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'Stretching' on Film

December 09, 1990

Turan is certainly no film historian. Since the studio system began, just about every "typecast" star fought to break the mold. (Turan never once uses that dirty word, although that's what he advocates).

Bogart may not have tackled "Macbeth," but has Turan ever heard of "The African Queen," in which the former Sam Spade became a boozy, old sea captain? For his "stretching" Bogart merely won an Academy Award!

Some of the rebels succeeded in breaking their molds: Garbo in "Ninotchka," Katharine Hepburn in "Bringing Up Baby," Robert Montgomery in "Night Must Fall," Dick Powell in "Murder, My Sweet," Janet Gaynor in "A Star Is Born," Marlene Dietrich in "Destry Rides Again."

Others received thumbs-down reception from their audiences: Gable in "Parnell," Cary Grant in "None but the Lonely Heart," Tyrone Power in "Nightmare Alley," Chaplin in "Monsieur Verdoux." The biggest irony of this is that more often than not, the ones who most vehemently opposed the stars' "stretching" were the very ones who should have been yelling "Move into new territory," the so-called critics--the Kenneth Turans of their day.

DAVID R. MOSS

Los Angeles

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