Updated below with special December 29 Turner Classic Movies tributes to Joan Fontaine and Peter O'Toole
I posted a brief Eleanor Parker (1922-2013) remembrance a few days back before getting to work on the first of my 1931 posts. Then I planned to put together a little post about Audrey Totter (1918-2013), who died this past Thursday.
Bad news kept interrupting.
Totter was trouble for film noir leading men beginning from the time she showed up for a few minutes to distract John Garfield from Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). The only bit of cardboard that I could find in my files featuring Miss Totter is the late '40s Dinkie Grips card shown on this page. It pictures Totter with Robert Montgomery in Lady in the Lake (1947), which despite High Wall (1947), The Set-Up (1949) and Tension (1949) is my favorite bit of Audrey Totter.
I don't really care for Lady in the Lake as a whole. I like all of those other titles I mentioned better. I get what Montgomery was going for with the point of view gimmickry, but it didn't work for me. Too distracting. Totter on the other hand is absolute ice, especially in the early going. I popped the movie on for a few minutes tonight to grab the screen capture included below. Through Montgomery's eyes Totter's every expression is captured and quite a few of them are about as charming as Norma Desmond in an off-moment. Even so, it's hard not to fall for her. She warms up a bit later in the movie, but we're not really sure where she stands until the very end.
Over the weekend I kept turning on TCM during off hours with hopes of catching the TCM Remembers video. I posted it on the site inside my Eleanor Parker post (Apologies to subscribers as the video didn't send with my post--you'll find it here: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/935327/TCM-Remembers-2013-TCM-Original-.html), but I'm really hoping to be able to eventually watch it on a bigger screen myself. So far I haven't bumped into it, but the month is only halfway over.
Anyway, it was with some anticipation that I had hoped to see the video on Saturday, wondering if TCM had already added Audrey Totter to the long list of film personalities remembered who had died in 2013.
After Sunday they've a bit more work to do than that.
It might sound odd coming from a classic movie site, but I was going to let Peter O'Toole's (1932-2013) passing go without a mention. The eight-time Oscar nominee was born in my favorite film year, so he didn't get started in the movies until much later and thus is a little outside the unofficial boundaries of the site. I consider him more contemporary than classic. But eight Academy Award nominations is mighty impressive, especially when the first one came from a movie as huge as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and then there is that Honorary Award from 2003 attempting to correct what his fans surely view as decades of oversight.
When I logged into my website tonight I noticed a few too many hits on my Joan Fontaine articles. My first reaction: Oh no, not another one! I had seen the news about Peter O'Toole earlier in the day but had been away from my computer since then. So I Googled Joan Fontaine and about a half dozen obituaries bounced back at me. She's gone.
This is probably terrible to write, but for a long time now whenever word comes that an old-time movie star has died, I tend to comfort myself with thoughts of, At least it wasn't Olivia or Joan. Or Mickey. Or Kirk. Going forward that consolation list shrinks by one.
I am usually not overly sentimental when celebrities die. I don't know these people beyond their celebrity and there are a lot of famous folk that I'm fond of who have already been gone for a long time. Joan Fontaine made it to 96 and lived well doing so. That's pretty good. Since retirement she faded from mainstream view, except for the occasional report upon the famed feud with her sister, Olivia De Havilland. But for the classic film community she has always been here. The papers will carry her obituary on Monday and that will be it. We'll be watching her movies as long as we're here to do so.
Thanks to all of the stars and may each of those most recently departed rest in piece.
For more about Joan Fontaine please see the biography I put together this past Summer when she was featured on TCM's Summer Under the Stars. I also review Miss Fontaine's 1978 autobiography, No Bed of Roses, within that same post. The day after I wrote that biography I posted a review of my favorite Joan Fontaine movie, The Constant Nymph (1943).
If and when Turner Classic Movies (December 29, schedule listed below) schedules tributes to any or all of these stars I will update this post with that information below the photo that follows. On that note, one more reminder that TCM remembers Eleanor Parker on December 17 and has a scheduled tribute to seven additional stars who died in 2013 on the evening of December 30. Each of those schedules are included in this post.
TCM Remembers - December 29, 2013
TCM has just announced a special day of programming dedicated to the legacies of Joan Fontaine and Peter O'Toole. Those schedules follow ... all times EST.
TCM Remembers Joan Fontaine
- 6:30 am – Blonde Cheat (1938)
- 7:45 am – The Women (1939)
- 10:15 am – Born to Be Bad (1950)
- 12:00 pm – Ivanhoe (1952)
- 2:00 pm – The Constant Nymph (1943)
- 4:00 pm – Suspicion (1941)
- 5:45 pm – Rebecca (1940)
TCM Remembers Peter O’Toole
- 8:00 pm – Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
- 12:00 am – Peter O'Toole: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival (2011)
- 1:00 am – Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969)
- 3:45 am – My Favorite Year (1982)