Stars You Can't Stand

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
Chris Snowden
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Stars You Can't Stand

Unread post by Chris Snowden » Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:42 am

For me, it's

1. Smiley Burnette
2. Patsy Kelly
3. William Haines
4. Gene Autry
5. Alfalfa Switzer

Apologies to any Burnette, Kelly, Haines, Autry or Alfalfa fans who might be getting huffy.
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Unread post by silentfilm » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:04 am

El Brendel would be at the top of the list for me! Haines would be on my list also.

I love Alfalfa, although Porky and Buckwheat are much smarter than him! Carl "Alfalfa" Sweitzer has a nice small part in It's a Wonderful Life. He had a very tragic death though.

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Unread post by Frederica » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:25 am

silentfilm wrote:El Brendel would be at the top of the list for me! Haines would be on my list also.
Need I say it? Norma (gaaaaacckkkkkkkkk!!) Shearer.

Fred

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Unread post by Danny Burk » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:35 am

The one and only (fortunately) Mickey Rooney.

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Frederica
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Unread post by Frederica » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:47 am

Danny Burk wrote:The one and only (fortunately) Mickey Rooney.
Oh god yes, fingernails on the blackboard.

Fred

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Unread post by boblipton » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:52 am

Ben Turpin

Ham & Bud

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greta de groat
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Unread post by greta de groat » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:02 pm

Lana Turner

William Haines is annoying in his own pictures, but i'm ok with him in Show People and Little Annie Rooney and in some talkie i saw where he was suspected of a crime or something and wasn't mugging all over the place.

Lots of comedians are annoying! Agree on Ben Turpin, Patsy Kelly, Mickey Rooney, El Brendel, and would add Al St. John, Andy Devine, Joan Davis, and Judy Canova.

I was watching Some Like it Hot last night and was surprised to see how much Marilyn Monroe annoys me. And Jayne Mansfield is worse.

I'm sure there is someone really obvious i'm leaving out.
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Frederica
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Unread post by Frederica » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:24 pm

greta de groat wrote: Lots of comedians are annoying! Agree on Ben Turpin, Patsy Kelly, Mickey Rooney, El Brendel, and would add Al St. John, Andy Devine, Joan Davis, and Judy Canova.

I was watching Some Like it Hot last night and was surprised to see how much Marilyn Monroe annoys me. And Jayne Mansfield is worse.

I'm sure there is someone really obvious i'm leaving out.
Is it "annoying" or "can't stand?" Because my list becomes quite a bit more substantial if the criteria is "annoying." Oooh, where to start? Lillian Gish and Mae Marsh--both of you, stop that damned fluttering! Shirley Temple. June Allyson. Betty Hutton. Katherine Hepburn. I would be annoyed with Robert Taylor, but what's the point? Varied and sundry Stooges.

I'm just warming up.

Fred

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Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:54 pm

I would be annoyed with Robert Taylor, but what's the point?
I guess that's where I come out on a lot of these things. The people I don't like are just too insubstantial to offend me. I either don't watch them at all, or I get through it (Maurice Chevalier, for instance, is clearly someone I don't like who made movies I find myself forced to like anyway). But you know, classic Hollywood, even the people I don't care for much made movies that are entirely watchable, I sat through Mother Wore Tights at Cinevent last year (well... most of it, I came in late, on purpose) and even not having any interest in Dan Dailey and not much more in Betty Grable, it was an easy movie to sit through, in its hot tea and a warm blanket way.

I think the only ones who really make my skin crawl are the ones who are just trying too hard to be ENTERTAINING!!!!!!. In your face, high-energy love-me-love-me entertainers like Jolson or Danny Kaye, I just want to yell "I'm not buying anything today, shut up!"
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Unread post by Frederica » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:58 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
I would be annoyed with Robert Taylor, but what's the point?
I think the only ones who really make my skin crawl are the one who are just trying too hard to be ENTERTAINING!!!!!!. In your face, high-energy love-me-love-me entertainers like Jolson or Danny Kaye, I just want to yell "I'm not buying anything today, shut up!"
OH MY GOD, JOLSON!! Unanesthetized dental work.

