Five of us were driving back from CAPITOLFEST this past Monday ( August 13th ) where there was loads of movie talk / opinions / trivia. Aurora, host of the esteemed “ONCE UPON A SCREEN” blog was our driver for this road trip, and she asked us this question:

Name an actor/actress who gave a good performance…in a bad film.

The question head~scratchingly stumped all of us. Ha!! Perhaps we all tend to think our favorite performers made mostly good movies, I dunno. I didn’t think of this name on our rainy car ride home. BUT she certainly comes to mind now. One could argue that she made many more poor “B” films, than distinguished “A” flicks, but I always thought she gave a good performance in whatever I saw her in. TODAY is her birthday. And I’m a fan!

EVELYN ANKERS celebrates her centenary today. 

August 17th, 1918 ~ August 29th, 1985

She was the Queen of the Horror films b’cuz of her beauty…and talent…and ability to scream. But I think she was able to show her stuff even if the material is not up to par. You can read a write~up on her over at THE HITLESS WONDER MOVIE BLOG. Reading her IMDB entry can tell you what you need to know. I just wanted to spotlight her here today, her 100th birthday.




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…But no one starts off their career as a giant. An icon. A legend. And sometimes when we see one’s beginning, we may not see the thing they will become. 

April 17th, 1918 ~ November 12th, 1981

Stanwyck gave Holden his big break in 1939’s “Golden Boy” and he’s been grateful to her ever since for that opportunity. This was the start of his long career. Others in this blogathong will talk about his giant hits. But here’s a quiet little romantic comedy of his that I liked from way in his beginning. WILLIAM HOLDEN ( %22MEET THE STEWARTS%22 )MEET THE STEWARTS is from 1942 and it shows the trials and tribulations of a newly married couple. Holden is the groom ( Mike ) and the beautiful Frances Dee is his wacky bride ( Candy ). Good luck to young Holden


holding down the fort with a gal who can lovingly wrap him around her finger. No…he doesn’t stand a chance. It’s interesting seeing him in a light comedy, doing all the takes and mugging familiar to classic film fans of films from the 40’s. He cant carve a turkey, a misunderstanding leads to him brawling with another man. He can’t pay the country club bill. He can handy snappy patter. There’s not a lot I can say of this breezy comedy. Yeah, you’ll see the whole plot stretched out before you within the first five minutes. Either it’s predictable or you’re really just that smart a film fan. But it’s all good. It’s a nice little film. 

Me…with not a lot to say? Yeah, this time, so consider yourself lucky. I just wanted in on this blogathon because I’m a fan of the actor.


Hosting this William Holden blogathon is Virginie at The Wonderful World of Cinema. You can see more serious in-depth entries on this fine actor by clicking on the banner to the left. If you want to rest on my couch a little more, you can read my write-ups on two of Holden’s OTHER classics: NETWORK and SUNSET BOULEVARD. I do some pretty heavy lifting with those two films. And I would recommend you see Meet the Stewarts as well.

What I really want to do now is just bask in his youth. Yeh.

. . . with Stanwyck

Jeanne Crain                          Loretta Young                      Gloria Swanson

Audrey                                                             Grace

  Capucine                                                        Nancy Kwan

      Judy Holliday                             Jennifer Jones                                      Kim Novak

. . . with Sophia

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I took a whirlwind trip on Amtrak to New England, last week. I went. I saw. I fell in love, with Ingrid Bergman…all over again.


INGRID BERGMAN DOCUMENTARY SCHEDULEYep, that’s what happened when I went all the way to Kendall Square’s Landmark Cinema up in Cambridge, Massachusetts to see the documentary Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words. There’s truly no getting around falling in love with Ingrid Bergman…at least not in my humble opinion. It’s a forgone conclusion. Why would you fight it?

I dont remember when I first saw an Ingrid Bergman movie. It was on tv and it probably was the classic Casablanca. Honestly, I dont recall. I know Ive seen much of her work…at least her Hollywood work. The first date I ever went on, my high school beau took me to the movies to see Cactus Flower. I wish I could say it was because of Ingrid, but it was probably Goldie Hawn that held sway with him and I. After she was thoroughly ensconced in my cinematic DNA, I did see Bergman on Broadway in Captain Brassbound’s Conversion. No, I cant tell you what it was about. A missionary…a sea captain? I was there for only one reason…to see Her in person. To see that she existed.

