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Luise Rainer love thread...

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Luise Rainer love thread...#1
Posted: 8/16/07 at 11:38am
With all this talk of "who's with us and who's not" on the Estelle Getty thread...

I find it astounding that one of the early "Thalberg era" MGM mega-stars is still with us!

Luise Rainer

The first person to win back-to-back Academy Awards

Best Actress for The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
Best Actress for The Good Earth (1937)

...meaning that she won her second Best Actress Oscar SEVENTY years ago.

I find her fascinating. She had only been in Hollywood for a very short time when she won these two trophies, and a couple of years later, told Louis B. Mayer to "kiss off" and walked out on her contract.

We can debate the merits of her first Oscar for The Great Ziegfeld. We can argue if it was even a "leading" performance (since her character leaves the story halfway through the film). But her brilliant performance as O-Lan in The Good Earth ranks up there with best ever put on film.

She was glamorous. She was headstrong. She was a unique individual. She was married to Clifford Odetts. She was part of the early years of MGM's golden age.

And she's 97 years old now. In January of 2010, she'll be 100.

Luise Rainer love thread...

Luise Rainer love thread...

Luise Rainer love thread...
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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Updated On: 8/16/07 at 11:38 AM
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#2
Posted: 8/16/07 at 11:43am
She's ALIVE?
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#2
Posted: 8/16/07 at 11:54am
...and kicking.

She even showed up a couple of years ago at that Oscar anniversary telecast, where they brought in as many past acting winners as they could. She flew in from Paris. I think she was 94 or 95 back then.

I found this interesting from her bio posted on IMDb.com:

Rainer received her first of two successive Best Actress Oscars for playing Held. The award was highly controversial at the time as she was a relative unknown and it only her first nomination, but also because her role was so short and relatively minor that it better qualified for a supporting nomination. (While 1936 was the first year that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences honored supporting players, her studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, listed her as a lead player, then got out its block vote for her.) Compounding the controversy was the fact that Rainer beat out such better known and more respected actresses as Carole Lombard (her sole Oscar nomination) in My Man Godfrey (1936), previous Best Actress winner Norma Shearer (her fifth nomination) in Romeo and Juliet (1936), and Irene Dunne (her second of five unsuccessful nominations) in Theodora Goes Wild (1936). Some of the bitchery was directed towards Louis B. Mayer, whom non-M.G.M. Academy members resented for his ability to manipulate Academy votes. Other critics of her first Oscar win claimed it was the result of voters being unduly impressed with the great budget ($2 million) of "The Great Ziegfeld" rather than great acting. Most observers agree that Rainer won her Oscar as the result of her moving and poignant performance in just one, single scene in the picture, the famous telephone scene in which the broken-hearted Held congratulates Ziegfeld over the telephone on his upcoming marriage to Billie Burke while trying to retain her composure and her dignity. During the scene, the camera is entirely focused on Rainer, and she delivers a tour-de-force performance. Seventy years later, it remains one of the most famous scenes in movie history. With another actress playing Held, the scene could have been mawkish, but Rainer brought the pathos of the scene out and onto film. She based her interpretation of the scene on Jean Cocteau's play "La Voix Humaine." "Cocteau's play is just a telephone conversation about a woman who has lost her beloved to another woman," Rainer remembered. "That is the comparison. As it fit into the Ziegfeld story, that's how I wrote it. It's a daily happening, not just in Cocteau." In an interview held 60 years after the film's release, Rainer was dismissive of the performance. "I was never proud of anything," she said. "I just did it like everything else. To do a film - let me explain to you - it's like having a baby. You labor, you labor, you labor, and then you have it. And then it grows up and it grows away from you. But to be proud of giving birth to a baby? Proud? No, every cow can do that."

That last part is a hoot!
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#3
Posted: 8/16/07 at 9:01pm
hello, flo? thees ees anna ...
RIP glebby <3
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#4
Posted: 8/16/07 at 9:11pm
She speaks about her relationhip with L.B. Mayor, M-G-M and Hollywood in "When The Lion Roars".
" ...the happiness in the tune convinces me that I'm not afraid."
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#5
Posted: 8/16/07 at 10:16pm
She had been approached to be the "old lady" in Titanic. Wouldn't THAT have been a coup!

