Today, we’re celebrating something important: the legendary Sidney Poitier is 90, and he’s still with us! For the occasion, I’m hosting the 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon. Click here to read all the marvellous entries.
The first Sidney Poitier’s film I saw was In the Heat of the Night. I remember renting it at this video store that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist anymore and, like most 1967 films, truly enjoyed it. As two of the participants indicated it in their article, it’s a shame Sidney wasn’t Oscar nominated for his role. I honestly believe it’s one of his best performances. It’s full of strength, determination and charisma. You know, that kind of performance that shows us what great acting is. Anyway, just for that “They call me Mister Tibbs!” moment alone he should have been nominated.
But, luckily, Sidney won the Oscar in 1964 for his brilliant performance in Lilies of the Fields (1963). A most deserved Oscar as, I believe, it’s his best performance (well, for the films I’ve seen so far). Just like his the film itself, is portraying of Homer Smith is touching and honest. He doesn’t fail to make us smile, and share out his anger toward Mother Maria! The most amazing thing about this Oscar win is that Sidney was the first African-American actor to win an Oscar (the first actress was Hattie McDaniel for her performance in Gone With the Wind (1939) as Mammy). And it was about time! Just take a look at this speech. Golden moments like this one don’t happen often at the Academy Awards.
He’s so happy 🙂 ❤ Anyway, that moment just makes me smile so much! On another note: Anne Bancroft is gorgeous.
So far, I’ve seen 10 Sidney Poitier’s films (I know, I have many more to see) and I never was disappointed. Well, the only one that I might have liked a little less is Something of Value. I don’t know, it was a bit too dramatic. But never Sidney Poitier failed to impress me. As I told it, he kills it with that determination, the clarity of his speech, his presence, his wisdom… And that laugh! My, I love it. It just warms your heart, don’t you think?
Sidney was a man of many talents. Not only he could act, but he could also:
And even sing! (Warning: for those who haven’t seen it, this is the final scene of Lilies of the Fields! )
Ok, where is that musical starring Poitier now? Is there one? Because if yes, you have to let me know asap. And if no, well… too bad.
Sidney Poitier was not only the first African-American actor to receive an Oscar, but he also was one of the first one to be cast in leading, various and serious roles (other than a servant or a singer in a club, like it was often the case in classic films). And he rocked it and proved that not just white actors were able to play all kinds of roles. (And, between you and me, he’s better than some of them… hahaha). Sidney has always shown the greatest example of anti-racism through his films. In The Defiant Ones, he proves that an African-American and a caucasian can become friends. In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, he proves that love between two persons of different ethnic groups is possible. In In the Heat of the Night, he proves that black men deserve to be respected as much as white men are, etc. Well, it’s more the film itself that proves all this, but let’s say he’s the proud representative of anti-racism movies. He’s a legend and everybody should be proud of him for what he brought to the divine art of cinema.
There is much more I would like to know about Sidney Poitier. I’m familiar with his work as an actor, but, I’d like to know more about his life (other than what I can read on Internet…). So, biographies’ recommendations are quite welcome here!
In 1992 Sidney Poitier received his AFI Life Achievement Award. His friend Harry Belafonte (who will also celebrate his 90th birthday quite soon – March 1) payed a tribute to him by singing Amen. We can see Sidney he’s thrilled and it’s personally one of my most favourite YouTube videos ever!
Faithful to my habits, I’d now like to present you my top 10 Sidney Poitier’s film! Honestly, it’s a hard job because, as I’ve said, I really love all his movies. But, let’s give it a try:
1- A Patch of Blue (this one is my favourite for sure)
2- To Sir, with Love
3- Blackboard Jungle
4- Lilies of the Fields
5- The Defiant Ones
6- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
7- No Way Out
8- In the Heat of the Night
9- Edge of the City
10- Something of Value
Well, that gives you a rough idea.
Happy 90 birthday Sidney Poitier! You are one of a kind!
Paul Dupuis is not a name that rings a bell to many people of my generation. However, if I talk about him with my grandparents or older people, they’ll remember him as this handsome man with a very deep voice who was “great in Les Belles Histories des Pays d’en Haut“. He was one of those French-Canadian actors that had its notoriety, but is unfortunately a bit forgotten nowadays. On my side, if I hadn’t seen Madness of the Heart, I would probably have not come across him. When I watched this British film for the first time, this handsome young man, who was cast as Margaret Lockwood’s love interest, picked my curiosity. So, I checked what was his name: Paul Dupuis. Hum, that’s sounded French! It was even better, he was Quebecois (or French-Canadian if you prefer). Last year, in my class of Quebecois cinema, I decided to do my final essay on films of the 40’s and the 50’s, but, to tell you the truth, that was mainly an excuse to see more Paul Dupuis’ films. 😉 I don’t regret it, because I saw some interesting stuff, movies that, just like Paul, are not remembered very well today.