Fred

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Harlett O'Dowd
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Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:34 pm

Frederica wrote:
Mike Gebert wrote:
I would be annoyed with Robert Taylor, but what's the point?
I think the only ones who really make my skin crawl are the one who are just trying too hard to be ENTERTAINING!!!!!!. In your face, high-energy love-me-love-me entertainers like Jolson or Danny Kaye, I just want to yell "I'm not buying anything today, shut up!"
OH MY GOD, JOLSON!! Unanesthetized dental work.

Fred
Jolson's an odd one. I'm entranced virtually everytime he sings on screen. His singing of "Mammy" at the end of THE JAZZ SINGER is one of those few reach-through-the-screen-and-grab-me-by-the-throat moments. When he's doing comedy it's hit or miss - mostly miss. When he thinks he's doing drammer I want to re-enact the end of OEDIPUS REX.

Norma just annoys the hell out of me. I finally subjected myself to THE DIVORCEE. "My God," I thought, "this is exactly the same performance as THE WOMEN, but without the laughs."

Not that I ever laughed at anything Norma ever did - on purpose. But I still find MARIE ANTOINETTE a giggle fest ("I shall be queen of France!")

I have to chime in with some of those here who find some of the comedians annoying. El Brendel and Wheeler & Woolsey top the list for me. Every once in a while they do something I find amusing but there's a whole lot more chaff than wheat.

But for the record I kinda like Mr. Haines. His films were entirely too formulaic but when they worked, he was fine.

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Unread post by gjohnson » Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:24 pm

I believe I can straighten out one of your misconceptions regarding El Brendel.
You characterized him as a 'comedian.'
He wasn't.

He was a Swede.

Gary J.

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Unread post by Harold Aherne » Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:27 pm

There aren't very many silent and early sound stars that I truly dislike--even for those with inconsistent talents, like Carol Dempster or Norman Kerry, I can find something positive to say. But then...

Gregory Peck: tends to exemplify bland, smug civic virtue, and there's usually an air of self-righteousness and self-consciousness about him that drive me up the wall. Just once it would be fun to see him do something really nasty and laugh about it.

James Stewart: anyone who doesn't like John Gilbert's voice can always listen to Stewart for the length of a movie, by which time you might start cheering for the corrupt senators. There's a lot of humbug written about him that I may be reacting against as well, but I truly can't stand his Capra performances. He isn't anywhere near Thomas Meighan or Milton Sills in the charisma department, and William Haines actually inspires more empathy in me.

Lucille Ball: tries too hard for me to find her really funny. She's better in "Best Foot Forward" where she's a bit more reactive and deadpan.

Most 40s comedians (including Hope and Skelton), except those who were already established by the early or mid 30s.

I don't really dislike Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart, but there's been plenty of nonsense written about them that deserves to be swept in the trashcan, and which may have adversely affected my perception of them.

-Harold

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Unread post by greta de groat » Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:56 pm

James Stewart: anyone who doesn't like John Gilbert's voice can always listen to Stewart for the length of a movie, by which time you might start cheering for the corrupt senators. There's a lot of humbug written about him that I may be reacting against as well, but I truly can't stand his Capra performances. He isn't anywhere near Thomas Meighan or Milton Sills in the charisma department, and William Haines actually inspires more empathy in me.

-Harold
Ah, Stewart is one of the obvious ones i forgot! I do rather enjoy Hitchcock's capturing his neurotic side (and applaud Stewart for going along with it). But overall he's really annoying.

Agree Lucille Ball is a little much. I always found June Allyson and Doris Day irritating as well.
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Unread post by Decotodd » Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:02 pm

Limited myself to "make my skin crawl" rather than just annoying and from the 'golden era', here are my choices in no particular order:

-- Al Jolson (I just want to look for the 'off' switch)

-- Mickey Rooney (I don't mind him in some of his films with Garland or as Andy Hardy until he becomes hyper-active and then my head hurts; even in a drama like "Bridges at Toko Ri he can be unbearable)

-- The Dead End Kids (totally ruin the Wyler film for me)

-- Red Skelton (esp. in those MGM musicals where he has a "comic" bit)

-- Regis Toomy (I want to reach through the decades and throttle him)

-- I can understand why others find Haines so unbearable, and indeed I find him hard to take on occasion(esp. his usual not so subtle come-ons to the unfortunate female lead) but part of me is fascinated by his history. And I really enjoy "Tell it to the Marines" though perhaps because Chaney helps balance him out.

-- Jed Prouty (does anyone find a stuttering comedian funny?)

