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A look at the promotion of "Starring Virginia Weidler"... Is TCM shortchanging the less known classic actors?


ginnyfan
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I have been very excited by the upcoming tribute on TCM, Starring Virginia Weidler, November 13 8PM-6AM ET. Yesterday, I found the piece of the TCM website set aside for Virginia's night and was a little disappointed with what I saw. The following is my report to the Virginia Weidler Remembrance Society websites.

 

 

Let me start by saying how grateful I am that Turner Classic Movies is doing a whole night of Ginny films. We fought for it, she deserves it…and a lot more. I am, however, starting to question the execution.

TCM has a section of their webpage “roped off” for the night at http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/1042626|0/Starring-Virginia-Weidler-11-13.html

The Starring Virginia Weidler section starts out promising enough with a very good write up of the first film, BAD LITTLE ANGEL. It’s good, that is, until the author chooses to go the old tired “not pretty like Taylor, not a singer like Garland, she was awkward” route and ruins it. It’s the easy explanation for a career ending which was a lot more complex.

Things then go really downhill.

The write up chosen for YOUNG TOM EDISON is an entire page and says this about Virginia, “…and Virginia Weidler is fine as the feisty little sister.” That’s it for the whole page. I know it’s Rooney’s film, but more still could have been written about her if it is going to be on a page saluting her.

The write up for THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is even worse. There is no mention of Lydia, or “rootie-tootie” or the yo-yo or what Hepburn and Grant thought about her. She is mentioned in a cast list at bottom…period.

At least the write up on BORN TO SING mentions her. She is the star, or at least the first of the ensemble. Oddly, the BTS review mentions her success in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY where the TPS review did not. The BTS write up also mentions that she “was too much for some critics” then cites a bad New York Times review of the film not directly pointed at her, but at child actors in general. This one, like the BAD LITTLE ANGEL review, is overall fair in tone with one bad paragraph.

The BARNACLE BILL write up is one paragraph and doesn’t mention she’s in the film. The whole thing is about how everyone who worked with Wallace Beery hated him, but somehow the tee-totaling Marjorie Main was able to deal with him more than once. If the child actress originally assigned Barnacle Bill (Shirley Temple) had done the film,  she’d be mentioned in the review. Margaret O’Brien, who wasn’t even in BB or considered for it, does get mentioned.

The final film, THE YOUNGEST PROFESSION does get a write up featuring Ginny and it has to, she’s on screen for most of the film. The overall tone is positive but it does see the need to get into her departure from film by complete misrepresentation, “However, Weidler never became popular with the movie-going public, and the studio had a challenging time finding parts that suited her particular talents.” The first sentence of that quote just isn’t true and the second part comes from MGM’s publicly released excuse for “benching” her after BEST FOOT FORWARD.

All in all, I’m very disappointed. If they had asked, Danny Miller and I could have kicked out more Ginny-centric reviews featuring a more accurate retelling of her departure from Hollywood in a couple of hours.

 

John Barrymore called her "Hollywood's Greatest Actress" in an overstatement of appreciation and columnist Jimmie Fidler called on the Academy to give her a special Oscar just for consistency. There was quite a bit of public excitement over her early RKO work in LADDIE and FRECKLES and her turn with Rooney in OUT WEST WITH THE HARDYS when first at MGM. While not a superstar, she certainly was not an unpopular actress with the public. MGM didn't hand out $100,000 contracts to unpopular actresses, child or adult.

 

I emailed TCM with my concerns and the hope that the Osborne intros and outros on that night will be a little more meaty and less conventional wisdom stuff. We're already forced to accept that TCM isn't going to be getting any earlier Weidler films, those from RKO and Paramount that are never shown, anytime soon but I'd still like to see the MGMs they do show presented in the most favorable and historically accurate light.

 

Feel free to comment or to use this thread as a sounding board for comments about other classic actors you think deserve more careful attention from TCM.

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We're already forced to accept that TCM isn't going to be getting any earlier Weidler films, those from RKO and Paramount that are never shown, anytime soon but I'd still like to see the MGMs they do show presented in the most favorable and historically accurate light.

 

Feel free to comment or to use this thread as a sounding board for comments about other classic actors you think deserve more careful attention from TCM.

