Biopics of the Stars: When Does the Look Matter?

Recently on my stunningly exciting Twitter feed, I engaged in a conversation about actors in biopics with my previously mentioned friend Bill Ryan as well as with fellow blogger/film critic Farran Smith Nehme of The Self-Styled Siren and The New York Post.    The topic, raised by me, was that certain actors didn’t fit well into certain biographical portrayals because despite their physical resemblance,  the actor’s demeanor, intellect and personality all worked against him.   The actor in this case in point is Rod Steiger in the movie W.C. Fields and Me.   Steiger is made to look very much like Fields, sounds like Fields, walks like Fields and delivers lines originally delivered by Fields.  Despite all of that, Rod Steiger, a very talented actor, just doesn’t work as Fields, regardless of how much or little he looks like him.  Other times an actor nails the portrayal but looks so unlike the figure they’re portraying the performance gets lost among the brain fighting back with, “that doesn’t look like him at all!”   When does one matter and the other not?

The curious thing about W.C. Fields and Me is that it also contains a performance by Jack Cassidy (absolutely wonderful actor who tragically died at 49 when he fell asleep with a lit cigarette in hand) as John Barrymore that feels exactly right despite the fact that Cassidy doesn’t look or sound nearly as much like Barrymore as Steiger looks and sounds like Fields.  But he was right in spirit.  Steiger, for me, seemed too calculating, too practiced in his performance.  The detailed research and methodology he brought to performances like the lead role in The Pawnbroker and In the Heat of the Night seems to work against the character of Fields.  His performance seems too much of a case of a studied performance rather than free-spirited interpretation of Fields.  Cassidy, on the other hand, is playing a pompous, egotist who just happens to be named John Barrymore.  He doesn’t so much look or sound like him as feel like him, or at least, like what we the audience have a fun time imagining him being.

In the same conversation, or whatever you call 140-character exchanges on Twitter, I brought up Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin in The Cat’s Meow.  Again, to me, Izzard barely resembled Chaplin.  I could stretch my imagination and convince myself that that was Chaplin but only because I chose to.  And I chose to because Izzard played an intelligent character, funny and clever and very perceptive and that character’s name was Charlie Chaplin.  He wasn’t trying to play an impersonation of Chaplin and, somehow, I appreciated that more.

When Robert Downey, Jr played Chaplin, it was more of an impersonation, though I felt a damn good one, and Downey looked a lot more like Chaplin than Izzard.  But Downey was working with a lackluster script and Izzard was not.  In the end, that made the difference.  In an ideal world, I’d love to see  the two actors reverse roles just to see if I would then like Downey’s Chaplin best or still like Izzard’s in the event he overcame the lackluster script.

The problem actors have portraying their own is that the person they’re portraying is famous precisely for their face and voice.  General George S. Patton was famous for his exploits as a military commander so no one much cared when George C. Scott, an actor with ten times the commanding voice and stature of the actual general, was cast in the lead.  The same goes for most historical figures.  Most people don’t know how T.E. Lawrence sounded and how he looked can only be culled from still photographs so few people care one way or the other if Peter O’Toole is giving an accurate impersonation or not.  On the other hand, anyone familiar with classic cinema knows how Carole Lombard looks and sounds and can’t help but immediately place that information in the field of play when they see Jill Clayburgh playing her in Gable and Lombard.  For that matter, even most casual movie lovers know Clark Gable and, due to this,  James Brolin struggles mightily and courageously but he just can’t compete with the unfortunate fact that everyone seeing the movie in 1976 knew exactly how Gable looked and sounded.   But more than that, Brolin just didn’t feel like Gable and that’s a problem increasingly encountered in actors playing actors.

The simple truth is, most good actors have a charisma and charm about them that is uniquely theirs.  That’s why they become stars in the first place.   So it’s no knock on Steiger, Clayburgh and Brolin to say that their certain charms and charisma were simply of a different kind than those of their characters.  And in the case of Izzard and Cassidy, they matched up.

But that simple truth hasn’t stopped Hollywood from repeatedly giving us biopics of famous stars because what made the star famous in the first place might also make them appealing as a character in a biopic so why not try?   In 1965, less than thirty years after the premature death of Hollywood legend Jean Harlow, Hollywood put out not one but two biopics about her and had the amazing ingenuity to name both of them Harlow.  One starred Carol Lynley and the other starred Carroll Baker.   I’ve never seen the Carol Lynley version so I can’t judge it, although Lynley was excellent in Bunny Lake is Missing that very same year so I don’t doubt she could have played Harlow well.   I have seen the Carroll Baker version and while I don’t think the movie is very good, I do think Baker is very good at playing a hard-working, tortured actress, I just don’t think she’s playing Jean Harlow.  Her performance, like Steiger’s, seems too measured and precisely drawn.  The spirit of Harlow is lost.

But wait, there’s another problem still.  The actors being portrayed are most famous for their own portrayals of other characters, not themselves.  In other words, for all I know, Baker pegged Harlow exactly right but since I’m judging Baker’s performance against Harlow’s performances as the fictional characters that Harlow played, I can’t really know for sure.   At this point, it comes down to what feels right based on the personality of the original actor that shone through when that actor played those fictional roles (everybody got that?).   So when I look at Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, even though I feel the movie is an unfair characterization of Joan, dammit, it feels right (the performance, not the movie).   I’m not sure how much of Christina’s story I believe in the first place (not a lot, actually) but I do know that whatever really happened in Joan Crawford’s private life, Faye Dunaway plays it precisely how most of us would imagine it really was, for better or worse.   I don’t know if the hard-working Crawford ever actually said that famous line to the executives at Pepsi, I just know that  I not only hope she did, I believe she did, thanks to both her and Dunaway.

If I had to make my own personal pick for the best famous actor portraying another famous actor ever, I’d give my top prize to Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood.    I love Johnny Depp in that movie too but it’s Landau as Lugosi that is playing off a much bigger public recognition factor.  And Landau plays Lugosi with a flair laced with resentment and bitterness that hits just the right notes for a man that was proud and confident but also, paradoxically, filled with self-doubt.  I think Landau had the toughest job of any actor portraying another because I think his character, Bela Lugosi, was operating on many more levels than anyone else.

And if I had to pick my most consistently frustrating, it would be any actor playing Orson Welles.  I think a lot of that arises from the fact that anyone familiar with Mr. Welles onscreen is as equally familiar with the man himself from countless interviews, talk shows and celebrity roasts.  So an actor playing Welles has a lot to compete with and usually comes up short.  The cameo in Ed Wood probably isn’t worth mentioning as a full on portrayal but it still didn’t feel right and this is coming from someone who thinks Vincent D’Onofrio is an excellent actor.  I was also quite put off by Liev Schrieber and Angus Macfayden’s portrayals of Welles in RKO 281 and The Cradle Will Rock, respectively.  Again, the actors do a fine job, I just don’t see Welles when I watch them.    The best, by far, is Christian McKay in the recent Me and Orson Welles.  It’s not a full biographical portrayal, more of a supporting player in a story that has nothing much to do with Welles but damned if he doesn’t have Welles down pretty well.

