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The Beauty of a Lived In Face (Part Deux)

Posted: April 21st, 2007, 5:17 pm
by moira finnie
I thought that I might post the "The Beauty of a Lived In Face" again...

I caught the last half hour of Inherit the Wind (1960) tonight, and was reminded of the depth of beauty and expressiveness that one can see in the face of a person who has lived. Botox, hair dye, sun block, and lawd knows what alchemy is all the rage, in that mad rush to stop time, of course. Heaven forbid anyone should look as though they've been around the block more than a few times. But so much is lost, particularly for an actor. I'm particularly fond of those players whose face has come to look, some might say, "like five miles of bad road".

Of course, for film actors this is particularly poignant, since movies celebrate beautiful surfaces, and have always favored the young, the handsome, and the beautiful. When time inevitably marks them, movie stars are always competing against not just others, but their younger selves. Yes, "they had faces then", but, they weren't all smooth and shining and the most interesting ones were often the most deeply marked by life.

Some brave and talented souls--some who were stars and some who were journeymen--with their furrowed brows, seamed smiles and crinkled eyes, each used this to their audience's advantage, giving their acting a deeper dimension. So here's a spot to chronicle a few favorite weather beaten faces. Hope that you might mention some of your most cherished wrinkled mugs.

Spencer Tracy, "old? yes, burnt-out, maybe", but still in command of the screen in Inherit the Wind.

Vladimir Sokoloff, a character actor of great sensitivity and versatility. He played many ethnic sorts from the '30s to the '60s, in such films as The Magnificent Seven and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Why, he even played a convincing Russian on occasion.

Gladys Cooper, a celebrated stage beauty in her youth, who aged wonderfully and gained much deserved movie fame as an older actress capable of a broad range of emotions, in part due to the character in her face. You can appreciate Miss Cooper in such diverse films as Rebecca, Now, Voyager, Love Letters and Separate Tables.

C. Aubrey Smith, in all his leonine splendour. Born while the U.S. Civil War raged, he was still beguiling audiences as late as 1949, (in the MGM remake of Little Women, released the year following his death!).

Charles Bickford, who played everything from a cowboy to a cardinal, in films such as Anna Christie, Duel in the Sun, Brute Force and A Star is Born. H had the authoritative manner and fascinating face to make you believe every role he inhabited.

Ethel Barrymore, whose mysterious, magnetic presence added greatly to her relatively few films. There was something about her that made you always wonder what was going on beneath the surface.

Posted: May 12th, 2007, 12:28 am
by Garbomaniac
Wow! Gladys Cooper! She is one of my favorite additions to any movie! The Bishop's Wife, Now Voyager, My Fair Lady! She was the epitome of class and sophisticated snobbery! Love her!

Of course, you can't say anything bad about Ethel or C. Aubrey, either!

Posted: May 17th, 2007, 7:54 pm
by moira finnie
I thought that I might attempt to bring this one back to life one more time. I've been thinking a bit about certain beauties from my childhood who formed my own idea of what makes a lovely looking woman. Here's two ladies who are still quite actively working while wearing their years with grace:

I've always enjoyed seeing this leading actress in everything from Billy Liar to Don't Look Now to Afterglow. Her freshness, innate sultriness, and ability to age with us have given her some of her best critical reviews since Afterglow in the new Canadian film, Away From Her with Gordon Pinsent, I'm happy to see the hauntingly beautiful and intelligent actress Julie Christie once again. My favorite Julie Christie movie: Fahrenheit 451 (1970)

As a young woman, during the shooting of Dr. Zhivago.

In the haunting Daphne Du Maurier story, Don't Look Now.

In her middle years, with her dazzling smile still lighting up a room.

In Christie's most recent film, Away From Her, playing an Alzheimer's patient beautifully from all reports.

Katharine Ross, who emerged from America around the same time as Christie has also aged gracefully while plying the shoals of show biz with her husband, Sam Elliot, with whom she's worked in the memorable tv projects, Conagher and The Shadow Riders. Miss Ross, perhaps best known for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Graduate, imbues each part with her quiet beauty and has aged particularly honestly in a business that celebrates artifice. My favorite Katharine Ross film: Rodeo Girl (1980)

Ms. Ross, starting out.

Ross around the time of The Graduate

Around the time that she made the memorable The Stepford Wives.

Ms. Ross in the '80s.

Katharine Ross today.

Posted: May 18th, 2007, 11:59 am
by moira finnie
I caught about 3/4 of a movie recently that was directed by the good fillmmaker Delmer Daves. Kings Go Forth (1958), which starred a reflective Frank Sinatra, a very hip Tony Curtis and a truly lovely Natalie Wood, who was just on the brink of her adult beauty then, was a romance about a young girl who is the child of mixed parentage being courted by both soldiers in wartime France.

