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why today's Hollywood film stars are lost on older people


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Thank you for this topic.

I'm a huge classic film fan since I was twelve. I'm in my 60's now. I like a couple of today's actors - Joaquin Phoenix,  Kerry Washington, John David Washington, Adam Driver, Rami Malek, Tessa Thompson, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stansfield, and I'm looking forward to more from Lin Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom,  and Mahershala Ali. I believe they are going to get to the podium soon or again. Mahershala Ali already has two Oscars and Joaquin has one.  

Back in the 80's I picked out a couple of actors I thought would win Oscars or be nominated for an Oscar. They were Sean Penn, Robert Downey, Jr., Mickey Rourke, who I feel gave one of his best performance in Year of the Dragon and The Wrestler. Eric Roberts and Demi Moore was on my list too.  Nicholas Cage, Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, and the late Howard Rollins who gave two great performances in Ragtime and A Soldier's Story.

As mentioned, there will never be another Cagney, Bogart, Holden, Duke Wayne, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Nicholas Brothers, Bette Davis, Lana Turner and Olivia de Havilland. The new guys and girls on screen these days can surprise us in the coming years.

 

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I think it's not so much film stars but the content of movies themselves. That is, as the tent-pole phenomena grew together with large amounts of credit, more films had to remain the same to justify high ticket sales, decrease opportunity costs by lowering development time, and meet growing markets abroad. Hence, films that deal with spectacle, use lots of CGI, hit the PG sweet spot, are over two hours long, have plots that are easily to follow so that movies can cut across multiple cultures and language groups, large budgets for marketing, and a focus on tested formulae, which means prequels, sequels, rehashes, reboots, and spinoffs of various franchises.

 

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6 hours ago, ralfy said:

I think it's not so much film stars but the content of movies themselves.

Your point is well taken but possibly only a part of the answer.

When I think about classic movie stars I think the likes of Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Bogie, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, etc. All these people have unique PERSONALITIES- a way of gesturing, an unusual way of speaking, bringing themselves to the part. 

These kind of actors can elevate a so-so movie or unbelievable plot line just by their unique personality. 

There seem to be very few "stars" today with strong personalities & mannerisms larger than the role. Mostly what you remember is funny lines or situations, not their unique performance.

There have been movies geared to teens since the 40's-Deanna Durbin movies, the Andy Hardy series, Dead End Kids, etc. (talk about STRONG personalities!)

And for all of you who know my utter disdain for the horrible non-acting of Tom Hanks -I have to say- after seeing several interviews with him throughout 2019, I do think he's matured as an insightful & thoughtful person (off the set!) But he's no Jimmy Stewart.

 

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

 

And for all of you who know my utter disdain for the horrible non-acting of Tom Hanks -I have to say- after seeing several interviews with him throughout 2019, I do think he's matured as an insightful & thoughtful person (off the set!) But he's no Jimmy Stewart.

 

Of course Tom Hanks is no Jimmy Stewart, but I like most of his movies. I recently watched PHILADELPHIA mainly because Denzel was in it, but I thought Hanks was terrific, Granted some his roles are similar and the romcoms are sometimes cheesy. However, I thought THE DAVINCI CODE, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE ROAD TO PERDITION and even FOREST GUMP showed he had some range as an actor .  However, I totally respect your opinion. I don't like Jim Carey, but I know people think he is very talented. 

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

And for all of you who know my utter disdain for the horrible non-acting of Tom Hanks -I have to say- after seeing several interviews with him throughout 2019, I do think he's matured as an insightful & thoughtful person (off the set!) But he's no Jimmy Stewart.

 

I agree with you.  I do enjoy comedies with Hanks, but dramas - no thanks.  Even in comedies, there are better actors out there.  His acting does not appear any better than it was in Bosom Buddies.

As for today's actors, I think it is also a product of the screenplays and directing.  Far too many movies move too fast, have too much noise, overwhelming music, indistinct speech and so forth.

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2 hours ago, Hoganman1 said:

Of course Tom Hanks is no Jimmy Stewart, but I like most of his movies. I recently watched PHILADELPHIA mainly because Denzel was in it, but I thought Hanks was terrific, Granted some his roles are similar and the romcoms are sometimes cheesy. However, I thought THE DAVINCI CODE, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE ROAD TO PERDITION and even FOREST GUMP showed he had some range as an actor .  However, I totally respect your opinion. I don't like Jim Carey, but I know people think he is very talented. 

Who couldn't like Fire Marshall Bill?

