Tuesday, December 31

Her Films with Burton

It's not so simple to do kiss-kiss and nice-nice as I did in my piece called Taylor-Made in the 50s.  In that decade being a good actress meant something to Elizabeth Taylor.  And as stated earlier, when she was under the control of a good director, she could shine as brightly as any.  But love and being adored by a man was more important to her.  One might question why she, of all people, didn't make an effort to have it all.  But in 1962 le scandale broke all over the world and it would be years and years before we stopped hearing about the shenanigans of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Friday, December 27

REVIEW: The Wolf of Wall Street

 
Directed by Martin Scorsese
2013 Drama
2 hours 59 minutes
From Paramount Pictures

Starring
Leonardo DiCaprio
Jonah Hill
Margot Robbie
Kyle Chandler
Rob Reiner
Jon Bernthal
Jon Favreau
Jean Dujardin
Joanna Lumley
Matthew McConaughey

Tuesday, December 24

The Directors: Fred Zinnemann

By most accounts he was regarded as a superior craftsman.  When you hear of some of his films, it is his attention to realism and detail that you will recall.  He could be fussy but he wanted it all to play out as he saw it.  He brought Oscar nominations (and a few wins) to 19 actors, five in one movie alone.  He would say that the three most important things about a film are the script, the script, the script.  He made some of the best films to come out of the 1950s and 60s.  I loved his work.

Sunday, December 22

REVIEW: Saving Mr. Banks





Directed by John Lee Hancock
2013 Drama
2 hours 5 minutes
From Disney Studios

Starring
Emma Thompson
Tom Hanks
Colin Farrell
Paul Giamatti
Bradley Whitford
B. J. Novak
Jason Schwartzmann
Annie Rose Buckley
Ruth Wilson
Kathy Baker
Rachel Griffiths
Melanie Paxson

Saturday, December 21

REVIEW: American Hustle





Directed by David O. Russell
2013 Crime Drama
2 hours 18 minutes
From Columbia Pictures

Starring
Christian Bale
Amy Adams
Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence
Jeremy Renner
Louis C.K.
Jack Huston
Michael Peña
Alessandro Nivola
Robert DeNiro

Friday, December 20

RIP to a Film Noir Queen

She was a tramp.  She was a hellion... a vixen... a gun moll... a murderess.  She was blonde, edgy, hard, vicious.  She rarely smiled and when she did, she made me nervous.  She was not one to be trusted.  She came out of dark corners, off wet streets, off bar stools when she heard the words that made her mad... last call.  No one could tell her anything.  Her eyes bored into you as she trilled her honey-throated lies.  She could wear beautiful gowns with her hair piled high on her head or don a housedress with a gingham apron around her tiny waist but it didn't matter.  She was lethal.  She reached out and touched you like bacon spitting from a fry pan.  You might recover.  You might not.

Tuesday, December 17

RIP Baby Sister

I wonder if she can rest in peace.  I always thought Joan Fontaine was a troubled lady, that peace eluded her, and I thought it shone through in her film roles as well.  The actress died this past week along with a number of others... Eleanor Parker, Peter O'Toole, Audrey Totter and Tom Laughlin.  All lived to ripe old ages... Fontaine was 96.

Friday, December 13

Picture Quiz III

So you think you know Meryl Streep movies, eh?  Well, let's see.  Here are scenes from 10 of her films.  The answers will be in the next posting.

Tuesday, December 10

Taylor-Made in the 50s

Elizabeth Taylor made 52 theatrical films.  Some are among Hollywood's greatest booty while others are at the bottom of the cinema food chain.  I don't think any actress of her stature ever made so many bad movies (we can argue about that later).  Luckily, only a few of them were in the 50s.  She was then under contract to MGM and though she often rebelled at the studio's dictates, she was at her most disciplined and seemed to care more about her work than in any other decade.  It was in the 50s that she truly came into her own as an actress, certainly an adult one.  She was not a trained actress but more of an instinctive one and she could really turn it on under the watch of a great director.  She had a few of those in the 1950s. 

Friday, December 6

Dancing Girls III

We conclude our Dancing Girls series with a tribute to two of the best tap dancing ladies to ever grace the silver screen, Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller.  They were both under contract to MGM and Powell's career had ended by the time Miller came the studio.  Miller has also said that it was Powell who inspired her own future career.  The truth is there was never a tap dancer in the history of the movies to match Eleanor Powell, but if anyone ever got close, it was without a doubt Ann Miller.

