Saturday, December 29

REVIEW: Hyde Park on Hudson





Directed by Roger Michell
2012 Drama
1 hour 34 minutes
From Focus Features

Starring
Bill Murray
Laura Linney
Samuel West
Olivia Williams
Olivia Colman
Elizabeth Marvel
Elizabeth Wilson
Eleanor Bron

Wednesday, December 26

REVIEW: Django Unchained





Directed by Quentin Tarantino
2012 Western Action Drama
2 hours 45 minutes
From The Weinstein Company
and Columbia Pictures

Starring
Jamie Foxx
Christoph Waltz
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kerry Washington
Samuel L. Jackson
Walton Goggins
Dennis Christopher
Don Johnson

Tuesday, December 25

South Pacific: Favorite Movie #18

1958 Musical
From 20th Century Fox and
Magna Theater Corporation
Directed by Joshua Logan

Starring
Rossano Brazzi
Mitzi Gaynor
John Kerr
Ray Walston
Juanita Hall
France Nuyen
Russ Brown

Tuesday, December 18

Jeff Chandler

I write about all kinds of actors.  Some are those A-list actors... those gods and goddesses who either have the looks or talent or both to ignite in audiences a passion that compels us to want to see their films.  In my case I have always wanted to enhance that movie-going experience with wanting to learn more about them.  I have also written about character actors and actresses, people not as well known.  I always hope that I might remind some of you of a few folks whose work you have enjoyed countless times, although not in all cases have you remembered their names.

Friday, December 14

L.A. Confidential: Favorite Movie #19

1997 Crime Drama
From Regency Enterprises
Directed by Curtis Hanson

Starring
Kevin Spacey
Russell Crowe
Guy Pearce
Kim Basinger
James Cromwell
David Strathairn
Danny DeVito
Ron Rifkin
Matt McCoy
Simon Baker
Graham Beckel

Tuesday, December 11

Mrs. Hughes

As a teenager I was friendly with a girl who wanted more than anything to be a movie star.  She had come from Ohio to Los Angeles and thought the move would be a sure-fire guarantee to movie stardom.  We lived a mile from 20th Century Fox studios  and we would sneak in and watch as much as we could and ogle movie stars.  She said there was nothing she wouldn't do to realize her glittery dream.  My hunch is she didn't make it as most dreamy-eyed girls didn't and still don't.  There was another young girl from Ohio who never had a dream of being a movie star yet became one and easily so.  The gates at 20th Century Fox magically opened for her, she had a pretty good run with 19 films, and then she vanished.

Friday, December 7

What a Sissy

Who else could I be referring to other than Sissy Spacek?  This is one of filmdom's most reliable of actresses.  You can count on her to deliver the goods always.  Seeing her in a new movie is like seeing a longtime, dear friend again.  Don't you agree?  With no disrespect intended, she is rather un-movie star-looking.  I speak of male actors who have an everyman look; Sissy Spacek has an everywoman look. 

Wednesday, December 5

REVIEW: Anna Karenina






Directed by Joe Wright
2012 Costume Drama
2 hours 9 minutes
From Focus Features

Starring
Keira Knightley
Jude Law
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Matthew McFadyen
Domhnall Gleeson
Kelly Macdonald
Emily Watson
Michelle Dockery
Olivia Williams

Tuesday, December 4

ET the Extra-Terrestrial: Favorite Movie #20

1982 Fantasy Comedy Drama
From Universal Studios
Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring
Henry Thomas
Dee Wallace
Peter Coyote
Drew Barrymore
Robert MacNaughton

Saturday, December 1

REVIEW: Hitchcock






Directed by Sacha Gervasi
2012 Drama
1 hour 38 mins
From 20th Century Fox

Starring
Anthony Hopkins
Helen Mirren
Scarlett Johansson
Toni Collette
Danny Huston
Jessica Biel
Michael Stuhlbarg
James D'Arcy
Richard Portnow





Friday, November 30

A Slight Cowboy

It wasn't too long after I got my driver's license that I was embarking on my longest trip alone... from my home in West Los Angeles, down Wilshire Blvd., speeding out Pacific Coast Highway and looking forward to Trancas Beach, a considerable distance.  I got sidetracked as I was passing Paradise Cove when I noticed a movie company.  I always found it a hoot watching folks making a movie. 

Saturday, November 24

REVIEW: Silver Linings Playbook






Directed by David O. Russell
2012 Comedy Drama
2 hours 2 minutes
From the Weinstein Company

Starring
Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence
Robert DeNiro
Jacki Weaver
Chris Tucker
Anupam Kher
John Ortiz
Julia Stiles



Friday, November 23

By Her Own Hand

I was thinking of suicide the other day... God, don't call anyone... I didn't say I was thinking of committing it.  I've been focusing a bit on the dark side of Hollywood lately and it was only natural that sooner or later I would think of Tinseltown's suicides.  We might get to actors one day but right now we are concentrating on four actresses and four sad stories.