First, I don't think we have to accept anything. If a primetime spotlight is going to be done, then TCM needs to do it correctly. When Mitzi Gaynor and Robert Wagner were both spotlighted last year, TCM of course showed what they had in the Turner Library (Gaynor's LES GIRLS and RJ's A KISS BEFORE DYING) but they also managed to cough up expensive titles from outside the Library. They could have at least rented one Paramount film-- like a showing of SOULS AT SEA which could have been advertised as a premiere and shown again on another evening with Laurel & Hardy's spoof SAPS AT SEA (in the Turner Library).

 

The RKO catalogue is in the Turner Library, so there is no excuse for any RKO title being left out that would have more properly showcased Weidler's talents. No excuse, folks.

 

Also, they have a long-term deal with Sony and she made some films at Columbia that could have been selected, too-- namely that LONE WOLF offering where she is very good and steals the movie with all her scenes.

 

This did not have to be all about dusting off Ginny from the Turner Library at all-- with the most recognizable titles like the already overplayed THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. (At least we do not have to suffer through THE WOMEN again so thank goodness for that small favor!) To be fair, I cannot complain too much about the inclusion of THE PHILADELPHIA STORY here, though, because Ginny is very good in it and it is a gateway film that brings more people to her fanbase and encourages them to seek out her other pictures.

 

But TCM is not providing an accurate overview of her screen career at all by relying entirely on the Turner Library titles. This evening should really be advertised as 'Starring Virginia Weidler at MGM.' Let's be honest about that, please.

 

As for other character actors deserving more attention from TCM, there is a busload of them. They are all on their way to the Conference of Apologists, and their fans are getting trampled at the 'Save TCM Rally' happening outside the hotel.

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First, I don't think we have to accept anything. If a primetime spotlight is going to be done, then TCM needs to do it correctly. When Mitzi Gaynor and Robert Wagner were both spotlighted last year, TCM of course showed what they had in the Turner Library (Gaynor's LES GIRLS and RJ's A KISS BEFORE DYING) but they also managed to cough up expensive titles from outside the Library. They could have at least rented one Paramount film-- like a showing of SOULS AT SEA which could have been advertised as a premiere and shown again on another evening with Laurel & Hardy's spoof SAPS AT SEA (in the Turner Library).

 

The RKO catalogue is in the Turner Library, so there is no excuse for any RKO title being left out that would have more properly showcased Weidler's talents. No excuse, folks.

 

Also, they have a long-term deal with Sony and she made some films at Columbia that could have been selected, too-- namely that LONE WOLF offering where she is very good and steals the movie with all her scenes. So this did not have to be all about dusting off Ginny from the Turner Library at all-- with the most recognizable titles like the already overplayed THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. (At least we do not have to suffer through THE WOMEN again so thank goodness for that small favor!) I can accept THE PHILADELPHIA STORY here, though, because Ginny is very good in it and it is a gateway film that brings more people to her fanbase and encourages them to seek out her other pictures.

 

But TCM is not providing an accurate overview of her screen career at all by relying entirely on the Turner Library titles. This evening should really be advertised as 'Starring Virginia Weidler at MGM.' Let's be accurate about that, please.

 

As for other character actors deserving more attention from TCM, there is a busload of them. They are all on their way to the Conference of Apologists, and their fans are getting trampled at the 'Save TCM Rally' happening outside the hotel.

They are all on their way to the Conference of Apologists, and their fans are getting trampled at the 'Save TCM Rally' happening outside the hotel.

 

You are on a roll, TopBilled! Ever see the Bugs Bunny cartoons where the wolf has smoke coming out of his ears and his eyes are popping? Substitute apologists for wolf....................   :D :D :D

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They are all on their way to the Conference of Apologists, and their fans are getting trampled at the 'Save TCM Rally' happening outside the hotel.

 

You are on a roll, TopBilled! Ever see the Bugs Bunny cartoons where the wolf has smoke coming out of his ears and his eyes are popping? Substitute apologists for wolf....................   :D :D :D

Thanks primos. I am grateful to GinnyFan for starting this thread, because one of my goals is to push for TCM broadcasting more classic titles from the 1930s-1950s that come from outside the Turner Library. So this was a perfect opportunity to beat the drum on that as well as look at the effective and ineffective aspects of this upcoming Weidler tribute.