Tuesday, December 3

Cabaret: Favorite Movie #5

1972 Musical Drama
From ABC Pictures
Directed by Bob Fosse

Starring
Liza Minnelli
Michael York
Helmut Griem
Joel Grey
Marisa Berenson
Fritz Wepper

Friday, November 29

REVIEW: Philomena





Directed by Stephen Frears
2013 Drama
1 hour 38 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Starring
Judi Dench
Steve Coogan
Sophie Kennedy Clark
Anna Maxwell Martin
Mare Winningham
Peter Hermann
Sean Mahon
Ruth McCabe
Wunmi Mosaku

Thursday, November 28

REVIEW: Dallas Buyers Club





Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
2013 Biographical Drama
1 hour 57 minutes
From Focus Features

Starring
Matthew McConaughey
Jennifer Garner
Jared Leto
Denis O'Hare
Steve Zahn
Dallas Roberts
Griffin Dunne

Wednesday, November 27

REVIEW: Kill Your Darlings





Directed by John Krokidas
2013 Biographical Drama
1 hour and 44 minutes
From Sony Pictures Classics

Starring
Daniel Radcliffe
Dane DeHaan
Michael C. Hall
Jack Huston
Ben Foster
David Cross
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Elizabeth Olsen
David Rasche
John Cullum
Kyra Sedgwick

Friday, November 22

Shane, Come Back

The kid who uttered those immortal lines was, of course, Brandon deWilde.  He was, as they say, born in a trunk, but his theatrical parents were not enthusiastic about bringing him into the business.  His father, Fritz, was a Broadway stage manager and mother Genie was a part-time actress.  They were determined to provide their son with as normal an upbringing as they knew how.

Tuesday, November 19

REVIEW: Big Sur






Directed by Michael Polish
2013 Biographical Drama
1 hour 21 minutes
From 3311 Productions and
Ketchup Entertainment

Starring
Jean-Marc Barr
Kate Bosworth
Josh Lucas
Radha Mitchell
Anthony Edwards
Balthazar Getty
Patrick Fischler
Stana Katic
Henry Thomas
John Robinson

Friday, November 15

REVIEW: The Best Man Holiday





Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
2013 Comedy Drama
From Universal Pictures
2 hours

Starring
Taye Diggs
Morris Chestnut
Terrence Howard
Sanaa Lathan
Nia Long
Monica Calhoun
Harold Perrineau
Regina Hall
Melissa De Sousa
Eddie Cibrian

Tuesday, November 12

Picture Quiz II

Well, gee, you did so well on the first Picture Quiz that I thought it was time for another one.  Just identify the titles of 10 movies... no scoring, no popcorn, no problem.

Friday, November 8

The Directors: Richard Brooks

Maverick is a word that always held an attraction for me.  My trusty dictionary says it is a term for a lone dissenter, perhaps an intellectual, an artist or politician, but definitely one who takes an independent stand apart from his or her associates.  It is a nonconforming individualist, a free thinker, one who pursues  rebellious, even potentially disruptive, ideas or policies.  They say you can't muzzle a maverick.  Richard Brooks was such a man.

Tuesday, November 5

Happy Birthday to Us

Let's celebrate my birthday today.  Yes, a Scorpio whose horoscope once read... you may be forgotten but you will never be ignored.  Ha.  Well, I am not forgetting or ignoring two dozen others,  famous in one way or another, who were also born today.  Let's just have a big party. You're invited.

Friday, November 1

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Favorite Movie #6

1958 Drama
From MGM
Directed by Richard Brooks

Starring
Elizabeth Taylor
Paul Newman
Burl Ives
Jack Carson
Judith Anderson
Madeleine Sherwood

Monday, October 28

REVIEW: All Is Lost





Directed by J. C. Chandor
2013 Drama
1 hour 46 minutes
From Lionsgate

Starring
Robert Redford


Sunday, October 27

REVIEW: 12 Years a Slave






Directed by Steve McQueen
2013 Drama
2 hours 13 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Starring
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Michael Fassbender
Lupita Nyong'o
Benedict Cumberbatch
Sarah Paulson
Paul Giamatti
Alfre Woodard
Paul Dano
Michael B. Williams
Brad Pitt

Friday, October 25

REVIEW: The Counselor





Directed by Ridley Scott
2013 Drama
1 hour 57 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Starring
Michael Fassbender
Penélope Cruz
Cameron Diaz
Javier Bardem
Bruno Ganz
Natalie Dormer
Rosie Perez
John Leguizamo
Goran Visnjic
Rubén Blades
Brad Pitt

Tuesday, October 22

The Directors: John Schlesinger

Gay, London-born John Schlesinger was a fixture of the British New Wave in the 1960s before he became famous in America.  That happened in 1969 when his first American film, Midnight Cowboy, caused a considerable stir while winding up winning Oscar's best picture and Schlesinger nabbing best director.  He would direct 17 films in all with his best work following immediately after Cowboy.  His output was slender and his acclaimed films even smaller, but he made his mark.  Those of us who followed his work did so with unbridled admiration.

Friday, October 18

REVIEW: The Fifth Estate





Directed by Bill Condon
2013 Drama
2 hours 8 minutes
From Tristar & Dreamworks

Starring
Benedict Cumberbatch
Daniel Brühl
David Thewlis
Carice van Houten
Laura Linney
Stanley Tucci
Anthony Mackie
Dan Stevens

Tuesday, October 15

Did He Quit Us?

Richard Beymer is famous for playing Tony in the 1961  musical, West Side Story.  It may very well be the best American musical ever made, certainly one of the most iconic, and he was the male star.  Quite an accomplishment in his field.  History will not forget him or at least not the role he played.  To this day he has made only 22 theatrical movies (most of them utterly forgettable), a decidedly small effort considering he started his career as a young boy in the early 1950s.

