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Classic and Contemporary Stars


pandorainmay
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Would a Tyrone Power cut the mustard in today's Hollywood? What about a Bette Davis? Which stars of the studio era might still be a hit with audiences today? By the same token, do you think that any contemporary actors or actresses are throwbacks to the glory days of classic cinema? Could a Nicole Kidman or a George Clooney have been successful studio stars in the '30s? '40s? '50s?

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Good topic sydneymessenger.

Todays actors and actresses don't have what the classic stars have. All it is today is sex scenes, nude scenes, cussing, and it may have a little plot, but no story.

I think people like Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn would be too talented for todays' generation, I don't think they would appeal, because today if there isn't no cursing, sex, or nudity, young people don't want to see it. But classic stars could have you out your seat and mouth hanging. I think someone like Joan Blondell would be popular today, Clara Bow, I think the stars who possessed sex appeal, would be popular today if they were young actors of this era. But, I don't think Hollywood could handle a Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Kay Francis or a Bette Davis. They can't come up with good movies. Maybe George Clooney and Nicole Kidman, Zeta Jones would of been popular in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

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Awfully glib swngsoul. Standards for what is allowed is certainly looser now, but the top grossing (I'll use that to judge what people most want to see) movies are all G/PG rated and would pass the old Code. And except for a handful of teen sex comedies, most movies with much adult material appeal to adults and not young people.

 

And the original question--I think Robert Walker, John Garfield, Tony Curtis could get by today. Boyish good looks with an edge to their personality seems to be the style today. Also Veronica Lake, Gene Tierney, Janet Leigh, slim and attractive gals with superfluous acting ability. Of course they'd all have to ham up their performances.

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Classic Stars who might still be employed today:

 

Elizabeth Taylor & Ava Gardner

(extraordinary beauty is recognizable at any time, but they'd probably be washed up alot earlier)

 

Cary Grant

(ditto, about the extraordinary beauty, plus this guy was very smart about his career)

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Classic Stars that this bright, guilty, contemporary world of ours would probably not acknowledge:

 

William Powell

(they'd tell him to get a nose job & lose the nasal accent--never noting his comic timing, insouciance, and devil-may-care attitude, sadly. Good thing Bill went to law school after all)

 

Bette Davis

(Oh, I can hear the agent now, telling her she's too short, too unpretty, too loud...and I hope she'd walk out of that office and do it ALL her way!)

___________________________________________________________

 

Modern Stars who might have made it in the studio era:

 

Anthony Hopkins

(talent, talent, & mystery; he could play everything from Charles Laughton parts to some Claude Rains roles)

 

Meryl Streep

(ditto, and what a fascinating face; she might have gotten some of the Olivia de Havilland parts)

 

George Clooney

(handsome, but will he ever play a grownup?)

 

Drew Barrymore

(something indefinable, the family profile is there, & maybe the talent)

___________________________________________________________

 

Modern Stars who might not have made it in the studio era:

 

Al Pacino & Robert DeNiro

(too ethnic, but the J.Carrol Naish and Sam Levine parts might have gone to them)

 

Denzel Washington

(so handsome & so talented, yet prejudice might have relegated him to the background)

 

 

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Vernados, your choices of Robert Walker & John Garfield are intriguing, though I think Tony Curtis was just too pretty for today. Kind of like Robert Taylor, whose youthful appearance was a bit much for some moviegoers even during the "gentler" times of the studio era.

 

Off the top of my head, the most intriguing thing about this what-might-have-been, would be to see some of today's actors and actresses captured in a George Hurrell-type photograph. Some of the ones that I'd like to see given the studio treatment also happen to be actors who haven't, in my view, been given their due today. These might have had more roles in the old days--

 

Cary Elwes. He was born to play Errol Flynn's younger brother or perhaps a young leading man in one of those remakes of "Beau Geste" or as an escort for Deanna Durbin.

 

Elizabeth McGovern. Her lush beauty and interesting intelligence is only hinted at in her contemporary roles--oh, she reminds me of a darker, saner sister of Frances Farmer.

 

Jeff Daniels. I guess he's taken this trip before in "The Purple Rose of Cairo", but he'd have been terrific as a Van Johnson or Dennis Morgan type like lead.

 

Ah, it's all in fun.

 

 

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This is a really good topic that I have thought about a few times before in the past. I definely think George Clooney would make a good star for the 30's because he has that look. As long as he has one of those Clark Gable-John Gilbert mustaches on his lip. I definely think both Johnny Depp and Daniel Day Lewis could of made it back than because they have the gift of transforming themselves into anything, much like Paul Muni and Lon Chaney. I also can definely see a younger Kevin Kline as a swashbuckler in the Fairbanks/Flynn mode. And because Hollywood is so watered down with marginal talent these days I think just about everyone of the classic era could make it now. I mean Adam Sandler is playing a romantic leading man.

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I've recently decided that the new "ER" heart throb, Goran Visnjic has many qualities of a classic actor, especially my fave, John Gilbert. He's dark, mysterious, great smile, tough but with kind eyes. For anyone who hasn't discovered him yet, just tune in to the show some Thursday and I think you'll agree :)

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Many times have I thought about this topic while watching classic film. I believe that many of the high profile stars of yesteryear wouldn't even get passed the first cut in today's Hollywood. Not because of talent, but most unfortunately because most would not fit the physical status quo. It saddens me that actressess such as Judy Garland and Betty Grable wouldn't be able to make it, because they would not fit the mold. Dancing, singing and fabulous acting have been replaced with the "model turned actress" phenomenon that rules present day Hollywood.

