Tuesday, December 29

REVIEW: Youth

 
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
2015 Comedy Drama
2 hours 3 minutes
From Fox Searchlight Pictures

Starring
Michael Caine
Harvey Keitel
Rachel Weisz
Paul Dano
Jane Fonda
Alex Macqueen

Saturday, December 26

REVIEW: Carol





Directed by Todd Haynes
2015 Drama
1 hour 58 minutes
From The Weinstein Company

Starring
Cate Blanchett
Rooney Mara
Sarah Paulson
Kyle Chandler
Jake Lacy

Friday, December 25

REVIEW: Joy





Directed by David O. Russell
2015 Comedy Drama Biography
2 hours, 4 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Starring
Jennifer Lawrence
Robert DeNiro
Edgar Ramirez
Diane Ladd
Isabella Rossellini
Virginia Madsen
Elisabeth Rohm
Bradley Cooper

Tuesday, December 22

Lucy in the 40s

There was a professional life before I Love Lucy.  Lucille Ball  liked to intimate there wasn't.  She said she was washed up in Hollywood when she turned to television and that she had grown tired of making B films.  There were 24 movies in the 40s and a number of good ones.  We know what the lady could do in comedy but she was an actress whose dramatic turns always made me sit up and take notice and whose singing and dancing skills were evident.  Let's notice some of her work from those long-ago days...

Friday, December 18

REVIEW: The Danish Girl





Directed by Tom Hooper
2015 Biographical Drama
2 hours
From Focus Features

Starring
Eddie Redmayne
Alicia Vikander
Matthias Schoenaerts
Ben Whishaw
Amber Heard

Tuesday, December 15

Character Actors: Lorre & Greenstreet

They made a whopping 10 films together and that ought to qualify them as a screen team.  Two of those films are world-famous and in the spirit of all good character actors, they gave their films... well, some character.  Both were certified oddballs which made them most recognizable to the public.  When one became aware of their presences in a movie, one knew what to expect.  We could always count on Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet to deliver the goods.

Friday, December 11

REVIEW: In the Heart of the Sea





Directed by Ron Howard
2015 Adventure
2 hours, 1 minute
From Warner Bros

Starring
Chris Hemsworth
Benjamin Walker
Cillian Murphy
Brendan Gleeson
Tom Holland
Ben Whishaw
Michelle Fairley
Paul Anderson
Charlotte Riley

Tuesday, December 8

Dana Andrews

One of the most reliable of actors, Dana Andrews could certainly claim the 40s as his decade.  He owes some of his good fortune to the fact that he was exempted from the service because of family status (wife and four kids), allowing him to slide into top roles that very well may have gone to others had they been around.  He is one of the film noir icons but did just as well in family dramas, war films, women's stories, westerns, sci-fi and even a musical. I have immensely liked a number of his films and one of his best roles is in one of my 50 favorites. 

Friday, December 4

Bogie & Bacall's 4 Films Together

What a pair.  There haven't been too many screen teams, let alone married-to-one-another screen teams, to cause this kind of excitement.  The public didn't seem to mind that Humphrey Bogart was 24 years older than Lauren Bacall or that he was married, unhappily so.  They made four films together, three of which were quite wonderful.  There were plans to do more but he died at age 57 in 1957.  It was a fascinating relationship, watched at the time by the entire world, it seems.  We're lucky to have these films to see all the magic they dispersed.

Tuesday, December 1

Good 40s Films: Road House

1948 Film Noir
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Jean Negulesco

Starring
Ida Lupino
Cornel Wilde
Celeste Holm
Richard Widmark

Friday, November 27

REVIEW: Legend





Directed by Brian Helgeland
2015 Crime Biography
2 hours 11 minutes
From Universal

Starring
Tom Hardy
Emily Browning
Christopher Eccleston
David Thewlis
Colin Morgan
Chazz Palminteri
Kevin McNally
Tara Fitzgerald
Paul Bettany

Tuesday, November 24

REVIEW: Trumbo





Directed by Jay Roach
2015 Biographical Drama
2 hours, 4 minutes
From Bleecker Street Media

Starring
Bryan Cranston
Diane Lane
Helen Mirren
Michael Stuhlbarg
Elle Fanning
David James Elliott
John Goodman
Louis C. K.
Alan Tudyk
Roger Bart
Dean O'Gorman
Christian Berkel
Richard Portnow
Adewale Akinnuoye-Adbaje

Saturday, November 21

REVIEW: Spotlight






Directed by Tom McCarthy
2015 Historical Drama
2 hours, 8 minutes
From Open Road Films

Starring
Mark Ruffalo
Michael Keaton
Rachel McAdams
Liev Schreiber
John Slattery
Brian d'Arcy James
Stanley Tucci
Billy Crudup
Jamey Sheridan
Neal Huff
Len Cariou

Friday, November 20

REVIEW: Secret in Their Eyes






Directed by Billy Ray
2015 Mystery Thriller
1 hour 41 minutes
From STX Entertainment

Starring
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Nicole Kidman
Julia Roberts
Alfred Molina
Dean Morris
Joe Cole
Michael Kelly
Zoe Graham

Tuesday, November 17

Warner Bros

Certain things stand out as I think of each of the major studios.  Each has a definable leader, someone who has groomed and guided his studio before, during and sometimes after the Golden Age of Hollywood.  In those days the studios yielded massive power.  Each studio, of course, had its own unique story full of drama, pathos, triumphs.

