Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

It Takes Character


Recommended Posts

Loved Suzanne Pleshette's voice! I always admired those people. They probably felt self-conscious growing up with a different kind of voice, but I have always hated my voice. I think it would be great to have a voice like Eugene Palette! Ha! People would certainly know when you came into the room.

 

And, too bad about Lady in the Dark. The pictures in the books look so good, I thought it might be. It did say that Gertrude Lawrence and Danny Kaye did it on Broadway. Now, that would be a memory and a half!

 

Oh, well, I guess I will just have to seek out another, more readily available film. Oh, yeah! That great box set with Marie Antoinette and David Copperfield, and the rest. I might just get that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, by all means take a look at "Lady in the Dark" if it is broadcast - it's a beautiful score. Just 'cause I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't like it either.

 

Anyway, sometimes the "just missed its" are as interesting as the bit hits, especially for us movie lovers. A sort of Monday morning quarterbacking kind of thing.

 

Over this past weekend I saw "Chad Hanna" (on another network) - a lovely family film about a circus in the 1840s, with very beautiful color (made about 1940, I think) (and a very beautifully photographed young Henry Fonda). Guy Kibbee and Jane Darwell were in the principal character parts. I though they were perfect as the gruff but kindly circus master and his wife, the fat lady.

Link to post
Share on other sites

jdb1,

 

Quote:

"What do you think about it? Are there leading players who should have taken character roles, and vice versa?"

 

jdb1...you ask some really good questions.

 

Yesterday, having watched another movie starring George Brent ("The Man Who Talked Too Much"), I remain convinced Mr. Brent is not a leading man.

 

George Brent-o-****...please don't misunderstand my message. I like George Brent. I think George Brent is a fine actor. I (simply) don't understand the decision to cast Mr. Brent as a leading man in so many 1930's and 1940's movies. I wonder, "did George Brent 'have the goods' on one, or more, of the Warner brothers?".

 

Rusty

Link to post
Share on other sites

> jdb1,

>

> Quote:

> "What do you think about it? Are there leading

> players who should have taken character roles, and

> vice versa?"

>

> jdb1...you ask some really good questions.

>

> Yesterday, having watched another movie

> starring George Brent ("The Man Who Talked Too

> Much"), I remain convinced Mr. Brent is not a leading

> man.

>

> George Brent-o-****...please don't misunderstand my

> message. I like George Brent. I think George Brent

> is a fine actor. I (simply) don't understand the

> decision to cast Mr. Brent as a leading man in so

> many 1930's and 1940's movies. I wonder, "did George

> Brent 'have the goods' on one, or more, of the Warner

> brothers?".

>

> Rusty

 

I have to agree with you about Brent. He's fine as an actor, but I never understood all the fuss, especially in these postings. He was rather bland (kind of soft and passive looking), and not much charisma as a performer. A leading man should have some magnetism, don't you think? Take Edward G. Robinson and Paul Muni as examples. Not much on looks, but plenty of dynamism.

 

However, back then, just as today, there were many actors who strike me as exceedingly average in every way, but who are popular and successful nonetheless. Brent's success may not necessarily have come through blackmail, but because the studios recognized that some people like their stars bland. I guess in part it's the non-threatening aspect that makes people like them. Me - I like a dose of personality/sarcasm/danger/humor in my leading men. I don't mind it in the ladies, either.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know exactly what you mean, and although I really enjoy George Brent, he was much too mellow and passive, really, to be a leading man. My theory is, there just werent' enough guys around who presented good leading man material. When you think about it, there really are only a handful of "STARS." I don't know why, but so many of the individuals who came to Hollywood just didn't cut it. I think the fans must have had something to do with it. If someone started getting a lot of positive fan mail, the must have immediately started grooming them for stardom, and I'll bet there just weren't that many. More often, in my opinion, people just weren't moved to respond. Brent must have sparked something and gained favor with the public?

 

And, yes, jdb! I will definitely see Lady in the Dark someday, but TCM doesn't play it often, right? And, I am not going to go out and buy it. That's all I meant. There are so many other films readily available and ones that spark my interest. So, I will just put Lady on the back burner.

 

And, I think Kibbee and Darwell would make a great couple, and by your description, they did! Haven't seen anything new lately, been too busy. Well, I did take time out to watch GWTW and TWoO.