Friday, October 11

REVIEW: Captain Phillips





Directed by Paul Greengrass
2013 Drama
2 hours 14 minutes
From Columbia Pictures

Starring
Tom Hanks
Barkhad Abdi
Barkhad Abdirahman
Faysal Ahmed
Mahat M. Ali
Michael Chernus
Catherine Keener

Tuesday, October 8

The Directors: John Sturges

He was known primarily as an action director, focusing mainly on westerns and war films and it is those westerns, of course, that originally caught my attention.  He did some routine work in both categories but would go on to make one of the best westerns and best war films of alltime, both starring Steve McQueen.


Friday, October 4

REVIEW: Gravity





Directed by Alfonso Cuarôn
2013 Sci Fi Drama
1 hour 30 minutes
From Warner Bros.

Starring
Sandra Bullock
George Clooney

Tuesday, October 1

The Boys in the Band: Favorite Movie #7

1970 Drama
From Cinema Center Films
Directed by William Friedkin

Starring
Kenneth Nelson
Leonard Frey
Cliff Gorman
Frederick Combs
Laurence Luckinbill
Keith Prentice
Peter White
Reuben Greene
Robert La Tourneaux

Sunday, September 29

REVIEW: Don Jon






Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
2013 Comedy Drama
1 hour 30 minutes
From Relativity Media

Starring
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Scarlett Johansson
Julianne Moore
Tony Danza
Glenne Headley
Rob Brown
Jeremy Luke
Brie Larson

Saturday, September 28

REVIEW: Rush





Directed by Ron Howard
2013 Biographical Drama
2 hours 3 minutes
From Universal

Starring
Chris Hemsworth
Daniel Brühl
Olivia Wilde
Alexandra Maria Lara
Pierfrancesco Favino
Natalie Dormer
Christian McKay

Tuesday, September 24

REVIEW: Prisoners





Directed by Denis Villenueve
2013 Drama
2 hours 26 minutes
From Warner Bros

Starring
Hugh Jackman
Jake Gyllenhaal
Viola Davis
Maria Bello
Terrence Howard
Melissa Leo
Paul Dano
Wayne Duvall

Friday, September 20

The Directors: John Frankenheimer

Starting here, starting now, the next three directors showcased all have the same first name of John.  If you are barely aware of any of them, in two months from now you'll probably not remember which John did which film and which one did outstanding war films or westerns, which one was gay, who drank his career away and you know what?  You can always refer back to these pages and reaffirm what you already know.  We will start with John Frankenheimer, a director whose work (or some of it) you will recognize.  He came on like a fireworks show on the 4th of July. 

Tuesday, September 17

Tony and Janet

Who else?  If your brain was engaged in the fifties (if you weren't around in the fifties, you are excused but stick around anyway, woncha?), you knew who Tony and Janet were.  If you played nonstop sports or sewed from dawn to dusk and didn't own a television or ever go to the movies, you knew who Tony and Janet were.  They were a whirling dervish, the Brad and Angelina (but more so) of their day.  They were Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.

Friday, September 13

REVIEW: The Family





Directed by Luc Besson
2013 Comedy Drama
1 hour 50 minutes
From Relativity Media and
EuropaCorp

Starring
Robert DeNiro
Michelle Pfeiffer
Tommy Lee Jones
Dianna Agron
John D'Leo

Tuesday, September 10

MGMs Sopranos III

Ann Blyth is the third and final entry in the trio of postings on MGMs Sopranos.  She follows Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell which is also what she did at the great studio.  One thing that sets her apart from the other two is that she performed in more dramas than they did.  In fact, Blyth made more dramas than she did musicals.  Despite a gorgeous singing voice, her musicals weren't as popular as the others' were.  She actually came in at the tail end of MGM's triumphant musical years.  Still, we were lucky to have had her.

Saturday, September 7

REVIEW: Adore





Directed by Anne Fontaine
2013 Drama
1 hour 40 minutes
From Exclusive Releasing

Starring
Naomi Watts
Robin Wright
Xavier Samuel
James Frechette
Ben Mendelsohn
Sophie Lowe
Jessica Tovey

Friday, September 6

The Jimmy Stewart Movies I Own

I could sing the praises of this actor until the proverbial cows came home.  He had a persona that transcended mere movie-making.  In him and his roles I always found honesty, heroism, determination, goodness and so much more (space doesn't allow).  More than anything there was a familiarity and a unique affection for him and it seemed comfortable to call him Jimmy.  I usually walked out of his movies feeling a whole lot better than when I walked in.  

I have seen most all of his films.  Two of them are part of my 50 Favorite Films but most are truly favorites of mine.  By and large, he simply made wonderful movies.  I think, too, that most people who know his work would say that.  His library of work is bountiful.  I have 17 of them in my collection so I thought I'd just highlight those.  You may find it interesting which ones I don't own... and don't want to.  Hold on to that thought... we'll leave that to the end.