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Quoting ginnyfan:
The write up for THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is even worse. There is no mention of Lydia, or “rootie-tootie” or the yo-yo or what Hepburn and Grant thought about her. She is mentioned in a cast list at bottom…period.

 

 

I agree. I think this film is a tour de force for Virginia Weidler.  She plays opposite her very lauded co-stars with ease and more than holds her own.  Her scene with with the hungover Tracy Lord is classic and one of the best ever by a child actress.  To neglect to highlight her contribution to the film in any article about The Philadelphia Story which is part of a Virginia Weidler Salute is criminal. However, one assumes TCM just "cut and paste" whatever article they already had on the film, neglecting to edit it or re-write it to highlight Virginia Weidler because that would have taken some time and thought.

 

Lydecker

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 one assumes TCM just "cut and paste" whatever article they already had on the film, neglecting to edit it or re-write it to highlight Virginia Weidler because that would have taken some time and thought.

 

Lydecker

It would have taken man hours to check the research and rewrite anything. If this is happening now, imagine what's going to happen next year with slashed budgets. 

 

My prediction is they will use this cut-and-paste mumbo jumbo on the TelePrompTer. So Osborne will discuss Weidler in the BAD LITTLE ANGEL wraparounds (the first film airing), then by the time he gets to THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, he will discuss Hepburn (and also mention Stewart's Oscar because he likes to improvise Oscar trivia to play up the fact he's a so-called historian) with only a casual reference to Weidler. We can see this coming a mile away. I'm going to be right about this, I'm going to be right about this, again I am going to be oh so right about this.

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It would have taken man hours to check the research and rewrite anything. If this is happening now, imagine what's going to happen next year with slashed budgets. 

 

My prediction is they will use this cut-and-paste mumbo jumbo on the TelePrompTer. So Osborne will discuss Weidler in the BAD LITTLE ANGEL wraparounds (the first film airing), then by the time he gets to THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, he will discuss Hepburn (and also mention Stewart's Oscar because he likes to improvise Oscar trivia to play up the fact he's a so-called historian) with only a casual reference to Weidler. We can see this coming a mile away. I'm going to be right about this, I'm going to be right about this, again I am going to be oh so right about this.

Absolutely.  God forbid that anyone take some time to customize or fact check anything at TCM these days. Just cut and paste the wrong info (or fail to add new, pertinent info) because it is the cheap and easy thing to do.  Not taking any bets against the likelihood that Osborne will just say the "same old, same old" about The Philadelphia Story. I am positive he will. The errors and omissions are just going to get worse and worse in 2015, you can be sure of that.  I can just hear "the suits" in TCM management saying:  "Who cares what these 'accuracy obsessed film nerds' are saying on the message boards."

 

Lydecker

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Absolutely.  God forbid that anyone take some time to customize or fact check anything at TCM these days. Just cut and paste the wrong info (or fail to add new, pertinent info) because it is the cheap and easy thing to do.  Not taking any bets against the likelihood that Osborne will just say the "same old, same old" about The Philadelphia Story. I am positive he will. The errors and omissions are just going to get worse and worse in 2015, you can be sure of that.  I can just hear "the suits" in TCM management saying:  "Who cares what these 'accuracy obsessed film nerds' are saying on the message boards."

 

Lydecker

Right they'll be too busy trying to save their own jobs, and when that fails, exercising those golden parachute clauses in their contracts. The quality and accuracy of information transmitted across the screen will be the least of their worries. I hope the apologists are stocking up on vitamins and iron supplements-- because they will need a lot of energy and strength to deal with how TCM is going to fall apart next year.

 

I think I want to create a clip art with Chicken Little saying the sky is not falling. Use some reverse psychology to get people thinking again.

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I appreciate all the movies I have seen on TCM. There are a LOT of great old films that we'll never see, a lot of actors and actresses that many of us loved that are seldom or never seen but that's just how it is. :(

 

I've watched TCM for many years and I miss it since it's not on Dish now even though many movies are shown over and over. I guess part of me has just learned to accept the things we can't change and be grateful for what we have.