Wednesday, November 21

REVIEW: Life of Pi







Directed by Ang Lee
2012 Adventure Drama
2 hours 7 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Starring
Suraj Sharma
Irrfan Khan
Ayush Tandon
Adil Hussain
Rafe Spall



Tuesday, November 20

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: Favorite Movie #21

1997 Crime Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring
Kevin Spacey
John Cusack
Jack Thompson
Allison Eastwood
Lady Chablis
Irma P. Hall
Jude Law
Kim Hunter
Geoffrey Lewis
Paul Hipp

Friday, November 16

REVIEW: Lincoln





Directed by Steven Spielberg
Historical Drama
2 hours 29 minutes
From Dreamworks, 20th Century Fox
and Reliance Entertainment

Starring
Daniel Day-Lewis
Sally Field
David Strathairn
Tommy Lee Jones
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
James Spader
Hal Holbrook
John Hawkes
Jackie Earle Haley
Tim Blake Nelson
Walton Goggins
Joseph Cross
Lee Pace
Peter McRobbie

 

Tuesday, November 13

A Sad Hollywood Story

If on one of my quizzes you were asked to come up with an actress whose last name was Russell, you might very well say Rosalind or Jane.  That would be on the mark but what if I asked you to name a third?  For a short time in the 1940s and 1950s there was Gail Russell.  She is virtually forgotten today... only the most hard core among us know that name.  All through her brief acting career she was crippling shy.  If she were alive today and still largely forgotten, she would be quite happy about that.  On that note, we shall begin our sad Hollywood story.

Saturday, November 10

REVIEW: Skyfall






Directed by Sam Mendes
2012 Action Drama
2 hours 23 minutes
From MGM and Paramount

Starring
Daniel Craig
Judi Dench
Javier Bardem
Ralph Fiennes
Albert Finney
Naomie Harris
Ben Whishaw
Rory Kinnear
Helen McCrory

Friday, November 9

Ordinary People: Favorite Movie #22

1980 Drama
From Paramount Studios
Directed by Robert Redford

Starring
Donald Sutherland
Mary Tyler Moore
Timothy Hutton
Judd Hirsch
Elizabeth McGovern
Dinah Manoff
M. Emmet Walsh
Fredric Lehne

Tuesday, November 6

The 8 Best Films John Wayne Ever Made

How can I mention Jane Fonda in a posting about John Wayne?  Well here's how.  When Fonda started getting some bad press, my mother asked me how I could possibly go see her movies.  I countered with I would stop seeing John Wayne movies if I bought into her philosophy.  I've said before that I simply tune in to the acting; it's generally all I care about.  I always thought both Fonda and Wayne were wonderful actors.  He, in fact, still stands today as one of the greatest movie stars of all time (and she is one of the best actors of all time).  Sorry if any of that makes the hair on the back of your pretty head stand up.  Many of his films were formulaic and little more than fun entertainment pieces but some stood out.  I began thinking about his body of work and have come up with eight films I think are worthy of calling his best work.  We won't all agree.

Saturday, November 3

REVIEW: Flight





Directed by Robert Zemeckis
2012 Drama
2 hours 18 minutes
From Paramount

Starring
Denzel Washington
Don Cheadle
Kerry Reilly
Bruce Greenwood
John Goodman
Tamara Tunie
Melissa Leo



Friday, November 2

Cleo at the Palace

Picture it.  Peoria, Illinois, circa 1956.  Peoria was the town of my birth and had been so for a dozen years. In those days it was the second largest city in Illinois and it made itself out to be pretty important.  It puffed itself up, stretched along the banks of the Illinois River and looked down on the little cities that bordered it.  My grandmother always assured me I was quite the lucky boy to live in Peoria and not some of those other little mere villages, as she was given to calling them in her imperious manner.

Tuesday, October 30

Cross Creek: Favorite Movie #23

1983 Biographical Drama
From Universal
Directed by Martin Ritt

Starring
Mary Steenburgen
Peter Coyote
Rip Torn
Alfre Woodard
Dana Hill
Joanna Miles
Ike Eisenmann
Toni Hudson
John Hammond
Malcolm McDowell

Tuesday, October 23

Mitchum

I am not kidding when I say I think he was one of the best actors Hollywood ever produced.  Robert Mitchum could act better just standing around than most actors could with pages of sparkling dialogue.  Thanks to his long association with Howard Hughes and RKO, he was king of the film noir pictures, my all-time favorite genre.  He worked with a great many of the best and he worked a great deal, in over 100 theatrical films, which is really quite substantial for a top star.  The Oscar folks are just so busted that they didn't at least nominate Mitchum for about six of his films and it is just plain wrong that the Academy didn't give him an honorary Oscar for his overall contribution to the film industry.  I even wrote to them once to say so.  I have more of his films in my DVD collection than any other big-name actor.

Friday, October 19

All About Eve: Favorite Movie #24

1950 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz

Starring
Bette Davis
Anne Baxter
George Sanders
Gary Merrill
Celeste Holm
Hugh Marlowe
Thelma Ritter
Gregory Ratoff
Marilyn Monroe
Barbara Bates

Tuesday, October 16

Karl Malden

Speaking of second leading men, as I was the other day with  Arthur Kennedy, there is Karl Malden.  A magnificent actor with an impressive body of work, I have seen nearly everything he ever did.  He had a nose for good stories, important directors and the most famous of costars.  He was only top-billed in a couple of films and they weren't successful.  His position in the cast was often third although he happily worked in larger casts and was further down in the billing.

Sunday, October 14

REVIEW: Argo





Directed by Ben Affleck
Drama
2 hours
From Warner Bros.