Link to post
Share on other sites

jdb1,

 

Okay, George Brent did not need to resort to blackmail to gain leading man status. What about George Arliss? George Arliss must be the weirdest looking (golden age of Hollywood) leading man. Did I mention Warner Brothers billed him as Mr. George Arliss? I think Mr. George Arliss had some scandalous info on Jack Warner.

 

Oh, I am kidding. I have watched three of his movies--"Disraeli" (1929), "The Man Who Played God" (1932) and "The House of Rothschild" (1934). George Arliss was cast as leading man because of his unique screen persona. I wish his name was included among the great actors of Hollywood.

 

Rusty

Link to post
Share on other sites

Allow me to add Richard Jaeckel to the list. His movie career consists almost all in the western or war movies but he had a lengthy television career as well.

 

He seems especially good at playing nasty young gunfighters in his 1950's westerns. For example "3:10 to Yuma", "The Gunfighter", "The Violent Men" also in "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "The Dirty Dozen" among others.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"My theory is, there just werent' enough guys around who presented good leading man material."

 

I posted about this issue during the Bette Davis Star of the Month (May). I think there was plenty of material around; but Mr. Brent fulfilled a role: and that was to let the star shine. He supported Miss Davis in many of her vehicles, and I think he was supposed to blend in with the wallpaper so that she could explode on screen.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Blending into the background, that's quite an accomplishment for Brent, supposedly he was a member of the IRA and a wanted man in Ireland, at least that's from some biographical accounts of him that I've read. -Susan

Link to post
Share on other sites

> Blending into the background, that's quite an

> accomplishment for Brent, supposedly he was a member

> of the IRA and a wanted man in Ireland, at least

> that's from some biographical accounts of him that

> I've read. -Susan

 

 

No -- really??? Wow. Talk about hiding in plain sight!

 

At any rate, I really don't think a leading player should be background material. Then again, the bigwigs of Hollywood had some pretty strange ideas about what was beautiful/musical/appealing. I suppose we'd be bored and/or overwhelmed if they were all supernovas all the time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> Allow me to add Richard Jaeckel to the list. His

> movie career consists almost all in the western or

> war movies but he had a lengthy television career as

> well.

>

> He seems especially good at playing nasty young

> gunfighters in his 1950's westerns. For example "3:10

> to Yuma", "The Gunfighter", "The Violent Men" also in

> "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "The Dirty Dozen" among

> others.

 

I'm with you - I always liked Jaeckel too. He was one of those guys that was "in everything," or so it seemed to me. I recall seeing him in things from the late 40s/early 50s wherein he looked about 16 years old. He had a very long movie career, but I understand his later life was not so good.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree on Brent. He seemed to have two expressions....bored and sniffing bored.

 

Meanwhile, if George Arliss is who I think he is...I am not good with names, more's the pity, I found him, well, attractive.

 

I also like to watch behind the main actors in most movies. Ball of Fire is a particular favorite of mine, as is You Can't Take It With You. In Ball of Fire, since Gary Cooper causes my eyes to bleed, I take particular delight in the glorious stable of wonderful character actors, especially Tully Marshall whom, yes, I found attractive.

 

Roland Young is a not major actor who does a nice job in The Man Who Could Work Miracles. Here is a movie in which a character actor was promoted to lead role, and does a darned fine job of it.

 

I just don't think Brent had any range.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> I agree on Brent. He seemed to have two

> expressions....bored and sniffing bored.

>

>

> Roland Young is a not major actor who does a nice job

> in The Man Who Could Work Miracles. Here is a

> movie in which a character actor was promoted to lead

> role, and does a darned fine job of it.

 

LOL! 'Sniffing bored' - that's a good one! I'll think of it from now on every time I see Brent. Congratulations! You are the first person anywhere who ever caused me to use 'LOL!'

 

Roland Young was a good one. He was charming in "Ruggles of Red Gap," and managed to be stiff-upper-lip-British and cute at the same time. No easy task.

He was good in Upper- and Working-Class British roles.

 

This brings to mind a Principal Character Actor not previously mentioned (as far as I recall) -- Charles Laughton. I think he's one of those 'love him or hate him' actors. I think he's wonderful, but many people I know can't bear him.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think he's wonderful, but many people I know can't bear him.

 

Oh, I liked him. I most assuredly did not find him attractive... :) ... but I found him very talented. And I don't like costume dramas!