 

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There was a post somewhere about whether Bette Davis or Joan Crawford was the best actress of their time. For my money, it was neither. It was Barbara Stanwyck -- equally great, whether Drama or comedy (at which Bette and Joan were not very proficient; Stanwyck could also dance and sing (something else J & B did not do). So for the complete package, it was Stanwyck

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Gkreisb, I agree about the talent of Barbara Stanwyck--but I don't think that she'd fit the physical cookie cutter of today. Her face was always interesting, but not, by today's lights, pretty. With her drive, maybe she'd be a character actress, like Lili Taylor. BTW, Meryl Streep has been mentioned too...see earlier posting on this thread. I think she might have made it in the classic era--in the ladylike roles, perhaps?

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Buster Crabbe would easily surpass Brad Pitt as today's Hollywood Adonis. Look at Crabbe's Tarzan movies and drool, even if they were made in l933. The gorgeous, hunky Charles Starrett and Johnny Mack Brown and incredibly massive George O'Brien (just watch this Apollo in F.W. Murnau's l929 classic, "Sunrise") could easily fit the shoes of today's action stars--especially when these stars are the worn-out, has-beens Arnie, Sly Stallonne and Bruce Willis. Faye Dunaway and Kathleen Turner would have been major femme stars back in the 40s. Today, they're completely ignored. Anita Page would probably get the Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon roles today. Rudolph Valentino would probably have had no trouble getting a starring role in the "Godfather" movies.

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I also believe Streep to be talented, but when was the last time she was cast as the sexy siren? I can recall films where she has been the object of affection, but not in the past ten years. At her age now, women like Joan Crawford and Betty Davis were still breaking mens hearts. Sad to say, even Meryl Streep doesn't fit Hollywood's new standards.

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Well, I don't think Streep's ever been cast as a sexy siren of any kind. Don't you think that she's more in the tradition of such actresses as Irene Dunne, Joan Fontaine & Olivia de Havilland? I hope that she'll always find some work, even in our often crass, shallow world--look at her this year, she's in "The Hours" , "Adaptation", the mini-series "Angels in America" and a current production being filmed called "Flora Plum". I'd say she ain't washed up yet!

 

On another part of this subject, it just occurred to me that if Burt Lancaster & Kirk Douglas were young actors today, they'd probably find work--their looks and intensity might just be the ticket to Hollywood now as it was for them then. They'd probably love the idea of all the big stars having their own production companies too, since these guys were two actors who were among the first to try that in order to develop projects.

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Hey, noone ever said Meryl Streep was washed up. It seems that I'm taking some heat over my earlier comments. I only meant to say that while her looks are intriguing and her acting ability is far reaching, her talents don't find much play as the leading ladies that Hollywood manufactures today(Nicole Kidman excluded). Unfortunately, the majority of films now are full of fast cars, scantily clad eighteen year-olds, and teenagers sticking their appendages into apple pies! Ofcourse Streep has "made it!" My point is that her talents are rare and under utilized in today's industry that carries the sentiment of quantity vs quality.

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A couple of people who may have been born 40 years late, though they each have experienced great success in our time:

 

Bernadette Peters:

Can't you just see, (and hear) her in "Broadway Melody"(1929) or in "Alexander's Ragtime Band"(1938) giving Alice Faye & Ethel Merman a run for their money? Of course, she's visited classic movies in her career as the kewpie doll in "Silent Movie" (1976) & "Pennies from Heaven" (1981) & currently you lucky New Yorkers can catch her in a revival of "Gypsy" onstage. Her voice, taken by itself on a cd, is truly lovely and so evocative of days gone by. Her soft features, golden curls and lush figure might've made old Hollywood employ her more. Wouldn't it have been fun to see her in the Virginia Mayo part in "White Heat"?

 

Ed Harris:

Sure, they'd make him wear a toupee at some point, but for some reason, I think he could've been one of those guys at Warner Bros. in the '40s--tough, yet sensitive, doomed, but determined. Hmmm, he'd probably make a pretty scary gunsel too--with his range, maybe he'd give Elisha Cook Jr. a rival.

 

 

 

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  • 2 years later...

As far as Tyrone Power and Bette Davis, yes, I definitely think they could cut it today. Taking Power first, there is always room for the drop dead gorgeous. And he was a wonderful actor. The actor today I would compare him to in looks would be George Clooney and yes, I think George could have cut it in the old days as well. He's a smart man, a talented man, and a handsome man.

 

Bette Davis could cut it today but I don't think as a young woman she would have been given leads, rather, I think she would have been cast in character parts from the get-go.

 

Who from today could make it back then? Well, Johnny Depp, I think, Heath Ledger, there are quite a few. As far as women, I confess to being less familiar with the work of a lot of them, and many today to me seem very generic. One actress I know could have made it back then is Sharon Stone - she definitely has the old Hollywood glamor, as does Sigourney Weaver. But they are not really the current generation. I'd have to do some thinking about that.

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>

> Bette Davis

> (Oh, I can hear the agent now, telling her she's too

> short, too unpretty, too loud...and I hope she'd walk

> out of that office and do it ALL her way!)

> ______________________________________________________

> _____

>

 

Isn't that what they told her even back in the Golden Age? She wasn't pretty or sexy enough? "About as much sex appeal as Slim Whitman" and "can't imagnie the hero ending up with her" are two things I remember reading that studio execs said about her.

But Bette had more balls than any of them and went ahead and did it her way, anyway.

Tracey

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