Friday, October 9, 2009

Amanda's Classic Cinema Survey

In celebration of the 100th post on Amanda Cooper's classic film blog A Noodle in a Haystack, she has put a lot of effort into creating a classic film survey - and of course I'm eager to participate in it.
So, ladies and gentlemen (I guess that includes most of you): here are my answers!

1. What is your all-time favorite Clark Gable movie?

When it comes to "favorites" in cinema discussions, I am that kind of a boring person that simply won't answer - I just can't. I can have a favorite at the time, but the next week I might be in a different mood and have another one. In short, favorites are never a consistent thing when it comes to me.
Therefore I will answer this question with two favorite Clark Gable films, one bad-guy-role and one good-guy.
A favorite Clark Gable bad guy film is Night Nurse (1931). Only Gable could pull off a line like "I'm Nick... the chauffeur" and make it sound threatening.
As for the good guy film, I will pick the first Gable film I ever saw: Mogambo (1953).

2. Do you like Joan Crawford best as a comedienne or a drama-queen?

I never cared too much for Crawford at all, though I admit that she is a really good actress. I like her best in Grand Hotel (1932), but I have no idea if her performance there fits in in any of the categories comedienne or drama-queen. She is delightfully toned down, and her character is both cynical and slightly amused. I'd pick Flaemmchen any day.

3. In your opinion, should Ginger Rogers have made more musicals post-Fred Astaire?

I don't really have an opinion, but what she did she did good - and I can't say I ever wished for her to do more. Her post-Astaire dramatic roles are superb, so why go on more with musicals?

4. I promise not to cause you bodily (or any other serious) harm if you don't agree with me on this one. So please be honest: do you like Elizabeth Taylor? Hm?

Haha. Well, I'm quite indifferent. She's amazing in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), but she doesn't always make that great of an impression in her movies. I like to watch her, even though I wouldn't see a film especially for her being in it. But I wouldn't change her as Maggie the Cat for any other actress in the world.

5. Who is your favorite offscreen Hollywood couple?

Jesus Christ, what a difficult question. It seems like most off-screen Hollywood couples get a divorce after a year or so, which make it hard to get used to them as a couple. In that case I will choose Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. They were married for 50 years until he died, and they look so genuine together. That's a couple I admire!

6. How about onscreen Hollywood couple?

Such hard questions to answer! Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart (damn, weren't they my favorite off-screen couple too...?)- the obvious sexual tension between them in To Have and Have Not (1944) is fascinating - I could watch that "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?" scene over and over again for eternity.

7. Favorite Jean Arthur movie?

After having seen A Foreign Affair (1948) for the first time recently, I think I will choose Jean Arthur as the congresswoman Phoebe Frost as my favorite character of hers, and also my favorite movie of hers. I was fascinated by how close to reality the film was, and deeply regret that I hadn't seen it before.

8. What was the first Gregory Peck movie you saw?

I believe it was either The Guns of Navarone (1961) or Cape Fear (1962) - I didn't instantly like him though. I thought he was so over-the-top American, but now I have gotten used to him and like him a lot. He's handsome too!

9. What film made you fall in love with Alfred Hitchcock? (And for those of you that say, "I don't like Hitchcock" -- what is wrong with you?!)

I don't think I have ever met a person who has seen a Hitchcock movie and not liking him! No, it would be something disturbingly wrong with them if they didn't like him, or just trying to be original by hating something others love.
Okay, I'll answer the question now! I fell in love the first time I saw a Hitchcock film, when my classic film devotion was newly born. I believe it was The Birds (1963) I saw first, or if it even was Psycho (1960). Or was it Vertigo (1958)? Anyway - I fell in love immediately.

10. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption?

That one I can answer without a problem - Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita (publ. 1955) into Kubrick's Lolita (1962). It's extremely faithful to the book (which is one of the greatest books I've ever read), and it has managed to capture the feeling too, something that must be very difficult to manage.
But of course, now that I think of it... There are more favorites. I recently read Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (publ. 1947), of which William Wyler's Wuthering Heights (1939) is a fantastic film adaption. He obviously decided to only include the first generation of the characters (the first half of the book), but in a film that is really wise choice. And Laurence Olivier raised the bar for Heathcliff characterizations to an unreachable height for everyone who ever tried to give a worthy performance of the character afterwards.

