Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
speedracer5

History of Blackface (Yellow Face, etc.) in Film.

Recommended Posts

Hopefully this thread is taken in the historical sense that I am intending.  I seem to have a history of starting controversial threads (remember my beefcake thread? Oh memories...).  I intend for this to be a real discussion about the portrayal of race in film. 

In the golden age of Hollywood, oftentimes actors were made up to resemble another ethnicity.  Typically it was white actors dressed up to look Asian, African American, Hispanic, etc.  Some of the portrayals are okay (read: not great) but at least they aren't presented as absurd caricatures.  Though many times, it is very apparent that the actor is not the ethnicity he or she is supposed to be--Shirley MacLaine in Gambit comes to mind (MacLaine, Asian? please).  Some of these portrayals are horrible--Mickey Rooney as Japanese Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's is the most obvious example. 

Since I mainly focus a majority of my movie viewing on studio era Hollywood films, I've come across quite a few films with blackface scenes in them.  Most of the time when blackface pops up... (and sometimes it pops up in the most unexpected of places!), I accept it as a sign of the times and move on.  It is rather cringeworthy, but I know that when it was made, it wasn't supposed to be.  Some of the portrayals of actual African Americans however... like the porter on the train in The Palm Beach Story or Robert Young's butler in Honolulu are pretty bad and I cannot see how even in the late 30s/early 40s that was even acceptable.  But I digress.

Back to blackface... Like I said, I mostly accept it as a sign of the times.  When Eleanor Powell dons blackface in Honolulu and Fred Astaire wears it in Swing Time, I didn't find it as bad because their performances were presented as a tribute to Bill Robinson.  Both Powell and Astaire could have easily performed without blackface and still have honored Robinson, but they weren't trying to do an imitation of him.  It was done as an homage.  I appreciate that Astaire did not don the big white lips. 

In Everybody Sing, Judy Garland wears blackface as a form of a disguise.  It's pretty bad, because she also sports the white lips and the dreadlocked hair.  She looks more like a stereotype.

I'm pretty sure there is a Garland/Rooney film where the two stars also sport blackface.  I remember not thinking much about their routine.  Though I am not a big fan of Rooney, so that may have also come into play.  

Bing Crosby's "Abraham" song in Holiday Inn is bad.  The lyrics are bad.  Linda's blackface costume with the white lips is bad.  The whole thing is awful.  I watch it though because on the whole I enjoy the film.  Only that one part makes me cringe, but accept it as a sign of the times.  I disagree with contemporary critics and television stations that want to air censored copies of this film with "Abraham" removed.  

I am glad that TCM airs these films in their entirety without any censorship.  And as much as I loathe Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's, I think it's important for these films to remain intact.  They can serve as an insight into the past and as a learning tool.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's rare to see a white actor portraying a black character outside of a minstrel style stage performance, such as Jolson singing "Mammy". I think I've seen whites playing black characters more in silent films than in later movies.

Whites playing Asians, Arabs, or Hispanics is much more common, and was often considered a sign of the actor's range. Many of these performances are fine (for their time), as long as the character is not written to wallow in spurious stereotypes. I understand the star system, and that studios (and audiences) wanted to see stars in the lead roles, and so casting whites as other races was considered a necessity to keep that marquee value. I've often wondered, though, why the supporting roles in such films couldn't have been played by racially authentic actors. There were large Hispanic and Asian communities in California, with each having theatrical companies that could have supplied more talent. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

White actors portraying blacks was quite common during the silent years (THE LOST WORLD). And in CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK (1930), not only were radio stars Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll blacked up as Amos 'N Andy, but so were Russ Powell, Roscoe Ates and the rest of the supporting cast. The extras populating the Mystic Knights of the Sea lodge were a mix of black actors and blackface white actors.

check_and_double_check_lodge.thumb.jpg.b95a1cd7d6c8f06b4c972b041fe95ce3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ugh I just saw Bob Hope in CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT '41 and he falls into a muddy foxhole. He wipes his eyes & says "Mammy"! Now I realize he's imitating Jolson, but it's just not funny. Man, that "blackface" joke is everywhere -even in cartoons- yuk.

