Barbara Stanywck is one of my top five favorite actresses. There was no role or genre she didn’t do well, from film noir, to comedy to historical dramas to weepies and more, she brought authenticity to all of her films.
AMONG THE BEST
Starting out in film she had a similar background to contemporary Joan Crawford. Like Crawford she often played working class girls . But unlike Crawford whose characters clawed their way into wealth and respectability, often through their relationship with men, Stanwyck’s characters achieved their goals through their own grit and independence, while also displaying vulnerability. Continue reading “Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon – Lady of Burlesque (1943)”
I have no memory of my first introduction to Natalie Wood. But for as long as I can remember, I have been enamored with the beautiful actress who grew up on screen.
Born in 1938, the child of Russian immigrants, Natalie made her first film appearance at the age of four. Whether she really wanted the life of an actress for herself or whether her mother pushed her into it, Natalie made the best of it. From a young age she helped support her family with her career. She also became one of the rare child actresses to successfully transition into adult roles. For forty years until her death she continued to grace the screen and develop her craft until her untimely and controversial death. Continue reading “Made in 1938 Blogathon – Tribute to Natalie Wood”
I enjoy many of Grace Kelly’s films. However, I’ve always had a hard time connecting with her onscreen. The epitome of a Hitchcock blond, she always seemed serene, calm and distant both onscreen and off. Even while appreciating her films, I was never able to name her as one of my favorite actresses.
“Grace always had an air of mystery about her.” Frances Fuller, American Acadamy of Dramatic Arts chairperson (pg 18)
I’ve never read a full biography about Rita Hayworth. The small amount of information I do know about her has always left me sad. From her earliest years, Rita was dominated by selfish men, starting with her father and continuing on to husbands, and men in the film industry who shaped her image. In many ways, her life was tragic one.
The knowledge of her personal life has always influenced my experience watching her films. I’m usually left with a feeling of both compassion and the melancholy of wondering what if? What if she had been in charge of her own career? What if she had found one man who would protect her instead of using, cheating and abandoning her? It is through this lens I view her performances.
Affair in Trinidad begins with death. The police arrive at a local nightclub to speak with the deceased’s widow, Chris Emery (Hayworth). She is famous all over the island as a dancer whose beauty draws in scores of customers. Initially the police believe the death may be a suicide, but after seeing and speaking with the gorgeous Chris, they suspect foul play. Chris is surprised by the news but not devastated. She and her husband Neil had drifted apart in their marriage. Continue reading “Rita Hayworth Blogathon -Affair in Trinidad (1952)”
When driving through a neighborhood, I’ve always been one who enjoys looking in the windows of homes, imagining the lives inside. People have always fascinated me, what shapes them, what drives them, who they are beyond what the eye can see.
Perhaps that is why I enjoy personal documentaries and biographies, particularly of classic film stars. In an era of studio control, glamour and polished public images, I’m always curious to learn the truth behind the persona, the person behind the characters they play on screen.
There are few groups more loyal than classic film fans. Many of us have our favorite movies, genres, actors and actresses and can passionately articulate what we love about each. Equal to our love is our dislike of those things that don’t live up to our standards or that we find disappointing. Actors and actresses particularly earn our derision, though we usually only discuss this within our own circles.
George Brent is an actor I’ve often heard mentioned with disdain. Many classic film fans denounce him as wooden, his performances lacking emotional depth. I won’t deny that he is compared unfavorably to his contemporary counterparts. But unlike some, I’ve always enjoyed Brent’s films. I believe he has been unfairly and too harshly judged. I’m here today to convince you of the same. Continue reading “In Defense of George Brent”
Norma Shearer wasn’t known as the Queen of MGM without reason. Before she married the studio’s head of production, Irving Thalberg, she had proven herself as a talented actress in her own right. Undeterred by criticism and rejection, she clawed her way into a successful career through sheer determination, persistence and discipline. Before Madonna, Shearer was a pioneer in reinventing her image. She was a woman who didn’t take no for an answer and who refused to let anyone else shape her public image. Sadly, she is not as well known today as other classic Hollywood film stars, which is a real shame. Because she is a powerful female role model even now, despite the misconception that she rode her husband’s coat tails to success.
Robert Montgomery has always been one of my favorite actors. His early years of comfort followed by loss gave him the strength and emotional tools needed to make a good actor. Montgomery has never been listed among the acting greats. I believe part of the reason he is excluded from that club is the lack of great parts that really allow him to shine. We see glimpses of it in his films The Big House, The Night Must Fall, They Were Expendable among others. But no one can deny that he was a solid, dependable, capable actor who played opposite some of the greatest leading ladies of the day. Continue reading “Dynamic Duos Blogathon -Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery.”
Velvet Brown is your average young girl. She lives in a small English village with her parents, older sisters and younger brother. But Velvet has one trait that sets her apart -she is horse crazy! Not only does she pretend that she owns her own equine, but she cares even more for the noble beasts than she does people.
Velvet’s life is first upended by the arrival of Mi Taylor, a suspicious young man with possible ties to her mother. Because Mi seems to share her appreciation for horses, she convinces both Mi and her family that he should stay. Though Mi is drawn to the freedom of the open road, he reluctantly agrees for Velvet’s sake.
Velvet’s life is completely changed when she wins a high spirited horse no one else wants in the village lottery. But this is no ordinary horse to the young Velvet. She sees something special in the Pie. Suddenly, it becomes her mission to see him win the honor and glory she thinks he deserves. When Velvet learns of Mi’s familiarity with horse racing, she sweetly coerces him into a pact to train Pie for the world’s most prestigious race, The Grand National. But the odds are small and the stakes are high and no one believes the Pie can win. No one but his young dreamy owner. Continue reading “Elizabeth Taylor Blogathon -National Velvet (1944)”
Meryl Streep is not just one of the most celebrated actresses of our time but also in the history of film. In my opinion, Stanley Tucci is one of the best actors of our generation. He is reminiscent of the character actors of the great golden age of classic cinema.
Though Streep is a leading lady and Tucci usually fills supporting roles, they both have the talent of utterly inhabiting the characters they play onscreen. Whether silly or serious, they don’t just act, but they become, creating a reality for the viewers which is rare in entertainment.
So, it is surprising that these two legends of the screen have only been paired together twice so far in their long careers. It is even more surprising when you watch them together in their two films, because their onscreen rapport is so natural and genuine. Great talent is necessary to make the characters and the story come alive for an audience. But even the best of talent cannot fake the natural chemistry that must exist between actors to make the onscreen relationship between them credible. Either it is there or it is not. So let us take a look at the films of this power house duo. Continue reading “Duo Double Feature Blogathon -Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci”
“Would I trade places with Tracy Lord for all her wealth and beauty? Oh boy, just ask me.” Liz Embrie
I feel ya, Liz, but appearances can be deceiving. To the outside observer (or tabloid photographer), Tracy’s life is one of ease and privilege. Tracy is fortunate to be part of Philadelphia’s Main Line society. As played by Katharine Hepburn, she is the typical example of the haughty entitled attitudes inherent to the elite. Born into wealth, she wears it with cool sophistication along with her couture wardrobe.
Despite her engagement to “man of the people” George Kitteridge, she has had little contact with the lower classes and their daily challenges. But Tracy is oblivious to her lack of true cultural experience and really believes she is without prejudice.