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The Films of Agnes Moorehead di [Nissen, Axel]
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Before she achieved immortality on the long-running situation comedy Bewitched, Agnes Moorehead had established a distinguished career as a character actress. After her screen debut in Citizen Kane (1941), Moorehead became one of the most familiar female faces on the silver screen. For moviegoers of the 1940s and ‘50s, she was the quintessential character actress, earning four Academy Award nominations during a career that saw her gain the respect of her peers in all four major entertainment media: radio, film, theater, and television.

In The Films of Agnes Moorehead, Axel Nissen looks at the actress’s sixty-three feature films between 1941 and 1973. Each film is profiled here, with particular emphasis placed on the films that merit closer attention: Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Mrs. Parkington, Dark Passage, All That Heaven Allows, The Left Hand of God, The Swan, Tempest, The Bat, and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Arranged in chronological order, the discussion of these films highlights Moorehead’s contribution to each feature. In addition to analyzing her performances, the author discusses the development of Moorehead’s career as a whole, along with her relationship with various studios, directors, producers, and fellow actors.

Based on extensive interviews with the actress’s surviving friends and co-workers, as well as detailed archival research into primary sources, this book brings to light new information not just about Moorehead’s work in film, but on her life and career in general. Though this book will certainly appeal to movie buffs, The Films of Agnes Moorehead will also be of interest to students and scholars of classic Hollywood films, including those interested in women and film, gender studies, and film history.

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  • Formato: Formato Kindle
  • Dimensioni file: 30964 KB
  • Lunghezza stampa: 383
  • Editore: Scarecrow Press; 1 edizione (11 luglio 2013)
  • Venduto da: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Lingua: Inglese
  • ASIN: B00E1CYC7U
  • Da testo a voce: Abilitato
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  • Screen Reader: Supportato
  • Miglioramenti tipografici: Abilitato
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12 di 15 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A Good Read 24 settembre 2013
Di Tamela Thornes - Pubblicato su
Formato: Formato Kindle Acquisto verificato
I have just finished reading this book and have enjoyed every minute of it. It is more than obvious to me that the author has done his homework regarding Miss Moorehead. Each of her movies is treated independently discussing at length the casts, the directors, the producers and of course Miss Moorehead. We are made privy to things going on in Agnes'life at the time of the production of certain films as well as things that happened in her past that became psychological fuel for some of Agnes' more extreme and often most memorable characters. I particularly enjoyed the tongue in cheek humor used by Dr. Nissen in his discourse. Hidden behind Dr. Nissen's humor is an obvious deep admiration for this woman and the craft that was her life blood. He speaks with reverence about many of her stellar performances reminding us that she had an incredible range. He also speaks frankly about some of the poor decisions Agnes made involving some performances. He reminds us that all to often bad casting decisions were made that put Agnes in extremely difficult situations and stresses that she attempted, in her own way, to make the best out of everything she did. Dr. Nissen treats Agnes as a human being by relaying to us her greatest achievements and her greatest disappointments. Far to often a person as beloved as Agnes gets placed on a pedestal and left there like a marble statue. Ironically enough rather like Dona Ana's father in "Don Juan in Hell." I applaud Dr. Nissen for going out on that dangerous limb with this book talking frankly about a highly complex woman who has become an American institution. I would recommend the book to anyone with an open mind, an appreciation for the woman, a sense of humor and the willingness to see her as a human being.
12 di 14 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Well Done 11 settembre 2013
Di DLT - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida
The Films of Agnes Moorehead is just that--a well-written, insightful and at times acerbic look at Moorehead's uneven film career. Moorehead was a character actress in most of her films, but (as the author astutely points out in his introduction) she is in many cases more well known today than some of the leads she supported (June Allyson, Alexis Smith, Laraine Day,Joseph Cotten, Dick Powell, Robert Cummings & Walter Pidgeon to name a few). Why is that? Moorehead can thank her lucky stars that she decided to play the role of 'Endora' on the TV classic "Bewitched." That show has never been off the air world-wide since it's debut in 1964. The show made her an internationally known celebrity rather than simply a well-regarded character actress.

