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Ann Blyth & Lizabeth Scott Today + Doris Day Honors James Cagney

Ann BlythAnn Blyth.

Ann Blyth, who received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the film noir Mildred Pierce (1945), is pictured above during a discussion following a screening of the Joan Crawford classic at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday, June 14, 2010. Mildred Pierce was shown as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Oscar Noir” series.

In the movie, Blyth plays Mildred Pierce's conniving, selfish daughter. Crawford plays Mildred.

A Universal contract player in the 1940s and an MGM contractee in the '50s, Blyth appeared in about three dozen movies from 1944 to 1957. In addition to Mildred Pierce, Blyth's other important movies include A Woman's Vengeance (1947), Brute Force (1947), Another Part of the Forest (1948), The Great Caruso (1951), All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953), The Student Prince (1954), and The Helen Morgan Story (1957).

Blyth will turn 82 on August 26.

Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce

Ann Blyth is pictured in the photo above with Academy director of special projects Randy Haberkamp during a chat following a screening of Michael Curtiz's film noir classic Mildred Pierce. Starring Blyth, Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, and Bruce Bennett, Mildred Pierce was shown as the part of the “Oscar Noir” series at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday, June 14, 2010.

Blyth starred or was featured in about three dozen movies from 1944 to 1957. She was cast opposite numerous major Hollywood stars, among them Charles Boyer in A Woman's Vengeance (1947), Burt Lancaster in Brute Force (1947), Fredric March in Another Part of the Forest (1948), William Powell in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948), Claudette Colbert in Thunder on the Hill (1950), Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso (1951), Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger in All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953), and Paul Newman in The Helen Morgan Story (1957).

In various interviews, Blyth, who plays Mildred Pierce's conniving, selfish daughter, has always had good things to say about her on-screen mother, Joan Crawford.

Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Callie Khouri, Mildred Pierce screening

Screenwriter Callie Khouri, who won an Oscar for the Ridley Scott-directed road movie Thelma & Louise, featuring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, and Brad Pitt, is shown in the photo above before a screening of Michael Curtiz's classic film noir Mildred Pierce.

Starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth (who was present at the screening), Zachary Scott, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, and Bruce Bennett, Mildred Pierce was shown as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Oscar Noir” series at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday, June 14.

Mildred Pierce earned Joan Crawford her only Best Actress Oscar.

Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Lizabeth Scott photo

Lizabeth Scott poses for the camera in front of various photographs of her 1946 vehicle The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, in which she co-starred with Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, and Kirk Douglas.

Directed by Lewis Milestone (Best Director Oscar winner for All Quiet on the Western Front), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers was screened as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Oscar Noir” series at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday, June 28, 2010.

Scott, born Emma Matzo (Sept. 29, 1922, in Scranton, Penn.) to Slovakian parents, began her film career as a Paramount contract player in 1945. Her film debut – in a leading role – was in John Farrow's romantic melodrama You Came Along, in which she was Robert Cummings' love interest, a super-sultry gal named Ivy Hotchkiss.

Among Scott's other vehicles – usually film noirs and/or heavy melodramas in which she played smoldering, husky-voiced heroines that would put both Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake to shame – are Desert Fury (1947), with Burt Lancaster; Pitfall (1948), with Dick Powell; Paid in Full (1950), with Robert Cummings; Dark City (1950) and Bad for Each Other (1953), with Charlton Heston; and The Racket (1951), with Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan.

Lizabeth Scott also played opposite Elvis Presley, in the 1957 melo Loving You.

Her last film appearance was in Mike Hodges' crime drama Pulp (1972), which starred Michael Caine and in which she played a character named Princess Betty Cippola.

Lizabeth Scott photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Lizabeth Scott, Robin Swicord, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Robin Swicord, Lizabeth Scott, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers screening

Veteran actress Lizabeth Scott and screenwriter Robin Swicord (Little Women, Memoirs of a Geisha) attended a screening of Lewis Milestone's 1946 The Strange Love of Martha Ivers in June 2010.

