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The Hard Way


bundie
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Good movie, but it kind of stood out to me that Joan Leslie didn't kiss either of her leading men.  I might have missed her kissing Jack Carson while I was making breakfast, but she definitely didn't kiss Dennis Morgan.  She was young (19) at the time, but so was Lauren Bacall when she first starred opposite Humphrey Bogart (who was older than either Carson or Morgan).  Any of you movie buffs know why this was?

 

BLU

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Good movie, but it kind of stood out to me that Joan Leslie didn't kiss either of her leading men.  I might have missed her kissing Jack Carson while I was making breakfast, but she definitely didn't kiss Dennis Morgan.  She was young (19) at the time, but so was Lauren Bacall when she first starred opposite Humphrey Bogart (who was older than either Carson or Morgan).  Any of you movie buffs know why this was?

 

BLU

Not sure--but I think they were being careful to avoid comparisons with the actress it is based on (by making it seem less sensational and a bit more pure). It is allegedly based on Ginger Rogers and her mother Lela. In fact, Warners offered Ginger a role in the film. She turned it down, and the story was subsequently revised to reflect not a mother-daughter duo but two sisters. However, the one sister is clearly older than the other and in a way is mothering her as a career in show biz develops.

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Ida Lupino is so good in this film. Her character is much more complicated than her (screen) sister's. And Ida conveys that complexity beautifully.

 

I think maybe the Joan Leslie character is supposed to be "sweet and innocent", and as such, not big on kissing (nttawwt kissing.)

I know if I had Dennis Morgan hanging around, he'd be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.

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Ida Lupino is so good in this film. Her character is much more complicated than her (screen) sister's. And Ida conveys that complexity beautifully.

 

Ida Lupino in The Hard Way and Rosalind Russell in Roughly Speaking IMO gave us two of the great acting performances of the early 40's.  How Lupino remains more or less unknown outside TCM circles is one of those things I'll never quite be able to figure out.  I'd put her dramatic skills in the  tier of actresses that would be topped only by Stanwyck and Bette Davis.  She never quite had their star quality or full publicity backing, but her craftsmanship was in the stratosphere.

 

And speaking of those two films, I also don't think it's entirely a coincidence that Jack Carson plays such a prominent role in both of them, as Joan Leslie's tragic unrequited lover and as Russell's husband, in as beautiful a romance as has ever been put on the silver screen.  Was Jack Carson anything other than utterly convincing no matter what sort of role he was in?

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"It is allegedly based on Ginger Rogers and her mother Lela. In fact, Warners offered Ginger a role in the film."

 

Wow.  That takes a lot of gall.  Fox did the same decades later when they offered Judy Garland the role of pill-popping, liquor-swilling, tendency to be pudgy, teenage-turned-adult singer/actress Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls.

 

BLU

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"It is allegedly based on Ginger Rogers and her mother Lela. In fact, Warners offered Ginger a role in the film."

 

Wow.  That takes a lot of gall.  Fox did the same decades later when they offered Judy Garland the role of pill-popping, liquor-swilling, tendency to be pudgy, teenage-turned-adult singer/actress Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls.

 

BLU

Well, maybe it was a weird fascination-- a form of 'flattery' almost to have one's so-called life story put on screen and be offered the chance to enact part of it. But for Ginger it probably hit too close to home. However, in the mid-60s, she did play Jean Harlow's stage mother in a biopic of Harlow and she probably drew upon her relationship with Lela for that one.

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This has been a great discussion of "The Hard Way."  I absolutely love this film.  One of the great mysteries of Hollywood is why Ida Lupino did not receive an Oscar nomination for this.  After all, she did get a Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics that year!  She is superb.  And everyone else is so well cast.  Your heart really aches for Jack Carson's character.  He truly loves Joan Leslie.  And her good-girl image is perfect for the role of the younger sister.  But still, this is Ida's movie through and through.  I'm glad there are so many other fans out there.

 

Terrence.

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This is strange, but I did not like The Hard Way the first time I saw it and I can't honestly tell you why (I like it now, I've seen it maybe four times.)

 

Maybe it's the fact that every Vincent Sherman film I've seen has been mostly interesting, but could have been better. I do think that The Hard Way is the best film he ever did, and watching the half of it that I caught yesterday, I was compelled.

 

The biggest, and only real, issue I have with the film is Joan Leslie, who isn't bad; but isn't right for the part. At all.

 

While Ida is wonderful, I would actually give the top acting honors to Gladys George and Jack Carson. Gladys blows the doors off with her brief, but perfect, role as a fading, drunken, megalomaniacal, emotionally bruised, borderline unhinged actress who's about a dime past her "sell-by" date. (I think she maybe had met someone like this somewhere along the line.)