Didn't Bette Davis diss the Oscars by pointing out that they gave it to Rainer... TWICE!?!?
What great ones do the less will prattle of
Updated On: 8/16/07 at 10:16 PM
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#6
Posted: 8/16/07 at 10:25pm
Rainer was the Hillary Swank of her time.
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra
Salve, Salve Regina
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Eva
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
O clemens O pia
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#7
Posted: 8/17/07 at 11:37pm
annette benning was ROBBED .. now back to the topic ..
RIP glebby <3
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#8
Posted: 8/18/07 at 12:53am
Swank deserved both of her Oscars.

Rainer definitely deserved to win for The Good Earth.

I would have probably voted for Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey over Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld, but comedic performances aren't usually taken "seriously" by the Academy. Rainer's telephone scene is magnificent as Anna Held, but she's gone after that, and the picture's only half over. That one was definitely won on the political battlefield. Not that Rainer isn't fully aware of it, either.

Still I can't imagine anyone today winning two Academy Awards after having made only three films in Hollywood. Pretty overwhelming.

And if you haven't seen her in The Good Earth, do yourself a big favor and rent it. It's out on DVD, nicely restored. A great epic story, and Paul Muni is excellent as well. And the locust plague scene is incredibly powerful.

Hell, go read the classic novel by Pearl S. Buck while your at it.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#9
Posted: 8/18/07 at 8:50am
The book "The Good Earth" was great! The film is superb too. I still have to see The Great Ziegfeld, but someday soon!
"Love the Art in Yourself. Not Yourself in the Art." -- Stanislavski
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#10
Posted: 8/18/07 at 9:37am
The freaky thing about Luise Rainer in The Good Earth is that (with her character makeup for the part of O-Lan) she looks almost EXACTLY like Meryl Streep, early in her career (ala Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice).

The likeness in uncanny. It feels weirdly anachronistic to be watching "Meryl Strep" in a 1937 film.
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#11
Posted: 8/18/07 at 8:00pm
I thought that it was Mrs. Hitchcock who said that to Alfred to comfort him over never winning an Oscar...

I must shamefacedly admit that I've never seen an Luise Rainer movie. When I come across "Great Ziegfeld" I usually watch to see Fanny Brice.

But I will have to give Luise a try...
"A coherent existance after so many years of muddle" - Desiree' Armfelt, A Little Night Music "Life keeps happening everyday, Say Yes" - 70, Girls, 70 "Life is what you do while you're waiting to die" - Zorba
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#12
Posted: 8/19/07 at 12:00pm
You'll love "The Great Ziegfeld" but not for Luise's performance. She's mostly silly, fun, over-the-top, French diva antics... until you get to her telephone scene. But the film is a giant spectacle, with some of the biggest, most expensive MGM musical production numbers ever filmed.

If you want to see Luise "the actress," then rent The Good Earth.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#13
Posted: 8/19/07 at 12:03pm
I really love her impression of Louis B. Mayor the best.
" ...the happiness in the tune convinces me that I'm not afraid."
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#14
Posted: 8/19/07 at 12:07pm
"Rainah... I made ya... and I'm gonna KILL ya!"

*spoken out of the side of her mouth with much chin jerking*


WHEN are they going to release "MGM: When the Lion Roars?" That three-part documentary is one of my favorites EVER on any subject.

Actually the answer is that they already have it ready to go, but are just "waiting for the right time to release it."

I guess that means that Warner Home Video's marketing division is waiting to tie it on to some other "event," like the anniversary of the studio, or another film that relates to the history of MGM... Then, they'll "ride the coattails" a bit and it will sell better.

They're not stupid. That tactic has worked before with "lesser known" titles that suddenly sell well because of something similar getting hot all of a sudden.

So, I guess we'll just have to wait. And I'll just have to be happy with my VHS copies for now.

re: Luise Rainer love thread...
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Luise Rainer love thread...#15
Posted: 8/19/07 at 12:34pm
BFB---As fascinating as that would have been, I don't think Rainer could have pulled off "Old Rose" in Titanic, because of her German/French accent. It's pretty pronounced, and unless Cameron would have rewritten the character and her family to be European, I don't think it would have worked. And we would have gotten someone like Sophie Marceau as Young Rose.

The "rumor" I heard for Titanic was Olivia de Havilland, and THAT would have been brilliant. Cameron was dead set on getting an "aged" movie star that had been out of the public eye for some time. The list was a short one. The wooing with de Havilland went nowhere, and she graciously declined the offer (so they say). She even looks a little like Kate Winslet (more so than Gloria Stewart), and de Havilland probably would have added a third Oscar to her mantle.

Ah, well...
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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Updated On: 8/19/07 at 12:34 PM