Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
TopBilled

Today's topic

Recommended Posts

 

a175.jpg

Marion Davies had the most lavish home of any star. It was an opulent Santa Monica beach home with 100 rooms.  One room was done entirely in gold leaf.  Outside there was an enormous marble pool with a marble bridge.  Plus, there were 2,000 lockers for guests who swam in the pool or nearby ocean.  She and paramour W.R. Hearst actually spent more time here than they did at his ranch in San Simeon.

 

This area, along Pacific Coast Highway, was very popular among stars.  Davies’ home was the center of what was called Millionaires Row.  Her neighbors included Cary Grant & Randolph Scott who shared a beach house nearby.

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-6-58-47-am.png

Meanwhile, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr.’s home was referred to as Pickfair.  It was built on 56 acres and located in the San Ysidro Canyon in Beverly Hills.  It had the usual amenities: stables, tennis courts and a swimming pool.  The press dubbed it a “place only slightly less important than the White House.”

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-6-57-03-am.png

John Barrymore’s place was called Bella Vista.  It had 16 buildings, two swimming pools, a pond stocked with trout, a nearby skeet shooting range, an aviary with exotic birds, an English tavern, a frontier bar shipped down from Alaska and quarters for a dozen servants.  Interestingly, Barrymore often ate meals outside near one of the pools on a rickety card table.

 

William Powell was known for installing the most modern electrical gadgets in his large home.  With the press of a button, panels would slide back and walls would open to reveal private bars.  In one room, a grill came up from the floor.  The house had 32 rooms.  Jean Harlow lovingly decorated each one.

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-7-03-13-am.png

Meanwhile, Powell’s ex-wife Carole Lombard hired William Haines to design a new home for her in Santa Monica.  This was before she married Clark Gable and moved to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley next door to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-7-02-09-am.png

John Gilbert built a special bedroom in his home for Greta Garbo.  It had all Venetian furniture and the adjoining bathroom was done in black marble with gold fixtures.  When she didn’t marry him, he ripped it all out and redid it in pink marble.

 

When Edward G. Robinson bought a new home, it came with a badminton court.  But he didn’t like that, so he had it taken out. In its place, he installed his very own art gallery.

 

talk about the richest 1%. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Memories of Audie Murphy

imgres-26.jpg

During the last year of his life, war hero turned movie star Audie Murphy was experiencing some rough times. He had lost much of the fortune he'd made in Hollywood, and in October 1970, he appeared in court after having been charged with assault against a kennel owner and dog trainer. The incident occurred in Burbank the previous May, and details about Audie's fall from grace were featured in many articles during the next few months.  

wt_audie_news430.jpg

A friend of mine followed the stories in the media, and she decided to reach out to him while his trial was going on in Los Angeles. Here in Carla's own words are some of her recollections of the experience:

 

I know you have told me bits and pieces about this, but it's good to get it written down. So start at the beginning and describe how your meeting with Audie occurred.

 

I wrote to Universal Studios to find his fan club. I did not hear back from them, but from HIM! He called my house and we talked for awhile. To be honest, I don't remember much of that conversation, I was too enthralled.

imgres-120.jpg

Anyway, we chatted, he gave me his office number, his office address and encouraged us staying in touch. He said he did not have a fan club but if I wanted to start one, I had his okay. He encouraged me staying in touch with his secretary, Bobbi Jo, and I did.

 

He had been charged in May, and it came to trial in October. That's around the time you met him, right?

Yes. I went to L.A. to attend his trial for assault on the dog trainer. I got up there, got frisked, etc., then found out too late that he'd taken a plea. I was invited back up a month later for lunch with him and B.J. At this point, he spent more time with her than Pam. (Note: Pamela Archer Murphy was Audie's second wife, whom he married back in 1951.)

 

Did he talk about his military service or his motion picture career? I believe by 1970, he had gone into producing independent movies.

