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All About AVA


MissGoddess

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marcco,

sensational insights into our Grab Town Girl!

 

> this is the first time that i've seen 'the naked maja' in widescreen-- it looked so much better. ava in color is so gorgeous. i love her with long hair. and i love the twist in the 'camille'-type ending... the way she hits the ground like that!

>

 

fabulous! i was struck by both her stunning beauty in those costumes and by that connectionto CAMILLE. Again ANOTHER link to Garbo, who I believe is the one actress who's roles are closest to Ava's. Did any other actress die for love as often as Ava and Garbo? As I've said, Vivien would be up there had she made more movies. Yet people credit Vivien and Garbo for their screen tragedienne status, and NOT Ava. People, critics, need to stand back and take a more objective look at Ava's body of work.

 

> i watched maja, 'on the beach', and 'the angel wore red'.... all have the theme of ava bravely sacrificing her love for her man's greater good. there's that sweet vulnerability that ava is now famous for. i also enjoyed her different leading men in these films.

>

 

I'm so glad you really have 'gotten' Ava. that's what these month long spotlights do best. great job, TCM.

 

> and of course there is that spanish backdrop in two of the films that has become so much a part of ava's persona.

>

>

 

indeed, as others here said, Ava found some real connection to European life. Her beauty and bravery were more appreciated there, they were not always trying to knock her down a peg as you feel they did in America.

 

 

> robert osbourne mentioned that ava had left hollywood and worked exclusively in europe in the 'fifties. i hadn't thought about that before.

>

> there is some truth to what cinemaven is saying about gardner not having a signature role. her european films don't have the 'high gloss' hollywood glamour that an actress like, say, kim novak was getting at the time in 'picnic', 'pal joey' or 'vertigo'.

>

> i pulled out gardner's autobio as i watched these films.... she said that metro did not package her, did not buy film properties for her, constantly loaned her out. i believe that. there were many *beautiful* women at mgm in the late 'forties/ early 'fifties, but the mgm brass did not seem to know what to do with them. gardner, taylor, kerr, kelly.... all were doing better work when loaned out to other studios.

>

> i would have liked to have seen a gardner film where all the concentration, the focus, is on her alone. single name above the title stuff. or at least legendary cinematic sequence like the clift-taylor love scenes from 'a place in the sun'.

>

 

I'm so glad you brought this up. I actually was posed this question by another poster...what is the "biggest" film in Ava's resume. She didn't really have one big big signature film like Kim Novak in Vertigo or Grace Kelly's Hitch films, etc. But she was in numerous big, epic, box office and critical smashes. Just not one real giant of a film. I honestly never considered this before. I always assumed people thought of Ava as one of the giants, but I'm beginning to realize just how underrated she was and still is.

 

I still think Ava "carried" many a film. In other words, she did not need other big names to draw in an audience. for instance, *Janet Leigh* had a "biggie": PSYCHO. Yet Janet cannot carry a film and never is considered in the same league as Ava, Rita, Marilyn, et all. So you don't really need a "biggie" on your resume, I think. Ava's body of work stands up.

 

 

 

> ava has a potency that shines thru all her films, that us fans still see and are attracted to. yet it seems to me no director made a whole film around her exclusively. she is spread out thru a film, sharing the film with her co-stars. i sit thru many ava films just waiting for ava's scenes ('show boat', 'sun also rises', 'snows').... when she's off the screen, sheer boredom!

>

 

I totally agree. but i feel her films served her well. she was making movies about flesh-and-blood women and with poetry and tragedy. she dominated many of them enough that she didn't really seem to lack for a "vehicle" that catered only to her character. and we all need someone else to play off in life and on screen. I like when Ava was paired with a strong leading man, like Gable, or Burton.

 

> dietrich, garbo, (early) lamarr, hayworth....all got those wondrous, lingering, extreme STAR closeups where audiences could just drown in their beauty. 3-4 haunting closeup per film. i wanted more of that for ava....i want to be dazzled by her beauty, yet those moments in her films are so fleeting.

 

She does make you crave more, but she's burning up the screen all the time.

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So many great posts about Ava and Rita. Hey, Frank, I'm with you completely about how good Rita is in THEY CAME TO CORDURA, a film that ought to be much better known.

 

PANDORA may be the only film that's All About Ava. She's not one of the choices that the hero has. Instead, the men are the choices that she has, and she picks the most romantic and most challenging of all.

