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A Barrymore's Star of the Month suggested!


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In a conversation I had with a producer at TCM yesterday, I suggested a Star of the Month tribute to classic film's royal family, the great Barrymores: John, Ethel and Lionel. He said he thought it was a great idea and that he would pitch it to Charlie (Tabesh).

 

If my suggestion does someday come to fruition, I will certainly be most proud that I could have helped in some small way to contribute to the lasting legacy of this great and legendary acting family. emote15.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John[iEthel[/i]LionelBarrymore040532.jpg]

*Jack, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore*

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*In a conversation I had with a producer at TCM yesterday, I suggested a Star of the Month tribute to classic film's royal family, the great Barrymores: John, Ethel and Lionel. He said he thought it was a great idea and that he would pitch it to Charlie (Tabesh).*

 

It's a great idea, ClassicFilmMan. I've always been particularly fascinated by John Barrymore. His early talkies (before the self parody took over) reveal an actor who could play it as a grand romantic (Grand Hotel), a hypnotic villain, who was curiously sympathetic (Svengali), an over-the-top Broadway eccentric (20th Century), a man fearful of his own mental unbalance (Bill of Divorcement), a naive meek little school teacher (Topaze), and a lawyer absorbed in his work and driven to the point of self destruction (Councillor at Law). In spite of all the talk of John being a ham (very true on many occasions) I think he was an impressive actor when the mood (and right script and right director) struck.

 

I'm hoping that TCM will show some of Barrymore's really rare films, such as *Reunion in Vienna* and *State's Attorney*. It's my understanding that his talkie debut (General Crack) is in pretty rough shape and may not even be complete. Still, it would be wonderful to see what still exists. Apparently his second talkie, The Man from Blankley's, is considered to be lost. It's a comedy and with Barrymore largely playing it like he's tipsey. He received marvelous reviews when the film was released, and it's our loss, too, than that one can't be found. One never knows, though, since discoveries have been made of other "lost" efforts. Ah, well, one can always dream.

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> {quote:title=helenbaby wrote:}{quote}The Barrymores were part of a Star of the Month ...... You could even throw in a film by John Drew, Diana & Drew as well.

 

 

I'd love to see some (or all!) of Diana Barrymore's movies on TCM, especially one of my favorites, BETWEEN US GIRLS (1942) which has similarities to but PRE-DATES the unfairly more well-known THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR.

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Tom*:* Many of those films by Jack Barrymore you mentioned are among my favorites. Others you didn't mention that I also like are Dinner at Eight, Midnight and Arsène Lupin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen*:* Yes, that's true, but with all the great films these three made, I always felt that tribute was inadequate. Given their great body of work, I think they really deserve to have a full month dedicated to just them, with perhaps one night dedicated to each one and then one night dedicated to the films they did together. If I could be the guest programmer for this festival, here's how I'd schedule the films for the evening hours of the four days that are usually dedicated to a star of the month:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Day 1:*

 

*John Barrymore -* aka *The Great Profile*

 

State's Attorney (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

Topaze (1933)

Counsellor at Law (1933)

Twentieth Century (1934)

Midnight (1939)

 

*Day 2:*

 

*Ethel Barrymore -* aka *The First Lady of the American Stage*

 

None But the Lonely Heart (1944)

The Spiral Staircase (1945)

Portrait of Jennie (1948)

Pinky (1949)

Kind Lady (1951)

Young at Heart (1954)

 

*Day 3:*

 

*Lionel Barrymore -* aka *The Great Character Actor*

 

A Free Soul (1931)

A Family Affair (1937)

Captains Courageous (1937)

You Can't Take It with You (1938)

Duel in the Sun (1946)

Key Largo (1948)

 

*Day 4:*

 

*John, Ethel and Lionel -* aka *The Fabulous Barrymores -* *Hollywood's Royal Family*

 

Grand Hotel {with John and Lionel} (1932)

Arsène Lupin {with John and Lionel} (1932)

Rasputin and the Empress {with John, Ethel and Lionel} (1932)

Dinner at Eight {with John and Lionel} (1933)

Night Flight {with John and Lionel} (1933)

 

Edited by: ClassicFilmMan on Sep 27, 2011 4:27 PM to add Night Flight

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> {quote:title=ClassicFilmMan wrote:}{quote}*....Day 4:*

>

> *John, Ethel and Lionel -* aka* The Fabulous Barrymores * *Hollywood's Royal Family*

>

> Grand Hotel {with John and Lionel} (1932)

> Arsène Lupin {with John and Lionel} (1932)

> Rasputin and the Empress {with John, Ethel and Lionel} (1932)

> Dinner at Eight {with John and Lionel} (1933)

Hey, if we're programming Barrymore movies on TCM, don't forget that the recently rights problem-cleared NIGHT FLIGHT (1933 - MGM, starring John & Lionel B.) still has not been on TCM.

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An excellent suggestion! Perhaps they could also have Christopher Plummer do an evening and have him comment on his favorite JB performances. I saw his one-man show earlier this year and he made feel as if I were watching JB himself onstage. Magnificent. His impression of Lionel was priceless...