Starring
Ben Affleck
Bryan Cranston
Alan Arkin
John Goodman
Victor Garber
Tate Donovan

Friday, October 12

Giant: Favorite Movie #25

1956 Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by George Stevens

Starring
Elizabeth Taylor
Rock Hudson
James Dean
Carroll Baker
Mercedes McCambridge
Earl Holliman
Dennis Hopper
Chill Wills
Jane Withers
Sal Mineo
Paul Fix
Rod Taylor
Judith Evelyn
Fran Bennett
Elsa Cardenas
Alexander Scourby
Charles Watts
Carolyn Craig
Mickey Simpson

Tuesday, October 9

Arthur Kennedy

He was one of the best actors in the business.  In two of my cherished decades, the 1950s and 1960s, he made some damned good films.  If you know movies and movie actors, you are well acquainted with Arthur Kennedy.  If the name doesn't ring a bell, you are likely to remember some of his films.  He wasn't usually the leading actor and the few films in which he was weren't very good.  A couple of exceptions will be noted.  He was, however, the leading male actor in a few more films where an actress was billed above him and some of these films caught on with the public.  No doubt he would have considered himself a character actor.  Most character actors were in stereotypical roles for them, often defined by particular physical or vocal traits.  Kennedy was not that.  It would probably be closer to the mark to refer to him as a second leading man.  Sometimes he got the girl, sometimes he didn't.

Friday, October 5

Staying for the Credits

How many times have you been watching the credits roll across the screen (assuming you occasionally stay seated to do such things) and have seen terms like best boy or gaffer or key grip and have wondered what those jobs are?  Me too.  Have you ever thought you might look up the definitions and then didn't do it?  Well, fear not, The Movie Man has come to your rescue.  The list, of course, is not all inclusive, but hopefully we will hit some of the highlights.  Not all of the following are credits, per se.  Some are simply a glossary of terms.



Tuesday, October 2

The Talented Mr. Ripley: Favorite Movie #26

1999 Drama
From Paramount & Miramax
Directed by Anthony Minghella

Starring
Matt Damon
Gwyneth Paltrow
Jude Law
Cate Blanchett
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jack Davenport
James Rebhorn
Sergio Rubini
Philip Baker Hall

Saturday, September 29

REVIEW: Won't Back Down







Directed by Daniel Barnz
Drama
2 hours 1 minute
From 20th Century Fox
and Walden Media

Starring
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Viola Davis
Oscar Isaac
Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Lance Reddick
Rosie Perez
Ving Rhames
Holly Hunter

Thursday, September 27

REVIEW: End of Watch





Directed by David Ayer
Crime Drama
From Open Road and
Exclusive Media Group
1 hour 49 minutes

Starring
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michael Peña
Natalie Martinez
Anna Kendrick
David Harbour
Frank Grillo
America Ferrera

Tuesday, September 25

Quiz 5

Listed are the stars for films that have titles of famous places.  These titles are only the names of real places with no extra words... for example Sun Valley Serenade could not be an answer because it has the extra word in it.  This could be your best score yet, especially if open book.  Have a go at it:

Monday, September 24

REVIEW: Trouble with the Curve





Directed by Robert Lorenz
Drama
1 hour 41 mins
From Warner Bros.

Starring
Clint Eastwood
Amy Adams
Justin Timberlake
John Goodman
Matthew Lillard
Robert Patrick

Friday, September 21

Jaws: Favorite Movie #27

1975 Drama
From Universal Studios
Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring
Roy Scheider
Robert Shaw
Richard Dreyfuss
Lorraine Gary
Murray Hamilton

Thursday, September 20

REVIEW: Arbitrage





Directed by Nicholas Jarecki
Drama
1 hour 40 minutes
From Lionsgate & Roadside Attractions

Starring
Richard Gere
Susan Sarandon
Tim Roth
Brit Marley
Nate Parker
Stuart Margolin


Tuesday, September 18

Stanwyck

We often call men by their last names but rarely do we accord that to women.  I guess it doesn't sound quite right.   Maybe it's considered disrespectful. We either mention the woman's full name or tag on a Miss, Ms or Mrs.  I think the exception is for those tough dames I like so much.  When they are formidable and commanding and can more than stand their own ground, they can be addressed by a single last name.  And if you know who she is, then you know she can simply be called Stanwyck.

Friday, September 14

REVIEW: Killer Joe


 

Directed by William Friedkin
Crime Drama
1 hour 43 minutes
From LD Entertainment

Starring
Matthew McConaughey
Emile Hirsch
Juno Temple
Gina Gershon
Thomas Haden Church


Thursday, September 13

Dual Reviews

I have actually been seeing so many movies lately that I have to double up on some of them to review.  There's been a couple that were so stinky that I won't waste your time raking them over the coals.  The two on board today captured my attention due to the leading men, Tom Hardy and Henry Cavill.  The guys did not disappoint but I must rant a little about one of their films.  Hit the read more button and let's get going.




Tuesday, September 11

Wilde: Favorite Movie #28

1997 Biographical Drama
From Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Brian Gilbert

Starring
Stephen Fry
Jude Law
Jennifer Ehle
Vanessa Redgrave
Michael Sheen
Gemma Jones
Judy Parfitt
Zoe Wanamaker
Tom Wilkinson

Tuesday, September 4

The Girl from the Black Lagoon










She might be a forgotten name in some quarters but fans of monster movies will forever remember her as Kay Lawrence in the 1954 film The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  That film will keep her foremost in the minds of those who pay attention to movie trivia.  I thought she was beautiful and talented.  It may be that a career was not as important to her as it was to a Davis or Crawford or Hepburn or Stanwyck.  Being under contract to Universal-International (as Universal Studios was then called) probably didn't help in elevating her to star status.

