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John Garfield as Nijinsky


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#1 cargill

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 12:39 PM

Unfortunately, this didn't happen, but I was recently looking at a 1938 Dance Magazine (it was called American Dancer then, I think), and in the announcements section, there was a piece saying that the new star John Garfield, who had studied with Mordkin, was trying to interest the studio in making a film about Nijinsky, with Garfield, of course, in the starring role. It would have been something, I expect! Mary

#2 bart

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 06:53 PM

It would have been something, I expect!

Yes, indeed. Thanks for that information about studying with Mikhail Mordkin. I didn't have a clue that Garfield had a ballet background.

#3 cargill

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 05:08 AM

I don't know how much of a ballet background he really had, but the little squib did say he had studied with Mordkin--I expect briefly when he was studying theater in New York.

#4 atm711

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 06:17 AM

A ballet background....Garfield has always been one of my favorites, and now I love him :flowers:

#5 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 04:42 PM

Jacob Julius Garfinkel (John Garfield -- who named his daughter Julie) was a serious NY actor, who studied Modern dance with some of the 30's crowd, including Helen Tamaris.

#6 dirac

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 08:34 PM

Tamiris worked with the Group Theater in productions with Garfield.

Julie was also the name by which Garfield's friends knew him. As an actor he hadn't the widest range and I'd not have been looking forward to his Nijinsky, but a distinctive presence in his best movies. Sad to lose him so young, first to the blacklist and then heart disease.

#7 Richka

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 12:17 PM

I can't imagine John Garfield as a dancer, though I believe acting students of that period were required to do some ballet classes, or more likely modern dance. Bette Davis studied some with Martha Graham. Possibly that's why she was expert at walking down stairs so gracefully. Are there ANY movies where she doesn't make a sweeping entrance down a staircase? Warner Bros. must have grown tired building them for her.
But Garfield as Nijinsky? The movies I've seen him in on TCM he plays mostly gangsters. There is one where he is a concert violinist, I think with Joan Crawford. Even that seems unlikely. But Nijinsky? It would be laughable but he must have believed he could actually do it. Didn't know he had been blacklisted.

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:10 PM

Remember that Garfield was a student in New York of Maria Ouspenskaya, who taught the entire Stanislavsky System (not just "the Method") to her students. Stanislavsky's comprehensive training for actors contained dance as an integral part of the skill set. Mordkin, being a fellow Russian, would have been a logical choice for an Ouspenskaya student to take class from.

#9 Richka

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 11:50 AM

Remember that Garfield was a student in New York of Maria Ouspenskaya, who taught the entire Stanislavsky System (not just "the Method") to her students. Stanislavsky's comprehensive training for actors contained dance as an integral part of the skill set. Mordkin, being a fellow Russian, would have been a logical choice for an Ouspenskaya student to take class from.


Oh yes, Maria Ouspenskaya was from the Moscow Art Theater and Stanislavsky, et al.. Mordkin, or Adolph Bolm would indeed have been logical choices for some ballet training for actors. There was an old ballet film on TCM several years ago. Forgot the name of it (maybe The Mad Genius) but it had.John Barymore as a Diaghilev type figure who turns a young boy into a great ballet dancer. Nijinsky? Adolph Bolm did the choreography and there is a ballet in it, ending with on stage murder of Barymore. The ballet used a real dancer in long shots but as it was around Garfield's era, perhaps it was what he was thinking of as a vehicle. Early 1930s I believe. I had it on tape but disappeared long since. Interesting to see ballet choreography of that era..

#10 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 07:07 AM


Remember that Garfield was a student in New York of Maria Ouspenskaya, who taught the entire Stanislavsky System (not just "the Method") to her students. Stanislavsky's comprehensive training for actors contained dance as an integral part of the skill set. Mordkin, being a fellow Russian, would have been a logical choice for an Ouspenskaya student to take class from.


Oh yes, Maria Ouspenskaya was from the Moscow Art Theater and Stanislavsky, et al.. Mordkin, or Adolph Bolm would indeed have been logical choices for some ballet training for actors. There was an old ballet film on TCM several years ago. Forgot the name of it (maybe The Mad Genius) but it had.John Barymore as a Diaghilev type figure who turns a young boy into a great ballet dancer. Nijinsky? Adolph Bolm did the choreography and there is a ballet in it, ending with on stage murder of Barymore. The ballet used a real dancer in long shots but as it was around Garfield's era, perhaps it was what he was thinking of as a vehicle. Early 1930s I believe. I had it on tape but disappeared long since. Interesting to see ballet choreography of that era..



I saw that, (although I couldn't watch it to the end) and was going to mention it when I referred to Garfield's original name, but couldn't remember the name of the film. it was THE WORST, WORST, WORST film I ever saw. The acting was... how can I put it... worse than amateur. The choreography in the rehearsal scenes, with Bohlm, was also atrocious.

Good for laughs, if you can stomach it.

#11 bart

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 07:48 AM

It was "The Mad Genius," Richka. Here's a great quote which tells you all you need to know:

Vladimar Ivan Tsarakov: I will create my own being: that boy! That boy will be my counterpart, he shall be what I should have been... I will mold him, I will pour into him my genius, my soul. In him all my dreams, all my ambitions will be fulfilled -- the greatest dancer of all time!


As to plot:

In another of John Barrymore's bizarre characterizations the great actor portrays a club-footed itinerant puppeteer who rescues an abused boy from vile existence,recognizes the lad's incredible of agility and footwork and begins to train the youngster to be a "new" Nijinsky.Years go by,the boy reaches manhood,and Barrymore the impresario of a successful ballet company.But when the ballet dancer begins to have ideas of his own,falls in love with pretty Marian Marsh,Barrymore,consumed with madness and jealousy attempts to manipulate their lives leading to shocking results. This extraordinary film oscillates between intriguing drama and moments of near horror with Barrymore in masterly control of his human puppets. Boris Karloff is the boy's monstrous father and Luis Alberni stands out as the drug-addicted ballet director.Magnificent direction by Michael Curtiz.

Another typical day in the life of a ballet company. :wink:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022103/


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