Friday, November 13

REVIEW: The 33





Directed by Patricia Riggen
2015 Drama
2 hours 7 minutes
From Warner Bros and
Alcon Entertainment

Starring
Antonio Banderas
Rodrigo Santoro
Juliette Binoche
Gabriel Byrne
Lou Diamond Phillips
Mario Casas
Juan Pablo Raba
Bob Gunton
James Brolin

Tuesday, November 10

Jane Wyman

Talk about endurance.  She started in movies in 1932 and made her last one in 1969.  She appeared in 86 movies and after she quit she went on to star in a popular nighttime soap opera for nine years and became the highest paid woman in television.  She outlasted most of her famous contemporaries.  What a trouper.

Friday, November 6

Gene Tierney

Her boss, Fox head honcho Darryl F. Zanuck, referred to her as the most beautiful woman in the history of movies.  That's quite a statement considering the bevy of beauties he bedded and hired for his famous studio.  Perhaps Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and others may have taken exception to his comments but I think it goes without saying that Gene Tierney was exceptionally beautiful.

Tuesday, November 3

Good 40s Films: Murder, My Sweet

1944 Film Noir
From RKO Pictures
Directed by Edward Dmytryk

Starring
Dick Powell
Claire Trevor
Anne Shirley
Otto Kruger
Mike Mazurki

Saturday, October 31

REVIEW: Truth





Directed by James Vanderbilt
2015 Biographical Drama
2 hours 1 minute
From Sony Pictures Classics

Starring
Cate Blanchett
Robert Redford
Topher Grace
Dennis Quaid
Elisabeth Moss
Bruce Greenwood
Stacy Keach
David Lyons
John Benjamin Hickey
Dermot Mulroney

Rachael Blake

Friday, October 30

REVIEW: Room





Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
2015 Drama
1 hour 58 minutes
From A24 Pictures

Starring
Brie Larson
Jacob Tremblay
Joan Allen
Tom McCamus
Sean Bridgers
William H. Macy

Tuesday, October 27

RIP Maureen O'Hara

She was blunt, feisty, passionate, proud and fearless, both on the screen and off.  I regarded her as one of Hollywood's most beautiful actresses.  That flaming red hair, emerald green eyes and creamy complexion coaxed the film capital into calling her The Queen of Technicolor.  And indeed she was.  Her associations with director John Ford and actor John Wayne proved she could stand toe-to-toe with the guys, engage in some impressive battles and never lose her femininity.  

Friday, October 23

Good 40s Films: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

1947 Fantasy Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Starring
Gene Tierney
Rex Harrison
George Sanders
Edna Best
Robert Coote
Natalie Wood
Vanessa Brown

Tuesday, October 20

Linda Darnell

There are actresses who never seem to mesh well within the gates of Tinseltown.  On some level, of course, they have talent and looks and desire.  There are often others who champion them, guide them, nurture them.  In the 1930s, 40s and 50s particularly, there were studios to groom them, dress them, teach them, showcase them.  Some are lured by fame and fortune and a determination to have it at any cost once the ride begins.  And the cost comes.  And sometimes it comes with tragedy.

Friday, October 16

REVIEW: Steve Jobs






Directed by Danny Boyle
2015 Biographical Drama
2 hours 2 minutes
From Universal Pictures

Starring
Michael Fassbender
Kate Winslet
Seth Rogen
Jeff Daniels
Michael Stuhlbarg
Katherine Waterston
Ripley Sobo
Perla Haney-Jardine

Wednesday, October 14

REVIEW: The Walk





Directed by Robert Zemeckis
2015 Drama
2 hours 3 minutes
From Tri Star Pictures

Starring
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Charlotte Le Bon
Ben Kingsley
Clément Sibony
César Domboy
James Badge Dale
Ben Schwartz
Steve Valentine

Tuesday, October 13

Alexis Smith

Statuesque has often been used to describe her and it is an appropriate appellation.  Her height of 5'9" certainly was helpful as was that hair piled high upon her lovely head.  On the screen or off, she was never a slouch in the wardrobe department either, more than filling out those big-girl shoulder pads.  A smoky, husky voice suggested an air of seduction.  She had a demeanor that smacked of aristocracy, a manner that could be dismissive and a look that said I dare you.  I knew she was my kind of actress from the moment I saw her.  

Friday, October 9

RIP: Moochie

I can't believe he's passed away.  I can oh so easily close my eyes and see the little tyke throwing rocks at his brother Travis and screaming it's my dog.  Kevin Corcoran is gone?  He was 66?    Where did all the time go?

Tuesday, October 6

Peekaboo: Veronica Lake

One ponders how she felt being most famous for a hairstyle...  more so than for her acting chops, which is too bad. In film noir she stood out as a femme fatale actress and there was no doubt she was a troubled and troublesome one.  By the time Veronica Lake waved goodbye to Hollywood, they were quite happy to see her go.

