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Any Gary Cooper Fans?

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Coop is represented especially well on NetF, not a surprise given he made so many, but not all of the major stars are ... I've put Design For Living/Peter Ibbetson (double feature, gosh remember those) and The Westerner on my list. Probably not what the aficionados would recommend for a Cooper newbie like me, but I'm interested in early Westerns right now, having visited Ox-Bow, Jesse James, and magnificent Stagecoach of late. Coop is referred to in the blurb as a "tight-lipped drifter" well, not hard to imagine that. BTW, was there a specific movie where he says, "Yep..." isn't that the quintessential Cooper quote of the ages (the magnificent reticence of Gary Cooper, great trademark) Peter Ibbetson was briefly discussed on another thread recently which piqued my interest. Oh, Lives of a Bengal Lancer is on the list as well, I'm a sucker for British Empire stories, especially with Indian settings. Thanks to TomH for that fine post and recommendation.. 

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Coop is represented especially well on NetF, not a surprise given he made so many, but not all of the major stars are ... I've put Design For Living/Peter Ibbetson (double feature, gosh remember those) and The Westerner on my list. Probably not what the aficionados would recommend for a Cooper newbie like me, but I'm interested in early Westerns right now, having visited Ox-Bow, Jesse James, and magnificent Stagecoach of late. Coop is referred to in the blurb as a "tight-lipped drifter" well, not hard to imagine that. BTW, was there a specific movie where he says, "Yep..." isn't that the quintessential Cooper quote of the ages (the magnificent reticence of Gary Cooper, ha) Peter Ibbetson was briefly discussed on another thread recently which piqued my interest. Oh, Lives of a Bengal Lancer has put on the list as well, I'm a sucker for British Empire stories, especially with Indian settings. Thanks to TomH for that recommendation. 

 

The Westerner is another film where the Copper screen persona works well.    Cooper and Brennan work very well together in this film (as well as Meet John Doe).     So to me it is a fine western.

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Coop is represented especially well on NetF, not a surprise given he made so many, but not all of the major stars are ... I've put Design For Living/Peter Ibbetson (double feature, gosh remember those) and The Westerner on my list. Probably not what the aficionados would recommend for a Cooper newbie like me, but I'm interested in early Westerns right now, having visited Ox-Bow, Jesse James, and magnificent Stagecoach of late. Coop is referred to in the blurb as a "tight-lipped drifter" well, not hard to imagine that. BTW, was there a specific movie where he says, "Yep..." isn't that the quintessential Cooper quote of the ages (the magnificent reticence of Gary Cooper, great trademark) Peter Ibbetson was briefly discussed on another thread recently which piqued my interest. Oh, Lives of a Bengal Lancer is on the list as well, I'm a sucker for British Empire stories, especially with Indian settings. Thanks to TomH for that fine post and recommendation.. 

For a Cooper newbie, you should know that his casting in both Design for Living and Peter Ibbetson is clearly against type. The Westerner, on the other hand, is far more familiar casting for him. Although most think that Walter Brennan steals the film with his vivid characterization as Judge Roy Bean, Cooper is quietly wonderful in the film, as well, with some moments of subtle humour, particularly in the film's first half.

 

I think that most Cooper fans would say that if you only see one of those three films, make it The Westerner. However, the other two films both show the actor trying to stretch his range.

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But I agree that he doesn't always come off  perfect on the screen. My recent comment about Along Came Jones was where this "something wrong with him" quality that Sam Wood was talking about played so perfectly into the persona of Jones, who was a sort of Inspector Clouseau of the Western plains, a comic cowboy who seemed prone to error and naivete (although it's been ages since I've seen it). Did you see that one?

 

I have seen that movie, though I didn't pay much attention to the second half of it. It did make a good deal of fun out of his screen presence, so at least he had a sense of humor about himself. Admittedly I haven't seen a whole lot of his films, though. Perhaps he's an acquired taste. The first films of his that I saw was City Streets, which is from 1931, so he can be forgiven a bit for his extra awkwardness in an early talkie. I haven't seen any of the four films that MissGoddess mentioned, so it's obvious I don't have a lot of ammunition aside from that first and second impression that he seems to make on everyone.

 

There is one scene in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town where he is on the phone, and his girlfriend tells him something that hurts him, and I swear you can see his pain through his eyes. (I'll refrain from saying what scene, 'cause you said you hadn't seen that one.) That's the best acting I've seen come out of the guy. It's in his eyes, just like MissGoddess said. Who knew? In silent movies he was just fine. It was the talking part that so often seemed to get the best of him.

