Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Inspired by the Muse

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Hello to all my Followers, those I’m Following, and all Curious Visitors,

I was going through my Feed of all the wonderful bloggers I follow, and I happened to come across an interesting Tag post from The Classic Movie Muse https://theclassicmoviemuse.wordpress.com/, on Five Swoon Worthy Golden Age of Hollywood actors and 5 Reasons Why. I found the idea very intriguing and would’ve loved to have taken part, but aside from the occasional man-crush here and there, it didn’t seem fair to do this exact post.

So I decided to do my own take and do Five Swoon Worthy Golden Age Hollywood Actresses and 5 Reasons Why

#1. MARILYN MONROE

From Biography

Reason 1: Her Beauty. I dare anyone to say they weren’t intrigued about this legendary icon when they first saw her wonderful face and look. While not the Poster Child for Movie Star Good Looks, there’s just something wonderfully mesmerizing about Marilyn.

Reason 2: The Talent and Wit That Lay Behind the Looks. We all know there’s more to someone besides what we see on the surface and Marilyn is no exception. Since her tragic death her vast intelligence and dedication to the craft of acting have been highlighted more and more. She had a vast library in her home in Beverly Hills that had everything from Classic Literature to books on Science, Philosophy, Religion, etc., she even wrote down her thoughts on the subjects at hand in the margins of several pages of these books. Marilyn was even a brief student of The Method Acting at The Actor’s Studio, and, along with the late Cuban-Italian American actor Tomas Milian, one of the few to use The Method in a genius way.

Reason 3: Rising Up From Humble Origins. We all know the classic ‘Rags to Riches’ storyline, and this does fit Marilyn to a certain extent. The reason her story can still be inspiring is that she came from Middle Class America, and was able to fulfill the dream of a lifetime that all so many of us still dream about. Yes, there were bumps like anything else along the way, but she did persevere and did all the work to get there.

Reason 4: Overcoming a Personal Obstacle. What Obstacle did Marilyn have to conquer you ask? Believe it or not, Miss Monroe had a speech impediment/stutter from way back. Part of the reason behind her famous ‘Breathless’ voice was that talking in that way allowed her to speak clearly and seamlessly without getting stuck on certain words and letters. As a stutterer myself I find Marilyn an inspiration and she still gives me hope to find ways to better my speech patterns.

Reason 5: The Woman Behind the Icon & Myth. Marilyn Monroe has entered into an almost Mythical status with all the stories and legends about her personal life, but for myself and a few others, she’s still the simple Girl from the Mid West who was able to achieve great success, and could’ve had a long lucrative career had it not been for the demons that plagued her thoughts and the politics of Hollywood at the time of that success.

#2. AUDREY HEPBURN

From Ciak Magazine

Reason 1: Quiet Dignity and Grace. Actors and Actresses since the inception of cinema tended to have very lively and fast personalities, not Audrey Hepburn though. What made her special was her down to Earth nature, her dedication to family and friends – especially to her sons, and of course her appreciation of the quieter aspects of life. She didn’t need flamboyancy and the fast pace to be interesting, her calm nature made her especially fun to have conversations with, and only naturally showed her to be approachable without the fear of entourage or varied press types being all around her wherever she went. She just wanted to act, and then be with her family friends, simple and charming,

Reason 2: A Survivor. Hepburn when a teen/young adult living with her family in the Netherlands when WWII broke out, and being in one of the first counties totally overrun by Axis Germany, Hepburn and many others had to brace for survival. She worked tirelessly as an aid nurse for the Allies, practically in the thick of all the blood and tears of war. That she came out sane is a testament to her spirit and power as a human being.

Reason 3: Her Eyes. A gaze for many an actor or actresses can often be a key to their mystic and ability to draw in viewers, and Audrey Hepburn is one of the ones who it worked best with. One the surface it may appear she gives off neutral expressions, but when the viewer focuses on her eyes, they tell the audience all they need to know. In her eyes she can express pain, joy, fear, happiness, sadness, you name it, it’s all there, even when it looks like she’s gazing into the distance.

Reason 4: Her Compassion. By the late 1960’s, Hepburn decided to take time away from the screen to be with and raise her sons. During that time she also became an ambassador to the charity organization UNICEF, known for its dedication and determination to give aid and advantages to underprivileged and disadvantaged children around the world. That she balanced giving time to her own children and the UNICEF goal to help many children all over the place is a testament to her caring nature, and her wanting to give back for all the success she achieved throughout her life.

Reason 5: Just Audrey. A modest woman with tons of talent and heart, ’nuff said.

#3. GRACE KELLY

From Vanity Fair

Reason 1: Hitchcock. Grace Kelly’s skyrocket to stardom came in the form of director Alfred Hitchcock. They made three films together, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and To Catch a Thief, all in which Kelly played a strong willed woman navigating the tense filled situations she finds herself suddenly thrusted into, and remaining in some form of control all the way.

Reason 2: Superstar to Princess. Many a girl’s childhood wish is to be a Princess, and for Grace Kelly, that childhood wish became a reality when she met and fell in love with Prince Rainer of Monaco during the filming of To Catch a Thief. While rumors that the marriage was falling apart at the time of her death are seemingly looking more and more true, there was indeed a time where being a Princess was the most joyous time of her life.

Reason 3: Major Recognition After First Major Role. While Kelly had a decent sized supporting role in her debut in the 1950’s Noir Fourteen Hours, it was her co-star status as Gary Cooper’s stout Quaker wife in the Western High Noon a year later that really catapulted her career and made her a name to be on the watch for to do great things in films.

