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songbird2

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About songbird2

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  1. Bronxgirl, I think that a couple of factors may have swayed Academy voters in the year when this film was in competition. 1.) Loretta Young's role in The Farmer's Daughter was indicative of some of the postwar ideals that resonated with filmgoing audiences, and was still a rather apolitical film at the same time. Also, Miss Young had endured a long career since the silent era, enabling her to make many friends in the industry, and particularly at that time, that may have contributed to the voting. 2.) Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman, was said to be based on the private life of one of Hollywood's most respected and beloved citizens, Bing Crosby, and his wife Dixie. This would not endear the film to voters who were aware of this background. 3.) Walter Wanger, the independent producer in Hollywood of some distinction, who produced Smash Up, was hardly the calibre of Selznick, who bankrolled Farmer's Daughter. Wanger had stepped on a few toes in his dealings with the studios over the years, alienating many who might've voted for his picture. He was also embroiled in a costly, ultimately disastrous production of Joan of Arc in 1948 starring Ingrid Bergman. This latter film's poor reviews and poor box office reinforced his reputation in LA as an intellectually pretentious man who deserved to be snubbed by the power brokers. 4.) Another overlooked aspect of Smash Up that may have contributed to it's failure to capture a prize for Susan Hayward was that, since it was independently produced, it did not receive the wide distribution possible for the major studios, which, while struggling and reorganizing in the postwar period, still held sway over much of the product presented to the American public. 5.) Miss Hayward, while she had been around Hollywood for over a decade at this time, still was seen as a relative newcomer by many, who would have regarded her powerful work as exemplary, but as a rather somber role, they weren't necessarily eager to give her an Oscar for the part--and, as you insightfully mentioned, it was shortly after another film (The Lost Weekend), had recently brought alcoholism to light as a subject for popular cinema.
  2. [nobr]I caught a few moments of the very likable Tim Hovey trying to keep his little pants from falling down on the parade ground at the military school depicted in this movie, and instantly recognized that he was the little guy who'd enchanted me in The Toy Tiger (1956), a Jeff Chandler movie about an artist and a small boy. A wise youngster, Hovey instantly recognized that Chandler would fit the bill presented by his imagination as a potential "explorer Dad" in that gentle little movie, which features some wonderfully funny and tender scenes between the Hovey and Chandler. Does anyone else remember The Toy Tiger?[/nobr] [nobr]Alas, I looked up Tim Hovey's bio to see how he'd fared in his later career, only to discover the sad news that, after serving as a road manager for The Grateful Dead in the '70s and '80s, he succumbed to a drug overdose at age 44 in 1989. So much for the hurly-burly of show biz. Another sad, cautionary tale from the tinsel factory--and the baby boomers generation. Hovey's death, along with Rusty Hamer's suicide, helped to inspire Paul Peterson to found A Minor Consideration, his advocacy group designed to protect young performers.[/nobr] [nobr]Well, the lad could charm the birds from the trees, at one time. Glad it's on film.[/nobr]
  3. My memory of this movie is, in part, of the interesting use of sound and music. The train whistle, first heard when Brian Donlevy is most in peril, is later repeated, setting off painful memories for the character about the earlier time. A volunteer fire dept. signal interrupts Donlevy during a quietly intimate talk with Ella Raines, and the repetition of certain lines as narrative reflecting the lead character's state of mind, (a noir hallmark), are all used discreetly. Michele Michelet, the composer of the instrumental music for this film, heightens the tension and pathos throughout the movie, and even includes, at key points, a well-placed theremin! While I've read that some feel that this movie is not truly a noir for a variety of reasons, it is an engaging drama that interestingly, takes the overly familiar assumptions that the audience has about Donlevy the tough guy, and displays his work as an actor, not just a type. Another actor who has a nicely written and played role in this movie is Phillip Ahn, who had a very long career, and who appears as Anna May Wong's protective uncle. When a flatfoot asks him condescendingly "you savvy English?"--he answers, a bit wearily, "Yes. Also French, Italian, and Hebrew." Nicely done, Mr. Ahn, as usual. As mentioned earlier, Helen Walker, who had a rather tragic life, gives an excellent performance here. I also liked her in The Big Combo (1956) in a very small, but effective part at the end of the Noir era. Since Donlevy also appeared to his advantage in that movie, it seems that the Noir cycle gave both a chance to stretch their acting wings. Too bad Hollywood didn't nurture them more.
