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Entries in Barbara Harris (4)

Wednesday
Jul032019

Soundtracking: Nashville

by Chris Feil

We don’t really think of Robert Altman’s Nashville as a musical. To be fair, it both is and it isn’t. As is trademark for the director, the film is focused on character first to reveal its themes, exposing a distinctly American disposition both in its specific social strata and in the grander national sense. But Nashville isn’t always interested in doing so through song. Even taking place in the country music world, music feels like an equal contributor to Altman’s portraiture as any of the ensemble members.

Viewers wanting Altman to languor in the thematic sway of a musical’s tunes will always have A Prairie Home Companion. Instead here he upends genre traditions much as he does general narrative ones. Musicals are a genre that even at its best can still feel the least spontaneous, and spontaneity is a definitive Altman trait...

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Wednesday
Aug222018

Barbara Harris (1935-2018) 

by Nathaniel R

Barbara Harris in The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)

Sad news yesterday. One of the nation's best and most underappreciated actresses Barbara Harris passed away at 83 from lung cancer. The Chicago native got her start as a teenager on local stages and was an original member of Chicago's famed Second City troupe. Her intermittent screen career sprang initially from her stage successes. Though her filmography is mostly in the 1970s, she made a few 80s movies before retiring including Peggy Sue Got Married, Grosse Point Blank, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Curiously for such a talented thespian of both stage and screen, she seemed somewhat ambivalent about her career, stating that she didn't miss acting after her retirement...

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Thursday
Jan252018

Months of Meryl: The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)

Hi, we’re John and Matt and, icymi, we are watching every single live-action film starring Streep.

#4 — Karen Traynor, a Southern political operative who has an affair with a popular senator.

JOHN: I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like to be an actressexual in 1979, the year when Meryl Streep catapulted herself from that interesting, up-and-coming actress of The Deer Hunter, the Holocaust miniseries (which brought her first Emmy win), and the New York theater scene, to first-class movie star, appearing in three successful films and winning her first Oscar for the year’s highest-grosser and Best Picture champ, Kramer vs. Kramer. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves; buried in the middle of all this impressive acclaim is perhaps Streep’s least-known triumph of her early period: Jerry Schatzberg’s The Seduction of Joe Tynan.

This story of a liberal senator (Alan Alda, who also penned the script) struggling to balance political ambitions with family life, is a keen, sophisticated relic from a time when studio movies were risky, inspired, and targeted towards an adult audience, free of gimmicks or condescension. They were capable of making bank to boot.

In Joe Tynan, Streep plays Karen Traynor, a Louisiana lawyer who, while aiding Tynan’s campaign against a racist Supreme Court nominee (Remember when racism disqualified you from office?), begins a fling with Alda’s fast-rising political star...

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Friday
Jul252014

Truth Tell: Barbara Harris is Underappreciated

A Happy 79th birthday to Barbara Harris. She hasn't acted in such a long time but she was often just wonderful on the screen with unique rhythm, energy and comic ability.

I'm not sure that anything about Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot (Hitch's last feature in 1976) totally works but if you could argue that any of it does it's either the cemetery scene or anything involving Barbara Harris's performance as a con-artist psychic. The movie is frustrating since it feels half formed and its inarguably flabby:  every time you need the editing too tighten it up which would have made everything, including the memorable actors (Karen Black and Bruce Dern are also on hand), pop. It just keeps the scene going.

Barbara Harris's largest claim to fame these days is her Golden Globe nominated work in the original Freaky Friday (1976) wherein she switched bodies with her tomboy daughter Jodie Foster but my favorite Harris performance ever is her role as "Albuquerque" in Robert Altman's masterpiece Nashville (1975)

It don't worry me.
It don't worry me.
You may say that I'm not free. It don't worry me ♫ 

 I'd be okay with the entire 1975 Supporting Actress Oscar lineup just being ladies from Nashville, all told. 

Exit Music. Here's Barbara Harris doing bits from "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," a role she originated on Broadway in 1965 to the tune of a Tony nomination before Barbra Streisand took over in the film version five years later.