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Millie Perkins the right choice to play Anne Frank?


noah80
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Too bad the Diary of  Anne Frank (1959) was a commercial failure.  Perhaps because the film was too long or Millie Perkins was not the right actor to play the role.  The producers wanted Audrey Hepburn to play Anne Frank but Hepburn declined.  (Hepburn was 30 years old in 1959, born in 1929 the same year as Frank). So the producers got Perkins (a Audrey Hepburn look alike) to play Audrey Hepburn playing Anne Frank.  Definitely the wrong approach!  The way Perkins delivered her lines was so boring.  They should have picked someone else for the role and not because the actor looked like Hepburn.

 

("Unfortunately, Perkins never captures pivotal charm of title character" wrote Leonard Maltin)

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My opinion is:

 

Millie was fine, but the film script itself was too tame and too long (3 hours) and not at all shocking, frightening, interesting, or tragic.

 

The script gave the impression that all the Nazis did to the family was bore them for a couple of years by keeping them from leaving the attic.

 

But, this was one of the very early Holocaust genre films of the modern era, and I think Hollywood didn’t yet know how to make such films. So they spent 3 hours showing the Frank family as being “just good ol’ plain folks”, and left out most of the bad-Nazi part of the story, and that is what ruined the film.

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from New York Post (June 16, 2009)

 

George Stevens Jr. (who served as a second unit director on his father’s movie version of  The Diary of Anne Frank) debunks Hollywood legend, which says that the role of Anne was first offered to Audrey Hepburn, who turned it down because it brought back unpleasant childhood memories.

 

“It might have been discussed, but it was never taken too seriously, because she was at least 10 years too old for the part,” Stevens says. “We tested hundreds of girls before choosing Millie Perkins, a 19-year-old from New Jersey who had never appeared in a movie."

 

 

 

audrey_zps39ae4670.jpg

 

and that was why Otto Frank and his second wife paid a visit to Audrey Hepburn....

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Susan Strasberg should have played her.  She played Anne Frank on Broadway to great acclaim, and was born in 1939.  She also looked young for her age.  I can only assume they wanted a bigger name, and that's a pity.

Strasberg also starred in a much more morally ambiguous role in Gillo Pontecorvo's 1959 movie Kapo, and IMO should have walked away with an Oscar for her performance in that movie.  It's been so long since I've seen The Diary of Anne Frank that I can't give any credible opinion of Perkins' performance, but I can't imagine that Strasberg wouldn't have been as well cast as anyone.

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from New York Post (June 16, 2009)
 
George Stevens Jr. (who served as a second unit director on his father’s movie version of  The Diary of Anne Frank) debunks Hollywood legend, which says that the role of Anne was first offered to Audrey Hepburn, who turned it down because it brought back unpleasant childhood memories.
 
“It might have been discussed, but it was never taken too seriously, because she was at least 10 years too old for the part,” Stevens says. “We tested hundreds of girls before choosing Millie Perkins, a 19-year-old from New Jersey who had never appeared in a movie."
 
 
 
audrey_zps39ae4670.jpg
 
and that was why Otto Frank and his second wife paid a visit to Audrey Hepburn....

 

 

 

And it was obvious she had never appeared in a movie before (Millie Perkins)............

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Susan Strasberg should have played her.  She played Anne Frank on Broadway to great acclaim, and was born in 1939.  She also looked young for her age.  I can only assume they wanted a bigger name, and that's a pity.

 

Well clearly they (the producers) did NOT want a bigger name because they picked an actress that had never done a movie before and wasn't well known (far from it).

 

If they wanted someone well known they should have dyed Sandra Dee's hair and had her play the part!    ;)

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Well clearly they (the producers) did NOT want a bigger name because they picked an actress that had never done a movie before and wasn't well known (far from it).

 

If they wanted someone well known they should have dyed Sandra Dee's hair and had her play the part!    ;)

Sorry, by big name I meant Audrey Hepburn.  Though I'm surprised they didn't go with Sandra Dee!

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Sorry, by big name I meant Audrey Hepburn.  Though I'm surprised they didn't go with Sandra Dee!

 

Ok, I get it now.  Yea,  Hepburn was miscast for My Fair Lady,  why not as Anne Frank.   (but Audrey,  8 or so years younger would have been great as Anne). 

 

As for Sandra Dee;  Well I was just trying to think of a well know actress that was still a teen in the late 50s.   I don't think Dee had the persona for the role,  but I can't think of a well known teen actress at the time that did.

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Susan Strasberg should have played her.  She played Anne Frank on Broadway to great acclaim, and was born in 1939.  She also looked young for her age.  I can only assume they wanted a bigger name, and that's a pity.

