Anthony Perkins

Simpson Sunday: Guest Appearances That Never Were

Anthony Perkins Psycho

Season 4, Episode 17: Last Exit to Springfield

When Mr. Burns decides to axe the dental insurance employees at the power plant receive, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Lisa needs braces, but since they no longer have insurance to pay for them, Lisa isn’t able to get the top-of-the-line braces she was hoping for. It doesn’t help matters that Lisa’s dentist tends to come off as a tad sinister.

Lisa Simpsons Dentist

Finding someone to provide a voice for the dentist proved to be a bit of a challenge. First, producers had offered the part to Clint Eastwood, who turned it down. Anthony Perkins later accepted the part. Unfortunately, Perkins died before he was able to record his lines. In the end, the dentist’s voice was provided by Hank Azaria instead.

Friendly Persuasion (1956)

Friendly persuasion

The Civil War was a difficult time for everyone and the Birdwell family was no exception. The Birdwells are a family of Quakers from Pennsylvania. Eliza (Dorothy McGuire) is a very devout Quaker minister who abhors any type of violence, even if it’s just her youngest son Little Jess (Richard Eyer) having a conflict with her pet goose. The rest of the family isn’t quite as devout as Eliza. Her husband, Jess (Gary Cooper), enjoys things like music, racing his carriage, and is willing to bring the children to the county fair, all things Eliza disapproves of. He even purchases an organ without Eliza’s permission, knowing she won’t be happy about it. Their teenage daughter Mattie (Phyllis Love) has fallen in love with Gard Jordan (Peter Mark Richman), a soldier. And their oldest son Josh (Anthony Perkins) is against the violence of war, but isn’t against playing soldiers with Little Jess and even understands violence may be necessary at times.

The family has tried to stay out of the war, but they’re forced to confront the reality of the situation when a Union officer comes to services at their meetinghouse and asks how, given their pacifist beliefs, they plan to deal with the impending threat of Confederate troops moving closer to home. Although some of the Quakers admit to wavering in their pacifist nature, none of them immediately agree to join the Home Guard. Some time later, Gard comes to visit as he is recovering from a gunshot wound and Josh admits he’s considering joining the Army.

Just days later, the Confederates are dangerously close to the Birdwell’s home and Josh decides to go off to fight; a decision that makes Eliza feel like he’s turning his back on her. Jess, on the other hand, is more understanding of Josh’s decision, but hesitates to pick up a gun until it is absolutely necessary. When Jess finally leaves the family home with a gun, Confederate soldiers arrive and even Eliza realizes that she is capable of acting against her deeply held beliefs.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned by doing Blogging Under the Stars for the past few years is that having a second choice movie for each day is essential. Inevitably, there’s a couple of days during the month where I can’t watch my first choice movie either because I forgot to set the timer to record it or because the power went out during the movie and messed up my recording. This can be frustrating, but luckily for me, it tends works out in the end because my second choice movie often ends up being something really good; probably better than my first choice. Friendly Persuasion is definitely one of my best “second choice” movie discoveries. (In case you were wondering, my first choice for today’s movie was One Sunday Afternoon.)

At first, I kinda had my doubts about how much I’d like Friendly Persuasion because even with my history of having good second choices, I had really wanted to see One Sunday Afternoon. But it didn’t take long for Friendly Persuasion to start winning me over. I loved everything about it. The writing by Michael Wilson and direction by William Wyler were both excellent. Although Dorothy McGuire and Gary Cooper were also both excellent, Anthony Perkins really steals the show here; this was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by him. Since Perkins is so famous for playing Norman Bates, a deranged murderer, in Psycho, it’s really interesting to see him play a character (beautifully at that) on the opposite end of the spectrum and is extremely reluctant to resort to violence. The movie is so wonderfully sensitive and the characters so intriguing, Friendly Persuasion is the kind of movie I could easily watch over and over again. Loved every minute of it.

The Actress (1953)

The Actress 1953

Clinton Jones (Spencer Tracy), his wife Annie (Teresa Wright), and their teenage daughter Ruth Gordon (Jean Simmons) live together in a modest apartment outside of Boston. They’re a pretty typical family, but Ruth dreams of being anything but typical. More than anything else in the world, Ruth wants to become a great actress. She adores the actress Hazel Dawn and dreams of being able to have a career just like Hazel’s. Ruth’s stage aspirations are well-known to everyone close to her, except for her father. She doesn’t think he would approve of her going into the theater and it’s true, he’d much rather see her go off to school to become a physical education teacher. Annie would rather see Ruth just settle down and marry her boyfriend Fred (Anthony Perkins)

Ruth’s dreams of stage stardom only get bigger when she gets a response to a fan letter from her idol Hazel Dawn inviting her to come meet her backstage after a performance. Hazel knows about Ruth’s desire to be an actress and later sends Ruth a message saying she’s arranged for a Ruth to meet an important director. Eventually, she has to tell her father about her dreams of stardom when he insists on filling out her application to go to school to become a gym teacher. He has her doubts about whether or not she could make it as an actress, but is surprisingly supportive. However, he really wants her to finish school first and absolutely doesn’t want her to go to her interview with the director.