Yeah, I had to make her real in that way, as an added bonus…even though she was already pretty real to me. She seemed so natural on screen. She truly sounded like she was talking and not reciting lines. She didn’t feel like a movie star. She felt like a real person on that screen. No doubt, I enjoy the divas and the showboats and the bombshells of my movie imagination. But I profess to you, and myself, Ingrid Bergman is my favorite actress.

The documentary…click photo for the trailer:



The documentary was very well made. We had the talking heads of Bergman’s actual children: Pia Lindstrom and Roberto, Isabella and Ingrid Rossellini. They have wonderful memories of their mother. You’ll get no Mommy Dearest anecdotes from them. You will see love, and some regrets ( “The only I think any of her children feel, is we wish we had more of her,” says first-born child ~ Pia Lindstrom. ) They know their Mother was not a Saint. But I see the understanding of children, now adults, who can put into perspective the totatlity of a woman’s life where she is torn between career and family; and where career won out for the most part. But that is not to say the children lost out, either.


The documentary was filled with excerpts of diary entries read aloud by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, movie clips, home movie footage, and footage from the Media of the time. Yes, the paparazzi was out in force to report the story of Bergman leaving husband Petter Lindström, pregnant with the child of director Roberto Rossellini; and WHEN she returned to Hollywood. Seeing her in movie moments in clips including “Casablanca” “Journey to Italy” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” show how she just illuminates the screen. Her warmth and naturalness come through like rays of sunshine on a warm summers day. She wanted to work with the different styles of other directors. It looks like that became a little difficult to achieve when she married Rossellini, who became territorial of her talent.

I liked learning that it was three women who took Ingrid under their wing in Hollywood: Ruth Roberts ( English coach ), Kay Browntalent agent, and Irene Selznick, David O. Selznick’s wife. A strong bond with women.


Even in her first screen efforts you have to say “Who …is … THAT… girl?!” The thing that astounds me is all the photos and film footage of her as a child!!! How many families had cameras in 1917? No doubt she was a Daddy’s girl, who was allowed to use her imagination. She had so many losses in her young life which left her sad and lonely. I can’t help but think having her four children helped fill a void.

It’s also interesting that Bergman felt the need to keep moving around, explore…have no roots…not be tied down to one place…or one person. Not for too too long anyway. She carried her memories with her.

Eve, Me and Lita

I traveled to Cambridge with two good friends of mine  ( Lita and Eve ) who spontaneously made this adventure with me. I’m a retiree but so my time is free, but for two working girls to take off from work takes a bit of maneuvering.  They were game, we had fun, and here are their thoughts on the documentary:

Eve writes:

“First,  I find Ingrid very sexy, beautiful and attractive. She has that wonderful smile of hers that makes her angelic, if you will.

I would not get tired of looking at her.

I like her movies very much and thought she should have gotten more than two Oscars. I also like that she kept a lot of memoirs.

I believe she did everything she could as a mother and wife, but I believe her career was her drive, her purpose in life, something that she could not be without. Like she said, she would rather be dead than give up acting, or not be able to act at all.

The documentary really touched me in the way she sought life. It upset me how people can turn on you if you do not meet their expectations. But, she did what she did and she had no regrets.

Kudos to you, Ingrid Bergman!!!”

* * * * * * * *

Lita writes:

“She Did It Her Way!  

Before watching the documentary, ‘Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words,’ I thought I knew Ingrid Bergman’s story. I was wrong.  Ingrid defied the cookie-cutter role society expected and demanded from her.  When she refused to conform and bow down to the pressures, she paid the price, but my girl held steadfast and stayed true to herself.  She portrayed many roles in film and on stage, as well as in real life, a wife, an ex-wife, a mother…..  She knew exactly what she wanted and went after it, making no apologies or excuses to anyone.    

To sum up Ingrid’s life, quoting from a verse in the song, ‘My Way’:   

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway.
But more, much more than this
I did it my way.”

* * * * * * * * 

Here are two shots I snuck off from the screen:


Shes comfortable in front of and behind the camera. As described in the documentary, the camera represented love; usually the love of the man behind the camera. Seeing Bergmans life’s story up there, begs the larger question:



“I never had the intention of staying in Sweden. That I knew since the beginning.”

