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A Fresh Look at Jane Wyman


slaytonf
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I don't know if Jane Wyman has ever been Star of the Month, but she certainly merits it.  She was in many important movies, played a number of fine roles, and made the best of others.  In the early fifties, she was consistently one of the most popular actresses.  She starred opposite many of the biggest male stars of her time.  Oh yes, she won an academy award for best actress.  She displayed an enormous range in her acting, from silky sophisticates to salts-of-the-earth.  Her biggest parts and success came from the latter roles.  Although she is one of the actresses I admire most, I'm afraid I don't think she is as good as Olivia de Havilland, or Giulietta Masina.  But she's not much below them.  Her big break came with her role in Lost Weekend (1945), opposite Ray Milland.  I don't care for the movie, so I haven't seen it all the way through, but I remember her performance was up to her standard.  Her academy award performance in Johnny Belinda (1948) doesn't pander to the audience, or rely on the pity her disability can generate.  Miss Wyman plays Belinda as gentle, intelligent, ingenuous.  A lot of other actresses would have responded to the challenges of the role with what would have ended up as so much mugging for the camera.  But her expressions were unforced, and unaffected.  She does a fine job playing Selina DeJong, in So Big (1953, though Barbara Stanwyck was probably a little better), but I believe it's Edna Ferber's work that is responsible for what this version accomplishes.  By far for me her best role came in The Yearling (1946), where she portrays the wife of a farmer in the the Florida palmetto lands.  A woman eager to love, but also so fearful of loss, due to the deaths of so many of her children, she puts up a terrible barrier between herself and her son.  The entire movie she is tortured by the conflicting impulses of affection and self-protection.  The role could easily have been overplayed and mangled, but Miss Wyman is wonderful in showing us a plain, and plain-spoken woman, without the knowledge to allow her to understand her condition, or what to do about it, making her desperately unhappy.  Here is one of my favorite scenes in the movie, which illustrates this:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F0CkLPFdvU&feature=youtu.be

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I'm also a great admirer of Jane Wyman's performance in THE YEARLING. It's interesting to see her in comic best friend roles before she gets the opportunity to play dramatic roles like THE YEARLING and JOHNNY BELINDA. Another favorite is MIRACLE IN THE RAIN, not to all tastes, but the realism of the early scenes with her office job and her demanding mother at home helps me accept the rest of the film.

 

Most actresses don't have the kind of delayed success that Wyman had. Ellen Burstyn's career is somewhat comparable.

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I like Jane Wyman just fine but it seems like it took her a very long time to find very good roles. A lot of her early films were fluff, like TPTB were afraid to give her any challenging roles. When she did get her chances she made the most of them.

 

She has been Star of the Month once in September 2000 and once she was part of Summer Under the Stars in 2005. That's odd to me since she has a pretty good CV.

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I like Jane Wyman just fine but it seems like it took her a very long time to find very good roles. A lot of her early films were fluff, like TPTB were afraid to give her any challenging roles. When she did get her chances she made the most of them.

 

She has been Star of the Month once in September 2000 and once she was part of Summer Under the Stars in 2005. That's odd to me since she has a pretty good CV.

 

 

Thanks for the info.  I gather from reading her bios that she ascribed her looong time in the doldrums to that familiar evil of the studio system:  typecasting.

 

It's nice to know she was honored as STOM.  I don't think she needs to be STOM again, except for sentimental reasons.  We see virtually all of her work, or at least the stuff that's worth watching.

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Jane had a nice singing voice which she showcased in HERE COME`S THE GROOM 1951 and JUST FOR YOU 1952. Both films costarred Bing Crosby, and In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening won the Academy Award for best song 1951 which Jane sang with Bing.

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Jane had a nice singing voice which she showcased in HERE COME`S THE GROOM 1951 and JUST FOR YOU 1952. Both films costarred Bing Crosby, and In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening won the Academy Award for best song 1951 which Jane sang with Bing.

Yes, I'm going to look out for her singing. That's how she started in the biz.

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I like Wyman in certain roles. I suppose my opinion of her (and maybe others share this) is a bit colored because she was terribly miscast as plain Jane English amateur detective in Stage Fright. It wasn't a good movie to be fair, but I thought she brought it down even more. I've seen her in other performances where she came off as a bit too mannered, like in Three Guys Named Mike. Perhaps she isn't as remembered as some of her contemporaries because many of her roles and films haven't aged as well.

 

That said, she was stellar in All That Heaven Allows. The scene where she looks at her lonely self in the TV screen is unforgettably heartbreaking. I enjoyed some of her early supporting roles before she was a major star where she played the wisecracking blonde like in Footlight Serenade and My Favorite Spy. 

 

I look forward to seeing So Big as I'm looking at 1953 movies for a podcast I'm doing. 

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Count me in among Jane Wyman fans.

 

A movie not yet mentioned here are Stage Freight (not as well known as other Hitchcock titles among non-Hitchcock fans)

You must have missed the post right under yours that mentions Stage Fright.

 

I actually like that movie better than many of Hitchcock movies. I'm not a huge fan of his work though.

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You must have missed the post right under yours that mentions Stage Fright.

 

I actually like that movie better than many of Hitchcoco movies. I'm not a huge fan of his work though.

Yes, I did.  I might have written it while someone was posting it?  I don't know, but I find that this happens to me all the time in the games and trivia forum.  I type too slow.

