The Ava Gardner Thread

Caproni

Telly Talk TV Fanatic
LV
0
 
Messages
1,530
Reaction score
953
Awards
5
Member Since
September 2013
Ava Gardner was a first-rate movie star for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during the 1940s and 1950s. She was beautiful, talented, and quite popular in her heyday.

I've never been a major Ava Gardner fan. Probably the most interesting thing concerning her to me is her early career friendship with Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Dandridge in the mid-to-late 1940s when they were each young and struggling actresses trying to find their big break in the film industry. I haven't found a whole about their friendship, but yet again I haven't done any significant research on the matter in years.

As an actress, Gardner was serviceable and sometimes quite good. Although she was the star of a number of big successes, I've never seen her in anything outside of MOGAMBO (1953) and THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954), the latter being one of my favorite Old Hollywood romances. She was stunningly beautiful in both, and she worked well opposite Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart, respectively. Both films were big critical and financial successes at the time of their releases, with MOGAMBO bringing Gardner her only Academy Award nomination. I seem to vaguely remember her popping up in EARTHQUAKE (1974) as well, that movie being from that time I was focusing heavily on the disaster genre in the early-to-mid 1970s.

My favorite performance of hers is probably when she guest-starred as William Devane's mother on KNOTS LANDING in 1985. She appeared in just seven episodes, but I felt her presence was needed and her performance was good. Gardner and Devane seemed like an ideal mother-son pairing and their on-screen banter was electric. While I wish she would've stuck around longer, I realize her story was only short-time, and had she stayed, she would've worn out her welcome.

Any Ava Gardner fans?​

1614019475720.png
 
Last edited:

DallasFanForever

Telly Talk TV Fanatic
LV
1
 
Messages
1,585
Reaction score
2,620
Awards
9
Location
Bethpage, NY
Member Since
New
Ava Gardner was very popular in my house growing up. My mother and grandmother were huge fans of hers. I was too young to appreciate her then but as I got older I’ve become fascinated with the old classic Hollywood movies. To me, Ava was strikingly beautiful, downright gorgeous and I really like her as an actress. I don’t think she was the greatest actress of her time, but she had a tremendous on screen presence. Even if I don’t like the movie she’s in, I remember it for her. You mentioned Mogambo and The Barefoot Contessa, two of my favorite movies she did. I also enjoy her in The Killers, Show Boat and The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
 

Crimson

Telly Talk Fan
LV
0
 
Messages
351
Reaction score
600
Awards
4
Location
Philadelphia
I think I liked Ava better as a blowsy character actress in the 70s and 80s than during her peak in the 40s and 50s. I've seen many of her major films from her heyday and I just have no reaction to her; I neither like nor dislike her.
 

Caproni

Telly Talk TV Fanatic
LV
0
 
Messages
1,530
Reaction score
953
Awards
5
Member Since
September 2013
I think I liked Ava better as a blowsy character actress in the 70s and 80s than during her peak in the 40s and 50s. I've seen many of her major films from her heyday and I just have no reaction to her; I neither like nor dislike her.
I can relate to this, and I never really thought about it this way until I read your post here. While she was beautiful and serviceable, she was also quite bland. She's had no major effect on me even on the movies that she's in that I thoroughly enjoy. Like I said in an earlier post, Gardner was stunning in MOGAMBO and THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, but her presence seems to be lacking in some areas.

On the surface, Ava Gardner's your prototypical movie star of her time. Visually, she's compelling, but somehow lacking in substance. She seems very artificial and manufactured. I understand that the old studio system assembled their stars in this fashion, but Ava Gardner seems almost entirely consumed by it. Similar to Lana Turner, she had a look, but was somehow void of any true charisma. There isn't anything terribly distinctive about Ava Gardner.​

1614088708796.png

When I think about it, the two vehicles I've seen of hers most --- MOGAMBO and THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA --- could have worked just as well with other actresses in her roles. In MOGAMBO, one could perhaps see another dark-haired beauty as Honey Bear, the slinky and seductive femme fatale in a tale about wild romance in Africa. Elizabeth Taylor, a fellow MGM star, could have slid into the role, and we probably wouldn't have thought anything of it. Taylor, with her definitive star quality, probably would've taken some tweaking to be efficient, but she could've pulled it off.

When I think about THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, I automatically think of Ava Gardner, but I also think about how Linda Darnell, a big star for Fox in the 1940s, had eagerly sought after the title role and hoped that her lover, the movie's writer-producer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, would cast her. If memory serves me, Darnell learned that Ava Gardner had been cast in the part while she was vacationing in Europe. Rumor has it that the producers felt that Linda Darnell had past her prime (even though she almost a year younger than Ava) and that ever-declining popularity would damage the film's change of success financially. Others apparently worried about Darnell's alcohol dependency complicating the production.

In hindsight, however, I can see why the producers back in the 1950s sought after Ava Gardner for these roles. Despite her blandness and artifice, her name recognition was more than enough to draw big audiences into the theaters. Her status as an object of desire made her visually appealing for risqué movie posters, while her colorful personal life fueled her celebrity with popular culture.​
 
Top