Thursday, March 8, 2012

First Round Recap

The results of Round One (Part One) of Monty's Fabulous Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament are in. Silent Era/1930s Bracket standings are as follows:

"They Had Faces"
#1.Greta Garbo def. #8.Anna May Wong, 79-13
#2.Mary Pickford def. #7.Janet Gaynor, 47-45
#6.Gloria Swanson def. #3.Lillian Gish, 53-40
#4.Clara Bow def. #5.Louise Brooks, 50-43

"Tough Broads and Pre-Code Babes"
#1.Barbara Stanwyck def. #8.Miriam Hopkins, 82-16
#2.Marlene Dietrich def. #7.Elsa Lanchester, 70-27
#3.Joan Crawford def. #6.Norma Shearer, 53 43
#4.Claudette Colbert def. #5.Mary Astor, 73-25

The most intriguing match-up of the first round, a clash between M-G-M divas Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer, turned into a comfortable win for the former. "I guess for once, it didn't help that she sleeps with the boss," Crawford quipped.

Of the other "Tough Broads and Pre-Code Babes," Barbara Stanwyck, Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert all won as predicted. None of those contests (against Miriam Hopkins, Elsa Lanchester and Mary Astor, respectively) were close.

Surprisingly, the tightest contest of the entire first round turned out to be the one between silent superstar Mary Pickford and the first Oscar-winning actress, Janet Gaynor. The lead seesawed back and forth for three days, and Gaynor was actually ahead 45-44 with two hours to go. Then Pickford tallied three late votes and pulled out the match, 47-45.

After the results became official, Pickford breathed a sigh of relief, as did the four beagle puppies she had threatened to eat if she lost the contest. "I figured I'd go Italian—a nice puppy piccata, maybe. But what kind of wine do you drink with that? Red, I guess, although frankly, I've never thought of a dog as a meat dish. Fortunately, I won't have to make that decision."

After the press conference, she and husband Douglas Fairbanks retreated to their mansion, Pickfair, where they planned to eat a late supper—martinis and cheese crackers, not red wine and puppies—then sleep on a feather bed stuffed with thousand dollar bills. "It's not as soft as goose down," Fairbanks said, "but it gives me a great feeling of security."

Gaynor was predictably upset by the close loss and blamed purists among her own fan base—whom she spent most of her time placating rather than reaching out to moderate and independent voters—for the defeat. "All they want is red meat!" she snapped. "Red meat, red meat! How about a vegetable or a garden salad once in a while?"

"Hey, she could have been me," Anna May Wong said. "Greta Garbo crushed me like a bug, but you don't see me complaining."

Speaking of Garbo, she was a conspicuous no-show throughout the contest, waging her campaign through proxies such as ex-lover John Gilbert. "If it feels this good getting used," he shrugged, "you can keep on using me 'til you use me up."

Garbo will face Clara Bow in the next round, who despite her higher seeding professed surprise at outlasting Louise Brooks. "I thought she was a shoo-in to make the final four," she said, "especially when that crazy Mexican singer, Henri what's-his-name, endorsed her. But I guess people felt like I was somebody they could tell their troubles to."

Brooks was as indifferent to her defeat as she had been to her career and explained the loss this way: "I have a gift for enraging people. But if I ever bore you," she added, "it'll be with a knife."

The higher seeded actress won most of the contests in Round One (Part One)—with a few notable exceptions. As in real life, the 1960s was the most volatile decade, with three upset wins: Susannah York edged Liv Ullmann, 31-28, Claudia Cardinale won an equally close contest over Brigette Bardot, 33-30, and Anne Bancroft hammered Romy Schneider, 45-23. In the 1940s bracket, Gene Tierney edged Oscar-winner Greer Garson in a tight contest, 40-35.

There were no upsets in the 1950s bracket.

Afterwards, Bancroft declined to comment, but her husband Mel Brooks said simply, "She should have been the higher seed all along. Not only was she the finest actress of her generation, not only did she win an Oscar, but she could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon—two coats!"

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson!

In the Silent Era/1930s bracket, despite some close races, the only higher-seeded actress to lose was silent legend Lillian Gish, who fell to Gloria Swanson. "Gloria spanked me," Gish admitted. "Literally, with a ping-pong paddle. She's mean."


VP81955 said...

