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Could stars from Hollywood's past have become stars in modern Hollywood and could stars of modern Hollywood have made it in the past?


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Given that tastes of audiences change from generation to generation are film stars a breed of performer that can surpass generational audience change and taste and adapt to any era, style, and any type of film or are they locked into their own eras by the type and style of the films made for that point of time. Would today's roster of stars be as accepted to audiences of the past as they are today or would our grand parents  and great grand parents scratch their heads and wonder what the hell did Hollywood see in them? And likewise would stars of the past be accepted by modern audiences or would they be laughed at as relics from the past? Could you envision stars from the past staring in the type of films churned out by Hollywood today and could you envision stars of today staring in the kind of films Hollywood used to make, films that relied on acting to tell a story, not on special effects. Now,  

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Given that tastes of audiences change from generation to generation are film stars a breed of performer that can surpass generational audience change and taste and adapt to any era, style, and any type of film or are they locked into their own eras by the type and style of the films made for that point of time. Would today's roster of stars be as accepted to audiences of the past as they are today or would our grand parents  and great grand parents scratch their heads and wonder what the hell did Hollywood see in them? And likewise would stars of the past be accepted by modern audiences or would they be laughed at as relics from the past? Could you envision stars from the past staring in the type of films churned out by Hollywood today and could you envision stars of today staring in the kind of films Hollywood used to make, films that relied on acting to tell a story, not on special effects. Now,  I know that the rise of the talking film killed the careers of many silent film stars, so for this thread I am only speaking of sound films made from 1928 to the present.   

 

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Assuming that they wouldn't be reading from 75 year old scripts, I can't imagine that stars like Stanwyck, Gable, Cagney, Meryl Streep, Judy Davis, and Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't star in any era, and that's only six out of many. OTOH I do have to wonder about the likes of Joan Crawford and Mickey Rooney.

 

When it comes to the pictures themselves, I think that many of today's blockbuster hits would appeal to mass audiences of long ago, if for nothing else but the cinematography.  But I doubt if more than a small percentage of vintage Hollywood B&W films would be able to reach much larger an audience in 2015 than what TCM has today.  This is more of a reflection of what modern audiences are used to in the way of bells and whistles, not to mention what their reaction would likely be to the heavy hand of the code era censors and their laughingly phony endings.  A sprinkling of those Send For The Preacher wrapups can be heartwarming, but after awhile it's like watching the same commercial 50 times a week.

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Yep, I could easily see almost any role that Harrison Ford has made his mark in being done by Clark Gable...and vice versa.

 

And, I could easily see almost any role that Julianne Moore has made her mark in being done by Eleanor Parker...and vice versa.

 

I'll add more of these examples as this thread develops.

 

(...btw...I also think all the great old middle-aged and older character actors of the past would have a tough time finding work in Hollywood today)

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I feel like anyone whose persona is representative of a specific era would not translate well in modern times.  Jean Harlow, I think, is very much a product of the 1930s.  While she is growing on me and I like her work, I don't think she would find success today.

 

Someone whose personality is more progressive and not dated would make it today.  Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden and Cary Grant would all succeed.  I think this would be true of modern actors as well.  George Clooney is kind of our modern Cary Grant and I think he would have done just fine in the Golden Era.  Other performers like the aforementioned Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore would have done just fine.  I think Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence would have done well in studio era films as well.  Now people who are just in films as a result of nepotism (Nicholas Cage) or who have had repeat box office flops (Kevin Costner) I don't think would have done well.  People like Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and others who are put in films based on their reputation or name would have never made it in the studio era either, as they wouldn't have been in any films in the first place.  The studio era seemed to be more interested in cultivating stars who could be a good return on their investment.  Whereas today, it seems that many filmmakers are interested in sacrificing quality in return for guaranteed receipts by casting someone notorious.