 

Cannot get her rendition of I Love to Dance, I Love Romance (which BTW is THE BEST WORST song ever written for a 40's film) out of my head.

 

It's a bold and courageous performance (a lot of performers wouldn't have wanted to touch it) she wrings it like a terrier with a gym sock. I would have given her the 1943 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

 

Carson is equally, good in an even more substantial part, only he has the really thankless task of playing someone really untalented and hack, when (in real life) he was a tremendously talented (and likeable) performer. He was also quite charismatic and he took a risk with his image playing opposite Dennis Morgan (it worked out) and playing a weak, second rate failure. He was such a good actor; not just in this, but in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Star is Born and It's a Great Feeling (a reteaming of him and Morgan.)

 

Give me Carson and Morgan over Hope and Crosby any day.

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"It is allegedly based on Ginger Rogers and her mother Lela. In fact, Warners offered Ginger a role in the film."

 

Wow.  That takes a lot of gall.  Fox did the same decades later when they offered Judy Garland the role of pill-popping, liquor-swilling, tendency to be pudgy, teenage-turned-adult singer/actress Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls.

 

BLU

Judy Garland was not offered the part of Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls.  She would have been too far too old to play that role by that time and, unfortunately, looked even older than she actually was.  However, she was offered the role of Helen Lawson, the older Broadway star, and did sign on to do it.  Once again, though, things did not work out for her and Susan Hayward ended up playing the part.

 

As for The Hard Way, you can add me to the list of fans for this film.  I especially like Jack Carson in this movie.  I don't think I have ever seen him give a bad performance.  While I generally like Joan Leslie, I do have to suspend belief in this instance where her musical talents are concerned.  Although pleasant and likeable, I find it hard to believe that the singing and dancing on display here would make her the toast of Broadway.  However, this does not take away from my enjoyment of the film.

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Count me in as another fan of The Hard Way. This is one of the many films that has developed a following of loyal admirers, thanks mainly to its exposure on TCM.

 

Have to agree that the pretty and sweet Joan Leslie doesn't seem the likeliest candidate to become a Broadway star, but everything else about the movie works. I'm with the rest of you on the excellence of Ida, Gladys George, Jack Carson, and the kissable Dennis Morgan.

 

Dennis Morgan turns out not to be Mr. Nice Guy. He essentially marries Joan Leslie to spite Ida. For me, this only deepens the impact of the film.

 

 

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This has been a great discussion of "The Hard Way."  I absolutely love this film.  One of the great mysteries of Hollywood is why Ida Lupino did not receive an Oscar nomination for this.  After all, she did get a Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics that year!  She is superb.  And everyone else is so well cast.  Your heart really aches for Jack Carson's character.  He truly loves Joan Leslie.  And her good-girl image is perfect for the role of the younger sister.  But still, this is Ida's movie through and through.  I'm glad there are so many other fans out there.

 

Terrence.

 

Jack Warner didn't wish yet another actress that was an Oscar nominee.     Warner already had to deal with Bette Davis and her almost yearly nominations so he didn't pay much attention to the careers of Lupino,  DeHavilland,  Sheridan etc...

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As for Ida Lupino's not getting an Oscar nomination for The Hard Way- it's possible that the voters thought they had seen the hard-as-nails intensity thing from Ida before- They Drive By Night comes to mind as an example. In fact, Ida's "brand" of histrionics was parodied in an onscreen impression of Ida done by none other than Joan Leslie herself in Thank Your Lucky Stars from the same year and same studio.)

 

Ida did win the New York Film Critic's Circle award, which is something; but in retrospect, she should've gotten a nod for The Hard Way; she's better in that movie than two of the eventual nominees that I can think of (Greer Garson and Joan Fontaine.)

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Slighty off-topic, but still talking Ida Lupino...

 

Over the summer, I developed an interest in the old - as in original - "Twilight Zone" series, and have been watching some of them on Youtube.

Imagine my delight - all the more so because I had no idea, it was completely unexpected on my part - when I got one starring Ida Lupino! I recognized her immediately, she hardly looked any different. Lovely, elegant Ida Lupino!

 

It must have been one of the very first episodes- the air date is October, 1959. It's called "The Sixteen-Millimetre Shrine". Ida plays an "old" film star from the golden era, obsessed with her lost youth. She sits around in her mansion watching old movies of herself. Yes, I know, shades of Sunset Boulevard, also, The Star.

Apparently Ida directed a T.Z. episode too, although I've not as yet seen this.

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Not sure--but I think they were being careful to avoid comparisons with the actress it is based on (by making it seem less sensational and a bit more pure). It is allegedly based on Ginger Rogers and her mother Lela. In fact, Warners offered Ginger a role in the film. She turned it down, and the story was subsequently revised to reflect not a mother-daughter duo but two sisters. However, the one sister is clearly older than the other and in a way is mothering her as a career in show biz develops.

