What’s So Great About….? Or The Fault Lies Not in Our Stars

Once upon a time, when I was a very obnoxious teenager with pseudo-intellectual pretensions, I made my father throw his napkin at me at the dinner table. Dad had come home after a hard day’s work as a mechanic and I had come home from a hard day with Shakespeare. As I was rhapsodizing over the macaroni and cheese about the beauty of Shakespeare’s words (my Mom was a willing listener), my Father grumbled, “what’s so great about Shakespeare? I don’t think he was so much.” Insufferable little brat that I was, I said something to the effect that “there’s nothing wrong with Shakespeare. You just can’t appreciate him.” Hence the flying napkin.

While I might have not phrased my words in quite the right manner and tone, I still (after all these years) think I was right. Some things and people are just special and our failure to appreciate them does not diminish their greatness. While I got the Shakespeare thing right off the bat, there were a few other generally accepted greats that either (a) it took me some time to appreciate, (b) I am in the process of learning to appreciate, or (c) I give up! I just don’t get it.

 

A: It took me some time, but I am on board

Joan Crawford

Having first encountered her in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, it took me quite some time to work backwards through the eyebrows and lipstick until I finally made it to Mildred Pierce. After that, a fabulous journey through the 1940s and ’30s and I am now on board the Joan Crawford Star Express. Forgive me, Joan, for not taking the time to find out what your fans always knew – you are magnificent! I’m sorry I ever asked “what’s so great about her?”

Rudolph Valentino

It is difficult to assess the appeal of a silent film star unless you are fortunate to see them in a good print with good music. Sadly, my first encounters with Rudy were poor copies shown at the wrong speed with that awful overly dramatic organ music. And then, one night, the sheik stole into my tent via a beautifully restored version of The Son of the Sheik with a beautiful score, and suddenly, I knew what all the fussing and fainting was about. By the way, he’s still in the tent with me!

Vertigo

Being foolish and shallow, I initially couldn’t get past Kim Novak’s dark hair and eyebrows as Judy Barton. Boy, am I glad I gave this one a second chance. Vertigo is now one of my favorite movies. I find it endlessly compelling and – most delicious of all – am never quite satisfied. I still, after watching this movie more times than I can count, have questions. Of course, my biggest question is what took me so long to get on board?

Norma Shearer

I used to think her unattractive. Silly me. That’s when I thought all beauty was just super-prettiness, not something more individual. Norma, like all great stars, was like nobody else. Her delivery, her look, even her stance was unique. She is definitely a product of her time and MGM, but I find her glamour, her magnificence and yes, her talent, undeniable. Plus, she has one of my favorite profiles. Long live Norma!

B. I’m on my way, but not there yet

Marlene Dietrich

I confess I was never a big fan of this fabulously individualistic star. There is truly no one like her. However, I tend to be emotionally drawn to people, and Marlene left me a little cold. But she and I have warmed up over the years and I can honestly say I truly appreciate her for all that she was over her long and illustrious career. She was beautiful, elegant and one of a kind. I’m in your camp, Marlene, just not in the front row (yet).

Humphrey Bogart

I get it. He’s great. Again, I can name countless films of his that I love, but, emotionally, it was taken a very long time to make this connection. But I am much farther along than I used to be. I acknowledge that he is a great actor and great star. And yes, he is making inroads to my heart. I can’t deny him in Casablanca and The African Queen, but it’s The Maltese Falcon that really gets to me. Bogey was made to play those men in the shadows who nurse a tender heart behind a tough exterior. It took me some time to see the tender heart.

The Wizard of Oz

I have had a love/hate relationship with this movie all of my life. I totally appreciate it, but on some level something has always felt a bit “off” to me. I adore the beginning back-and-white portion in Kansas, but once they get to Oz, I always get a bit nervous. I would never “dis” this film, but I am still not over the flying monkeys, Munchkins, the Halloween lion suit and Glinda in her big hat and prom dress. Judy Garland, Ray Bolger and Jack Haley are just swell. I don’t know that I will ever be totally under its spell, but acknowledge this film’s greatness and its special place in the hearts of movie lovers of all ages.

C: Still Trying,but not having much success

Marlon Brando

Unfortunately, I still don’t get it. I am resigned to being in the minority on this point, but I find him most unpleasant. He may very well be a great actor, but I always get the impression that he is doing me a favor by showing up. Help me get in step with the rest of the world on this one!

