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Mary Astor Tuesday has a good list of movies.


slaytonf
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Both ones we've seen, and ones new to me, if not TCM.  And they're not the usual suspects, like--oh you know them.  Among the ones I know and recommend are:

 

Behind Office Doors (1931), where Miss Astor plays an intelligent executive assistant (aka secretary), responsible for the rise of a salesman with whom she is in love, to the presidency of the corporation.  Despite his repeated ingratitude and unrequital, she unaccountably, and infuriatingly remains faithful to him.  Valuable for Mary Astor's performance, and the portrayal of a woman with more ability than the men she is around, and, had social conditions been different, who would have ended up as president herself.

 

Other Men's Women (1931).  Mary Astor plays the wife of a railroad engineer, who falls in love with his best friend.  Doesn't sound like much, but William Wellman's direction, the naturalistic performances by Miss Astor, Grant Withers, and Regis Toomey make it a superior movie.  A big bonus is early appearances by Joan Blondell and James Cagney, who at that time still had an irreverent, improvisational style in his acting.

 

Smart Woman (1931), in which we see Miss Astor, again unaccountably, plot to regain her philandering husband with reverse psychology.  Studied drawing room comedy enlivened by the smooth professionalism of the cast, including John Halliday, Edward Everett Horton, Ruth Weston, and Gladys Gale.

 

A Successful Calamity (1932).  George Arliss plays the patriarch of a family spun apart by the centrifugal forces of wealth.  Clever man that he is, he stumbles on a scheme to reunite them.   Mr. Arliss brings to it his deft manner of understated delivery.  Mary Astor plays his child-bride, um, young second wife.  Rife with satire of the current modernism in the arts.  Bonus:  Evalyn Knapp as his daughter.

 

Movies I haven't seen--or don't remember seeing--and am therefore looking forward to:

 

Beau Brummel (1924) (John Barrymore!)

The Lash (1931) (Richard Barthelmess!)(Looks like a take-off of Zorro)

The Runaway Bride (1930)

The Sin Ship (1931) (Louis Wolheim!)

Men of Chance (1932) (Ricardo Cortez!)

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I'm most glad that that exhausted warhorse THE MALTESE FALCON was given a well needed well earned break.

BEAU BRUMMELL is very interesting, infinitely better than the remake with Stewart Granger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Peter Ustinov--a bore with absolutely no plot and no action! 'tis truly fascinating how the orchestra provides the voices of silent film actors, to the point that you get the feeling you are watching an opera.

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I was expecting so much more of "The Sin Ship".

 

For a pre-code film, it was very tame.

 

It looked like such an antique.

 

And I was annoyed by the camera noise.

 

Still, I had never realized that Mary Astor was so big in the thirties.

 

I liked the man who played her husband or her lover - was that Ian Keith?

 

He was very "stagey", but he was such fun!

 

 

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Darn it, I forgo to record The Sin Ship! I was busy watching the Bayern/Atlético match. Infinitely exciting, even if it wasn't the result I was hoping for. :(

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The first film shown for TCM’s tribute to Mary this week was the Buster Keaton short The Scarecrow, which is supposed to be Mary’s film debut.  After watching the short, I see only two female characters in the film - the farmer’s daughter, played by Sybil Seely, and an “old woman” sitting on the porch when a pie is set out to cool.  Here’s a picture:

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Does anyone know if this is Mary, or am I missing something?  If so, she must be heavily made up (and padded), since she was only 14 years old at the time!  Not exactly a glamorous debut!

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I see on Mary's IMDb bio, it says The Scarecrow is her first film, but on the IMDb page for the actual film, she isn't listed anywhere. It's also not listed with her film credits.

 

Is there more than one film with that title?

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Thanks Hibi and Lawrence for your replies!  The Wiki page for The Scarecrow (1920) also says that Mary is uncredited in the film.  I have my doubts too, but I couldn't see TCM including it in the tribute if Mary wasn't in there somewhere. ???

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Well, it's not like TCM never makes mistakes. But it's possible she had an uncredited part and blink and you miss her. I'm curious to see this short now. I think I could spot her.

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Well, it's not like TCM never makes mistakes. But it's possible she had an uncredited part and blink and you miss her. I'm curious to see this short now. I think I could spot her.

 

It's on YT at the moment!

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I just skimmed through the film but I saw no signs of a teenage girl in it. Wonder if Mary mentions it in her memoirs? Maybe her bit was cut. I didnt see any crowd scenes in it where she'd be hard to spot.

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Just a few comments on Mary's movies.

 

Beau Brummel (1924) only has Mary in a supporting role.  She's the major love-interest, but that's a secondary thread in the storyline.  So though she has a great effect on Barrymore's Brummel, it doesn't come with corresponding screen time.  When she's on, she complements him well.  As an aside, I think I would have preferred seeing this on his day in the Barrymore salute last month, instead of Don Juan (1926).  This movie showed off his acting ability and range much better.  We go from deft comedy, to impassioned romance, to wrenching tragedy.  

 

I like Behind Office Doors (1931) even more than I used to.  Despite her character's exasperating persistence loving a man who thinks of her only in professional terms--and hardly with enough respect in that regard--Miss Astor nevertheless does a fine job playing her.  The movie has its faults.  It makes a show of being 'modern,' but really only plays at it.  But there is a lot of snappy, no-nonsense dialog.

 

Men of Chance (1932) is an enjoyable find.  Mary plays a woman who becomes the unwitting pawn in a chess game between horserace bookies.  When she becomes witted, falsely suspected, and her pawning days over, she turns the tables on everyone with a gambit, turning herself into a queen.  Fine role for Ricardo Cortez, too.

 

I am grateful to TCM for this day of Mary Astor's movies.  I've come away from it with a much better appreciation of her as an actress.  Not quite on the level of Giulietta Masina, but bumping up against Jane Wyman.  Perhaps if she got some more demanding roles. . . . .

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