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Do you mean "good woman" as in virtuous, righteous, etc. or do you mean "good" roles for women, as in juicy parts featuring characters with depth and an intelligent script?

 

Edited by: misswonderly on May 19, 2010 12:26 PM

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How about...Bette Davis in Now, Voyager and Mr. Skeffinton, also Beyond the Forest

(although admittedly that one was at the end of the 40s)

 

Katharine Hepburn (yes!) in Woman of the Year, State of the Union

 

Myrna Loy in The Best Years of Our Lives (more in-depth than most "wife" roles)

 

Ida Lupino in High Sierra (ok, very early 40s), The Hard Way, Road House

 

Barbara Stanwyk in Double Indemnity, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

 

Joan Crawford in A Woman's Face, Mildred Pierce

 

...but you know what? I think you're right, because with all these great actresses, many of their greatest roles seem to have been in the 30s or as a comeback in the 50s. So I see what you mean.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on May 19, 2010 12:48 PM

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In the late 40s' Paramount was the first studio to pick up Olivia De Havilland after Warner messed up in his lawsuit with her, and Olivia one two ocsars as best actress in Paramount movies.

 

Paramount bigest star in the 30's was Lombard, but sadly they lost her and in the 40's their biggest stars were Ladd and Lake and Barbara Stanwyck.

 

Warner and MGM had most of the major stars during the studio system days.

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No big deal. Was Claudette Colbert still at Paramount in the 40s? I think she was in the early 40s.....

 

Since Paramount films arent on tv as much as the other studios, I dont have as big a knowledge of them as to output...........pre-1950's at least.........

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Yes, I knew there were others (I check my Paramount book before I replied since my memory is bad!), and I only listed those I felt were 'big' stars (of course Lamour was hugh with those Hope Crosby films). I love those gals but I don't know if they were big stars like Davis, Crawford, Garson, and others of the era, but someone else mentions Colbert and she was indeed someone I would define as a major star.

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I don't see any evidence that Carole Lombard had a Paramount contract at the time of her death. In fact it was well known that she was a freelancer for the better part of her stardom.

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jamesjazzguitar wrote:

*I love those gals but I don't know if they were big stars like Davis, Crawford, Garson, and others of the era, but someone else mentions Colbert and she was indeed someone I would define as a major star.*

 

Colbert did indeed get many of the best women's roles at Paramount in the 40s. The two films mentioned with Stanwyck, Double Indemnity and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, were both at Paramount. Both Colbert and Stanwyck had multi-pic deals with several studios from the mid-late 30s on, often getting some of the best roles at a given studio, to the detriment of that studios contractees. Freelancers Olivia DeHavilland, Loretta Young, Joan Fontaine and Ginger Rogers also got some choice parts at Paramount at some point in the decade; in the mid-40s, Paulette Goddard got a few good ones at her home studio as well.

 

Paramount's female stars of the early 40s: Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard and Betty Hutton were as big during the war years and immediately after as the aforementioned Davis, etc. They just didn't last as long at the top (nor did Garson for that matter), and are therefore not as well known as some of the others, so it's hard for people nowadays to discern their popularity in their day when their names may no longer be household names.

 

Edited by: Arturo on May 19, 2010 6:25 PM

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Yeah, but Dietrich was long gone from Paramount before the 40s started. It just seems the really good parts at Paramount for women didnt go to their contractees in the 40s......

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I'm wouldn't say that Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard and Betty Hutton were has 'big' as Bette Davis was during the war years with maybe the exception of Hutton for a very brief time.

 

The big difference is that all of these women stared with other male stars while a Bette Davis picture was clearly a Bette Davis picture. Many of the male leads in Bette movies were not major stars (George Brett, the actors in The Letter, or Now Voyager, etc..).

 

Plus if one looks at best actress nominations no one came close to Bette and Garson during their runs in the 40s. Thus to me these two were the top and everyone else was behind them in terms of being major stars during the war years.