There are so many portrayals of famous Hollywood figures in the cinema, there seem to be new ones each year (especially after Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for playing Kate Hepburn).  Lately, we’ve had additions from James Franco as James Dean to Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and there are plenty more to come.  In fact, all of this started weeks before the W.C. Fields and Me conversation when, in another Twitter spasm of 140-character exchanges, I brought up the forthcoming film adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, starring Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh as well as James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles.   I still cannot get my mind around any of that casting.  It seems so crazy to me that they may as well just thrown a basket of actor’s names in the air and cast the first ones they picked up.  I mean, do any of those actors bear even the slightest resemblance to their famous subjects?  Despite all of that I am prepared to be wrong for one simple reason:  Back in the early nineties, when I heard that Martin Landau, from North by Northwest and Mission Impossible and Space: 1999, was going to be playing Bela Lugosi, I shook my head thinking, “Doesn’t anyone know how to cast these kinds of things.”   Well, we all know how that turned out.  I’ve been a lot more cautious since.  Still, while the performance is most definitely the thing, it certainly doesn’t hurt to capture the look and charm of a king.

0 Response Biopics of the Stars: When Does the Look Matter?
Posted By Peter Nellhaus : April 4, 2012 11:02 am

There’s also another biopic in the works with Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren. As good an actor as Jones is, it is Miller, from the pictures I’ve seen who looks very much like the star of Marnie.

Posted By Peter Nellhaus : April 4, 2012 11:02 am

There’s also another biopic in the works with Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren. As good an actor as Jones is, it is Miller, from the pictures I’ve seen who looks very much like the star of Marnie.

Posted By Frank : April 4, 2012 11:20 am

The impersonations of Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive and (especially) Ernest Thesiger in GODS AND MONSTERS are all spot on.

Posted By Frank : April 4, 2012 11:20 am

The impersonations of Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive and (especially) Ernest Thesiger in GODS AND MONSTERS are all spot on.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:12 pm

You know, Peter, Toby Jones sounds like a much better candidate for Hitchcock in my mind than does Anthony Hopkins. He also seemed like a much better choice for Truman Capote. Sienna Miller also seems a good choice for Hedron, agreed. That movie’s casting seems right. Wish Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho could have had their casting director.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:12 pm

You know, Peter, Toby Jones sounds like a much better candidate for Hitchcock in my mind than does Anthony Hopkins. He also seemed like a much better choice for Truman Capote. Sienna Miller also seems a good choice for Hedron, agreed. That movie’s casting seems right. Wish Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho could have had their casting director.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:13 pm

Frank, I really like that movie a lot. I love the little flashback to the set of Bride of Frankenstein very much and found myself wishing the whole movie was about the making of it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:13 pm

Frank, I really like that movie a lot. I love the little flashback to the set of Bride of Frankenstein very much and found myself wishing the whole movie was about the making of it.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : April 4, 2012 12:24 pm

I am curious to know, and I haven’t seen the film, but what was your take on Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in The Aviator? Our oldest son saw the movie My Week With Marilyn about Laurence Olivier and Marilynn Monroe. He wasn’t too familiar with Olivier(knows who he was, but not as much about how he appeared on screen),but he thought Michelle William’s portrayal of Monroe was very well done. The casting for the making of Psycho movie-Jessica Biel as Vera Miles??? Yikes!!!! I am now seeing a new pattern in Hollywood…movies based on games and toys(Battleship?), and now movies based on earlier actors and actresses, either their lives or their making of a movie…seems as though no one in Hollywood has any creative genes anymore!!!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : April 4, 2012 12:24 pm

I am curious to know, and I haven’t seen the film, but what was your take on Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in The Aviator? Our oldest son saw the movie My Week With Marilyn about Laurence Olivier and Marilynn Monroe. He wasn’t too familiar with Olivier(knows who he was, but not as much about how he appeared on screen),but he thought Michelle William’s portrayal of Monroe was very well done. The casting for the making of Psycho movie-Jessica Biel as Vera Miles??? Yikes!!!! I am now seeing a new pattern in Hollywood…movies based on games and toys(Battleship?), and now movies based on earlier actors and actresses, either their lives or their making of a movie…seems as though no one in Hollywood has any creative genes anymore!!!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:25 pm

Jenni, I liked The Aviator but didn’t feel like I was watching Katherine Hepburn for a second. Really, for me, I just watched it kind of imagining it was a fictional movie about a rich man and his actress girlfriends. Blanchett was excellent and did capture the spirit of Hepburn, I think. She just didn’t resemble her much in body and voice. But she was good. Beckinsale also got the spirit of Ava without actually resembling her much. It was definitely a movie where everyone seemed to get the spirit right, and that’s the most important part anyway.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:25 pm

Jenni, I liked The Aviator but didn’t feel like I was watching Katherine Hepburn for a second. Really, for me, I just watched it kind of imagining it was a fictional movie about a rich man and his actress girlfriends. Blanchett was excellent and did capture the spirit of Hepburn, I think. She just didn’t resemble her much in body and voice. But she was good. Beckinsale also got the spirit of Ava without actually resembling her much. It was definitely a movie where everyone seemed to get the spirit right, and that’s the most important part anyway.

Posted By JackFavell : April 4, 2012 12:26 pm

First of all, I completely agree that tone is much more important than looks when casting a biopic. And I loved Jack Cassidy as Jack Barrymore, the two seemed like kindred spirits.

My main question is, did you see My Week With Marilyn?

I am curious NOT about what you thought of Michelle Williams, but about what you thought of Kenneth Branagh’s turn as Laurence Olivier?

The reason I ask is that, at the beginning of the picture, I thought “Oh, he’s AWFUL”, but as the movie went on, I saw a really great performance shaping up – one in which Branagh took some of Olivier’s mannerisms and played them directly for laughs, and then created this Olivier-like character that you really felt for, in spite of his frustrations. I think it worked, and quite well, because Branagh knew that the mannerisms don’t really matter, what matters in the end is the STORY. And I believed his Olivier, who ended up fully dimensional and like most actors, rather heartbreaking underneath it all.

The funniest part is, I am sure he thought it was a riot to play Lord Olivier, since he was at one time constantly compared to the great one himself. This fortunate casting added layers of meaning onto an OK movie that could have been really horrible had they not been graced with a really fine cast.

But don’t get me started on Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh. Oh, man.