Whites in blackface for a musical number is almost tolerable, as an "homage" to a musical performance style. Jolson was a fantastic entertainer and his blackface in THE JAZZ SINGER illustrated an entertainment style popular of the time. He's not ridiculing blacks, instead he's actually illustrating the affection & similarities between black & Jewish culture.

However, I really find it distasteful to see black comedians resort to stereotypes in their own performance with buggy eyes, lazy shuffling and whining. I'd venture to guess these comedians were embarrassed to "act" that way, but had to make a living. (not unlike Lou Costello's child) Hattie McDaniel & Louise Beavers so often played maids, but for the most part they played women with dignity & wisdom.

But I simply cannot watch a Charlie Chan/Mr Moto mystery. I can't tolerate a European actor squint their eyes and speak broken Engrish. And double hate THE GOOD EARTH and any other drama using European actors when there were SO MANY excellent actors of truly Asian decent. Honestly, Anna Mae Wong's career was a complete tragedy.

Chico Marx as an crafty Italian, or Fanny Brice using a crazy Russian Jew dialect are a riot...what's the difference? The difference is the crux of the joke is the "immigrant's" confusion over their new adopted language ie Chico saying a Sturgeon is a Doctor. It's cute wordplay, not unlike the Dead End Kids mispronunciation. It's a little mean making fun of new immigrant's stumbling over their new language, but it's also done in an affectionate way, acknowledging the difficulty of assimilation.
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And how about those classic scenes in D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation" in which white actors appear in blackface? Here's one who plays a former slave with rape on his mind. Naturally, the white woman on his radar would rather throw herself off a cliff than submit. 

Birth_of_a_Nation_Still-Lust_view1.jpg

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even "Little Miss Miracle" -- Shirley Temple -- wore blackface in "The Littlest Rebel" (1935).

Shirley Temple in Blackface, from "The Littlest Rebel" (1935).

She also appeared with minstrels in blackface in "Dimples" (1936).

Shirley Temple dances with two men in Blackface, while other actors also in Blackface look on, from Dimples (1936).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Four actors who received Academy Award nominations for films in which they appeared in blackface:

  • Mickey Rooney, nominated as Best Actor in "Babes in Arms" (1939).

 

 
  • Larry Parks, nominated as Best Actor in "The Jolson Story" (1946).

 

 
  • Sir Laurence Olivier, nominated as Best Actor in "Othello" (1965).

othello.jpg

  • Robert Downey, Jr., nominated as Best Supporting Actor in "Tropic Thunder" (2008). Downey played an Australian Method actor who darkened his skin to appear as an African-American soldier in a Vietnam film.

 

giphy-facebook_s.jpg
 
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That Downey character tickled the hell outa me.  Kinda a TRIPLE parody.....

Poking fun at the "method", at the old Hollywood practice of casting actors NOT of some racial or ethnic group to portray those OF some particular ethnicity,  AND the perpetuation of old time Hollywood racial stereotypes. 

Like again, my having a laugh at reminding my wife of ELI WALLACH being her favorite "Mexican" actor.  :D 

And I seem to recall some old "Our Gang" short in which STYMIE (Matthew Beard Jr.) was shown in WHITEFACE for a short moment.  Can't recall the name of that short though.  :(  But I thought, upon first seeing it, that it was kind of revolutionary for the times.  But I doubt any intention of social commentary was behind it.  

And in retrospect, I can go along with TIKI's disparity over THE GOOD EARTH.  I mean, I LOVE Paul Muni, and think him a Fan.  Tas. TIC actor, but really, the fine Asian actor PHILIP AHN was 32 years old when that film was made, and was active in film for TWO YEARS at the time too.  AND too, would have well handled the character given to Muni IMHO.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

Bing Crosby's "Abraham" song in Holiday Inn is bad.  The lyrics are bad.  Linda's blackface costume with the white lips is bad.  The whole thing is awful.  I watch it though because on the whole I enjoy the film.  Only that one part makes me cringe, but accept it as a sign of the times.  I disagree with contemporary critics and television stations that want to air censored copies of this film with "Abraham" removed.  

