Sunday, December 28, 2014

ali macgraw, star power, and why 'the great gatsby' failed (Rebecca)

This is a repost of some film criticism Rebecca did at her site:

ali macgraw, star power, and why 'the great gatsby' failed

44 years ago this week, 'love story' was released (dec. 16, 1970).

the film, starring ali macgraw and ryan o'neal, was the biggest hit of it's day, the biggest film of the year in terms of ticket sales.

ali macgraw got an oscar nomination for it and won the golden globe for it.

she was the biggest box office actress as a result of that film.

ryan's very pretty and we all love him in the shower but jenny (ali's character) carries the film -  a point only made more clear when a sequel was released 8 or so years later called 'oliver's story' about o'neal's character's life after jenny died in 'love story.'

few actresses got as many stinging reviews as ali.

possibly candice bergen but she really was a bad actress.  she remained a bad actress even when she learned to laugh at herself ('starting over' and the t.v. series 'murphy brown').

but ali had star chemistry.

she belonged on the big screen, whether you thought she could act or not, you had to admit she commanded attention.

(i like ali's acting.  i think we accept it from men - steve mcqueen, for example - but women get castigated for playing the type of character clint eastwood built a career around.)

her hits were: 'love story,' 'the get away' (with steve mcqueen), 'goodbye columbus' and 'convoy.'

a much smaller film (in budget and scope), 'just tell me what you want' should make the lists of classics.

at the height of her fame, she made 'the get away' and ended up marrying mcqueen who didn't want her to work so she didn't.

it's interesting to image what could have happened to her career otherwise.

1 thing we do know, she would have starred in 'the great gatsby.'

she was supposed to play daisy but after she left paramount honcho robert evans for mcqueen, she was out as the star of the film.

robert redford was cast as the mysterious gatsby - a huge mistake.

he can't go 'big.'

his entire career has demonstrated that.

he could have played the nick carraway part - the outsider narrating - because he's all about normalizing and downsizing himself in roles (when he's successful in a role).  he can't strut, he can't peacock and he looks ridiculous when he tries.

but redford was still good looking.

and with ali macgraw he would have had chemistry.

she's the type of woman who can give a shallow man chemistry.

redford needs strong actresses (jane fonda, natalie wood, etc) to have chemistry onscreen.

but instead he was paired with the hideous mia farrow.

our lady of affected accents, madonna, had nothing on ms. mia.

she was affected in 'rosemary's baby' (her only hit film) but during this film, she was even more affected having done the british stage and fancying herself a talent.

wearing an ugly and obvious wig and too fat (she was pregnant) to wear the dresses required for the character and the film, she's a tubby little thing who sinks every scene she appears in.

ms. mouse never carried a film.

in rosemary, it was essential that she be a pawn for the film to succeed so casting a little nothing like mia worked - an actual actress, like, for example, elizabeth ashley would have overwhelmed the film.  they needed a little nothing in the role, a cypher that the audience could project on to.

ali macgraw's film career is brief but it is memorable.

that's because she had star power.

she holds you attention when she's onscreen - even in 'partners' which i like but many consider to be a turkey.

mia has no star power which is why she's awful in 1 film after another.  even 'supergirl' - how do you kill a film in a bit part as the mother of 'supergirl'?

mia managed to find a way (by contrast, faye dunaway and brenda vacarro are hilarious).

mia's only acting success comes in woody allen films.

she's strong in 'zelig,' 'broadway danny rose' (probably the best acting she ever did) and that's it.

she built up so much goodwill that people really didn't notice what a wet blanket she was in 'hannah & her sisters' and all that followed.

she's flat out awful in 'crimes & misdemeanors' - you don't suspect she's going to leave woody for alan alda because she's unable to act convincingly with either man.

she's awful in 'new york stories' and, again, you are caught off guard when she leaves woody's character because she's provided no indications of it in her acting.

'alice' is just 1 big pill of prozac.

i'm not forgetting 'purple rose of cairo.'  she's awful but so is jeff daniels.  maybe with michael keaton, she could have offered something?

i say that because in woody's awful film with madonna, et al, i'm blanking on the title - it's the 1 where jodie foster laughs about the furry thing between her legs - or maybe kathy bates or lily tomlin has the line and jodie just has the laugh? - but with john malkovich as her co-star, mia does find some new ground and actually takes the same dull part she's played in the other films and makes it interesting - 'shadows & fog,' c.i. just told me the title.

mia's awful in her 1st film with woody - 'a midsummer's ....'

and maybe he hadn't figured out how to protect her.  he really does shape her performances in the cutting room.

and by 'husbands and wives,' when it's over between them, he's no longer interested in shaping her performance and, for example, leaves her exposed in that long, long single take scene where you get how annoying mia is and how whiny and how her voice just makes you want to slit your wrists.

ali macgraw was always something to watch on the big screen.

it's why she was a star.

mice like mia are lucky to get the crumbs real stars like ali leave behind.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:' [. . .]