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Classic Hollywood/Hollywood's Golden Age(Was: The Best Of Everything)


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#31 Dale

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 08:45 PM

Some of us also remember Doris Day in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much and musicals like Pajama Game. In fact, I've seen more of Day's serious work than those war of the sexes films with Hudson.

#32 Farrell Fan

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 07:53 AM

My memories of Doris Day predate her movie career, to when she was a great "girl singer" with Les Brown and his Band of Renown. She sounded a bit like Peggy Lee in those days.

#33 Anthony_NYC

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 09:56 AM

It seems like in the old studio system they very often threw together movies around a star, with no desire to make any kind of masterpiece. If we remember Doris Day more for being Doris Day than for the movies she made, well, that was probably the point. She was a delightful and talented comic actress who could make any mediocre movie fun to watch. I guess it's always been that way for comedians. I don't think there's a single really great Danny Kaye movie (though "The Court Jester" seems to have achieved classic status); they're all just about watching him do his shtick. And today, I don't believe Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, etc., have many many good movies, but audiences flock to them anyway. Even the Marx Brothers movies are all a mess (but they were such riotous fun they became classics in spite of themselves).

I was thinking that of today's stars, isn't Julia Roberts in the Grable/Hayworth tradition? While I don't find her a particularly compelling screen presence, apparently a lot of other people do. Most of her movies seem to be big hits, but the ones I've seen have not stuck me as terribly good, and I have doubts as to their staying power.

#34 canbelto

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 10:31 AM

I was thinking that of today's stars, isn't Julia Roberts in the Grable/Hayworth tradition?


Yes, Julia Roberts, and Meg Ryan too. Although Ryan now wants to move away from the cutesy romantic comedy genre, but it's really too late.

#35 dirac

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 10:28 AM

Some of us also remember Doris Day in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much and musicals like Pajama Game. In fact, I've seen more of Day's serious work than those war of the sexes films with Hudson.


With a star who had a long and varied career, like Day, name recognition often depends on what brand of nostalgia is current. The Day-Hudson comedies, for example, have been receiving attention recently because of the pastiche film “Down with Love” that came out a couple of years ago.

She was a delightful and talented comic actress who could make any mediocre movie fun to watch.


I always liked her, too. And a great singing voice, as Farrell Fan notes.

It seems like in the old studio system they very often threw together movies around a star, with no desire to make any kind of masterpiece.


Hmmm. I wouldn’t say “threw together.” Star vehicles were put together with quite a bit of care and attention, and many of them have survived better than the prestige pictures the studios were making to collect awards.

I was thinking that of today's stars, isn't Julia Roberts in the Grable/Hayworth tradition?


Roberts hasn’t made any movies immediately identifiable as deathless classics, but she’s had a career unique among contemporary women stars. The shelf life of a star actress tends to be much briefer than that of her male counterparts. She has shown a lot of staying power in an era none too hospitable to women, and in that respect her career is more impressive than Grable’s or Hayworth’s, IMO. She’s now approaching the dangerous age, which for a female film star is 40, so we’ll see.

#36 GWTW

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 11:23 AM

:off topic: dirac, it looks like Julia Roberts is very much aware that she is reaching the 'danger zone' and seems to be taking a very careful aproach to her career at the moment. For example, her current Broadway run in Three Days of Rain and her bowing out of the forthcoming Ocean's Thirteen show that she realizes she has to position herself differently. This has also coincided with her becoming a mother, but IMO it's more than merely reducing her work load.

#37 dirac

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 04:47 PM

I don't think there's a single really great Danny Kaye movie (though "The Court Jester" seems to have achieved classic status); they're all just about watching him do his shtick.


With Kaye, it's the Robin Williams problem, I think -- what do you do with him?

We are wandering afield, as GWTW notes, but in this particular instance I think it's harmless. :off topic:

#38 miliosr

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 06:11 AM

I would agree with the other posters about Julia Roberts. She definitely falls into the "iconic star who hasn't made very many iconic movies" class. (In fact, I can only think of one -- Pretty Woman.)

