Faye Dunaway on Film

Snarky Oracle

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Its ironic that at the height of the first feminist movement how few legitimate female stars there were in the 70s.

Some people think it's not a coincidence -- as second wave feminism took hold and Hollywood became more liberal (after decades of right-wingerdom) female roles on the big screen slipped into something more comfortable.

 

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Not her best movie, "Mommie Dearest", but the No more wire hangars line is hilarious.

The make-up to make FD look like Joan Crawford was outstanding
 

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SUPERGIRL (1984)

Even as a fan of comic book movies, this one is pretty bad; and, yet, not quite as bad as SUPERMAN III or IV
I think they were still experimenting with the idea of what an epic superhero film should look like, and 1980s neuroticism-in-denial certainly didn't help to deliver the cinematic masterpieces we got before and after this decade.
It really is a miracle that lots of 1980s TV turned out to be so entertaining, although most of it has been reduced to "guilty pleasure" TV, from a modern point of view.

I'd be hard-pressed to name a seriously good movie from the 1980s. I'm sure they exist, but even then they're not memorable enough to mention them off the top of my head.
And no, I don't like Ghostbusters, Back To The Future and E.T.
I'd rather watch SUPERGIRL and THE LONELY LADY. At least they're honestly bad.

So, what's next in the Watching Faye Dunaway list? Surely it must be possible to move on from Mommie Dearest? I've read enough about that movie. More than enough, actually.
 

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So, what's next in the Watching Faye Dunaway list? Surely it must be possible to move on from Mommie Dearest? I've read enough about that movie. More than enough, actually.

Distracted by other things these past few months, but also my initial enthusiasm for this somewhat sputtered out due to the sneaking suspicion that not much other than MOMMIE DEAREST would spark much interest.

THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974). I watch this one maybe once a decade, and I never enjoy it as much as I think I'm going to. I'm not really all that enthusiastic about 70s disaster movies, except for THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. INFERNO is probably better than the rest, but that's not much. There are some really thrilling sequences and some impressive practical effects, but the movie is too long, too slow and too turgid overall. It doesn't have any of the fun character moments that made POSEIDON so fun.

There's not much to say about Faye in this one. She looks beautiful, but she has curiously little to do; Jennifer Jones and Susan Flannery have more dynamic parts than she does.

Dunaway the only one underacting in a scene, for once:
1668825938333.png

As I am inclined to do when I'm fitfully watching something, I was pursuing the actors' IMDB and Wikipedia page. I noticed that Jack Collins, who played the mayor in the movie, had a recurring part on DALLAS. I have no recollection of this character whatsoever. Was he one of JR's cronies?


1668826019646.png

1668826097634.png
 
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Snarky Oracle

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I'm not really all that enthusiastic about 70s disaster movies

I always felt that way about them, even in the '70s from the pre-womb. They were always dull, drawn-out soap operas about boring people you didn't know nor care about --- and then they die because something blew up, turned over or crashed.

And yes, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE was the best of the bunch.

Poor Sally Field... Burt Reynolds later admitted that he encouraged her to do the 1981 sequel because he thought it would slow her career. But isn't that what love is about? (I wonder if he disgusted her).
 

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I think they were still experimenting with the idea of what an epic superhero film should look like, and 1980s neuroticism-in-denial certainly didn't help to deliver the cinematic masterpieces we got before and after this decade.
It really is a miracle that lots of 1980s TV turned out to be so entertaining, although most of it has been reduced to "guilty pleasure" TV, from a modern point of view.

I'd be hard-pressed to name a seriously good movie from the 1980s. I'm sure they exist, but even then they're not memorable enough to mention them off the top of my head.
And no, I don't like Ghostbusters, Back To The Future and E.T.
I'd rather watch SUPERGIRL and THE LONELY LADY. At least they're honestly bad.