 

I do want to see High Noon, and I reserve most of my judgement. I'm glad that the Gary Cooper fans out here don't mind hearing these familiar complaints. I always thought he had the most stunning lack of charisma... but maybe that is his charisma, hah.

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For a Cooper newbie, you should know that his casting in both Design for Living and Peter Ibbetson is clearly against type. The Westerner, on the other hand, is far more familiar casting for him. Although most think that Walter Brennan steals the film with his vivid characterization as Judge Roy Bean, Cooper is quietly wonderful in the film, as well, with some moments of subtle humour, particularly in the film's first half.

 

I think that most Cooper fans would say that if you only see one of those three films, make it The Westerner. However, the other two films both show the actor trying to stretch his range.

 

Thanks, I will be most attentive, perhaps a good thing to be exposed to "against type" although maybe wrong impression can ensue, but good to know in advance.

 

I love the adjective :"quietly" it makes a movie or character sound intriguing. There's a foreign film that I love but that is quite 'slow' to some. Leonard Maltin referrs to it as "slow but quietly rewarding." Right on. If I were a compulsive thread initiator like some seem to be around here, I would start one entitled FAVORITE QUIETLY REWARDING FILMS. I'm sure it would go no place.

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I have seen that movie, though I didn't pay much attention to the second half of it. It did make a good deal of fun out of his screen presence, so at least he had a sense of humor about himself. Admittedly I haven't seen a whole lot of his films, though. Perhaps he's an acquired taste. The first films of his that I saw was City Streets, which is from 1931, so he can be forgiven a bit for his extra awkwardness in an early talkie. I haven't seen any of the four films that MissGoddess mentioned, so it's obvious I don't have a lot of ammunition aside from that first and second impression that he seems to make on everyone.

 

There is one scene in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town where he is on the phone, and his girlfriend tells him something that hurts him, and I swear you can see his pain through his eyes. (I'll refrain from saying what scene, 'cause you said you hadn't seen that one.) That's the best acting I've seen come out of the guy. It's in his eyes, just like MissGoddess said. Who knew? In silent movies he was just fine. It was the talking part that so often seemed to get the best of him.

 

I do want to see High Noon, and I reserve most of my judgement. I'm glad that the Gary Cooper fans out here don't mind hearing these familiar complaints. I always thought he had the most stunning lack of charisma... but maybe that is his charisma, hah.

 

Mentioning 1931 jogged my memory a bit, i.e., where I went wrong with Gary Cooper. It was Morocco. That, I believe, where the major awkwardness thing about GP kicked in. He didn't seem to have the faintest idea of how to move or how to talk. I know, it gets old and I'm going to stop talking about he awkward thing, but I DO think that it might be best to start with later films, surely he grew out of that. Interesting that you mention silents, I went to imbd and see that there were more than just a few. I would really be interested in seeing a couple of those.

 

BTW, Coop Fans, my query about "yep" was a serous one. Was there a specific movie? Or is the famous Cooper reticence fairly spread out among his ouevre.

 

:)

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Mentioning 1931 jogged my memory a bit, i.e., where I went wrong with Gary Cooper. It was Morocco. That, I believe, where the major awkwardness thing about GP kicked in. He didn't seem to have the faintest idea of how to move or how to talk. I know, it gets old and I'm going to stop talking about he awkward thing, but I DO think that it might be best to start with later films, surely he grew out of that. Interesting that you mention silents, I went to imbd and see that there were more than just a few. I would really be interested in seeing a couple of those.

 

BTW, Coop Fans, my query about "yep" was a serous one. Was there a specific movie? Or is the famous Cooper reticence fairly spread out among his ouevre.

 

:)

 

Well some say that Cooper was just being natural.    That this awkwardness is how most everyday guys would be around a women like Marlene in Morocco.      That is more natural then if Cooper acted like some type of sure of himself playboy. 

 

We see something similar in High Noon where Cooper shows fear and concern instead of just following the Wayne school of be a hero acting.  

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Mentioning 1931 jogged my memory a bit, i.e., where I went wrong with Gary Cooper. It was Morocco. That, I believe, where the major awkwardness thing about GP kicked in. He didn't seem to have the faintest idea of how to move or how to talk. I know, it gets old and I'm going to stop talking about he awkward thing, but I DO think that it might be best to start with later films, surely he grew out of that.

