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PAULETTE GODDARD....


RupertAlistair
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Paulette Goddard was more than just gorgeous. She was a vivacious personality who, in the earlier films of her career, at least, also had a mischevious quality that added to her charm.

 

I think she was Bob Hope's best leading lady (sorry, Dorothy Lamour) in Ghost Breakers and Cat and the Canary, and she also had genuine rapport, I feel, with Ray Milland in Reap the Wild Wind, the closest that she came to playing a Scarlett O'Hara type.

 

Her screen test for Gone with the Wind shows a genuine spirit in her playing. While she may not have been able to bring quite the same dramatic depth to the role that Vivien Leigh did, she would have matched her in looks and had a more winning personality. I wonder if the personal likeability factor that Goddard had (which Leigh lacked, in my opinion) would have changed the dynamics of the story line, and perhaps caused more of a division in viewers' preferences between Scarlett and Rhett in the latter portions of that Selznick epic. Paulette Goddard as Scarlett: it will always been one of those subjects that the fans can speculate upon, and it clearly would have been the role of her career (as it would for just about any other actress, as well).

 

Fortunately Goddard was on a career role then even without GWTW, with Bob Hope films, DeMille epics just ahead, as well as a reunion with her husband in Great Dictator. Somewhere I read that Goddard considered her part as the gamine in Modern Times to be the best role of her career. Her performance in it is certainly a delight.

 

It was a sign of confidence in Paramount's box office belief in Goddard that they gave her top billing (finally over Ray Milland) in Kitty, in 1945, one of their splashiest productions of the year. Unfortunately, that film was close to the end of her reign in the second tier of Hollywood stardom (big but never quite as big as the top female stars). Two years later Goddard, showing a few signs of aging but still attractive, appeared in DeMille's Unconquered, a giant hit but the last one of her career. It would then be a downhill career slide for her, later in the '50s looking rather sad playing a gypsey in a second rate production like Charge of the Lancers or, even worse, appearing in a B like Paris Model.

 

Still, Goddard had her good years with a collection of some noteworthy films: the two Chaplin pictures, her Bob Hope movies, the DemIlle films, Kitty and Diary of a Chambermaid. It's a not inconsiderable film record. That, plus those famous husbands, an international jet set lifestyle and all that jewellry. She had quite the life.

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Rupert, one of the things that irks me about Kitty is the superficially charming but ultimately mercenary character played by Ray Milland, ready to marry the title character off to anyone, it seems, that will further his career. SPOILER ALERT! When Goddard rejects the good if somewhat dull Patric Knowles in favour of Milland's manipulative weasel I shook my head. It's supposed to be a happy ending for Kitty but it's really a tale of a woman of low self esteem locking herself in with a pompous, pretentious "bad boy." She would have been better off to have stayed with Knowles.

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Unconquered has alwyas been one of my favourite DeMille films. A lot of people like to poke fun at the director but he was a terrific story teller (though sometimes, admittedly, I gag at some of the dialogue) and, in this particular venture, there is an genuine feeling of authenticity in the atmosphere captured of colonial America. The attack on Fort Pitt is genuinely quite exciting.

 

Critics called the film The Perils of Paulette when it came out, and I can understand why, but the film, lengthy as it is, is still fun to watch. Gary Cooper was a great buckskinned hero, Boris Karloff an engagingly campy Indian chief and the scene in which Cooper rescued Goddard from the Indian camp and they go over a waterfalls, well, outragious as it is, it says something for DemiIle that's it's still as entertaining as it is.

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Beautiful post TomJH!

 

>I think she was Bob Hope's best leading lady (sorry, Dorothy Lamour) in Ghost Breakers and Cat and the Canary

 

Yeas! Two of my favorite actors in two very fun films!

Your comments on Paulette as Scarlett are dead on. I also really love Reap The Wild Wind; gorgeous Paulette sets costumes!

 

Last summer we attended a screening of Modern Times and MrTiki still comments on Paulette Goddard, her beauty is timeless.

 

Her size, vivaciousness and beauty are a great match for the great Chaplin, who I'm sure, coached her well so early in her career.

Their rapport in their movies together are amazing and she carried her "lessons" to every project, making her a very natural actress rather than over-the-top like Bette Davis or Katherine Hepburn.

 

What I remember about her biography (ISBN 0-312-59829-7) is that she tried very hard to be a successful actress but was often just treated as a gold digger.

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I agree 100% about Paulette Goddard. I have a copy of "Unconquered" and still enjoy it.That was the film she had a falling out with DeMille over. She refused to do a scene where there were balls of fire being thrown in the fort and her stunt double was burned, but C.B. never forgave her.

Having no children, she left 20 million dollars to NYU.

Not only a beautiful and talented actress, but a classy lady....

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