April 19, 2018

Central Casting Part VI: Finest Hour

Gary Oldman, the World's Greatest Living Artist, as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Oldman's portrayal was the best screen performance I've ever seen.  Churchill's iconic mannerisms often lead to caricature distracting viewers into focusing on the mechanics of impersonation rather than a protagonist who "mobilized the English language and sent it into battle".
Loyal Den readers have long known our high regard for Gary Oldman.  It's became a cliche for Oscar recognition going to an actor playing a mentally handicapped character (Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man among them) and actress for playing a hooker such as Liz Taylor in Butterfield 8 and Jane Fonda in Klute along with 11 others anticipating  young women tarting up for Halloween. We think it is a far greater Artistic Achievement to convincingly play a Great Man such as a Churchill or Beethoven as Gary Oldman has done so brilliantly. Of course the same is true for a woman and GSL wishes more movies were made about great and highly intelligent women portrayed by great and highly intelligent actresses.

Elizabeth Taylor as a hooker in Butterfield 8 winning her an Oscar among a parade of supposedly 'serious actresses' that have played a hooker to critical acclaim. Old Soul GSL would prefer to see top notch actresses portray characters from a newer profession.
Editor's Note: As mentioned in comments section below, above pic is from Liz in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof not Butterfield 8 per Eagle -Eyed Jill.

Speaking of Liz Taylor, I remember her quoting Old Hollywood screenwriter Frances Marion: "an actress is something more than a woman and an actor something less than a man" which Liz said she largely agreed with. That certainly isn't the case with Gary Oldman and wouldn't be the case for women with better casting and screenplays better written to showcase a great actress's talent.  By the way, Ms. Frances Marion was the first screenwriter to win two Oscars  back before World War II when women had more power than men in Hollywood....at least according to Helen Klumph. How did we go from that to #MeToo?

Movies about great women The Den would like to see:

Madame de Stael: A brilliant conversationalist she was a central figure during the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign.
We'd mount a global search to find an actress with enough gravitas to play a woman upon whom it was remarked: "...there are 3 great powers struggling  against Napoleon for the soul of Europe: England, Russia, and Madame de Stael"

We'd love to see a fabulous ensemble cast depict the Bluestockings, the mid to late 18C literary salon of women and men(!) who met to discuss the important cultural and political issues of the day. The group was founded by Elizabeth Montagu and Elizabeth Vesey with my personal hero, Samuel Johnson often in attendance. GSL would canvass the theatres of London, New York, Chicago, and Toronto cherry picking those worthy of portraying that impressive group of women. A new generation of Maggie Smiths, Joan Plowrights, Vanessa Redgraves, and distant cousin Phyllida Law would be discovered with Ms Law's daughters Emma and Sophie Thompson featured prominently.

Portraits in the characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo by Richard Samuel. The sitters are members of the Bluestockings.

The Central Casting series is among The Den's most popular features. For other installments click for Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5.


  1. I love that pic of Liz but that is from Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, there was a different look on her in BUtterfield 8. I love that she won her second Oscar for playing a far less attractive character.

    1. So 'Smoking Hot Liz on Satin Sheets' is from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? I'll note you in the correction and take my copy editor to the woodshed. I'll bet you caught it from the earrings.

      The Den defers to Jilly-Pie on all matters Mrs Larry Fortensky.

  2. Oh, I've yet to see Darkest Hour (but would like to so thanks for the reminder). I did, however, just watch (finally) the 2002 mini-series Napoleon which reminded me of how wonderful Isabella Rossellini is (she plays Empress Josephine). I can very much see her portraying Madame de Staël, by the way.

    1. Very funny you mention this my Dear CD; I too had a go at that Napoleon series the day after watching Darkest Hour and had a differing perspective. I also adore Isabella Rossellini (even saying her name aloud feels festive) and of course remember her with Oldman in Immortal Beloved. She has the oddest screen presence of any actress I've ever seen...I never ever have a sense I am not watching a cameo...much more I'll say on my next post... and I will be casting Madame de Stael and the Bluestockings...