I’m really not an expert on Paul Dupuis and I’ve seen only three of his films. But I’ve chosen to write about him because I think he deserves more recognition. And if, like me, you like to discover new actors, well, there you go. I, however, have a sort of obsession with him and sometimes I can spend hours looking for articles and videos about him on the web. Quite a stimulating activity. It’s mostly through this research that I discovered myself a real fascination for the man. Paul Dupuis was one of a kind, and he was much more than a “simple” movie star.
With the help of all my readings, I created this mini biography that I hope you’ll find complete and informative.
Who Was Paul Dupuis?
Birthday and college years
Paul Dupuis was born in Montreal on August 11, 1916. He was the son of Carmel Girouard and Pierre-Louis Dupuis, a juvenile court judge. From 1933 to 1934 he did classical studies at Collège de l’Assomption. Paul Dupuis’ love for acting started when he attended Collège St. Laurent and was part of the amateur theatre group “Les Compagnons de St. Laurent” (or simply “Les Compagnons”) create by Father Legault, to whom he owned his love for the theatre. In an article from La Voix de Shawinigan, Gabriel Langlais describes Paul Dupuis as “father Legault’s spiritual son”. Later, after Paul became an established movie and onstage actor, he eventually became assistant director, actor, professor, and director at Les Compagnons, at the request of Father Legault. His passage at Les Compagnons is well remembered for his successful performance in Shakespeare’s Henry IV as the leading role, in 1951.
It’s important to know that, despite his talent for acting, it was a bit by accident that he became an actor. Yes, he spent glorious times performing with Les Compagnons, but Paul first worked (briefly) as a newspaper cartoonist. He also worked as an announcer and director at Radio-Canada and joined CBC in 1937 and was sent, not long after, in London, as a War Correspondent. Meanwhile, he married Jacqueline-Thérèse Godin (daughter of Joseph-Eugène Godin et Hortense Mongenais) at St. Léon de Westmount church in 1939. They had two children, Pierre-Louis and Marie. In 1945, Paul, who then was a journalist, not an actor yet, made an important war reportage entitled Mort du Soldat Bourdage au Front in which he talked about the death of Private Bourdage and made a glorious portrait of him. However, the soldier was not really dead! His trace was lost after an explosion and he was declared dead, but a bit too early. Fortunately, this allowed Bourdages to see Dupuis’s wonderful tribute to him.
The raise of an actor
Paul Dupuis’s first on-screen role (or should I say “appearance) was in Yellow Canary, a 1943’s British spy movie. He, however, was uncredited. Paul Dupuis first important role was in 1945’s Johnny Frenchman, a film about a Breton Fisherman directed by Charles Frend and also starring Patricia Roc, Paul Walls and Françoise Rosay. It’s a screen-test arranged by his friend Gerry Wilmott (who also worked at Radio-Canada) who led him to obtain an important role in the film. Paul then became a revelation, both in Europe and in his native country, Canada, where the film was first screened at Imperial Theatre in Montreal in Spring 1946. Johnny Frenchman was praised for its quality. An article from Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin said about it that it had “a realism impossible to duplicate in Hollywood-made product.” The same journalist wrote that he and his co-star Patricia Roc were “natural and appealing as the British-French romantic pair.” Journalist Marc Thibeault also described him as a future big star of British Cinema in his article “Johnny Frenchman”, avec Paul Dupuis, une agréable surprise. Due to his success in the film, Paul Dupuis signed a long time contract with J. Arthur Rank in the 40’s.
From 1945 to 1951, he shot about 15 films in England, including The White Unicorn, Passport to Pimlico, Madness of the Heart, The Reluctant Widow and Sleeping Car to Trieste. For many of these roles, only goods were said about Paul Dupuis:
For their performance in the comedy-thriller Sleeping Car to Trieste, Paul Dupuis and his co-stars Derrick de Marney and Jean Kent were said to be “prominent in the action” in a Showmen’s Trade Review article of April 1949. Another article from the same magazine qualified his performance in Passport to Pimlico (June 1949) of “convincing”. Moreover, a July 1949’s article praised Paul Dupuis’ performance in Madness of the Heart (his second film alongside Margaret Lockwood, the first one being The White Unicorn) and said about it:”Paul Dupuis proves his ability with a sincere, clear-cut characterization as the French husband.” The film has its faults, but, like many Margaret Lockwood’s films from the 40’s, it was a commercial success. There is no doubt on the convincing performances of the actors: Paul the French gentleman, Margaret Lockwood, his blind wife, and Kathleen Byron as the mean and jealous woman. The film was directed by Charles Bennett, most well-remembered for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock as a screenwriter (Blackmail, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps, Sabotage, Secret Agent, Young & Innocent, Foreign Correspondent and Saboteur).
Paul’s career in Europe was not only spent in England, but also in France where he starred in L’Inconnue de Montréal, Les Pépés font la loi,Passion de femmes, etc.
