit through. My muddled mind gets this one, and PARAMOUNT ON PARADE confused...is this the one with Frank Fay as one of the master of ceremonies?? I was surprised to find that he was married to one of my favorites, Barbara Stanwyck!

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Guest Lcacicia

Though I agree with you in regard to how talented an actress she was, I don't think she was a very nice person. As a matter of fact the more film research I do the more I dislike her (as a person). But I have to say she is very talented and breathtaking to look at on the screen. What a treat it must be to see some of her films on the big screen. And with Joan Crawford the opposite happened. I started out not liking her as a person and now I have come to feel alot of respect for her (as a person). But I do think Norma's husband helped her career a great deal. Though I know she was well on her way long before she met Irving.

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Guest Alix

I agree with you, Lcacicia, that Norma's career was well on her way before her marriage to Thalberg. And does anyone really think the head of production at MGM would be married to a top star and NOT help her along the way??? It sounds unreasonable to me, to expect that Thalberg would not be on the lookout for superior material for his wife. Even with Thalberg's extra help, had she not been talented and pushed for some of the parts she got, she would have not achieved what she did.What about Joan? I always think that #2 works a little harder. Joan had plenty of ambition and looks so I imagine knowing that Norma had the inside track made her work harder! It certainly did pay off, because Joan was very successful--and without help!

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Guest norma

Norma Shearer is my favorite, although I do like Crawford. But these women could not be more different, as actresses or women. Could any out there IMAGINE Joan Crawford as Marie Antionette?? Didn't think you could. Norma got the parts that perfectly suited her personality ,as did Joan. I think Joan wanted, in real life, to be a part of that high society, sophisticated and cosmopolitan world that Norma always portrayed. I think that envy just manifested itself by being angry at Norma for "taking roles away" from her. As I said, can you imagine Joan in any of the roles Norma played? I think that question answers itself. As I also said, I DO like Joan, I think she deserves her adulation. But Norma left the screen before she was forced to any "embarassing " parts so that her fans would always remember her at her best.I think that was very wise of her. And mind you, she made this fateful decision AFTER her husband had died. Proving she was much more in control of her life than people would think. I think she was unique, and above all, uncompromising in her career decisions and I think her lasting testaments to that are the films she left behind. My favorite "Norma" was the unapologetic, jet-setting playgirl from her "The Divorcee, Let Us Be Gay, Strangers MAy Kiss, A Free Soul" range of films. NOBODY DID WHITE SATIN BIAS-CUT DRESSES LIKE NORMA !!!!!!!

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Guest Alix

You are soooo right! How many of us would love to be able to wear that white satin bias-cut dress she wore in A FREE SOUL? Probably the only other white satin dress that is memorable is Jean Harlow's dress in DINNER AT EIGHT--and that girl could wear the white satin too! Jean probably had the better figure between the two girls, but Norma sure looked great!

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Guest cfrances

Funny thing is I can picture Joan Crawford as Marie Antoinette more than I can Norma Shearer! Joan seems much more haughty and aristocratic to me, while Norma seems more like a fun-loving flapper. Maybe it's just that I've seen them each in a limited number of movies.

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Guest Kavan

I enjoy some of her work and I think she was a good actress but she never really seemed content. Her rivalry with Bettie Davies is much more famous. But again I think an earlier comment is right. I think Joan Crawford would have been wrong for Jezebel and Dark Victory in the same way I can't see her in any of Shearer's roles. Crawford played such a specific type (as did Davis and Shearer). I just never understood the frustration.

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Guest Alix

Oh my, they are all so good, but if I had to choose a favorite or two, I'd pick Crystal, and the Countess de Lauve. I also like Sylvia--she wears such atrocious outfits in this movie! In the words of our dear Countess, "L'amour, L'amour...." Thanks for asking...this'd be a great topic to discuss.

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Guest jeryson

I think Norma Shearer's last line in The Women is a classic: "Jungle Red!" In just those two words, she tells you exactly what she's going to do. "Jungle Red" would be a great title for a biography on Norma.

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Guest jeryson

I, too, have heard of the many catfights on the set of "The Women," most of them between those titans of glam terror: Joan and Norma. Both were terrified the other would outdress the other one. Adrian had his hands full, designing the frocks so that none of them outsparkled the other ones--on the leads at least. Norma wanted to wear Joan's gold lame gown she wears in one pivotal scene. Rosalind Russell hated her clothes because they didn't sparkle like Joan's and Norma's. Paulette Goddard had a fantastic cocktail bar rigged up in her dressing room and invited only her buddies and the crew in there between takes. Champagne flowed like water. Would love to have been a fly on the wall in some of those dressing rooms.

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Guest Alix

I don't think Norma could have pulled off wearing that gold lame dress, like Joan did. And I can't blame Russell--her clothes were fairly hideous. Remember that dress with the eyes on it? Of course it fit her character, Sylvia, perfectly, so you have to hand it to Adrian--he really knew what he was doing. His gowns and outfits really did compliment the characters. I read that Cukor was fuming over that fashion party color sequence. He argued that it added nothing to the film and was a waste of time. Gotta agree with ya, George! That's the part I always zip through when I watch it on the VCR.

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