Friday, August 31

A Sad Gig

Life started sad for him, most of his 64 years were sad and the ending... well, yes, the ending... couldn't have been sadder had it been produced by Hollywood.  And of course in some ways it had been.  I am not sure why some studio hasn't grabbed a good writer to scribble down Gig Young's story.  It would be a tragic yet memorable story.  Here is how it unfolded:


Tuesday, August 28

Laura: Favorite Movie #29

1944 Film Noir
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Otto Preminger

Starring
Gene Tierney
Dana Andrews
Clifton Webb
Vincent Price
Judith Anderson

Wednesday, August 22

REVIEW: Sparkle






Directed by Salim Akil
Musical Drama
1 hour 56 minutes
From Tri Star

Starring
Jordin Sparks
Whitney Houston
Carmen Ejogo
Tika Sumpter
Derek Luke
Mike Epps
Omari Hardwicke

Tuesday, August 21

An Afternoon at the Movies

I went alone.  My partner was busy elsewhere and wasn't enamored of seeing the film I wanted to see.  Once I organized my thoughts I decided well, hell, why not see two movies then?  I checked it out and by God there was another one that fit the bill.  They were playing at my local 16-screen movie palace, a mere eight minutes away and if that weren't enough, it was free popcorn day.  I did confirm the times and, more importantly, the waiting time in between movies.  Ah, only 40 minutes.  I could return to the car and relax.

Friday, August 17

Gone with the Wind: Favorite Movie #30

1939 Drama
From Selznick International
Directed by Victor Fleming

Starring
Clark Gable
Vivien Leigh
Leslie Howard
Olivia DeHavilland
Thomas Mitchell
Hattie McDaniel
Barbara O'Neill
Ann Rutherford
Evelyn Keyes
Ona Munson
Butterfly McQueen
Ward Bond
Victor Jory
George Reeves

Tuesday, August 14

Ghosts at Westwood

Why am I sitting on the ground against a tree?  Why is it dark?   Rubbing my eyes I see I am still at the Westwood Village Memorial Park in the Los Angeles area.  The cemetery is plopped right in the middle of a busy city, an odd but prestigious location.  Didn't I leave earlier in the day after touring the gravesites?  Mmmmm, I moaned softly, rubbing my sleeveless arms.  It's kind of nippy for a Southern California night in September.  Oh yes, oh yes, now I remember hitting my head on an overhanging branch and sinking to the ground..  Damn that hurt.   



Friday, August 10

REVIEW: Ruby Sparks






Directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Fantasy Comedy Drama
1 hour 43 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Starring
Paul Dano
Zoe Kazan
Chris Messina
Antonio Banderas
Annette Bening
Elliott Gould


Tuesday, August 7

The Last of the Mohicans: Favorite Movie #31

1992 Historical Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Michael Mann

Starring
Daniel Day-Lewis
Madeleine Stowe
Russell Means
Wes Studi
Eric Schweig
Jodhi May
Steven Waddington

Friday, August 3

Kim Novak

I just finished watching 1954's Pushover, the first starring film made by the astonishingly beautiful Kim Novak.  I can see why cop Fred MacMurray went to the dark side for her.  She was so alluring, so seductive and spoke in that breathless manner popularized by Marilyn Monroe.

Tuesday, July 31

Home Before Dark: Favorite Movie #32

1958 Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy

Starring
Jean Simmons
Dan O'Herlihy
Rhonda Fleming
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Mabel Albertson
Steve Dunne
Joanna Barnes
Joan Weldon
Kathryn Card

Friday, July 27

Aldo Ray

We had a bromance when I was around 11 or 12 years of age.  My family had just moved to Los Angeles.  He never knew even though I saw him now and then at the market.  Always with my mother, I peeked at him over the potato chips display and thought it best not to let her know. The bromance burned brightly and burned out quickly.  I moved on.  I changed.  He changed.  Still, when I see his films today (and I have seen three this month alone), I smile about those long ago days.


Wednesday, July 25

REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises





Directed by Christopher Nolan
Action Crime Drama
2 hours 44 minutes
From Warner Bros

Starring
Christian Bale
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Tom Hardy
Anne Hathaway
Marion Cotillard
Gary Oldman
Morgan Freeman
Michael Caine
Matthew Modine
Tom Conti
William Devane
Liam Neeson
Cillian Murphy




Tuesday, July 24

Making Love: Favorite Movie #33

1982 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Arthur Hiller

Starring
Michael Ontkean
Kate Jackson
Harry Hamlin
Wendy Hiller
Arthur Hill
Nancy Olson

Friday, July 20

Ernie & Celeste

It sure seems to me that a lot of showbiz types are passing away these days.  The same occurred to two buddies the other day when we met for lunch.  We tried to come up with actors in their 90s who were still alive.  I recall us mentioning the DeHavilland sisters (well, that's what I call them) and Kirk Douglas and some others and we also mentioned Ernest Borgnine.  We had a laugh over the fact that Borgnine is 95 and Douglas 95 and they played father and son in 1958's rousing The Vikings.  Before I had my next meal that day, I heard on the news that old Ernie passed away.  I pondered warning the others.


Tuesday, July 17

If It's Tuesday It Must Be Weld

Pardon the pun of the title.  I borrowed from the film If It's Tuesday It Must Be Belgium because it seemed like the right thing to do.  Tuesday Weld was the bad girl of her day, the sex-kitten vixen.  Her name and behavior often hit the newspapers and were fodder for movie magazine fans.  She is only a year and a couple of months older than I am, so she's always been my girl.  She was me.  She was more rebellious and more liberated than I was, but I longed to join her in her travels and her mercurial ways.

Friday, July 13

Jeremiah Johnson: Favorite Movie #34

1972 Western Drama
From Warner Bros.
Directed by Sydney Pollack

Starring
Robert Redford
Will Geer
Delle Bolton
Josh Albee
Stefan Gierasch
Joaquin Martinez
Allyn Ann McLerie

Tuesday, July 10

Quiz 4

Each set of 4 actors were featured in the same movie and your job, should you choose to accept it, is to name the movie.  Oh yeah, in most cases, the first two or three top-billed stars are missing.  Are you game?