 

 

Interesting. I wondered why in the script they were sisters as it seemed more natural to be a mother/daughter story......

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Judy Garland was not offered the part of Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls.  She would have been too far too old to play that role by that time and, unfortunately, looked even older than she actually was.  However, she was offered the role of Helen Lawson, the older Broadway star, and did sign on to do it.  Once again, though, things did not work out for her and Susan Hayward ended up playing the part.

 

As for The Hard Way, you can add me to the list of fans for this film.  I especially like Jack Carson in this movie.  I don't think I have ever seen him give a bad performance.  While I generally like Joan Leslie, I do have to suspend belief in this instance where her musical talents are concerned.  Although pleasant and likeable, I find it hard to believe that the singing and dancing on display here would make her the toast of Broadway.  However, this does not take away from my enjoyment of the film.

 

 

Yes, Garland was offered the Helen Lawson role (which was supposed to be based on Ethel Merman) She did actually record the number in the film and costume tests. But apparently she rarely came out of her dressing room to film actual scenes. The Neely O'Hara character was based on Garland in her younger days........but everything was moved up to the present day in the film, so it was less apparent........

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Slighty off-topic, but still talking Ida Lupino...

 

Over the summer, I developed an interest in the old - as in original - "Twilight Zone" series, and have been watching some of them on Youtube.

Imagine my delight - all the more so because I had no idea, it was completely unexpected on my part - when I got one starring Ida Lupino! I recognized her immediately, she hardly looked any different. Lovely, elegant Ida Lupino!

 

It must have been one of the very first episodes- the air date is October, 1959. It's called "The Sixteen-Millimetre Shrine". Ida plays an "old" film star from the golden era, obsessed with her lost youth. She sits around in her mansion watching old movies of herself. Yes, I know, shades of Sunset Boulevard, also, The Star.

Apparently Ida directed a T.Z. episode too, although I've not as yet seen this.

In what seems to be a common trend with me in regard to my first exposure of various Classic Hollywood celebrities, my first "encounter" with Ida Lupino was in an episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.  I believe this episode is from '59, when looking at Lupino's filmography on imdb, she was pretty much done appearing in films.  Most of her later credits are directing and TV Show appearances.  In the 'Lucy' episode, she and then-husband Howard Duff end up staying in the same cottage as Lucy and Ricky.  Both couples, who have a mutual friend, end up being promised a "romantic" retreat, where they could be alone.  Ida, of course, gets involved in one of Lucy's crazy schemes.  I thought that Ida, who it seems was more known for her dramatic roles than comedy, was very funny and more than held her own with Lucille Ball.

 

Aside from this appearance, I didn't know much about Ida Lupino.  I figured though, since she was a "guest star" that she must have been known for something.  Since then, I've seen High Sierra and They Drive By Night, although I feel that I need to re-watch both films.  I mostly watched them the first time around for Bogart. 

 

As much as I love Bette Davis, I wish that Lupino and Ann Sheridan had gotten a better crack at some of the roles at Warner Brothers, as I feel both women deserve to be more well known.

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One thing we haven't mentioned that I do think is very important to The Hard Way are the costumes for Lupino and Leslie. Once they get out of that coal town and strike it big, it is hello I, Magnin with some high fashion.

 

And with Ida, the costumes are fantastic once she goes haute. Severe, buttoned-up, fitted dresses; shoulders- but high, high, high end. Wish I could post some pics of them. Oh well.

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In what seems to be a common trend with me in regard to my first exposure of various Classic Hollywood celebrities, my first "encounter" with Ida Lupino was in an episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.  I believe this episode is from '59, when looking at Lupino's filmography on imdb, she was pretty much done appearing in films.  Most of her later credits are directing and TV Show appearances.  In the 'Lucy' episode, she and then-husband Howard Duff end up staying in the same cottage as Lucy and Ricky.  Both couples, who have a mutual friend, end up being promised a "romantic" retreat, where they could be alone.  Ida, of course, gets involved in one of Lucy's crazy schemes.  I thought that Ida, who it seems was more known for her dramatic roles than comedy, was very funny and more than held her own with Lucille Ball.

 

Aside from this appearance, I didn't know much about Ida Lupino.  I figured though, since she was a "guest star" that she must have been known for something.  Since then, I've seen High Sierra and They Drive By Night, although I feel that I need to re-watch both films.  I mostly watched them the first time around for Bogart. 

 

As much as I love Bette Davis, I wish that Lupino and Ann Sheridan had gotten a better crack at some of the roles at Warner Brothers, as I feel both women deserve to be more well known.

