How did I miss the strongest Bel Geddes scene?

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Lastkidpicked, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I don't know how I missed it all these years! I've watched the scene between Miss Ellie and Dusty Farlow before, but totally missed the amazing dialogue and acting by both sides.

    The episode is "Saving Grace" and Miss Ellie is making it clear to Dusty that he should stay away from Sue Ellen. If you can, watch the scene again.

    Dusty: I only want what's best for Sue Ellen
    Miss Ellie: Even if it means staying away from her?
    Dusty: I don't think it does.
    Miss Ellie: I do. And I'm asking you to respect my wishes.
    Dusty: It's not that simple.
    Miss Ellie: Then let me simplify it for you. Sue Ellen won't be needing your help any more.
    Dusty: She won't be in the rehabilitation center forever.
    Miss Ellie: She will be if she has you to fall back on.
    Dusty: I'm not a crutch for Sue Ellen.

    Miss Ellie: That's exactly what you are. And the sooner you realize it, the better off Sue Ellen will be. She got into that program herself, and she is going to get better by herself. She has chosen to take control of her life. Let her. Do I make myself clear?

    Jared Martin did a great job of underplaying the scene, allowing Barbara Bel Geddes to work her craft. And work it she did!

    I'm about to make a bold statement here: This might have been one of her finest performances of the entire series.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  2. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you that Ms. Bel Geddes is an excellent actress, she delivered great work here.
    I don't know a lot about the actual craft of acting so I'm curious why you consider this particular scene the best performance she gave out of others, such as the mastectomy storyline or when she finally accepts Jock's death.
     
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  3. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    Don’t mess with Mama!!!! ❤️
     
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  4. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    It's because in this scene, Miss Ellie must rely on nothing but her personality. There is nothing she can offer Dusty to make him change his mind. No threats that she can make. . The only thing she has is her own sheer will.

    For whatever reason, Miss Ellie has a quiet confidence that she can walk into a group of people and command a room. And Barbara Bel Geddes has the same quiet confidence that she can command a scene.

    To put a finer point on it-- Miss Ellie shouldn't be able to control that conversation, but she does. And an ailing Barbara Bel Geddes shouldn't be able to command that scene, but she does.

    Look at the way that she responds to Dusty's "It's not that simple."

    "Let me simplify it for you."

    That delivery! Her backbone must be made of steel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  5. Billy Wall

    Billy Wall Soap Chat Active Member

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    I don’t know if I follow. Of course Miss Ellie’s going to control the conversation. She’s Dusty’s elder and Im sure he respects that. He might not agree with her, but he’s not going to disrespect Ellie.
     
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  6. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for this perspective. It's very interesting, and gives me a new way to look at this scene.

    The line "Let me simplify it for you" stands out for me as well. Miss Ellie is a strong character, but she's strong in a different manner than Jock or Bobby. It comes through in this scene to me after considering it from your point of view.
     
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  7. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    She's also Sue Ellen's stand in mother in the absence of Patricia - so she has a say in this and was doing what was right for Sue Ellen. I love her even more for that.
     
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  8. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    And some of the credit for this scene goes to Jared Martin for the way he quietly underplayed his part.

    I suppose what impressed me the most is how the writers set the scene. Look at this picture:
    [​IMG]

    The house is looming in the background. There is a lot a stake here. Miss Ellie is trying to hold this family together.
    And notice Dusty. He is physically larger than Miss Ellie. And he is wearing a power suit while she is wearing gardening clothes. Looking at the picture, you might think that Dusty will be the one leading the conversation.

    But look a little closer. Notice that as @Billy Wall points out, Dusty is respectful. His body language shows he will quietly wait for Miss Ellie to finish planting the tree. This is important in that it shows that Miss Ellie not only leads what is said here, but she actually controls the pace of the scene.

    To put a finer point on it: If you shot this scene, line for line, with another pair of actors it could fall flat. It took an actor with the caliber of Barbara Bel Geddes to pull it off.
     
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  9. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Mega Star

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    If I remember well, it´s the only scene with those two and they really played it great. Next season´s Miss Ellie would have started to cry when Dusty said no...Dreams can be hurtful sometimes...
     
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  10. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I also liked the scenes in which Miss Ellie was tough.

    Even though she was almost always in the wrong when she did so.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    I agree this is a very memorable scene. As you say, I don't think it's just about the acting, it's also about the writing (Miss Ellie turning on Dusty is the last thing one expects at this stage); the direction (Dusty's deferent position; Ellie toiling in the soil -- metaphorically getting her hands dirty -- as she speaks her mind); the cinematography (the front of the house -- we haven't seen that since Jock's heart attack!), all pulling in the same direction and thereby allowing the actors to do their best work. This kind of scene is more commonly seen on KNOTS, which tended to have a more flexible, character-driven approach to its staging. It's not that the actors on KNOTS were necessarily better than those on DALLAS, but they were given more room to show what they could do, the way BBG is here. (Normally on Old DALLAS, its about the characters taking their traditional positions within a scene, rather than the scene being staged to accommodate the impulses of the characters/actors in that moment.)

    For whatever it's worth, this is what I posted about the scene back in the day (before I'd recovered from Reed Rage):

     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
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  12. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I agree she’s strong in a different way then Jock and Bobby and JR as well. But theirs a confidence she shares with Bobby (in TNT Dallas he lost). JR is too confident - in other words is fake confidence. Like Jock he’s not sure he belongs in the room, he has to prove himself. He’s not sure of anything. Where Jock is at least sure of Ellie. Ellie was born confident. Maybe she has her moments with Jock, like the mastectomy. Ellie knows, real power can never be taken, it can only be given.
     
  13. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I agree but I don’t think Dusty’s respect for her allows her to control the conversation. I think Miss Ellie’s character demands the respect.
     
  14. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I agree. This is a wonderful post. Miss Ellie was an amazing, complex character. And Sue Ellen (the subject of the scene) developer more as a character over time than anyone else in Dallas.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
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  15. Bobby's the Best

    Bobby's the Best Soap Chat Newbie

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    This was a very good scene, but for me, her best scene occurred in the episode titled "Survival" (S2/E9), in which Bobby and JR are lost after their plane goes down in a remote area, and they're feared dead. A news reporter sneaks onto the Southfork property to get info and a quote from Miss Ellie. Her response to the guy was classic!!
     
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  16. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    You make a very good point here, Bobby. I suppose this is why I enjoyed the Barbara Bel Geddes scene in the later season. It seemed to bookmark one of her early performances with one of her later ones. And thank you for posting that video. It was great to watch!
     
  17. KayLloyd

    KayLloyd Soap Chat Fan

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    My favorite Bel Geddes scene was the one where ME and Pam were standing together at a fence and she convinced Pam to fight for Bobby by telling her the story of how she horse whipped Jock into shape when he wasn't doing right by her. A simple, but outstanding, example of a veteran actress showing the younger one how it's done.
     
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  18. Top Jimmy

    Top Jimmy Soap Chat Active Member

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    My favorite Miss Ellie scene is the famous "breaking dishes" scene where she breaks down and grieves openly for Jock in the kitchen. That was a very powerful and emotional scene. It gets me teary eyed every time I watch it.
     
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  19. Via The Void

    Via The Void Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Or she'll get the shot gun! :)
     
  20. Chris2

    Chris2 Soap Chat Fan

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    That’s my favorite, too. I thought Barbara Bel Geddes was best when she underplayed. I thought whenever she cried in a scene, she was a bit over the top.
     
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