Friday, July 6

With the Beat, Beat, Beat of the Tom-Tom

Do you hear the drums across the land?  They're beat, beat, beating the message that Tom and Katie are divorcing.  It's getting louder and louder each day.  They are calling it the "divorce shocker."  Are you shocked?  Huh?  C'mon, you know you're not.  First of all, in general, we're rarely surprised when a movie star couple divorces.  We're more shocked when they meet some milestone in wedded togetherness.  While I am not married to my partner, we've been together 36 years.  Now THAT'S a shocker.  But old Tom (he's just turned 50) and his bevy of actress-wives don't last long, do they?  Soon we'll refer to Katie simply as Number Three and there will be a four and perhaps a five.  Can you imagine?  But hey Cary Grant had five wives so why can't Tom?

Tuesday, July 3

REVIEW: People Like Us








Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Drama
1 hour 55 minutes
From Dreamworks

Starring
Chris Pine
Elizabeth Banks
Olivia Wilde
Michael Hall D'Adarrio
Jon Favreau
Michelle Pfeiffer


Friday, June 29

REVIEW: Magic Mike








Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Drama
1 hour 50 minutes
From Warner Bros.

Starring
Channing Tatum
Alex Pettyfer
Cody Horn
Matt Bomer
Joe Manganiello
Adam Rodriquez
Kevin Nash
Matthew McConaughey


Wednesday, June 27

REVIEW: Hysteria






Directed by Tanya Wexler
Period Comedy Drama
1 hour 35 minutes
From Sony Pictures

Starring
Hugh Dancy
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Jonathan Pryce
Felicity Jones
Rupert Everett

Tuesday, June 26

Leave Her to Heaven: Favorite Movie #35

1945 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by John Stahl

Starring
Gene Tierney
Cornel Wilde
Jeanne Crain
Vincent Price
Mary Philips
Ray Collins
Darryl Hickman
Chill Wills

Friday, June 22

Under-rated Movies


Here are five films which, for one or more reasons, were not as highly regarded as those who made them would have hoped and certainly aren't held as highly as I regard them.  I am pointing more toward the critics' reactions rather than the public but in some cases that might include the public as well.  Three of them are dramas and two are comedies.  It has not escaped me that the comedies failed, in part, because the lead actors in each are not only dramatic actors but one might call them highly dramatic.  There are those who think less of the work for such actors when they make a stab at comedy.  Too bad.  Let's see what you think.



Tuesday, June 19

Crying at the Movies

I don't cry much outside of the movies and I have always wondered, therefore, why I am such a big crybaby in a darkened theater?  For this piece my brain immediately came up with four films which had me blubbering but the past week or so I have come up with more.  It seemed that most everyday I would remember another film that set off some tears.  I know, however, that there are hundreds upon hundreds of films that have at least made me teary-eyed.  Maybe the tears didn't spill down my cheeks, but it was hard to see.  There are those films that made me shed some big ones and since a great many films leave that super sad scene until the end, I have often waited for the theater to clear (or close to) so I can walk out without appearing to have wilted. 

Friday, June 15

Sweet Dreams: Favorite Movie #36

1985 Musical Biography
From HBO Pictures/Tri Star
Directed by Karel Reisz

Starring
Jessica Lange
Ed Harris
Ann Wedgeworth
David Clennon

Tuesday, June 12

Gene Hackman

This is in part a tribute to an ex-neighbor of mine, Trudy, who was over the moon about Gene Hackman.  She even had a couple of framed pictures of him in her bathroom.  I always wondered how Gene felt watching me like that in so private a moment.  Trudy thought he was very handsome.  She would correct that and say manly and then say, well, he is both.  I know I never confused him with a trio of his costars, Beatty, Redford and Newman, but I had to agree with Trudy when she said that Hackman was one of the best actors around.  He has made some 80+ movies, most of which were quite good.  Of course there were a few stinkers in there but he's entitled.


Friday, June 8

REVIEW: Peace, Love & Misunderstanding








Directed by Bruce Beresford
Comedy Drama
1 hour 36 minutes
From BCDF Pictures

Starring
Jane Fonda
Catherine Keener
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Elizabeth Olsen
Nat Wolff
Chace Crawford


Tuesday, June 5

Ryan

My son's name is Ryan.  I obviously like the name. This could be about him.  But you know it's not.  It could be about Ryan O'Neal but it's not.  It's not only about someone named Ryan but  about three actors named Ryan.  I have been thinking about them for days because a friend phoned and got my brain whirring on these three.  Our chat started with her saying she thought she knew which one was married to Reese Witherspoon.  (She guessed wrong.)  She thought Reese's ex was "the one in that Sandra Bullock movie, you know the one with Betty White."  (Ooops, afraid not.) 

Friday, June 1

Savage Grace: Favorite Movie #37


2007 Drama
From The Weinstein Company
Directed by Tom Kalin

Starring
Julianne Moore
Eddie Redmayne
Stephen Dillane
Elena Anaya
Hugh Dancy
Unax Ugalde
Barney Clark

Monday, May 21

Dear Monty

He was like a wounded bird to me... and when I first became aware of him, I was a nine-year old kid.  But I always did see things through an emotional lens and I focused on people that I seemed to relate to or certainly wanted to relate to on an emotional plane.  As a fan to an actor, I took some sort of higher ground with Montgomery Clift.  I knew he hurt.  I saw it in his eyes, in the way he kind of hid his body in plain view.  He never had good posture, he slunk, he didn't want to be noticed... though he certainly got involved in an odd occupation for someone who slunk and didn't want to be a public figure.  I always felt I understood him.  