  4. [nobr] The wonderfully elegant and sharp-featured actor, Ian Richardson has passed away in London. Classically trained and a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, he will be immortal in my memory for his skilled playing of the Machiavellian politico in the parliamentary series seen in the U.S. as House of Cards on Masterpiece Theatre. Look up the word "hauteur" and Mr. Richardson's face should be found there: [/nobr] [nobr] From the New York Times, February 10th, 2007:[/nobr] Ian Richardson, 72, Versatile Scottish Actor, Dies By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON Ian Richardson, the Scottish film, television and stage actor who was a major figure at the Royal Shakespeare Company before gaining international fame for his television portrayal of a deliciously villainous politician, died yesterday at his home in London. He was 72. [/nobr] His agent, Jean Diamond, said the cause had not yet been determined.[/nobr] With his sharp features and honeyed accent, Mr. Richardson was almost destined to play the seductive villain Francis Urquhart in the series ?House of Cards? and its two sequels. But he first became known as a versatile stage actor, and as a founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960. [/nobr] He made his first impact on the American theater scene as Jean-Paul Marat in Peter Brook?s groundbreaking production of Peter Weiss?s ?Marat/Sade? when it came to Broadway in 1965. Stanley Kauffmann, writing in The New York Times, called his performance ?outstanding.? Mr. Richardson believed the role of the madman playing Marat also made him the first actor to expose his hind parts on a Broadway stage.[/nobr] Mr. Richardson remained with the company for the next decade, winning praise for his portrayals of the two Richards as well as Berowne in ?Love?s Labour?s Lost.? Other roles included Prospero, Angelo and Cassius, the conniving senator for whom Mr. Richardson once said he had a soft spot. In 1974, in the middle of a brief nervous breakdown, Mr. Richardson left the company. Two years later he came to Broadway to play Henry Higgins in a revival of ?My Fair Lady,? for which he won a Tony Award. He also appeared on Broadway in 1981 in Edward Albee?s adaptation of Nabokov?s ?Lolita.?[/nobr] By then he had already been moving to television, playing a double agent in an adaptation of John le Carr??s ?Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? and Sherlock Holmes in two different television movies. But it was his portrayal of the alluringly evil Francis Urquhart, a scheming, icily sardonic Tory member of Parliament, that finally made him a household name in Britain and a celebrity abroad. The character of Urquhart, whom Mr. Richardson compared to Richard III, was introduced in 1990 in the BBC series ?House of Cards,? an adaptation of a book by Michael Dobbs. Two sequels followed: ?To Play the King? in 1994 and ?The Final Cut? in 1995. By that time, Mr. Richardson, a British superstar, was being described in newspapers as ?the Voice.?[/nobr] Urquhart?s slippery catchphrase, ?You might say that ? I couldn?t possibly comment,? became so popular that both John Major and Tony Blair have reportedly said it jokingly on occasion.[/nobr] Mr. Richardson had recently returned to the stage for several productions. In 2002 he was in an international tour of ?The Hollow Crown,? with Diana Rigg and Derek Jacobi, and in 2005 he starred in a revival of ?The Creeper? on London?s West End. Americans might also know him from commercials, as the man who asked, out of the window of a Rolls-Royce, for Grey Poupon mustard.[/nobr] Ian William Richardson was born on April 7, 1934, in Edinburgh, to a homemaker and a biscuit factory manager. He worked as a radio announcer in Libya for the British National Service, where he first received diction lessons, before going to the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art. At 25, while playing Hamlet at the Birmingham Repertory Theater Company, he was seen by Peter Hall, who asked him to join a troupe he was starting. That troupe became the Royal Shakespeare Company. During a read-through of ?The Merchant of Venice,? his first production there, Mr. Richardson, who played the Prince of Aragon, was introduced to an actress named Maroussia Frank. They married the next year. In addition to Ms. Frank, Mr. Richardson?s survivors include their two sons, Jeremy and Miles; several grandchildren; and two sisters. To the end, Mr. Richardson was conflicted about the fame Urquhart brought him. ?Beforehand I was an anonymous jobbing actor known only to the cognoscenti,? he said in a 2000 interview with The Scotsman. ?Now, when my wife wants to go to the supermarket, I have to stand at the side entrance, looking furtive in a hat and sunglasses. Is that any way for an actor to have to behave??[/nobr]
  5. "Some truly talented people have died over the years and never even been given a paragraph of recognition. Go figure!!" Very true, Larry. In the midst of all this tawdriness, it also doesn't seem to have occurred to many to give a thought to the poor infant at the center of all these dubious claims of paternity. Nor has it apparently occurred to anyone that the, ahem, enormous artificial implants sported by this pathetic creature Ms. Smith may have contributed in part to her decline in health. Hope that this news cycle ends quickly. Such nonsense in such a world of troubles needing attention from a jaded public.
