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LANA or AVA


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One is a fair blonde beauty, the other a brunette dark beauty. Both made over 60 films and worked at MGM Studios. Both were Oscar nominated for Best Actress just once. Both had affairs and marriages that didn't last and both died with their devoted Latino housekeepers at their sides.

Both Lana Turner and Ava Gardner were gorgeous legendary movie stars of the silver screen.

Which one of the two beauties did you find most entertaining?

 

Mongo

 

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Have you all seen the short between films that feature a dark-haired Lana giving an interview to all male reporters and then they are dancing and she is singing! I cringe when I see this. It is truly awful. Atleast Lana didn't have to cool her heels at MGM like Ava. Which role was Ava nominated for? Entertaining? most entertaining it is hard to say because on one hand this one is short on one aspect and then the next is short on another aspect. I do know that they both have one thing very much in common that is a frank and honest autobiography. I feel I can relate to Ava better I know I liked her movies better until I saw The Bad and the Beautiful and Lana blew me away. But I like Ava better and feel she did entertain me more so I pick Ava.

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Though my views could be prejudiced by the fact that I just saw Ziegfeld Girl on TCM last night, I would choose Lana Turner. I've seen a lot more of her films, and she certainly had the longer career - starting very early as the "sweater girl" in an excellent film I also saw on TCM recently called They Won't Forget. Ms. Turner's Oscar nomination was received for a film I haven't seen, Peyton Place (not likely to be shown on TCM). However, I have seen her in several good roles including in movies like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Postman Always Rings Twice (so sexy!), and The Bad and the Beautiful. I didn't realize until I looked that she was married (and divorced) EIGHT times, including to Artie Shaw (Ava's second husband).

 

As sexy as Lana was, Ms. Gardner may have been sexier though I've seen fewer of her films (I tend to favor brunettes anyway;- ) However, she seemed to take awhile to get her career underway. Though both ladies were roughly the same age, Ms. Gardner first real splash wasn't until 1946 in The Killers, with Burt Lancaster. A few years later, she replaced Lena Horne in (the third?) Show Boat, with Howard Keel. And, in 1953, she received her Oscar nomination for her role in Mogambo, ironically playing opposite another sexy blonde (Grace Kelly). My favorite Ava role & film, however, would have to be The Barefoot Contessa with Humphrey Bogart ... though I've yet to see On the Beach. She can be forgiven for appearing in Earthquake, the same way Lana can be for all the soap operas she appeared in. In fact, there's a book called "Bad Movies We Love" in which an entire chapter is dedicated to Ms. Turner's films.

 

Though Ava's three marriages were to more famous men (Mickey Rooney and Frank Sinatra, in addition to Shaw), Turner lived 6 years longer. Perhaps blondes have more fun?

 

 

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Although both gals were beautiful, my preferences lean to Gardner. She was both sultry and beautiful from THE KILLERS on. My favorites are BHOWANI JUNCTION and MOGAMBO. I also like PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. Incidently Lena Horne, was never set to play Julie LaVerne in SHOWBOAT. Over the years this story seems to have gotten more and more twisted. Horne even implied she was set for the role of Julie in THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT III. Because of the racial angle (and southern states) MGM nor Arthur Freed did not want to take a chance and cast a black woman in that role. However, Horne did coach Gardner in her singing. Gardner was so mad that they dubbed her voice that she refused to the role of Ruth Etting in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME opposite James Cagney. Gardner didn't want her voice dubbed again. But when the film came out and was a big hit she kicked herself. Incidently, Dinah Shore (who was mentioned for this role) was one of the stars who had her heart set on playing Julie LaVerne in Show Boat. Somehow I cannot see this working. Gardner and Turner were supposed to co-star in a film in the 1960s but unfortunately this never came about. The one film of Turner's that I would love to see is FLAME AND THE FLESH with Turner as a brunette. Shot completly in Europe, for some reason this rare MGM film is not shown on TCM. I have some movie stills from the film which co-stars the ill-fated and beautiful Pier Angeli. Incidently, gwtwbooklover, that musical number of Turner's that you are talking about is a sort of remake of Judy Garland's spoof of the Great Lady Gives an Interview number from THE ZIEGFELD FOLLIES. Turner's number is pretty identical, but of course she is no Garland and her voice was dubbed and her dancing was nil. I don't know where this piece of film comes from. At this point Turner was making a lot of musicals, e.g. THE MERRY WIDOW, MR. IMPERIUM.

