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Loretta or Cary: Who Is more Beautiful?

27 Nov

This blog post will help you enjoy the December 9, 2010 “Meet Me at the Movies” screening of The Bishop’s Wife (1946). The film starred two of the most famous faces in Hollywood: Loretta Young and Cary Grant. Apart from their acting abilities, Young and Grant were glamorous movie stars who crafted and protected their images on film as well as in their private lives.

The Faces of Beauty

Loretta Young was a photographer's dream.

Both Loretta Young and Cary Grant were known as much for their classic movie star looks as their acting abilities. Young, a star since the days of silent films, is considered one of the screen’s great beauties. Her big expressive eyes and lovely cheekbones made her a photographer’s dream. Grant’s was the face that the top female stars of the 1930s wanted next to theirs on the big screen.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

When Young and Grant costarred together in The Bishop’s Wife (1947), audiences were faced with two of the most beautiful and most photographed faces in the movies. With those two great faces on the screen side by side, the question comes up; who is the most beautiful of all?

Dressed to Impress

In the film, Grant plays a very dashing angel named Dudley. Dressed by five-time Oscar-winner Irene Sharaff, Grant looked as if he just walked off the set of Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946). He’s as dapper as, well, Cary Grant. Young on the other hand, plays Julia Brougham, the wife of a Bishop (David Niven). Throughout the movie, Young is dressed modestly, but beautifully. Likewise, her hairstyle is pulled back, simply styled, but framing that beautiful, luminous face.

Famous portrait of Young and frequent costar Tyrone Power

Vanity, Vanity

Like the public that adored them, Young and Grant were aware of their respective good looks and did all they could to present themselves on screen in the best way possible. The story goes that when director Henry Koster blocked out a two-shot between Young and Grant, both protested that the blocking did not exploit the best sides of their faces. To appease the two stars, Koster had them look out a window in the same direction. This shot satisfied Young and Grant because their best sides (the left sides of their faces) were photographed.


An early publicity shot of Cary Grant

I’m not Paying for Half a Face!

When producer Samuel Goldwyn saw the dailies (film shot that day), he was critical of Koster’s decision to shoot the scene in such a manner. When Koster asked Young and Grant to explain why the shot was set up and filmed that way, Goldywn let go with one of his famous “Goldwynisms.” He said to both stars “Look, if I’m only getting half a face, you’re only getting half a salary!” Young and Grant, both being freelance movie stars and not contracted to a major movie studio were also conscious of workplace politics.

After that confrontation with the boss, the subject of what sides of their faces looked better on film never came up again.

To learn more about classic movies, visit the Classic Movie Man blog.


The story behind “The Bishop’s Wife”

22 Nov

This blog post will help you enjoy the December 9, 2010 “Meet Me at the Movies” screening of The Bishop’s Wife (1946). The film was a critical and financial success when it was first released, but it was originally imagined with a different cast and director. In spite of its troubled beginning it has endured as one of the favorite Christmas movies of all time.

Loretta Young taking a break from filming

How The Bishop’sWife (1946) came to the big screen is almost as interesting as the movie itself. Based on a novel by Robert Nathan, the film was nominated for Best Picture in 1947. The story about a young bishop and his crisis of faith, while trying to build a new cathedral during the Christmas season, struck a chord with the American film-going public. Today it has become a perennial Christmas classic along with Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and It’s a Wonderful Life. But the original cast and director for The Bishop’s Wife went through a few changes before the final film was released.

Cary Grant (foreground), Young and Niven (background)

Producer Samuel Goldwyn originally slated Dana Andrews and Teresa Wright, fresh from their success in Goldwyn’s The Best Years of Our Lives, for the roles of the bishop and his wife respectively, with David Niven cast as Dudley the angel.

Unfortunately, for the production, Wright became pregnant and had to drop out. Andrews, according to Robert Osborne from Turner Classic Movies, stayed on board to get Loretta Young’s services. Andrews eventually dropped out and Cary Grant was set to play the bishop, but he really wanted to play the angel. Grant was a big enough star that he could pretty much get what he wanted; Grant became Dudley the angel and Niven was recast as the bishop, much to Niven’s dismay. Goldwyn was not happy with original director William A. Seiter so he replaced him with Henry Koster.

