Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Icon vs. Person/Symbol vs. Reality


hepclassic
 Share

Recommended Posts

We all are classic film fans, and we have a love and appreciation of stars that have graced the silver screen of yesteryear, and while we have our standbys- I am beginning to think that wrapped in our nostalgia some of us have rose-colored perceptions of classic film stars. We believe that they have done no wrong in their lives.We believe them to be gods. We believe that they were exactly what the studio system PR departments sold their images to be. 

 

Because image means so much to Hollywood, the people who got imaged through contract stipulation sell an image of themselves they want the public to see. The celebrity of film acting. Yet, in the desire to appreciate them, we learn more about them. We are interested in their personal lives. We find ourselves shocked by what we learn about them, and sometimes, we can become critical of them. The celebrity of film appreciation- our hand in image maintenance. 

 

Now, I love classic films and classic movie stars, but as someone who also looks at history honestly and in historical context, I can't help but be perplexed by the severity of how far fans go in their own image maintenance that context and time frame placing goes out the window. For example, I love Katharine Hepburn as much as I love her films, but I know in reality, she may have had common sympathies with her character's viewpoints, but she wasn't one to apply that, let alone often. In 1948, she applied it in a speech against Joseph McCarthy and the House of Un-American Activities Committee, but that was the only time. I don't think she was a perfect human being, but I don't think I am either. There is a difference between appreciation and idol worship. 

 

So far, the only case of idol worship I can think of relating to strictly film here is John Wayne. Now, I have nothing against the man's artistry, as I do like five movies of his, but, in the age when people know Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn for fashion and beauty, even though Monroe could understand Freud and Hepburn was involved with the resistance in World War II, Wayne has fallen into symbolic icon status as bad as Monroe and Hepburn. Anyone these days can look into biographical information about these individuals and their brows might raise and their eyes might widen. Mine certainly did. 

 

Can we balance these realities out and find means to respect the person and their contributions? Certainly. But do we do this on a daily basis to keep our appreciation humble? Speaking for myself, I try, but like Hepburn, Monroe, Hepburn, and Wayne, I'm not perfect. 

 

What do you think?>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My appreciation of actors starts and end based on what I see on the screen.      

Okay-are you sure you didn't want to know about the actor or actress you saw beyond filmography at some point? Just want to know. Everyone sees a performance and wants to know what more can they see. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what your point is. If it's about politics I think that is something that should be avoided in this forum, as it tends to destroy civil discussion.

 

I will only say that I try not to hold someone's political views against them (unless they're a politician)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what your point is. If it's about politics I think that is something that should be avoided in this forum, as it tends to destroy civil discussion.

 

I will only say that I try not to hold someone's political views against them (unless they're a politician)

Politics have nothing to do with this- the point is just whether or not we as a classic film community sell ourselves short by idolizing too much. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, many people idolize way too much... It's why Ronald Reagan is thought of fondly as an actor. He wouldn't even rank as an 'OK' actor in my book. I think Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, and even Gary Cooper have been elevated WAY too high by those looking back. Harlow was the first sex symbol because men had the impression she was 'accessible', Marilyn was next in that string, and Cooper has been elevated because of roles like Sgt. York. All of these actors were 'OK' but not even remotely worthy of their exalted positions today IMO.

 

Oh, and Charlton Heston... WAY over-rated...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay-are you sure you didn't want to know about the actor or actress you saw beyond filmography at some point? Just want to know. Everyone sees a performance and wants to know what more can they see. 

 

I see a performance and if I really like it (i.e.  I feel the actor has done very good work),  I want to see more of the actor but I do NOT want to LEARN more about their personal life.     With the exception of Olivia DeHaviland,  all the book I have about actors focus on the actors work and not their personal life.     With Olivia I did fall into the hero worship trap but I was very young and I got over that 25 years ago.    

 

I do understand your point that some people idolize actors.    But I would hope that as part of the maturing process that would stop. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's why Ronald Reagan is thought of fondly as an actor. He wouldn't even rank as an 'OK' actor in my book

 

 

He was pretty bland as a WB contractee, but as he aged he developed a little vulnerability and emotional range. In the '50s he was especially rejuventated by westerns, along with better-known examples such as Randolph Scott and Robert Taylor, who all found success transitioning into character leads.

 

In Law and Order (1954) Reagan is actually quite competent as an Earp-like marshal (his handling of the scene where he tells the villain about the lynching is very amusing). Not as good as Walter Huston in the original (has anyone else here seen that?), but not bad.

 

By the time of Reagan's last role as a smooth heavy in The Killers (1964), he was more than able to hold his own even against convicted scene thieves like Lee Marvin and John Cassavetes.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see a performance and if I really like it (i.e. I feel the actor has done very good work), I want to see more of the actor but I do NOT want to LEARN more about their personal life. With the exception of Olivia DeHaviland, all the book I have about actors focus on the actors work and not their personal life. With Olivia I did fall into the hero worship trap but I was very young and I got over that 25 years ago.