Reason 4: She Got to Romance the Top Stars. In addition to Gary Cooper, Grace had the pleasure to share on-screen romances with the likes of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Stewart Granger, Bing Crosby, and even Frank Sinatra

Reason 5. I can’t think of Five for Grace. Sorry ’bout that.

#4. JANE RUSSELL

From CBS News

Reason 1: ‘Hard John’. Favorite co-star Robert Mitchum gave Russell the nickname Hard John, citing her as a mix of beauty, sternness, and conviction. She was sultry and alluring, but she had a code of behavior she followed to the letter, never deviating.

Reason 2: A Man’s Woman. In addition to being lovely and beautiful, Russell was also tough as nails. She often spoke her mind and hardly ever acted the way a lady of the 1940’s and 50’s, and wasn’t afraid to get in the thick of something, looking as if ready to knock any jerk on his backside with a good right.

Reason 3: Her Voice. Yes, Russell had the voice to match her looks. Not only did she have a solid speaking voice, but also a good singing voice as well. Her singing gave her voice a lighter touch to her more alto tone to her speaking.

Reason 4: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Russell never looked better than alongside Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 comedy classic, flawlessly mixing both her tough woman and sweet woman personas.

Reason 5: The Paleface. Just like with GPB, Russell again shines mixing tough and sweet, but this time as the gunslinger Calamity Jane saving Bob Hope’s bumbling dentist in the Old West. The best of course is when she’s at the public baths and the baddies are trying to get her, she pops from behind a curtain, both guns drawn saying “Ya lookin’ for someone,” and promptly guns ’em down.

#5. MAE WEST

From Wikipedia

Reason 1: Boss Woman. I could’ve piggybacked and said Mae West is A Man’s Woman too, but that wouldn’t have been fair. West is a Boss through and through, proudly strumming to her own drum beat, larger than life and totally in charge. She was in control of her career even on the stage, doing the stuff she wanted to do with no interference.

Reason 2: The Queen & Founder of Erotic Innuendos: Mae West was a star in the Pre-Code era and gave the film world two of its most naughty catchphrases Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? and why don’t ya come up and see me sometime?, amazing and rocking the wholesomeness audiences in the States believed they reached. Part of her return to Broadway at the advent of the Hays Code was because she refused to compromise and tone down her material which, even by some standards even in the years since her death, were surprisingly heavy on sexual overtones and undertones. Today her material can be seen as soft, but at the time she was writing and starring in movies, they were a revelation.

Reason 3: The Original Sex Symbol. Even with stars like Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers, Kay Francis, etc, being the favs of many a man in the 1930s, it was Mae West who took the moniker of Sex Symbol of the era. While not drop dead gorgeous, West exuded a charisma, charm, and mystique that had people looking her way, even if they objected to the kind of act she put on, her aura just couldn’t be denied.

Reason 4: Cary Grant. Mae West helped to jump start the career of a then up-in-coming actor Cary Grant. Grant at the time was still something of a supporting player in films, and it was West who hired him as her love interest in both She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel, giving Grant his first taste of the romantic lead.

Reason 5: She Saved Paramount Pictures. West’s play Diamond Lil had been a hit on the stage, but most of Hollywood at the time wouldn’t touch it for a screen adaptation due to its for the period shocking subject matter, but Paramount, which had been having financial problems thanks in part to the Depression, took a chance. Part of this risk’s success is that West was involved in translating her Broadway script to screenplay form, now titled She Done Him Wrong, little of the play changed. It worked and Paramount was out of financial danger.

Well, there’s my take on the Classic Movie Muse’s Tag, and now I’ll I’ll nominate a couple of people and see if this takes off

MMC! (Make Mine Criterion!) aka Spine Numbered

Master Mix Movies

Mike’s Take on the Movies

Matt Brunson

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

6 Responses

  1. Interesting idea. Though our lists wouldn’t differ too much. Marilyn Monroe is kind of like a kindred spirit of mine. Mostly because we share a birthday.

  2. Great post with fine writing about 5 cinematic icons. Audrey Hepburn’s early life during the war is truly remarkable and I’m surprised there hasn’t been a film or TV series about it. Maybe a TV film decades ago, but it could make a great Netflix drama for today’s audiences.

  3. This is fantastic, Moviefanman! I’m so glad you decided to ‘tag’ along 😉 I really enjoyed your excellent writing detailing your 5 reasons why for these fabulous ladies! I adore your first 3 and find their personal lives quite fascinating, but I didn’t know as much about the last two nor that Marilyn had a stutter, so this was a very enlightening read.

    Thank you so very much for the mention ❤

    I can’t claim full creative ownership of this one, since it is the brainchild of two other great bloggers, so if you feel inclined, do go ahead and add their names and links to your post. Also, consider sending your post their way…In the rules they said they are welcoming posts on both swoon worthy guys and gals 😉 I know they will love this!

  4. Eric Binford says:

    Excellent post! I’m partial to Mae West… what a woman!

  5. While I was superficially familiar with their images, I really knew next to nothing about Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russel, or Mae West before reading this post – and now I know quite a bit more. You packed a lot into a little, giving a comprehensive look into the depth of these iconic women. Very interesting read. 🙂

  6. Matt Brunson says:

    First, excellent​, informative,​ and vastly entertaining post. Second, finally took some time to ​think about my own Swoon-Worthy Golden Age Actresses​, picking all different from yours (very difficult, since you had some great choices!):

    1) Ingrid Bergman
    2) Gene Tierney
    3) Anne Baxter
    4) Ginger Rogers
    5) Bette Davis. Maybe cheating, but she *is* my all-time favorite actress, and her talent makes me swoon. 🙂

    Honorable Mentions: Paulette Goddard; Jennifer Jones; Myrna Loy; Teresa Wright; Jeanne Crain

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