Can you have hearth and home, along with a career in a big way in the world? Its the age-old question…that seems to be asked ONLY of women. Is it selfish to bring children into the world who need to be loved, nurtured and hands-on? And where does that leave you…your Self, your Creativity, your Passion and Drive. Who knows. My own experience is my mom married, had us three kids and stayed at home. Me? I never married nor had children. I think if you want to be happy within your own private self…you must be able to do what makes you happy. And if you’re a happier person…it, you, can make all around you happy. Mothers are already larger than Life in a child’s mind. What happens when your Mother IS world-famous and truly Larger Than Life?


Wife…actress…mother…lover. She had many lives within her 67 years. Ingrid Bergman feels very contemporary to me. Is it her look ( hairstyle? lack of makeup? ) Her natural acting style? I sat through much of the screening shaking my head at her beauty. Her warmth and naturalness shine through and touches my heart. Yeah, I was misty-eyed throughout.


I am so glad I made the trek up to Massachusetts. And that I was NOT alone in this madcap adventure. If you have any inclination…you can check out my trip here.

Check out my cine-pal’s review of the documentary ( LARA  ). Both of us can’t be crazy in saying how much we enjoyed the film. Im thinking you can see it without really knowing who Bergman is and still be able to follow the story of her life. I think it was laid out nicely and well-chronicled. After seeing the cocumentary, check out even more. See the documentary on the big screen. Her beauty and talent deserves to be seen larger than life.

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Even her name sounds strong and sturdy.

BARBARA STANWYCK BLOGATHON ( II )Stanwyck sadly passed away this day in 1990. There are some people so vibrant and alive and potent, you forget that they too must shuffle off this mortal coil. She really was a force of Nature. But look, no sad songs today. Today, we raise our glass to her memory with this blogathon: REMEMBERING BARBARA STANWYCK

She’s one Ruby Stevens, a girl from Brooklyn brought up in foster homes with limited education and OUT on her own at sixteen. She worked burlesque and the chorus line. She married a big Broadway star, goes west with him and gets tapped by Fate. Even then, she didn’t work in the glam factory of an M-G-M or Paramount, but toiled at Poverty Row: Columbia Studios. Newly-minted director Frank Capra saw something in DIRECTORS ( CAPRA & STANWYCK )Barbara Stanwyck  – she had something. He was willing to work with her. She becomes his muse in picture after picture after picture. And the result? Fifty years of a career. She strides across the stage, head up, shoulders back, posture perfect and stands there, taking in all the love, admiration and applause an audience can give a career well-earned.

How do you want her? Soft and vulnerable or hard-boiled and brassy? She could stride across a ranch in denim and boots or a nightclub in gown and high heels. She cut her teeth on sophisticated / screwball comedies and the darkest of dramas. She’s a reporter or mother; a damsel-in-distress or a cold-blooded murderer. She’s a woman of the West or a burlesque queen. ( Pssst! Thats Theresa Harris in the first Stanwyck photo. )


She’s played the good wife and the adulterer. She can be upper crust or low brow. Stanwyck has an arsenal at her disposal: gun, whip or a pair of scissors. She’s a pre-code chickadee who’ll jerk your tears and she ain’t afraid of no cigar-smokin’ dames either. Her best weapon of mass destruction is her volcanic anger, or worse, her tears and that quivering chin. Be careful…shell use ’em on you to get what she wants, or let you know just how she feels.

STANWYCK ( 1920's ) 00d/14/koal/14512/01 MISSY STANWYCK ( XIX )

In our current era of make-overs, Botoxed faces and siliconed body parts…Stanwyck let Nature take its course throughout her career; her hair prematurely grey, she let herself be. She has a 30s look in the 1930s, a 40’s look in the 1940s and a 50’s look in the 1950s. She was a woman of the times. ( And went to tv, too! )



Happier times…

Stanwyck is a many-faceted actress which you know if you’ve seen her performances. She’s been the envy of many an actress in Hollywood, working with some of the era’s great leading men – among them McCrea, Lancaster, Holden, Ryan, Cooper and Gable. It’s a kick to me that she worked with Henry Fonda…and then years later, his daughter Jane. She probably was the envy of many a woman in America by ( “trading up” from Frank Fay ) marrying the dashingly handsome Robert Taylor with whom she appeared – in three movies. At the end of the day, she was clearly, a hard working actress.

