Golden Age of Hollywood Book Club discussion

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Hob Nob > you bad girl!

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message 1: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Crime and noir!

Memorable 'bad girl' characters and the performers who made them great?

Which ones did you feel deserve to get whacked in the end-- and which ones did you feel deserved sympathy?


message 2: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments Although they often played bad girl roles, Audrey Totter and Marie Windsor had a way of portraying their characters in a way that I feel sympathy for them or at least appreciate their predicament. Lizbeth Scott usually deserves more punishment than she receives!


message 3: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Good! How about ...Ella Raines?


message 4: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments Ella's face looks familiar, but I can't recall the movies I've seen her in.


message 5: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 874 comments Recently saw The Women. Joan Crawford is at her nastiest!


message 6: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 874 comments Also, Bette Davis in The Letter


message 7: by Betsy (last edited Dec 20, 2019 09:47AM) (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments Sometimes the 'bad girl' part was a ticket to better things. Then there were those females who specialized in 'shifty'.

It's interesting that many of the male 'stars' were seen as heroes or villains, leaving much of the in-between to character actors while women were not so strictly defined.


message 8: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Marie Windsor...queen of noir


message 9: by Jill (last edited Dec 20, 2019 09:06AM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments I couldn't agree more, Feliks. With those big eyes and sneering smile, she commanded the screen, And one of the baddest girls I ever saw never really made a very big splash except in poverty row pictures....Ann Savage. She was chilling in the classic Detour. My cousin, who works for the AFI in Los Angeles met her several years ago at a showing of that film......he said she was just lovely and was overwhelmed and humbled at the reaction of the audience


message 10: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
It takes unusual individuals to become actors and actresses. Ideally, we look to them not merely for their attractiveness, but for insights about our own selves.


message 11: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments Altho' she normally played a sympathetic character, Gene Tierney was pure evil in Leave Her To Heaven. She should have done more parts like that since she was very believable.


message 12: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Saw it on a big screen. Revelatory to me; I had her pigeonholed as damsel-in-distress.

My fave troublesome female (or at least one which wowed me)? Yvonne de Carlo in 'Criss Cross'


message 13: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments Good choice, Feliks. She was a bit of a b**ch in that film. I was never particularly crazy about her but she had a few good parts through the years.


message 14: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Thanks. Yea, the way she drew Burt into a scheme which he didn't want any part of ...all the worse since, when they re-encounter each other in the first place (film's beginning, chance meeting) he really doesn't even want any part of her either. He was through with her, was trying to move on. But she wrecked his resolve, and it wasn't sincerely or honestly motivated at all. Just a bad girl all around.

I've known young ladies like that. Struck a chord with me.


message 15: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments Ida Lupino! She was a talented actress but not really quite pretty enough to be a "sexy lady" ......but she could play a bad girl with the best of them. She had a great sneer when it was called for.


message 16: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments I agree wth you about Ida Lupino. She had an edge to her--looks and acting-wise. She had had polio and overcame that. She was a talented woman, and was also known for her directing.


message 17: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Feb 05, 2020 11:04AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Indeed. Tops in 'High Sierra'. Even when she had matured she still had wallop, grit, and verve. Mesmerizing as St McQueen's chain-smoking mom in 'Junior Bonner'. To me, anyway.

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message 18: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments One actress that I always think of as a 'bad girl' is Patricia Barry. She always had this insidious habit of twisting men around her finger. I've seen her and her red hair mostly on tv, but she did do movies such as 'Dear Heart' and 'The Wreck of rthe Hesperus' as well.


message 19: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments I've thought about this for awhile, and just thought I'd make an observation. We have a 'bad girl' thread, which can include some fairly major stars, but we don't have a 'bad boy' thread. Is that because we don't like to see our male stars as 'bad', except occasionally in a role so we leave that to the character actors? Just asking.


message 20: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
It might be because we already 'know' plenty of 'em are bad in real life? It's not shocking to see Mitchum play a tough; you know he already is tough from knowing his life story.


message 21: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments I suppose it's possible, but I think many women prefer to see male stars as heroes, and many men like the John Wayne type, at least in the time period we're talking about.

The anti-hero took awhile to come in.


message 22: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 874 comments Well, Dean, Brando, and Newman. Or even Malcolm McLaren. A bad boy thread could be good.


message 23: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments Have neverr been much of a Dean, Brando or Nicholson fan, but I liked Paul Newman, who did have a 'dangerous' air about him. You could never tell what he was going to do.


message 24: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
And not even that tall of an actor.


message 25: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments If height was a requirement, just think of all the retired basketball players who could be on the silver screen. :)


message 26: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments I read somewhere that the actors/actresses who were considered stars, were short and had large heads!!! Norma Shearer is a perfect example.


message 27: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 874 comments I guess Curtis and Lancaster probably fit in there, too. I am a huge fan of Sweet Smell of Success.


message 28: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
William Goldman famously observed that all the big stars he ever met were relatively short of stature. He worked with McQueen, Redford, Hoffman, everyone


message 29: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments Even though we don't think of her as a bad "girl" since she always looked mature, I think we can add Dame Judith Anderson to this list. Although she played in Shakespeare and was a classical actress,when she was in film, she always seemed to get stuck as a nasty person. But she was a terrific actress


message 30: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments She certainly was. She could be malevolence personified.


message 31: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments Barbara Stanwyck was a nasty bad girl in a few of her films too.....The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and most notably Double Indemnity. She could play anything from comedy to high drama but could really sink her teeth into those nasty girl roles. She oozed badness.


message 32: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Yea...for my money though, my especial favorites are the actresses who typically play goody-two-shoes suddenly 'plunging into' a bad-girl role and clobbering it. Doris Day should have tried it, just to see what happens.