Friday, October 2

Good 40s Films: The Razor's Edge

1946 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Edmund Goulding

Starring
Tyrone Power
Gene Tierney
John Payne
Anne Baxter
Clifton Webb
Herbert Marshall
Lucile Watson

Tuesday, September 29

Cary Grant's 40s Films

He was one of the great movie stars of all-time and a fine actor as well.  He certainly made some dramas but light comedy was his forte and in that genre he knew no equal with his suave manners and sophisticated banter.  He began making films in 1932 and ended his career in 1966 with 72 films to his credit.  I suppose my favorite decade for him was the 50s but there is no denying that his best and most prolific time was the 1940s.  Let's take a look at those films:

Friday, September 25

REVIEW: Everest





Directed by Baltasar Kormakur
2015 Drama
2 hours 1 minute
From Universal

Starring
Jason Clarke
Josh Brolin
John Hawkes
Emily Watson
Sam Worthington
Martin Henderson
Michael Kelly
Elizabeth Debicki
Keira Knightley
Robin Wright
Jake Gyllenhaal

Thursday, September 24

REVIEW: Black Mass





Directed by Scott Cooper
2015 Crime Drama
2 hours 2 minutes
From Warner Bros

Starring
Johnny Depp
Joel Edgerton
Benedict Cumberbatch
Kevin Bacon
Jesse Plemons
Rory Cochrane
David Harbour
Dakota Johnson
Bill Camp
Peter Sarsgaard
Julianne Nicholson
Juno Temple
Adam Scott

Tuesday, September 22

Hoagy Carmichael

Raise your hand if you know who Hoagy Carmichael is.  Hint:  he is not a sandwich.  Primarily a composer and a piano man, he also dabbled in some singing and some band leading.  Somehow he slipped into acting as well.  In the 11 movies he made, I always got a big smile when I saw him... so laid back, so confident, so self-assured.  He brought class to everything he did.

Friday, September 18

The Directors: Joseph Mankiewicz

He was Hollywood royalty.  That last name, hard as it was to spell and pronounce, could be attached to any number of people in a family that glorified the movie capital.  His body of work contains some of the finest films any director could hope for.  He was every bit as much a writer as he was a director and he is the only person to win back-to-back Oscars for writing and directing.

Tuesday, September 15

Good 40s Films: Since You Went Away

1944 Drama
From Selznick International
Directed by John Cromwell

Starring
Claudette Colbert
Jennifer Jones
Joseph Cotten
Shirley Temple
Monty Woolley
Robert Walker
Lionel Barrymore
Agnes Moorehead
Hattie McDaniel
Alla Nazimova
Guy Madison
Craig Stevens
Keenan Wynn

Friday, September 11

Joan and Bette

What sort of relationship movie queens Joan Crawford and Bette Davis had has been the subject of speculation for many decades.  Most would probably subscribe to the theory that they had a grand feud.  Such chatter filled the gossip columns of the day and has been written about in books, including one that concerned itself with nothing else.  But was it for real or did it just make good copy?  When Hedda and Louella lacked newsworthy items for their columns, might they simply hauled out some old Joan & Bette well-worn stories to fill out the space?  If it was a real, honest-to-goodness feud, then what caused it? 

Tuesday, September 8

B Leading Men I

Why are some actors not able to climb to the top of the Hollywood ladder?  Is it a lack of drop-dead looks?  A lack of acting talent?  Were they not into playing the game, whatever that might entail?  Maybe it's just a simple ol' they didn't make it because they didn't.  Who knows why and surely it's different in every case anyway.  I suspect to make it to the top, which, like it or not, means fit to play a romantic lead, one's just got to have that certain something.  Undefinable.  Elusive.  Sometimes fleeting.  Maybe these guys didn't have that.  But on the other hand, they had long careers.  Something must have worked.

Friday, September 4

REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods





Directed by Ken Kwapis
2015 Comedy-Drama
1 hour, 44 minutes
From Broad Green Pictures

Starring
Robert Redford
Nick Nolte
Emma Thompson
Mary Steenburgen

Tuesday, September 1

John Garfield

In this day and age he is pretty much forgotten.  What a shame.  I'm guessing if one were asked to name the 10 best actors of the 40s, his name would not be among them.  Not only was he one of the best actors of his day but there had really not been anyone quite like him.  Several were to follow who knew how to work it like he did, but he was something to behold in his time.  If one wants to discuss good acting in the 40s, somewhere right at the beginning of the conversation one should mention John Garfield.

Friday, August 28

Cornel Wilde

I'll guess that you have not been thinking of Cornel Wilde this month but I have.  I just finished my piece on Betty Hutton, who, of course, was his leading lady in The Greatest Show on Earth.  But my Wilde thoughts started with the piece on Tyrone Power because both were known for those costume dramas where they dash about in tights (doncha hate that?) and brandish a sword.  Wilde was more or less a successor to Power or at least a backup and since they both worked at Fox, I'll further guess Wilde inherited some of those roles Power nixed.

Tuesday, August 25

Betty Hutton

The 1940s can lay claim to three famous Bettys.  The one who spelled her name differently was, of course, the drama queen, Bette Davis.  But we had two Bettys, both glitzy blondes, who were musical-comedy queens.  20th Century Fox staked its claim on Betty Grable, a wise choice, as she became the soldiers' dream girl and a top box office draw.  Across town Paramount had a fireball, the likes of which the screen had never seen before... or since.  Her name was Betty Hutton.  They called her the blonde bombshell.

