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Winter Under the Stars


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Our seventh character actor or actress is 

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MAY WHITTY

She consoled Joan Fontaine who expressed suspicion about Cary Grant.

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She helped Walter Brennan figure out that Lana Turner was slightly dangerous. 

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She sat down for tea after Lassie came home.

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She dated Jimmy Durante who told her that this time it was for keeps.

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She did the Lord's work on Green Dolphin Street.

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21 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Our seventh villain is

LYLE BETTGER.

I'll never forget Lyle Bettger trying to entice his elephant to crush Gloria Grahame's face in THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.

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May Whitty was so good in everything. I especially liked her in NIGHT MUST FALL, GASLIGHT and THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER. My favorite role of hers, though, is as Lady Beldon in MRS. MINIVER. The scene where she is softened by Greer Garson's genuineness is a scene I always stop and watch.

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38 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

May Whitty was so good in everything. I especially liked her in NIGHT MUST FALL, GASLIGHT and THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER. My favorite role of hers, though, is as Lady Beldon in MRS. MINIVER. The scene where she is softened by Greer Garson's genuineness is a scene I always stop and watch.

Have you seen her in MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS (1945)...? She's great playing against her usual type of role.

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On 2/6/2021 at 6:18 AM, TopBilled said:

 Richard Widmark annoys me half the time because he tends to think playing evil means throwing in homoerotic vibes, which is what a lot of method actors like to do, and it isn't exactly necessary at times.

But Lyle Bettger plays his villainous roles without resorting to those kinds of tricks.

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That's a really interesting point about how Method actors playing villains like to throw in homoerotic vibes. Some examples that immediately came to mind were Elia Kazan in Cry of the City and Rod Steiger in The Big Knife. What were some of the other instances you were thinking of?

Sometimes a plot seems to need the suggestion of homoerotic feeling, as in House of Bamboo, to explain why Robert Ryan takes Robert Stack into his inner circle of associates, but sometimes it's not necessary to the script, as with Steiger in The Big Knife. I suspect that the actors were interested in pushing the boundaries of the code, but from our perspective this can seem homophobic.

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23 minutes ago, kingrat said:

That's a really interesting point about how Method actors playing villains like to throw in homoerotic vibes. Some examples that immediately came to mind were Elia Kazan in Cry of the City and Rod Steiger in The Big Knife. What were some of the other instances you were thinking of?

Sometimes a plot seems to need the suggestion of homoerotic feeling, as in House of Bamboo, to explain why Robert Ryan takes Robert Stack into his inner circle of associates, but sometimes it's not necessary to the script, as with Steiger in The Big Knife. I suspect that the actors were interested in pushing the boundaries of the code, but from our perspective this can seem homophobic.

There are numerous examples of method actors adding homoerotic vibes to their performances. Though I was thinking primarily of Richard Widmark, who does this in KISS OF DEATH (1947) and NO WAY OUT (1950).

Anthony Franciosa also does it in THE LONG HOT SUMMER (1958). He's a glaring example, since his technique is rather obvious. No subtlety from him whatsoever. Meanwhile Steiger, whom you already mentioned, does it as Curly in OKLAHOMA! (1955) as well as his similar villainous role in JUBAL (1956).

I don't think it's so much pushing the boundaries of the code, but it's this strange/false idea that developed in the method acting schools and on stage and in live television, that homosexual is deviant and "evil." So if you are handed an evil character to play, then you dial up the homoeroticism and perversion because a conservative audience will agree that's a degenerate who needs to be punished and cannot get away with anything.

Besides not offering subtlety or insights about the human condition, these performances support a homophobic bias that harms a marginalized group in society.

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Our seventh western star is 

WILLIAM S. HART

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According to his wiki page, some of his silent westerns do survive. He had a cameo in SHOW PEOPLE (1928).

I wanted to mention him because he's often overlooked.

Hart owned substantial property in southern California, particularly in West Hollywood. When I lived there from 2003 to 2004, I would take my Pomeranian to a dog park that was named in his honor.

