Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception... for a better now

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Great performances, dubious haircuts

1. Laurence Olivier as 
HAMLET (1948)
The 'style of the time' is no reason for the short bangs and clipped wings on Sir Lawrence in this otherwise lovely production. Since director Olivier grants himself so many close-ups, you're forced time and again to reckon with how much he looks like Sting. Truly, the undiscover'd country from which no traveler returns seems like a much more viable option than usual.

2. Fred Ward as Henry Miller in
Nothing's more upsetting than having to consider various 30's bi-curious women having sex with this alleged Romeo. Bald except for a black strip of hair tape around the lower half of his head, he looks painfully square, and dares to act as confident as an Elvis. Nothing at all against the bald, or those with hair around the sides. A bald man can be quite virile-- I love Telly Savalas and Cool Yul--but Ward looks like he's wearing a bald wig with a strip of felt, and the overall effect once you add his his wolfish nostril breathing is quite lewd.

3. Jeff Goldblum as Ed Okin in
Time has not been kind to Goldblum's pouffy 80's 'do. To the point where I couldn't even get past the opening scenes with his unfaithful wife in a recent revisit, and I saw this film dozens of times as a youth... and Goldblum's awesome in everything. He should take a clue from his statuette in above photo. 

4. Cary Grant as Capt. Henry Rochard in 
Hard to believe it now in my golden years, but as a Hawks-loving teenager I held this movie in my esteem far above BRINGING UP BABY. Cary Grant as an allegedly sophisto French officer must have been deranged to want to marry someone so dour in appearance, smoker's baritone, and butch demeanor as Ann Sheridan is in this film. And his impromptu war bride wig is both harmful to animals (how is that horse going to keep flies away from his hindquarters?) and, as far as beauty, it's like he's not even trying.

5. Frederic March as Count Vronsky
in ANNA KARENINA (1935) 
It may have been the style of the future's military schools, but the flat fade they give March in this glossy MGM adaptation is--even across the silver veils of time and space--rough on the senses: you can smell his acrid hair tonic and the gunpowder in his ears. It looked right on Wallace Beery's seething, self-righteous German industrialist in GRAND HOTEL (1933) but not on a dashing count.

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