What the Hell Happened to Melanie Griffith?

melanie griffith

 Melanie Griffith is the daughter of Hollywood icon, Tippi Hedren, an Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner.  She rose to the A-list in the 80s working with directors like Brian De Palma, Mike Nichols and Jonathan Demme.  But after a promising decade, she stumbled and fell off the a-List in the 90s.

What the hell happened?

Griffith was born into show business.  Her mother, Tippi Hedren, is best known for the films she made with Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds and Marnie.  Hedren suffered numerous indignities at the hands of the legendary director.  Griffith was a child at the time and remembers a strange gift from Hitchcock.

“It was, like, a coffin box… and I opened it up and in it was a doll of my mother from The Birds… It was, like, made by the studio.  Can you imagine the psychological effect (of that)… He was a very weird guy.”

That’s for sure.  Later in her career, Griffith would go on to appear in an episode of the TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in the 80’s.

Griffith’s biological father was also in “the biz” as an actor and producer.  Her parents divorced when she was only four years old.  Her father re-married a model/actress and her mother re-married an agent/producer.  Given this upbringing, it is no surprise that Griffith started doing commercials at age 12.

griffith harrard experiment

At age 14, Griffith began dating her mother’s 22-year-old Harrad Experiment co-star, Don Johnson. Griffith had an uncredited cameo in the film.  Griffith and Johnson were married in 1976.  The marriage lasted only six moths.

griffith night moves

In 1975, Griffith started getting her first credited film roles.  She appeared in three films that year.  The Drowning, co-starred Paul Newman.  Smile starred Bruce Dern.  Her most significant role was in the neo-noir detective drama, Night Moves which starred Gene Hackman.

Night Moves was not a success when it was released, but it has gained critical support over time.  Many now consider it the last great film by director Arthur Penn.  Night Moves is perhaps best known for Griffiths many nude scenes.  She was reportedly only 17 when she filmed them.

At the time, Griffith was living the show biz lifestyle.  Actress Tatum O’Neal has claimed that, she and Griffith had a sexual encounter in a Paris hotel room while high on opium and hashish.  O’Neal was only 12 and Griffith was 18.

Throughout the late 70’s, Griffith worked on TV movies, mini-series and small roles in film.  She appeared in the movie Roar with her mother in 1978.

In 1982, she married her second husband, actor Steven Bauer (best known as  Manny Ribera in the Brian De Palma’s Scarface.)  The couple had a son together in 1985 and divorced in 1987.

Melanie Griffith Body Double (1984)

Griffith’s big break came in Brian De Palma’s 1984 thriller, Body Double.

De Palma was a “student of Hitchcock” which is sort of a polite way of saying that he ripped off the master of suspense shamelessly.  Body Double borrows liberally from Hitchcock classics, Vertigo and Rear Window.

Griffith played a porn star who, you know what, I’m not going to explain the plot.  It’s silly and anything I can tell you about it would constitute a spoiler.  She played a porn star, okay?

Originally, De Palma intended to cast an actual porn star in the role.  But you have to imagine the idea of casting Tippi Hedren’s daughter was too much for the Hitchcock-obsessed director to resist.

Body Double was mostly panned by critics.  And understandably so.  It’s hard not to laugh at the film’s excesses.  It’s hard to tell whether or not De Palma intends this as a Hitchcock satire or an homage.  While most critics dismissed the film, many singled out Griffith for praise.

The movie flopped at the box office.  But it developed a cult following on video.

It is seriously ridiculous.  Just watch Vertigo instead.

Next: Something Wild and Cherry 2000

Posted on January 5, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 137 Comments.

  1. DePalma obviously ‘barrowed’ from Hitchcock a bit too often, but I still have a soft spot for him because he gave us “The Untouchables” (a movie I love)

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    • …wherein he switched from ripping of Hitchcock and ripped off Eisenstein!

      THE UNTOUCHABLES really is a great movie, though. DePalma at least has good taste in the directors from which he steals.

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      • I don’t remember the exact quote, but I believe Hitchcock himself said that if you are going to steal, steal from the best.

        Funny enough, this season of American Horror Story has been ripping off DePalma something fierce.

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  2. The saddest part about this article is that Cherry 2000 is the best film mentioned. Was she really A-list?

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    • I’ve never seen Cherry 2000, but I’d stand behind “Something Wild” as a really good flick with Griffith in a starring role. Nobody’s Fool is very good, but her role is small. Night Moves is also worth a look and if you watch each of those last two you could compare her nude scenes pre and post boob job. If you were so inclined.
      Griffith was never a very good actress, but for a little while she was definitely a target starlet who played leads in major releases. Most of them were bad, but that’s a different conversation. Milk Money sure didn’t get a wide release based on Ed Harris being in it. The same is true about Born Yesterday and her costars there.

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      • I too have never seen Cherry 2000. Our local video store had a copy as a kid and based on the cover I always assumed Griffith played a sex robot. I was genuinely shocked to discover that was not the case.

        Something Wild is a great flick with Griffith at her prime. Do yourself a big favor and check it out.

        I remember really enjoying Nobody’s Fool. But yes, her role is small.

        If you want to see Griffith’s boobs pre and post op, you need only watch Bonfire of the Vanities. Although she remains fully clothed and the movie sucks.

        I was honestly shocked how much Griffith has appeared topless on screen. It is a good thing I didn’t research this one during work hours. Finding clothed pictures for some films was sometimes a bit of a challenge.

        Working Girl is formula, but decent. I never understood the accolades it or Griffith received. But it’s at least watchable.

        I actually saw Stormy Monday in theaters and it’s not bad either. I have heard okay things about some of her other films like Now and Then.

        Honestly, I don’t think her resume is any worse than most actresses. And I was genuinely surprised by how many awards nominations and good reviews she got leading up to Working Girl.

        Once she was thrust into the spotlight, I think the luster wore off and critics realized she wasn’t a great actress.

        Daffy nailed the explanation of what made Griffith A-list. The definition of A-list is that you can get movies green-lit. Griffith had that power from Working Girl through much of the 90s.

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        • ScreamingDoom

          Cherry 2000 (if you’re remotely still interested) is the story of a rich douchebag Of The Future who owns a sex robot (the titular Cherry) which he breaks via a spirited round of sex in washing machine suds.

          On going to Ye Olde Sex Robote Shoppe, he discovers that the model sex robot he had is no longer in production, replaced by newer, better models. While the salesman tries to get him sold on a newer model, the guy is obsessed with the old model, so decides to take her brain (a small computer chip that was salvaged from the sexbot wreckage) on a quest to find the same model body.

          The catch is that the only place which may still have one is a violent Mad Max type area controlled by brutal warlords. So El Rich Douchebag hires Melanie Griffith as a mercenary to protect his ass on the trip to get his robot girlfriend back.

          He ends up abandoning his reactivated Cherry 2000 to save Griffith’s chararacter’s life after he falls in love with her.

          Its better than any movie with that plot synopsis has any right to be.

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          • Actually, your plot synopsis sounds kind of awesome. Now I’m going to have to watch it.

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            • The movie just works as entertainment. The lead – David Andrews – is basically C list (he is one of those guys who seems to be in everything) – but has presence here. Griffith and the other actors do well too.

              I understand the studio had no idea how to market it- and basically went to video/cable- where I saw it.

              Oh- why do studios greenlight films that they have no idea how to market?

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              • I really like that last question. I think there are a few possible answers.

                1. Regime change. A studio head greenlights a movie he likes and then gets sacked. The new studio head has no interest in the project. If it’s a success, the credit goes to his predecessor. Sometimes, a studio head will sabotage a movie to make their predecessor look bad. See John Carter.

                2. The studio didn’t realize what they were making. The studio thought they were greenlighting something mainstream and the director went off and did their own thing.

                3. Ambition. The studio head generally likes a project and wants to make it as a personal or prestige project. They aren’t worried about the marketing at the time.

                4. Keeping talent happy. Sometimes, studios make a movie to keep a star happy. In order to get the actor to make the movie they want to make, they also have to make something they may have no interest in. See Christopher Reeve making Street Smart in exchange for Superman IV.

                5. Ineptitude. These days, movies get green lit based on a concept. Filming starts before the script is done because the release date is more important to the studio than the quality of the film. It’s no wonder they see the finished project and have no idea what to do with it.

                Those are just a few possibilities off the top of my head.

