One reason we love reader email is that we invariably learn a thing or two from the feedback.  With today’s blog, you’ll see what we mean.

On Nov. 8, we published our thoughts about three classic Hollywood stars — Gene Tierney, Judy Garland and Tyrone Power — who enthusiastically took roles out of their respective professional “norms” to show they could really act. Our readers came back with more thoughts on this topic, starting with Jeff Woodman:

Another great post, gents. Playing against type brings to mind Elizabeth Taylor’s performance in “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” I keep changing my mind as to whether it’s brilliant or dreadful with each subsequent viewing — ditto Garland’s turn in “Judgement At Nuremberg.”

And I’m reminded of the anecdote about (costar) Montgomery Clift watching Garland film her courtroom scene. When she was finished, (director) Stanley Kramer allegedly approached Clift, who was in tears, and said, “Wasn’t Judy great?!”

To which Clift is said to have responded through his tears, “Oh Stanley, she played it all wrong.”

Regular contributor Mike Sheridan offers this acting-against-type moment:

Wow, guys, great topic… E.G. Robinson is an all-time favorite. Would his role in “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” be an example? He was so versatile that I watch everything that comes on with him. What do you know about him?

We certainly share your enthusiasm for Edward G. Robinson, Mike. And, yes, you are correct.  MGM’s Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945) provided Robinson with a role we are not accustomed to seeing from this fine actor.  No vicious gangsters (a la 1931’s Little Caesar and 1948’s Key Largo) here. And no crafty investigators (a la 1946’s The Stranger and 1944’s Double Indemnity) either.

Robinson plays a vintage Forties Norwegian farmer, a devoted family man raising his daughter (Margaret O’Brien) in rural Wisconsin.  He gets to remark that the smell of new wood is “the finest smell on earth.” The screenplay for this family drama, interestingly, was written by Dalton Trumbo.

That’s Robinson above with O’Brien and Butch Jenkins.

The good news is that we are planning fresh blogs covering Robinson’s amazing career.  So, please stay tuned.


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