Here's what I have:

Tuesday, September 3

The Greatest Show on Earth: Favorite Movie #8

1952 Drama
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille

Starring
Betty Hutton
Cornel Wilde
Charlton Heston
Dorothy Lamour
Gloria Grahame
Lyle Bettger
Henry Wilcoxon
Lawrence Tierney
John Kellogg
Emmett Kelly
Bob Carson
James Stewart

Tuesday, August 27

The Directors: George Seaton

How George Seaton first came to my attention, way back in the mid-50s, was when he made films with William Holden, an actor I was already pretty nuts about, and whose career I think was benefited by his working relationship with Seaton and perhaps vice versa as well. Seaton is the director who guided Grace Kelly to her Oscar, another reason I would take notice of his work.

Friday, August 23

John Payne

I don't know that John Payne would be on anyone's best actor list or that he would even be thought of in the upper echelons of Hollywood history.  He was, however, a completely capable and reliable actor, which is likely how most actors should be categorized.  More to the point is I really quite liked him.  His career was coming to an end around the time I discovered movies but I made certain to catch up on most everything he did.

Tuesday, August 20

Picture Quiz 1

Here we go with your newest quiz, but this is a first.  It's a picture quiz.  I provide the scene from a film, you name the film.  This is so easy you could probably ace it while watching Jerry Springer.  Let's find out.  No scoring.  Only 10 of them.  Answers at the end of next posting.  C'mon.  You can do it.

Friday, August 16

REVIEW: The Butler






Directed by Lee Daniels
2013 Historical Biography
2 hours 12 minutes
From The Weinstein Company

Starring
Forrest Whitaker
Oprah Winfrey
David Oyewolo
Terrence Howard
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Lenny Kravitz
David Banner
Yaya Alafia
Adriane Lenox
Clarence Williams III
Alex Pettyfer
Vanessa Redgrave
Mariah Carey

Tuesday, August 13

Femme Fatale: Jane Greer

The appellation goes to an actress I've always admired, lovely Jane Greer.  Lemme tell you, folks, she knocked me senseless in 1947s Out of the Past, arguably the best film noir ever made.  (And I say arguably because there are so many superior ones that I get a nosebleed just thinking of the high numbers.)  One thing that is usually required in noir is a bad girl.  Kathie Moffatt in Out of the Past is just about the best bad girl there ever was.  

Friday, August 9

REVIEW: Blue Jasmine






Directed by Woody Allen
2013 Drama
1 hour 38 minutes
From Sony Pictures Classics

Starring
Cate Blanchett
Sally Hawkins
Alec Baldwin
Bobby Cannavale
Andrew Dice Clay
Alden Ehrenreich
Louis C. K.
Peter Sarsgaard

Tuesday, August 6

Briefly, Robert Francis

His story is one of those starry-eyed Hollywood tales.  Now it's a period piece from the early 1950s. A handsome gay man in his early 20s, a dreamboat really, wants to make it in Hollywood.  That comment could be taken a couple of ways, so go ahead.  Do that.  They both apply.  He was discovered tanning on a Santa Monica beach.  A talent scout thought he had the makings of a viable commodity.  After the young stud got all worked up thinking of the fame and the easy money, he decided he wanted to be a star. 

Friday, August 2

The Big Country: Favorite Movie #9

1958 Western
From United Artists
Directed by William Wyler

Starring
Gregory Peck
Jean Simmons
Carroll Baker
Charlton Heston
Burl Ives
Charles Bickford
Alfonso Bedoya
Chuck Connors

Saturday, July 27

REVIEW: Fruitvale Station





Directed by Ryan Coogler
2013 Drama
1 hour 30 minutes
From The Weinstein Company

Starring
Michael B. Jordan
Melonie Diaz
Octavia Spencer
Ariana Neal


Friday, July 26

Shirley Jones: A Memoir

With only a few interruptions from the bf, I spent all day on Tuesday with Shirley Jones.  I turned on my Kindle while still rousing from the sack and there she was.  What a nice surprise.  It was a pre-order and I had forgotten about it.  And when I went to bed last night, I finished her off.  I read the whole damned book in one day, not something I often do.  It doesn't seem right.  I think of the time it must have taken... in thought, collecting photos, sitting at the computer... and I knock it off in one day.


Tuesday, July 23

MGMs Sopranos II

We'll recall Kathryn Grayson was the subject of MGMs Sopranos I.  After the career of MGMs great soprano, Jeanette McDonald, slowed down, the studio was anxious to get moving with some more lasses with golden pipes.  Grayson came first and just a few years later came our next songstress, Jane Powell. 

Friday, July 19

Randy and Cary

I think they are one of Hollywood's great love stories.  Yes, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott.  You don't?  Why?  Because you don't believe they were lovers at all, they were not like that?   Or you know they were acting like bachelors but don't think it was a great love story?  Well, thank God we don't all feel the same about things, eh?  How dull would that be? 