Friday, August 21

The Directors: Henry Hathaway

I knew who he was when I was still a young kid because he directed Niagara, a movie that electrified me when I saw it in its initial release.  I was already paying attention to who directed the movies I saw.  And I made notes.  I learned to get pretty excited about his work mainly because he ventured into film noir and later in his career he steered a lot of westerns.  Need I say more?

Tuesday, August 18

Good 40s Films: Mildred Pierce

1945 Film Noir
From Warner Brothers
Directed by Michael Curtiz

Starring
Joan Crawford
Jack Carson
Zachary Scott
Ann Blyth
Eve Arden
Bruce Bennett
Butterfly McQueen

Friday, August 14

REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.





Directed by Guy Ritchie
2015 Action Comedy
1 hour, 54 minutes
From Warner Bros.

Starring
Henry Cavill
Armie Hammer
Alicia Vikander
Elizabeth Debicki
Luca Calvani
Jared Harris
Hugh Grant

Tuesday, August 11

Tyrone Power

It was the face that set millions of hearts a-flutter.  The entire face was flawless but I'm thinking it was those eyes that were particularly devastating... so dark and welcoming... the full brows... and eyelashes so long that those who knew him said they could cast shadows on that beautiful face.  Some may prefer the word handsome but I think beautiful is more fitting.  Irony arrives when we learn that he found his face to be a curse.  Oh, he knew it opened doors for him, always had, and many of those were bedroom doors.  But he felt it kept him from being respected, being taken seriously as an actor... and he wanted that more than anything in the world... more than any woman, more than any man.

Friday, August 7

RIP Coleen Gray

She was a doe-eyed, fresh-faced ingénue-type who graced the screen in several film noirs and then sequed into a number of westerns.  No wonder I liked her and followed her work.  It was lovely of her to take her final curtain at a time I am showcasing the 1940s because her best work was done in that decade.  By the 50s she was appearing in mainly B-westerns and then horror films.  As her film career ebbed, she turned to television, and lots of it, before retiring. 

Tuesday, August 4

Movie-Making in the 40s

We have concluded a year of discussing movies of the 1960s.  Now it's time for a look at the 1940s, a decade often and rightfully referred to as Hollywood's Golden Age.  Movies truly arrived in the 40s.  It was the shiny example of what a glorious goal looked like when it came true.  All that work... all the learning and fiddling... all the fretting and hoping... all the jockeying for positions.  Movies had come a long way.  In this decade the color process improved and outdoor adventures and musicals were something to behold.

Friday, July 31

Rambling Reporter II

I haven't done one of these postings in nine months so I thought we should do another one.  Here are some things that have been running through my head:

Tuesday, July 28

Good 60s Films: The Manchurian Candidate

1962 Political Thriller
From United Artists
Directed by John Frankenheimer

Starring
Frank Sinatra
Laurence Harvey
Janet Leigh
Angela Lansbury
James Gregory
Henry Silva
Leslie Parrish
John McGiver
Khigh Dhiegh

Friday, July 24

Virginia McKenna & Bill Travers

I have wondered now and then over the last half century how many people were as taken in by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna as I was when we saw them in 1966 in Born Free.  She was very pretty, controlled, strong, soft-spoken and every inch a lady.  He was handsome and professorial, slow to burn, with a stiff upper lip, let's-just-carry-on sort of demeanor.  Did I mention they were British?

Tuesday, July 21

The Directors: Jack Cardiff

For my last posting on a director associated mostly with the 1960s, I give you Jack Cardiff.  Who, you say?  This probably will be one of my least-read articles and that's fine.  I want to honor him because, although he was a director of some note in the 60s, he was considered to be one of the greatest cinematographers in movie history.  What, you say?  I don't write long pieces on cinematographers!  Well, no I don't.  But although I will spend more time on his directing career, it would be impossible, if not plain wrong, to ignore his exquisite camerawork.  Shall we focus?

Friday, July 17

Brian Keith

He played around with romantic, leading man roles but I recall him more as a second lead in scores of movies.  Regardless, whether playing bad guys in westerns and crime movies or characters with warmth and humor, when all the pistons were firing and the gears clicked, Brian Keith was a good, reliable, utterly watchable actor who could hold his own with the best of them.

Tuesday, July 14

Friday, July 10

Good 60s Films: The Great Escape

1963 War Drama
From United Artists and
The Mirisch Company
Directed by John Sturges

Starring
Steve McQueen
James Garner
Richard Attenborough
James Donald
Donald Pleasence
James Coburn
Charles Bronson
Hannes Messemer
David McCallum
Gordon Jackson
John Leyton
Jud Taylor
Angus Lennie

Tuesday, July 7

A Brief Stay as the New James Dean

If you know who Christopher Jones is, you must really know your movie stuff.  He only made seven movies.  He was going to shuck it all after every one of them but didn't until he made the sixth and best of them all.  Then he said goodbye and most of the public heard nothing of him for 26 years when he came back for one more film.  Again he vanished and we heard nothing more until his death last year.  Who was this enigmatic creature?  Let's see what we can get into.

