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Angela Lansbury?!?


Bolesroor
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Hi,

 

Even if you don't care for Miss Lansbury, there are others in her films upon whom you can concentrate.

 

"Gaslight" - Charles and Ingrid and Joseph Cotton.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" - George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield.

"The Harvey Girls" - Judy and Marjorie Main and even Chill Wills.

 

Etc., etc., etc.

 

Larry

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Believe it or not, I actually watched Gaslight last night, even the intro and outro with the tiresome retread of how it was Lansbury's first film, first Oscar nod, how she was working at an L.A. area department store wrapping packages at the time, how she was only 17, how she was 18 inches taller than Charles Boyer and had to stand in a ditch for their scenes...

 

(kidding on the last one)

 

My impression of Gaslight for the 15th time is the same as my impression of it the first: Boyer's is really the best performance in the film and- though stylish- the movie is SERIOUSLY HINDERED by an actionless, anemic finale and not enough of a comeuppance for Boyer's character (which the whole film has been building up to.) Compare it to how a couple other Victorian-era pieces from the same time, the excellent The Lodger and Hangover Square , end- quite literally with a BANG!

 

As for Lansbury, she's fine- but her role is not a character, it's a question mark. She does the most possible with an ambiguous, potentially thankless role (didn't she always?), but it's not Oscar-caliber- even though she does hold her own with Boyer and Bergman and makes the most of her first go at the races. I think the nomination was its own reward.

 

I have to admit to being a bit perplexed by the oft-aired bumper wherein Lansbury herself talks of how she was glad she didn't win the award as it would have meant "being put on a shelf." Honey, I love you but:

 

A. No one was going to beat Ethel Barrymore, dreadful as None but the Lonely Heart is- she had the kind of name cachet (and disdain for Hollywood) that Hollywood just eats up with a spoon.

 

B. Um, you kind of did end up on a shelf for quite some time. I mean, you made the most out of your eight minutes apiece in State of the Union, National Velvet, Samson and Delilah etc. but it was eight minutes and pretty much the same character each time.

 

C. (again) the nomination was the reward.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Jan 5, 2012 3:43 PM

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I still say my "Mensch of the Month" suggestion would settle all these "she's a Star ! /No she's not a Star !" debates. It scans nicely, the "m's" create a nice alliterative tone, and the word "mensch" is all-encompassing, including stars, non-stars, directors, producers, composers,and mensches ( hopefully they're all mensches.)

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Agree, Jonny. She makes the most of what's on the page in Gaslight (and there isnt much on the page for that role) She does have screen impact in this first role and that's probably what got her a nomination. Her nomination for Picture of Dorian Grey is much more deserving. Her performance always leaves me teary eyed. One of those characters that viewers remember long after her exit from the film..........

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote} Her nomination for Picture of Dorian Grey is much more deserving. Her performance always leaves me teary eyed. One of those characters that viewers remember long after her exit from the film..........

Absolutely, especially since (forgive me, but it's my opinion) Hurd Hatfield is *so bad* in that movie it's embarassing. The fact that everyone else (not just Lansbury but Sanders and Reed as well) are as good as they are when acting opposite him is a testament to their strengths. Maybe the director told Hatfield to be as bland and plasticene as he could manage, and it's not his fault that it's like watching a blank cassette tape in the role. I know Hatfield and Lansbury became great friends and he appeared a coupla' times on Murder She Wrote, but no matter who was at fault, he is just lousy in a film that in all other respects is aces- so bad the picture goes from an A in my book to a B+

 

I think had Lansbury had a better actor to work off of (I don't sense chemistry in their scenes, which she excels at in spite of) and had her character not been dismissed within the first third of the movie, she might well have won that time out at the races.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Jan 6, 2012 10:10 AM

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}Agree. Hatfield is the weak link in the film.......

And I don't think it's just you and me who think so. If you check out his filmography, he got the big MGM roll-out with Dorian and Dragonseed, but then it seems like he made a pretty quick shift to B-Stuff and supporting parts in stuff like Tarzan and the Slave Girl. and the disastrous 1948 version of Joan of Arc. This is followed by a dry spell of eight years without appearing in any films until he returns in small parts in stuff like King of Kings and didn't really set the world on fire from there on out.

 

I'd hate to think he was actually a dynamo, ace-actor who was told by the director of Dorian Gray to be as lifeless and flat as possible- you know, like a portrait on a canvas- and as such he went down on the books as "nice face, can't act."

 

Oh well. His first love was probably the theatuh anyway.

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Some have felt that Hurd Hatfield was cast in *The Picture of Dorian Gray* because he suggested the sexual ambivalence of the character, and because he did, this hurt him in getting more conventional roles.

 

I remember liking him as a rich gay man in *The Detective*, but that was a small part, not a starring role.

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I know that people really liked Hatfield, personally. His funeral was the same day as that of Jerome Robbins, who was almost universally disliked, and the irony of that was commented upon. Hatfield actually introduced Angela Lansbury to Peter Shaw, the man who would become her husband.

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

> I'd hate to think he was actually a dynamo, ace-actor who was told by the director of Dorian Gray to be as lifeless and flat as possible- you know, like a portrait on a canvas- and as such he went down on the books as "nice face, can't act."

You nailed it.

 

From Bosley Crowther's review of "Dorian," March 2, 1945:

 

"... Hurd Hatfield, *yielding plainly to direction,* is incredibly stiff as Dorian Gray, and walks through the film with a vapid and masklike expression on his face. (Apparently somebody figured that was the only way to show it doesn't change.) "

 

The director was Albert Lewin. (Never hoid of 'im !)

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LOL Finance... good point! I left for the gym but I can only assume Ms. Fletcher climbed down the trellis, interpreted the clues, solved the crime and baked a cake.

 

What's with the sudden synergystic media blitz? If she thinks she's gonna pull a Betty White and become a beloved living legend I have sad news for her: It ain't gonna happen. Betty White made people laugh.

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