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                • I’ve heard about the regime change thing- I don’t get it in the case of John Carter- which was a bit too expensive to eat for political reasons (you’d think)

                  I also get that promoting a film can be expensive- and if they think a film will bomb- throwing good marketing money after bad production costs doesn’t make sense-

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                  • In the case of John Carter, Disney did not want it to be a hit. It would have reflected well on the previous regime, which the new studio head did not want. However, there was an additional motive…

                    Pixar has been the lifeblood of Disney animation for quite some time. Without Pixar, Disney would have been getting it’s ass kicked by Dreamworks starting with Shrek up through around Tangled. In short, Disney didn’t want those Pixar guys moving on to other projects.

                    To put an even finer point on it, the new regime was in place at the studio because the live action studio had been floundering. When the animation department was floundering, Lasseter and the Pixar guys were given control over Disney feature animation and they righted the ship. The new studio head didn’t want that to happen with live action movies.

                    Brad Bird had been trying to make a live action movie for quite some time. He was eventually able to do so with MI4 at Paramount. It was a huge hit. Disney was concerned that if another Pixar guy had a hit right out of the gate, all the Pixar guys would want to move into live action. They would either take over Disney’s live action productions or move to other studios like Bird did.

                    This was a nightmare scenerio for Rich Ross. It was to be avoided at all cost. Making his predecessor look bad was just icing on the cake. So he set out to sink the movie. The idea was for it to fail. But it failed more spectacularily than anyone intended. Ross was aiming for a disappointment. What he got was a bomb which cost the studio a huge write-down. Ultimately, it cost him his job even though he did not greenlight the movie.

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                    • Wow- thanks for the detail

                      I usually don’t like people losing their jobs- but Rich Ross’s little Machiavellian plan makes it hard not to root against him.

                      What’s missing is the interests of Disney shareholders- they should chase Ross with pitchforks and torches.(to end with a movie reference)

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                    • Ah, Rich Ross. I’ll share a little more background on some behind the scenes Disney shenanigans as it’s one of my favorite subjects.

                      Ross was one of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s cronies. He was successful at the Disney Channel. But most seriously doubted he would be cut out for running the studio. He had a reputation for being an asshat while running the kid’s cable channel. Sure enough, he proved to be in over his head running the studio. Even so, Iger didn’t want to fire him.

                      Enter Pixar chief John Lasseter. Lasseter was furious. John Carter director Andrew Stanton is a friend of his. He’s close to all the Pixar guys. And the politics of the situation were not lost on him. A message was being sent. Pixar guys should stay in their place. Lasseter decided to throw some of his impressive weight around.

                      He gave Iger an ultimatum. Fire Ross or I retire early.

                      To put that in perspective, let’s back up a little to look at how Iger got his job in the first place. His predecessor, Michael Eisner, had a long history of building up creative partners just to alienate them. But (like Iger) he kept a stranglehold on the Disney board of directors that basically let him get away with anything he wanted. That is up until he pissed off Lasseter.

                      At the time, Eisner had a couple of feuds within Disney. He was in the process of chasing off the Weinsteins from Miramax. That was acceptable to the board as Miramax had floundered in recent years. But Disney’s contract with Pixar was due to expire. Eisner had been tweaking Lasseter for years. He kept expecting a Pixar movie to flop and he was pretty vocal about it.

                      After a disasterous screening of Finding Nemo (directed, ironically, but Andrew Stanton of John Carter infamy), Eisner told everyone who would listen that the movie would flop and he would renegotiate Pixar’s contract when they were at their weakest. Of course, the Pixar guys fixed what was wrong with Nemo (largely by casting the brilliant Albert Brooks as Nemo’s dad) and the movie was a huge commercial and critical hit.

                      Eisner also played games with the video release of The Incredibles. In a move that would make Rich Ross proud, Eisner sunk the video release of The Incredibles with minimal marketing. Why? He wanted to send Lasseter a message. Leave Disney and you won’t enjoy the benefits of our distribution system. Lasseter received the message. But rather than bow down to Eisner, he decided it was time for a change.

                      Lasseter went around telling everyone that he would not resign with Disney under any circumstances if Eisner was still CEO. Eisner started talking about making Toy Story 3 without Lasseter. It was basically a threat. Leave and you’ll have no control over what happens to your creations. But once again, the threat backfired and further motivated Lasseter to make other arrangements.

                      To make matters worse, he was being courted by Jeffrey Katzenberg at Dreanworks. Katzenberg had been Eisner’s right hand man during the renaisance of Disney animation. The two had a bitter falling out which resulted in Katzenberg leaving to form Dreakworks with David Geffen and Stephen Spielberg.

                      Meanwhile, Roy Disney (Walt’s nephew) was running a Save Disney campaign to oust Eisner. The feud with Pixar was all the leverage Disney needed. Faced with a choice betwenn losing Pixar and keeping Eisner or replacing Eisner and possibly keeping Pixar, the Disney board chose the latter. Eisner was forced out and his latest right hand man (Iger) ascended to the head of the company. This let Iger start his reign looking like a hero by purchasing Pixar basically because he wasn’t Michael Eisner.

                      Fast forward a few years later and Lasseter is locking horns with Iger. Reportedly, the two men don’t like each other. Lasseter is looking to retire. So he can’t pull the “him or me” power play with Disney’s board of directors. But he could force Iger to fire his boy Ross or be faced with Lasseter’s early retirement.

                      Further, Lasseter flexed his muscles over Ross’ replacement. He didn’t want another Disney crone. So he demanded Iger hire an outsider which lead to Alan Horn being hired to replace Ross. Iger was not remotely happy with the move. Reportedly, there is tension between Horn and Iger as Horn dislikes Iger’s “all tent-pole” strategy for the studio.

                      Probably a lot more info than you wanted. But if you want to read more about Disney politics during the Eisner years, pick up the excellent book Disney War. It’s fascinating stuff.

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        • CHERRY 2000 is GREAT, and if you haven’t seen it, you should definitely put it on your to-watch list.

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          • Done. I remember seeing it in the video store during the 80s and I don’t think it was ever checked out. I made a lot of assumptions based on the cover art. But it sounds like fun.

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    • She was A-list but she did not have any big successes when she was on the A-list (sadly!).

      Working Girl was the film that made her A-list. Prior to that, she had never been in a remotely successful film at the box office. Fear City and Cherry 2000 went straight to VHS, and although she got critical acclaim for Something Wild, hardly anyone saw it when it came out. Stormy Monday (which was produced overseas) only played in 49 theaters.

      Michelle Pfeiffer was Fox’s choice for the role of Tess. According to Griffith, Mike Nichols had to fight to get her cast. It’s amazing how many great roles Pfeiffer turned down, what was she thinking? I think it’s foolish of her, because she made crappy movies in substitute of the great ones she turned down.

      Like Sharon Stone, Griffith’s only hit film was her breakthrough film (if we exclude “Total Recall” for Stone, since it was only a small role). But at least Griffith’s breakthrough film is one she can be proud of. She really deserved the Oscar that year imo.

      I think she would be forced to be working more often these days if she wasn’t sharing a bank account with Banderas.

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  3. I’ve got a soft spot for DePalma. I can’t really take him as seriously as I do lots of other directors, but almost without fail he delivers at least one complete WTF? moment in each movie that just transcends any questions about quality. Typically these scenes are shot in a way so that anybody who has seen more than one DePalma film can immediately identify that something crazy is about to happen. I wonder if anybody has compiled these scenes on YouTube?

    Have you seen Night Moves? LeBlog favorite James Woods also shows up, as does one of the 12 Angry fellows, Edward Binns. Night Moves is uneven and drags in places, but it has some of those hard to believe scenes that pay off a patient viewer.

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    • I’ve got a soft spot for De Palma too. I love Carrie. I haven’t seen Untouchables in years, but I remember liking it. I plan to rewatch it soon. Blow Out is good. Even his Hitchcock homage/spoof Body Double is pretty damn entertaining. Same with Scarface and Carlito’s Way.

      I have not seen Night Moves, But I am intrigued.

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  4. I think she’s a special actress who would have (maybe) been more successful if she wasn’t so concerned with having a good time.

    Most people either love Griffith or hate her, no middle ground. For me she’s always a treat to watch, and I think some of her performances were unfairly dismissed because they were in bad movies. She was very good in Milk Money but people couldn’t move beyond the silliness of the premise. Same with Crazy in Alabama, she’s so watchable in that even though the film is ridiculous.