I am glad that TCM airs these films in their entirety without any censorship.  And as much as I loathe Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's, I think it's important for these films to remain intact.  They can serve as an insight into the past and as a learning tool.

excellent points, and thank you for correcting me over in the HITS AND MISSES THREAD, I am always saying WHITE CHRISTMAS when I mean HOLIDAY INN (I think something about the word "WHITE" in the title makes me free-associate it with the racist minstrelsy.)

99 times out of 100, i'm okay with showing films with racist moments, although i HAVE TO ADMIT, since 2016, I wonder if maybe even someone's overall enjoyment of a film can be diminished by one stupid moment (ie, that one line in THE WOMEN "she thinks because [the girl she's hired to cook] is so dark Stephen won't see her")

not meaning to derail, but what went down in 2016 hurt people; and (quibble if you will) one half of the population feels like the other just totally wrote then off and didn't care about them, that someone "disinvited" them from their country.

and for all those reasons, I'm QUITE HAPPY that someone in programming took the time to watch and remember the blackface/drag/washerwoman scene at the end of BOSTON BLACKISH'S RENDEZVOUS (sic because of Otto) and made the choice not to show it.

it was that one time out of a hundred where i think it was more than just one scene, one line, one bad Bob Hope joke at an innappropriate moment- it was dehumanizing and deeply insulting.

and now IN THE DEPARTMENT OF TOO MUCH INFORMATION:

I'm gay.

Yes, I'll give you all a moment to let the shock absorb on that one. And now that you've picked yourself up off the floor and cleaned the coffee off the computer monitor:

Almost a year ago exactly I met someone for the first time in a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time that I felt something real for. Yes, that's right, Lorna fell in LOVE.

It ended really badly, crushed me in fact, largely because the guy was young (23, and i was 39 at the time) and had terrible issues with anxiety and no self esteem- all of which stemmed from the abuse, ridicule, bullying etc. he endured growing up. he just couldn't accept love from anyone because it was something he'd never really known, I think, besides from his family.

why am i bringing this up here you ask?

because very soon after (like the same week we ended it), i was driving around listening to a comedy channel on SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO looking for something to make me laugh while i was feeling as low in the rent in a burning building and an old track from 80's comedian SAM KINISON came on.

I loved him back in the day, so i listened.

he started a bit on homosexuals that leaned pretty heavy on the "F" word and worked in some charming AIDS jokes and I think also referenced burning in Hell a few times. it really wasn't even a comedy bit, he gave up on the jokes about 20 seconds in and just pretty much was like "kill 'em all" 1:30 in (he was a former Baptist Minister, I think)

This was, again, 2017 and on satellite radio. a COMEDY channel no less.

I had to pull the car over because it just CUT ME- like a toilet mop to the face that I REALLY DIDN'T NEED AT THE TIME.

It's one thing to struggle with hurt and prejudice in the real world, but to have it intrude when you're just looking for some entertainment, something to get your mind off how messed up the world is- it's like a knife to the gut out of nowhere and it's not fair.

so, i dunno, sorry for sharing too much, but the incident changed me a little- and while I'm certainly not on the side that feels GONE WITH THE WIND should be tossed in the ash bin, I do think there is SOME STUFF OUT THERE that does NO ONE ANYWHERE ANY GOOD it crosses a line in SUCH a fashion, that there's really no harm in letting it sit on a shelf in a vault in the Utah Salt Mines.

it's bad for the people who listen/watch and want to emulate that behavior or have prejudices that are validated by hearing/seeing it, and it REALLY SMARTS for those of us who are just dealing with the everyday bull**** of life and trying to find some happiness in a world where some people just don't want you to win.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty disturbed by the "cultural appropriation" discussion that's taking place these days. I think it limits ideas of syncretism and that we're all part of the same family. I think it's the kind of excessive political correctness that drives moderates into the arms of Trump.

I can't get that worked up about blackface; or depictions of any group in old movies based on stereotypes of the times. I love Mae West films. As a person of the Jewish persuasion, I find the one or two outrageously stereotypical depictions of Jewish landlords in her films amusing in the context of the prejudices of the times; rather than offensive.