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11 hours ago, ralfy said:

I think it's not so much film stars but the content of movies themselves. That is, as the tent-pole phenomena grew together with large amounts of credit, more films had to remain the same to justify high ticket sales, decrease opportunity costs by lowering development time, and meet growing markets abroad. Hence, films that deal with spectacle, use lots of CGI, hit the PG sweet spot, are over two hours long, have plots that are easily to follow so that movies can cut across multiple cultures and language groups, large budgets for marketing, and a focus on tested formulae, which means prequels, sequels, rehashes, reboots, and spinoffs of various franchises.

 

Y'know, there was a long period not too far back, when it seemed every new movie was something animated.  Either "traditionally" or by Pixar.  I can recall when animated full length movies were such a rarity that their release was considered some kind of big deal.  And for a while there, I thought it was movies with REAL PEOPLE acting in them that would be thought of as "novel".   Glad to see it getting back to "normal" but  ralfy is right.

There's really not much effort put into them at this point.

Sepiatne

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In some respects, I kind of feel as though the whole idea of movie stardom in the modern day is in some sort of precarious state. I look at the top 50 box office takes from 2019, and most of the films were sequels or remakes, with very few (Ford Vs Ferrari , Once upon a Time in Hollywood, The Upside, and A Beautiful Day in the neighborhood) seemingly being build on what used to be called star power. Most others had a sort of in grown fan base (be it comic books, or TV shows in the case of Downton Abbey, or in the case of Little Women, based on a perennially classic book), others had hooks to draw people in (Us had Jordan Peele directing right after the smash Get Out, Yesterday had the Beatles music, Knives Out utilized the whodunnit, 1917 went the war movie of class and taste and Oscar nomination path). Joaquin Phoenix might have won the Oscar for Joker, but  more people  likely turned out to see the origin story of the comic book villain  than to see his performance (and the film was so derivative of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy that it hurt).

There are actually very few major stars anymore. The last real crop of them were the ones who came up in the late 90s and early 00s. The entertainment field has fractured so much since then thanks to streaming and the resurgence of TV, and quite frankly many of the household names nowadays are the same ones people were talking about in the 80s and 90s. So many careers of younger players  that were wildly heralded at the beginning of the 2010s have begun to fall apart (Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway) or have completely collapsed (Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Eddie Redmayne, Rooney Mara), and it is left to wonder about the extreme transience of praise and how the Oscars serve as some sort of springboard, but only for a few brief years.

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5 hours ago, ElCid said:

His acting does not appear any better than it was in Bosom Buddies.

Woo-boy, exactly.

I dated a guy who worked on a film with Hanks early in his film career. He acted like a prima donna and just read his lines without acting. Maybe there was a conflict with the director, who knows? 

In all fairness, films today are 45 second "takes", you'd have to be a powerhouse to emote in a second like a light switch. 

But I've stomached through a few films with Hanks in them because I couldn't resist the subject matter: Apollo 13, Mr Banks, etc. but find him more wooden than Gregory Peck, minus the handsome. 

As for Jim Carey-boy is he talented and can be fabulous with good material. His failing is his outrageousness is often a turn off when you spot the insecurity in his eyes. I loved Carey as Andy Kaufman because Kaufman had the same self doubt. 

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15 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Woo-boy, exactly.

I dated a guy who worked on a film with Hanks early in his film career. He acted like a prima donna and just read his lines without acting. Maybe there was a conflict with the director, who knows? 

In all fairness, films today are 45 second "takes", you'd have to be a powerhouse to emote in a second like a light switch. 

But I've stomached through a few films with Hanks in them because I couldn't resist the subject matter: Apollo 13, Mr Banks, etc. but find him more wooden than Gregory Peck, minus the handsome. 

As for Jim Carey-boy is he talented and can be fabulous with good material. His failing is his outrageousness is often a turn off when you spot the insecurity in his eyes. I loved Carey as Andy Kaufman because Kaufman had the same self doubt. 

I liked The Money Pit, Turner and Hooch, A League of their Own and Larry Crowne.  But not because of Hanks.  I have seen many of his others and they are so-so.  I find his military of "hero" portrayals silly and pretentious.  He couldn't hold a candle to Gregory Peck.

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Regarding Hanks, I think he was quite good in Joe vs the Volcano , Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan, and Road to Perdition. And I have definitely seen him in a lot over the years. But ever since reading what Tiki had to say, I have noticed that he often coasts a bit in his films, often repeating the same notes.