For me, Stanwyck has only two rivals ~ The first one: BETTE DAVIS. They were aware of each other; even appeared in the same movie, once. (So Big”) Davis is a touch more histrionic in her acting style, while Stanwyck more down-to-earth. I daresay Stanwyck could cut across genres easier than Davis, handling with ease drama, comedy and westerns. ( I love ya Bette, but I aint never seen you ride a horse. No…I dont count “Dark Victory.” ) But she and Davis could shoot a man down with equal venom, and Bette also knew a thing or three about working with the creme de la creme of leading men…actually sharing some of them with Stanwyck:


STANWYCK     ………………         “SO BIG”        …………….    DAVIS

The Lady Eve        ………………  Fonda    …………….    Jezebel
These Wilder Years”      …………  Cagney  …………….    The Bride Came C.O.D.
The Two Mrs. Carrolls   ………..  Bogart   ……………..   Marked Woman
Double Indemnity       …………..  Eddie G. …………….   Kid Galahad
Cry Wolf           ………………….  Flynn     ……………..   …Elizabeth & Essex
B. F.’s Daughter ………………..  Coburn  ……………..  In This Our Life
My Reputation   …………………  Brent    ……………….  Dark Victory
Witness to Murder  ……………..  Sanders  …………….  All About Eve
Crime of Passion  ………………. Hayden   …………….. The Star
The Violent Men  ………………..  Ford      ……………… A Stolen Life

Stanwycks other rival is…her self – striving to do better and more challenging work. She put herself in ( or was contracted to ) the good strong capable hands of Lang, Sturges, Mann. Throw in Wilder and Wellman for good measure. She gives a director what he wants and needs. She acts as if she were talking; not in her beginnings –  have you ever seen “The Locked Door? ) but as she learned and grew, the lines sounded like words and thoughts coming from her head. Very natural. But you know what…Id have given anything to see Stanwyck and Davis cross swords in the 1940s ). 

Let me take a little look at a couple of Stanwyck films that stir my heart.


Now we’re talkin’! Now we’re getting into it! Now we’re getting down to brass tacks! The heart of darkness. Film noir. Scheming, betraying, murder. What’s a girl to do? Sometimes it’s the only way out. Stanwyck shines in the dark. Or is that the gleam from her gun?

BARBARA STANWYCK ( %22DOUBLE INDEMNITY%22 )DOUBLE INDEMNITY” ( 1944 ) ~ I’ll never get used to that godawful wig. But her Phyllis Dietrichson is brilliant; she entraps basically smart-ass, good guy Fred MacMurray in a way that’s delicious to watch. Really, like a spider. I think this is Stanwycks first foray into real darkness. The Code demands heads, but not before emotional mayhem ensues. I love Eddie G. in this. He’s the heart and soul that Walter lost and Phyllis probably never had.

BARBARA STANWYCK ( %22MARTHA IVERS%22 )THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS” (1946) ~ One of my absolute favorite favorites, I love how the story unfolds and covers you like a dark heavy blanket. I’m now at peace with Van Heflin, ( I didn’t use to be crazy about him but I am now ) one of the few actors I now think can, frankly, handle Stanwyck. Pouty husky-voiced victimized sultry noir siren, Lizabeth Scott is also featured. (Sadly, shes gone just about a year now). Shes the antithesis of Stanwycks Martha. I think Kirk Douglas hits it out of the park in his first movie, standing toe-to-toe with the Mighty Stanwyck. But it’s Her picture all the way. I love her look – elegant, kind of hard but not brittle. At times domineering and vulnerable, her character’s trapped by circumstances and must live with the heavy weight of lies. I wind up feeling sorry for her, but of course she has to pay.

BARBARA STANWYCK ( SORRY )SORRY, WRONG NUMBER” ( 1948 ) ~ What’s it like not to be able to get out of your own way. Stanwyck does it here and pays the price. I always want her to have the upperhand. Lancaster’s in it, castrated, by her and her rich Daddy. ( Ann Richards appears in this one, too. ) Stanwyck: strong-willed, pitiable, bitch, victim; painful to watch. Shes a spoiled woman with psychosomatic issues. Get outta that bed Leona. She wont. She cant.