Burt Lancaster

Another actor who is loved by millions, but who sets my emotional radar on “suspicious” mode. I appreciate him and can name a score of his films that I admire and enjoy, but I always have a bit of a negative reaction when I see him on screen. I find him overpowering in an uncomfortable way. Maybe it’s because he excels at playing characters who make you feel uneasy (I really do love Sweet Smell of Success). But – I know it’s me, not him, so I will keep trying! I think I’ll have better success here than with Brando.

And: The Sin of Sins

The Godfather

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, sob, sob, sob, I’m sorry, but I just can’t get it. I know it’s great. Everyone tells me so. I bow to its enduring place in the pantheon of great films. So, why do I run every time it’s on? This probably calls for an intervention of some kind.

So, now you know my dirty little secrets (well, some of them). I’ll bet that someone out there just hates Citizen Kane (which I love) or Casablanca (which I like)! Care to ‘fess up and keep me company? What actors and films do you not like that everyone else seems to love?

Marsha Collock has been an avid fan – not scholar – of  classic films since she saw the first flicker of black and white on the TV screen. Her muse is Norma Desmond, to whom she has dedicated her blog, A Person in the Dark, a site designed for all of the wonderful people out there in the dark who have an unabashed passion for silents, early talkies, all stars and all films. You can visit her on Facebook as well.

  • wayne

    You got the point right in the main, Marsha…its like the old adage: “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder…” It sure applies to art, music, food, and classic movies…of course, the physical beauty of some of the stars above may not be in question…perhaps, its just you didnt like the pics they were in or their roles in them!

    While were on the subject, am in the Marlon Brando no-like camp with you (after all, why did they have to coin a genre “method acting” just for him?…its still just acting, no matter what “school” you matriculated from :( But, please lets throw in the birthday girl of the week herself, Jean Harlow, in that category as well IMHO…shes OK as a blonde; well, you get the idea…I dont see what all the fuss is about.

  • Blair Kramer.

    Marsha… Marsha… Marsha… (I’m sorry! I just couldn’t resist!). I understand full well why you run away from “The Godfather” films. I’ve made this point numerous times in the past. Fun times in the movie house they’re not! They’re grim, dark, violent, gruesome, and worst of all, depressing. Moreover, they emphatically suggest that the human race doesn’t have any redeeming qualities, a notion that certainly is not true. Don’t worry about it, Marsha. I understand “The Godfather” films completely and run away from them too. As for “The Wizard Of Oz,” hey… Don’t worry ’bout the costumes. After all, most of the film is supposed to be a dream. So, just go with the flow. But ya know, I’ve always felt that Margaret Hamilton was great as the Wicked Witch! In fact, she should have been nominated for an Oscar as best actress for that film. More than that, she should have won that Oscar! Watch “The Wizard Of Oz” again and see if you don’t agree. Ms. Hamilton gave one heck of a performance!

  • jfleming

    I hate gone with the wind. I remember seeing it when I was 9 or 10 and when Clark gable says his frankly my dear line thinking why didn’t you say that 2 hours ago. And I still feel that way today. The film is bloated and boring and complete B.S. I would much rather watch Jezebel with Bette Davis & Henry Fonda much better film half the length. Also Casablanca is one of the most overrated films I can think of and I’m a bogart fan.

    • Lisa C

      Hate GWTW too. Hate movies that glorify the old South. Love Casablanca though.

      • roy levering

        The problem with GWTW is the annoying music throughout. It makes it almost unwatchable. Without it it is a great movie epic.

  • Larry

    I agree on Brando. Teahouse of the August Moon is the only movie I really enjoyed with him. He is one of the actors who get Academy award nominations because he can scream and shout the loudest. Just like Bette Davis. I liked her in a couple of films, but am tired of the screaming and shouting in most of her films.
    I hated Shakespeare in high school as it wasn’t taught right. After my wife drug me to the Ashland Shakespearean Festival I changed my mind and now am an avid fan. My actress turn-around came after I once preferred Jane Russell to Marilyn Monroe. Today I can’t figure that one out as I am an avid fan of Marilyn’s movies and don’t care for any of Jane’s except the ones that she is in with Marilyn. Perhaps it was because I once preferred brunettes. The Wizard’s monkeys bothered me for a while too, but Ray Bolgers scarecrow was so good that I became a fan because of him mainly. And I liked the tin man too.