Part of the reason Clinton isn’t so willing to give Ruth his unrelenting support is because financial instability is a big concern for him. Not only for her, but because he’s worried about his own job and doesn’t think he’d be able to support her studying to become an actress. When he gets some news that assures him his job is secure, he promises to send her to acting school. Ruth is thrilled, but when something goes wrong at the last minute and Clinton loses his job, she refuses to let it hold her back. And sure enough, Clinton finds a way to help.

The Actress is based on actress Ruth Gordon’s own experiences as a teenager. Although it’s a story about Ruth, Spencer Tracy is the one who gets the richest role in the movie. Spencer Tracy was an expert at playing characters who could seem gruff and stern, but still had a soft side to them, and this is very much on display here. This was very much intended to be a tribute to Ruth Gordon’s father and Spencer certainly did him justice.

On the whole, it’s a very pleasant movie with just the right amount of sentiment. It may not be anything truly spectacular, but it’s still likable enough that I’d give it another watch if there wasn’t much else on television. The Actress is also noteworthy for being the film debut of Anthony Perkins.

Green Mansions (1959)

Green Mansions PosterAfter his father is killed by rebels, Abel (Anthony Perkins) heads into the Venezuelan wilderness to avenge his death and find a rumored cache of gold. Along the way, he encounters a tribe of natives and wins the respect of their chief Runi (Sessue Hayawaka) and his son Kua-Ko (Henry Silva). Abel is allowed to stay with the tribe, as long as he doesn’t hurt them. Kua-Ko warns Abel to stay out of a nearby jungle, which of course only makes Abel want to go explore them. While getting a drink at a pond, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious woman in the reflection.

When the tribe finds out that Abel has gone into the forbidden jungle, Runi wants Abel to go back to kill the woman. Instead, he goes back to warn her, but before he can, is bitten by a very poisonous snake. He awakens two days later to find himself being cared for by the mysterious woman, named Rima (Audrey Hepburn), and her grandfather Nuflo (Lee J. Cobb). Abel will need a few more days to fully recover, and while staying with Rima, who has been living in the jungle with her grandfather since she was a child. She shows him around the jungle and while he falls in love with her, Rima is confused by her feelings for him.

Abel returns to the tribe a few days later and after explaining that he couldn’t kill Rima, the tribe doesn’t believe him and Kua-Ko vows to kill her himself. Abel runs to warn Rima and Nuflo and together they flee, but along the way, Rima learns some upsetting truths about her grandfather and the childhood she longs to remember.

Oh, dear. I took a break from  the Every Simpsons Ever marathon on FXX for this? Green Mansions is just a mess of a movie. Anthony Perkins is one of the least believable adventurer types I have ever seen. He is woefully out of place here and his performance is as wooden as a lumber yard. Audrey Hepburn isn’t particularly good in it, either, which is hugely disappointing. There’s absolutely no chemistry between her and Perkins, the story wasn’t very interesting, and the whole thing just left me wishing I had spent those two hours watching something else.

What’s on TCM: April 2012

Happy April, everybody!  TCM has a pretty fun schedule this month, but it’s organized a little differently than usual.  Usually things like the Star of the Month nights get one night each week.  But this month, those nights are all in one week from Monday to Friday.  Doris Day is the April Star of the Month so her movies will be on every night from April 2-6.  TCM will also be doing a spring break week this month from April 16-20, so every night will be fun, beachy movies like Gidget and Frankie and Annette Beach Party movies.  Now, onto the schedule:

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What’s on TCM: April 2011

April is looking like it’s going to be a pretty busy month on TCM, especially if you’re interested in the Civil War.  TCM will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War by playing movies about the Civil War every Monday and Wednesday this month.  There will also be lots of Ray Milland to look forward to since he will be the star of the month.  The Lost Weekend, The Major and the Minor, Dial ‘M’ For Murder, all his best movies are in there.  There’s even a night full of real rarities that I’m very much looking forward to.

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