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Guest Alix

Norma vs. Joan

100 posts in this topic

Guest Kavan

I'm a big Norma Shearer fan but let's face it she and Joan both got that film stole right from under them by Rosalind Russell's Sylvia. The clothes, those facial expressions, her lines. Russell is by far the best part of that film. As for the color sequence I agree with you and Cuckor I've always wondered why it was put in and then later left in. The sequence adds nothing to the film and in fact seems a side trip away from the film. Whenever I see The Women on TCM or PBS I always head for the fridge when that scene comes on.

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Guest Alix

I never have really seen Norma have what I'd call "on screen chemistry" with any of her leading men. Yeah, she and Robt. Montgomery made a cute couple, but you never really see her sizzle and spark like you do when you watch Harlow and Gable, or Loy and Powell. Does anyone else think she was a little lacking in that department? I wonder if being married to the #2 big whig at MGM had anything to do with it? Maybe the leading men were afraid to get too hot for fear they'd find themselves free agents!

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Guest EJBernson

I must disagree with you on Norma Shearer's chemistry on screen. With Clark Gable, in "A Free Soul" (1931), Norma absolutely sizzles...They are terrific together!!!Then re-united in 1939's "Idiot's Delight", one can immediately see that the flame is still burning, red-hot...Clarence Brown directed both films and Shearer is very obviously glad to be with Gable. Having just completed "Marie Antoinette" and earned her sixth Oscar nomination, Shearer proved she could more than carry a full scale historical drama. If Norma had not just lost George Raft and had used wiser career judgement, she and Gable would have been in "Gone With The Wind"....An interesting "What If" for us to ponder....Shearer had it over Crawford in spades.

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Guest Alix

Definitely an interesting "what if." However, I doubt that Shearer could have been the Scarlett that Vivien Leigh was. At that point in her career, Leigh was hungry, and it showed in her acting--exactly the way that Scarlett was. Shearer was on top, or maybe starting to slide a tiny bit by 1939, so I don't know if she would have played Scarlett with the same intensity. As a great GWTW fan, I always thought this movie was perfectly cast (yes, even with too old Leslie Howard as Ashley)and every bit as excellent as the book!

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Guest Pavelko, Lois

I'm with you, Cindy. Most movies prior to the early 1950's had a class a polish about them that just kind of disappeared after the "studio system" fell apart. More than that, they were good STORIES! If you look at the credits, most of them were based on very good books, many classics. There are still a lot of good books and stories out there, but nowadays, unfortunately, moviemakers suck up to the teen market and all we get is an endless array of horror and violent movies. And in the rare event that a moviemaker attempts to bring a good book to the screen it is usually poorly written and misses the point. I love the older movies because so many of them deal with decent people trying to do the right thing.

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Guest Dan, Coffee

The last time I saw A FREE SOUL, I couldn't believe how much it played like a blueprint of GONE WITH THE WIND in some respects. Here, as in GWTW, the fine, upstanding Leslie Howard and the darkly magnetic Clark Gable are competing for the affections of a strong, slightly amoral young woman -- in this case Norma Shearer, who was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. I remember thinking that if Shearer had been cast opposite Gable in GWTW, it could have played something like this. Still another interesting "what if."

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Guest Alix

Interesting comparision! I'd never thought about it before, the the characterizations **are** similiar to GWTW, except that I like Leslie Howard's character a little better in A FREE SOUL. I still find it shocking to even contemplate anyone but Gable, Leigh, and Howard in the three principal roles of GWTW. Some years back, TNT aired a documentary "The Making of GWTW," and they showed some screen tests of actresses/actors who auditioned for the GWTW roles. I'm constantly amazed that Paulette Goddard was considered the front-runner for the Scarlett role for so long. I doubt she'd ever have been able to play Scarlett convincingly! And I can't believe they ever bothered to screen test anyone but Hattie McDaniels for the role of Mammy! Now there was a lady who deserved the Oscar, IMHO. I always thought she deserved better billing--definitely up there with Clark, Vivian, and Leslie!

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Guest son, jery

here's another note I scribbled and it never appeared. So, I'll try it again. Can you believe Selznick actually wanted Katherine Hepburn for Scarlett! Paulette Goddard would have been a disaster. She was a party girl and had zero interest in acting. Thank the Lord Talullah Bankhead never got the role. Everyone would be rolling in the aisles if they had heard, Talullah, in that fog-horn voice, crying out: "Tomorrow is another day!" I thought she always sounded Kermit the Frog.