Despite his success in Europe in the 40’s and 50’s, and his international reputation, Paul’s heart really belonged to Canada, and I believe the importance of his career, his unique persona was really created in his native country. In a June 1951’s article for Photo Journal, Paul Dupuis was quoted saying ” Il faut quitter le Canada pour l’apprécier. Je n’ai jamais été un immigré. Les années passées loin de mon pays on été pour moi des années d’exil, malgré le succès qu’on s’est plu à me reconnaître en Europe.” ( You have to quit Canada to appreciate it. I never was an immigrant. The years spent far from my country were for me years of exile, despite the success I had in Europe.). This was his answer to the question ” Why are you coming back?” (to Canada). Interestingly enough, after the shooting of Madness of the Heart, Paul had a desire to go back to Canada with a Norwegian Cargo (as the road was more adventurous), but he had to cancel as the boat reservations were already all booked and he was requested to star in the film The Romantic Age (Edmond T. Gréville, 1949)
Paul’s first film made in Quebec was La Forteresse, a 1946’s film directed by Fédor Ozep in which he plays the role of an author-compositor suspected of murder. His co-stars were Nicole Germain, Jacques Auger et Henri Letondal. The exteriors of the film were shot in Quebec City and Montmorency Falls. That’s the second Paul Dupuis’ film I saw and he didn’t fail to impress me.
In Canada, Paul was also seen in Étienne Brûlé, Gibier de Potence, Ti-Coq, or Les Belles Histoires des Pays d’en Haut at the television. Actually, if you mentioned Paul Dupuis to a Quebecois, it’s more likely Ti Coq and Les Belles Histoires that will ring a bell. These are the productions he is most well-remembered for here. He grabbed the attention of writer Claude-Henri Grignon, author of Un homme et son péché and that’s how he obtained the role of Arthur Buies in the radio version of the novel as well as the television adaptation (entitled Les Belles Histoires des Pays d’en Haut). I have to be honest, I never saw Paul in Les Belles histories, but I’ve heard only goods about it. Paul Dupuis himself liked the character and found him to be appealing. As for Ti-Coq, this cinematographic adaptation of Gratien Gélinas’ play (also director by Gélinas and also starring Gélinas in the leading role), his role is a small, but appreciable and convincing. What I like about it is that he inspires wisdom.
The theatre man
” Actually, I would like to appear in the theatre, but I would have to be sure that the play and the part are just right for me, otherwise I think such an experiment would do me harm than good.” (Paul Dupuis, interviewed by Anthony Firth for Picturegoer, 1949)
We all remember that Paul’s interest in acting started while he was an actor for Les Companions de St-Laurent. His onstage career, however, didn’t stop there. While he was in England, he played in West-End London’s theatres, but, once again, his artistic heart truly belonged to Canada. There, we saw him on stage in Ten Little Indians in 1953 (presented by the Canadian Players), Henri IV (as I mentioned it earlier), or again in Claudel-Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher in the role of Brother Dominic. The play was staged by Jan Doat ( stage director at l’opéra de Paris) and bandmaster Wilfrid Pelletier. The premiere took place at the Palais du Commerce in July 1952 and opened the Festival 1953. Paul was chosen by la Société des Festivals de Montréal to star in the play, alongside Claude Nollier.
Radio and television
In the 60’s, Paul Dupuis forged an important radio and television career in Canada, putting his cinematic career a bit aside. On the television, he was the animator of Voix de Femmes, a feminine magazine where Mme Françoise Gaudet-Smet was revealing to women the secret of a good housekeeper and where Thérèse Casgrain was defending women’s legal rights. He was also seen in the cinematographic television show : Billet de faveur. He often made important reportages for Radio-Canada, both on radio and television. I remember my uncle mentioning a coffee commercial with Paul Dupuis. I tried to find more information about it, but without success.
Apart from being recognized for his acting talent, his charm and his beauty, it seems that Paul Dupuis also had a magical speaking voice, which could surely assure him a successful radio career. Journalist Fernand Côté, said of Paul Dupuis that he was excellent to read texts and to give them all their “flavour and texture” and that he had a “convincing voice tone”. His voice was also said to be “amused, malicious and tragic”. On the radio, Paul Dupuis played the role of Julien Bédard in Jeunesse Doré, was the narrator of Une demie heure aver… directed by Madeleine Gérôme, reader for the special program of l’Organisation des mesures d’urgence, narrator for the show about the arctic Au Pays du Long Sommeil by André Morin (although I’m not sure if this was a television or a radio show…), animator for Billet de Faveur, etc.
