Announcing the SEVENTH Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 14-16, 2018

9th August 1933: Jean Harlow (1911 - 1937) is Hollywood sex goddess Lola Burns and Frank Morgan (1890 - 1949) is her father, Pop Burns, in 'Bombshell', (aka 'Blonde Bombshell') directed by Victor Fleming. Mary Forbes (1883 - 1974) plays Mrs Middleton.
Frank Morgan and June Brewster are just two of the superb character actors in BOMBSHELL (1933). Image via Doctor Macro

When you re-watch your favorite films, what keeps you coming back for more? A great story with sharp writing? No doubt. Beautiful costumes, swanky set designs, and stunning cinematography? Most assuredly. But the performances are key to any movie. While we all look forward to the popular leading actors, it is the stand-out, scene-stealing supporting actors that feel like “home.”

Wise-cracking Eve Arden, nurturing Louise Beavers, sassy Thelma Ritter, double-take pro Edward Everett Horton, tart-tongued Edna May Oliver, gravelly-voiced Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, fatherly Charles Coburn, frazzled Franklin Pangborn, bullfrog-voiced, barrel-chested Eugene Pallette, cigar-chomping Ned Sparks… these and so many more lovable character actors are who we look forward to seeing as our dearest old chums. We all could use a trusted sidekick.

stagecoach-1939a-700w
John Ford’s STAGECOACH (1939) was rife with talented characters.

For the 7th consecutive year, we as the blogathon hosting trio of Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and @CitizenScreen, Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and @IrishJayhawk66, and myself, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and @Paula_Guthat invite you to join us for the WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON 2018, December 14, 15, 16, as we pay tribute to the brilliance of the supporting players.

Continue reading “Announcing the SEVENTH Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 14-16, 2018”

Sixth Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of the Sixth Annual What A Character! Blogathon, in which we celebrate those actors whose faces you know but whose names you may not. I’m your hostess for the Day 3 offerings. Be sure to also check out Day 1, hosted by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Day 2, hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen. It’s been my pleasure to work with these two dames to shed some light on the names below the title. And now, on with the show…

First up, my co-host Aurora at Once Upon A Screen recaps the multi-faceted stage, TV, and film career of Mary Wickes from her earliest theater work to Sister Act and beyond.

Terry at A Shroud of Thoughts reminds us that William Schallert, who is so well-known for his intelligent and/or nice characters, could actually be “not exactly sympathetic…downright villainous.”

Crítica Retrô looks at a different kind of actor, Looney Tunes former main character and dependable sidekick, Porky Pig.LA

Cinematic Scribblings highlights standout Japanese actress Haruko Sugimura and her portrayals of “not always particularly pleasant people.”

Carole & Co honors “one of the foot soldiers of film (and TV) acting,” Nat Pendleton.

Prowler Needs A Jump surveys Patrick Magee‘s amazingly diverse, half-century career.

Co-host Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled provides a pronunciation refresher while honoring the oeuvre of Zasu Pitts.

That William Powell Site examines that star’s scene-stealing performance in Beau Geste (1926), “another opportunity for [him] to steal the show.”

LA Explorer catalogs the extensive career of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson through radio, films, and TV.

Silver Scenes recounts the life and work of “tough but lovable broad” Connie Gilchrist.

The Dream Book Blog reviews the roles of character actress and sometime Val Lewton muse Elizabeth Russell.

—> Stop back later in the day (Sunday, December 17, 2017) as I will be updating this list as more posts are published!

Bonus: Short clip featuring two of our What A Character honorees, Nat Pendleton and Zasu Pitts, in Sing and Like It (1934):

 

 

 

 

 

 

What A Character! The cast of ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948)

I’m not really one for musicals. I don’t universally enjoy them all. But when I like them, I really like them, and they are among my favorite films of all-time. For instance, 42nd Street, Dames, Swing Time, Singin’ in the Rain, and Romance on the High Seas (1948).

To sum up the plot (bear with me): Married couple Michael and Elvira Kent (Don DeFore and Janis Paige) each constantly suspect the other of infidelity. Michael though is too wrapped up in his work to go on the vacations Elvira plans for their anniversaries, and every year he cancels and they stay home. In the course of booking these trips, she meets Georgia Garrett (Doris Day) at the travel agency. Georgia never goes anywhere either; she’s broke and only goes to the agency to window-shop. When the Kents’ third anniversary rolls around, Elvira has reason to suspect that Michael’s inevitable postponement of this trip, a cruise to Rio, is because of his new blonde secretary.

