Sunday, August 26, 2018

1947 Alternate Oscars

As you may have guessed, I've seen Miracle On 34th Street more than a couple of times — like every single Thanksgiving since the beginning of time. Katie-Bar-The-Door and I consider it the official kickoff to the Christmas season.

If you've never seen Jane Greer before, I'd recommend a double feature of Out of the Past and The Big Steal. She's the ultimate femme fatale in the first; a smart, wise-cracking, adventurous companion in the second.

Why didn't she make more good movies after her big break in 1947's Out of the Past? Easy. Studio head Howard Hughes set out to ruin her career at RKO. He demanded she sleep with him, she said she was married, he said if she didn't sleep with him he'd ruin her career, and she said fine, she'd go home and have babies instead.

Which she did (one of whom, Lawrence Lasker, went on to write War Games and produce Sneakers). But nobody should have to be a party to their own rape just to hang on to a job.

The sole reason she was in The Big Steal (her lone movie in a two-plus year stretch) is because she was the only actress willing to work with Mitchum after his marijuana bust — and RKO had checked with them all. They approached Greer on a Saturday, she said she'd work with Mitchum anytime, anywhere, which was good because location shooting in Mexico started two days later on Monday morning. She wound up wearing the clothes made for Lizabeth Scott.

(I wrote about The Big Steal here.)

Some more Jane Greer trivia: she finally got out of her contract at RKO in 1951, and slowly began to rebuild her career. But then while filming Run For The Sun (1956) with Richard Widmark in South America, she got a bacterial infection and wound up so sick she nearly died.

After that, it was mostly bit parts and cameos, most notably in Against All Odds with Jeff Bridges, a loose remake of Out of the Past, where she plays the treacherous mother of the character she played in that classic noir.

Ah, what might have been.

As always, my choices are noted with a ★. Historical Oscar winners are noted with a ✔.

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