Friday, February 28

Whatever You Say, L.B.

Here's a piece on Van Johnson, MGM's boy nextdoor, a sunny little confection of razzle-dazzle who for a number of  years brought many dollars into the cash registers that L. B. Mayer counted.  But before we can bring any truth to the red-headed actor's story, it is important to understand a thing or two about Mayer and the times in which their story unfolded.

Tuesday, February 25

Sheree North

In the heyday of the great studios, when their contract stars misbehaved or threatened retirement or didn't renew their contracts, studio heads usually had someone waiting in the wings to take over.  My favorite studio, 20th Century Fox, is a great example of this and at one time it spanned three decades and four blondes. 

Friday, February 21

Jeffrey Hunter

Jeff Hunter was standing in front of me in a long line at the Santa Monica Post Office back in 1963... only I didn't know it for awhile.  What I did know was that the man standing in front of me had the greatest backside to look at while standing in a long line.  I remember he had a great haircut, a great tan and was wearing sweats that fit like I wished mine did.  As we slid our packages along the table as the line moved, he turned around, looked straight at me, and made a grunting sound to express his boredom.  Thankfully he didn't say anything intelligible because I could never have managed a single syllable in return, so blinded was I by his handsomeness.

Tuesday, February 18

Steve Cochran

He was a B movie star, a reckless adventurer and a sexual athlete who was more famous for his shenanigans off screen than he ever was on screen.  In fact those peccadilloes in real life likely contributed to his being shunned in reel life.  Considering the egos of movie stars, one could argue the point that he wanted to rise in the Hollywood echelon, but I'm not so sure.  Cochran loved to play, loved to tempt the fates, loved to mess with people's heads.  He snickered at being a Hollywood bad boy.

Friday, February 14

Perfect Casting

I've come up with a dozen performances that I call perfect casting.  Now, listen, I mean perfect... as in no one else could have done this role but the magical one who did it. 

Tuesday, February 11

The Directors: Sydney Pollack

I said in my review of Out of Africa that Sydney Pollack is the best director of his time with a superb body of work.  It's a powerful statement because there were some terrific directors during Pollack's long stay in the sunshine.  But I am sticking with it.  There are no words to say how I was drawn to his work.  He is one of the few directors about whom I could say I have seen every movie the man has directed.

Friday, February 7

REVIEW: The Monuments Men

Directed by George Clooney
2014 War Drama
1 hour 58 minutes
From Columbia Pictures and
20th Century Fox

George Clooney
Matt Damon
Bill Murray
John Goodman
Jean Dujardin
Hugh Bonneville
Bob Balaban
Dimitri Leonidas
Cate Blanchett

Tuesday, February 4

Out of Africa: Favorite Movie #3

1985 Autobiographical Drama
From Universal Studios
Directed by Sydney Pollack

Meryl Streep
Robert Redford
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Michael Kitchen
Malick Bowens
Joseph Thiaka
Michael Gough
Suzanna Hamilton
Rachel Kempson

Saturday, February 1

REVIEW: Labor Day

Directed by Jason Reitman
2014 Drama
1 hour 51 minutes
From Paramount Pictures
and Indian Paintbrush

Kate Winslet
Josh Brolin
Gattlin Griffith
Clark Gregg
Brooke Smith
Tom Lipinski
Maika Monroe
James Van Der Beek
Tobey Maguire