While she’s still fuming with jealousy, the travel agency mistakenly delivers Georgia’s passport photo to Elvira, and that gives the latter an idea: In these pre-Internet, pre-TSA days, Elvira will send Georgia on the cruise in her place, so that Elvira can stay home and keep an eye on her husband without him knowing she’s still in town. Her insistence on going on the cruise by herself heightens Michael’s suspicion, and he in turn hires private detective Peter Virgil (Jack Carson) to go on the cruise and keep an eye on Elvira. Only with the help of her Uncle Lazlo (S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall) does Elvira successully sneak Georgia onto the ship. Once the ship sails, many complications ensue.

It’s a plot of Shakespearean complexity — with songs! *

Continue reading “What A Character! The cast of ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948)”

What A Character! Daniel Stern – Wise-Ass to the Stars

Daniel Stern in Home Alone (1990)

By Jack Deth

Welcome all and sundry! Having been sidelined for awhile with the vagaries of an old body catching up with me, I was thrilled to see that the Sixth Annual What A Character! Blogathon was in the works, with some delightful selections from numerous cinephiles coaxing my attention to the newer batches of those who work in the background of sets and groups, inching their way closer to success.

To that end, allow me a few moments of your time while I dig out, dust off, root around, and unearth the career of some local homegrown Maryland talent in

What A Character: Master Craftsman Daniel Stern. Wise-Ass To The Stars!

Along with Chris Meloni (“Bound,” “Oz,” “Law & Order: SVU”) and Jonathan Banks (“Who’ll Stop The Rain,” “Wiseguy,” “Breaking Bad”), Stern was the tall, gangling scarecrow of an upstart who caught my eye providing sarcastic comic relief as one of four high school graduate buddies facing life’s daunting future in Breaking Away.

A Peter Yates-directed coming-of-age project from 1979, filmed in and around Bloomington, Indiana. A surprisingly good example of a on-location film that excels in “Bang For The Buck,” mixing teen angst, uncertainty, and a scaled-down version of a hometown bicycle “Tour de France” with the four friends — “Cutters,” named after the local families who cut and formed marble and granite for the state’s municipal and court buildings — going up against better-trained, -financed and -equipped fraternities. Adding a dash of underdog to the film’s drama and comedy that surprised audiences, the Golden Globes, and Academy of Arts and Sciences alike.

Continue reading “What A Character! Daniel Stern – Wise-Ass to the Stars”

Announcing the SIXTH ANNUAL What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 15-17, 2017

When you think about your very favorite classic movies, what makes them your favorites? The films worth watching multiple times, endlessly discussing, or just chilling out with…what makes them the cinematic equivalent of comfort food? Sure, great writing is key, but those lines are just words without the right actors delivering them. Beautiful costumes are great, but without the right actors wearing them, they’re just clothes. Stunning, authentic art direction and set design are wonderful, but empty, without the right actors inhabiting that world. And gorgeous cinematography can only hold your eye for so long, without the right actors being lit. And so on…
Continue reading “Announcing the SIXTH ANNUAL What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 15-17, 2017”

Fifth Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Day 3

wacRoscoe Karns (above) welcomes you to the What A Character! Blogathon, now in its fifth fabulous year of celebrating those actors whose faces you know but whose names you may not. I’m your hostess for the Day 3 offerings. Be sure to also check out Day 1, hosted by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled and Day 2, hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen. It’s been my pleasure to work with these two dames to shed some light on the names below the title. And now, on with the today’s show…

  • Blogferatu presents a “grossly oversimplified horror overview” of John Carradine‘s career from the ’40s to the ’80s. “And not just any horror movies, but some of his schlockier moments.”
  • Cliff at Immortal Ephemera explores the sometimes sketchy biography of Stanley Fields, who “had a voice that matched his face. Either could have been raked over gravel.”
  • Aurora at Once Upon A Screen writes about Edmund Gwenn‘s career, including, but not limited to, his turn as everyone’s favorite Santa Claus and his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Silver Scenes declare of their WAC! choice, “Thurston Hall is his name and governors, senators, businessmen, and doting fathers are his game.”
  • Quiggy at The Midnite Drive-In contributes an appreciation of John Hillerman‘s “pomposity and refinement” in four essential roles.
  • Gary (aka @santaisthinking) guest blogs on Kellee’s Outspoken and Freckled about Victor McLaglen in two chapters: “His Adventurous Youth – Boers, Boxing, and Baghdad” and “His Career – Big Screen Grins and Bromance.”
  • Then Kellee herself analyzes why Joan Blondell, that “down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is scene-stealer,” rarely got top billing, despite her “talent, enduring work ethic and generosity of spirit.”