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*GREAT NEWS!!*

 

I received an email from Charlie Tabesh today telling me that he thought that my idea for a Barrymore's Star of the Month tribute was a great idea and that he's pretty sure they're going to do it!!

 

Posted below is an excerpt from the email that he sent me today (my actual name is Chip, by the way):

 

 

 

*"Thank you, Chip, I really appreciate the suggestion and I think it's a great idea. It might be a while before we're able to do it but I'm pretty sure we will at some point, I love the programming."*

 

*THANKS* *CHARLIE!!* 8.gif

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> {quote:title=ClassicFilmMan wrote:}{quote}*GREAT NEWS!!*

>

> I received an email from Charlie Tabesh today telling me that he thought that my idea for a Barrymore's Star of the Month tribute was a great idea and that he's pretty sure they're going to do it!!

>

> Posted below is an excerpt from the email that he sent me today (my actual name is Chip, by the way):

>

>

>

>

> *"Thank you, Chip, I really appreciate the suggestion and I think it's a great idea. It might be a while before we're able to do it but I'm pretty sure we will at some point, I love the programming."*

>

Yes, that is great news! I hope they can include NIGHT FLIGHT (unless they get to it sooner) and at least one from Diana Barrymore.

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Really great news, ClassicFilmMan! And a special thanks to you for making the suggestion to TCM in the first place. It's ironic that Ethel always looked down upon Hollywood, in the true tradition of a lot of theatre luminaries, and regarded with dismay how her two brothers, particularly John, I suppose, "went Hollywood."

 

Well if they hadn't gone into the movies we would have nothing to look at today except some theatre reviews of their performances. Noone today will ever have the opportunity to make an appraisal as to how great John Barrymore was or wasn't, for example, as Hamlet or Richard III (by the way, can you put in a plug for Show of Shows to be shown, to get the only glimpse that we will ever have of John as Crookback Richard?). The same is true of both Lionel and Ethel in their presentations on the stage, as well.

 

Thanks to film, however, we can see how wonderful Lionel could be in a Grand Hotel or On Borrowed Time, or John in Svengali or Councillor at Law. To be honest with you, I've never been a fan of sister Ethel really, but perhaps this tribute will provide me with the opportunity to make a reappraisal of her talents, as well.

 

 

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Musicalnovelty:

 

Yes, I too hope Charlie includes Night Flight in the festival.

 

TomJH:

 

If I can suggest just one Ethel Barrymore film for you to see, The Spiral Staircase (1945), I think you will change your mind about her. He performance was stunning -- classic Ethel Barrymore, and it's one of the four performances that she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She actually won the award the year before for another great film, None but the Lonely Heart (1944). As for Jack Barrymore's film, The Show of Shows (1929), I can certainly mention that to Charlie for the festival as well.

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This is a great idea, but there are Zero sielnts listed on your slate? Why? Several of Jack and certainly Lionel's existing Silent's have never been shown on TCM. Films such as THE SEA BEAST (1926), THE BELLS (1926), THE BELOVED ROGUE (1927), THE TEMPEST (1928), and GENERAL CRACK among others have yet to air.

 

 

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In my earlier post where I gave my outline of how I would program the Barrymore's Star of the Month festival, if you notice, I said for the evening hours. For the late night, early morning and daytime hours, there's plenty of time to air some of the Barrymore's silent films. But none of these silent features should ever displace their classic talking pictures in the prime time evening hours. And the reason is simple: one of the things that made the fabulous Barrymores great *screen* actors is that they were also great *stage* actors -- all three. And while they were as great in silent films as anyone could possibly be, notwithstanding, you were *not* getting the full breadth and scope of their incredible acting talent with the absence of their spoken voices.

 

If the concept of silent films was so grand, then they would still be around today -- but they're not. And quite simply, it's because the range of the entertainment they offered was starkly limited. No doubt there will be a small minority of folks out there who would disagree; however, it is an unassailable fact that they would be badly outnumbered by the vast majority of folks who would agree. The Barrymores in silent films is as sad a notion as the Barrymores in "silent theater" on Broadway, if there ever had been such a thing -- and thanks be to God there never was.

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Love the Barrymores idea -- there's one on right now, The Spiral Staircase, with Ethel. But I disagree about your silent/sound assessment. You can't really compare film and theater that way -- theater is pretty much a spoken art form. Cinema is largely a visual one. Dialogue is an enhancement, but that does not belittle the artistry and achievement of the silent era. I'm not familiar with the Barrymore silents and look forward to seeing them.

 

Timing is immaterial to me, as I tend to record films. One (God forgive me for saying this) enhancement of the non-prime time slots is that there are fewer intros. I like RO and Ben; I just sometimes want to get right to the movie. And I would be more interested in some chat about the artistry of the film, rather than what happened during the shoot.

 

Note that we still say that we are going to see a film, not hear it. (People sometimes say they're going to hear an opera, even when they're going to the Met, because even in live opera, the sound is primary.) In film, the words are important, but visuals rule!