While wrestling with the soldiers' mixed emotions about the girl's race in quite a mature and realistic fashion at times, I was struck by the presence in the cast of two interesting character actors:
Leora Dana (1923-1983), who played Natalie Wood's mother in this film, was primarily a stage actress who had a late start in movies at age 33 in a Jack Lord feature called Williamsburg: Story of a Patriot (1957). Her air of intelligence, quiet demeanor and rather deep voice gave her an unusual gravitas for that period. Even when she was relegated to somewhat underwritten mother roles, she brought an extra spark to the proceedings, as she did in each of her scenes in Kings Go Forth, particularly her scenes with Frank Sinatra, (who's better than usual here too).

Some of the other roles that Ms. Dana might be best remembered for are as Arthur Kennedy's wife in Some Came Running (1958), Van Heflin's wife in 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and Pollyanna (1960). Leora Dana also appeared in numerous television productions, including a stint on the soap opera "The Doctors". Not a star, but a memorable, mature presence in all her small roles in films.
Ms. Dana with Van Heflin in the good western, 3:10 to Yuma (1957).

The other actor in Kings Go Forth who always startles me with his superannuated presence was Cyril Delevanti(1887-1975) and who played the butler in this film:
Though Mr. Delevanti was only 67-68 when this movie was made, he seemed incredibly ancient, and somber, though, as you can see by the picture below he could occasionally smile. His career extended from 1931 until the year before his death and included numerous small, often uncredited roles. I suspect that one vivid role that made him smile may have been the one he played in Tenessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana (1964) when he played the elderly poet desperately trying to cling to life long enough to finish his epic poem. Delevanti also appeared in several Twilight Zone and other tv productions over the course of his career.

Posted: May 18th, 2007, 12:11 pm
by MissGoddess
You continually delight me by hilighting some of my all time favorites, Moira! As you may know, I am an enormous fan of Frank Sinatra the actor as well as the singer, and Kings Go Forth is one of my tippy-top favorites. I just love the way the relationships between Frank and Natalie and Frank and Tony Curtis go through so many ups and downs, while Leora Dana provides an emotionally calm centre for the story.

Curtis was always most convincing (to me) when playing a swine and this role is one of his most effective, in my opinion. He so good at making you want to like him, without giving you anything really genuine or worthy to hang your better feelings upon.

To be honest, I didn't even notice the butler, or that the ladies even had one, so thank you for mentioning him. :?

Posted: May 19th, 2007, 7:54 am
by knitwit45
Hi Moira! I am so glad you carried this thread over. It has always been my favorite, and I had missed it here. I continue to find wonderful threads at this site, just wish work would slow down so I could leisurely go thru all of them. Bosses just don't seem to understand my need for a daily "fix". :cry:

How about Sam Elliot? Didn't he and Tom Selleck do a series of beer commercials, early in both their careers? They were cowboys, and one (Selleck, I think) longed to see the world. Funny stuff.

Both of them have aged well, haven't they? (I don't drool over them any more, but they still give me a flutter.... :oops: )

Sam Elliot

Posted: May 19th, 2007, 11:08 am
by moira finnie
Hi Nancy,
How prescient of you! Sam Elliot has been making my toes curl for about 2 decades now, and he was next on my mental list to feature here. While many of us may recall his first notable appearance in a starring role as the desultory California dude in Lifeguard (1976), I've always enjoyed the way that his solid presence animates many films in what might have been a throwaway supporting role as well, especially in a good film such as We Were Soldiers (2002), Rush (1989) or a big old special effects fest, like Hulk (2003) in which he shone as one of the few captivating human performers on screen . My two favorite films of his are his leading roles as the emotionally shutdown widowed father in Prancer (1989) and the tv film, Conagher (1991), opposite his wife, Katharine Ross. I also liked his character in the indie production, Off the Map (2003). Which parts do you like, Nancy?

I know little about him, but must comment that, frankly, he's gotten more interesting as an actor as he allowed Father Time to work his magic on his, ahem, very handsome features. And that voice...yikes, I'm blushing. :oops:
In his prime, around the time of Mask.

A rare smiling Sam Elliot.

Sam Elliot today.

I'll gather some good pictures of Tom Selleck asap.

Sam Elliott

Posted: May 19th, 2007, 5:04 pm
by knitwit45
Geez, Moira, talk about a rush....I always wanted to see what was under that mustache :oops: :oops: :oops:

I can't name a particular part of his that is a favorite. He's more (to me) like the stars of the past, when you didn't go to see a movie, you went to see a BETTE DAVIS tearjerker, or a JUDY GARLAND musical, or a RONALD COLMAN drama. Sam's name in the credits is enough for me to watch the movie.

That might be a great thread, stars you watch just for their presence. How would you word it? To start, I would say Tom Hanks rates that kind of attendance.

Thanks for the pictures, especially the most recent one...he does have a beautiful, lived in face....sigh.....