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There is a home there which he lived in that is now designated as a historical landmark.

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I went inside the home for a party that was given by some of my friends at the Actors Studio. I believe the western branch of the Actors Studio still uses some of the property to conduct workshops and perform plays. (There is a shed behind the house that's been converted into a stage and small auditorium.)

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Our seventh post-code star is 

DIANE KEATON

Iconic as the title character in ANNIE HALL (1977).

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Interesting alongside Richard Gere in LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR (1977).

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Fun as Steve Martin's wife in the FATHER OF THE BRIDE comedies.

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And on the road to trouble with Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow in HANGING UP (2000).

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On 2/8/2021 at 6:24 AM, TopBilled said:

Our seventh western star is 

WILLIAM S. HART

Something I find fascinating about William S. Hart is that he owned Billy The Kid's Six-Shooters and actually knew Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. He also wrote eleven books.

I think the only film of his I've seen is TUMBLEWEEDS, on YouTube. It's from a re-issue, and Hart introduces the film. I believe it was one of his films that is showing in the Nickelodeon Theater when Fredric March and his son attend an afternoon movie in ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN and everyone in the audience is providing sound effects for when the good guys and bad guys show up in the film.

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6 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Our seventh post-code star is 

DIANE KEATON

I so hope I look as good as Diane Keaton when/if I get to be her age! She's so exuberant, individualistic...and goofy. I love that about her, because she interjects those personality traits into her onscreen performances.

I know she has done drama, but almost all of her films in which I like her best are comedies. My favorites are two Woody Allen films; SLEEPER and LOVE AND DEATH.

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3 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

Something I find fascinating about William S. Hart is that he owned Billy The Kid's Six-Shooters and actually knew Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. He also wrote eleven books.

I think the only film of his I've seen is TUMBLEWEEDS, on YouTube. It's from a re-issue, and Hart introduces the film. I believe it was one of his films that is showing in the Nickelodeon Theater when Fredric March and his son attend an afternoon movie in ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN and everyone in the audience is providing sound effects for when the good guys and bad guys show up in the film.

Is that so? It's been awhile since I've seen ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN (1941). The next time I watch it, I will pay careful attention to that particular scene.

I wanted to include at least one silent western star in this thread since there were many and they're all overlooked now.

I was going to feature Tom Mix originally, but then went with William S. Hart because I find his life to be fascinating...plus some of his films survive and I haven't seen any. Also there's the fact that I would visit the dog park and Actors Studio in West Hollywood and would see his name on the big sign...but didn't really know much about him, except that area had been his property/land.

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1 minute ago, sagebrush said:

I so hope I look as good as Diane Keaton when/if I get to be her age! She's so exuberant, individualistic...and goofy. I love that about her, because she interjects those personality traits into her onscreen performances.

I know she has done drama, but almost all of her films in which I like her best are comedies. My favorites are two Woody Allen films; SLEEPER and LOVE AND DEATH.

One film of hers I haven't seen is THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (1984) which looks rather interesting. Have you had a chance to see it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Drummer_Girl_(film)

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1 minute ago, TopBilled said:

One film of hers I haven't seen is THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (1984) which looks rather interesting. Have you had a chance to see it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Drummer_Girl_(film)

I have heard of it, but never seen it. From the discription though, it sounds interesting!

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2 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

I have heard of it, but never seen it. From the discription though, it sounds interesting!

Yeah, seems like a change of pace for her. A lot more serious than her films usually are. 

It's a Warner Brothers picture so I wonder if it turns up on TCM? I don't remember it being scheduled.

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6 hours ago, TopBilled said:

One film of hers I haven't seen is THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (1984) which looks rather interesting. Have you had a chance to see it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Drummer_Girl_(film)

I have seen it and liked it. One of the better adaptations of a John LeCarre novel. A slight improvement over the novel because we see the process by which Diane Keaton's character changes sides. Basic set-up: a rather mindlessly New Left-leaning actress (there were quite a few in the late 60s/70s) is taken prisoner by Israeli intelligence, turned, and used as bait to trap a PLO terrorist. Most of the actors were not well-known, at least to American audiences, but a couple of the guys were quite attractive.

