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Wraparound errors


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Tonight Osborne made an error introducing TRUE CONFESSION. He talked about Lombard and Barrymore previously appearing in TWENTIETH CENTURY a few years earlier where Barrymore was top billed and Lombard was billed under him. So far so good. But then he says in TRUE CONFESSION, she was billed above the title and he was billed under the title. This is exactly what he said, because I played it back using the closed captioning-- he definitely said 'under the title.' Then, the film starts, and we see all three stars-- Lombard, Fred MacMurray & Barrymore (in that order) on the screen. It dissolves to the title. So obviously, right there it shows Barrymore was still above the title, not under the title.

 

What I think happened here is that Osborne and his writer(s) have substituted terms-- they meant to say that Barrymore was billed under Lombard in TRUE CONFESSION. Instead, however, they said he was billed under the title to illustrate the idea that because of Barrymore's partying, boozing and inability to memorize lines (also in Osborne's intro) he had fallen professionally to the point he was now billed under the title. Not true.

 

This kind of error is not the end of the world, but it shows how over-exaggerated some of these wraparounds are in my opinion. It makes the host and TCM look a bit, well, foolish. It shouldn't be that gossip about Barrymore is the main concern, but that facts about billing (like a respectable journalist would care about) are presented accurately.

 

At any rate, Barrymore is not below the title in TRUE CONFESSION. He is third-billed but still very clearly above the title.

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Tonight Osborne made an error introducing TRUE CONFESSION. He talked about Lombard and Barrymore previously appearing in TWENTIETH CENTURY a few years earlier where Barrymore was top billed and Lombard was billed under him. So far so good. But then he says in TRUE CONFESSION, she was billed above the title and he was billed under the title. This is exactly what he said, because I played it back using the closed captioning-- he definitely said 'under the title.' Then, the film starts, and we see all three stars-- Lombard, Fred MacMurray & Barrymore (in that order) on the screen. It dissolves to the title. So obviously, right there it shows Barrymore was still above the title, not under the title.

 

What I think happened here is that Osborne and his writer(s) have substituted terms-- they meant to say that Barrymore was billed under Lombard in TRUE CONFESSION. Instead, however, they said he was billed under the title to illustrate the idea that because of Barrymore's partying, boozing and inability to memorize lines (also in Osborne's intro) he had fallen professionally to the point he was now billed under the title. Not true.

 

This kind of error is not the end of the world, but it shows how over-exaggerated some of these wraparounds are in my opinion. It makes the host and TCM look a bit, well, foolish. It shouldn't be that gossip about Barrymore is the main concern, but that facts about billing (like a respectable journalist would care about) are presented accurately.

 

At any rate, Barrymore is not below the title in TRUE CONFESSION. He is third-billed but still very clearly above the title.

 

While it was a clumsy mistake the overall point being made was solid;  Barrymore was dropping and dropping fast while other stars were rising.    Not so much Lombard in the case of True Confession (since she was the female lead),  but Fred MacMurray.     For Barrymore to be lised below MacMurray shows that Barrymore's career was sinking. 

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While it was a clumsy mistake the overall point being made was solid;  Barrymore was dropping and dropping fast while other stars were rising.    Not so much Lombard in the case of True Confession (since she was the female lead),  but Fred MacMurray.     For Barrymore to be lised below MacMurray shows that Barrymore's career was sinking. 

I respectfully disagree. He was too old to play romantic leads at this point and that part would definitely have had to go to Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland or any other young leading man at Paramount at this time. And of course, since Fred was under a long-term contract with the studio and Barrymore was freelancing (and doing the role as a favor to friend Carole Lombard) I don't think Barrymore was ever intended to be billed higher and probably didn't expect it-- and that does not reflect his decline, merely it reflects his transition to character roles.

 

However, he still remains billed above the title in almost all his later pictures (though of course they are increasingly programmers and B films).

 

In the case of TRUE CONFESSION, if Barrymore had been billed after the title and certainly if he was billed after Una Merkel, that would have been a sign that his career was sinking and sinking fast. 