-- Jackie Cooper ("little champ"!) though as an adult he's fine
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Unread post by Frederica » Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:23 pm

Just thought of another one whilst retouching the artificial blushing roses in my cheeks...Garbo. You vant to be alone? I can accommodate that. Do not linger, do not tarry, do not let the door slap your Scandinavian butt on the way out. Take Dietrich with you.

Leave Adrian and Travis Banton. Them I like.

Fred

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Unread post by Frederica » Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:27 pm

Harlett O'Dowd wrote: OH MY GOD, JOLSON!! Unanesthetized dental work.

Fred
When he thinks he's doing drammer I want to re-enact the end of OEDIPUS REX.
I'd rather poke out his eyes. But then we'd never hear the end of the screaming.

Fred

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Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:29 pm

Garbo?

Jimmy Stewart?

Man, tough crowd!
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Unread post by Jim Roots » Fri Mar 14, 2008 7:41 am

boblipton wrote:Ben Turpin

Ham & Bud

Aw, you're just jerking Richard Roberts' chain, aren't you?

Jim

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Unread post by boblipton » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:37 am

No, I'm not, Jim. I know I know that he claims the Al Joy comedies are worse, and I would definitely appreciate seeing them for myself -- for some reason, he has yet to schedule the Al Joy marathon at Slapsticon. But even though Ham turned into a fine comedian by the mid-twenties, the Ham & Bud stuff makes me wish they would just die onscreen for the general approbation of the audience. But they never do. They just go on their psychopathic ways.


As for Turpin, watching him in his cross-eyed phase makes me cringe. You think a cross-eyed man with a gun is funny? Or a scalpel in his hand?

Bob
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Unread post by josemas » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:55 am

boblipton wrote:No, I'm not, Jim. I know I know that he claims the Al Joy comedies are worse, and I would definitely appreciate seeing them for myself -- for some reason, he has yet to schedule the Al Joy marathon at Slapsticon. But even though Ham turned into a fine comedian by the mid-twenties, the Ham & Bud stuff makes me wish they would just die onscreen for the general approbation of the udience. But they never do. They just go on their psychopathic ways.
Bob
Well Bob, you and I will just have to agree to disagree about Ham and Bud as I find them hilarious at times.
As to Al Joy, I don't think you would appreciate seeing him as I've actually seen one Al Joy comedy myself (It's the only one I've heard of that's extant but don't know of anyone looking for more of them either) I can truly say that I too have never found any joy in Al Joy.

As to a particular actors who I dislike.

One in silent comedies that I really don't care for would be Sunny McKeen who plays the "baby" in the Universal-Stern Brothers series adapted from George McManus' The Newlyweds and their Baby comic strip.

One slightly more current actor who always creeped me out as a kid though was Robert Preston. I still have trouble sitting through THE MUSIC MAN because of him.

Joe Moore

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Unread post by silentfilm » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:56 am

Aw shucks, I really like to see Jimmy Stewart. I actually got to see him in person once. He came to Dallas to sign autographs of his new poetry book. I took off work to get one, but after standing in line a couple of hours, they ran out of them. He was very friendly and walked up the line and apologized and thanked everyone for coming there.

I also like that different directors like Hitchcock, Ford, Capra, and Anthony Mann really used him differently.

I've seen most of Garbo's silents and she is much better in them. I've only seen her sound Camille and Grand Hotel, but I can see how some people could be irritated with her. Ninotchka is one that I really want to see.

I forgot one actor that really irritates me -- Adam Sandler. He's actually been in a couple of good films (and a lot of bad), but I sit though them thinking how much better the film would be if he wasn't in it.

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Unread post by Mike Gebert » Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:37 pm

I guess I could see being annoyed by the juvenile Stewart (watch Of Human Hearts sometime and see the worst Abraham Lincoln scene in movie history), but from It's a Wonderful Life (so far as I know, the beginning of his "darker" persona) through the Mann westerns to Rear Window and Vertigo and Liberty Valance, he's one of the greats. I saw him at Telluride years ago, and yes, he really was that tall. Maybe even taller than you think. Pretty rare for movie stars.*

As icons go, I have a little more trouble buying Spencer Tracy. There just seems to be a certain opaquely self-congratulatory note in him, especially when the movie has a message. Doesn't mean I can't sit through things like Bad Day at Black Rock or Inherit the Wind, but it does mean I think the match goes to Marvin, Ryan and Jagger in the first case, and March in the latter.

