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Angela Lansbury?!?


Bolesroor
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> {quote:title=LoveFilmNoir wrote:}{quote}(amongst other things):

>

> Joel McCrea getting his month will be better than ANY star being repeated.

>

ok, you know what's coming next...

 

JOEL McCREA !

JOEL McCREA !

Star of the Month

Before next May !

 

as to the lovely and gracious Angela Lansbury, I fail to understand why anyone would want to diss her, even if she isn't their favourite actress. She was most certainly not "mediocre", in fact she was very good.

No one has mentioned her role in *The Dark at the Top of the Stairs*, a good little family drama starring Angela, Robert Preston, and some lady whose name I cannot recall at the moment.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Jan 2, 2012 11:21 AM

DOROTHY McGUIRE !!

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Anyone here ever see the "Late, Late Show" with Craig Ferguson? He does a long running bit that whenever he mentions Paul McCartney and asks to show a picture of Paul, they flash a shot of Ms. Lansbury. And when he does a send-up sketch of "Murder, She Wrote", they have a pic of Lansbury's body with McCartney's head photo-shopped on it. Cracks me up every time.

 

As to her not being old enough(at the time) to play Laurence Harvey's mother, don't forget that Ann Bancroft wasn't old enough to be Kathrine Ross' mom either!

 

Lansbury played many good roles over the years but some here are right. Rarely got star status. "Manchurian Candidate" was about her best. Did a good turn in "Long, Hot Summer" too.

Sepiatone

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misswonderly, one thing I have noticed on this board and several others is that people's criticisms tend to be harsher if they haven't seen much of the work of those who they are criticizing.

 

I also find it funny that depending on the thread, the term "character" actor or actress is used as an insult. As lovers of classic films, I thought the general attitude was that some of these character actors, many who were under contract to specific studios and seem to have been in EVERY film, helped make these films unforgettable. Every picture usually had ONE main star, maybe two, three if we were lucky and a gang of character actors. You couldn't convince me that these celebrated stars carried all of their films from great to lousy.

 

Sepiatone, I have heard of Ferguson doing that but I never seen it. I have to Youtube it....Lansbury and McCartney do look like they could be related!!

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I totally agree with you about the term "character actor." I feel it was they who made the films great, and I'd like more attention paid to them as Stars of the Month. I love Angela Lansbury but don't consider her to be a character actor -- perhaps because I've seen her often on stage -- in Mame, Gypsy, and Sweeney Todd. But even in her films roles, I wouldn't classify her as a character actor, meaning no disrespect either to her or to character actors in general. I don't think all supporting roles in film are by definition "character" roles.

 

 

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LFN, baby, as usual, I think you make a well-considered point.

 

Part of the problem may be in the term "*Star* of the Month" - people seem to get fixated on the word "star", and off they go, declaring in no uncertain terms that this or that actor or actress was not a "lead", or does not have a large enough body of work to deserve the title of "star".

 

When I think of the phrase "star of the month", I just think that TCM is featuring some actor who deserves the attention of classic movie fans. Like you, I don't get all het up as to whether the person in question was always a lead, or whether they were glamourous or charismatic enough to deserve to be called a "star". I agree, let's enjoy the fact that this television station brings us such a variety of talent from the past to enjoy.

 

Angela Lansbury is sort of in the middle, in terms of the "star" status thing - she was undeniably not a "star" in the Bette Davis sense, for instance, but neither was she always relegated to mere "character" roles.

As to "character" actors, they're great - what would we do without them? Or rather, what would the movies do without them?

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You are right, Swithin (baby), and I thank you for redressing my thoughtlessness on the matter.

 

I should not have used the word "mere", as it implies "lesser". Should have edited that post better.

 

Character actors make a movie as much as lead actors do, in a different way. If you make spaghetti sauce and all you use is tomatoes and onions, it will be a blander, lesser spaghetti sauce than if you add garlic, basil, and mushrooms to it. One could go so far as to say that character actors are the essential seasoning that complete a movie. Now I'll see you later, as I have to go make some spaghetti sauce. With garlic and basil, of course. Maybe some oregano...