    • Maryjo

      Marlon Brando was a great actor. His performance in On the Waterfront and Street Car Named Desire is mesmerizing. Again as Vito Corleone in the Godfather he was brilliant.
      He had extraordinary talent, his presence lit up the screen. He became cynical and disillusioned about acting and only agreed to roles for ludicrous amounts of money so he could live in Tahiti and put on a massive amount of weight.
      The contempt he showed his profession and sometimes fellow actors was legendary.
      People who are born with great talent and waste it really annoy me – but Brando (when he could be bothered) was a tour de force.

      • paul

        When Brando really acted,On The Waterfront–Streetcar–Godfather–Zapata he was like no other.

  • El Bee

    I know where you’re coming from, Marsha. Barbara Stanwyck has been my favorite over 60 years and people give me the wierdest look when I saw that–if they even know who I’m talking about. And the young ones only know Stanwyck from “Big Valley” re-runs. And those who know her movies only know her noir flicks. But when you know her career, she’s fully as amazing as any of the “legendary” stars of the golden age who are written about regularly. Marsha, you may like whomever you want to like and dislike the same way. Nobody’s wrong; nobody’s right–except me, of course, when it comes to Stanwyck.

    • paul

      Stanwyck was one of the great actresses.

  • Ellen Badders

    I am in full agreement, Marsha, on Marlon Brando. I appreciate Godfather, but don’t love it. I hate Citizen Kane and Dr. Zhivago. One viewing was more than enough of both of those. Love Casablance and will be seeing it in its theatrical re-release on March 21. Great article.

    • doris

      you should try seeing on the waterfront and streetcar named desire again…he was the first to bring the kind of acting he did…and had great influence on the direction acting took.

  • George Matusek

    Marsha — I agree with your position on “Citizen Kane” VS “The Godfather” — I’ve enjoyed “Citizen Kane” at least 30 times — I enjoyed and appreciated “The Godfather ” twice, and that’s enough for me — I would not be interested in watching it again. Some critics and film buffs want to elevate “The Godfather” to a status above “Citizen Kane” — I think that’s ridiculous — Ed Wood’s clumsy inept “Plan 9 from Outer Space” is, for me, more entertainingly re-watchable than “The Godfather.”

    • George Matusek

      By the way, in the interests of full disclosure, I am related to members of the Missouri branch of the Hearst family, so I have a personal interest in “Citizen Kane” — oddly enough, most of my Hearst cousins have a mere casual interest in the film — they don’t see anything so great about it. A son of one of my cousins seems to be the only one who is a fan of the film. LOL! Go figure.

  • Tim

    Yep, I’m with ya on Burt Lancaster. Always seemed to me that he was over playing most parts. I did really enjoy him in “Rocket Gibralter” though.

    • doris

      agree…i’ve always thought he overacted in many of his films

  • Mary

    Love your article. I agree with you re Joan, Norma (The Women!) and Vertigo. Kim’s “Judy” makeup and hair still are creepy, quess they had to give her a totally opposite look, but she looked too sleazy to be a model. Agree with you too about Brando–he does nothing for me. Do like Burt–what a hunk. Except for Wuthering Heights, I’m not a fan of L. Oliver–very stiff. Do love W of Oz–guess because it was shown on tv just once a year and we were so excited, but I usually fell asleep before the flying monkeys (which scared me, but loved them, too).

    • paul

      Agree about Vertigo.Did not appreciate it when I first saw it but have grown to love this film and I still have dreams about Kim Novak.

  • Kai Ferano

    Just compare these classic actors and their vintage movies to the talentless, ordinary-looking celebs of today, and you have your answer as to why we’re reaching back in time to be entertained. At age 66 I am now only discovering Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich. How’s this for two fascinating “flicks?” — “The Blue Angel” and “Cafe Metropole.”

  • TinyTim

    Time changes a lot of things. For example, I probably first saw Vertigo on television in the late 60s, when I was 11 or 12. I thought Kim Novak was gorgeous and could completely understand “Scotty’s” obsession with her. Now, when I see the film, Novak constantly distracts me because I no longer find her attractive at all, and I’ve grown to depise late 1950s fashion. The gray suit, the overtly symbolic whirlpool “bun,” and Novak’s buxom blousiness stop me from identifying with Scotty and actually make me a much more critical “outside” observer of Stewart’s highly mannered acting and the overly melodramatic tone of the movie. I love Hitchcock and I still appreciate Vertigo, but I can’t “feel” it as I used to.

