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The Great Lie (1941)


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One of my all-time favorite Bette Davis films - and it's on 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.

 

Bette Davis.. George Brent.. Mary Astor..   I mean, c'mon!

 

I love this movie! Even though Mary Astor won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, I think she was just as much a lead as Bette Davis.  I think it's funny that originally Davis and Astor thought the script was terrible and they ended up re-writing most of the film themselves.  I read that Astor was an accomplished pianist and I thought she played the piano in this film.  Apparently she mimed playing the piano (though very convincingly because she really did know how to play) in this film.  I wonder if she actually plays in Meet Me in St. Louis when she plays the piano while Leon Ames sings?   

 

I also found this tidbit in imdb that I thought was funny, especially in light of the conversation going on in the "Maltese Falcon" thread right now:

 

"At Mary Astor's suggestion, her hair was cut into the chignon shape she wears in the film because rolling and styling it took too long. She then wore it the same but a bit longer in The Maltese Falcon (1941), causing a fashion craze."

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I love this movie! Even though Mary Astor won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, I think she was just as much a lead as Bette Davis.  I think it's funny that originally Davis and Astor thought the script was terrible and they ended up re-writing most of the film themselves.  I read that Astor was an accomplished pianist and I thought she played the piano in this film.  Apparently she mimed playing the piano (though very convincingly because she really did know how to play) in this film.  I wonder if she actually plays in Meet Me in St. Louis when she plays the piano while Leon Ames sings?   

 

I also found this tidbit in imdb that I thought was funny, especially in light of the conversation going on in the "Maltese Falcon" thread right now:

 

"At Mary Astor's suggestion, her hair was cut into the chignon shape she wears in the film because rolling and styling it took too long. She then wore it the same but a bit longer in The Maltese Falcon (1941), causing a fashion craze."

The Great Lie is one of my favourite movies of all time. 

 

Chignons were quite popular at one time.

 

 

Bette Davis rewriting a script sound like a great idea.

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Mary Astor's hair is nearly identical to her character in The Maltese Falcon - it's much cleaner here; it's messy in The Maltese Falcon.

 

The general rule of thumb is that when you're murdering people you don't stop to comb your hair and look in the mirror. Also you may not feel like taking the time to comb your hair when you're trying to think up a good alibi for a murder and the police are knocking at the door to question you.

 

Whereas, Mary Astor's character in The Great Lie was a self-indulgent, egotistical concert pianist who was concerned only with herself. So, of course, she spent time making sure that every hair was in place.

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One of my all-time favorite Bette Davis films - and it's on 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.

 

Bette Davis.. George Brent.. Mary Astor..   I mean, c'mon!

 

Yes, a very well made WB early 40s drama.    Another Davis film that helped me get in tough with my feminine side!     (but Astor is really the star here, and this is another example where Davis doesn't need to dominate and overact in a film like so many folks always assume).

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I don't believe I've seen this entire film. i think the last time I actually watched it was when TCM aired it about 3 years ago. I do like this one quote, however.

"You sound like a book, and a very cheap one." (Bette's character said this)

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The general rule of thumb is that when you're murdering people you don't stop to comb your hair and look in the mirror. Also you may not feel like taking the time to comb your hair when you're trying to think up a good alibi for a murder and the police are knocking at the door to question you.

 

Whereas, Mary Astor's character in The Great Lie was a self-indulgent, egotistical concert pianist who was concerned only with herself. So, of course, she spent time making sure that every hair was in place.

The general rule of thumb in the movies or in real life?

 

Remember that what people do in the movies and what people do in real life are not the same.

 

What if you are trying to not get caught by having blood on your clothes?

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The general rule of thumb in the movies or in real life?

 

Remember that what people do in the movies and what people do in real life are not the same.

 

What if you are trying to not get caught by having blood on your clothes?

What we are talking about here isn't that complicated. We're talking about character motivation and character appearance.

 

Mary Astor's character in The Maltese Falcon was frantic, frentic and frightened, not just because she was a murderer, but also because she had to hide a lot of things from different groups of people, so she had to keep her stories straight. So for that kind of characterization you would have a frenzied look, which could be displayed with unkempt hair.

 

And the character that Mary Astor played in The Great lie had particular characteristics in her personality that would best be displayed with a classy and neat hairdo.

 

We're not talking about plot devices--as in what people do in real life is not the same as what people do in the movies-- here is just simple characterization.

 

It was really just that simple.

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What we are talking about here isn't that complicated. We're talking about character motivation and character appearance.

 

Mary Astor's character in The Maltese Falcon was frantic, frentic and frightened, not just because she was a murderer, but also because she had to hide a lot of things from different groups of people, so she had to keep her stories straight. So for that kind of characterization you would have a frenzied look, which could be displayed with unkempt hair.

 

And the character that Mary Astor played in The Great lie had particular characteristics in her personality that would best be displayed with a classy and neat hairdo.

 

We're not talking about plot devices--as in what people do in real life is not the same as what people do in the movies-- here is just simple characterization.

 

It was really just that simple.

 

You're correct but it is even simpler than that;   in many of the scenes in The Maltese Falcon the Astor character was up all night and \ or had to sleep on the couch in Sam's apartment since she was hiding from the fat man's hired killer.  

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  • 2 years later...

The Great Lie is a very interesting movie. Bette Davis plays a very subdued role without the gestures and sass. Mary Astor steals the movie with her egotistical depiction of a liberated musical genius. Loved the scenes in the Arizona desert!!! Wow!!! Great acting. We just don't see movies with such depth of story and character any longer. Don't miss it.

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I just came back from the Sugar Hill/Littleton area of NH.  Bette owned a home there in the early 40s, where she  met and married Arthur Farnsworth, who died from complications of a concussion.  Bette Davis was at the Littleton NH theater, when the Great Lie premiered.  There are lots of clippings from that event at numerous museums throughout the area.  Bette was also a guest at Mittersill Resort (which was a ski resort hotel back in the day), where my husband and I stayed.

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7 hours ago, rosebette said:

I just came back from the Sugar Hill/Littleton area of NH.  Bette owned a home there in the early 40s, where she  met and married Arthur Farnsworth, who died from complications of a concussion.  Bette Davis was at the Littleton NH theater, when the Great Lie premiered.  There are lots of clippings from that event at numerous museums throughout the area.  Bette was also a guest at Mittersill Resort (which was a ski resort hotel back in the day), where my husband and I stayed.

 And Bette's marriage to Arthur Farnsworth would be worth a movie. Of all of her husbands, I believe he was the only one who could match her in intelligence  and common interests.

If I remember correctly, she met him when he was working in some kind of a hotel resort.  Do you think that's the same one where you stayed?

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It's not the one where I stayed.  I think it was either the Sugar Hill or Sunset Inn.  There were many more big hotels and resorts there at that time than there are now.  Many closed, were demolished, and one was transformed into a Best Western.

There is a picture of Bette at a Christmas or New Year's Eve Party at Mittersill, which was more of an alpine ski resort by Canon Mountain.  Mittersill still exists, but is a timeshare, where we own.

 

 

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