KIM HUNTER, 1922-2002
Kim Hunter, the versatile, distinguished actress who won the Supporting Actress Academy Award for her portrayal as the long-suffering Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and appeared as Dr. Zira in three Planet of the Apes movies, died in her Greenwich Village apartment from an apparent heart attack on September 11, 2002. She was 79.
Born Janet Cole in Detroit on November 12, 1922, where her mother was a concert pianist, she made her professional debut at 17 with a small theatre company in Miami. She gained notice immediately with her strong voice and alluring presence, and eventually studied at the Actors' Studio in New York.
She made a striking film debut in an eerie, low-budget RKO horror film, The Seventh Victim (1943), produced by Val Lewton. She played a similar ingenue role in another stylish cult flick, When Strangers Meet (1944) - a film directed by William Castle and notable for featuring Robert Mitchum in one of his first starring roles. Hunter's big break came two years later when Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger cast her in their splendid romantic fantasy, Stairway to Heaven (1946).
Despite her growing popularity as a screen actress, Hunter returned to the stage to make her Broadway debut as Stella in Tennessee Williams'A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). When Elia Kazan adapted the production for the silver screen, she continued her role as Stella opposite Marlon Brando, and won an Oscar as best supporting actress. A few more film roles followed, but sadly her screen career entered a lull in the late 1950s, after Hunter, a liberal Democrat, was listed as a communist sympathizer by Red Channels, a red-hunting booklet that influenced hiring by studios and the Television networks. Kim was blacklisted from both mediums despite never having been labeled a Communist, yet as a strong believer in civil rights she signed a lot of petitions and was a sponsor of a 1949 World Peace Conference in New York. She was widely praised in the industry for her testimony to the New York Supreme Court in 1962 against the publishers of Red Channels, and helped pave the way for clearance of many performers unjustly accused of Communist associations.
Hunter spent the next few years on the stage and didn't make a strong impression again in films until she was cast as Dr. Zira in the Planet of the Apes (1968), as a simian psychiatrist in the classic science fiction film. The success of that film encouraged her to continue playing the same character in two back-to-back sequels - Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971). Hunter spent the remainder of her career on the stage and television, but she a terrific cameo role in Clint Eastwood's Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997), one of her last films. She is survived by her daughter Kathryn, from her first marriage to William Baldwin, and her son Sean, from her marriage to actor and producer Robert Emmett.
By Michael T. Toole
TCM REMEMBERS J. LEE THOMPSON, 1914 - 2002
Oscar-nominated director J. Lee Thompson died August 30th at the age of 88. Though he worked in several genres, Thompson was best-known for his action films. Thompson was born in Bristol England on August 1, 1914. After graduating from college he became a playwright and it was the appearance of one of his plays on London's famous West End that got him noticed by the British film studio, Elstree. His first filmed script was The Pride of Folly in 1937 and others appeared sporadically until his career was side-tracked during the war when Thompson served in the RAF as a B-29 tail gunner. (He also reportedly worked as a dialogue coach on Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn, 1939.) Thompson's directorial debut came in 1950 when he adapted his own play Double Error to the screen as Murder Without Crime. Throughout the decade he directed a variety of dramas and comedies until hitting it big in 1958 with Ice Cold in Alex (released in the US minus 50 minutes under the title Desert Attack). It was nominated for three BAFTAs and was enough of a commercial success that Thompson landed the film that made his career: The Guns of Navarone (1961). This enormous international hit snagged Thompson an Oscar nomination for Best Director. He immediately followed that with the original Cape Fear (1962) and his reputation was set. Though Thompson remained active almost three more decades he didn't reach that level again. He worked on Westerns (Mackenna's Gold, 1969), horror films (Eye of the Devil, 1967), literary adaptations (Huckleberry Finn, 1974) and others. During this time, Thompson directed two Planet of the Apes sequels but was kept most busy working with Charles Bronson, for whom he directed nine films. Thompson's last film was in 1989.
