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Jane Wyman, Johnny Belinda, and whatever else you feel like.


AddisonDeWitless
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First off, I like Jane Wyman. I don't mean I like her as an actress- although she's not bad- I like her as a person. I love her in those between-the-films bumpers where she talks about Kay Francis ("Yeah, so's Christmas, when's mine?!" and Hitchock and the stories as tall as the gin in the bucket. She seems like a classy lady and a hell of a lot of fun.

 

I'm sorry she didn't get something better than Falcon Crest later on her career, if she'd played herself in those TCM promos on either big or small screen, it would have been so worth watching.

 

It's also true that she was oddly asexual in her prime, she really does remind me quite a bit of a chipmunk. In the fifties, she got downright Plasticene, there are moments in some of her films where you can actually see the camera crew reflected in her cheeks.

 

 

As an actress, I'm sort of "meh" on her. *But I need to stress that I know bupkus about her entire body of work pre- Lost Weekend. *I was stunned on looking her up on wikipedia and seeing her credits and she had uncredited and bit parts in *stupendous* amounts of stuff. She was in, like, 30 films before Johnny Belinda!

 

 

Girl played the game and worked her way up and you *have to admire and applaud that no doubt.*

 

 

Post Lost Weekend, I have some familiarity with her work- but there's only one thing I've seen her in where I get a hint of what she could really do. I feel like she was confined by the studio system, something tragically evident in Johnny Belinda- but more on what I think about that later.

 

 

I don't care for her in The Lost Weekend. I'm sorry, I just don't.

That character she plays in The Yearling is such a copper-bottom b**** it's hard to like her, but I guess Wyman's all right in it..

I think she's *fabulous* in the otherwise echhh Night and Day.

I don't feel like she's right in Stage Fright and, of course, Dietrich blows her off the screen.

I started watching Three Guys Named Mike and it wasn't working and I turned it off.

She's okay, I guess, in the *ambitiously stupid* Magnificent Obsession, but it's one of the most underwhelming performances to ever recieve an Oscar nomination I've seen.

I like her in All that Heaven Allows, that's not an "actor's" film, it's a rather outre "director's film" *but I have a deep fondness for it that I cannot entirely explain*. She does the most she can with a part that is basically a sitting deer lawn ornament (albeit a very tasteful one.)

 

 

Never seen The Blue Veil. Want to say it was on recently. Sorry I missed it.

 

 

Which brings us to Johnny Belinda , *coming on tonight at 11:30.*

 

 

I can't say as I'll make it through, but I shall try.

 

 

*I invite all of you who have made it through this endless prattle of mine to comment on all things Johnny Belinda, Jane Wyman, the Marlee Maitlin bumper, and whatever else you feel.*

 

 

*I don't care where the topics wander, I just care that it's inn-teresting.*

 

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Oct 16, 2012 8:10 PM

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Oct 16, 2012 8:18 PM

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She was most often cast as the fast-talking, somewhat ditzy second lead, friend of the female lead. Something which in my opinion wasted her considerable abilities. Often when I see her in these movies, the obvious difference between her screen presence and the role is disconcerting, for example, as in Princess O'Rourke. Undoubtedly her best role, and performance, was as Orry Baxter, the traumatized mother in The Yearling, who was so afraid of the pain of losing yet another child, she wouldn't allow herself to love the only one she had left.

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You know, I have seen Johnny Belinda before, but I am not sure if it *ever occurred to me* until they ran the (slightly controversial?) Marlee Maitlin/Lady from Sesame Street promo wherein they take issue with Wyman's not screaming or crying out or making any sound at all in the role, that there is a problem with it- *that it doesn't ring true to life*.

 

How did they do this movie and not have the character cry out? Was it the director, Jean Negulesco's decision, or Jack Warner's? (I've read Warner fired Negulesco at some point in filming)

 

Was the decision to make *a post-code onscreen rape less graphic and thus more palatable to audiences and censors?* Did they know Belinda could (and should) scream and said "yeah, but. we want this thing to play in Pomona."

 

Or are they just that shallow, those picture folk?

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Oct 16, 2012 11:52 PM

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images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSPPfHtCIcutEBCMBzdnUH

 

This is Jane with her Oscar at the 1949 ceremony. She's working kind of an off-the-rack J.C. Penney prom dress, it's not bad. A little post-war dour, but. She looks thrilled.

 

I note that her acceptance speech was in entirety (and I do paraphrase from memory here): "*I won this award for keeping my mouth shut. I think I'll do it again.*" And then she walked off. Think she had the record for shortest speech until Joe Pesci, 1991. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

 

That has always led me to wonder if Wyman herself wanted to have Belinca cry out and make noises, but got shot down by Negulesco or Warner for whatever reasons.

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Interesting discussion going here . . . I saw "Johnny Belinda" when I was little and it had a strong impact on me. I found JW affecting in "Miracle in the Rain," another film I saw as a child (and still cannot watch without tears welling up). You've all inspired me to see more of her.