    She got lucky with Working Girl because it was a great role in a movie that was pre-packaged for success thanks to Harrison Ford being in it. Notice Ford got top billing despite only having a supporting role. The same tactic was used for What Lies Beneath.

    Her best performance was in Another Day in Paradise (worthy of an Oscar nomination if you ask me) but the movie itself wasn’t that great, and did barely any box office.

    ‘Now and Then’ is basically a girls version of Stand by Me, which should tell you right off the bat whether or not it’s your kind of movie. I thought it was okay except for the casting of Rosie O’Donnell as the adult version of Christina Ricci. Madness.

    Griffith’s mother, Tippi Hedren, is way more underrated than she is. People are finally starting to acknowledge her talent and calling her an “icon”, but what’s the point now that she’s an old lady and there aren’t any great parts for her? Hedren has spent 99% of her career doing Z-list roles when she should have been a star. Anyway, that’s another story.

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    • For the most part I agree with you. Although I have always been kind of in the middle about Griffith. I enjoyed a few of her movies in the 80s. Not enough to call myself a fan. But I enjoyed Something Wild a lot and couldn’t wait to see what she did next.

      Like a lot of actors, Griffith was good in the right role, with the right director and co-stars. Something Wild and Working Girl are examples of when the chemistry worked. No actress could have saved a lot of her later works. From Bonfire on, there were a lot of bad choices.

      Her party girl persona and substance abuse sure didn’t help matters. Neither did being married to Don Johnson who most people hated after Miami Vice was off the air.

      Ford and Weaver were definitely the selling points in Working Girl. There is a poster in which you can barely see Griffith standing behind them. But she did anchor the movie.

      I think that movie, while good, was over-rated at the time. I think critics were fawning over it because it was directed by Mike Nichols. Griffith benefitted from that.

      As for Tippi Hedren, it’s been a while but if I remember correctly Hitchcock more or less ruined her career. He was a talent director but a real prick.

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      • I agree, that nothing good came from being married to Don Johnson. He’s trash and has a horrible reputation with women. Also, Steven Bauer got arrested again last month for driving on a suspended license with his girlfriend smoking dope in the car. She sure can pick ‘em. I read an article a few years back, I think it was about her last rehab stay, that quoted “a source” saying without Banderas in her life she would be dead.

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        • Yeah, Banderas has definitely been a good presence in her life. I remember people being upset in the 90s when Griffith and Banderas both left their spouses and got married so soon after. But in retrospect, it has definitely worked out for Griffith.

          Professionally, the problem with Johnson was that not only was she married to a deadbeat, she kept making movies with him. It was like the friend you stop hanging out with because of their reprehensible spouse. If you could just see the friend, you would. But since they always bring their lesser half around, eventually you just loose their number.

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      • …and there was this

        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ULI5kolBpAk

        >shudder<

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    • Tippi Hedren has her own interesting “What the Hell Happened to…” story:

      http://styleblazer.com/131294/shunned-by-hollywood-15-of-tinsel-towns-most-notorious-pariahs/12/

      When Tippi Hedren was hired to star in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, it seemed her career was be over before it started. The actress famously rejected the sexual advances of the director, who reacted by subjecting her to real-life torment on the film’s set. Following The Birds completion Hitchcock then refused to let Hedren out of her contract and sold it to Universal. After refusing to become a television performer, the studio had her all but blacklisted from mainstream movies. The actress subsequently saw her career devolve into TV guest appearances and the occasional independent release. Hedren’s experience would be vindicated when it became the subject of a tell-all HBO original movie entitled The Girl which saw release last year.

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      • I think it’s the biggest waste in Hollywood history. Her performance in Marnie is one of the all-time greats, she should have been so much bigger. That article is right in a way that her career was over before it started.

        But eventually Hitchcock died, and wasn’t still blacklisting her….where were her roles?

        That’s 1997. Anyone seeing them on the street would be paying more attention to Tippi. She could have still been a leading lady then! She really only starred in two films. In the 47 years since her contract with Hitchcock ended it’s shocking she has had no major roles, she is always working.

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        • I’m a big fan of Hitchcock’s work. But man, was he an asshole!

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          • The industry was downright sadistic to women back then- note that Hitchcock sold her contract- it was Universal that killed her career.

            Didn’t Hitchcock’s career go south soon after? Maybe he should have been nicer to her and kept her around-

            Now that I think of it- I think Grace Kelly played her cards well-

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            • Industry wasn’t THAT sadistic when she got blacklisted….it was the mid 1960s….the studio system was at its end. Her situation was unique in that she had no connections outside of Hitchcock, he had plucked her out of obscurity and put her under contract when she had no previous acting experience. (She entered the business 7 years after Kelly retired, their situations can’t really be compared.) Also, Tippi was, and is, an exceptional actress not just a pretty face (which Kelly was IMO despite her undeserved Oscar). She was so phenomenal in Marnie…it’s my favorite performance of all time, can’t praise it enough. In an ideal world she would have won an Oscar for that film and become the biggest female star in the world. She has worked constantly over the decades in low budget stuff, but no directors have stepped up and given her a role that’s worthy of her.

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              • I need to rewatch Marnie. I got to see it at a Hitchcock film festival many, many years ago. And at the time, I was mildly disappointed in it. I was riding high on discovering Hitchcock classics and Marnie didn’t live up to Vertigo and Rear Window. But that’s an unfair measuring stick. Very few films live up to that standard.

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              • I don’t get your argument- you say Tippi Hedren was an exceptional actress (and a star- after The Birds)- but had no power in Hollywood- BUT- the studio wasn’t that bad in blacklisting her!

                I think you overrate her in Marnie- I think the part needed an experienced actress- and Hedren doesn’t completely pull it off- not really her fault- it was a very challenging part.

                She certainly should have worked more- but Hollywood was tough then- hey they blacklisted Oscar winner Cliff Robertson for whistleblowing!

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                • As stated previously, my memory of Marnie is hazy. But my recollection was that she didn’t quite pull it off either. Lack of experience was surely a factor. Also, you have to question how much of her performance can be attributed to Hitchcock’s direction. He may have been an asshole, but he was also a master director. He went to great lengths to elicit the performance he wanted to out of Hedren.

                  I’ll refrain from making too strong of a case one way or another until I get a chance to rewatch the movie. It has probably been 20 years since I saw it.

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                  • I actually think Hitchcock being an asshole to her was good for her performance….she was playing a frustrated woman being forced to stay in a situation she didn’t want to be in, and that’s pretty much what she was IRL at the time.

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                    • Yeah. That was his excuse. And there’s probably something to it. But giving a young Melanie Griffith a doll of her mom in a coffin can’t be blamed on eliciting a performance out of her mother.

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                • It wasn’t the studio that blacklisted her, it was Hitchcock in and of himself who kept her out of work. Powerful and influential Hollywood figures can do that. It still happens in more recent times.

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            • Hollywood is still a pretty harsh place for actresses. But the old studio system was nightmarish. Hitchcock was one of the crueller men in the system – especially where Hedron was concerned. I think when he was younger, he was okay having a flirtatious relationship with Ingrid Bergman or Grace Kelly. But when he was older, he just figured he could make and break starlets like Hedron.

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          • Yes, he was a jacka$s to basically any actress who wasn’t Grace Kelly. I also hated how he basically screwed over Bernard Herrmann. Despite his great music for Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, & Marnie, Hermann was given the boot by Hitch because he suddenly thought his music wasn’t good enough. I can only hope Spielberg never does the same to John Williams.

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            • I think Spielberg knows how much he owes to Williams. Williams frequently makes Spielberg’s movies. I have seen some critics complain that Spielberg relies on Williams too much for emotional impact and should reign him in.

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      • Re: Ryan O’Neal – what a monster!

        http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=10137912#page:showThread,10137912,2

        Tippi Hedren must have been a shi**y parent too–all these stories about Melanie Griffith during her adolescence make her out to be such an uncontrolled and selfish brat.

        by: Anonymous reply 27 07/09/2011 @ 04:30PM

        She allowed her fourteen year old daughter to move in with Don Johnson. Not exactly Mother Of The Year.

        by: Anonymous reply 31 07/09/2011 @ 09:25PM

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  5. Cherry 2000 is a ridiculous but fun romp about a guy named Sam with a sex robot that shorts out after getting wet. Sam gets Griffith to help him track down a replacement robot in post-nuclear war America.