Despite his success on the radio and television in the 60’s, Paul Dupuis mysteriously put and end to his career in 1970. In 1976, he was found dead at the Nymark hotel in St-Sauveur, where he lived. He was only 60. He was buried at the Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery. Now, I’m a bit confused by the subject since, an article from The Montreal Gazette says that he died of natural causes, while Claude Jasmin, writer and once Paul Dupuis’s neighbour, implicitly mentions a suicide in his blogging article ” Mort à St-Sauveur”. The writer mentions Paul’s difficult character (which led him on the “blacklist”), alcoholic problems and his career downfall (which could indeed eventually lead to a suicide). Is it all true? Just like the man, I think this will remain a mystery and for the moment the sources on the subject are a bit limited. However, Paul Dupuis was much more than that, and he will always be remembered for the goods he brought to journalism, cinema, radio and television.
Yes, because Paul Dupuis was much more than a simple actor, he was a real personality, one of a kind. Interestingly enough, when he was criticized about his look, his answer on the subject was a bit similar to Ingrid Bergman’s one: while being interviewed by Anthony Firth for Picturegoer in 1949, he said to the journalist “At the beginning of my career, I have been told that my nose is not right to which I only answer: so what? I do not consider myself a glamour boy of the screen, and if my nose can stop me from becoming a good actor then I might as well look for another profession.” Well, take me like I am or don’t take me at all! That’s the spirit. Paul loved his acting profession and it was much more about talent than physical look for him. However, don’t get me wrong, he was often known as “the handsome Paul Dupuis”.
Paul had a unique personality. Known as a very private man, he inspired both fear and respect, was a man of fine tastes, an independent, he was very polite, etc. Paul didn’t like to talk about himself, but he loved talking about his passions and interest. He appreciated music and his tastes were various: while he enjoyed Gregorian chants or Mozart, he also found a real revelation in blues and rock and roll, especially with Elvis Presley’s music. Paul also loved to read, especially authors of the 18e century. He loved nature, car rides (for him, to drive from St-Sauveur to Montreal and vice versa every day was not a problem), animals (especially horses and dogs), etc. His other hobbies were squash, singing, but what he liked to most was painting, as it is written in Anthony Firth’s article. Paul also was an eccentric of his own kind. For example, as it is revealed by Fernand Côté, if he has to go to the Place des Arts (an important concert hall in Montreal) after a day of horse riding, he would go wearing horse riding’s outfit! Fernando Côté also said of Paul Dupuis that, despite some of his life challenges, he chose meditation and reflection instead of wickedness and aggressively. Paul was a wise and thoughtful man.
As you can see, it is quite surprising that Paul Dupuis is a bit forgotten today, despite his success while he was alive. If I’ve seen only three of his films: Madness of the Heart, La Forteresse, and Ti-Coq, it’s really by reading all these articles about him that I became a fan. I mean, he was such a brilliant man!
I recently bought on eBay this autograph!
And also this old magazine with Paul on the front page.
I hope I succeed to give you an accurate life portrait of this magnificent French-Canadian man. It required a lot of research, which I had, fortunately, mostly done before I even
consider writing this article. If you wish to watch his films, why don’t you do like me and start with Madness of the Heart? 😉
When I think about the fact that William Holden is now my second favourite actor (after James Stewart), it makes me realize how a person’s tastes can change. We’re celebrating today what would have been his 98th anniversary and, for the occasion, I’m hosting my first William Holden Blogathon, aka The Golden Boy Blogathon. For my contribution, I’m going to explain how he became a favourite of mine, and why.
First time I saw William Holden on screen, it was in Billy Wilder’s Sabrina released in 1954. That was a good thing to start with as Holden was a Billy Wilder’s favourite, having starred in four of his films (Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Sabrina and Fedora). Only, I decided to watch this film for Audrey Hepburn. As I wasn’t looking for him, I didn’t really pay attention to his acting (not to admit that I didn’t really care for him at the time and not to mention that his role in this film is not my favourite). Anyway, I then saw some other films with him: The Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean, 1957) and The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mark Robson, 1954). But, once again, I was paying attention to some other actors and not to him. Poor Bill! How I was cruel to him!
Title: BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, THE ¥ Pers: HOLDEN, WILLIAM ¥ Year: 1957 ¥ Dir: LEAN, DAVID ¥ Ref: BRI016DR ¥ Credit: [ COLUMBIA / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]
But, one day, I borrowed Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950) at my school library. I can still see myself looking at the dvd cover to see the names of the actors who were starring in this film. When I saw Holden’s name, I said to myself “Him again! I think I should pay more attention to him this time.” Of course, I had too as he is the main actor in this film…
I didn’t regret because Sunset Boulevard is the film that made him a favourite of mine. Immediately after I saw this film, I put him on my favourite actor’s list. I still think his performance in this film is one of his best. It’s so… honest! He was nominated for an Oscar, but lost it to José Ferrer for his performance in Cyrano de Bergerac.
Of course, he wasn’t very high on my favourite actors’ list, but he was here, so that’s the most important. Anyway, as I enjoyed him in Sunset Boulevard it made me want to watch more of his films. If you remember, last year, I even did a William Holden’s marathon and watched 15 of his films, plus Sunset Boulevard again and that hilarious I Love Lucy’s episode! And I watched three more for the blogathon. So, with a total of 25 films viewed, he his the actor from whom I have seen the most films.
