Thursday, June 04, 2020

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Gypsy (1962)

Rose: After three husbands, it takes a lot 
of butter to get you back in the frying pan. 

Quick find a feather headdress and throw up your hands, for the great Rosalind Russell was born on this day in the year 1907. Besides this movie and The Women and His Girl Friday (crazy that those last two both come out in the same year) and the insane Auntie Mame what films of her have you seen and would you recommend seeing? I'm fairly certain those four are all I've ever seen of hers, which just doesn't seem the correct way to live one's life. Especially as a practicing homosexual.


Pierce said...

When she was cast in The Women, she had never made a comedy before. She sharpened her comic skills in His Girl Friday and was at her height in Auntie Mame, although, evidently, she saw Beatrice Lillie in it and wondered why she, Russell, had played it for a year and a half. Ethel Merman was livid because she lost the role of Rose for the film version, but failed to see that Rose is the greatest role ever written for women of a certain age in the musical theater. Russell is just fine as Rose. It's not easy to sit through, but Mourning Becomes Electra has a brilliant performance from Russell, as does Sister Kenny. She was indeed a great actress!

Shawny said...

I was gonna say, whatever you do, stay away fro
Mourning Becomes Electra. Oh man, it’s so painful. RR did everything she could to make it work, but everyone else failed her. Other than that one, His Girl Friday, Auntie Mame, and The Women I’ve only seen Tell it to the Judge which was cute-ish and gave RR some physical comedy moments, which she is so expert at.

Rick Schoen said...

I highly recommend Sister Kenny. It is a bit sappy but she is really good in it.

Scott S said...

I never like when Rosalind plays a Great Lady a la Greer Garson as she does in "The Velvet Touch" (which is kind of like a noir "All About Eve") but It's enjoyably bad and the end is pure camp.

joel65913 said...

I am a HUGE fan of Roz!!! I've managed to see all of her films though the years. Most of her very early stuff is negligible (and rightly obscure) with her stuck in as she referred to them "Lady Mary" roles-all stiff upper lip and constraint.

But around 1936 things began to happen after she played the lead in Craig's Wife-she's fine but without the ice cold edge that Joan Crawford brought to the remake-Harriet Craig-and she had a neat little reputation as a reliable dramatic actress. She did do a few second lead comedy roles before The Women (Four's a Crowd with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Patric Knowles and she is a breezy picture) but that really set her sailing and afterward she never was anything less than the star of the movie until her death. While comedy was her main forte she did jump back and forth into drama on occasion.

Most of her films are worth watching if only for her but other than the ones you already mentioned (all great films) I'd say her top 20 would be:

1. The Trouble with Angels-She's the Mother Superior of an all-girls school locked in a battle of wills with hellion Hayley Mills. Bonus points it's directed by Ida Lupino!

2. The Velvet Touch-She's a famous stage star who accidentally kills her producer/former lover during a fight only to see her costar (a brilliant Claire Trevor) blamed by the jovial theatre fan police inspector (Sydney Greenstreet).

3. No Time for Comedy-She and Jimmy Stewart star as a stage star and playwright respectively who first fall in love and then hit a rocky patch in their marriage. Other than the wildly dated cavalier attitude to his extreme alcoholism it's charming.

4. Take a Letter Darling-Roz is a hard charging (glamorously dressed) executive who hires struggling artist Fred MacMurray as her secretary with complications ensuing. Perhaps the synthesis of all her boss lady roles.

5. Hired Wife-Roz is Brian Aherne's secretary who secretly loves him. When he asks her to enter into a short term marriage of convenience she looks for ways to make it last for good.

6. Roughly Speaking-A bio of Louise Randall Pierson an early exponent of women's rights while still raising her children from a failed first marriage and putting up with the eccentricities of her second (Jack Carson). Both Roz and Carson are terrific.

7. A Majority of One-Not everyone loves this as much as I do and both Roz and Alec Guinness are odd casting choices (she is a Jewish widow and he a Japanese widower) but their gentle playing of a story of late love between two highly unlikely and damaged people is beautifully done.

