Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Green Was My Quiet Hunchback on 34th Street

See if the following films seem to resonate with you or might be counted as classics in one way or another...

1939's The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton:
1941 Best Picture masterpiece How Green Was My Valley:
Immortal swashbuckler The Black Swan (1942) with Tyrone Power:
Holiday perennial favorite Miracle on 34th Street (1947):
Sterling John Ford cavalry western Rio Grande (1950) with John Wayne:
1952 Best Picture nominee The Quiet Man:
Family favorite The Parent Trap (1961) with Hayley Mills:
1963's Spencer's Mountain, the inspiration for The Waltons:
These eight films are, in my estimation, memorable and important pieces of cinema entertainment and they share a common thread. Each one of them also starred Miss Maureen O'Hara, who, this coming February will be presented with a long overdue Honorary Oscar. One of the screen's most striking redheads, she brought a simmering emotional energy and no small amount of luminosity to these and other movies.

Apart from her significant contributions to these enduring, aforementioned movies (and her extraordinary beauty), O'Hara (who is, at present, ninety-four years old!) appeared in many other enjoyable, enchanting and otherwise captivating roles. A few of her other films include Jamaica Inn (1939), To the Shores of Tripoli and Ten Gentlemen from West Point (both 1942), Buffalo Bill (1944), The Spanish Main (1945), Sentimental Journey (1946), Sinbad, the Sailor (1947), At Sword's Point and Against All Flags (both 1952), The Long Gray Line (1955), Our Man in Havana (1959), McLintock! (1963) and a personal favorite, Only the Lonely (1991), among many others.
Her screen career (counting her final role in 2000's The Last Dance) stretched sixty-two years and made countless people happy along the way with her heartfelt, zesty, emotionally fine-tuned work. Still sharp as a tack and as funny and feisty as ever, she uses a wheelchair, but is otherwise in complete control of her faculties. I truly hope she is able to accept her award in person (in what has become, shamefully, a non-televised part of the annual broadcast.) It's disappointing that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences waited this long to acknowledge her achievements in film, but thank God they finally did! We congratulate her wholeheartedly on this award. Christopher Lee, I'll be working on one for you next!  ;-)


Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

I think Maureen O'Hara made everyone around her look better. I think there was a reason she was paired repeatedly with those "man's man" leading men. She of course looked fantastic, but she also made it always appear that she was involved in the conversation/moment and that her co-star was utterly fascinating.

The Quiet Man and The Parent Trap are two of my absolute favorites and I could watch either of them at any time. I'm pretty sure I see a bit of The Parent Trap almost every year (hiding my head in shame). Again, she makes Brian Keith & John Wayne look very appealing and that's not always an easy task.

One movie I like that I didn't see you mention is Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation. Maureen generously supports "Mr. Hobbs" Jimmy Stewart.

An honorary Oscar is a long time coming. Could Doris Day be next?

joel65913 said...

She is surely deserving and there are many others just as worthy still waiting. Aside from Doris Day Debbie Reynolds should be a leading candidate.

I'm of two minds on the removal of the Honorary Oscars from the broadcast. It would be wonderful to see them acknowledged on the worldwide stage but because of time restraints they'd be hustled on and off quickly. In the present incarnation they are saluted by multiple people, not just one as was the awards show standard, and are able to give an extended speech. What would be the ideal outcome is if some network would broadcast the ceremony separately. I believe they are released online although I was only able to find Angela Lansbury's tribute last year.

Michael O'Sullivan said...

She was also SITTING PRETTY with Clifton Webb as Mr Belevedere in the 1948 hit.

I would love to catch her & Rosanno Brazzi in the 1965 BATTLE OF THE VILLA FIORITA, but it seems totally unavailable here in the UK.

She holds her own too in OUR MAN IN HAVANA in 1960 with Coward and Guinness.

She would have been a great Mrs Anna in THE KING AND I, and she can sing, but Oscar & Hammerstein wouldn't hear of the queen of pirate movies playing in their musical !

Poseidon3 said...

I appreciate all of your support of Ms. O. and am glad to see it! Some of the additional films you mention are noted in her prior tribute (linked through her name in this post.)

Dave, I heartily agree about Doris, but if I'm not mistaken they have repeatedly invited her to come and receive one, but she refuses to go! (I believe you have to be present in 99-44/100ths% of the cases of a special Oscar?)

Joel, again I agree with regards to Debbie. And after reading your take on the televising of this category, I concur that having it shown separately (maybe on PBS) would be awesome!

Michael, our TCM recently ran "The Battle of the Villa Fiorita" and I wanted to like it so much, but eventually had to relent and admit that I didn't. However, Maureen was lovely (though she claims she was deliberately photographed horribly in it.) She and Rossano made a handsome couple!

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

Well then it's just a silly requirement that they have go, particularly since they wait so damn long to give these things out. In other words, until people are ailing in one way or another.

What I'd really like, and would probably prefer, is for Oprah or someone at that level to create an hour long special paying tribute to the honorary Oscar winners. S/he could include clips and an interview and maybe something from the awards show if they were able to show up.

It wouldn't be a money loser necessarily if they showed it on PBS or AMC or TCM or something.

Okay, off my soapbox now.

Unknown said...

Even in B&W she was illuminating. She still takes my breath away in "Hunchback".

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad Maureen O'Hara is finally Receiving an Honorary Oscar. My favorite performance of hers is Mary Kate in The Quiet Man. Doris Day should get one, too. But why does the Honoree have to attend? Mary Pickford didn't. Moreover, "We'll give an award only if you come" shifts the spotlight from the Honoree to the Academy. That's not right.

rico said...

God forbid, the Oscars show give up a precious minute for Lifetime Achievment or Humanitarian awards to REAL stars as opposed to an opening that last 30 minutes before they hand out an award or WTF were they thinking production numbers or salutes... as opposed to showing us Angela Lansbury, Lauren Bacall, or Maureen O'Hara... I've stopped watching the Oscars long ago and don't seem to be missing much!

NotFelixUnger said...

Ah, my favorite Esmeralda of all time; and The Black Swan is one of my favorite movies. I always dream of Tyrone after I watch it. Oddly enough, I'm always Lady Denby in the dream.

As to the Oscars, if she's not showing up for the cameras I will not watch the show. It's become a bunch of rich, pretty, talentless toddlers congratulating other rich, pretty, talentless toddlers.

Without her in it I'll stick to the Tony Awards, thank you.

Poseidon3 said...

Again, folks, I'm very happy to see support for Ms. O'Hara here.

I don't know about the "attending" situation (I know that both Mary Pickford and Myrna Loy, for example, didn't come in person), but I feel like I read it at least once. Something about Doris Day not wanting to leave her doggie compound to come and be at the ceremony? But maybe it's just that they have to agree to accept the award and she opted not to? I recall Peter O'Toole being put out that they wanted to give him an Honorary Oscar when he considered himself still in the game... Whatever the case, I do wish we'd see the event. Dave, I loved your idea of a special. I'd hunker down and watch it for certain!