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A new appreciation


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First, I might use this idea for a Today's Topic column later on-- but I wanted to create a standalone thread about this, because I feel it's a topic that could be discussed at greater length.

 

And it doesn't have to be star you hated before and now suddenly love, because it might just be someone you were indifferent to in the past, but having seen several more performances in a few pictures, you have formed a stronger, favorable opinion.

 

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For me, it's Una Merkel. I caught a Harold Lloyd feature the other day, THE CAT'S PAW, and I thought her cute sassy style worked perfectly with Lloyd. It probably didn't hurt that she reminded me of one of my sisters at that age. She also turned up in a recent airing of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, where she acted opposite Walter Huston and played Ann Rutledge.

 

Then, I came across a disc with MURDER IN THE FLEET-- which she made in 1935 for MGM. This time she costars with Robert Taylor, Ted Healy and Nat Pendleton and she's just as charming and spunky as ever.

 

She certainly had a long film career. In the 50s she was still working at MGM, in character roles. For instance, she helps look after Jane Powell in RICH YOUNG AND PRETTY. And she plays Debbie Reynold's ma in THE MATING GAME. Her style is just as engaging as it was in those earlier movies from the 30s.

 

I wonder why I never noticed Una Merkel much before in movies. I'd like to know more about her and see as many of her other films as possible. I don't think she will make my top ten favorite actresses of all time. She may not even get the number eleven spot on that list. But she's worth recognizing and mentioning here on the TCM forums.

 

So who is someone that you've gained a newfound appreciation for...? Who is your Una Merkel?

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Guy Stockwell

 

I recently watched The War Lord. He plays the envious brother of a medieval knight (Charlton Heston) in the old-fashioned Barrymore-Rathbone tradition.

 

E18ynsB.jpg

 

 

His flamboyant, theatrical performance easily steals scenes from Heston and even Richard Boone. Admittedly, he is playing the flashiest role, but still, no mean achievement.

 

Why didn't he become a bigger name? Perhaps his acting style was out of fashion. Maybe Universal didn't give him the right part. He was given the Cooper role in the ridiculous Beau Geste remake, which was certainly no help. After his Universal contract ran out he pretty much drifted. Eventually he put on a great deal of weight, and in some of his later character roles was almost unrecognizable.

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Guy Stockwell

 

I recently watched The War Lord. He plays the envious brother of a medieval knight (Charlton Heston) in the old-fashioned Barrymore-Rathbone tradition.

 

Been awhile since I've seen THE WAR LORD. You're right-- there are some people who should have had busier screen careers but for whatever reason they didn't get the chance to shine as much. 

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Been awhile since I've seen THE WAR LORD. You're right-- there are some people who should have had busier screen careers but for whatever reason they didn't get the chance to shine as much. 

 

Wow, I haven't seen it in awhile either. This one was a real favorite of my teenage years. (I remember the scene where the lord enters the wood where the folk deity is carved in the tree). I wish it was more readily available on disc. 

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I saw this question earlier today and have spent some time thinking about it. 

 

There have been some who, thanks to TCM, I've discovered and developed a real appreciation for them:

 

Jean Arthur, I really started to like her when I saw The Ex-Mrs. Bradford and Talk of the Town

Ann Sheridan, I saw her in Silver River and I wanted to see more.

Ida Lupino, I loved her in They Drive By Night

Fred MacMurray, I had only seen him in My Three Sons and had no idea he could play a bad guy like in Double Indemnity.

Barbara Stanwyck, She also had me hooked in Double Indemnity

 

William Powell

Myrna Loy

 

William Powell and Myrna Loy's collaboration in The Thin Man made me want to see more.  I don't know why, but for years I had heard of The Thin Man and for whatever reason thought it was a western.  I have no idea why.  I'm not the biggest fan of Westerns, but have grown to like more and more of them, and I had been avoiding The Thin Man because I didn't want to watch a Western.  I was bonkers.  Lol. 

 

There have also been others who I wasn't wasn't a fan of initially but have grown to like them like Jean Harlow.  I'm slowly warming up to Carole Lombard.

