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Oldest Living Screen Stars

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Entries in Old Hollywood (109)

Monday
Jul272015

200 Oldest Living Screen Stars of Note 

In December 2013 we published a list of the Oldest Living Screen Stars of Note. To this day it still gets frequent traffic. And the comments have been more robust than any other post in the blogs history... pages and pages of comments. But it was long past time to update, especially given that Olivia de Havilland, one of our all time favorite movie stars, has replaced Luise Rainer as the poster girl for Oscars-are-forever immortality, regardless of when Oscar winners and nominees actually move on from this mortal coil. Consider this list a celebration and not anything morbid.

Send out telepathic waves of appreciation to these talents. Rent one of their movies! The list begins with Lupita Tovar who turns 105 today and who has very cool connections to current cinema. [DISCLAIMER: Not all screen actors who are old enough for this list are here, but we were as thorough as we could be when it came to people with notable careers. Apologies if we missed someone you love!]

200 OLDEST LIVING SCREEN STARS
list published July 27th, 2015

 

105 years young

01 Lupita Tovar (7/27/1910)
Mexican actress Lupita Tovar appeared in the Spanish Dracula (1931) and though her last movie was in 1945 she continued to affect the movies via her gene pool: she mothered an Oscar nominee, Susan Kohner (Imitation of Life) and her grandsons, Oscar-nominated siblings Paul Weitz & Chris Weitz (About a Boy) are both current writer/director/producers. Paul's newest film, opening next month, is Grandma starring Lily Tomlin which we've already raved about. He was obviously meant to make it as he knew from cool Grandmas! 

102 years young

02 Connie Sawyer (11/17/12)
The very definition of "working actor". While not exactly famous her career began in the early 50s and she's STILL working often in small roles, which make good use of her longevity. Her last prominent feature was Pineapple Express (2008) and she appeared in recent episodes of New Girl and Ray Donovan as, respectively, "The Oldest Woman in the World" and "Old Lady Sullivan"

101 years young

03 Mary Carlisle (2/3/1914)
This B movie actress of the 1930s appeared in films like Baby Face Morgan and co-starred with Bing Crosby three times. She's also in the ensemble of the actressy ginger-fest Dance Girl Dance (1940) with Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball in the headlining roles.

04 Gisele Casadesus (6/14/14) This Parisian goddess started in the French national theater Comédie-Française and appeared there for decades. Her film career was fairly regular in the 1940s and mostly nonexistent again until the 1970s. But she recently has had a mini film revival co-starring in both My Afternoons with Margueritte and Sarah's Key

Olivia de Havilland, Maureen O'Hara and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jun202015

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Please welcome Kyle Stevens to The Film Experience team. You've previously heard him on the podcast, you can pre-order his book on Mike Nichols, and you should follow him on twitter as he is delightful. - Editor

Adapted from the hit radio play by Lucille Fletcher (who also wrote the screenplay), Sorry, Wrong Number follows Leona Stevenson, a headstrong young heiress who aims to one day be the sharpest battleaxe in the armory. She is also an invalid, relegated to her bed. We discover Leona telephoning inquiries into her husband’s whereabouts when the line fatefully clicks. She overhears a conversation between two men plotting a murder that night. For me, the whole movie hangs on the image of her listening to this narrative catalyst. It hovers over the entire film. Its power lets us never forget that this is Leona’s story, even when we get elaborate flashbacks from others. We recall it later when we see Leona disheveled and shining from tears and anxious sweat. Its tightness contrasts with the way the camera later wanders in and around people, tracing the distances between them that the telephone extinguishes. 

The magic here is all down to Barbara Stanwyck, giving one her best performances (and receiving the last of her four Best Actress nominations). We see Leona’s selfishness ebb as she intelligently listens to the heavies on the line. That is, Stanwyck doesn’t play an inner monologue. Her bright brown eyes and horseshoe furrows do not propose “Oh no!” and “What should I do now?”, as though telling us what Leona wants to say. Rather, Leona, in this moment, and for a change, is not about herself at all. She just listens. This remains a thing of beauty, reminding us how much intelligence just listening can demand. I don’t know of a better demonstration of the cliché that listening is one of those feats accomplished by only the best actors.

