Just as we all have our favorite Old Hollywood actors and actresses, we all have the other extreme, don’t we? Actors or actresses that, for whatever reason, don’t float our boat. Heck, there are some we wouldn’t even let on our boat if we were starving and they were carrying a pizza in each hand!
There are various reasons we may not care for them. A few I’ve ran into, personally…
- They may have done something (in real life) that we either disliked or downright hated. The distaste we have for them, as a human, may be so strong that we refuse to watch their body of work – let alone like it.
- They may have said something unkind about one of our favorites and we’re holding a grudge like it’s an Olympic event.
- We may have seen them in one (possibly even two) films or roles and were not impressed – or, if we were impressed, we were not blown away.
Funny thing is, though, very often these “undesirables,” if given half a chance, can win us over. They’ve been known to waltz right into your top favorites when given this the chance to shine.
Confessional time – please don’t hold any of this against me and, if you must judge me, please remember I have made retribution.
I am, by nature, an extremely non-judgmental person. In fact, judgmental people are among my least favorite people. For this reason, I honestly don’t have an issue with holding things actresses/actors did or said in their real life against them. For one thing, they all had their private battles and lived in a completely different world from the one we know. Their “reality” was more like a “fantasy,” and their reactions to the craziness around them simply can’t be put under a microscope and studied. It just isn’t fair. Does it make abuse, affairs, lies, cheating, and so on okay? Of course not.. but, again, their “reality” and “norm” were not like anything we’ve ever seen.
For another thing, a lot of it is hearsay. He said, she said… she did… he did… I read once that an actress had an affair on her husband (an equally well-known and beloved star). I was good and ready to carry a grudge against her for at least a week until I read that the husband was the first to cheat. In fact, it was after his second mistress that she decided that, well… if that’s how he wanted to play.
I put down the grudge.
Finally, how could decide that it’s perfectly reasonable to hold bad behavior against actors and actresses, yet not be prepared to do the same for athletes, historical heroes/heroines, politicians, and authors, right? I mean, if we don’t like a particular actress because she was a lousy mother, what about the first ladies who weren’t exactly Caroline Ingalls either?
When I see my Optometrist, I honestly don’t care what kind of wife, mother, daughter, or sister she is. I don’t care what her opinions about politics are. I don’t care who she likes or doesn’t like. I care about her ability to keep my eyes healthy and prescribe the eye wear I need to keep from running into walls!
That’s it. I just want her to do her job. I judge how good or bad of an Optometrist she is by this and this, alone.
Actors and actresses that have gotten on my bad side earn their way there, usually, by boring me in a particular movie or by not being what I consider to be a good actor/actress.
The following stars have been in my proverbial doghouse before… now, remember, don’t judge me. I saw the light!
Greta Garbo. I used to think Greta Garbo was the most (not one of, mind you, but THE MOST) overrated star to ever exist. I was even convinced that she only existed, in the first place, just to torment me.
Yeah. We have a past.
I first saw her in Hotel – a film that, in MY opinion, Joan Crawford stole and ran away with. When I first saw Grand Hotel, I just kept thinking, “Greta Garbo overacts… she’s kind of painful to watch… oh, geez, where’s Joan?!” From that day, forward, I had a very, very bad impression of Garbo. When one of her movies would come on television, I’d say, “No thanks!” and change it to the History Channel, sports, I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke… a safe, familiar place to hide from Greta.
I finally decided to watch another Greta Garbo movie – Susan Lenox, Her Fall and Rise (1931). I figured, “It has one of my favorite actors, Clark Gable, in it, so at least it’ll be worth it…” I was not prepared to fall head over heels in love with Greta! My old nemesis. She was beautiful, charming, fun to watch, wonderful, and downright adorable. My mind had no idea how it was even possible but it also wanted, very much, to see more Greta Garbo movies.
Simply by having BOTH an open mind AND a desire to love as many stars from Old Hollywood as possible, I was able to discover a new favorite and erase a “least favorite.” That’s always a trade I’m in favor of because positivity beats negativity 10 times out of 10.
Leslie Howard. Blame it on Ashley. I never thought fondly of Leslie Howard and it all has to do with his dull as dirt character, Ashley, in Gone With the Wind. Whenever I saw his face, I saw Ashley and his wishy-washy face. So much so that it took me YEARS to ever consent to watch him in anything! I finally did and… what do you know?… the man was a very, very fine actor. Not the least bit boring, either. Go figure.
(Continued below Maureen O’Hara and Paul Henreid…)
There have been other stars who I actually LIKED, but grew to LOVE when I saw them in different roles.
Two come to mind that I liked a great deal, but after seeing them in more than just one role, they became absolute favorites…
Olivia de Havilland. Again, you can blame Gone With the Wind on this one. Olivia de Havilland was lovely and wonderful as Melanie in Gone With the Wind, but when you’re alongside larger than life characters like Scarlett, Rhett, and Mammy… lovely and wonderful don’t exactly stand out. While I “liked” her, Olivia de Havialland was not in my top 20 favorite actresses by any stretch of the imagination. That is until I saw The Strawberry Blonde, Devotion, and Robin Hood. She didn’t just march into the top 10, she flew past the vast majority of them and reached rarefied air enjoyed by Lucille Ball, Maureen O’Hara, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, and Barbara Stanwyck.
Paul Henreid. I had only seen Mr. Henreid in Casablanca and, like Olivia, I liked him a lot. Great actor, wonderful screen presence… in fact, I couldn’t find a single thing about him to NOT like. And yet… whenever I’d talk about my favorite actors (Humphrey Bogart, Buster Keaton, James Stewart, Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Bob Hope…), his name would not be included.
