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- The Bennetts: An Acting Family
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Jun 04, Peggy rated it liked it Shelves: dark-shadows , show-biz-biographies.
- Joan Bennett, Movie, Stage, TV Star, Dies - Los Angeles Times.
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I originally planned to read only the Dark Shadows chapter of this, but it turned out to be a fascinating book about old Hollywood. Feb 04, Davethorson rated it really liked it Shelves: biography. Very well researched and thorough biography of this famous family whose pedigree included the famous stage actor Richard Bennett and his two very famous daughters, Constance and Joan, as well as a daughter, Barbara, who only dabbled in acting early in life.
Richard was an extremely eccentric and colorful character and the first several chapters which naturally dwell on him were much more interesting than I expected. Constance and Joan had careers which started in very similar circumstances but h Very well researched and thorough biography of this famous family whose pedigree included the famous stage actor Richard Bennett and his two very famous daughters, Constance and Joan, as well as a daughter, Barbara, who only dabbled in acting early in life. Constance and Joan had careers which started in very similar circumstances but had quite different trajectories as the years went on.
Kellow documents all the family's ups and downs, both professionally and personally, including the many marriages, scandals, acting roles both well received and mundane, and his prose includes mostly well documented anecdotes and quotations with very little editorializing thrown in. At least, any editorializing is quite subtle. I always found Constance Bennett an artificial and too mannered actress - "actressy" in her performances would describe her well. But I was always a big fan of Joan Bennett, whose second phase of her Hollywood career included defining roles in several notable films noir, including "The Woman in the Window" and "Scarlet Street.
Kellow covers the various members of the family as a family, grouping his chapters by years in time past. While sometimes the many marriages, offspring and facts can get a little confusing, a family tree would have helped , it is nevertheless what I think will be the definitive document of an acting family who probably doesn't have the reputation that they deserve.
For anyone with a passing interest in this colorful and talented family, this book would be sure to please. Feb 02, Mark Desrosiers rated it really liked it Shelves: cinerama. Wow, what a ride: an acting dynasty's travails from scrappy Richard Bennett impregnating his foster mom so he says -- she died in childbirth to Joan Bennett's mundane death at a dinner table in Lots of classics in between, of course -- Constance in Topper and various other glamour roles, Joan's transition from sub-Constance blonde to noir brunette and subsequent memorable work with Lan Wow, what a ride: an acting dynasty's travails from scrappy Richard Bennett impregnating his foster mom so he says -- she died in childbirth to Joan Bennett's mundane death at a dinner table in Lots of classics in between, of course -- Constance in Topper and various other glamour roles, Joan's transition from sub-Constance blonde to noir brunette and subsequent memorable work with Lang and Ophuls , Barbara -- well Barbara didn't make much of herself at all.
She just drank booze by the gallon and became the sad, twitchy one of the lot. Anyway, you get all the decent gossip -- climaxing obviously Joan's husband Walter Wanger shooting her lover Jennings Lang in the groin in zzzzzzz. Poor Constance comes off as an insufferable aristocratic brat with no charisma and little acting genius leaving aside Topper , but an obvious talent for preserving her sense of stardom.
Joan, on the other hand seems the most resilient of the bunch, re-glamorizing herself with dark hair and a no-nonsense sensibility, very noir and strange. Yes, that was her in Dark Shadows , late in her career. And yeah, she was that slightly wooden but memorable Madame Blanc in Suspiria. Definitely one of the best dynastic biographies I've ever read. I have to dock it one star though, for omitting without explanation Barbara's most famous son, Morton Downey Jr. Jul 20, Donie Nelson rated it really liked it. Constance did it for the money, and initially that was Joan's motivation.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, Joan Bennett was a favorite of my mother's, and I loved Constance in the "Topper" films. Barbara's life was an absolute tragedy. Jun 17, Stephen Elliott rated it it was amazing. Great companion book to "The Bennett Playbill", the autobiography of Joan Bennett in which she traces the five decades of actors on both sides of her family.
The book gives insight into each memeber of the family, exploring their personal lives and the impact that each had on stage and film. Apr 20, Sharon Healy-Yang rated it it was amazing. At last, a biography that gives the proper due to one of the most talented of American acting families. The author brings home excellent behind-the-scenes information on the careers of the Bennetts, treating their tragedies and triumphs with insight and sympathy.
His research into personal letters, contracts, interviews, and official documents is impressive. The book is a pleasure to read. Web, Tablet, Phone, eReader. Content Protection. Read Aloud. Flag as inappropriate. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.
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Morris W. Morris/ Lewis Morrison (1845-1906)
Brian Kellow. The stories about the supremely talented, famously strong-willed, fearsomely blunt, and terrifyingly exacting woman are stuff of legend. But who was Ethel Agnes Zimmermann, really? Hurricanes: A Memoir. Rick Ross.
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Can I Go Now? But staying in the background was not possible for Mengers. A true original with a gift for making the biggest stars in Hollywood listen to hard truths about their careers and personal lives, Mengers became a force to be reckoned with. Her salesmanship never stopped. I bet she hung around with Dean Jagger and Menjou - they would be just the sort of reactionary pair she'd draw to.
Gee, years after my brother robbed me blind he was rather clever at finding ways to drain my bank account , he didn't want to talk about it, either. I don't get her reason for not doing so, though. It doesn't seem she had any conscience at all. It's the one difference between you and me, Siren. This stuff doesn't do much for me - these people with their twisted motivations and ugly behavior are like watching lowlifes with too much money and time on their hands, and when it comes to their "class", it's always affectation, either married or bought.
I think I have to side respectfully with mndean on this one. I've adored Constance Bennett for years, for her sheer beauty and grace, and for her knockout performances in What Price Hollywood? But this story makes me sad, and makes me feel I can't quite ever look at her again the same way. I would be sorry not to be able to greet her with the same love as before.
