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Actors of classic studio era. vs. Modern Actors - A thought and a question.


Lazyking
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I've been thinking about this for awhile now and this might not make much sense but why is that classic actors, almost all the great ones had much more presence on screen then those of today? I'm a 28 and I do like modern films alot (I'm not a classic films snob) but when I think my favorite actors, one or maybe two is still acting today that is in my top 25.

 

I just feel like Cagney, Grant, Cooper, Wayne, William Powell.. listing of the top of my head some people I like or not all had more screen presence/charisma on screen then most have in one or two scenes today.. Every Cagney film you knew what made it a cagney film same with several others.

 

I'm not trying to disparge Daniel Day Lewis or Leonardo Dicapiro but I think I like their performances in a vaccum and their films as a whole more then them as actors.. if that makes sense.

 

Is this shift because of the actor's training? Or is it because of how movies are made now with the movie itself and special effects being the main attaction?

 

Looking forward to your thoughts and opinions? :)

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It seems to me that more actors today look and sound so much alike, I can't tell very many of them apart.

 

Of the females, I can think of Halle Berry.... and, uhh....

 

Of the males, I can think of Robert DeNiro and the guy who played Forrest Gump. Oh, and that little Italian guy who was in My Cousin Vinnie.

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I'm thinking of some lady who was in Body Heat, and Romancing the Stone. I saw her in one other movie, something about Arabs, but it wasn't any good. I never saw her again, and I can't remember her name.

 

I saw her in a brief TV interview a few weeks ago and now she is old and fat. That's it, three movies and then she's old and fat.

 

And what about that girl in Blade Runner? One movie and then she became old and fat.

 

Oh, and I remember Harrison Ford. He was in a lot of good movies. I'm amazed that he is my age. :)

 

Oh, and that old guy.... Morgan Freeman. And the young handsome one..... Danzel Washington.

 

I keep thinking that the guy who played in Titanic was the same one who played in the several new fantasy pirate movies, but I think they are different guys, however, they seem so similar to me.

 

Maybe they pay these modern actors too much per movie, and maybe that causes them to make fewer movies? I don't.

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Jul 22, 2013 5:12 PM

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Yes, that's it! :)

 

She was great in Body Heat and Romancing the Stone. So why didn't she make 5 or 6 movies a year when she was in her prime, like the actresses did in the old days?

 

That's why we have several Jean Harlow movies, although she died young.

 

Morgan Freeman has made a lot of movies. I see him in movies on TV all the time. The older he got, the better he became as a character actor. Plus, he made a lot of movies, so I know him and remember him.

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Yes, that was a 'Steamy' movie ! ;) (Body Heat)

 

Unfortunately, Kathlleen put on a ton of weight, perhaps that's why she didn't make very many movies.

 

She did star in the WAR OF THE ROSES with Michael Douglas, also a 'Good Movie" :)

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote: ...}{quote}

>

> I keep thinking that the guy who played in Titanic was the same one who played in the several new fantasy pirate movies, but I think they are different guys, however, they seem so similar to me.

>

Come on, Fred. Sometimes I think you just pretend this stuff. For effect, maybe.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp aren't alike in any way. And Depp's about ten years older than DiCaprio.

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>Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp aren't alike in any way.

 

They are both nice looking guys, but I have trouble telling them apart. Their faces might look a little different, but their personalities are quite similar.

 

I do NOT have the same trouble telling Cary Grant and Clark Gable apart. I never got Cagney or Bogie mixed up.

 

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I think back in the major studio/contract players day they created & groomed "stars" and so they HAD a strong screen presence...the storytelling of the movies wasn't as important as it being a vehicle for "the star"...fans wanted to see "the stars" and so buy the movie tickets & fan magazines.

Modern movies will drastically change an actor's face with make-up or they might get fat or very skinny for a role but I don't recall that happening very often back in the 'golden age'...even 'tho a lot of actors back then wanted to, the studios were in charge until the old system fell apart and actors were free to pick & choose.

There is something I've noticed in entertainment nowadays and that is the speaking voice...the voices of the past were much more melodious whereas today there are some announcers or personalities with terrible voices that grate on the nerves...and they are usually SHOUTING and speaking like they are jacked up on Starbucks! Back in the '30s-'50s a lot of actors/actresses were trained to speak in a "Mid-Atlantic accent"...they should bring that back or else everybody is gonna sound like the nasally Kardashians.

 

Edited by: swimminginaqua on Jul 22, 2013 9:05 PM

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Well first, studio era "movie stars" were under contract, and often those contracts required them to make as many as half a dozen or more movies a year in those movie "factories"...and something of which Bette Davis alluded to during her turn tonight on the Johnny Carson TCM segments.

 

Secondly(Fred), Kathleen Turner has as gotten "fat and old" because of her contracting extreme Rheumatoid arthritis and the medication which was required to combat her disease.