 

 

Cooper was very unhappy while making Morocco because the film's director, Josef von Sternberg, was lavishing most of his attention upon Marlene Dietrich in what was to be her American film debut. Considering the fact that Dietrich didn't understand English very well and had to learn her dialogue phonetically, it was a major challenge for her, too.

 

Cooper liked Dietrich as a person (enough that they would have an affair, if not during this film, then when they were reteamed five years later in another film called, appropriately, Desire) but Von Sternberg was one of the few directors that Cooper ever complained about. He was, by nature, an easy going actor.

 

I think that part of the anger that Coop felt for his Morocco director shows up as a certain sullenness at times in his portrait of a womanizing foreign legionnaire, and that's not at all a bad thing. Cooper's character in this film is portrayed as every but as much of a sexual lure to the opposite sex as is Dietrich. Personally, I think he's quite good in the film (we obviously differ there) but it's not the kind of Cooper performance or characterization that his fans are used to seeing.

 

Cooper, one of Hollywood's most legendary studs, was very image conscious and didn't care to have this aspect of his personal life be a part of his screen persona. As a result, it wouldn't be until he filmed The Fountainhead 18 years later that he would again perform in some scenes on screen of a decidedly sexual nature.

 

tumblr_myue6uYKz31qeyojdo1_500.jpg

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Well some say that Cooper was just being natural.    That this awkwardness is how most everyday guys would be around a women like Marlene in Morocco.      That is more natural then if Cooper acted like some type of sure of himself playboy. 

 

We see something similar in High Noon where Cooper shows fear and concern instead of just following the Wayne school of be a hero acting.  

 

If he wants to act the part by being natural, fine ... but even that might require a little technique, acting techniques. Cooper doesn't seem to have that, back then anyway, he just seems lost, lost not as a character, but as an actor. But I agree about High Noon, I said something about that a few posts back, you say it better here, there is something quite real about him in high noon, he has likeable human qualities that don't exactly correspond to the usual tough guy persona. He seems quite at home being himself (presumably, or at least acting naturally, being himself). He does come across well there, technique or no.

 

Tom, thanks for that on Morocco.

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If he wants to act the part by being natural, fine ... but even that might require a little technique, acting techniques. Cooper doesn't seem to have that, back then anyway, he just seems lost, lost not as a character, but as an actor. But I agree about High Noon, I said something about that a few posts back, you say it better here, there is something quite real about him in high noon, he has likeable human qualities that don't exactly correspond to the usual tough guy persona. He seems quite at home being himself (presumably, or at least acting naturally, being himself). He does come across well there, technique or no.

 

Tom, thanks for that on Morocco.

 

Just thought of something, this time on the side of Coop. There were many movies made then that were plain awkward. They were still on the learning curve on how to make talkies and there are plenty of examples where dialogue was stilted, long pauses, etc It took awhile to iron out these difficulties. This made some actors not come across quite as well they might have. Presumably Sternberg was ahead of the usual mix of directors with regard to this, but ... this idea might have some meaning. Anyway, I should see Morocco again, it's been awhile, I'm getting genuinely curious about all this now.

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Just thought of something, this time on the side of Coop. There were many movies made then that were plain awkward. They were still on the learning curve on how to make talkies and there are plenty of examples where dialogue was stilted, long pauses, etc It took awhile to iron out these difficulties. This made some actors not come across quite as well they might have. Presumably Sternberg was ahead of the usual mix of directors with regard to this, but ... this idea might have some meaning. Anyway, I should see Morocco again, it's been awhile, I'm getting genuinely curious about all this now.

 

The most awkward scene in Morocco is the ending.   Here we have Marlene running off in the desert in barefeet.  The sun is shining and so it is safe to assume the sand is very,  very hot.   She wouldn't be able to walk more than 50 feet.   Instead she is happy since Coop loves her.   

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The most awkward scene in Morocco is the ending.   Here we have Marlene running off in the desert in barefeet.  The sun is shining and so it is safe to assume the sand is very,  very hot.   She wouldn't be able to walk more than 50 feet.   Instead she is happy since Coop loves her.   

The ending is the film's most famous scene.

 

Dietrich, a cynical, disillusioned woman at the film's beginning, is throwing away everything in her life in the name of staying with a man that she loves (even though he didn't ask her to follow).