    The other side of that coin is the Wizard of Oz. When I was growing up and we had only three television networks to choose from, the showing of the Wizard was an annual event that always occcured around Thanksgiving (I can’t remember if before or after). Every family I knew treated it like an important occasion, and absolutely everyone gathered around the tube to watch it every year. I started when I was probably 5 or 6 (maybe younger), and if you go find the old thread on “your scariest movie” you’ll see me and a whole lot of other people mentioning that one. By about the third viewing, most kids knew the movie by heart, and many of us maintained this annual ritual for 10 years or more. It was like a common vocabulary that you knew any of your peers would share and understand. The result is that the imagery, music, and themes of The Wizard of Oz are deeply ingrained in me as an archetypal mythology.

    I saw The Wizard a few years ago for the first time in decades, and I immediately had an emotional response to those deeply familiar sights and sounds. But shortly afterwards, in talking about it with some younger colleagues, I was shocked out of an ignorant assumption I had thoughtlessly continued to hold. Seeing the Wizard was no longer the universal and formative ritual it had been in my day. Many kids still saw it, but it wasn’t any more important than dozens of competing children’s movies. Maybe their Wizard was now Harry Potter or Bell, Book, and Candle, or whatever else their generation had chosen. But for many of us boomers, there’ll never be anything like a visit to see the Wizard.

  • Jim

    Not sure which Brando films you have seen… it’s true that he made some movies in which he seemed, shall we say, less than totally committed. But the ones in which his greatness is (at least to me) manifest outnumber them: Streetcar, On the Waterfront, Julius Caesar (probably my personal favorite), Guys and Dolls, Godfather, Reflections in a Golden Eye, etc.

  • Steve in Sedona

    I have no use for Jack Nicholson; his creepy little smirk gets old REAL fast. He was a great Joker, though.

    Robert de Niro – FEH! I lived in Staten Island, NY for 40 years. I saw quite enough of de Niro types in real life, thank you.

    George Clooney – a big nothing. Brad Pitt, the same.

    • Maryjo

      Nicholson reminds me of a lazy lizard lying in the sun. Robert De Niro has made some wonderful pictures
      - most of which were filmed in the 70′s. Now he’s just going through the motions. Sad, really.

      • paul

        Can’t understand why Nicholson is considered such a great actor.As for De Niro,he has recently made so many bad films that his once revered acting has deminished.Sad..

        • Pelayo

          Always considered Brando a litlle bit overrated.
          De Niro. The only time that he was o.k. was in the one with Brando and Norton. If you want not to like him, enough is to watch “We’re No Angels’.
          Pitt. The only one for him was in ‘Seven’.
          Clooney. Always horrible.
          Pacino. Even worst than them all.

  • Tom K.

    Dear Marsha Collock, If you want a little deeper look into Humphrey Bogart’s heart of hearts, please watch “Key Largo”. He’s a war hero, straight shooter, honest guy, substitute son and uncompromising in his values. I do not “Facebok” so here’s to you. Thanks.

  • Stan

    Never got into Crawford. Bogart yes and still will take time to watch him. Until now I thought I was the only one who hated The Godfather.

  • Christopher Schwinger

    I think Marilyn Monroe is sickening and obnoxious in the way she smiles, moves, and says things. I dislike Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis, and the makeup and outfits of silent film stars. And I’m still trying to figure out what people see in Gone with the Wind besides the charm of Clark Gable, the music, and the scenery. I didn’t find the burning of Atlanta impressive, actually, and the story’s theme that land is all that lasts is pathetic.

  • Baz

    Very interesting, albeit subjective, comments. We all have our favourites,otherwise there’d only be 3 or 4 actors making movie after movie. According to several books about Brando, he very quickly descended into making movies purely for the money because he was always broke. In his early work, he was different from other actors but Europeans had already been it for 50 years in other languages. I always found him irritating to listen to and apparently he wouldn’t learn his lines. I fear that de Niro and Hoffman, who promised so much, have also become parodies of themselves. At least Pacino is still trying. Re Burt Lancaster, he traded on his mile-wide smile and physical presence for a while but became quite wonderful as he aged (the opposite of Brando). Atlantic City, The Leopard, for example. Has anyone seen The Swimmer, a very unusual and philosophical American movie for its time but hard to find these days?