 

There was no way Jack Warner was going to cast Lupino or Sheridan in a movie role that Davis wanted to play.  It just wouldn't have made economic sense.     Why take a risk and cast secondary female stars instead of THE leading female star at the studio.

 

Note that DeHavilland also had to take the scrapes left after Davis picked the best roles.     Studios only had the budget and the nececssary supporting staff to make so many movies a year.     In the case of DeHavilland since her teaming with Flynn was a box office success she could count on starting in at least one major Flynn film per year if not more.   Still her best work during her WB days was on loan-out.

 

Lupino and Sheridan didn't have the type of success DeHavilland had being loaned to other studios and independent producers.  

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There was no way Jack Warner was going to cast Lupino or Sheridan in a movie role that Davis wanted to play.  It just wouldn't have made economic sense.     Why take a risk and cast secondary female stars instead of THE leading female star at the studio.

 

Note that DeHavilland also had to take the scrapes left after Davis picked the best roles.     Studios only had the budget and the nececssary supporting staff to make so many movies a year.     In the case of DeHavilland since her teaming with Flynn was a box office success she could count on starting in at least one major Flynn film per year if not more.   Still her best work during her WB days was on loan-out.

 

Lupino and Sheridan didn't have the type of success DeHavilland had being loaned to other studios and independent producers.

 

And WB had pretty much given Bette Davis first refusal rights to all scripts to be produced. Even worse for Sheridan, Lupino and DeHavilland, stars with multi-film pacts with the studio, or borrowed for just one film, seemed to be higher in the pecking order than Lupino, et al. These would include Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell, Claudette Colbert, among others. And the arrival of Joan Crawford, and her remarkable success in her comeback role in MILDRED PIERCE, had her ensconced just below Davis in the script hand me downs.

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And WB had pretty much given Bette Davis first refusal rights to all scripts to be produced. Even worse for Sheridan, Lupino and DeHavilland, stars with multi-film pacts with the studio, or borrowed for just one film, seemed to be higher in the pecking order than Lupino, et al. These would include Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell, Claudette Colbert, among others. And the arrival of Joan Crawford, and her remarkable success in her comeback role in MILDRED PIERCE, had her ensconced just below Davis in the script hand me downs.

 

At least DeHavilland and Lupino had success after their WB days were over.   DeHavilland of course having a great run in the late 40s with 2 Oscar wins and multiple awards for The Snake Pit.  (take that Jack!).

 

Lupino had success with Columbia especially in some notable noir films.   Sheridan career didn't have much post WB success and even in her later WB days WB producers would cast an actress like Alexsis Smith in a role that Sheridan could have done  (Smith kind of taking on the role of the young and beautiful other women).

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Road House also has the benefit of Richard Widmark's presence, an actor who, in my opinion, adds spice to almost every film he was in. And in Road House he's pretty nutty and intense.

Another bonus: there's kind of a funny scene where Ida is supposed to take bowling lessons from Cornel Wilde (!!) She turns up in this crazy bowling outfit, or what her character imagines is a bowling outfit. 

It's really funny, some sort of striped halter top thing. And then she bowls ! (sort of.)

 

d8cc91e2e482aec78b564011d793ccb9.jpg

 

"I never said you didn't have balls. Er, ball."

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And WB had pretty much given Bette Davis first refusal rights to all scripts to be produced. Even worse for Sheridan, Lupino and DeHavilland, stars with multi-film pacts with the studio, or borrowed for just one film, seemed to be higher in the pecking order than Lupino, et al. These would include Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell, Claudette Colbert, among others. And the arrival of Joan Crawford, and her remarkable success in her comeback role in MILDRED PIERCE, had her ensconced just below Davis in the script hand me downs.

 

 

Warner Bros. seemed to be unique in this regard (having one queen of the lot) Until Crawford came on board, Davis ruled the roost and others were far down the pecking order. But I don't think even Crawford supplanted Davis as queen. Though for a few years they were co-rulers in a sense. Other studios had more than one big female star (MGM, RKO, FOX) not always competing for roles, but on the same level of importance..........

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Warner Bros. seemed to be unique in this regard (having one queen of the lot) Until Crawford came on board, Davis ruled the roost and others were far down the pecking order. But I don't think even Crawford supplanted Davis as queen. .

You think you're the Queen Bee, BUT YOU'RE NOTHING!

 

Crawford did manage to steal one role from Bette, 1947's Possessed, but I think it was because Bette got pregnant.

 

I've also heard that Crawford managed to steal Humoresque from Ida Lupino as her follow up to Mildred and it was the highest grossing WB film that year. (Lupino did do the radio version.)

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