So, what's next in the Watching Faye Dunaway list? Surely it must be possible to move on from Mommie Dearest? I've read enough about that movie. More than enough, actually.
Some movies from the 1980s I would consider seriously good:
Coal Miner's Daughter
Moonstruck
Airplane
Mask
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Radio Days
My Bodyguard
Silkwood
Aliens
The Terminator
Altered States
Romancing the Stone
The Changling
Gloria
Another Woman
Hannah and Her Sisters

Just sayin'
 

Toni

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Distracted by other things these past few months, but also my initial enthusiasm for this somewhat sputtered out due to the sneaking suspicion that not much other than MOMMIE DEAREST would spark much interest.

THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974). I watch this one maybe once a decade, and I never enjoy it as much as I think I'm going to. I'm not really all that enthusiastic about 70s disaster movies, except for THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. INFERNO is probably better than the rest, but that's not much. There are some really thrilling sequences and some impressive practical effects, but the movie is too long, too slow and too turgid overall. It doesn't have any of the fun character moments that made POSEIDON so fun.

There's not much to say about Faye in this one. She looks beautiful, but she has curiously little to do; Jennifer Jones and Susan Flannery have more dynamic parts than she does.

Dunaway the only one underacting in a scene, for once:
View attachment 41799

As I am inclined to do when I'm fitfully watching something, I was pursuing the actors' IMDB and Wikipedia page. I noticed that Jack Collins, who played the mayor in the movie, had a recurring part on DALLAS. I have no recollection of this character whatsoever. Was he one of JR's cronies?


View attachment 41800

View attachment 41801

Russell was J.R.´s broker (sort of). Agree about "Poseidon" being the only disaster movie worth (re)watching. Everybody nails it, including dear Fallon Carrington Colby, then known as Pamela Sue Martin.
 

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And if Ava Gardner pops up in one of her over-the-hill-vamp roles then I really can't ask for more.

I will grant you that past-her-prime, blowsy character actress Ava Gardner is always a plus, but not enough for me to ever sit through EARTHQUAKE! or THE CASSANDRA CROSSING again.

They were always dull, drawn-out soap operas about boring people you didn't know nor care about --- and then they die because something blew up, turned over or crashed.

Rewatching INFERNO, that was my biggest takeaway: neither the writers nor the actors invested much. Newman must have blown his back out carrying the whole damn movie, because everyone else looked kind of bored. Characters were either Noble or Sinister, but with no real personality. I was more worried about the cat than any of the people.


Agree about "Poseidon" being the only disaster movie worth (re)watching. Everybody nails it, including dear Fallon Carrington Colby, then known as Pamela Sue Martin.

The actors in POSEIDON really knew what they were doing. I wouldn't argue it's a great drama or character study, but the actors brought some personality to their roles : Stella Steven's tartness, Ernest Borgnine's obnoxiousness, or just Shelly Winters literally croaking when she croaks.

Plus the characters behave the way I expect people would in a disaster: desperate, bickering, selfish -- but with a few moments of nobility rising above. In INFERNO, everyone kind of passively mills around, waiting to burn to death.
 

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I thought THE TOWERING INFERNO would be (barely) in the 'plus column', but I'm three for three for disliking the films in my Dunaway retrospective -- so, time to just jump to the best.

It's CHINATOWN.

It's one of best films of the decade, if not the best; it's also the best of the neo-noirs. The film just about perfectly evokes the vibe of 40s detective noirs; minus the Big Reveal (which never would have gotten past the Hayes Office) one could easily imagine this being made 25 years earlier with Bogart or Ladd. The only real drawback to the movie is that it's rather bland looking, with none of the visual panache of noir. I'm not sure if any consideration was given to filming in B&W, but noir can be effective in color too. CHINATOWN looks like a flatly lit TV-movie.

