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Although one of the great beauties and among the finest actresses of the 40s and 50s she is among the forgotten performers who have faded into near obscurity. I'm still impressed by her exquisite loveliness, even in black-and-white, and her ability to become the characters she portrayed.
She was called the "women of a thousand faces" because she imbued every character she played with a distinct personality that was not her own.
She was nominated for three Academy Awards and her acting abilities were equal to those of her better-known contemporaries Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn. And yet today she remains an afterthought in discussions about Hollywood's best actresses.
Although part of this status can be blamed on Warner Bros. She was not interested in doing interviews or posing for cheesecake photos. She also refused to attend night clubs and parties where she could be photographed for publicity purposes or gossip column scoops.
She preferred to spend as much time as possible at home with her family. Her decision to avoid the studio protocol for grooming its contract players like Ann Sheridan, helped to deny her a prominent place in Hollywood's collective memory. Parker had acted locally in her home state of Ohio and after graduation from high school left for California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse.
She was offered a screen test, but turned it down in order to finish her studies. In she did have a screen test at Warner Bros. Her debut film was supposed to be They Died with Their Boots Onbut her scene was eventually deleted from the movie.
She was then placed in a series of one and two reel Technicolor short films. Finally the studio cast her in an A picture, the controversial Mission to Moscow, a film glorifying Russia, our World War II ally, which later became a vehicle for the House Un-American Activities Committee in their effort to identify communists in the film industry.
She received positive critical response, but the film was not successful. Instead she appeared in the second film version of the Broadway play Outward Bound, Between Two Worlds, in which a group of dead ship passengers await their fate in the afterlife.
Her costars included Paul Henried and John Garfield. Unfortunately this movie proved to be another box office bust.
After several more low-budget films she was given her first leading role in the production The Very Thought of You. In Warners planned to make a film based on a magazine article about the Marine Al Schmidt, who was blinded at Guadalcanal and received the Navy Cross for his heroism.
John Garfield was to be the star; he had enjoyed a pleasant working relationship with Parker in Between Two Worlds and requested her for the role of his girlfriend Ruth, replacing Alexis Smith, who was the original choice. Her performance in Pride of the Marines was lauded by fans and critics alike; her love for Al was tender and feisty, mirroring her attempts to help him lead a normal life even though he was blind.
Oddly after two well received sensitive portrayals, Warners chose her to re-create Bette Davis's role in a remake of the film Of Human Bondage. Inevitably Parker's performance was compared unfavorably to Davis, but analysis of her portrayal reveals that she was effective in many scenes.
Like the first film, this also proved to be unpopular. Fed up with the poor quality of the films she was assigned, Parker refused to appear in another low-budget piece of fluff and was suspended by the studio. At the end of the suspension the studio persisted in its shabby treatment of Parker, with roles in two unsuccessful films both costarring Errol Flynn; the lifeless comedy Never Say Goodbye and the stale soap opera, Escape Me Never.
After three disappointments in a row, Parker yearned for a role that was commensurate with her talent.Bogart was, at age 42, a major star. A little more than a year later, when Casablanca was released, he was, says Kanfer, “the most important film actor of his time and place.” In , he.
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In the summer of , the American Film Institute (AFI) released its list of the "Top Movies of All Time." The list was chosen by a select panel of critics, movie executives, and various other glitterati to celebrate the best the film world had to offer in the 's.
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