Monday, April 01, 2013
going to the movies

I watch a lot of movies and I always have. As a kid, the highlight of any week was going to the movies. I truly feel that the movies saved my life.  Well, films, theatre, music, etc., etc., have saved my life....So that would of course now 
 include television because that is the only way I can watch films these days.....
Turner Classic Movies, a true treasure of a TV Film Channel, plays old 'classic' films 24 hours a day---without commercial interruption----a gift if there ever was one to all of us who love film. And each month they honor a different film star from the past, featuring many many films of that star, one day each week, and this March that just ended, the star that they honored was the very beautiful and talented Greer Garson.
Some of you have probably never even heard of Greer Garson or if you have, it might have been about the fact that she gave the longest acceptance speech ever, in the history of The Academy Awards.
It was, in actuality only 5 1/2 minutes...but as always happens with these kinds of things, it is often referred to as the speech that went on for 25 minutes.....
Not True.
What was truly remarkable about Greer Garson was that during the early 1940's she was nominated for an Oscar five years in a row. (The only other person who shares that distinction to this day, is Bette Davis....)
All in all Greer Garson was nominated for an Academy Award seven times in her career. There are many other incredible things about Garson's career----not the least of which is how many of her films played Radio City Music Hall....(probably the most beautiful Movie Theatre ever built and where I spent a lot of time as a young child and as a teenager, having grown up in New York....)....This magnificent 6,200 seat Art Deco movie Palace played 14 of Greer Garson's films for a total of 83 weeks---a record that no other actress has ever equalled; in fact, Garson was named "Queen of New York City's Radio City Music Hall...."!
Plus she was ranked the number one box office draw of dramatic actresses during the years 1942-1945.....the 'war' years. Another incredible thing about Ms. Garson's film career is that it didn't begin until she was well into her 30's. Louis B. Mayer himself, saw her in a play in London and signed her to a contract on the spot. 
During those early MGM days, she made one Wonderful Spectacular film after another---Starting with "Goodbye Mr. Chips", with Robert Donat....
A lovely film, in which she received the first of those seven Oscar Nominations.
The next film of hers that had special meaning for me was the beautiful and memorable
"Mrs. Miniver".....
It was an important film in so very many ways. It took place during WW2 in England----and concentrated on how one family was living through, and was deeply effected by, the war!  The film honored the people of Britain who fought the good fight, and survived. This film holds up today because of the wonderful performances of all the actors (Teresa Wright, Dame Mae Whitty and Henry Travers, to name just a few...) and especially the great performances of Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon, with whom she made 8 films!

Incidentally, for all you "Downton Abbey" addicts, the whole Flower Show section in season one was lifted directly from "Mrs. Miniver". I remember watching that first season of 'DA' and when it came to that story-line, I was quite shocked, and realized immediately that it was taken from "Mrs. Miniver". In those first two pictures....that is the great Dame May Whitty playing Lady Beldon , with Henry Travers on the left--the Station Master who created The Miniver Rose. And of course the bottom picture is Maggie Smith as Lady Grantham of "Downton Abbey" giving out the Floral Award 70 years later....
"Mrs. Miniver" was nominated for 12 Academy awards---winning 6 all together, including Best Actress for Greer Garson, Best Supporting Actress for Teresa Wright, (above with Garson...) and the Oscar for Best Picture and one for Best Director to William Wyler. It also won for Best Cinematography (Black & White); and Best Screenplay. A blockbuster of a film in 1942! 

The next important film of Greer Garson's for me personally was"Random Harvest". It is a beautiful love story adapted from the book by James Hilton...
A really special Film in which Garson starred with Ronald Coleman....
Another name that is probably unfamiliar....

These people were HUGE Stars....
What I would call, the real Movie Stars.
They were Talented and Beautiful and had something that almost none of today's so called 'stars' have.
A true charisma.
And they had a truth in their acting that was really quite stunning!
They touched your heart in ways that went so very very deep. And seeing these films today---all these years later---they still touch one deeply.
Well, let me speak for myself---they still touch me deeply!

It was a simpler time in what films were about back then---certainly at MGM---And the studios ruled with an iron hand, and the films that were made usually were escapist---feel-good-in-the-end, films. That's what the public needed and wanted during the long depression years----Of course there were exceptions, and in some ways WW2 changed all that....but not right away. So many of these films are looked on today as unreal and sentimental---in a bad way----But, the public didn't feel that way about these films back in the day, nor did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, nor did I....

In my view, these are all films to be cherished.  It's why I love Turner Classic Movies so much---they truly do cherish all the film history that came before.....
Next time I will talk about the third film of Greer Garson's that meant so very much to me......

More To Come.......

had this to say:

I do remember Greer Garson and Ronald Coleman. Pretty sure I saw Random Harvest.
I kind of liked those feel good endings of the old movies. Some of today's movies are so raw and gritty they leave me very unsettled.
TCM is a great channel.

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 3:39:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It is said often, but absolutely true---they don't make films like they used to. I was so disappointed in Lincoln...I digress. I too love AMC. May it always be available.

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 7:07:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I had heard of Greer Garson, but all I could have told you was that she was an actress from the 1940s. I've heard of a number of her movies, but never seen any. I'm intrigued by your comments on her acting, and the stories told in these movies. Knowing as many of her films as you do, which movie would you recommend that would leave the viewer feeling good when it's all over? Also, I immediately recognized Henry Travers from "It's a Wonderful Life," where he played the part of Clarence the angel first class.

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 8:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I sometimes think there would be a market for a cinema or two showing some of the old movies on the big screen again. Even with modern big televisions, its not the same thing.

And you are right about some of the movies with the feel good storyline and ending.