    This film and Air America are among my favorite movies from the late 80s. And both have Tim Thomerson.

    When I first saw Cherry 2000, I thought Griffith was totally hot – and implants were something she definitely didn’t need. But she didn’t age well in my opinion, and her voice always grated on me.

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  6. Did you get my email about that essay, Lebeau?

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  7. Working Girl was so awful. Melanie Griffith’s performance is one of the worst ever to get a Best Actress Oscar nomination. It’s only worth watching if you love the song “Let the River Run” (as I do).

    Nobody’s Fool and The Milagro Beanfield War are better movies, but Nobody’s Fool is the only one where Griffith actually gave an OK performance. Her role isn’t as interesting as it is in the Richard Russo novel, but her performance isn’t too bad.

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    • I won’t say WG was awful. But it was very formulaic. Even at the time, I wondered what all the fuss was about. And I didn’t think her star making performance was nearly good enough to warrant an Oscar. Like you, I thought the song was the best part of the movie.

      I’ve never seen MBW. But I agree with you on Nobody’s Fool.

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    • Melanie Griffith in Working Girl:

      http://oscarnerd.blogspot.com/2012/07/melanie-griffith-in-working-girl.html

      Melanie Griffith got her only Oscar nomination to date for playing Tess McGill, a secretary who’s determined to make it in the business world in a very unorthodox way in Mike Nichols’ Best Picture nominated movie, Working Girl. Griffith was considered a front-runner for the prize, though I don’t believe that she ever was a serious threat for the win, especially considering her lightweight role and movie. I guess Sigourney might have gotten ahead of her (along with Jodie and Great Glenn), but I really don’t know. Her family’s Hollywood connections might have helped a bit.

      I’m astonished to say this, but I actually loved Working Girl for the second time. I was especially stunned, considering the fact that I didn’t use to be a big fan of it. However, now I see what it is: a lovely, extremely entertaining product of pop culture. I’m not sure if it really deserved Best Picture and Director, but I’m just glad it received those nods. Also, I’m extremely disappointed that Siggy lost the Oscar: it was such a great opportunity to reward her. And I’m saying this despite one fact: that my actual vote in Supporting Actress would go to Working Girl, but to a different actress (though I go back and forth between her and Siggy and I love Michelle as well). Yep, I’m on the really uncrowded and unpopular Joan Cusack bandwagon right now: my goodness, that woman just rocks in her tiny part and overshadows the rest of her cast in a blink. I’d love to go on and on how much I loved her but I constantly remind myself that this review should be about Melanie, not Joan. :-) If you’re interested, I’ll tell you why as soon as I get back.

      Whatever happened to Melanie Griffith? I was just going to say it’s time to go to television, Melanie, I can see that she already has a pilot coming up. Let’s just hope that it brings her back to conversation since I’m really interested how she’s working as a middle-aged actress. I guess an Emmy and another Golden Globe could give some boost to her career. Although I cannot say many other movies of hers beside Working Girl, I’m really rooting for her career.

      Melanie’s nomination for Working Girl is one of the most unpopular and hated nominations ever given out. Many fail to see how she was nominated over the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Susan Sarandon or Michelle Pfeiffer (for Married to the Mob). True, but is this the reason why people dislike her so actively here? Partly, in my opinion. Personally, I can clearly see why I used to hate her here: when I watched her movie on tv years and years ago, I got used to her dubbed voice, where the actress sounded like a purr of a cat. And I loved that voice, of course. Compared to that, Melanie sounded like a tortured, not a pampered cat. However, this time I knew what to expect and I wasn’t annoyed by her at all. In fact, nowadays I prefer this voice to this character, it just fits her more. Tess should be clumsy and unlucky, why should she have an awesome voice?

      That being said, I don’t think the Hungarian dubbing came to picture to many others who hate Melanie here. I suppose this is a mystery I’m never going to solve. Let me just say: I absolutely love Melanie’s Tess McGill. From the first moment to the last, I liked this woman, cared about her, rooted for her. You know, I just wanted what Tess wanted: I wanted her to be successful. And I refuse to feel guilt about this opinion of mine. In fact, I kind of feel like I’m a member of a very cool and elite club who really get this performance.

      I suppose my whole attitude towards Melanie is identical with my feelings for her movie. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece of any kind, it just relaxes me and makes me feel good, even for that short period of time I’m watching her. I think you just have to know exactly what to expect from her and you can’t be disappointed. Don’t expect a very emotional, layered portrayal of a woman who’s struggling in the business world. There’s no real suffering going on there and Melanie doesn’t try to dig really deep into her character. While there are some similarities between the two ladies, her transformation is quite far from what we can see from Julie Walters in Educating Rita. Working Girl’s and Melanie’s main goal was entertaining and no matter what people can talk into this film, it’s nothing more than great fun. Neither is Melanie’s performance.

      Still, I liked the development in Tess’ character. As I said, it’s not a significant transformation, but I was still very much impressed by the fact that Melanie showed that Tess starts to resemble the likes of Siggy Weaver’s character, while also remaining a simple girl from Staten Island as she can never really change. Although Joan Cusack steals the scene where this is stated, Melanie’s pretty good on her own right.

      She might be weak at delivering some of the lines or doesn’t make them as strong as they could have been, but being clumsy might have just fit this character quite well. In fact, being a bit weak made this character even more realistic and brought her even closer to the audience. This way, even the occasional mistakes turn into something fun.

      And no, you can’t really ignore the fact how much the audience gets close to this woman, simply because she’s so cute. That topless hoovering scene is so lovely despite lasting for like 3 seconds. These kinds of ordinary moments make this performance so special to me. It gives joy to an ordinary person because they can think ‘Wow, it’s like watching myself.’ Some might look down on that, but sometimes you just have to loose yourself while watching a movie and leave your prejudices behind, very much like in the case of Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. Although I wouldn’t really put Melanie on the same level, every once in a while, I had the same feeling (minus the bitterness).

      I don’t care if it’s fashionable or not, I love Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. I sympathized with her and felt for her character throughout the movie, no matter if she was hoovering topless or changing her look or interacting with her men. I laughed with her, got sad with her and I just always wanted her to get to the top. I loved Melanie’s clear, almost naive emotions, her optimism, her glowing, funny, joyous personality. A thrill for the dreamers and the naives who think they can get that office at the top. If you’re willing to leave your cynicism behind, you’ll love her. Pure feel-good fun.

      Like

    • Grown women with baby voices:

      http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=9694763#page:showThread,9694763

      I loved Working Girl but Griffith almost ruined it for me. Listening to her coo about business ventures/mergers, etc. was stretching the imagination to the point of incredulity.

      by: Anonymous reply 18 10/04/2010 @ 03:14PM

      Like

  8. TBH i find Melanie’s WTHH not really exciting as some1 like John Travolta (who has had many ups and downs / comebacks) or batshit crazy Sean Young.

    Btw, i think when u make a WTHH, u should coincide it with smth like a new movie of the actor/actress etc. Like, u could save the Arnold WTHH later when his next movie cameout (btw, have u seen its trailer – so DTR it’s embarrassing). Eg; there’s a new Sean Penn gansta movie coming out and u could do a WTHH on him, but im afraid reading his WTHH wont be fun.

    Like

    • Travolta and Young provided a lot of juicy material. I think Griffith is one of the loonier entries, but not on the Kilmer/Young scale. Basinger and Snipes are up there too. I think part of the problem with Griffith (and one of the reasons I was reluctant to write her up) is that she has made so few memorable movies.

      I actually rushed to get Arnold’s entry done BEFORE The Last Stand was released. I was worried that he would stage a comeback that would make him inelligible for WTHH treatment. In theory, the people I write about shouldn’t have a movie coming to theaters to tie into. Although that is not always the case.

      I’ll give you an example. I have been contemplating writing up Catherine Zeta Jones for some time now. She’s definitely off her A-game these days. But she has 3 movies being released in 2013! So it feels premature to write her up now.

      Also, from a selfish perspective, I have to do a lot fewer updates for articles about actors who are no longer working. ;)

      When chosing a subject, I usually don’t know at the outset how juicy the article will be. Sometimes, I dig in and see there really isn’t all that much there. Jennifer Jason Leigh was an example. She’s practically drama-free. With Griffith, there was actually more good material than I was expecting thanks to her subtstance abuse, multiple marriages and whatnot. Plus, she has inspired a game on the FB page.