11. Do you prefer Shirley Temple as a little girl or as a teenager?

Ehrrmm... I haven't seen any Shirley Temple film! *trying desperately to avoid the rotten fruit thrown at me* But I have seen clips on YouTube, and from that I feel that Shirley Temple was best as a little girl. I can't believe that anyone anywhere in the world felt the need for her to grow up.

12. Favorite character actor?

Basil Rathbone! That is anyway the first name that pops into my head (naturally), but as to not complicate the answer I won't think about it further.

13. Favorite Barbara Stanwyck role?

Gaah! All these "favorite" questions! I can't do it! Okay, Baby Face (1933).

14. Who is your favorite of Cary Grant's leading ladies?

Katharine Hepburn, for sentimental reasons. The Philadelphia Story (1940) was one of the absolute first classic movies I ever watched. And re-watched. And re-watched again...

15. Bette Davis or Joan Crawford?

Bette Davis without a doubt. I never found Crawford interesting, while Bette Davis must be one of the most interesting persons in Hollywood history.

16. What actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated?

Laird Cregar is one who is probably not as underrated as he is forgotten. His acting is always close to magical.
As for actresses my first thought is Gail Patrick. She always played "the other woman", while I have no problem thinking about her as a leading actress. Or was she one? I haven't seen too many of her films, but those I've seen always left me wishing for more scenes with her.

17. What actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated?

That was an interesting question! As much as I love Marlon Brando, I must say that he (and other method actors like Montgomery Clift) often are overrated. They are skilled, of course - but I think nowadays those are the actors that non-classic-film-devotees know the names of. And there are so many more great actors (and better) that are left out.
As for actresses I'm tempted to say Joan Crawford. But perhaps I just don't like her because she neglected to wax her eyebrows in latter years.

18. Do you watch movies made pre-1980 exclusively, or do you spice up your viewing-fare with newer films?

I watch classics from every decade. Obvious classics, modern classics and will-probably-become-classics. It would be snobbish and foolish to pretend that good movies aren't made any more (even though you often have to turn your back to Hollywood to find them).

19. Is there an actor/actress who you have seen in a film and immediately loved? If so, who?

Haha, even though I just said that he was overrated - Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). God, how I drooled. And re-watched it. Drooled. Re-watched. And when that didn't satisfy me, I dragged my female friends down into the ditch of sin with me. I remember it as if it was yesterday: Three 16 year old girls having a house for themselves, watching A Streetcar Named Desire, drooling, swooning and eating popcorn. When I bought the film on DVD I gave away my VHS copy to one of them. She now has it as a decoration in her book shelf, to her boyfriend's frustration.

Another example is my favorite Swedsih drooling object Jarl Kulle. When I saw him as Count Malcolm in Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) the reaction was the same. That little trimmed moustache, that white shirt and that monocle, duelling for a lady's honor. Yikes. When I later saw another Ingmar Bergman comedy, The Devil's Eye (1960), I was lucky to find out that Bergman has cast Jarl Kulle as Don Juan - what a perfect choice!

20. Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire?

Fred Astaire. Even though Gene Kelly is talanted and funny, his perfectionism is felt right through the screen. Astaire isn't as good looking, but his charms and ease make him much more attractive and more comfortable to watch than Kelly.

21. Favorite Ginger Rogers drama?

I guess one can call Stage Door (1937) a drama, even though it's incredibly funny too. Anyway, she is adorable in it.

22. If you wrote a screenplay, who would be in your dream cast and what roles would they play? (Mixing actors and actresses from different generations is allowed: any person from any point in their career.)

I would like to see a film noir with Humphrey Bogart and Carole Lombard. I'd like to see her as a mysterious and dangerous temptress, smoking with a cigarette holder. She's accused for murdering her rich husband, and Bogart is the cynical detective that has to put aside his feelings of attraction towards Lombard in order to find out the truth about the case. Director: Billy Wilder.
Or what do you think?

23. Favorite actress?

Right now it's Olivia de Havilland.

25. Favorite actor?

For the moment, Alec Guinness.

26. And now, the last question. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:
I'll answer this question from my present point of view, and what I would feel like watching today.

Drama: Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Romance: An Affair to Remember (1957)

Musical: Grease (1978)

Comedy: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Western: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Hitchcock (he has a genre all to himself): Of course! You can't put Hitchcock in a corner. Rebecca (1940)


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

This is so your answers though I don't agree with all. Am I allowed to do this on my blog?