 

I especially liked him in Hobson's Choice, although I wanted to take John Mills home (bah gum!). I loved the way his character stood up to Laughton at the end.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

 

Edward Arnold was one of the best of the "classic Hollywood" character actors, occasionally a terrific lead actor, but never had a serious romantic role. And it **** me off! Well, as much as a 75 year old show biz thing can **** me off. I don't understand why an overweight man, or woman, could not have been cast as a believable romantic lead. I think about John Belushi as the romantic leading man in the movie "Continental Divide" (1981) and how natural the John Belushi-Blair Brown romance story was presented. Too bad the same sort of casting did not happen 50 years earlier. I bet Edward Arnold would have had a few love interest roles and Mr. Arnold would have been great and it would be one less item on my "things to be **** about" list.

 

Rusty

Link to post
Share on other sites

I especially enjoyed Laughton's performance in Witness for the Prosecution. I am reading Agnes Moorehead's bio "I Love the Illusion" and he was a good friend and advisor to Aggie. Also from Maureen O'Hara's autobio "'Tis Herself", Laughton was instrumental in her career as well. He gave some excellent performances in ensemble casts, Advice and Consent comes to mind. He seems to be one of those actors better suited to the stage than film, but that's just my opinion.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, George Brent served a purpose, as did Herbert Marshall, Walter Pidgeon, etc.. These leading men played opposite some of Warner Bros.'s and MGM's most powerful leading ladies, the women were the stars. Their roles were secondary by design. No, not character actors, but somewhat emasculated leading men.

 

Not every leading man could be a virile as James Cagney, Gary Cooper, or Clark Gable (just ask James Craig;-)

 

Message was edited by:

path40a

Link to post
Share on other sites

path40a,

 

Quote:

"Not every leading man could be a virile as James Cagney, Gary Cooper, or Clark Gable (just ask James Craig;-)"

 

Sorry. I misread the name "James Craig" and asked Walter Craig (John Boles). He said your "leading man...virile" statement is correct.

 

Rusty

Link to post
Share on other sites

You have all raised very good points, folks. How do we know that the leading ladies in question didn't specifically ask for a not-so-bright leading man, to make themselve look better? Not at all inconceivable. I'm thinking, for example, of the prematurely gray hair given to Jeff Chandler, who was assigned co-starring roles with many actresses who were considerably older than he.

 

As for Chas. Laughton - I loved him in "Ruggles of Red Gap." Talk about portly romance. He and ZaSu Pitts were adorable together. I like all the performances mentioned. My favorite Laughton performance by far is in "The Big Clock." He gives a very mannered, tic-filled performance which is entirely appropriate to the character. In fact, all of the secondary actors in that movie are terrific, especially Elsa Lanchester (Mrs. Laughton-in-name, as we all know), and one of my all-time favorite Characters, Henry (Harry) Morgan, as the menacing tough who attends Laughton's character. He is a really bad (and pretty buff) boy in that movie, and has no dialogue at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You mentioned Laughton a while back. You either love him or hate him? Well, I love 'em! He is just one of the greatest! There is an early film of his with Vivien, where he plays a street performer (can't remember the name), and he was a little awkward in it. It was like one of his earliest performances, I think Rex Harrison was in it, too (and awkward). They sure blossomed into GREATS! All three of them.

 

And, one more comment on Brent, path mentioned Marshall and Pidgeon. Well, the major difference there is the VOICE! Both Marshall and Pidgeon have unbelievable voices. They were often narrators of the film. But, Brent was just a regular guy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> You mentioned Laughton a while back. You either love

> him or hate him? Well, I love 'em! He is just one

> of the greatest! There is an early film of his with

> Vivien, where he plays a street performer (can't

> remember the name), and he was a little awkward in

> it.

 

> And, one more comment on Brent, path mentioned

> Marshall and Pidgeon. Well, the major difference

> there is the VOICE! Both Marshall and Pidgeon have

> unbelievable voices. They were often narrators of

> the film. But, Brent was just a regular guy.

 

Are you thinking of "Sidewalks of London" (a/k/a St. Martin's Lane)? Vivienne Leigh was in it. I saw it too, but it was a very bad print. Too bad - he was pretty cute in it.

 

And I think so too, certainly voice has a lot to do with it. Think of an actor like Burgess Meredith, short and boyish, but he had that great speaking voice. And Edw. G, too - you might not think a man who looked the way he did could sound so authoritative and be so versitile. A finely trained voice goes a long way in getting into our consciousness. I do like the sound of Pidgeon's voice - sort of like Walter Cronkite (how do you spell it???). You have to believe everything he says.

 

Message was edited by:

jdb1

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
© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...