He spoke of his acting career and producing. He picked my brain for ideas on future projects. I picked his about his career and learned ahead of time from B.J. not to ask too many questions about the war. He knew a lot of people in Hollywood, but made few friends. Most people who did him favors did so for the war hero, which disturbed him but he went along with it anyway. The couple who co-produced and wrote most episodes of the TV series were friends and remained so for life. (Note: Carla is referring to the television version of Whispering Smith, which Audie did in 1961, taking the role Alan Ladd played in the movie.)

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-7-47-49-am.png

What was the first Audie Murphy movie you ever watched? And what is your most favorite/least favorite of his films?

The first movie I saw was GUNS OF FORT PETTICOAT. It is not my favorite, which is a little known western called TUMBLEWEEDS. The worst movie he ever made was his only "spaghetti western," THE TEXICAN.

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-7-43-53-am.png

How do you think Audie is best remembered now?

I think, much to his chagrin, for his medals. HE would have preferred to have it be for his movies. The Whispering Smith series was good, well written, had great guest stars, and good acting; it would be great if he were remembered for that. I miss him and our conversations, but I am able to enjoy his movies, and his legacy. I think that it would have been wonderful if he had lived long enough for PTSD meds; he managed his with other chems which didn't work.

images25.jpg

 

Thank you, Carla. I know you have some more memories of Audie, so maybe you will do a follow-up interview. I've enjoyed discussing this today and appreciate your time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Memories of Audie Murphy

imgres-26.jpg

During the last year of his life, war hero turned movie star Audie Murphy was experiencing some rough times. He had lost much of the fortune he'd made in Hollywood, and in October 1970, he appeared in court after having been charged with assault against a kennel owner and dog trainer. The incident occurred in Burbank the previous May, and details about Audie's fall from grace were featured in many articles during the next few months.  

wt_audie_news430.jpg

A friend of mine followed the stories in the media, and she decided to reach out to him while his trial was going on in Los Angeles. Here in Carla's own words are some of her recollections of the experience:

 

I know you have told me bits and pieces about this, but it's good to get it written down. So start at the beginning and describe how your meeting with Audie occurred.

 

I wrote to Universal Studios to find his fan club. I did not hear back from them, but from HIM! He called my house and we talked for awhile. To be honest, I don't remember much of that conversation, I was too enthralled.

imgres-120.jpg

Anyway, we chatted, he gave me his office number, his office address and encouraged us staying in touch. He said he did not have a fan club but if I wanted to start one, I had his okay. He encouraged me staying in touch with his secretary, Bobbi Jo, and I did.

 

He had been charged in May, and it came to trial in October. That's around the time you met him, right?

Yes. I went to L.A. to attend his trial for assault on the dog trainer. I got up there, got frisked, etc., then found out too late that he'd taken a plea. I was invited back up a month later for lunch with him and B.J. At this point, he spent more time with her than Pam. (Note: Pamela Archer Murphy was Audie's second wife, whom he married back in 1951.)

 

Did he talk about his military service or his motion picture career? I believe by 1970, he had gone into producing independent movies.

He spoke of his acting career and producing. He picked my brain for ideas on future projects. I picked his about his career and learned ahead of time from B.J. not to ask too many questions about the war. He knew a lot of people in Hollywood, but made few friends. Most people who did him favors did so for the war hero, which disturbed him but he went along with it anyway. The couple who co-produced and wrote most episodes of the TV series were friends and remained so for life. (Note: Carla is referring to the television version of Whispering Smith, which Audie did in 1961, taking the role Alan Ladd played in the movie.)

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-7-47-49-am.png

What was the first Audie Murphy movie you ever watched? And what is your most favorite/least favorite of his films?

The first movie I saw was GUNS OF FORT PETTICOAT. It is not my favorite, which is a little known western called TUMBLEWEEDS. The worst movie he ever made was his only "spaghetti western," THE TEXICAN.

screen-shot-2015-01-26-at-7-43-53-am.png

How do you think Audie is best remembered now?