 

Visually the scene is memorable, too, as the viewer watches Dietrich's figure recede in the distance and disappear over the sand hill. All the audience hears at the end are the sounds of the wind.

 

You may well question the logic of a woman throwing all away to become another camp follower (I can understand that) but the ending, I feel, is a triumph for the romantics in an audience. Her future with Cooper is decidedly uncertain but she doesn't give a damn. She is just following because, from her perspective, this man is worth it, damn the consequences, whatever they may be (including getting hot feet in the desert sand). 

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The ending is the film's most famous scene.

 

Dietrich, a cynical, disillusioned woman at the film's beginning, is throwing away everything in her life in the name of staying with a man that she loves (even though he didn't ask her to follow).

 

Visually the scene is memorable, too, as the viewer watches Dietrich's figure recede in the distance and disappear over the sand hill. All the audience hears at the end are the sounds of the wind.

 

You may well question the logic of a woman throwing all away to become another camp follower (I can understand that) but the ending, I feel, is a triumph for the romantics in an audience. Her future with Cooper is decidedly uncertain but she doesn't give a damn. She is just following because, from her perspective, this man is worth it, damn the consequences, whatever they may be (including getting hot feet in the desert sand). 

 

I was clear in my post the issue I have is that she runs in the desert without shoes.    That is just crazy and stupid.  She wouldn't have been smiling in the scene if it was realistic.  She would have been in great pain.   So I see poor direction and the standard Hollywood over the top ending.   This is one of the faults of movies from this era.   Often the ending are weak.   In this case it was having her walk in very hot sand without shoes.    But I assume this was intentional to add to the 'I don't give a damm'.  To me it is just weak but par for the course for a 30's Hollywood movie.

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I was clear in my post the issue I have is that she runs in the desert without shoes.    That is just crazy and stupid.  She wouldn't have been smiling in the scene if it was realistic.  She would have been in great pain.   So I see poor direction and the standard Hollywood over the top ending.   This is one of the faults of movies from this era.   Often the ending are weak.   In this case it was having her walk in very hot sand without shoes.    But I assume this was intentional to add to the 'I don't give a damm'.  To me it is just weak but par for the course for a 30's Hollywood movie.

 

In a way this issue parallels the situation with High Noon, how realistic is it, pairing an older actor with the young and beautiful Grace Kelly (as discussed on the 'annoy' thread.). Both situations seem to boil down to, well, that's Hollywood! The romantics get their way in both movies and no doubt the movie makers were pandering to them. It almost seems as if this sort of attention to detail was not deemed necessary, partly because they could not see the day when viewers would be watching the movies over and over and parsing them to death (which is of course what we do and have a lot of fun doing it.) :)

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One of my very favourite Copper films is a 1936 release called Desire, his second and final film with Dietrich. Although Frank Borzage is credited as director of this romantic comedy, there is a lot of the hand of producer Ernest Lubitsch very visible in this production.

 

Cooper plays an innocent abroad American visiting Spain who tumbles for the charms of sophisticated, continental Dietrich. And he thinks that she's that way about him, too (or, at least, he hopes she is). What he doesn't realize is that she is a jewel thief who, in order to get a stolen pearl necklace past some customs guards, slips that necklace into Coop's jacket pocket.

 

Afterward, as she puts on the charm for Cooper, she is, above all, trying to figure a way to get that necklace back.

 

All of this is a delightful setup for a light, breezy, beautifully phtographed film, which gives Cooper the opportunity to shine, not only as a romantic, but as a subtle comedy performer, as well. (The first half of the film is particularly strong when it comes to the humour). Cooper and Dietrich, such a contrast in so many ways, perfectly compliment one another as performers. I enjoy watching them together in this light hearted affair more than in Morocco. Any perception of stiffness in Cooper's work in the earlier film is completely absent here.

 

And Cooper doesn't play his innocent abroad as a bumbler either. He's been around the block with a few girls back home. It's just that he's never met anybody quite like Dietrich. Who has?

 

The film, unfortunately, had tragic overtones off screen. Dietrich had an affair with Cooper while making it. The news about this got back to Dietrich's sweetheart, John Gilbert, who had more or less been on the wagon thanks to her. When he heard of her dalliance with Coop he returned to the booze with a vengeance and was dead of a heart attack within a week or so of the beginning of 1936.

 

Gilbert, in fact, had been slated to appear in the film (in the role, I assume, eventually played by character actor John Halliday).