    • masterofoneinchpunch

      I’ve been wanting to watch The Swimmer for a while, but the R1 is OOP and a bit too expensive to find used. Great picks with The Leopard (one of BL’s favorite performances of himself even if the Italian dub is not him) and Atlantic City as both of those are superb.

    • jfleming

      Love the Leopard remember seeing it early one morning hangover laying on my cousins ratty old couch. Remember seeing a few great films that way. Also Raro Video USA is releasing the Conversation Piece on dvd march 13 blu ray April 10 I have not seen the film but will interested in seeing. Lancaster and Visconti follow up. Plus another company is releasing La Terra Trema & Bellissima on dvd March 13. A good for Visconti fans.

  • SLH

    Other than Mildred Pierce and The Women I am not a fan of Joan Crawford. I think one of my problems was the studios made her a caricature of herself and she carried it over into her real life. Too bold, too dramatic and too in your face to ever make a favorites list for me. I do think they could have softened her up a bit and let her dance and branch out a bit more, she’d have had a better career imo.
    Marlon Brando leaves me cold the only movies he did I will watch are Teahouse, The Wild Bunch and Streetcar and not because he is in them.
    I never liked, will never like, nor will I ever understand why anyone likes The Godfather movies they leave me as cold as a dead fish ;-)
    I have fond memories of watching The Wizard of Oz with my family, parts of it still give me the creeps. The actual storyline and message are good and I started liking it a whole lot more once I was old enough to realize Oz was just a dream or should that be a nightmare ? The part that upset me the most from a very early age was Miss Gulch threatening to destroy Toto she didn’t need the additional make-up to be a witch in my eyes. Anyone who could want to harm that adorable innocent little pup was pure evil to me. You see I grew up on a farm like Dorothy, so it was easy for me to identify with her. I was always crying happy tears at the end when she was back home and had learned it was the best place to be :-)
    I love almost everything Hitchcock ever did except Psycho (just too creepy for me) and Vertigo, it leaves me with an uneasy anxious feeling, my husband likes it, to each there own lol.
    Love Norma Shearer, think she was underrated. Favorite Bogart Films -The African Queen and Key Largo, Casablanca is a good movie, don’t understand peoples obsession with it.
    Marlene Dietrich very talented lady, still not a huge fan of her films though.
    Burt Lancaster was perfect for and brilliant in Elmer Gantry, maybe that it why he always gave me the creeps in anything else I saw him in ?

    There are so many brilliant actor and actresses and thrilling movies from the past that most of us know and love. I applaud you for continuing to search out and give another chance to the not so obvious and to better understand the hard to grasp ones.

    • ed cohen

      Yes, Psycho is creepy. But it’s only a handful of pictures that is pure Hitchcock. It’s arguably the only truly suspense film ever made because you don’t know what will happen after Janet Leigh got killed in the infamous shower scene. Anybody could get whacked at any time anywhere. Isn’t that what suspense should be about? I also appreciated, after multiple viewings, everything that preceded Marion Crane arriving at the Bates Motel. Great buildup.

  • Debbie

    George Clooney. I will never understand why people like him. His acting is marginal at best and he reminds me of a racoon.
    I think most of todays stars are computer generated. They all look alike, talk alike and can’t act if their lives depended upon it.

    • SLH

      Well said Debbie, about todays actors and actresses. I personally can’t tell one from another and I’m not THAT OLD really.

    • Maryjo

      George Clooney’s movies are turgid,dull affairs. A bit like him really ! Tom Cruise is another who is a very average actor. His cutesy pie, little boy smile won’t wash any more.

      • paul

        The only Modern Actors I truly feel are great are Russell Crowe & Gary Oldman & Streep.

  • ed cohen

    I also enjoyed Norma Shearer films. She was also a very beautiful woman. I understand what people are saying about Burt Lancaster, although he was great in “The Birdman of Alcatraz”. He was a bit more subdued here than let’s say “Elmer Gantry”. I think VERTIGO and GONE WITH THE WIND ARE TWO OF THE MOST OVERRATED FILMS OF ALL TIME!!! Vertigo is a romance story which Hitchcock (I am a Hitchcock fan) takes forever to develop and Gone with the Wind is a vehicle for Vivien Leigh. Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Lesley Howard are hardly in the film. The script is also lame.
    Some of you have to realize that there is more to a film than just leaving you with a good feeling. If you go by this, then Stanley Kubrick was a horrible director. Yet he was, by my standards, one of the greatest directors of all time. “A Clockwork Orange” is a work of art, as well as “Dr. Strangelove”, “2001″, “Full Metal Jacket”, “The Killing” and others. All these films have a rather bleak view of humanity, yet they’re phenomenal films.