Posted By JackFavell : April 4, 2012 12:26 pm

First of all, I completely agree that tone is much more important than looks when casting a biopic. And I loved Jack Cassidy as Jack Barrymore, the two seemed like kindred spirits.

My main question is, did you see My Week With Marilyn?

I am curious NOT about what you thought of Michelle Williams, but about what you thought of Kenneth Branagh’s turn as Laurence Olivier?

The reason I ask is that, at the beginning of the picture, I thought “Oh, he’s AWFUL”, but as the movie went on, I saw a really great performance shaping up – one in which Branagh took some of Olivier’s mannerisms and played them directly for laughs, and then created this Olivier-like character that you really felt for, in spite of his frustrations. I think it worked, and quite well, because Branagh knew that the mannerisms don’t really matter, what matters in the end is the STORY. And I believed his Olivier, who ended up fully dimensional and like most actors, rather heartbreaking underneath it all.

The funniest part is, I am sure he thought it was a riot to play Lord Olivier, since he was at one time constantly compared to the great one himself. This fortunate casting added layers of meaning onto an OK movie that could have been really horrible had they not been graced with a really fine cast.

But don’t get me started on Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh. Oh, man.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:27 pm

Jack, I’ve had a few people ask me about My Week with Marilyn but you’re the first to bring up Brannagh as Olivier which is funny because I’m more curious about that performance than Michelle Williams. I think it might be because I’m confident Williams does a good job because I like her so much as an actress but with Brannagh I have my doubts.

And glad to hear someone else likes Jack Cassidy so much as Barrymore. He’s fantastic. What a great loss.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 12:27 pm

Jack, I’ve had a few people ask me about My Week with Marilyn but you’re the first to bring up Brannagh as Olivier which is funny because I’m more curious about that performance than Michelle Williams. I think it might be because I’m confident Williams does a good job because I like her so much as an actress but with Brannagh I have my doubts.

And glad to hear someone else likes Jack Cassidy so much as Barrymore. He’s fantastic. What a great loss.

Posted By Pamela Porter : April 4, 2012 1:34 pm

Any thoughts on Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner?

I guess I’d file him in the same category as Branagh’s Olivier. He doesn’t really look like Ike, but he takes things that we’ve come to know and (love?) about Ike and made them come alive.

Pamela

Posted By Pamela Porter : April 4, 2012 1:34 pm

Any thoughts on Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner?

I guess I’d file him in the same category as Branagh’s Olivier. He doesn’t really look like Ike, but he takes things that we’ve come to know and (love?) about Ike and made them come alive.

Pamela

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 1:35 pm

Pamela, I was never familiar with Ike Turner outside of the music so I have no way of judging how accurate in spirit Fishburne’s portrayal is. I know it’s a damn good performance, I just don’t know Ike at all except from what I’ve read and heard.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 1:35 pm

Pamela, I was never familiar with Ike Turner outside of the music so I have no way of judging how accurate in spirit Fishburne’s portrayal is. I know it’s a damn good performance, I just don’t know Ike at all except from what I’ve read and heard.

Posted By Tom S : April 4, 2012 1:52 pm

I haven’t seen My Week With Marilyn, but Monroe was the first person who popped into my head as an actress where absolutely everyone else playing her didn’t capture anything about her- they always seem to play her as though she were suffering and showing it 100% of the time, a charmless doll that directors and actors and men would manipulate into doing as they wanted. Which, from Monroe’s actual performances, is self evident nonsense.

Anyway, I agree very much about Ed Wood, that’s a marvelously cast movie. Though I think the best Orson Welles I’ve seen is Maurice LaMarche’s voice portrayals, which he’s done in The Critic and more or less done in Pinky and the Brain- he was actually voicing the Welles cameo in Ed Wood, too.

For the most part, though, I’m more concerned about whether or not the actor creates an interesting screen presence than whether or not that screen presence is accurate to the person being represented. It’s just that with actors we know how they come off on screen, so it’s hard not to notice when someone else is doing it differently.

Posted By Tom S : April 4, 2012 1:52 pm

I haven’t seen My Week With Marilyn, but Monroe was the first person who popped into my head as an actress where absolutely everyone else playing her didn’t capture anything about her- they always seem to play her as though she were suffering and showing it 100% of the time, a charmless doll that directors and actors and men would manipulate into doing as they wanted. Which, from Monroe’s actual performances, is self evident nonsense.

Anyway, I agree very much about Ed Wood, that’s a marvelously cast movie. Though I think the best Orson Welles I’ve seen is Maurice LaMarche’s voice portrayals, which he’s done in The Critic and more or less done in Pinky and the Brain- he was actually voicing the Welles cameo in Ed Wood, too.

For the most part, though, I’m more concerned about whether or not the actor creates an interesting screen presence than whether or not that screen presence is accurate to the person being represented. It’s just that with actors we know how they come off on screen, so it’s hard not to notice when someone else is doing it differently.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 1:53 pm

Tom, that’s exactly the problem. We know the actors from their screen personas and now someone is replicating them from a personal viewpoint. Sometimes that takes some getting used to but, again, if the actors both share the same kind of feel, have the kinds of charisma or charms, it can work.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 1:53 pm

Tom, that’s exactly the problem. We know the actors from their screen personas and now someone is replicating them from a personal viewpoint. Sometimes that takes some getting used to but, again, if the actors both share the same kind of feel, have the kinds of charisma or charms, it can work.

Posted By thesquonk : April 4, 2012 3:21 pm

An interesting one, if not a very accurate portrayal, is Donald O’Connor as Buster Keaton in “The Buster Keaton Story.” I reviewed it on my blog a few months ago: http://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/the-buster-keaton-story/

Posted By thesquonk : April 4, 2012 3:21 pm

An interesting one, if not a very accurate portrayal, is Donald O’Connor as Buster Keaton in “The Buster Keaton Story.” I reviewed it on my blog a few months ago: http://forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/the-buster-keaton-story/

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 3:26 pm

I’ve never seen that movie. I understand casting someone physical, like O’Connor, as Keaton but he is so completely different facially and in this case, that’s important. I mean, Keaton is known for that face. Perhaps one day I’ll give it a look, though.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 3:26 pm

I’ve never seen that movie. I understand casting someone physical, like O’Connor, as Keaton but he is so completely different facially and in this case, that’s important. I mean, Keaton is known for that face. Perhaps one day I’ll give it a look, though.

Posted By Emgee : April 4, 2012 4:01 pm

James Cagney in Man of a Thousand Faces was pretty solid, but then he always is. Personally i think nearly all biopics simply try too hard to recreate characters in a past era and come off either phony or too studied. A Man for All Seasons is one of the few happy exceptions, bu then as you say who knows what Thomas More sounded like? When a performance is dramatically convincing who cares about the resemblance being spot-on or way off?