Friday, May 18

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Favorite Movie #38

1961 Comedy-drama
Directed by Blake Edwards
From Paramount Studios

Starring
Audrey Hepburn
George Peppard
Patricia Neal
Buddy Ebsen
Mickey Rooney
Martin Balsam

Wednesday, May 16

Quiz 3

Here we go with your 3rd quiz.  Even though there are only 11 questions, there are still the same ol' 25 possible points.  One bit of advice... read carefully, don't jump to any hasty conclusions.  LOL.  Have fun.  Answers on Monday.

Monday, May 14

REVIEW: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel






Directed by John Madden
Comedy-Drama
2 hours, 4 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Starring
Judi Dench
Bill Nighy
Dev Patel
Penelope Wilton
Celia Imrie
Ronald Pickup
Lilette Dubey
Diana Hardcastle
Tom Wilkinson
Maggie Smith


Friday, May 11

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: Favorite Movie #39

1962 Western
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by John Ford

Starring
John Wayne
James Stewart
Vera Miles
Lee Marvin
Edmond O'Brien
Woody Strode
Andy Devine
Jeanette Nolan
John Qualen
John Carradine

Wednesday, May 9

In the Shadow of Astaire and Kelly

It was a very, very big shadow.  These were some big dancing shoes to fill.  Probably every boy who wanted to dance in the movies was inspired by Fred Astaire.  Both he and Gene Kelly (who came around a good dozen years later) were hard to beat in the dancing game but others would do the best they knew how.  Some other male dancers were brave enough to pair up with these greats in a film together.

Monday, May 7

Yesterday and Today at the Movies

Here we go with a discussion of movies of today and movies of yesteryear.  I hesitated titling this old movies v. new movies.  That sounds so either/or while I think it's more about and.  Movies have much merit regardless of when they were made, just as there are detractions.

It is probably important that we define some terms... namely, what is an old movie?    How far back do we go for a film to be called old?  A cousin and I recently had a chat about that very thing and  she said anything earlier than the 1980s is old.  I was at first surprised because I don't consider that to be the time of an old movie but I started ruminating about it and came to the immediate conclusion that it's a subjective thing.  Old to you may not be old to me or vice versa.  I recalled a young neighbor once told me an old film is anything not currently in the theaters.  Unfortunately, she added "No one cares about an old movie."  Um, I do.

Friday, May 4

East of Eden: Favorite Movie #40

1955 Drama
From Warner Brothers
Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring
Julie Harris
James Dean
Raymond Massey
Jo Van Fleet
Burl Ives
Richard Davalos
Albert Dekker
Timothy Carey
Lois Smith

Wednesday, May 2

Heaven Knows, Miss Kerr

Heaven has her now and boy is it lucky.  She is no doubt the grande dame, a status she enjoyed throughout the bulk of her long career but Deborah Kerr was a true force to be reckoned in the first 15 years of her stay in Hollywood.  She seemed to nab all the plum roles.

Along with the marvelous character actress Thelma Ritter (with whom she worked) and now Glenn Close, she is the most Oscar-nominated actress without a win.  In her later years and in poor health, she made, I believe, her last public appearance on the Oscar telecast to collect a special Oscar for her long and distinguished career.  Amen to that.



Monday, April 30

James Mason

The man we loved to hate.  He had a voice so recognizable that most people would have named him if they simply heard it without seeing him.  His demeanor was often patronizing and smacked of one that was insincere and sinister and could be equally authoritative and commanding.  As a child watching his movies, I remember being scared just listening to him.

Friday, April 27

Maurice: Favorite Movie #41

1987 Period Drama
From Cinecom Pictures and Four Star International
Directed by James Ivory

Starring
James Wilby
Hugh Grant
Rupert Graves
Phoebe Nicholls
Denholm Elliott
Billie Whitelaw
Judy Parfitt
Simon Callow
Ben Kingsley

Wednesday, April 25

Jean Simmons

I've been in a British mood for a few posts and we shall continue a bit longer with one of the world-class in that crowd... Jean Simmons.  I have loved her from the second film I ever saw her in and it has never changed.  I thought nearly all of her films were great but for the handful that may not warrant that compliment, she was always fabulous. 

Monday, April 23

Dame Julie

Few of the top actresses have had the soaring highs and the devastating lows in their careers as has Julie Andrews.  She started off by winning an Oscar for her first film.  Her third film knocked Gone with the Wind off its 26-year perch as the most financially successful film in U.S. history.  Her movie career, for all intents and purposes, is an American one.  Her most famous stage work began in America, too.  The American people have embraced her more than her own Brits.


Friday, April 20

A Room with a View: Favorite Movie #42

1985 Drama
From Goldcrest Films International
Directed by James Ivory

Starring
Maggie Smith
Helena Bonham Carter
Julian Sands
Denholm Elliott
Judi Dench
Simon Callow
Daniel Day-Lewis
Rupert Graves
Rosemary Leach

Wednesday, April 18

Dame Judi

I first heard of her in 1985 when she made A Room with a View.  She had already done a lot of work, particularly in her native Britain, but I wasn't into English films very much at the time.  She helped change that as did A Room With a View.  In it she had a minor part as a novelist.  She would come to work in many ensemble casts with as much excellence as she provided in some of her above-the-title roles.  Imagine, she was in her early 50s when most Americans became aware of her.  How rare is that?  I have been a huge fan ever since.


