Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Film | Reel vs Real

On November 4th, 2011, the release of a new film based on Marilyn Monroe's time in England (while filming The Price and the Showgirl) will be released. My Week With Marilyn will be just another motion picture based on the life of the stars of years gone by. This film gave me the idea to compare characters portrayed on screen by some of my favorite Classic Hollywood stars to the actual people they are based around. Not a very in depth post, but fun to see...

In the 1931 film Mata Hari, Greta Garbo plays a character loosely based on accused spy/exotic dancer Margaretha Geertruida "Grietje" Zelle. The film caused a stir in Pre-code Hollywood and became one of Garbo's most successful films... as well as popularizing the legend of Mata Hari.

In the 1939 film The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, we see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their only biographical musical/comedy. The film was based on stories of Irene Castle titled My Husband and My Memories of Vernon Castle. Castle even acted as adviser on the film and often had issues with the liberties the film was taking with her life.


Another 1939 film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex finds Bette Davis (almost unrecognizable) and Errol Flynn portraying the relationship between Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux (2nd Earl of Essex). The film was based on the play Elizabeth the Queen by Maxwell Anderson. The romantic drama went on to win five Academy Award nominations and saw Davis turn in one of her best roles to date.

16 years later in 1955, we would get to see Bette Davis as Elizabeth I again. The Virgin Queen was based on another one of the Queen's romances, this time with Sir Walter Raleigh. With Bette Davis diving fully into character, it is hard to sometimes tell which film you are watching.

Here we have the second musical on the list, The Sound of Music. The 1965 film starring Julie Andrews is based on Maria von Trapp's memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family. This film has become a universal classic and many of the songs have become music standards. The film would go on to win five Academy Award nominations and would be the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein would pass a 9 months after the Broadway premiere.

The 1968 romantic musical film Funny Girl gave Barbra Streisand her debut film role. The story is based on the life and career of comedienne Fanny Brice and her relationship with gambler Nicky Arnstein. The film went on to be honored with eight Academy Award nominations, with Barbra walking away with Best Actress.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Now that I have shown you some of my favorite Classic Hollywood actors starring in biopics... here a a few films based on a few other of my favorites.

The 1981 film Mommie Dearest was a biographical drama, starring Faye Dunnaway, about the great Joan Crawford. The film was based on the book of the same name by Christina Crawford (Joan's adopted daughter), where she makes outrageous claims against the beloved star. While the film may (or most likely not) be true, it has become a cult classic and introduces many young people to the world of Classic Hollywood.

While only a bit part, in 2004's The Aviator allowed Gwen Stefani to showcase her acting chops by portraying blonde bombshell Jean Harlow. The film is based on the life of Howard Hughes and the demons had faced throughout his life.

And now we come to the newest film to be added to the biopic pool, My Week With Marilyn. The film is based on two books by Colin Clark and has Michelle Williams in the title role as Marilyn Monroe.

And there you have it... biopics from throughout Hollywood's history. While they may not always be accurate, it is always fun to see how one actor portrays another person.

No comments:

Post a Comment