 

One actress who I've really developed an appreciation for is Claudette Colbert.  I had seen her in It Happened One Night and while I thought she was funny and found the movie amusing as a whole, I wasn't seeking Colbert out.  However, then one night, I watched The Palm Beach Story and really loved Colbert.  From then on, I've been trying to see Colbert in all I can and I really love what I've seen.

 

Clark Gable, Colbert's co-star in It Happened One Night, is another person I was lukewarm about initially.  I don't know what it was about him, while I thought he was funny in IHON, I didn't see a reason to see more Gable films.  However, I saw him in Test Pilot with Myrna Loy and I really liked him in that.  Since then, I've been trying to watch more Gable films and found that I really enjoy his persona. 

 

Finally, another person I've developed an appreciation for is Doris Day.  For years, I avoided her films because I thought she was this goody two-shoes, saccharine personality--which was actually a really unfair assessment, because I hadn't actually watched any of her movies.  Then I saw her in her trio of films with Rock Hudson and really liked her.  The film that really made me like her was Love Me or Leave Me.  I was happy to see that there was another side of her and see her in a grittier role.  Since then, I've seen many of her films and have found her to be an enjoyable film presence. 

 

I'm very grateful to TCM for making all these films available so I can continue to learn about new personalities and also continue to see more and more films of those actors and actresses whom I really enjoy. 

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Seeing a film actor deliver on the live stage certainly changes one's perception of them too.  Kevin Spacey comes to mind.

Bogie,

 

I like how you reference stage work and also how you are looking at old favorites (such as John Wayne) that one may see in a new light. 

 

Some performers reveal different talents when they veer off into voice work in animated projects. It's like they reinvent themselves with these other opportunities.

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...another person I've developed an appreciation for is Doris Day.  For years, I avoided her films because I thought she was this goody two-shoes, saccharine personality--which was actually a really unfair assessment, because I hadn't actually watched any of her movies.  Then I saw her in her trio of films with Rock Hudson and really liked her.  The film that really made me like her was Love Me or Leave Me.  I was happy to see that there was another side of her and see her in a grittier role.  Since then, I've seen many of her films and have found her to be an enjoyable film presence. 

 

I like what you said about Claudette Colbert. And I agree about Doris Day. The same thing happened to me with Doris, especially, in terms of developing a new appreciation of her talents. 

 

I had seen a broadcast of THE BALLAD OF JOSIE on the Encore Westerns channel about two years ago. There is a scene where she has to get all distraught with Peter Graves and the other men when they are trying to ruin her sheep farm. The script has a lot of silly dialogue in it, and I am sure most actresses would have played it straight. But she was obviously too smart for the lackluster writing and she sort of spoofs the situation with her exaggerated gestures. But she doesn't get too broad with it, so you can still sympathize with the character's plight and view her as a human being (not a cartoon) up against formidable obstacles.

 

I ended up rewatching that scene twice to study how she pulled it off. And it became clear to me that not only was she acting circles around the others, but she knew that it was up to her to salvage what was essentially a bad script and make it work for audiences. I definitely gained a deeper appreciation of Doris Day the movie star. I have a feeling she got saddled with a lot of junk at the end of her film career, because her husband and the studios knew "if anyone can pull this garbage off, it's Doris." 

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Finally, another person I've developed an appreciation for is Doris Day.  For years, I avoided her films because I thought she was this goody two-shoes, saccharine personality--which was actually a really unfair assessment, because I hadn't actually watched any of her movies.  Then I saw her in her trio of films with Rock Hudson and really liked her.  The film that really made me like her was Love Me or Leave Me.  I was happy to see that there was another side of her and see her in a grittier role.  Since then, I've seen many of her films and have found her to be an enjoyable film presence. 

 

 

Great points about Doris Day, speedracer. I too had preconceived notions about her without actually having seen any of her film work.

I had thought she was a singer who appeared in lightweight movies and therefore did not consider that she was actually an actor as well.