I think, much to his chagrin, for his medals. HE would have preferred to have it be for his movies. The Whispering Smith series was good, well written, had great guest stars, and good acting; it would be great if he were remembered for that. I miss him and our conversations, but I am able to enjoy his movies, and his legacy. I think that it would have been wonderful if he had lived long enough for PTSD meds; he managed his with other chems which didn't work.

images25.jpg

 

Thank you, Carla. I know you have some more memories of Audie, so maybe you will do a follow-up interview. I've enjoyed discussing this today and appreciate your time!

I think audie murphy woulda been a good choice to play Capt. Christopher Pike in the first star trek pilot. a-course, I doan know how audie woulda felt about doing science fiction. he gave a very thoughtful performance in that western where he played John Clum so I think Audie woulda cut it as a starship captain. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think audie murphy woulda been a good choice to play Capt. Christopher Pike in the first star trek pilot. a-course, I doan know how audie woulda felt about doing science fiction. he gave a very thoughtful performance in that western where he played John Clum so I think Audie woulda cut it as a starship captain. :)

When I was reading up on Whispering Smith, I found quite a few comparisons that were made between Audie and Alan Ladd, who had played the role in the original movie version. Notably, people compared their height. But Audie had a quiet toughness which suited him well for that sort of role. The series was plagued with various production problems and several of the finished episodes never aired, because some groups had complained it was too violent. Obviously, this was before Sam Peckinpah's westerns were in vogue (audience tastes would change dramatically in the 60s). After this experience, Audie was probably reluctant to try a weekly show again. He went back to making B western movies (B plus maybe) at Universal and Columbia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think MOST people, as MOST people AREN'T motion picture aficiniados, would likely remember Audie as a guy who did "B" WESTERN movies, and was once a WAR hero who came home and also made WAR movies.

 

They won't remember him as a business man, and most probably thought he simply faded away, and NOT died in a plane crash.

 

That's sad, but probably true.

 

 

Sepiatone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was reading up on Whispering Smith, I found quite a few comparisons that were made between Audie and Alan Ladd, who had played the role in the original movie version. Notably, people compared their height. But Audie had a quiet toughness which suited him well for that sort of role. The series was plagued with various production problems and several of the finished episodes never aired, because some groups had complained it was too violent. Obviously, this was before Sam Peckinpah's westerns were in vogue (audience tastes would change dramatically in the 60s). After this experience, Audie was probably reluctant to try a weekly show again. He went back to making B western movies (B plus maybe) at Universal and Columbia.

 

I always enjoyed Audie Murphy's films. They were well made [ for the most part ] and moved at a good pace, especially if he had a good co-star like Dan Duryea. Murphy was a better actor then most gave him credit for, if he had a good director. John Houston got 2 wonderful performances out of him. "The Red Badge of Courage" and "The Unforgiven" were two of Murphy's best films. Hollywood did use him up and it was a shame. He did have his demons from the war. I believe it was Bruce Dern who said that "Audie Murphy was the scariest man he ever met next to Neville Brand [ another war veteran and much decorated ]..

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was reading up on Whispering Smith, I found quite a few comparisons that were made between Audie and Alan Ladd, who had played the role in the original movie version. Notably, people compared their height. But Audie had a quiet toughness which suited him well for that sort of role. The series was plagued with various production problems and several of the finished episodes never aired, because some groups had complained it was too violent. Obviously, this was before Sam Peckinpah's westerns were in vogue (audience tastes would change dramatically in the 60s). After this experience, Audie was probably reluctant to try a weekly show again. He went back to making B western movies (B plus maybe) at Universal and Columbia.

never seen audie murphy as whispering smith. would like to though. you know, if anyone's screen persona never got the chance to really take off it was audie murphy's. that is what has always impressed me about audie murphy, his quiet toughness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always enjoyed Audie Murphy's films. They were well made [ for the most part ] and moved at a good pace, especially if he had a good co-star like Dan Duryea. Murphy was a better actor then most gave him credit for, if he had a good director. John Houston got 2 wonderful performances out of him. "The Red Badge of Courage" and "The Unforgiven" were two of Murphy's best films. Hollywood did use him up and it was a shame. He did have his demons from the war. I believe it was Bruce Dern who said that "Audie Murphy was the scariest man he ever met next to Neville Brand [ another war veteran and much decorated ]..

