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TikiSoo

Paulette Goddard-why not a bigger star?

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In another thread Paulette Goddard was brought up in conversation. We all love her, but she didn't achieve the kind of stardom she deserved.

 

I for one, thought she'd be a great Scarlett, although Vivian Leigh nailed Scarlett better than anyone.

 

Paulette was stunningly gorgeous & modern even by today's standards.

 

She was a good actress, good comedienne and elevated whatever movie she was in, just look at those Paramount movies she made with Bob Hope.

 

I've read her autobiography and there is no indication from her as to why she wasn't offered better roles, more starring roles.

 

The only thing I can think of was the studios, so afraid of scandal, didn't want to promote her due to "questionable" marriage to Chaplin.

Goddard at 26:

 

220px-Goddard-Modern-Times.jpg

 

Goddard at 44:

 

220px-Paulette_Goddard%2C_A_Stranger_Cam

 

Wow-she must have had a painting in her attic that aged for her.....

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I very much enjoyed her performance in this evening's showing of Suddenly It's Spring - I just wish the movie had been a little bit better.  I will definitely be on the lookout for her appearances on TCM in the future.  Sorry I can't provide any insight to the title question - it is frustrating sometimes when the actors that we appreciate so much now seem to have been underutilized during their careers.

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She was a big star. It's just that TCM seldom shows Paramount films and her performances are under-represented on the channel. 

We could also say this about Betty Hutton and Dorothy Lamour. These women were very popular. 

But Goddard was the wealthiest. She made a career out of latching on to rich, established men and was a highly prominent socialite across two continents after she stopped acting.

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Paulette Goddard was always one of my favourites, an extraordinarily attractive, vivacious personality, as well as an engaging performer who never had much casting opportunities to really test her acting ability, keeping her limited as a performer.

 

Perhaps the most ambitious attempt to promote her talents was with her central casting in the lavish Paramount production of Kitty, a costumer allowing her to rise from guttersnipe to fashionable lady of society (still trying to cover up her Cockney accent). She's quite engaging in the part, I feel, though this Pygmalion type tale is really only fair as entertainment, in spite of the rich production values.

 

Goddard ranked Moderrn Times as her best film (and role, too, I believe). But I also enjoy the chemistry that she had on screen with the likes of Bob Hope (Cat and the Canary, Ghost Breakers), as well as Ray Milland in Reap the Wild Wind (a colourful DeMille concoction with Goddard at her best as a sort of sea going Scarlet O'Hara-very beautiful and very feisty in this adventure tale).

 

Goddard's career was hurt by a fallout that she had on the set of Unconquered in 1947 with producer director DeMille (who, some years later, refused to cast her in Greatest Show on Earth when her career badly needed a comeback role - Gloria Grahame was cast instead).

 

I can't really answer the question as to why Goddard didn't become a bigger star (though she did enjoy considerable popularity during the war years). She was very popular within the entertainment community itself and, eventually, at least, had a fabuous jewelry collection, being very much on the international jet set circuit. At the end of her life she had a huge home in Switzerland so, financially, at least, we should all have the kind of problems she had.

 

Her post 1947 films are all of minor interest (no hits of any kind). The Bride of Vengeance, in which she was miscast as a kind of innocent Lucrezia Borgia, was both a critical and box office dud in 1949. After that Paramount flop (her last film for that studio) she was in some fairly dire little B productions before she sort of drifted out of the movies and concentrated her interests elsewhere.

 

No question that Paulette Goddard was one of the great charmers of the movies, even if the quality of many of her films didn't quite measure up to the lady herself. Perhaps that was it - simply the quality of the scripts often handed to the lady by Parmount, If you look at the titles of her films there was a fair amount of minor undistinguished stuff there - Lady Has Plans, the Forest Rangers, Crystal Ball, I Loved a Solider, etc., etc. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw on what you draw in this lottery bowl of film roles in the movies.

 

By 1948 or so other younger actresses were on the scene and I think that Goddard started to lose a bit of the charm of that youthful vivaciousness that had been such a distinguishing part of her appeal. Even though she lost out on playing Scarlet O'Hara in the movies, by the end of the '40s she was briefly dating Rhett Butler himself, Clark Gable (an interesting irony).

 

Goddard films of note:

 

1936 Modern Times

1939 The Women

1939 The Cat and the Canary

1940 Ghost Breakers

1940 The Great Dictator

1940 North West Mounted Police (she's a hoot to watch here as a lusty half breed)

1941 Hold Back the Dawn

1942 Reap the Wild Wind

1943 So Proudly We Hail (supporting actress Oscar nomination)

1945 Kitty

1946 Diary of a Chambermaid

1947 Unconquered

 

 

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Tom said: If you look at the titles of her films there was a fair amount of minor undistinguished stuff there. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw on what you draw in this lottery bowl of film roles in the movies.