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This is one of those questions that can only be GUESSED.  There's really no way to know for sure, but Speedracer's take on it comes close for me.  Yes, there were "looks" producers and studio "suits" were looking for(and STILL are), but ya gotta realize, most "stars" today aren't different from those of "yesteryear" insomuch as they're "fashion conscious" and will give themselves the "look" that's in "style" at any given period of time. The "stars" were made out of the few who made that "look" really appealing.  So, it's hard for me to guess if Channing Tatum WOULD have looked "dashing" in the same haircut and clothing Clark Gable wore! 

 

Sepiatone

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Given that tastes of audiences change from generation to generation are film stars a breed of performer that can surpass generational audience change and taste and adapt to any era, style, and any type of film or are they locked into their own eras by the type and style of the films made for that point of time. Would today's roster of stars be as accepted to audiences of the past as they are today or would our grand parents  and great grand parents scratch their heads and wonder what the hell did Hollywood see in them? And likewise would stars of the past be accepted by modern audiences or would they be laughed at as relics from the past? Could you envision stars from the past staring in the type of films churned out by Hollywood today and could you envision stars of today staring in the kind of films Hollywood used to make, films that relied on acting to tell a story, not on special effects. Now,  

 

I'm trying to picture Edna May Oliver in a modern NC-17 film with M.C. Hammer singing "U Can't Touch This"

 

EMO-EdnaMayOliver-DrumsMohawk-death-e133

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Given that tastes of audiences change from generation to generation are film stars a breed of performer that can surpass generational audience change and taste and adapt to any era, style, and any type of film or are they locked into their own eras by the type and style of the films made for that point of time. Would today's roster of stars be as accepted to audiences of the past as they are today or would our grand parents  and great grand parents scratch their heads and wonder what the hell did Hollywood see in them? And likewise would stars of the past be accepted by modern audiences or would they be laughed at as relics from the past? Could you envision stars from the past staring in the type of films churned out by Hollywood today and could you envision stars of today staring in the kind of films Hollywood used to make, films that relied on acting to tell a story, not on special effects. Now,  

Good question. Easy answer.

 

Were they born in their time, i.e., if classic actors were born today, and the spoiled brats of today born way back when - yes.

 

Were the classically classic actors born then and put in a way back machine to the present - no.

 

Were the spoiled brats of today born today and put in a way back machine to the past - a resounding no!

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Probably yes in both directions.  After all, the "stars" are for the most part created by the media and the studios today just as they were in the past.

Look at old car ads from the 1920's and 30's and they featured movie "stars."

On a similar vein, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and maybe a couple of others probably would never have been elected Presidents.  Especially Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

Have to remember that a lot of the "B" movies of yore were what are now TV shows and has been for decades. 

As for Cage and Costner, I think they do very well in some types of movies.  Costner does great if it involves a round ball.

The criteria to establishing a career or making a star is that someone with some talent has to be in a movie with a good screenplay, good supporting cast and a good director.  Eliminate one of the last three and the person will disappear.  Well, maybe not today since there are so many "networks" making so many movies to run 24/7.

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I think about this topic a LOT. And film (storytelling) elements that I loathe sometimes are the exact thing that "excites" younger viewers. This is why I'll watch films with "the kid", just to see her reaction. I've come to the conclusion I'm an old f-a-r-t and MY classic taste/way of thinking isn't always the only one.

 

I think the Studio System "created" star personas and helped or hindered their popular appeal. I don't think today's ACTORS are any different from the actors of yesteryear-there are various levels of talent & skill among all of them.

 

Some of course, were known for their beauty, as is the case today. Marilyn and Rita Hayworth were given fairly decent movies to "act" in. And thankfully both were in a few really good films that showcased their talents.

 

Today, it would be Johnny Depp or Tom Cruise proving their talent over their "looks". I think Shaun Penn & Kevin Bacon are both fantastic actors that didn't have that "pretty boy" issue to deal with.

 

I think the biggest problem for today's stars (as in the past) is finding a great story to ACT in. Most "stories" revolve around special effects and gimmics that reduce the impact of their acting. I think this is why you often find the best actors on the stage.

