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Katherine Hepburn: The Most Over-Rated Star In Hollywood History


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It's hard to believe anyone even believes that statement. I was on the TCM Cruise and just as a side note, I asked Tippi Hedren and Eva Marie Saint who their favorite classic actor or actress was or was influenced by and Tippi said 'Katherine Hepburn,' to which the entire theatre bust out in applause. Eva's was Lillian Gish and what a sweet tribute she said about the great star!

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I once had a letter from Eva Marie Saint related to Lillian Gish. Eva appeared with Lillian in the very first production (it was on television) of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful. Like most actors who worked with Miss Gish, Eva developed a great respect and affection for her personally and professionally.

 

On the other hand, the name of Bette Davis has cropped up in this thread as well. I love Bette Davis as an actress, but she was quite unkind, including to Lillian Gish on the set of The Whales of August.

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> {quote:title=Mr_Blandings wrote:}{quote}

>

> Whether or not an actor or actress is overrated or underrated, on the other hand, is completely a matter of opinion. That's because there are no hard "facts" concerning performers, as awards won and lists made are all governed by opinion, pure and simple.

>

> So, if a person loved Katharine Hepburn and thought she was the "bee's knees", then all the accolades she's received would seem rightly deserved to them and they wouldn't even be aware that she was considered "overrated." The reverse is true for those we consider underrated. We love 'em and think they're great and so perhaps can't understand why they haven't gotten the level of recognition we feel they deserve.

>

 

This is an important point, which I have made in several previous posts, but deserves your reiteration. This is all totally subjective, a matter of personal opinion. Although I am certainly not shy about proffering my opinion, I do not expect others to bow to it.

 

 

Fxreyman, I quite agree, the quality of actors should be judged solely on their performances, not on their private lives. I'm afraid that you'll just have to put me down as one who agrees with the Dorothy Parker remark quoted earlier, "Her performance ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B." But, I do not begrudge you, and probably the majority of film fans, from enjoying her work.

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Are you surprised by the very strong negative opinions many have about Kate? To me that is what surprised me. I loved so many movies Kate was in I always consider her one of the top actresses.

 

But when I joined CFU a few years back and started reading comments from other classic movie fans I was surprised by the negative views many had about Kate. More than just the box office poison comments I was already familiar with.

 

I mentioned Stanwyck only as an example of someone that rarely generates negative comments here. Of course other actresses generate negative comments but they are not held to the same high esteem by critics and the industry as Kate is. It is this vast contrast in opinions that I find interesting .

 

 

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

>

> To me, she just gives me the creeps.

At what point...in her later years when she became almost a parody of herself (look how many comedy shows and comics made fun of her after that point), or just in general?

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When I watch a movie with Kate Hepburn, I decide what I like based on storyline, co-stars, etc.

 

When I watch a movie with Stanwyck, Davis and Bogart (among others), I like to watch the individual actor and how they pull off their role no matter what the plot.

 

So I like (some) Hepburn movies because of a lot of reasons besides Hepburn, but I agree that she is a talented actress.

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I first became aware of her in "The African Queen" when I was about 10 years old.

 

She was ok in that movie, and her looks matched Bogart's looks in that film.

 

But as I saw her in other films over the years, and as I saw more of her early films, that's what gave me the creeps. Mainly her early films. I just couldn't imagine those handsome young men wanting to kiss her, because she looked so creepy.

 

I think I liked her better in a few of her films when she was much older. She didn't look as creepy to me in the older films when she was much older.

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But as I saw her (Katharine Hepburn) in other films over the years, and as I saw more of her early films, that's what gave me the creeps. Mainly her early films. I just couldn't imagine those handsome young men wanting to kiss her, because she looked so creepy.

 

Yeah, I can't even imagine why any red-blooded man would ever want to get next to a young woman who looked like this:

 

 

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8UAi4IuvfH4/TiBY2_ee2bI/AAAAAAAAK1s/naUiX96BFBQ/s1600/600full-katharine-hepburn.jpg

 

 

She was a real Margaret Hamilton, all right. ;)

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My friends tell me I'm a fool

To love a girl like that

Here's the reason I like 'em slim

Instead of big and fat

 

'Cause closest to the bone

Sweeter is the meat

Last slice of Virginia ham

Is the best that you can eat

 

Now don't talk about my baby

She's slender but she's sweet

Umm, closest to the bone

And sweeter is the meat - Louis Prima

 

:-)

 

 

Since I'm a bean-pole myself, I like 'em skinny. I love her personality from what I've seen, and she was a darn-good actress to boot.

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She had style, class, beauty, and talent. She would have been a great Helena (the taller girl) in A Midsummer Night's Dream, opposite Olivia De Havilland's Hermia, but Kate wasn't at Warner's. I assume she played the role at some point.

 

 

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My lean baby - tall and thin

Five feet seven - of bones and skin

But when she tells me maybe she loves me

I feel as mellow as a fellow can be

 

She's so skinny - she's so drawn

When she stands sideways - you'd think she's gone

But when she calls me "baby" - I feel fine

To think she's frantically, romantically mine

 

She's slender, but she's tender

She makes my heart surrender

And every night, when I hold her tight

The feeling is nice - my arms can go around twice - Frankie

 

Is that any better, Fred?

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LOL... that reminds me: I've got to get back to work on that Jack The Ripper musical I've been writing. My working title is "Saucy Jack" ;)

 

So HERE'S a disturbing tidbit about Kate that will surely put you off your oatmeal- According to Wikipedia, "the young Hepburn was a tomboy who liked to call herself Jimmy and cut her hair short like a boy's."