Friday, July 3

Anthony Franciosa

I admit that writing about Richard Harris made me think about Anthony Franciosa because both were royal pains on movie sets.  I thought each was a good actor and utterly watchable.  In Tony's case, he fired up my imagination as I watched that combustible magnetism explode on the screen.  Unfortunately he tore into directors, actors, cameramen and whoever else was handy and ultimately Hollywood stopped thinking of him for important films.

Tuesday, June 30

Richard Harris

He would approve of this paragraph because he thought one should just put it out there and let the chips fall where they may.  So then... he was a very good actor, a director, a singer, a poet, a writer, a professor, a fairly absent father, a disastrous husband, a troublemaker, a hitter, a cocaine abuser and an alcoholic of mythic proportions.  On the screen he completely captured my attention and I was always saddened somehow that he frequently did the same off screen.

Friday, June 26

Good 60s Films: The Secret of Santa Vittoria

1969 Comedy Drama
From Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Directed by Stanley Kramer

Starring
Anthony Quinn
Anna Magnani
Hardy Kruger
Virna Lisi
Sergio Franchi
Giancarlo Giannini
Renato Rascel
Patrizia Valturri
Eduardo Ciannelli

Tuesday, June 23

You Don't Know Jack

Oh, I'm so sorry.  You thought this was going to be about Jack Nicholson or maybe Jack Lemmon and it's not.  Eat some chocolate.  You'll feel so much better.  No, this is about three character actors all named Jack and all prominent in the 60s, 70s and on.  You might have even confused one's name with another one.  Don't look.  Guess.  Who do you think they are?  When you're ready, click on...

Friday, June 19

Robert Preston

Just as I said in my postings on Geraldine Page and Maureen Stapleton, Robert Preston would have considered himself a Broadway baby rather than a big-deal movie actor.  Unlike those ladies, however, he made many mainly B movies in the 40s and 50s.  His movie career really never took off until the 60s.  What I enjoyed most about his acting was his enormous enthusiasm.  Whether he was handling drama or comedy or even singing, he put a lot of energy into what he did.

Tuesday, June 16

Good 60s Films: The Misfits

1961 Drama
From United Artists
Directed by John Huston

Starring
Clark Gable
Marilyn Monroe
Montgomery Clift
Thelma Ritter
Eli Wallach

Friday, June 12

The Directors: Martin Ritt

Most of his films are thoughtful studies of relationships.  They were often seen in tandem with struggles of equality, usually featuring poor or ethnic characters.  He seemed to care about his characters like little girls care for their dolls.  He groomed them, watched out for them, wept for them, smiled at them, kept them locked in his brain.  His themes, while bold and decidedly liberal in nature, took a back seat to his beloved characters.

Tuesday, June 9

REVIEW: Love and Mercy






Directed by Bill Pohlad
2015 Musical Biography
2 hours and 1 minute
From Roadside Attractions

Starring
Paul Dano
John Cusack
Elizabeth Banks
Paul Giamatti
Bill Camp
Jake Abel
Kenny Wormald
Graham Rogers
Brett Davern
Diana Maria Riva
Joanna Going

Friday, June 5

Maureen Stapleton

She was a scattershot of emotions.  It's why she vomited before most stage performances and hit the vodka sitting on her vanity table in her dressing room as soon as the curtain came down.  After a lifetime on the stage, she never conquered the thought that somebody was going to kill her after the curtain went up.  She spent nearly two decades in therapy wrestling with those emotions and she clearly used them to become one of America's finest actresses.

Tuesday, June 2

Good 60s Films: Elmer Gantry

1960 Drama
From United Artists
Directed by Richard Brooks

Starring
Burt Lancaster
Jean Simmons
Arthur Kennedy
Dean Jagger
Shirley Jones
Patti Page
Edward Andrews
John McIntire

Saturday, May 30

REVIEW: San Andreas

 
Directed by Brad Peyton
2015 Action Drama
1 hour 54 minutes
From Village Roadshow
and New Line Cinema

Starring
Dwayne Johnson
Carla Gugino
Alexandra Daddario
Hugo Johnstone-Burt
Art Parkinson
Archie Panjabi
Ioan Gruffudd
Paul Giamatti

Friday, May 29

REVIEW: Aloha





Directed by Cameron Crowe
2015 Romance Drama
1 hour 45 minutes
From Columbia Pictures

Starring
Bradley Cooper
Emma Stone
Rachel McAdams
Bill Murray
John Krasinski
Alec Baldwin

Tuesday, May 26

Irene Papas

To tell you the truth, I don't know all that much about her.  In terms of movie-making I don't know much about Greece either but perhaps that's for another posting.  Irene Papas first came into my consciousness in 1956 in a western called Tribute to a Bad Man.  It was supposed to topline Spencer Tracy but ended up starring James Cagney and Papas was his wife.  It was not very good.