Every now and then, I make a list which includes 3 stars I want to see more of. Nearly a year ago, I wrote Paul Henreid, Van Johnson, and Susan Hayward in my notebook because, somehow, I had only seen ONE movie for each star! They each have gone on to become absolute favorites. (If you have never seen The Spanish Main with Paul Henreid and Maureen O’Hara, see it! It is one of my favorite swashbuckling movies – in fact, I do believe it is my very favorite.)
Now for the Challenge…
The idea for this challenge came about a few weeks ago. Within one day (ONE DAY, mind you!), on Twitter, I saw the following actors and actresses mentioned along with words such as, “I don’t like____” or “____ doesn’t do anything for me…”
- Katharine Hepburn
- Lucille Ball
- Joan Crawford
- Clark Gable
- James Stewart
- Bette Davis
- Cary Grant
- Ava Gardner
- Lana Turner
- Humphrey Bogart
- Charlie Chaplin
Seriously?? The list above reads like my top tier of favorites… heck, it reads like the top tier of a lot of people’s favorites! Just as I was wondering how anyone could possibly not like any of these stars, it hit me… I’ve been that way before (holy cats, I’m still there with Laurence Olivier and an actress you’d all pass out from if I mentioned her name, so… yeah, I’ll skip that drama. I am still looking for the movie that’ll change my mind about him or her, but the search continues.).
One of my greatest passions in life is Old Hollywood, Classic TV, and Classic Radio shows. I work feverishly to do my part to keep these wonderful stars, films, and episodes shining brightly. I know there are many others who feel the same way. The bottom line is, the more stars we embrace, the more light we can shine on the entire period.
Again, positivity beats negativity every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
The challenge is as simple as it gets – simply write down an actor or actress (start with just one for now) that you either don’t like or are pretty lukewarm toward. Challenge yourself to, in the coming weeks, watch at least two of their films you’ve never seen. If you’re on Twitter, ask their fans for recommendations (we’re always ready to give the top recommendations for our favorites, aren’t we?!)
Try to watch more than two, if you’re able. Whatever you do, approach the film(s) with an open mind. Sitting there thinking, “Okay, little Miss Katharine Hepburn, show me what you’ve got!” probably won’t allow for the best experience.
Note: Not ALL stars are for ALL fans and it is possible you will never like certain stars no matter how many times you watch them. However, it is much, much, much more likely that they will win you over if you give them a chance.
One more word about the “behavior” of some stars. While I do not judge these men and women (any more than I do the ones I see today) and do not hold their behavior or lack of class against them, I do (however) have an extra EXTRA strong appreciation for those who were in the same rat race but didn’t sink to the level of rats. The actors and actresses who were decent humans, good husbands/wives/parents… the ones who their fans can read about in anyone’s biography and feel proud to be a fan.
These stars deserve a little extra appreciation, in my book, and I will always give it to them.
(Continued Below the Legends…)
How About Movie Genres or Decades?
You could also do a similar challenge for movie genres and movie decades. Is there a certain genre you don’t think you care for? A certain decade of films you try to avoid? This is a tough one for me because there is absolutely NO genre I don’t love and no decade I don’t cover with my movie obsession.
If you can think of a genre or decade, challenge yourself to watch a few relevant movies in the coming weeks. Again, if you’re on Twitter, ask for recommendations! If you aren’t on Twitter…. get there! Okay, only slightly kidding. If you aren’t on Twitter, ask other movie fans for recommendations.
Another approach would be this – think of an actor or actress you like, then see if they were in a movie in the genre you need. If you like Barbara Stanwyck, for example and are looking to add Film Noirs to your list of films… are you ever in luck. She was in one of the greatest film noirs of all time –Double Indemnity. As far as that goes, she was also in Westerns, comedies, and dramas.
Hmmm, I’ve always been obsessed with Barbara Stanwyck, maybe that explains why I love all genres.
You may or may not be able to move a “don’t care for..” star to a list of favorites – but I guarantee you’ll have fun trying.
Branch out, watch more, and make room in your life for as many favorites as you can handle! ~ Joi (“Joy”)
P.S. If you have a star or stars win you over, I hope you’ll let me know. I live for that sort of thing!
For What It’s Worth…
My recommendations for the stars named above. If you don’t like any of these stars, now, I hope you’ll see the movies I list. I’ll limit my recommendations to just three – although it can be tough sometimes.
Please give them a chance, they truly are remarkable stars – some of the absolute best, in my opinion.
- Katharine Hepburn (Stage Door, Bringing Up Baby, Desk Set)
- Lucille Ball (Lured, The Next Time I Marry, Dance Girl Dance)
- Joan Crawford (Dance Fools Dance, The Last of Mrs. Cheyney, Dancing Girl)
- Clark Gable (Red Dust, Lone Star, It Happened One Night)
- Cary Grant (Bringing Up Baby, Monkey Business, Only Angels Have Wings)
- James Stewart (Ziegfeld Girl, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Stratton Story)
- Bette Davis (Dark Victory, A Stolen Life, In This Our Life)
- Ava Gardner (The Barefoot Contessa, Lone Star, The Killers)
- Lana Turner (Ziegfeld Girl, The Bad and the Beautiful, The Postman Always Rings Twice)
- Humphrey Bogart (Sabrina, Casablanca, The Big Sleep)
- Charlie Chaplin (The Gold Rush, The Kid, Modern Times)