Regarding blackface, of course Fred Astaire's tribute to Bojangles is of a higher order. Another blackface depiction of note is William Frawley as Ed Christy, founder of the Christy Minstrels, in Harmony Lane (1935). I think it's kind of amusing to see Fred Mertz in blackface, and it's definitely in the minstrel tradition.

hqdefault.jpg

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Ugh I just saw Bob Hope in CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT '41 and he falls into a muddy foxhole. He wipes his eyes & says "Mammy"! Now I realize he's imitating Jolson, but it's just not funny. Man, that "blackface" joke is everywhere -even in cartoons- yuk.

 

i read this after my Bob Hope reference in my post below.

there is a very UGLY undercurrent of racism in the work on Bob Hope that he just can't let go- often built around the lazy joke of black people being hard to see or "dirt covered" because they're black.

Hope's black sidekicks are NEVER on equal footing, they're the set-up, the prop, the punchline; contrast that to the interactions between JACK BENNY AND EDDIE ROCHESTER ANDERSON, where it's 40-60- in ROCHESTOR'S FAVOR; he's the one delivering most of the barbs and in a hilariously backhanded fashion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

Hopefully this thread is taken in the historical sense that I am intending.  I seem to have a history of starting controversial threads (remember my beefcake thread? Oh memories...).  I intend for this to be a real discussion about the portrayal of race in film. 

In the golden age of Hollywood, oftentimes actors were made up to resemble another ethnicity.  Typically it was white actors dressed up to look Asian, African American, Hispanic, etc.  Some of the portrayals are okay (read: not great) but at least they aren't presented as absurd caricatures.  Though many times, it is very apparent that the actor is not the ethnicity he or she is supposed to be--Shirley MacLaine in Gambit comes to mind (MacLaine, Asian? please).  Some of these portrayals are horrible--Mickey Rooney as Japanese Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's is the most obvious example. 

Since I mainly focus a majority of my movie viewing on studio era Hollywood films, I've come across quite a few films with blackface scenes in them.  Most of the time when blackface pops up... (and sometimes it pops up in the most unexpected of places!), I accept it as a sign of the times and move on.  It is rather cringeworthy, but I know that when it was made, it wasn't supposed to be.  Some of the portrayals of actual African Americans however... like the porter on the train in The Palm Beach Story or Robert Young's butler in Honolulu are pretty bad and I cannot see how even in the late 30s/early 40s that was even acceptable.  But I digress.

Back to blackface... Like I said, I mostly accept it as a sign of the times.  When Eleanor Powell dons blackface in Honolulu and Fred Astaire wears it in Swing Time, I didn't find it as bad because their performances were presented as a tribute to Bill Robinson.  Both Powell and Astaire could have easily performed without blackface and still have honored Robinson, but they weren't trying to do an imitation of him.  It was done as an homage.  I appreciate that Astaire did not don the big white lips. 

In Everybody Sing, Judy Garland wears blackface as a form of a disguise.  It's pretty bad, because she also sports the white lips and the dreadlocked hair.  She looks more like a stereotype.

I'm pretty sure there is a Garland/Rooney film where the two stars also sport blackface.  I remember not thinking much about their routine.  Though I am not a big fan of Rooney, so that may have also come into play.  

Bing Crosby's "Abraham" song in Holiday Inn is bad.  The lyrics are bad.  Linda's blackface costume with the white lips is bad.  The whole thing is awful.  I watch it though because on the whole I enjoy the film.  Only that one part makes me cringe, but accept it as a sign of the times.  I disagree with contemporary critics and television stations that want to air censored copies of this film with "Abraham" removed.  

I am glad that TCM airs these films in their entirety without any censorship.  And as much as I loathe Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's, I think it's important for these films to remain intact.  They can serve as an insight into the past and as a learning tool.

I try to take it with a grain of salt. BB's Rendezvous does make me cringe, but I figure it's a part of motion picture history. I love the Charlie Chan series and get a kick that a couple Swedes portrayed the sleuth. Speaking of which, I am a big hunk of Swede and there are some performances out there that make my skin crawl, but that was then. He is Olie, I am Sven...