CLASH BY NIGHT” ( 1952 ) ~ She’s moved into her 1950’s phase, still trying to live life on her characters’ terms. In “Clash…” she marries a man she’s no good for and lusts after a man who’s no good for her. You know, your typical female conundrum. Stanwyck can do it.

CRIME OF PASSION” ( 1957 ) ~ I always thought this was an interesting feminist picture. Alright alright, get back here. Don’t run away. Don’t let that word scare you. What I mean is that this is an object lesson in what can go wrong when a woman is not allowed to follow her own ambition. When Stanwyck is not allowed to be all that she can be as a journalist, she has to resort to her real job…getting a husband. So she marries the big blonde hunky very unambitious Johnny Guitar ( Sterling Hayden ). But love is not enough. She can’t hang out with the husbands after dinner for cards and politics. She’s got to go into the kitchen with the wives and gossip. Her ambition has no where to go. She must project her drive onto husband Sterling Hayden…with a little Raymond Burr on the side. ( Well, not so little. ) You got it…a wonderfully twisted recipe for disaster.

THE GAY SISTERS” ( 1942 ) ~ I like this movie. She looks great – ultimate 1940’s, she’s the matriarchal patriarch of her two sisters and they’re fighting for their fathers inheritance. She’s stubborn and driven and paired again with her great co-star, George Brent. ( See “So Big” ). She doesnt have a hard edge in this one, but she is strong-willed.


MY REPUTATION” ( 1946 ) ~ A different kind of Stanwyck…very little self-assurance. ( Her character makes me think a little of Davis in “Now, Voyager”). Shes got great support here from Eve Arden and one of her favorite leading men, George Brent. And yes yes its a “woman’s picture” ( and I do put that in quotes ) but thats okay. I know Stanwyck can play fierce, strong and independent…but I like that, in this movie, those traits are buried under the quivering chin of a frozen virginal widow who needs permission to live and love. And big ol’ stalwart Brent is just the guy who can cajole and thaw her. The gender politics of it all is, oh dear, very dated. But I dont laugh. I put myself in another time…another place…another mindset. I watch Stanwyck play that woman very well, even though I know she was not of it. Please read my guest writers ( TRUDY RING’s ) take on “My Reputation.” Thanx!


STANWYCK ( %22Ball of Fire%22 )  STANWYCK ( %22The Lady Eve%22 )

It looks like Im giving short shrift to Stanwycks comedies…but there are plenty of blogathon entries that will cover her filmography in depth. “The Lady Eve” and “Ball of Fire” both from 1941, are two of her bonafide classics. We can see she can handle light-hearted material; she gets the satire of Sturges. Shes playful ( Come on Potsie, Hook on! ) Love sort of sneaks up on her in both films in different ways. Shes calculating in one film, purposefully setting her sights on the poor innocent and in the other one, while spending time with sweet Coop, love takes her by surprise even though shes controlling events.

STANWYCK ( %22Remember the Night%22 )

A great romantic drama of hers is Remember the Night teaming her in the first of four films with Fred MacMurray. She was very good as a street-wise gal who transforms when shown kindness and love. Shes wonderful in this.



I’d like to see Dale Evans or Bette Davis do that!


With arms akimbo its a pretty powerful stance: aggressive…power and done with contempt. “Hey, whaddya think you’re pullin’ around here?! You’ve got the wrong baby!”


She and Taylor owned a ranch with horses so we can see her comfort and skill around them in films. Stanwyck reigns as Queen of the West with Forty Guns” “Annie Oakley” “The Maverick Queen” “The Violent Men” “The Furies and later on tvs “The Big Valley”.  A gun…a whip…her tongue, no matter. Whatever. Shell hit her mark. Shes in charge. 


STANWYCK & CRAWFORDYes, she’s a product of her time and could back down and be soft for the right strong man. But underneath it all I do believe she let him believe he was the boss. At the end of the day, I wouldve given my eye-teeth to see Stanwyck match up against Crawford in “Johnny Guitar.” They were friends off-camera, as well.