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*If I can suggest just one Ethel Barrymore film for you to see, The Spiral Staircase (1945), I think you will change your mind about her.*

 

ClassicFilmFan, I have seen The Spiral Staircase and I agree with you about the effectiveness of Ethel's performance. It's been a while but I do remember the eeriness of the scene in which the camera closed in on a bed ridden Ethel as she spoke ominously of things that move in the night, or some such dialogue. It's a chilling moment, one of the film's highlights.

 

I agree with your assessment of the Barrymores effectiveness in silent films, as opposed to the talkies. In the case of John, the world was afforded a brief opportunity, until 1934, to view him in full flight as a dramatic (and comedic) actor before his self destructiveness lead to a career decline. A few of his later performances are interesting (Midnight, Great Man Votes) but it's a far cry from being able to appraise this same actor at his best.

 

His silent period had a tendency to really emphasis his left profile as a costume romantic figure. He's pretty good in the parts but it limits his opportunitites, obviously, as an actor and his inclination for theatrics could have a bit of an alienating effect upon some modern viewers. (Even one of his most engaging silent performances, as Francois Villon in The Beloved Rogue, tends to get more than a little over-the-top in the film's climax).

 

For myself, I have long thought that John's best silent work as an actor was in The Tempest, a little remembered melodrama set during the Russian Revolution. If you haven't seen this Barrymore performance, ClassicFilmMan, please do. Barrymore plays a peasant who enlists as a member of the Imperial Army but is looked down upon and scorned by his fellow aristocratic officers.

 

There's a scene in this Sam Wood-directed drama in which Barrymore attends a grand ball. He stands in the foreground, separate from the swirling happy activity of the artistocratic participants, his lone figure poignantly representative of his emotional isolation, a scene very reminiscent to me of the same effect that Chaplin had had three years before in The Gold Rush. Unfortunately, Tempest has only been accessible on DVD in a highly scratched print. It would be wonderful if TCM could find a good copy of the film.

 

Finally,I know I'm asking the impossible, but is there any chance that we can see John's talkie debut, General Crack? Another film to mention, State's Attorney. which TCM never seems to show.

Finally, The Mad Genius, with Michael Curtiz' directorial flourishes making me wish that he, rather than Archie Mayo, had been at the helm of Svengali.

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*Dialogue is an enhancement, but that does not belittle the artistry and achievement of the silent era.*

 

I agree with you, Swithin. The silent period, from about 1926 to 28, was at the very peak of it's artistry when the talkies destroyed it. It's hard for me to find many early talkies (up to 1931, say) that can compete with the best of the silent cinema.

 

Having said that I think ClassicFilmMan is correct about the Barrymore brothers finally being allowed a greater scope in the talkies. It's almost as if they were handciffed in the silents, by comparison. John was allowed a variety of roles which is quite breath taking in the early talkies that was denied him when he was muted on screen.

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Swithinn:

 

The main thrust of my post was not to get into a debate about silent films vs. talkies, but rather to make the point that the Barrymore's full potential as great actors could not be realized in the silent era because of the exclusion of sound. As TomJH said so aptly in his post, the Barrymore's were 'handcuffed" in the silents. That was a marvelous way of putting it, because they absolutely were. But notwithstanding, that doesn't in any way diminish the fine work they did in silent films, it's just that the silent films limited the full potential they could deliver as great actors from the stage.

 

 

 

 

TomJH:

 

Yes, that was a great scene from The Spiral Staircase indeed. That scene with Ethel and her final one at the end of the picture are her two best in the movie.

 

And just to let you know, I had mentioned State's Attorney in my proposed outline of suggested films for the Barrymore's festival to Charlie Tabesh (please see my second post on the thread dated 09/27/11 @ 03:50pm EST). And you're right, sadly, the film isn't shown very often.

 

 

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ClassicFilmMan: Thanks for clarifying that, it was your sentence that said "If the concept of silent films was so grand, then they would still be around today..." -- that seemed to be a criticism of the genre that transcended the Barrymore discussion.

 

I agree with you that the great stage actors were muffled by silent films. For them, it wasn't an issue of not having a good voice. John Barrymore is haunting in Svengali. A villain, but one for whom we feel compassion. JB walks a fine line and creates an amazing character. And his penultimate line: -- "God grant me in death what I never possessed in life, the love of the woman I love." Spoken with the weak passion of a dying man. A brilliant performance.

 

 

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Without divulging the details of how it came about, I spoke to Robert Osborne earlier today and he is doing quite well, sounding great and thoroughly enjoying his vacation. I just wanted to mention that one of the things that I asked him is if he will continue doing the full wrap-arounds (intros and outros) for the films when he returns to TCM later this fall, and he assured me that he absolutely will! The 'intros only' format that TCM is currently practicing with the guest hosts is only temporary until he returns. So no worries; we will get Robert back *100%* when he returns! Oh, and Robert told me that he really liked my Barrymore's Star of the Month suggestion and that he hoped TCM chief Charlie Tabesh will do it!

 

 

yes.gif

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