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>Lansbury played many good roles over the years but some here are right. Rarely got star status. "Manchurian Candidate" was about her best. Did a good turn in "Long, Hot Summer" too.

 

See, now, I would say that LONG HOT SUMMER is definitely an example of her talent being wasted. That was a rather thankless role and she is continually upstaged by the hammier Orson Welles, plus the sexy young characters. LONG HOT SUMMER is not a film I would recommend to fans of Lansbury who are unfamiliar with her classic film work.

 

I would instead recommend something like KIND LADY (1951) where she is once again a supporting player but clearly given much more to do. And within the confines of that role, she does very, very well holding her own with pros like Ethel Barrymore and Maurice Evans.

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Thanks, Miss W., Regarding the film, I think for many of the classic films, the prime ingredient -- the tomatoes in the tomato sauce -- is actually sometimes the character actor, while the pretty "lead" can be the basil, garlic, etc.!

 

 

 

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misswonderly, you made some GREAT points.

 

I do think people get hung up on the term "star". To me, they were all stars. The same can be said when TCM airs a film made in the 80s. Someone will point out that the "c" in TCM stands for classic.

 

I definitely don't consider Lansbury a character actor and I think one of the reasons why we didn't see her in more films was because she was in demand on Broadway.

 

Then again, I am a viewer that would be more thrilled seeing Sam Levene or Brian Donlevy as SOTM than someone being repeated.

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>one thing I have noticed on this board and several others is that people's criticisms tend to be harsher if they haven't seen much of the work of those who they are criticizing.

 

Disagree. I think some posters have proven that they have seen the films on Lansbury's resume. The comments seem to be spot-on about her not often being given top billing.

 

We cannot count her TV movies. For the most part, TCM does not show many telefilms. Yet during January we are going to be watching one of them on TCM that Lansbury made where she is recreating a stage role, thus proving the point that she was more a television and stage star.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}Lansbury was not a movie star. She was a movie actress. There's a difference.

 

Whatever the difference may be, she deserves a month the same way many others deserve one. The one argument I could understand is her being repeated as SOTM the way a few others have in the past and one coming up (Doris Day). When Grace Kelly had her month the argument of whether she was "worthy" as the SOTM honor came up and she was a star.

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Oh, to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to. Let's not get fixated on semantics. Ok, "star" has connotations that "actor" does not.

But you know what? That doesn't mean we benefit in any way from disregarding so-called "character" actors, or even "lesser" or "B" or more obscure actors, or people who simply have a smaller body of work than some of the big name stars.

 

I suspect that one reason why TCM decided to name their monthly feature highlighting a particular actor or actress "Star of the Month" might be simply because, the word "star" being only one syllable, it scans better than "Actor" of the Month. Plus, to include both gendres, they'd really have to call it "Actor and /or Actress of the Month", and how awkward is that?

( Of course, it's not politically correct to call a female actor an actress now, anyway.)

 

Just like the name "Turner *Classic* Movies", the middle word of which people are endlessly arguing about. "Turner Mostly-Made-Before-1960-but -please don't worry if sometimes they're more recent than that- Movies" just doesn't sound as good, does it? ]:)

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You are getting into the issue of what constitutes bonafide 'star quality.' Grace Kelly was definitely a star. So was James Dean. The problem with Grace Kelly and James Dean is that they have relatively limited filmographies. So does Vivien Leigh. TCM would never be able to use James Dean as a SOTM unless they added the live television dramas he did that have been saved from existing kinescopes.

 

I would even argue that someone like Joan Collins who became more famous for television roles later on did have a period at Fox in the late 50s where she was definitely a movie star (the brunette Monroe, usually taking parts that Marilyn refused). In fact, Fox is so proud of Collins that they have issued a special boxed set of her movies from that era. MGM never built Lansbury up that way. They focused more on Greer Garson, Esther Williams, June Allyson and a young Liz Taylor when Lansbury was under contract there. Lansbury was second-fiddle.

 

Incidentally, I do think Lansbury has been SOTM twice before...at least once for sure, but I think twice. I am sure that someone who has watched TCM longer than I have can substantiate this.

