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A movie star who you would like to see to be made in to a movie bio


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Sammy Davis Jr. for sure. Ever read his autobiography 'Yes, I Can'? What a life. What a talent. What a guy. Don Cheadle would be excellent.

 

There are so many wonderful actors from the 30's/40's that deserve a movie of their life. Betty Davis, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, just to name a few.

 

And I'd like to see someone do justice to Marilyn Monroe's life. It's about time.

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I would love to see a movie on the HUAC blacklisting trials ... one that shows the truth and not the Hollywood-created myths associated with it. Every movie/documentary on the subject portrays the accused as being innocent, though in reality there were mountains of evidence that incriminated them. The truth is stranger than the fiction.[/i]

 

Matt,I saw an AMC-produced documentary about ten years ago that struck me as surprisinlgy candid, and refreshingly free of all the martyr crap you usually hear about party members.

 

One book I can recommend on the topic, unitl a decent doc comes along, is "Hollywood Party" by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsly (Forum books, 1998.) Here's a quote: "The cinema is not only a vital agitprop device for the education and political indoctrination of the workers, but also a fluent channel through which to reach the minds and shape the desires of people everywhere." - Joseph Stalin addressing the Commissariat of Cinemtography, 1936.

 

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LuckyDan

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  • 3 weeks later...

Re: Variety shows: I keep wondering why there isn't a cable network devoted to them, as there is the Game Show Network for all the old* game shows.

 

 

*(Well, not so many of the really old ones are shown anymore, except for "What's My Line?" at about 3 in the morning... )

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Sterling Hayden...although I can't imagine who would play him.

 

His autobiography The Wanderer is terrific. He was an exceptionally gifted writer, sea captain and a fine actor (when the script and director were right...i.e., Dr. Strangelove, Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, The Long Goodbye). Yes, he named names during the HUAC trials, but chastised himself more severely than anyone else for doing so.

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When I saw this thread, I intended to give my two cents and say Hayden, based on his autobio The Wanderer. You beat me to it. I don't know who could play him either. Either a no name, or maybe Michael Madsen with a bleach job.

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Madsen is the only one I can think of to play him. He's underrated and is usually in hiatus in between Tarantino movies, making B flicks, so I think he'd be available. I've lived in Massachusetts most of my life, and in Maine for a few years while growing up, so I loved Heyden's autobio because I've experienced the same places he writes about.

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You lucky, lucky woman ... for reading Voyage. I have it, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I have so many books on stand by, that it's crippling when it comes to choosing the next read. What a great autobio though. I was surprised how well written it was. I'm looing forward to Voyage.

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I'm going to put aside the dry non-fiction book I'm reading and start on Voyage. Thanks for reminding I me I had it. I bought it with Wanderer online months ago, and put it away, forgetting about it until now.

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How about Mary Philbin and Paul Kohner's frustrated tale of love and loss? It really could've been a silent movie such as the ones that Miss Philbin appeared in during the twenties. Mary, whose winsome beauty led her into silents, (Phantom of the Opera and The Man Who Laughs, among others), was nurtured under the initial tutelage of none other than Eric Von Stroheim and Carl Laemmle's family. Unfortunately, her profound lack of acting technique and training ensured her early demise as an actress, especially after the talkies came into fashion. During her work at Universal studios she fell in love with gifted producer Paul Kohner, who returned her affection.

 

Kohner and she become secretly engaged but eventually her very prejudiced Irish Catholic parents find out that she'd like to marry a Jewish man. Long story short, the engagement is broken and poor ole Mary the Old Maid spends the next 40 years or so taking care of the parents and seeing almost no one while the 3 of them live in the house that Mary's hard work has paid for. Flash forward to 1988, when legendary agent Paul Kohner dies and sixty year old love letters are found near at hand in the right hand drawer of Mr. Kohner's desk. Before her death in 1993 Miss Philbin did reveal that she too had kept all his love letters.

 

Btw, fortunately, Mr. Kohner had eventually married and he had children, (including actress Susan Kohner). But man, what a sad tale of cinema glory and defeat, prejudice and misunderstanding, and thwarted longing. As Birdie (Thelma Ritter) would say in All About Eve:"What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end."

 

The only reason that I discovered all this was after viewing a dvd of The Man Who Laughs, (I really like Conrad Veidt), I was struck, as I had been when viewing Phantom of the Opera by Philbin's lovely face and terrible acting--so I tried to find out a little about her, and stumbled on this sad story. Only in the movies...

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  • 2 months later...

I've heard they are making a movie biography on Fred Astaire, with the winner of "So you think you can dance" playing him (Benji Shwimmer). I have to say I cant wait, but Fred stated in his will that he didnt want a movie made about him. I don't know how they will work around that.

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I've already heard that this project is off, but I don't know the details.

 

Most attempts to portray Astaire would probably not meet with the approval of his estate. Even if the estate has no right to prevent such a portrayal, the filmmakers are probably fearful of an expensive lawsuit of some kind.

 

Schwimmer is cute and boyish and I can sort of see him in the role (OK, I really can't see anyone in the role), but from what I've seen of his dancing, he's rather bump-and-grind in style. Not something I associate with Mr. Astaire!

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It will be just like most other star biopics - a mere shadow of the original. Why do they even bother? There have been so few of these made where the portrayer has even a scintilla of the screen appeal of the subject. There's a reason these people were stars - there's always that 'certain something' they had that can't really be matched. I generally groan when I hear that some new biopic is in the works. They rarely fail to disappoint.

 

For my money, a well put together documentary is far more satifying.

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Two words: Barbara Stanwyck ... a real life "A Star is Born" story ... although I agree that screen star movie biopics are usually terrible and I can't believe that any actress alive could possibly play Barbara without making my skin crawl. "The Audrey Hepburn Story" just made me mad. The biopic of Grace Kelly with Cheryl Ladd (*rolls eyes*) made me laugh, but not in a good way. I loved "The Aviator," but I have a feeling I wouldn't have if Howard Hughes had been a movie star instead of a producer, aviator, man of the world, and general weirdo.

 

Another good subject of a bio movie would be Joan Crawford: it would be interesting to contrast something slightly more balanced with "Mommie Dearest."

 

Also, Tallulah Bankhead might work as the subject of a bio-movie (so long as the movie were rated NC-17), because Bankhead was so interesting, and yet she did so few films that not many people have a clear idea of what she looked like.

 

In general, though, I agree with those who have said that movie biopics are bad and biographic documentaries are better. If the question were, which movie star should be the subject of a new, detailed biographic documentary, I would have a list as long as my arm.

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A few years ago I saw a Broadway play about Marlene Dietrich, with the British actress Sian Phillips (she used to be married to Peter O'Toole). It was a pretty weak play (about the older Dietrich), but Phillips was excellent, and really evoked Dietrich. The last part of the show was a recreation of Dietrich's world tour - she sang - and Phillips, sleek, blonde, those absolutely fabulous gowns - I was very impressed. She WAS Dietrich. I really enjoyed that - it's so rare to see an actor who can become the character so completely, especially when that character is a real person with whom we are familiar.

 

There was also a play, off-Broadway, about Tallulah. The young woman who played her (It was a comedy), wrote the play as well, and I was surprised that someone so young, really too young to have remembered Tallulah, could capture her so well. She didn't look much like Tallulah, but she had all the theatrical gestures and the voice, and cadence of speech, just right.

 

So -- it can be done, it just isn't done often enough.

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