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Oscar Curse + Ann Sothern & Tarzan Warner Archive Movies

Luise RainerIn Mason Wiley and Damien Bona's Inside Oscar, Luise Rainer is quoted as saying the following about winning back-to-back Best Actress Academy Awards for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937): “The industry seemed to feel that having an Academy Award winner on their hands was sufficient to overcome bad story material, which was often handed out afterwards to a star under long-term contract.”

Of course, “bad story material” was handed to contract players regardless of whether or not they had won Academy Awards. Just ask Ann Sheridan, Olivia de Havilland, Myrna Loy, and all those who went on suspension because they refused what they saw as subpar screenplays.

Also, Rainer herself didn't fare too badly in 1938, the year she received her second Academy Award: her three releases that year were Robert B. Sinclair's Dramatic School, with Alan Marshal and Paulette Goddard; Julien Duvivier's The Great Waltz, with Fernand Gravey; and Richard Thorpe's The Toy Wife, with Melvyn Douglas and Robert Young. The first Rainer vehicle was a small but quite enjoyable romantic drama; the latter two, especially The Great Waltz, were “prestige” productions.

According to Rainer's version of events, after complaining about the scripts MGM was giving her, she was labeled “difficult” and “temperamental” by the studio and gossip columnists. In her view, her two Oscar victories had resulted in “a change of one's image felt by others but not by oneself. One was acclaimed now; therefore one's doings, one's motives, one's every utterance seemed to have greater dimension and therefore suddenly became suspect. It seemed harder to continue one's work quietly.”

At that point, Rainer opted to leave Hollywood. “I couldn't face the 'star' career and the devastation of a broken marriage [to playwright Clifford Odets],” she added, “because I was simply too young and unsophisticated to handle it.”

Hence all the nonsense about the “Oscar Curse.”

It's also worth noting that in the early 1950s Luise Rainer reminisced about her departure from Hollywood without having to bring up her two Oscars:

I was very young. There were a lot of things I was unprepared for. I was too honest, I talked serious instead of with my eyelashes and Hollywood thought I was cuckoo. I worked in seven big pictures in three years. I have to be inspired to give a good performance. I complained to a studio executive that the source was dried up. The executive told me, 'Why worry about the source. Let the director worry about that.' I didn't run away from anybody in Hollywood. I ran away from myself.

Tarzan, Ann Sothern & Ingrid Bergman: Warner Achive

Ron Ely TarzanJohn Carter, based on the John Carter of Mars series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, was released last weekend with underwhelming box office results in North America. Expect a more enthusiastic reception for the Warner Archive's release of the late '60s television series Tarzan (season one, in two parts) in celebration of the Lord of the Apes' 100th anniversary. Ron Ely stars, while guests include former Tarzan Jock Mahoney, Academy Award nominee Julie Harris (The Member of the Wedding), Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols, Woody Strode, Russ Tamblyn, Maurice Evans, Jack Elam, and Chips Rafferty.

Also coming out via the Warner Archive Collection are several lesser-known titles that should definitely be worth a look, especially considering the talent involved.

Released in a newly remastered print, the 1941 drama Rage in Heaven was directed by W.S. Van Dyke (a.k.a. “One-Take Woody”), and stars Ingrid Bergman, Robert Montgomery, and George Sanders. Christopher Isherwood contributed to the screenplay.

The World War II drama Joan of Paris (1942), directed by a pre-Disney Studios Robert Stevenson, stars Casablanca's Paul Henreid and Michèle Morgan during her brief Hollywood foray in the early '40s. Joan of Paris is also notable as the last film appearance of veteran May Robson (Academy Award-nominated for Frank Capra's Lady for a Day) and as one of the first times audiences got to see (if they paid close attention) future Paramount star Alan Ladd.

Ann Sothern, a future Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for Lindsay Anderson's The Whales of August (1987), can be seen in two releases: the Broadway-set musical comedy Hooray for Love (1935), with Sothern's frequent RKO co-star Gene Raymond, and the Cole Porter musical Panama Hattie (1942), directed by Vincente Minnelli, and co-starring Red Skelton.