STANWYCK STATUEMany many years ago, Stanwyck was honored at Lincoln Centers Avery Fisher Hall. Yes, I was there. I attended the ceremony sitting all the way in the back of the auditorium watching film clip after film clip, after movie star praise the actress. She was sitting up in those fancy side balcony seats – box seats – and was finally introduced to the crowd. I, along with a couple of brave souls, ran down to the front of the auditorium when she came onstage. I snapped a few pictures of her, praying to the gods of Kodak that they would come out. I used slide film and the pictures did come out. Yes, it was still far away and she looked a little like a cotton-top, but the somewhat blurry pictures came out. Thing is, I actually saw her with my own eyes.


STANWYCK MONGO ( II )Barbara Stanwyck is a ball of fire who sometimes likes to walk on the wild side. She won’t ever cry wolf because she is as straight-shootin’ as Annie Oakley. If a man with a cloak gets sick, Stanwyck will play night nurse for him. But don’t get her wrong. There won’t be anything illicit about it. If he wants to please a lady, he just has to be patient for that breakfast-for-two with Stanwyck. You can’t accuse her of having no man of her own. If she is to meet John Doe, he’ll have to pass muster with her gay sisters. But that should be easy as long as you don’t treat Stanwyck like a lady of burlesque. And if you move a little too fast with her and she gives you that withering Stanwyck glare, have no fear. There’s always tomorrow. WHEW!! …And all titles are hot-linked within that paragraph, too. Well how many titles can YOU work in?


Does fifty-plus years feel like fifty-plus years when youre working your way to the top? Heart breaks and heartaches, crushes and estrangements, hurt feelings, disappointments and regrets…A Human Life. But there were accomplishments and triumphs that probably went beyond Stanwyck’s wildest dreams. She could vicariously live many lives through the women she played and I believed most everything she did. I can only hope she didnt measure herself against anyone but herself. And even doing that probably caused her sleepless nights.

If you want to catch up with the other entries made on Stany’s behalf…please click on this banner to read more great entries. Thanks for hosting this, Crystal:



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Who IS ANITA LOUISE in the scheme of the Golden Age of Hollywood? She doesn’t have the exotic mien of Garbo or Dietrich. She doesn’t blaze through the screen like Bette Davis or Stanwyck or have the blinding sex appeal of Harlow, Marilyn or Rita. I would liken Anita Louise closer in sensibility to Loretta Young than Norma Shearer. Now she may not command the screen with the brilliance that warrants 1000-watt klieg lights on The Leading Lady. But classic Hollywood was made of all actors great and small, quiet and volcanic. Anita Louise has a warmly unique patrician beauty and quiet allure.


I first discovered Anita Louise when I was a little girl in love with Johnny Washbrook and his beautiful horse in the tv-show:My Friend Flicka.It was a little later that I recognized her inMarie Antoinette.She got her infrequent chance to shine alongside leading stars like Bette Davis or Errol Flynn or Fredric March and appear in “A” films likeAnthony AdverseorA Midsummer Night’s DreamorThe Story of Louis Pasteur.ANITA LOUISE - IIIII ANITA LOUISE - I Unlike types like Hillary Brooke or Gail Patrick – the light and dark of archness and that oh so über-sophistication, there was a warmth to Anita Louise in that ofttimes thankless role of The Supporting Actress. She’s the beautiful girl who still doesn’t quite get the boy (Love Letters1945 ) lacking some inexplicable ( to me ) quality that makes the hero choose another. Below, I’ll give you a lovely excerpt of a post by ‘The Ingenue’  ( CarrieLiz ) an old member of the Silver Screen Oasis Message Board ( where we all frequently used to hang our hats. ) This is what she had to say then about Anita Louise:

Anita Louise, Bette Davis and Jane Bryan in “THE SISTERS” ( 1938 )

“…the regality and the Dresden-china beauty, though assets that were prized ( and often solely praised ), weren’t the be-all, end-all with her. That’s what I love about her. She seemed aware of what she had going for her ( you bet she was aware: these were tools of her trade ), but never taken in. And there’s a smile in the eyes. And warmth. ( The scene in The Little Princess where Shirley sees the Mafeking postmark on her father’s letter and starts to cry, and is comforted by Anita, has always stuck with me. ) There’s a loveliness about her that has less to do with her appearance than with something projected from within. She had grace… and, given the chance, she could equal it with spunk.


Didn’t she do that well in The Bandit of Sherwood Forest! Her character there seems to me, to borrow a quote from Errol Flynn about Greer Garson: ‘finely bred, the epitome of…cultured womanhood. She is all this, but at the same time a mischievous imp.’