How about a thread called, "N'uf said..."?

Posted: May 20th, 2007, 6:59 am
by moira finnie
That might be a great thread, stars you watch just for their presence. How would you word it? To start, I would say Tom Hanks rates that kind of attendance
I wish that you would start such a thread. It would be interesting to name that handful of actors or directors whose name on a movie draws viewers as well as those whose stellar or supporting presence makes one pause, even when the film is less than wonderful. Btw, I thought that last picture of Sam today was pretty dang devastating too. Hope all is well
in your corner of the universe,

[b]Conrad Veidt[/b] (1893-1943)

Posted: May 22nd, 2007, 9:58 am
by moira finnie
Conrad Veidt (1893-1943)an almost forgotten actor, who, if he is remembered at all is often categorized as "the man you love to hate", from Casablanca, (though, of course, many of you are undoubtedly aware of his other work). The range of roles that he played throughout his career are displayed from the classic silents such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to The Man Who Laughed to a couple of recent discoveries of his later work (by me, at least), in Contraband, Nazi Agent, The Spy in Black, Thief of Bagdad and A Woman's Face. It's probably not entirely an accident that the talented actor was chosen to work with such fine filmmakers as Powell & Pressburger, George Cukor, Jules Dassin, and Alexander Korda, among others.

One reason for his success may have been his extraordinarily eloquent eyes, which expressed much more of a range of emotions than the words and actions provided by the script. His occasional flashes of his ability to be a more playful and humorously ironic actor, as in Contraband & the knockabout wartime farce, All Through the Night, often made him a much more compelling figure than the other, bigger stars that he appeared with on screen. It's difficult to pay attention to hardworking but more limited actors such as Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, or Robert Taylor when he's around, imho. A staunch anti-Nazi married to a woman of Jewish descent, Veidt was destined to play a fascist in the latter stages of his career in Hollywood. His work, and his arresting face, deserve to be recalled:
Veidt, startling conventional concepts of the cinema from the beginning of his career in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Herr Veidt, as a more conventional looking young actor taking German Expressionist cinema by storm.

In the 1930s, when the stress of his life and career started to show in his face. During this period he would eventually leave his homeland after the rise of fascism, become a British citizen, and narrowly escape recapture by the Nazi authorities who tried to hold him during one of his final visits to Germany.

In his last years in Hollywood, shortly before his sudden early death at a mere 50 (while playing on a golf course!). Note the cigarette, which, along with his knockabout career, probably contributed to his early passing.

Conrad Veidt

Posted: May 22nd, 2007, 11:28 am
by knitwit45
I always found him immensely fascinating, even being the worst kind of villain. Every time I watch Casablanca which averages 3 times a year, I hold my breath to see if he shoots Bogie. To me, he's THAT believable.

Did you read the post on the other site, about his contract stipulation? According to the poster, he always insisted that his Nazi character would lose.

Interesting man. Thanks for the spotlight.


Posted: May 25th, 2007, 12:50 pm
by traceyk
C. Aubrey Smith is the only thing that made "Morning Glory" watchable for me. It's one of the few older Katharine Hepburn movies, I really can't watch.

Other good older faces:
Adolphe Menjou (regardless of his politics)
Sean Connery (just looks better every year)
Marie Dressler
Maria Openskaya
William Powell (Schatze Page made the wrong choice--I'd have taken him over the young guy any day)

Connie Gilchrist

Posted: June 1st, 2007, 10:48 am
by knitwit45
Welcome home or back Moira. You've been missed!

How about Connie Gilchrist? She's one of my favorites, I love her work in "Letter to Three Wives". When she and Thelma Ritter (another top of the list fave) are playing cards as the train roars thru, well, it's one of the best moments in the movie!. Could you "spotlight" her for us?


Posted: June 1st, 2007, 12:22 pm
by moira finnie
Actually, I have featured Marie Dressler, Thelma Ritter and Connie Gilchrist among other great faces in the TCM message board version of this thread, found here, but since I'm a firm believer in the road of excess leading to the palace of wisdom, here goes, once again, more pics of some great, salty ladies...first, let's make it Connie Gilchrist, (1901-1985), Miss Salt of the Earth of any year, who has a nice turn in tonight's Grand Central Murder (1942) on TCM this evening at 8PM EDT:
In her glad rags at MGM.

In a rare display of her musical ability, Miss Gilchrist sang a duet opposite Judy Garland in Presenting Lily Mars (1943).

Making like a tough gal prison guard in Undercover Girl (1950) opposite Richard Egan and Alexis Smith.

Connie, making like a pioneer gal, in the Anthony Mann-Jimmy Stewart Western, The Far Country (1954).

Miss Connie

Posted: June 1st, 2007, 12:48 pm
by knitwit45
What a woman...both you and Connie!

Her duet with Judy was heartbreaking, and I loved every minute of it.

Thanks Moira, you are the best