But when I actually saw her in movies I was amazed at the ease with which spoke her lines and behaved in such a natural, spontaneous way as if she was saying the words "for real." Even her "big" reactions seem to come from some very real place.

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Great points about Doris Day, speedracer. I too had preconceived notions about her without actually having seen any of her film work.

I had thought she was a singer who appeared in lightweight movies and therefore did not consider that she was actually an actor as well.

But when I actually saw her in movies I was amazed at the ease with which spoke her lines and behaved in such a natural, spontaneous way as if she was saying the words "for real." Even her "big" reactions seem to come from some very real place.

They did come from a real place in her dramas. Doris has had a very turbulent life. Her first husband abused her physically and emotionally and she used those memories in Love Me or Leave Me, Julie, Storm Warning and so much so in Midnight Lace, that she collapsed hysterically and production had to be shut down for a few days. Doris was no goody 2 shoes by any means

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There've been a few over the years.  ONE I know will make some of you laugh, and more of you gag!

 

That is: JERRY LEWIS.

 

His more dramatic turn in "The King Of Comedy" and more recently on "Law & Order SVU" showed more of a depth that comedians rarely have a chance to show due to their largely being successful as comic actors first.  It plagued ROBIN WILLIAMS longer than it should have.

 

I had always considered ELIZABETH TAYLOR as simply a "fashion model on screen" than an actual actress until VIRGINIA WOOLF.

 

I'd have to give more thought on who else might fit in here...

 

 

Sepiatone

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I had always considered ELIZABETH TAYLOR as simply a "fashion model on screen" than an actual actress until VIRGINIA WOOLF.

 

I'd have to give more thought on who else might fit in here...

 

 

Sepiatone

 

I agree with you about Elizabeth Taylor.  I had seen her in some of her earlier roles like as Amy in Little Women, and was not impressed.  Well I didn't like the film as a whole, but Taylor in that film didn't do anything for me. 

 

I had also seen her in a slightly later film, Father of the Bride, and the first time I watched the film, Taylor did the same for me as she did in Little Women.  What did make me appreciate her talents as an actress was also Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Richard Burton still doesn't do much for me, but Taylor really impressed me.  Her portrayal of Martha, the hard drinking wife of Richard Burton was fascinating.  I can't blame the young married couple, Sandy Dennis and George Segal for simultaneously feeling awkward and wanting to leave but also being captivated by what is going on and staying.  I also found Taylor to still look very pretty even though she made an effort to gain weight and makeup to make herself look a little "rough."

 

After 'Virginia Woolf,' I sought out more of Taylor's adult work.  I also really loved her in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Her role in A Place in the Sun with one of my favorites, Montgomery Clift, was also entertaining. 

 

I've discovered that I really like Taylor's dramatic roles over her more lightweight roles.  She also does steamy romantic dramas very well, which are also types of films I really enjoy. 

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TB:  I've seen SCAVENGER HUNT, THE CHEAP DETECTIVE and MURDER BY DEATH so many times that when I saw "The Muppets Take Manhattan" (on the BYU Network) last year and James Coco used what was likely his 'real' voice it threw me.  It had slipped my mind he was actually an Italian actor from NYC.

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     speedracer5:  You might want to check out the 1978 UK-based suspense movie "THE MEDUSA TOUCH" starring Richard Burton, Lino Ventura and Lee Remick.  I really enjoyed Richard Burton's performance as writer John Morlar who has a "gift" of telekinesis . . . or does he?  And if he does, what next?  I've seen "The Medusa Touch" a number of times (at least 5 times) and you might like R. Burton in this movie.

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TB:  I've seen SCAVENGER HUNT, THE CHEAP DETECTIVE and MURDER BY DEATH so many times that when I saw "The Muppets Take Manhattan" (on the BYU Network) last year and James Coco used what was likely his 'real' voice it threw me.  It had slipped my mind he was actually an Italian actor from NYC.

----------------------

I agree that Coco is very good in the Neil Simon comedies-- and you might also mention his work in ONLY WHEN I LAUGH, which I suspect was closest to his real-life personality. One of his best friends was Doris Roberts, which kind of makes sense, because they both approach roles in a similar way.

