Wednesday, December 08, 2010
late to the party
About a month and half ago, I was doing my daily read of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings and read a delightful post which was her answers to a "Cinema Survey" that was originally started by blogger Amanda of A Noodle in a Haystack. A pretty cool, and difficult, set of questions bound to intrigue any classic film fan. I saved the questions in a file, meaning to do the thing myself, but never got back to it. You see, this would require consideration, time and honesty and so....aw, heck- I'll admit it. I just forgot to do it.
However, I saw it on my "To Do" list several times, and finally this week, I was determined to finish it. So for what it's worth- and I know it's late, here are my answers to the survey. Maybe some of my answers will surprise you. Please be sure to go back and check out Laura's responses as well as the original post at A Noodle in a Haystack.
1. What is your favorite movie starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, excluding all of The Thin Man films?
That would have to be a draw between Libeled Lady and the highly underrated I Love You Again, although I am a fan of all their pairings.
2. Name a screen team that appeared in only one film together but are still noteworthy for how well they complimented each other.
Hmm, there are several, put how about Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. It was like lightning in a bottle. Cary Grant really complimented so many of his costars so well, and made the pairings seem so natural.
3. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' best film together?
Shall We Dance would be my favorite.
4. Your favorite actor named "Robert"?
This will throw you- Robert Duvall. I like Montgomery and Taylor of course, but my hats off to Mr. Duvall in a tight contest. But if I were keeping this to older films, I would perhaps say Robert Montgomery.
5. An actor/actress who, when you see one of their movies, you always wish that someone else was in his/her role?
This is hard but I would have to say…Burt Lancaster, I just can’t stand him sometimes. A more current pick would have to be Renee Zellweger, (but again I have liked at least one of her movies).
6. An actor/actress that someone close to you really loves that you can't stand or vice versa?
An easy one- I love the Marx Brothers, my wife just doesn’t get them and she can’t stand the Three Stooges. She isn’t much of a classic film fan to begin with, but she loves musicals.
7. An actor/actress that you both agree on completely?
That would probably be Jane Powell for classic movies and currently, Sandra Bullock.
8. Complete this sentence: Virginia O'Brien is to Ethel Merman as...
…Freddie Bartholomew is to Mickey Rooney? Good gravy what kind of sentence is that?
9. What is your favorite film starring Ray Milland?
I love The Big Clock!
10. You had to have seen this one coming: what is your favorite movie of the 1960s?
This is impossible for me to answer, because I have really found there are so many from this time period that I love- everything from Goldfinger to Charade or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. However, I find that I keep revisiting In the Heat of the Night and find myself using it in my film and humanities class more and more. It’s a wonderful, wonderful film with so many nuances and great performances and themes. I just love it.
11. An actor/actress that you would take out of one film and put into a different movie that was released the same year?
I don’t know- this is a hard one to think about, or recall over so many I’ve seen but I would think it would be interesting to take Sean Connery out of 1969’s little known The Red Tent and plug him back into Her Majesty’s Secret Service, just to see the difference, if any, in the tone of the film (which I’ve actually grown to appreciate more over the years- strong words for a Uber-Bond fan).
12. Who was your favorite of Robert Montgomery's leading ladies?
Norma Shearer. But then, I absolutely adore Norma Shearer.
13. You think it would have been a disaster if what movie starred the actor/actress who was originally asked to star in it?
Well, given recent revelations- Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future
14. An actor/actress who you will watch in any or almost any movie?
Too many to choose from really, but I will pick one of each: Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. And did I tell you that I adore Norma Shearer? I think I did.
15. Your favorite Leslie Howard film and role?
Well…strictly speaking Leslie Howard isn’t one of my favorites, but I do like him an awful lot in It’s Love I’m After, a great little film, and find him insufferable in Gone With the Wind.
