Have you seen the Live Journal of Amy-Jeanne, It'll Take the Snap Out of Your Garters? Along with several others, it's become one of the Siren's favorite eye-candy spots. Like most classic movie fans Amy is an enthusiast by temperament, but a couple of weeks ago she did a two-part post on "celebrities I either don't like, I'm kinda 'meh' on, or those ones it took me a while to like."
The Siren generally writes about artists she loves, and the ones she doesn't she leaves alone. Still, not even the Siren can like everyone. This seemed an interesting idea for a post--which classic stars (roughly, pre-1960) does the Siren avoid? (The same idea could apply to directors of course, but the Siren has no desire to see blood on the walls. Director dissing gets vicious, fast.)
It's a pretty short list, easily trimmed to an even 20. (A contemporary list would have been much, much longer, alas.) When it comes to old movies the Siren likes to think she has catholic tastes. Almost all of these actors have done something the Siren likes, just not often enough to give her any enthusiasm for the performer. The Siren also reserves the right to change this list without notice, if she happens to discover somebody being brilliant in something she hadn't seen before.
As Amy-Jeanne says, "all these celebrities are cool by default because they are from the 'old days,' but I just never felt any magic from them and this is just my personal opinion." The Siren isn't trying to upset anybody, this is just for fun, with a line or two to explain why this person doesn't do it for me.
In no order at all:
His dancing mannerisms irk me no end--the way he sucks up his face like a duck and tucks in his too-long limbs.
Certainly he was good at times, but even his best performances have an element of phoniness to me.
Reliably dull. Adequate, but never more, in a number of excellent movies.
Bores me to death. As do all Rat Pack movies. And the Kennedy connection.
Same performance in every movie, always tough and upright, upright and tough.
I get really crabby when I feel like an actor is demanding that I be charmed. That's Wayne in every role, worst of all in Adam's Rib.
Handsome, god knows, but so asexual. The Siren has never seen him in a convincing love clinch.
The Siren generally forgets Dailey about five minutes after the end titles have rolled, It's Always Fair Weather notwithstanding. I do love him personally, though, for a story he told about Betty Grable. He claimed she got angry on the set of a film and snapped at him, "Do you know why I'm doing this picture? I thought they said Dan Duryea."
Just not funny to me. Plus, apparently, I get him mixed up with Red Buttons. (Thanks, Dan.)
Genuinely frightening in The Big Combo, but mostly a big block of wood on screen.
Reportedly he got a lot more upset at people who said he couldn't act than those who said he couldn't govern, which is kind of endearing. The Siren still avoids his movies for the most part. In Dark Victory he had charm, and he was very good in King's Row, but somehow he never built on that performance. Generally he seems to be doing a very low-grade amalgam of Errol Flynn and Gary Cooper.
An annoying voice, a pile-up of girlish mannerisms carried way into adulthood and a permanent puppy-dog expression. The one actor in this list whose presence in a movie causes the Siren to dive for the remote control every time. As you can guess from Peter Lawford's name above, Good News is playing on a loop in the Siren's personal Hell Plaza Octoplex.
DOLORES DEL RIO
It's a pity she came along before models earned a good living, because that is essentially all Del Rio was in her movies.
I don't know what she was like in life, but on-screen she gives the most amazing impression of overbearing self-love.
Every once in a while Fox Movie Channel shows one of her movies, just to remind the Siren that not everything old is classic. Or even watchable.
Usually nails on a car door to the Siren, but a stitch in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Which proves that Preston Sturges could make anyone funny.
I'll say one thing for her, she makes you appreciate Sophia Loren's acting talent.
As Auntie Mame said about Patrick's fiancee, "a mean mouth." To the Siren, she always acts as neurotic as she looks in that still. Screechy voice, graceless movements, zero sex appeal.
The Magnolia Cupcake of classic movie stars, decorative but way too sweet. She did give a nice performance in The Story of Alexander Graham Bell. The Siren hears good things about Man's Castle (another movie in Borzage DVD purgatory) and also Zoo in Budapest, but who the hell has seen Zoo in Budapest? (Edited: Besides Karen. And Dan Callahan.)
First Lady of the American Theater, unforgettable on stage by all accounts and a swell lady--but she usually had no idea what to do on screen, not in the 1930s nor later in Airport. Just you sit through The Sin of Madelon Claudet and tell me if you don't emerge with a new appreciation for Lana Turner in Madame X. (Hayes did nail it once, however, in Anastasia, where her recognition scene with Ingrid Bergman has the Siren in tears every time.)
The Siren is thawing out toward Ruby as time goes on. But like Lina Lamont, she can't act, she can't sing, she can't dance. A triple threat. That's the prettiest picture of her the Siren has ever seen, however.