Sunday, September 16, 2012

Actresses

Sorry I haven't written much lately. If I don't have something to write about I wait for inspiration to strike. Sometimes it takes a while. Odd for someone like me who can talk all day long if I get going.
I don't seem to have as much interest in current movies. I find myself much more excited about the fare of Turner Classic Movies. I still haven't seen enough of the old classics either! But here is a list of actresses I find myself enjoying these days (in no particular order).

  • Katharine Hepburn
    • A couple of years ago I might have said she is my favorite actress of all time. I think she was a fine actress but she was always kind of the same in each role. I still adore her though and she's definitely in my top ten. I especially like Desk Set, Stage Door, The African Queen, Woman of the Year (except for the ending), Suddenly Last Summer, and Summertime. I still need to see The Lion in Winter and some more of her earlier work.
  •  Greta Garbo
    • So many of her movies are tragedies and she never gets to be much of a carefree character. I particularly enjoy the roles where she displays happiness because I think she is even more beautiful when she laughs and smiles. Ironically, she gets to do this in Anna Karenina more than in any other film I've seen her in (so far). You know, before she ends up throwing herself in front of a train. I like Ninotchka, Camille, Grand Hotel, Flesh and the Devil and Queen Christina, which I only got to see part of because the cable cut out halfway through. Luckily this will air on TCM in October. Still need to see Anna Christie and more of the silent films she did.
  •  Jean Harlow
    • I'm not sure where my fascination with Harlow began. Possibly because she was in Hell's Angels (with the famous line, "Would you be shocked if I put on something more comfortable?") which I enjoyed. She was the source of Hollywood legends regarding her death: her mother refused Harlow hospital treatment because she was a Christian Scientist, or her husband Paul Bern (who later committed suicide) punched her in the stomach. I read a biography of Jean Harlow and these legends were debunked. Harlow died AT the hospital following kidney failure which was incurable in 1937. 
    • Anyway, I have now seen more of her films including Dinner at Eight, Saratoga (she was filming this when she died so you can tell which scenes are before and after her death), Red Dust and China Seas (where Jean, known for her platinum blonde hair as well as never wearing undergarments, has a wardrobe malfunction when her halter dress slips down). She made a lot of films with Clark Gable; he is in those last three listed.
  •    Audrey Hepburn
    • It's difficult to NOT like Audrey! I have seen My Fair Lady, Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday (my fave), How to Steal a Million, Funny Face, and The Nun's Story (another fave). I still need to see Charade, Love in the Afternoon and Two for the Road, among others.
  •  Marlene Dietrich
    • I have only recently discovered her even though I saw her in both Destry Rides Again and Judgement at Nuremberg years ago. I have now seen her in The Blue Angel, The Scarlet Empress, and Shanghai Express and I love her! She compares favorably to Garbo and she sings too!
  • Judy Garland
    • It's hard to watch Judy in so many of her roles and know how unhappy she was during so much of her life. I think that's part of why she continues to fascinate people. I've seen a bunch of her films and I especially like Easter Parade, In the Good Old Summertime, The Harvey Girls and For Me and My Gal.
  •  Lucille Ball
    • I know Lucy from her TV shows first and foremost but she had a thriving movie career before she became Lucy Ricardo. I like several of her movies including Five Came Back, Stage Door, The Big Street and Dance, Girl, Dance. Too Many Girls is also fun to watch (even though it's not a great movie) because this is when she first met one of her co-stars, Desi Arnaz. Like Woman of the Year was the film where Spencer Tracy met Katharine Hepburn for the first time (or Bacall meeting Bogie in To Have and Have Not), it's fun to see the time and place it all began for those couples.
  •  Jean Simmons
    • Here's another actress I was introduced to via television: she was in The Thorn Birds miniseries in 1983. One of my favorite movies of hers is a soapy film called Until They Sail. I also liked her in Black Narcissus (tiny role though), The Actress (she plays a young Ruth Gordon), Elmer Gantry, Great Expectations, Spartacus (one of the few who did not proclaim, "I am Spartacus!"), and Guys and Dolls (also stars Marlon Brando whom I usually dislike but his pairing with Jean was okay).
  •  Elizabeth Taylor
    • Her private life and beauty could certainly get in the way but she was a pretty good actress. I like her early stuff best: National Velvet, Father of the Bride, A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer. Also Taming of the Shrew, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (I don't like the movie much -- too dark and depressing -- but Elizabeth is fantastic in it).
  •  Ava Gardner
    • Also known more for her beauty and her private life but she was interesting in many of her roles. I haven't seen enough of her movies to really decide how good an actress she was. I've seen Show Boat, On the Beach and Earthquake and on TV in Knots Landing (where I probably first was exposed to her and I adored her on that show). She's intriguing and I liked her autobiography so I will try to catch more of her movies.
  •  Rita Hayworth
    • Another actress known for her beauty and private life but she is fun to watch in her films, especially when she sings and dances. I like Cover Girl (with Gene Kelly), You Were Never Lovelier (with Fred Astaire) and Gilda. I definitely need to watch a few more movies of hers.
  •  Irene Dunne
    • I have loved all the movies I've seen her in: Penny Serenade, I Remember Mama, Show Boat, and The White Cliffs of Dover. Lots more movies to catch up on.
  •  Ruby Keeler
    • I have been able to catch a handful of early musicals lately including 42nd Street, Footlight Parade and Gold Diggers of 1933 and she's in all of them. She's a great tap dancer but not really a good actress or singer. She is adorable though. When I researched her I found out that she was married to Al Jolson, the biggest entertainer of his day. I'm guessing Mrs. Jolson had a slightly easier time getting roles therefore. She's usually partnered with Dick Powell. I haven't seen her in anything else yet but she made very few movies so I'll need to track them down.
There are several supporting actresses I'm always happy to see in films.
  • Hattie McDaniel
    • She shows up in bit parts in several movies, often uncredited, and her Oscar-winning performance in Gone with the Wind is great too. In her time roles were generally limited to that of the sassy maid but she played the hell out of them. She died of breast cancer when she was 57.
  •  Edna May Oliver
    • She plays all sorts of fun parts like Aunt March in Little Women and Lady Catherine in Pride & Prejudice as one of the best character actresses of the 1930s. She died after a sudden illness at age 59.
  •  Anne Revere
    • Played a lot of mothers, won an Oscar for National Velvet, and was blacklisted in the 1950s. I LOVED her character in National Velvet!
  • Una Merkel
    • She's in Destry Rides Again, 42nd Street, and The Parent Trap (Hayley Mills version) and many other films. She has a very distinctive voice with a cute Southern accent.
  •  Beulah Bondi
    • Played the mother of James Stewart 4 times (including It's a Wonderful Life) and many other mature roles. She often played much older than her age. I don't know how old she is in this picture from the late 30s or early 40s. She was born in 1889 so she'd be in her early fifties perhaps?
  •  Agnes Moorehead
    • We all know her best as Endora on Bewitched but she was in many films in the 1940s and 1950s (and one great Twilight Zone episode in 1961!) including Citizen Kane, The Big Street, Since You Went Away, Jane Eyre, Johnny Belinda, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, Dark Passage, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and Show Boat. She's great in all of them.
Can you guess what I'll write about next?

2 comments:

  1. You should also look out for Jean Arthur (classic with Jimmy Stewart is 'You can't take it with you") and my personal fav supporting actress (mostly), Thelma Ritter (you've seen her if you've seen "Rear Window"). My two cents, anyway. Oh, and Barbara Stanwyck in her comedies... J.

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