KATRIN CARTLIDGE, 1961 - 2002
The news of actress Katrin Cartlidge's death at the age of 41 has come as a shock. It's not just the age but the thought that even though Cartlidge was already a major actress--despite a slender filmography--she held out the promise of even greater work, a promise that so few artists of any type can make. "Fearless" is perhaps the word most often used to describe Cartlidge but emotions are never enough for an actor; much more is required. Director Mike Leigh said she had "the objective eye of an artist" while remarking on her "her deep-seated suspicion of all forms of woolly thinking and received ideas."
Cartlidge was born in London on May 15, 1961. Her first acting work was on the stage, in tiny independent theatres before she was selected by Peter Gill for the National Theatre. Cartlidge also worked as a dresser at the Royal Court where she later made one of her final stage appearances. She began appearing in the popular British TV series Brookside before making her first film in 1985, Sacred Hearts. A small role in the Robbie Coltrane-Rik Mayall vehicle Eat the Rich (1987) followed before Cartlidge had her first leading role in Mike Leigh's scathing Naked (1993).
Cartlidge never took a safe approach in her films. She told The Guardian that "I try to work with film-makers who I feel will produce something original, revealing and provoking. If something provokes a reaction, it's well worth doing." You can see this in her choice of projects. Before the Rain (1994) dramatized violence in Macedonia in the wake of the Yugoslavian break-up and made Cartlidge something of a star in the area. She appeared in Lars Von Trier's controversial look at redemption, Breaking the Waves (1996), Leigh's sharply detailed story of aging friends Career Girls (1997), as one of Jack the Ripper's victims in From Hell (2001), as a call girl trying to leave the business in Clair Dolan (1998) and in the Oscar-winning film about Bosnia-Herzegovina, No Man's Land (2001). Her last work included a BBC adaptation of Crime and Punishment (2002), playing Salvador Dali's wife Gala in the BBC comedy-drama Surrealissimo (2002) and an appearance in Rosanna Arquette's directorial debut, Searching for Debra Winger (also 2002), a documentary about women in the film industry.
Cartlidge died September 7th from septicaemia brought on by pneumonia.
By Lang Thompson
Cast & Crew
Richard H. Bartlett
Just before Christmas in the town of Millard, gold prospector Ben Merriweather is shot by three bandits. Ben manages to kill two of his assailents, Roy and Pete Ryerson, and write a will leaving his considerable fortune in gold to David Kingman, Clinton Gunston, Henry Devers and John Briggs. He then sees the third bandit, and as he lays dying, indicates to a friend that the third bandit is one of the men in the will. Soon after, lawyer Damion Bard sends for famed Western detective Silver Ward Hogan to investigate Ben's murder and verify the legality of the heirs. Ward will earn $50,000 if he succeeds, but the only leads Damion can give him are the will, which includes an unfinished sentence mentioning "Judas," and the knowledge that the Ryersons' brother Jess is still alive. With Ben's mule in tow, Ward sets out to find Briggs, and along the way apprehends a young man following him, who introduces himself as Johnny B. and explains that he is competing with Ward for the reward money. Ward turns down Johnny's offer to become partners, but invites him to ride with him to Briggs's store. There, Briggs explains that he has never met Ben, and by the time Ward leaves Briggs's office, Johnny has disappeared. Ward travels on to David Kingman's ranch, where he stops to bathe in a lake. As he bathes, widowed ranch owner Mary Kingman, fearing that Ward is an intruder, holds him at gunpoint, until her father Job recognizes Ward and invites him to dinner. There, Ward learns that David is Mary's young son, whom Ben met weeks earlier admiring a pair of red boots in a store window. Ward gently discourages David's materialism, and later asks Mary to walk with him in the moonlight, but she pointedly informs him that he would find the walk too chilly. Hours later, however, the two share a midnight snack, and although Ward is attracted to Mary, he explains that he does not want to settle down. In the morning, Ward leaves a silver bullet for David and heads on to Gunston's