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Janet0312 said:

I try to take it with a grain of salt. BB's Rendezvous does make me cringe, but I figure it's a part of motion picture history. I love the Charlie Chan series and get a kick that a couple Swedes portrayed the sleuth. Speaking of which, I am a big hunk of Swede and there are some performances out there that make my skin crawl, but that was then. He is Olie, I am Sven...

thank you, this was an awesome post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

also also also,

out of all the films i've seen on TCM that had troubling racial subtext, blackface, romanticized r a p e scenes, pro-Colonial sentiment, gay stereotypes, war glorification or sexist undertones that are hallmarks of the time in which they were made, there are only two that I saw and thought to myself:

"wow, TCM legitimately needs to NEVER ever, EVER show THAT again" because of the truly insulting depths of the racism in both movies

One was CHARLIE CHAN IN EGYPT and the other was BOSTON BLACULA'S** RENDEZVOUS

So, lest you think I'm all JOHNNY CENSORSHIP now, 2 out of, what? 1400 ain't too bad.

 

**SUE ME, I'm having some fun with Otto.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

i read this after my Bob Hope reference in my post below.

there is a very UGLY undercurrent of racism in the work on Bob Hope that he just can't let go- often built around the lazy joke of black people being hard to see or "dirt covered" because they're black.

Hope's black sidekicks are NEVER on equal footing, they're the set-up, the prop, the punchline; contrast that to the interactions between JACK BENNY AND EDDIE ROCHESTER ANDERSON, where it's 40-60- in ROCHESTOR'S FAVOR; he's the one delivering most of the barbs and in a hilariously backhanded fashion.

That was the genius of Benny on radio and in television. He was the star, but just about all the members of his supporting cast -- including Rochester, Mary Livingstone, Dennis Day, Phil Harris and announcer Don Wilson -- made fun of him.

Image result for jack benny and supporting cast

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't get offended by these things. It is hard to be offended just because people tell you SHOULD be when you're not. If something is funny I laugh at it, I don't analyze it. If I am intrigued by a story I am not thinking about the ethnic background of an actor.

As far as blackface goes, I actually laughed at that Bob Hope/Mammy line when I read it, I would probably laugh if it saw it. In the Our Gang comedy "Anniversary Trouble" Spanky gets into blackface posing as Buckwheat, trying to escape the gang who is angry at him. It's a very funny scene, it's has a lot of childhood innocence and no malice to it. 

I am not bothered by yellowface in classic films either. Warner Oland and later Sidney Toler gave Charlie Chan great wisdom and dignity (he was always the smartest guy in the room.)Toler also gave his Chan a little sarcastic edge that Oland did not. Keye Luke, a real Asian actor (he played #1 son) had nothing but praise for Warner Oland's performance. I was also too engrossed in "The Good Earth" to worry about where Paul Muni and Luise Rainer were born. I recently saw Sylvia Sidney as a Japanese in "Madame Butterfly" and while I like the movie, her performance was a little uneven. In scenes with her parents she speaks perfect English but when she speaks to her new love Cary Grant, she reverts to "velly" instead of "very" type pidgin English. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While Birth of a Nation features white actors in blackface, another 1915 film, released just a few weeks after Birth, not only featured white actors in blackface, but was released in many parts of the country under the title The N***** (asterisks intentional, you all can figure out what the word is). In other parts of the country, it was released as The New Governor. It was from Fox, and is presumed lost, but I have been working on "reconstructing it" via the written word for the last few years.

There is a still from the film which appears in the book "Pictorial History of Silent Cinema," and I am copying it below. The actor in the center is William Farnum. I could not identify the actors on either side of him. On the right hand side, the two women are Agnes Everett and Claire Whitney. The woman on the ground is Gertrude Clemens, primarily a stage actress, who often appeared in blackface roles. The blackface actor she is clutching is the future comic actor Henry Armetta, in his first screen appearance. Farnum, who discovers that his grandmother was a slave, also briefly appears in blackface, when he looks in a mirror and imagines himself as a black man.