 

What is left on screen, however, is still a smooth delight. Unfortunately, Universal has never released Desire on DVD. Nor has it appeared on TCM. And it is our loss. Hopefully this gem will eventually become available for general viewing. It's just too good a film to not be seen. (The film had been a VHS release, though. There may still be some old video tapes around. That's what I have of it).

 

DietrichDesire.jpg

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I was clear in my post the issue I have is that she runs in the desert without shoes.    That is just crazy and stupid.  She wouldn't have been smiling in the scene if it was realistic.  She would have been in great pain.   So I see poor direction and the standard Hollywood over the top ending.  

I have to say, James, that the films that Dietrich made with Von Sternberg were NEVER intended to be reflections of reality. They were, essentially, fantasies set in various exotic settings, the deserts of Morocco, civil war China, a sexuality charged Russia of Catherine the Great, etc.

 

Von Sternberg's main preoccupation was with the visuals of his fantasy dramas (truly some of the most striking photographic imagery of the studio system days) and his presentation of Marlene Dietrich as an exotic figure, whether playing a vamp, a spy, a prostitute calling herself Shanghai Lily or a disillusioned tavern singer in Morocco.

 

The films, as you know, are triumphs of art direction and photography, with streams of light mingling with the shadows, adding to the mood. In this respect Morocco is certainly no exception. That seedy tavern in which Dietrich finds Cooper scratching her name on a table, a prostitute sitting on his lap, aches with authenticity in its atmosphere, I feel.

 

Dietrich's grand, if impulsive, romantic gesture of throwing everything away (including her high heeled shoes which, practically speaking, wouldn't be able to walk in the sand, anyway) and following Cooper into the desert at the end of Morocco is over-the-top and unrealistic. So what?

 

If you choose to call it a poor ending merely because of the impracticality of her behaviour, I think you're missing the romantic fantasy point of the director with this film since the world to which he wishes to transport his film audiences has little to do with reality, in spite of those often impressive sets and costumes.

 

By the way, I think that Gary Cooper comes off as perhaps the strongest of Marlene's leading men during the Von Sternberg period of her career.

 

One further note: Dietrich does NOT smile, as you wrote, when she throws her shoes away. In fact, the audience doesn't see her face at all. There is a closeup of her legs and feet as she tosses the shoes, followed by long shots of her from behind as she joins the other camp followers. At the end she and the camp followers disappear over a hill, and the final sights and sounds before the screen fades to black are of the sand and blowing wind. It's a memorable visual image, in my opinion, which was precisely what Von Sternberg wanted.

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I have to say, James, that the films that Dietrich made with Von Sternberg were NEVER intended to be reflections of reality.

 

Dietrich's grand, if impulsive, romantic gesture of throwing everything away (including her high heeled shoes which, practically speaking, wouldn't be able to walk in the sand, anyway) and following Cooper into the desert at the end of Morocco is over-the-top and unrealistic. So what?

 

I just said I found the ending unrealistic.    You agree it is over-the-top and unrealistic. 

 

You asked 'so what' so I'll address that;  I'm just not a big fan of that type of over-the-top ending.   To me it is a cheap (easy),  way to end a picture.  i.e. director school 101 type of thing.

 

30's films were full of this type of ending and I'm just not a fan of them.    NOW,  that alone doesn't make a film a poor film.  Far from it.    I really like Morroco and I'll watch it again.    But when I see her running without shoes in that hot desert sand I'll still laugh and say 'just another 30's over-the-top ending,  oh well'.

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I'm just not a big fan of that type of over-the-top ending.   To me it is a cheap (easy),  way to end a picture.  i.e. director school 101 type of thing.

 

30's films were full of this type of ending and I'm just not a fan of them.    NOW,  that alone doesn't make a film a poor film.  Far from it.    I really like Morroco and I'll watch it again.    But when I see her running without shoes in that hot desert sand I'll still laugh and say 'just another 30's over-the-top ending,  oh well'.

 

Actually, any '30s films that were over-the-top were only continuing what was happening in so many silent melodramas, particularly the adventure films. Very little, if anything, to do with reality. And I don't see it as a "cheap" way to end a picture. I see it as a convention of certain genres (they are, after all, escapism), and accept it as such, even if, like you, I chuckle at some of them in the process.

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I'm interested in reading a biography of Gary Cooper.  Any recommendations?  I'd like to read one that is considered fairly definitive, but is also enjoyable to read.

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