To her credit, I think Roberts did try in the mid-90s to move away from the big hair/pretty smile cul-de-sac she found herself in (with movies like Mary Reilly.) Unfortunately for her, no one much wanted to see her in those movies.

Meg Ryan seems to be in jeopardy of falling into the Tyrone Power class -- she waited too long to move away from the cutie-pie image.

As for Rock Hudson, are The Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows considered Rock Hudson pictures or Douglas Sirk pictures?

#39 carbro

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 12:42 PM

It seems like in the old studio system they very often threw together movies around a star, with no desire to make any kind of masterpiece.

Hmmm. I wouldn’t say “threw together.” Star vehicles were put together with quite a bit of care and attention, and many of them have survived better than the prestige pictures the studios were making to collect awards.

A friend once suggested that Liza Minnelli was actually more talented than Judy Garland -- Judy having so many vehicles tailored to highlight her particular strengths and conceal her weakenesses. Only the studio system (perhaps only MGM) had (or could assemble) such a breadth and depth of resources to maximize the star-making power of those vehicles.

This is, of course, not to say that Judy would never have been a huge star without the studio system--just that Liza may have been a bigger one with it.

#40 dirac

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 02:21 PM

I haven't seen the "It's Always Fair Weather" DVD yet, but I understand the extras include a solo dance by Michael Kidd, which was cut from the picture, and a Kelly-Charisse duet, also cut. Sounds as if it's well worth checking out.

#41 papeetepatrick

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:43 AM

Roberts hasn’t made any movies immediately identifiable as deathless classics, but she’s had a career unique among contemporary women stars. The shelf life of a star actress tends to be much briefer than that of her male counterparts. She has shown a lot of staying power in an era none too hospitable to women, and in that respect her career is more impressive than Grable’s or Hayworth’s, IMO. She’s now approaching the dangerous age, which for a female film star is 40, so we’ll see.


I don't know, I finally really thought she was impressive in 'Erin Brockovich', and the movie deserves credit even if it does nothing more than tell an important story well. That's the only one, though, and I was very surprised (only saw it recently.) I especially loathe things like 'My Best Friend's Wedding' and she also hasn't much of an ear--which her failed Irish accent in 'Michael Collins' proved.'

Found this old thread on 'the Best of Everything' while looking for that Astaire thread, which I'll find and link to in a minute. I thought Suzy Parker okay and when she falls out the fire escape it is truly a little mini-Psycho moment, if you saw it as a child as I did. Least interesting is Diane Baker, who never was, hard to understand how her weird small-town coldness ever got as many parts as it did. Joan Crawford hilarious in the part, when I used to do New York office-temp work, we used to call her type a 'personnel broad', the term having been first told to me by one who was herself one! according to her. Trash movie, I think better of this period kind of soaper were things with Kim Novak like 'Strangers When We Meet', with Kirk Douglas. I can never resist that dusky voice.

#42 dirac

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:22 PM

I don't know, I finally really thought she was impressive in 'Erin Brockovich', and the movie deserves credit even if it does nothing more than tell an important story well. That's the only one, though, and I was very surprised (only saw it recently.) I especially loathe things like 'My Best Friend's Wedding' and she also hasn't much of an ear--which her failed Irish accent in 'Michael Collins' proved.'


‘Brockovich’ is pretty good, isn’t it? You know where it’s going, of course – it’s a variation on ‘Norma Rae’ even if the story is taken from life – but I like it. I don’t think anyone noticed, but she was good in ‘Closer,’ too.

Roberts hasn’t made many good movies, as noted, but I’m not sure that’s really her fault. As miliosr says, you do have to give her credit for trying things like ‘Mary Reilly’ (and lending her name to the Collins picture, which she helped by looking beautiful even if she was rather obviously not a young lady of the period and had no control over the accent). I agree that ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ is poor but again I think that’s more of a commentary on the current state of romantic comedy than anything else.

I’m not objective, though, because I’ve always liked her for herself, and I don’t much care that she hasn’t got the chops of say, Cate Blanchett.

