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Cyd


UMO1982
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I agree with you, Sepiatone. And she could dance in a variety of styles.  When she was on the screen,  she had my full attention.  In fact, she was so good that I can honestly say that I don't have one particular favorite.

 

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Plus,  she had at least one dramatic role where she didn't dance one step...  she plays the nice young woman,  literally the girl next door, who befriends the Richard Basehart character in Tension.  I found her to be quite likable and believable in the film.

Here she is,  innocently flirting with Basehart.  It's a nice scene.  Plus, she's a great contrast to Audrey Totter's self-centred character  (but don't get me wrong,  I love Audrey as Basehart's unfeeling wife in Tension.)

Cyd Charisse (1949) Tension - YouTube

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Nope, as much as I've always had a GREAT attraction to Cyd and thought her one of the best dancers to ever grace the silver screen, I have to say with a few exceptions such as the film MissW mentioned above here, I've never thought of her as being a very good dramatic actress.

(...but even still AND even after all these years, I'm STILL jealous of Tony Martin...the lucky SOB)

 

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Funny but true(I swear)--------

While watching THE BAND WAGON one afternoon many years ago, a buddy of mine, who really never did know much about movies(or much else) dropped by.  Looking at my TV screen, he asked, "Wow!  Who's that chick dancing there?"( it was a scene where Cyd danced with Astaire)  So I told him, "Cyd Charisse."  he got a bit upset, replying, "Not the GUY, azzwipe!  The CHICK!"  :D   He thought I said "SID"!  :lol:  He also didn't know who Fred Astaire was.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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I just saw Brigadoon last night with Cyd Charisse. I am still in the process of truly determining if one is a good actor, average, or a bad actor. I personally liked her in Brigadoon. I could see why Gene Kelly would go to the lengths he did to be with her. Out of the 500-600 movies I have watched in the last year and a half, she has been in many of them. At first I only saw her mainly dancing. As time went on, she was in more movies where she was doing more acting. I have never seen her as a dancer just trying to act. Frankly, in Brigadoon, I saw Gene Kelly as more of a dancer trying to act than Cyd Charisse.

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20 hours ago, Dargo said:

Nope, as much as I've always had a GREAT attraction to Cyd and thought her one of the best dancers to ever grace the silver screen, I have to say with a few exceptions such as the film MissW mentioned above here, I've never thought of her as being a very good dramatic actress.

(...but even still AND even after all these years, I'm STILL jealous of Tony Martin...the lucky SOB)

 

There is nothing I disagree with here,  but I do wonder how much opportunity Cyd was given to show if she had dramatic actress chops.    The few films where she doesn't dance (Tension \ East Side - West Side),   are early in her career.    As you mention she did well in Tension,  especially for a young actress.     I think she is also good in East Side - West Side,  especially given that she has to act along side Barbara Stanwyck.     

But after these early film she had few non-dancing roles.      So my overall point here is if given more opportunity would Cyd have meet the challenge?    I just don't know.

Someone like Ginger Rogers showed that she was a triple threat and no Astaire was required.   

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2 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

There is nothing I disagree with here,  but I do wonder how much opportunity Cyd was given to show if she had dramatic actress chops.    The few films where she doesn't dance (Tension \ East Side - West Side),   are early in her career.    As you mention she did well in Tension,  especially for a young actress.     I think she is also good in East Side - West Side,  especially given that she has to act along side Barbara Stanwyck.     

But after these early film she had few non-dancing roles.      So my overall point here is if given more opportunity would Cyd have meet the challenge?    I just don't know.

Someone like Ginger Rogers showed that she was a triple threat and no Astaire was required.   

Good point, James, and one that got me wondering why I've felt Cyd was never that good as a dramatic actress.

I think this might have all originally stemmed from when I was a teenager, and before ever watching any of her earlier dance work in classic musicals. I remember first noticing her when she'd guest on some television drama series during the '60s, '70s, '80s and later, and after she had pretty much wound down her dancing career.

I remember thinking to myself the first I saw her in one of those old series, "WOW! Who IS this gorgeous and glamorous 'older' woman I'm looking at here?  BOY, is SHE ever HOT!" 

But then later when I'd see her again in another show, she always seemed to be playing a character which was pretty much the same as the last...pretty much the "gorgeous and glamorous" type who's always perfectly made-up and wardrobed, and during her life when she looked like this...

1-cyd-charisse-everett.jpg

And so I suppose this was when I must have made up my mind that Cyd's range when it comes to acting was probably pretty limited.

(...make any sense at all???)

 

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I'm afraid my perception of Charisse's acting ability has probably been forever skewed by Pauline Kael's remark that she "reads her lines as if she learned them phonetically"--which like so many critical bon mots is memorable partly because it's a bit unfair.  It's probably closer to the truth to say that her acting style favored smoothness and "professionalism" over spontaneity, but then again that's true of a lot of glamorous 50s actresses (e.g. Ruth Roman).  She often gives the impression of someone who spent perhaps a bit too much time with studio acting coaches, so that the rough edges of things have been sanded off to the point of sounding a bit over-rehearsed, rather than springing from any deep well of feeling (i.e. she's definitely not a Method actress). I can't quite imagine her tapping into the sort of raw despair that, say, Doris Day, manages to channel in The Man Who Knew Too Much upon learning her son has been kidnapped.