      I use the poll to get some reader feedback on who to write-up next. I used to have an “Other” category for write-ins. But nobody who voted “other” ever wrote anything in, so I got rid of it. If there is anyone you want to see featured, let me know. Historically, I have taken requests.

      Like

  9. Why is “Working Girl” so overrated? Well personally I think it is because when “Working Girl” was released it was probabily the first film of his genre. Today movies that talk about business-women are so many and they all have the same cliches, but probabily “Working Girl” was something of a pioneer movie in his genre (comedy regarding businesswomen). If you see it today you say “nice, but it looks like many others”, but probabily in 1987 movies about business women were not so common so it looked like something new and fresh while now, 25 years later, this genre has been so abused that “Working Girl” look just like all the movies of that genre.

    So , in my opinion, the reason why “Working Girl” is so over-rated is that, when it was relesead it looked like a novelty that refected the women emancipation process happened during the 70s an 80s. Now it look just like a nice comedy that has the same script and stereotypes we saw many times. This is according to me why “working Girl” is so overrated

    Like

    • To a large degree, I agree with you. Like Griffith, WG hasn’t aged well. That’s not so much a flaw of the movie as it is a sign of changing times.

      But when I saw the movie in 87, I still thought it was over-rated. Good, but not great. And certainly not deserving of all of the Oscar noms.

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      • In 1987 i wasn’t even born so i watched “Working Girl” on TV something like 5 years ago. I was curious because of all that Oscar nominations, which are a rare result for a comedy, and my opinion is of a nice movie but nothing that deserves a “Best picture” nomination. I think that the reason for all that nominations were because Academy appreciated a movie reflecting a social change. Academy loves to send social or political messages so maybe that’s why all that nominations.

        PS and OT

        By the way, speaking about Awards, check your e-mail tomorrow, you’ll understand ;)

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        • Well, now you’re making me feel old! ;)

          You’re probably right about the social change aspect too. There were a lot of reasons for the Academy to get swept up in WG. Big name director, positive social message, an inspiring song, supporting turns by Ford and Weaver, a star-making lead performance by Hollywood royalty.

          Looking at the nominees that year, it was actually a pretty competitive year. Charles Chrichton was nominated for Best Director for A Fish Called Wanda, but the movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. Boo! Tom Hanks was nominated for Best Actor for Big, but the movie didn’t get a Best Picture nom. I can live with that even though I much prefer Big to WG.

          There was also Married to the Mob and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I know these aren’t the kinds of movies the Academy typically nominates. But they are every bit as worthy as Working Girl. Heck, even Die Hard could have gotten that nomination.

          I will try to remember to check my e-mail tonight after the kids get to sleep. It’s been a crazy busy week. But I look forward to whatever you’re sending.

          Like

  10. Way too little attention to CECIL B. DeMENTED, Lebeau. It’s actually a movie acknowledging what you’d written up to that point.

    Like

    • I have to admit, I haven’t seen it. I have never been a John Waters fan. So I tend to acknowledge his movies but not comment on them very much. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it on cable.

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      • Waters is great. The movie itself is about a gang of guerrilla filmmakers who have taken the “guerrilla” part a bit too far, and kidnap a washed-up former A-list actress to force her to star in their movie. Griffith is the actress in question, and it jabs at the sorts of movies she’d been making for a while, and what critics had been saying about her. Your article above could almost be a companion piece to it.

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    • Star Derailing Role:

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StarDerailingRole

      Melanie Griffith in Cecil B Demented. In the mid to late 1980s, she was on the rise with films like Body Double, Something Wild and Working Girl. Once the 1990s reached, Griffith’s career began to falter once she appeared in poorly-received box office disappointments like The Bonfire of the Vanities, Shining Through, Milk Money and Mulholland Falls. 2000’s Cecil B. Demented marked the end of her run as a leading lady, as Griffith has become known these days for being the wife of Antonio Banderas as well as some failed plastic surgeries.

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      • Those “derailing” movies did better @the box office than the ones that put her on the rise (Working Girl exempt). She had no derailing role, a bad movie did not kill her career. She stopped getting quality roles when she started looking terrible, to the point where she couldn’t even get indie roles (which any actress with her credentials should be able to get).

        Plastic surgery did not fail her. Initially, it enhanced her. Compare the way her face looked in Working Girl to how she looked in Milk Money, the improvement was because of good plastic surgery. If she had cleaned up her lifestyle THEN, she could have maintained that beauty. But she didn’t, so her looks deteriorated to the point where no surgery could restore them.

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        • It’s hard to pick a single role that derails a career. In Griffith’s case, I think she was on the decline long before working with John Waters. I think the train started coming off the tracks with Bonfire of the Vanities and never fully recovered after that.

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          • Would you say that she was a one-hit-wonder? Bonfire was only the 2nd movie she made after becoming a star, yet it was the beginning of her decline.

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            • I suppose. That’s not a term I use very often with regards to actors. True, she only had one movie that was a critical and box office triumph. But she had several movies that were successful to some degree either with critics or at the box office. I’m awfully fond of Something Wild.

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              • She doesn’t have a profile on boxofficemojo like most actors, but I found a site (the-numbers.com) that lists the box office stats for every theatrically released movie she was in: http://www.the-numbers.com/person/58610401-Melanie-Griffith

                Ouch! Working Girl was by far her most successful film, but it “only” made $63 million. Her 2nd highest grossing film after that was Nobody’s Fool with $39 million, followed by Pacific Heights with $29 million and Now and Then with $27m. Everything other film was a total flop (not counting Stuart Little 2, since she was just a voiceover in it).

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                • Some writers have also cited her 17 month absence from movie screens (between Working Girl’s closing in April 1989 and Pacific Heights’ opening in September 1990) as a detriment to her career. It’s only 17 months, but during that time, Meg did When Harry Met Sally, Demi did Ghost, and Julia Roberts did Pretty Woman—devaluing the “hot” status that Melanie had briefly gained after Working Girl.

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        • 10 Celebrities Who Should Have Never Attempted Plastic Surgery:

          http://surgery.answers.com/cosmetic-surgery/10-celebrities-who-should-have-never-attempted-plastic-surgery

          Melanie Griffith

          Thank goodness, Melanie has a husband who loves and adores her; her botched plastic surgery regrettably has transformed her face over the past several years. Hollywood seems obsessed with lips. In particular, the upper lip. Melanie has always had plump luscious lips but, apparently, she felt the need to go bigger. The result was an over-plumped upper lip that looks stretched and unnatural.

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  11. I was really looking forward to your Melanie Griffith article, sadly I’ve been laid low by a plethora of Winter ailments which have kept me away from the computer for most of the last week or so. As a result your other commentators have covered most of the points I would’ve raised.
    Rest assured your first WTHHT of 2013 was worth waiting for, and I especially enjoyed the background regarding Tom Hanks and the other shenanigans on The Bonfire of the Vanities.

    Time certainly hasn’t been kind to Melanie or her most famous film Working Girl. I was very taken with her ( and the film) at the time it was released, although I’m fairly certain I’ve never watched it since. It’s amazing to me that Working Girl is almost a quarter of a century old!

    Thanks for the mention as well, as always it’s much appreciated.

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  12. Somebody in the comments section of Daryl Hannah’s WTHHT entry, made an interesting observation about the decline of Melanie Griffith’s status as an A-list star by the end of the ’90s: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Flebeauleblog.com%2F2012%2F09%2F23%2Fwhat-the-hell-happened-to-daryl-hannah%2F%23comment-10675&h=rAQEONBbP Reggie | October 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm
    The outcome of Melanie Griffith’s career was predictable. She was the daughter of an actress, started acting as a child in the late 60s, spent years paying her dues before achieving stardom in the late 80s (Working Girl). She had a star career throughout the 90s, but none of her movies were hits.

    The question that frequently comes up is:

    Why has Griffith’s career been dead (and I mean REALLY dead–she makes Sharon Stone look like a superstar) since 2000? An actress doesn’t have to be a box-office draw to still get respectable roles after 40. So what’s the deal?

