Cinema’s Forgotten Legends Series: Special Edition

I wanted to take a moment and reflect in the highest regards to 2 of classic cinema’s unsung artisans from Hollywood’s Golden Era in Films & Television. They were taken from the classic film world too soon at a very young age (one passed away from cancer at age 44, the other from a sudden heart attack at the age of 35)

led tragically short but prolific masterful film & television careers as well as works on stage and became enduring, cinematic and awe-inspiring images of not only the golden days of yesteryear but of also the legends, memories, recollections & as Bogie’s Sam Spade stated beautifully in that infamous quote from The Maltese Falcon: “The stuff that dreams are made of”; true the days of chivalry and debonair sophistication maybe long forgotten by some but for genuine, selfless, devoted and impassioned fans of classic films it to this day still resonates deeply and unconditionally through mind, body and soul. The picturesque artistry, ingenious craft & consummate familiarity is only a mere but noteworthy token of a lifelong passion, appreciation, love, respect & admiration for each of these vastly talented individuals that I’m profoundly honored to pay tribute to through my CFLS articles; my fervent desire, obsession and dedication for the classics started at an early age and I wouldn’t turn back the hands of time for anything else because I feel that deep down, my zest for life originated from having such an uncompromising, fulfilling, insightful and enriching experience for viewing all things classic…love, especially for the classics, knows no limits for it is timeless, invaluable and priceless on its own. American singer, stage, television & motion picture actress Renee Godfrey (b. Renee Vera Haal on Monday September 1st, 1919-d. on Sunday May 24th, 1964)12

is the starlet that I’m introducing to you first; immensely seductive and impeccably charming onscreen with her dark hair and sultry-eyed presence, Godfrey delivered perseverance, sheer determination and a provocative yet allure of elegance that seemed almost destined to be part of her foremost aptitude for even greater success on the silver screen as well as the eminent works of the theatre. Exceptionally gifted and talented with a universal ingenuity for singing and a notable expertise on stage, Renee Godfrey would make only 15 films during her film career-some short but more noteworthy memorable roles like Vivian Vedder in the Sherlock Holmes thriller Terror by Night (1946) with co-stars Nigel Bruce & Basil Rathbone7

Along with Terror by Night, I was also able to view her rise to prominence in a few more films including the Oscar winning film Kitty Foyle (1940) and Citizen Kane (1941) starring Orson Welles, Agnes Moorehead and Joseph Cotten; she also became good friends at one point to actresses Barbara Stanwyck and June Lang during Godfrey’s heyday in Hollywood & if there was one film that I would love to see her in still would be Inherit the Wind (1960).with Fredric March, Spencer Tracy, Dick York & Gene Kelly. On Sunday May 24th, 1964 after a long battle with cancer, Renee Godfrey succumbed to the disease at the age of 44; her films and the venerated memories live on through the classics on Turner Classic Movies but the pictorial legend emanating through her presence today remains a constant reminder of the vast devotion and love shown through the airing of those classic films on TCM and I do hope that they showcase more of her film works often. Another multi-talented individual that I would like to pay a special tribute to is a profoundly underrated but exceptionally gifted thespian, like Renee Godfrey, who truly deserved that much needed cinematic recognition, appreciation and respect that seemed long forgotten but whose films have given me a greater insight into his unadulterated superlative craft of selflessly weaving art into the motion picture industry..the American stage, silver screen and television actor Richard Comstock Hart (b.on Wednesday April 14th, 1915-d. on Tuesday January 2nd, 1951)10

The range and incredible depth that Hart depicted in the only 4 films that he starred in during his brief film career on screen (1943-1951) was, in of itself, an unprecedented phenomenal sight to see because his performances were so striking, fascinating, passionate, and prevalent that they had as much of a direct, reflective and paramount effect in my life as a classic film lover which has a very similar development when I view the extraordinary benevolent film works of Leslie Howard! I never knew up until a certain point that he only made 4 full feature length films but I was able to view them all with enormous gratitude and profound respect for his craft: The Black Book (1947) with Richard Basehart, B.F.’s Daughter (1948) with Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck & Charles Coburn, Desire Me (1947) with Robert Mitchum alongside co-star Greer Garson and finally Green Dolphin Street (1947) alongside Donna Reed, Turner & Richard Hart’s previous co-star from the film B.F.’s Daughter  with Van Heflin11

On Tuesday January 2nd, 1951 Richard Hart died tragically and suddenly from a heart attack at the young age of 35; he’s given the classic film world 4 deeply moving films along with some guest appearances in certain televised works on screen. But his passion like Godfrey’s existed solely on the stage & blossomed immensely when they appeared in front of the camera; I feel that stage/theatre work is an incomparable form of cinematic art enjoyed deeply, passionately and greatly. Classic movies alone have truly made a real significant difference in my life because it helped me to fully understand these classic film actors/actresses who were considered neglected & defunct by some but whose films give new life and meaning to an unforgettable sublime journey towards cinematic wealth, definitive insight and infallible reverence to the treasure trove of classic film jewels from the invaluable venerated vaults of Hollywood’s Golden Age.


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