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I think we can definitely benefit from watching an Angela Lansbury performance. I happen to really like 'The Shell Seekers,' a sweet telefilm she made for CBS during the run of her mystery series. When given the chance to do something a bit different and take the lead, she more than showed she was up to the challenge.

 

But this whole concept of star and star of the month does not go with her, in my opinion. She's a star, but she's a stage and television star first.

 

When this way to sell cable channels featuring classic films was devised long ago (started back on the old AMC), it was meant to conjure up images of stars the studios promoted as being glamorous and larger than life. It was not meant to showcase the Keenan Wynns or the William Demarests or the Elsa Lanchesters, as good as they may be.

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TCM could resolve this whole "star" question quite easily by expanding the definition to include the major character actors and actresses whose presence often contributes far more to a movie than all but a handful of Big Name "stars". AFAIC a month that featured Nat Pendleton or Joan Blondell would be infinitely more enjoyable than another set of endlessly recycled Rock Hudson or Doris Day movies. This is especially true when the "star" in question has a body of work that's so slim that you have to dig down to the very bottom of the barrel to fill out the normal quota of the SOTM's films on the schedule.

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My one- and only- complaint about these message boards is that instead of people simply agreeing to disagree, there seems to be a tendency toward trying to explain away dissenting opinions with semantics and veiled insults.

 

I am an open-minded man. I am a dedicated film fan. I have seen just as many movies- if not more- than the person reading this sentence right now. I *DON'T LIKE* Angela Lansbury. To me she is the acting equivalent of the styrofoam peanut. If you like her, that's fine- please enjoy the month of January and all of the films in which she is featured. It's not necessary to try and redefine the term "movie star" or to exaggerate her career in order to defend her.

 

I freely admitted I haven't seen "Manchurian Candidate." The sad truth is there are movie fans who would sooner DIE than admit they haven't seen a film. I don't have that problem. I also offered to watch the movie, which I will, simply because someone here told me it was worth watching. I will watch with an open mind, and if Ms. Lansbury is absolutely wonderful in it I will gladly say so. I'm not above admitting I'm wrong. :)

 

In the meantime, there is no need to try and re-write history in order to portray Angela Lansbury as either a) a character actor B) a Movie Star or c) an overlooked treasure in Film history. She is none of these. She is a Survivor, along with dozens of other actors who have managed to rack up a filmography and resume by never giving up. For this I admire her.

 

The definition of "Character Actor" is, to me, a performer who plays a similar type of role or character throughout the majority of their career. Walter Brennan was a character actor. Guy Kibbee was a character actor. Charles Durning is a character actor. Angela Lansbury played the Aunt, the Mother, the Other Woman, the Chorus Girl, the Maid, the Teacup, the Countess, the Schoolteacher, the Mystery Writer, etc. with very little to distinguish herself in performance or personality. Some may call her a chameleon... I would not.

 

Who knows? Maybe the entire SOTM concept is flawed because it requires an actor who made 30+ films... there are lots of brilliant actors whose careers are worth remembering and examining who died before their time, or left the industry. Quantity does not equal quality, and vice versa.

 

I cannot apologize for wanting another Bette Davis month... it was a Bette Davis month that brought me to TCM in the first place back in 95 or 96. I also love her. I don't remember when the last Bette Davis month was but if it has been years since the last one, I would think TCM would be more likely to do another month for a huge STAR who's been done before as opposed to resorting to someone like Angela Lansbury. We shouldn't forget that TCM is supposed to be for everyone, not just us die-hards. I'd be much more happy to see a Judy Garland or Humphrey Bogart month once every two years if it would bring in non-fans to the network to convert them. This month's choice is a little too inside-baseball for me...

 

Again, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind: if you love the A-Bury God bless you- January will be a month to remember. But I leave you with one question: If you could choose *ANY* actor to be featured as Star Of The Month for January 2o12... would it really be Angela Lansbury?

 

PS- Sepiatone: yes I've seen the McCartney/Lansbury bit on the Late Late Show... love it! :D

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I want to address a few comments you made.

 

First, I agree that sometimes there is a lack of tolerance for dissenting opinions. Posters should not feel threatened by your not liking Lansbury's film work.