After I did my marathon, I put him on the 5th place in my favourite actor’s list. But the more I was thinking about him, the more I was fond of him and couldn’t resist putting him in the second position. Seriously, he is really fantastic (and quite handsome too, we have to admit it)!
So, when I think that, now, he is my second favourite actor of all times and I used to “not care” about him, I really laugh at myself.
Actually, there are several reasons why he is a favourite of mine. One of the first is his versatility as an actor. To me, he will always be one of the most verstatile actors to have ever grace the screen. Of course, it’s by seeing many of his films that I realized that. He could play a tough guy (The Wild Bunch), a sensible one (Our Town), both in the same film (Golden Boy). He could be romantic (Dear Ruth) or not really (Sabrina). He could be serious (The Devil’s Brigade, Sunset Boulevard) or funny (The Remarkable Andrew), and even more. And he excelled at transmitting to us all this myriade of emotions.
He was even good at playing himself! Look at him in this I Love Lucy‘s episode: William Holden playing William Holden in an humorous way is one of the best things that ever happened to classic television.
Of course, something about William Holden that makes me completely gaga is his irresistible smile. *Sight*… He’s such a cutie pie when he smiles. I wish he was my neighbour you know. And he had the perfect ability to not only smiles with his mouth, but also with his eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes. Of course, physical appearance is not the most important thing about an actor, talent is, but I HAVE to say it: I have a big crush on him!! I love men with dark hair and blue eyes (and an irresistible smile). So Holden is pretty much the perfect model.
Except his acting talent and his beauty, I have to say Bill began to have a very important place in my heart when I saw him in one of his very early films: Golden Boy. Thanks to his co-star Barbara Stanwyck, to whom William Holden will always be her “Golden Boy”, who recognize her talent, he was able to be accepted in the world of movie stars. We don’t remember him much for this film, but it played an important role in his career. Not to mention that it was his first credited film. As he is my age in this film (21), I can sort of identity to him (and also because he plays violin and I used to play the violin). Talking about violin, there this scene which is for me one of the most touching of Bill’s career. Bill as Joe Bonaparte is back home and discovers the violin his father (Lee J. Cobb) had bought to him for his birthday. He is marvelled by this musical treasure and can’t resist playing. When he plays, there’s so much softness, so much tenderness in him. Then his family and a neighbour come to listen to him. His father has tears in his eyes when he sees him doing what he loves. We wished this beautiful and emotional scene would last forever! With his Bambi eyes, all we want is to take care of this golden boy.
I read, in one of the articles for the blogathon, that William Holden often played very independent characters. I pretty much agree. We feel he knows what he wants and will find a way to do it. Yes, he can succumb to the temptation like in Sunset Boulevard or Golden Boy, but he knows how to say no, no matter what the consequences are. Our Golden Boy certainly knew how to transmit an unique and strong personality to each one of his characters.
He, of course, started his career very young (in his early 20s) and ended it in his early 60s when he passed away. If Barbara Stanwyck, THE Barbara Stanwyck, believed in him, it’s because he indeed had something to give to us. He grew up and the screen grew with him. He took an important and significant maturity, but that never shadowed his earlier performances that sculptured his talent. Holden was one of the actors who knew perfectly how to travel in time. When the cinema modernized itself, he modernized himself with him. He’s one of these timeless actors, you know.
I told you previously that I didn’t know that much about William Holden’s personal life. That’s true. I haven’t read a biography about him and concentrated more on his films. The stuff I know about his personal life mostly is what everybody already knows: his relations with Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, his wedding to Brenda Marshall and, unfortunately, his tragic death due to reasons that I don’t want to talk about today as I’m here to honour him. Because that’s the thing: I think today William Holden would have liked to be remembered for the good he gave to this world and the history of cinema. Oh, Golden Holden was so devoted to his profession! I read about it very recently in an article from April 1956’s Photoplay written by his personal secretary. She explains how much he did for his job, too much, and how stimulating it was to work for him. He was also very independent in real life and didn’t need a servant to bring him his coffee. He wasn’t lazy, that’s for sure!
William Holden’s talent was recognized by the Academy in 1954 when they gave him a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953). Being rushed for a time’s matter, his acceptance speech is known has one of the shortest of film history, being limited to “Thanks you! Thank you!” I honestly hate the Academy for having put such pressure on him. Maybe he had important things to say! We don’t win an Oscar every night. Poor Bill, he seemed so shy. Fortunately, he seemed to have a good sense of humour. The following year, when he was presenting the Best Actress Oscar, he made a joke by saying to the public “As I was going to say last year… [Bob Hope comes whispering in his hear. He looks at his watch]…Well, time is running short again” (!) This night, he gave the Oscar to Grace Kelly, who were her co-star in The Country Girl (George Seaton, 1954). Oh! His smile when he read her name! We know he was happy for her!