8. Picnic-Only an okay filming of William Inge's play (William Holden while a total buck in it is too old for the lead) but Roz is electric as repressed, desperate old maid school teacher Rosemary. She refused to have her name submitted as Best Supporting Actress (she probably would have won) because she said she was a STAR and would remain so. Taking into account the times she surely had the proper perspective. Once an above the title star agreed to supporting billing she was finished in the star spot, had she acquiesced she probably wouldn't have been considered for Auntie Mame-a tragedy that isn't even worth contemplating!!

9. Design for Scandal-Roz is the presiding judge in an expensive divorce case of a newspaper publisher. Reporter Walter Pidgeon whose on thin ice with the boss offers to romance the judge to get her in a comprising position so she can’t rule against the publisher. Of course it doesn’t go as planned.

10. My Sister Eileen-Roz and her dizzy naïve sister Eileen (Janet Blair) move to New York from the sticks and have all kinds of crazy adventures. One of her Oscar nominations and she’s a force but the movie is dated. It was later adapted into a Broadway show called Wonderful Town where Roz repeated her role and had a huge success.

joel65913 said...

Those are the top but also worth checking out:
11. This Thing Called Love
12. Live, Love and Learn
13. What a Woman!
14. Fast and Loose
15. Flight for Freedom-Roz plays a version of Amelia Earhart (her hairdos are ridiculously elaborate particularly for a flyer!)
16. Night Must Fall
17. A Woman of Distinction
18. Never Wave at a WAC
19. Sister Kenny-A passion project for her and she prevailed on Dudley Nichols to write and direct it for her which lead to…..
20. Mourning Becomes Electra-This was Nichols passion project and the only way he was able to get it made was by calling in Roz’s favor. She knew she was wrong for it but felt obligated. She gives her best shot and she was nominated but she was right, she’s miscast. The whole movie is turgid though Michael Redgrave is compelling as Orin.

There is one more that is by no means a good movie, everyone gives it their best effort but it must be seen to be believed!:

“Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad” (1967)-Madame Rosepettle (Rosalind) arrives at a Caribbean resort for a vacation with quite a menagerie, her 24 year old son (Robert Morse) who acts like a 5 year old, his stamp collection and telescope, a pair of Venus Flytraps, her tank of pet piranhas and her dead husband (Jonathan Winters-who serves as narrator) who she’s had stuffed and travels with them in his coffin that she keeps in the closet. While they are there the hotel’s babysitter Rosalie (Barbara Harris) falls for the infantile young man while Madame is pursued by a crazy ship captain, Commodore Roseabove.

And finally her worst film to be avoided at all costs.
The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947)-It’s full of 40’s psychobabble played with preposterous earnestness. Just dreadful.

It might be out of print but her autobiography published posthumously “Life is a Banquet” is a fabulous read.

And here is her sensational Mystery Guest appearance on What’s My Line?

Jason Adams said...

PICNIC! How'd I forget Picnic -- I have of course seen Picnic. Yes Holden is too old for that role but I still lick the screen when he's on it ;)

PS y'all rule

joel65913 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VoenixRising said...

You're still practicing? I figured that by now you'd have it down to an art... :-)

ferretrick said...

I didn't know there WAS a movie of Mourning Becomes Electra. How in the world did they get a 9 hour play into a 2 hour movie?!?!

I was going to mention Picnic and The Trouble With Angels, which is a real charmer. A bit dated, but Roz is hysterical. Great character actress Mary Wickes, the crotchety nun from Sister Act is also in it, once again playing, a nun.

joel65913 said...

ferretrick-It's actually almost three hours but obviously they hacked the poor thing to pieces.

There is a five hour version of the play made by PBS in the 70's that is a vast improvement. Joan Hackett plays Christine with Roberta Maxwell as Lavinia and Bruce Davison as Orin. It's long but so much better it doesn't even feel like the same material. Tough to find but I know it was put out on DVD since I own it that's the one to look for.

Eugene said...

It's not a film but a kinescope recording of Roz's great Broadway role adapted for a TV broadcast. The musical Wonderful Town based on the popular book My Sister Eileen! I'm pretty sure it's available maybe in pieces on the internet. Roz of course is no singer but in Wonderful Town this doesn't matter. She's zany, and comic and has energy to spare. It doesn't hurt that the music is buy Leonard Bernstein and sophisticated lyrics by the great team of Comden and Greene.