Posted By Emgee : April 4, 2012 4:01 pm

James Cagney in Man of a Thousand Faces was pretty solid, but then he always is. Personally i think nearly all biopics simply try too hard to recreate characters in a past era and come off either phony or too studied. A Man for All Seasons is one of the few happy exceptions, bu then as you say who knows what Thomas More sounded like? When a performance is dramatically convincing who cares about the resemblance being spot-on or way off?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 4:02 pm

Emgee – Cagney pretty much never lets you down. Funny thing with playing Chaney is that since he was so well known for not being recognizable, i.e. he was always in makeup, Cagney was free to play him more or less as Cagney, which worked tremendously well.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 4:02 pm

Emgee – Cagney pretty much never lets you down. Funny thing with playing Chaney is that since he was so well known for not being recognizable, i.e. he was always in makeup, Cagney was free to play him more or less as Cagney, which worked tremendously well.

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : April 4, 2012 4:25 pm

Ron Burrage has made a career out of playing the older Alfred Hitchcock. I saw Burrage in a very odd thriller – THE CONFESSIONAL (1995), set during the making of I CONFESS in Quebec City in 1952. Burrage had some great moments in THE CONFESSIONAL. I think in the case of ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF ‘PSYCHO’, what will draw a mass audience is the film itself, the 1960 PSYCHO, so ingrained in the public consciousness that every attempt should have been made to cast lookalikes in as many roles as possible. But no, the makers of ‘the Making of’ go with Anthony Hopkins, who resembles Hitchcock as much as I do. (Does Hopkins still mean anything at the box office?) And if they drown Hopkins in facial putty and foam rubber and equip him with prosthetic devices so he looks more like Hitchcock, then they might as well have cast a lesser-known lookalike as the Master of Suspense. This film is going to be such a dud.

The ultimate example of casting a lookalike in the role of a star: Sophia Loren playing herself – and her own mother as a young woman – in the 1980 TV-movie Sophia Loren: Her Own Story. I know it sounds crazy but Loren playing Loren just didn’t work for me. Perhaps the experience of watching Loren grappling with her real persona onscreen was so surreal it alienated me from the picture. Edmund Purdom is cast as the great actor/director Vittorio de Sica. Purdom doesn’t resemble de Sica at all and basically plays the part as Edmund Purdom, but somehow it works, because Purdom is so charming and congenial in the role (as he was in real life). Ah, the mysteries of casting stars as stars.

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : April 4, 2012 4:25 pm

Ron Burrage has made a career out of playing the older Alfred Hitchcock. I saw Burrage in a very odd thriller – THE CONFESSIONAL (1995), set during the making of I CONFESS in Quebec City in 1952. Burrage had some great moments in THE CONFESSIONAL. I think in the case of ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF ‘PSYCHO’, what will draw a mass audience is the film itself, the 1960 PSYCHO, so ingrained in the public consciousness that every attempt should have been made to cast lookalikes in as many roles as possible. But no, the makers of ‘the Making of’ go with Anthony Hopkins, who resembles Hitchcock as much as I do. (Does Hopkins still mean anything at the box office?) And if they drown Hopkins in facial putty and foam rubber and equip him with prosthetic devices so he looks more like Hitchcock, then they might as well have cast a lesser-known lookalike as the Master of Suspense. This film is going to be such a dud.

The ultimate example of casting a lookalike in the role of a star: Sophia Loren playing herself – and her own mother as a young woman – in the 1980 TV-movie Sophia Loren: Her Own Story. I know it sounds crazy but Loren playing Loren just didn’t work for me. Perhaps the experience of watching Loren grappling with her real persona onscreen was so surreal it alienated me from the picture. Edmund Purdom is cast as the great actor/director Vittorio de Sica. Purdom doesn’t resemble de Sica at all and basically plays the part as Edmund Purdom, but somehow it works, because Purdom is so charming and congenial in the role (as he was in real life). Ah, the mysteries of casting stars as stars.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 4:26 pm

Harvey, I agree with every word you wrote about Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Anthony Hopkins. Why? Why?!

As for that Sophia Loren movie, wow, I wasn’t even aware of that. So, she was playing herself as a 19 year old (when she got her first screen work) when she was 46! That’s insane. I don’t care how well you age, no 46 year-old looks 19 or 23 or 30. No wonder she didn’t for you. Also, holy crap I gotta see it!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 4:26 pm

Harvey, I agree with every word you wrote about Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Anthony Hopkins. Why? Why?!

As for that Sophia Loren movie, wow, I wasn’t even aware of that. So, she was playing herself as a 19 year old (when she got her first screen work) when she was 46! That’s insane. I don’t care how well you age, no 46 year-old looks 19 or 23 or 30. No wonder she didn’t for you. Also, holy crap I gotta see it!

Posted By KenK : April 4, 2012 7:28 pm

Martin Landau is the most incredible, and most underrated or least appreciated actor I can think of. Maybe he’s just too subtle, or not flashy enough. I love every role I’ve seen him play, from Mission:Impossible to Tucker to Ed Wood. Oh, and Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Posted By KenK : April 4, 2012 7:28 pm

Martin Landau is the most incredible, and most underrated or least appreciated actor I can think of. Maybe he’s just too subtle, or not flashy enough. I love every role I’ve seen him play, from Mission:Impossible to Tucker to Ed Wood. Oh, and Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 7:29 pm

Yes, in Crimes and Misdemeanors he is simply wonderful. What a performance, playing tortured guilt better than anyone in cinematic memory. A great performance in a great movie.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 7:29 pm

Yes, in Crimes and Misdemeanors he is simply wonderful. What a performance, playing tortured guilt better than anyone in cinematic memory. A great performance in a great movie.

Posted By Rachel : April 4, 2012 7:57 pm

JackFavell, I agree with you that Branagh was good. And the meta-joke of casting Branagh as Olivier, with all the comparisons between them over the years, actually aids the performance. It’s a man portraying his idol, it’s hard not to enjoy that. The big let-down in My Week with Marilyn is the script, which asks you to believe that Olivier spent a great deal of time worrying over the broken hearts of his assistant directors. And Ormond only works if you try to put it out of your head that she’s supposed to be Vivien Leigh.

Anybody have any thoughts on Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea?

Posted By Rachel : April 4, 2012 7:57 pm

JackFavell, I agree with you that Branagh was good. And the meta-joke of casting Branagh as Olivier, with all the comparisons between them over the years, actually aids the performance. It’s a man portraying his idol, it’s hard not to enjoy that. The big let-down in My Week with Marilyn is the script, which asks you to believe that Olivier spent a great deal of time worrying over the broken hearts of his assistant directors. And Ormond only works if you try to put it out of your head that she’s supposed to be Vivien Leigh.