    • jfleming

      Couldn’t agree more Kubrick is the greatest filmmaker this country has produced. But your wrong about Vertigo its one of Hitchcock’s deepest and darkest films and one of his best. But norma shearer does nothing for me find her completely bland. She’s the least interesting actress in the Women Joan fontaine is the most annoying.

      • jfleming

        P.S. glad to see more people have no use for gone with the wind either.

        • ed cohen

          I’ll give Vertigo another shot. Admittedly, it did take me four times to get into “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

          • jfleming

            It took me several tries to get into 2001 also. As for Vertigo I’ve considered Kim Novak to be one of Hitchcock’s greatest macguffins. That she is what Jimmy Stewart is obsessed with but we the audience don’t care about. Like the government secrets in North by Northwest or industrial diamonds in Notorious.

  • Tom S

    Agree with what everyone is saying about the overblown actors of today. Pitt and Clooney I just don’t get and can’t remember the last time I went to one of their films. Add Angeline Jolie and Julia Roberts to that list as well.

  • celebkiriedhel

    Actually having seen the Benjamin Button film and 12 monkeys – I’d give Brad Pitt films a chance just because of those. Johnny Depp on the other hand, I will see because his films are always out there with the exception of the pirates of the Carribean series.

    As for actresses I could never get on board with… Bette Davis. Her acting is wonderful – but the characters she played always jarred with me. I acknowledge her greatness – but prefer to acknowledge it from afar.

  • Eric Allstrom

    I, like many of you, am a huge movie fan but just can’t like certain films we’re all supposed to adore. It took me years to admit I admire Citizen Kane but don’t like any of the characters, including Alan Ladd.

    But that’s not why I’m writing.

    I was around when Brando was new, a young actor, and it’s all but impossible to capture the feeling of how revolutionary he was, and without that perspective he’s unpleasant, pretentious and remote. But young people especially saw a reality in his best performances that had never been witnessed, and at the time even his severest critics thought of him as the greatest actor of all time. And in the early 50s everybody had an opinion about him.

    Every serious actor since then is indebted to him.

  • Bob Abbott

    Back in the pre-VCR days there was a revival theater in Philly. I went to see Citizen Kane and City Lights (they must have been showing them in alphabetical order). Citizen Kane was nice, enjoyable, a little pretentious but OK. I hated City Lights too cloying, but in between they had shorts and cartoons and such, and I saw Keaton’s The Railrodder, a commercial made for the Canadian National Railroad. It was genius. Right then and there I became a big fan. Thank God for the current technology or so many of these films wouldn’t be seen.
    The Godfather series, Brando, don’t hate, don’t love. But so many of these movies were meant to be seen on the big screen in the darkened theaters, that viewing them otherwise (like we had a choice) compromises them and thus our judgments.

    • SteveB

      I so agree about seeing these films on the big screen. The first time I saw ‘Vertigo’ was on TV and I thought it was interesting but it didn’t really do anything for me.

      The second time I saw it was in a theater showing a classic film series in all its wide-screen VistaVision glory and I absolutely was mesmerized by it. It became my single most favorite movie-going experience to this day. Pure magic.

      Seeing these classics on the big screen really makes a difference and I now seek out any opportunity to do so. Wish more of these films were shown that way.

  • William (Bill) Lieberman

    I am surprised that when talking about no one mentioned his work in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”. His depiction of a man whose character changes as his circumstances change explains the story as Walter Houston’s superb verbal presentation never could.

  • William (Bill) Lieberman

    As if I need to explain now, I was talking about Bogart.

  • Robin

    The article was about actors and movies the writer has only recently begun to admire.

    In recent years my admiration for Gina Lollobrigida has steadily increased. She was “marketed” as a curvacious glamour girl and while she certainly was that, she was also a pretty good actress when given the chance. People should watch Gina in Fanfan La Tulipe, Trapeze, The Law and Come September.

    • Stan

      My first crush as a youngster was Gina. She was perfect.