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Guest Alix

Paulette Goddard was "cute," but she sure wasn't Scarlett. And Katherine Hepburn--I don't think so! And here's another great line that would have sounded ridiculous coming out of Talullah's mouth "Fiddle Dee Dee." Okay, picture Kay Francis as Scarlett..."Tomowwow is anothew day." Wouldn't have cut the mustard with her speech problem, but boy would she have been beautiful in those antebellum dresses with hoop skirts.

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Guest Marc

Norma Shearer is the EPITOME of 30's glamour! However, her voice can absolutely cut thru me sometimes! It's so high, especially when she's doing a particularly intense scene. As an actress I would have to go with Crawford but Shearer symbolizes the 30's to me.

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Guest Alix

Hmmm...when it came to glamour, I always thought of Crawford. Although due to legal battles which will keep us from viewing the movie LETTY LYNTON, Crawford appeared in a knock-out dress designed by Adrian which started a huge fad! She wore her clothes well--not that Norma didn't of course, but I think there's a big difference in playing a society woman who's suppose to look like a million bucks, and playing a shopgirl who looks stylish, but like she bought her dress in the bargain basement of her dept. store (using her discount, naturally). Norma probably was the better actress, though.

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Guest Marc

I remember getting a video of GRAND HOTEL for Christmas when I was about 15. I had read so much about it and had never seen a Garbo film before. After viewing it, I thougt Garbo was a huge disappointment but loved Joan Crawford. I still hate the Garbo scenes but love the scenes of Barrymore & Crawford! (I like some of Garbo's other work by the way!)

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Guest Alix

I've read that there are two ways to view GRAND HOTEL, one is as a Crawford vehicle, and the other is as a Garbo vehicle. I always tend to enjoy Crawford more in this film. She interacts with more characters, and I think she has more to do that just be a neurotic, depressed dance diva. Garbo, of course, is absolutely lovely, stunning. But here's something I always wondered--why in the world did she wear a bobby pin in her golden locks? It was noticable, so I believe it was deliberate, but every time I see it, I wonder WHY?? She certainly couldn't have needed it--her hair could have been sprayed, or laquered, or whatever they did to hair back in the 30's to have stayed in place. Sorry to have digressed...I too like Crawford best in this one.

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Guest son, jery

Alix, it's so amazing how my thoughts seem to correspond to yours because I was going to write a message on the very same thing: Garbo's bobby-pin! I've read that bobby-pins were a brand new, chic hair adornment in that era. For some reason,this thin little piece of metal was thought of as cutting-edge, art deco, etc.hair accessory. Whatever, it's very noticeable. Crawford was fantastic as Flemmechen, the little secretary. Everytime I watch that scene towards the end and Lionel Barrymore is sobbing and she picks up that phone to say: "Two tickets to Paris!" i always break down. Garbo is fantastic. I'm watching her again right now in "Queen Christina", which has that legendary huge close-up at the end.

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Guest Alix

Jery, we definitely think alike! I had no idea bobby pins were new and chic in 1932. I thought they'd been around since the dawn of time--or at least since Cleopatra! I don't know why, but it has always bothered me--the beautiful Garbo with a bobby pin! The scene with Flammechen and Kringelein where she picks up the phone to say "Two tickets to Paris" always gets me to. I only hope that she remains good to him. He deserves the best. I am always conscious of how much better Lionel is as an actor than John. Another heart-tugging scene is when the bellboy takes away "Adolph," Barrymore's weiner dog, and the dog gets swept into by a broom. Poor doggie--his owner's dead, and what's to become of him? I adore QUEEN CHRISTINA. Again, no problem with John Gilbert's voice, that I can detect. Garbo looks stunning even wearing leather trousers. I am amazed that the censors let this film out of the can, since there is so much they could (and did) object to. I just love that long close up at the end. I read once that someone asked Garbo what the director told her to think about while she was posing for that shot. She replied that he'd told her to think of "nothing." Everytime I see this scene, I think..."Hmmm, Garbo's thinking of nothing." Sometimes it's better **not** to know!

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Guest Alix

SALLY, MARY AND IRENE (or MARY, SALLY AND IRENE...OR IRENE, SALLY AND MARY...). Has anyone seen this? I know it stars Joan Crawford, Constance Bennett and someone named Sally O'Neill. This is suppose to be one of the movies that helped make Joan Crawford a **big** star. I'd love to see it some night on "Silent Sunday Nights," instead of a Chaplin flick or GREED. Does anyone know anything about Sally O'Neill? Who was she and what did she look like? Did her career continue on into the talkies?