 


Well that's the thing...she had everything going for her, but she just wasn't given great starring or meaty roles as she deserved. Her career kind of reminds me of another fave, Lucille Ball's movie roles.


 


She didn't take her talent to the stage or TV like other actresses given "minor, undistinguished" roles in movies. Maybe she just didn't care about an acting career, as you said, she had a comfortable life without it.


 


I just LOVE her in these:


 


1936 Modern Times (Mr Tiki said, "Who IS that woman? She's smokin' HOT!)


 


1939 The Women "Countess, your cowboy is stinko!"  (check out her tap panties)


 


1939 The Cat and the Canary


1940 Ghost Breakers - love paired with Bob Hope, she was great in comedies


 


1943 So Proudly We Hail - proves she was equally great in dramas!


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Tom said: If you look at the titles of her films there was a fair amount of minor undistinguished stuff there. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw on what you draw in this lottery bowl of film roles in the movies.

 

Well that's the thing...she had everything going for her, but she just wasn't given great starring or meaty roles as she deserved. Her career kind of reminds me of another fave, Lucille Ball's movie roles.

 

She didn't take her talent to the stage or TV like other actresses given "minor, undistinguished" roles in movies. Maybe she just didn't care about an acting career, as you said, she had a comfortable life without it.

 

I just LOVE her in these:

 

1936 Modern Times (Mr Tiki said, "Who IS that woman? She's smokin' HOT!)

 

1939 The Women "Countess, your cowboy is stinko!"  (check out her tap panties)

 

1939 The Cat and the Canary

1940 Ghost Breakers - love paired with Bob Hope, she was great in comedies

 

1943 So Proudly We Hail - proves she was equally great in dramas!

 

 

Well said;   Have you seen Hold Back The Dawn?   Goddard is great in this film as a very hard, all for herself, con artist.    It is also interesting to see the different acting styles of Goddard and Olivia DeHavilland in this film.    Olivia was really growing as an actress (Gone With The Wind of course helping in this regard),  and they are both fantastic,  as polar opposites in this film.  

 

But I still don't see where Goddard had an "IT" film;    Even Jane Greer has Out of the Past (I'm using Greer as an example of an actress that I don't feel was as talented or versatile as Goddard but has an 'IT" film in her legacy).

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But I still don't see where Goddard had an "IT" film;    Even Jane Greer has Out of the Past (I'm using Greer as an example of an actress that I don't feel was as talented or versatile as Goddard but has an 'IT" film in her legacy).

 

Maybe Modern Times, even if she's overshadowed by Chaplin.

 

Possibly Goddard was an actress who really lacked ambition and didn't battle for roles to stretch and test her acting talents (aside from her screen test as Scarlet O'Hara). I've always had the impression that she had a pretty active social life and she might have placed most of her energy there.

 

Just a guess. I really don't know that much about the lady.

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Maybe Modern Times, even if she's overshadowed by Chaplin.

 

Possibly Goddard was an actress who really lacked ambition and didn't battle for roles to stretch and test her acting talents (aside from her screen test as Scarlet O'Hara). I've always had the impression that she had a pretty active social life and she might have placed most of her energy there.

 

Just a guess. I really don't know that much about the lady.

 

Modern Times may indeed be the best quality production she was in.  But it is somewhat odd for an actor's 'IT" film to be their first credited film.     The Women maybe the film she is best known for (especially those that watch TCM since TCM shows this film a lot), but of course that is an ensemble film.    But look at what The Women did to the career of Rosalind Russell; after that film Russell was either paired with A-Star leading men or was the lead of the film paired with secondary type leading men.

 

Sadly Goddard never got that type of opportunity.

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I'm also a big fan of Paulette Goddard. Seeing her first entrance in MODERN TIMES, the first Goddard film I saw, made me a fan for life.

 

I'd add THE CRYSTAL BALL to her list of best films. This was shown a few years ago on TCM when Ray Milland was SOTM. Those two pair well together, and there's a strong supporting cast. It's everything a romantic comedy should be.

 

According to someone who knew her, Paulette was shrewd enough to request art from the rich men she dated. She knew that was likely to appreciate in value.

 

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Paulette posing in front of a portrait done of her by Mexican painter Diego Rivera in 1940. I found the following bit of info about the two of them at

 

http://www.paulette-goddard.fr/pgbiographie/pgsesrelations/pgrelationriveraa.html

 

It was George Gershwin who gave her a passion for Mexico and who introduced her to Diego Rivera, one of the country’s most famous painters, known above all for his monumental murals.

 

She would be one of the reasons for the divorce, in 1939, of the mythic couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (they, however, remarried a year later in San Francisco). Supposedly, Paulette even refused a marriage proposal from Diego.