I agree that his films under Huston were probably his best. He is perfectly cast in THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hollywood nicknames

 

Movie stars often had pet names, as did some producers and directors. Here are a few well-known terms of affection in Hollywood:

 

Baby: Jean Harlow 
Peaches: Mae West
Butch: Cesar Romero
images26.jpg

Jumbo: Wallace Beery
One-Take Van Dyke: W.S. Van Dyke (He was the fastest director.)
Speedy: Harold Lloyd (He made a film with this title.)
The Baron: Errol Flynn (Jack Warner's name for Flynn.)
Whitey: W.C. Fields (He used many aliases.)
screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-20-58-am.png

Missy: Barbara Stanwyck (Robert Taylor started calling her this.)

Junior: Robert Taylor (Stanwyck's nickname for him.)
The Iron Butterfly: Jeanette MacDonald
Dody: Ann Harding (Her given name was Dorothy.)
Eethel: Ethel Barrymore (Her brother John spoofed her name with a long 'e' pronunciation.)
imgres34.jpg

Daisy: Marion Davies
Poppy: William Randolph Hearst (Marion Davies' pet name for him.)

Slug: Spencer Tracy
Redtop: Katharine Hepburn
Gretch: Loretta Young (Her given name was Gretchen.)
Black Bull: Harry Cohn
queenie_abc_miniseries_print_ad_1987.jpg

Queenie: Merle Oberon (Her nephew, Michael Korda, wrote a novel about her using this nickname. It was turned into an ABC-TV miniseries.)
Minnie: Myrna Loy
Mr. Pooh: William Powell (How Loy referred to him.)
Bart: Herbert Marshall 

screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-25-14-am.png

Spike: Ray Milland
Mims: Miriam Hopkins
Duke: John Wayne
Coach: John Ford (What Duke called his frequent director.)
Amigo: Gilbert Roland
screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-21-55-am.png

Presh: Shirley Temple (Her mother called her this, short for 'precious.')
Pinwheel: Lauren Bacall
Young Fellow: Gloria Swanson (Given to her by Cecil B. DeMille.)
Jayar: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Meaning J.R., to differentiate him from his equally famous father.) 

imgres-122.jpg

Ma & Pa: Carole Lombard & Clark Gable

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hollywood nicknames

 

Movie stars often had pet names, as did some producers and directors. Here are a few well-known terms of affection in Hollywood:

 

Baby: Jean Harlow 

Peaches: Mae West

Butch: Cesar Romero

images26.jpg

Jumbo: Wallace Beery

One-Take Van Dyke: W.S. Van Dyke (He was the fastest director.)

Speedy: Harold Lloyd (He made a film with this title.)

The Baron: Errol Flynn (Jack Warner's name for Flynn.)

Whitey: W.C. Fields (He used many aliases.)

screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-20-58-am.png

Missy: Barbara Stanwyck (Robert Taylor started calling her this.)

Junior: Robert Taylor (Stanwyck's nickname for him.)

The Iron Butterfly: Jeanette MacDonald

Dody: Ann Harding (Her given name was Dorothy.)

Eethel: Ethel Barrymore (Her brother John spoofed her name with a long 'e' pronunciation.)

imgres34.jpg

Daisy: Marion Davies

Poppy: William Randolph Hearst (Marion Davies' pet name for him.)

Slug: Spencer Tracy

Redtop: Katharine Hepburn

Gretch: Loretta Young (Her given name was Gretchen.)

Black Bull: Harry Cohn

queenie_abc_miniseries_print_ad_1987.jpg

Queenie: Merle Oberon (Her nephew, Michael Korda, wrote a novel about her using this nickname. It was turned into an ABC-TV miniseries.)

Minnie: Myrna Loy

Mr. Pooh: William Powell (How Loy referred to him.)

Bart: Herbert Marshall 

screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-25-14-am.png

Spike: Ray Milland

Mims: Miriam Hopkins

Duke: John Wayne

Coach: John Ford (What Duke called his frequent director.)

Amigo: Gilbert Roland

screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-21-55-am.png

Presh: Shirley Temple (Her mother called her this, short for 'precious.')

Pinwheel: Lauren Bacall

Young Fellow: Gloria Swanson (Given to her by Cecil B. DeMille.)

Jayar: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Meaning J.R., to differentiate him from his equally famous father.) 

imgres-122.jpg

Ma & Pa: Carole Lombard & Clark Gable

Actually, Swanson was know as "Young Fella".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Was know? Or was known? 

Actually, was KNOWN......... In thinking about it, there  seem to be surprisingly few stars that had nicknames, other than shortened versions of their first names. If Chris Berman had been around, he would have coined names such as Walter Pidgeon "Droppings"  and Marilyn Monroe "Doctrine".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, was KNOWN......... In thinking about, there  seem to be surprisingly few stars that had nicknames, other than shortened versions of their first names. If Chris Berman had been around, he would have coined names such as Walter Pidgeon "Droppings"  and Marilyn Monroe "Doctrine".

I am sure there are some nicknames that are not very affectionate or very nice at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Merle Oberon's nickname (Queenie) would be more appropriate for John Wayne than Duke was.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jayne Mansfield's success

screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-58-43-am.png

Jayne Mansfield had already demonstrated her flair for comedy on Broadway when 20th Century Fox signed her to a long-term contract.  The studio was keen on promoting her as a second Marilyn Monroe.  Other Marilyn knock-offs would crowd the cinematic landscape of the mid-to-late 50s, but Mansfield was the most popular.

 

Her inimitable talent is evident in WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? (1957).  The actress’ trademark voice with its punctuated squeals may seem overdone at times, but she’s a riot in many of her scenes, including one hysterical bit involving a phone call to a Hollywood boyfriend.  There is also a funny press conference outside the home of an advertising executive.

screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-56-32-am.png

The film combines witty jabs at the world of advertising with a biting satire about the cult of Hollywood celebrity, as exemplified by Mansfield's character, Rita Marlowe.  Tony Randall is cast as an ad man and an unlikely love interest.

images.jpg

Joan Blondell is on hand as Mansfield's chaperone.  And Cary Grant's wife-- actress Betsy Drake-- is cast as Randall's long-suffering girl Friday.  In fact, Cary Grant is mentioned when the Rita Marlowe character says she (meaning Mansfield herself) will soon be appearing with him in her next film. It's a reference to the upcoming Fox release, KISS THEM FOR ME.

793b00887c4803c662900d6d8a39455e.jpg

Does SUCCESS have any pitfalls?  Not if you're a fan of these stars.  The picture is thoroughly enjoyable, if dated-- but part of its appeal seems to be its commentary about getting ahead.  The film has excellent production values, even if the sets have a familiar look to them-- Randall's office here looks exactly like Joan Crawford's office in THE BEST OF EVERYTHING.

screen-shot-2015-01-27-at-7-57-13-am.png

Ultimately, none of the characters are spoiled by success.  We're the ones that are spoiled, because we are treated to such a fun movie that when the final fade out occurs, we may think we were cheated out of a sequel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, truth be told, the movie WAS pretty successful.

 

As WE here know all too well, a movie DOESN'T have to be "great cinematic art" to be enjoyable.  Most movies ARE intended, I think, as "escapism" .  Mindless escapism CAN be lots of fun.  Combine "mindless escapism" with a hefty dose of "eye candy" and you'll make money!  THAT should help explain the grudging success of JERRY LEWIS comedies, as some of them also added the likes of STELLA STEVENS, JILL ST.JOHN and CONNIE STEVENS, to name a few, to the mix.

 

 

Sepiatone

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, truth be told, the movie WAS pretty successful.