town. There, Sheriff Crowley leads him to Gunston's humble, dusty ranch, on which the former outlaw is trying, for the sake of his young wife Sally, to eke out an honest living. Assuming Ward believes he killed Ben, Gunston explains that he and Ben were prison cellmates years earlier and have not spoken since. After Ward leaves, Gunston, who fears that the dusty ranch is exacerbating Sally's asthma, wonders if he should turn back to crime. Even though Sally vows to leave him, in desperation he robs that night's mail stage. In the morning, Crowley invites Ward along to arrest Gunston, and at the ranch, they watch as Gunston returns from his raid to inform Sally that he has found the inheritance notice letter from Damion in the stage's mailbag. Realizing that he came back only to give her the money, she promises to wait for him until he completes his jail term. Confused about Ben's motives for choosing his heirs, Ward returns to Millard, where he is pleased to run into Mary and David. Johnny is with them, and to discourage the younger man's attentions to Mary, Ward offers to drive her to the ranch she is considering buying for David with his inheritance. They flirt, but once back in town, Ward inadvertently offends Mary by suggesting that she is encouraging him to stay in town. Ward leaves again soon after to look for Devers, whom he finds in a deserted town inhabited by a few Indians and rancher Art Birdwell. The rheumatic Devers at first claims that Ben, his ex-partner, stole a gold claim from him, but at Ward's gentle prodding, admits that he stole it from Ben. Later, Art picks up Devers' inheritance letter for him, then convinces the old man to endorse the check so Art can deposit it in the bank for him. When Ward then hears that Art cashed the check and rode off in the opposite direction, he speeds to Devers' house, but there finds Art and Devers playing poker. Art explains that he tried to steal the money, but his conscience stopped him. Next, Ward pays a source to reveal that Jess Ryerson is staying at the local hotel. When Ward tries to arrest him, Jess bitterly reveals that his brothers shot him in the spine years earlier, rendering him paralyzed. Outside, Ward finds Johnny, and invites him to travel back to Millard with him. Along the way, Ward explains that he has guessed Ben's method of choosing heirs: he has decided to give fortunes to men too weak to create their own. That night, Ward hears Johnny call the mule "Judas," and realizing that Johnny must have known Ben, deduces he is the third bandit. He confronts the younger man, who asserts that he was Ben's partner and wanted only his share of the stake, but the Ryersons killed the prospector out of spite. After Johnny fires at Ward to avoid capture, Ward is forced to shoot Johnny in the arm. As Ward is tending the wound, Johnny admits that his real name is John Briggs. To Johnny's surprise, Ward promises to testify that he did not kill Ben. Soon after, Ward visits Mary and declares that he is ready to settle down. Mary responds by asking him to walk in the moonlight, stating that this time there will be no chill.
Richard H. Bartlett
Lon Chaney [jr.]
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
Robert E. Smith
William P. Tapp
TCM Remembers - Kim Hunter
KIM HUNTER, 1922-2002
TCM Remembers - Kim Hunter
The working title of this film was Money, Women and Dreams. Although contemporary reviews refer to Jimmy Wakely and Howie Horowitz as the co-writers of the song "Lonely Is the Hunter," onscreen credits list only Wakely. According to a September 13, 1957 "Rambling Reporter" item in Hollywood Reporter, Barbara Hale was considered to play "Mary Kingman," but due to her co-starring role in the popular CBS television series Perry Mason, the part was offered to Jean Hagen. Los Angeles Times reported in September 1957 that Francis the mule was considered to play "Judas." Although the SAB originally credited Albert Zugsmith and Howie Horwitz as producers, a letter from Universal's legal department to the Academy, which is contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS library, states that Zugsmith asked that his name be withdrawn from connection with the film. Although a October 4, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Jack Santoro to the cast, his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Tom London and Steve Darrell to the cast.