The Golden Age of Hollywood

I ran a search for discussions of Dorothy McGuire.  Amazingly, I only found four mentions of her back in 2008 and 2009.  That's it?  What a great actress she was.  How can anyone forget "Gentleman's Agreement"?  Of course, she has previous stellar performances in her "Claudia" and sequel movies, "The Enchanted Cottage" and "The Spiral Staircase".  And, let's not forget the award winning movie "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn".  She should have won something for that one.  A personal favorite of mine is "Invitation".  I really enjoyed her dramatic performance.  Heck, it doesn't end there.  There's plenty of comedy and romance as well such as "Mother Didn't Tell Me", "Mr. 880" and "Calaway Went Thataway".  And, the post WWII movie that received numerous awards, "Till the End of Time".  Her list of achievements goes on and on..."Three Coins in the Fountain", "Old Yeller", "Swiss Family Robinson", "Summer Magic", "Susan Slade", "Friendly Persuasion", and "The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker".  Another favorite of mine is "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" which I just acquired.  Surprise!  I just found and acquired a copy of Dorothy's second career movie, "Reward Unlimited".  It's a movie short produced by the Government in support of the WWII 11 minute nurse recruiting movie.  Something else I admire her for, off the screen, is that she was married to her husband for 37 years until his death.  [A rarity in Hollywood, then and now]  And then, she lived on for 22 more years after his passing.  A great actress and a great lady.

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Rudy, I was at your page and saw this post of yours from back in 2013. It's funny, Dorothy McGuire is someone I rarely think about, even though I have seen many of those movies you named. I forgot she was in Old Yeller. I've only seen Mr. 880 once and didn't remember she was in that, either. I guess if I were to try to name Dorothy McGuire films without looking her up, I would be able to come up with four: Friendly Persuasion, Gentleman's Agreement, The Spiral Staircase and The Enchanted Cottage. I had totally forgotten the movie Callaway Went Thataway. I have it but haven't seen it in ages. I don't know anything about the movie Claudia. I'll have to look that up. There are two other actresses who remind me of Dorothy McGuire: Nina Foch and Nancy Olson. It's a complicated association in my mind, so I won't try to explain it.

Wow!  Finally...someone replied to my Dorothy McGuire comment.  Thank you!  I really like Dorothy.  In fact, I also have a memorabilia collection of her (vintage photos, lobby cards, advertisements, magazines, etc.).  And, I do have other movies not mentioned in my commentary.  A favorite of mine, "A Summer Place", also helped to immortalize Troy Donohue and Sandra Dee with the movie theme song.  Since you mentioned Nina Foch, I liked her in "Young Man with Ideas" (1952) with Glenn Ford and "An American in Paris" (1951) with Gene Kelly.  I also have several of her 40s movies but really enjoy "Nine Girls" (1944) and "She's a Soldier Too" (1944) in which she plays a WWII era taxi driver.  [As most men went off to war, many jobs were left for women to take up.]  However, I also liked her small but nice role in "Executive Suite" (1954) with William Holden.  She plays a Corporate Executive Secretary.  Later in the movie, she and Holden have a touching yet innocent moment together.  Very nicely played.  Going back to Dorothy McGuire, I feel that there is a British actress who best resembles her in voice, mannerisms and acting touch.  She would be 'Celia Johnson'.  Celia did a number of Movies and a lot of TV.  However, I really enjoyed her delicate example of talent in "A Brief Encounter" (1945) with Trevor Howard.  Trevor wasn't at the peak of his career yet.  Most of the reviews don't give the movie justice and also misinterpret it.  In this movie, especially, I see a lot of the Dorothy McGuire class of acting.  By the way, I have a few vintage photos of Dorothy as a 13 year old on stage acting with Henry Fonda in the play "A Kiss for Cinderella".  I believe she owed her career to Henry Fonda who recognized Dorothy's talent during an audition for the play.  Whew!

Brief Encounter is a beautiful but heartwrenching film. How do you interpret it? The way I interpret it is that although the Trevor Howard character may be the "love of her life," she feels a duty to her husband. I wish I could know how her life would turn out, but I guess that's for us to ponder. When the husband thanks her for "coming back to him," I think that's an indication that he knows she has been going through something, and he may guess what it is, but in any case something that she can't share with him. It reveals his understanding and love. I don't think I've seen Celia Johnson in anything else. The vast majority of movies in my collection are American, and I should probably explore British cinema more.

You are so knowledgeable. You've mentioned three films here I've never even heard of. I would probably like Young Man with Ideas, because I like Glenn Ford.

My interpretation is that they both recognized their current feelings but still understood the reality of their obligations.  So, they seemed to desire to make the most of their emotions with the understanding that they still must get on that train and depart for home.  I was very moved by their last meeting at the station café when Celia's friend interrupted what would be their very last moments together.  They both behaved normal and respectable.  When it came time for his train, he simply bid his farewell, tenderly placed his hand on her shoulder and walked out to his train.  His last gesture to maintain her respectability with her friend.  What surprised me was when her friend went up to the counter, she quickly rose up and sped off outside to see him off.  It was as an explosion of emotion as if to reach out for her last breath of air.  She returned devastated with the knowledge that she would never, ever see him again.  Her movies are nice movies...comedies and dramas.  I also have several movies of 'Jessie Matthews'.  She was very popular in the 30s and early 40s.  Mostly romance-comedies.  And, I have a few movies of 'Carol Raye'.  Carol is most notably remembered for "Waltz Time (1945) and a TV show in Australia.  She started out on stage, moved to movies, back to stage, then to TV.  Perhaps I'll add some comments about some of these British movies in the future.


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