 

As WE here know all too well, a movie DOESN'T have to be "great cinematic art" to be enjoyable.  Most movies ARE intended, I think, as "escapism" .  Mindless escapism CAN be lots of fun.  Combine "mindless escapism" with a hefty dose of "eye candy" and you'll make money!  THAT should help explain the grudging success of JERRY LEWIS comedies, as some of them also added the likes of STELLA STEVENS, JILL ST.JOHN and CONNIE STEVENS, to name a few, to the mix.

 

 

Sepiatone

Yes. And if the gals could sing or dance, then there was a bit of added pleasure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 'Great' John Barrymore

 

images2.jpg

It is no secret that John Barrymore was wildly out of control the last few years of his life due to excessive drinking. In fact, he had become so volatile, that despite his immeasurable acting talent, several studios and producers refused to hire him.

 

Carole Lombard was a tried-and-true friend who had worked alongside Barrymore to great effect in the raucous screwball comedy TWENTIETH CENTURY. A few years later, she had considerably more power at Paramount and had what's called 'casting approval' over her films. For TRUE CONFESSION, she picked favorite leading man Fred MacMurray and for a key comic relief part, she insisted the studio hire John Barrymore. It was a tough sell, but Lombard did get Barrymore for the role, and while he was third-billed, it was a much-needed boost in his then faltering career. Appropriately, he plays a mostly intoxicated scoundrel, but it's a good performance and the film fires on all cylinders.

screen-shot-2015-01-28-at-7-11-58-am.png

About two years later, director Garson Kanin was working at RKO and was casting a comedy called THE GREAT MAN VOTES. RKO's Pandro S. Berman did not think Kanin should hire John Barrymore for the lead. The fear was that if Barrymore became erratic and the production had to be shut down, it would put them behind schedule and cost plenty. But Kanin really felt Barrymore should play the lead in this film, and Berman reluctantly consented.

screen-shot-2015-01-28-at-7-21-21-am.png

Production seemed to be going fine, and Kanin was getting exactly the right performance from Barrymore and the young actors that had been hired for the supporting roles. Again, Barrymore was playing a broken man (for laughs) and this time he had considerable scenes with child star Virginia Weidler who had actually done smaller parts in two other productions with him. Barrymore and Weidler were striking the right father-daughter notes, until one fateful day when Barrymore blew up and literally threw Weidler across the set.

screen-shot-2015-01-28-at-7-15-21-am.png

Barrymore's reason for body-slamming Weidler was because, in a paranoid rage, he felt that she was upstaging him. He pulled her off his lap in the middle of a take and hurled her at one of the technicians, all because she had been doing some hammy business with a necktie he was wearing while he was delivering a monologue.

screen-shot-2015-01-28-at-7-20-40-am.png

Obviously, there were stage hands that tended to Weidler at once, while Kanin had to take Barrymore outside to cool down. The film was shut down for the rest of the afternoon, and when production resumed the next day, Barrymore was more relaxed and able to redo the scene. This time, Weidler was instructed not to touch his tie.

screen-shot-2015-01-28-at-7-12-49-am.png

THE GREAT MAN VOTES was released by RKO in 1939, and it was a hit. Barrymore would continue to do occasional lead roles as a freelancer until 1941.  Weidler would go on to give what is probably her most memorable screen performance as the kid sister of Katharine Hepburn in MGM's THE PHILADELPHIA STORY.  Barrymore and Weidler never worked together again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd reverse the old cliche and say that on the basis of what I've seen, John Barrymore was the poor man's Warren William.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd reverse the old cliche and say that on the basis of what I've seen, John Barrymore was the poor man's Warren William.

Before drink ruined his ability to concentrate and give a sustained interpretation of a role, John Barrymore demonstrated great versatility in the range of his roles during the pre-code period (1930 to 1934).

 

Looking at the success of his portrayals of flamboyant scoundrels (Svengali, Mad Genius), debonair romantics (Arsene Lupin, Grand Hotel), comedy eccentrics (Reunion in Vienna, 20th Century), as well as straight character dramatic roles (Councillor at Law, Bill of Divorcement, Topaze) is quite breath taking. His reputation as a "great" actor is fully warranted, in my opinion, based on these performances.

