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Movie Swan Song


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Two films on today's TCM schedule were the final films of their respective stars.

 

Earlier this morning, it was LET'S BE HAPPY, with Vera-Ellen, in her last feature film from 1957.

 

And tonight it's A KISS FOR CORLISS, a 1949 motion picture that wrapped up Shirley Temple's big screen career.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

John Wayne rode off into the sunset after "The Shooist"

 

James Cagney's final big screen appearance was in "Ragtime". It was also his buddy Pat O'Brien's final curtain call.

 

Randolph [chorus please] Scott left us in "Ride the High Country"....

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One of the most poignant swan songs was Robert Donat as the Mandarin of Yang Cheng in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Donat was seriously ill while he made the film, and it was known that he didn't have long to live. The last lines of his character:

 

‘It is time to go, old friends. Stay here … for a little. It will comfort me as I leave to know it. We shall not see each other again, I think. Farewell Jen-ai."

 

He died shortly after the film was completed.

 

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Bette Davis' swan song in Wicked Stepmother:

 

Bette dislked the script so much that she pulled out before the movie was finished (or possibly becasue she was not well--she died a few months later). Larry Cohen had to piece together a new story in whcih Bette's character (who is a witch) takes cat form and Barbara Carrera plays her daughter and takes most of the plot that was supposed to be filled by Bette's character. So it really became more like Wicked Stepmother/sister/cat. Sad really, as the script was really bad 80's silliness.

 

In contrast, Katherine Hepburn's last film, while an ill-advised remake of Love Affair, gave her a pretty good role--she's got the Maria Oupenskaya role from the original. It's too bad the movie wasn't very good.

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Wayne's cancer was in remission at the time  "The Shootist" was released.

 

You are referring to the novel "Beau John". . Wayne was very impressed with the story of a family in Kentucky in the 1920's. A novel with comic elements and Wayne commissioned a script and wanted Ron Howard to co star with him. Wayne playing the family patriarch. Sadly because of his failing health the film was never made, but there was suppose to be a script somewhere..Who knows, maybe someday.....

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It should be noted that The Shootist was not intended as a swan song. Wayne was still considering other projects until his final months -- one would have been a reteaming with Ron Howard.

 

Well how many actors intended their last movie to be their swan song?    I assume that even actors that retired 'early' didn't know when making what we now know is their last movie,  that that was going to be their last movie at the time.    e.g.  Doris Day.  

 

Bogart might be a good example of an actor that did know time was running out for him when making The Harder They Fall.

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Well how many actors intended their last movie to be their swan song?  

 

Scott and McCrea apparently intended RTHC to be their adios, even if Joel later changed his mind.

 

According to Jack Lemmon, during the shooting of Mister Roberts William Powell said, "This is the one to go out on".

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@Jamesjazzguitar:

 

I don't think Bogart knew at the time that film would be his last.  He was in prelimiary preparations for another film with wife Bacall when his health decided things for him.  Remember that old wardrobe test clip?

 

Sepiatone

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tracey,

 

I agree with you regarding Monroe.  It's too bad she had all her demons and insecurities.  However, after learning about her childhood and life until she became "Marilyn Monroe," it's no surprise that she had all the issues she had.  It's really unfortunate that she wasn't able to conquer her problems and continue with the filming of Something's Got to Give. Near the end of her career, she was working hard trying to change her image of the breathy, ditzy, blonde and portray more interesting women and different characters.  Despite her image, she was very intelligent and well read.  She had also started taking acting classes, I believe she was studying Method acting.  The same acting style that Brando, Clift and Dean practiced. 

 

With her roles in films like Bus Stop and The Misfits, it's apparent that she had the talent to step outside of her typecast image and play meatier roles, so to speak.  I really wish she had lived longer.  I feel that Marilyn may have eventually gotten "the role" that would have completely changed her career and bring her the respect from acting community that she wanted. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Last night TCM aired THE BEST MAN, with Lee Tracy's final feature film role as a terminally ill president. Excellent performance.  Tracy would continue to work on screen, taking a few more parts on television, before he passed away in 1968 at age 70.

 

He will be honored on August 21 during Summer Under the Stars.  TCM will broadcast seventeen of his earlier pictures.

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