Actually I like that anytime it comes about, whether male or female. Such as with Fred MacMurray ('The Apartment', 'The Caine Mutiny')

But with regard to Babs Stanwyck, something about her didn't seem as if she would ever balk at the seamy underside of life. She looked like she could weather it all with equanimity.


message 33: by Betsy (last edited Jun 05, 2020 08:42AM) (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments After seeing Lizabeth Scott in 'Too Late for Tears', I'd say she qualifies as a 'bad girl.' I must admit that I don't think she's all that attractive, but somebody must have thought so considering the 'femme fatale' parts she played.


message 34: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments I don't care for Scott either but I would agree that she made a perfect "bad girl". She was not much of an actress and her looks were a matter of taste, I guess but I didn't think she was very attractive.


message 35: by Betsy (last edited Jun 05, 2020 09:47AM) (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments She looks like she could rip your heart out without blinking an eyelash.

BTW, I just found out that Dan Duryea, who she bumped off in 'Tears', graduated from the same high school as a friend of mine (different year.) Small world.


message 36: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments I have read that Duryea was a gentle, nice, man of faith. But he surely was the epitome of the nasty character. I can't think of any film where he was not either a stinker or a weakling except for The Flight of the Phoenix.


message 37: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
He was relatively innocuous as the smart-aleck sports reporter who jeered at Gary Cooper's Lou Gehrig and wagered with Walter Brennan as they watched him hit


message 38: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments But still kind of a stinker. I wonder how they picked him for The Flight....... It was an odd bit of casting but worked beautifully and he was very believable.


message 39: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
quite a few 'film noirs' and thrillers might have been even better than they were if the femme fatales had been genuinely bad.

Wanda Hendrix in, 'Ride the Pink Horse'

Joan Bennett in, 'Man Hunt'

Janet Leigh in, 'Manchurian Candidate'

These flicks could have been more 'edge of the seat' if these 'savior' women had an element of 'doubt' involved.


message 40: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments Angela Lansbury was evil enough for 3 women. What a performance!


message 41: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
There's a rumor though, that supposedly Janet Leigh's character was also supposed to be a minion of the Koreans and so when she meets Ben on the train she is only 'pretending' to exhibit attraction in order to get under his defenses and thwart him from tracking down Raymond. It would have been a nifty story wrinkle, I think.


message 42: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2301 comments You could be right. I must admit I wasn't paying as much attention to their relationship.


message 43: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments Angela Lansbury was magnificent in The Manchurian Candidate. A truly top drawer performance.


message 44: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I agree but I don't believe she just pulled such 'bravura' out of her bouffant hairdo. She was a veteran, professional actress with years of experience on stage and on screen. How old was she, playing a maid in 1943's 'Gaslight'? Nineteen? This is what I salute, that tradition of hard-working actors and actresses honing their skill in every area of performing arts. Ferociously ambitious talent. Not coasting or gliding ever. This, as opposed to today's feeble 'celebs'.


message 45: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments Exactly, Feliks. She was delightful as the snippy little tart maid in Gaslight but could pull out all the stops for a serious part. It is too bad that most people remember her from the tv show "Murder She Wrote". That certainly didn't show what a great actress she really was.

As far as the "stars" of today, I don't even know who half of them are. And those greats of the present aren't sticking around for various reasons: Daniel Day-Lewis who I think is masterful has given up acting; I can't seem to find Helena Bonham Carter; Kevin Spacey got himself in trouble, etc.


message 46: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Thanks. Yea it's a different work-ethic in modern film and television (just my private opinion anyway). I think that if any of us had opportunity to meet Lansbury in the 50s or 60s --or say, Peter O'toole, --anyone like that --we would have been confronted with a kind of fully-fledged, astute, human dynamo who were on point in every way. Consummate actors and actresses who acted because they were 'on fire' to do so. No props, no crutches. 'Go-getters'. There was a keenness to anyone who was at the top of the industry then, or anyone who was striving to attain the top. The era prior to TV.

Think of someone like Albert Finney, who appeared each night in a West End stage play ...then slept on the train-boat while make-up men prepared him for his daily assignment with Lumet, on 'Orient Express'.


message 47: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 874 comments I love Angela in Bedknobs and Broomsticks


message 48: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Jeanne Crain!



message 49: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2544 comments What a great picture. Do you consider her a "bad girl"?


message 50: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I confess I wish I had more experience with Jeanne Crain. I can't say one way or t'other. I know nought about her character or her personal life. But she strikes me as a consummate professional, an ambitious actress hungry to prove her mettle and get to the big tier rubbing shoulders with someone like Ginger Rogers. Maybe the studio era ended before she had a fair opportunity? The faintest praise I might give her would be to liken her to Jean Peters --who as we know, could play both sides of the fence --but as I say, I just haven't seen Crain run over a decent length of track to place a confident bet on her.


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