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It's called the passage of time. Old fogies probably don't go to movies as often as younger people

and are likely not as hooked into current pop culture so they are just not as knowledgeable about

today's stars. The wheel keeps on turning and today's people in their 20s and 30s won't know much

about the stars thirty years down the road.

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I guess we're all different. I simply cannot comprehend how someone could prefer Jim Carey over Tom Hanks, but if you do; then I'm fine with that.   I'll never criticize anyone for what they like.  At least we agree on James Stewart and Gregory Peck. They are both American icons in my opinion.  I've also developed a new respect for Glenn Ford after seeing several of his early movies. Don't forget he played my hero (and namesake) in FOLLOW THE SUN.

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I don't know what to say. I feel insulted. I don't go to the movies anymore. I have no idea who the latest and greatest actors of today are and I really don't care.  I do like Johnny Depp as Ed Wood. I like Tom Hanks in That Thing You Do.  Robert Downy Jr was great as Chaplin.  But I find myself looking forward more so to an adventure with Ma and Pa Kettle than with any of the movies you've mentioned.  Sorry. But that's just me. 

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Also, look up articles about a talk with Spielberg and Lucas, who talked about the possibility of the industry imploding:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jun/13/steven-spielberg-george-lucas-film-industry

Later, Spielberg corrected writers and said that that's not what they meant, but all of the factors that may lead to it are in place: ever-increasing budgets, heavy reliance on tent-poles to survive the dump months, heavy reliance on an international market in order to get at least a 250-percent return on investment (because movies involve a production budget plus a large sum on marketing, and up to half of ticket sales going to theater owners, distributors, etc.), and many studios wanting the same.

That's why many Hollywood blockbusters look alike: more than two hours long, lots of spectacle and CGI, the PG sweet spot, light on plot and characterization in order for them to be easily translated across various cultures, and reliance on either A-lists or a similar gimmick in order to attract viewers. Meanwhile, more viewers are becoming less interested in watching movies in theaters and would rather wait for most of them to show up in bargain bins or streaming.

Similar is happening in other media. In video games, there are now too many games, and several of them expensive, such that players are reluctant to buy all of them and can't have time to play them. They'd rather wait for the games to be offered in the bargain bin or even given free two years later. For TV shows, there's increasing pressure to up the ante in production (even with CGI) and get more viewers as the markets become congested, with viewers less interested in commercials and who'd rather pay a few dollars a month to watch most of them later. Same thing with music: instead of buying albums, just pay a few dollars for streaming service, and mostly for music that has barely changed for almost a century, i.e., three-minute, three-chord pieces, major scales, regular beat, banal lyrics.

 

 

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59 minutes ago, ralfy said:

Also, look up articles about a talk with Spielberg and Lucas, who talked about the possibility of the industry imploding:

Without reading your link, I can add the gist of conversation I heard yesterday on NPR: the most popular (new) shows/movies during the pandemic have been dramatic, adult situations like THE QUEEN, QUEEN'S GAMBIT, FABULOUS MRS MAISEL, SCHITTS CREEK, etc

They mentioned mature adults, mostly women were more interested in charactor driven stories than action/hero stories. The panel was surmising this might be the end of big budget movies geared towards teen boys/men that have little chance to earn profit without of theater release.

I hate to divide viewing by gender, but that's how the experts were talking.

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2 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

The panel was surmising this might be the end of big budget movies geared towards teen boys/men that have little chance to earn profit without of theater release.

 

That's no surprise.  Those types of movies have less impact on a home screen and probably aren't as appealing without the big screen and 100 speakers booming in the auditorium.

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15 hours ago, Hoganman1 said:

I guess we're all different. I simply cannot comprehend how someone could prefer Jim Carey over Tom Hanks, but if you do; then I'm fine with that.   I'll never criticize anyone for what they like.  At least we agree on James Stewart and Gregory Peck. They are both American icons in my opinion.  I've also developed a new respect for Glenn Ford after seeing several of his early movies. Don't forget he played my hero (and namesake) in FOLLOW THE SUN.

I just finished the biography of Glen Ford by his son, Peter. I too, always found Glen Ford movies enjoyable. FOLLOW THE SUN was a pretty good movie and Peter tells some nice stories about Hogan and Ford.

Nonetheless, off screen, like so many stars, Ford was not an all that nice a guy...especially to his 1st wife, Eleanor Powell and to his only son. 

My favorite Ford movie is THE ROUNDERS with Henry Fonda and Ford's lifelong friend, Edgar Buchanan. 

