Acting in the Movies, a Journey

I started acting in grade school when I was cast in my first play in the first grade.  I can’t remember the play exactly but I’m pretty sure it was about the billy goats and the troll.   I was a billy goat.   I think.   Anyway, I kept it up because I enjoyed the experience.  Through grade, middle and high school, I participated in the drama clubs, took outside acting classes and even went to a summer long acting/theatre school the year before I went to college where, as you may have guessed by now, I majored in theatre.  Acting is something close to my heart and, as such, I write about it quite a bit and have grown to love all the different styles that acting has to offer.   When I look back on where I started, though, I sometimes can’t believe where I’ve arrived.  The acting that first appealed to me in my youth has long since taken a back seat to a much cleaner and direct approach and when I tell you my favorite actors in the movies of the past now (that is, essentially, anything before the seventies) it’s quite a different list than I initially constructed.

I first started watching classic movies as a child, taking in the late show when I could and catching up on foreign classics on PBS.  It was there I first saw Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, Battleship Potemkin and American classics like The General.  On late night tv I saw movies like A Streetcar Named Desire, Rebel Without a Cause and A Place in the Sun.  Yes, in the seventies, late night tv aired movies from the fifties but instead of feeling like long-gone classics from a forgotten age, they were a mere twenty or so years old.  Like watching a movie now made in the early nineties.  And when I saw those movies, the acting seemed a bit more familiar to me.

The acting in movies from the early thirties seemed a little stiff in comparison.  I didn’t understand it at the time but much of that was due to the recent crossover to sound and many actors and directors were still learning how it was done.  For instance, for four or five years into the sound period, up to about 1932, the Marx Brothers were the only performers who seemed to understand that in a movie you don’t wait three seconds after a line is delivered to deliver the next.  Now, in the theatre this is called “holding for the laugh.”  Keep speaking your lines when the audience is laughing and they’ll quickly stop laughing to hear the lines and then you’re sunk.   So you clam up while the audience laughs, thus the phraseology of holding for the laugh.  But it holds for more than just comedy.  On a stage, the actor is projecting and up until microphones were put into use in the eighties onward, that also meant holding a bit while the lines impacted with the audience.  That isn’t necessary in a movie where substantial amplification of recorded lines means anyone, anywhere in the theatre can hear even a faint whisper onscreen.  Also, in a movie, you’re not sure how much of an audience is out there.  Except for opening week crowds, a lot of movies play to houses only a quarter full or maybe even down to a tenth or less at a matinee.  Those previously mentioned three seconds of silence are excruciating in a less than packed house where mostly all you get is silence.  This results in the pacing feeling sluggish and the actors’ timing feeling off.

This was all corrected by the mid-thirties as directors like William Wellman and Howard Hawks got their actors to talk through the pauses and even if every movie in town wasn’t using overlapping dialogue, at least now things seemed a little more natural.  But there was still another problem.  Actors from the stage had only been doing sound cinema for a few years, and even by the late thirties the two styles were still separating themselves.  The stage style is broader and the lines more properly enunciated because they have to be.   A garbled line or mumble word is difficult to pick up in the cheap seats and so, naturally, most stage actors carried this over to the cinema.  They hadn’t been watching movies and tv for years like stage actors today to know the difference.  As such, instead of low-key deliveries and asides, they were loud and kind of stiff in their delivery.  The best, however, figured it out early: Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, James Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and so on.  They knew how to act for the camera, not for the audience.  Act well for the camera and it’s good for the audience.  They got that and they also understood how to be big, again, for the camera.  Jimmy Cagney played to the rafters, on the soundstage.  In a real theatre he would have projected much more.  Cagney played it big but kept the voice low and naturally timed.  It was a real skill and the actors of the thirties were absolute trailblazers in the art of film acting.  Seriously, they put it all together for everyone else that followed.

But when I was a kid I didn’t appreciate that so much.  I dug Marlon Brando, James Dean and Montgomery Clift a whole lot more.   First off, they seemed cool to me.  Brando not only acted naturally (or so I thought) but he looked like what he played.  Watching him in Streetcar or On the Waterfront, I could easily agree, “Yeah, this guy’s a blue collar worker or a boxer.  That’s what he looks like.”   Watching James Dean contort and whine and agonize over life in Rebel Without a Cause or East of Eden felt exactly like what someone who looked like him would do.  And when he became oil-rich Jett Rink in Giant, I found an acting hero.  His Jett Rink is so… weird.  I mean, he’s really just so… weird.   Dean plays him like a cross between a mad scientist and a Dead-End Kid.  I found that same weirdness in Montgomery Clift.  In A Place in the Sun and From Here to Eternity, he seemed a million miles away, always looking off into the distance with this, “Wait, how did I get here,” look in his eyes.  And for whatever reason, that appealed to me.  It seemed so… deep to a teenager [hold for laughter].

And then I grew up.

Okay, that’s not quite all there is to it.  What happened was I acted a lot more and watched a lot more and by my mid to late twenties made a startling discovery:  Brando, Dean and Clift weren’t natural at all.   Their performances were as stylized, if not more so, than most of the performances of the thirties during the stage-to-screen learning curve.  And this made me like them even more.  When I watch Brando in something like Mutiny on the Bounty now, I still think, “Jeezaree, what a loopy performance,” but I appreciate it more now in that I know Brando wasn’t just going out there giving some dull as dirt “naturalistic” performance that you see by practically everyone nowadays.  He was playing his Fletcher Christian as a strange, bemused, kind of foppish dandy.  And it works.  And Dean?  Oh brother, I still love that performance as Jett Rink and I can only imagine how much fun Dean had creating that insane character.  A lesser actor would’ve made that performance so boring.  But Dean made the character into a virtual a mental patient.  Ditto on all of this for Clift.  Those performances of his are wonders of laying bare the internal mechanisms of the character’s thoughts and painting them all over his face.  That kind of performance takes acting guts and Clift had it.

And it was this realization of their stylized acting masked as natural acting that led me to truly adore other earlier actors, like Bette Davis, who absolutely went crazy in half of the performances she ever gave.  Or Charles Laughton.  Or Susan Hayward.  Or Dorothy Malone.  I love that kind of big, bold and brash acting and Brando helped me get there.  But what finally happened was this:  I watched a few big time classic movies more than a few times and the actors in them gave performances that never, ever got stale:  William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Woman of the Year, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.  And I watched over and over and I thought, “Unlike Brando and Dean, I don’t notice they’re acting.  I think I like that more.”

Now don’t get me wrong or get all bent out of shape.  I still love Brando and Dean but when I watch those old pros, like the ones mentioned above, I see something that reminds me why I loved acting in the first place.  It was all about being the character.  It’s ironic that those classic actors came off as more “being the character” than those known for the Method (which isn’t really about “feeling” the character anyway – I read all the books by Stanislavski for acting classes in college and you wouldn’t believe how misunderstood they are), like Brando and Dean.  And there was one performance in particular that really sealed the deal for me.  I used to talk about it all the way back in college with a classmate who felt the same way so the transformation from the styles of acting I liked originally to what I liked eventually was clearly already beginning.   By my late twenties and early thirties, I’d seen this particular performance probably forty or so times.  That’s right, forty plus times.  And it never got old.  The performance is by Jimmy Stewart and the movie is It’s a Wonderful Life.

Now, everyone here knows the story of the movie and everyone here knows it was out of copyright protection for years and so it was played over and over every December.  Seriously, over and over.  I would probably come across it at least twenty times during the holidays just changing the channels and probably fully watched it three or four times each December.  And Stewart’s performance not only never got old, it got better and better every time I watched it.  From his youthful college years (which he absolutely pulls off) to his disgruntled twenties and his harried thirties and middle age, there is not a frame of that film where I think for a second there isn’t actually a person out there named George Bailey living through all of this as I watch.  In fact, Stewart and the movie have so repeatedly impressed me that by this point, “Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life” is my rote answer if someone asks me, “What would you rank as the greatest performance in the movies?”    And I say that knowing full well that Stewart could no more succeed as Stanley Kowalski than Brando could as George Bailey.  Or perhaps I should say, they’re both good enough actors to somehow make those roles work for them in a very peculiar way and the results would most certainly be interesting but the point is, I realize different actors have different strengths and to rank one above the other is foolhardy.  Still, Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life is kind of hard to beat.

And so I’ve gone round and round in my years watching the actors of classic cinema.  I still love all of them and appreciate Brando, Dean and Clift even more now that I see how stylized many of their performances were.  The actor often listed as their forerunner, John Garfield, was far more centered and solid.  And better than all three of them in my book (how he lost out Best Actor for Body and Soul in 1947, I still don’t know).   But that’s because he hearkened back to that “in the character” efficiency and discipline of the actors of the decade before him.   Those actors of the thirties, forties and fifties remain my favorites.  While I admire and love the modern work of actors like Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and others, it’s those classic era actors that really do it for me now.  And I haven’t even mentioned how wonderful it was when I first realized Cary Grant was a genius, but that’s for another day.  And another part of the journey.  And, yes, it’s been a heck of a journey but one worth the distance traveled, even if there are still miles to go.

0 Response Acting in the Movies, a Journey
Posted By Jenni : August 15, 2012 9:28 am

In keeping with your article, TCM aired a tribute to James Cagney last night, narrarated by Michael J. Fox. It was an interesting show, full of comments by people who knew Cagney. Jack Lemmon shared that when they first worked together on a movie, Mr. Roberts, that he and Cagney talked about every topic under the sun, and then one day the topic of acting came up. Lemmon was familiar with Method acting and why it had a following. Cagney told Lemmon his thoughts on acting: “You learn your lines, you plant your feet on the stage, you look your fellow actor in the eyes and say your lines and believe them!” Best acting advice, imho.