 

THE ANGEL WORE RED was definitely worth seeing, though frustrating because you could see the outlines of a better film showing through. Ava and Dirk Bogarde worked surprisingly well as a couple, and Bogarde was believable as a priest. Giuseppe Rotunno's cinemtatography was first-rate, as expected. Nunnally Johnson is in some ways a stereotype of the writer as director: too much emphasis on talkiness. There are some powerful images in the film, however, as in the attack on the church. Some excellent music by Bronislau Kaper in the style of De Falla and Rodrigo (appropriately so), but the music in the attack on the church almost quotes from Shostakovitch, though the mood is right.

 

Ava is not glamorous in THE ANGEL WORE RED, maybe not even beautiful. Her looks are right for the part, however, and her acting is on the mark yet again. She might have been surprised to learn that we regard her work so highly.

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beautiful post, kingrat. i feel exactly as you about *the angel wore red*...i like how you put it: you could see the outlines of a better movie showing through. that's on the mark. i felt some scenes and situations could have been handled better, and i also was very surprised how well ava and dirk bogarde worked together. they both obviously took their roles seriously and gave their emotional commitment to the parts. i never would have pegged them to be so good together.

 

i am clueless about the music...i didn't even pay much attention to it this time.

 

love your last line. yes, i'm sure ava was the last one to appreciate her talent for what it truly was.

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wow, such good posts since my last visit!

 

for cinemaven: i think that rita and ava are so close in charm and charisma that they could be sisters. for me they are the only two stars that can be called a 'goddess of love'. i think that rita's studio was careful to perpetuate this idea in her every film. ava's studio did not, and the effect is more hit or miss, depending on the film.

 

i think their main difference is that rita was a marvelous dancer.... the most graceful dancer i have ever seen. wonderful movement, that the camera lovingly captured in each film. so already she has more screen time devoted to her through her musical and dance numbers.

 

yes, i think 'pandora' is about the closest we'll ever get to an ava star vehicle. but being an english film, i find it very understated. imagine if the film had a more dream-like quality, and ava was presented more like jennifer jones is in 'portrait of jennie' or kim novak's character madeline in 'vertigo'.

 

this is NOT ava's fault....she was a devastatingly beautiful woman... who could act as well. this beautiful woman is working in the visual medium of film. i believe that ARTISTICALLY speaking, none of her directors took full advantage of this in any of her films.

 

with rita, let's start with 'blood and sand'. rouben mamoulian (who also directed garbo & dietrich) uses her visually to great effect as the temptress dona sol. the matador play with tyrone power. the closeup of the scarlet fingernails playing the guitar. the seduction tango with anthony quinn-- all dynamic, wonderfully staged.

 

harry cohn at columbia must have picked up on this. for all of rita's columbia films during her heyday follow this same template. the camera, the director lingers on rita in her films.... she is always the major focus, regardless of who her leading man is. in every film from 1941 to 1957. the undercurrent i get is the whole aim of the production is to say ' just look at this wonderfully beautiful woman'.

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hi miss goddess!

 

you know, i agree with you in regards to ava as an actress. in those terms, she has had some excellent roles, with her performance the anchor-the heart- of many a film, such as in 'the sun also rises', 'show boat', 'on the beach', 'the night of the iguana', and many others.

 

while i might decry the fact that ava never had a glamorous (enough-for me) star vehicle that fully captured her essense, i think that, of all the "glamour girls", ava got the best, meatiest acting roles. and she worked with some of the best actors and directors of her day.

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hi marcco!

 

have you seen *one touch of venus* yet? now that was a star vehicle I think. it's not a favorite of mine, i just don't find it terribly funny.

 

and i'm so pleased with all the interest ava's movies have sitrred and the wonderful discussion here. thank you for being a part of it. :)

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miss goddess-- i too am enjoying the conversation here!

 

i have 'one touch of venus' somewhere on videotape, but i plan to get it on dvd soon. i just bought 'snows' on dvd today. 'the killers' is oop and very expensive to buy now. and i would love to get that widescreen print of 'maja'-that tcm just broadcast- on dvd someday.

 

meanwhile, look at this jammin' poster of ava, from 'the little hut' 1957:

 

http://www.moviegoods.com/large_detail.asp?http://www.moviegoods.com//Assets/product_images/1020/428281.1020.A.jpg

 

this girl has IT! in droves! how the director didn't capture ava's raw sensuality in the film is such a mystery.... a crime in fact, on his part!