Anybody have any thoughts on Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 7:59 pm

Never saw Beyond the Sea. Absolutely love Bobby Darin and frankly didn’t want to see a bio of him. I already know how screwed up his life was, I’d rather remember his music. That’s no knock on the movie or Spacey, just how I, as a Darin fan, feel about seeing it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 7:59 pm

Never saw Beyond the Sea. Absolutely love Bobby Darin and frankly didn’t want to see a bio of him. I already know how screwed up his life was, I’d rather remember his music. That’s no knock on the movie or Spacey, just how I, as a Darin fan, feel about seeing it.

Posted By thesquonk : April 4, 2012 8:39 pm

Quoting:
I’ve never seen that movie. I understand casting someone physical, like O’Connor, as Keaton but he is so completely different facially and in this case, that’s important. I mean, Keaton is known for that face. Perhaps one day I’ll give it a look, though.

Yeah, that’s one of the big problems with “The Buster Keaton Story,” O’Connor looks and sounds absolutely nothing like Keaton. The film is almost entirely a work of fiction, but it’s still kind of interesting.

http://www.forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com

Posted By thesquonk : April 4, 2012 8:39 pm

Quoting:
I’ve never seen that movie. I understand casting someone physical, like O’Connor, as Keaton but he is so completely different facially and in this case, that’s important. I mean, Keaton is known for that face. Perhaps one day I’ll give it a look, though.

Yeah, that’s one of the big problems with “The Buster Keaton Story,” O’Connor looks and sounds absolutely nothing like Keaton. The film is almost entirely a work of fiction, but it’s still kind of interesting.

http://www.forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com

Posted By Juana Maria : April 4, 2012 9:46 pm

Biopics, you either love them or hate them! I mean some of them have been rather awful. I can’t the casting for the Beatles’ biopoc:”Backbeat”,however I think Christopher Eccleston does sorta look like John Lennon in “Lennon Naked”. I didn’t care for Jennifer Love Hewitt as the choice for Audrey Hepburn,but that’s because no one can or ever could compare to precious Audrey Hepburn. There was Kurt Russell as Elvis. Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. Jamie Fox as Ray Charles. Martin Landau as Bela Lagosi. I tought they were terrific!! Hey,I don’t want to leave anyone out! Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. Patsy Cline & Loretta Lynn(though no perfectly depected by the actresses in the movies)were still really good. “The Buddy Holly Story” & “La Bamba” were great!! Those were the fisrt biopics I remember. There is also Jimmy Stewart in “the Glenn Miller Story”,I really don’t know much about Glenn Miller,but Jimmy Stewart makes everything great. As for Landau not being flashy,try watching him on “Bonanza”:”the Gift” and “The Rifleman”:”The Vaqueros”,he looks exactly the same! Watch them and let me know what your opion is. Anyway, I think there are a lot of actors out there who deserve an Oscar.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 4, 2012 9:46 pm

Biopics, you either love them or hate them! I mean some of them have been rather awful. I can’t the casting for the Beatles’ biopoc:”Backbeat”,however I think Christopher Eccleston does sorta look like John Lennon in “Lennon Naked”. I didn’t care for Jennifer Love Hewitt as the choice for Audrey Hepburn,but that’s because no one can or ever could compare to precious Audrey Hepburn. There was Kurt Russell as Elvis. Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. Jamie Fox as Ray Charles. Martin Landau as Bela Lagosi. I tought they were terrific!! Hey,I don’t want to leave anyone out! Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. Patsy Cline & Loretta Lynn(though no perfectly depected by the actresses in the movies)were still really good. “The Buddy Holly Story” & “La Bamba” were great!! Those were the fisrt biopics I remember. There is also Jimmy Stewart in “the Glenn Miller Story”,I really don’t know much about Glenn Miller,but Jimmy Stewart makes everything great. As for Landau not being flashy,try watching him on “Bonanza”:”the Gift” and “The Rifleman”:”The Vaqueros”,he looks exactly the same! Watch them and let me know what your opion is. Anyway, I think there are a lot of actors out there who deserve an Oscar.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 9:47 pm

Juana Maria, I’ve never liked the casting in Beatles biopics, though Birth of the Beatles is probably the best.

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles worked extremely well. That’s one of the better biopic castings out there.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 4, 2012 9:47 pm

Juana Maria, I’ve never liked the casting in Beatles biopics, though Birth of the Beatles is probably the best.

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles worked extremely well. That’s one of the better biopic castings out there.

Posted By missrhea : April 5, 2012 11:34 am

Then, of course, there are the films where the actor(s) look *nothing* like the person being portrayed. The most glaring example to me is Cary Grant AND Kevin Kline as Cole Porter. Neither of them look or sound like Porter at all. Better casting would have had Fred Astaire as Porter…at least the body type would have been more evocative. I love both Cary Grant and Kevin Kline in their various roles but this one just didn’t work.

Posted By missrhea : April 5, 2012 11:34 am

Then, of course, there are the films where the actor(s) look *nothing* like the person being portrayed. The most glaring example to me is Cary Grant AND Kevin Kline as Cole Porter. Neither of them look or sound like Porter at all. Better casting would have had Fred Astaire as Porter…at least the body type would have been more evocative. I love both Cary Grant and Kevin Kline in their various roles but this one just didn’t work.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 5, 2012 11:35 am

missrhea, Night and Day is something else. To quote the Wikipedia entry, “The film is a highly fictionalized and sanitized version of Cole Porter’s life, leaving out amongst other things references to his homosexuality.” And of course, Cary Grant looks nothing like him. But it’s Cary Grant so people saw it anyway.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 5, 2012 11:35 am

missrhea, Night and Day is something else. To quote the Wikipedia entry, “The film is a highly fictionalized and sanitized version of Cole Porter’s life, leaving out amongst other things references to his homosexuality.” And of course, Cary Grant looks nothing like him. But it’s Cary Grant so people saw it anyway.