Tuesday, July 16

REVIEW: The Way, Way Back





Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
2013 Comedy Drama
1 hour 43 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Starring
Liam James
Toni Collette
Steve Carell
Sam Rockwell
Allison Janney
Anna Sophia Robb
Rob Corddry
Amanda Peet
Maya Rudolph

Friday, July 12

Joanne Dru

If one has loved westerns as much as I have, one could not have missed the name of this beautiful actress.  Frankly, she was really almost too beautiful to be in westerns.  Did women of the Old West really look like that?  Her face, body, voice, style seemed more suited to romantic dramas, and while she did a few of those, movie history clearly puts her right in the heart of cowboy country.  

Tuesday, July 9

The Directors: Edward Dmytryk

You can name an Edward Dmytryk-directed movie.  I know you can.  Are you thinking or did you already know of one?  Well,  depending upon how well you recall what you read, he directed Walk on the Wild Side, which we covered in a posting just three back.  Remember?

Friday, July 5

About Miss Leslie

Since I truly discovered the movies in 1952, I have had five favorite actresses, women who somehow possessed a magic that found its way into my heart.  I have had postings on four of them... Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Capucine and Jessica Lange.  The final one up for discussion was actually the first of those special women.  Her name is Joan Leslie.

Wednesday, July 3

REVIEW: The Lone Ranger





Directed by Gore Verbinski
2013 Comedy Western
2 hours 29 minutes
From Walt Disney Pictures

Starring
Johnny Depp
Armie Hammer
Tom Wilkinson
William Fichtner
Ruth Wilson
Helena Bonham Carter
Barry Pepper
Mason Elston Cook

Tuesday, July 2

Walk on the Wild Side: Favorite Movie #10

1962 Drama
From Columbia Pictures
Directed by Edward Dmytryk

Starring
Laurence Harvey
Capucine
Jane Fonda
Anne Baxter
Barbara Stanwyck
Joanna Moore
Richard Rust
Donald Barry
Karl Swenson
Ken Lynch
Juanita Moore

Tuesday, June 25

Quiz 6

A buddy asked me to do a quiz on John Wayne.  He's betting he can answer 'em all.  (Actually, I think this is one of the easier quizzes I've done.)  Let's see how you do.

Friday, June 21

The Directors: Peter Weir

It was in the late seventies that I bumped up against the Aussie film industry.  I had been and remain pretty snooty about my American films but there was room for more.  Hadn't I already seriously embraced British films well before that time and some French films too?  What I had known about Aussies focused mainly on Rod Taylor, who had become pretty identified with America, or Peter Finch, who I actually thought was British. 

Wednesday, June 19

REVIEW: The East

 




Directed by Zal Batmanglij
2013 Drama
1 hour 54 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Starring
Brit Marling
Alexander Skarsgård
Ellen Page
Toby Kebbell
Shiloh Fernandez
Patricia Clarkson
Julia Ormond
Jason Ritter
Jamey Sheridan
Pamela Roylance

Tuesday, June 18

MGMs Sopranos I

When Leo the Lion stopped roaring at the beginning of an MGM film, that lovely soprano voice often heard from the mid-forties to the early fifties likely belonged to Kathryn Grayson.  It signaled the beginning of a light musical, one that wasn't too taxing on a weary brain and one that could allow you to forget all your troubles for about two hours.

Friday, June 14

REVIEW: Man of Steel





Directed by Zack Snyder
2013 Action Fantasy
2 hours 23 minutes
From Warner Bros. and
Legendary Pictures

Starring
Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Michael Shannon
Laurence Fishburne
Antje Traue
Christopher Meloni
Diane Lane
Kevin Costner
Russell Crowe

Tuesday, June 11

The Caddy

When I moved with my family to Los Angeles in the mid-50s, they only knew two couples. One was an old Navy buddy of my father's with whom we stayed in Woodland Hills. The other was someone a great aunt of mine had known by the name of Rudy Rauschkalb. Naturally being new to California, my folks wanted to connect with others they had known in Illinois.

Friday, June 7

The Quintessential Disney Mother

Lovely Dorothy McGuire is the only actress to show up in three of my 50 Favorite Movies... A Summer Place, Old Yeller and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.  While I loved those stories and likely still would have had she not been in them, there is no doubt that she added immensely to my delight at seeing them.  The truth is she really turned me on.  No, no, not that way but her presence I always found luminous.  She had such a kind face and spoke so softly and with such care and concern that I always thought she was speaking to only me.  I never caught her acting.

Tuesday, June 4

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs: Favorite Movie #11

1960 Drama
From Warner Bros.
Directed by Delbert Mann

Starring
Robert Preston
Dorothy McGuire
Shirley Knight
Eve Arden
Angela Lansbury
Lee Kinsolving
Frank Overton
Robert Eyer

Friday, May 31

More Child Stars: Tim, Patty, Sandy & The Foghorn

For you folks who have been around as long as I have or who have movie nostalgia in your bones, you might remember one or more of the child stars from the 1950s that we're mentioning here.  I have seen them in most of the films they made waaayyy back when and remember them today, although they are still those young children.  Only I have gotten older.