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5 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Without reading your link, I can add the gist of conversation I heard yesterday on NPR: the most popular (new) shows/movies during the pandemic have been dramatic, adult situations like THE QUEEN, QUEEN'S GAMBIT, FABULOUS MRS MAISEL, SCHITTS CREEK, etc

 

I had no idea that SCHITT$ CREEK was a "dramatic, adult situations" kind of show.  I thought it was a comedy.  And HILARIOUS to boot!  

I don't understand why all the discussion of TOM HANKS in this thread as he hasn't been  "new" enough on the scene to be considered one of "today's stars" since the end of the '80's.  ;) 

And I disagree with the statement that JIMMY STEWART and GREGORY PECK were "icons".  Uh-uh.

They were INSTITUTIONS!  :)    And I also always kind of liked GLENN FORD due to some of the movies I recall first seeing him in when I was younger.  Not until adulthood did I see earlier efforts by him like GILDA and THE BIG HEAT and such.  I never saw RANSOM until after the MEL GIBSON remake.    But the "comics"?   Well.......  THE MASK('94),  THE TRUMAN SHOW('98) and  MAN ON THE MOON('99)  are the only JIM CARREY movies I could ever sit through.  "The Mask" perfectly suited his "****" style of comic persona.

Which of course is more than ADAM SANDLER whose only movie effort I liked was THE WEDDING SINGER('98).  And now my 2 cents on Hanks.....

Some might disagree with my assessment on Sandler, but it all comes down to style.  Some LIKE Sandler's comic style.  AND Carrey's.  But my not liking either person's "style" doesn't necessarily translate into my thinking they have no talent.  And that millions of other people do like them points out that not liking an actor's "style" or whatever doesn't mean they're talentless.  And I've seen too much of what's good in several of Hanks' efforts to say he lacks any talent.  

Sepiatone

 

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Watching The Thin Man series this morning. Take a lookeeloo at the actors. Every one of them has their own personality.  That's one difference between today's movie stars. These days everybody looks alike, or so they seem to. You think we'll ever come across another actor like Ed Brophy? Or anyone else from the olden days? 

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37 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

I had no idea that SCHITT$ CREEK was a "dramatic, adult situations" kind of show.  I thought it was a comedy.  And HILARIOUS to boot!  

I don't understand why all the discussion of TOM HANKS in this thread as he hasn't been  "new" enough on the scene to be considered one of "today's stars" since the end of the '80's.  ;) 

And I disagree with the statement that JIMMY STEWART and GREGORY PECK were "icons".  Uh-uh.

They were INSTITUTIONS!  :)    And I also always kind of liked GLENN FORD due to some of the movies I recall first seeing him in when I was younger.  Not until adulthood did I see earlier efforts by him like GILDA and THE BIG HEAT and such.  I never saw RANSOM until after the MEL GIBSON remake.    But the "comics"?   Well.......  THE MASK('94),  THE TRUMAN SHOW('98) and  MAN ON THE MOON('99)  are the only JIM CARREY movies I could ever sit through.  "The Mask" perfectly suited his "****" style of comic persona.

Which of course is more than ADAM SANDLER whose only movie effort I liked was THE WEDDING SINGER('98).  And now my 2 cents on Hanks.....

Some might disagree with my assessment on Sandler, but it all comes down to style.  Some LIKE Sandler's comic style.  AND Carrey's.  But my not liking either person's "style" doesn't necessarily translate into my thinking they have no talent.  And that millions of other people do like them points out that not liking an actor's "style" or whatever doesn't mean they're talentless.  And I've seen too much of what's good in several of Hanks' efforts to say he lacks any talent.  

Sepiatone

 

Sandler and Carey started out as standup comedians. Robin Williams was the GOAT at going from standup to film stardom. Often comedians do make passable if not terrific actors. So many. We could start a whole thread on great comedians who had terrific star turns on film.  Steve Martin comes to mind. My favorite of his is PENNIES FROM HEAVEN.  Bill Murray can act and he started out more in improv. 

The older stars never came from that medium. Some came from Vaudeville very early, a few from radio but most were stage actors which is, IMHO, the best place to find their voice/image.

I always enjoy watching Cagney movies where he has to hoof it. He could act, sing a little, and dance. He could do comedy and dark noir...back and forth. Did he work on Vaudeville? Another GOAT.