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Guest son, jery

Alix, Sally O'Neill was one of the most popular "flapper" gals in movies. She usually got Clara Bow roles but on a smaller scale. She's not remembered today like she should be. From her pictures, she was very pert, saucy, Irish, with lots of jazz-age energy and pep. There's another flapper that's been completely forgotten: Madge Bellamy. She was also a Jazz-Age gal who destroyed her talkie career. It's a long story.

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Guest Alix

Thanks! I knew if anyone had the inside scoop, it'd be you! And if you've got the time...tell Madge Bellamy's tale.

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Guest Boyles, Belinda

Hey, you are TOTALLY RIGHT about us 1930's fans needing a break on when 'our' films are shown! That 50's and 60's stuff is for the birds, bad scripts, bad acting, ugly colors and fashions and just basically no style. Give me 'Grand Hotel', 'Dinner At Eight', any Garbo, Gable, Cooper, Stanwyck, Crawford, Bow, Harlow film from 1929 to about 1939 and I'm a happy girl!!! I wish that TCM would remember us folks out here in the Pacific Time Zone, all the best 30's stuff comes on out here around 3am. I keep the tv on all night and try to stay up to see my favorites, but sometimes I'm just too tired and end up sleeping through the best films of all time. Please, someone show 'Baby Face' with Stanwyck at a decent hour - thanks!

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Guest Boyles, Belinda

I agree with you on the casting of GWTW - it couldn't get any better than it was. It's still the best movie ever made in my book and seeing it on the big screen a few years ago during the anniversary was just like sitting in the dark theatre at age 12 when I saw it for the first time...wonderful! Thanks, TCM, for the regular screenings of this most classic of films!

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Guest Boyles, Belinda

My favorite in this film is John Barrymore! He's sooooooooooooooooo handsome, the perfect specimen of 1930's male glamour. That profile, that voice, the wooing of Garbo in her room...perfection! They crackle on the screen together, he is dynamic and sexy and sparkling all at the same time. "Flix" has this one, hands down - to me, it's one of his very finest works.

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Guest Alix

Welcome aboard, Belinda! This is a popular folder, as indicated by the number of messages, but lately TCM hasn't shown very many pre-Codes. Makes it hard to discuss things on a message board, doesn't it? Anyway, we love pre-Codes here! Like you, I wish they were broadcast at a decent time slot. It's a **big** deal if one of "our" movies gets shown during 7-9:00 pm! Ah, well, we watch and wait (and set our VCR's).

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Guest Alix

Yes, he is sexy as "Flix" in GRAND HOTEL. To me, though, when you say male glamour, I think of William Powell. He always looked great in a tux, and not like he was uncomfortable. I know, he's not the best looking, but oh, so suave! I loved him in JEWEL ROBBERY, and the THIN MAN movies (the early ones). I also think Warren William is a suave, sophisticated guy. Very handsome...ah!

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Guest son, jery

Belinda, I, too, fell in love with John Barrymore after watching him in the fabulous "Grand Hotel." He had a unique type of male beauty. Suave, sophisticated,bohemian. He and Garbo were a perfect match. I love the scene where he begs her to forgive him. She pulls back slightly and then the camera moves in for a semi-close-up and her eyes are lit up like she really has fallen in love! John's father, Maurice, was an absolute knockout. In his biography, "Good Times, Bad Times," he is gorgeous! Very handsome, virile, fabulous eyes, torso. No wonder his children--John, Ethel, well not Lionel--were so beautiful. Maurice went insane and John had to take care of him. Maurice's wife was notoriously promiscuous and seduced John at the age of l2. It traumatized him for life.

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Guest rea502

Great discussion. There is supposed to be additional footage shot for Grand Hotel that tilts the picture towards Joan Crawford. Before its release, the studio cut many of her scenes (mostly with Wallace Beery) to hedge their bets with audiences who were turned off by her portrayal of a prostitute in Rain which was released that same year. Garbo was in a league of her own at MGM and the studio wanted to trade on her star power rather than hand the whole picutre over to Crawford and risk backlash. I wonder if the missing footage still exists. If so, will it be included in future editions of a Grand Hotel DVD?

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