  6. Thanks for the laugh and the heads up, Moira. Since TCM showed the seldom seen Remember the Night (1940) last month and now Pushover (1954) this month, I hope to see another forgotten side of Fred MacMurray's talent on the tube soon---his comedic timing, which was on great display in Murder He Says (1945) and The Egg and I (1950), both of which I hope re-emerge on TCM soon.
  7. "Across the Wide Missouri,is in glorious color." Thanks for the correction, nishlinil. I think that the most recent broadcast of this movie was of a black and white print on my local PBS station. Glad to hear that it was in color.
  8. One of the few Western movies that I can remember vividly seeing in a real movie theatre was True Grit (1969). Parts of the movie were filmed in various sites in Colorado and Inyo National Forest in CA, as well as Durango, Mexico. Wherever they photographed those beautiful Aspen trees in the Autumn sunlight were located, I've always wanted to go there. The Duke was good too. Even though this movie turned out to be in b & w, in my memory of Across the Wide Missouri (1950) with Clark Gable and Ricardo Montalban, the beauty of the mountainous area around Durango, CO was in vivid color. What was once the West for a time in this country figured prominently in the Michael Mann version of The Last of the Mohicans (1992). The lush landscapes standing in for the Adirondacks region of NYS were actually in the Blue Ridge mountains area in North Carolina. They were astoundingly beautiful.
  9. The mention of Billy Wilder reminded me that he is said to have asked Fred MacMurray to play the Joe Gillis part in Sunset Boulevard before William Holden. MacMurray didn't like portraying morally ambiguous characters, which is too bad. He apparently preferred to be the inventor of flubber and the father of three on tv, rather than take work from the man who wrote him some of his best parts in Double Indemnity and The Apartment. Katharine Ross was supposed to have been first choice for the Daisy Buchanan part in the version of The Great Gatsby which starred Redford. I've also read that Ali McGraw, who was married to Robert Evans at the time of the initiation of the project, was supposed to play Daisy. I didn't think it was that interesting a character, quite honestly. Curt Jurgens was one of the actors vying with Christopher Plummer for Capt. Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Hmmm, not sure about that chemistry with Julie Andrews. Before Sinatra was cast in the part of Maggio in From Here to Eternity, Eli Wallach had the part. According to director Fred Zinnemann's son Tim, Aldo Ray (a Columbia contract player) was Harry Cohn's first choice for the part of Prewitt immortalized by Montgomery Clift in that same film. I actually think that Ray would've been good in this part--different, tougher and closer to James Jones' character, but still a decent choice. Carolyn Jones was set to play the Donna Reed part before illness caused her to give up the part. I bet she'd have been fine too.
  10. "I wonder what it is that makes non-violent people want to see gory violence played out." Ayres, I've noticed this increasing trend in all forms of "entertainment" in the last ten years especially. I don't have an easy answer for this, but I sometimes think that people are so numbed by the sheer amount of information and commonplace violence on 24 hour cable on the news and in movies and tv shows, that they need to feel something---so more graphic violence is needed. I find it particularly disturbing that documentaries and fictional depictions of violent crime, serial killers and prison life is so pervasive on the tube. No, I don't want censorship, just a bit more balance. Life is tough, but there are some grace notes along the way, and they are what make it endurable and even a joy, at times. Having been the target of physical violence on more than one occasion, I know that it's not something that I'd wish to relive again through some depiction. This is probably one reason why I'd rather listen to a symphony, go for a walk, read a book or see a video than watch the vast majority of media that's digested daily by millions of people.
  11. The woman was standing in the front doorway watching the man leave while shouting to him as he was driving away, "...and cut those toenails before you injure someone." Ann1941, I believe that the line is spoken by Diane Ladd to a departing Anthony Hopkins in the very entertaining The World's Fastest Indian (2005), which is out on dvd. It is a hoot.