 

I do think people confuse the actress with the mystery character she played for 12 years on CBS. That was a good gig for her and it prolonged her career in Hollywood. She did well with it, and it deserves to live on in syndication. But that has nothing to do with her film output.

 

As for her work in MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, one strong performance does not a movie star make. The greatest barrier, in my opinion, was her lack of sex appeal.

 

For example, when she was cast in Columbia's B-flick A LAWLESS STREET, she was unable to take the opportunity and snag more roles within the genre. She did not have a string of hits in this vein like sexier actresses did-- Felicia Farr, Ruth Roman and Virginia Mayo.

 

In fact, I am surprised that Lansbury was cast at all against Randolph Scott as a romantic lead. I would think that Donna Reed would have been more of a box-office draw in a western than Angela Lansbury. But I guess the stakes were not as high with a B-budgeted film as it would have been with something more prestigious.

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Bolesroor, the problem I have with posters like you is that you don't want anyone to disagree with your opinion in a thread you created to vent/complain in. Why is it that YOU not liking a specific part of the programming means "this is a very sad misstep by the great TCM". Whenever you post on these boards, people have the right to agree or disagree and state why. I happen to like Angela Lansbury and respect her career however I respect your opinion and the opinions of others who don't feel her career was much. My posts were not supposed to persuade you to run out and purchase films she was in.

 

There are MANY times when I do not care for something on the schedule. To create a thread about it would be silly. That is what these boards became in 2011....a venting post vs a place to discuss films.

 

If I was able to decide the January 2012 SOTM, it would NOT be Angela Lansbury. It wouldn't be anyone who already got the honor. I feel that the more people try to get technical about what a person's career was the less versatility we will get with SOTM selections. If Agnes Moorhead is chosen, will it mean 12+ people a day joining these boards just to post that her career was nothing but Samantha's mom on "Bewitched"? I don't know.

 

I agree and disagree with you on what brings new viewers to TCM. I do think big names like Bogart who still bring in desirable DVD sales are essential parts of TCM's programming but I also think original programming, guest programming and regional events help too.

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Maybe we can put this into better perspective.

 

Vera Ralston made 26 films at Republic. In 22 of those, she was the lead female actress (often top-billed over the male leads). She costarred with John Wayne, Fred MacMurray, Sterling Hayden and Joan Leslie, among others.

 

Of course, she married Herbert Yates, the head of the studio, but the point is that she was given a huge push and built into a star. She was a movie star, the biggest female star at Republic. Now, we can debate the merits of her acting skill and probably conclude that Angela Lansbury was a better actress, but the fact remains that Vera Ralston was a movie star and Angela Lansbury was not because Lansbury did not get the same publicity build-up from MGM or any other studio where she worked.

 

Even Judy Canova, another top female star at Republic for many years, was more of a movie star than Angela Lansbury. The difference here is that Judy Canova was also a huge radio star and musical personality and she sold a lot of movie tickets because of this (probably more than Ralston).

 

Then, we have someone like Shirley Booth. Shirley Booth only made five feature films and like Lansbury had great success on Broadway and television. However, in the films that Booth made at Paramount, she is top-billed and lead actress in all of them. In fact, she was awarded a best actress Oscar for the first one, COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA. Now, we can discuss whether or not Shirley Booth was a character actress or a stage and television star first, but in this case, she definitely outranks Lansbury because for a time, Paramount did market her and sell her as a (different kind of) movie star.

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Regardless of all opinions of Lansbury; star, character actor, talented, hack...If TCM wishes to give her SOTM status, well, my cable service provides me with 380+ alternatives if I'd rather not tune into a Lansbury tribute.

 

But I'll draw the line at(if right-winger Turner hasn't already had one and I didn't notice) a Nancy Davis (later Reagan) SOTM feature!

Sepiatone

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I think Angela Lanbsbury's career speaks for itself. She may not have been a movie star in the strict sense, but her resume qualifies her for SOTM imo. I hope this turns out to be a trend and we will see people like Joan Blondell and others as SOTM in the future......I remember they had to pad out Grace Kelly's month with some of her tv appearances.....There are many actor/actresses that may not have been "stars" in films, but have had long careers in films that could be showcased.........

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