Sunday, November 10, 2013
In the photo, James Stewart is giving Shelley's character in "Winchester 73" a pistol. The Indians are about to attack, and he tells her to save a round, just in case. She nods. "I understand," she says.
There was always something funny and wry and honest about the characters Shelley Winters played. I wonder if she ever had the opportunity to sit and have a beer with Barbara Stanwyck, another wry, honest actor. It's hard to get behind the facade actors have to put up, though Shelley did write an autobiography. I'll bet it's pretty honest too.
Here's how she summed up her life:
One New York apartment, two Oscars, three California houses, four hit plays, five Impressionist paintings, six mink coats, and 99 films.
She might be my favorite actor, on the distaff side at least. She didn't get enough great roles, but in that she was also realistic. "Ya gotta play the mother to keep your career going," she said.
Update: I've started reading "Shelley, Also Known as Shirley," the first part of her autobiography. About "Winchester 73" she says, "I was the co-star, with James Stewart but the real star of the movie was the goddam rifle." The book is delightful reading, with many hilarious anecdotes: imagine Marlon Brando hiding on the roof of her apartment building, with one shoe missing, while Burt Lancaster searches her apartment for a suitor he suspects is hiding somewhere. And as I just recall--this very scene is depicted in "One Eyed Jacks" a decade later. "Jacks" was Brando's only directorial effort, and stars himself and Carl Malden, with the great Ben Johnson in a supporting role. Peckinpah was a writer on "Jacks." But surely Brando added the missing shoe detail in the opening scene, and must have smiled at the inside humor of it.