 

I do understand your point that some people idolize actors. But I would hope that as part of the maturing process that would stop.

 

You don't idolize Cagney?

 

Oh, 'The Heiress' one of my favorites of all time...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You don't idolize Cagney?

 

Oh, 'The Heiress' one of my favorites of all time...

 

At first I wondered why you singled out Cagney;  oh, yea, I forgot about the picture!   I'm a big fan of Cagney but just because he played guitar doesn't mean I idloize him.    Now if he looked like Ava Garner and played guitar,  well,,,,,.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He was pretty bland as a WB contractee, but as he aged he developed a little vulnerability and emotional range. In the '50s he was especially rejuventated by westerns, along with better-known examples such as Randolph Scott and Robert Taylor, who all found success transitioning into character leads.

 

In Law and Order (1954) Reagan is actually quite competent as an Earp-like marshal (his handling of the scene where he tells the villain about the lynching is very amusing). Not as good as Walter Huston in the original (has anyone else here seen that?), but not bad.

 

By the time of Reagan's last role as a smooth heavy in The Killers (1964), he was more than able to hold his own even against convicted scene thieves like Lee Marvin and John Cassavetes.

 

Yeah, I'm thinking 'Bedtime for Bonzo', 'King's Row', and 'Knute Rockne'... Early stuff, I know, but I was too young to see his TV days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At first I wondered why you singled out Cagney;  oh, yea, I forgot about the picture!   I'm a big fan of Cagney but just because he played guitar doesn't mean I idloize him.    Now if he looked like Ava Garner and played guitar,  well,,,,,.

And the name... Ava was a babe, huh? She hit me like a ton of bricks in 'The Killers'. However, her marrying Mickey Rooney brings it all back to earth...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I'm thinking 'Bedtime for Bonzo', 'King's Row', and 'Knute Rockne'... Early stuff, I know, but I was too young to see his TV days.

 

He's not bad in King's Row as the wisecracking friend, though  the big dramatic scenes (including "Where's the rest of me?") are a bit beyond him. In Knute Rockne he has trouble portraying Gipp as an anti-authority type -- he just seems bored. Those scenes at least might have suited Garfield better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He's not bad in King's Row as the wisecracking friend, though  the big dramatic scenes (including "Where's the rest of me?") are a bit beyond him. In Knute Rockne he has trouble portraying Gipp as an anti-authority type -- he just seems bored. Those scenes at least might have suited Garfield better.

I don't know about King's Row. I saw it once and completely understood why Jane Wyman divorced him. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

He's not bad in King's Row as the wisecracking friend, though  the big dramatic scenes (including "Where's the rest of me?") are a bit beyond him. In Knute Rockne he has trouble portraying Gipp as an anti-authority type -- he just seems bored. Those scenes at least might have suited Garfield better.

My problem with him as the Gipper is that he was almost 30 playing a college student. He just looked too old for the role IMO. And he had a juicy part in ''Kings Row' just to strike out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never really understood the appeal of Ronald Reagan as an actor. I think people idolize him because of his presidency, not his acting career. Just speaking honestly here.

 

I think that other than his political followers who like him no matter what, most people's opinion of Reagan the actor pretty much depends on whether or not they like the sort of cotton candy movies that he was forever being cast in.  He always seemed to me to be the quintessential B-movie leading man, handsome and affable enough to play the lead, but utterly incapable of portraying any real emotional depth.  A lesser version of Robert Young is about how I'd put it.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never really understood the appeal of Ronald Reagan as an actor. I think people idolize him because of his presidency, not his acting career. Just speaking honestly here.

 

I think that other than his political followers who like him no matter what, most people's opinion of Reagan the actor pretty much depends on whether or not they like the sort of cotton candy movies that he was forever being cast in.  He always seemed to me to be the quintessential B-movie leading man, handsome and affable enough to play the lead, but utterly incapable of portraying any real emotional depth.  A lesser version of Robert Young is about how I'd put it.

That's how he came across to me as well, Andy. Acting wise- politics wise, I am not touching that with a ten foot pole. Sticking to movies people. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My problem with him as the Gipper is that he was almost 30 playing a college student. He just looked too old for the role IMO. And he had a juicy part in ''Kings Row' just to strike out.

I give his films a chance. He was great in Dark Victory as a walk-on supporting, and Bette Davis did have that cute endearment of him in later recollection. I still plan on seeing Knute Rockney at some point. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting back to the discussion, I am sure there are other actors and actresses whom people idolize too much of. Not just of the three I mentioned and the other one that other people have. There are more, let's talk about those, shall we? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Barbra Streisand. Her "fans" need to get a life.

Most over-rated celebrity in history.

 

Jane Fonda is incredibly overrated for many of her films in the 70s were quite dreadful

 

So is that what this thread is about? Listing people we consider overrated? I'm still not sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never really understood the appeal of Ronald Reagan as an actor. I think people idolize him because of his presidency, not his acting career. Just speaking honestly here. 

 

I never understood the appeal in either role...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...