Hanks never did much, if any, stage work. Nope...he wasn't a stand up. He went right to television then film. To me, that's why he, to me, comes across pretty much the same in most of his roles. I agree that PHILADELPHIA might have been his best. I always thought his CASTAWAY character was top notch. Nevertheless, Hanks never mails it in. He does benefit from getting the cream of the crop scripts, however. Oh, should every actor have his problems.

The old, studio contract players who became stars had to take what was given them....thus a lot of snoozers on their  resumes.

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1 minute ago, MrMagoo said:

 The old, studio contract players who became stars had to take what was given them....thus a lot of snoozers on their  resumes.

Watched Bette Davis last night on the Dave Cavett show.   I believe in was the late 70s.       Dave made an assumption about how it was much harder on  up-and-coming actors during the studio-era and Bette  pushed-back on that assumption.     Her main points were:

We were under contract.    We had security.   If we were in a film that was a stinker,  we knew we would be cast in another one since in the 30s they were cranking out films.    Today (late 70s),  if a up-and-coming actor is in bomb it could take a long time before they are asked to appear in another film.      

Of course that lead to being cast in some stinkers,  but,  again,  if you're in 4 - 5 films per year,,, well,  a few will be good parts in good films. 

So yes,  a lot of snoozers,  but also some gold!   Bette did talk about how Cagney,  Bogie and her would go on suspension if the script was really poor, as well as having to go to England to get Jack Warner to give her better projects.    I wondered if Bette was confused as it relates to Bogie:  My understanding is that Bogie took all the parts given and didn't make a fuss.    I'm fairly sure that was the case, especially in the 30.     Maybe Bette was talking about Bogie after Casablanca,  where he finally had more clout. 

 

    

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12 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Watched Bette Davis last night on the Dave Cavett show.   I believe in was the late 70s.       Dave made an assumption about how it was much harder on  up-and-coming actors during the studio-era and Bette  pushed-back on that assumption.     Her main points were:

We were under contract.    We had security.   If we were in a film that was a stinker,  we knew we would be cast in another one since in the 30s they were cranking out films.    Today (late 70s),  if a up-and-coming actor is in bomb it could take a long time before they are asked to appear in another film.      

Of course that lead to being cast in some stinkers,  but,  again,  if you're in 4 - 5 films per year,,, well,  a few will be good parts in good films. 

So yes,  a lot of snoozers,  but also some gold!   Bette did talk about how Cagney,  Bogie and her would go on suspension if the script was really poor, as well as having to go to England to get Jack Warner to give her better projects.    I wondered if Bette was confused as it relates to Bogie:  My understanding is that Bogie took all the parts given and didn't make a fuss.    I'm fairly sure that was the case, especially in the 30.     Maybe Bette was talking about Bogie after Casablanca,  where he finally had more clout. 

 

    

Nice get. To be sure they aren't making nearly as many movies today as they used to so a bad turn in a bad movie can be a real career killer compared to the 30's, studio contract years. Cream had more opportunities to rise to the top in the old days. 

On the other hand, back then there was no television, no commercials to shoot,.....so in some ways there may be more avenues to find work today, albeit maybe not very profitably. 

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1 hour ago, MrMagoo said:

Nice get. To be sure they aren't making nearly as many movies today as they used to so a bad turn in a bad movie can be a real career killer compared to the 30's, studio contract years. Cream had more opportunities to rise to the top in the old days. 

On the other hand, back then there was no television, no commercials to shoot,.....so in some ways there may be more avenues to find work today, albeit maybe not very profitably. 

During the studio era, they were on contract, so unless they were involved with the production end somehow on an independent production, there would be no real profits shared with the actors.  That's why stars of that era often left relatively small estates when they passed.  Of course, many of them spent a lot of money too. 

For example, Davis's estate at her death in 1989 was valued at just under $1M, which is about $2.08M today.  Joan Crawford's estate was valued at around $2M in 1977, but she benefitted from being associated with Pepsi-Cola.   These are nice sized estates, but compare that to George Clooney's net worth at $500M today.   Tom Hanks: $350M.  Meryl Streep: $160M.  Since the demise of the studio system, the big stars have been able to leverage deals to make even more money.

It's one reason why Shirley Booth made Hazel (which she had a share in).  Her colleagues sniffed and sneered at her turning to a weekly sitcom, but she said it gave her economic freedom to work where she wanted and when she wanted, which was primarily on the stage.

I think in the last 10 years or so, with the rise of streaming services' original programming, there's never been more avenues for actors (until COVID, anyway).   Theatrical films are only one  piece of the pie, and the line between cinema and TV has never been blurrier.  

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