Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Anne Bancroft, 1931-2005

Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

Today marks the 82nd anniversary of the birth of actress Anne Bancroft. Bancroft started off in TV before making her first film, Don't Bother to Knock. Bancroft continued to work at Fox, making movies such as The Raid, and some others that I've seen but have never gotten around to blogging, and I don't think they'll ever air on the Fox Movie Channel again. Gorilla at Large, which has Bancroft, Lee Marvin, and a gorilla terrorizing an amusement park, is fun if not great. Ricardo Montalbán does a fairly good job opposite Bancroft in 1955's A Life in the Balance, which, it turns out, I did blog about. (It's still not on DVD, though.) Anyhow, getting back to Bancroft's films from the 1950s I've blogged about before, Nightfall is enjoyable because it's actually pretty good, while there's also The Girl in Black Stockings, which is enjoyable precisely because it's not very good.

Bancroft made more serious (in the sense of prestige movies where she had leading roles) work in the 1960s, starting with The Miracle Worker, which won her the Academy Award, through The Graduate, which famously had her trying to seduce Dustin Hoffman, who in real life was only about six years her junior. The magic of Hollywood casting. I'm happy to say that one of the movies in that time frame that I recommended several years ago, The Slender Thread, has since been released to DVD.

Bancroft eventually married Mel Brooks, appearing in a couple of his films, such as Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, and the remake of To Be or Not to Be. She also tried her hand at directing with Fatso in 1980, an interesting if flawed film about a fat man (Dom DeLuise) who loves food but has to lose weight when a cousin dies way too young and he meets somebody he loves. In between all of those was the Oscar-losing ballet film The Turning Point.

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