 

Warren William, too, could be a suave villain, and a damn fine one, during the pre code period. But I fail to see the range in him as an actor that Barrymore demonstrated during that impressive range of four or five years at the beginning of the talkies. Keep in mind, too, that during the silents JB also effectively portrayed Mr. Hyde as a ghoulish roue in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and was one of the most successful of the swashbuckling romantics (Don Juan, Beloved Rogue, the later demonstrating his comedy finesse and well as Fairbanks like athletics, to a surprising degree).

 

I understand why Warren William, who looked a lot like Barrymore and could play some of the same kind of roles (lawyers for example, JB in State Attorney, as opposed to WW in a superior film, The Mouthpiece) is sometimes compared to Barrymore. But WW as Mr. Hyde? As the meek little professor in Topaze? I don't think so. William was good at what he did when he had a good role, but a Barrymore with the range and depth that JB brought to his best roles I don't see in WW.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think some of John's performances were grand.  I can't, regrettably(or maybe NOT) articulate my opinions on some of them as academically as others here can, but I'll do what I can---

 

I actually always thought of LIONEL as the more talented of the Barrymore brothers...and, from the warm expressions on John's face in several scenes in movies they worked togehther in, John TOO, held the same opinion it seems.

 

Film "historians" might disagree, but, MY favorite John Barrymore film appearances are in GRAND HOTEL, RASPUTIN and DINNER AT EIGHT.  especially the latter, as it seemed Barrymore had a handle on just WHO and WHAT he'd actually became, and allowed himself the freedom to lampoon it.  That suicide scene, and the part of it where he adjusts the lamp to make sure the LIGHTING is good SPOKE VOLUMES as to both the nature of his CHARACTER and HE HIMSELF!  At least, in MY eyes!

 

 

Sepiatone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think some of John's performances were grand.  I can't, regrettably(or maybe NOT) articulate my opinions on some of them as academically as others here can, but I'll do what I can---

 

I actually always thought of LIONEL as the more talented of the Barrymore brothers...and, from the warm expressions on John's face in several scenes in movies they worked togehther in, John TOO, held the same opinion it seems.

 

Film "historians" might disagree, but, MY favorite John Barrymore film appearances are in GRAND HOTEL, RASPUTIN and DINNER AT EIGHT.  especially the latter, as it seemed Barrymore had a handle on just WHO and WHAT he'd actually became, and allowed himself the freedom to lampoon it.  That suicide scene, and the part of it where he adjusts the lamp to make sure the LIGHTING is good SPOKE VOLUMES as to both the nature of his CHARACTER and HE HIMSELF!  At least, in MY eyes!

 

 

Sepiatone

It's my understanding, Sepia, that the original screenplay for Dinner at Eight was going to have Larry Renault (Barrymore's character) die in a squalid heap when he committed suicide. It was JB's own idea to have his character arrange his own death scene, with his profile perfectly illuminated, as a reflection of the character's vanity at the end.

 

The stories of the Barrymore brothers trying to steal scenes from one another are legion (Lionel, in particular, would get quite outraged when he thought his younger brother was trying to steal one of his scenes from him). But I think that the affection that the two brothers had for one another held right to John's death.

 

I find it marvelous watching the two of them bounce off one another, particularly in Grand Hotel. A lot of people think that Lionel's dying man living one last fling steals the film. But I think that John's characterization as the Baron is perhaps the suave jewel thief romantic lover model against which so many other actors could be measured in similar roles. John also manages to embue some vulnerability in his characterization as it becomes apparent that, no matter how mesmerizingly smooth, elegant and charming he is to the opposite sex, he is also, at his core, lonely, and without any real friends. That, in turn, is one of the reasons why he bonds so well with the simple, down-to-earth modest little man, played so touchingly by Lionel.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you've got something to say about Barrymore, you better get on your horse, because the thread title is going to change in a few hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before drink ruined his ability to concentrate and give a sustained interpretation of a role, John Barrymore demonstrated great versatility in the range of his roles during the pre-code period (1930 to 1934).

