“Forgotten Hollywood”- Three Important Swan Songs…

Posted on October 30, 2021 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

“`The passing of Chadwick Boseman after leaving us with important final performances in Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom saddens all who feel a promise of great work left unfulfilled. It reminds us of the demise of James Dean after completing his job on Giant and Peter Finch hitting his stride in Network and then succumbing to a heart attack.

“`Let me offer three productions that became the final legacy of giants in the industry…

~ THE MISFITS (1961) – Arthur Miller and John Huston could never have realized that their efforts on this dreary classic would be the last cinematic moments of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.  Gable was in the autumn of his career but still could earn top billing. Doing most of his strenuous cowhand stunts in the Nevada desert was too much for his health and he died ten days after completion of the assignment of a heart attack. He was just fifty-nine.

“`Marilyn Monroe feared her career was sliding into oblivion without ever being considered a fine actress.  The Misfits was a promise of her efforts in studying The Method approach to acting. Her next two films would be frothy comedies with Dean Martin  (the kind of flicks she loathed making). Because of depression, she committed suicide before completing Something’s Gotta Give. And Shirley MacLaine replaced her in What a Way to Go.

~ GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967) –  With governmental censorship (The Hayes Code) removed from cinema in 1966, filmmakers were now free to approach contoversial issues on screen. What emerged was mature cinema that might not have been approved the year before, such as Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Point Blank,  and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.  This latter movie examines the practice of mix-marriage. Though the film seems quaint by today’s standards, the Stanley Kramer production would require nuanced performances, which he received from Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Beah Richards, and Spencer Tracy.

“`Tracy had not made a film in four years due to illness, turning down roles in The Cincinnati Kid and on television’s Batman. So concerned were the producers, the movie was only green-lighted when Kramer and Hepburn used their salaries to insure Tracy. This would be Tracy and Hepburn’s ninth film together. His last scene included a love-letter monologue to Kate that was sensitively delivered in his expert Tracy fashion.  The sixty-seven year old actor was dead two weeks later of heart failure.

~ THE SHOOTIST (1976) – After The Conqueror had completed shooting in 1956 in the Nevada desert near an atomic bomb test site, the actors and crew started being diagnosed with cancer. Director Dick Powell, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Pedro Armendáriz were among dozens involved with the production that died after contracting the disease.

“`During the making of In Harm’s Way,  John Wayne was diagnosed with cancer. As the star of The Conqueror, he figured this was forthcoming. By 1976, Wayne bravely took on his last part: An aging cowboy suffering from terminal cancer. Joining him on this last roundup were Hugh O’Brian, Harry Morgan,  Richard Boone, John Carradine,  Scatman Crothers, Ron Howard, James Stewart and Lauren Bacall. Stewart was a friend and had previously accepted an honorary Oscar for Gary Cooper who was also dying of cancer in 1961. Bacall had lost her husband, Humphrey Bogart, to the disease. It might have been The Duke’s finest hour on screen.  Consider what he was trying to deliver to audiences; a personal farewell.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 30th, 2021 at 3:49 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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