YcWdi0C.png

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

There is a still from the film which appears in the book "Pictorial History of Silent Cinema," and I am copying it below. The actor in the center is William Farnum. I could not identify the actors on either side of him. On the right hand side, the two women are Agnes Everett and Claire Whitney. The woman on the ground is Gertrude Clemens, primarily a stage actress, who often appeared in blackface roles. The blackface actor she is clutching is the future comic actor Henry Armetta, in his first screen appearance. Farnum, who discovers that his grandmother was a slave, also briefly appears in blackface, when he looks in a mirror and imagines himself as a black man.

Any relation to the film star Dustin Farnum, for whom Dustin Hoffman was named?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, jakeem said:

Any relation to the film star Dustin Farnum, for whom Dustin Hoffman was named?

Dustin was William's older brother.

William Farnum

william-farnum-last.jpg

Dustin Farnum

220px-Farnum_001.JPG

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, jakeem said:

Four actors who received Academy Award nominations for films in which they appeared in blackface:

  • Mickey Rooney, nominated as Best Actor in "Babes in Arms" (1939).

 

 
  • Larry Parks, nominated as Best Actor in "The Jolson Story" (1946).

 

 
  • Sir Laurence Olivier, nominated as Best Actor in "Othello" (1965).

othello.jpg

  • Robert Downey, Jr., nominated as Best Supporting Actor in "Tropic Thunder" (2008). Downey played an Australian Method actor who darkened his skin to appear as an African-American soldier in a Vietnam film.

 

giphy-facebook_s.jpg
 

I like to know how in the world did Mickey Rooney ever get nominated for Best actor for BABE IN ARMS, when there were at least over a dozen far superior performances that year which should have been nominated instead (like Charles Laughton in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME or James Cagney in THE ROARING TWENTIES, to name a couple).

Anyway, while I can certainly understand the uproar about actors appearing in films or on TV in blackface, one has to take into account that during the studio era not many studios were willing to take chances on hiring a lot of African Americans actors or other minorities, in major roles, at least not until Sidney Poitier came along. And even there he was mostly the exception to the rule until the 70's. 

Speaking for myself, blackface, I can take it or leave it. I do appreciate Olivier's performance as OTHELLO, he wasn't playing the part as a mockery to all African Americans, only as the story was written. Although I do feel filmmakers who put white actors in minority roles for the sole purpose of putting the certain said race down, I do feel THAT is deplorable.

One thing you have to give credit to modern filmmaking is that there have been a lot more opportunities for minorities to appear in leading roles on the tube or on the screen here in the 21st century than there were during the older days of Hollywood glamour.

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I like to know how in the world did Mickey Rooney ever get nominated for Best actor for BABE IN ARMS, when there were at least over a dozen far superior performances that year which should have been nominated instead (like Charles Laughton in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME or James Cagney in THE ROARING TWENTIES, to name a couple).

Must be the blackface scene.  

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I like to know how in the world did Mickey Rooney ever get nominated for Best actor for BABE IN ARMS, when there were at least over a dozen far superior performances that year which should have been nominated instead (like Charles Laughton in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME or James Cagney in THE ROARING TWENTIES, to name a couple).

Remember, Rooney was a bundle of talent and energy, and he and Garland were magic together. Plus, wasn't this the first musical in which a Rooney character declared: "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!"? It's legendary stuff now, and it apparently was very appealing back in 1939.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In re: ROONEY in BABES IN ARMS

From their inception in 1927, to some point in the mid 40s or so, Louis B Mayer pretty much RAN the Oscars. Like, more or less on a Weinstein level. If he wanted you to win, you'd win, if he wanted to lose, you lost. (Ditto nominations)

And that's not to say people and pictures from other studios were locked out of the Oscars, but you weren't getting asked to dance unless LB okayed it

i've always seen Mickey Rooney's best actor nomination in 1939 as being an LB Production through and through, strings attached as always

(if it makes anyone happy, or not, he genuinely deserved the best actor nomination he got for THE HUMAN COMEDY)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just saw the photo above, and took a real good look for the first time.

Damn, Lawrence Olivier looked RIDICULOUS in blackface.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...