Monday, April 16

The Goddess

In her final film, High Society, Grace Kelly, as heiress Tracy Lord, is having verbal fisticuffs with her father played by Sidney Blackmer.  They have been sparring and he is outlining to her the kind of daughter he would like her to be, one by one reeling off traits that she could have that would make her acceptable to him.

"None of which, I have," she purrs.  "I'm just a cold goddess."

"If your vanity thinks in terms of goddesses," he sternly responds.  "You have a good mind, Tracy, you have a pretty face, a fine, disciplined body that does what you tell it.  You have everything it takes to make a lovely woman except the one essential... an understanding heart.


Friday, April 13

The Big Chill: Favorite Movie #43

1983 Comedy Drama
From Columbia Pictures
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Starring
Tom Berenger
Glenn Close
Jeff Goldblum
WIlliam Hurt
Kevin Kline
Mary Kay Place
Meg Tilly
JoBeth Williams
Don Galloway

Wednesday, April 11

Tarnished Golden Boy

November of 1981 was a bad month for me and my romance with everything that is movies.  In the middle of the month 63-year old William Holden, one of my favorite actors, died.  He seemed way too young and vital to have died, but it was the way he died that got everyone's attention.  At a gathering hosted by his former girlfriend, Stefanie Powers, Natalie Wood, another great favorite of mine, attended.  No one then knew that before month's end, she also would be dead and how she died would also be a cause for much attention and speculation.  It was a depressing month.

Monday, April 9

More Character Actors

The title says it all.  We are continuing our series (is that what it is?) on character actors.  We want to bring as many into the light as we can.  You will recognize their faces but may not know their names.  Oh yes, he is... um... um... I know that face.  He was in that one movie... um... oh, what was it called?  Well, we're gonna clear up some of that for you.  About the only things these three gentlemen have in common is that they all have double L's in their last names, none of them ever had a starring role to my knowledge, they have all sadly passed away and they were actors of such distinction that I find them irreplaceable.


Friday, April 6

This Property Is Condemned: Favorite Movie #44

1966 Drama
From Paramount
Directed by Sydney Pollack

Starring
Natalie Wood
Robert Redford
Charles Bronson
Kate Reid
Mary Badham
Alan Baxter

Wednesday, April 4

Laurence Harvey

He was a bastard

Oh, his parents were married alright.  I just used a vivid 7-letter word to say he was not a very nice man... and to get your attention.

Like his roles in Room at the Top and its sequel Life at the Top, Laurence Harvey ruthlessly climbed his way to the top.  He married older women for what they could do for him.  He slept with men for the same reason... anything to advance his career.  He was disliked by or had run-ins with many of his co-stars. 

Monday, April 2

REVIEW: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen







Directed by Lasse Hallström
1 hour 47 minutes
From CBS Films, BBC Films

Starring
Ewan McGregor
Emily Blunt
Kristin Scott Thomas
Amr Waked
Tom Mison
Rachael Stirling



Friday, March 30

Old Yeller: Favorite Movie #45

1957 Children's Classic
From Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Robert Stevenson

Starring
Dorothy McGuire
Fess Parker
Tommy Kirk
Kevin Corcoran
Jeff York
Beverly Washburn
Chuck Connors

Wednesday, March 28

Vera Miles

She was a radiant movie star of the 1950s and 1960s.  She made a few very important and famous films.  She worked with some of the best directors, Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford among them, and some luminous costars.  She always worked in television but in later decades that was her primary medium... never a series but many guest star roles in nearly every popular show of the day and a number of television movies.  She was usually blonde, sometimes brunette and always beautiful.  She really should have been a bigger star than she was.  She certainly had the talent. Maybe it was a lack of interest or true ambition on her part.  She never much played the Hollywood game... that can pose a problem if you want to be big.  Then she left... and we have heard almost nothing of her since.


Monday, March 26

France & Nancy

Two beautiful actresses, Nancy Kwan and France Nuyen, came onto the Hollywood scene at just about the same time.  They were both born in 1939, just a couple of months apart.  Their careers also intersected a number of times, but that is easily understood since the pool of Asian actresses was pretty much non-existent when they arrived on the scene. 

Friday, March 23

A Summer Place: Favorite Movie #46

1959 Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by Delmer Daves

Starring
Richard Egan
Dorothy McGuire
Sandra Dee
Arthur Kennedy
Troy Donahue
Constance Ford
Beulah Bondi

Wednesday, March 21

Quiz #2

We'll have periodic quizzes... when my brain is up to thinking of some questions. I'll advise at the end of each quiz when the answers will be posted. Here's your second one. Get that brain stimulated. We'll call this open book... use your resource materials. Have fun.

Ok, here's the gig.  Between each listed movie is a blank for you to fill in with the actor or actress who appeared in each set of movies.

It might look like this:

Gone With the Wind

1.  Clark Gable_____

Mogambo

2.  Ava Gardner____

Show Boat

Gable starred in both Gone with the Wind and Mogambo and Gardner starred in both Mogambo and Show Boat.  Get it?  Go...


Monday, March 19

Clifton Webb

The movies have never really known anyone quite like him.  Oh some others had this or that trait in common with him, but no one ever quite measured up to Clifton Webb.  If you remember him, then you know exactly what I am talking about.  He is nothing if not memorable.  He also had one of the oddest careers in Hollywood but no one can deny he wasn't the best at what he did.  If you don't know who he is, then hit "read more" and let's take it away.