 

I loved him in his recurring role on TV's Who's the Boss...

 

images37.jpg

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John Payne:   I had seen him in a few movies like Miracle on 34th Street and The Razor Edge but it wasn't until I saw him in 3 early 50s noir films that I really took notice of him;  Kansas City Confidential,  99 River Street and Slightly Scarlet.

He also does a spectacular job in a mid-70s episode of Columbo, with Janet Leigh. It was one of his last roles.

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I agree that Coco is very good in the Neil Simon comedies-- and you might also mention his work in ONLY WHEN I LAUGH, which I suspect was closest to his real-life personality. One of his best friends was Doris Roberts, which kind of makes sense, because they both approach roles in a similar way.

 

I loved him in his recurring role on TV's Who's the Boss...

 

images37.jpg

Speaking(?) of Coco on TV, he starred in a sitcom based on a comic strip I used to like to read( and not in my paper anymore) called THE DUMPLINGS with GERALDINE BROOKS.

 

The show's premise was that the two owned a diner, were both overweight and VERY much in love.  Mrs. Dumpling did the cooking for the diner, which was very successful because of it.

 

The show also had one of my favorite scenes and lines----

 

A diner patron complains that she tried Mrs. Dumpling's meatloaf recipe, but the meatloaf didn't turn out as good.  She lightly accuses Mrs. Dumpling of leaving something out of the recipe so that nobody else could make it as good.  Mrs. Dumpling denies this and asks, "Did you put in enough SALT?", and the lady answers that she did.  Mrs. D then asks, "Did you use enough KETCHUP?"  again the reply was "Yes. I followed your recipe to a T."  So then Mrs. D asks, "Did you put in ENOUGH LOVE?"  and so the lady laughs and asks, "C'MON!  HOW do you put LOVE into a MEATLOAF?"  and Mrs. D answers,  "The SAME WAY you put it into SEX!"  :lol:

 

ALWAYS loved that bit!  And Coco as the husband was brilliant in it!

 

 

Sepiatone

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There've been a few over the years.  ONE I know will make some of you laugh, and more of you gag!

 

That is: JERRY LEWIS.

 

His more dramatic turn in "The King Of Comedy" and more recently on "Law & Order SVU" showed more of a depth that comedians rarely have a chance to show due to their largely being successful as comic actors first.  It plagued ROBIN WILLIAMS longer than it should have.

 

I had always considered ELIZABETH TAYLOR as simply a "fashion model on screen" than an actual actress until VIRGINIA WOOLF.

 

I'd have to give more thought on who else might fit in here...

 

 

Sepiatone

I don't think Lewis really did that much in THE KING OF COMEDY. He was rather catatonic. It was just the contrast with his usual persona that was so hard-hitting.

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I don't think Lewis really did that much in THE KING OF COMEDY. He was rather catatonic. It was just the contrast with his usual persona that was so hard-hitting.

But he's superb in the five-part story arc he did on Wiseguy in the late 80s. I've written about it in another thread. He could have had a greater career as a dramatic actor (more than someone like Robin Williams did).

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But he's superb in the five-part story arc he did on Wiseguy in the late 80s. I've written about it in another thread. He could have had a greater career as a dramatic actor (more than someone like Robin Williams did).

...more than Williams? That's taking it a bit far.

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One of the first actors I gained new respect for was the great Eddie Albert. I had watched him for years in the old Warners films as the second lead [ or third at times] in light comedies.But when I watched his performance in "Attack" as the cowardly Captain, I was blown away. I knew nothing of his war record at the time. A few years later he again knocked me for a loop when he co-starred with Gregory Peck in the much under rated "Captain Newman M.D.".  I became a big fan of his work, although he continued in lighter roles, at times he did cross over to the more dramatic i.e. the prison warden in Burt Reynolds "The Longest Yard". He always gave a stellar performance even if the movie didn't live up to it's potential Eddie Albert did...

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