Despite her many accomplishments as a film actress, I believe her film career takes a back seat to her status as one of the great stars of old-time radio (The Mercury Theater, Sorry, Wrong Number, etc), but today that is very much a niche audience. Even then audiences could hear her but they couldn't see her--and Moorehead wasn't without ego, she wanted to be recognized--she wanted to be a star. Thanks to 'Endora' her film career takes a back seat to television. But this doesn't make her film career irrelevant as the author of this book superbly points out. Her film career has two distinct phases. The first phase roughly a decade from 1941-1951 when she appeared in such memorable films as CITIZEN KANE (she makes the most of her five minute appearance), SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, MRS. PARKINGTON, DARK PASSAGE, JOHNNY BELINDA, CAGED, FOURTEEN HOURS--and especially her deeply poignant performance as Aunt Fanny in THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. During that decade she was nominated three times for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress and won the New York Film Critics Best Actress award for THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. A strong case could be made that she was THE foremost character actress in films during this period. The second phase of her film career comes about 1952 and lasts until the very end when she decided to take almost any film role that was seemingly offered to her as long as it allowed her the freedom to enjoy her new love--the theater--where she was one of the stars of the landmark 1950's production of DON JUAN IN HELL as well as her own hugely successful (and financially satisfying) one-woman shows. There can be little doubt that the quality of her films, with some notable exceptions, dropped off.

The author knows his subject well and each chapter is a different essay about a Moorehead film. Mr. Nissen is no shrinking violet. He has opinions and doesn't hesitate to express them. He is at times in awe over the art of Miss Moorehead and at other times seemingly slaps himself in the forehead wondering in exasperation about some film or over-the-top bit of business. The chapters don't give lengthy synopsis of the films but concentrate on the meat and potatoes--Miss Moorehead's characters and performances. There is also some behind the scenes tidbits as well as fresh interviews with co-workers and friends (Olivia de Havilland, Jean Porter, June Lockhart, for example). In some personal observations he can be a bit over the top himself, but he has a style that is his own and humor is always welcome even in a scholarly book such as this. Despite some negative comments about Miss Moorehead (regarding her success or lack of it as a wife or mother) I never got the impression that the author was personally hostile towards her. Many artists have put their career ahead of marriage or, sadly, even there children (though there are indications that Miss Moorehead did try her best with her adoptive son, Sean)and Moorehead was no different. Her career was her life-blood--she needed to work not only for the fulfillment it gave her as an artist but for purely personal reasons--she was supporting an aged mother and trying to put her son thru the best schools possible and all of that--not to mention the trappings of Hollywood--took a lot of loot. So she took films that were at times seemingly below her great talent--just to keep her name before the public, make a quick paycheck and have time to do what she wanted to do. Even Laurence Olivier did this later in his film career.

Richard Burton in his diaries once wrote that he and Elizabeth Taylor listed the films they made together or individually that were worthwhile and came to the conclusion that maybe roughly one-in-five were worth seeing again--the others being 'rubbish.' Miss Moorehead made sixty-three films, by the Burton-Taylor equation roughly fifteen would be worth seeing again--but in actuality Miss Moorehead's average (as this book makes plain) is much higher than that. Even if some of the films were not all that good--in many instances she brought a little something extra that made at least part of the film a worthwhile experience. And if Moorehead had only played Mary Kane, Fanny Minafer, Aspasia Conti, Madge Rapf, Aggie McDonald, Ruth Benton and Velma Cruthers her place in film history would be secure. "The Films of Agnes Moorehead" by Axel Nissen is a welcome addition to the Moorehead bibliography and testament that interest in this superb actress--dead now nearly forty-years--is not only alive but thriving.
7 di 8 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A Tantalizing Look at an Excellent Actress 7 novembre 2013
Di Craig Smith - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida
This is Nissen's third book about great American actresses -- I still prefer that term to the more politically correct "actors" -- and equally as potent in its way as his excellent first two: "Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties" and "Mothers, Mammies and Old Maids: Twenty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood."

This one, of course, concentrates on one star, who was definitely of high, constellation-spanning ability though most often cast in featured roles: Agnes Moorehead. She was as acclaimed for her stage work as her essays into film, before she became set in the pop culture lexicon as the wicked mother in law of all time, Endora, in the TV series "Bewitched."

