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SueSueApplegate

December Star of the Month: BARBARA STANWYCK

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Anyone that says she is always the same has probably not seen enough of her movies. She is the same in some movies, and different in other movies. She adapted to the role that was required and that is what acting is about. Anyway it is nice to see some of these movies I haven't seen in a while, *Sorry Wrong Number* was a classic.

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You can't just say it. Prove it. How was she always the same?

 

On the other hand, I think Barbara Stanwyck's reputation will survive the disdain of 1 or 2 film queens on an internet board :)

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Good posts all, Filmgoddess. Yes, sorry to say that I was one of the ones that didn't "get" Forty Guns. I too hated Westerns growing up for the same reason (they all seemed the same), but now that I know more about certain classic stars I get more out of watching them (stars like Stanwyck are always fun to watch), though admittedly Westerns aren't my favorite genre in general.

 

I respecfully disagree with you about George Brent. I find him a little on the wooden side, especially opposite dynamic actresses like Stanwyck and Davis. But, that's just one opinion. ;)

 

Update: I almost forgot - I do like Brent very much in The Rains Came. He seemed to "come alive" in that film.

 

Edited by: EugeniaH on Dec 27, 2012 9:01 PM

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I don't disagree about George Brent. He was a little wooden but I think that's the point. These very strong leading ladies need someone like to play against, often. And he worked in those kinds of roles. He never has to carry a film. It's always Davis and Stanwyck who do that. I think Davis played against less great leading men than any other big star.

 

I love film in general but the standard westerns with Wayne, Rogers, Autry, less lights hold no interest for me. But films like SEARCHERS (all of the Ford 1940s and 50s westerns as well) and the Stewart/Mann westerns, and the Stanwyck westerns are a different breed of western. Those I love and I'm very interested in them. But it took me awhile. You're young, you may get there yet :)

 

 

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"It's the same dame." Baby Face with a few bucks is Martha Ivers is Julia Treadway. But it's late, and I'm typing on an iPad now, which is not ideal. Hence my going O.T. to your interesting Miracle on 34th St. post, much of which I agree with. But you say don't watch Gwenn in Foreign Correspondent. In fact, that's one of the things Hitchcock does -- fools us by taking an actor who signifies goodness and sweetness and makes him an assassin.

 

Back to BS: Dare I inject Bette Davis into this: Mildred is NOT Charlotte (twice) is NOT Empress Carlota is NOT Baby Jane is NOT Henriette, etc. It's NOT the same dame.

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*On the other hand, Wendell Corey? I'm not sure what we needed him for. In REAR WINDOW, he looks like a piece of wax.*

 

Lol... I once saw a picture of Corey backstage, when the cameras weren't rolling, and he had that same impassive look on his face. :^0

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*But you say don't watch Gwenn in Foreign Correspondent. In fact, that's one of the things Hitchcock does -- fools us by taking an actor who signifies goodness and sweetness and makes him an assassin.*

 

Well, FC came out some 5 years or so before MIRACLE.... Gwenn was not then someone signifying goodness and sweetness. That's us looking back at him in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, APARTMENT FOR PEGGY, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, MR. 880, etc. all of which postdate FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT.

 

*Back to BS: Dare I inject Bette Davis into this: Mildred is NOT Charlotte (twice) is NOT Empress Carlota is NOT Baby Jane is NOT Henriette, etc. It's NOT the same dame.*

 

I always liked, and agree with, the statement by a classic movie writer, who stated something along the lines of "While Stanwyck was never as good as Bette Davis at her best, she was not nearly as bad as Davis at her worst". I love Bette Davis, but Davis' mannerisms permeate all of her films from the late 30s on.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Dec 28, 2012 12:54 AM

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*Really? The same in THE LADY EVE and STELLA DALLAS? The same in STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS and BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN? The same in DOUBLE INDEMNITY and CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT? I don't think so. Those were not "small adjustments" but completely different roles.*

 

Agreed!

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Okay, whatever. As I said, yours is a decidely minority opinion. Very minority. Stanwyck is probably the least controversial actress of the golden age because 99.9% agree she's near the top.

 

Let's not get started on Bette Davis. She gave some truly great performances but when she was bad, which sadly was very often, she was as bad as it gets. MR. SKEFFINGTON. It makes your skin crawl she's so awful. Name almost any film of hers from the 1950s and I'll show you a lesson in bad acting. She was always Bette Davis, just like all the great stars.

 

My point about Gwenn was if your only exposure to him in MIRACLE and it makes you warm and cuddly, don't watch FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT as it will shatter your dream.

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Totally agree about Gwenn here.

 

As for Bette, she was only very good when she stuck to that one line of performance she did best: the female melodrama. Get her outside of that, and forget it. Even some of those she did were awful.

 

At her best, no one could touch her. But that's only a handful of performances. She became a caricature at some point. There's a reason she's a favorite of drag queens. She became so "unnatural." There's also a reason drag queens don't do Stanwyck. No mannerisms, no over-the-top stuff. Just natural authenticity.