16. You have been asked to host a marathon of four Barbara Stanwyck films. Which ones do you choose?
Oh my, more like can I add some more to that list. Let’s see: The Lady Eve, Double Indemnity, Remember the Night and Ball of Fire. NO- wait! How about, Clash by Night, The Furies, Meet John Doe and Sorry, Wrong Number. Dang. See what I mean?
17. What is, in your mind, the nearest to perfect comedy you have ever seen? Why? Now this is hard, because in a way, no movie is perfect, and even my favorite comedies have some weak points. However, the closest I’ve seen would have to be…A Night at the Opera. Blazing Saddles for a more modern pick.
18. You will brook no criticism of what film?
I will generally concede that not every film will completely win over every single person. Impossible. But if you have something bad to say about my favorite holiday film of all time, A Christmas Story- well, let’s just say you’d better not do it when I’m in the room. You can even criticize Casablanca in my face- I’ll control myself. But don’t talk bad about my boy Ralphie.
19. Who is your favorite Irish actress?
Maureen O’Hara. Is there any doubt.
20. Your favorite 1940s movie starring Ginger Rogers?
The Major and the Minor
21. Do you enjoy silent movies?
Oh yes, very much so. I would venture to say more so in the last 10 years, but I’ve always loved them. I think one of the barriers for modern audiences is beyond the silence itself is how modern venues (DVD, VHS, etc) doesn’t always get the frame rate correct which makes it seem hurried, choppy or even static. But get the speed of the film right (which can be difficult to do) and a good preservation and remastering can make all the difference in the world. I show clips of several films in one of my Humanities class and the one they beg to see more of the most is Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid.
22. What is your favorite Bette Davis film?
You must never speak of this again in the presence of other males, but I am a sucker for All This and Heaven Too.
23. Your favorite onscreen Hollywood couple?
So many I love, but I have been going out of my way to try and see every single film Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn did together. And that’s just because I’ve seen all of the William Powell and Myrna Loy films. Several times. So tie between those two couples.
24. This one is for the girls, but, of course, the guys are welcome to answer, too: who is your favorite Hollywood costume designer?
25. To even things out a bit, here's something the boys will enjoy: what is your favorite tough action film?
Man! How do I choose. Sort of unfair because it could encompass many different genres – but I will play ball and say: Rio Bravo.
26. You are currently gaining a greater appreciation for which actor(s)/actress(es)?
Actor: Richard Widmark Actress: Joan Crawford
27. Franchot Tone: yes or no? Sure, in small doses.
28. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated?
Mae Clarke- her soulful, subtle performance in the original Waterloo Bridge won my heart and admiration forever. I think she was talented and not only underrated, but underutilized in her films and is unjustly forgotten today. Even though a leading lady in the 1930s, she only went on to small or bit parts in films in the 40s, 50s and 60s. She was in some important films in Hollywood History, and yet is treated almost like a footnote- like "the girl who got smashed with the grapefruit." She deserves better.
29. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated?
James Dean, hands down. Really. Three films and - to me - a one note performance in each of them.
30. Favorite actor?
I really have a hard time with “favorites” because I love so many different performers and for different reasons. So I don’t have one favorite. But I will say I will watch almost anything with James Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, and William Powell.
31. Favorite actress?
See above: Barbara Stanwyck, Norma Shearer, Myrna Loy…OK, just see this list.
32. Of those listed, who is the coolest: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, or Patrick Stewart?
33. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:
A Night at the Opera
Robin Hood (1938-natch)
The Big Sleep
Tie between Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Singing in the Rain
A Christmas Story
North By Northwest
As the pig says, "that's all folks." I tried to be as honest as possible, shooting from the hip in some cases. What do you think? Anything I missed or didn't consider? Got a point to argue with me? Go ahead and sound off in the comments thread.
I don't mind if you don't like my manners, I don't like them myself. They are pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings. I don't mind your ritzing me drinking your lunch out of a bottle. But don't waste your time trying to cross-examine me.