Despite getting an Oscar nom, it seems Dunaway's contributions to the movie are often overlooked. It's been said Jane Fonda was the first choice of Towne and possibly Polanski (I've read differing accounts). I think the film would have been a dud with Fonda. She's as good of an actress as Dunaway -- maybe even more versatile -- but she's never had Faye's Old Hollywood mystique; Dunaway is a 40s movie queen born three decades too late. It's remarkable Dunaway brings so much to the role, because there doesn't seem to be much to it. I can't help but feel Polanski's guidance to her was about as helpful as saying, "Look mysterious". Her attention to the character's appearance seems to have been regarded by her peers as mere movie star vanity, rather than painstakingly building her character through visual cues.

Faye_Dunaway_Chinatown_1974 (2).JPG
 

Snarky Oracle

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I thought THE TOWERING INFERNO would be (barely) in the 'plus column', but I'm three for three for disliking the films in my Dunaway retrospective -- so, time to just jump to the best.

It's CHINATOWN.

It's one of best films of the decade, if not the best; it's also the best of the neo-noirs. The film just about perfectly evokes the vibe of 40s detective noirs; minus the Big Reveal (which never would have gotten past the Hayes Office) one could easily imagine this being made 25 years earlier with Bogart or Ladd. The only real drawback to the movie is that it's rather bland looking, with none of the visual panache of noir. I'm not sure if any consideration was given to filming in B&W, but noir can be effective in color too. CHINATOWN looks like a flatly lit TV-movie.

Despite getting an Oscar nom, it seems Dunaway's contributions to the movie are often overlooked. It's been said Jane Fonda was the first choice of Towne and possibly Polanski (I've read differing accounts). I think the film would have been a dud with Fonda. She's as good of an actress as Dunaway -- maybe even more versatile -- but she's never had Faye's Old Hollywood mystique; Dunaway is a 40s movie queen born three decades too late. It's remarkable Dunaway brings so much to the role, because there doesn't seem to be much to it. I can't help but feel Polanski's guidance to her was about as helpful as saying, "Look mysterious". Her attention to the character's appearance seems to have been regarded by her peers as mere movie star vanity, rather than painstakingly building her character through visual cues.

View attachment 41835

Clive James points out that it's the TV stars that die in THE TOWERING INFERNO. Heh.

CHINATOWN is perfect.
 

Snarky Oracle

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I had started watching this on Prime but I just discovered that the rental time has expired. How infuriating! But then again, it could happen to anyone of us, right? (please, soothe my agony)

Well, I'm much, much older than you --- does that help at all?
 

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but she's never had Faye's Old Hollywood mystique
There's also a lot of mystique about the character itself. I get the feeling that she might be a step ahead of Jake Gittes and all the goings-on, but without looking blatantly suspicious.
Every time Evelyn gives, she immediately withdraws afterwards and I think Faye did a great job appearing quasi/pseudo-neutral. She's in total control of her role and not only does she resemble the beautiful actresses from the 1940s, she looks exactly like it. I found it impossible to take my eyes off her.
I don't know if she already was a difficult actress to work with when they made this film, but I wouldn't be surprised if she was a bit of a perfectionist (which, incidentally, doesn't necessarily result in a perfect performance).
 

Snarky Oracle

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There's also a lot of mystique about the character itself. I get the feeling that she might be a step ahead of Jake Gittes and all the goings-on, but without looking blatantly suspicious.
Every time Evelyn gives, she immediately withdraws afterwards and I think Faye did a great job appearing quasi/pseudo-neutral. She's in total control of her role and not only does she resemble the beautiful actresses from the 1940s, she looks exactly like it. I found it impossible to take my eyes off her.
I don't know if she already was a difficult actress to work with when they made this film, but I wouldn't be surprised if she was a bit of a perfectionist (which, incidentally, doesn't necessarily result in a perfect performance).

Movie director Stanley Kramer once described Dunaway as "a volatile gal." Which is the nicest way I've ever heard it worded.

Willie Oleson said:
If "older" means "senior wisdom/authoritative insight" then, no

Well, I'm no Ramtha. And I'm even older than he is!!
 
