09 October 2009

A Classic Cinema Survey

I found a nifty little survey on classic cinema over at the blog A Noodle in a Haystack, and thought I'd give it a stab.

1. What is your all-time favorite Clark Gable movie?

Probably Wife vs. Secretary (1936). Yes, It Happened One Night (1934) was good, but everybody likes that one, so I have to go with a more unorthodox option. Idiot's Delight (1939) also deserves a nod.

2. Do you like Joan Crawford best as a comedienne or a drama-queen?


...But to be less coy about it, I have to say that I like Joan a bit more as a comedienne than as a drama queen. Especially early on in her career, she seems much more natural in a comedic mode than in a dramatic one.

3. In your opinion, should Ginger Rogers have made more musicals post-Fred Astaire?

I don't think so. The musicals Ginger made with Fred would have been too tough an act to follow. And any leading man would almost inevitably have been unfavorably compared to the fleet-footed Mr. Astaire, anyway.

4. I promise not to cause you bodily (or any other serious) harm if you don't agree with me on this one. So please be honest: do you like Elizabeth Taylor? Hm?

I haven't seen enough of her pictures to formulate a reasoned opinion, to be honest.

5. Who is your favorite off-screen Hollywood couple?

Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst. Sure, the whole arrangement was a little creepy, but their relationship outlasted the average Hollywood marriage by decades. An honorable mention goes to Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg.

6. How about onscreen Hollywood couple?

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. It's a downright shame that they made only three movies together. A close second would be Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler, with William Haines and Joan Crawford taking third place.

7. Favorite Jean Arthur movie?

Any of the movies she made under the direction of Frank Capra, although You Can't Take it With You (1938) would probably my favorite of that lot. Also deserving of mention are Too Many Husbands (1940) and The Talk of the Town (1942).

8. What was the first Gregory Peck movie you saw?

The Guns of Navarone (1961).

9. What film made you fall in love with Alfred Hitchcock? (And for those of you that say, "I don't like Hitchcock" -- what is wrong with you?!)

Probably Rear Window (1954). By the by, I think "love" might be putting it a bit strongly, but whatever.

10. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption?

Pick any of the movies Stanley Kubrick made between 1971 and 1987. The three Hannibal Lecter pictures were also quite good (Anthony Hopkins wasn't in that fourth one, so it doesn't count). In truth, most great movies begin as great books, so it's virtually impossible for me to narrow it down to just one.

11. Do you prefer Shirley Temple as a little girl or as a teenager?


12. Favorite character actor?

Probably Eddie Cantor--the nervous, little Jewish song-and-dance man.

13. Favorite Barbara Stanwyck role?

This one's a toss-up between Florence Fallon from The Miracle Woman (1931) and Phyllis Dietrichson from Double Indemnity (1944). Lily Powers from Baby Face (1933) isn't far behind.

14. Who is your favorite of Cary Grant's leading ladies?

Aside from Irene Dunne? Probably Katherine Hepburn for The Philadelphia Story (1940). Myrna Loy would be a close second for Mister Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948).

15. Bette Davis or Joan Crawford?

Do you really even need to ask?

16. What actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated?

I don't think Fay Wray really gets her due. When she wasn't being manhandled by a giant monkey or otherwise being compelled to shriek at the top of her lungs, she was actually a decent actress.

17. What actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated?

Although her style works well in silent pictures, I find Greta Garbo's swooning somewhat grating in talking pictures. Personally, I think Garbo owes her success more to onscreen presence than to acting ability.

Also, fuck John Wayne.

18. Do you watch movies made pre-1980 exclusively, or do you spice up your viewing-fare with newer films?

This one's a little difficult to answer. Generally speaking, I like classic films and modern films based on decidedly different criteria. I'm also more critical of modern films. Take from that what you will, I suppose.

19. Is there an actor/actress who you have seen in a film and immediately loved? If so, who?

Leslie Howard for his indomitable Britsh flippancy and wit, and Jeanette MacDonald for that voice.

20. Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire?

Fred, without a doubt.

21. Favorite Ginger Rogers drama?

Truth be told, I've never seen her in any dramas, so I really can't say.

22. If you wrote a screenplay, who would be in your dream cast and what roles would they play? (Mixing actors and actresses from different generations is allowed: any person from any point in their career.)

A biopic of Lyudmilla Pavlichenko, starring Dorothy Sebastian. Other significant players include Joan Crawford as a field medic, Evelyn Brent as a Commissar and Lionel Barrymore as Josef Stalin.

...Fuck off, this is the best movie ever.

23. Favorite actress?

It's a dead heat between Joan Crawford and Dorothy Sebastian.

25. Favorite actor?

Fredric March, without a doubt.

26. And now, the last question. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:

Drama: That's a fairly broad category, but Amadeus (1984) comes to mind.

Romance: Until somebody makes a good film version of La Vita Nuova (which will probably never happen), this one's going to stay blank.

Musical: 42nd Street (1933).

Comedy: Like drama, this a broad category and extremely hard to pick. Duck Soup (1933) might be the one, though.

Western: The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957), if only because it's so damned hokey.

Hitchcock (he has a genre all to himself): The Birds (1963). I always root for the birds in this movie.

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