Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Dana Wynter R.I.P. / Arthur Laurents

I have been meaning to write about the lovely Dana Wynter [1931-2011] so was really sad to to hear she has now passed away at almost 80. Dana has been on my radar quite a bit lately, as SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL and SINK THE BISMARCK! have been screened regularly here lately on TCM UK and Film4 channels (UK), also D DAY SIXTH OF JUNE and of course INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and she plays nicely against type as the dipso rich girl in IN LOVE AND WAR. I have not been able to see SOMETHING OF VALUE though since I was a kid.

One of her first (silent) roles was as a fashion model parading in different outfits in the English drama IT STARTED IN PARADISE in '52, which also had the up and coming Kay Kendall. She is very sympathetic (and stylish in that naval uniform) as the only female in SINK THE BISMARCK!, 61, a nice foil to Kenneth More.

Dana was married to that Hollywood lawyer Greg Bautzer, and seems to have retired to Ireland, and she had a lengthy career in television as well. She may not have been a major star but, during that era of the '50s and '60s she was a lovely leading lady (along with the second-tier likes of Dorothy Malone, Martha Hyer, Vera Miles, Barbara Rush etc). There is that wonderful moment in Siegel's classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS when we realise she has changed and is now one of "them"... R.I.P. indeed. Here is my recent review of IN LOVE AND WAR:

IN LOVE AND WAR – back to 20th Century Fox and another of these Jerry Wald productions featuring their contract players (like ‘57’s NO DOWN PAYMENT). This 1958 one has regulars Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter [their 4th together?] and Bradford Dillman as the three marines having a last night of freedom in San Francisco before shipping overseas the next morning. We are told it is 1944 but what is on the screen is pure American ‘50s (just like KISS THEM FOR ME or THAT KIND OF WOMAN there seems to be no effort to get the period look right). Rich boy Dillman heads home to his disapproving father and “rich tramp” girlfriend Dana Wynter who drinks a lot – but nice nurse France Nuyen (who is from Honolulu!) is just around the corner. Hunter heads to his warm family and pregnant girlfriend Hope Lange, while Wagner has to have a few drinks before meeting his working class folks including the new stepfather he does not get on with. They all meet up at the hotel suite Wagner has reserved, but newly-weds Hunter and Lange have no place to stay … and Sheree North pops in as Wagner’s girl. Wagner’s drunken scenes through soon get rather tiresome. The second section shows us the boys in war and we wonder who will return home and who will not ... solidly directed by Philip Dunne, screenplay by Edward Anhalt, with a poignant climax.

also: R.I.P Arthur Laurents [1918-2011] - the venerable screenwriter and director also passed away aged 92, after being in the news lately over a new proposed production of GYPSY (for which he worte the book) to star Barbra Streisand, depending on which version one read either Laurents or composer Stephen Sondheim nixed the idea. Laurents also of course wrote the book for WEST SIDE STORY and the short-lived ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, screenplays for BONJOUR TRISTESSE, ANASTASIA, SUMMERTIME, Hitch's ROPE (he and Farley Granger were an item for some time), he also wrote THE WAY WE WERE and THE TURNING POINT among others, and left a very candid memoir. The best story I read was that Streisand rang him recently and he told her to call him back as he was about to have his breakfast. She did! (her first big break at 19 was in his show I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE where she was the sensational Miss Marmelstein). Certainly a legend in his own time then... even if not the most popular!

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