Posted By mennard lalltin : April 5, 2012 12:35 pm

* Denzel as Malcolm X is an instance where you have a near-perfect match both of the appearance AND characterization … Not a flawless film but an excellent one nonetheless with a superb central performance …

* Most biopics fail because they try to invoke the subject with a performance that is too stereotypical seeming for anyone who actually has a deep-level appreciation of the original … I don’t think I can even come up with that many I think are worthy

* A performance like Charles Laughton as Rembrandt is superlative I think — though certainly having little or nothing to do with any match in appearance …

* 99% of the time what bothers me about biopics is NOT the lack of match in appearance — but films that upon closer inspection seem to have little or nothing to do with the person … Very many of the old Hollywood biopics of composers and musicians were like this: films such as Till the Clouds Roll By and Words & Music which may be remembered today for some nice production numbers but leave us at the end of the movie still knowing nothing at all about the subjects other than corny homilies …

Posted By mennard lalltin : April 5, 2012 12:35 pm

* Denzel as Malcolm X is an instance where you have a near-perfect match both of the appearance AND characterization … Not a flawless film but an excellent one nonetheless with a superb central performance …

* Most biopics fail because they try to invoke the subject with a performance that is too stereotypical seeming for anyone who actually has a deep-level appreciation of the original … I don’t think I can even come up with that many I think are worthy

* A performance like Charles Laughton as Rembrandt is superlative I think — though certainly having little or nothing to do with any match in appearance …

* 99% of the time what bothers me about biopics is NOT the lack of match in appearance — but films that upon closer inspection seem to have little or nothing to do with the person … Very many of the old Hollywood biopics of composers and musicians were like this: films such as Till the Clouds Roll By and Words & Music which may be remembered today for some nice production numbers but leave us at the end of the movie still knowing nothing at all about the subjects other than corny homilies …

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 5, 2012 12:36 pm

Mennard, if I’d done a post on historical biopics, Denzel Washington would probably top the list for accuracy combined with a great performance.

The biopics of musical sensations, especially in the classic era, are pretty shoddy in terms of giving the viewer anything to chew on, as you said.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 5, 2012 12:36 pm

Mennard, if I’d done a post on historical biopics, Denzel Washington would probably top the list for accuracy combined with a great performance.

The biopics of musical sensations, especially in the classic era, are pretty shoddy in terms of giving the viewer anything to chew on, as you said.

Posted By Kingrat : April 5, 2012 1:42 pm

Val Lauren is excellent as Sal Mineo in James Franco’s indie film SAL (2011). This is one of the best matches of actor and famous star that I’ve seen. James Franco himself was a more than acceptable James Dean in the TV movie from several years back.

Though Sissy Spacek didn’t look like Loretta Lynn, she caught the spirit and the milieu exactly, aided by Michael Apted’s direction, in COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER.

Posted By Kingrat : April 5, 2012 1:42 pm

Val Lauren is excellent as Sal Mineo in James Franco’s indie film SAL (2011). This is one of the best matches of actor and famous star that I’ve seen. James Franco himself was a more than acceptable James Dean in the TV movie from several years back.

Though Sissy Spacek didn’t look like Loretta Lynn, she caught the spirit and the milieu exactly, aided by Michael Apted’s direction, in COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 5, 2012 1:45 pm

Kingrat, I’ve not seen Sal. I thought Franco had the look for Dean pretty well but, unlike many others, found his performance fairly lackluster.

I love Spacek as Lynn though. It’s a great performance and I was definitely aided by the fact that I really have no experience with Loretta Lynn’s look or sound outside of one or two clips I’ve seen here and there.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 5, 2012 1:45 pm

Kingrat, I’ve not seen Sal. I thought Franco had the look for Dean pretty well but, unlike many others, found his performance fairly lackluster.

I love Spacek as Lynn though. It’s a great performance and I was definitely aided by the fact that I really have no experience with Loretta Lynn’s look or sound outside of one or two clips I’ve seen here and there.

Posted By Andrew : April 5, 2012 3:34 pm

I think part of the problem is the inherent nature of biopics means that the lead role will stink for the actor. The biopic is about a person which means small scale, lots of talk, and character development.(Woody Allen) However, the interesting parts of a real life are few and far between so the movie has the structure of an action flick that just keeps jumping to the good parts.(Michael Bay) Imagine the relationship in Annie Hall playing out while the couple tries to stop a killer asteroid.

I think Patton is the exception of a biopic that is also a great film since it focuses on a small period of time and it is a war movie too so the whole action movie thing works.

Imagine if you made a biographer tell someone’s life as a collection of magazine articles rather than a fully develop each theme as needed.

Posted By Andrew : April 5, 2012 3:34 pm

I think part of the problem is the inherent nature of biopics means that the lead role will stink for the actor. The biopic is about a person which means small scale, lots of talk, and character development.(Woody Allen) However, the interesting parts of a real life are few and far between so the movie has the structure of an action flick that just keeps jumping to the good parts.(Michael Bay) Imagine the relationship in Annie Hall playing out while the couple tries to stop a killer asteroid.

I think Patton is the exception of a biopic that is also a great film since it focuses on a small period of time and it is a war movie too so the whole action movie thing works.

Imagine if you made a biographer tell someone’s life as a collection of magazine articles rather than a fully develop each theme as needed.

Posted By Qalice : April 5, 2012 6:39 pm

I think Andrew nailed the essential problem with biopics. When a script is bad, any actor is hobbled. When you add an expectation that said actor should convincingly resemble someone famous, it’s bound to be a disaster. But when the script works — as with RAY or COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER — you can forget whether or not the actor looks like the famous person, because the writer has put you under the surface of that character. And I’m sure we all realize how rare and precious is a very good screenplay!

Posted By Qalice : April 5, 2012 6:39 pm

I think Andrew nailed the essential problem with biopics. When a script is bad, any actor is hobbled. When you add an expectation that said actor should convincingly resemble someone famous, it’s bound to be a disaster. But when the script works — as with RAY or COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER — you can forget whether or not the actor looks like the famous person, because the writer has put you under the surface of that character. And I’m sure we all realize how rare and precious is a very good screenplay!

Posted By Christopher : April 5, 2012 10:05 pm

I remember years ago there was talk of a Lugosi bio with Robert De Niro considered for the role….Kurt Russell as Elvis was one of my favorites and an inspired bit of casting as Russell somewhat resembles the King but even more ,projects that rare all american square jawed aura shared by a few.

Posted By Christopher : April 5, 2012 10:05 pm

I remember years ago there was talk of a Lugosi bio with Robert De Niro considered for the role….Kurt Russell as Elvis was one of my favorites and an inspired bit of casting as Russell somewhat resembles the King but even more ,projects that rare all american square jawed aura shared by a few.

Posted By vp19 : April 5, 2012 11:04 pm

The romance of William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies has been captured several times on screen. “RKO 281″ has been mentioned, and let’s not forget Edward Herrmann and Kirsten Dunst in “The Cat’s Meow,” as well as a 1985 TV movie, “The Hearst And Davies Affair,” starring Robert Mitchum(!) as Hearst (ironic, considering the Hearst papers really roughed him up on his marijuana bust), and a young Virginia Madsen as Marion (she did a wonderful job as Davies, as did Dunst).