 

Imagine Bette in a noir? No way. In a comedy? Never. When she did them, she wasn't funny. Everyone else was. Can you imagine Bette in a western? Nope but Stanwyck did them all and was magnificent in them.

 

I'd take Bette at her best anyday, but Stanwyck's library is much richer and, therefore, there is so much more to enjoy there.

 

 

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Arturo, I was thinking of Gwenn's '30s films, which Hitchcock certainly would have been familiar with. The Hollywood ones -- are there any more benevolent characters than Mr. Bonnyfeather in Anthony Adverse -- and Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, which defined Gwenn for the public at that time? Hitchcock would also have been familiar with Gwenn's early English films, which were almost all benevolent roles.

 

Interesting point about Bette and her mannerisms. That's what people have been saying about Maggie Smith for years. But I find many of Stanwyck's gestures false, in Golden Boy, to give you an example. It's hard for me to get into the Bette/Barbara discussion, because, despite your criticisms of Bette's "mannerisms," I don't even think there in the same league enough to have a conversation about!

 

But one thing I do agree with you about. Although I don't think Stanwyck was as good as the rest of the posters here, I don't think she was ever really bad.

 

 

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"One note" actors such as Corey and Sullivan are very effective in noirs. Brent was effective in THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, but I can't really see him as a noir guy ( this has nothing to do with the size of you-know-what.)

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 28, 2012 9:17 AM

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> {quote:title=kingrat wrote:}{quote} Samuel Fuller is, for me, the most overrated director of the classic era. His talent as a director is so often undercut by his failings as a screenwriter. He gets a good idea for a film, but it frequently, as in FORTY GUNS, remains an outline, with minimal plot development and sketchy characterization.

I always find myself giving some or all of your posts an "Amen, my Brother."

 

ps- Fuller was actually, like William Castle, a very compelling and inn-teresting presence who would have made a far better *actor* than anything else. He is really, really good as the third lead in (don't laugh) Return to Salem's Lot, a TV movie that isn't very good, but he's terrific (and funny!) as a vampire hunter.

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To claim that "there" not even in the same league is so ridiculous but, of course, it's one way to not have a discussion/argument. One can just make a comment like that and then you don't have to defend or present your point of view. Clever, but an old trick.

 

But in one way you're right: Stanwyck never gave a bad performance while Davis gave bad performance after bad performance right up until her death. Just compare her with Gish in WHALES OF AUGUST. Lillian is a real character, Davis is Davis doing old, crotchety Davis.

 

So, you're right in one respect. For the most part, Davis is not even in Stanwyck's league. Not by a long shot. 5 or 6 great performances vs. a body of great work that was 50 years long. I know which I'd take.

 

Just imagine, if you will, Bette Davis in that scene feeling up Richard Chamberlain naked in THE THORN BIRDS. You'd laugh out loud. But Stanwyck, at 75, makes it work perfectly. That's a great actress.

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I don't get the sense that Fuller is THAT highly thought of. So I can't say he's that overrated. Overrated is someone like Kubrick. 2 or 3 early films then everything else, to me, is unwatchable. Fuller was capable of some really great stuff.

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Never saw "The Thornbirds." I know alot of Lillian Gish's friends, and I know how simply awful Davis' behavior was to everyone on the set of Whales. But of course that has nothing to do with performance. I look at Stanwyck at film after film and, although I like her, I think, what a fake/false move! I would have to sit there in front of the telly with you to point them out. And I believe she really was always the same. This ain't no Meryl Streep or even Irene Dunne. "It's the same dame!" But a very enjoyable dame nevertheless, in many good movies.

 

We could go on like this forever, and I know I'm SO in the minority here.

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I think Bette Davis' primary sin as an actress is *NOT* the mannerisms.

 

I'm fine with mannerisms. Before TV eclipsed film as the primary entertainment medium, there wasn't so much pressure to be different (or "special") in every movie, there were a lot of actors who worked the same mannerisms (or personalities) in many pictures.

 

 

I think where Bette disappoints me is that, some time post- All About Eve, *she developed a real need for approval (sometimes even pity or love) from the audience,* and she lets that personal need override what she should have done in regard to the characters she was playing. Whereas she (all-caps) COURAGEOUSLY doesn't give a damn whether you like or approve of her characters (and performances) in Human Bondage, Dangerous, Jezebel, Dark Victory and In This Our Life there is a palpable need to be adored and loved in The Catered Affair, Pocketful of Miracles, Sweet Charlotte, and even in some of her triumphs like Baby Jane and The Star.

 

 

There are times in some of her later work where she is almost as pathetic as Shelley Winters milking sympathy at her worst, forgetting that the reason we all loved Bette to begin with was that she quite openly didn't give two-sh**s whether or not we liked her in the first place.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Dec 28, 2012 9:39 AM

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}This may have had something to do with her difficulty in being given suitable roles post-ALL ABOUT EVE.

...and growing older, and the fact that her personal life was one shitmop in the face after another, and playing the HOLLYWOOD game...I'm sure it was a rich tapestry of influences.

 

Are you really only 25???

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