I'm not sure anybody could be. Accepting that, it starts to become a strange pleasure to find out how twisted they sometimes are. It's like Sweet Smell of Success or something, where it's less about character sympathy and more about "How low can they go? David, you put it perfectly, thanks very much. It certainly isn't that I read about Constance and think "damn, wish I'd been her friend!
Look, Hollywood was a man's world where a woman's desirability was her chief currency, and it came with a shelf life somewhere between milk and yogurt. Constance was certainly no more ruthless than the people she was working for. Which is why, Vanwall, I loved reading about her ability to clean them out at poker. You are right, the boys shoulda known better. And do note, M. She just mesmerized me--I kept thinking, how's she gonna top this?
And then she did. But then again, I loved Becky and Bette both. After I do Constance's movies I plan to write about Joan, who was definitely the better actress and a woman so nice she could handle both Constance and Fritz Lang. You can consider her a palate-cleanser. While her sis, Joan Bennett, placed her "petite" feet in Film noir and boy! Tks, darkcitydame ;-. I'm looking forward to the next installment. I've only seen a couple of films with Constance Bennett. She was certainly hot in Topper. The affectation of class what Hollywood SOP in that era why do you think so many female stars were looking to marry royalty?
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It's more interesting when they didn't care about it and were unaffected. Besides, I got the notion of affected class not from you, but from others. The last time I heard it was from ducking Robert Osborne, but he wasn't the only one. I wouldn't say that I expect actors to be as adorable as the characters they play. I've never been given much cause to believe they would be, past or present. But I do enjoy illusion, me.
I like the lights and the paint and the costumes, and the fake stories that are so real they cut like a knife. Did you know that St Augustine, in the Confessions , mourned the fact that the stories he watched in the theatre elicited a more emotional reaction from him than real events did? Lord knows I'm aware that there are ugly realities behind the illusion. I just prefer not to dwell on them.
I like reading some of the history of the business like Gabler's An Empire of Their Own and I confess I took a certain delight in reading Esther William's reminiscences, and many of the Siren's anecdotes have brought me great joy. But, for me, I prefer to talk about the product that's brought me so much pleasure, and not the flaws of the people who labor in its fields. I look forward to part two. Anyone who can cause a producer to shoot an agent is AOK in my book. I was done with the "omg look at Constance's life" bit, and only halfway through looking at the 5 or 6 movies I've seen, and figured that rather than going dark for a time I would just throw up an uncharacteristically bio-focused piece.
It's going to take a day or two to finish up the other stuff but sit tight.
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I swear this isn't becoming a gossip blog. I just really did find her entertaining in her monstrousness. Even Louise Brooks, who couldn't stand Constance, said she learned how to enter a room by watching Constance swan into a nightclub. The trick was to stand in the entry for a moment, as though minutely adjusting one's furs, meanwhile becoming the object of all gazes. Taking the twins to a birthday party now, will return with more thoughts.
Hey, I thought that was my gimmick! I really enjoyed your bio sketch of Constance.
The Bennetts: An Acting Family
Indeed, finding someone intriguing is not the same as approving of their behavior. Alluring bad girls are fascinating, let's face it. By sheer coincidence, after reading this I stumbled across a picture of an old Photoplay at the Allure blog. Cukor expressed suprise that the moviegoing public thought Constance the embodiment of elegance and style. To him she was apprently common.
And he directed her in What Price Hollywood? Joan is quite a different story. Not just for her films but her off-screen life, which produced the greatest single line in Hollywood history: "Oh for God's sake, Walter -- he's only an agent! To me, I like someone like Clara Bow a lot more - after a nightmare childhood and being worked incessantly by B. Schulberg ahem, I guess that is an unintentional double entendre , she got stardom and was a pretty frank hedonist, and I can't blame her. Any pleasure she got in life must have seemed like manna.
Male actors had a different set of standards to live up to, usually either being suave, tough or fatherly, and the tough guys I find more amusing as the most dangerous thing most ever had to face was that their stuntman might get hurt. As I once said elsewhere, if we knew all about everyone in old Hollywood, many of us would throw up - it would be that sickening. Mayer and Harry Cohn. Well, they didn't specify fictional. I recently did an entry that showed a november Los Angeles Times story on how the special effects in the "Topper" films were done so that Constance Bennett could disappear and reappear.
I quipped that if Carole Lombard had the services of special effects whiz Roy Seawright in , she could've made Connie Bennett "disappear" when she bumped Lombard off the Pathe roster. No, no, Siren, never second-guess your divine self! And I never thought you were changing into a gossip blog; perish forbid as an old friend used to say!
Besides, I was responding far more to D Cairns than I was to you. I know that many people find it adds layers to their enjoyment of film and the film industry to probe the personalities more deeply than I prefer to; it's just a matter of taste.
Morris W. Morris/ Lewis Morrison () – BlackPast
Sometimes, for me, it's just distracting. Today, for the first time, I saw the film Adventure "Gable's back--and Garson's got him! I was reminded that, ever since I learned that Gable had ill-fitting dentures that gave him bad breath, I've not been able to get that fact out of my head while watching him in a clinch. I guess I just don't compartmentalize as well as others do. But your posts are never bad ideas, no matter what the topic, and I am far from the only audience for your work.
I will sit in blissful anticipation, however, for the post on Constance's films! It was just that horrible to her. I don't blame her for that.
It was even tougher on the kids, because they grew up. Like old Louis B. Bennies to be up for the workday, barbiturates for that good night's sleep, all from obliging studio croakers who had no interest in her health whatsoever, just get her on that set to perform. Who cares what happened to her after she was no longer of use to MGM?