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Unusual Film Couples with Great Chemistry


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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

That story doesn't jive with what I found on Wiki:

According to a Turner Broadcasting documentary MGM: When the Lion Roars, after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased the film rights, they were skeptical about Hepburn's box office appeal, so MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer took an unusual precaution by engaging two A-list male stars (Grant and Stewart) to support Hepburn.

While Hepburn initially purchased the rights to the source material,  as one can see MGM purchased those from her.

The story I've repeatedly heard is that Hepburn did have the right to ask for certain stars for the film since she was selling the film rights (I believe she originally asked for Clark Gable as C.K. Dexter Haven and Spencer Tracy as Macauley Connor) but she "settled" for Cary Grant and James Stewart. Hepburn had a major come-back as Tracy Lord in the Broadway version of "The Philadelphia Story" (it was a big, bit hit) so I doubt that MGM was worried about her appeal in the film version of the same property. 

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On stage, the role of C.K. Dexter Haven had been played by Joseph Cotten who had not yet made his first Hollywood film. And Macaulay Connor was played by Van Heflin who would soon sign with MGM. The part of Liz Imbrie was played by Shirley Booth who wouldn't make her first film for another decade.

https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/the-philadelphia-story-12441#OpeningNightCast

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I have Kate's autobiography, "Me", and there's an entire chapter on L. B. Mayer.  Here's what she has to say on pages 216-7 about this:

He then asked me what I wanted for it, and I told him.  I told him that I wouldn't be making any profit.  I said, "What interests me is who I play with, because people say that I am poison at the box office.   I want it cast."

He said, "Who do you want?"
I said, "Give me Tracy and Gable."

He said, "I don't think they'll do it."

I said, "I presumed that they probably wouldn't, but ask them."

He said, "Yes, I will ask them."

He did and they said that they wouldn't do it.  Then he said, "I can give you Jimmy Stewart, because we have control over him."  Then he added, "I'll give you a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to get anyone else you want or can get.  You get them.  You can name the director."

I said, "I would like George Cukor to direct it."

He said, "Fine."

Then we got Cary Grant for the $150,000 for three weeks' work.  He said that he would do it and that he wanted first billing over me.  "O.K., " I said, "that's easy."  He gave his salary to the Red Cross.  We had him for three or four weeks.  He had his choice of part and Jimmy Stewart played the other part.  Incidentally, Jimmy won the Academy Award.

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18 hours ago, TopBilled said:

On stage, the role of C.K. Dexter Haven had been played by Joseph Cotten who had not yet made his first Hollywood film. And Macaulay Connor was played by Van Heflin who would soon sign with MGM. The part of Liz Imbrie was played by Shirley Booth who wouldn't make her first film for another decade.

https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/the-philadelphia-story-12441#OpeningNightCast

Van Heflin would have made a grand Macaulay Connor.  Not so sure about Shirley Booth as Liz Imbrie.  To me, Ruth Hussey is the definitive Liz Imbrie!

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She and Katharine Hepburn had intertwined careers, at least from a role perspective.  Both were in Philadelphia Story on Broadway.  Booth was in The Time of the Cuckcoo, which became Summertime when translated to the screen, and starred Hepburn in the same role.  Booth played Bunny Watson on Broadway in Desk Set, and of course, Hepburn played that role on film.

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1 hour ago, lydecker said:

Van Heflin would have made a grand Macaulay Connor.  Not so sure about Shirley Booth as Liz Imbrie.  To me, Ruth Hussey is the definitive Liz Imbrie!

Maybe, but because I've always thought the Liz character while highly intelligent and quick on the ol' uptake is supposed to lack sex appeal and thus why Mike falls for Tracy at one time during the story, AND because I also always thought Ruth Hussey had quite a bit of sex appeal and even though she WAS often assigned roles in other films in which that aspect of her was quite often downplayed, I'd say Celeste Holm in this film's 1956 musical remake was just as good as Ruth Hussey was as the Liz character.

And basically because I never found Celeste Holm sexy at all.

(...nope, every time I watch The Philadelphia Story and see Jimmy's Mike character totally overlooking how hot Ruth Hussey's Liz is, I think to myself, "GEEZ dude, are you BLIND or somethin'?!"...yep, THAT'S how hot I always though Ruth Hussey was...OH yeah!!!)  ;)

5acf635af0ba0__ruth-hussey.jpg

 

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45 minutes ago, chaya bat woof woof said:

Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder in The Frisco Kid

Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel in the original version of The Producers

There was this second pairing of these two, chaya. 1974's...

MV5BMTA3NDE4NjIyNTBeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDgz

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Maybe, but because I've always thought the Liz character while highly intelligent and quick on the ol' uptake is supposed to lack sex appeal and thus why Mike falls for Tracy at one time during the story, AND because I also always thought Ruth Hussey had quite a bit of sex appeal and even though she WAS often assigned roles in other films in which that aspect of her was quite often downplayed, I'd say Celeste Holm in this film's 1956 musical remake was just as good as Ruth Hussey was as the Liz character.

And basically because I never found Celeste Holm sexy at all.

(...nope, every time I watch The Philadelphia Story and see Jimmy's Mike character totally overlooking how hot Ruth Hussey's Liz is, I think to myself, "GEEZ dude, are you BLIND or somethin'?!"...yep, THAT'S how hot I always though Ruth Hussey was...OH yeah!!!)  ;)

 

Solid point.   For me a lot has to do with the contrast between the two women.       Tracy is defined as a goddess.   A 10.   Something very special.   Kate Hepburn just can't match that description.    Grace Kelly did.          Thus there wasn't enough contrast between Kate and Ruth.   In fact I find Ruth more desirable than Kate  (I assume you also do).