And don’t forget Beverly D’Angelo’s turn as Patsy Cline in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Posted By vp19 : April 5, 2012 11:04 pm

The romance of William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies has been captured several times on screen. “RKO 281″ has been mentioned, and let’s not forget Edward Herrmann and Kirsten Dunst in “The Cat’s Meow,” as well as a 1985 TV movie, “The Hearst And Davies Affair,” starring Robert Mitchum(!) as Hearst (ironic, considering the Hearst papers really roughed him up on his marijuana bust), and a young Virginia Madsen as Marion (she did a wonderful job as Davies, as did Dunst).

And don’t forget Beverly D’Angelo’s turn as Patsy Cline in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Posted By JackFavell : April 6, 2012 9:31 am

It occurs to me that biopics are most successful when the actor SOUNDS like the person they are portraying, rather than looks like them.

Posted By JackFavell : April 6, 2012 9:31 am

It occurs to me that biopics are most successful when the actor SOUNDS like the person they are portraying, rather than looks like them.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 6, 2012 11:43 am

I like it best when the actor or actress portraying someone else really looks and sounds like the person. Though it can be a bit eerie. Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison;Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles;Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. Even the guys who really knew these performers felt the portrayls were more than a bit eerie for how much alike they were.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 6, 2012 11:43 am

I like it best when the actor or actress portraying someone else really looks and sounds like the person. Though it can be a bit eerie. Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison;Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles;Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. Even the guys who really knew these performers felt the portrayls were more than a bit eerie for how much alike they were.

Posted By Susan Doll : April 6, 2012 1:14 pm

I never care whether the actor looks/sounds like the real person. I prefer they ‘act’ the role, rather than focus too much on imitating a real person’s mannerisms ( as in most portrayals of Monroe, except for Michelle Williams’s). And, pounds of makeup to resemble the real person is just distracting to me (Anthony Hopkins in NIXON). Also, I consider biopics a genre of narrative Hollywood filmmaking, which is a fictional mode. Someone’s life story is being used by the filmmaker(s) because h/she can relate to it, or because they want to suggest a universal theme, or because they want to make a point about something. The life story of the subject is merely raw material to that end. When I think of it that way, whether an actor looks like the subject, or whether the film is accurate, just doesn’t matter to me.

Posted By Susan Doll : April 6, 2012 1:14 pm

I never care whether the actor looks/sounds like the real person. I prefer they ‘act’ the role, rather than focus too much on imitating a real person’s mannerisms ( as in most portrayals of Monroe, except for Michelle Williams’s). And, pounds of makeup to resemble the real person is just distracting to me (Anthony Hopkins in NIXON). Also, I consider biopics a genre of narrative Hollywood filmmaking, which is a fictional mode. Someone’s life story is being used by the filmmaker(s) because h/she can relate to it, or because they want to suggest a universal theme, or because they want to make a point about something. The life story of the subject is merely raw material to that end. When I think of it that way, whether an actor looks like the subject, or whether the film is accurate, just doesn’t matter to me.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 6, 2012 1:56 pm

Susan Doll: I think that the films “La Bamba”,”the Buddy Holly story” &”Selena”were very meaningful to both the fans and the family of those portrayed,for me anyway. I love theimusic and the movies about them helped to see them as people. To get a sense of their struggles and their joys too,and how their legacy continues in the hearts of their fans. I think the best biopics are about that, remembering and respecting who these people were and who they are to us fans.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 6, 2012 1:56 pm

Susan Doll: I think that the films “La Bamba”,”the Buddy Holly story” &”Selena”were very meaningful to both the fans and the family of those portrayed,for me anyway. I love theimusic and the movies about them helped to see them as people. To get a sense of their struggles and their joys too,and how their legacy continues in the hearts of their fans. I think the best biopics are about that, remembering and respecting who these people were and who they are to us fans.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 6, 2012 2:25 pm

Susan Doll: Your comment got me so emotional! I wanted to discuss “Lust for Life” with Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn. I love that movie probably because I’m an artist. My mom is too. We don’t agree on styles of art,so the scene where Gauguin and Van Gogh are arguing about painting is so typical of artists! Ah! I love that movie and that cast. They were so good in that movie, I really think Anthony Quinn deserved the Oscar,but since I love him so much I feel that way about most of his pictures. He was quite good in the picture “Lawrence of Arabia”. I got the book:”Seven Pilliars of Wisdom” by T.E.Lawrence. It is an amazing book, even if just for the illustrations. No, I did read most of it. Anyway, check that book out! The illustration of T.E. Lawrence had my Mom saying:”Is that the actor who played in the movie? Peter O’Toole?” I replied:”No, this is the real Lawrence of Arabia.” To think they were gonna cast Anthony Perkins in that role or anyone else! It just wouldn’t work. The pictures of the real Arabs are so similiar to those in the film. Yes, I know Anthony Quinn has a huge fake nose in that part but it is so he’ll look like Auda Abu Tayi.Oh,get the book and see for yourself! Also, the movie is tame compared to the book. I can’t watch that movie the same anymore. Biopics are one thing and then there are biographies(books remember those?) Sometimes it feels as if “Star Trek” & “Twilight Zone” were more prophetic than they could’ve ever imagined. With people reading and writing on computers like us, less and less are reading hard backed or paperbacked books and newspapers and magizines in paper form. Which is of course good for our trees. Though as one person put it, you can curl up with a computer like a good book. Ink smell makes me sick so I like computers when I can read the screen instead of a book. I’ve not gotten much books from the library lately since they tend to smell,usually of pipe smoke or plug-ins. I can’t handle those either. So here I am typing away endlessly at tcm.com. Thankyou for putting up with me. It feels like I’ve found a place where I can go and be understood and listened to. That is so hard to find.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 6, 2012 2:25 pm

Susan Doll: Your comment got me so emotional! I wanted to discuss “Lust for Life” with Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn. I love that movie probably because I’m an artist. My mom is too. We don’t agree on styles of art,so the scene where Gauguin and Van Gogh are arguing about painting is so typical of artists! Ah! I love that movie and that cast. They were so good in that movie, I really think Anthony Quinn deserved the Oscar,but since I love him so much I feel that way about most of his pictures. He was quite good in the picture “Lawrence of Arabia”. I got the book:”Seven Pilliars of Wisdom” by T.E.Lawrence. It is an amazing book, even if just for the illustrations. No, I did read most of it. Anyway, check that book out! The illustration of T.E. Lawrence had my Mom saying:”Is that the actor who played in the movie? Peter O’Toole?” I replied:”No, this is the real Lawrence of Arabia.” To think they were gonna cast Anthony Perkins in that role or anyone else! It just wouldn’t work. The pictures of the real Arabs are so similiar to those in the film. Yes, I know Anthony Quinn has a huge fake nose in that part but it is so he’ll look like Auda Abu Tayi.Oh,get the book and see for yourself! Also, the movie is tame compared to the book. I can’t watch that movie the same anymore. Biopics are one thing and then there are biographies(books remember those?) Sometimes it feels as if “Star Trek” & “Twilight Zone” were more prophetic than they could’ve ever imagined. With people reading and writing on computers like us, less and less are reading hard backed or paperbacked books and newspapers and magizines in paper form. Which is of course good for our trees. Though as one person put it, you can curl up with a computer like a good book. Ink smell makes me sick so I like computers when I can read the screen instead of a book. I’ve not gotten much books from the library lately since they tend to smell,usually of pipe smoke or plug-ins. I can’t handle those either. So here I am typing away endlessly at tcm.com. Thankyou for putting up with me. It feels like I’ve found a place where I can go and be understood and listened to. That is so hard to find.