Friday, May 22

Good 60s Films: The Night of the Iguana

1964 Drama
From Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Directed by John Huston

Starring

Richard Burton
Ava Gardner
Deborah Kerr
Sue Lyon
Grayson Hall
Cyril Delevanti
James (Skip) Ward

Tuesday, May 19

Geraldine Page

She had been an Oscar trivia question: what actress has been nominated for seven Oscars without a win?  It was all to change at the 1986 Academy Awards when F. Murray Abraham, the previous year's best actor winner, opened the envelope and declared... ah, I consider this woman the greatest actor in the English language.  The winner is Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful.  Meryl Streep, a nominee for her superb performance in Out of Africa, jumped out of her seat and led the long standing ovation.  Hollywood had finally acknowledged Gerry.  It was long overdue.

Friday, May 15

The Directors: Robert Mulligan

Best known for his sensitive directing of one of the most acclaimed films of all time, 1962s To Kill a Mockingbird, Robert Mulligan was one of a number of directors to emerge from the heyday of live television.  His movie career, I suppose, was rather erratic although I pretty much liked everything he did.  He alternated between hits and misses and also between commercial films and films that simply appealed to him, knowing they may go nowhere.  They say he had no truly identifiable style but I found him to be uniquely good at directing adolescents in some worthy coming-of-age stories.

Tuesday, May 12

Good 60s Films: Toys in the Attic

1963 Drama
From United Artists
Directed by George Roy Hill

Starring
Dean Martin
Geraldine Page
Yvette Mimieux
Wendy Hiller
Gene Tierney
Frank Silvera
Nan Martin
Larry Gates

Friday, May 8

Good 60s Films: Home from the Hill

1960 Drama
From Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Directed by Vincente Minnelli

Starring
Robert Mitchum
Eleanor Parker
George Peppard
George Hamilton
Luana Patten
Everett Sloane
Constance Ford
Anne Seymour
Ken Renard
Ray Teal
Denver Pyle

Tuesday, May 5

Too Bad She Turned Sexy

Carroll Baker was a fixture in American films for 10 years or so, from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.  Her first three starring films were as different as they could be.  Two resulted in huge box office receipts and in the third she had the controversial title role that would shoot her to international fame.  But some things happened and she fled to Italy for a few years to nurse her wounds.  She's been back for many years now making films most of us have never seen nor heard of.  What happened to Carroll Baker?

Friday, May 1

Natalie Wood: Her Films of the 60s

As a little girl she had a number of charming roles.  In 1947 alone she had a small part as Gene Tierney's daughter in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and a larger role as Maureen O'Hara's daughter in the classic, Miracle on 34th Street.  The following decade, as a teenager, she appeared in two classics, a large role in 1955s Rebel Without a Cause and a small but central role in 1956s John Ford western, The Searchers.  Despite the classic nature of these films and all the others she made in those decades, it was the 1960s that brought Natalie Wood into full blossom as a beautiful and talented actress.  Let's take a look at those films.

Tuesday, April 28

Good 60s Films: Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell

1968 Comedy
From United Artists
Directed by Melvin Frank

Starring
Gina Lollobrigida
Shelley Winters
Phil Silvers
Peter Lawford
Telly Savalas
Lee Grant
Janet Margolin
Philippe Leroy
Marian Moses
Naomi Stevens

Friday, April 24

The Sound of 50 Years

I had the happiest experience two days ago in a movie theater that I have had in years and years.  I again saw The Sound of Music on the big screen.  Unless you've been away from the planet, you know this is the 50th anniversary of one of the finest films ever made, musical or not. 

Tuesday, April 21

The Directors: Sidney Lumet

His artistry as a director is legendary.  Much like Hollywood director Stanley Kramer, Lumet, known as a New York director with many of his films being made there, cherished making social dramas with a slight leftist leaning.  Many actors wanted to work for him and why not since he steered 18 of them to Oscar nominations.  I wonder who else can say that.  Not all of his films are well-regarded but there are more than a few that are true gems.

Friday, April 17

Bond Girls of the 60s

I am not an expert on James Bond films although I have seen every one of them and as long as I can crawl to the box office, I will see those to come.  I can't name all the villains or locales or cars or artillery.  I can't even name all the Bond girls but the ones from the 1960s, when the franchise began, still stick in my mind.  It seems that Bond girls could generally be called those with whom he wound up in bed.  I think, too, they were usually the good girls, but not always.  We'll not comment on their looks individually.  Space is limited and c'mon, there wasn't a homely one in the bunch.

Tuesday, April 14

Good 60s Films: Fanny

1961 Romance Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by Joshua Logan

Starring
Leslie Caron
Horst Buchholz
Maurice Chevalier
Charles Boyer
Georgette Anys
Lionel Jeffries
Baccaloni
Joel Flateau

Friday, April 10

REVIEW: Danny Collins






Directed by Dan Fogelman
2015 Comedy-Drama
1 hour 46 minutes
From Bleecker Street Media

Starring
Al Pacino
Annette Bening
Jennifer Garner
Bobby Cannavale
Christopher Plummer

Tuesday, April 7

Rock Hudson

In the 1950s and 1960s, he was Hollywood's golden boy.  He had the looks of those who descended from Mt. Olympus.  Not since the days of pretty boys Robert Taylor and Tyrone Power had the movies seen anyone this handsome.  He stood tall at 6'5" with a strong voice and one of the heartiest laughs in the business.  He also had a secret and a very dangerous one for the times but it was a far different Hollywood then than it is now and for the most part the movie folks and the press were willing to look the other way.