When the movie was released, the casting seemed perfect to audiences and critics alike. The Bishop’s Wife was a huge box-office hit and was nominated for five Academy Awards: direction, editing, music, sound recording, and the aforementioned best picture of the year. It won the award for sound recording.

After more than fifty years, The Bishop’s Wife with it’s message of love, faithfulness, and faith remains as fresh and inspirational as when it was first released.

To learn more about classic movies, visit the Classic Movie Man blog.

The Remarkable Andrews

6 Nov

This short biography of actor Dana Andrews will help you enjoy the November 19, 2010 “Meet Me at the Movies” screening of Laura (1944). Andrews’s role as detective Mark McPherson was the prototype for the 1940s fedora-wearing hard-boiled detective. Director Martin Scorsese screened Laura for Leonard DiCaprio and the cast of Shutter Island to help them understand the look and feel he was after.

Dana Andrews looks at Gene Tierney's portrait in "Laura"

Dana Andrews arrived in Hollywood at the height of its golden age. One of the best and most dependable leading men during the 1940s, he created several iconic roles that are still with us today.

Andrews was born Carver Dana Andrews in Mississippi, the third of thirteen children born to Charles Forrest Andrews and his wife Annis. The family eventually moved to Huntsville, Texas, where his younger siblings (including actor Steve Forrest) were born.

After moving to California as an adult and after a few odd jobs, Andrews studied opera, planning to become a singer. He also began studying acting and performing at the famed Pasadena Playhouse where he was one of its most popular performers. Andrews signed a contract with producer Samuel Goldwyn and appeared in his first movie role in The Westerner (1940) starring Gary Cooper. The film was directed by the legendary William Wyler, who would later cast Andrews in one of his most famous roles as returning World War II veteran, Fred Derry, in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).

Early in his movie career, Andrews was cast in a variety of roles, most of which he pulled off quite well, including that of Barbara Stanwyck’s gangster boyfriend, Joe Lilac, in the Howard Hawks classic Ball of Fire (1941). More important roles came his way throughout the early forties and by 1944, Andrews was receiving star billing, working alongside major stars like Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda.

In 1944, Andrews became a major star in his own right as detective Mark McPherson in Otto Preminger’s Laura. The film cast him opposite Gene Tierney as the mysterious Laura Hunt. The role made Andrews a hot property, and Tierney a film icon. Andrews’s work in Laura began an interesting, if not always successful, collaboration with director Otto Preminger. After Laura, Andrews would be directed by Preminger in Fallen Angel (1945), Daisy Kenyon (1947), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), and In Harm’s Way (1965).

By the late 1940s, Andrews was a top leading man.

In the mid- to late 1940s, Andrews costarred with some of Hollywood’s great beauties including Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain, Merle Oberon, Maureen O’Hara, Joan Crawford, Lili Palmer, Susan Hayward, as well as the aforementioned Tierney. Andrews and Tierney starred opposite each other in five films, with Where the Sidewalk Ends being their last. In addition to some of his legendary leading ladies, Andrews worked with directors like John Ford, Elia Kazan, Lewis Milestone, Fritz Lang, Jacques Tourneur, Mark Robson, William Dieterle, and Tony Richardson.

Andrews worked with top directors, including Elia Kazan.

At the beginning of his film career, Andrews was often compared to Spencer Tracy. Both actors had a naturalistic, honest style of acting that, in the case of Andrews, was often overlooked, especially by modern critics and film fans. This lack of appreciation is revealed in the fact that Andrews was never once nominated for an Academy Award. It is hard to believe that his peers overlooked his roles in Laura and The Best Years of Our Lives come Oscar time.

In spite of the lack of acting awards, Andrews left us with a body of film work that most actors dream of having. Anyone who could read the line “for a charming intelligent girl, you’ve certainly surrounded yourself with a remarkable collection of dopes” from Laura and make it sound like real speech, deserved at least a nomination in our books.

To learn more about classic movies, visit the Classic Movie Man blog.


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