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Showbiz History: Norma, Viola, and Two Sexy Guys Named "Chris"

10 random things that happened on this day in history (Aug 11th)

1902 Norma Shearer is born in Montreal. Or was she? IMDb lists her date as August 10th but most sources say August 11th. There were previous disputes about the year, too -- 1900, 1902, 1904? But most sources seem to have settled on 1902. Regardless she was a huge star in the 1920s and 1930s. We love her here at TFE even if nobody else does.

1937 The Life of Emile Zola premieres. It goes on to win Best Picture and oh my god y'all...  J'accuse that one of being a giant slog! Seriously it's unending. They had so many better choices that year including one of the all time best screwballs The Awful Truth (Sigh)...

1965 Viola Davis, one of the true greats, born in South Carolina...

1973 American Graffiti premieres at the movies and becomes a massive hit and Oscar nominee. We've discussed it a few times

1974 Super sexy and underappreciated Chris Messina is born in NYC. How about that sex scene in last Sunday's Sharp Objects. *fans self*

1983 Super sexy and overappreciated Chris Hemsworth born in Melbourne. He's Australian but somehow becomes a Norse god later on.

1995 Michelle Pfeiffer has one of her biggest hits with Dangerous Mind, new in theaters. 

2006 Step Up opens in theaters giving us a chance to watch Channing Tatum dance. And also drink orange juice. What? I was into that.

2014 Oscar and Emmy winner and comedy legend Robin Williams dies of an apparent suicide. God, that was sad. 

2017 Ingrid Goes West opens in theaters. That was a good one, don'cha think?

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Reader Comments (13)

I like her too, Nathaniel. Saw her other day with Clark Gable in Idiot's Delight where he sings "Puttin' on The Ritz". Fun, but only for fans. She's charming and natural, my favorite Marie Antoinette. The problem with her is that all the other girls in the company the time she worked (in my opinion) are more interesting than her (Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, Jeanette MacDonald, Marie Dressler) and/or made better movies, you know? And we won't mention Garbo. And think that she was married with the big producer, Irving Thalberg - the Oscars have an special award with his name and he inspired book and film The Last Tycoon. Her studio, MGM is credited for inventing the stable of stars system of Hollywood and was the most successful in the 1930s.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGwen

I also love Norma. not the greatest actress of her generation but a true star. And I recently wathed The Life of Emile Zola recently to see if my opinion of it as a complete snooze had changed. To my surprise, my apparent lowered expectations worked and I actually enjoyed it. Interesting that the film quickly references the accused as a Jew which was Warner Brothers way of acknowledging what was happening in Europe when movies were turning a blind eye to the reality of Germany at that time.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBGk

I will defend Emile Zola, despite its air of self-importance and Paul Muni at his hammiest. I think its a perfect example of the greatness of the studio system to turn out great product. For me, the real standout in the cast is Donald Crisp. His courtroom scene is electrifying. That said, there's no doubt it's nowhere near an absolutely perfect eternal classic like The Awful Truth, or even A Star Is Born, either. Those are the two gems from the Best Picture lineup. And how anyone could prefer Josef Schildkraut to Ralph Bellamy's superb performance is beyond my comprehension.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Say what you want about The Life of Emile Zola, I will always appreciate that fake-out opening shot.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterajnrules

Makes me feel really old to realize I was just about to start my junior year of High School when Chris Hemsworth was born.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterReady

Ready, we must be the same age, as I was also going into Junior year in 1983.

Nathaniel<.b>, do you have a Top 5 Favorites for Norma Shearer? I think the only one I've seen is "The Women", and she certainly shines in that.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I love that camp bit in The Women were Norma glides toward the screen to her true love.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I've come to appreciate Norma Shearer over the years and while I wouldn't say I love her I do like her. I think it's a shame she retired when she did since I think she was better and more relaxed as her career progressed. She was good in her silents but when sound came in she suffered from that overly theatrical style (flashing eyes, pressing her fists against her temples etc) that dates badly.

My top 5 of her films:

Marie Antoinette
He Who Gets Slapped
The Women
Idiot's Delight

I agree completely about The Life of Emile Zola! I waded through it constantly thinking "This won?" Awful Truth, Stage Door or A Star is Born all would have been far better winners.

Paul Muni loved to bury himself under makeup for his roles and he was acclaimed for it but having seen most of his films I find him far more compelling in the films that didn't require all that trickery with I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang being his best performance.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I walked ten miles to the cineplex to the midnight showing of STEP UP because my mother wouldn't let me take the car. I joke that Channing Tatum is my first husband.

Years later, I would disastrously fall in love with someone who resembled Chris Hemsworth (not like Thor Chris Hemsworth, like regular movie Chris Hemsworth).

The nostalgia is heavy today.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

Michelle handled very very poorly the worldwide massive success of Dangerous Minds. To Gillian, Up Close & Personal, One Fine Day? I mean, girl...

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

EMILE ZOLA is one of the worst Best Picture winners easily (although I haven't seen BRAVEHEART or CAVALCADE, GIGI is my worst of the worst). What a dire movie.

August 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I love that you love Norma Shearer.

I don't quite get her myself. She reminds me of French star Arletty, another popular one who I struggle to articulate her appeal. To me, I think they are maybe both "bien dans sa peau", comfortable in their own skin.

For my part, I do love Paul Muni, although I haven't seen many of his heavy makeup roles. In the nonhistorical roles, he is completely compelling, and I can understand why his contemporaries thought he was special.

August 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Oh, I don't know, I didn't think Emile Zola was *so* bad - I'd rather sit through it again over the likes of The Great Ziegfield (to me the most endless of all the best picture winners of that period - or any period) or the creaky Broadway Melody of 1929, or Cimarron. I thought the final quarter was pretty interesting.

Glen Dunks, I agree that Gigi is just awful - it may be my most hated BP winner as well, although I loathe Forrest Gump and Crash about equally.

August 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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