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Was the decision to make *a post-code onscreen rape less graphic and thus more palatable to audiences and censors?* Did they know Belinda could (and should) scream and said "yeah, but. we want this thing to play in Pomona."

 

 

I had never even thought about the issue of Belinda screaming until that short came up on TV. However, my first thought was that the scream accompanying the rape would have been the reason to keep her entirely mute. The censors being what they were at the time, I'm surprised that we got as much as we did in that scene but I think that to have her screaming would have been way too much to put over on the MPAA when the act or even implication of rape was verboten.

 

It would be interesting to find out if this was the way the role was played on stage in 1940-41 by Helen Craig. Ironically, Stephen McNally (billed as Horace) played the doctor in that Broadway show.

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made it most all of the way through Johnny Belinda last night.

 

Whoever did the location scouting for this film did a terrific job. where'd they film it? Northern California? it's a great looking film, it's noteworthy that there were only two nominees for black and white interior design in 1948 and Johnny Belinda was one of them.

 

interesting in the scene where Wyman has her baby all Level Five Thetan silent-birth style Agnes Moorehead remarks that Jane (I paraphrase) "didn't make a sound. it was uncanny."

Yes, it was Agnes. Yes it was. To me- that means they didn't have a clue what they were doing. I've never had a child, but I've been told it hurts. So much so, that if you are capable of making a sound- in all likelihood, you will. Mothers in the forum, correct me if I am wrong.

 

 

This would have been better with *less dialogue. It would have been best as a silent movie.* There were moments where we should've see the world from Belinda's perspective, like when her Dad is grilling her about who the father of the baby is. She must have no clue what the hell is going on and we don't get a proper sense of that. It's doubly frightening for her and I don't think they convey that a bit.

 

 

The scene where Lew Ayres tells her she's going to have a baby and she *totally by magic knows what the hell he is talking about and then says she is going to name it Johnny is pure HOLLYWOOD hokum. It is ludicrous.*

 

 

 

The score was very outre. Again, the less noise and talking in this film, the better.

 

 

Love Agnes Mooreheard, but script-wise, her transition scene needed something more than just her "poof, sudden change of character, total reversal. i'm completely cool with this, btw" change-of-course manuever,. Maybe a look into what the Aunt knows about being a woman or dealing with men or family bonds meaning more than anything else or even being angry, irrationally, with Belinda (as many would have done.) It didn't work.

 

 

Lew Ayres came across as very patronizing to me. Sort of Martin Sheeny and didactic.

 

 

Bickford was fine. It is a genuinely jarring moment when he dies. I did not buy one second of the scene where Jane signs out the Lord's Prayer and they all recite it. Sorry. Not one second.

 

 

I hate Jane's hair aggresively in this. Was that a wig? Just, ugh.

 

 

Love Jan Sterling though.

 

 

Wyman should not have gotten even nominated for this, much less won. I know 1948 was a weak(ish) year for lead actress, but DeHavilland is *sensational* in The Snake Pit and Fontaine is superb in Letter From an Unknown Woman ( *PS- Thanks for airing that one TCM, encore?* ) and Stanwyck is awesome in those last five minutes of Sorry, Wrong Number.

 

 

(Personally I think Fontaine was Best.)

 

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Oct 17, 2012 9:31 AM

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}If her name was "Belinda", where does the title "Johnny Belinda" come from?

Her kid's name is Johnny Belinda. I am foggy on why Wyman's character is called Belinda, and-of course- "The Dummy" by some) or what her last name is or whether her proper name is Belinda Belinda or Belinda Carlisle or T. Dummy Belinda...Honestly, I didn't listen to that part well, sorry.

 

All I know is they call her Belinda.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Oct 17, 2012 9:41 AM

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}I dont want to hijack the thread, but did anyone watch the earlier films last night? I dont see any threads about them. Belinda was on past my bedtime and I've already seen it a gazillion times..........

i tried, but the Edward Arnold thing was boring and the Van Heflin thing was...bad. so I watched The Raven on DVD until Belinda.

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Yes, loved that dog! Not the film so much. I was expecting a whodunit, but it turned out to be a standard wartime espionage drama which revealed the villains early on. I liked Edward Arnold and the dog. And it was funny to see Donna Reed playing a mouthy spoiled brat. The film did seem to have some choppy continuity. Who exactly was Arnold tying up in the bedroom (or untying?) in that brief shot (a few seconds)

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Well the type of character Wyman plays in Johnny Belinda is the type that the academy loves to reward similar to their love for a historical figure. I really wish DeHavilland had won in 48 but maybe if she did she wouldn't of won yet again in 49. i.e. would the academy given her the oscar in 3 out of 4 years? I doubt it.

 

As for Jan Sterling; Yea, she has an interesting face and I always enjoy here; e.g. Ace In The Hole, The Harder They Fall etc..

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Oct 17, 2012 5:05 PM

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