I suspect you're also right, Dargo, that her "glamorous" persona was established rather early on, and either she felt that's what audiences expected of her, or the casting agents did, or both. There was also a certain element of deliberate hauteur, of remoteness and unattainability in some of her more famous roles (Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Sick Stockings) that didn't lend itself well to easy audience identification, which would have been hard enough to achieve in any case with anyone so physically perfect.  It would nevertheless have been interesting to see her attempt (or at least be offered) something rawer or more dramatically complex.

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Tula Finklea made only one appearance on Broadway .... at the age of 70. She played the Garbo role in the musical GRAND HOTEL. The NY Times said of her ... "Swathed in velvet and fur, she is a handsome woman. Although "Grand Hotel" doesn't ask much dancing of her, the legendary legs are up to the challenge. As an actress, let's just say she has an elegant presence. And as a singer, well, let's not say anything at all."

 

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18 hours ago, Dargo said:

 

I remember thinking to myself the first I saw her in one of those old series, "WOW! Who IS this gorgeous and glamorous 'older' woman I'm looking at here?  BOY, is SHE ever HOT!" 

 

Knowing her mostly by name(at the time) I was surprised to see she was still alive and much younger than I thought she was when she did a guest star role in a MEDICAL CENTER  episode in the early '70's.  

She is on my list of oddly named actresses.  Like:

MYRNA Loy

TALLULAH Bankhead

GREER Garson

UNA Merkel

CYD Charisse. 

MERYL Streep

MERLE Oberon (and Dandridge )

CICELY Tyson

CHARLIZE Theron

I have never personally met or heard of any other women with those first names.   I don't count Tallulah Willis.

Sepiatone

 

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19 hours ago, Fausterlitz said:

I'm afraid my perception of Charisse's acting ability has probably been forever skewed by Pauline Kael's remark that she "reads her lines as if she learned them phonetically"--which like so many critical bon mots is memorable partly because it's a bit unfair.  It's probably closer to the truth to say that her acting style favored smoothness and "professionalism" over spontaneity, but then again that's true of a lot of glamorous 50s actresses (e.g. Ruth Roman).  She often gives the impression of someone who spent perhaps a bit too much time with studio acting coaches, so that the rough edges of things have been sanded off to the point of sounding a bit over-rehearsed, rather than springing from any deep well of feeling (i.e. she's definitely not a Method actress). I can't quite imagine her tapping into the sort of raw despair that, say, Doris Day, manages to channel in The Man Who Knew Too Much upon learning her son has been kidnapped.

I suspect you're also right, Dargo, that her "glamorous" persona was established rather early on, and either she felt that's what audiences expected of her, or the casting agents did, or both. There was also a certain element of deliberate hauteur, of remoteness and unattainability in some of her more famous roles (Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Sick Stockings) that didn't lend itself well to easy audience identification, which would have been hard enough to achieve in any case with anyone so physically perfect.  It would nevertheless have been interesting to see her attempt (or at least be offered) something rawer or more dramatically complex.

Yes, The Lillian Burns technique. Many MGM actresses were tutored by her (I think that was her name) A lot of their acting styles were similar. She was the acting coach at MGM for many years for neophytes. (not sure if she tutored the men).

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5 hours ago, UMO1982 said:

Tula Finklea made only one appearance on Broadway .... at the age of 70. She played the Garbo role in the musical GRAND HOTEL. The NY Times said of her ... "Swathed in velvet and fur, she is a handsome woman. Although "Grand Hotel" doesn't ask much dancing of her, the legendary legs are up to the challenge. As an actress, let's just say she has an elegant presence. And as a singer, well, let's not say anything at all."

 

LOL. She must've been cast as a replacement. She wasnt part of the original cast. Funny, I don't remember that.

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5 hours ago, UMO1982 said:

Tula Finklea made only one appearance on Broadway .... at the age of 70. She played the Garbo role in the musical GRAND HOTEL. The NY Times said of her ... "Swathed in velvet and fur, she is a handsome woman. Although "Grand Hotel" doesn't ask much dancing of her, the legendary legs are up to the challenge. As an actress, let's just say she has an elegant presence. And as a singer, well, let's not say anything at all."

 

What a name! About as good as ETHEL GUMM!

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1 hour ago, Sepiatone said:

I have never personally met or heard of any other women with those first names.

Well, Una O'Connor and Cicely Courtneidge come to mind.  Una is probably more common than Uma (Thurman) in any case.

There are also some admittedly lesser-known actresses: Myrna Fahey, Greer Grammer, Charlize Diaz De Leon.

(I assume Merle Haggard doesn't count.) 🙂

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