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A (not 'The') Letter


Richard Kimble
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A letter from George Sanders to Brian Aherne:

 

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December 31st, 1937

Dear Brian,

I was very happy to receive your angry letter, and I am glad I shook you up a bit. Ask yourself this question: If money (greed); loyalty to theatrical tradition (pernicious exhibitionism); rigid conformity to social convention (masochlsm), are incompatible with personal happiness--which should be sacrificed?

You talk about the theatre as if it had some cosmic significance. As a matter of fact it is pathetically sublunary; a drab and dusty monument to man's inability to find within himself the resources of his own entertainment. It is usually rather fittingly housed in a dirty old building, whose crumbling walls occasionally resound with perfunctory applause, invariably interpreted by the actor as praise. A sad place, draughty and smelly when empty, hot and sick when full.

I wonder which is the sickest, the audience which seeks to escape its miseries by being transported into a land of make-believe, or the actor who is nurtured in his struggle for personal aggrandisement by the sickness of the audience.

I think perhaps it is the actor, strutting and orating away his youth and his health, alienated from reality, disingenuous in his relationships, a muddle-headed peacock forever chasing after the rainbow of his pathetic narcissism.

My love and best wishes for a happy New Year.

 

George

 

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Aherne would eventually have the letter framed.

 

 

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That's some letter. Apparently Mr. Sanders didn't just give the impression of an exceptional mind, but it was substantiated. My father has recommended to me Mr. Sander's autobiography, which he has said was very entertaining and well-written. I've yet to get "into" theatrical bios.

 

This letter makes me curious to see what Mr. Aherne had said to him before this, or what George said even before that. Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed it.

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That's some letter. Apparently Mr. Sanders didn't just give the impression of an exceptional mind, but it was substantiated. My father has recommended to me Mr. Sander's autobiography, which he has said was very entertaining and well-written. I've yet to get "into" theatrical bios.

 

This letter makes me curious to see what Mr. Aherne had said to him before this, or what George said even before that. Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed it.

 

Yes,  it would be great if we could read Aherne's "angry letter",   that was the motivation for George to write his letter.

 

I assume Aherne's letter was like the speech Eve gave in Margo's dressing room at the start of All About Eve.  (which is why I mentionedill,  Eve's boyfriend,  since his speech was a counter to Eve's).

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This reminds me of Lennon & McCarney's exchange of "how can you sleep at night?" and "Silly Love Songs". Although I think George Sanders was a genius, it's often a mistake to intellectualize "art". Art is too personal because it's tied to an individual's emotions.

 

Both Sander's & Ahern's written biographies of George are wonderful to read, though.

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Unless Georgie meant this tongue in cheek, it doesn't make much sense,

as the movies have most of the characteristics he attributes to the stage.

 

I think Sanders was using the word "theatre" in the broadest sense to represent all acting.

 

Sanders also said this:

 

Acting is like roller-skating. Once you know how to do it, it is neither stimulating nor exciting.

 

The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given.

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Unless Georgie meant this tongue in cheek, it doesn't make much sense,

as the movies have most of the characteristics he attributes to the stage.

Stick to strutting and orating, old chap.

 

Well it all depends what was in Aherne's angry letter.   If Aherne's POV was along the lines of 'I'm sick of Hollywood and being an actor in movies,,,  I'm going back to a real profession,,,  acting in the theatre,,!',    what Sanders had to say makes sense.  

 

Sanders position appears to be that acting wasn't a so called noble profession regardless of where it was practiced.

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Wow, George and Robert Mitchum should have gotten together for a few drinks. Sounds like they both had the same attitude about acting.

 

THAT was exactly who I also thought of as I read Sanders' letter, MissW, as Mitchum during interviews would also often voice a similar opinion about the "craft" or "art" of acting. He too always seemed to be of the mind that his profession was somewhat overrated and in the grand scheme of things wasn't anything of which to be all that "proud".

 

(...and maybe the very reason he got on Bob Osborne's nerves, and who's very passion and career is dependent upon his love of acting, actors and film)

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THAT was exactly who I also thought of as I read Sanders' letter, MissW, as Mitchum during interviews would also often voice a similar opinion about the "craft" or "art" of acting. He too always seemed to be of the mind that his profession was somewhat overrated and in the grand scheme of things wasn't anything of which to be all that "proud".

 

I believe he was noted for saying "it sure beats working for a living".

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