Happy reading, leave a comment, start a conversation! Additional awesomeness expected throughout the day so check back here soon. Many thanks to everyone who has supplied such entertaining and educational posts this year. I’ve personally expanded both my knowledge and my to-watch list, and I hope you all have too.

Save

Save

Save

What A Character! “Crazy Russian” Leonid Kinskey

wac-2016-kinskey

Just like everybody goes to Rick’s, everybody knows Leonid Kinskey, whether they know his name or not. Kinskey portrays Sascha, the voluble Russian bartender, in that classic of all classics, Casablanca (1943). We meet him quite early on, when Yvonne, Rick’s latest ex-girlfriend, has had a little too much to drink and needs to be escorted home. But as I learned, there’s more to Kinskey than Sascha. Not that I won’t bask in the glory that is Casablanca first…

Continue reading “What A Character! “Crazy Russian” Leonid Kinskey”

What A Character! Shot and A Chaser: M. Emmet Walsh

m-emmet-walsh-straight-time-01-600w

Paula’s note: This post is one of several by movie maven Jack Deth that I have had the pleasure of hosting on this site. See the rest here.

Welcome Bloggers, Cinephiles, Film Fans, and Aficionados of “Just Plain Good!”

Having received an invitation from our hostess Paula to expand and illuminate that arena of young and unrecognized talent usually relegated to the back of a crowd or corner of a set before being noticed and given lines to speak and scenes to execute, I would be remiss to not give it my best effort and reach back to an unsung purveyor of the thespian craft, who literally started off in the background of Midnight Cowboy, Alice’s Restaurant, Little Big Man, and Cold Turkey in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Plying his craft while being one of many. Building up a body of work and a reputation for being able to fill any slot for any type of dumpy, balding, kind of slimy, local or municipal bureaucrat, guard, telegrapher, cop, or barber. Sometimes affixing a Southern accent, or sticking to his high-pitched, upstate New York pronunciations, while using whatever was at hand to enhance his many characters. Before crossing my path in a big way in a small, very personal cinematic gem ramrodded by Dustin Hoffman and directed by Ulu Grossbard. A film which also prompted the parole of recidivist convict, Edward Bunker (Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs), through his semi-autobiographic novel, No Beast So Fierce. Which makes up the two fingers of Rye for this…

Shot & A Chaser: M. Emmet Walsh

Continue reading “What A Character! Shot and A Chaser: M. Emmet Walsh”

Announcing the FIFTH annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 16-18

 

wac-2016-c
Supporting stalwarts Aline McMahon and Guy Kibbee with an unnamed co-star in GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933
What’s great about being a character actor is you know that you can survive forever. It’s not about the gloss of your eyebrows.
— Martin Short

 

We’re back for a fifth consecutive year to honor the versatility and depth of supporting players with the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon. Based on a phrase borrowed from Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the WAC! Blogathon is an event that many look forward to each year. It’s a chance to pay tribute to the Louise Beavers and Eddie Andersons of the movie world — the names that seldom or never appeared above the title. Your enthusiasm for spotlighting the oft-nameless faces that appear in countless beloved movies is admirable, and Aurora, Kellee, and I extend sincere thanks to all of the bloggers who have joined us in the previous four years. We invite you all to help us make the fifth outing extra special. Get all the details after the jump…

Continue reading “Announcing the FIFTH annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 16-18”

4th Annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon – Day 1 Posts

WE’RE BACK for number 4!

The WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon honors the players who rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many leading actors wished they had. Aurora, Kellee, and I never tire of seeing them show up in films or paying tribute to their talents, and as the previous three installments of this event have proven, neither do you.

And so here I am with Day 1 of the 4th annual WHAT A CHARACTER! I know you can’t wait to read all the fabulous posts. Before you jump in though, we’d like to thank all the participants for their understanding as we re-scheduled the blogathon from last weekend due to world events. We really appreciate your patience.

What-A-Character-2015-01 Continue reading “4th Annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon – Day 1 Posts”