Friday, March 28, 2008

Movie Movie

From Roger Freidman's great column copyright 2008,2933,342109,00.html

Richard Widmark: 'I Don't Have a Great Movie'

Richard Widmark died on Wednesday at age 93. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him in January 2002 at his home in Connecticut with my friend John Connolly.

The consummate actor and gentleman, Widmark should have been given a Lifetime Achievement award by the Oscars a long time ago. He was only nominated once, in 1947, for his debut as Tommy Udo in "Kiss of Death."

He laughed when we talked about that film — and the famous scene in which he pushes wheelchair-bound Mildred Dunnock down a flight of stairs.

"You make 50 movies over a lifetime and that’s the one they remember you for," he chuckled.

He told me that he never had "a great movie," but I differ. He had several: "Night and the City," "Pick Up on South Street," "The Street With No Name" and "No Way Out" are all classics. Today, you can see a lot of Widmark in Viggo Mortensen’s face. He was the king of film noir; Mortensen seems sometimes to be echoing his pathos.

Widmark was married for 50 years to the same woman, his beloved Jean. When she died in 1997, he married one more time to Susan Blanchard, the third wife of the late Henry Fonda. They were friends and neighbors. It was through Peter and Becky Fonda that I got to talk to Richard; Peter still considered Susan his "mom." I am so grateful it worked out.

Here are a couple of things he told me for our interview: Karl Malden was his oldest friend. They’d met in 1938 doing radio work. About his contemporary, Robert Mitchum: "I liked old Bob but he was a real bullshitter. We were in different worlds. He was in the booze world."

Bette Davis, he said, was "tough." Marilyn Monroe "was a ding dong. I liked old Marilyn. No one could get her out on the set."

Widmark’s last film was "True Colors" in 1991. After that, he didn’t see the need to continue. His favorite actors? "Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart. I’d go back to work if I could work with those guys. I loved them."

Just a great guy, and such a wonderful actor. His death marks the end of an era.


We watched it on TCM last night. Despite the barqoue qualities of the script (both dialogue and plot) it did present the Old World in such detail that at moments it had the qualities of a documentary. James Wolcott nailed it all this morning:

Crystal Blue Persuasion

"Watching Grand Hotel on TCM, it occurred to me, not for the first time, that the world was never more beautiful than it was in classic Hollywood black and white. Certainly women never were. Black and white gave their eyes and skin a glisten, their hair a backlit aurora, that now seems to belong to some now-gone mechanical age of the gods. Grand Hotel seems all ink and ivory, with little intermittent gray. The image of Garbo's ballerina, crumpled on the floor, her tutu a luminous tissue paper white, intercut with John Barrymore's profile as he tenderly spies on her, his presence shielded in shadow--it makes you wish the movie could dispense with the Old World weariness of the dialogue and just keep on contemplating itself. (Dinner at Eight, so much more fun.) In Joan Crawford's scenes with Wallace Beery, you can see each eyebrow, mouth corner, pupil, and shapely ankle individually doing its dramatic bit to create a composite portrait of a secretary to a tycoon type leveraging her assets while maintaining a cool deposit of pride and reserve. Inspired by the Siren's Joan Crawford birthday wishes, NYCweboy unveils his shrine to Cukor's The Women, where Crawford and Shearer had their memorable slag match over some dope named Steve."

for the rest go here

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