 

And I think this is why olde timey actors were often "stage-y" like Bette Davis. She FORCED you to listen, get caught up in her roles. Many (esp WB) stars took this tact like Cagney, Bogie and other big stars.

Once the more "natural" style of acting came in vogue in the 50's & 60's, the stars relied more on good writing to help them be "stars"...like Paul Newman.

 

An old bf of mine in "the biz" was telling me scenes now are often less than 60 seconds long. He was amazed anyone could ACT in anything with such short opportunities to get into a charactor, or even emote! 

He was the one who first pointed out to me what a horrible actor Tom Hanks is. I really watched him in movies after that and "saw" what he was talking about. Hanks simply chose better films to be in, and it made him look better. Same is true for Costner before him.

 

Remember when stars would "play against type" and the studios would be worried about the public accepting them? That's because people so believed the persona of the actor based on the believability of the charactors they portrayed.

 

So for me, it's tough saying I love the stars of today like I loved the stars of yesterday. It's tough to "get into" any of them when there is so little story for them to be likable. It's the medium failing, not the talent.

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I feel like anyone whose persona is representative of a specific era would not translate well in modern times.  Jean Harlow, I think, is very much a product of the 1930s.  While she is growing on me and I like her work, I don't think she would find success today.

 

Someone whose personality is more progressive and not dated would make it today.  Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden and Cary Grant would all succeed.  I think this would be true of modern actors as well.  George Clooney is kind of our modern Cary Grant and I think he would have done just fine in the Golden Era.  Other performers like the aforementioned Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore would have done just fine.  I think Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence would have done well in studio era films as well.  Now people who are just in films as a result of nepotism (Nicholas Cage) or who have had repeat box office flops (Kevin Costner) I don't think would have done well.  People like Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and others who are put in films based on their reputation or name would have never made it in the studio era either, as they wouldn't have been in any films in the first place.  The studio era seemed to be more interested in cultivating stars who could be a good return on their investment.  Whereas today, it seems that many filmmakers are interested in sacrificing quality in return for guaranteed receipts by casting someone notorious.

Yes there are modern counterparts to older stars, and they might've succeeded back then. Meryl Streep is like Bette Davis, striving for her art, and subsuming herself in the character at hand. Like Davis, she is not conventionally beautiful, so can make a career of playing all types of characters, including the occasional beautiful one, and make them all believable. The more conventional attractive stars, cannot make a career out of this, and will do a total immersion into this only rarely, i.e. Charlize Theron in MONSTER, Nicole Kidman in HOURS.

 

Attractive people are always needed by the system, and often have to fight to prove they are more than just a pretty face and/or hot body, then and now. Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence would have fit right in in any era. The Tatum Channings have always been around, in the guise of a Tab Hunter, say. As for nepotism, the studio system of yore had been built on it, but the successful ones were mostly behind the scenes; lasting movie stars of the type of a Nicolas.Cage were few and far.between. As for notoriety, it might get you in the door, but you wouldn't become a top star. Kardashian's predecessor could be someone like Gypsy Rose Lee, who never make it as a movie star under her own name. Paris Hilton had predessors from moneyed backgrounds, but the most famous person from society with a scandalous personal life to make it back then was probablyTallulah Bankhead, but it was her oversized personality and acting ability that made her a draw on stage; it did not work to keep her a movie star. And those society beauties that did make it, such as Gene Tierney or Grace Kelly, did not have their scandals that publicized.

 

Barbara Stanwyck or Julianne Moorr, Cary.Grant or George Clooney, each might have been successful in the other's era. As for a Kevin Costner, around 25 years ago he had a remarkable run of hits for some 3 or 4 years. Back in the studio era, he would have been protected once he started to slip, at least initially, as.they tried to protect their investment in him. Long careers like his, or someone like Robert Taylor back then, were the result of some tinkering with the winning formula once the.bloom was off the inital excitement.