 

WHAT?!?

 

Was she male or female? How do you get "Jimmy" from Kate? Did she refer to herself in the third person? ("Jimmy wants to go to Hollywood... Jimmy wants to work with Cary Grant!") The one thing missing from Katharine Hepburn's biographies is her planet of origin, which I'm gonna peg at just outside the solar cluster.

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> {quote:title=kriegerg69 wrote:}{quote}To me, however, sometimes she seems to be doing the same thing every time...almost "playing herself", so to speak.

Yes, but as Anothony Hopkins says in the tribute that oft airs between films on TCM: "what a personality."

 

Sydney Greenstreet, Nigel Bruce, Peter Lorre, Gladys George, George Sanders, Cary Grant, Bille Burke- and numerous other classic film actors often played "the same character." Many times we assume that that character is in fact a mirror of the personality of the actor him or herself...But again, what a personality, and what an utter delight to watch.

 

It's one of the (numerous) things I bemoan about the present state of the film industry- these bobble-headed, vapid lollipops have no personality. I have no interest in watching them play someone else, and I certainly have no interest in watching any of them play themselves.

 

P'raps what turned off many people then (and turns off many people now) about Hepburn is the aloof, icy, patrician undercurrent to her persona, what many people see as the holier-than-thou New Englander, the Bryn Mawryness of her speech, the occasional feyness that creeps in to her earlier work....I get it, but to those people I recommend Stage Door as a great example of how she was humbly willing to poke fun at what many people percieved her image to be. To a lesser extent she does much of the same in The Philadelphia Story.

 

Of the numerous Hepburn films that I have seen, the only two performances of hers that I would definitely classify as failures are Morning Glory (for which she oddly enough won the Oscar even though she's utterly stilted and awkward) and Suddenly Last Summer (for which she was undeservedly nominated, and in which she is blown off the screen by Elizabeth Taylor.) To be fair, I have not seen Spitfire (which is her own personal Nell ) or Dragonseed. I understand she may be crummy in both.

 

Is there the "Hepburn Persona" on display in all her work?, of course. Just as the Stanwyck Persona, the Crawford Persona, and the Davis persona are always lingering in the background in all their films. When you have that large a personality, you can't help but bring it with you. But is there nuance and honesty and emotion accurately portrayed in most (if not all) her work? Absolutely.

 

And, the ultimate test, is she inn-teresting to watch? For me, ab-so-lutely.

 

Recommended viewing: The Sea of Grass (1947), Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Long Day's Journey into Night (1962), Holiday (1938), Stage Door (1937), Christopher Strong (1933), Alice Adams (1935)

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You make a fairly sound case here but hey I'm a fan of Kate so I'm bias, but I think the Hepburn persona shines brighter in her movies than the Stanwyck or even the Davis one (well expect for Beyond The Forest and her 60s work), do in their movies. Take Davis and The Man Who Came To Dinner, which was on last night. Yes, in a few scenes we see the Davis persona of the early 40s (e.g. when she tells Whiteside he better not but in on her affairs), but Davis keeps her very strong persona in check. Other than in Holiday, I don't see Kate doing that much.

 

Her persona was perfect for Suddenly Last Summer (but agreed Liz stole the show from both Kate and Monty). The same persona worked well in Stage Door and The Philadelphia Story as well as Bringing Up Baby. Her persona is also on full display in most of the pictures she made with Tracy. But then I think she fit those roles well and thus I enjoy many of these pictures.

 

Of course maybe a very simple reason explains why so many men appear to dislike Kate's persona; It reminds them of their x-wife! :)

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Actually, I think Kate is MUCH more attractive in her earlier films than in later efforts. Off-screen, she was ahead of her time: no-nonsense, liberated, take no crap radical thinker.

 

In her book, "Me", she seems to not take her status as a "film icon" very seriously, preferring to be remembered for anything else but her film career. Like her long time love, Spencer Tracy, she really didn't take the occupation of film actor too seriously, but like Spence, she felt as long as this is her job, she'll try to do the best job she can.

 

The most overrated? I don't know...I always felt that distinction belonged to Ava Gardiner. But at the risk of drawing the flamers, I always thought she was part of the most overrated MOVIE of all..."Bringing Up Baby".

Sepiatone

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I read a short speech she gave in 1970, in response to the killing of the students at Kent State. It's quite moving, and I can't imagine any of her Hollywood film queen contemporaries giving a speech like that (well, maybe Bacall or Loy or Teresa Wright). She gave it at the curtain call of her show Coco, on Broadway.

 

I like most of Kate's movies, including Bringing Up Baby. I think if you see Cary Grant, rather than the leopard, as Baby, it takes on a different meaning. He is a baby, and looking for his "bone!"

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*...some of her fans were "creepy" too.* - Fred

 

Sorry, Fred, but there's nothing wrong with a skinny woman. Pretty much the trend these days. And I don't consider 60-70-year-old Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra songs creepy. They're classics.

 

Fat just never appealed to me. You don't want to get me started on that bleached-out chunker Marilyn Monroe. Yuck.

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Agreed. Personally I like televisions' Erin Gray of Buck Rogers fame, slim, yet beautiful!!

 

I also agree about Marilyn Monroe. I am one of those who just can not believe that someone of her "so-called" talent can be so high on all of those polls.

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