  • Nils Goering

    Jack Nicholson – as a kid I saw him in ‘The Raven’, ‘The Terror’, ‘Hells Angels on Wheels’ and ‘Psych-Out’ and I found him to be a terrible actor. He was lauded for his role in ‘Easy Rider’ and I never understood why – I don’t like the film anyway. I did get a kick out of his over the top cartoonish bit in Corman’s ‘Little Shoppe of Horrors’ but that was schtick not acting.
    And, no, I didn’t like his performances in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, ‘Five Easy Pieces’ or ‘Carnal Knowledge’. He was tolerable as the Joker in ‘Batman’ and amusing as a werewolf in ‘Wolf’.
    But, it was in Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’ where I finally enjoyed him. It’s a good film and he did a good job in it (as did all the performers) -But I’m still not on board with all those folks who give high praise to his skills as an actor.

    • Cara

      I agree. Chinatown but little else. Although, the Witches of Eastwick has a certain creepy charm. He does make a great banal Devil. Fits his personality, I think.

  • FLRP

    For Crawford fans who’ve missed it, check out Joan in 1932′s “Rain.” Great performance!

  • Al

    Gina Lollobrigida Grew on me. So underrated.

  • Laura B.

    We all have the right to change our minds. I consider The Wizard of Oz the greatest movie ever made, but it isn’t my “favorite movie”. I appreciate its greatness of when it was made, the b&w “real world” with the color “fantasy/dream world” and the acting and sets. As I get older and constantly discovering older films for the first time (and I’ve always been a film lover), I have come to appreciate Lancaster, Shearer, Dietrich, Henry Fonda, Stanwyck, Stewart and Bogart SO much more. I have also lowered my opinion of Nicholson, Crawford and others. I like musicals much more than when I was younger. I find Brando a mixed bag – sometimes great(On the Waterfront) and sometimes terrible and overrated. I would say that the biggest change in my opinion over the years goes to Bogart (probably my bias being his looks when I was young and more superficial – which I hate to admit). Sometimes our tastes change and we come to appreciate a body of work rather than basing an opinion on one or two films, and that can only come with time and exposure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rogerj9 Roger Phaneuf

    Brando WAS a great actor–no denying that. But a weird individual full of himself. I never could take to him.
    Now bogart is something else. It took a while for me to like this guy but the more I saw his movies the more I appreciate his delivery. That guy is anything but dull. Casablanca was his break-out role and , man, did he deliver. “Rick, why did you come to Casablanca?” “I came for the waters.” “The waters! But this is the desert.” ” I was misinformed.”–Classic.
    I am however a die-hard John Wayne fan–both the actor and the man. In my book the Duke rules.

  • Garry Stewart

    Didn’t get to see much of Rita Hayworth in my early film going days. I was locked into the MGM musicals.
    Caught up with her in later years mostly on television. What a gorgeous woman and what a talent in those musicals with Astaire and Kelly.
    Also re discovered in my later years the skills of Joan Fontaine, Norma Shearer and Marlene Deitrich, all helped by superb black and white photography .
    Others like Louis Hayward , Robert Ryan and Debra Paget left their mark on me .
    Brando was almost unintelligble in ” Sayonara .” Turned me off completely, although I did see a couple of his other films. The subject matter of the films was worth the effort but he was no drawcard for me .
    Lancaster was good in some action films, but was miscast in films like Come Back Little Sheba and Sorry Wrong number .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000639987101 Mary Hignite Craft

    I also was not a fan at first of the movie, “Vertigo”;but it has been a favorite of mine for a long time.I own it on dvd, and I watch it regularly.I cannot understand why so many people hate ” The Godfather.” I love both 1 and 2.Who does not love Al Pacino? The only other Marlon Brando film I like is, “On The Waterfront.” To the posters who are lukewarm about Joan Crawford:Please watch Mildred Pierce and Humeresque. You will then be a lifelong Joan Crawford fan. It is hard to believe that someone posted that they did not like George Clooney.He is one of the best actors of all time.

    • Cara

      I have seen both Humeresque and Mildred Pierce. I still do not like Joan Crawford. On the other hand, I saw Vertigo as a young woman and couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. I thought the movie was unintelligible, not nearly as entertaining as Rear Window or North by Northwest. Come to find out, I saw a cut of the film that left out the whole section in which Kim Novak writes the letter to Stewart, and the two stories mesh. I kid you not. There was a print in the 50s in circulation that had been cut so that the film didn’t make sense.