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I also enjoyed the 1947 western Wyoming Kid (aka Cheyenne) starring Jane Wyman that was shown on TCM back in September.  The film is credited as being more 'adult' than your standard western, and is a great deal of fun along with some great b&w cinematography and able direction by Raoul Walsh.  May I also say that I think Jane is especially lovely in this one and she does well with the comedic elements of the story.

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It's nice to know she was honored as SOTM.  I don't think she needs to be SOTM again, except for sentimental reasons.  We see virtually all of her work, or at least the stuff that's worth watching.

I do think she will be Star of the Month next January. Two reasons-- it would be her 100th birthday, plus so many of her films from those Warner Brothers days are in the TCM/Turner library.

 

So we will probably see Olivia de Havilland as Star of the Month in July for her 100th; Kirk Douglas in December for his 100th; and Jane Wyman in January.

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I do think she will be Star of the Month next January. Two reasons-- it would be her 100th birthday, plus so many of her films from those Warner Brothers days are in the TCM/Turner library.

 

 

If that does happen, it will be a nice tribute, and a deserved one.

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I also enjoyed the 1947 western Wyoming Kid (aka Cheyenne) starring Jane Wyman that was shown on TCM back in September.  The film is credited as being more 'adult' than your standard western, and is a great deal of fun along with some great b&w cinematography and able direction by Raoul Walsh.  May I also say that I think Jane is especially lovely in this one and she does well with the comedic elements of the story.

 

I see it isn't scheduled any time soon, but I'll keep my eye out for it.

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I do think she will be Star of the Month next January. Two reasons-- it would be her 100th birthday, plus so many of her films from those Warner Brothers days are in the TCM/Turner library.

 

So we will probably see Olivia de Havilland as Star of the Month in July for her 100th; Kirk Douglas in December for his 100th; and Jane Wyman in January.

 

Wyman isn't the leading actress in the vast majority of the WB films she was in.    Some of those films are fine films but IMO most are not worthy for a SOTM tribute.     The 50s was her decade and TCM has shown most of her most well known 50s films. 

 

Hey doesn't mean TCM wouldn't honor her as SOTM in January.

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Wyman isn't the leading actress in the vast majority of the WB films she was in.    Some of those films are fine films but IMO most are not worthy for a SOTM tribute.     The 50s was her decade and TCM has shown most of her most well known 50s films. 

 

Hey doesn't mean TCM wouldn't honor her as SOTM in January.

Not sure what you meant. She's the female lead in these Warner Brothers films--

 

PUBLIC WEDDING with William Hopper

HE COULDN'T SAY NO with Frank McHugh

TORCHY BLANE PLAYING WITH DYNAMITE with Allen Jenkins

KID NIGHTINGALE with John Payne

PRIVATE DETECTIVE with Dick Foran

GAMBLING ON THE HIGH SEAS with Wayne Morris

THE BODY DISAPPEARS with Jeffrey Lynn

BAD MEN OF MISSOURI with Dennis Morgan

LARCENY INC. with Edward G. Robinson

MAKE YOUR OWN BED with Jack Carson

CRIME BY NIGHT with Jerome Cowan

CHEYENNE with Dennis Morgan

JOHNNY BELINDA with Lew Ayres

A KISS IN THE DARK with David Niven

THE LADY TAKES A SAILOR with Dennis Morgan

STAGE FRIGHT with Marlene Dietrich

THE STORY OF WILL ROGERS with Will Rogers Jr.

SO BIG with Sterling Hayden

MIRACLE IN THE RAIN with Van Johnson

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Wyman isn't the leading actress in the vast majority of the WB films she was in.    Some of those films are fine films but IMO most are not worthy for a SOTM tribute.     The 50s was her decade and TCM has shown most of her most well known 50s films. 

 

Hey doesn't mean TCM wouldn't honor her as SOTM in January.

I thought that Gregory Peck should have been April`s SOTM due to his 100th birthday on April 5, 2016. The same old reason was probably used because Greg was under contract to 20th Century Fox for a number of years. A missed opportunity IMHO.

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I thought that Gregory Peck should have been April`s SOTM due to his 100th birthday on April 5, 2016. The same old reason was probably used because Greg was under contract to 20th Century Fox for a number of years. A missed opportunity IMHO.

That would have been great having him as Star of the Month,  but having his movies shown for 24 hours a day on his birthday was still great.

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I thought that Gregory Peck should have been April`s SOTM due to his 100th birthday on April 5, 2016. The same old reason was probably used because Greg was under contract to 20th Century Fox for a number of years. A missed opportunity IMHO.

With possibly very little.effort, TCM could.have honored.Gregory Peck for his 100th Birthday. He was under.contract.to Fox,.but it wasn't exclusive, and he made many films.elsewhere. It's a shame it wasn't done. Missed opportunity indeed.

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That would have been great having him as Star of the Month,  but having his movies shown for 24 hours a day on his birthday was still great.

I suppose TCM's programmers are not obligated to honor every major movie star on their 100th birthday. But I do think in some of these cases, they are not planning properly. For instance, there is no reason Sterling Hayden, who was honored last year, couldn't have waited till this year. I would think, from an advertising standpoint, they could get more out of his 100th birthday as opposed to his 99th birthday. Other stars, like Ginger Rogers, had tributes two or three years before their 100th. It really didn't make sense.

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