Above and Beyond (1953) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Fri, May 10, 2013 at 01:15 AM est. *NOTE*:A TCM programming day begins at 6:00am EST on the calendar day listed and runs to 5:59am EST in the morning on the next day. Hours listed at 12:00am to 5:59am EST in your reminder will be shown on the NEXT calendar day. The film is listed as “closed captioned,” but TCM isn’t totally reliable on this.
Directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, who also wrote the screenplay (and share three Best Writing Oscar nominations between them), this historical drama was adapted from Beirne Lay Jr.’s story, for which Lay Jr. received a Best Writing, Motion Picture Story Academy Award nomination; Hugo Friedhofer’s Score was also nominated. Similar to The Begining of the End, this film tells the story behind the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II. However, instead of the focus being on the development of the bomb itself, this one is told from the perspective of the Air Force Colonel in charge of the mission which executed the task itself. Robert Taylor plays Colonel Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber which flew the mission and delivered the payload. Eleanor Parker plays Tibbets’s wife Lucy, and much of the story focuses on the affect this mission had on Tibbets and his family. Review by Classic Film Guide.com
The Actresses I Can’t Forget!
Chicago Daily Tribune Nov. 24, 1956
by Robert Taylor
as told to Freida Zylstra
A scant dozen names are on the starry roster of motion picture actresses who work unfailing magic year after year at the world’s box offices. Why do they last, when others, younger and far more beautiful, fade away after sparkling in the movie sky only briefly?
The feminine stars who have stayed at the peak of their profession while a parade of comets streaked up and down, share several attributes.
Each has distinctive individuality. All have impact. Presence. When any one of them walks into a room you know it. They have temperament. Not old-fashioned temper. None of that going into tantrums over every minor annoyance. They have great vitality and the physical and mental stamina essential to achievement. They scorn the too-easily-come-by-the next best thing. Their enduring careers are not accidents.
Aside from the fact that all the great stars of today have talent and work incessantly to keep themselves on top, I think each one of them has her own specific appeal.
Greta Garbo, alone, personifies the ages-old mystery of the eternal female—will o’ the wisp—tantalizing. Her performances had the smoldering quality, the flow and warmth, of banked fires. Whenever you thought you’d caught the secret of her art, she was off again, leaving you with a handful of shadow. You could never feel you knew Garbo. You did know you had been touched by greatness.
Irene Dunne, a big star, gave me my first real break when she OK’s my playing opposite her in “Magnificent Obsession.” At that time she had (and still has) a gentility that set her apart. Irene is the epitome of poise and refinement: quiet, gentle. She projects these qualities on he screen. Too see her and to know her is an uplifting experience.
To explain the phrase “movie star,” just look at Joan Crawford. She’s it! She treats her fans with respect and honestly appreciates their loyalty. The fact that she never runs down to the corner market in blue jeans is part of that respect—not vanity. Joan is, in my estimation, the perfect and complete exponent of glamor.
Lana Turner, as feminine as a pink parasol, is a glamor type too. She’s flexible and convincing in any role.
Soap and water and sunshine make me think of Ginger Rogers. Ginger’s tremendous capacity for enjoyment, her infectious enthusiasm and her vitality are like a fresh salt breeze. She glows with health, has the grin of a happy, well-adjusted teen-ager, and there’s a kind of radiance about her.
Katharine Hepburn is no pastel copy of anything. She comes thru on the screen as a worldly sophisticate. Vivien Leigh, fragile and feminine, is an exciting personality.
Loretta Young, a motion picture star since she was fourteen is an avowed, unapologetic perfectionist. She’s meticulous about every detail. When we worked together she would step to a mirror, just before each scene, for that last self-analytical inspection. Many’s the time I was tempted to howl like a coyote.
Then, seeing the finished picture, I had to admit, “The lady was right.” She reminds me of the quote–”Genius is the infinite capacity for taking pains.”
I belong to that considerable company which recognizes Barbara Stanwyck as one of the greatest actresses. She submerges herself in each role without compromise, with humility. Off the set she has the real Celtic gift for the droll remark; the deep black moods of the Irish; a child’s wide-eyed faith in the leprechauns.
She has played murderesses and tender, yearning mothers with equal perfection. “The Queen” they call her. The queen is both a woman and a child.
I think Jane Wyman’s perennial popularity can be attributed, partly, to her wonderful sense of humor. (And Myrna Loy’s, too.) And in that department, I salute, with great affection, that great lady of great humor, Carole Lombard. If a plane hadn’t crashed, Carole’s name would be brightening this list. When nostalgia holds you quiet you can almost hear her gay, full-throated laughter. A beauty and an artist, Carole was a woman who took only her love seriously.
The perennial stars are by no means flawless beauties. I can recall some beauts I’ve worked with, in the earlier days of my career, who have long since fallen out of the picture. Beauty, period!
Above all else I think every of the great stars is feminine. Female in the true sense of the word. You feel they like to love and be loved too. They’re all wonderful, these indestructible ladies.
Three Comrades (1938) is playing on TCM on Fri, May 03, 2013 03:00 AM est. *NOTE*:A TCM programming day begins at 6:00am EST on the calendar day listed and runs to 5:59am EST in the morning on the next day. Hours listed at 12:00am to 5:59am EST in your reminder will be shown on the NEXT calendar day.
New York Times Review (summary): Based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, Three Comrades represented one of the few successful screenwriting efforts of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set in Germany in the years just following World War I, the film stars Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone and Robert Young as three battle-weary, thoroughly disillusioned returning soldiers. The three friends pool their savings and open an auto-repair shop, and it is this that brings them in contact with wealthy motorist Lionel Atwill–and with Atwill’s lovely travelling companion Margaret Sullavan. Taylor begins a romance with Sullavan, who soon joins the three comrades, making the group a jovial, fun-seeking foursome Though Sullavan suffers from tuberculosis (her shady past is only alluded to), she is encouraged by her male companions to fully enjoy what is left of her life. This becomes increasingly difficult when one of the comrades, Young, is killed during a political riot (it’s a Nazi riot, though not so-labelled by ever-careful MGM). In the end, the four comrades are only two in number, with nothing but memories to see them through the cataclysmic years to come. Despite its Hollywoodized bowdlerization of the Remarque original, Three Comrades remains a poignant, haunting experience. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The Golden Age
by Robert Taylor
Originally published January 5, 1966 by Variety Magazine. Later published in Film Fan Monthly. Quoted in full in Jane Ellen Wayne, Robert Taylor, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973, 1987.
No matter how old one is, the Golden Age of Hollywood was long ago. I hope I’m not talking tired because I refer to change. Many of the major people are still working today but they have all been transformed.
If today is still the twentieth century, the Hollywood of the 1930”s and early 1940′s was 200 years ago. In a sense it was baroque. There was a style of living and making motion pictures which no longer exists. It has been coldly modernized into something very factual, very efficient—and, I’m afraid, not very much fun.
The creative and artistic management and the fabulous “showmen” still exist—there are a few—but they’re largely working for themselves on a one-picture-every-two-years basis.
Their great talent isn’t directed a “program” of pictures—toward the management and betterment of a studio.
For some of us who were fortunate enough to have been a part of the Golden Age, however, the memory lingers on.
In my own case, I was part of the MGM “Stable.” We called Metro the campus—and even the seasons were semesters. Camaraderie was shared at work and at play, up and down the line, and the aspect of jealousy was virtually nonexistent—at least among the male stars.
There was nothing predictable, except perhaps sunrises and L.B. Mayer—and not necessarily in that order.
L.B. was the most important person in my career, as he was in hundreds of others. He was not a “desk jockey.” He was constantly on the move around the lot—he knew every department—he knew the heads of every department—and he knew everyone’s problems.
Gable was legend, he set the style and the pace. His cars, especially, drove the lesser
lights, like myself, mad with envy. I remember two very distinctly—one a green Deusenberg convertible and the other a Darrin Packard Twelve which Carole Lombard had had built for him.
We associated with each other in those days for fun—not just publicity. The Trocadero was the clubhouse—and on Sunday nights, some outstanding wit was master of ceremonies, introducing for the first time on the West Coast such people as Martha Raye or Joe E. Lewis. Owner Billy Wilkerson would wander around accepting compliments on the wonderful food, wonderful entertainment and wonderful service. And it was just that—wonderful!
People pop up in my memory. Many of them are gone. Wallace Beery was special. Lionel Barrymore had forgotten more about acting than most of us would ever know. Yet he was always—and strangely—shy–about voicing his opinions. However, if you asked him he could sketch a lesson on portrayal that was complete and perfect in a matter of seconds.
I recall visiting him in his stateroom on the Queen Mary after we finished A Yank at Oxford
I found him asleep in his chair—the ashes of his cigarette all over his chest, the butt extinguished by his own lips. He was a very tired man—and unwell—but none of us ever thought that such a marvelous warm moment would ever leave us.
And good old Gary Cooper–”Coop” to just about everyone, whether they knew him or not. In my way of thinking, Coop was the handsomest man—certainly one of the two or three best actors—ever to honor the ranks of the motion picture business. And one of the most beautiful and talented ladies ever to grace a motion picture screen—Vivien Leigh.