While I do find Celeste Holm to be sexy  (but not one of Hollywood beauties),,,,, Kelly was special,  and thus the contrast between the two is there.   I.e. it makes sense why a man would dish his gal if he felt he had a chance at someone like Kelly.    

Shirley Booth would have been perfect as Liz since there would have been that contrast between Kate and her,  as one can see from that photo  (sorry Shirley,  but I have to call them as I see them).

 

 

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5 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

A photo of Joseph Cotten performing the role of C.K. Dexter Haven.

 

We should mention that Kate & Van had both previously been RKO contract players and had appeared together in A WOMAN REBELS (1936).

Screen Shot 2020-09-17 at 3.18.00 PM

Van Heflin's contact with RKO must have been a short-term one or number-of-films contact since he only made films for RKO in 1936 and 1937.      I first noticed him in the WB film The Sante Fe Trail  (1940, Flynn \ DeHavilland).   He was signed to play the villain following his success on Broadway in The Philadelphia Story; it was his first movie since 1937.

Then he was signed by MGM to what looks like a long term contract.    (he was loaned out to Paramount \ Hal Wallis for one of my favorite films,  The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers.

Helfin had a solid film legacy and was very versatile.   

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Van Heflin's contact with RKO must have been a short-term one or number-of-films contact since he only made films for RKO in 1936 and 1937.      I first noticed him in the WB film The Sante Fe Trail  (1940, Flynn \ DeHavilland).   He was signed to play the villain following his success on Broadway in The Philadelphia Story; it was his first movie since 1937.

Then he was signed by MGM to what looks like a long term contract.    (he was loaned out to Paramount \ Hal Wallis for one of my favorite films,  The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers.

Helfin had a solid film legacy and was very versatile.   

At RKO Van Heflin was put in supporting roles in "A" films. For his fifth and final assignment for the studio, they gave him a lead in a "B" film where he was cast as a football player. SATURDAY'S HEROES (1937) wasn't a box office success and he was dropped by the studio. He left Hollywood and focused on stage work, which is where he made his mark. As you say, he was back in movies a short time later. He had a long-term contract at MGM, from 1942 to 1949.

From what I've read it was his decision to leave MGM. He was not dropped by Mayer & Schary. They wanted him to re-sign. I think he had grown tired of the glossy roles the studio offered him. He preferred playing more humanized, down-to-earth characters in westerns, war films and film noir. He was not a musical star and he probably realized MGM was not a place where he could be creatively challenged. So he went to Universal for a multi-picture deal and started to freelance after that, taking roles at Paramount and Columbia. 

Though he earned an Oscar at MGM (in the supporting category) I think he truly hit his stride at Columbia in 50s westerns like COUNT THREE AND PRAY (1955), 3:10 TO YUMA (1957) and GUNMAN'S WALK (1958). Some might say he gave his best ever performance in the independently made drama PATTERNS (1956).

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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Solid point.   For me a lot has to do with the contrast between the two women.       Tracy is defined as a goddess.   A 10.   Something very special.   Kate Hepburn just can't match that description.    Grace Kelly did.          Thus there wasn't enough contrast between Kate and Ruth.   In fact I find Ruth more desirable than Kate  (I assume you also do).

While I do find Celeste Holm to be sexy  (but not one of Hollywood beauties),,,,, Kelly was special,  and thus the contrast between the two is there.   I.e. it makes sense why a man would dish his gal if he felt he had a chance at someone like Kelly.    

Shirley Booth would have been perfect as Liz since there would have been that contrast between Kate and her,  as one can see from that photo  (sorry Shirley,  but I have to call them as I see them).

 

 

And a solid point yourself here, James...about the "contrast" element, anyway.

 EXCEPT, I have to admit that I always thought Kate Hepburn was ALSO exceptionally attractive back in 1940 and when the movie was made, and what with those terrific cheekbones of hers and that slinky bod she had.

Okay sure, maybe not ever as beautiful as Grace Kelly was, but then again, there's probably only ever been but a handful of leading ladies who ever WERE! 

BUT, still good point about Shirley Booth having that contrast with Kate on the Broadway stage, and because Shirley Booth holds even LESS sex appeal for me than Celeste Holm ever did.

(...although it seems the Nipster might not think so, and seein' as how the guy has been pining for YEARS now to watch Shirley on TCM in that Hot Spell flick!!!)  ;)

LOL

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

And a solid point yourself here, James...about the "contrast" element, anyway.

 EXCEPT, I have to admit that I always thought Kate Hepburn was ALSO exceptionally attractive back in 1940 and when the movie was made, and what with those terrific cheekbones of hers and that slinky bod she had.

Okay sure, maybe not ever as beautiful as Grace Kelly was, but then again, there's probably only ever been but a handful of leading ladies who ever WERE! 

BUT, still good point about Shirley Booth having that contrast with Kate on the Broadway stage, and because Shirley Booth holds even LESS sex appeal for me than Celeste Holm ever did.

(...although it seems the Nipster might not think so, and seein' as how the guy has been pining for YEARS now to watch Shirley on TCM in that Hot Spell flick!!!)  ;)

LOL

 

 

 

Never thought about this before but, now that it's been brought up, since Philip Barry wrote The Philadelphia Story for Kate Hepburn, perhaps she had a wee bit of input into the Broadway casting.  What better way to make yourself look even more attractive than to put Shirley Booth (a bit of a plain Jane) into the role of Liz Imbrie.

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