Thursday, May 31, 2012

William Holden (1918-1981)

Unforced masculinity from a bygone era.

“Im a whore. All actors are whores. We sell our bodies to the highest bidder.

Selling out to Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard (1950).

“For me, acting is not an all-consuming thing, except for the moment when Im actually doing it. There is a point beyond acting, a point where living becomes important. When youre making a movie, you get up in the morning and you put on a cloak; you create emotions within yourself, send gastric juices rushing up against the lining of your stomach. It has to be manufactured.

Acting out a midlife crisis in The Wild Bunch (1969).

“I found the jungle a beautiful and fascinating place to be. I like to come here because I want to stay away from the jungle as much as I can.

Low-key heroism in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).

“I like to get into a situation that is real, where I can say, Heres a chance to react as a human being, not some wound-up doll or robot that goes round and round a track, or a cardboard cutout like the character I played in The Towering Inferno.

Faye Dunaways reality check in Network (1976).

 “Aging is an inevitable process. I surely wouldnt want to grow younger. The older you become, the more you know; your bank account of knowledge is much richer.”

Don Draper, eat your heart out.

“Movie acting may not have a certain kind of glory as true art, but it is damn hard work.”

My favorite Holden films: Sunset Boulevard (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), Executive Suite (1954), The Wild Bunch (1969), Network (1976)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990)

Homina homina homina.

“During Double Indemnity, Fred MacMurray would go to rushes. I remember asking Fred, How was I? [He said], I dont know about you, but I was wonderful. Such a true remark. Actors only look at themselves.”

Leading Fred MacMurray straight to hell in Double Indemnity (1944).

“Im a tough old broad from Brooklyn. I intend to go on acting until Im ninety, and they wont need to paste my face with makeup.”

Playing Henry Fonda for a sap in The Lady Eve (1941).

“Put me in the last fifteen minutes of a picture and I dont care what happened before. I dont even care if I was in the rest of the damned thing. Ill take it in those fifteen minutes.
Teaching Gary Cooper some bad habits in Ball of Fire (1941).

“Career is too pompous a word. It was a job and I have always felt priveleged to be paid for doing what I love doing.”

My favorite Stanwyck films: The Lady Eve (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), The File on Thelma Jordon (1950), Titanic (1953), Crime of Passion (1957)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

 Fred MacMurray (1908-1991)

Americas favorite dad.

 “The two films I did with Billy Wilder — Double Indemnity (1944) and The Apartment (1960) — are the only two parts I did in my entire career that required any acting.”

As an insurance salesman gone bad in Double Indemnity (1944).

“I once asked Barbara Stanwyck the secret of acting. She said, Just be truthful, and if you can fake that youve got it made.’    

As a cop gone bad in Pushover (1954).
“I was lucky enough to make four pictures with Barbara. In the first I turned her in, in the second I killed her, in the third I left her for another woman, and in the fourth I pushed her over a waterfall. The one thing all these pictures had in common was that I fell in love with Barbara Stanwyck — and I did, too.”

My favorite MacMurray films: Double Indemnity (1944), Borderline (1950), Pushover (1954), Gun for a Coward (1957), Good Day for a Hanging (1959), The Apartment (1960)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lee Van Cleef (1925-1989)

Handsome devil.

“Being born with a pair of beady eyes was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

With Jean Wallace and Earl Holliman in The Big Combo (1955).
“I didn’t speak a word in High Noon. In 1951, Stanley and Earl Kramer saw me in a play, Mr. Roberts, and offered me the role eventually played by Lloyd Bridges in the film, providing I would have my nose fixed. I refused and wound up as one of the four villains.”

Still standing in For a Few Dollars More (1965).
“I believe in showing real violence, not toy violence. Real violence turns you off because you know it’s not the thing to do. If you show violence realistic enough, people don’t want to do it.” (1970 interview)

Taking aim in The Big Gundown (1966).
“Bad guys have always been my bag . . . I look mean without even trying. Audiences just naturally hate me on screen. I could play a role in a tuxedo and people would think I was rotten. You can do much more with a villain part. Movies are full of leading men, most of whom aren’t working. It’s much harder to find a good villain.”

Indelible poster art.
“Once I learned what I was doin’, which only took a picture or two, I tried to find some extra dimension to every character, a sympathetic area. Now, right or wrong, I’ve done that all these years. It gives you another thing to do. Sometimes you don’t find ’em. But if you can, and use them, it helps; like patting a child on the head instead of kickin’ him in the ass.” (1979 interview with William Horner)

My favorite Lee Van Cleef films: The Big Combo (1955), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Big Gundown (1966), Death Rides a Horse (1967), Day of Anger (1967)

Claudette Colbert (1905-1996)

Looking sultry in Cleopatra (1934).

“Ive always believed that acting is instinct to start with. You either have it or you dont.

Vamping it up in The Sign of the Cross (1932).

“I will be eternally grateful to Mr. DeMille for The Sign of the Cross (1932). That changed everything. It proved I could play another kind of character.” (1935 New York Sun interview)
Simply stunning.

It Happened One Night (1934) was really a fluke. Clark Gable was being punished by MGM, so they sent him to Columbia to make this film. All I wanted to do was get within two feet of Clark Gable. I never really read the script very much. But the movie started a whole new wave of comedies. Movies had about everything at that time, but what they didnt have was normal-looking people who were funny.” (1974 Washington Post interview)

My favorite Colbert films: It Happened One Night (1934), Midnight (1939), The Palm Beach Story (1942)