Written by a woman and showcasing a female character who fights for what she wants, Sorry, Wrong Number would probably be received as a feminist statement were it released today. But in the moment in which Leona hears unheard, I am reminded that it is not just the film’s gender politics that remain relevant. Over the complex lines of a switchboard (where, according to Hollywood, women controlled the flow of information), the epigraph warns:

In the tangled networks of a great city, the telephone is the unseen link between a million lives… It is the servant of our common needs—the confidante of our inmost secrets…life and happiness wait upon its ring… and horror…and loneliness… and death.”

The technology behind our phones may have changed, but in an age where we’d rather text than talk, we seem to still fear verbal connections. We worry about who’s listening, and we know, deep down, that the voice can give too much away.

Previously
Vintage 1948 - Best of the Year 
Supporting Actress Smackdown - The Schedule 

Wednesday
Jun102015

Snack Break 

My brain is not working today. I looked at this photo of Jimmy Stewart and Norma Shearer on tumblr and assumed Jimmy was checking his phone and Norma was trying to sneak a peek at what bitchy thing Lucille Fay LeSueur had just texted him from the set of Ice Follies of 1939 and th--- oh, uh, 1939. Right. D'Oh!

Time to step away from the computer perhaps? Snack break. See you late late tonight for the AMADEUS (1984) roundup and two barking mad composers.

Sunday
May102015

Mother's Day Special: "Now, Voyager" and Bette Davis

Happy Mother's Day, readers! Here's new contributor Angelica Jade Bastién returning to talk Bette Davis, tell all bios, and a 1940s classic. - Editor

When I introduce friends to Bette Davis for the first time I tend to show them Now, Voyager. Yes, the film gives us one of Davis' best performances but my love for it is deeply personal. Whenever I watch Now, Voyager I see my emotional landscape on the screen. As a teenager struggling with mental illness and a caring yet controlling mother who didn’t quite know how to handle it the film was a revelation. It gave me hope that I could become the woman I always dreamed of. Ultimately, my obsession with the film centers upon the multiple ways it explores motherhood. 

Now, Voyager is essentially about the transformation of Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) from spinster aunt figure to badass, emotionally realized womanhood. The film begins with Charlotte teetering at the edge of a nervous breakdown brought upon by the multitude of ways her mother, Mrs. Vale, controls her...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr072015

Q&A: Best "Crazy," Gay Identification, and Old Hollywood Favorites

I'm a day late to our 'you ask, I answer' weekly party. But you didn't play along well with the rules this week. This time I asked for "weird" questions and got a bunch of the normal kind about favorite actresses! (Well, a few were weird. I love the Streep Hair question but I'll save it for another post) Since we're talking about weird let's start with this.

For some reason in the comments section this thing cropped up of people recommending I see After Hours (1985) and 'why haven't I seen it because it's got so many actresses and whatnot.' Bitch plz I saw that in 1986 on VHS (I broke my "R" Rated movie cherry in 1985, fwiw).I  don't think it's prime Scorsese or anything but Scorsese movies are such sausage parties that I treasure it as a real outlier in his filmography alongside Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and The Age of Innocence... the only other ones that seem more interested in actors of the female persuasion. 

But ignoring the assumption that I haven't seen it, it's a great film to bring up in a "weird" mood because everyone is a little touched. As a kid I L-O-V-E-D Terri Garr in everything.

HEY: since you asked - favorite performances of characters that are "a little touched"?