    Griffith was never a big time beauty (she couldn’t compete with Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Demi Moore, Meg Ryan), but because of her free-spirited sexy personality she can’t re-invent herself as a character actress either. In addition, she has returned to rehab in 2000 and 2009 which for a woman of her age is just embarrassing, and she looks awful because all the years of drinking and drugging have taken their toll on her appearance. There aren’t any roles that would fit her.

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    • Melanie Griffith in a way, seems like an older variation of Lindsay Lohan now when I think about it more. They both arguably got lucky in their “star making” roles (“Working Girl” and “Mean Girls” respectively) due in no small part to the talent involved (w/ “Mean Girls” it was mainly Tina Fey and Rachel McAdams). Both of their careers were part heavily derailed by their substance abuse, which ultimately took a drastic toll on their appearances.

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      • Sad but true about Lohan. She looks 45 and is only in her 20s.

        Tippi Hedren has looked better than Griffith for at least the last ten years, which is insane.

        She is the poster child for what a woman looks like after decades of hard living. Lohan is still young enough that if she gets clean she could look attractive again, but I’m afraid Griffith’s appearance is unrestorable at this point.

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    • Re: What the Hell Happened to Melanie Griffith?

      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000429/board/thread/209069139?d=219857328#219857328

      She made a series of bad films after Working Girl which did not help her career, including BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, PARADISE and SHINING THROUGH. The other problem was that Melanie was never a very good actor. Her baby voice seemed to reduce her ability to show any range. Add her many years of substance abuse and smoking which took its toll on her looks. She thought plastic surgery would restore her once beautiful looks, but it did the opposite. Made her look shocking! She’s an idiot for not kicking the smoking habit.

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    • I wonder if it will get a theatrical release.

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      • Poor Antonio! He is doing bisquits commercials here in Italy :D I’m not joking

        Like

        • That’s pretty common though even among A-list actors. They will do commercials in other countries that they would never do in the US to make a few extra bucks. The idea (pre-You Tube) is that their American fans would never see this stuff. But now, it’s out there for all the world to enjoy.

          Like

      • Yes he’s not the lone Hollywood celebrity to do commercials in other countries. Recently I remember also John Travolta and Jennifer Lopez doing commercials for italian industries. However here many mocked Banderas commercials because his acting carreer is not in his best moment.

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  13. Is anybody else in agreement that Melanie more than often, miscast in her roles (even though you can argue that she at the very least, gave heartfelt performances most of the time) like for example, “Shining Through” (where she played a spy) and “A Stranger Among Us” (as an undercover homicide detective)? It’s sort of hard to take Melanie Griffith that seriously as an actress given her distinctive, breathy little-girl voice.

    Like

    • Agreed. She was type cast early in her career as a prostitute, porn star, etc. And she was believeable in those roles. But once she classed up, she didn’t quite fit. Although she was cast well as a trophy wife in Bonfire. It’s not her fault that movie was awful. Almost everyone else in that movie was miscast, but she was fine.

      Like

      • Shining Through and A Stranger Among Us were simply bad movies. And she was difficult to cast because of her demeanor…she can’t do drama unless it’s a quirky character.

        It’s actually kind of surprising that she was frequently cast in sexpot roles in her 20s, because she wasn’t looking very attractive in those years. After rehab she lost weight and had some plastic surgery on her face (just a little), which significantly improved her appearance (she looked so much better in “Milk Money” than she did a decade earlier in “Body Double”). But she continued to live an unhealthy lifestyle, which deteriorated her looks, so she tried to compensate for that by having more plastic surgery. The result is the trainwreck she looks like today. And she still smokes.

        Fun fact: she claimed on Charlie Rose that she was “in serious consideration” for Helen Hunt’s Oscar-winning role in As Good As It Gets, but she was pregnant and they wouldn’t wait for her (which doesn’t makes sense because the movie came out 15 months after she’d given birth, but it’s what she claimed).

        Like

      • Melanie Griffith was apparently offered and turned down the role of Thelma (which later went to fellow WTHHT subject, Geena Davis) in “Thelma and Louise”.

        http://styleblazer.com/100782/14-actressess-who-declined-a-leading-role-in-a-blockbuster-movie/7/

        Like

    • How did Melanie Griffith get her career in film? Just watched, “Shining Through”, UGH!

      http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=12862583#page:showThread,12862583

      She was born into it – daughter of Tippi Hedren. she was also very pretty and sexy and involved in controversial relationships at a young age, so horny Hollywood producers and filmmakers wanted to get close to her. She also wasn’t a bad actress when she just relied on her unique charisma thing – but that got old really fast.

      by: Anonymous reply 2 06/12/2013 @ 03:23AM

      Being the daughter of Tippi Hedren didn’t get her much, Tippi’s career ended in the early 1960s. But it helped her get a foot in the door, I’m sure.

      Believe it or not, Melanie was considered quite the hottie, back in the 80s and 90s when she was fond of doing nude scenes. Critics babbled about her “morning-after sexiness”, and she inexplicably appeared in a series of hit films, films that would have been better with a real actress on board.

      by: Anonymous reply 4 06/12/2013 @ 03:32AM

      Being the daughter of Tippi Hedren didn’t get her much, Tippi’s career ended in the early 1960s. But it helped her get a foot in the door, I’m sure.

      She undressed very easily and that probably helped, too. Mainly in the 80s and possibly late 70s even, when she was maybe about 16

      by: Anonymous reply 6 06/12/2013 @ 03:51AM

      I enjoyed her in Wild Thing and Pacific Heights, and especially Cherry 2000 and Body Double. She wasn’t the worst actress by far in her 20’s and 30’s. Oh, and she gave a very poignant performance in Another Day in Paradise directed by Larry the perv Clark.

      by: girl reply 7 06/12/2013 @ 04:29AM

      Shining Through must be one of the worst Hollywood movies about the second world war ever made, it bombs on every level – there is no suspense as she is narrating the story in her old age, so we know she survives – it does though have Liam Neeson as a hot nazi daddy in his leather uniform, John Gielgud earning some money, and Joely Richardson wasted. Michael Douglas is a hoot too, going into Germany to rescue her but he does not speak German !

      Who thinks these up ?

      by: Anonymous reply 8 06/12/2013 @ 05:35AM

      There was that moment after her Oscar nomination that her management must’ve thought she was Meryl Streep or something thus this debacle (based on a romantic thriller by Susan Isaacs, I think) and the Sidney Lumet murder mystery in the Hasadic Jew community, A Stranger Among Us. Apparently she was Bertolucci’s first choice to play Jane Bowles in The Sheltering Sky, which is a bit like serving a Shirley Temple when bourbon is required.

      Still, she didn’t really want for work in the ’90s. She made film after film…

      by: Anonymous reply 9 06/12/2013 @ 06:51AM

      She definitely was the best thing in Body Double and that got her noticed by the public. She cemented her status with Something Wild and especially Working Girl, one of the best comedies of the 80s. Then came Shining Through and the rest is, sadly or mercifully, History (featuring the Holocaust aka That Thing Where Lots of Jews Died).

      Her ridiculous personal website didn’t help either. It was one of the first of its kind and so over the top it looked like something John Waters might have put in one of his movies (he did the next best thing and cast her in Cecil B. Demented).

      by: Anonymous reply 15 06/12/2013 @ 07:43AM

      Thanks for Mentioning Working Girl. She is aces in that movie and apparently coked to the gills while filming it. Didn’t she say she doesn’t really remember it? She obviously didn’t know her limitations as an actress. She should have never accepted the Shining Through or Stranger Among Us. She is about as far from Jewish as you can get. She also aged really fast, she was only 30ish during Pacific Heights and was pretty much told she looked like sh** and get some work done. Which she did again and again. She looks horrid now but she probably would anyway as she just aged really badly.

      by: Anonymous reply 16 06/12/2013 @ 08:17AM

      Working Girl is a fantastic movie in spite of Melanie Griffith, IMO. The writing’s great, the pace too, all the supporting cast are great (everyone, really), but her constant throat-clearing… used to drive me out of my mind when I was watching this movie as a kid. It’s become a favorite over the years, though.

      And the gorilla! Haha.

      Somehow it also led to this:

      by: Anonymous reply 18 06/12/2013 @ 08:31AM

      Griffith did a nice bit in that “Mullholland” thing. The one with Nick Nolte, not the lesbian one.

      Her teenage relationship with Don Johnson was an open scandal that gave her an “anything goes” sexual reputation. She also had a very well-deserved “anything goes” drug reputation. Both made her a popular girl in the bad old days.