Scott, who'll turn 89 next September 29, was a Paramount star in the second half of the 1940s. In addition to Martha Ivers, her credits include the melodramas You Came Along (1945), Desert Fury (1947), Easy Living (1949), and Paid in Full (1950); the film noirs Dead Reckoning (1947), I Walk Alone (1948), and Dark City (1950); the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy Scared Stiff (1953); and the early Elvis Presley vehicle Loving You (1957).

In The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Scott played opposite Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, and Kirk Douglas. This mix of crime thriller and psychological melodrama was shown as part of the “Oscar Noir” series at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on June 28, 2010.

Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.

Lizabeth Scott, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Lizabeth Scott (You Came Along, Dead Reckoning, Easy Living) in front of a giant poster of Lewis Milestone's 1946 film noir/psychological melodrama The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, in which Scott, then a Paramount contract player, starred opposite Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, and Kirk Douglas.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, introduced by screenwriter Robin Swicord (Little Women, Memoirs of a Geisha), was presented as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Oscar Noir” series at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday, June 28, 2010.

Among Scott's most important vehicles are You Came Along (1945), with Robert Cummings; Desert Fury (1947), with Burt Lancaster; Pitfall (1948), with Dick Powell; and The Racket (1951), with Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan.

Off-screen, Scott created a sensation of sorts in 1955 when she sued gossip rag Confidential for claiming that the never-married actress spent her free time in the company of “Hollywood's weird society of baritone babes.”

According to Hollywood/Broadway lore, Lizabeth Scott – who had a fantastic screen presence even in subpar vehicles – was the inspiration (or at least one of them) for the character of Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Oscar-winning classic All About Eve (1950).

The Bette Davis character in that movie, Margo Channing, was purportedly inspired by Tallulah Bankhead.

Scott was Bankhead's understudy in the 1942 Broadway production of The Skin of Our Teeth.

(Another version of the All About Eve story has the Eve/Margo tale inspired by the relationship between Irene Worth and Elisabeth Bergner.)

Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Following an introduction by Frank Sinatra, Doris Day salutes James Cagney, recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award back in 1974. In her tribute, Day tells “Jimmy” that being with him again that evening was a “sentimental journey” adding that “I can't help but wish we were starting out to do Love Me or Leave Me all over again.”

In that 1955 Charles Vidor musical-melodrama-(fictionalized) biopic of torch singer Ruth Etting, Day played the long-suffering Etting while Cagney was her knock-them-down, slap-them-around gangster-husband, Martin Snyder.

“You don't play a character. You live the character,” Day tells “Jimmy.” “You breathe life into your own performance.” If that's true, I'd say that Cagney must have been a scary companion throughout most of his career.

In fact, Cagney frequently mistreated his on-screen gal pals – just ask The Public Enemy's and Lady Killer's Mae Clarke. For giving Day a solid whack in the face in Love Me or Leave Me, Cagney received his third and last Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Day, for her part, was insulted and injured on-screen and ignored by the Academy off-screen. (Well, I'm sure lots of Academy members placed her among their five top choices, but she didn't make the final cut.)

This year's AFI honoree was filmmaker Mike Nichols, among whose credits are Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Working Girl, and Charlie Wilson's War.

Florence Lawrence"Retroformat - Idols of the Silent Era” will screen several rare early silents projected in 8mm at 7:30 p.m. on Sat., June 26, at the American Cinematheque's Spielberg Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. “Retroformat” is not to be missed.

Two D.W. Griffith shorts will be featured in the program: Confidence (1909, 11 min), starring Florence Lawrence (photo) – officially the very first movie celebrity to have a “name” (more details below); and Henry B. Walthall, Blanche Sweet and Lionel Barrymore in Death's Marathon (1913, 17min).

Also, Fox Trot Finesse (1915) with Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew (cousins of the Barrymores and namesakes to Drew Barrymore) and The Making of Crooks (1915), described as a “stark drama” starring Mary Pickford's brother Jack Pickford as a juvenile delinquent.