I really wish Strasberg had played Anne Frank--especially since she played her on Broadway and was successful and would have been a more appropriate age.  As much as I love Audrey, I agree with the assessment that she would have been too old.  Anne Frank was what 15 when she died?  I really like Susan Strasberg.  She was excellent in Picnic.  I enjoyed her character much more than Kim Novak's.  It's a shame that she wasn't given this opportunity in The Diary of Anne Frank.  This may have boosted her movie career and made her a much bigger name. 

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Not sure if they were still teens then, but here are two popular young actresses that would've been inttiguing possibilities: Natalie Wood and Carroll Baker. Or how about Sandra Dee's costar in IMITATION OF LIFE,.Susan Koehrner (not sure of the spelling).

 

 

Yes, Susan would've been excellent. Unsure of her age at the time......

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Not sure if they were still teens then, but here are two popular young actresses that would've been inttiguing possibilities: Natalie Wood and Carroll Baker. Or how about Sandra Dee's costar in IMITATION OF LIFE,.Susan Koehrner (not sure of the spelling).

 

All 3 were in their 20s in 1958 \ 59   (with Baker in her late 20s).     Funny I did look up Susan Kohner since she starred with Dee but she was 22 in 1958.      Not that a gal in her 20s couldn't play a teen (fairly common in fact),  but Anne Frank was a young teen and so a women under 20 would have been a better fit.

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I really wish Strasberg had played Anne Frank--especially since she played her on Broadway and was successful and would have been a more appropriate age.  As much as I love Audrey, I agree with the assessment that she would have been too old.  Anne Frank was what 15 when she died?  I really like Susan Strasberg.  She was excellent in Picnic.  I enjoyed her character much more than Kim Novak's.  It's a shame that she wasn't given this opportunity in The Diary of Anne Frank.  This may have boosted her movie career and made her a much bigger name. 

Strasburg in PICNIC and, was it, STAGE STRUCK?, convinced me that the only reason she got into film was because of her family connections.

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Strasburg in PICNIC and, was it, STAGE STRUCK?, convinced me that the only reason she got into film was because of her family connections.

And the only reason half the stars get into films is because of their looks, but all that's a given.

 

Strasberg gave an Oscarworthy performance as a Jewish Nazi prison guard in Kapo, and was nearly as compelling in her previous role as a wheelchair-bound invalid in the crime melodrama Scream of Fear, both of which have been shown on TCM.  She was perfectly cast in both roles, and it shows.

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Susan Strasberg received glowing reviews on Broadway for her portrayal of Anne Frank. She was widely expected to have a big career in both movies and theater. Obviously, this did not happen. An unhappy love affair with Richard Burton is sometimes cited as one of the factors which derailed her career.

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I think Geneviève Bujold also had an affair with Richard Burton.  A popular man.

Richard Burton reputedly had affairs with all of his leading ladies.  However, prior to Liz Taylor, he always returned to his long-suffering wife, although once before, with Claire Bloom, he was tempted to leave his wife for her. 

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And the only reason half the stars get into films is because of their looks, but all that's a given.

 

Strasberg gave an Oscarworthy performance as a Jewish Nazi prison guard in Kapo, and was nearly as compelling in her previous role as a wheelchair-bound invalid in the crime melodrama Scream of Fear, both of which have been shown on TCM.  She was perfectly cast in both roles, and it shows.

 

 

I wonder about the reason she wasnt cast in the film. Since they went with an unknown in the end anyway. She certainly would've been better than Millie Perkins..............

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I wonder about the reason she wasnt cast in the film. Since they went with an unknown in the end anyway. She certainly would've been better than Millie Perkins..............

 

Yes, that is the million dollar question (well as least half a million!).    She had a lot more experience and was at least somewhat known to people that went to the theater.

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Richard Burton reputedly had affairs with all of his leading ladies.  However, prior to Liz Taylor, he always returned to his long-suffering wife, although once before, with Claire Bloom, he was tempted to leave his wife for her. 

I doubt if the young Burton ever had an affair with Olivia De Havilland.

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Having not been on the set of MY COUSIN RACHEL, I cannot personally vouch for that, which is why I used the word "reputedly".

 

If Burton was anything like the character he played in My Cousin Rachel,   Olivia would have given him the same fate as his uncle in the movie!    But really if Olivia could avoid Flynn in his prime I'm sure she could avoid the temptation of Burton.

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For those (like me) who did not get a chance to see Susan Strasberg in the role of Anne Frank on Broadway, it would have been a treat to see Strasberg in the film The Diary of Anne Frank.  It's a shame the role went to Perkins. Strasberg's role as Frank would have been captured on film forever for future generation to see.  Strasberg won the 1956 Theatre World Award.

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