Thursday, June 6, 2013

Robert Osborne interviews Ann Blyth at a screening of Mildred Pierce (1945)


Ceiling of the Grauman's Egyptian Theatre


Press Photo
I had the privilege of attending a special screening of Mildred Pierce (1945) at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival. This event was #1 on my list of all the events and screenings I wanted to attend.

I will try to transcribe the interview that happened before the screening to the best of my ability. It's not word-for-word and some paraphrasing is used.

Robert Osborne introduced Ann Blyth and said she was one of the sweetest nicest people in the world. But we all know her as Veda, the evil daughter in Mildred Pierce (1945). He encouraged us all to hiss and boo at her now and get it over with. To which Ann Blyth responded "I don't care."

Robert Osborne: Osborne notes that Blyth was so wonderful as the evil Veda but she was never typecast because of that role. It's kind of a miracle given Hollywood tendency to typecast during that time period. After Mildred Pierce, Blyth went on to play very lovely ingenues, very nice ladies, etc. Osborne asked Blyth how she came to play Veda in Mildred Pierce.

Ann Blyth: Blyth had to test for the part and she learned much later that a lot of actresses tested for the same role. She says that she was the lucky one and mentions hitting it off with director Michael Curtiz. Joan Crawford did the test with Blyth which was very unusual for a star of Crawford's stature at that time. It made a huge difference in how Blyth started to think about the character having the actress who will be playing opposite her as her mother doing the test with her.

Osborne: We hear so many negative stories about Joan Crawford

Blyth: "I have nothing but wonderful memories of her." Blyth said it was a wonderful learning experience working with Joan Crawford. Crawford was kind to her all during the making of the movie and in private afterwards for many, many years.

Osborne: Blyth was an actress on Broadway and was in Watch on the Rhine as a very young girl.

Blyth: Blyth noted that that was what brought her to Los Angeles and Universal Pictures.

Osborne: Osborne notes that Blyth was loaned out to Warner Bros.

Blyth: And every other studio too! Paramount, 20th Century Fox, etc. She was sent to London to do a picture with Tyrone Power [I'll Never Forget You (1951)]. Blyth got excited talking about Power and remembering his beautiful face and gorgeous brown eyes.

Osborne: Osborne pointed out that Blyth had a batch of handsome leading co-stars.

Blyth: Someone had asked Blyth years ago who she would want to be stranded on a deserted island with. They started listing all the names of the men she had co-starred with and she responded "well, couldn't I take them all with me?"

Osborne: Osborne noted that Blyth's last film was with Paul Newman.

Blyth: Blyth said Newman was a dream and was always well-prepared and professional. That film was The Helen Morgan Story (1957) which was also directed by Michael Curtiz.

Osborne: Osborne asked if she had a favorite among the men she worked with.

Blyth: They were all so different, so talented each in their own particular way. Blyth noted that they were all so good looking and that was the easy part for her. It would be very hard for her to chose a favorite. Can't she chose them all? She had some of the best experiences with actors like Farley Granger, Gregory Peck, etc.

Osborne: Osborne pointed out that Blyth had made a few films in which her leading men were much much older than her. He included Charles Boyer as an example. Boyer was 29 years Blyth's senior [A Woman's Vengeance (1948)].

Blyth: It never entered her mind that these actors were much older. She just appreciated working with such wonderful and talented people. Age had nothing to do with it.

Osborne: Blyth has a wonderful singing voice but wasn't used in musicals for a long time.

Blyth: Blyth noted that she sang in her very first movie. Chip off the Old Block (1944) with Donald O'Connor. Universal didn't use her in musicals after she did Mildred Pierce but she did do a lot of musicals when she moved to MGM.

Osborne: Osborne asked Blyth if making musicals was fun for her.

Blyth: She replied yes especially because of all the beautiful music she was able to sing and called it a "hell of an experience."

Osborne: Osborne points out Kismet (1955), The Student Prince (1954), Rose Marie (1954) in particular. After Blyth treated us with a few musical notes, Osborne asked her why did she stop making films right after The Helen Morgan Story (1957).

Blyth: Things were really beginning to change a lot at that time. However, she did make a serious mistake because there was interest in her doing The Three Faces of Eve (1957) which she turned down. She reminisced that it would have been extraordinary to do that film. The role eventually went to Joanne Woodward.

Osborne: Osborne asked if it was different at each of the several studios she worked at.

Blyth: The movie she made with Tyrone Power was filmed in England so her experience with 20th Century Fox Studios didn't amount to very much. Blyth grew up at Universal so she has distinct memories of that studio. They had a little schoolhouse she attended. She had marvelous teachers when she was there and felt very cared for. They would be with her on the set of different films. Universal was a small studio in comparison to MGM and Paramount.

Osborne: Osborne pointed out to us that Blyth still stays in touch with a lot of her friends from her Hollywood days.

Blyth: Jane Powell, Jane Withers, Joan Leslie, etc. They get together at least 4 times a year especially during Christmas time (My interjection: CAN I HANG OUT WITH YOU LADIES TOO?!).

Blyth says that she feels very blessed and Osborne notes that we were all very blessed to have her there that day. And I agree! It was such a wonderful experience to hear Blyth talk and to watch her on the big screen in Mildred Pierce!


1 comment:

  1. Love your usage of words and structure of writing

    ReplyDelete

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