 

Deep down I continue to hope that a few of the movies I've never seen and hope to see before I die will be shown one day but if not....well it won't be the end of the world. With that said I sure do check out the  schedule each month hoping that they'll be on the list. Wouldn't it be something if those few movies I've always wanted to see were shown now that I can't get TCM.

 

I have an account at www.locatetv.com and keep my list of actors and actresses in there so it'll alert me if a movie they were is coming on TV. I also keep a list of movies I want to see on there but it's seldom that any are on TV. So yes, I think some are shortchanged.

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Right they'll be too busy trying to save their own jobs, and when that fails, exercising those golden parachute clauses in their contracts. The quality and accuracy of information transmitted across the screen will be the least of their worries. I hope the apologists are stocking up on vitamins and iron supplements-- because they will need a lot of energy and strength to deal with how TCM is going to fall apart next year.

 

I think I want to create a clip art with Chicken Little saying the sky is not falling. Use some reverse psychology to get people thinking again.

Yep.  I think the 11th commandment around here must be:  Thou Shalt Not Diss TCM, No Way, No How, Not Ever.

 

Lydecker

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Yep.  I think the 11th commandment around here must be:  Thou Shalt Not Diss TCM, No Way, No How, Not Ever.

 

Lydecker

I had to laugh. Earlier I dissed Bette Davis in another thread-- asking who she was (tongue in cheek). That is the 12th commandment-- Thou Shalt Not Use the Goddess Bette's Name in Vain. The 13th commandment is Remember to Honor Virginia Weidler's Talents (that's an easy one).

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I had to laugh. Earlier I dissed Bette Davis in another thread-- asking who she was (tongue in cheek). That is the 12th commandment-- Thou Shalt Not Use the Goddess Bette's Name in Vain. The 13th commandment is Remember to Honor Virginia Weidler's Talents (that's an easy one).

It would also be nice if we could remember Lori and her campaign to get a boxed set of her fave, John Garfield.

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It would also be nice if we could remember Lori and her campaign to get a boxed set of her fave, John Garfield.

I certainly haven't forgotten and I think her Garfield friends from outside of here might still be at work...but nobody worked as hard at it as Lori. 

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Lydecker: Hepburn told one writer how lucky they were to have cast Virginia. She also said that she had to stop looking at Virginia during scenes because the different little things Virginia did in character would just crack her up.

 

Grant once talked of how hard all the stars tried to outdo one another, but then Virginia would walk through with the "confounded yo-yo" and steal the scene.

 

It is a bit egotistical of me, but I wish TCM had asked me for some material. Danny Miller and I have tons of stuff stored on the hard drive we could have given them to punch up the text and the intros. 

 

I've certainly emailed them enough that they know I'm here.

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Give that man a cigar. And then let's make up some tee shirts with that saying on it, three to start at least.

Wow, I'd love one of those except then Robert Osborne would find out and start shilling them between movies!

 

Lydecker

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Lydecker: Hepburn told one writer how lucky they were to have cast Virginia. She also said that she had to stop looking at Virginia during scenes because the different little things Virginia did in character would just crack her up.

 

Grant once talked of how hard all the stars tried to outdo one another, but then Virginia would walk through with the "confounded yo-yo" and steal the scene.

 

It is a bit egotistical of me, but I wish TCM had asked me for some material. Danny Miller and I have tons of stuff stored on the hard drive we could have given them to punch up the text and the intros. 

 

I've certainly emailed them enough that they know I'm here.

Love, love hearing this background stuff about VW and the making of The Philadephia Story  --  This is the kind of thing TCM should be communicating in the opens/closes of her films and on the website but, hey, why would TCM ask folks who have a Virginia Weidler website and an extreme depth of knowledge about her for any assistance???  That would take a wee bit of effort and make far too much sense

 

Lydecker

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Love, love hearing this background stuff about VW and the making of The Philadephia Story  --  This is the kind of thing TCM should be communicating in the opens/closes of her films and on the website but, hey, why would TCM ask folks who have a Virginia Weidler website and an extreme depth of knowledge about her for any assistance???  That would take a wee bit of effort and make far too much sense

 

Lydecker

 

Ah, but that would mean they really care about this stuff.  The truth, I suspect, is that TCM is run by accountants, not by film aficionados.  And with cutbacks upon them, they care even less about "getting it right."

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