Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Monday, January 30, 2017

Climbing Acting's Ladder The Hardest Way


Career (1959) Deserves Blu-Ray Revival

Why isn't this Hal Wallis drama better known? I watched (Amazon Prime) and was captivated by its story of an aspiring actor (Tony Franciosa) who fails and fails, ones in his orbit including Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Carolyn Jones ... all excellent. Wallis by the late 50's was mired in Jerry Lewis and Elvis, but could still mount serious projects and do Paramount proud. Trouble for Career, as speculated then and since, was public unawareness, if not indifference, to struggle for stage fame, a milieu captured well here, but who'd care? Wallis might have shot in Gotham, chose instead not to, which was no help to verisimilitude, as many took it to streets by late 50's, especially postwar talent who'd begun in live TV and wanted to keep settings real. Wallis was traditional, studio taught, and so figured a backlot would work same as it had since yore days at WB. To this he was misguided, though I'm guessing pared budget had something to do with sticking close to home. Paramount was on fumes by the late 50's, stunning receipts from The Ten Commandments an ongoing mortgage lifter. Career, with only $1.4 million in domestic rentals, lagged behind DeMille oldie Samson and Delilah, brought back a same year to wowzer $2.1 million. What with that and Jerry Lewis returning $3.1 million with Don't Give Up The Ship for Wallis, you can forgive the producer for sticking mostly to fluff.


Acting role models by 50's Method takeover were presumably those who made success with the technique, but earlier on, where Career takes place (immediate postwar), lamp was still lit by glories of a John Barrymore, whose films still play at a cameo-size cinema that Dean and Tony attend for inspiration. Question then --- were Barrymore oldies really unspooling in Greenwich Village during the late 40's, and did aspiring actors go see them? We see a portrait of JB hung in Franciosa's single-room flat, while Carolyn Jones' agent office has theatrical posters of Edwin Booth and Joseph Jefferson. For scenes set later in the 50's (Career being something of a saga), Booth and Jefferson are replaced by The Desperate Hours and The Rose Tattoo, both hits on Broadway. Hollywood takes a beating, all yes people and natural habitat for back-stabber Dean. A walk across the Paramount lot naturally passes a man dressed in Indian costume (what, no elephant?), such visual cues an oldest cliché where action is set on Hollywood lots. Sword-sash and mustachioed "Eric Peters" is depicted as biggest star at the lot, him no actor and not even much of a personality --- a Career slam on Errol Flynn?


Wallis always cast well, courageously at times, had built a stock company from arrival at Para where he set up shop as an independent. He and Career writers understood ordeal of players desperate to play, their willingness to try and be knocked back for what amounts in most instances to a lifetime. We forget what a tiny percentage of actors make the grade, success being unknown to 99% of ones who take the bloody field. Anthony Franciosa, then at beginning and ultra-Method phase, hit performing summit here, saw decline that some said resulted from bad on-set behavior, swung to 60's television where he'd be "Tony" in lighter series work. Franciosa captures aching need to go, and stay, on a working stage. Had Career been more of a success, he may have copped at least an AA nomination. Latter might have been accorded as well to Dean Martin as legit director gone Hollywood, his Communist past a sled to 50's blacklist, this angle fairly unique to Career. HUAC themes became common enough to 70's and later look-backs, but here was tackling the theme early, Martin's "Maury Novak" an opportunist who joined the Party during the 30's to get work, which made me wonder --- how many others took a same route? Dalton Trumbo was an uncredited writer on Career, so there is more than whiff of authenticity here.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

Oy! You really made me want to watch this, so I went to Amazon Prime, and it's "not available for sale or rental." It's on my watchlist, though.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

That is an awesome picture of John Wayne. Is it a photograph or a painting? I am tempted to say that only he could look that magnificent. Thanks for posting it. It is a keeper. What is it from?

9:05 AM  
Blogger Michael J. Hayde said...

CAREER and ALL IN A NIGHT'S WORK were obligations for Dean, under the Martin & Lewis contract with Hal Wallis that still had 3 films to go when the team split. Wallis was the final barrier to dissolving the partnership; the contract insisted both men had to appear together in films no matter who produced them. Wallis gave permission for each to make a solo film. Jerry's THE SAD SACK was originally conceived with Dean in the David Wayne role; instead, Wallis got the deal of a lifetime: six pictures for the price of three. Jerry's solos for Hal (SAD SACK, DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP, VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET), as you know, did as well as or better than the M&L vehicles. Having little confidence in Dean's ability, Wallis took his time until Martin truly became one of "today's most exciting stars."

9:23 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

It's a painting done for "The Searchers."

10:33 AM  
Blogger leela said...

Peak Acting Studios is an acting school, to provide kids, teens and adults with quality acting classes.

Source: http://www.peaktalentschoolofacting.com/workshops.html

1:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017