Anonymous said...

Very nice.

I've always wanted to pick Carole & Bogie for a film too!

Mykal said...

Lolita: I love that you consider Joan Crawford over rated because she didn't tweeze her eyebrows properly in her latter career. God, that's so cute. I am with you 100% on Laird Cregar I didn’t discover him until a couple of years ago. What a monster talent. -- Mykal

Lolita said...

Of course! It would be fun to read your answers! When you've done the survey, write a comment on Amanda's blog to let her know that you've done it ;)

Cool! They would have looked great together, I'm sure.

Haha, oh yeah - I have really strong opinions in other words! But Jesus, she must have had the money for a makeover, why did she allow herself to look like a unibrow?!
It wasn't that long ago that I discovered dear Cregar neither, but I'm very happy that I did so!

Meredith L. Grau said...

I fell in love with Olivia a few months back. She is so interesting and talented. I actually wrote her a letter and she responded all the way from Paris! She is still kickin' and still VERY Olivia!

Lolita said...

Wow, you mean that? No chance that you could share the address with me? It was a long time ago since I wrote a letter to an actress, and the only response I got was from Lauren Bacall (my greatest treasure, I believe!)

Meredith L. Grau said...

Sure! Here is the address:
Olivia De Havilland
3 Rue Bénouville
75116 Paris

And here is a link to the pic of my letter:

Good Luck!!! ;)

Lolita said...

A thousand thanks! And what a letter you received... I'm actually shivering when reading it. I think I will go into town tomorrow and buy envelopes and stamps!
Thank you again!

Mykal said...

I just read the letter, too. She's just as classy as I'd always imagined her to be. -- Mykal

Elsie said...

Haha, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who is indecisive about all those "favorite" questions!

I love your underrated choices. Gail was always so lovely in the bitchiest way (I want to BE her!) and Mr. Cregar never ceases to amaze me.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

I don't understand question #11. Shirley Temple only was in one or two movies as a teenager - am I mistaken? I can only think of "Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer" and "Since You went Away" and both were supporting roles. She was the lead in so many wonderful movies as a child actress, that this question seems rather silly.

Christopher said...

Shirley Temple was also in Fort Apache as a teen..tho she might have been 20 :o)1948..she was married to John Agar and its the film where director John Ford teased Agar mercilessly calling him Mr. Temple!
..Gail Patrick of course left films early and produced the Perry Mason tv show..

Amanda Cooper said...

Don't forget that Shirley Temple had a supporting role in I'll Be Seeing You!

Tom said...

You're right Amanda. Thanks. And I forgot "That Hagan Girl" and "The Story of Seabiscuit". Shame on me. Still think her movies as a child were much more memorable. Lolita I would recommend seeing "Poor Little Rich Girl" to start. This is my favorite Shirley Temple movie!

Anonymous said...

Thats it.
1 Gone with the wind
2 Drama - Qeen
3 No
4 Yes, but no like a person, as an actress it was on the top. A Place in the Sun, Suddenly, Last Summer,Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
5 That couple of course
6 Bogart and Graham "In a loney Place" film
8 To Kill A Mockingbird
9 Verigo
10 Under the Volcano
12 Al Pacino
13 Double Indemnity
14 North by Northwest
15 Bette Davis
16 Robert Duvall - Payl Muni
17 Vivien Leigh
18 Yes
19 Catherine Deneuve
20 Gene Kelly
23 Meryl Streep - Marilyn Monroe
25 Al Pacino
26 Rebbeca

Lolita said...

No disappointment there!

I have always found it hard to choose a favorite in any subject! And in my own opinion, to have favorites is to be quite ignorant. Or at least, unrealistic. People and movies are so different from each other, it's simply not fair (or possible) to compare some of them.
Great that you too love Cregar and Patrick!

Tom and Amanda:
What a conversation I missed! I think I got a few good Shirley film tips too! :)

Don Michael Corleone:
Interesting answers! Really nice of you to answer them (even though I can't forgive you for thinking Vivien Leigh is overrated)!

Princess Fire and Music said...

Great choices! I loved your answer to the "cast your own screenplay" question, and of course I completely agree with your thoughts on Bette Davis v. Joan Crawford.

the faltese malcon said...

Heck, your #22 sounds good! Nice blog, so long!