 

Looking at the success of his portrayals of flamboyant scoundrels (Svengali, Mad Genius), debonair romantics (Arsene Lupin, Grand Hotel), comedy eccentrics (Reunion in Vienna, 20th Century), as well as straight character dramatic roles (Councillor at Law, Bill of Divorcement, Topaze) is quite breath taking. His reputation as a "great" actor is fully warranted, in my opinion, based on these performances.

 

Warren William, too, could be a suave villain, and a damn fine one, during the pre code period. But I fail to see the range in him as an actor that Barrymore demonstrated during that impressive range of four or five years at the beginning of the talkies. Keep in mind, too, that during the silents JB also effectively portrayed Mr. Hyde as a ghoulish roue in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and was one of the most successful of the swashbuckling romantics (Don Juan, Beloved Rogue, the later demonstrating his comedy finesse and well as Fairbanks like athletics, to a surprising degree).

 

I understand why Warren William, who looked a lot like Barrymore and could play some of the same kind of roles (lawyers for example, JB in State Attorney, as opposed to WW in a superior film, The Mouthpiece). But WW as Mr. Hyde? As the meek little professor in Topaze? I don't think so. William was good at what he did when he had a good role, but a Barrymore with the range and depth that JB brought to his best roles I don't see in WW.

 

Since I base 90% of my opinion of actors on how much I enjoy their screen persona, I can't really argue with what you're saying.  I've never seen Barrymore's silents, but I've never been particularly thrilled with his pre-code performances, especially 20th Century.  The one film of his that I thought he really added a lot to was State Attorney, but while he was good in Dinner At Eight, IMO that movie's virtue was dominated by the war between Harlow and Beery.

 

OTOH I've seen pretty much every Warren William movie, and other than a few where he was given the part of a cigar store Indian (Gold Diggers of 1933; Three on a Match; Imitation of Life) that no actor could have done anything with, he livened up the screen every moment he was on it.  Barrymore often seemed (to me, at least) as if he were mailing it in, whereas William always  sunk his teeth into every cad and scoundrel  and con artist he ever portrayed.  But it's all subjective, and I realize that mine is a minority opinion. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I base 90% of my opinion of actors on how much I enjoy their screen persona, I can't really argue with what you're saying.  I've never seen Barrymore's silents, but I've never been particularly thrilled with his pre-code performances, especially 20th Century.  The one film of his that I thought he really added a lot to was State Attorney, but while he was good in Dinner At Eight, IMO that movie's virtue was dominated by the war between Harlow and Beery.

 

OTOH I've seen pretty much every Warren William movie, and other than a few where he was given the part of a cigar store Indian (Gold Diggers of 1933; Three on a Match; Imitation of Life) that no actor could have done anything with, he livened up the screen every moment he was on it.  Barrymore often seemed (to me, at least) as if he were mailing it in, whereas William always  sunk his teeth into every cad and scoundrel  and con artist he ever portrayed.  But it's all subjective, and I realize that mine is a minority opinion. :)

Well, as you said, Andy, all our opinions are merely subjective takes.

 

I agree that Barrymore was fun to watch in State's Attorney, perhaps the first of his screen roles in which his off screen reputation for boozing started to mesh with his on screen character (though Dinner at Eight, of course, took that  meshing of actor and role still further). I think Barrymore is a brilliant divine Broadway eccentric in 20th Century, an inspired performance, while that same performance apparently doesn't do the same for you.

 

I like Warren William fine during his golden pre-code period when he had the opportunity to play various scoundrels with relish. His later roles and performances make less of an impression upon me. And there were times (such as when he played Perry Mason in Case of the Curious Bride or Sam Spade in Satan Met a Lady) in which WW's laughing, almost giddy attitude, treating everything like it was a joke, definitely got on my nerves. WW's cad/con artist pre-code days on screen were definitely his best, the same period of time in which I think that Barrymore was also at his best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...