Monday, July 09, 2007

They had faces then

Is it just me, or do today's movie stars really look... plain compared to the screen goddesses of Hollywood's Golden Age? Except for Angelina Jolie and perhaps a young Michelle Pfeiffer, contemporary film actresses don't seem to exude the same glamour, elan and sense of mystery as, say, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo or Elizabeth Taylor. We're not talking of talent here, because when it comes to acting genius Meryl Streep can certainly match, even surpass, the era's greatest thespian, Katharine Hepburn. No, let's talk drop-dead, incandescent, larger-than-life pulchritude. Who among today's reigning beauties can hold a candle to Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren? These women were emblems of an age when movie stars looked like movie stars. Or as Norma Desmond put it in "Sunset Boulevard:" "We didn't need words, we had faces!" Yes, indeed, and were they ever ready for their close-ups...



THE WOMEN: Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Ruth Chatterton, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland, Anne Baxter, Lauren Bacall, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Janet Leigh, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Ann Margret, Julie Andrews, Raquel Welch, Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry

THE VIDEO DIRECTOR: Eggman913, who also did the breathtaking "400 years of women in Western art" video

15 comments:

pat said...

hilary swank is not what you'd describe as drop-dead gorgeous, pero sobrang galing umarte. but she is one plain looking girl.

the spy in the sandwich said...

i agree gibbs, but cate blanchett seems like a throwback to the old time glamour.

Paris said...

I admire Reese Witherspoon, I love all her movies.

cant_u_read said...

all they need in hollywood is rye. enough said. ;-)

Maryanne Moll said...

I can now see -- and agree -- that most of them have rather forgettable faces. That's quite an observation, Gibbs. I never realized that before.

Anonymous said...

angelina jolie somehow fizzled when she started having kids. cate blanchett is striking when made up, she gets miscast often, though. nicole kidman really wants to be an actress, sorry na lang sha, but people want her to be a moviestar. julianne moore is good but can sometimes be overrated. i have yet to see a bad performance from maggie gyllenhaal kahit na she's the most plain-looking in this bunch. hillary swank needs to keep winning oscars to continue working hehe. did i miss anyone?

-ryansumera

Q The Conqueror said...

Gah. Sa Moderns, the only ones I remember are Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeifer. Julia Roberts as well coz shes so plain. That's strange given that I like Nicole/ Catherine Zeta.

I feel that even my loves Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley might blend in lang.

Amadeo said...

I agree that that era stood out way above the present crop of Hollywood celebrities, and this includes everybody, actors, actresses, character actors and extras.

The dialogue even in the B movies were always done with pride, dignity, and clarity that definitely puts the current screenplays to shame, given its predisposition to cuss words and gutter language.

Then, dialogue in movies was a teaching tool for those eager to learn about language, which cannot generally be said for the present.

Of course, exceptions can be made. Meryl Streep is one such exception. Look back at her role portrayal in Deer Hunter. Excelling both in looks and acting.

And also, nowadays casual frontal nudity especially among the A-listers is a given and almost like a ticket to sure stardom. Compare with how sexuality and eroticism were done in that bygone era. Most notorious then was Jane Russell in the Outlaw. Now, juxtapose with Oscar winner C. Tieron from scenes in some of her movies.

snglguy said...

It's a good thing I have Turner Classic Movies in my Dream Sat subscription. It affords me to view these actresses during their glory days, when movies were really movies...

Know what?I loved Greer Garson in the original big screen version of "Goodbye Mr. Chips". :-)

But Kim Novak, woot! She is HOT!

gibbs cadiz said...

hi PAT, i agree. she used to model, so in some conventional way (or at least as conventional as the fashion industry thought so) she was considered beautiful. as an actress, though, yeah, she's plain-looking. but give her the right project and she can kill ya. :)

hi IAN, oo nga e, i think she qualifies, pero wala siya dito sa video. have you seen the good german? she had a dietrich vibe there. i've always loved cate, i hope she gets an oscar soon. :)

hi PARIS, guess LEGALLY BLONDE and WALK THE LINE occupy pride of place in your dvd shelf, huh? didn't know reese could sing, and was happy to see her do it so well. :)

haha, go RYE! :)

hi RYAN! i think angelina deserves a really good project that will make use of her outsize persona. she isn't too good in small, unassuming roles like that in the good shepherd, because at this point in her career she's more a presence than an actress. i'd love to see her do a femme fatale character, but nothing like the lousy original sin movie (with antonio banderas). i have to disagree about cate, i think that while she's been in less-than-worthy movies, she's always turned in good performances. she's my bet as the next meryl streep. :)

hi NEIL/Q! keira knightley, wow there's a beauty. sana lang wag na siya mag pirates of the carribean, haha.

hi AMADEO! thanks for your comments. you're right, movie dialogue then was different, too. nobody wrote lines like billy wilder (sunset boulevard, some like it hot, etc.), for instance. among contemporary writers-filmmakers, david mamet has a very precise way with words. wala na ako maisip na iba, haha. oh, tom stoppard (shakespeare in love), but then he's more playwright than screenwriter. :)

hi SNGLGUY, ako din, good thing i have my pirated dvd collection of the classics. it was only recently that i watched barbara stanwyck in double indemnity. she'd wipe the floor with sharon stone, as far as femme fatales are concerned. me nakalimutan actually si eggman sa video niya--si joan fontaine, sister of olivia de havilland. joan was extremely lovely, and quite an effective actress too, in hitchcock's 'rebecca.' while watching the film i would press 'stop' every time the camera had a close-up of her face. aargh, such beauty. among the new ones, i really really like isabella rossellini, but she's not had much success as an actress. too bad. :)

Anonymous said...

hey, gibbs! cate as streep heir-apparent is a given na. i think streep herself once remarked on how she'd though cate was so much like her when she was at her age. gibbs, i'm not being bitchy but angelina jolie in a femme fatale role? to quote miranda priestley, "florals, for spring? groundbreaking." hehe. i hope streep and blanchett do a movie together with mike nichols directing.

-ryansumera

snglguy said...

Stanwck was great in Double Indemnity but the real eye-opener in that movie for me was Fred Macmurray. It was my first time seeing him in a film noir.

I often associate the guy with those light comedies popular during the fifties...

jayclops said...

Nice piece of work! I'd root for Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly. Such beautiful actresses. Anne Baxter was lovely in The Maginificent Ambersons too. Si Cate lang talaga naiisip ko whose got both such amazing talent and look that exudes that era.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi RYAN, you're right, kinda predictable. but see, despite her being a shoo-in for that, angelina's never really been in a good one, and that's what i meant when i said not in a lousy film like original sin. there's no hitchcock right now who can use her properly. :)

hi SNGLGUY, was the third guy edward g. robinson, fred mcmurray's friend? don't recall now...

hi JAYCLOPS, gads, ikaw din, haha. charter members pala tayo ng cate blanchett fan club! :)

snglguy said...

Yup, he was none other than perrenial bad guy, Edward G. Robinson. :-)

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