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> i have 'one touch of venus' somewhere on videotape, but i plan to get it on dvd soon. i just bought 'snows' on dvd today. 'the killers' is oop and very expensive to buy now. and i would love to get that widescreen print of 'maja'-that tcm just broadcast- on dvd someday.

>

 

oooh, i'd LOVE to hear your take on "snows". Her "Cynthia" is one of my very favorite characters by her. in fact, she is right behind "Honey Bear" and "Maxine". the movie is a little over cooked in ways, but her and Peck are frighteningly romantic. The way they meet, when she leans in on him and asks for a light is just about the most erotic thing i've ever seen.

 

> meanwhile, look at this jammin' poster of ava, from 'the little hut' 1957:

>

> http://www.moviegoods.com/large_detail.asp?http://www.moviegoods.com//Assets/product_images/1020/428281.1020.A.jpg

>

 

WOW! I never saw that one before! She's so stunning. I agree the movie is a bit of a dud.

But she looked incredible.

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The next time you folks come and check this Ava thread...I wanted you to read the thoughts

of my dear good friend, college classmate and classic films lover, R. R. I asked Bob to tell me

what he thought the difference was between Ava and Rita. Please read below. Thanxxxx for your time....

 

"Wow! That's a question and a half, my friend. I've been mulling it over for almost two hours.

 

First, though, there are similarities. They were close in age, they signed with major studios while still in their teens, their first notable films were made on loan when they were in their early twen-

ties, after that, their studios began to treat them as stars but most of their best pictures were made for other companies, they both considered studio employment as next to slavery.

 

Now, the differences between them, and let me stress that I love them both.

 

Ava was a natural beauty who projected an innate eroticism, without doing anything, not unlike Louise Brooks or Jean Harlow. She seems to have had a remarkable sense of humor which helped keep her on a more or less even keel throughout the ups and downs of her career and

her life. She was a survivor, and she projected this.

 

Rita was a graceful, sensitive, vulnerable girl and woman, always under the control of, and being shaped by, men: her father, studio personnel, husbands. In their hands, she became a manufac-tured commodity. They dyed her hair, raised her hairline, and taught her how to Act Sexy. She was, as Scottie says of Judy, 'a very apt pupil.' Her truest moments on screen were when she danced, and her natural grace flowered, and the few times, even in a 'typical' Hayworth role like 'Gilda', where she showed her vulnerability. This poor woman was not a survivor, and it's a mira-

cle that she lasted as long as she did.

 

Rest in peace, Ava and Rita. Thanks to the magic of movies, you are remembered, and you are loved."

 

I want to thank Bob...and all of you who have shared your thoughts. Sometimes I don't have the words for my thoughts and feelings about these great stars. I just have electrical impul-

ses, heart palpitations and rapt gaa-gaa goo-goo drooling attention for all my favorite actors and actresses. Your words help my brain explain things to my heart.

 

Thank you.

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cinemaven, don't hate me.... but i disagree with your friend. you cannot manufacture a STAR.

 

i was reading 'the star machine' by jeanine basinger earlier this year, and she seems to imply the same thing. yes hollywood (then as now) worked like a factory and put thousands of people thru the process. full makeovers in hairstyles, clothing, makeup. publicity, acting lessons. it was a business to the studios.

 

but it was also a crap shoot for them too. because the public decided who was a star and who they were willing to pay money too see. the studios responded to public demand. as always, it's about the money.

 

in the end each actor/actress had to face that camera alone. either they come across onscreen or they don't....no matter what the buildup, the question is can they deliver.

 

if they come across the screen and can capture and hold the interest of an audience.....THAT is star power. not everyone has it.

 

rita and ava did....and boy were they potent..... we are still talking about them now!

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I don't think my friend was saying the studios "manufactured a star." What he was saying was that the studios did give Rita a makeover...but Ava's look wasn't really touched by the studios. He'd agree with you that the PUBLIC made the stars. Look at, who was it now...Anna Sten? Didn't they try to create the next Garbo with her...give her the big build-up? Or am I thinking of Sigrid Gurie? Or was it Valli?

 

I've been checking out Frances Gifford. I really like her...liked the way about her in films. She did some M-G-M too ("Cry Havoc"). But she (I guess) did lack some indefinable " IT " that would make the public flock to her films, let the studios see their coffers fill up when her films screened hence making studio heads take notice and give her bigger films, better scripts, top-notch "A" list leading men and directors that deliver Oscars.

 

You're right (and Bob would agree with you)..."in the end each actor/actress had to face that camera alone."

 

Yes, like you said...we're still talking about them now. And Bob agrees that they are remembered, and loved.