  12. TCM showed another nice antiquated talkie a few months ago called Side Street (1929), starring Tom, Owen and Matt Moore--three real brothers--playing reel Irish American brothers who are a cop, a mobster and a doctor. George Raft is uncredited but quite noticable in this film as the choreographer who, during a party in the art deco splendor of the hoodlum brother's apartment, puts a somewhat lumpy-looking chorus line through their paces. When he trips the light fantastic during the movie, things almost come to life. The man was clearly a fine dancer, (maybe a bit more skilled and comfortable as a hoofer than he ever was as an actor, imho.). I once read that in Raft's early days he danced with society dames and the like at hotel tea dances and at places such as Roseland in NYC to pay the rent. It may sound like an easy gig, but reports are that one of the ways that George kept on his sore feet for so long a time was by lacing his shoes so tightly that it diminished all feeling, even though they bled as a result. Not pretty, but when one is starving...
  13. Miss Goddess, It's nice to know that others responded to the doomed and oh, so beautifully gloomy Paris of Arch of Triumph(1948). I'm very fond of the White-Russian-in-Parisian-exile theme as personified by Louis Calhern in "Arch" and explored nimbly in the delicious Tovarich(1937). How can we forget the apogee of this interesting sideline of Parisian history explored most entertainingly in the romantic Anastasia (1956), in which Ingrid Bergman once more suffers so exquisitely? Another movie that visits the White Russian crowd in Paris is the forgotten Nelson Eddy-Ilona Massey musical Balalaika (1939), which I found enjoyable. Another highly entertaining American-made take on the high and low life of Paree is The Razor's Edge(1946). There are even a few actual French movies about French people that I've enjoyed that are set in and around Paris: Am?lie (2001) Casque D'Or (1952) Bleu (1993) French Cancan (1954) Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954) Un Homme et Une Femme (1966) ...just to name a few.
  14. Sometimes you see an actor repeatedly and understand that he or she is a hardworking, earnest professional who seems--well, emotionally guarded and distant from the audience despite their obvious efforts. Strangely, this often seems to occur when actors try hard to express often violent emotions that are unheroic but extremely human. For example, James Mason, who could play a Nazi sympathetically--The Desert Fox (1951), and an impresario with a cruel streak compellingly-- The Seventh Veil (1945). Susan Hayward consistently strove to create beautifully etched portraits of driven women in such films as I Want to Live (1958), Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947) and she left me completely unmoved. I realize that this is simply a subjective reaction, but I wonder if it's the lack of humor in most of their roles or simply the fact that sometimes a viewer sees the technique in an actor rather than the person. What's your view? Are there any actors whose work you respect without warming to them emotionally on screen?
  15. The Painted Veil (1934) as a vehicle for Greta Garbo wasn't, in my highly subjective opinion, a great success artistically for Garbo, Herbert Marshall or George Brent--though, rumor has it, George fell head over heels for La Garbo during this film. I am delighted, though not really surprised by the appeal or durability of W.Somerset Maugham's stories, and this one, which, I understand, Edward Norton has pushed to have made for some time, looks promising, since it was actually filmed in some of the real settings for the tale. Btw, the book, which was first published in 1925, reflected well known scandals and incidents among the Brits living in Hong Kong during that period. I think that Garbo's Painted Veil suffered from productioncodeitis, since she had to pay for her sins over and over. She also suffered through a couple of scenes set in Hong Kong in which she had to wear some of the goofiest clothes and hats that Adrian ever dreamt of for the star, including one "beanie" that made her look like the world's tallest organ grinder's monkey. I like Garbo, but not those designs, Adrian. The Eleanor Parker '50s version of The Painted Veil, called The Seventh Sin (1957) was much truer to the book, dealing in a more complex fashion with the relationship of the married couple (Bill Travers & Parker) and including more of a fourth prominent character of a British n'er do well who has learned to love living in the Chinese culture. He was played quite subtly by George Sanders. Sanders is unmannered and very far away from Addison DeWitt and far more human in this film than almost any other Hollywood product that he ever appeared in prior to this movie. Parker, who could be quite an effective actress as she was in Of Human Bondage, Caged, Scaramouche and Detective Story, was fair, though she indulged in a bit too much heavy breathing for me at times. I think that Isabelle Huppert would've been good in this role as well, but as long as we're dream casting, I'd love to have seen a Julie Christie or a Dominique Sanda in this part most of all. Ah, at least we can dream.
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