Friday, April 3

REVIEW: Woman in Gold





Directed by Simon Curtis
2015 Drama
1 hour 49 minutes
From The Weinstein Company

Starring
Helen Mirren
Ryan Reynolds
Daniel Brühl
Katie Holmes
Tatiana Maslany
Elizabeth McGovern
Charles Dance
Jonathan Pryce
Frances Fisher
Max Irons

Tuesday, March 31

David Niven

He worked from the 1930s through the early 1980s and while I could have included him in any of those decades, I am writing about him in my piece on the 1960s because, believe it or not, it wasn't until then that he truly settled into stardom.  He became more of a force at the closing of the 50s when he starred in an Oscar Best Picture and won a Best Actor Oscar for another.

Friday, March 27

Good 60s Films: The Professionals

1966 Western
From Columbia Pictures
Directed by Richard Brooks

Starring
Burt Lancaster
Lee Marvin
Robert Ryan
Claudia Cardinale
Jack Palance
Woody Strode
Ralph Bellamy
Marie Gomez

Tuesday, March 24

The Directors: Sam Peckinpah

If you are one who hates violence on the screen, here is the man to whom you could direct some of your ire.  He wouldn't have cared what you thought and if given the chance, most likely would have told you so to your face.  He didn't much care what Hollywood thought either, except for those few times when he needed to eat and all the beer bottles had already been turned in.

Friday, March 20

REVIEW: The Gunman





Directed by Pierre Morel
2015 Action-Thriller
1 hour 55 minutes
From Open Road and Studio Canal

Starring
Sean Penn
Jasmine Trinca
Javier Bardem
Ray Winstone
Mark Rylance
Idris Elba


Tuesday, March 17

The Rogue Movie Star

I'm reading here that a rogue is an independent person who rejects conventional rules of society in favor of following his own personal goals and values.  It goes on to say it's an unprincipled person whose behavior one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likeable or attractive.  That is a pretty good way to start a piece on Steve McQueen, 1960s icon and from time to time the most popular actor in the world.

Friday, March 13

REVIEW: Cinderella





Directed by Kenneth Branagh
2015 Family Romance Drama
1 hour 52 minutes
From Disney Studios

Starring
Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Derek Jacobi
Nonso Anozie
Sophie McShera
Holliday Grainger
Ben Chaplin
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Tuesday, March 10

Oh Johnny

Have you ever been aware of how many movie titles are Johnny Something?  No?  Well, then you must have a life.  I, on the other hand, have been intrigued by how many times that name has been used in a title.  I would guess more than any other name.  Why is that?  Wouldn't Tommy or Jimmy or Bobby have worked just as well?  So many were bad boys, too, and had screwy last names.  It takes moxie for a studio to give a title the full name of a character because, unless it was based on a book, they aren't great crowd drawers.  Start thinking (if you haven't already) of the Johnny titles you know and then click below.

Friday, March 6

Good 60s Films: Summer and Smoke

1961 Drama
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Peter Glenville

Starring

Laurence Harvey
Geraldine Page
Rita Moreno
John McIntire
Una Merkel
Pamela Tiffin
Thomas Gomez
Malcolm Atterbury
Earl Holliman

Tuesday, March 3

Jean Seberg

In some ways she reminded me of Marilyn Monroe and perhaps I needed someone to remind me of her.  I guess I was drawn to beautiful blonde actresses who were troubled and hurting.  I always wanted to help.   MM's death was particularly painful as I lived only blocks from her.  Seberg was a world away but the saddest thing was I saw it coming.  I hovered around the news on her like hummingbirds at a feeder.  She was beaten down at the beginning of her career and it went downhill from there.  The curtain call was not unexpected.

Friday, February 27

The Directors: Peter Yates

Perhaps his directorial achievements have been neglected somewhat by American showbiz types because he's not American.  It's just a point I'm considering.  Perhaps it's because he isn't identified with one genre... like John Ford was with westerns or Hitchcock was for mysteries.  Hollywood has a tendency to think you're magnificent if you stick with what you know best.  I don't know why directors who tackle several genres (and do them well) are often disparaged as some sort of interlopers.  Others seem to eternally classify them as journeymen directors.  It's not right. 

Tuesday, February 24

Good 60s Films: Judgment at Nuremberg

1961 Historical Drama
From United Artists
Directed by Stanley Kramer

Starring
Spencer Tracy
Burt Lancaster
Richard Widmark
Marlene Dietrich
Maximilian Schell
Judy Garland
Montgomery Clift
William Shatner
Werner Klemperer
Ray Teal
Virginia Christine

Friday, February 20

Easy on the Eyes

Another trio coming your way... all very sixties.  If you were around then or know your movies from the old days, you've heard of them.  I title it what I do because I think their main contribution to films was decorative.  Nothing wrong with that from my point of view.  Let it be known I have certainly loved some of their films.  Let's see who they are:

Tuesday, February 17

RIP Louis Jourdan

For a couple of decades he was certainly Hollywood's idea of the suave Continental lover.  It's probably fitting that he passed away on Valentine's Day.  It's been years since we've heard of him.  Although well-liked in the film industry, he always kept his private life very private.  He was never one to engage in much publicity and was never particularly given to ballyhooing his films.  He was married to the same woman, his childhood sweetheart, for 67 years.