 

I am sure that there have been plenty of alcoholic stars with trouble remembering lines that were put into lead roles if their films still brought in the bucks.

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I respectfully disagree. He was too old to play romantic leads at this point and that part would definitely have had to go to Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland or any other young leading man at Paramount at this time. And of course, since Fred was under a long-term contract with the studio and Barrymore was freelancing (and doing the role as a favor to friend Carole Lombard) I don't think Barrymore was ever intended to be billed higher and probably didn't expect it-- and that does not reflect his decline, merely it reflects his transition to character roles. However, maybe with the exception of MARIE ANTOINETTE, he still remains billed above the title in almost all his later pictures (though of course they are increasingly programmers and B films).

 

In the case of TRUE CONFESSION, if Barrymore had been billed after the title and certainly if he was billed after Una Merkel, that would have been a sign that his career was sinking but it really wasn't. 

 

And I am sure that there have been plenty of alcoholic stars with trouble remembering lines that were put into lead roles if they were still seen as leading material and their films still brought in the bucks.

 

You misunderstood.  I  wasn't saying Barrymore should have gotten the part MacMurray played only that having to accept a role that wasn't the lead male role.  i.e. the fact that Barrymore had to accept a part that was NOT the male lead.   

 

Of course one could say there were less lead roles for aging stars but that was the case with actresses and not male leads.  But drinking made him look weaker and older than he was.

 

So to me his transiton to character roles IS his decline.   Stars like Bogie,  Gable,  Tracy,  Grant .. never took on character roles once they became major stars.     They might share the screen with another leading man but they were not cast in character roles.

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You misunderstood.  I  wasn't saying Barrymore should have gotten the part MacMurray played only that having to accept a role that wasn't the lead male role.  i.e. the fact that Barrymore had to accept a part that was NOT the male lead.   

 

Of course one could say there were less lead roles for aging stars but that was the case with actresses and not male leads.  But drinking made him look weaker and older than he was.

 

So to me his transiton to character roles IS his decline.   Stars like Bogie,  Gable,  Tracy,  Grant .. never took on character roles once they became major stars.     They might share the screen with another leading man but they were not cast in character roles.

I went back and slightly edited my previous post to clarify a few things but you already quoted it. I think he took the role in TRUE CONFESSION as a favor to Lombard, just like Kay Francis did for IN NAME ONLY (Francis was also third-billed but still above the title). When you first start freelancing, your career is sort of uncertain-- this also happened to Loretta Young when she left Fox around this time. And if they are getting older and showing their age, like Barrymore, it is even more uncertain. But he wound up doing programmers and B films at RKO and Universal and he even starred as himself in THE GREAT PROFILE at Fox, so he was hardly washed up-- as much as Osborne's intro seemed to imply.

 

In the case of other stars like Bogart-- well he didn't live long enough to switch to character roles or television movies and we will never know if he would have been able to stay on top. My guess is that he would have semi-retired from acting, gone into producing full-time and maybe like George Raft did and Edward G. Robinson did, probably started poking fun at his film persona with cameos in comedies that spoofed gangsters and tough guys.

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I went back and slightly edited my previous post to clarify a few things but you already quoted it. I think he took the role in TRUE CONFESSION as a favor to Lombard, just like Kay Francis did for IN NAME ONLY (Francis was also third-billed but still above the title). When you first start freelancing, your career is sort of uncertain-- this also happened to Loretta Young when she left Fox around this time. And if they are getting older and showing their age, like Barrymore, it is even more uncertain. But he wound up doing programmers and B films at RKO and Universal and he even starred as himself in THE GREAT PROFILE at Fox, so he was hardly washed up-- as much as Osborne's intro seemed to imply.

 

In the case of other stars like Bogart-- well he didn't live long enough to switch to character roles or television movies and we will never know if he would have been able to stay on top. My guess is that he would have semi-retired from acting, gone into producing full-time and maybe like George Raft did and Edward G. Robinson did, probably started poking fun at his film persona with cameos in comedies that spoofed gangsters and tough guys.

 

I agree that implying Barrymore was washed up wouldn't be accurate    This is why I said his career was in decline.   But that decline didn't start until he was over 50 which isn't unusual for a male star.     So I might have overstated my position in the prior post as well.