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Assuming that they wouldn't be reading from 75 year old scripts, I can't imagine that stars like Stanwyck, Gable, Cagney, Meryl Streep, Judy Davis, and Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't star in any era, and that's only six out of many. OTOH I do have to wonder about the likes of Joan Crawford and Mickey Rooney.

 

When it comes to the pictures themselves, I think that many of today's blockbuster hits would appeal to mass audiences of long ago, if for nothing else but the cinematography.  But I doubt if more than a small percentage of vintage Hollywood B&W films would be able to reach much larger an audience in 2015 than what TCM has today.  This is more of a reflection of what modern audiences are used to in the way of bells and whistles, not to mention what their reaction would likely be to the heavy hand of the code era censors and their laughingly phony endings.  A sprinkling of those Send For The Preacher wrapups can be heartwarming, but after awhile it's like watching the same commercial 50 times a week.

I could see Mickey Rooney doing the "Home Alone" movies as a kid...

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An old bf of mine in "the biz" was telling me scenes now are often less than 60 seconds long. He was amazed anyone could ACT in anything with such short opportunities to get into a charactor, or even emote! 

He was the one who first pointed out to me what a horrible actor Tom Hanks is. I really watched him in movies after that and "saw" what he was talking about. Hanks simply chose better films to be in, and it made him look better. Same is true for Costner before him.

 

 

Thanks for sharing this information on Tom Hanks from your former bf in the biz. Yes, Hanks is a weak actor, but the masses love him --- which of course is all that's really needed to make one a "movie star."

Multiple takes and editing can create the illusion of a performance when acting ability is lacking.

 

Even in "old Hollywood" there were many successful movie stars whose acting ability was as miniscule  (or even more miniscule) than that of Tom Hanks. The studios did their best to make sure their money makers appeared competent.     

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I have another observation and I'm not sure if this should be a separate thread or just a continuation of this thread, but here goes.

 

Has the lack of modern counterparts to the old film genres hindered modern Hollywood from finding and developing a cache of actors that are bound by type to a specific genre? For example, John Wayne was typed for westerns and war films, Karloff and Lugosi for horror, Cagney, Bogart, Robinson, and Raft for gangster and crime dramas. Although the afore mentioned stars did occasionally venture out of their genres they always returned to type because that was what the public most wanted to see them do. However, today there are no genres, per se. Yes, there are still horror films, westerns, crime dramas, etc., but each film is a blockbuster and the stars that perform in these blockbuster films are used in multi genre films. De Niro in MARY SHELLY'S FRANKENSTEIN, De Niro in CASINO or Nicholson in WOLF, Nicholson in HOFFA. 1.) When did Hollywood change their way of making pictures from genre specific with a roster of actors and actresses groomed for specific genres to the big blockbuster that any star actor can audition for? 2.) Which system do you TCM fans prefer?      

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I think the actors specific to genre went out when the studio system disappeared.  During the studio system era, actors were pigeonholed into whatever genre delivered box office receipts.

 

Cagney/Robinson/Bogart- Gangster films

Flynn- Swashbucklers/Adventure films

Davis- "Weepies"

Grant- Screwball comedies/Romantic comedies

Garland- Musicals

 

Etc. 

 

When actors appeared in films outside their "accepted" genre, i.e. Flynn appearing in screwball comedies, many times their films did not do well at the box office, because fans wanted to see Flynn (for example) swinging a sword.  James Cagney was known for his Gangster films but wanted to do more musicals.  In fact, he won an Oscar for his musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy.  I believe Cagney only made 4-5 musicals versus however many dozens of gangster films he appeared in.  Cagney's gangster films made money, his musicals were not as successful, which is why he appeared in so many gangster films. 

 

Also, during the studio system, specific studios were known for churning out a certain type of film.  Warner Brothers, for example, was mostly known for their Gangster and Adventure films, with the occasional drama to suit Bette Davis.  MGM was known for their musicals for Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Gene Kelly.