      Bless [R15] for remembering that website. Griffith has 57 kinds of crazy but that was a spectacular example. No wonder her kids took drugs with her, who wouldn’t if they were around that all the time?

      by: Anonymous reply 20 06/12/2013 @ 08:40AM

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  14. Doug “The Nostalgia Critic” Walker’s review of “Milk Money”:

    Doug points out early on how creepy this movie comes across (in which a bunch of young boys want to see Melanie’s “hooker with a heart of gold” character naked) since it wants to play itself off as a whimsical, semi-family comedy.

    Like

  15. Quick correction: Something Wild came out in November ’86, not 85.

    Like

  16. Her voice. I cannot abide the sound of her voice! Even when she was a young, trailer trash ho playing young trailer trash ho roles, her voice gave me grand mal seizures.

    As she got older her squeaky emanations sounded ever phonier, incongruous and desperate. And what she’s had done to her face over the years unfortunately only magnifies that despair.

    She’s another on my long list of film creatures I detest.

    Thanks.

    Like

    • That is a perfect rant. Bravo!

      Like

    • A similar thing can be said about Kathleen Turner’s husky voice. When she was young, it was considered sexy. But as Kathleen got older and her looks began to fade (due to her health problems combined w/ her weight gain), her voice became very off-putting.

      Like

      • Shakespeare I Am Not

        To each his own I guess but I’ve always liked Kathleen Turner’s voice. That husky, smoky quality is what does it. She almost always sounds like she is hiding something or at least not telling ALL she knows.

        Like

        • I think the fact that Turner was cast as the voice of Jessica Rabbit – an obvious male fantasy – indicates that more than a few people found her voice a turn on.

          Like

    • Shakespeare I Am Not

      Pardon the late post but just started following this really well written blog. My ex-wife used to refer to it as using a “baby-doll” voice. Not to be mean, but it does a have a tonal quality that is somewhere barely south of nails on a chalkboard. I wonder sometimes though if it’s just an act.

      Like

      • There’s no such thing as a late post around here. We’re still discussing articles which were originally written years ago. In fact, I’m always going back and tweaking and updating old articles. They are all works-in-progress. So no need to apologize.

        I have wondered myself if the voice was an act. An attempt at a Marilyn Monroe kind of thing maybe. If so, it leaves a lot to be desired.

        Like

  17. Really That Bad? – The Bonfire of the Vanities:

    http://www.filmophilia.com/2011/10/13/really-that-bad-the-bonfire-of-the-vanities/

    Really That Bad? is a new feature here at Filmophilia. In it writers examine a well known critical bomb and examine whether or not the film lives up to its reputation.

    Brian De Palma’s film version of Tom Wolfe’s bestseller The Bonfire of the Vanities has a reputation as one of the biggest flops of the nineties, and in turn one of the biggest flops in the carriers of De Palma, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. It quickly turned from being Warner Bros.’s Oscar contender to a critically bashed misfire. But is this reputation the result of the high expectations and the huge media interest in the film’s production and ballooning budget and not based on the film itself?

    The plot of the film is complicated to sum up in a simple manner. The vain and incredibly wealthy stock-broker Sherman McCoy is a so-called “Master of the Universe.” He has everything, wealth, a marriage to a well-liked socialite and a happy family. But like many people, nothing is ever enough for Sherman. As he’s out driving one evening with his mistress Maria, played by an underused Melanie Griffith, he takes a wrong turn and ends up in the Bronx. As he leaves the car to move debris on the road, he gets robbed by two African-American youths. He manages to escape to his car, where Maria drives off, hitting one of the robbers.

    This event becomes a hot-button issue, which everyone tries to exploit for their own gains. The African-American Reverend Bacon who accuses the police and courts of disinterest in the case based on racism, district attorney Abe Weiss, who sees the case as a chance to prove himself to black voters and the media who sees the case as a surefire way to sell newspapers and ad space. Sherman McCoy becomes a pawn in this game where everyone is out to get him, and gain something in return.

    The book, by Tom Wolfe had been both extremely popular and controversial. To some it was a brilliant satire, sending up everything and everyone in 1980s New York. To others the book was a negative and even racist view of the city. But it had been a bestseller and therefore had to be adapted to film. Every choice the production made, from the casting decisions to locations to the advertising campaign was scrutinized and criticized. Why was Brian De Palma, the director best known for bloody thrillers such as Dressed to Kill, Carrie and Body Double, directing this socially charged satire? Why was the likeable and charming Tom Hanks playing a selfish and unlikeable character like Sherman McCoy? Why was Bruce Willis playing the English, drunk reporter? Why was the Jewish judge now played by Morgan Freeman?

    When reading Julie Salamon’s book detailing the production, The Devil’s Candy, all these choices seem so self-evident. De Palma was coming off of Casualties of War, a financially unsuccessful but critically lauded war film, and he wanted to marry his newfound critical respect with a surefire hit. The studio wanted someone the audience could engage with, and therefore Tom Hanks was seen as the best choice for the part. The film’s budget had become dangerously high, so it needed another marquee name for the part of Peter Fallow, so Bruce Willis was a far better choice than John Clesse, as originally planned. The casting of Morgan Freeman was seen as a way to balance the representation of black people in the film, now audiences would not only see the manipulative and conniving Reverend Bacon, but also the commanding and decent Judge played by another black actor. Freeman was also considerably cheaper than Walter Matthau, who was originally offered the part.

    But none of these changes managed to fix the film, which suffers from a fundamental problem: It’s not funny. Of course comedy is very subjective, and what I personally find funny might fall flat for the next person. But the film has such a challenging narrative, filled with unpleasant people and incidents that everything supposedly amusing falls flat. There is also some tangible sense of desperation in the more overtly comedic set-pieces. A scene where Sherman McCoy shoots the roof of his apartment with a shotgun to kick out his guests suffers from trying far too hard for a joke that isn’t that funny to begin with. Then there are other scenes that are so underplayed that you barely register that what’s onscreen is supposed to be funny. It somehow manages to be both too manic and too subtle.

    That’s not to say that the film is all bad. De Palma is a supremely capable visual filmmaker. The cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond, and the production design by Richard Sylbert manages to imply the heightened and extreme world in which the characters inhabit. Everything in Sherman McCoy’s domain is extravagant and grand, and when he takes a wrong turn into the Bronx, it is displayed as a dangerous war zone. The five-minute long tracking shot that opens the film is also a technical masterpiece, and one of the most impressive De Palma has ever attempted. But you can’t shake the feeling that this visual grandness might even be subtracting from the possible laughter the film supposedly is after.

    It’s interesting that a film that received such a critical bashing, and attracted so much attention as being one of the worst films of the nineties has now been largely forgotten. It seems that most of the key players of the film managed to bounce back. De Palma followed it up with the madcap and crazy thriller Raising Cain, the under-appreciated Al Pacino crime film Carlito’s Way and then directed the huge hit Mission: Impossible. Tom Hanks’ next three films were A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle and Philadelphia, insuring his position as one of Hollywood’s most likeable actors. Bruce Willis also continued being Bruce Willis, balancing successful action films with more comedic roles, with irregular success.

    The Bonfire of the Vanities is not a catastrophically terrible film. It’s a misjudged and ultimately boring and uninvolving film that suffers from the creative decisions made in order to make the material more palatable to audiences. But it did offer something valuable to people interested in films and film production, the book detailing the production: The Devil’s Candy. It’s an entertaining and fascinating account of a surefire hit gone terribly wrong and is highly recommended. I can’t say the same about the film.

    VERDICT: Really that bad. Which is a shame, since the film offers glimpses of a great story, but somehow manages to be a vacuum of interest.

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    • Mr. Floppy 09.14.08: Bonfire of the Vanities:

      http://www.411mania.com/movies/columns/85230/Mr.-Floppy-09.14.08:-Bonfire-of-the-Vanities.htm

      Melanie Griffith was cast as Sherman’s love affair Maria Ruskin. Nothing against her, she still looked considerably good at the time, but I still think a young lover of a Wall Street investor who’s making millions should have been more sexy and more, you know, young. These criticisms were also heard at the time of her casting and maybe that was also the reason why Griffith after merely three weeks of shooting went and surgically enhanced her chest, which she unapologetically stuffed right in De Palma’s face upon her return. Bonfire of the Vanities? Appropriate.