And finally, two unusual entries: Stuart Hagmann's The Strawberry Statement (1970), about the then-timely university student protests, and featuring Willard's Bruce Davison, True Grit's Kim Darby, and Harold and Maude's Bud Cort, and Peter Collinson's The Spiral Staircase (1975), a (generally panned) remake of Robert Siodmak's 1946 classic starring Jacqueline Bisset in the old Dorothy McGuire role. Bisset's co-stars are Barbarella's John Phillip Law and the Globe Theatre's Sam Wanamaker.

Irene Dunne color photo
Irene Dunne

Irene Dunne, Lucille Ball, General Patton: Color Photos

Irene Dunne, Lucille Ball, Orson Welles and nearly two dozen other celebrities of the mid-20th century are to be found in Washington's National Portrait Gallery exhibition “In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits From the Harry Warnecke Studio.”

In the New York Times, Neil Genzlinger explains that Harry Warnecke was a photographer for New York's The Daily News who “understood early — in the 1930s — that a newspaper with a color photograph in it would have an edge over the competition.” During his years as a news photographer, Warnecke shot movie stars and other celebrities in show business, sports, and the military. As can be attested by the “In Vibrant Color” images, those ranged from Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and General George S. Patton and future U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Of the “In Vibrant Color” images I've seen, the one that most impressed me was Irene Dunne's. The reason for that is simple: Dunne's fifty or so films were almost all in black and white – the one exception that I can think of was Michael Curtiz' period comedy Life with Father. I really don't recall having ever seen the five-time Oscar-nominated actress in both modern dress and in color – unlike someone such as Lucille Ball, who starred in several color productions of the '40s and '50s (e.g., Dubarry Was a Lady, The Long, Long Trailer).

The “In Vibrant Color” exhibition continues through September 9, 2012.

Irene Dunne color photo: Harry Warnecke Studio for The Daily News/National Portrait Gallery

Metropolis poster original
Metropolis original poster

'Metropolis' Poster: $850,000

Who says silent movies don't make money?

Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist has grossed more than $100 million worldwide, in addition to winning a total of five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Jean Dujardin).

And now comes an original poster of Fritz Lang's 1927 UFA classic Metropolis, which you can buy now for $850,000 at Movie Poster Exchange. The information below is from MPE:

Posters from this all-time classic science-fiction film are the rarest of the rare and this, the most famous image ever associated with the film is no exception. Created by art deco artist Heinz Schulz-Neudamm, this poster depicts the classic image of the automation Maria and the fantastic cityscape of Metropolis itself.

There are four copies of this poster known to exist. Two of them are in permanent museum collections (Museum of Modern Art and the Austrian National Library Museum) while the other is in a long-term private collection. [According to bleedingcool.com, that's rumored to be Leonardo DiCaprio's.] This is a unique opportunity to acquire what is without question one of the finest and most recognizable posters in the entire hobby.

The condition of this masterpiece is fantastic, a very strong Very Fine+. It has been backed for preservation/presentation and very minimal color work has been performed to the fold lines. There were no missing pieces or major problems with this poster prior to restoration, just slight fold line separation from years of storage.

Well, got $850,000?

Metropolis, which has survived in various versions, premiered in Berlin in 1927. The film lost about one-quarter of its length after Paramount acquired the film for U.S. distribution. The film's long-lost scenes were found at the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires in 2008. At the time, ZEITmagazin heralded that “the most important silent film in German history can, from this day forward, be considered rediscovered.”

Metropolis features Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Rudolf-Klein-Rogge, Fritz Ras, Theodore Loos, Erwin Biswanger, and Heinrich George.

Oscar Curse + Ann Sothern & Tarzan Warner Archive Movies © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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1 Comment to Oscar Curse + Ann Sothern & Tarzan Warner Archive Movies

  1. Lud M

    This Oscar curse is such non sense. Luise Rainer won two Oscars. Very few people win more Oscars than that. She left movies because she wanted to, not because she was kicked out.