Stalag 17 was William Holden’s only Oscar. He also was nominated for his performances in Sunset Boulevard and Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976). This last one proving that, 25 years after his first nomination, he hadn’t lost is talent.
I don’t know where our Golden Boy is now, but he surely is in each heart of those who love and loved him: his family, his friends, his girlfriends and even his fans. He is not with us anymore, but he would probably have been thrilled to know that people still find a way to honour him. Giving him the right remembrance was very important to me, that’s why I created the Golden Boy Blogathon. I invite you to read all the marvellous entries by clicking on the following link:
Frank Sinatra, who was one of the most acclaimed crooner of music history, would have been 100 on December 12, 2015. The man wasn’t only a great singer, but also a swell actor. One of his most acclaimed performances was the one in From Here to Eternity for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. From Here to Eternity is one of those films that, before I saw it for the first time, thought I would like it, but finally loved it. It’s now among my very favourite films. It has so many qualities and one of them is the actor performances. Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed and Deborah Kerr all give memorable performances and, without the shadow of a doubt, Frank greatly deserved his award.
I’m happy to write about his performance in this film, because I’m participating to the Sinatra Centennial Blogathon hosted by Movie Classics and The Vintage Cameo. The event takes place from December 10 to December 13, 2015. All the participating blogs are celebrating Sinatra’s 100th birthday each in their own way. I could have been more original and talk about one of his less known work, but, somehow, I had to write about From Here to Eternity. You see, it’s because of this film and this performance that he became a favourite of mine.
From Here to Eternity was based on the successful novel by James Jones. It was directed by Fred Zinneman (High Noon, The Men, The Nun’s Story, A Man for all Seasons) and released in 1953. It was a success by being one of the most successful films of the decade at the box office. It also won no less than 8 Academy Awards: Best Picture (Buddy Adler), Best Director (Fred Zinnemann), Best Screenplay (Daniel Taradash), Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed), Best Cinematography Black and White (Burnett Guffey), best film editing (William A. Lyon) and Best Sound Recording (John P. Livadary). It also was nominated for Best Actor (twice: Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster), Best Actress (Deborah Kerr), Best Costume Design (black and white: Jean Louis) and Best Score (George Duning and Morris Stoloff).
The story takes place at Schofield Barrack on Oahnu, a Hawaiian island. We are at the beginning of the war in 1941. Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt had just been transferred to this barrack. Captain Dana Holmes (Philip Ober) had heard that he is a boxing champion and wants him in his regimental team, but Prewitt refuses. He had decided to quit boxing having been responsible of a tragic accident. However, Holmes is not ready to give up, but Prewitt is a hard head. On its arrival, Prewitt finds his friend Private Angelio Maggio (Frank Sinatra) who will always be there to support him against Holmes’ pressure. He then meets his superior First Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster). Warden doesn’t seem to appreciate Prewitt at first, but he learns to, and a seems to somehow admire Prewitt’s stubbornness. One night, Prewire and Maggio are out in a club, Prew (as they call him) meets Alma “Lorene” Burke (Donna Reed) and falls in love with her. On his side, Warden his having and affair with Captain Holmes’s wife, Karen (Deborah Kerr). They are both in love with each others, but this isn’t an easy relation.
In his first appearance in the film as Maggio, Frank Sinatra is introduced to us as the “nice guy”. We can’t really see if he’s giving a good performance after only a few lines, but we can guess he would be the “character we want to be friend with”. And that’s what exactly who Maggio is. He is a real pal to Prew, but also to us because. We can easily say he is, in a way, the character we appreciate the most from the beginning until the end. But unfortunately, Maggio is also the guy who gets easily into trouble. As a matter of fact, they all do, especially him and Prew. That’s probably why they get along so well.
Before starring in this film, Franks Sinatra was most well-known for his roles in comedies or musicals. Thanks to Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift’s help, he improved his dramatic acting abilities during the shooting of this film. Franks Sinatra was very grateful to them and remained a long time friend with Burt Lancaster. This shooting was also a certain test for him, considering what he was going through in his personal life. His marriage with Ava Gardner was indeed at its end. I always thought that it was quite a tour de force for an actor or an actress to give a brilliant acting performance when things aren’t going very happily his/her life. That makes me think of my article I wrote about Laurence Olivier’s performance in Spartacus for the Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier Blogathon. When he shot this film, his relation with Vivien Leigh was coming at his end, and it was not an easy moment for him and Vivien, considering Vivien’s mental illness. But, he worked hard and gave an unforgettable performance.
But let’s get back to Frank Sinatra. In only one movie, from the beginning until the end, he manages to prove us that he was indeed able to be a versatile actor, going in the comic emotions and then the more dramatic ones. We can easily say that he is the funniest one in the film and gives to Maggio a great sense of humour and comedy. He knew how to express his comic lines in the right tone, with the right emotions and gestures to make us laugh. This is not a comedy, but laughs never hurt. Actually, Frank Sinatra’s performance makes this film alive. Not that it wouldn’t be a good film without him, but it would be different, something would be missing you see.