I agree that Garbo's silents, overall, are easier to take than the talkies, because the talkies are all MGM super-productions done up with pomp and self-importance. But she's marvelous in Anna Karenina, give that one a chance at least.

* My friend Scott wrote the book The Ice Harvest which Harold Ramis made into a movie with John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, etc., and they joked that they should bill it as the tallest movie ever made, because Thornton at around 5'10" was probably the shortest person in the cast, Cusack's over 6' and Ramis as well as supporting players like Oliver Platt and Mike Starr are literally enormous, in the 6'5"/300-lb, range. Next to most Hollywood stars they'd look like wizards with hobbits.
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Unread post by dr.giraud » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:44 pm

It's funny to see one's own favorites (like Maurice Chevalier) found profoundly irritating by others.

I generally loathe:

Norma Shearer (in talkies)
Katharine Hepburn (before 1968)
Lucille Ball (after 1940)
Charles "Buddy" Rogers (in talkies)
Chic Sale (always)

There are legions of actors who only periodically defeat the M-G-M Curse of Quality: Spencer Tracy, for example.
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Re: Stars You Can't Stand

Unread post by dr.giraud » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:48 pm

Chris Snowden wrote: 2. Patsy Kelly
She's good with some costars, annoying with others. All is forgiven, though, for that great moment at the end of ROSEMARY'S BABY when she sticks out her tongue at Mia Farrow.
dr. giraud

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Re: Stars You Can't Stand

Unread post by Jim Reid » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:52 pm

Chris Snowden wrote: 2. Patsy Kelly
I can't stand her in the Roach shorts. She's continually screaming at the top of her lungs. Give me Zasu anytime.

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Unread post by 35MM » Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:40 pm

silentfilm wrote: I forgot one actor that really irritates me -- Adam Sandler. He's actually been in a couple of good films (and a lot of bad), but I sit though them thinking how much better the film would be if he wasn't in it.
Put Adam Sandler in the same category as Pauly Shore...duuuuude.
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Unread post by Gaucho » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:39 pm

Wheeler & Woolsey (to use Fred's words "Unanesthetized dental work" x 10!)
Harry Langdon
Red Skelton
and...
Mary Pickford (not always, but often)

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Unread post by George O'Brien » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:25 pm

For the life of me there isn't a pre 1945 actor or actress I cannot stand. Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck are not particular faves, but they are tolerable in a suitable role in a good film.

I never loved Lucy, and in her 1950's and 60's color comedies, with her carrot top hair, clown white face, and fog horn voice, she is positively nauseating.

Kirk Douglas, with the exception of the films, "Lust for Life" and "Paths of Glory", I cannot stomach. When I have the misfortune of having to see the much anthologized "I'm Spartacus" scene, I feel like jumping in to the scene, and calling out to the Romans, "He's Spartacus! The one with the dimple in his chin, and the obnoxious face! Do whatever you will, but please don't allow him to make another film, or to plague us with his offspring!"

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Unread post by Frederica » Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:00 am

George O'Brien wrote:For the life of me there isn't a pre 1945 actor or actress I cannot stand. Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck are not particular faves, but they are tolerable in a suitable role in a good film.

I never loved Lucy, and in her 1950's and 60's color comedies, with her carrot top hair, clown white face, and fog horn voice, she is positively nauseating.

Kirk Douglas, with the exception of the films, "Lust for Life" and "Paths of Glory", I cannot stomach. When I have the misfortune of having to see the much anthologized "I'm Spartacus" scene, I feel like jumping in to the scene, and calling out to the Romans, "He's Spartacus! The one with the dimple in his chin, and the obnoxious face! Do whatever you will, but please don't allow him to make another film, or to plague us with his offspring!"
Uh oh. I like both Peck and Stewart...not that I'll jump through hoops to see their films, but they don't make my hair stand on end. Douglas's high annoyance factor I can understand, especially after he became Kirk Douglas. Before he became Kirk Douglas, in things like Out of the Past, The Bad & the Beautiful, and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, I find him very watchable.

Obviously we all have different irritation threshholds. No one departs a room faster than I will upon hearing the first note of a Rogers and Hammerstein film.

Fred

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