Friday, March 16

My Week with Marilyn: Favorite Movie #47

2011 Biographical Drama
From The Weinstein Company
Directed by Simon Curtis

Starring
Michelle Williams
Eddie Redmayne
Kenneth Branagh
Judi Dench
Dominic Cooper
Julia Ormond
Zoë Wanamaker

Wednesday, March 14

The Garner Files

I never much thought about James Garner when he was at the height of his fame... didn't dislike him whatsoever... he just never set any fires for me.  I always found him to be a completely competent actor but rather bland.  I do credit him with always having a perpetual twinkle in his eye.  Humor is his pal and I see that.  I have seen many of his films but cannot say that he was the draw.  I certainly watched Maverick on the tube as a kid but thought it was just featherweight stuff, typical of the same-o, same-o western stuff Warner Bros. churned out at the time.  And perhaps I should hang my head to say this, but I have never seen The Rockford Files.  Was it good?  Garner thinks so.

Monday, March 12

Ava Gardner

What a babe!  What a broad!  I can well imagine that when one looks up those B-words in a dictionary or online, the words Ava Gardner must be part of the definitions.  She was such a sultry siren and she made men do things against their better judgments but what often came out of that mouth of hers made those same men cower.  Or most of them.

Friday, March 9

The Lion: Favorite Movie #48

1962 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Jack Cardiff

Starring
William Holden
Trevor Howard
Capucine
Pamela Franklin

Wednesday, March 7

Richard Widmark

Early in his movie career he played vicious psychopaths and an assortment of other unsavory types, often in my beloved film noirs, and then he gravitated to mainly good-guy roles, frequently in war dramas and westerns.  In his later career, at an age when most actors would have retired or at least been forgotten by Hollywood, he got back to some bad-guy roles.  And the funny thing is, like a lot of those who played villains, in real life he was a terrifically nice guy.  I have always considered him to be one of the most watchable of actors, a true scene-stealer if there ever was one.

Monday, March 5

Inquiring Minds

Here are some questions I have rolled around in my mind... some for quite some time, others while I sit here at the computer.  If anyone knows the answers, do let me know.


Friday, March 2

Forbidden: Favorite Movie #49

1953 Drama
From Universal
Directed by Rudolph Maté

Starring
Tony Curtis
Joanne Dru
Lyle Bettger
Victor Sen Yung
Marvin Miller
Peter Mamakos

Wednesday, February 29

Ewan McGregor

It all started with Dirk Bogarde.  I have had a thing for British actors for as long as I can remember.  I was not bowled over by everyone.  Some Anthonys and Peters slipped under my radar, but Scotsman Sean Connery was one whose movies I usually did not miss and I think Englishman Daniel Day-Lewis is about the finest actor who ever drew breath.  I like a couple of Ruperts... Everett and Graves... and Jeremy Irons, Ralph Fiennes and Irishmen Liam Neeson and Kenneth Branagh soon followed.

Monday, February 27

Child Actors

Child actors first got my attention when I was a child myself.  A little 6-year old kid looking up at that big screen is going to focus on a kid just as he would in real life when another child is present.  It may be, however, that as we grow into maturity, we pay less attention to children in a movie and focus on the adults and their adult actions and problems.  I guess I cut that class.  To this day I am so impressed with child actors, particularly ones in starring or featured roles.  As I said in my posting on favorite films, I am gripped by films that put children in peril.  I always find myself wondering what the kid really understands about the process he is going through.

Friday, February 24

Jubilee Trail: Favorite Movie #50

1954 Western
From Republic Pictures
Directed by Joseph Kane

Starring
Vera Ralston
Joan Leslie
Forrest Tucker
John Russell
Ray Middleton
Pat O'Brien
Buddy Baer
Jim Davis
Barton MacLane
Jack Elam

Wednesday, February 22

All-time Favorite Films

It can be difficult to come up with a list of favorite films... at least for me.  It is hard to limit myself to a decided few.  What is a favorite film?  One that is more appealing above all others; a front-runner; something preferred; regarded with favored liking; in some cases, beloved. 

I have come up with 50 of them.  It was going to be just 25 but so help me, I had a helluva time limiting myself to that number.  There are some films, especially the top 10, that I have no doubt whatsoever that they belong in that positioning.  I don't even have to think about it.  Once in a while the order changes because some new film enters the picture and captures my heart.  It's for that middle bunch I forced myself to come up with a ranking.  In some cases, frankly, I don't know that my 38th favorite film isn't really my 42nd favorite or my 18th is really my 19th.  Since I have seen thousands of films, I think they're all pretty special to be included in a group of a mere fifty.

Monday, February 20

REVIEW: This Means War






Directed by McG
1 hour 38 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Starring
Reese Witherspoon
Chris Pine
Tom Hardy
Til Schweiger
Chelsea Handler
Angela Bassett

Friday, February 17

Quiz 1

We'll have periodic quizzes... when my brain is up to thinking of some questions.  I'll advise at the end of each quiz when the answers will be posted.  Here's your first one.  Get that brain stimulated.  We'll call this open book... use your resource materials.  Have fun.

The great Rodgers and Hammerstein had their work turned into seven (or eight if you count a remake) glorious films.  I was raised on them and loved most.  They are (alphabetically):

  • Carousel
  • Flower Drum Song
  • The King and I
  • Oklahoma
  • The Sound of Music
  • South Pacific
  • State Fair

Come up with the answers to the following 25 questions.  Scoring at the bottom.

Wednesday, February 15

Susan Hayward

 
Ah, redheads...! Flame-haired women have always held a special fascination for me. Hollywood has long been populated with them. For some reason, most of them have been pretty accomplished actresses and whether by design or not, there is often a fiery temperament under that pretty mop.   My favorite of them all was unquestionably Susan Hayward.