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They Deserved Better


slaytonf
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You can define what better means.  For me, I means a sense of disservice done by the industry to someone in it who had abilities better than the opportunities they got.  What brought this to mind was a recent viewing of A Successful Calamity, with Evalyn Knapp in a supporting role.  She had a pretty, cherubic face, and energetic presence.  And her unaffected, cheery style made her seem more like she was simply talking, rather than reciting lines.  She was always enjoyable to watch, even making it worth slogging through some pretty awful fare.  And though not quite Olivia de Havilland, she could handle serious parts.  She actually had a successful career, starting in the silents, and was well-known for her work in serials and B-movies, but she deserved to have a place along with all the other stars on the A-side of the bill.

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There WERE several others who suffered the same bad fate.  Will have to think on it to come up with a few,  but one off the top of my head was CHRISTOPHER JONES, who was always typecast as a biker or troubled youth in a "James Dean" kind of stereotype

 

Sepiatone

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I certainly feel this way about 30's actress Noel Francis, who like other women of her time got caught up in that pre code era of films and then were typecast and scorned by the major studios. I often wonder if some of these people (mostly actresses) were  gray listed in some way or another.

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You can define what better means.  For me, I means a sense of disservice done by the industry to someone in it who had abilities better than the opportunities they got.  What brought this to mind was a recent viewing of A Successful Calamity, with Evalyn Knapp in a supporting role.  She had a pretty, cherubic face, and energetic presence.  And her unaffected, cheery style made her seem more like she was simply talking, rather than reciting lines.  She was always enjoyable to watch, even making it worth slogging through some pretty awful fare.  And though not quite Olivia de Havilland, she could handle serious parts.  She actually had a successful career, starting in the silents, and was well-known for her work in serials and B-movies, but she deserved to have a place along with all the other stars on the A-side of the bill.

 

If we are talking about the studio-era where most actors were under fixed contracts,  that paid these actors regardless of how many films they were in (i.e. how much work they had to do),  the studio had to make choices.  The studios didn't have an endless budget.  So some actors were signed and others were not.     That is just the reality and I don't see that as a 'disservice' to those actors that were not able to gets a fixed contract or that were dropped after a limited contract.   

 

For the actors under contact producers had to make choices one who to cast.   This created so called winners and losers.   Funny you mention De Havilland (one of my favorites);   She didn't star in the films she wanted to make because Warner already had Bette Davis under contact and Davis got first pick.   DeHavilland's best performances during her Warner days was when she was loaned out (Gone With the Wind and Hold Back the Dawn,  where she was nominated for Oscars).   

 

A studio can only make so many films per year.   After the pictures Bette and the WB producers decided she would make,  DeHavilland,  Lupino,  Sheridan, etc... were cast in the remaining pictures WB was going to make that year.

 

I don't know if I can say any actor deserved to be in more pictures or not.   Acting is a job and like all jobs someone else might get the job someone desires.  That is just how the system works.

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The thing you (we fans) hear again and again is that these great stars made friends not only with the directors and fellow cast members, but included the crew. And they were prepared and professional. That may contribute to the lack of opportunities that also rans suffered.

 

There could be other reasons but that could be part of it.

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The thing you (we fans) hear again and again is that these great stars made friends not only with the directors and fellow cast members, but included the crew. And they were prepared and professional. That may contribute to the lack of opportunities that also rans suffered.

 

There could be other reasons but that could be part of it.

 

Well another factor was just luck and being in the right place at the right time, especally in the 30's and early 40's when the studios were hungry to sign talent to fixed termed contracts (before another studio got said talent).   If an actor was in a few box office hits and their prior contract was going to expire,  they would get multiple offers from different studios.  Of course the studios didn't always get a good deal (i.e. they incorrectly signed someone to a 7 year deal that unknown to the studio was starting their decline).     This is true with sports today especially for players in their early 30s.    Timing is everything.

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