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Why wasn't John Dall a bigger star?


skimpole
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Watchin John Dall earlier today in Gun Crazy I wondered why he wasn't a bigger star. Admittedly Rope has a sordid subject, and Gun Crazy may have been depreciated as a noir. But there are other actors who have played murderes and Dall got an oscar nomination for The Corn is Green. But he doesn't have much of a reputation, or many film roles. I wonder why.

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Oh for pete's sake, Rope. THAT'S where I knew him from!

 

Yes indeedy, why wasn't he a bigger star?

 

Did he shoot Cummins at the end?

 

For that matter, why weren't Peggy Cummins and Cathy O'Donnell bigger stars? I could totally see them used in pictures instead of the ubiquitous Davis and Crawford and even Stanwyck.

 

Okay, even if not the 'A' movies, how about using them and Dall in more 'B' noir films? I posited this in another thread, but perhaps they wouldn't sleep with the same execs with whom Crawford had no problem sleeping. We all know the studio execs had their brains in their pants.

 

For that matter, I would have liked to see Adolphe Menjou and his sidekick Ruthelma Stevens (talk about a wasted star) in more film noir movies. The peanut/dyspepsia exchange between she and Adolphe was priceless, as timeless as any Mike Hammer or William Powell or Warren William or current TV private dick dialogue. Too bad I remembered that I hate circuses and especially old movie circuses since they include every bit of the animal cruelty of circuses, or I could have stuck around.

 

Incredible that only some actors like the hacks Clark Gable and Gary Cooper and the later Joan Crawford got to be stars, I guess the studio executives really were all moronic ****.

 

 

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Dall never married which more than likely means he was not part of the social swim in Hollywood which was an important part of success in the movie business. There were bachelors who were successful such as Clifton Webb, but, generally in order to succeed in movies you had to be part of the social set. That is true in any industry.

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Interesting. That never occurred to me.

 

So that's why they gave Rock Hudson a 'beard'?

 

Was James Dean the exception?

 

How did this rule play out with female actors, or were they all, every single one, married?

 

What an horrific rule, but no surprise given that the studio execs were pervs and homophobes and misogynists and liars and phonies, and Hedda Hopper had pictures of every one of them.

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Skimpole, that's a really, really good question! I am not sure why! I love him in GUN CRAZY!!! I've also seen him in a couple episodes of the PERRY MASON tv series, and he was also excellent in that! I dig him!

 

Oh yeah, and I'll put in a plug for Peggy Cummins too!!! Yowza!!! :x

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Not only Dall, but several actors/actresses fit the bill. Many had better looks and bigger talent than quite a few of the BIG names, but for some reason never really made it big. Could be the public, for some reason, never took to them, or they didn't know the right studio chief or something. I don't know. But it's puzzled me, too.

 

 

Sepiatone

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he does have a very scant filmography, but it's worth nothing that he is in a rather small company of actors who were Oscar-nominated for their film debuts.

 

Oddly, I don't care all that much for his nominated turn in The Corn is Green, everyone in that film seems to be holding something back, but I like him in Rope- although Jimmy Stewart really steals that film and the usually bland Farley Granger seems even more willing to embrace the kinkyness of the characters than Dall. I like him a lot in Gun Crazy, which is all-around sensational and *the* official Best B Movie ever made in Hollywood.

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Really? I kind of like John Dall, I cetainly never thought of him as "cold". And I think, in *Gun Crazy*, he conveys very well the conflicted thoughts and feelings he has about his foisted-upon-him life of crime and his mad-for-exitement wife ( they were married, weren't they? Doesn't matter...)

 

Maybe the "doesn't project enough warmth" was an issue in *The Corn is Green*; some young actors would have gone with a more intense performance. But I thought Dall's was fine.

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To really address the question related to any actor or actress on 'why weren't they a bigger star' one has to do a lot of very specific research. This research would cover areas like:

 

Did they have a contract with a specific studio? Typically the answer is yes.

 

If yes, what other actors had contracts with that studio at the time? Under the studio system most actors were paid whether they were making movies or not. Thus if a studio is paying a 'star' 5K a week the studio suits would "push" producers directors to use these stars as a way of getting the most 'value' out of their stars instead of an actor getting $500 a week.

 

Yea, I know the above is stuff most people here already know. I'm just trying to remind people that the studio system was a business model and not, per se, designed to ensure the best talent (i.e. the talent best suited for specific parts) was used in each production.

 

Often if one asks the questions like 'why didn't MGM cast actor XYZ in this movie, the answer is 'that actor was NOT under an MGM contract and the studio that did have this actor's contract wasn't willing to loam out that actor to MGM' (why should one studio help another studio unless one gets something of equal value in return).

