"For me, cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake." (Alfred Hitchcock). Well, let us eat cake!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Ann Sheridan -- A Classy Lady With Earthy Style
The Lovely Ann Sheridan
Today is Ann Sheridan day on Turner Classic Movies. I thought it would be appropriate to do a tribute to one of my favorite actresses. Throughout most of her career, Ann played women who were direct and earthy, with common sense and a subtle sensuality that never crossed the line to open sexuality. She was associated for most of her career with Warner Brothers, and played opposite many of their most prominent male stars such as Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, James Cagney and Errol Flynn. She became great friends with Humphrey Bogart after they starred together as brother and sister in San Quentin. After that movie, Ann and Bogart starting calling each other “Sister Annie” and “Brother Bogie.”(1) Some of my favorite movies with Ann in her prime are Angels With Dirty Faces and City for Conquest with Cagney, They Drive By Night with Raft and Bogart, and Dodge City, Edge of Darkness and Silver River with Errol Flynn. Ann said of Flynn: “He was one of the wild characters of the world, but he had a strange, quiet side. He camouflaged himself completely. In all the years I knew him, I never really knew what lay underneath and I doubt if many people did.” (2)
Two films showed Ann’s real flair for comedy. She played wife to Jack Benny in George Washington Slept Here, a little different type for Ann as a rather ditzy but adorable wife. Later in her career, she played opposite Cary Grant in the comedy I Was A Male War Bride, where both Ann and Grant showed their comedic talents.
Ann had been seriously considered for the part of Ilsa in Casablanca, but lost out to Ingrid Bergman. Ann’s beauty put her into the pin-up girl category along with Betty Grable. She was given the nickname “The Oomph Girl”, and as she said: “…I loathe that nickname. Just being known by a nickname indicates that you are not thought of as a true actress … It’s just crap! If you call an actress by her looks or a reaction, then that’s all she’ll ever be thought of as.” (3)
Ann’s fear of being overlooked for her acting talent was certainly put to rest by what I consider to be her greatest role, that of Randy in King’s Row, with Robert Cummings and Ronald Reagan. The range of emotions she revealed in this difficult role took her from a teasing girl to a wise woman to a devoted wife forced to deal with horrifying events that required her to face her own feelings about love and the future. She was just marvelous in the part and in my opinion her extraordinary performance made this movie one of the great classics.
When Ann’s movie career began to decline as she got older, she tried her hand at television, where she appeared for a time on the soap opera “Another World.” She was beginning to work on another TV show when she fell ill. Ann died of cancer in 1967 – she was only 51.
TCM is playing several of Ann Sheridan’s good movies today. My favorites coming up are City for Conquest at 4:30 EST, George Washington Slept Here at 6:15 and King’s Row at 9:45. Set your DVR to tape if you are not able to watch them today. You’ll love them!