There was always a sense of fun about her (providing the script allowed her to show it). It was there from the start, in the films she made as a child actress: a dancing sense of delight, as belongs to a happy child relishing hours spent in a world of make-believe. I hope it was truly so for her. According to an article Anita penned for newspaper publication in 1938, it might have been.

Who is she? A sublime beauty, a leading lady, a featured player, a workhorse, a dazzler. An exquisite part of Hollywood’s silvered dreams.– The Ingenue

Picture and caption ALSO by The Ingenue:

Shimmeringly beautiful. A fairy queen dancing for the camera…with a look on her face that says, “Isn’t this silly? Oh… but it’s fun!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


When I see her, she makes me smile. She’s familiar. She doesn’t often take center stage but she has. You notice her. I guess I just like those unsung actresses like Marsha Hunt or Aline MacMahon, Margaret Lindsay or Fay Bainter who give quietly good performances. Again I say, the bench was deeeeep during the classic film era.

January 9th, 1915  ~  April 25th, 1970

 So today on this Capricorn’s birthday I say Happy Birthday Anita Louise.

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JOAN BENNETT ( I )February 27, 1910 – December 7, 1990

“The ‘Golden Age’ is gone, and with it most of the people of great taste. It doesn’t seem to be any fun any more.”  ~  [ Joan Bennett, 1984 ]


All eyes are on Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride” ( 1950 ). Naturally. They always are. But a friend told me I should play closer attention Joan Bennett next time ‘round. Yeah, Bennett could conceivably be Taylor’s mother; both share the same birth date, and Bennett and Tracy appear together in 1932’s Me and My Gal.” Alright, so next time “Father of the Bride” comes around, I’ll pay attention to Joan Bennett. I did.

Elizabeth who?

I mean Elizabeth is cute…pretty and everything. But, she’s no Joan Bennett.

Yes, Spencer Tracy may be the star, and Taylor is definitely lovely to look at. But Joan Bennett is beautiful, and has the hardest job…she quietly supports. She’s the glue that holds things together. She swats the great Tracy down with a gentle word or a knowing glance. She stands toe-to-toe with him with little outward effort at all. Joan Bennett has to be one of the most underrated actresses from the classic era.


You know how it is when you can’t UNsee a thing? Well that’s me with Bennett now in “Father of the Bride” and with any of her movies now, frankly. ( Thank you Karin. ) When I was in junior high school, all I had to do was come home straight from school, turn on WABC and see her in Dark Shadows.” But that show was not my thing. ( Youth…wasted on the young. Thank God for DVDs. ) Yes, now I have eyes wide open to Joan Bennett. If you want someone who doesn’t telegraph her emotions, who can silently relay those in-between emotions of contempt, resignation, mocking, worry etc…Joan’s your girl. She could drop-kick a line over the goal post or a give you a withering glance with the finesse of Toshiro Mifune with a Samurai sword.

Ive invited a few friends to weigh in on how they feel about Joan Bennett, just so you won’t think I’m alone and crazy in this:


“Joan was adorable throughout the thirties, but in the forties she became as good as an actor can be. The dark hair gave her more gravitas, her maturity gave her more insight, and working with Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Zoltan Korda, and Max Ophüls didn’t hurt a bit. So much of her forties work was outstanding, but the two characterizations that leave me awestruck are in ‘The Reckless Moment’ and ‘The Macomber Affair.’ But then there are ‘Scarlet Street’ and ‘Woman on the Beach.’   And…..” – Robert Regan

  JOAN BENNETT ( as a child )The Bennett sisters ( left to right ), Constance ( 1904 ),    Daughters: Constance, Joan 
Joan (  1910 ) and Barbara ( 1906 )                                 and Barbara with their parents

Joan is used to being in front of an audience, her father was famed Broadway star Richard Bennett and actress Adrienne Morrison. She had two beauties for big sisters: Barbara and Constance Bennett. Joan’s been before some camera or another since she was a child. If I’m being honest, looking over her filmography early in her beginnings, a lot of her movies are pretty “Meh” and she played nondescript ingenue roles. I don’t mean this as a put-down, believe me; but it is what it is. She just didn’t have films that brilliantly distinguished her like a Bette Davis or a Stanwyck; not consistently, anyway. She was a working mother, having daughters in 1928, 1934, 1943 and 1948 which might have shaped her drive. And I get the impression she didn’t live, eat and breathe the movies, but Lived Life. I’d like to read her autobiography The Bennett Playbill and fill in my gaps on her life. ( Joan was a star in her own right, but  let me toss a little Constance on the barbie for you from my friend Wendy: )


“I’ll literally watch her in anything. To me she represents the 1930’s, a real STAR, she’s so glamorous. Others also represent the 30’s, but to me, Connie represents the GLAMOUR … the unreality, the studio concoctions, the beautiful unreal crazy HOLLYWOOD side of the movies that got into full swing in the 30’s. You know, she’s like the Cary Grant of women. So completely out of reach, elegance-wise. Whenever the girl in the movie theater in “Singing in the Rain” says: “She’s so refined. I think I’ll kill myself,”  I think of Constance Bennett.

Joan is more real, more tangible, more the actress. Constance is a star… first and foremost. Shes got something that makes you want to watch her…theres something rather free about her that I really love; that, not-caring-a- damn-what-people-think, attitude. – Wendy T. Merckel


If her work is kind of spotty, things take a turn for the better for Ms. Bennett when she becomes a brunette. This happens in 1938’s Trade Winds with Fredric March.JOAN BENNETT ( TRADE WINDS ) It gives her career a different trajectory. Hey, it’s not that she changed her subtle acting style. She’s still easy breezy. It’s probably moreso a dulled public finally woke up to her charms. She worked with some of the greats: SpencerTracy, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Walter Pidgeon, Eddie G., Gregory Peck, Paul HenreidRobert Ryan, JOAN BENNETT ( ON BEACH )Michael Redgrave. Her work with Fritz Lang and Max Ophüls gave her career some edge. It’s Bennett playing the femme fatale that contributes to her being remembered. Scarlet Street” “The Woman on the Beach The Macomber AffairandMan Hunt are among my favorite films of Bennett. But I know there are so many more to discover.


“She’s an American girl, but not any American girl. She is sophisticated in every sense of the word. I’d say Joanie is the most sophisticated, continental or European actress of the American cinema. She was the toast of the European directors: Renoir, Korda,JOAN BENNETT & FRITZ LANG III Ophüls, Lang; these European emigres loved working with Bennett, perhaps because she conveys a world-weary je ne sais quoi. And she is the intellectual’s dream come true. She exudes sex; intelligent, clever, sexual allure. It’s not in your face like Marilyn or Ava. Her mind comes first and then her looks.” – Fernando Silva



STANWYCK & BENNETT - III thought she was wonderful in “The Reckless Moment” as a woman rea-lizing just how trapped in suburbia she is when she has to step OUT of it to save her daughter from a black-mailer. And in this journey, an unexpected attraction develops… Stripped of being a glamor puss in this 1949 film, if that distracts you, ( uh, meaning me ) you can see what Bennett’s made of, acting-wise. ( Here is my review but please do see this film. ) I write of The Macomber Affair as well and very highly recommend it.



She’s smart – no fool, Joan. She’s got a wicked sense of humor, most on display in ‘Scarlet Street.’ She’s beautiful but never acts it. She’s down to earth, as all my favorites are. She knows the tone of a piece and plays to it. She can be relaxed or arch, depending on the piece or her co-stars. I like her voice, which is an odd mix of highbrow and New York swagger. She looks as good as a brunette as she does as a blonde. Oh my gosh, what’s NOT to like about Joanie? I can’t think of a thing I DON’T like about her.”  – Wendy T. Merckel 

MISS JOAN BENNETTOne might think of other actresses first before you’d get to her name. And you’d be ( sort of ) forgiven because the bench ran deep with talent in the Golden Age of Hollywood. But when you do get to her name, pause, check her out, visit with her. She can toss a line with the best of ’em, and her glance speaks volumes. She’s wonderful to watch…and look at, quietly holding her own. I didn’t always know that, but thanks to a couple of friends, I know it now. And isnt that what counts? Its been twenty-five years since Joan Bennett passed away. I didn’t want to forget her today. And I wanted to remind you.

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The Scar ~ “Trade Winds ~ “Scarlet Street ~ “The Woman in the Window” ~ “Confirm or Deny ~ “Father’s Little Dividend ~  “The Reckless Moment

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