Posted By swac44 : April 7, 2012 12:32 pm

My first thought was that if any actor should play Hitchcock, it’s Timothy Spall, he has the look and the physical heft of the man, not to mention the acting skill to pull it off. Then I did a Google search and found out that’s exactly who’s been cast to play him in the film about Hitch and Hedren. Perfect!

Personally, my favourite Orson Welles impression was John Candy in a handful of sketches on SCTV. Not note perfect, but he caught the feel of the auteur in his declining years.

Posted By swac44 : April 7, 2012 12:32 pm

My first thought was that if any actor should play Hitchcock, it’s Timothy Spall, he has the look and the physical heft of the man, not to mention the acting skill to pull it off. Then I did a Google search and found out that’s exactly who’s been cast to play him in the film about Hitch and Hedren. Perfect!

Personally, my favourite Orson Welles impression was John Candy in a handful of sketches on SCTV. Not note perfect, but he caught the feel of the auteur in his declining years.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 9, 2012 8:01 am

Hello, everyone. I don’t usually abandon a comment thread like this but I got off track on Friday with several things and aside from popping in on Facebook and Twitter here and there, wasn’t online much in the last three days.

Thanks for the great conversation, as usual. Like I said before, the big problem isn’t historical figures whose exploits we know better than their visage but bonafide movie stars being portrayed by other movie stars who bring their own unique charm and charisma to the role. That’s why, like Suzi said, it should just be an interpretation rather than an imitation, like Jack Cassidy in W.C. Fields and Me, a great interpretation rather than impersonation, which is what Steiger was going for.

That said, Robert De Niro as Bela Lugosi seems wrong on so many levels I can’t even imagine a good interpretation coming out of that one.

And by the way, Andrew, I plan on seeing Patton on the big screen at the AFI later this spring. Can’t wait. Seen it several times on the small screen but to see it in 70 mm is going to be pretty spectacular.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : April 9, 2012 8:01 am

Hello, everyone. I don’t usually abandon a comment thread like this but I got off track on Friday with several things and aside from popping in on Facebook and Twitter here and there, wasn’t online much in the last three days.

Thanks for the great conversation, as usual. Like I said before, the big problem isn’t historical figures whose exploits we know better than their visage but bonafide movie stars being portrayed by other movie stars who bring their own unique charm and charisma to the role. That’s why, like Suzi said, it should just be an interpretation rather than an imitation, like Jack Cassidy in W.C. Fields and Me, a great interpretation rather than impersonation, which is what Steiger was going for.

That said, Robert De Niro as Bela Lugosi seems wrong on so many levels I can’t even imagine a good interpretation coming out of that one.

And by the way, Andrew, I plan on seeing Patton on the big screen at the AFI later this spring. Can’t wait. Seen it several times on the small screen but to see it in 70 mm is going to be pretty spectacular.

Posted By Andrew : April 9, 2012 9:08 am

Very jealous and don’t be late, the opening speech alone should be worth the price of admission.

Posted By Andrew : April 9, 2012 9:08 am

Very jealous and don’t be late, the opening speech alone should be worth the price of admission.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 9, 2012 2:37 pm

I can’t go to big events and have to stay home! Anyway, on topic how about Malcolm McDowell as Jack Cassidy in the “David Cassidy story” for TV?

Posted By Juana Maria : April 9, 2012 2:37 pm

I can’t go to big events and have to stay home! Anyway, on topic how about Malcolm McDowell as Jack Cassidy in the “David Cassidy story” for TV?

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : April 20, 2012 9:06 am

Well, I may have to eat my words about Anthony Hopkins’ unsuitability to play Alfred Hitchcock in ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF ‘PSYCHO’ (retitled HITCHCOCK, according to JoBlo.com). Damned if Hopkins isn’t starting to look like Hitchcock. Click here for pics.
http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/anthony-hopkins-is-beginning-to-look-a-bit-like-hitchcock

Toby Jones (not Timothy Spall) is playing Hitchcock in THE GIRL. Sienna Miller takes on the role of Hitchcock’s Scotty Ferguson-like obsession… actress Tippi Hedren (those are big high heels to fill).

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : April 20, 2012 9:06 am

Well, I may have to eat my words about Anthony Hopkins’ unsuitability to play Alfred Hitchcock in ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF ‘PSYCHO’ (retitled HITCHCOCK, according to JoBlo.com). Damned if Hopkins isn’t starting to look like Hitchcock. Click here for pics.
http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/anthony-hopkins-is-beginning-to-look-a-bit-like-hitchcock

Toby Jones (not Timothy Spall) is playing Hitchcock in THE GIRL. Sienna Miller takes on the role of Hitchcock’s Scotty Ferguson-like obsession… actress Tippi Hedren (those are big high heels to fill).

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : May 2, 2012 8:52 am

Michael Moriarty played US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in THE ARROW (1997). Moriarty is a terrific actor, but of course doesn’t look like Eisenhower at all. Even though Moriarty’s cameo appearance is enjoyable, it is impossible to overlook the fact that no attempt was made to alter his features so he would bear at least some resemblance to the 34th President (1953-1961). There is also an age gap. Eisenhower would have been in his late sixties when the events in THE ARROW unfold, and Moriarty was 56 at the time he did his cameo… not even made up to look like an older man. What the deuce?

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : May 2, 2012 8:52 am

Michael Moriarty played US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in THE ARROW (1997). Moriarty is a terrific actor, but of course doesn’t look like Eisenhower at all. Even though Moriarty’s cameo appearance is enjoyable, it is impossible to overlook the fact that no attempt was made to alter his features so he would bear at least some resemblance to the 34th President (1953-1961). There is also an age gap. Eisenhower would have been in his late sixties when the events in THE ARROW unfold, and Moriarty was 56 at the time he did his cameo… not even made up to look like an older man. What the deuce?

Posted By swac44 : May 2, 2012 9:14 am

Re: The Arrow, two words: Canadian budget.

Posted By swac44 : May 2, 2012 9:14 am

Re: The Arrow, two words: Canadian budget.

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