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Dec 6, 2012 3:20 PM

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Dec 7, 2012 1:58 PM

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Your wish is my command, V2....and yeah, good addition to the list here...

 

...and Robert Francis...

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTV7sl1rJ6J9U19rRp53X6

 

 

...who would be overshaddowed completely by all the great veteran actors with memorable faces in The Caine Muntiny and just before his untimely death just a few months after the filming of that film.

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LOL

 

Yep, Fred. Good ol' Slim certainly had a memorable mug there, alright!

 

AND, who else could have delivered that great line, "Shoot! A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all this stuff!", better than ol' Slim there, huh! ;)

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May as well add the Incredible Shrinking Man to the list.

 

But how much of this was their vanilla blonde faces and the pervy studio bosses who lusted after the good looks but garbage acting of hunks like Clark Gable and Rock Hudson.

 

I'm guessing the brothers Warner and all the other pervy studio bosses were homophobic but went on the 'down low'.

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>But how much of this was their vanilla blonde faces and the pervy studio bosses who lusted after the good looks but garbage acting of hunks like Clark Gable and Rock Hudson. I'm guessing the brothers Warner and all the other pervy studio bosses were homophobic but went on the 'down low'.

 

Congratulations! You get the TopBilled award for most interesting post of the day. Have never seen it written that Louis Mayer and Jack Warner were in the closet and craving a good night of loving with Gable and Hudson. That is too much!

 

Someone, quick, call Hedda.

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Thanks for the post of Robt. Francis backing my supposition. Tragic though about his death in a plane crash so soon after his big movie "Caine Mutiny"

 

Speaking of Caine Mutiny (the title btw that inspired Michael's last name when he saw it on a marquee) does anyone else find Jose Ferrer 's character such an a**hole that it mutes the point of his character's rant at the movie's end?

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I've given a little thought to the original idea here.

 

 

 

I don't know for sure why Dall wasn't a bigger "star" than he became. My one guess would be he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

 

 

How many members of this forum have posted their opinions of how so many movies were miscast? Obviously, studio heads didn't really think in terms of making great movies. THEIR first and foremost consideration was "box office draw". That ANY movie from this era became "great" was more likely an accident. Maybe somebody else would have been better as Rhett Butler than Clark Gable. I can't imagine WHO, since Gable in the role has long been widely accepted, cosidered somewhat iconic, and now hard to dispute. But MY bettin' money is on that he was such a big box office draw, no OTHER actor was given serious consideration.

 

 

 

Let's look at another direction. In those "golden days" of studio/factory output, actors in the studio's "stable" weren't neccessarily given the freedom to pick and choose roles. Oh, some with large "draw" might have earned the right, but that all depended on the terms of their contracts. A case in point might be Joan Crawford.

 

 

 

Crawford WAS a big star by the mid '30's. So big, I'm willing to bet the studio chiefs directed her to do the many wonky projects that despite her popularity with the public, STILL managed to flop. As always, "word-of-mouth" is more potent than any high priced promotion. Maybe Crawford, unable to be given the choice, HAD to do those pictures, many of which wouldn't have been made otherwise, on order from Louis B. Mayer. Probably the thinking was, "This movie shouldn't be made. But with a star like Joanie, we can make it for peanuts and clean up!". Possibly Joan, out of loyalty or otherwise ordered to do so, was ultimately blamed for the movie being a flop, and then considered by the people who made her DO those turkeys as "box office poison".

 

 

 

Unfair to be sure. Dall might have been better for more parts than the bigger name who got the job. Just he wasn't a big enough NAME. Meanwhile, just to pay the rent, likely wound up in a few "dogs" and eventually, and unfairly dismissed.

 

 

 

I've long felt that after the way he treated both Crawford AND judy Garland, Louis B. Mayer deserved his own little corner in HELL.

 

 

 

Sepiatone

 

Edited by: Sepiatone on Dec 7, 2012 6:31 PM

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Good post, Sepiatone. Davis was treated similarly, and fought back. If Dall didn't fit the perverted conventions decided upon by Hedda Hopper and her pals, it's no wonder he didn't do better.

 

I've long felt that after the way he treated both Crawford AND judy Garland, Louis B. Mayer deserved his own little corner in HELL.

 

My long-held feelings exactly. The studios bosses, Mayer, the brothers Warner, Selznick, et al, were all perverted little boys with a Napoleonic complex and misogynistic free reign over the women in their employ. For the most part, they rose from the gutter, abused their power and most of them deserve to burn.

 

 

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