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Brian Kinney

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Odd sentiments to me because, really, which actresses of the 70s were better than Dunaway? Fonda has certainly outlasted Faye, much as Hepburn outlasted Davis. But Fonda, who had been so delicious in the 60s, was so uptight on screen in the 70s; chasing after Redgrave on who could be the most pretentious activist-actress. I mean, who else was there the 70s -- Mia Farrow?
Whose career was worse than Dunaway's after the 70s?... But I agree she was one of the best in the 70s because she made two films which were considered instant classics, Network and Chinatown. Three Days of the Condor is excellent too. Eyes of Laura Mars isn't good but entertaining and a bit campy. However there was also a series of failures between 1979 and 1984: The Champ, The First Deadly Sin, Mommie Dearest, The Wicked Lady, Ordeal By Innocence and Supergirl. That's a lot and it didn't start with Mommie Dearest. With Barfly in 1987 she begun a second career in independent or foreign productions, occasionally good as Don Juan de Marco or The Rules of Attraction but mostly uninteresting. As good as she was in Chinatown where she had at least some warmth I found her often too distant or cold as a person which was perfect for Network though.
She appeared in a pretty good episode of Columbo in the 1990s which was one of the better instalments of the rebooted series.
I liked that too. Indeed one of the better episodes and one in which she showed a gentler side.

Dunaway and Barbra Streisand were the only two who were consistently stars through the whole decade; Fonda barely worked from 1972 to 1977, Redgrave took too many smaller character parts, Glenda Jackson kind of petered out over halfway through, Mia Farrow got lost in the shuffle, I guess you could make a claim for Ellen Burstyn or Diane Keaton (even if she was mostly tied to Woody Allen and Godfather films at the time). Marsha mason had that run of successful films written by her husband late in the decade.
There were also Jill Clayburgh and Liv Ullman for arthouse films. Catherine Deneuve was a star not just in France from the 1960s until recently but especially in the 70s.

But you all forgot the biggest female star of the 1970s: Mrs. SHEILA ALLEN! Not the British actress but the one who appeared in everything her husband, producer and director Irvin Allen filmed. Starting in his 1960s schlocky TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space and Land of the Giants as Sheila Mathews she was a living casting couch for him I guess. She was Allen's muse and the 1970s disaster movies are not imaginable without her: The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno (as "the mayor’s way-too-many-close-ups-for-the-size-of-her-role wife") When Time Ran Out...

Sheila.jpg
If you think about how would Miss Piggy dress as Lana Turner think of 1970's goddess Sheila Mathews Allen (1929-2013) in Towering Inferno. Perfection!

Sheila also appeared in one episode of Falcon Crest as "Michael's Secretary" (boring Ranson not hot Sharpe) but at that point Dunaway had to fight Supergirl - so who came out as the winner?

towering.jpg
F.l.t.r: Jennifer Jones (trying to look like Liz Taylor in 1981) , Faye Dunaway knows her dress can't compete with the pink tornado that fits Sheila Allen.

And no, I don't like Ghostbusters, Back To The Future and E.T.
I'd rather watch SUPERGIRL and THE LONELY LADY. At least they're honestly bad.
I think Ghostbusters and Supergirl are both boring but the FX in the latter are worse. I love E.T. and The Lonely Lady. Pia Zadora's award speech scene should be in the Oscar clip reels with other masterpieces as Henry Fonda in Grapes of Wrath, Bette Davis in All About Eve or Divine in Polyester. I don't know why the haters doubted Zadora's Golden Globe win for another movie. She was great in Butterfly where her acting impressed Orson Welles. Can anyone imagine Meryl Streep doing a better job than Zadora did with that part in Lonely Lady? No! That was a powerful manifesto ("adapted from Harold Robbins' 1976 novel of the same name, believed to have been based on Robbins' memories of Jacqueline Susann") before the hashtag for metoo was invented.
 
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