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I'd have to vote for Ava Gardner rather than Lana Turner. As Path reminds us, Turner was probably at her most alluring in Ziegfeld Girl and, from the same period, Johnny Eager(1942). During this early stage of her career she had a sensual warmth and vulnerability. I'm not sure where or when the change in her work came--was it in The Postman Always Rings Twice?--but, to my taste, she became increasingly hard-looking and her acting became almost totally artificial by the time she turned in some unbearable,(to me), performances as semi-hysterical women in Peyton Place, Portrait in Black, and the abysmal remake of Imitation of Life. Maybe it wasn't entirely her fault--heaven knows that Hollywood then or now was not a friendly place to a woman of a certain age. From what I've read about her life, she probably needed the money when she made alot of these later movies. I just think that as she matured, her acting did not and her screen persona took an unfortunate turn.

 

Ava Gardner, on the other hand, not only had breathtaking beauty as a young woman, but she also had a warmth and more acting ability after the glossiness got worn off than she ever gets credit for by most of the observers I've read. The earliest performance that gives a hint of this is probably as Julie in Showboat and as the good time girl in Mogambo. She certainly had her share of turkeys over the years as well, such as The Naked Maja or The Little Hut, but try to catch her sometime in The Snows of Kilamanjaro, On the Beach, Seven Days in May and, best of all, Night of the Iguana. There's a good actress, and, I suspect, a warm, if troubled woman in that increasingly careworn face. She became more interesting as she aged, and despite some poor scripts in her later films, remained a more believable human presence.

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I vote for Ava Gardner. I think her beauty was just breathtaking, but she had an earthiness to her that just made her characters come alive. My favorites are Mogambo and Night of the Iguana. She worked well opposite Gable and Burton. Nothing against Lana Turner, but I'd say Gardner just held your attention longer in more of her films.

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edgecliffd wrote: Incidently, gwtwbooklover, that musical number of Turner's that you are talking about is a sort of remake of Judy Garland's spoof of the Great Lady Gives an Interview number from THE ZIEGFELD FOLLIES. Turner's number is pretty identical, but of course she is no Garland and her voice was dubbed and her dancing was nil. I don't know where this piece of film comes from.

 

Ayres, here: That sequence was part of an Ed Sullivan Show (Toast of the Town) tribute to MGM stars. I think it was aired in the mid-1950s.

 

I have to concur with most here: I find Lana likeable and she does a good acting job in a few things, but Ava is the better actress. For some odd reason, Lana's beauty never much appealed to me--I can see objectively that she's lovely, yet she strikes me as pouty and bland. I think Ava Gardner was one of the most beautiful women of all time.

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ayresorchids, thanx for the info on Lana. I had a hard time figuring where that particular sequence came from. BTW I felt John Ericson, Edmund Purdom and I think Richard Anderson looked pretty ridiculous prancing around with Lana. Both Lana and Ava became better actresses over the years, but I felt Ava had more talent of the two. I always thought Turner pretty much a glamour girl, but I think she excelled in PEYTON PLACE. She matured greatly as an actress for this role. But I feel Gardner was the better actress. Just look at her perfomances in MOGAMBO and NIGHT OF THE IGUANA. Of course it helps to have great directors like John Ford and John Huston. Unfortunately she made a lot of trash toward the end of her career. But I know she only did these things for the money.

