Monday, November 04, 2013
Movie Monday: The Cher Edition (or "Acting Singers, Part Two")
Yesterday, for Music Sunday, I wrote about a few singers who have also acted in films. There are many more singers and musicians who have tried their hand at acting, with greater or lesser frequency and success.
One singer who has also acted, and with a great deal of success, is Cher. While she first entered the consciousness of most people as half of Sonny and Cher in the 1960s and then showed she could act while she and Sonny starred in "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" from 1971 through 1974, by the early 1980s she was regularly appearing to good reviews in well-received films. She has also acted on Broadway, also to good notices.
Cher made her Broadway debut in the play "Come Back to the 5 and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" in 1982, to good notices, and then also appeared as the same character, Sissy, in the film version the same year; both were directed by Robert Altman. The story revolves around the 1975 reunion of the local James Dean fan club in a small Texas town near where Dean's last film, "Giant" was filmed in 1955. This clip shows the first ten minutes of the film, including the first of several flashbacks:
In 1982, Cher appeared with Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell in "Silkwood", the story of plutonium plant worker and union activist Karen Silkwood, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1974. For her performance as a friend of Silkwood's, Cher was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress and won a Golden Globe in the same category. Then, in 1985, she starred in "Mask" as the mother of a teenager (Eric Stoltz) suffering from a rare disfiguring disorder called craniodiaphyseal dysplasia. Again, Cher was nominated for a Golden Globe for the performance and she won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for the role. Here's a clip from near the beginning of the film, as she shows up to enroll her son in school:
Cher appeared in three films in 1987, "Suspect", "The Witches of Eastwick", and "Moonstruck". "Suspect" didn't get very good reviews, but I've always liked it despite some plot holes you could drive truck through. In the film, Cher plays a public defender who is representing a deaf/mute homeless man (Liam Neeson) who has been charged with murder. One of the jurors (Dennis Quaid) on the case decides to investigate the murder on his own (a definite no-no that jurors are always instructed not to do), and Cher's character gets involved in the illicit investigation. In "The Witches of Eastwick", she stars with Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jack Nicholson (as the Devil). In "Moonstruck", she plays a widow who is engaged to one man but falls in love with his younger brother after her fiancé goes to Sicily to care for his dying mother. "Moonstruck" is my least favorite of Cher's films that I've seen, but that's probably largely to do with the fact that her co-star is Nicholas Cage, who irritates the hell out of me. The film was a huge critical success, was the fifth highest-grossing film of the year, and won three Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay for John Patrick Shanley, Best Supporting Actress for Olympia Dukakis, and Best Actress for Cher. So, clearly, mine is a minority opinion regarding "Moonstruck". Here is the theatrical trailer for the film:
Some of Cher's other films include "Mermaids" (1990), "Tea With Mussolini" (1999), and "Burlessque" (2010). Here is a clip from "Tea With Mussolini", which also stars Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Lily Tomlin, and Joan Plowright, and was directed by Franco Zefferelli: