Thursday, December 6, 2012

Entertainer Profile - Sally Field


Yes, we love her, we really love her.  So, with my just recently published review of Lincoln, I decided my next Entertainer Profile should be on one of the many icons in the film and of course, on one of my favorite actresses (and one of the most talented) of all time.

Icon is hardly the only word to describe Sally Field.  Sex symbol in the 1960's, 2-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress in the 1970's and 1980's, Forrest Gump's mom in the 1990's,  Nora Walker in the 2000's, and Mary Todd Lincoln and Aunt Mae (The Amazing Spider Man) in 2012.

She was born in 1946 in Pasadena, California to actress Margaret Field and a salesman father.  She landed the coveted role of Gidget right off the bat at age 19, however it was cancelled due to low ratings.  Then came little more successful Flying Nun and the roles just kept coming.

Gidget (tv series 1965-1966) - This series only lasted 32 episodes but still remains a classic and  launched Sally Field's career.  She will be forever loved as the bubbly, fresh faced Gidget, a young girl living in California with her widowed father, spending her days surfing and hanging with her friends.

The Flying Nun (tv series 1967-1970) - First, I have to admit, I have never seen this show, well, a clip here and there.  I had to include this because this is a big piece of her career and, even though it was short-lived, an important piece of pop culture television history.
Sybil (1976) - This television movie brought Sally Field into a much different light and showed her range was staggering.  Portraying a woman who created 16 different personalities as the result of physical and sexual abuse earned her a well-deserved Emmy.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Norma Rae (1979) - She earned the first of her 2 Best Actress Oscars portraying a Southern textile worker who gets sick and tired of working in horrible conditions and works to unionize the mill, no matter the cost.
Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
Places in the Heart (1984) - She earned her 2nd Oscar for Best Actress playing a woman in the 1930's South who is suddenly widowed and must continue to provide for her family and pay the mortgage so she plants cotton with the help of some friends.
Murphy's Romance (1985)
Steel Magnolias (1989) - Seriously, do I need to even explain why I included this?
Soapdish (1991) - In my opinion, one of the most underrated comedies ever.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Forrest Gump (1994) - She proved to us, life really is like a box of chocolates.
A Woman of Independent Means (1995) - A little known mini-series that I remember loving and shows her talent for portraying strong women.
Eye for an Eye (1996) - Everyone who knows me, knows I love a great psychological thriller and I loved seeing her in one.  Sally Field kicked Kiefer Sutherland's ass in this one.
From the Earth to the Moon (1998)
Where the Heart Is (2000) - A small, but pivotal role that she nailed.
ER (2000-2006) - Won the 2nd of her 3 Emmys for her 12-episode role as Maggie, mother to Maura Tierney's Abby Lockhart character suffering from bipolar disorder.
Brothers and Sisters (2006-2011) - Oh my, oh my, oh my, what can I say about the great television matriarch that was Nora Walker?  I absolutely loved this show, oh hell, I still love this show.  It is one of the few television shows in my DVD arsenal where not only do I own the entire season, I have watched them over and over again.  Her performances were hilarious at times and gut-wrenchingly sad at others and provided most of the kleenex-worthy scenes as, which my friend Amy says, proves Sally Field is one of the best criers on any size screen.  The funny thing was, when the show premiered, it was being billed as Calista Flockhart's return to television but then, everyone saw the cinematic icon out acting all the "brothers and sisters" of the show and that earned her a third Emmy award.
The Amazing Spider Man (2012) - One of the only good things about this stinker.
Lincoln (2012) - see my review.

It's hard to believe but it has been 47 years since she burst onto the scene with Gidget, and still even now in 2012, she starred in two of the most anticipated and bankable movies of the year.  Also, of course, I see a definite nomination for many awards for Lincoln.  I still have this secret dream that I will share with you now that when my autobiography is written and the movie is made, she will play my mom because seriously, they could be sisters.  It is scary how much they look alike.  So ready for your next role Aunt Sally.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.


**Now nominated for the 2012 Best Picture Academy Award.**

Of course, 4 STARS!

"I have yet to see a performance in 2012 that could come close to rivaling Daniel Day-Lewis'  triumphant portrayal of our 16th President."

History buffs rejoice!  It's as if the first news footage of Abraham Lincoln was found and put onto the big screen, it is that real.  We are now able to see him as a real person and not just the stellar man we've only read in history books.  From the first scene and we the audience see Day-Lewis' face, portraying a man who has been commander-in-chief of the United States during 4 years of war, you would have to be blind to not see the almost haunting exhaustion of having the weight of the entire country on the shoulders of his tall, slender frame.

Lincoln is directed by the great Steven Spielberg and from the first moment I heard this movie was even being considered, I wanted to see it.  The film begins in 1865 in the final months of the American Civil War and focuses on the already stressed President trying to get the 13th amendment past, which was the amendment that would end slavery in America.  It is literally a race against time to get the amendment passed because it has to happen before the war ends, all the while Lincoln is battling his own fight with many members of his Cabinet over freeing the slaves.  The tension builds and builds on this man throughout the whole film with his troubled wife by his side (played beautifully by Sally Field) and his whiny eldest son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).  Truly, the only happiness comes from his youngest son, the rambunctious Tad (portrayed in a stellar breakout performance by Gulliver McGrath).

There really isn't much more I can say about Daniel Day-Lewis' performance.  It is simply a tour-de-force in acting, emotion, and proof of what one actor can achieve in his craft.  Sally Field had to fight tooth and nail with Spielberg to play the immensely unstable Mary Todd Lincoln, mostly because he didn't think she could pull it off because of her age; Field is 10 years older than Daniel Day-Lewis and 20 years older than Mary Todd Lincoln was at the time the film is set.  Well, this critic is thankful her persistence payed off.  She put forth all the emotion (and then some) needed to play the famously over emotional first lady, who would later be committed by her eldest son Robert.  Speaking of that son, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was definitely an interesting choice in casting, however he executed his performance flawlessly.  Also, speaking of casting, I loved the great Hal Holbrook being in this movie.  He won an Emmy playing Lincoln in a 1974 television mini-series and also in the sweeping and epic television mini-series North and South (1985), still one of my favorite movies of all time even though it was on television.

The screenplay was the other flawless feature of this movie. The dialog was so engaging, dramatic, emotional, and yes, even at times funny.  Everyone in the theater laughed many times, including my friend and I.  Lincoln was written by Tony Kushner, who also penned the incredible Munich.  The attention to detail was nothing short of amazing.  When he was writing this meaty drama, Kushner was obviously trying to humanize this man of history and the other characters and not make it all so serious all the time.  Lincoln is going to play on all of the viewers' emotions.  It is 150 minutes of darkness, dread, blood, sweat, tears, tension, and yes, even a few laughs.  This film is proof that this icon of history we've been reading about our whole lives, did in fact exist, and was great without hunting all the vampires.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.