Funnily enough we were watching one yesterday on BBC2. A modern film but made with old school story telling. It was really fun to watch, even if some parts of the story were a little predictable. It added to the charm.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 4:07:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

well now.. you didn't mention one "movie star" that I hadn't seen most of the very movies you mentioned! When I was young enough to still be in school our SEVEN television channels all showed movies at one time or another. From "the early show" to the "late, late show" and everything in between.. so all the Turner Classic movies were shown and I loved them all!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 4:17:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow! You're an encyclopedia!

What's prettier than the lobby of Radio City? Not much.

The best thing about Turner Classics is NO COMMERCIALS. That rotten AMC always cuts up their films with insipid ads.

I saw that Nora Ephron/Tom Hanks play last Friday night. I didn't want to like it. I wanted to find it too pedestrian and Upper West Side, like most of Ephron's work. But I had to admit to my bitter old self that it's pretty genius stuff. Written in the era when I first moved to NYC, it was a greeting card from my past. Hanks looked like he's been doing theater all along. Complete comfort on stage. Great casting, direction, pacing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 4:42:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I love the old treasures and watch as many as I can
Greer Garson was so beautiful and so talented

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 5:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

It is really too bad that we don't live next door to you. Jim would gladly watch e very old movie with you and discuss it till midnight or later. He always has his TV turned to an old movie! LOL Plus, he can tune in at any point in the movie. I really need to start at the beginning - but not him!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:38:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Sounds great to have at home a TV Film that plays old classic films without commercial interruption!
Sure, I do remember Greer Garson but I did not remember well which films of her I watch... but I think it was Mrs. Miniver...
GREAT post, Naomi, with amazing stories and great old photos too.

I hope you have a pleasant day!
Lots of HUGS!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 7:17:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I have always loved Greer Garson for her performances and for her incredibly modulated voice.And she was almost unbearably beautiful. Yes, I would watch those movies forever. I don't have Turner on my cable tier. Too bad.

Radio City -- so gorgeous. I love the scene in Woody Allen's Radio Days when he goes there as a child. I toured it once. I'll never forget it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I think you had mentioned her on my blog recently telling me she had an interesting face for portrait drawing. I may try her and of course, I need to watch more TCM.

I went to see "The Sunshine Boys" at Radio City Music Hall when I was visiting family one summer but not anything live, unfortunately. It was a beautiful place! I'm sure you have many stories to tell about your days in NYC and I'd love to hear them!

Hope you're having a good week, my friend. Hugs from Miami! ♥

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 8:40:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I knew of Greer Garson while growing up in France. I could not tell you the titles of the film I saw as that was when I was 5 and 10 years old when we lived in the apartment in Paris. My father loved to go to the movies and there was a theatre walking distance. I would always go along with him even when my mother did not feel like coming with us – his favorite movies were the American ones. Some of these movies I remember barely, of course their names were translated into French and they were dubbed. One movie he especially liked, he made me go to see it with him 3 or 4 nights in a row. It was called “Les Plus belles années de notre vie” I guess you could translate it as The best years of our Life or something like that. I know we saw Greer Garson in films then too. Plus we lived where Metro Goldwin Mayer dubbed and repaired films in Paris and I could hear them from the courtyard where I played. I really enjoyed this your post.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 5:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I'd like to know more about how her career went. Did she continue to act into her elder years like Bette Davis did?

I have been in front of Radio City but sadly didn't go inside. I was a teenager, knew it was famous but didn't know it was a movie theater. I thought they just did live shows there.

I did see the original Hair musical in the old Boston Music Hall.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:48:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a great tribute! Your point about feel-good films being needed is a good one. I didn't know you grew up in NY, whereabouts? I went to NYU.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 7:29:00 PM PDT 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

I LOVED Greer Garson. She was so womanly.
Two lines I always remember: in Mrs Miniver she said dreamily:
"I had a rose named after me today."
"You've left the light on in the bathroom" said Walter Pidgeon also dreamily.
And in "Blossoms in the Dust" she declaimed passionately:
"Bad girls don't have babies!"
Didn't she marry her son in Mrs Miniver?
Thanks for the memory:)

Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 7:44:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

how wonderful to drop by your place again, naomi - something i've been far too remiss in doing for a while - but life, as they say, does truly sometimes get in the way of things and so it has in my case - be that as it may, however, i do think of you often up there in the hills and hope that all is well in your world - of garson, could there be a more beautiful woman and talented actress! a legend for sure! of course, for me, the films of that era are among my favorites even today - and i am a huge TCM fan! and you're so right about her and the others of that time - they were/are the "real" movie stars still, in my opinion - thanks so much for another wonderful story! now, i'm off to browse the posts of yours that i've missed! ;)

Friday, April 5, 2013 at 11:38:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a great reminder of a gorgeous woman. I also remember her films with great fondness. She stood for something in the films she chose or that were chosen for her. I wish there was more of that today when it seems so many of the movies are about the worst of human nature.

Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 7:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

My favorite Greer Garson movie was Mrs. Miniver.... She was such a lady and she was gentle and loving and showed so much compassion.... She was a great actress... I also love the TCM channel, good clean movies and anyone can watch.... There is too much violence, nudity and bad language in the movies of today... Long time no see, Naomi....

Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I know the first two movies very well! I'll have to look for Random Harvest! Thanks for the reminder! xoxox

Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:53:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh I remember her name but would not be able to identify her in a picture. How beautiful is she, just so lovely. I agree these stars of old had something special. I wonder who do you think of the younger crop of stars has this charisma. I do love Cate Blanchett, she is not traditionally beautiful but has charisma and is a lady.

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 3:38:00 PM PDT 

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