      GWTW. Very dated. Loved it as a girl. Can’t stand to watch it now. I feel it romantices a time and region that was build on a grotesque institution. It is as racist as Margaret Mitchell was herself. The only redeeming feature was Vivian Leigh’s performance. It was bravura. Love Clark Gable, but if I want a Gable fix, I’ll watch San Francisco.

  • CheriLynn

    I’ve noticed that now I’m ahem over the age of consent ahem, I’ve rediscovered Joan Crawford. I’ve always liked Mildred Pierce but recently I’ve started to purchase Joan’s films en masse. I finally got over the eyebrows and discovered this woman can act. Always been a Bette Davis fan except her later films (Yech!) And I agree with you about Marlene. I recently picked up a cheap film with her in it and was taken back by her beauty, her completely different take on the character, so I’m rethinking my indifference toward her. Check out Garden of Allah. I bought it for Charles Boyer but found Marlene enchanting, it’s the only word that can aptly use to describe her in that film. She comes across so innocent and open, which is completely opposite of her more worldly seductive roles she’s famous for.

    As for GWTW, I’m in everyone’s camp. Don’t own it and never will. It’s also so ORANGE. The first time I saw Godfather was in the theatre with Play It Again Sam (I know, really weird combo). Saw Sam first and then when Diane Keaton asks Pacino about killing the brother-in-law I turn to my friend and say, “She bought it!” Couldn’t resist. As for OZ, that was an event in our household too. Every year we watched it. We also saw The Ten Commandments every year. We went to drive-ins and theaters of all sorts, so it also has a powerful influence on my emotions. I simply love those two movies and can’t quite help it. It must be cicatrized on my brain.

    Bogie is another story. I fell in love with him as a child and the love affair has never ended. Casablanca has everything Marsha: Love, betrayal, patriotism, sacrifice, friendship, war. It also has some of the funniest moments such as Claude Rains saying: “I’m shocked, shocked that gambling is going on here.” to which the steward rushes in and says, “Your winnings sir.” There are many many great moments like it through the whole movie. It is quotable, memorable, and completely satisfying on many levels. As for Citizen Kane: Wells is a blowhard, egomaniacal idiot, and the movie is just plain stupid. Rosebud is a sled. A sled. gimme a break! I like things from my childhood and have fond memories, but my true love? It’s just plain stupid and illogical. Typical of Wells. Only movie I liked him in was The Stranger and he overacted in that one too. If it wasn’t for Edward G. I would have nixed it too.

    That brings me to Edward G. I didn’t like him until Tender Grapes. Wow. I mean Wow. He suddenly became my favorite guy. I now appreciate his entire body of work and can’t get enough of him. Claude Rains is the same. What a marvelous actor. I feel indifferent toward Burt. I like him, I don’t, and I don’t know. Sweet Smell he was pretty amazing, so maybe I do like him.

    Can’t stand Hoffman, Hanks, and Robin Williams (should remain a standup comic and not try to act). I’m in the camp that believes these guys are terrible actors. Never liked Kevin Costner until I saw Open Range. I’m rethinking him, but not quite there yet. I like some Johnny Depp movies but I find he plays three types: over the top weird, subtley weird, and drunk or on drugs. Give me the old time stars everyday and twice on Sunday. Where’s Edward G when you need him.

  • Don Confiliano

    Kim Novak and William Holden’s best movie was “Picnic” Monnglow-Love Theme” scene was one of the best ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001417262687 Adelaide Abdur-Rahman

    I find myself looking at Evil Under the Sun starring Peter Ustinov as Poirot, The fashion worn by the women and music by Cole Porter are great.

  • Cara

    Thanks. I too have trouble with The Godfather. I grant you, it’s got quotable dialogue. Most of which is better out of context. I just can’t connect with a movie about mobsters who get rich on other people’s misery and go around shooting each other. I know, I know, there can be great films about unpleasant characters, but do we have to sit through a trilogy for God’s sake?

    As for Bogie, I appreciate him, but I’m not drawn to his movies. Part of the problem is that I just don’t like gangsters, or gore, or brutality. I like some film noir, but only if it’s stylish.

    I like Cagney better. Isn’t that weird? I guess it’s because I think Cagney can do comedy, and I don’t think Bogart is much of a comic actor.

    I do love British mysteries, but then I’m a hopeless anglophile.

    You say tomatoes; I say tomahtoes. Thank goodness, there are so many of us who have different tastes.