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I have to go with Lana Turner. I've seen more of her films than Ava's, which is one reason I picked her, but even if I hadn't I still would pick Lana, just because I find her more appealing. She had an energy and charisma about her that Ava seemed to lack. To me Ava was always like this untouchable goddess who seemed very icy in a way. Lana was like an all around gal, who could not only look extremely hot, but act really well - anyone who's seen "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "The Bad and the Beautiful" would have to agree that she WAS a good actress. And even though her later films were kind of cheesy, I still think she did a good job in them - the same way Bette Davis and Joan Crawford made the best of the cheesy movies they did at that time.

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I'm very, very partial to brunettes, but I'm going with Lana Turner on this one. Ava was plenty attractive, but Lana was built perfectly. I never thought she was that great of an actress, but she was pretty good in a few movies I like.

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Ava is my first choice loved her in Mogambo.Night of the iguana,the barefoot contessa even her early movie part

with the east side kids & Bela Lugosi ava was the better

actress and very beautiful ...Too bad she didn't do the

movie Love me or Leave me bet she kicked herself silly!...Lana too me came off as the sweater girl image

i couldn't shake when i see her in anything.......

But to her credit she did sizzle sexy in the postman

always rings twice.....she was good at that but needed

training in acting & the studio at the time was selling her as a sexy property for the money.So i guess it wasn't all Lana's fault. lolite blue.

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What a tough choice.

 

For many many years I have always thought Lana was the tops. Recently seeing some more of Ava'a performances, I have tended to think she was the better actress.

 

I think Ava was a more natural beauty (if there is such a thing on the screen) and Lana was manufactured head to toe (with some great original material to work with to be sure).

 

But for watching movies I enjoy - I give the edge to Lana for POSTMAN, PEYTON PLACE, IMITATION OF LIFE, and THE MERRY WIDOW. Always fun.

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Maybe this isn't fair since I haven't seen Ava's earlier works such as "Mogambo" but either she didn't age very well or she was not that good-looking to begin with. In "On the Beach", "55 Days at Peking" and "7 Days in May" she looked like about 5 miles of bad road (for a leading lady anyhow) These films were late 50's to mid 60's only about a decade past her prime. Thank goodness Frank isn't around or he would send a few of da "boys" to "straighten me out."

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I must say that most of the responses to this thread offered some indepth views of the two lovely actresses.

Although I've enjoyed watching both Lana and Ava in many of their movies I tend to choose Lana.

I was always facinated at the way that this glamorous movie star carries herself in most of her scenes and she is dynamite in Technicolor. Although the Lana of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "The Bad and the Beautiful" impressed me I'm geared toward the Lana of "Peyton Place", "Imitation of Life" and "Madame X" which I consider one of her best performances.

Needless to say both ladies were screen legends in their day and will go on entertaining us through their many films that we are fortunate enough to enjoy.

 

Mongo

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Ooh, that's a tough one. I think both women's acting improved with age (Ava didn't sound so ridiculously breathy), but neither was a Meryl Streep. They were both lovely, although I thought Lana's hair was too blond. A darker shade of blond, or even her natural red, would have looked more natural, I think. But Ava had the better figure. Much has been made of Lana's "perfect" figure, but look closely. She was straight up and down with no waist!

 

BLU

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Oddly enough Gardner became a blonde for a while. With her coloring it did not really work. However, when Turner went brunette in such films as FLAME AND THE FLESH and BETRAYED, it did work. No one mentioned both gals were married to Artie Shaw at different times. Shaw said some unkind things about Turner's intellect and Gardner wouldn't put up with Shaw's nonsense. For some reason he tried to educate all the women he was involved with.

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I can't pick! They were both talented in their own right. I loved Lana in "Imitation Of Life", but I also loved Ava in "Mogambo". If I really had to choose, it will be Ava. I'm a huge Sinatra fan and I truly believe that she was the love of his life, contrary to recent publications of his life. Please do not get me started on his widow, Barbara. That's a whole different story there. Ava was all woman. She was down to earth and she never backed down from a good fight (she and Sinatra had a few).

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