 

As for Bogie;  He was living a hard life (in terms of drinking and staying out late) until he married Bacall.   WIthout that marriage and having children to settle him down,  he might have declined as well.   

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I agree that implying Barrymore was washed up wouldn't be accurate    This is why I said his career was in decline.   But that decline didn't start until he was over 50 which isn't unusual for a male star.     So I might have overstated my position in the prior post as well.

 

As for Bogie;  He was living a hard life (in terms of drinking and staying out late) until he married Bacall.   WIthout that marriage and having children to settle him down,  he might have declined as well.   

Good point about Bogart. I agree.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Today while introducing MOTHER WORE TIGHTS, Ben Mankiewicz said that Dan Dailey was Betty Grable's most frequent costar. Not exactly.

 

She made four films with Dailey plus they also appeared in a television special in the 1950s.

 

However, she also made four films with Martha Raye, and she and Martha both worked together again later in an episode of The Carol Burnett Show.

 

But if we're talking about movies, John Payne is her most frequent costar. She made five films with John Payne. 

 

I don't understand why the writers do not check the facts better and why Ben just reads text off the TelePrompTer without verifying its accuracy. He comes from a family of journalists, after all.

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Stars like Bogie,  Gable,  Tracy,  Grant .. never took on character roles once they became major stars.     They might share the screen with another leading man but they were not cast in character roles.

 

While the term "character role" is probably impossible to define precisely, I think the following would qualify:

 

Tracy: The Devil At Four O'Clock

 

IAMMMMW

 

Grant: Father Goose -- while the character does have a romantic interest, Grant's entire strategy behind making this film was to see if he could transition into a character lead. The script had originally been written for your boy Jimmy around 1960.

 

Walk Don't Run -- a role originally played by Charles Coburn, where Grant plays matchmaker for the romantic leads.

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My favorite Osborne moment:

 

Some years ago, after TCM showed Regeneration (1915), Robert Osborne came on & began talking about Raoul Walsh's long career. He then said this: "Walsh worked with all the greats: Cagney, Bogart, Flynn, Cooper, John Wayne, Troy Donahue..."

 

I SWEAR he actually said this!

 

I admit, it was shortly after Troy died, but I mean, c'mon now...

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While the term "character role" is probably impossible to define precisely, I think the following would qualify:

 

Tracy: The Devil At Four O'Clock

 

IAMMMMW

 

Grant: Father Goose -- while the character does have a romantic interest, Grant's entire strategy behind making this film was to see if he could transition into a character lead. The script had originally been written for your boy Jimmy around 1960.

 

Walk Don't Run -- a role originally played by Charles Coburn, where Grant plays matchmaker for the romantic leads.

 

Note that most of the time I say 'character \ supporting actor' because I don't see much of a difference between the two terms,  but clearly 'supporting actor' are the actors in the movies that are NOT the leading player.

 

Some people at this forum define a character actor as one that does the same type of character in movie after movie;  say Eric Blore as a bulter or manservant.   But Blore did step outside that role from time to time;  The Lady Eve and his most 'out there' role being in The Shanghai Gesture.    Some say a character actor is defined by the profession he plays in films,  other say it is the actors screen persona.       So the term is somewhat all over the place.

 

Anyhow after all that wasted breath,   you provided good examples of where some stars did play parts that were not leading parts, per se.   In Walk Don't Run Grant is one of the 3 leading players so I wouldn't say he was a supporting player,  but he wasn't THE star of the movie either.   Of course that was his last film and the above was one of the primary reasons it was his last film.  

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Anyhow after all that wasted breath,   you provided good examples of where some stars did play parts that were not leading parts, per se.   In Walk Don't Run Grant is one of the 3 leading players so I wouldn't say he was a supporting player,  but he wasn't THE star of the movie either.   Of course that was his last film and the above was one of the primary reasons it was his last film.  

 

Sorry James, but now it's my turn to question this comment of yours here.

 

Who's name do you see at the top of this movie poster?

