Mildred Natwick: A true character

Mildred Natwick.

It’s a strong, sturdy and dependable name that mirrors the actress who owned it. We saw those qualities time and again throughout her Hollywood career – see her as the stoic owner of “The Enchanted Cottage” and as the proper Widow Tillane in “The Quiet Man.”

Most important, you could depend on Mildred Natwick to give her character dimension that it didn’t necessarily have on the page.

But if you’re looking for her name in a film, read closely: It’s usually in small type at the bottom of the movie poster or after the word “with” in the opening credits. Such is the life of a character actor. They play in the shadow of the stars, while giving the movie everything it needs to shine.


Recognizing that character actors deserve their own spotlight, Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club, Aurora at Once Upon A Screen, and Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, are hosting the “What a Character” blogathon for the sixth year.

Thelma Ritter, Charles Lane, John Alexander and the bit players of “Casablanca” are among the actors highlighted in Day One of the blogathon.

For Day Two, the blogathon includes entries about Edward Everett Horton, the wonderful Beulah Bondi, Henry Stephenson and this article on Mildred Natwick. I chose to write about her because of her great talent and because watching her in a movie is like visiting with an old friend.

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Devotion: An appreciation of Ann Harding

“I don’t make scenes, Mrs. Page.”

When actress Ann Harding speaks that line with a refined serenity in the  1933 drama “Double Harness,” it is as a wife coming to terms with losing her husband to another woman. But that line also sums up what makes Harding special as an actress – she didn’t make scenes on film either.

There was no flailing about, no screaming or histrionics. She created all emotions – happiness, sadness, love, longing, heartbreak – with grace and elegance using a subtle quivering or deepening of her voice; a gentle touch of her delicate hands to her face; a soulful gaze that hypnotized the viewer.

Harding made 40 films – more than half in the 1930s alone. On Aug. 21, Turner Classic Movies is showing 15 Harding films in celebration of the actress during the network’s Summer Under the Stars programming. Her films aren’t often shown so it’s a great chance to become familiar with Harding and fall under her spell. Here’s how that happened to me.

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‘Till Death Us Do Part’ Blogathon: ‘Cause for Alarm!’

For every “happily ever after” movie romance, there’s one that didn’t work out quite so well. As part of her July blogathon “Till Death Us Do Part: To Love, Honor and Murder,” Theresa Brown (CineMaven) has opened the discussion on the fascinating topic of movies revolving around matrimonial murder.

You can find contributions on an impressive list of films on Theresa’s blog, CineMaven Essays from the Couch, via this link:

Some titles are very well known. Others, like my choice, “Cause for Alarm!,” may not be as familiar but are equally worth reading about and watching.

I chose “Cause for Alarm!” because of its twist on a familiar formula and a nifty surprise ending. The murder plot is dispatched quite quickly, propelling the movie into a taut edge-of-your-seat thriller about a woman frantically seeking a letter that frames her for her husband’s death.

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Finally, a blog

It took me a while, but I’m here now. For years while passionate movie fans were embracing the blog as a place to share their love of movies, start discussions and meet other like-minded film buffs, I was making fun of the word “blog.” (Actually, I still am.) So by day I spent hours at my desk as a newspaper editor reading the work of others, then going home to devour classic films, Hallmark Christmas movies and anything with “Sharknado” in the title. (I am proof that you can love all three.) It wasn’t until I starting using social media and saw the wonderful work classic movie buffs were doing with their blogs that I realized what I was missing. I became inspired. Watching a movie is only the start of the experience. The best part is discussing the film afterward with a friend. So here I am – ready to talk movies. Hope you’ll join me. Cheers.