 

Thirdly(and the following is just my own opinion here), but yes, in general, the "movie stars" of the studio just seemed more "mature" or "adult" than do their modern equivalents. This could possibly be all due to the seemingly ever more increasing trend in America to prize the "Youth Culture", and the ever more increasing trend of the movie-GOING public of being younger and younger.

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I am not a student of film nor do I have any education, knowledge or experience in how movies are made but I must wonder if some of the loss of "presence" of stars is changes in cinematography.

 

I can think of a number of classic movies where the star dominates the screen because of the framing and composition. This is true especially in the scenes when the star makes their first entrance.

 

It seems to me that in many movies today it seems like the star shuffles into a scene with no flair and all of the shots are broader and include many more elements.

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>I think back in the major studio/contract players day they created & groomed "stars" and so they HAD a strong screen presence...the storytelling of the movies wasn't as important as it being a vehicle for "the star"...

 

swimming,

 

That reminds me of the phrase we often hear old movies about Hollywood or Broadway, "I'm going to make you a STAR !"

 

It doesn't matter too much what kind of movie he or she is in, as long as they have been made into a STAR.

 

Of course, if the movie plot is good too, then we've got a great classic film. :)

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Well Fred, I feel the way you do. Today's "stars" are bland and look alike, especially the Barbie doll girls. All you have to do is watch an old Ed Sullivan Show and you'll see performers of every different size, shape and wearing clothing containing COLOR!

 

Today's navy blue, black and gray wearing stars are all as ordinary as their clothing. I find it amazing stars refuse to take roles where their looks may be altered, they are no longer "pretty". Can you imagine Bette Davis, Olivia DeHavilland or Deborah Kerr afraid of being made up "ugly"?

 

Remember when "Impressionist" was a career? There were many people to imitate, they had unique voices, cadences, and gestures. I'd love to see someone try doing an impression of ANY celebrity these days. Can't be done.

 

Although he's just as bland looking as the rest, I've recently seen a couple of movies with Sean Penn and he is a stellar actor, he's earned my respect.

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I too, fall into the same category as Lazy and Fred( Hmmm...Sounds like some kind of COMEDY team!). Dicaprio's good, but I wish his VOICE would change! Still sounds 16.

 

 

Few of today's actors stand out. For me it's Depp, Dicaprio, Clooney, Pitt, Logan and Tuturro. Maybe a couple of others who I can't think of right now. Freeman and Day-Lewis are somewhat older, so I consider them from another era. But their presence ISN'T the same as the studio-era actors.

 

 

And let's not get into the actresses. There's too many and many of them look alike and have similar names that I can't tell them apart. Maybe Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron and possibly Julia Roberts. But in the last decade, the actresses have been pretty much "cookie cutter".

 

 

I don't know how this fits(or if it DOES) in this discussion, but I always liked that story Lawrence Olivier tells about Dustin Hoffman while making *Marathon Man* ;

 

 

Hoffman came on the set one day after going two or three days without sleep or bathing, just to get his character "right" for the scenes they were about to shoot. Olivier remarked to Hoffman, "My dear boy, why don't you just try ACTING?"

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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> {quote:title=SansFin wrote:}{quote}I am not a student of film nor do I have any education, knowledge or experience in how movies are made but I must wonder if some of the loss of "presence" of stars is changes in cinematography.

>

> I can think of a number of classic movies where the star dominates the screen because of the framing and composition. This is true especially in the scenes when the star makes their first entrance.

>

> It seems to me that in many movies today it seems like the star shuffles into a scene with no flair and all of the shots are broader and include many more elements.

I think that SansFin comes the closest to the heart of the problem. Today's films are so dominated by technology, noise for the sake of noise, and other cinematic gimmicks, that the plot and the actors often get lost in the shuffle. The coming of the wide screen alone resulted in at least 50% more screen space for competing visuals, whereas it was much easier for the "classic" actors to dominate a relatively squarish frame. Put all these factors together, and it's hardly surprising that the stars of yesteryear stay with us a lot longer than today's top actors, no matter how talented they may be.

 

To illustrate my first point, take a look at the between-films promotion that the Fox Movie Channel shows in between each and every one of its movies, including the "classic" and uncut films they show between 3 am and 3 pm. If you're like me, and I suspect many or most other TCM viewers, you'll either be reaching for the mute button or your revolver after the second or third time you're exposed to it. It's so in-your-face and loudly obnoxious that I'm frankly glad I don't own a gun, since I'd then have to go out and replace my TV several times a month. B-)

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Ok let me put in my 2 cents...

 

DiCaprio, Depp, Bullock, all the other modern-day stars, could you possibly picture them kowtowing to a Harry Cohn or a Jack Warner? They're their own bosses and free to pick and choose their own roles! Knowing the mannerisms of the old Studio bosses - the meanness and intimidation they imposed on Yesteryear's actors/actresses - the Studio chiefs would get the s*** beat out of 'em had they spoke to today's folks that way.

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