Hollywood movies as popular entertainment have lit up projection screens (and people’s lives) for over 100 years. As an industrial machine, movie studios have populated each of those years with hundreds of releases to thousands of theaters. Through all of these releases, box-office receipts and industry profits notwithstanding, movies have become part of the culture, fusing into one place the visual and audio arts, the politics of past, present, and perhaps future, the economics of the haves and have-nots and those in between, the mores, the technologies, even the religions of the universe and just about everything else that is consequential to society – any society. In short, for more than 100 years we have been increasing our stock of movies and the ways in which they affect us. But, instead of devoting this space to some kind of analysis of ourselves and our relationship to movies or vice-versa, I intend to offer here something simpler, more specific, and, I hope, more pleasing.
To an extent, I suspect that what I am presenting here is trivial. Weightier and more profound explorations of movies can certainly be had elsewhere. What I expect to accomplish on these pages goes little further than identifying partnerships in movies. By partnerships, I mean teams; I mean the actors and/or actresses who appear together in more than one movie (there may even be an occasional team that appears together only once).
Teams, such as Tracy and Hepburn, commonly shared the screen, and commonly became the greatest selling point for the movies in which they appear. The studios in Hollywood recognized this phenomenon early on and often parlayed the appeal of a team – the chemistry that could readily and faithfully bring an audience into a theater – into recurring successes at the box office.
I mention Tracy and Hepburn because they represent the quintessential team. Myrna Loy and William Powell (another famous team most notably from the Thin Man series) also epitomize this fifth essence, this je ne sait quoi that teams continue to bring to the melding of lights, camera, action. I’ll be profiling other obvious and famous teams. To begin, however, I’d prefer to focus on some of the lesser known teams – pairs and groups comprised by actors and/or actresses best known, if at all, as solo artists.
As my references to Tracy and Hepburn, Loy and Powell suggest, I’d also like to focus on the old Hollywood movies. Such a narrow focus may be criticized as myopic, but in that I cannot see without glasses – even when I watch new and other than traditional Hollywood movies – I will not take offense to such criticism. And, if you do not mind looking through my eyes (and glasses) at the subjects presented here . . .