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  18. Working Girl was just on the other night, so I watched the first half (had to relinquish the screen in favor of a hockey game for the male contingent). It brought back memories of seeing it in the theater, and the buzz it created. At the time, i can’t remember another movie that captured so perfectly the 80s trend of women in business suits, trying to fit in. I thought Melanie Griffith was poised to become another Meg Ryan. Her understated delivery was just perfect for her role as Tess McGill, maybe she didn’t have the acting range but in that role and that movie, she did knock it out of the park. Of course it had to help a lot to have Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford to work with! IMHO it was one of the better movies that year. And TONS better than “Big.”

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  19. For sure, I can TOTALLY see why WG would resonate more with women, and Big for male audiences!
    And, you are right, the quote is, “I have a head for business…. and a bod for sin.” Go Melanie!

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    • I had just finished updating the Michael Keaton article around the time I wrote this one. And I was shocked by all the misinfo on the internet about Keaton. So when I saw the “bod for sin” quote misquoted repeatedly, I felt the need to rant. It’s the most famous line from the movie. If you are going to quote it, get it right!

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    • Both were entertaining trifles, well executed. WG just seemed to think it was more than that, while Big did not.
      From a male point of view, I will say that at the time the movie was released I was a little sick of characters like Baldwin’s and Spacey’s. I’m sure the women who experience creeps like these are sick of them too, but a lot of film/TV aimed at women at the time seemed to think that these guys constituted at least half of the male population. I’ve never known many guys like them, so it’s a little outside of my reality.
      I’m sure many feminists got sick of being portrayed as unpleasant man-haters.

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  20. In terms of the feminist view of the late 80s (feminism being a term that has many different meanings for people), the brilliance of WG was that the movie captured so well the failed promises of the business sisterhood where women look out for each other. No, they are more likely to stab other women in the back, then as well as now. Oh, trust me on this. Anyway, Melanie Griffith represented the hope of “new” feminism in the business world, when she was trying to describe her new boss to her boyfriend, explaining that having a female boss was like having a mentor instead of a leering pervert like her last boss. Signourney Weaver dashed this hope to pieces of course, but what struck me the most about her in that role was that she played it with humor, demonstrating how a backstabber can be very different on the surface. Side note, the line when the boss was telling Tess how she was expecting her fiance to be proposing shortly, and WHY he would be? “Because I am, after all, me” was one that got a big laugh at the theater, it was totally the delivery of that line.

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  21. The 50 Hottest Bad Actresses Of All Time:

    http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/10/50-hottest-bad-actresses-of-all-time/melanie-griffith

    31. Melanie Griffith
    Worst Performances: The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Milk Money (1994)

    Melanie Griffith isn’t always bad. Actually, in some cases, like 1988’s Working Girl and RKO 281 11 years later, she’s been damn good. But a few strong performances unfortunately can’t totally dismiss a slew of poor ones, and overcooked turns in duds like The Bonfire of the Vanities, Milk Money, and Pacific Heights diminish her career’s overall impact.

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  22. I love this scene for some reason

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    • I loved this too, and can’t articulate a reason why.

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      • There was clearly some potential chemistry between her and Vincent, but nothing was built on it…the movie just went on, as if they had done that scene just for the heck of it. I really only liked the film as an acting piece, mostly on Melanie’s part. The film itself was subpar.

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  23. Steve Bauer is a dirty man! (but funny) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_JugOGzmKM

    He has had such a bad career, Melanie got him a small part in Forever Lulu many years after their divorce.

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  24. “Something Wild”, my recollection of that one is that it was a hit among 20 somethings and college students, so a niche audience, not huge box office. it was definitely a quirky, fun movie. Other than the basic plot I can’t recall much about it so it’s probably time to see it again.

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    • It was a critical darling, but not a big movie at the box office. The plot is pretty formulaic. Jeff Daniels plays a straight arrow who gets caught up with a wild child played by Griffith. They go on a series of quirky rom com adventures. What separates it from most of these kinds of movies is that there is legitimate danger to Griffith’s wild side. Her jealous ex boyfriend played by Ray Liotta shows up and the movie takes a dark turn towards the end.

      I rewatched it when I wrote the article on Griffith and I was surprised how well it held up. If you check it out, let me know what you think.

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      • I have another project now awaiting in the Amazon cart currently being compiled. This is in part to get me through a week in the damn wilderness with spotty internet, and to give me something sort of unique to write up for my movie blog under construction: Bonfire of the Vanities. Why? Because of the reasons you outlined in the article, that it was a notorious critical and commercial flop. It’s one of the movies that for some reason I just KNOW is horrible….. yet I never actually saw it. After the bad press, I never made any plans to see it either. But there are just enough writers who consider it an underrated gem, that I now have to check it out myself. Plenty of writers and directors are not appreciated until years later.

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        • I hope you enjoy it. I made the mistake of reading the book first. The book is great and the movie is at best not good. If you have read the book, the movie is just that much worse by comparison.

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          • well…. I watched it. “Bonfire” could be subtitled as follows: “I’m Brian DePalma and I Don’t Care Who I Am Insulting.” No wonder the critics trashed it! Not like it’s a boring movie other than some sequences should have been edited down more, and not bad acting, in fact a great cast. It has problems, to be sure….lots….but the performances were not among the problems. And I don’t think Melanie Griffith did a bad job at all.

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            • The book was actually much more offensive than the movie. The movie was the “dumbed down” version of a book many considered unfilmable.

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              • From what i understand… and I really should actually read it before commenting.. the book was a very ambitious well researched satire that spared no one. If you had a vanity, (or an agenda) into the bonfire it went. The book author and film director both maybe went too far with material that required some finesse…. so whatever worthwhile and accurate messages were there, they were overshadowed by the more offensive material.

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                • My recollection of the book is hazy as I haven’t read it in decades. But I remember the book being really smart and unflinching. The movie was really dumb and cowardly. Since the movie flinched, the potentially offensive material floats to the surface.

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  25. I’m probably beating this into the ground by now but I don’t think MG turned in a bad performance in Bonfire. (The fake southern accent wasn’t the greatest.) What I find unique about her as an actress was reflected in the clip posted above by Denata and evident in all her films, good and bad. She creates a really nice chemistry onscreen with whoever she is working with. It’s like magic.

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  26. this one needs updating, you forgot her daughter’s name!

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  27. I wonder if anybody caught Melanie Griffith on “Hawaii Five-0″:

    http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=316021

    I’ve noticed that several What the Hell Happened to… alumnus have been on or are scheduled to be on the new “Hawaii Five-0″ (Daryl Hannah, Rebecca De Mornay, and Tom Berenger as well as Demi Moore’s daughter Rumer Willis, if that counts). It seems like your chances of being on the WTHHT is to either appear on the new “Hawaii Five-0″, appear in the movie “Bobby”, make a movie w/ Zac Efron (e.g. Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, Nicole Kidman, and Heather Graham), appear in one of the Tim Burton-Joel Schumacher era Batman movies, appear in the film “Major League” (e.g. Wesley Snipes, Tom Berenger, and Rene Russo), or appear in a John Waters movie (e.g. Kathleen Turner and Melanie Griffith and if you want to count the 2007 remake of “Hairspray”, John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer).

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  28. Seems Melanie’s union with Antonio is ’bout to be kaput……

    http://people.com/article/melanie-griffth-antonio-banderas-divorcing

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  29. The tradegy here is Melanie being only 14 years old and being permitted to have a romance with a 22 year old man! If she were my daughter I would have pulled Donny aside and told him to stay away from my daughter. He could have had just about anyone he wanted, why a 14 year old? I often wondered if Melanie had been molested as a child? It would explain the problems with drugs and alcohol. I hope she’ll make it through this divorce ok.

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  30. Tippi was too permissive in allowing her 14-year-old daughter to live with and sleep with a 22-year-old man. Melanie has been messed up from a very young age. She was extremely beautiful when she was in movies in the 80s and early 90s. As far as Banderas saving her from self-destruction, she has still had those problems in recent years, and now they’re divorcing. I saw her in Milk Money and Pacific Heights and liked the first one; the second one was good, but so creepy. She wasn’t such a bad actress, not the best but certainly not the worst, and I have no problem with her baby voice. Once Melanie’s looks faded…her sex symbol roles dried up. That’s how she was primarily seen, and aging actresses are usually not considered for those types of movies anymore.

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