Friday, May 24

The Directors: Joshua Logan

He only directed 10 films and was uncredited on an 11th one.  Four of those were smashing successes.  One is on my list of 50 favorite films and one probably should have been.  He is better known for his writing and directing of Broadway shows but his brief fling with Hollywood completely enchanted me. 

Tuesday, May 21

The WWII Pinup Queen

Yes, the WWII Pinup Queen, the one who put the smiles on the faces of all those GIs.  She was Betty Grable.    She was the big noise from the 1940s... the one from that photograph that went on the sides of planes and in soldiers' lockers.  She said about herself that she couldn't dance all that well, couldn't sing all that well either and there were plenty of dames who were better-looking

Friday, May 17

REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness






Directed by. J. J. Abrams
Sci-Fi Adventure
2 hour 3 minutes
From Paramount Pictures,
Skydance and Bad Robot

Starring
Chris Pine
Zachary Quinto
Zoë Saldana
Benedict Cumberbatch
Karl Urban
John Cho
Simon Pegg
Anton Yelchin
Peter Weller
Alice Eve
Bruce Greenwood

Tuesday, May 14

Hollywood Canteen

In its heyday during WWII, the Hollywood Canteen was quite the exciting place for servicemen... men and women, every branch, including those from allied nations visiting our shores.  It opened at 1451 Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood in October 1942 and closed in November 1945.  It was a place where servicemen could come and dance and chat with movie stars and singers and comedians and generally anyone famous.  The famous donated their time and provided the guys (and girls) with many a night to remember.

Friday, May 10

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby





Directed by Baz Luhrmann
2013 Drama
2 hours 23 minutes
From Warner Bros and
Village Roadshow

Starring
Leonardo DiCaprio
Tobey Maguire
Carey Mulligan
Joel Edgerton
Elizabeth Debicki
Isla Fisher
Jason Clarke

Tuesday, May 7

Sidney

The dapper gentleman has been on my mind since just watching and doing a posting on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?  But you may recall that I recently did a review on 42, the story of baseball great Jackie Robinson.  I actually thought of Sidney Poitier then, too, because in watching an exciting new talent in a fellow named Chadwick Boseman, I began thinking of Sidney and the doors he opened for black actors... and with such glamour. 


Friday, May 3

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Favorite Movie #12

Directed by Stanley Kramer
1967 Drama
1 hour 48 minutes
From Columbia Studios

Starring
Spencer Tracy
Sidney Poitier
Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Houghton
Cecil Kellaway
Beah Richards
Isabell Sanford
Roy S. Glenn Jr.
Virginia Christine

Wednesday, May 1

REVIEW: Mud





Directed by Jeff Nichols
2013 Drama
2 hours 10 minutes
From Lionsgate and
Roadside Attractions

Starring
Matthew McConaughey
Tye Sheridan
Jacob Lofland
Sam Shepard
Sarah Paulson
Ray McKinnon
Michael Shannon
Paul Sparks
Joe Don Baker
Reese Witherspoon

Tuesday, April 30

Gorgeous: Fleming & Dahl

We've been lingering a bit in my favorite decade, the 50s, and let's continue here with two more dazzling women who marked their territory then.  I call them gorgeous and anyone who is aware of them would surely agree.  They had some things in common besides faces that brightened the earth.  They were both redheads, they were multi-married, they were mainly dramatic actresses who could sing and dance a little and perhaps most interesting is that neither became part of the Hollywood super-structure.  And I've always wondered why that is.  Both were good actresses.  Could no one else see beyond the beauty?   Were they not all that interested in making it really big?  Who could they be?

Tuesday, April 23

The Directors: John Ford

He was as wily and irascible as Hollywood directors came.  A few others may get honorable mention, but Ford was the daddy of them all.  He was also one of the most talented and the most honored of all movie directors.  The only director still to have won four Oscars, he is chiefly known as a director of westerns and yet oddly none of his Oscars were for that genre.  He was a legend in his own time and he knew it and cultivated it.

Friday, April 19

Dancing Girls II

Leslie Caron and Cyd Charisse are two of the reasons why MGM musicals were so popular in the 1950s.  Both come from balletic backgrounds.  They are two of only six women to dance with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly (Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Vera-Ellen and Debbie Reynolds are the others).  Caron danced with each in just one film while Charisse partnered with Astaire and Kelly in three each.

Tuesday, April 16

Fifties Femmes

We know my romance with the movies started in the 1950s.  Remember that... it could be a quiz question one day.  I suspect I went to a movie at least every Saturday for the entire decade.  I would go to matinees and see double features.  Who remembers that?  In my one-horse town, we even had drive-in theaters that showed three movies for one price.