 

When the studio system dissolved in the 1960s, the actors were freelance and studios seemed to produce whatever type of film was brought to them by outside producers.  I could be wrong, but I don't believe that studios had writers, producers, etc. on the payroll anymore to churn out screenplays and scripts.  In the current system, I believe that production companies rent out soundstages at studios to produce their films.  An actor could do one film at Warner Brothers, the next at Paramount and the next at MGM. 

 

It's hard to say which system I prefer. 

 

With the studio system, I find there to be a higher quality of the overall product.  The actors seem better suited for their roles, mostly because their role was probably written with them in mind.  Sometimes however, it can seem like the overall story (dialogue, actor's performance, etc.) can be hampered by the rigidity of the production code and the studio's desire to maintain a specific image for their actor.  It's the studio system films that skirt the rules through innuendo and other tricks that prove to be the most interesting.

 

However, with the current system, it seems that films are allowed to take more risks.  Some "risks" are a little less savory (gratuitous sex and profanity, for example) and others make the films fun and interesting.  The freedom that actors have to fully immerse themselves in their role and not worry about ruining an image of them allows them to grow more as performers. 

 

I think both systems have their pros and cons.  I can't state a preference for one system over another, because I just love movies in general.  Both types of systems have produced tons of great films and tons of not so great films.

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Given that tastes of audiences change from generation to generation are film stars a breed of performer that can surpass generational audience change and taste and adapt to any era, style, and any type of film or are they locked into their own eras by the type and style of the films made for that point of time. Would today's roster of stars be as accepted to audiences of the past as they are today or would our grand parents  and great grand parents scratch their heads and wonder what the hell did Hollywood see in them? And likewise would stars of the past be accepted by modern audiences or would they be laughed at as relics from the past? Could you envision stars from the past staring in the type of films churned out by Hollywood today and could you envision stars of today staring in the kind of films Hollywood used to make, films that relied on acting to tell a story, not on special effects. Now,  

 

Katharine Hepburn would make a better Romulan than Chinese.

 

Dragon+Seed+(3).jpg

 

 

There always are...possibilities

 

Commander_Toreth.JPG

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Yes there are modern counterparts to older stars

 

I make a game of this....

 

Gena Davis=Gene Tierney

Catherine Keener=Barbara Stanwyk

 

Can't think of others off hand, but there's a million of them comparing appearance/demeanor/roles.

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Thanks for sharing this information on Tom Hanks from your former bf in the biz. Yes, Hanks is a weak actor, but the masses love him --- which of course is all that's really needed to make one a "movie star."

Multiple takes and editing can create the illusion of a performance when acting ability is lacking.

 

Even in "old Hollywood" there were many successful movie stars whose acting ability was as miniscule  (or even more miniscule) than that of Tom Hanks. The studios did their best to make sure their money makers appeared competent.     

Agree that Hanks is a weak actor.  I do enjoy him in comedies, but he is pitiful in dramas.  Dull, boring, one-dimensional.  Of course, he is good in comedies because of the supporting cast, other leads, directors and good scripts.

 Here again, the combination of the studios' PR and media have "sold" him to the public.

Of all the DVD's I have purchased or made, Hanks is not on any of them.

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Here again, the combination of the studios' PR and media have "sold" him to the public.

 

Studio PR and media have absolutely no influence on my enjoyment or lack thereof of Tom Hanks' acting. When he's in a good movie and does a good job in that movie - which has been often - I enjoy him. When it's a poor movie (in my opinion) I tend not to enjoy his acting so much.

 

There is no one on this planet that is more immune to PR and media manipulation than myself. I reject your premise - including on behalf of others - in its entirety. Nobody likes Tom Hanks because of PR. If they like him, they like him for his movies - period.

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I think we may have had a thread about this topic before-- a year or two back, perhaps worded differently.

 

I feel Charlize Theron would have been a star in any decade. She has a timeless quality, a look that transcends the ages and demands to be photographed and put into the movies.

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