Saturday, 7 August 2010

Movie Meme, Day 7: Least Favourite Movie By A Favourite Actor

It’s probably not the actual story, the musical "110 in the Shade" (an underrated score) has a nice enough book so I can only assume the actual production is good. When I look back on it I’m not certain what it is – precisely – that makes this my least favourite film of Kate’s, but as soon as the title I knew the film for the task was The Rainmaker.
Kate’s Lizzie Curry is not the eponymous rainmaker, though it would be correct to call her the protagonist. Lizzie (Lizzie, I stress, not Kate) is a homely spinster – an old maid, if you will. She doesn’t seem to have a future in love, and neither does the divorced town sheriff. Her town is the usual nondescript country one, except that it’s painfully hot. The rain has not fallen in months. A rainmaker, yes literally, is passing through town and promises rain if he’s paid $100. His interest soon diverts from filling the town’s literal drought to Lizzie’s metaphorical one. Thus, a dilemma arises. Does Lizzie acquiesce to the advances of this potential swindler or does she accept a potentially nondescript, if safe, life?
Really, the The Rainmaker’s plot seems like if it’d make for a great film. And the result is NOT disastrous (C+, perhaps even a B-) it’s just very tame. I’m resentful, yes indeed, and I’m often moved to put the bulk of the blame on Burt Lancaster. I’m not too fond of him (with Deborah, with Jean, with Elizabeth) and he feels off as the would-be charming Bill. That being said, Kate’s wrong for the part. Of her twelve Best Actress nods it’s easily her least distinguished (I’ve said that before). I don’t particularly dislike her in the part, it’s just sporadic and with the stories of the off-screen drama at work it shows at time. It’s not that she can’t play standoffish spinsters (hello!) but it just doesn’t mesh. God knows why. I’ve listened extensively to Audra McDonald in a revival of "110 in the Shade", the musical from the show and I still think the story has potential. That could be a good movie…I suppose.
You know I’m enamoured with Kate, so the fact that this is my least favourite meeting with her * doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t watch it. Come on, any Kate is good enough for me.
This is all part of the ongoing MEME
*(Love Story, Kate’s final film, stars the power-couple Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. An adaptation of Love Story - which is the inspiration for An Affair to Remember - it’s good at times, oftentimes not so good, suffice to say worse than The Rainmaker. At times Kate herself seems embarrassed to be there, but she’s playing an extensive cameo at best. It’s not her film, so I’m not certain it applies here.) 


joe burns said...

Would you have given her a nomination for it anyway though?

Yojimbo_5 said...

Probably the theatricality of the piece, too...and Lancaster's "bigger-than-teeth" performance (I like him, though). And isn't Earl Holliman good in this?

Anyway: Hepburn Story-

My Mom won a Hepburn look-alike contest in college (this was the late 30's), and so, always followed her career. Late in life, LaKate was touring in a forgettable theater-piece, but I got tickets for Mom, my wife (at the time) and Sister when it came to Seattle. I, right? Hepburn, even frail, was a Force of Nature, and blew everybody off-stage, made all the creaky one-liners soar until your jaw ached from laughing, and carried the audience in the palm of her quaking hand. It's one of those Great Things You Did in Life that I was able to give Mom that gift. She kinda glowed through the thing, my Mother.

Jose said...

She was masterful in this. The way she inhabited Lizzie with the awkwardness of a spinster and the voice of a child is a thing that breaks your heart.
A lot of actresses would've felt like they were playing dumb yet Kate is so lacking in selfconsciousness.
Again, I don't rank this in my Hepburn top 5 or even 10 but even "bad" Kate was better than no Kate.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

joe i don't probably (i'm prejudiced), but i can't remember what was out that year.

yojimbo that is such a cool story. i know from reading her bios, kate always considered or preferred to be known as a theatre actress. she was a snob like that :)

jose well yes, any kate is better than no kate. there are bits i liked (especially the ending, not what happened but how she acted it) and as i said it's not HORRIBLE just not kate perfect.