Posted By Jenni : August 15, 2012 9:28 am

In keeping with your article, TCM aired a tribute to James Cagney last night, narrarated by Michael J. Fox. It was an interesting show, full of comments by people who knew Cagney. Jack Lemmon shared that when they first worked together on a movie, Mr. Roberts, that he and Cagney talked about every topic under the sun, and then one day the topic of acting came up. Lemmon was familiar with Method acting and why it had a following. Cagney told Lemmon his thoughts on acting: “You learn your lines, you plant your feet on the stage, you look your fellow actor in the eyes and say your lines and believe them!” Best acting advice, imho.

Posted By Andrew : August 15, 2012 10:03 am

Was re-watching The Misfits the other day and it kept popping into my mind as I read you column. Seems like an intersection of all sorts of styles. I really love all the performances. I have no idea how the movies is thought of in the world of experts, but it is moving way up my list.

Posted By Andrew : August 15, 2012 10:03 am

Was re-watching The Misfits the other day and it kept popping into my mind as I read you column. Seems like an intersection of all sorts of styles. I really love all the performances. I have no idea how the movies is thought of in the world of experts, but it is moving way up my list.

Posted By missrhea : August 15, 2012 10:34 am

What popped into my head while reading your article was an interview in which Robert Young was talking about how many of the big ‘stars’ didn’t do well acting on the radio. He said some of them couldn’t make the connection with just their voices vs. being seen. He had started at the Pasadena Playhouse so he knew stage acting vs film vs radio and ultimately television. It’s apparent if you listen to the radio version of “Father Knows Best” compared to the television version, esp. the first year on tv where they essentially recycled some of the radio programs. They are very different. (Of course, as co-producer of the tv series, Mr. Young was able to determine he wanted Jim Anderson to be a wiser father than the radio version seemed.)

I learned early on (grade school) that I couldn’t act (my face gives me away) so I morphed into producer/director of small private school/church productions. I had to be much more inventive (think special FX like using a glitter-type matter to look like pouring water and flash paper for ‘fiery arrows’)behind the scenes than in front.

Posted By missrhea : August 15, 2012 10:34 am

What popped into my head while reading your article was an interview in which Robert Young was talking about how many of the big ‘stars’ didn’t do well acting on the radio. He said some of them couldn’t make the connection with just their voices vs. being seen. He had started at the Pasadena Playhouse so he knew stage acting vs film vs radio and ultimately television. It’s apparent if you listen to the radio version of “Father Knows Best” compared to the television version, esp. the first year on tv where they essentially recycled some of the radio programs. They are very different. (Of course, as co-producer of the tv series, Mr. Young was able to determine he wanted Jim Anderson to be a wiser father than the radio version seemed.)

I learned early on (grade school) that I couldn’t act (my face gives me away) so I morphed into producer/director of small private school/church productions. I had to be much more inventive (think special FX like using a glitter-type matter to look like pouring water and flash paper for ‘fiery arrows’)behind the scenes than in front.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 11:20 am

Jenni, I’m doing a piece on Lemmon next week because my Wednesday post coincides with his day on TCM. As such, I’ll say little to nothing about him now and hope no one else does either until next week. I wish I’d seen that last night but I was out and about. Not only is it great acting advice but it comes from one of the greatest actors and pioneers in acting the screen has ever known. What I wouldn’t give to have had a chance to meet Cagney.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 11:20 am

Jenni, I’m doing a piece on Lemmon next week because my Wednesday post coincides with his day on TCM. As such, I’ll say little to nothing about him now and hope no one else does either until next week. I wish I’d seen that last night but I was out and about. Not only is it great acting advice but it comes from one of the greatest actors and pioneers in acting the screen has ever known. What I wouldn’t give to have had a chance to meet Cagney.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 11:29 am

Andrew, I like The Misfits and I think it’s held in fairly high regard. It’s a shame that Gable died just two and a half months before it premiered. I think he would’ve been really happy about the results. In so many ways, it is as you say, the intersection of many different styles of acting. Clift had first shown how well his style could play off a more stoic style when he teamed up with John Wayne in Red River with great results. It’s also a very sad movie, signaling the end for all three. It was Gable’s last movie, Marilyn’s last in all but name (she was working on Something’s Got to Give) and Clift’s last really successful work. He did supporting work in Judgement at Nuremberg and had two more leads in Freud and The Defector but neither nearly as successful or well-remembered as The Misfits.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 11:29 am

Andrew, I like The Misfits and I think it’s held in fairly high regard. It’s a shame that Gable died just two and a half months before it premiered. I think he would’ve been really happy about the results. In so many ways, it is as you say, the intersection of many different styles of acting. Clift had first shown how well his style could play off a more stoic style when he teamed up with John Wayne in Red River with great results. It’s also a very sad movie, signaling the end for all three. It was Gable’s last movie, Marilyn’s last in all but name (she was working on Something’s Got to Give) and Clift’s last really successful work. He did supporting work in Judgement at Nuremberg and had two more leads in Freud and The Defector but neither nearly as successful or well-remembered as The Misfits.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 11:36 am

MissRhea, there aren’t many actors out there who could handle all the different mediums well. The Mercury Players were high among those who could. Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Morehead, Everett Sloane, etc were all expert at radio acting, movie acting, stage acting and tv acting. Watching Welles in The Third Man, his arched eyebrows and knowing smirks say so much, the vocal inflections aren’t as necessary. Listening to his Harry Lime on the radio (a much more heroic version of the character) his voice does all the work.

And I love those kinds of theatrical special effects that one if forced into in community theatre. It often calls for much more creativity and inspiration than established professional theatre.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 11:36 am

MissRhea, there aren’t many actors out there who could handle all the different mediums well. The Mercury Players were high among those who could. Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Morehead, Everett Sloane, etc were all expert at radio acting, movie acting, stage acting and tv acting. Watching Welles in The Third Man, his arched eyebrows and knowing smirks say so much, the vocal inflections aren’t as necessary. Listening to his Harry Lime on the radio (a much more heroic version of the character) his voice does all the work.

And I love those kinds of theatrical special effects that one if forced into in community theatre. It often calls for much more creativity and inspiration than established professional theatre.

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : August 15, 2012 1:08 pm

You also have to take into account what those 30′s stars came out of. It wasn’t any formal acting school. Years ago I lived in Santa Barbara, where Cagney lived for years. At that time (late 70′s) John Travolta had a place in SB and he knew that Cagney sometimes came out from his retirement home on Martha’s Vineyard to visit his old friends. Travolta was a huge Cagney fan and asked Cagney to stay at his place next time he visited Santa Barbara. Cagney arrived at a time when Travolta’s career had taken a downturn after a flop or two. He asked Cagney at dinner one evening how he’d dealt with Hollywood phoniness, when you’re everybody’s darling after a big hit and nobody wants to take your calls after a flop. Cagney replied, “Kid, vaudeville was so cutthroat, Hollywood was a piece of cake by comparison!”
Makes you wonder what vaudeville must have been like.

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : August 15, 2012 1:08 pm

You also have to take into account what those 30′s stars came out of. It wasn’t any formal acting school. Years ago I lived in Santa Barbara, where Cagney lived for years. At that time (late 70′s) John Travolta had a place in SB and he knew that Cagney sometimes came out from his retirement home on Martha’s Vineyard to visit his old friends. Travolta was a huge Cagney fan and asked Cagney to stay at his place next time he visited Santa Barbara. Cagney arrived at a time when Travolta’s career had taken a downturn after a flop or two. He asked Cagney at dinner one evening how he’d dealt with Hollywood phoniness, when you’re everybody’s darling after a big hit and nobody wants to take your calls after a flop. Cagney replied, “Kid, vaudeville was so cutthroat, Hollywood was a piece of cake by comparison!”
Makes you wonder what vaudeville must have been like.

Posted By Tom S : August 15, 2012 1:58 pm

“For instance, for four or five years into the sound period, up to about 1932, the Marx Brothers were the only performers who seemed to understand that in a movie you don’t wait three seconds after a line is delivered to deliver the next.”

Interestingly, they did actual leave a lot of space in their routines- they’d tour them, figure out where the audience laughter went, and build that into their performance. If you ever watch something like Animal Crackers by yourself without laughing, you notice it.

Fortunately, this has been proven to be impossible. By science!

Posted By Tom S : August 15, 2012 1:58 pm

“For instance, for four or five years into the sound period, up to about 1932, the Marx Brothers were the only performers who seemed to understand that in a movie you don’t wait three seconds after a line is delivered to deliver the next.”

Interestingly, they did actual leave a lot of space in their routines- they’d tour them, figure out where the audience laughter went, and build that into their performance. If you ever watch something like Animal Crackers by yourself without laughing, you notice it.

Fortunately, this has been proven to be impossible. By science!

Posted By Tom S : August 15, 2012 1:59 pm

But yeah, they actually literally do hold for laughs. Watch one of their movies again.