Oh great, now we have to define "touched" which is difficult. Two actors who I think do all time great work delineating the slow mounting crazy of their characters are Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver (Best Shot APRIL 15th! Join us) and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. For non-violent 'something's off here' characters anything Shelley Duvall ever played amirite. She's so perfectly "off". Michelle Pfeiffer is scalpel precise with her sociopathic tendencies in White Oleander and with Catwoman's unravelling (particularly at the end -- it's like watching glass break and all the pieces of her shattering everywhere). Speaking of unravelling I will never ever ever forget that trainwreck "concert" from Ronee Blakeley in Nashville.  Laura Dern, The Face, is really gifted with "heightened" crazy, less concerned with realism than auteurist mood, tone and style, especially with Lula (Wild at Heart) and, in her own words:

'...whatever I was in Inland Empire. I have no fucking clue!'

Classic actresses, unloved remakes, and more crazies after the jump...


But if you're speaking visibly bonkers -- actors going Mommie Dearest big with their psychosis -- I love the hell out of Fiona Shaw's crack-up in Black Dahlia, Steve Martin's dentist in Little Shop, Christian Bale's everything in American Psycho, Juliette Lewis's moodswings in Natural Born Killers, Brad Pitt's jumping bean lunacy in 12 Monkeys, and Bette Davis for time and all eternity in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

JOEYS: What remake does everyone hate but you secretly love?

Gus Van Sant's Psycho (1998) all the way. I really do love it in an academic "exercize" way. He has balls and really so does Anne Heche who I will forever wish had become a big movie star. TV seems to have sanded off her edges but she was a thorny wonder for awhile on celluloid.

Classic actresses, jack lemmon, and straight romance after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr052015

Link-a-round

Cinemascope Ari Folman (Waltz With Bashir) is working on a stop motion animated film about Anne Frank. Yes, that Anne Frank
The Stake has a great piece on Tina Fey's firestarter comedy, especially its willingness to constantly poke at our racial discomforts
Playbill has fun making Stephen King's books into stage musicals
Pajiba has seen (well the first ten minutes) of a porn parody of Guardians of the Galaxy with characters named Star Load, and Bonin
EW shares the 20 best episodes of Mad Men. Great choices overall - I'll be furious forever that Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss didn't win Emmys for "The Suitcase"
MNPP I missed Matthew Goode's birthday but this is the perfect gif set with which to celebrate


Women and Hollywood the annual Crystal Awards for women in film are here and this year's honorees are Nicole Kidman and Ava DuVernay
Boy Culture celebrates the one and only Buster Crabbe with some pre-code footage
Deep Dish celebrates Bette Davis on her birthday with lots of clips from TV & film
The Guardian raves about Carey Mulligan's career and artistry. She is currently playing Bill Nighy's ex-lover on Broadway at the moment in Skylight. Yes, Nighy. He is 36 years older.
Theater Mania yes, it's true. Cats will be revived on Broadway
Salon Michelangelo Signorile writes about the bleak state of gay characters on TV, usually sexless even in shows where their straight counterparts have plenty of physical intimacy (this is especially sad to read after Looking's cancellation though the article doesn't mention that)
Comics Alliance the superhero craze has officially jumped shark? an Avengers inspired menswear line is upon us. No, not a boys underoos line, a menswear line. Kind of brings us back to that gender doublestandard discussion again, right?
Huff Post Comedy speaking of double standards read this great piece on the headlines that would follow Madonna if she did the same things celebrity men her age or older did
Maria Shriver's Blog also has a piece on ageism and sexism via the prism of Madonna
i09 proof that awards are always political -- and it isn't just Oscar that's perpetually under attack -- in this investigative piece about a very weird two years for sci-fi's "Hugo" Awards
TV Line "The Muppet Show" will be returning to ABC at some point. Let this serve as your reminder that they tried to revive it one other time in the 1990s and Michelle Pfeiffer was a guest! Here is video proof. (Yes, I was very excited that night)

Unfortunately, as in The Muppets (2011) they thought it wise to invent a new Muppet character that wasn't even a tenth as good as any of the originals. Why does this keep happening? I'm all for shaking things up lest one be fossilized in nostalgia but if you can't come up with a good character DO NOT steal screen time from the good ones!