Saturday, April 13

REVIEW: The Place Beyond the Pines





Directed by Derek Cianfrance
2013 Drama
2 hours 20 minutes
From Focus Features

Starring
Ryan Gosling
Bradley Cooper
Dane DeHaan
Emory Cohen
Eva Mendes
Rose Byrne
Ben Mendlesohn
Mahershala Ali
Ray Liotta
Harris Yulin
Bruce Greenwood



Friday, April 12

REVIEW: 42






Directed by Brian Helgeland
2013 Biographical Drama
2 hours 8 minutes
From Legendary Pictures and
Warner Brothers

Starring
Chadwicke Boseman
Harrison Ford
Nicole Beharie
Andre Holland
Christopher Meloni
Lucas Black
Ryan Merriman
T. R. Knight
Alan Tudyk
Hamish Linklater

Tuesday, April 9

The Directors: Delmer Daves

While I had seen his films before 1959, it was that year that I really became aware of Delmer Daves in a big way.  As a teenager I was rather gaga over the young actors from Warner Brothers, Troy Donahue chief among them.  And all in a row Daves directed the four best films Donahue ever made... A Summer Place (part of my 50 Favorite Films), Parrish, Susan Slade and Rome Adventure.   Daves was rather well-known as a director who got out of the way of his actors and let them do their thing, which may have something to do with why Donahue wasn't a better actor.

Friday, April 5

Titanic: Favorite Movie #13

 
1997 Historical Drama
From 20th Century Fox
and Paramount Pictures
Directed by James Cameron

Starring
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kate Winslet
Billy Zane
Bill Paxton
David Warner
Gloria Stuart
Frances Fisher
Kathy Bates
Victor Garber
Suzy Amis
Danny Nucci
Bernard Hill
Ioan Gruffudd

Tuesday, April 2

4 Recommended Soap Operas

When soap opera movies are good, I lap them up.  I make no apologies either.  They are, after all, about little more than tangled interpersonal relationships with great brushes of drama and sentimentality.  Sounds a lot like real life, doesn't it?  I like movies about real life.  Bring on the drama and sentimentality.  Get a tear or two out of me, serve me a big dollop of love... oh I am so there.  And here are four films that I find to be among the best in soap opera:


Tuesday, March 26

REVIEW: On the Road






Directed by Walter Salles
2012 Drama
2 hours 4 minutes
From IFC Films

Starring
Sam Riley
Garrett Hedlund
Kristen Stewart
Kirsten Dunst
Tom Sturridge
Alice Braga
Danny Morgan
Elizabeth Moss
Amy Adams
Viggo Mortensen

Friday, March 22

REVIEW: Olympus Has Fallen





Directed by Antoine Fuqua
2013 Action Thriller
1 hour 59 minutes
From FilmDistrict
and Millennium Films

Starring
Gerard Butler
Aaron Eckhart
Morgan Freeman
Angela Bassett
Rick Yune
Melissa Leo
Robert Forster
Dylan McDermott
Rahda Mitchell
Cole Hauser
Finlay Jacobsen
Ashley Judd

Tuesday, March 19

REVIEW: Stoker





Directed by Chan-wook Park
2013 Drama Thriller
1 hour 39 minutes
From Fox Searchlight Pictures

Starring
Mia Wasikowska
Matthew Goode
Nicole Kidman
Dermot Mulroney
Alden Ehrenreich
Jacki Weaver
Phyllis Somerville

Friday, March 15

My First Favorite Irishman

Irish actors have always had it.  Not altogether sure I know what it is but if you got it, I will spot it.  They have an ability to light a fire in others oftimes by doing little more than just standing there.  Many radiate sex, allure, promise, often set off by masculine good looks.  And they know it.  My first favorite Irishman was Stephen Boyd.  It's a good time of year to chat him up.

Tuesday, March 12

Lee Marvin: Point Blank

I just finished a new book by that name.  It was well-written by Dwayne Epstein through Shaffner Press.  It is his first movie star biography.  It appears well-researched, very informative and an honest, often painful look into the life of a good actor and a troubled man.


Friday, March 8

A Home at the End of the World: Favorite Movie #14

2004 Drama
From Warner Bros.
Directed by Michael Mayer

Starring
Colin Farrell
Robin Wright
Dallas Roberts
Sissy Spacek
Eric Smith
Harris Allan
Andrew Chalmers
Ryan Donowho
Matt Frewer

Tuesday, March 5

Eleanor Parker

It was my greatest year, 1952, for discovering movies.  Many of the films I hold so near and dear are from around that time.  The same, of course, could be said of actors.  My family held Eleanor Parker in high esteem.  Both my parents liked her.  In 1952 as a family we saw two films with Parker.  One was Scaramouche and the other was Above and Beyond and upon seeing them there was some blustery conversation about whether it was Parker in both. 

Friday, March 1

The Directors: George Roy Hill

Here we go with our second outing in the field of movie directors.  Raise your hand if you know who George Roy Hill is.  If you do not know the name, most of you will know his films.  Trust me.  His output is not great, only 14, but he has made some memorable films.  Let's give you the entire listing right now... and we'll fill in the details as we go on. 

Friday, February 22

Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee

Thanks to the Grease song, Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee, she may stay in the public consciousness or at least cause some young person to ask who is Sandra Dee?  They would then be told that for a time in the late fifties and the first part of the sixties, she was a teenage movie phenomenon.  While no one would ever confuse her with a young Kate Hepburn, she made some very popular movies, was on every movie magazine cover for years and married a popular singer which escalated her fame even more.

