Friday, November 18, 2011

Class #7: Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart 

"I made more lousy pictures than any actor in history."

Well, that certainly is not true.  Although Humphrey Bogart took a while to catch on in Hollywood.  He was not the typically handsome star but he had a certain quality that was hard to ignore.  He was a rugged, tough, hard-drinking man who loved his women with passion and determination.  His film career spanned only three decades but it is filled with some of the most iconic performances in film history.  Just say the word "Casablanca" and his face appears before you.  He was Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe, and always will be.  His characterization of Captain Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny" is a tour de force.  "The African Queen," for which he won the Oscar as the irascible and lovable Charles Allnut, is a classic.  Then there's "Key Largo", "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "To Have and Have Not."  Humphrey Bogart was an original who will not be easily forgotten.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Class #6 - Cary Grant......

Cary Grant

"We have our factory, which is called a stage. We make a product, we color it, we title it and we ship it out in cans."
"Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant."

How can a person look this good for his entire life??  Unfortunately, I had to miss this class but I had to give Cary the recognition he deserves.  The man was charming, oh so handsome, funny, mysterious, a terrific actor and there will never be anyone like him again.  My professor was kind enough to forward me some information on him.  Here is a sample:

"He was the best and most important actor in the history of the cinema.  The essence of his quality can be put quite simply:  he can be attractive and unattractive simultaneously; there is a light and dark side to him but, whichever is dominant, the other creeps into view. . . The effect he achieves is one of art.  It shows malice, misogyny, selfishness and solitariness beneath good manners and gaiety; and it reveals a grace-in-humor buoying up a near-sadistic playing upon lesser people's nerves and good nature." – David Thomson.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Real Steel" - Yes, It Is A Very Fun Film!

"Real Steel" starring Hugh Jackman ("X-Men" "The Prestige" and Tony Award winning Broadway actor), Evangeline Lilly ("Lost" "The Hurt Locker") and the delightful Dakota Goyo ("Thor") is a very good family film.  It has something for everyone:  the beautiful Hugh Jackman for Mom, lots of action and the lovely Evangeline Lilly for Dad, plus fantastic robots and an 11 year old who rules the film for the kids.  This is a formula film, of course, but it is one that is smart, funny, exciting, heart-warming and leaves you feeling good.  It's not exactly the "Rocky" of robot movies but it is worth the money.  I would recommend seeing it in the theatre, also.  There is so much action and the robots are so wonderfully done, the impact of the film will probably lose something on the small screen.

***Side note:  Hugh Jackman is going to be starring as Jean Valjean in the film version of the musical "Les Miserables."  Hallelujah!

Class #5: Jean Gabin - The French Humphrey Bogart

Jean Gabin

"I understood immediately that to get success I had to make for the front door, not for the back one."

"For many people around the world, Jean Gabin was - and still is - French cinema."  (Lincoln Center Program, 2002.)  Jean Gabin was everything a movie star should be: handsome, suave, dangerous, easy with words, intense, soulful, and magnetic.  We viewed one of his most famous films,  "Pepe Le Moko" (1937), which was remade in the US a year later and titled "Algiers" starring Charles Boyer and Heddy Lamarr.  "Pepe Le Moko" is an excellent film and is probably one of the best to view to know who Jean Gabin was.  Although the film was made in 1937, it feels modern and embodies a spirit that American films could only wish for as they were constrained by the Code at that time.  Jean Gabin is a force on screen who brings power and truthfulness to his roles.  Plus his looks (notice his eyes) pull you in.  He truly was a classic actor in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Class #4: Fredric March - An Every Day Man

Fredric March

"Stardom is just an uneasy seat on top of a tricky toboggan. Being a star is merely perching at the head of the downgrade. A competent featured player can last a lifetime. A star, a year or two. There's all that agony of finding suitable stories, keeping in character, maintaining illusion. Then the undignified position of hanging on while your popularity is declining."

Fredric March was an every day man.  What do I mean by that?  He was an actor who looked like us and seemed to be someone we had met on the street or had coffee with.  This quality is what made his characters on screen seem so real.  He had a grittiness and an earthiness that made you watch him with compassion and respect.  Whether he was Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde (for which he won his first Oscar), you felt his pain, his joys, and his intelligence in ways that other actors could not show you.  His body of work speaks for itself:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Merrily We Go To Hell (1932)
Design for Living (1933)
Les Miserables (1935)
Anna Karenina (1935)
A Star Is Born (1937)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946 - his second Oscar)
Death of a Salesman (1951)
Inherit The Wind (1960)
Seven Days in May (1964)
The Iceman Cometh (1973)