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Jamesjazzguitar wrote:

*I'm wouldn't say that Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard and Betty Hutton were has 'big' as Bette Davis was during the war years with maybe the exception of Hutton for a very brief time.*

 

The comment was about Davis, Garson, Crawford and others. One of the best ways a star's popularity was measured (an imprecise measure at best) was the exhibitors' box office polls. The most influential one was published by the Motion Picture Herald at year end and was tabulated using movie theater owners sending in ballots with the Top Ten names of who they felt brought the most people during a given year (which actually was from Sept.1 - Aug. 31). Many anomalies would pop up, i.e. a person in a blockbuster who otherwise meant nothing at the box office. From the 40s onward, men made up the bulk of the entries in the Top Ten; in the 40s, only Betty Grable lasted on them through the end of the decade (she first entered them in 1942). Davis and Garson each were in them for several years: in Davis' case she was just out of them when she wasn't in the Top Ten, at least through mid-decade. Garson slipped badly popularity-wise after the war, and from these polls as well. Joan Crawford's popularity had fallen quite a bit in the early 40s; she hadn't been in these rankings since the mid-30s. But that doesn't mean she wasn't popular, or that she didn't have a major comeback with 1945's Mildrid Pierce.

Many very popular stars never made the Top Ten, but that doesn't take away from the popularity they then enjoyed. Lana Turner, Gene Tierney, Rita Hayworth, Ann Sheridan, etc. were huge during most of the decade, but they never made the Top Ten. The aforementioned Paramount stars were all popular, at least through the immediate post-war period.

 

*The big difference is that all of these women stared with other male stars while a Bette Davis picture was clearly a Bette Davis picture. Many of the male leads in Bette movies were not major stars (George Brett, the actors in The Letter, or Now Voyager, etc..).*

 

Bette Davis was in a class of her own in terms of star vehicles her studio crafted for her. Her popularity was such that she didn't need a costar's clout to carry them. But she belonged to Warner Brothers. This studio, as well as MGM, were most reliable in crafting vehicles for their stars; look at Crawford's pictures when she was a top star at MGM in the 30s, and at WB in the late 40s. Usually, once they became big, no big names were paired with them, until maybe when their popularity began to waver. MGM was the exception to this, as they claimed to have "more stars than there are in heaven", and often paired three or more top stars in their movies.

 

*Plus if one looks at best actress nominations no one came close to Bette and Garson during their runs in the 40s. Thus to me these two were the top and everyone else was behind them in terms of being major stars during the war years.*

 

Nominations for Oscars is not a very accurate way to gauge a star's popularity, other than maybe among their peers voting for these nominations. It is a better determinant of who was considered prestigious, or a great actor. *They don't go hand in hand.* Look at Louise Rainer, who won back to back Oscars in the 30s. She was never a top star, nor very popular with the general public, but for a few years she was a prestigious actress at MGM. Or Abbott and Costello, who were consistently in the Top Ten lists in the 40s and early 50s . . . they had no chance of coming within a mile of a nomination. In the case of Bette and Garson, ok so they received repeated nominations during the war years, which were coincidentally their peak years, and none in the late 40s, when they were both in decline. But Betty Grable was more popular than either, in fact the most popular female star of the decade, both in the polls and in fan mail received, but she was not a prestigious star doing heavy dramatic parts, but featured in musical-comedies almost exclusively.

*Again, they don't go hand in hand.*

 

Edited by: Arturo on May 20, 2010 7:46 PM

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Thanks for the input. First I made a mistake when I mentioned Bette Hutton. I meant to say Bette Grable since, as you pointed out, she was a top star during the war years, with her movies, the poster, etc... More of an icon than someone known for their acting or the quality of her movies in my view.

 

Yes, fame (being popular) and oscar don't always go hand in hand, but for Davis and Garson they did during that 5 - 6 year period. As you noted Garson fell fast, very fast, and Davis clearly cooled off at the end of her Warner days but then she did All About Eve; The type of role Garson never got after her peak. Warner also heated up Crawford's late period which might of been one of the reasons Davis left Warners.

 

Good point about the different aproach MGM and Warners often took with their stars. I have always been more of a fan of the Warner style, as well as RKO and their movies during the 40s, than MGM but MGM did have many stars.

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