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Attention TCM Programmers: Less stars more nebula!


CaveGirl
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Attention TCM Programmers: Less stars more nebula!

 

After considerable discussion with many of erstwhile TCM aficionado friends, I have come to the conclusion that the stars have had more than enough attention for eons and it is time to pay tribute to the background people in films, who supported them. Seriously now, even in real life…the seemingly important people could not get along or continue their importance, without the “little people” like the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker or even their plumber, limo driver or Terminix man. Would Cagney have been able to go nuts in prison if Margaret Wycherly was not his domineering mama, or would Marilyn have been able to have a an air conditioner at her disposal without Tom Ewell? And for that matter, would Jimmy Stewart have figured out “how to kiss a girl and not talk her to death”, without Dick Elliott? I think not!
 

So the time has come finally, I feel to pay tribute where tribute is due to the “little people” in films, remembering always though that “there are no small parts, just small actors” according to Stanislavski and you know he was always on the money.

 

So, may I suggest that some special time monthly or intermittently be set aside to honor those who made films seem so real and were the unrecognized glitter behind the stars. A few of the actors that I personally would elevate to star status, are folks like Barbara Nichols, Louis Jean Heydt, Gloria Holden, Oscar Homolka, Norma Varden, Martin Kosleck, Jessie Royce Landis, Jessie Ralph, Clem Bevans, Ian Wolfe, Harry Davenport, Almira Sessions, Whit Bissell, Sybil Jason, Una O’Connor, Dan Tobin and Eily Malyon. If  I see their name in the cast, I ALWAYS watch. There are others who did reach some public recognition in a bit more elevated echelon like Roland Young, Mary Boland, Arthur Hunnicutt…and they too should be featured. Would not a whole day of films, like a Rondo Hatton or Bud Cort Film Festival not be fun, and being that every film any of even the most minor of dress extras always featured stars, this would not hurt anyone who bores easily amongst the viewing audience. A favorite I always look for in the background of films is the immortal Bess Flowers, whose most famous role was probably as the woman who congratulates Eve at the Sarah Siddons award finale of “All About Eve”. She has graced so many films as a dowager queen or society lady she should be given a star in Hollywood but I digress.

 

So…who’s with me, and if no one is I shall go to my girl cave and just watch my thousands of old videotapes and dvd’s and separate myself from society and the blame will be laid on all of you. If you do like this idea, please vote for your particular dress extras, chorines, cab drivers, newsboys, gangster molls, and movie brats that you would like to see featured in a TCM festival. Speaking of brats like Baby Leroy, I also think TCM should have a W.C. Fields’ Festival and show the more obscure early stuff like “International House” and others. Okay, now I’ll shut up…

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You are not covering any new ground here, unfortunately. We have had plenty of threads about worthy character players.  And some have been given tributes. Mary Boland was a SUTS honoree last year, and this year we have Thelma Ritter stopping by for a course on Character Actresses 101.

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The still ostensibly upper echelon character actor"ground" you refer to, TB would appear to be foreground/peripherally focused with eyes still on the stars, whilst I am talking about "deep background" performers who might not even be interacting with the star in a scene yet are still indispensable, with tributes to honorable nominees like Dan Tobin, Rose Hobart, Ottola Nesmith, Minna Gombell, Richard Haydn, Rosalind Ivan, Irving Bacon, Charles Dingle, Jack Lambert, Walter Baldwin, Porter Hall, Sid Tomack, James Flavin, Ethel Griffies, Argentina Brunetti, Fritz Feld and Vera Hruba Ralston. Mayhaps I missed the "threads" about such performers to which you refer? Please elucidate if so. As I indicated, I was not really referring to folks who have been elevated to super character status like a Mary Boland, Roland Young or Thelma Ritter who have mostly received there just do, even if only in TCM mini-tributes between films.

 

I have yet to see a Charles Middleton tribute yet, in scheduling a day of his films, but please inform me if I am remiss. Mayhaps I missed the Ming the Merciless "character actor course" as I would have enjoyed auditing it...
 

I'm ready for any close-ups on the above people, T.B.

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The still ostensibly upper echelon character actor"ground" you refer to, TB would appear to be foreground/peripherally focused with eyes still on the stars, whilst I am talking about "deep background" performers who might not even be interacting with the star in a scene yet are still indispensable, with tributes to honorable nominees like Dan Tobin, Rose Hobart, Ottola Nesmith, Minna Gombell, Richard Haydn, Rosalind Ivan, Irving Bacon, Charles ****, Jack Lambert, Walter Baldwin, Porter Hall, Sid Tomack, James Flavin, Ethel Griffies, Argentina Brunetti, Fritz Feld and Vera Hruba Ralston. Mayhaps I missed the "threads" about such performers to which you refer? Please elucidate if so. As I indicated, I was not really referring to folks who have been elevated to super character status like a Mary Boland, Roland Young or Thelma Ritter who have mostly received there just do, even if only in TCM mini-tributes between films.

