Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012)

Showing his range in Marty (1955).

“The trick is not to become somebody else. You become somebody else when youre in front of the camera or when youre on stage. There are some people who carry it all the time. That, to me, is not acting. What youve gotta do is find out what the writer wrote about and put it into your mind. This is acting. Not going out and researching what the writer has already written. This is crazy!

Playing with knives in From Here to Eternity (1953). 

“The greatest compliment I ever had in my life was one day, I was talking to Montgomery Clift. We were sitting all by ourselves in an empty studio, and we saw a door open. And a man and a woman walked in. We paid no attention. We went right on talking. And suddenly I was engulfed in these huge arms. And the voice said, Youre the son of a bitch I wrote about when I wrote that book. [From Here to Eternity] And it was James Jones himself. And he said to me, Keep at it, kid. I love what youre doing. ” (interview with Dan Lybarger)

Playing with pitchforks in Violent Saturday (1955).

“Spencer Tracy was the first actor Ive seen who could just look down into the dirt and command a scene. He played a setup with Robert Ryan that way. Hes looking down at the road, and then he looks at Ryan at just the precise, right minute. I tell you, Rob couldve stood on his head and zipped open his fly and the scene wouldve still been Mr. Tracys.

Showing one of his badass faces.

“I hate hippies and dopeheads. Just hate them. Im glad we sent them off to war. They came back with a sense of responsibility and respect. We should have grabbed the women, given them a bath, put a chastity belt on them, and put them in secretary school.

Giving Lee Marvin the business in Emperor of the North (1973).

“Where can we find the great actors we had yesteryear, guys like Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper and Edward G. Robinson? You know, I was talking to Lee Marvin the other day and we agreed that we were the last of a breed. Were the last who had the opportunity of working with these fine actors. I feel very humble. It makes me feel that Ive got to try that bit harder.

Keeping cool on the set of The Wild Bunch (1969).

“Everything I do has a moral to it. Yes, Ive been in films that have had shootings. I made The Wild Bunch, which was the beginning of the splattering of blood and everything else. But there was a moral behind it.

My favorite Ernest Borgnine films: The Mob (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953), Vera Cruz (1954), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Violent Saturday (1955), The Vikings (1958), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Ice Station Zebra (1868), The Wild Bunch (1969), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Emperor of the North (1973)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974)

The actress whom Orson Welles said could play anything.

“Acting is a difficult and sometimes a discouraging, sorrowful profession. Its also the most ephemeral of the arts. A painter can preserve his work, but an actor cannot. Even motion pictures come and go.” (interview with Ronald L. Bowers)

Magnificent with Joseph Cotten in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

“Of course I wanted to play the Stanwyck part in Sorry, Wrong Number. It had been written for me by Lucille Fletcher, and I must have done it on radio about 18 times. I went to Hal Wallis at Paramount when they were casting it to put my hat in the ring, but he said he owed Barbara a picture and that I could have a supporting role. I said no. Im not bitter about it, I let the chips fall where they may and go on from there.... They played my recording constantly on the set.” (interview with Ronald L. Bowers)

Cousin Lily in Summer Holiday (1948).

[On Method acting] “The Method school thinks the emotion is the art. It isnt. All emotion isnt sublime. The theater isnt reality. If you want reality, go the morgue. The theater is human behavior that is effective and interesting.

Soon to receive comeuppance from Humphrey Bogart in Dark Passage (1947).

“Materialism has brought about confusion and decadence. The youth of today have their eyes open to what harm has been done by measuring a man by the size of his bank account, and I feel sorry that so few of them know where to turn because they have lost respect for those closest to them.

The malevolent Countess Fosco in The Woman in White (1948).

[On transitioning from radio to television] “I never thought anything about it. There are lots of times that you cant make the change from the stage to the pictures, or from the pictures to the stage.... The only thing that I feel is the difference is the fact of the medium being either small or large. But as far as emotional values are concerned, theres no difference at all. The playing isnt different.” (1971 radio interview with Chuck Schaden)

 Dispensing tough love to Eleanor Parker in Caged (1950).

[On her most challenging role] “Theyre all challenging. I dont know a role that isnt challenging.... If it isnt a challenge, why do it?” (1971 radio interview with Chuck Schaden)

Sam and Endora bewitch a TV generation.

“Ive been in movies and played theater from coast to coast, so I was quite well known before Bewitched, and I dont particularly want to be identified as a witch.” (1974 New York Times interview)

My favorite Agnes Moorehead films: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Journey into Fear (1943), Dark Passage (1947), Caged (1950), Magnificent Obsession (1954), Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)