Clara Bow also got a boost from the Colleen Moore camp, frustrated that their lady didn't get into the tournament. They took out their anger on Louise Brooks for becoming identified with the page boy hairstyle Moore actually popularized.

Also, Carole Lombard is making a last-minute push, actually resorting to color to get her point across:

Mythical Monkey said...

I could have happily done a purely silent actress tournament, a lot of names I could have put in -- Colleen Moore, Norma and Constance Talmadge, Mabel Normand, Anita Page, Marion Davies, Pola Negri, Nita Naldi, Asta Nielsen, Alla Nazimova, Mae Marsh, Mae Murray, Mae Busch, Blanche Sweet, Bebe Daniels, Musidora, Marie Prevost, May McAvoy, Irene Rich, Dorothy Gish, Brigitte Helm, Jobyna Ralston ...

The list goes on and on.

VP81955 said...

Perhaps a silent actress tourney might be worth looking into this summer. Just a thought...

monty said...

Ohhhhhh..I am all up for a silent actress tourney this summer..I love doing them!

Laura said...

I knew my girl Elsa wouldn't win, pitted against Marlene as she was. I was still rooting for up till the end, though! Heck, I'm actually just glad she was involved. Not a lot of people outside the Classic Movie Monster genre remember her too much anymore.

Mythical Monkey said...

I'm a big fan of Elsa Lanchester -- Bride of Frankenstein, Witness for the Prosecution and Bell Book and Candle alone would guarantee her a permanent spot in movie lore.

Maybe some day we should do a Classic Supporting Actress Tournament ...

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

a Classic Supporting Actress Tournament ...

OK, but first I'd really like to see a Classic Monkey Interview Tournament for best post-tourney quotes. Right now, I'd have to put my money on Douglas Fairbanks and His Mary Pickford C-Note Mattress, but there's a lot of A List Material here to choose from ...

Dawn said...

#6.Gloria Swanson def. #3.Lillian Gish, 53-40.

That was a tuff one form me.. Love them both.

Loved reading your post!!

Jandy said...

Lillian Gish getting shut out in the first round hurts my heart. Hurts it BAD.

At least my girl Babs is still in it, and kicking ASS, too. That's a big win!

Clarissa said...

No-no-no, people!

I'm sure it's Jean.

Mythical Monkey said...

I'm sure it's Jean.

I had the same reaction when I first saw it, so I did some research -- it was from a series of publicity stills for the 1937 Stanwyck film Breakfast for Two.

Here's something else I learned -- that Barbara Stanwyck looks less like herself from photo to photo than just about any actress I've ever seen. If you look at her pre-1933 work, she could pass for Jennifer Jason Leigh. In the mid-30s, she often looks like Jean Arthur. After that, she can look either very soft or quite horse-y. The lighting and hairstyle makes a huge difference.

Clarissa said...

It's hard to believe, and kinda heavy to take by someone who feels so close.... though I failed before, in Diamond Jim (1935), where Jean played TWO roles, and I didn't recognize her in her first role.

I know, you people aren't dabbling, you're pretty much in-depth. But I'm still amazed! Jean's hair, Jean's eyes, Jean's chin, Jean's looks....

Maybe the film crew really wanted it to look Jean-Arthur-like, and so were make-up, light and posing. These artists knew how to fool mortal's eyes.

Yvette said...

I've enjoyed voting and picking my faves even it three 1/2 of them didn't win.

The 1/2 is Jean Harlow over Marie.
I mean, Dressler never realistically stood a chance against Jean Harlow. I love Jean too. But Marie....!!

Three I most emphatically don't agree with:

Vera-Ellen over Leslie Caron???
In what universe does thia make ANY sense? Anyone remember GIGI???

Doris Day over Jane Russell????
I mean, I like Doris Day a lot, but really, I thought she wouldn't stand a chance against the fabuloso Jane. I was wrong.
Mom's apple pie won over Va-Va-VOOM.

Shirley Jones over Rita Moreno?!!
How is this possible? Moreno is the Queen of every award known to mankind. The only one she hasn't won is the Nobel Peace Prize.

Rita is fabulous!! She has pizazz!
She has talent coming out of the wazoo! Plus (not that this should make any difference, except it does) she is a fellow Puerto-Rican.

Shirley is sweet. (Well, except for ELMER GANTRY for which she won an Oscar for playing a prostitute. Big whoop.)

I am slightly disgruntled with these results, remain philosophical. It was still a lot of fun. :)