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Lee Tracy- Stop the Presses!!


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I really enjoy the work of Lee Tracy. Bombshell is playing right now, and it is a wonderfully funny look of an offbeat romance (so offbeat we don't see it) between Harlow and Tracy. Considering how many stars NOW fall for their publicists, it was ahead of it's time.

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LEE TRACY - The lastest and the fastest of the fast-talkers, I think he could out-talk Pat O'Brien & Cagney combined. Enjoyed seeing him at the end of his career in "The Best Man."

 

Message was edited by CineMaven becuz I've got a Programming Challenge to work on. Enough of this frivolity for me. UGH!!

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He was also great in BLESSED EVENT (1932), THE HALF NAKED TRUTH (1932), and THE NUISANCE (1933), among others. I thought his performance in THE BEST MAN (1964) was a fitting end to his film career. Perhaps TCM will see fit to add him to a SUTS day.

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Always liked Lee Tracy. I thought he was great with Barrymore as the frustrated agent trying to work with a has-been ham! Imagine, in your little, brief career, you got to be in a movie, and MOST of your scenes, if not all, were with an actor considered to be one of the GREATESS of all time! Tracy and Barrymore, what a team.

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What an awesome film, and what a very cool actor!!! I also would like to put in my vote for a SUTS day for the great Lee Tracy, particularly all his awesome pre-codes (where he was clearly in his hey-day!), plus lots of his later B films!

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And neither the Mexican government officials, the Army officials or the bosses at MGM were amused by Lee Tracy's antics. He was arrested on morals charges.

 

He was pulled from the film, *Viva Villa* and replaced by Wallace Beery. He returned to the States and MGM terminated his contract. It took his career in films a long time to recover from his few minutes of notoriety.

 

He had made his name on Broadway in *The Front Page* and after his film career dried up, he returned there.

 

He made a few more films in the post-war era and scored one of his best roles in Gore Vidal's *The Best Man*. He opened in the show on Broadway and received a Tony for his best supporting role as the terminally ill President.

 

He reprised the role when the play was made into a movie starring Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson. He was Oscar nominated but did not win.

 

Message was edited by: lzcutter for punctuation

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Helen,

 

You are right! Thanks for catching that. I was looking at the *Viva Villa* poster with the caricature of Beery and my fingers and brain weren't on the same page!

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Another great Tracy vehicle is WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND in which he plays a descendant of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The picture is a Columbia foreshadowing of their MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and is much more grim than the Capra classic.

 

And he was simply outstanding in DINNER AT EIGHT.

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I actually enjoyed MILLIONAIRES IN PRISON. :) It seems that for a couple years in a row a few years back, TCM aired a full day of Lee Tracy films, to honor his birthday. I didn't see one film or performance, even his latter 30's/40's bargain-basement budget film stuff was enjoyable to see. But his heyday certainly the pre-code era.

I'd like to see another marathon of his flix, hopefully SUTS??? :)

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

> I actually enjoyed MILLIONAIRES IN PRISON. :) It seems that for a couple years in a row a few years back, TCM aired a full day of Lee Tracy films, to honor his birthday. I didn't see one film or performance, even his latter 30's/40's bargain-basement budget film stuff was enjoyable to see. But his heyday certainly the pre-code era.

> I'd like to see another marathon of his flix, hopefully SUTS??? :)

Ditto.

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I honestly think that Lee Tracy was not only the fastest talker in the movies during the pre-code era, but the most underrated actor of his time. His secret was a deep, abiding charm that could not only make you laugh, but move you deeply. THE NUISANCE and TURN BACK THE CLOCK are two of the best examples of Tracy's double-barreled talent. It's hard to believe that Tracy is in only two scenes with John Barrymore in DINNER AT EIGHT, but he makes such an impact (largely dramatic) in those scenes that you think he takes up more of the film than that. MGM was clearly grooming him for stardom in 1933-34, and it's a shame he (literally) **** it all away.

 

His 1940 RKO programmer MILLIONAIRES IN PRISON has been mentioned here, and it contains one of his best acting performances. He plays the "fixer" of the prison, and in one scene (a card game, I think), he persuades two of the millionaires to fund a medical project headed by his friend, the prison's doctor. He slyly hints that he knows Dominic, the prison chef, and that if he tells Dominic that he doesn't like a certain prisoner, Dominic will poison his food. Needless to say, the millionaires soon come through with the funding for the project.

 

What is amazing about this scene is the way it is directed and played by Tracy. It is shot in one take, in medium close-up, and Tracy hardly moves in the scene. He conveys an air of subtle menace solely through his face and voice, managing to be threatening and funny at the same time. I could count on one hand the actors who could do that scene even 1/10 as effectively as Tracy in that small space -- and still have fingers left.

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Never mind Cagney in One, Two, Three, how about Hard To Handle, which I would bet was meant for Lee Tracy before he bolted to MGM. Not only does Cagney try his damndest to talk as fast as Tracy, he uses a lot of gestures as well, which is a trademark of Tracy's. A note on Tracy, he was a big hit on Broadway in 1925 in the play titled Broadway, where his character was a dancer. of all things. Another good early Tracy is The Half-Naked Truth, which TCM ran late in 2007.

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THE HALF NAKED TRUTH (1932), is one of my favorite Lee Tracy films, although BLESSED EVENT (1932) ranks right up there too. Both films good examples of pre-code fun!

The story in HALF NAKED TRUTH is quite a hoot. His scene with Frank Morgan, where he is blackmailing him with a compromising picture that keeps getting larger each time another copy is discovered in Morgan's office is really quite funny.

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