As for Rock Hudson, are The Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows considered Rock Hudson pictures or Douglas Sirk pictures?


I think it depends. Nowadays we think more of Sirk first, but at the time they would have been vehicles for Wyman and Hudson, and don’t forget in that era the producer (Ross Hunter here; Albert Zugsmith for the Sirk pictures The Tarnished Angels and Written on the Wind) had as much say as what made it to the screen as the director, if not more. This isn’t to say that those films don’t bear the marks of Sirk’s individual style; they do, obviously. But he didn’t have the control over his movies that many directors possess today.

Thank you, papeeetepatrick, for excavating these old threads.

#43 sidwich

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 03:30 PM

I don't know, I finally really thought she was impressive in 'Erin Brockovich', and the movie deserves credit even if it does nothing more than tell an important story well. That's the only one, though, and I was very surprised (only saw it recently.) I especially loathe things like 'My Best Friend's Wedding' and she also hasn't much of an ear--which her failed Irish accent in 'Michael Collins' proved.'


I actually think "My Best Friend's Wedding" is one of her better films. Hogan is a good director. Although I don't think she's picked a true classic, yet Roberts' taste is projects is not that bad. She's worked with a fairly impressive string of directors, Altman, Soderbergh, Jordan, Allen among them.

I agree, though that I don't think Roberts will be remembered as an actress or for her films, but for her historical place as the most bankable female star since Mary Pickford.

Meg Ryan seems to be in jeopardy of falling into the Tyrone Power class -- she waited too long to move away from the cutie-pie image.


I think if you look over Ryan's credits historically, she's split her projects between comedies and dramas pretty evenly. Among her projects around the same time as "When Harry Met Sally" and the years after, were "D.O.A.," "The Presidio," "The Doors," "Flesh and Bone," "When a Man Loves a Woman," "Restoration," and "Courage Under Fire." I think she's underrated as an actress, but audiences don't seem to like her in anything other than comedies.

#44 bart

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 05:11 PM

[Julia Roberts is] now approaching the dangerous age, which for a female film star is 40, [ ... ]

That's kind of sad isn't it? It certainly makes the career choices of someone like Helen Mirren, who trained in theater and went back-and-forth between stage and screen, seem both self-preservatory and sensible.

#45 papeetepatrick

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 05:59 PM

[Julia Roberts is] now approaching the dangerous age, which for a female film star is 40, [ ... ]

That's kind of sad isn't it? It certainly makes the career choices of someone like Helen Mirren, who trained in theater and went back-and-forth between stage and screen, seem both self-preservatory and sensible.


I don't think it's that much of a problem for a really major star as in past eras. There's always something for them to do. Shirley MacLaine 'made the transition' into mothers, etc., and many of the big names are still around as they go into their 50s or 60s. The main ones who seem to show signs of being eclipsed have been those who have had some substance problems or other personal trauma, or who lost interest. Ann-Margret has not been used well, but always works. Liz Taylor didn't continue for many reasons, probably including not wanting to do that kind of concentration. Catherine DeNeuve has never worked in the theater, and she is the ultimate example of aging well on the screen--much more so than MacLaine, who has become somewhat a caricature of herself, which Deneuve has not. Michelle Pfeiffer is 49 or 50 and shows no sign of literally slowing down, even if she went a couple of years without making a film. There are dozens more, help me remember them. Whether they really improve with age may be the more pertinent concern in this historic period. I think that the days when stars faded based on their beauty and glamour have pretty much passed. Any thoughts on that? this is pretty general and rough, I haven't thought it through that deeply. Just thought of Streisand. She can't get literally anything she most wants as she once could, but she can get a lot of it. Close and Streep and are still major actresses, Goldie still pops up sometimes.. etc., etc., I think anyway..

One thing that did interest me about 'My Best Friend's Wedding' was that Roberts already seemed an 'aging star' in it. The role was weird and it then felt strange when she 'went back' to 'romantic leading ladies'. However, I really wasn't paying all that much attention, after they did that shtick with 'I Say a Little Prayer for You'.


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