And finally, serial queen Pearl White in Lost in the Night and The Mad Lover (1913), and matinee idol Wallace Reid and Dorothy Gish (Lillian Gish's sister) in Old Heidelberg (1916).

Now, Florence Lawrence was officially the first movie star to have her name publicized; prior to Lawrence, performers were known as “the Vitagraph [movie company] girl.”

Lawrence's moniker was “The Biograph Girl.” Independent producer Carl Laemmle snatched Lawrence from Biograph, publicized her death (thus creating a furor), then had Lawrence, no longer advertised as merely a “movie company girl,” make a personal appearance to prove to the world that she was very much alive and a Laemmle contract player. At least that's how the story goes. (King Baggot may have been the actual – and unheralded – first “named” movie celebrity.)

Lawrence was quite a box office attraction in the early days of film, but by the mid-1910s her popularity was over. A comeback attempt in the early '20s led nowhere. On Dec. 28, 1938, Lawrence killed herself by ingesting ant paste.

More information here.

Mike Nichols, Best Director Oscar winner for The Graduate (1967), became the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award honoree on Friday, June 11.

Guests at the AFI ceremony included Candice Bergen, Emma Thompson, Cher, Annette Bening, Helen Mirren, Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Taylor Hackford, Steven Spielberg, Michael Douglas, Kevin Spacey, and Warren Beatty.

Nichols received three other Academy Award nominations in the Best Director category: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which earned Elizabeth Taylor her second Best Actress Oscar; Silkwood (1983), starring Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep; and Working Girl (1988), which earned Oscar nominations for Melanie Griffith and (in the supporting category) Sigourney Weaver.

Charlie Wilson's War (2007), starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, is Nichol's latest release to date.

Previous recipients of the AFI Life Achievement Award include David Lean, Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, James Cagney, Gene Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Lemmon, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Harrison Ford.

Other Mike Nichols movies include Catch-22 (1971), with Alan Arkin and Jon Voight; Carnal Knowledge (1971), with Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Candice Bergen, and Ann-Margret; The Fortune (1975), with Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty; Heartburn (1986), with Nicholson and Meryl Streep; The Birdcage (1996), with Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, and Gene Hackman; Primary Colors (1998), with John Travolta, Emma Thompson, and Kathy Bates; and Closer (2004), with Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Clive Owen, and Natalie Portman.


         
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4 Comments to Ann Blyth & Lizabeth Scott Today + Doris Day Honors James Cagney

  1. David

    Ann Blyth was around 82 in the photo above…she looks simply wonderful. I just saw her two days ago on TCM in a forgotten musical…the wildly entertaining Kismet. I know Miss Blyth is now 88 and she must have lived a very fine healthy life because she looks wonderful. I suppose like many she'll be remembered for her dazzling performance in Mildred Pierce. She was still a teenager and what a performance she gave, Joan Crawford
    had to be delighted herself.
    The movie I remember seeing was The Student Prince and recently Kismet again and listening to her fabulous voice on such great showcase songs.
    I sure hope TCM will re run the interview Ann did with Robert Osborne. I missed it the first time around.
    As for your clip of the wonderful Doris Day paying tribute to James Cagney. They were both in my opinion at their peak in Love Me Or leave Me. The night of the AFI Tribute the Cagneys actually stopped at Doris Day's home to pick her up. They all went to the party together. Hollywood Royalty indeed.

  2. Marlene Schneider

    so good to see a current pic of her…..still has that same “look” in the eyes…but added a great smile…looks in good health (at 88) and having fun….hope your birthday was a happy one…you gave us many hours of entertainment, thank you

  3. Mike

    How wonderful to read that the talented and lovely Ms. Scott is still out and about in Hollywood!

  4. abel posadas

    Nice to see an old trouper like Ms Scott at almost 88 attending that famous movie.
    The photo is something to watch really!
    abel posadas