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A Discussion of Paul Muni


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For those of us not in love with Paul Muni (at least his later work), maybe we should be grateful for the roles that he was up for but didn't get, or turned down. I didn't know that he had been offered the lead in The Sea Wolf but am I ever glad it went, instead, to Edward G. Robinson, who's perfect in the role.

 

Another could-have-been-ruined-by-Muni-ham film was High Sierra. Instead it put Bogie on the road to stardom.

 

To be fair, though, when Muni did play a gangster role few years later in Angel on my Shoulder (actually a dual part as gangster and respectable judge) he was very good. There were, mercifully, no signs of the ripe overacting that had ruined his performance in A Song to Remember the year before. I sometimes wonder if the reason Cornel Wilde got an Oscar nomination for his rather limited Chopin performance in that same film was because his acting was a relief compared to the mugging Muni trying to steal every scene.

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By "later work" I'm thinking of Muni's post-Warners career, which would include his performances in Hudson's Bay and, gad, A Song to Remember (also known to me as A Ham I'd Like to Forget).

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finance, if by "blackballed" you mean "blacklisted," no Muni was never called to testify before HUAC and was not accused of Communist activity.

 

Maybe by "blackballed" you mean the studio heads would not hire him. that might be true because of his difficult behavior on sets and his wife.

 

I can't imagine being a director of a film, and having the lead actor not listen to you but instead take his direction from his wife!

 

I know too that John Huston blamed Muni solely for making a "mess" of the film "Juarez" because he insisted that his brother in-law be brought in and work on the "screenplay.

 

Lori

 

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