March 5, 2001 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Dutchman is a movie (originally a play) which "mirrors the difficulties of life for an African American male through the clash between a white woman and a black man sharing a subway car in NYC." And I don't mean to belittle that, but ... has anyone else noticed similarities between Shirley Knight (2)(3), the lead actress in Dutchman, and Heather Graham? Do today's actors and actresses try to achieve success by directly copying actors and actresses from the past? (I know they study them, but this almost borders on plagiarism, if that's possible)
posted by jwells (14 comments total)
And I'm not accusing Heather Graham of anything... I just happened to notice they were a lot alike and had the question above.
posted by jwells at 5:10 AM on March 5, 2001

You mean, why is Hollywood full of beautiful, somewhat generic-looking blondes? Dang, that's a tough one.
posted by rodii at 5:47 AM on March 5, 2001

This way, at least Heather Graham gets work.

Despite current failures in this area, how long will it be before they just electronically resurrect a youthful Shirley Knight or whoever, inflate her breasts to whacking-game porportions (why? because they can), and make her play the parts a real Heather Graham would have been given? Then, neither (the real) Knight nor Graham will be working.
posted by pracowity at 5:48 AM on March 5, 2001

Aw man! I was hoping that link was to a version of Whack-A-Mole except with breasts that pop up.
posted by plinth at 5:57 AM on March 5, 2001

> whacking-game porportions

Sorry about the typo; that should have been proportions.
posted by pracowity at 6:27 AM on March 5, 2001

Rodii, I was referring more to the personality and mannerisms, although looks did come into play. Guess you'd have to see the movie to understand it. When the movie started I really thought "When did Heather Graham do a black and white film?"
posted by jwells at 6:31 AM on March 5, 2001

Kind of related: it always strikes me that Brian Benben looks a lot like a young James Caan.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:35 AM on March 5, 2001

It would have to be mannerisms, jwells, 'cos I sure don't see it from the photographs alone. As for personality, how certain are you that a given personality is unique, or for that matter, a creation of the actor? Heather's done enough different, challenging stuff over a 14-year career that I don't see her as getting by on mimickry.

I find it ironic, and telling, that jwells saw her as plagiarizing a specific personality, while rodii (unfairly, and presumably uninformedly) considers her generic.

FYI, pracowity, Geocities has begun blocking referers from non-Geocities pages, so you can't even get to that image by clicking through. Just something to be aware of.
posted by dhartung at 7:08 AM on March 5, 2001

Frig, and the part I forgot to point out was that Dutchman was made in 1967. I was trying to find a specific photograph from Dutchman, but couldn't. They _do_ almost look alike if you consider the Shirley Knight from the Dutchman. (has anyone seen the movie??? :-) )

Anyway, Dhartung, that's exactly what I'm asking - I saw some similarities and wanted to know if other mefi folks thought there might be a chance that she was copying her. I could very easily see an actor watching some movie from 20 years ago, looking for another actor who didn't achieve roaring success, but, had they been cast today at the same age, would have been much more famous. Trying to find and copy people who were ahead of their time I guess. (showing my lack of knowledge in the field) Don't actors/resses try to "brand" themselves? Rather than developing a new brand, why not just borrow one from the past?

Yargh, never mind. I'm probably just bored - we're expecting three feet of snow and I'm trying to draw connections between Graham and some character in a movie from the late 60s.
posted by jwells at 8:09 AM on March 5, 2001

I'd have to say that, in some cases (though not necessarily this one--I haven't seen the movie), actors are certainly looking at other performers--whether to copy or pay homage.

I saw Oh Brother, Where Art Thou last night, and after I got out of the theatre I told my movie buddy that I was sure George Clooney was doing an impression of someone. It took us a few minutes to figure out--but we finally realized was Clark Cable. I think it was intentional--but that was only one performance.
posted by frykitty at 8:16 AM on March 5, 2001

Uh..."Gable". Ahem.
posted by frykitty at 8:30 AM on March 5, 2001

Clark Cable would be a good porn name
posted by thirteen at 8:32 AM on March 5, 2001

"Dutchman. (has anyone seen the movie??? :-) )"

"Dutchman" was written by Leroi Jones, who subsequently changed his name to Amiri Baraka. I highly recommend reading or viewing the play.
posted by Dr. Boom at 10:27 AM on March 5, 2001

"Unfairly, and presumably uninformedly? What's with *that*? I've seen Graham in 14 of the 22 movies in the IMDB list, so I'll contest the "uninformedly," and I think she's "beautiful and somewhat generic-looking." I'll stand by that. (It's not an insult.)

"Unfairly"? *I* think dhartung has a cruuuuuuu-uuush! ;)
posted by rodii at 4:49 PM on March 5, 2001

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