 

No worries, Marco. I don't hate you. Now Doodles Weaver...aye yi yi...that's another story.

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I think your friend touched on something that really goes to the heart of the matter.

 

Rita was lost in her public persona. There is something so small about Rita, and scared. The kernel of Marguerite Cansino maybe? She never had the chance to be just herself. She was too busy working for others. I get the idea that Ava lived her life, and eventually had the power to control her destiny somewhat, if not always her pictures.

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Hi there Jackaaaaaaaaay. I agree with you. Rita might be a name that might more readily come to mind thanxx to the studio push...but Ava, well Ava seemed to be in charge of her life.

 

I've started to re-visit "East Side, West Side." One question...wasn't it inhumanly possible to have the figure that Ava had? That black cocktail dress when we first see her was WoW!!! She had a waist like a wasp!!!

 

And yet I can envision when the director yelled "CUT!" Ava walking off the set with shoes in hand, to go to her trailer, putting a bathrobe over the dress, and eating some good down home fried chicken.

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I totally agree - she seems like a pretty down to earth gal!

 

I had never noticed her tiny waist until I saw Pandora, I think. But I have to agree, she looks to me to have the tiniest one since Scarlett O'Hara..... and she was so perfectly proportioned everywhere else! It's kind of unreal.

 

 

Photobucket

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Your discussion here prompted me to think about something that no one really mentions much about Ava. She has this silky soft quiet voice... it's really beautiful.

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Go back to that trailer I cited for you a couple of posts down:

 

(http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3940615705/)

 

I love the shot of the bell. I love the shot of the bullfighter. James Mason has one of the great voices as I think we talked about in another thread from long long ago.

 

But listen to Ava at 1:09 when she says:

 

"I'd die for you without the least hesitation."

 

Your description is soooooo on the money, Jax. No wonder Frankie"s and Mickey's brain cells exploded and they never recovered.

 

Oh...and your pictures are worth a thousand words!

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i've always thought ava had the best figure in hollywood. perfectly proportioned, a real hour-glass but with beautifully straight shoulders, slim arms (her arms NEVER got flabby, did you notice? even when she gained a few pounds). i'm telling you, if my husband told me he was leaving me for ava gardner...i'd help him pack.

 

as for her voice, i agree, i love it's velvety quality. i always was irked when gregory peck criticized it in one of his interviews...he said the studios ruined actress's voices by teaching them to talk soft and sultry. well, in many cases i'm sure he's right but i think ava's voice was very natural and perfectly suited how she acts and appears. any harsher, she might seem common, any softer, she'd seem unnatural. it was pitch perfect and like no one else's. i'm sorry to disagree with such a handsome gentleman, but greg you were wrong this once.

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Your last few paragraphs are a great point. Her biographers certainly speak about her childhood and her mother and father, but then seem more interested in her scandals and marriages and lovers. What was she really like inside? Ava was very self-conscious about her acting ability, and should have been reassured that she was a fine actress. I wish more of this had been mentioned. Did her directors want her off the screen sooner then others so they didn't have to defend her acting ability? Or was it just the movies she picked? Maybe her earthiness was part of how she picked her films to make her look vulnerable and sad.

 

I wish I personally could see more of her movies on Thursday's, but with Thanksgiving and being busy on other Thursday's, I can't, (I don't have a DVR, so can't record) so I've missed a lot.

 

But again you make really good points in your messages, Miss Goddess.

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I agree, FredC. It is certainly one of them. My favorite scene in the whole movie is at the very end when Ava is standing on the beach, watching Greg Peck's submarine streaming away out into open waters, with Waltzing Matilda playing in the background. It breaks my heart, not only for Ava and her sadness at that point, but for the crew and the world itself. It is a very poignant moment in the film. And although I don't think people would go to their death so easily (by taking those pills, I think there would be anarchy) there is a somewhat peaceful ending to our ending. Although far-fetched in that aspect, I really like this movie and Ava and Greg had a sparkle on screen with each other like no one else. They remained great friends until her death in London. He even took her maid and dogs back to the states and let them live with he and his wife in California.

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Rita was a great dancer, no doubt, because she never would have gotten as far in Hollywood if she wasn't. But the most graceful? More graceful then Cyd Charisse? I don't think so. Cyd was the most graceful dancer in movies that I have ever seen. Her dance sequence in The Band Wagon with Fred Astaire is one of the best. And of course her part in the Jazz sequence in Singin' in the Rain is fantastic.

 

I'm not trying to get off topic here, just wanted to state that.

 

In East Side, West Side, did you notice to look Ava gives Cyd in the scene where Ava walks up to James Mason at the fancy restaurant, and is introduced to Cyd. Wowee!!, what a look. It would shrink almost anyone. As far as Rita and Ava, both legends, both talented, both very different women.

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i love what director nunnally johnson says about ava--good insight-- from the tcm 'angel wore red' article:

 

" Ava is like Marilyn. She's really frightened. She would cry a lot, she had no confidence in herself, she felt she couldn't act, she had no home, no base, no family, she missed them terribly, she felt she'd missed out in life. It was hard to believe her unhappiness. When you looked at her, even then, she was...the most beautiful human being in the world."

 

it seems to me that all these lady sex symbols- think also novak, bardot , bara, bow, harlow - felt the crushing weight of their mythic star status, and somehow felt in life that they did not live up to it.

 

 

 

> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> " i'm telling you, if my husband told me he was leaving me for ava gardner...i'd help him pack."

 

good one, HA!!

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so cal, of course it is a personal choice. i'll say it this way--- for me, rita hayworth is my favorite dancer...the best. for me there is no other.

 

p.s.--- fred astaire backs me up on this one. hayworth was his favorite dance partner.

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thank you for your comments, socalgal! i'm glad you popped in. of all the big time glamour girls, ava is the one that still gives me a sense of who she was and where she came from before hollywood. in other words, i still sense the warm, southern small town girl underneath. maybe that is what made it work so well when she was given a role like the contessa who came from the "dirt", or the woman who simply wanted to be loved with honesty and no vanity about it. again, very "un hollywood' and it makes her performances still seem fresh, all these many years later.

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I'm really enjoying this discussion and the chance to see so many Ava films, including more obscure ones. In THE GREAT SINNER, based on Dostoevsky's THE GAMBLER, Ava plays virtually two different characters. In the beginning she's a temptress who'll do whatever she has to do to save the family fortune, and then after a sudden mid-film reformation she's a warm, sympathetic young woman who tries to save the hero. To me Ava is perfectly believable in both roles. Like THE KILLERS, this is a Robert Siodmak film. Obviously he worked well with Ava and knew how to draw out the relevant emotions and the parts of her own personality she could use for the different scenes.

 

THE GREAT SINNER has an all-star cast. I do think Siodmak paces the film too slowly, a complaint I also have about THE KILLERS. Do we really need to see so many spins of the roulette wheel, for instance? Ava wears some gorgeous costumes, by the way. She must have been a dream to design for.

 

She only has one role to play in EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE: the woman you least want your husband to have an affair with. Love JF's comments about this! Notice that Ava only gets fourth billing in the film. The first "page" of credits has Barbara Stanwyck and James Mason. The second page has Van Heflin and Ava Gardner, in that order. Ava's as threatening as any wife could fear. Although Mervyn LeRoy's direction doesn't necessarily add much, he does get full value from some big scenes like the Ava/Barbara confrontation, Gale Sondergaard's dismissal of James Mason, and the bizarre scene in the car between Van Heflin and Beverly Michaels. This may be the most likable role Van Heflin ever played, and this is the film I'd recommend to anyone who wondered what was special about him.

 

Fashion notes: did anyone else think that the dress Stanwyck wears at the end of the film, the one with the daisies all up around her neck, was bizarre? I get the point that they're trying to soften Stanwyck, but this dress doesn't work for her. As for Ava, if she'd become a star 20 years later, would we be talking not about the clothes in her films but about her lack of clothes?

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I'm glad you mentioned *The Great Sinner*, Kingrat... it's one of my favorites.

 

I think Ava is fantastic in it, plus it's a great story. It has a lot of atmosphere and suspense, thanks to Siodmak, and I like seeing a desperate, half out of his mind Gregory Peck. I think it's one of his best performances too. Ava is even more gorgeous in this movie because she has a lot to do, she really is excellent in the many facets of this character. I think some people would be surprised at how regal and yet heartbreaking she is in the second half of the film.

 

I missed the daisy dress. But looking back on it, I think ES, WS was pretty good. My only complaints were with the hard as rock hairstyles, and with Van Heflin trying a little too hard at the beginning to play ethnic. It's so rare that you catch him overacting, it threw me for a loop. Still, a very enjoyable and open performance, and the whole movie was a lot of fun. I will watch it again when it comes on.

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Nov 22, 2010 5:48 PM

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