Friday, February 13

REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey






Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson
2015 Drama
2 hours, 5 minutes
From Universal and
Focus Features

Starring
Dakota Johnson
Jamie Dornan
Jennifer Ehle
Eloise Mumford
Luke Grimes
Victor Rasuk
Marcia Gay Harden

Tuesday, February 10

Good 60s Films: The Guns of Navarone

1961 War Drama
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
From Columbia Pictures

Starring
Gregory Peck
David Niven
Anthony Quinn
Stanley Baker
Irene Pappas
James Darren
Gia Scala
Anthony Quayle
James Robertson-Justice
Richard Harris
Allan Cuthbertson

Sunday, February 8

RIP Lizabeth Scott

I have mentioned her numerous times in these pages and I am sorry that I have to write an obit but given her age of 92, I certainly knew the day was coming.  I have some sorrow about a few things about Lizabeth Scott.  I am sorry her main period of fame was for only a dozen years and that she made a mere 21 movies.  I am sorry that she didn't expand her talent more than she did.  I am sorry that she is mostly forgotten. I am truly sorry that she didn't write an autobiography and that she didn't come out of the closet that must have had locks, deadbolts, chains and a security alarm on it.

Friday, February 6

REVIEW: Still Alice


Directed by Richard Glatzer
and Wash Westmoreland
2014 Drama
1 hour 41 minutes
From Sony Pictures Classics

Starring
Julianne Moore
Alec Baldwin
Kristen Stewart
Kate Bosworth
Shane McRae
Hunter Parrish

Tuesday, February 3

King Yul

Yul Brynner has always fascinated me.  It may be true that when I have mentioned him in this blog, it has been in generally unfavorable terms.  It also seems true that he is most deserving of  smears hurled by his detractors.  He was a piece of work... conceited, arrogant, mean, controlling, insufferable, frequently unstable, a liar and a cheater.  I am not even sure he was a great actor, although I thought he was a good one and more importantly, one of the most mesmerizing screen presences I have ever encountered. 

Friday, January 30

Maria Schell

I think Stephen Sondheim may have been right.  Maria.  Maria.  Maria.  It is a beautiful sound.  It has been a favorite female name of mine since childhood.  I was in the sixth grade with a pretty little blonde I fancied.  She smiled at me and told me her name was Maria.  It was inevitable that I would one day sit up and take notice of a certain gorgeous blonde actress arriving in America from Austria to make movies.  Her name, too, was Maria.  Maria Schell.

Tuesday, January 27

The Directors: Blake Edwards

He was essentially a director of comedies and had been for five decades or so.  Some would put him in the same category with such esteemed old-timers as Preston Sturges, Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks.  Blake Edwards would often combine slapstick and homages to silent films with sophisticated humor, melancholia and social commentary.  One might say he took his comedies seriously.  He was devoted to his characters and yet faithful to his audiences.  For most of his career, he certainly knew how to put on a great show.

Friday, January 23

REVIEW: American Sniper

  
Directed by Clint Eastwood
2014 War Biography 
2 hours 12 minutes
From Warner Brothers and
Village Roadshow
 
Starring
Bradley Cooper
Sienna Miller

Tuesday, January 13

Fast Out of the Gate

I do like my trio postings, don't I?  I get to do three personalities at once.  Three birds with one stone, so to speak, if you will.  This trio, all actresses of varying talents and films, have in common that they started their careers being on fire.  They would light up the sky with dazzling movie debuts and then go by way of the meteor.  These types of careers fascinate me.  Now, you go ahead, click on the button below and see who they are.

Sunday, January 11

REVIEW: Selma



Directed by Ava DuVernay
2014 Historical Drama
2 hours 8 minutes
From Paramount Pictures

Starring
David Oyelowo
Carmen Ejogo
Tim Roth
Tom Wilkinson
Giovanni Ribisi
Alessandro Nivola
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Martin Sheen
Common
Dylan Baker

Friday, January 9

Barbara Hershey

We're not that far apart in age.  Barbara Hershey once represented for me a lifestyle that I wished I had been more involved in but never could... a flower child, a hippie.  Convention was never my thing and I always admired rebels, people bold enough to say no thanks, I'll do it my way.  But there was more... she was a good actress, an authentic one, often pulling back layer after layer of complex characters.  She is able to embroider together sensuality, sincerity and a degree of omniscience and usually with a ready smile.  Her sense of self seems so entrenched that she could never betray it in her work.

Tuesday, January 6

Would Somebody Pass the Muffins?

As in stud muffins...!  Oh, you suspected that, didn't you?  Here are three examples of male beauty in the 60s... and as luck would have it, we just happen to be discussing the 60s.  By the way, some serious male beauty.  Those faces could, in fact, have something to do with their not making it to the top of the acting ladder.  Their successes at their craft varies among the three just as the handsomeness does.  They were all actors I liked and whose careers I was pretty much on top of.  Let's visit... 

Friday, January 2

Good 60s Films: The Stalking Moon

1968 Western
From National General
Directed by Robert Mulligan

Starring
Gregory Peck
Eva Marie Saint
Robert Forster
Nathaniel Narcisco
Noland Clay
Russell Thorson