Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TCR Celebrates National Classic Movie Day, May 16.

The Committee Room wishes you a Happy National Classic Movie Day! To celebrate classic movies, TCR is taking part in the Five Stars Blogathon, hosted by Classic Film and TV Cafe.

Five Stars Blogathon participants list five of their favorite classic-era stars and offer a brief explanation as to why these stars are favorites. In putting together its list, TCR chose to move past stardom's top, instantly recognizable folks (the level depicted in the illustration above) and give a nod to five less exalted but highly deserving performers. Perhaps reflecting their B list status, all of TCR's favorites may be best known more for their work on television than on the big screen.

The Committee Room's Five Favorites List (in alphabetical order)

Joan Bennett in The Reckless Moment (1949)
Joan Bennett  -- The more you live, the more you learn. The more Joan Bennett movies you see, the more you're struck by how consistently good she is. Bennett, a far better actress than her more glamorous sister Constance, did her best work in film noir where her no-nonsense, I don't care if you don't like me manner made her an unsettling presence. This vaguely scary quality also stood Bennett in good stead in the hokey Gothic horror soap opera Dark Shadows on TV in the 1960s. Recommended film: The Reckless Moment (1949), a great little film noir with Bennett as an ordinary suburban mom trying to protect her daughter from a murder rap.

James Garner -- Handsome leading men can have a sense of humor. Are you reading this Ryan Gosling? Alas, probably not. The genial Garner was a TV star who became a movie star (a pioneer traveler on this now well-trodden career path) then returned to TV which was probably his true home. Unlike the lunky and stiff Rock Hudson or the aging sophisticates Cary Grant and David Niven, Garner was a leading man you could actually believe Doris Day was married to. Recommended film: Grand Prix (1966), a beautifully filmed in Europe tale of Formula One drivers. Garner at his movie star apogee.

Carolyn Jones (left) with Natalie Wood in
Marjorie Morningstar (1958).
Carolyn Jones -- Remembered now pretty much only for her two year stint on TV's The Addams Family, Jones shined in a variety of secondary roles in a passel of feature films before she put on that long, black Morticia wig. Jones might have eventually found another niche but her death from cancer at age 53 sadly places her on the list of stars gone too soon. Recommended film: Marjorie Morningstar (1958), where Jones is a middle class Jewish girl working at a summer camp along side the title character played by Natalie Wood.

Angela Lansbury (right) with Katharine Hepburn
 in State of the Union (1948).
Angela Lansbury -- Lansbury could be beautiful or plain, classy or a floozy, young or old, British or American, sympathetic or a shrew. Whatever was required. Hollywood gave Lansbury a lot of work but never sufficient appreciation. Multiple Tonys and Emmys she has but not a single Oscar. Almost unbelievably, Lansbury is still working in her 90s. She has a role in Mary Poppins Returns, slated to open in 2018, seventy-four years after she made her screen debut in Gaslight (1944).  Recommended films: there are so many choices it's almost impossible to choose but State of the Union (1948) and The World of Henry Orient (1964).

Fred MacMurray -- Believe it or not, that toupee-wearing, aging actor who sleepwalked through his role as wisdom dispensing dad Steve Douglas on the 1960s sitcom My Three Sons was once among of Hollywood's most in-demand and highest paid leading men. Never a truly first rank star in his own right at the level of Clark Gable or Henry Fonda, MacMurray's specialty was playing opposite famous leading ladies but not stealing the show from them. MacMurray acquitted himself masterfully in numerous pictures with Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, and Barbara Stanwyck, among many others  Recommended films -- Alice Adams (1935) with Katharine Hepburn and Remember the Night (1940) with Stanwyck, and, of course, Double Indemnity (1944), also with the great Stanwyck, who, if this Five Stars list had focused on first rank stars would be on it.

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