Nissen previously discussed Moorehead's highly professional skills and her intrinsic genius in "Actresses of a Certain Character"; here, he looks into 61 of her feature roles and discusses not only her work, but that of her fellow thespians, the directors, the designers - all those who had a hand in creating films that were, after all, major ensemble pieces that demanded artistic cooperation as well as practical coordination of effects, approach, and creative attitude. She is always first among equals in his discussion and his analyses are pertinent and often pointed. In fact sometimes he pummels Moorehead and her fellow film actors a bit: When he feels she was good, he says so. When he finds her work under par, or the film under discussion a big turkey, he doesn't hesitate to say so. Such detachment from one's subject is the sure sign of a serious scholar; but Nissen is also obviously an enthusiastic fan, and his criticisms are delivered with an affectionate reverence that never descends into ill-will. Given Moorehead's well-known ability to evaluate her own work, such an approach makes perfect sense in context.

All in all, an entertaining and highly informative study. Heartily recommended.
12 di 15 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A comprehensive, well-written study of prolific screen performer Agnes Moorehead 5 settembre 2013
Di James Robert Parish - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida
Most remember actress Agnes Moorehead for her delectable performances as Endora, the mother of Elizabeth Montgomery in the enormously popular TV series, `Bewitched' (1964-1972). But Moorehead, who also performed in radio and on the stage, appeared in over 60 feature films between 1941 and 1973, It is this aspect of her lengthy acting career that Axel Nissen scrutinizes in this detailed, highly informative Films of book.

For each film, the author provides a self-contained essay as well as credits for the movie under examination. And it is extremely clear, Nissen knows his material very well. Not only does he rely on his own astute analysis, but he includes data (with citations) gathered from his personal interviews with those who knew/worked with Moorhead, books dealing with the actress and/or her films, and Moorehead's archive of correspondence/memorabilia. His writing style is lucid, his facts well documented, and he is not adverse to employing wry humor when the occasional calls for it.

While one would expect to find in this volume solid, lengthy essays on Agnes Moorehead's screen work with Orson Welles ('Citizen Kane', 'The Magnificent Ambersons', 'Journey Into Fear'), author Nissen also carefully assesses her less well known cinematic excursions (e.g., 1945's 'Our Vines Have Tender Grapes', 1947's 'Dark Passage', 1956's 'The Revolt of Mamie Stover', 1961's 'Bachelor in Paradise', 1964's 'Hush. . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte'). Throughout the book, the author points out how Moorehead's screen performances were shaped by the Hollywood conventions of the times, whom her acting rivals were for such roles, and the strengths and weaknesses of the character star in her film assignments. To his credit while Nissen is passionate in this well-balanced examination of Moorehead, he does not shy away from acknowledging when she was less than ideal in a particular film assignment. This enhances the objectivity of this well-balanced book.

It is often said that a picture can say a thousand words, and this certainly holds true with each of the intriguing scene or publicity shot of Moorehead that the author provides at the start of the essay on each of her films. Many of these photos are so spot-on, that they in themselves provide almost all that one needs to know about Moorehead's contribution to the movie under discussion.

The format of this tome allows the reader to dip into any chapter in any order and have an enjoyable, informative read. One couldn't ask for anything more from a book.

Agnes Moorehead would have been proud of this volume!
11 di 15 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Outstanding New Book On Agnes Moorehead's Film Career 5 ottobre 2013
Di LA - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida
As someone who has previously researched and written on Agnes Moorehead, I was pleased and excited to see a new book about this wonderful actor. Once I started reading the book, I recognized this is an important new book on the films of Agnes Moorehead and one that should be in the library of all Moorehead fans.

This book is like the old Citadel Press Film Series books from the 1970s. For those of you lucky enough to own some of these books, you'll remember that these titles offered a bonanza of goodies for the film fan. Axel Nissen, too, has done an excellent job of compiling information on each of Moorehead's films. He goes into depth on each film and includes synopsis, reviews, credits, dialogue, trivia, black-and-white photographs, and his own insightful opinions.

The Films of Agnes Moorehead is an entertaining, highly readable book. I loved this book and learned a lot from reading it.

Note to readers who complain about the book's price: Publishers decide on the book price. Authors have no input and are as dismayed as readers when they see a high price on their labor of love.
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