The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and
television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality
for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews
that are positive for a given film or television show.
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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or
higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for
limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
Clifton Webb was the most improbable of movie stars that one could imagine -- in an era in which leading men were supposed to be virile and bold, he was prissy and, well, downright fussy. Where the actors in starring roles were supposed to lead with their fists, or at least the suggestion of potential mayhem befalling those who got in the way of their characters, Webb used a sharp tongue and a waspish manner the way John Wayne wielded a six-gun and Clark Gable a smart mouth, a cocky grin, and great physique. And where male movie stars (except in the singing cowboy movies) were supposed to maintain a screen image that had women melting in their arms if not their presence, Webb hardly ever went near women in most of his screen roles, except in a fatherly or avuncular way. Nevertheles, the public devoured it all, even politely looking past Webb's well-publicized status as a "bachelor" who lived with his mother, and in the process turned him into one of Hollywood's most popular post-World War II movie stars, with a string of successful movies rivaling those of Wayne, Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, or any other leading man one cares to name. Indeed, Webb was for more than 15 years a mainstay of 20th Century Fox, his movies earning profits as reliably as the sun rising -- not bad for a man who was nearly rejected from his first film on the lot because the head of production couldn't abide his fey mannerisms. Clifton Webb was born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck, in Indianapolis, IN, in 1891 (his date of birth was falsified during his lifetime and pushed up by several years, and some sources list the real year as 1889). His father -- about whom almost nothing is known, except that he was a businessman -- had no interest in preparing his offspring for the stage or the life of a performer, a fact that so appalled his mother (a frustrated actress) that she packed herself and the boy off to New York, and he started dancing lessons at age three. By the time he was seven years old, he was good enough to attract the attention of Malcolm Douglas, the director of the Children's Theatre, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1900 (when he would have been either seven, nine, or 11), playing Cholly in The Brownies. Webb was taking lessons in all of the arts by then, and in 1911, made his operatic debut in La Bohème. It was as a dancer, though, that he first found his real fortune -- seen at a top New York nightspot, he so impressed one lady professional that she immediately proposed a partnership that resulted in an international career for Webb. Webb's acting wasn't neglected, either, and in the 1920s and '30s, he was regarded as one of the top stage talents in the country, a multiple-threat performer equally adept in musicals, comedies, or drama. Early in his career, he'd worked under a variety of names, finally transposing his first name to his last and reportedly taking the Clifton from the New Jersey town, because his mother liked the sound of it. Webb was a well-known figure on-stage, but his value as a film performer was considered marginal until he was well past 50 -- he'd done some film work during the silent era, but in the mid-'30s, he was brought out to Hollywood by MGM for a film project that ran into script problems. He spent a year out there collecting his contracted salary of 3,500 dollars a week and doing absolutely nothing, and hated every minute of it. Webb returned to New York determined never to experience such downtime again, and over the ensuing decade bounced back with hits in George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's The Man Who Came to Dinner and Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, doing the latter for three years. Ironically, the role of Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner was inspired by the real-life author/columnist Alexander Woollcott, who would also be the inspiration for the role that finally brought Webb to Hollywood successfully. In 1943, 20th Century Fox set out to adapt a novel by Vera Caspary entitled Laura to
You seem to be completely disregarding something more important than your career: my lunch.
Do you really believe that?
I never heard of anything so selfish.
In my case, self absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject quite so worthy of my attention.
But, you write about people with such - real understanding and sentiment. That's what makes your columns so good.
The sentiment comes easy at fifty cents a word.
If that's the way you really feel - you must be very lonely.
Will you kindly continue this character analysis elsewhere? You begin to bore me.
I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.
Waldo for your own good, I'm warning you to stop implying that I had anything to do with Laura's death.
Very well I'll stop implying: I'll make a direct statement.
Would you please stop dawdling with that infernal puzzle! It's getting on my nerves.
I know; but it keeps me calm.
Young woman, either you have been raised in some incredible rustic community where good manners are unknown, or you suffer from the common feminine delusion that the mere fact of being a woman exempts you from the rules of civilized conduct.
"Haven't you heard of science's newest triumph, the doorbell?"
Haven't you heard of science's newest triumph, the doorbell?
"I'm not kind. I'm vicious. It's the secret of my charm."
In my case, self-absorption is completely
justified. I have never discovered any
other subject so worthy of my attention.