 

I have yet to see a Charles Middleton tribute yet, in scheduling a day of his films, but please inform me if I am remiss. Mayhaps I missed the Ming the Merciless "character actor course" as I would have enjoyed auditing it...

 

I'm ready for any close-ups on the above people, T.B.

Well, one of the names you mention here, Vera Hruba Ralston, was a star, if at.Republic, where she married the boss, Herbert Yates. So even though many of her movies don't seem to be shown on TCM, she was definitely not deep background, or even background, but usually front and center in her movies.

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The still ostensibly upper echelon character actor"ground" you refer to, TB would appear to be foreground/peripherally focused with eyes still on the stars, whilst I am talking about "deep background" performers who might not even be interacting with the star in a scene yet are still indispensable, with tributes to honorable nominees like Dan Tobin, Rose Hobart, Ottola Nesmith, Minna Gombell, Richard Haydn, Rosalind Ivan, Irving Bacon, Charles ****, Jack Lambert, Walter Baldwin, Porter Hall, Sid Tomack, James Flavin, Ethel Griffies, Argentina Brunetti, Fritz Feld and Vera Hruba Ralston. Mayhaps I missed the "threads" about such performers to which you refer? Please elucidate if so. As I indicated, I was not really referring to folks who have been elevated to super character status like a Mary Boland, Roland Young or Thelma Ritter who have mostly received there just do, even if only in TCM mini-tributes between films.

 

I have yet to see a Charles Middleton tribute yet, in scheduling a day of his films, but please inform me if I am remiss. Mayhaps I missed the Ming the Merciless "character actor course" as I would have enjoyed auditing it...

 

I'm ready for any close-ups on the above people, T.B.

Ditto. But come ON, auto censor, Charles XXXXXXX???????????????????? REALLY? <_<

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Character actors and actresses were some of Hollywood's best performers. Maybe they should start a character actor of the month tribute.

 

Well I think people's need for tributes is a little over blown.   Of course I love character and supporting players.  Studio era movies wouldn't be the same without some of these very fine actors.   Much of the studio era 'style' is defined by these under contract supporting players (e.g. my wife ask me how I know this movie is from XYZ studio after watching it was a few minutes.  I try to pretend because I can tell based on the camera angle or lighting etc..,  but most of the time it is just because I know the supporting players associated with that studio).

 

So the bottom line is that supporting players are shown in movies all the time.   In fact it is more likely a star doesn't get shown because TCM is so star driven and one star tumps another star.   But supporting players don't get bumped for that reason.

 

While I like my idea of a Supporting Player of the Month series,   I'm also OK with no specific supporting player tribute.   They get their due each and every day since they are on TCM each and every day.

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Thanks, Arturo!

 

I stand corrected. Glad to hear that Vera was more of a star in her day than perhaps she is thought of now.

 

It is true, often only by reading old movie magazines or talking to an older generation person does one find out truth vs. fiction in movie lore. I remember talking to a relative whose family owned a movie theatre locally, whose film knowledge was encyclopedic and we got talking about Alfred and Lynn Fontanne.

 

I remarked that the scuttlebutt was that they found the movies vulgar so only appeared in TG as a kindness and then went back to the "theatuh"!

 

My relative said..."No, no, no...that is NOT what happened. They were not liked by the movie buying public as they appeared stiff on-screen and their films did not do good box office, which is why they left films."

 

Now, maybe she was right and maybe she was wrong, but I do listen to those who were actually alive and on the scene, when discussing events of the past, because only believing what one reads can be very suspect if one seeks the truth about anything.

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Finally, addendumwise...thanks, Calamity for your comment! 

Primosprimos, I appreciate your chastizement of the overzealous censor too!

 

JJG, I get your drift and it's not really that I so believe the smaller part performers need tributes, but perhaps just a bit of distaste for the continual "star"-bleating and larger than life chest pounding in promos.

If I could get the ad guy who wrote that line "all the stars in the heavens" I would wring his neck. I picture someone like Lionel Stander sitting there and concocting all that hooey and then laughing and saying it over and over to all the press agents at MGM.

 

I guess I'm just a sucker for the Charles Middletons of the world, and I should leave now and go watch his amazing performance on my new dvd of "Strangler of the Swamp" starring NO stars unless you consider Blake Edwards a star, as a lowly actor before his more impressive directorial days.

 

 

 

 

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