Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some thoughts, some news.

Larry was wondering what kind of career Jennifer Hudson will have. Well, what kind of career does any black actress have? What are the choices? It's hard to tell. But the Academy Award doesn't guarantee anything.

Looking forward to "Out One": i'm hoping it's another dose of late-60s, early-70s idealism. Just to be able to remember those days (as i did while watching the Peter Whitehead documentaries), it'll be worth it. However, i must be one of the only people i know who really disliked "Out One: Spectre", which i felt was disjointed, tedious, and flaccid. But i hope the whole thing is more engrossing.

ABC did something really cute: on Academy Award night, when Ryan Gosling was introduced, there was a little clip-show, which included a brief shot of him with Britney Spears from "The New Mickey Mouse Club". The juxtaposition was very telling.

Ryan Gosling is pretty savvy. He doesn't want attention, and he doesn't get it. He just wants to be known for his work. Though he is now engaged to Rachel McAdams, for this first time at the Oscars, he didn't take her: he took his mother and his sister. It's a conscious decision not to play into the hands of the tabloids.

He knows what happens. Britney Spears claims to want privacy, yet everything she has done has been to directly court media attention.

When Francis Ford Coppola is puffing himself up, i wonder if he remembers Elizabeth Hartman. For her, it was a real risk to agree to star in "You're a Big Boy Now", because she was under contract to Pandro Berman (the RKO producer who was responsible for much of Katharine Hepburn's career, as well as the Astaire-Rogers series and Ginger Roger's RKO solo career post-Astaire). He was furious, and Hartman wouldn't budge, and Berman cut her off. But at that point, she had been nominated for an Oscar for her first film, "A Patch of Blue", and was in the middle of the production of "The Group" (the most expensive movie yet produced in NYC, and one of the most publicized movies of the year). "The Group", though Hartman wasn't the "star" of the film, was a calculated move on Berman's part, to piggyback on the publicity while he was preparing another "vehicle" for her. But she insisted on doing "You're a Big Boy Now"....

Getting a star to commit to his project helped Coppola to secure financing, and he was then able to attract other talent (Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Julie Harris, et al) but it was Hartman who was the first. And she was willing to jeopardize her own career for him.

For a while, on his website (Zoetrope), there was a little tribute to her, but i think he removed it. That's sad.

But this whole idea of having someone in your corner.... in some perverse way, English cinema conforms the "auteur" theory, because if you didn't have a director in your corner, you had no movie career. And it has nothing to do with talent or beauty or whatever. Vanessa Redgrave had Karel Reisz ("Morgan" and "Isadora"), Julie Christie had John Schlesinger ("Billy Liar", "Darling", "Far from the Madding Crowd"), Glenda Jackson had Peter Brooks ("Marat/Sade) and Ken Russell ("Women in Love", "The Music Lovers", "The Boy Friend"). But Diana Rigg had done "The Avengers" and so was a TV star (and in the 1960s, the stigma of being a TV star was still very prevalent), Judi Dench was also doing a lot of TV.

In Gavin Lambert's book "Mainly About Lindsay Anderson", Lambert makes the point that in the late 1950s, the actors that were coming up (and that were being used in plays and films by Anderson and his compatriots, cf. Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, etc.) were from the north country, i.e., "working class". Which was very different from the actors of previous generations. And this also changes the ideals, what actors are supposed to do, what actors are supposed to be.

Online, on one of those message boards, someone asked a ridiculous question: was Marlon Brando really like his character Terry in "On the Waterfront"? Duh... NO! Marlon Brando was not from a working class background. The only reason he wasn't college educatred was because he was a terrible student and dropped out, so he went to live with his sisters in NYC (one was an artist, the other, Jocelyn, was an actress). Through Jocelyn, he pursued acting, and the rest is history. But where do people get the idea that Brando was from a working class background? Are they nuts?


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