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6 hours ago, kingrat said:

I have seen it and liked it. One of the better adaptations of a John LeCarre novel. A slight improvement over the novel because we see the process by which Diane Keaton's character changes sides. Basic set-up: a rather mindlessly New Left-leaning actress (there were quite a few in the late 60s/70s) is taken prisoner by Israeli intelligence, turned, and used as bait to trap a PLO terrorist. Most of the actors were not well-known, at least to American audiences, but a couple of the guys were quite attractive.

Nice. Sounds like my cup of tea. :) 

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Our seventh child star is British child star

JON WHITELEY

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I remember when I first watched HUNTED (1952) one of his earliest movies, in which he appeared with Dirk Bogarde. He's just fantastic in it, but even better in THE KIDNAPPERS (1953) made a short time afterward.

Later he teamed up with Bogarde again for THE SPANISH GARDENER (1956).

He also did a Hollywood movie called MOONFLEET (1955), produced by MGM, which cast him opposite George Sanders and Stewart Granger.

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Plus there was an American-financed movie in Britain, THE WEAPON (1956) which found him playing Lizabeth Scott's son.

As an adult he became a scholar in the art world. Ever the detective, I found out where he was working in England. This was two years ago. I sent an email to his work address, and within a day or so he replied. He was very polite and told me about his current work and what it was like receiving an Oscar (an honorary juvenile Oscar). 

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If you have the chance to watch his movies, I am sure you will enjoy Jon's performances as much as I do.

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41 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

I think the only film of Jon Whiteley's I've seen is THE KIDNAPPERS, and yes, he was terrific in it.

It's the one that earned him the Oscar.

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Our seventh precode star is 

FRANCES DEE

Seen here in LITTLE WOMEN (1933):

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She also appeared in ONE MAN'S JOURNEY (1933) with husband Joel McCrea:

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And with Leslie Howard in OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934):

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I love Frances Dee! I always find her acting less stylized than other actresses in the 1930's.

She was as gracious as Bette Davis was selfish in OF HUMAN BONDAGE. I'm not really a fan of the Cukor version of LITTLE WOMEN, but I think Dee and Paul Lukas are great in it.

Other films  of Dee's I really like are THE SILVER CORD (also with McCrea), BECKY SHARP,  I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, and IF I WERE KING. Lovely gal.

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1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

I love Frances Dee! I always find her acting less stylized than other actresses in the 1930's.

She was as gracious as Bette Davis was selfish in OF HUMAN BONDAGE. I'm not really a fan of the Cukor version of LITTLE WOMEN, but I think Dee and Paul Lukas are great in it.

Other films  of Dee's I really like are THE SILVER CORD (also with McCrea), BECKY SHARP,  I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, and IF I WERE KING. Lovely gal.

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Lovely comments. Yes, she is less stylized, always giving a more naturalistic performance.

She had a substantial motion picture career in the 1930s and early 1940s and deserves a proper tribute on TCM.

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Our eighth musical star is 

BOB FOSSE

Early in his career he was an MGM contract player and had supporting roles in musicals like

THE AFFAIRS OF DOBIE GILLIS (1953):

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And GIVE A GIRL A BREAK (1953):

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Later his talents were better utilized on stage, and behind the camera directing films like SWEET CHARITY (1969), CABARET (1972) and ALL THAT JAZZ (1979).

But occasionally he still performed on screen. Here we see him in his role as The Snake in THE LITTLE PRINCE (1974):

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My favorite Fosse film performances are the dance numbers "Who's Got The Pain" with Gwen Verdon from DAMN YANKEES,  his short sequence with Carol Haney in "From This Moment On" from KISS ME KATE, and two numbers from MY SISTER EILEEN: "Give Me A Band And My Baby" with Tommy Rall, Janet Leigh and Betty Garrett, and the spectacular dance challenge between Fosse and Rall.

His "Snake In The Grass" number from THE LITTLE PRINCE was the first time I saw him dancing when I was a kid.

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