The closeness and the pace never did create the terrible dose of imitation current today. Perhaps television is at fault—perhaps not, I honestly don’t know. But at least in that long ago decade we had both poles.
I recall making Magnificent Obsession with Irene Dunne. John Stahl was directing. He approached the responsibility of a director in very much the same manner as I assume an atomic physicist approaches the handling of a bomb—with infinite care and painstaking slowness. It was not uncommon for us to do 30, 40, 50 takes on a relatively simple scene. At the time I was doing retakes on one of the Broadway Melodies and Woody Van Dyke was directing. Woody cut as he shot. He used his camera as though it were a six-shooter and he was the fastest gun in Hollywood. Actors rarely got more than one take on any scene, then the camera was moved rapidly to another set-up. It was, of course, going from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it seemed normal. It was the age.
It ended in the late 1940′s with the unexplained and seemingly premeditated murder of glamour. Television, taxes, actors pricing themselves to the skies—are all part causes, but not the definite ones. I don’t know really.
I can’t explain the demise. Perhaps if someone would correctly explain the phenomenon of rock ‘n’ roll, Beatle haircuts and the beatnik wardrobe, we will start to understand. In any case, it was 200 years ago.
The Milwaukee Journal September 10, 1960
Robert Taylor Hits Actors Who Strut, Pose as Artists
By Robert Taylor
North American Newspaper Alliance
A frequent source of embarrassment to actors fortunate enough to have achieved that ephemeral state known as stardom is that they are popularly supposed to possess all-inclusive wisdom equipping them to discourse expertly on any subject from aardwolves to zymosis.
Let’s face it, I knew neither the meaning or the existence of those two words until I saw them in my dictionary just a moment ago. Why should I? They’re hardly valuable additions to anyone’s workaday vocabulary.
Using the same line of reason, why should I be regarded as an expert on finance, politics, love or the emotional world of the teenager? Yet scarcely a week goes by that some newspaper or magazine doesn’t invite me to pontificate upon these subjects–sometimes even to give advice which readers may take seriously.
This is the lot of the actor. I appreciate the compliment but must decline with one exception. I don’t claim to be an expert on acting although it’s been my profession for many years. But I do know something about actors. Some of my best friends are actors–but that’s not why they’re my friends. And there are other actors I can do without–the lads who mistake temperament for art.
Of course, there are a few practitioners whose characterizations are really worthy of the word art. But by and large, acting is no more an art than cooking or “pops” singing or gardening. It is a craft–a challenging one–which requires dedication and practice. But it is rarely art. And I’ve been at it a quarter century.
Don’t get me wrong–good acting is no cinch. It is not a profession just anyone can handle, a job anyone can successfully carry out. In my TV series The Detectives, we shoot in three days what MGM in days of old took six weeks to film. And the results are just about as good. This demands proficiency, intelligence, organization. But the art, if it’s there–and I think it is from time to time–is in the writing, the direction.
Actors, particularly those with little experience, who regard themselves as artists don’t help their profession. Years ago the hallmark of the glamorous actor was a thing called temperament. He showed up late for work or failed to show at all. He quarreled with his director, disregarded general rules of etiquette and procedure. He has to hog the spotlight.
Today temperament is largely under control. The economics of a business under pressure of competition from bowling and boating does not permit tantrums. In its place we got art!
The trouble with many actors is that they take themselves too seriously. They feel they are a breed apart. I recall when I first gained recognition actors were regarded as little white gods, and it was the studio which placed them on this pedestal. There’s a longing for group identification among many actors today–so they wear buttonhole badges saying “artist.” I’ve worked with some of these gents who can’t remember a page of dialog or mouth a line so it can be understood.
But they’ll research a role for weeks. They’ll seek the motivation which prompted this cowboy to mount his horse in a certain manner, or that detective to carry a gun strapped to his left kneecap.
True artists never speak of themselves as such. Schweitzer doesn’t, nor does Spencer Tracy. Irving Berlin doesn’t compare himself to Beethoven or affect whatever appearance the artist is supposed to wear–in Hollywood it is frequently goatee for the male and heavy eye make-up for the female!
These “arty” actors are wont to say they act because it allows them vast emotional release. It permits them to express their inner selves. I say phooey. Busy actors only occasionally get a role permitting them to express their own emotions. The challenge is to express the emotions of the character you play, and to move the emotions of your audience.
This sometimes can veritably be art. More often than not it is an exhibition of considerable skill, the exercise of self-discipline and imagination.
It is a worth while trading serving a worthy purpose and the gratification it offers is that of a job well done. I consider myself a thorough professional, but I do not consider myself an artist in any way, shape or form. The term is one to be reserved for a special few.
Those who appropriate it for themselves do the true artists wrong.