Posted By Tom S : August 15, 2012 1:59 pm

But yeah, they actually literally do hold for laughs. Watch one of their movies again.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 2:19 pm

John, I imagine Vaudeville was an environment of succeed or be thrown out on your ass. Basically, make the audience laugh or wow them with singing and dancing or hit the road. At least in Hollywood, there’s some reassignment possible. If Chester Morris doesn’t cut it on the A list maybe we can put him on the B list in a serial, like Boston Blackie. Things like that whereas Vaudeville was probably do or die.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 2:19 pm

John, I imagine Vaudeville was an environment of succeed or be thrown out on your ass. Basically, make the audience laugh or wow them with singing and dancing or hit the road. At least in Hollywood, there’s some reassignment possible. If Chester Morris doesn’t cut it on the A list maybe we can put him on the B list in a serial, like Boston Blackie. Things like that whereas Vaudeville was probably do or die.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 2:40 pm

Tom, I probably should have said they did it better than most instead of they didn’t do it at all. What stands out more than anything are the instances of it in early sound drama. There is this persistent holding for reaction as if after saying each line, the audience will gasp loudly so we better keep quiet. It didn’t take long seeing this kind of thing on the big screen enough times to realize it had to go. By the mid-thirties, the back and forth between actors in dialogue onscreen had sped up considerably.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 15, 2012 2:40 pm

Tom, I probably should have said they did it better than most instead of they didn’t do it at all. What stands out more than anything are the instances of it in early sound drama. There is this persistent holding for reaction as if after saying each line, the audience will gasp loudly so we better keep quiet. It didn’t take long seeing this kind of thing on the big screen enough times to realize it had to go. By the mid-thirties, the back and forth between actors in dialogue onscreen had sped up considerably.

Posted By Tom S : August 15, 2012 3:04 pm

By the late thirties/early forties, it was at an insane pace it would never reach again. Which is a shame, because pretty much every movie should be His Girl Friday.

Posted By Tom S : August 15, 2012 3:04 pm

By the late thirties/early forties, it was at an insane pace it would never reach again. Which is a shame, because pretty much every movie should be His Girl Friday.

Posted By Emgee : August 15, 2012 4:05 pm

You mention Welles in The Third Man, but to me Joseph Cotten is the more natural actor, or rather non-actor, as he was in Citizen Kane. Grossly underrated, probably because he didn’t grandstand as Welles too often did. Heresy i know, but so be it.

I’ve always preferred the understated acting of Spencer Tracy, James Stewart and Humphrey Bogart to the mannerisms of, say, Cagney, dearly though i love his movies.
Almost forgot Edward G. Robinson, when he finally was allowed to drop the Little Caesar-persona he was such a joy to watch his sheer presence onscreen.

Posted By Emgee : August 15, 2012 4:05 pm

You mention Welles in The Third Man, but to me Joseph Cotten is the more natural actor, or rather non-actor, as he was in Citizen Kane. Grossly underrated, probably because he didn’t grandstand as Welles too often did. Heresy i know, but so be it.

I’ve always preferred the understated acting of Spencer Tracy, James Stewart and Humphrey Bogart to the mannerisms of, say, Cagney, dearly though i love his movies.
Almost forgot Edward G. Robinson, when he finally was allowed to drop the Little Caesar-persona he was such a joy to watch his sheer presence onscreen.

Posted By swac44 : August 15, 2012 4:16 pm

I’ve noticed this weird disconnect in the early sound films of Marion Davies, where she’s quite charming and watchable, but the films are practically sunk by the clunkiness of the early sound technique (sound, editing, camerawork) and the lesser talents of her fellow cast members, who are also adjusting to the new process. I don’t think any of her talkies are considered to be all-time classics, although Going Hollywood is helped considerably by having Bing Crosby as a co-star, but I found it interesting that she seemed to get a handle on acting for sound films before the technology was ready for her.

Posted By swac44 : August 15, 2012 4:16 pm

I’ve noticed this weird disconnect in the early sound films of Marion Davies, where she’s quite charming and watchable, but the films are practically sunk by the clunkiness of the early sound technique (sound, editing, camerawork) and the lesser talents of her fellow cast members, who are also adjusting to the new process. I don’t think any of her talkies are considered to be all-time classics, although Going Hollywood is helped considerably by having Bing Crosby as a co-star, but I found it interesting that she seemed to get a handle on acting for sound films before the technology was ready for her.

Posted By AL : August 15, 2012 6:06 pm

This is purely personal: I have always found Jimmy Stewart to be the most annoyingly “mannered” actor of all time. He had a short list of “schtick” and eventually became a ludicrous caricature of himself. Also, I found him to be a weak, unattractive, asexual, predictable, wimpy Bore. I hate him even more because he happens to have starred in several of my most favorite films (which is a testament to the excellence of those films–they maintain their greatness in spite of his presence). oh! and did you ever notice that his hands and fingers are covered with thick black hair? Check-out REAR WINDOW…

Posted By AL : August 15, 2012 6:06 pm

This is purely personal: I have always found Jimmy Stewart to be the most annoyingly “mannered” actor of all time. He had a short list of “schtick” and eventually became a ludicrous caricature of himself. Also, I found him to be a weak, unattractive, asexual, predictable, wimpy Bore. I hate him even more because he happens to have starred in several of my most favorite films (which is a testament to the excellence of those films–they maintain their greatness in spite of his presence). oh! and did you ever notice that his hands and fingers are covered with thick black hair? Check-out REAR WINDOW…

Posted By Qalice : August 15, 2012 7:20 pm

If I were grateful to TCM for nothing more, I’d be grateful for my introduction to Walter Huston. I hadn’t even seen The Treasure of the Sierra Madre! TCM showed me Dodsworth almost the first time I ever watched the network, and I was hooked on him and the channel. I was an acting major, too, and there’s no greater pleasure for me in watching classic movies than finding actors I didn’t know or barely knew before. I’m catching up on Kay Francis this month! I love all the actors Mr. Ferrara mentions (except Brando, which is an argument I can’t win but keep having because I’m stubborn) — with a special call-out to James Stewart in that Christmas movie. The war changed him, although by all accounts he remained a decent man — so when George Bailey shouts “One of us is going to jail — and it’s not going to be me!” it shocks me every time. Thanks for bringing up the idea of great performances that don’t pall over time.

PS: As for Jack Lemmon, whom I also revere — Billy Wilder called him a “perfect actor.” How about that?

Posted By Qalice : August 15, 2012 7:20 pm

If I were grateful to TCM for nothing more, I’d be grateful for my introduction to Walter Huston. I hadn’t even seen The Treasure of the Sierra Madre! TCM showed me Dodsworth almost the first time I ever watched the network, and I was hooked on him and the channel. I was an acting major, too, and there’s no greater pleasure for me in watching classic movies than finding actors I didn’t know or barely knew before. I’m catching up on Kay Francis this month! I love all the actors Mr. Ferrara mentions (except Brando, which is an argument I can’t win but keep having because I’m stubborn) — with a special call-out to James Stewart in that Christmas movie. The war changed him, although by all accounts he remained a decent man — so when George Bailey shouts “One of us is going to jail — and it’s not going to be me!” it shocks me every time. Thanks for bringing up the idea of great performances that don’t pall over time.

PS: As for Jack Lemmon, whom I also revere — Billy Wilder called him a “perfect actor.” How about that?

Posted By Robinson : August 15, 2012 7:57 pm

Curiously, I find the so-called “natural” actors to be more mannered. When I watch Fonda, Stewart, Hanks or Tracy I feel like I’m watching them manipulate a persona with every blink and word and movement. It’s excruciating, especially with some line readings, like Tracy’s inevitable “I’m always right, you morons” monologues. It’s as though they want the audience to see themselves and not the character, so it feels like a pure ego trip to me.

TCM used to show a little thing where Kevin Costner praises how you can’t tell Spencer Tracy ever acted. An example used was a scene from Bad Day at Black Rock where Costner said Tracy’s underacting by just sitting while Robert Ryan flails about shows that Ryan was trying to upstage Tracy but couldn’t.

That just drove me crazy, because RYAN wasn’t flailing about, his CHARACTER was. The character was in a panic and not very good at what he did, and Ryan had to show that. And he did, and to have TCM characterize it as a great example of overacting really bugged me.

I think a lot of the so-called “older style” of actors get that label, and it’s not fair. If the performance is adept, convincing and the audience can suspend disbelief, are those actors REALLY “going crazy”? I’m not sure they are.

Posted By Robinson : August 15, 2012 7:57 pm

Curiously, I find the so-called “natural” actors to be more mannered. When I watch Fonda, Stewart, Hanks or Tracy I feel like I’m watching them manipulate a persona with every blink and word and movement. It’s excruciating, especially with some line readings, like Tracy’s inevitable “I’m always right, you morons” monologues. It’s as though they want the audience to see themselves and not the character, so it feels like a pure ego trip to me.

TCM used to show a little thing where Kevin Costner praises how you can’t tell Spencer Tracy ever acted. An example used was a scene from Bad Day at Black Rock where Costner said Tracy’s underacting by just sitting while Robert Ryan flails about shows that Ryan was trying to upstage Tracy but couldn’t.

That just drove me crazy, because RYAN wasn’t flailing about, his CHARACTER was. The character was in a panic and not very good at what he did, and Ryan had to show that. And he did, and to have TCM characterize it as a great example of overacting really bugged me.

I think a lot of the so-called “older style” of actors get that label, and it’s not fair. If the performance is adept, convincing and the audience can suspend disbelief, are those actors REALLY “going crazy”? I’m not sure they are.

Posted By Christopher : August 15, 2012 9:09 pm

Vaudeville was a great training ground for an Actor/comedian to try out time and again what works with an audience and what dosen’t .

Posted By Christopher : August 15, 2012 9:09 pm

Vaudeville was a great training ground for an Actor/comedian to try out time and again what works with an audience and what dosen’t .

Posted By mazzie : August 15, 2012 10:24 pm

I have to agree with AL that i never liked Jimmy Stewart either. His performance in Its a wonderful Life so annoys me because he just never stops talking. To be fair, its not his fault that he never stops talking, its the script writers fault but in general, i just never liked Stewart and never saw his appeal.

Posted By mazzie : August 15, 2012 10:24 pm

I have to agree with AL that i never liked Jimmy Stewart either. His performance in Its a wonderful Life so annoys me because he just never stops talking. To be fair, its not his fault that he never stops talking, its the script writers fault but in general, i just never liked Stewart and never saw his appeal.

Posted By Lack Jemmon : August 15, 2012 11:15 pm

* Well I agree with BW on Jack Lemmon, who combines intuitive naturalism with a mannered overlay … But I’ve often heard tell that some people find him annoying and feel he’s too “schtick” … But even in his “schtick”-iest comedies like “Good Neighbor Sam” and “Under the Yum Yum Tree” (both detested by many apparently), I find him to be utterly & winningly hilarious … Of course in those kinds of out & out farces, the “schtick” is appropriate to the material, which makes a huge difference — but in more serious works like the unparalleled “The Apartment” he’s even more superb — playing off his colleagues with brilliant intuitive grace more consistently than seems possible

* Anyway, often “mannered” is wonderful — so long as it fits the material and the moment … Yes, Cagney is very mannered indeed — but his “Whatta-ya hear? whatta-ya say?” may have been schtick — but oh, what schtick … It encapsulated a persona which made him a true unique legend …

* After all, isn’t Barrymore in “Dinner at Eight” very much “mannered” in the scene in which the residential hotel tries to be polite about evicting him? And yet this scene is justly considered to be at the pinnacle of acting achievement … Well, just those few thoughts for the instant …

Posted By Lack Jemmon : August 15, 2012 11:15 pm

* Well I agree with BW on Jack Lemmon, who combines intuitive naturalism with a mannered overlay … But I’ve often heard tell that some people find him annoying and feel he’s too “schtick” … But even in his “schtick”-iest comedies like “Good Neighbor Sam” and “Under the Yum Yum Tree” (both detested by many apparently), I find him to be utterly & winningly hilarious … Of course in those kinds of out & out farces, the “schtick” is appropriate to the material, which makes a huge difference — but in more serious works like the unparalleled “The Apartment” he’s even more superb — playing off his colleagues with brilliant intuitive grace more consistently than seems possible

* Anyway, often “mannered” is wonderful — so long as it fits the material and the moment … Yes, Cagney is very mannered indeed — but his “Whatta-ya hear? whatta-ya say?” may have been schtick — but oh, what schtick … It encapsulated a persona which made him a true unique legend …

* After all, isn’t Barrymore in “Dinner at Eight” very much “mannered” in the scene in which the residential hotel tries to be polite about evicting him? And yet this scene is justly considered to be at the pinnacle of acting achievement … Well, just those few thoughts for the instant …

Posted By tdraicer : August 16, 2012 12:07 am

Two people who don’t like Jimmy Stewart? Talk about a minority group (to which I happily don’t belong-seeing Stewart on stage in Harvey in 1970 is still a treasured memory).

As for acting styles, as far as I’m concerned, they all have their place. For me, the divide is between good actors and bad actors, not between this style or that. If an actor chews the scenery, that’s fine with me, as long as he has the chops to digest it.

Posted By tdraicer : August 16, 2012 12:07 am

Two people who don’t like Jimmy Stewart? Talk about a minority group (to which I happily don’t belong-seeing Stewart on stage in Harvey in 1970 is still a treasured memory).

As for acting styles, as far as I’m concerned, they all have their place. For me, the divide is between good actors and bad actors, not between this style or that. If an actor chews the scenery, that’s fine with me, as long as he has the chops to digest it.

Posted By Ghijath Naddaf : August 16, 2012 4:41 am

Make it three, who dont like Stewart.
His Screen Persona makes me sick.
God,how i whish that Lee Marvin shot him in Liberty Valance,so
John Wayne and Vera Miles could be happy together.

Posted By Ghijath Naddaf : August 16, 2012 4:41 am

Make it three, who dont like Stewart.
His Screen Persona makes me sick.
God,how i whish that Lee Marvin shot him in Liberty Valance,so
John Wayne and Vera Miles could be happy together.

Posted By robbushblog : August 16, 2012 9:52 am

Greg- I have never agreed with you more. It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie of all time and Jimmy Stewart is my all-time favorite actor and I feel that no other film performance is as great as that one. Those who are saying such horrible things about Jimmy…I don’t know what to say. I am shocked, quite frankly.
“His Screen Persona makes me sick.”? Seriously?
“i just never liked Stewart and never saw his appeal.” Mmmm. Okay.
And the coup de grace, “This is purely personal: I have always found Jimmy Stewart to be the most annoyingly “mannered” actor of all time. He had a short list of “schtick” and eventually became a ludicrous caricature of himself. Also, I found him to be a weak, unattractive, asexual, predictable, wimpy Bore. I hate him even more because he happens to have starred in several of my most favorite films (which is a testament to the excellence of those films–they maintain their greatness in spite of his presence). oh! and did you ever notice that his hands and fingers are covered with thick black hair? Check-out REAR WINDOW…”
I have no words. That one actually made me a little angry. Ridiculous, right? Maybe, but not as ridiculous as disliking Jimmy Stewart. Oh, I should add “in my opinion” after that last sentence to keep arguments to a minimum.

Posted By robbushblog : August 16, 2012 9:52 am

Greg- I have never agreed with you more. It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie of all time and Jimmy Stewart is my all-time favorite actor and I feel that no other film performance is as great as that one. Those who are saying such horrible things about Jimmy…I don’t know what to say. I am shocked, quite frankly.
“His Screen Persona makes me sick.”? Seriously?
“i just never liked Stewart and never saw his appeal.” Mmmm. Okay.
And the coup de grace, “This is purely personal: I have always found Jimmy Stewart to be the most annoyingly “mannered” actor of all time. He had a short list of “schtick” and eventually became a ludicrous caricature of himself. Also, I found him to be a weak, unattractive, asexual, predictable, wimpy Bore. I hate him even more because he happens to have starred in several of my most favorite films (which is a testament to the excellence of those films–they maintain their greatness in spite of his presence). oh! and did you ever notice that his hands and fingers are covered with thick black hair? Check-out REAR WINDOW…”
I have no words. That one actually made me a little angry. Ridiculous, right? Maybe, but not as ridiculous as disliking Jimmy Stewart. Oh, I should add “in my opinion” after that last sentence to keep arguments to a minimum.

Posted By swac44 : August 16, 2012 10:56 am

Jimmy Stewart, wimpy? Someone needs to watch some Anthony Mann westerns. He can be downright cold-blooded at times in some of those. As for It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s a film I never need to watch again in my life, at least not for another decade or so, but the range he shows in that film in incredible, I can’t think of many other performances that match it, and his performance matches the pitch of the material, it’s not overacting or mannered at all when you consider the character actors he’s working with from scene to scene. Why would you underplay when you’re dealing with Sheldon Leonard?

It’s easy to have that “aw shucks” Stewart from talk shows in the forefront of your mind when thinking about it him, but there’s not much of it in Vertigo or Harvey or Destry Rides Again.

To each their own, of course, I could just as easily apply a lot of the adjectives listed above to James Dean, whose personal style I find incredibly dated and (as someone who lived with the director of an acting school) a wretched influence on young actors who think his work is the pinnacle of the thespian art.

Posted By swac44 : August 16, 2012 10:56 am

Jimmy Stewart, wimpy? Someone needs to watch some Anthony Mann westerns. He can be downright cold-blooded at times in some of those. As for It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s a film I never need to watch again in my life, at least not for another decade or so, but the range he shows in that film in incredible, I can’t think of many other performances that match it, and his performance matches the pitch of the material, it’s not overacting or mannered at all when you consider the character actors he’s working with from scene to scene. Why would you underplay when you’re dealing with Sheldon Leonard?

It’s easy to have that “aw shucks” Stewart from talk shows in the forefront of your mind when thinking about it him, but there’s not much of it in Vertigo or Harvey or Destry Rides Again.

To each their own, of course, I could just as easily apply a lot of the adjectives listed above to James Dean, whose personal style I find incredibly dated and (as someone who lived with the director of an acting school) a wretched influence on young actors who think his work is the pinnacle of the thespian art.

Posted By missrhea : August 16, 2012 11:46 am

Wow…who would have expected Jimmy Stewart to engender such passions? Personally, I don’t find myself drawn to his films but I can’t say they make me ill. I think the real problem with IaWL is that it was broadcast ad nauseum for so many years it was easy to develop strong feelings about.

I was not very familiar with Lionel Barrymore’s body of work so I always thought I didn’t like his acting BECAUSE of Mr. Potter in IaWL. Then I saw him in other things and grew to love his work (e.g., Dinner at Eight, You Can’t Take It With You, and “Dr.Gillespie” in all those Kildare/Gillespie films) in large roles and in very small ones (like the judge in Lady Be Good or the minister in Since You Went Away).

I guess I wonder if it is always the actor that people don’t like or the roles being played.

Posted By missrhea : August 16, 2012 11:46 am

Wow…who would have expected Jimmy Stewart to engender such passions? Personally, I don’t find myself drawn to his films but I can’t say they make me ill. I think the real problem with IaWL is that it was broadcast ad nauseum for so many years it was easy to develop strong feelings about.

I was not very familiar with Lionel Barrymore’s body of work so I always thought I didn’t like his acting BECAUSE of Mr. Potter in IaWL. Then I saw him in other things and grew to love his work (e.g., Dinner at Eight, You Can’t Take It With You, and “Dr.Gillespie” in all those Kildare/Gillespie films) in large roles and in very small ones (like the judge in Lady Be Good or the minister in Since You Went Away).

I guess I wonder if it is always the actor that people don’t like or the roles being played.

Posted By Neil : August 16, 2012 12:30 pm

Two things relate to this.

In my early 20s, if I recall correctly, I saw One Eyed Jacks, in which Brando gives an incredibly mannered and transparent performance. I felt like I was at a magic show and caught the magician giving off all of his tells, killing the magic for me.

Since then I’ve updated my feelings on acting and come to a much greater appreciation of more stylized performances, so much that I think I prefer the more visible performance.

(A very smart blogger wrote an entry called The Kelly Astaire Paradigm a few years back, and I realized that by then I came down on the Kelly side. This matches how I feel about athletes, too. I watched the 1996 NBA Finals, and couldn’t help how much more I admired watching Gary Payton, a Kelly, over Michael Jordan, an Astaire.)

But honestly, until reading this, I’d still felt bitter about that Brando performance and largely avoided further exploring his work. I realize now I need to go back and revise that policy substantially, so thank you for that in advance, I expect.

As to James Stewart, he’s amazing. I agree regarding the western movies. He’s so utterly credible, so it’s chilling to see him, who we’ve all gotten stuck in our head as the icon of decent and ordinary, point a gun and someone and tell them he’s going to kill them, because I just know he’ll do it.

Posted By Neil : August 16, 2012 12:30 pm

Two things relate to this.

In my early 20s, if I recall correctly, I saw One Eyed Jacks, in which Brando gives an incredibly mannered and transparent performance. I felt like I was at a magic show and caught the magician giving off all of his tells, killing the magic for me.

Since then I’ve updated my feelings on acting and come to a much greater appreciation of more stylized performances, so much that I think I prefer the more visible performance.

(A very smart blogger wrote an entry called The Kelly Astaire Paradigm a few years back, and I realized that by then I came down on the Kelly side. This matches how I feel about athletes, too. I watched the 1996 NBA Finals, and couldn’t help how much more I admired watching Gary Payton, a Kelly, over Michael Jordan, an Astaire.)

But honestly, until reading this, I’d still felt bitter about that Brando performance and largely avoided further exploring his work. I realize now I need to go back and revise that policy substantially, so thank you for that in advance, I expect.

As to James Stewart, he’s amazing. I agree regarding the western movies. He’s so utterly credible, so it’s chilling to see him, who we’ve all gotten stuck in our head as the icon of decent and ordinary, point a gun and someone and tell them he’s going to kill them, because I just know he’ll do it.

Posted By Ghijath Naddaf : August 16, 2012 1:08 pm

I know that the Mann/Stewart Westerns,are some kind of a holy Grail for some,but James Stewart playing the tough Guy was never
convincing.
His Bounty Hunter in “The Naked Spur”for instance.
Don´t buy it.
If you want to see a good Anthony Mann Western,watch the underrated “The Tin Star” with Henry Fonda giving a Top Notch
performance as a Bounty Hunter.
Anthony Perkins is great in this to.
I have no doubts,that James Stewart was a wonderful Person,and
a great Actor(Love him in “It´s a Wonderful Life”)but most of the
time i just can´t take it.

Posted By Ghijath Naddaf : August 16, 2012 1:08 pm

I know that the Mann/Stewart Westerns,are some kind of a holy Grail for some,but James Stewart playing the tough Guy was never
convincing.
His Bounty Hunter in “The Naked Spur”for instance.
Don´t buy it.
If you want to see a good Anthony Mann Western,watch the underrated “The Tin Star” with Henry Fonda giving a Top Notch
performance as a Bounty Hunter.
Anthony Perkins is great in this to.
I have no doubts,that James Stewart was a wonderful Person,and
a great Actor(Love him in “It´s a Wonderful Life”)but most of the
time i just can´t take it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 1:55 pm

So much to catch up on here (August is tough, dealing with college for the kids, in and out of house constantly – I’m often nowhere near a computer when these posts go up).

Emgee and swac – Yes and yes on Joseph Cotten and Marion Davies. Neither one ever got the due they deserved (although Cotten obviously had a much more successful career). Cotten for the classic movies he was in and the great performances he gave in them never even got one stinking nomination for Best Lead or Supporting Actor.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 1:55 pm

So much to catch up on here (August is tough, dealing with college for the kids, in and out of house constantly – I’m often nowhere near a computer when these posts go up).

Emgee and swac – Yes and yes on Joseph Cotten and Marion Davies. Neither one ever got the due they deserved (although Cotten obviously had a much more successful career). Cotten for the classic movies he was in and the great performances he gave in them never even got one stinking nomination for Best Lead or Supporting Actor.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:01 pm

AL and the other members of the Jimmy Stewart anti-fan club – I can’t think of any actor that has 100 percent support anywhere so it’s not surprising that several of the actors I name in this piece already have detractors in the comments, which always makes for a good discussion. I think Stewart and all actors have crutches they fall back on and sometimes that works for people (like me with his performances) and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, it can be excruciating. I must say, none of it ever bothered me with Stewart but I think it does work better for certain characters than others. I think with It’s a Wonderful Life, Winchester 73 and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance it works best.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:01 pm

AL and the other members of the Jimmy Stewart anti-fan club – I can’t think of any actor that has 100 percent support anywhere so it’s not surprising that several of the actors I name in this piece already have detractors in the comments, which always makes for a good discussion. I think Stewart and all actors have crutches they fall back on and sometimes that works for people (like me with his performances) and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, it can be excruciating. I must say, none of it ever bothered me with Stewart but I think it does work better for certain characters than others. I think with It’s a Wonderful Life, Winchester 73 and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance it works best.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:05 pm

Qalice – I’ve met a surprising number of people who don’t think much of Brando as an actor. I really love his work but I look at it now (as I said in the piece but not fully) I love it for being so odd, so off, so weird. His line deliveries are almost willfully stiff at times while at other times they’re beautifully expressed. I really think, especially after watching the Brando doc on TCM a few years back, that he stopped caring about acting after On the Waterfront and started trying new things in each performance from that point on just to see what would happen. But I like that about him while I can understand it being very off-putting to others.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:05 pm

Qalice – I’ve met a surprising number of people who don’t think much of Brando as an actor. I really love his work but I look at it now (as I said in the piece but not fully) I love it for being so odd, so off, so weird. His line deliveries are almost willfully stiff at times while at other times they’re beautifully expressed. I really think, especially after watching the Brando doc on TCM a few years back, that he stopped caring about acting after On the Waterfront and started trying new things in each performance from that point on just to see what would happen. But I like that about him while I can understand it being very off-putting to others.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:06 pm

Robinson – I didn’t know about the Kevin Costner thing but I will say this: No matter how much I love Spencer Tracy, and I do, NOBODY disses Robert Ryan! Ryan was a great actor and you’re absolutely right, that’s his character doing that and Ryan played the character perfectly. Get a clue, Costner.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:06 pm

Robinson – I didn’t know about the Kevin Costner thing but I will say this: No matter how much I love Spencer Tracy, and I do, NOBODY disses Robert Ryan! Ryan was a great actor and you’re absolutely right, that’s his character doing that and Ryan played the character perfectly. Get a clue, Costner.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:09 pm

Lack and T.D.Racer(!) – I agree, that mannered acting and scenery-chewing from expert craftsmen can be a beautiful thing. A lot of it is in the personality. If you can detect a likable personality in the actor, beneath the character, you become enamored of the mannerisms even more.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:09 pm

Lack and T.D.Racer(!) – I agree, that mannered acting and scenery-chewing from expert craftsmen can be a beautiful thing. A lot of it is in the personality. If you can detect a likable personality in the actor, beneath the character, you become enamored of the mannerisms even more.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:16 pm

Rob/Duke, swac – Obviously I agree with both of you on Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life but I love this offering:

Why would you underplay when you’re dealing with Sheldon Leonard?

Ha, so true! I love the scenes in Martini’s/Nick’s when he’s angry and depressed and then later there with Clarence. Those bar scenes show two different sides of him not previously seen in the film up to that point and that’s the thing: the story keeps forcing new sides of George Bailey to the surface. It’s a development of a character so rich it requires an actor capable of handling it all and I think Stewart’s just the man for the job.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:16 pm

Rob/Duke, swac – Obviously I agree with both of you on Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life but I love this offering:

Why would you underplay when you’re dealing with Sheldon Leonard?

Ha, so true! I love the scenes in Martini’s/Nick’s when he’s angry and depressed and then later there with Clarence. Those bar scenes show two different sides of him not previously seen in the film up to that point and that’s the thing: the story keeps forcing new sides of George Bailey to the surface. It’s a development of a character so rich it requires an actor capable of handling it all and I think Stewart’s just the man for the job.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:21 pm

Neil, that Kelly/Astaire post had so many great comments on it, too! All lost now to the ages thanks to haloscan going belly up. Man, I still can’t believe I used that commenting system for two years. So many great discussions lost forever. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Also, Jimmy Stewart is great in Shenandoah too, regardless of what you think of the movie (I personally find it very entertaining if wildly inaccurate historically). He really comes off, to me at least, as grizzled and hardened in that one and I totally believe him.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 16, 2012 2:21 pm

Neil, that Kelly/Astaire post had so many great comments on it, too! All lost now to the ages thanks to haloscan going belly up. Man, I still can’t believe I used that commenting system for two years. So many great discussions lost forever. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Also, Jimmy Stewart is great in Shenandoah too, regardless of what you think of the movie (I personally find it very entertaining if wildly inaccurate historically). He really comes off, to me at least, as grizzled and hardened in that one and I totally believe him.

Posted By Ghijath Naddaf : August 16, 2012 2:36 pm

I am sure Stewart played in Liberty Valance,exactly the way Ford
intended.Selfrighteous,unmanly and pointing on his Law Books
with laughable,hysterical Furor.
He would be long gone Dead,without Tom Doniphans Help.
It is pretty clear,that Ford´s Sympathys are with Doniphan.
After all,Stewart becomes a Politican at the End.
Pretty much the worst case Scenario.
But that is not Stewarts fault of course.
Like i said,it´s his Screen Persona i dont like most of the Time.
And dont get me wrong.Liberty Valance is a Masterpiece.
Of course it is,it´s Ford.

Posted By Ghijath Naddaf : August 16, 2012 2:36 pm

I am sure Stewart played in Liberty Valance,exactly the way Ford
intended.Selfrighteous,unmanly and pointing on his Law Books
with laughable,hysterical Furor.
He would be long gone Dead,without Tom Doniphans Help.
It is pretty clear,that Ford´s Sympathys are with Doniphan.
After all,Stewart becomes a Politican at the End.
Pretty much the worst case Scenario.
But that is not Stewarts fault of course.
Like i said,it´s his Screen Persona i dont like most of the Time.
And dont get me wrong.Liberty Valance is a Masterpiece.
Of course it is,it´s Ford.

Posted By Juana Maria : August 16, 2012 2:57 pm

Ghijath Naddaf:I am surprised at you and the others picking on a sweet wonderful and may I remind all of you long dead actor!Haven’t you ever heard of not speaking ill of the dead? To a certain degree I see your point. There are some films of Jimmy Stewart I really don’t like! It isn’t Jimmy Stewart I can’t stand–it’s the script,the story,etc. “Liberty Valance” is a masterpiece and anyone who says it isn’t is gonna have a fight on their hands! I’m a gonna come a-whoppin’ and a-whoopin’ just like Slim Pickens in “Blazing Saddles”. Then I’ma gonna make ‘em eat their words like Valance does to Mr.Peabody! That’ll teach ‘em!!! I love Liberty Valance,the character I mean. Yeah,he is a horrible person,but he is so funny! That whole movie is so scary and so funny at the same time! I love it. I’ve tried to dream up what it would be like if Liberty Valance won and took over the town for good,or should I say evil? The dame thought crosses my mind when it comes to “High Noon” and “Shane”,what if those bad guys had won? I’d be happy! We’d all go and whoop it up at the local saloon! Singing,dancing,drinking and merry-making! It’d be great!! Ha ha! Y’all probably friguring out about now that I kinda have a dark side to my nature….that or just think Westerns have got attractive villians!

Posted By Juana Maria : August 16, 2012 2:57 pm

Ghijath Naddaf:I am surprised at you and the others picking on a sweet wonderful and may I remind all of you long dead actor!Haven’t you ever heard of not speaking ill of the dead? To a certain degree I see your point. There are some films of Jimmy Stewart I really don’t like! It isn’t Jimmy Stewart I can’t stand–it’s the script,the story,etc. “Liberty Valance” is a masterpiece and anyone who says it isn’t is gonna have a fight on their hands! I’m a gonna come a-whoppin’ and a-whoopin’ just like Slim Pickens in “Blazing Saddles”. Then I’ma gonna make ‘em eat their words like Valance does to Mr.Peabody! That’ll teach ‘em!!! I love Liberty Valance,the character I mean. Yeah,he is a horrible person,but he is so funny! That whole movie is so scary and so funny at the same time! I love it. I’ve tried to dream up what it would be like if Liberty Valance won and took over the town for good,or should I say evil? The dame thought crosses my mind when it comes to “High Noon” and “Shane”,what if those bad guys had won? I’d be happy! We’d all go and whoop it up at the local saloon! Singing,dancing,drinking and merry-making! It’d be great!! Ha ha! Y’all probably friguring out about now that I kinda have a dark side to my nature….that or just think Westerns have got attractive villians!

Posted By Emgee : August 16, 2012 3:25 pm

I love the early Brando, it’s probably hard now to realise the huge impact he had with his new style of (Method) acting. Mannered, yes, but what a manner! Love or loathe it, memorable it sure is.
Having said that, i have to say his role in the Godfather is pure unaldulterated ham. Why he got an Oscar for that is a mystery to me. Well, not really, it’s because it’s an amazing movie, but mainly thanks to Pacino and Caan, among others. Cazale, Duvall, Keaton…..yes! But Mumbling Marlon, please no.

I’m sorry this is turning into an “Actors i dislike” post now, but i think Brando has had his fair share of praise over the years. Let’s say it’s “Performances i think are grossly overrated”.

Posted By Emgee : August 16, 2012 3:25 pm

I love the early Brando, it’s probably hard now to realise the huge impact he had with his new style of (Method) acting. Mannered, yes, but what a manner! Love or loathe it, memorable it sure is.
Having said that, i have to say his role in the Godfather is pure unaldulterated ham. Why he got an Oscar for that is a mystery to me. Well, not really, it’s because it’s an amazing movie, but mainly thanks to Pacino and Caan, among others. Cazale, Duvall, Keaton…..yes! But Mumbling Marlon, please no.

I’m sorry this is turning into an “Actors i dislike” post now, but i think Brando has had his fair share of praise over the years. Let’s say it’s “Performances i think are grossly overrated”.

Posted By Qalice : August 16, 2012 6:34 pm

Greg, thanks for not treating me like a moron because I don’t like Brando. Watch The Fugitive Kind (again, if you’ve seen it before) and you’ll understand my esthetic. Anna Magnani is one of the few actors who leaves me speechless, and I think she just wipes the floor with Brando in that one. As for James Stewart being a wimp, he was the first American movie star to put on the uniform in WWII — before Pearl Harbor — and he was a decorated pilot who flew multiple bombing missions exposed to enemy fire. Everyone’s perception is their own, but those aren’t the actions of a wimp.

Posted By Qalice : August 16, 2012 6:34 pm

Greg, thanks for not treating me like a moron because I don’t like Brando. Watch The Fugitive Kind (again, if you’ve seen it before) and you’ll understand my esthetic. Anna Magnani is one of the few actors who leaves me speechless, and I think she just wipes the floor with Brando in that one. As for James Stewart being a wimp, he was the first American movie star to put on the uniform in WWII — before Pearl Harbor — and he was a decorated pilot who flew multiple bombing missions exposed to enemy fire. Everyone’s perception is their own, but those aren’t the actions of a wimp.

Posted By muriel : August 16, 2012 7:38 pm

I read that Jimmy Stewart credited Margaret Sullavan’s tutelage with helping him minimize his ticks and mannerisms. Thank you Margaret, he really needed that help! I’m not much anti-Stewart and some commenters here, but I rarely seek him out.
Stewart isn’t as bad with the ticks and mannerisms as Jack Lemmon.

Posted By muriel : August 16, 2012 7:38 pm

I read that Jimmy Stewart credited Margaret Sullavan’s tutelage with helping him minimize his ticks and mannerisms. Thank you Margaret, he really needed that help! I’m not much anti-Stewart and some commenters here, but I rarely seek him out.
Stewart isn’t as bad with the ticks and mannerisms as Jack Lemmon.

Posted By robbushblog : August 16, 2012 8:33 pm

Emgee- I will agree with you about The Godfather. I think Brando gives a great, iconic performance, but it is a little gimmicky. It was also more of a supporting role. He should have been nominated for supporting actor and Pacino should have been nominated (and should have won) for best actor. He carries the movie. He is brilliant in his reluctance and resentment of the family business, then in his nuances as he transitions from reluctance to accepting his new position. He was not yet the ham that won best actor for Scent of a Woman. THAT Pacino became a caricature.

And….who the heck is Kevin Costner to criticize anyone’s acting? His bat in Bull Durham had a less wooden delivery. (I love Bull Durham!)

Posted By robbushblog : August 16, 2012 8:33 pm

Emgee- I will agree with you about The Godfather. I think Brando gives a great, iconic performance, but it is a little gimmicky. It was also more of a supporting role. He should have been nominated for supporting actor and Pacino should have been nominated (and should have won) for best actor. He carries the movie. He is brilliant in his reluctance and resentment of the family business, then in his nuances as he transitions from reluctance to accepting his new position. He was not yet the ham that won best actor for Scent of a Woman. THAT Pacino became a caricature.

And….who the heck is Kevin Costner to criticize anyone’s acting? His bat in Bull Durham had a less wooden delivery. (I love Bull Durham!)

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : August 16, 2012 9:55 pm

You have to watch Brando’s five or six movies prior to The Godfather to appreciate how he rallied and got his groove back with that role. I mean, “The Night of the Following Day”? Richard Boone outshone him in every scene. It was as if Brando had just given up.

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : August 16, 2012 9:55 pm

You have to watch Brando’s five or six movies prior to The Godfather to appreciate how he rallied and got his groove back with that role. I mean, “The Night of the Following Day”? Richard Boone outshone him in every scene. It was as if Brando had just given up.

Posted By Jenni : August 17, 2012 12:02 am

On the Waterfront is one of my favorite films, and I do credit Brando’s performance for making me feel that way. His later movies, I don’t care for as much, The Godfather being the exception. I had read a bit about the making of The Mutiny on the Bounty and how Brando kept messing up the production to the point that Trevor Howard threatended to quit the whole thing. Richard Boone made a flick with Brando? I’d like to see that film. I’ve been a fan of Boone’s recently, mainly due to Have Gun Will Travel, and a few flicks of his. Great actor, imho! Can’t believe all the “haters” on Jimmy Stewart. Also left me in shock!

Posted By Jenni : August 17, 2012 12:02 am

On the Waterfront is one of my favorite films, and I do credit Brando’s performance for making me feel that way. His later movies, I don’t care for as much, The Godfather being the exception. I had read a bit about the making of The Mutiny on the Bounty and how Brando kept messing up the production to the point that Trevor Howard threatended to quit the whole thing. Richard Boone made a flick with Brando? I’d like to see that film. I’ve been a fan of Boone’s recently, mainly due to Have Gun Will Travel, and a few flicks of his. Great actor, imho! Can’t believe all the “haters” on Jimmy Stewart. Also left me in shock!

Posted By Stacia : August 17, 2012 5:25 am

So many quotables in this comment thread!

I don’t truly dislike Stewart, but his grasping performance in Rope really puts me off. His range was a bit limited and, through no fault of his own, he did get a little overexposed and over-praised as an All American Actor ™. Because of all that, I can see people hating him.

Posted By Stacia : August 17, 2012 5:25 am

So many quotables in this comment thread!

I don’t truly dislike Stewart, but his grasping performance in Rope really puts me off. His range was a bit limited and, through no fault of his own, he did get a little overexposed and over-praised as an All American Actor ™. Because of all that, I can see people hating him.

Posted By Emgee : August 17, 2012 5:54 am

I’d like to add Henry Fonda to my list of favourite “Hey, this guy isn’t acting” actors. What a presence. Less is indeed more.

Posted By Emgee : August 17, 2012 5:54 am

I’d like to add Henry Fonda to my list of favourite “Hey, this guy isn’t acting” actors. What a presence. Less is indeed more.

Posted By robbushblog : August 17, 2012 9:21 am

Stacia- I think Jimmy is great in Rope. He’s hilarious in most of it.

Posted By robbushblog : August 17, 2012 9:21 am

Stacia- I think Jimmy is great in Rope. He’s hilarious in most of it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 17, 2012 3:14 pm

Stewart isn’t as bad with the ticks and mannerisms as Jack Lemmon.

I’ll address those in my Wednesday post on him (it’s his day on Wednesday for Summer Under the Stars). So stay tuned…

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 17, 2012 3:14 pm

Stewart isn’t as bad with the ticks and mannerisms as Jack Lemmon.

I’ll address those in my Wednesday post on him (it’s his day on Wednesday for Summer Under the Stars). So stay tuned…

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 17, 2012 3:17 pm

I like Henry Fonda in most all of his performances but I never quite connected with him on a less technical level. He always seemed to be masking a cold indifference to me. It’s one of the reasons I think his performance in On Golden Pond is so good because it feels like the real Henry Fonda to me: Kind of distant with his kids, kind of rude and inconsiderate with people and a little pompous but inside he’s afraid and insecure. That feels like Fonda to me and he did a great job with it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 17, 2012 3:17 pm

I like Henry Fonda in most all of his performances but I never quite connected with him on a less technical level. He always seemed to be masking a cold indifference to me. It’s one of the reasons I think his performance in On Golden Pond is so good because it feels like the real Henry Fonda to me: Kind of distant with his kids, kind of rude and inconsiderate with people and a little pompous but inside he’s afraid and insecure. That feels like Fonda to me and he did a great job with it.

Posted By Jenni : August 17, 2012 6:15 pm

A similar Fonda role, where he is somewhat distant with his only child, kind of rude and inconsiderate, a little pompous, but really he’s afraid and insecure, is his commander of the fort in Fort Apache.

Posted By Jenni : August 17, 2012 6:15 pm

A similar Fonda role, where he is somewhat distant with his only child, kind of rude and inconsiderate, a little pompous, but really he’s afraid and insecure, is his commander of the fort in Fort Apache.

Posted By idlemendacity : August 17, 2012 9:51 pm

I’m always astonished at how surprised people are at how convincingly evil Fonda was in Once Upon a Time in the West. It’s like people completely forgot the Fonda that did Fort Apache. Fonda was much more convincing as a villain than I think Jimmy Stewart could ever be (the second Thin Man film where Jimmy is the bad guy is laughable every time I see it). On the other side I think Jimmmy could play “gray” better than Fonda could.

As for ticks and mannerism. A lot of actors had them. Cagney was full of them and yet I can’t think of a performance of his I disliked. I think the actors themselves brought them out especially when they were in a movie they disliked or felt wrong for. Lemmon – according to Robert Osbourne some time back – disliked doing Under the Yum Yum Tree and Good Neighbor Sam (a film that I can only watch do to Romy Schneider) and so he played up his Jack Lemmon-isms. Watch something like Days of Wine and Roses or Missing and you don’t notice it. Likewise with Jimmy Stewart, watch Pot O’ Gold (the film he disliked more than any other) and it’s almost as if he was playing an imitation of his screen persona, likewise in Two Rode Together where John Ford gave him a hard time or How The West was Won (where he felt he was too old for the part and to be Carroll Baker’s love interest at age 54) the full “Jimmy Stewart” act is in force and yet watch his Anthony Mann films or even his Hitchock films (except Vertigo where’s he playing against type as someone you really shouldn’t like except you do because it’s Jimmy Stewart)and they’re largely absent.

Posted By idlemendacity : August 17, 2012 9:51 pm

I’m always astonished at how surprised people are at how convincingly evil Fonda was in Once Upon a Time in the West. It’s like people completely forgot the Fonda that did Fort Apache. Fonda was much more convincing as a villain than I think Jimmy Stewart could ever be (the second Thin Man film where Jimmy is the bad guy is laughable every time I see it). On the other side I think Jimmmy could play “gray” better than Fonda could.

As for ticks and mannerism. A lot of actors had them. Cagney was full of them and yet I can’t think of a performance of his I disliked. I think the actors themselves brought them out especially when they were in a movie they disliked or felt wrong for. Lemmon – according to Robert Osbourne some time back – disliked doing Under the Yum Yum Tree and Good Neighbor Sam (a film that I can only watch do to Romy Schneider) and so he played up his Jack Lemmon-isms. Watch something like Days of Wine and Roses or Missing and you don’t notice it. Likewise with Jimmy Stewart, watch Pot O’ Gold (the film he disliked more than any other) and it’s almost as if he was playing an imitation of his screen persona, likewise in Two Rode Together where John Ford gave him a hard time or How The West was Won (where he felt he was too old for the part and to be Carroll Baker’s love interest at age 54) the full “Jimmy Stewart” act is in force and yet watch his Anthony Mann films or even his Hitchock films (except Vertigo where’s he playing against type as someone you really shouldn’t like except you do because it’s Jimmy Stewart)and they’re largely absent.

Posted By Juana Maria : August 17, 2012 11:03 pm

Hey! Where are my previous comments?! I’ma gonna have to get all Liberty Valance on y’all! Make you eat your words. Yeah,some of the stuff you’ve been saying does make sense,even if I don’t want to say it. I don’t really care for Jimmy Stewart paired with Carrol Baker either. Though speaking personally,I have always liked oler men. My parents were about 2o yrs. apart in age,so maybe it runs in the family. Ha ha. I love me some older Western villians! And nobody better say a thing!!!

Posted By Juana Maria : August 17, 2012 11:03 pm

Hey! Where are my previous comments?! I’ma gonna have to get all Liberty Valance on y’all! Make you eat your words. Yeah,some of the stuff you’ve been saying does make sense,even if I don’t want to say it. I don’t really care for Jimmy Stewart paired with Carrol Baker either. Though speaking personally,I have always liked oler men. My parents were about 2o yrs. apart in age,so maybe it runs in the family. Ha ha. I love me some older Western villians! And nobody better say a thing!!!

Posted By Juana Maria : August 17, 2012 11:11 pm

Dang! I meant older not “oler”! Stupid typos! My mistake,I see my earlier comments above! Oops. This conversation just got me all heated up. I ain’t even gonna start talking about Kevin Costner! Qualice is right the real Jimmy Stewart was shy as well as brave,stuttered,so skinny he had to fatten up to join the Air Force. Eating his favorite tuna fish sandwhiches.I love Jimmy as friend,even though we never met in life. I have seen so many of his films,it feels like it have. So nay sayers back off!! Find some real life creep of an actor to gripe about already!! How about one of those actors who gets arrested and put in rehab every time you turn around! Not naming any names myself,but I’m sure you can think of a few!! Jimmy was never in rehab or prison! So there!

Posted By Juana Maria : August 17, 2012 11:11 pm

Dang! I meant older not “oler”! Stupid typos! My mistake,I see my earlier comments above! Oops. This conversation just got me all heated up. I ain’t even gonna start talking about Kevin Costner! Qualice is right the real Jimmy Stewart was shy as well as brave,stuttered,so skinny he had to fatten up to join the Air Force. Eating his favorite tuna fish sandwhiches.I love Jimmy as friend,even though we never met in life. I have seen so many of his films,it feels like it have. So nay sayers back off!! Find some real life creep of an actor to gripe about already!! How about one of those actors who gets arrested and put in rehab every time you turn around! Not naming any names myself,but I’m sure you can think of a few!! Jimmy was never in rehab or prison! So there!

Posted By Christine Hoard-Barre : August 18, 2012 12:55 am

Interesting comments and article. I will watch the same movie over and over for a great performance. For instance, I will stop and watch Powell (my favorite) and Loy in “The Thin Man” every time even though I’ve seen it countless times. Ditto for Jimmy Stewart (and an awesome supporting cast) in “Anatomy of a Murder” and Cagney in “White Heat.” I agree that Joseph Cotton and Edward G. Robinson were great unheralded actors and my imagination goes wild when Eddie whispers in Lauren Bacall’s ear in “Key Largo.” What nasty thing is he saying to her? Marian Davies could be quite good in comedy but Hearst wanted her in all those lame costume dramas. This is why TCM is great because we get to see so many terrific performances. As far as supporting performances go, I think one of the best (if not the best) one I’ve seen is Van Heflin in “Johnny Eager.” He had unconventional good lucks and a great voice.

Posted By Christine Hoard-Barre : August 18, 2012 12:55 am

Interesting comments and article. I will watch the same movie over and over for a great performance. For instance, I will stop and watch Powell (my favorite) and Loy in “The Thin Man” every time even though I’ve seen it countless times. Ditto for Jimmy Stewart (and an awesome supporting cast) in “Anatomy of a Murder” and Cagney in “White Heat.” I agree that Joseph Cotton and Edward G. Robinson were great unheralded actors and my imagination goes wild when Eddie whispers in Lauren Bacall’s ear in “Key Largo.” What nasty thing is he saying to her? Marian Davies could be quite good in comedy but Hearst wanted her in all those lame costume dramas. This is why TCM is great because we get to see so many terrific performances. As far as supporting performances go, I think one of the best (if not the best) one I’ve seen is Van Heflin in “Johnny Eager.” He had unconventional good lucks and a great voice.

Posted By Emgee : August 18, 2012 3:27 pm

Van Heflin! Now there’s an actor who kind of fell between the cracks of Hollywood history. Not exactly obscure, but never considered one of the greats. Although he won an Oscar for “Johnny Eager”, most people will probably give you blank stares when you mention his name. (Not on this blog of course!)

To me he’s the kind of actor who can give even a bland movie a boost, and when he’s in a good movie like The Prowler, unforgettable.

Posted By Emgee : August 18, 2012 3:27 pm

Van Heflin! Now there’s an actor who kind of fell between the cracks of Hollywood history. Not exactly obscure, but never considered one of the greats. Although he won an Oscar for “Johnny Eager”, most people will probably give you blank stares when you mention his name. (Not on this blog of course!)

To me he’s the kind of actor who can give even a bland movie a boost, and when he’s in a good movie like The Prowler, unforgettable.

Posted By Christine Hoard-Barre : August 18, 2012 7:11 pm

Emgee, I just saw “The Prowler” on TCM a week or so ago and was blown away again by Van Heflin. I had never seen this movie before; so glad I had an opportunity to catch it.

Posted By Christine Hoard-Barre : August 18, 2012 7:11 pm

Emgee, I just saw “The Prowler” on TCM a week or so ago and was blown away again by Van Heflin. I had never seen this movie before; so glad I had an opportunity to catch it.

Posted By robbushblog : August 19, 2012 12:20 am

Heflin was great in The Prowler, Act of Violence, Patterns and of course, Shane.

Posted By robbushblog : August 19, 2012 12:20 am

Heflin was great in The Prowler, Act of Violence, Patterns and of course, Shane.

Posted By robbushblog : August 19, 2012 12:22 am

Along with Cotten and Heflin, Walter Pidgeon was a solid, dependable, underappreciated actor.

Posted By robbushblog : August 19, 2012 12:22 am

Along with Cotten and Heflin, Walter Pidgeon was a solid, dependable, underappreciated actor.

Posted By florizel : August 19, 2012 9:25 am

In the category of “not seeming to act” performers, how about Barbara Stanwyck? She manages to convey cold blooded evil(eg. “Double Indemnity”, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers”) and tenderness or pain(the scene in “The Lady Eve” where Henry Fonda dumps her on the ship is a case in point) with such skill that it seems effortless. She’s also in the category of actors who manage to shine even in substandard material, which also says a great deal.

Posted By florizel : August 19, 2012 9:25 am

In the category of “not seeming to act” performers, how about Barbara Stanwyck? She manages to convey cold blooded evil(eg. “Double Indemnity”, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers”) and tenderness or pain(the scene in “The Lady Eve” where Henry Fonda dumps her on the ship is a case in point) with such skill that it seems effortless. She’s also in the category of actors who manage to shine even in substandard material, which also says a great deal.

Posted By Emgee : August 19, 2012 3:21 pm

Barbara Stanwyck is one of my favourite actresses and i would give any movie with her in it at least a look. Would i sum up her acting style as “not seeming to act”? I’d say her performances are too intense to qualify as underacting, but at her best she’s exhilarating and even in a poor movie always gives it her best. Which is a lot.

Posted By Emgee : August 19, 2012 3:21 pm

Barbara Stanwyck is one of my favourite actresses and i would give any movie with her in it at least a look. Would i sum up her acting style as “not seeming to act”? I’d say her performances are too intense to qualify as underacting, but at her best she’s exhilarating and even in a poor movie always gives it her best. Which is a lot.

Posted By Juana Maria : August 20, 2012 9:03 pm

I enjoy watching Barbara Stanwyck too! My favorite movie with hers is “Sorry,Wrong Number”….oooh,so scary! I agree with the other comments above and with Jennifer Jason Leigh,who is quoted on TCM regarding Miss Stanwyck that she made it look so easy! She shows such strength and also at the same time great emotion. Lots of emotion,which is why I love to watch her so much! I just wanted to point out there have been a ton of great actors and actresses over the years. Thankfully we have TCM and enjoy them together and discuss them.

Posted By Juana Maria : August 20, 2012 9:03 pm

I enjoy watching Barbara Stanwyck too! My favorite movie with hers is “Sorry,Wrong Number”….oooh,so scary! I agree with the other comments above and with Jennifer Jason Leigh,who is quoted on TCM regarding Miss Stanwyck that she made it look so easy! She shows such strength and also at the same time great emotion. Lots of emotion,which is why I love to watch her so much! I just wanted to point out there have been a ton of great actors and actresses over the years. Thankfully we have TCM and enjoy them together and discuss them.

Posted By Chalkie : August 21, 2012 4:06 pm

I’m disappointed that the article fails to mention the GREAT Edward G. Robinson.

Posted By Chalkie : August 21, 2012 4:06 pm

I’m disappointed that the article fails to mention the GREAT Edward G. Robinson.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 21, 2012 7:37 pm

Chalkie, Edward G. Robinson was one of the greats, agreed. But the article wasn’t intended to be a list of all the great actors, just an explanation of how I came to favor the classic actors over the modern ones.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 21, 2012 7:37 pm

Chalkie, Edward G. Robinson was one of the greats, agreed. But the article wasn’t intended to be a list of all the great actors, just an explanation of how I came to favor the classic actors over the modern ones.

Posted By Elizabeth : August 26, 2012 4:48 am

Hi! I ould like to know why this TCM site is called MORLOCKS? Is there a hidden meaning? I can’t wait for “Ball of Fire”, Sunday. One of my favorite films. Did any of you see the “Awful Truth”? Irene Dunne is hysterical when she pretends to be Cary Grants sister. That scene is a classic! When you watch “Gaslight” look at Ingrid Bergmans nuanced performance. I adore TCM and love Robert Osborne. Hope to hear from people regarding the “Morelock”name and its meaning. Oh, watch “Cleopatra” on Thurs. 9:45. Unbelivable sets & costumes. Love it!

Posted By Elizabeth : August 26, 2012 4:48 am

Hi! I ould like to know why this TCM site is called MORLOCKS? Is there a hidden meaning? I can’t wait for “Ball of Fire”, Sunday. One of my favorite films. Did any of you see the “Awful Truth”? Irene Dunne is hysterical when she pretends to be Cary Grants sister. That scene is a classic! When you watch “Gaslight” look at Ingrid Bergmans nuanced performance. I adore TCM and love Robert Osborne. Hope to hear from people regarding the “Morelock”name and its meaning. Oh, watch “Cleopatra” on Thurs. 9:45. Unbelivable sets & costumes. Love it!

Posted By swac44 : August 27, 2012 7:44 am

The Morlocks were the underground cannibalistic race in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, and the images in the banner are based on the version of the creatures in the George Pal take on the story, which is a wonderful sci-fi/fantasy film.

I’m guessing they picked the name because as movie lovers, they (and we, by association) spend a lot of time in the dark.

Posted By swac44 : August 27, 2012 7:44 am

The Morlocks were the underground cannibalistic race in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, and the images in the banner are based on the version of the creatures in the George Pal take on the story, which is a wonderful sci-fi/fantasy film.

I’m guessing they picked the name because as movie lovers, they (and we, by association) spend a lot of time in the dark.

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