 

Gone to Mexico for a photo report for the magazine Look (Paulette Goddard Discovers Mexico), she met the painter while living in the San Angel Inn across from his studio. It was thanks to a telephone call from Paulette warning him that the police were preparing to arrest him that Diego was able to escape and remain hidden for several weeks (he was suspected of involvement in the May 1940 attempted assassination of Stalin opponent and communist exile, Léon Trotski (ultimately assassinated in August 1940 at which time it was Frida Kahlo’s turn to be a suspected of complicity and be briefly detained). After providing him with food in his hiding place, Paulette helped the artist leave his country for California. Diego then declared to the American press that Paulette had saved his life; the FBI then decides to put the actress under surveillance and investigate her political opinions and activities.

 

Paulette may have been encouraged by Diego to paint several pictures of her own.  She bought some of his paintings including some which were sold in 1984, notably The Calla Lilies. Diego also offered Paulette a drawing of Two Young Female Nudes signing it: “For the home of Paulette, 9 March 1943.” This drawing was forgotten during the divorce proceedings between Paulette and Burgess Meredith who later found the drawing rolled up in a corner of his house it thus became part of his estate.

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For Paulette fans, I notice TCM has scheduled On Our Merry Way (1948) for tomorrow, January 14 at 9:30a EST.  Film stars Paulette, James Stewart, Henry Fonda and Burgess Meredith among others so I'm looking forward to it.

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Tom said: If you look at the titles of her films there was a fair amount of minor undistinguished stuff there. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw on what you draw in this lottery bowl of film roles in the movies.

 

Well that's the thing...she had everything going for her, but she just wasn't given great starring or meaty roles as she deserved. Her career kind of reminds me of another fave, Lucille Ball's movie roles.

 

She didn't take her talent to the stage or TV like other actresses given "minor, undistinguished" roles in movies. Maybe she just didn't care about an acting career, as you said, she had a comfortable life without it.

 

I just LOVE her in these:

 

1936 Modern Times (Mr Tiki said, "Who IS that woman? She's smokin' HOT!)

 

1939 The Women "Countess, your cowboy is stinko!"  (check out her tap panties)

 

1939 The Cat and the Canary

1940 Ghost Breakers - love paired with Bob Hope, she was great in comedies

 

1943 So Proudly We Hail - proves she was equally great in dramas!

 

 

I love her zesty performance in The Women.  And yes, I always watch for that scene in her exquisite tap pants!  (If you know where such unmentionables can be found today, please let me know.  In high school I found a pattern and sewed my own!)

 

It's a mystery to me why she wasn't a bigger star.  She was pretty and scintillating, a good actress, with a lovely, distinctive voice.  My eye is always drawn to her on screen; she sparkles like champagne.

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I know that this topic is considerably “old” (only by a few years), but I just want to take this opportunity to express how much I’m a fan of Miss Paulette Goddard.  I’ve always found her to be just SO likeable and have such decent qualities.  She just seems like the kind of person you would want to have as a friend.  With her good combination of gorgeous looks, her friendly and charming personality, and her very saucy-sounding voice, it’s just no wonder that so many people admire her.  I do agree, she is someone who deserves more appreciation and recognition.  I don’t know if she ever was, but TCM should have her featured as Star of the Month sometime (she was only featured once for SUTS).  She was nominated for “Best Actress” by the Academy only once, so at least she gained some sort of acknowledgment.  Other than that, Paulette Goddard is an actress that really brightens up the screen in no matter what film she’s in.

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On 1/7/2016 at 7:12 AM, TikiSoo said:

In another thread Paulette Goddard was brought up in conversation. We all love her, but she didn't achieve the kind of stardom she deserved.

 

 

 

On 1/7/2016 at 9:05 AM, cmovieviewer said:

I very much enjoyed her performance in this evening's showing of Suddenly It's Spring - I just wish the movie had been a little bit better.  I will definitely be on the lookout for her appearances on TCM in the future.  Sorry I can't provide any insight to the title question - it is frustrating sometimes when the actors that we appreciate so much now seem to have been underutilized during their careers.

 

On 1/8/2016 at 3:36 PM, kingrat said:

I'm also a big fan of Paulette Goddard. Seeing her first entrance in MODERN TIMES, the first Goddard film I saw, made me a fan for life.

 

I thought that some fellow fans of Paulette Goddard might get a kick out of seeing the lady's 1959 appearance as a panelist on What's My Line? This was a few years after her retirement from the movies, and it's a pleasure to see that Paulette had lost none of her beauty, charm or graciousness.

 

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I wonder if Paulette was ever a mystery guest on "What's My Line?".  It sure would be interesting to hear her try to disguise that raspy, sassy, saucy voice of hers.  Look at those pictures above, and try to imagine that woman speak with any other voice than her own.  She just looks the way she sounds.

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