Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Joseph Cotten (1905-1994)

Talented beyond a shadow of doubt.

“Orson Welles lists Citizen Kane as his best film, Alfred Hitchcock opts for Shadow of a Doubt, and Sir Carol Reed chose The Third Man — and Im in all of them.

With Anne Baxter in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

[On Orson Welles] “I dont know why people regard him as a difficult man. He was the easiest man I ever worked with. And the most inspiring. Contrary to whats been said, Orson as a director was very realistically aware of the limitations of his players. He would never lead them into a position of trying to achieve what they couldnt.” (1973 interview with Derek Malcolm)

Smooth as silk.

“My wife told me one of the sweetest things one could hear: I am not jealous. But I am truly sad for all the actresses who embrace you and kiss you while acting, for with them, you are only pretending.’ 

With Orson Welles in The Third Man (1949).

“I was a so-called star because of my limitations, and that was always the case. I couldnt do any accents. So I had to pretend. Luckily I was tall, had curly hair and a good voice. I only had to stamp my foot and Id play the lead — because I couldnt play character parts.

Acting appropriately in Journey into Fear (1943).

[On copying Robert Brackman, who painted the portrait used in Portrait of Jennie] “On my first try at a faithful imitation of Mr. Brackman, the technical director was on his feet, crying, No, no, no, please, please — no artist was ever guilty of such overacting. I said, The man who painted this picture did exactly that. I looked to [William] Dieterle, who said, Joseph, I must admit, it looks a little broad. Although Im sure its authentic, it is, Im afraid, another example to prove how difficult it is for art to copy nature. I demonstrated more of Mr. Brackmans idiosyncrasies, which drew tolerant smiles from Dieterle, sneers from the technical director, and a stony silence from the crew, most of them old friends.

Romancing Jennifer Jones in Portrait of Jennie (1948)

[On Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte] “I think we all wanted it to be a different picture than it was, especially Joan [Crawford]. She felt Bette [Davis] wasnt trying enough to lift the script up to their level instead of simply playing down to it. She never came right out and said it to me, but I could see it on her face. Joan wanted it to be a quality picture. I think the movie works well enough for what it is, but its no Gone With the Wind or anything resembling a true quality picture.

Sorely missed.

“In Hollywood, those stars who have been around a long while and seem to grow better with time are the ones who regard stardom merely as an opportunity to grow.

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