Thursday, August 12, 2010

Norma Shearer Day

Miss Shearer with her 1931 Best Actress Academy Award

Let me just say it straight up: I love Norma Shearer. I've seen and love every one of her movies that still exist. The reason why I love her -- aside from her awesome acting abilities -- is that watching her is never boring, watching her always leaves me feeling good.

Norma had the rare ability to resonate kindness, sincerity and genuineness.  Just as Shirley Temple always left her audience smiling and feeling great, so did Norma. And after reading no less than 3 biographies of her, I believe I can safely say that even though she was the Queen of MGM until she retired in 1942, she was a sincere, generous and kind person to her fans and to her peers.

Most people today don't even know who she was, and that's too bad. But afficienados of classic Hollywood Golden Age film sure do and they rate her highly. Today is Norma Shearer Day on Turner Classic Movies. They're playing her movies all day long, so if you get a little time and the chance, check her out.

I just finished watching the movie that made me fall in love with her: the 1925 silent film Lady of the Night. But I can recommend a few more of my favorites:

TCM Movie Schedule for Norma Shearer Day (all times Eastern):

6:00 AM Lady of the Night (1924)
In this silent film, a young man must choose between a woman from the streets and a refined woman, both of whom are in love with him. Cast: Norma Shearer, Malcolm McGregor, George K. Arthur. Dir: Monta Bell. BW-61 mins, TV-G

7:15 AM Lady Of Chance, A (1928)
In this silent film, a female con artist lures men to her apartment so she can blackmail them. Cast: Norma Shearer, Lowell Sherman, Gwen Lee. Dir: Robert Z. Leonard. BW-78 mins, TV-G

8:45 AM Their Own Desire (1929)
A young couple's affair is complicated by her father's relationship with his mother. Cast: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Lewis Stone. Dir: E. Mason Hopper. BW-65 mins, TV-G

10:00 AM Complicated Women (2003)
Documentary that looks at the phenomenon of "pre-code women" during the years 1929-1934. Cast: Narrated by Jane Fonda. Dir: Hugh Munro Neely. BW-55 mins, TV-PG, CC

11:00 AM Divorcee, The (1930)
The double standard destroys a liberal couple's marriage. Cast: Norma Shearer, Chester Morris, Robert Montgomery. Dir: Robert Z. Leonard. BW-82 mins, TV-G, CC

12:30 PM Barretts of Wimpole Street, The (1934)
An invalid poetess defies her father's wishes to marry a dashing young poet. Cast: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton. Dir: Sidney Franklin. BW-109 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

2:30 PM Riptide (1934)
A chorus girl weds a British lord then falls for an old flame. Cast: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Herbert Marshall. Dir: Edmund Goulding. BW-92 mins, TV-G

4:15 PM Escape (1940)
A Nazi officer's mistress helps an American free his mother from a concentration camp. Cast: Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Conrad Veidt. Dir: Mervyn LeRoy. BW-98 mins, TV-G

6:00 PM Idiot's Delight (1939)
A hoofer and a fake Russian countess are caught behind enemy lines at the outbreak of World War II. Cast: Clark Gable, Norma Shearer, Edward Arnold. Dir: Clarence Brown. BW-110 mins, TV-G, CC

8:00 PM Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, The (1927)
In this silent film, a young prince attending college falls for a barmaid below his station. Cast: Ramon Novarro, Norma Shearer, Jean Hersholt. Dir: Ernst Lubitsch. BW-106 mins, TV-G

9:56 PM Short Film: Norma Shearer Biography (Janet Leigh, narrator)(1962)
BW-4 mins.

10:00 PM Private Lives (1931)
A divorced couple rekindles the spark after landing in adjoining honeymoon suites with new mates. Cast: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Una Merkel. Dir: Sidney Franklin. BW-84 mins, TV-G

11:30 PM Romeo and Juliet (1936)
Shakespeare's classic tale of young lovers from feuding families. Cast: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore. Dir: George Cukor. BW-125 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

1:45 AM Marie Antoinette (1938)
Lavish biography of the French queen who "let them eat cake." Cast: Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power, Robert Morley. Dir: W.S. Van Dyke II. BW-157 mins, TV-G, CC

4:30 AM Strangers May Kiss (1931)
A sophisticated woman risks her marriage for love of a ruthless schemer. Cast: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Neil Hamilton. Dir: George Fitzmaurice. BW-81 mins, TV-G, CC

Finally, my choice among today's actresses to play Norma if they made a biopic of her life:
Jennifer Aniston's face Photoshopped onto Norma's - can you see the physical resemblance?

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