“Hurry up and wait!”
Anyone who has worked on a major Hollywood production is familiar with this ironic cry.
There is a tremendous amount of down time on a Hollywood film. It takes hours to set up lights, rig camera and sound, and make sure the sets and props are in place. Thus, actors spend a huge amount of time waiting, waiting, waiting for the the cameras to roll.
In the past, especially in the 1930s, scores of Hollywood actresses took up knitting to help pass the countless hours between takes.
Several years ago, at a swanky Hollywood party, I met the wealthy widow of a prominent producer who had been active during Hollywood’s Golden Age. After dispensing with a few glasses of champagne the elderly lady talked about, well, the good ol’ days. When I expressed my admiration for classic Hollywood movies she told me that at the tender age of 15, she was one of Busby Berkeley’s chorus girls.
We continue our series of the Twenty Greatest Movies of each decade. Here are our our picks for the last five great movies of the 1940’s.
16. Notorious, 1946. No American actor has tampered with his own charming image more successfully than Cary Grant. In Only Angels Have Wings (1939) he is the tough boss of a suicidal jungle mail service. In Suspicion (1941) one is forced to ask: Is Grant playing his usually charming self but capable of cold-blooded murder? In None But the Lonely Heart (1944) a film I loathe, Grant convincingly plays a Cockney tough with mother issues. And in Notorious, Hitchcock, who understood Grant’s image better than any other director, cast Grant as a sexually repressed government agent who recruits bad girl Ingrid Bergman, daughter of a convicted Nazi spy. Grant’s dark side is brilliantly exploited as his character initially treats Bergman with contempt but gradually falls in love with the damaged, vulnerable beauty. Notorious succeeds, not because of the plot—tedious spy stuff—but because the love story is central and brilliantly convincing.