As much as he knew how to play the nice guy, Frank Sinatra was also able to prove us that he could get angry sometimes. This is more obvious in this scene in the bar where he gets involved in a violent argument with Staff Sergeant “Fatso” Judson (Ernest Borgnine). This is how he would start to get involved into trouble. Frank Sinatra is quite convincing in this scene. We believe in his anger.
During his last appearance in the film [SPOILER ALERTE], Frank Sinatra plays his dramatic card. This is indeed one of the saddest scenes of From Here to Eternity: having previously deserted his post, Maggio is sent to the barrack jail. Unfortunately for him, Fatso is in charge of it. In his last scene, Maggio has just escaped from the jail, but has been beaten to death by Fatso. Prew arrives at the same time. Maggio dies in his arms. Those moments in cinema when a friend dies in another friend’s arms are always heartbreaking (I’m suddenly thinking of Forrest Gump). Why? Because it seems unfair to loose a friend in such a cruel way. Of course, this works only if both actors are credible. Frank and Montgomery are. This scene is very short, very simple. Frank Sinatra doesn’t over act. We almost feel he is really dying. That’s the end of Maggio and, just like Prew, we feel terribly lonely by his absence. [END OF SPOILER]
If you look at this clip where Frank Sinatra wins his Oscar, the crowd seems really enthusiast about it. Even Mercedes McCambridge, who was presenting the award, jumps of joy when she names him! He deserved it.
Frank Sinatra doesn’t sing in From Here to Eternity. As a matter of fact, the musical side of this film is embodied by Montgomery Clift’s character who plays trumpet. He doesn’t sing, but he acts. And his acting is as much good as his singing, and that means a lot.
I remember, I was first introduced to Franks Sinatra as a singer when I was a child, because my parents were (and still are) always listening to his album “My Way”. And then, I think I first saw him in Guys and Dolls. However, it’s really by watching From Here to Eternity that I started having a biggest interest in him, both as a singer and an actor. Now I’m always happy when my parents are listening to this “My Way” album! Frank Sinatra really was one of a kind.
A big thanks to our host blogs Movie Classics and The Vintage Cameo for having such a great blogathon idea. Of course, I invite you to read the other lovely entries. Just click here:
“Grace Kelly fell in love very easily; too easily.”
– Lizanne Kelly-
It’s not an unknown fact that Grace Kelly, who was one of the most beautiful ladies ever, had many lovers during her acting life. One of them was the actor William Holden. But hey, I’m not here to accuse her (I’m too much a fan for that!), but to honour and glorify her teamwork with William Holden, as actors. They were great and I love them both so much.
I’m happy to write this article in honour of Grace Kelly’s 86th birthday, and this will be my contribution to The Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon, hosted by…me! In the following text, I’ll focus on Grace Kelly and William Holden’s co-acting in the two films they made together: The Bridges at Toko-Ri and The Country Girl.
You might want to know why I’ve decided to write about Grace Kelly and William Holden instead of Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby or Grace Kelly and James Stewart, for example. Well, the answer is simple, I love William Holden and both are my second favourite actor and second favourite actress. So, I thought it would be an interesting concept!
The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mark Robson, 1954)
Kelly and Holden first worked during the making of The Bridges at Toko-Ri, released in 1954. In this war movie taking place during the Corean War, Grace Kelly plays the role of Nancy, his lovely and proud wife. William Holden is an USA Navy pilot and lieutenant fighting in the war. He has for dangerous mission to destroy the Toko-Ri bridges in North Corea. Grace Kelly has a quite small part in this film. We see her when Harry has a permission. He spends it in Japan with her and their kids.
Even if Grace Kelly’s participation in this film was rather small, it’s impossible not to notice her and she certainly added a lot to the film. In my opinion, the best scenes of this film are those including the actress. First, the chemistry between her and William Holden is just beautiful. They have to play a married couple that is sincerely in love with each others. Believe me, it worked.
Grace Kelly is wonderfuly introduced in The Bridges at Toko-Ri when William Holden arrives in Japan by boat. The big ship arrives at the harbour just like Nancy (Grace Kelly). She’s trying to find her husband and he’s looking for her too. It’s his friend Mike (Mickey Rooney) who notice her. He waves at her with his green scarf so they can see them. This moment when she finally sees William Holden is one we would want to last forever. They both wave at each others with their most honest and happy smile. She blows a kiss at him and they run in each others arms, after having been away from each others due to the war.