 

e9_d_62339_0_WalkDontRun.jpg

 

And, seein' as how I just watched Cary's swan song just a few weeks ago on TCM and thus it's fresh in my mind, I also know Cary had MUCH more screen time than either the lovely Samantha OR the lanky and died much too soon Mr. Hutton.(and who always kind'a reminded me of a "next generation Jimmy Stewart", btw)

 

And so yeah, Cary was "THE star"" in this movie, and even though he wasn't the "romantic lead" in it.

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Sorry James, but now it's my turn to question this comment of yours here.

 

Who's name do you see at the top of this movie poster?

 

 

 

And, seein' as how I just watched Cary's swan song just a few weeks ago on TCM and thus it's fresh in my mind, I also know Cary had MUCH more screen time than either the lovely Samantha OR the lanky and died much too soon Mr. Hutton.(and who always kind'a reminded me of a "next generation Jimmy Stewart", btw)

 

And so yeah, Cary was "THE star"" in this movie, and even though he wasn't the "romantic lead" in it.

 

My comment wasn't clear;  Grant was NOT 'THE star' as it relates to the story line and time on the screen (e.g. a lot of the story focused on the romance between the younger leading players).     Of course Grant was THE star as it relates to marketing the film. 

 

As I'm sure you know the movie was a remake on the Arthur, McCrea,  Coburn movie "The More the Merrier'.   Grant plays the same character as Coburn who in that movie was given 3rd billing.     If Grant wasn't Grant he would have been given 3rd billing also.

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My comment wasn't clear;  Grant was NOT 'THE star' as it relates to the story line and time on the screen (e.g. a lot of the story focused on the romance between the younger leading players).     Of course Grant was THE star as it relates to marketing the film. 

 

As I'm sure you know the movie was a remake on the Arthur, McCrea,  Coburn movie "The More the Merrier'.   Grant plays the same character as Coburn who in that movie was given 3rd billing.     If Grant wasn't Grant he would have been given 3rd billing also.

He turned ARABESQUE down with Stanley Donen and Sophia Loren to do this film, which in retrospect seems like a mistake.

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My comment wasn't clear;  Grant was NOT 'THE star' as it relates to the story line and time on the screen (e.g. a lot of the story focused on the romance between the younger leading players).     Of course Grant was THE star as it relates to marketing the film. 

 

As I'm sure you know the movie was a remake on the Arthur, McCrea,  Coburn movie "The More the Merrier'.   Grant plays the same character as Coburn who in that movie was given 3rd billing.     If Grant wasn't Grant he would have been given 3rd billing also.

 

Once again James, and even though I didn't time it with my watch, I would bet Cary has much more screen time than either Eggar or Hutton in this movie.

 

And yes, while Grant's star power would have naturally made him receive top billing over these two relative newcomers, in the earlier version Coburn, who was a widely known and respected character actor, still didn't have the "star power" of either Jean Arthur or Joel McCrea. And so, even though we ARE talkin' about a "remake" of SORTS here, your point I believe would be a case of "apples and oranges" here.

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Once again James, and even though I didn't time it with my watch, I would bet Cary has much more screen time than either Eggar or Hutton in this movie.

 

And yes, while Grant's star power would have naturally made him receive top billing over these two relative newcomers, in the earlier version Coburn, who was a widely known and respected character actor, still didn't have the "star power" of either Jean Arthur or Joel McCrea. And so, even though we ARE talkin' about a "remake" of SORTS here, your point I believe would be a case of "apples and oranges" here.

 

Well we can agree to disagree.   To me both movies versions have 3 leading players (or stars),  with a plot that covers the lifes of all three on a fairly equal basis.    But hey maybe I'm too focused on THE,  as in THE star.     When there are two or more male leads in a movie and the plot gives each around the same focus,  than neither are THE star.  

 

e.g.  Libeled Lady;   There is no 'THE star' in this movie since the plot involves all 4 leads.     (but I do see you point that Grant was in a much different 'class' than the two relative newcomers and that this is NOT the case with the original TMTM or with Libeled Lady). 

 

So at the end of the day,  I just want to have it both way!  ;)

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