Thursday, February 21

REVIEW: Quartet






Directed by Dustin Hoffman
2012 Comedy Drama
1 hour 38 minutes
From The Weinstein Company
and BBC Films

Starring
Maggie Smith
Tom Courtenay
Billy Connolly
Pauline Collins
Michael Gambon


Tuesday, February 19

To Catch a Thief: Favorite Movie #15

1955 Romance Comedy Drama
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring
Cary Grant
Grace Kelly
Jessie Royce Landis
John Williams
Brigitte Auber

Friday, February 15

Burt Lancaster

It is not difficult to believe that in the 1950s Burt Lancaster developed his own production company.  It was the first time an actor had successfully done such a thing, to my knowledge.  Others would follow suit.  He would do it because he wanted more creative control over his career.  No one ever wanted more control than Burt Lancaster, which fell into two categories:  his career and everything else in life.  This was a control freak before that term was ever coined.  It's not a stretch believing this, is it?  Doesn't he remind you of a control freak?

Tuesday, February 12

Say Goodbye to Lt. Cable

Who knows just by the title who I am talking about?  If you do, then you are either a die hard movie fan or know your musicals or you're old.  I am all three.  LOL.  John Kerr passed away last week at the age of 81 after a short illness.  He made my heart race back in the 1950s.  There was some effort on the parts of the studios he worked for to get all hearts racing and while in the big picture it didn't really take, it worked with me.

Friday, February 8

REVIEW: Side Effects





Directed by Steven Soderbergh
2013 Drama
1 hour 46 minutes
From Open Road

Starring
Jude Law
Rooney Mara
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Channing Tatum
Vinessa Shaw



Tuesday, February 5

Dancing Girls I

We're launching a brief little series we're gonna call Dancing Girls.  It will be a short visit with a pair of them per posting until we run out of them.  Well, not really.  We wouldn't run out if I included such dancers as Joanne Gilbert and Bambi Lynn but we'll stick with bigger names.  And in the bigger name arena, there aren't all that many.  Part of my love of musicals is actually about dancing.  It's a talent I have always admired and these women were dazzling.  See if you remember... 

Friday, February 1

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing: Favorite Movie #16

1955 Romance Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Henry King

Starring
William Holden
Jennifer Jones
Torin Thatcher
Isobel Elsom
Murray Mathieson
Virginia Gregg
Soo Yong
Jorja Curtwright

Friday, January 25

The Directors: John Huston

We're starting a series on movie directors.  Most are not as well known as actors but many will be known to you... at least their names.  Movies are said to be a director's medium.  You usually do not see them on screen but they're right there in the midst of most scenes.  (There are second-unit directors who go off and film scenes usually not involving actors.)  The director is essential to the overall artistic vision of the film.  He is the one who guides the actors and the crew; some do it with a strong hand, others more loosely.  The director decides how the film will look.  Once it is completed, he is involved in post-production work.  Whether you like or dislike a film, it is chiefly due to the director.  Let's get you acquainted with some of them.   

Tuesday, January 22

Rant

The only thing that is truly fun about the Golden Globes is gawking at the glittering folks.  (The awards themselves are never to be taken seriously.)  This fun includes the red carpet, watching the table-hopping before  commercials and seeing who are paired up as presenters. 

Saturday, January 19

REVIEW: Broken City






Directed by Allen Hughes
2013 Crime Drama
1 hour 49 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Starring
Mark Wahlberg
Russell Crowe
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Jeffrey Wright
Alona Tal
Barry Pepper
Natalie Martinez
Kyle Chandler
Michael Beach
Griffin Dunne

Friday, January 18

The Mudge Boy: Favorite Movie #17

2003 Drama
From Showtime Pictures
Directed by Michael Burke

Starring
Emile Hirsch
Thomas Guiry
Richard Jenkins
Pablo Schreiber
Zachary Knighton
Ryan Donowho

Tuesday, January 15

Joan Crawford in the 1950s

As an avid watcher of TCM and its usually glorious films, I noticed they were featuring something called Joan Crawford in the 1950s.  It got me to thinking a lot about her during that decade, my favorite.  She was not an actress I especially admired, but I didn't dislike her either.  I have been aware that she can clearly be defined decade by decade and I was not at all surprised to find that TCM decided to focus on her work in the 50s.

Saturday, January 12

REVIEW: Gangster Squad






Directed by Ruben Fleischer
2013 Drama
1 hour 53 minutes
From Warner Bros. and
Village Roadshow

Starring
Josh Brolin
Ryan Gosling
Sean Penn
Emma Stone
Nick Nolte
Giovanni Ribisi
Anthony Mackie
Mirelle Enos
Michael Peña
Robert Patrick
Troy Garity

Friday, January 11

REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty






Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
2012 Historical Drama
2 hours 37 minutes
From Columbia Pictures

Starring
Jessica Chastain
Jason Clarke
Joel Edgerton
Kyle Chandler
Mark Strong
Jennifer Ehle
Harold Perrineau