During the evening, they have dinner with Admiral George Tarrant (Fredric March). Unfortunately, Harry has to quit to go help Mike, who have some troubles. During his absence, George explains the dangerous Toko-Ri’s mission to Nancy. This one worries and when Harry is back at the hotel, she asks him to talk to her about the bridges. She wants to understand better what his husband will have to face. She cares for him. He first refuses, but finally accept. Nancy is now more “ready” to face the fact that she might become a widow. This is a very beautiful scene. During it, William Holden and Grace Kelly lays next to each others in a bed. Grace Kelly’s request is full of goodwill and we see that she is devoted to him and that she loves him. This makes us regret her too short appearance in the film.
There’s not just sentimental scenes in this film. One of the funniest also include Grace Kelly! She, her husband and their children decide to go bathe in the hotel pool. They wish to be alone, because we understand that they are all naked! Nancy worries that someone might comes, but Harry assures her that he had reserved the place for them and only them. However, not a long time after, a Japanese family enters into the place. Harry tries to tell them that they have reserved the place, but they don’t understand. Meanwhile, Nancy tries to hide herself and the children. The Japanese family completely undresses and go in its own pool. This funny moments turn in a friendly one when the two families finally starts to socialize and talk to each others. The Japanese mother says to Grace: “Happy family.” to what she understands, with her sparkling eyes and her beautiful smile “Yes, happy family!” She seems very proud of it!
The last moment between Grace Kelly and William Holden in this film takes place in the harbour when Harry has to take his boat and go back to war. We’ll wish this moment would last forever and, after having seen how a great married couple they make, it’s hard to accept the fact that they’ll have to be separated one from each other one more time. I think the most beautiful shot in this film is the one when the boat floats away and Grace Kelly waves at him. It would actually make a beautiful closing shot, but it’s not.
The Country Girl (George Seaton, 1954)
1954 was a busy year for Grace Kelly as she starred in five films: Dial M for Murder, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Green Fire, Rear Window and, of course, The Country Girl for which she won the Best Actress Oscar. She. deserves. it. Don’t. argue. Of course, that was her second collaboration with William Holden (and her first with Bing Crosby with whom she also starred in High Society two years later.)
When you watch The Bridges at Toko-Ri and then The Country Girl, it’s crazy to see how Grace Kelly and William Holden’s characters’ relations are different from one film to the other. If they were a married couple deeply in love in the first one, in the second one, they first are more like enemies, before having a very brief love affair.
In this film, William Holden is Bernie Dodd, a stage director, who, for a new play (against his producer’s advice), want to hire Frank Elgin (Bing Crosby) for the main role. Frank previously was a notorious singer and actor, but after his son’s death, he started drinking a lot, only causing problems and deteriorating himself . Grace Kelly plays Georgie Elgin, his wife. Bernie suspects her to being too possessive concerning her husband and also think that she has a bad influence of him. For this reason, relations between Georgie and Bernie are at first cold, until he discovers that he was wrong.
Grace Kelly is very different in this film. Having often played a socialite (Rear Window, High Society, To Catch a Thief), she’s now a simple and poor woman. She doesn’t wear make-up or glamorous dresses (expect at the end and in a flashback scene), but she remains pretty, proving us that she also was a natural beauty. This film really shows us Grace Kelly’s versatility and, one more time, a great pairing with William Holden.
The two actors interact with a kind of passion, even when they (their character) don’t like each other, but also when William Holden (Bernie) falls in love with her. I was re-watching the movie the other day for the blogathon and, honestly, concerning Grace Kelly, William Holden, but also Bing Crosby, this really is one of the best on-screen trio I’ve ever seen. For the performances. There’s a scene in this film where Grace Kelly’s explodes and says everything she has been dying to say for a long time. In this scene, she’s alone with William Holden (it’s just before he passionately kisses her) and, still acting and being his character, there’s something in his gaze that seems to tell us that he really admire her here. Most people might not notice this detail, but you have to be attentive. We kind of feel that he’s thinking “She’s at her best.” Unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip of the scene of YouTube, but if you’ve seen it, you probably know which one I’m talking about.
Things in this film don’t end up as Bernie would have wished, but we feel that a certain complicity is born between him and Georgie.
When Grace Kelly won the Oscar for Best Actress, it’s William Holden who was presenting this award during the ceremony. In the following clip, when he opens the envelop and says her name, his forever charming smile appears on his face and he really seems proud of her and happy that she is the winner.
William Holden and Grace Kelly did not only give good on-screen performances, but they also looked beautiful together, with their blue eyes and unique smile. They were able to play a love scene together, just like a quarrel, proving us that they could do everything together.
Grace Kelly’s family never carried William Holden in its heart and her sister Liane said of him “Bill [Holden] like Grace Kelly and awful lot… whatever quality she had, she should have bottled it.”
I’m not sure if they remained friends (maybe you can help me with that!). I’ve read a Grace Kelly bio, but so many men are mentioned that it’s hard to remember in detail what happened to each of them! I’ve tried to find the information on the web without success. I hope they did!
Anyway, don’t they look cute and friendly, building planes together like two adorable child? 🙂
I was happy to write this post for The Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon. I invite you, of course, to read all the other wonderful entries: