Friday, December 30

Good 40s Films: Casablanca

1942 Drama
From Warner Bros.
Directed by Michael Curtiz

Humphrey Bogart
Ingrid Bergman
Paul Henreid
Claude Rains
Conrad Veidt
Sydney Greenstreet
Peter Lorre
S. Z. Sakall
Dooley Wilson
Joy Page
Leonid Kinskey

Tuesday, December 27

Untamed: Errol Flynn

He was a man of unbridled passions and he gathered some fame and notoriety because of a few of them.  Sailing, sex and drinking certainly headed the list and somewhere in there was living the high life, a profound sense of adventure, practical jokes and when he could manage it, a little debauchery. Hmmm, where does acting figure into all of this?  Well, Mate, except for the goodies the profession provided him, it didn't much register on his scale of desires.

Monday, December 26


Directed by Garth Davis
2016 Drama
1 hour 58 minutes
From The Weinstein Company

Dev Patel

Sunny Pawar
Rooney Mara
Nicole Kidman
David Wenham
Abhishek Bharate

Friday, December 23

Gay Critics Pick All-Time Best Actresses

It's that time of year that Hollywood and those who care about it start their lists.  Lists of what?  Oh, just about anything at all. The 10 best, the year's best, the best directors, the best black films, the best musicals, AFIs best, the best beat, the best from New York... really, it never ends.  It's a horse race.  Who made it?  Who finished?  Who didn't?  Oh my.  Well, the 160 members who make up The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association have foisted upon us the 10 best actresses ever.  Ever.  I don't know what special expertise my crowd has, but Honey, we have always loved our actresses.  See what you think.

Tuesday, December 20

Good 40s Films: The Lady Eve

1941 Comedy
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Preston Sturges

Barbara Stanwyck
Henry Fonda
Charles Coburn
William Demarest
Eugene Pallette
Eric Blore
Martha O'Driscoll
Janet Bleecher

Saturday, December 17

REVIEW: Jackie

Directed by Pablo Larrain
2016 Biography
1 hour 40 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Natalie Portman
Peter Sarsgaard
Billy Crudup
Greta Gerwig
Caspar Phillipson
Richard E. Grant
John Hurt

Friday, December 16

REVIEW: La La Land

Directed by Damien Chazelle
2016 Musical Drama
2 hours 8 minutes
From Lionsgate

Ryan Gosling
Emma Stone
John Legend
Rosemarie DeWitt
J.K. Simmons
Tom Everett Scott

Tuesday, December 13

20th Century Fox

One of my greatest childhood pleasures was sneaking into 20th Century Fox.  I admit it.  Again.  I had opportunity because not only did I live only a mile or so away, but there was a great makeshift entrance off a back lot on Little Santa Monica Blvd.  I didn't originate the cutting of the fence but I do recall enlarging it once through sheer brute force. After a couple of visits I got the feeling I would go undetected if I dressed in some sort of crazy getup and acted as though I knew what I was doing.  My plan produced the results I wanted for about 10 visits.

Friday, December 9

Happy 100th, Kirk

It is with pleasure that we wish another great star from Hollywood's Golden Age a happy, happy 100th birthday.  Most of us will never experience such a celebration and it is a thrill that we got to send good wishes to Olivia de Havilland on her 100th and now to Kirk Douglas on his.  I suspect he made it on sheer chutzpah.

Tuesday, December 6

Good 40s Films: Gentleman's Agreement

1947 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Elia Kazan

Gregory Peck
Dorothy McGuire
John Garfield
Celeste Holm
Anne Revere
June Havoc
Albert Dekker
Dean Stockwell
Jane Wyatt
Sam Jaffe

Friday, December 2

REVIEW: Manchester by the Sea

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
2016 Drama
2 hours 17 minutes
From Amazon Studios

Casey Affleck
Lucas Hedges
Michelle Williams
Kyle Chandler
C. J. Wilson
Tate Donovan
Anna Baryshnikov
Josh Hamilton
Gretchen Mol
Matthew Broderick

Wednesday, November 30

REVIEW: Nocturnal Animals

Directed by Tom Ford
2016 Drama, thriller
1 hour 56 minutes
From Focus Features

Amy Adams
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michael Shannon
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Armie Hammer
Isla Fisher
Karl Glusman
Michael Sheen
Laura Linney

Tuesday, November 29

REVIEW: Allied

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
2016 Romance War Drama
2 hours 4 minutes
From Paramount Pictures

Brad Pitt
Marion Cotillard
Jared Harris
Simon McBurney
Lizzy Caplan
Daniel Betts
August Diehl
Matthew Goode

Friday, November 25

Good 40s Films: East Side, West Side

1949 Drama
From MGM
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy

Barbara Stanwyck
James Mason
Van Heflin
Ava Gardner
Cyd Charisse
Nancy Davis
Gale Sondergaard
William Conrad
Beverly Michaels
Douglas Kennedy
William Frawley

Tuesday, November 22

The Directors: Michael Curtiz

He was one of the most prolific directors Hollywood ever had. One of the great workhorses, his output, especially in Hollywood's Golden Age, is simply incredible. Though his last film was in 1961, there would be precious few today who are unaware of quite a cache of his films.  You may not know he directed them and some of you may not have heard of him, but you know the films.

Friday, November 18

REVIEW: Loving

Directed by Jeff Nichols
2016 Biographical Drama
2 hours 3 minutes
From Focus Features

Joel Edgerton
Ruth Negga
Will Dalton
Terri Abney
Marton Csokas
Nick Kroll
Michael Shannon

Tuesday, November 15

B Leading Men II

These two B leading men, Paul Douglas and Broderick Crawford, have a few things in common.  One is that their leading men status alternated with second leads. Both were burly and loud and gruff. They were born in the same city.  And they shared a famous role, that of uncouth junkyard tycoon, Harry Brock, in the comedy Born Yesterday.  Douglas played the part on Broadway and Crawford in the film.  Let's fill in the stats:

Friday, November 11

Good 40s Films: A Letter to Three Wives

1949 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz

Jeanne Crain
Linda Darnell
Ann Sothern
Kirk Douglas
Paul Douglas
Jeffrey Lynn
Thelma Ritter
Barbara Lawrence
Connie Gilchrist

Tuesday, November 8

Character Actors: Woolley & Gomez

It's not a stretch to conclude that Monty Woolley and Thomas Gomez had a few things in common.  Both were born in New York City around the turn of the last century, both were accomplished stage actors before becoming movie performers, they were character actors who were highly-skilled scene-stealers, they were on the round side and both were gay although they conducted their lives far differently.

Friday, November 4

Mr. Reliable: Joseph Cotten

His longtime pal and discoverer, Orson Welles, once told Jo Cotten that he wasn't sure if he would be a very good actor but he was bound to become a big movie star.  Cotten certainly appeared in a number of important movies but I am not sure that I would include him in the ranks of the big movie stars.  To be frank, I thought he could be a bit colorless. I wish he'd played against type more. Watching a number of his films over the years, I found myself thinking of who I might have rather seen in his role.

Tuesday, November 1

Good 40s Films: The Postman Always Rings Twice

1946 Film Noir
From MGM
Directed by Tay Garnett

Lana Turner
John Garfield
Cecil Kellaway
Hume Cronyn
Leon Ames
Audrey Totter
Alan Reed
Jeff York

Friday, October 28

Farley Granger

Celebrity was an unfortunate circumstance of his profession. He spent too much of his time trying to avoid the glare. He loved acting and there is no question that movie cameras loved him. He never thought very much of his abilities as an actor and eschewed playing the Hollywood game. One could have suspected that maybe a handsome, single man who kept out of the limelight as much as possible was hiding his gayness.  But Farley Granger wasn't hiding it at all.

Tuesday, October 25

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

It was an honor to have been on the MGM lot twice in the early 1960s. The first time I pleaded with a grandfatherly family friend to take me along on his business with the studio and the second time I had my own business to conduct when I went to a screening for a film I would be reviewing for my newspaper.  I'd been in a couple of other studios before but nothing like this.  It simply reeked of prestige.

Friday, October 21

No Sale: Girl Singers with Brief Movie Careers

As singers these four certainly hit the heights of fame with voices that soared on radio, with Big Bands, in supper clubs and concerts and certainly as popular recording artists.  It seemed a natural path to make a stab as actresses and yet when these four did just that, Hollywood's attention was brief. One captured an Oscar nomination and another appeared in one of the most popular Christmas movies of all time and yet... no sale.  

Tuesday, October 18

REVIEW: Denial

Directed by Mick Jackson
2016 Drama
1 hour 50 minutes
From Bleeker Street Media

Rachel Weisz
Tom Wilkinson
Timothy Spall
Andrew Scott
Jack Lowden
Caren Pistorius

Friday, October 14

Good 40s Films: I Wake Up Screaming

1941 Film Noir
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone

Betty Grable
Victor Mature
Carole Landis
Laird Cregar
Elisha Cook Jr.
Alan Mowbray
Allyn Joslyn

Tuesday, October 11

REVIEW: The Birth of a Nation

Directed by Nate Parker
2016 Biographical Drama
2 hours
From Fox Searchlight

Nate Parker
Armie Hammer
Mark Boone Jr.
Colman Domingo
Aunjanue Ellis
Aja Naomi King
Dwight Henry
Jackie Earle Haley
Penelope Ann Miller

Friday, October 7

REVIEW: The Girl on the Train

Directed by Tate Taylor
2016 Drama
1 hour 52 minutes
From Universal

Emily Blunt
Haley Bennett
Rebecca Ferguson
Justin Theroux
Luke Evans
Edgar Ramirez
Allison Janney
Laura Prepon

Tuesday, October 4

REVIEW: The Dressmaker

Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse
2016 Comedy Drama
2 hours 8 minutes
From Broad Green Pictures

Kate Winslet
Judy Davis
Liam Hemsworth
Hugo Weaving

Friday, September 30

REVIEW: Queen of Katwe

Directed by Mira Nair
2016 Biographical Drama
2 hours 4 minutes
From Disney Studios

David Oyelowo
Lupita Nyong'o
Madina Nalwanga
Esther Tebandeke
Martin Kabanza
Ethan Nazario Lubega

Tuesday, September 27

Our Miss Arden

Here was a character actress of the highest order which is why she's getting her own posting and doesn't have to share it with others as I usually have done.  Eve Arden had occasional leading roles and excelled in dramas, comedies and musicals.  By far her most popular role, the one that accords her lasting fame is Our Miss Brooks, which she first played on the radio, then as a popular television series and finally as a movie.  I always thought she was a hoot, didn't you?

Friday, September 23

REVIEW: The Hollars

Directed by John Krasinski
2016 Drama
1 hour 28 minutes
From Sony Pictures Classics

John Krasinski
Sharlto Copley
Richard Jenkins
Margo Martindale
Anna Kendrick
Charlie Day
Josh Groban
Randall Park
Ashley Dyke
Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Tuesday, September 20

Good 40s Films: Born to Kill

1947 Film Noir
From RKO Pictures
Directed by Robert Wise

Lawrence Tierney
Claire Trevor
Walter Slezak
Audrey Long
Phillip Terry
Elisha Cook Jr.
Esther Howard

Friday, September 16

REVIEW: Snowden

Directed by Oliver Stone
Biographical Drama
2 hours 14 minutes
From Open Road Films

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Shailene Woodley
Rhys Ifans
Zachary Quinto
Melissa Leo
Tom Wilkinson
Ben Schnetzer
Timothy Olyphant
Scott Eastwood
Joely Richardson
Ben Chaplin
Nicolas Cage 

Tuesday, September 13

Bette's 1940s Films

Oh I hope no one is saying Bette who because we are going to skip over biographical information and focus on her films of the 1940s.  Bette Davis made her first film in 1931 and last in 1989 and while there were some good, even great, films in other decades, her work in the 1940s is simply astonishing.  These were mainly the films she made at Warner Bros where she reigned as its queen. 

Friday, September 9

Charles Laughton

I don't think I am overstating it when I say he was a legend in his own lifetime.  He was certainly no ordinary actor.  Intellectually and temperamentally complex, he was a perfectionist (frequently to the annoyance of his costars) who became more and more preoccupied with everything Laughton and less about anyone else as he aged.  At the same time, in an industry consumed with vanity, he detested his looks.  But more than anything, perhaps, were his feelings of guilt and inadequacy over being gay.

Tuesday, September 6

REVIEW: The Light Between Oceans

Directed by Derek Cianfrance
2016 Romance Drama
1 hour 32 minutes
From Dreamworks

Michael Fassbender
Alicia Vikander
Rachel Weisz
Jack Thompson
Florence Clery
Bryan Brown
Anthony Hayes
Jane Menelaus
Garry Macdonald

Friday, September 2

Good 40s Films: Gilda

1946 Film Noir
From Columbia Pictures
Directed by Charles Vidor

Rita Hayworth
Glenn Ford
George Macready
Joseph Calleia
Steven Geray

Tuesday, August 30

The Directors: Billy Wilder

There is no question this is one of the greatest American directors and screenwriters of all time.  With the likely exception of Hitchcock, I doubt that any director has ever been more discussed, dissected or written about.  His work spanned the 1930s to the 1960s and included stark dramas with such taboo subjects as alcoholism, adultery, kept boy toys and prostitution to brilliant comedies with witty, often cynical dialogue.  Billy Wilder was a genius at his craft. I expect he was an even better screenwriter than director but it is the director that is our focus.

Friday, August 26

REVIEW: Southside with You

Directed by Richard Tanne
2016 Romance Biography
1 hour, 24 minutes
From Miramax &
Roadside Attractions

Tika Sumpter
Parker Sawyers

Tuesday, August 23

REVIEW: Anthropoid

Directed by Sean Ellis
2016 War Drama
2 hours 29 minutes
From Bleeker Street Media

Cillian Murphy
Jamie Dornan
Charlotte Le Bon
Anna Geislerova
Toby Jones

Friday, August 19

REVIEW: Hell or High Water

Directed by David Mackenzie
2016 Crime Drama
1 hour 42 minutes
From CBS Films

Jeff Bridges
Chris Pine
Ben Foster
Gil Birmingham

Tuesday, August 16

Ruth Roman

It would not have been out of line to have included her as part of one of the Almost Famous postings we've been doing. I am confident that she never attained the heights of fame that she sought when she started out as an actress. But most of the actresses in those postings never worked in as many good films as Ruth Roman did nor did most of them last as long in the profession.  

Friday, August 12

REVIEW: Indignation

Directed by James Schamus
2016 Drama
1 hour 50 minutes
From Summit Entertainment and
Roadside Attractions

Logan Lerman
Sarah Gadon
Tracy Letts
Linda Emond
Noah Roberts
Ben Rosenfield
Bryan Nurton
Danny Burstein

Tuesday, August 9

Boy Crooner: Dick Haymes

I heard his beautiful, clear, crisp, baritone voice so much around our house when I was a kid.  My parents, who didn't have much in common, agreed on Dick Haymes.  Even though my own musical tastes veered toward rock and roll, I cajoled my grandmother into buying me Dick Haymes' recording of You'll Never Know and I listened to it constantly in various states of reverie.  There was no boy crooner who commanded my attention more than this man.

Friday, August 5

Almost Famous II

Here we are, back again with three more actresses from the 1940s who certainly enrichened a few films with their luminous presences but who, for one reason or another, never ascended to the top of Mt. Olympus.  Each one I enjoyed in one film or another for years. Let's see who they are:

Tuesday, August 2

Good 40s Films: Boom Town

1940 Drama
From MGM
Directed by Jack Conway

Clark Gable
Spencer Tracy
Claudette Colbert
Hedy Lamarr
Frank Morgan
Chill Wills
Marion Martin

Friday, July 29

REVIEW: Café Society

Directed by Woody Allen
2016 Romance Drama
1 hour 36 minutes
From Lionsgate

Jesse Eisenberg
Kristen Stewart
Steve Carell
Blake Lively
Jeannie Berlin
Carey Stoll
Ken Stott
Parker Posey

Tuesday, July 26

Ida Lupino

Few would doubt that she was one of the premier actresses of the 1940s, a superbly gifted dramatic actress who more than held her own against the likes of Hepburn, Stanwyck, Davis and Crawford but never attained the glittering reputation that those women acquired.  Housed at Warner Bros during her peak years, she was often referred to as the poor man's Bette Davis and, in fact, assumed a number of parts that Davis turned down.

Friday, July 22

REVIEW: Captain Fantastic

Directed by Matt Ross
2016 Comedy Drama
1 hour, 58 minutes
From Bleecker Street Media

Viggo Mortensen
George McKay
Frank Langella
Samantha Isler
Annalise Basso
Nicholas Hamilton
Shree Crooks
Charlie Shotwell
Kathryn Hahn
Steve Zahn
Ann Dowd

Tuesday, July 19

Tormented: Robert Walker

I basically felt inadequate, unwanted and unloved since I was born. I was always trying to make an escape from life.  I was an aggressive little character but what nobody knew but me was that my badness was only a cover-up for a basic lack of self-confidence, that I was really more afraid than frightening.

Friday, July 15

Walter Pidgeon

He was the perfect gentleman.  Don't take my word for it. It would be a rare article on him that does not make mention of that fact.  He was usually nattily dressed, often with a cravat, and to me he was most distinguished.  There was a superiority about him although never displayed in such a way as to demean others. That superiority often led to roles of authority... military officers, studio heads, senators, law enforcement... all of which elegantly suited him.  He seemed steady as a rock, kind and wise and utterly likeable.

Tuesday, July 12

Patricia Neal

The lady bewitched me from the start.  She was strong, there was always an air of authority about her.  Occasionally she had a tongue that could slice meat but ordinarily she was simply very good at facing down the opposition.  Her characters sometimes used sex as a lure but it was her braininess that always cinched the deal for me.  This was one determined human being... it was always so apparent.  The lines were blurred between her characters and who she was as a person. I saw nothing of the victim in her.

Friday, July 8

Dennis Morgan

Who?  Who is he?  Don't feel too bad if you don't know.  I suspect most of you don't although I would happily be wrong if that's not the case.  While he was an accomplished dramatic actor and an especially fine singer, his best film was a comedy and he only made a handful of good films out of 59.  Oddly, he was the highest-paid male actor at Warner Bros during the 1940s and that is really saying something considering that studio boasted such talents as James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn and John Garfield.  And Dennis Morgan was just about the best-looking actor around.  So, what's missing here? Why is he not as well-known as those coworkers?

Tuesday, July 5

Good 40s Films: The Search

1948 War Drama
From MGM
Directed by Fred Zinnemann

Montgomery Clift

Ivan Jandl
Aline MacMahon
Jarmila Novotna
Wendell Corey

Saturday, July 2

REVIEW: The Legend of Tarzan

Directed by David Yates
2016 Action Adventure
1 hour, 49 minutes
From Warner Bros & Village Roadshow

Alexander Skarsgard
Samuel L. Jackson
Margot Robbie
Christoph Waltz
Djimon Hounsou
Jim Broadbent

Friday, July 1

Happy 100th, Olivia

To Miss Olivia de Havilland
I know we all wish you the happiest, healthiest, sweetest, luckiest, tastiest, brightest, sunniest and best of birthdays. You have just joined a pretty exclusive group. It's lucky to have you.

Tuesday, June 28

The Directors: William Wyler

He was a truly exceptional director.  I may have written about many before him but most all of those and also those to come could have sat at his feet and taken lessons. Most directors are scolded somewhat if they don't seem to have a distinct style... Ford for his westerns or Hitchcock and his mystery-thrillers, for example.  I look at William Wyler and consider how he did it.  In my best stab at brevity, let's say he included the audience in the proceedings. We'll chat about this more.

Friday, June 24

REVIEW: Free State of Jones

Directed by Gary Ross
2016 Biographical Drama
2 hours, 19 minutes
From STX Entertainment

Matthew McConaughey
Gugu Mabatha-Raw
Mahershala Ali
Keri Russell

Tuesday, June 21

Good 40s Films: The Best Years of Our Lives

1946 Drama
From Goldwyn Studios
Directed by William Wyler

Myrna Loy
Fredric March
Dana Andrews
Teresa Wright
Virginia Mayo
Harold Russell
Cathy O'Donnell
Hoagy Carmichael
Ray Collins
Steve Cochran

Friday, June 17

REVIEW: Genius

Directed by Michael Grandage
2016 Biographical Drama
1 hour 44 minutes
From Lionsgate

Colin Firth
Jude Law
Nicole Kidman
Laura Linney
Guy Pearce
Dominic West

Tuesday, June 14

Kate's 10 Best

Those 10 best lists have the potential of being kind of pesky because there's always one or two picks that will cause someone to say... what...?!?!  How'd that make the list or why wasn't such and such included? Unavoidable.  It's not difficult to come up with 10 great Katharine Hepburn films.  What was difficult was leaving off some of them.  Particularly illuminating is the fact that her film career spanned seven decades... not many can say that... and she was a star from start to finish.  I have included three films from the long-ago 1930s, only one from the 40s (boy, this was tough), two from the 50s, three from the 60s and one from the 80s.  So far she is the only actor to win four Oscars for lead roles and I have included three of those performances in this listing.  Let's get going.

Friday, June 10

Almost Famous I

They rubbed up against some fame... yes, they surely did. I'm going to start a new series about them.  For each we'll find some times that they certainly felt famous, desired, fawned over. The hopes and dreams were there once.  But for whatever reasons some dreams just don't come true. For some of the ladies I have lined up, they found a higher calling, usually marriage and motherhood. Some wanted the acclaim more than anything but it just didn't work out. It was almost in their grasp.  Let's meet some of them.

Tuesday, June 7

Guy Madison

The days have come and gone since he was here, prowling the hills of Hollywood, tanning at his agent's pool, looking for work, sometimes hustling for work, sometimes for other things. In his early life it had never seriously occurred to him to be an actor although he heard it enough.  You're good-looking enough to be a movie star. He knew his face and body had opened many a door and maybe this actor stuff might be another.

Saturday, June 4

REVIEW: Me Before You

Directed by Thea Sharrock
2016 Romance Drama
1 hour 50 minutes
From MGM and New Line Cinema

Emilia Clarke
Sam Claflin
Janet McTeer
Charles Dance
Brendan Coyle
Jenna Coleman
Stephen Peacocke
Matthew Lewis
Samantha Spiro

Friday, June 3

Good 40s Films: The Killers

1946 Film Noir
From Universal Pictures
Directed by Robert Siodmak

Burt Lancaster
Ava Gardner
Edmond O'Brien
Albert Dekker
Sam Levene
Jack Lambert
Charles McGraw
William Conrad
Virginia Christine
Jeff Corey
Phil Brown

Tuesday, May 31

REVIEW: Love & Friendship

Directed by Whit Stillman
2016 Comedy Drama
1 hour 32 minutes
From Roadside Attractions

Kate Beckinsale
Xavier Samuel
Morfydd Clark
Tom Bennett
Jemma Redgrave
James Fleet
Chloe Sevigny
Stephen Fry

Friday, May 27

REVIEW: A Bigger Splash

Directed by Luca Guadagnino
2016 Drama
2 hours 5 minutes
From Fox Searchlight
and Studio Canal

Tilda Swinton
Ralph Fiennes
Matthias Schoenaerts
Dakota Johnson
Corrado Guzzanti
Aurore Clémente
Lily McMenamy

Tuesday, May 24

The Directors: Vincent Sherman

He fought the designation woman's director but as I see it that's exactly what he was.  Why the resistance?  What's wrong with being a rather acclaimed director of movies featuring top actresses especially when most everything turned out so well? The 40s was famously a decade for women's films and there was Vincent Sherman right at the center of things, particularly at
his home studio, Warner Bros.

Friday, May 20

Claire Trevor

In her heyday she personified the tough blonde.  She was usually on the wrong side of the law and in a goodly number of her films she could throw a curveball that nobody saw coming.  In film noir, her treachery made tough guys go limp and in westerns her saloon hostesses were wanton floozies who sometimes killed. Of course she got her comeuppance in film after film.  She gazed upon men with a look that said you're too dumb to contemplate. She was a force of nature that was to be reckoned with.

Tuesday, May 17

REVIEW: The Meddler

Directed by Lorene Scafaria
2016 Comedy-Drama
1 hour, 40 minutes
From Sony Pictures Classics

Susan Sarandon
Rose Byrne
J. K. Simmons
Michael McKean
Cecily Strong
Jerrod Carmichael
Jason Ritter

Friday, May 13

REVIEW: Money Monster

Directed by Jodie Foster
2016 Drama
1 hour 38 minutes
From Tristar Pictures

George Clooney
Julia Roberts
Jack O'Connell
Caitriona Balfe
Dominic West
Giancarlo Esposito
Christopher Denham
Emily Meade

Tuesday, May 10

Paulette Goddard

She was thisclose to grabbing the most sought-after female part in the history of American movies, Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Scores of unknowns were given tests and a number of name actresses were not. A few famous actresses who got tested were Joan Bennett, Tallulah Bankhead, Jean Arthur, Lana Turner and someone I thought who would have been excellent, Susan Hayward. Oddly, she was considered too young. Paulette Goddard would also have been exquisite in the role. She was fiery, wilful, a glorious-looking creature, and like Scarlett, she longed to be rich. She was the most tested of any actress... nine times.  The part was almost in the bag when Vivien Leigh showed up on the set of the burning of Atlanta.  

Friday, May 6

Joel McCrea

When I first saw his films in the 1950s, he was a cowboy star.  I saw him at many a Saturday matinee in Saddle Tramp, Frenchie, Cattle Drive, Black Horse Canyon, Wichita, Fort Massacre and many others.  I thought then and do so now that he was one of Hollywood's great western heroes.  And a hero he wanted to be.  I am not aware that he ever played a villain.  It was years before I realized he had been urbanized in many a movie in the 1930s and certainly came into his own in the 1940s as a romantic and often light comedy lead in films helmed by some of filmland's greatest directors.

Tuesday, May 3

Good 40s Films: Till the End of Time

1946 Romance Drama
From RKO Pictures
Directed by Edward Dmytryk

Dorothy McGuire
Guy Madison
Robert Mitchum
Bill Williams
Tom Tully
Jean Porter
Ruth Nelson
Selena Royle
Johnny Sands

Friday, April 29

Gary Cooper

I guess I just never caught that great wave that was Gary Cooper, an actor of undeniable mythic legend both on and off the screen. Once said, I did like him and enjoyed many of his films.  A two-time Academy Award-winning best actor, he was much admired for his minimalist (yup, nope, uh) acting style and I just never understood the acclaim.  I likened him to his hunting buddies Clark Gable and Robert Taylor... big, big movie stars but best to find the great acting chops in others. His offscreen antics put him in good standing to be included in this month's postings on Hollywood's horniest philanderers.

Tuesday, April 26

6 Depressing Films

A friend and I were texting the other day about the most depressing movies we've ever seen.  We agreed to think about six of them and get back to one another.  When we did, we not only agreed with all of the other's choices but we actually named three of the sames films. There's not an Ingmar Bergman film among them but then we agreed to look at American movies only. Let's see what you think...

Friday, April 22

REVIEW: Born to Be Blue

Directed by Robert Budreau
2015 Biography
1 hour 37 minutes
From IFC Films

Ethan Hawke
Carmen Ejogo
Callum Keith Rennie
Stephen McHattie

Tuesday, April 19

The Directors: Charles Vidor

He will be remembered, at least by me, for directing one of those magnificent film noirs you hear so much about. The fact is that noir aficionados know that Charles Vidor directed the dazzling Gilda and he will be forever in our gratitude. He also directed some musicals, a number of comedies, a few biographies and a whole lot of early forgettable stuff. He was a major music lover, particularly of classical, and managed to make two films about composers. He had no discernible style which keeps him off the list of the more famous directors but five of his films I much enjoyed. That's good enough for me.

Friday, April 15

Evelyn Keyes

I once spoke with Evelyn Keyes in Westwood Village, an artsy-fartsy little enclave in West Los Angeles, California, north of famed Wilshire Blvd and butting up against U.C.L.A.  I will never forget the time for a couple of reasons.  Just minutes before seeing her, I passed John Kerr and minutes before that, Henry Fonda.  My lucky day, I mused.  She was colorfully dressed with a funky touch and wore a cute hat.  I hadn't bothered Kerr or Fonda but determined I would say something to this mystical-looking creature that looked like she might be receptive.

Tuesday, April 12

Yvonne De Carlo

A triple-threat she was.  She could act, sing and dance.  From early childhood she developed a fierce ambition that she would professionally be able to do all three.  She turned into a very attractive woman who had an exotic look when the occasion called for it.  With all said, it's a wonder that she rarely rose above B pictures.

Friday, April 8

Hedy Lamarr

I never quite got her.  I've always tried to understand the allure and came up short. Funny, too, because maybe I found something fascinating about her once but I'll be darned if I recall what it was. Perhaps it was the fact that she was European... so different from the American girl next door. Yes, I saw her beauty. She was occasionally referred to as The Most Beautiful Woman in Films and I never screamed what...????!!!!!  I could buy it. And yet, even the beauty unearthed some reservations in me.

Tuesday, April 5

Lana Turner

Let's get one thing straight right away. It's Lahna. Think of llama with an n instead of an m.  Don't say Laaaannnna that rhymes with Hannah or the lady's bones will return and rattle around your lovely home.  She knew it was a given that people mispronounced her name but that didn't mean she wouldn't correct them if they did. That means in person and in filmed or recorded interviews as well.

Friday, April 1

Good 40s Films: The Hard Way

1943 Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by Vincent Sherman

Ida Lupino
Joan Leslie
Dennis Morgan
Jack Carson
Gladys George
Paul Cavanagh
Faye Emerson
Leona Maricle

Tuesday, March 29

John Derek

Pretty Boy is what they called him and not just behind his back.  When he made costume dramas and had to wear tights, they told him he had pretty legs.  Despite the handsome looks and being the progeny of a Hollywood family, John Derek had a pretty tough time trying to make a name for himself in his birthplace, the city of broken dreams. He always said he found Hollywood to be a degrading place.  One wonders if he would have thought that had he found people to take him seriously.

Friday, March 25

Vincent Price

I suspect he would have been a fascinating dinner companion.   He was a writer, a gourmet, a noted art connoisseur and collector, opera lover, an engaging character actor and second leading man, horror film guru and one who likely knew where all the bodies were buried in Hollywood. I see him as overly mannered and principled but I sense he could dish with the best of them.

Tuesday, March 22

Ann Sheridan

Largely forgotten today, she wasn't nominated for an Oscar, there were no scandals, no children wrote a tell-all, and while she made a number of films, only three truly stand out to this day. Nonetheless, Ann Sheridan was a fine actress, equally capable in drama and comedy and she could sell a song when she needed to. Heavily counted on at Warner Bros. to deliver the goods, she always did... never a false note.  And she is perfect for this tribute to the 1940s because that's when the folks flocked to her films. 

Friday, March 18

Good 40s Films: Out of the Past

1947 Film Noir
From RKO Radio Pictures
Directed by Jacques Tourneur

Robert Mitchum
Jane Greer
Kirk Douglas
Rhonda Fleming
Paul Valentine
Virginia Huston
Richard Webb
Steve Brodie
Dickie Moore

Tuesday, March 15

RKO Radio Pictures

I will forever think of RKO as the home of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1930s... the young Katharine Hepburn... King Kong.  In the 1940s it was film noir that captured my attention in general and in particular with this studio who made some of the best.  Because of RKO and its loyalty to film noir, I came to revere Robert Mitchum, Gloria Grahame, Robert Ryan and Jane Greer, some of the icons of the genre.  It was one of the top five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age and occupies a unique place in the history of film-making.

Friday, March 11

The Directors: Henry King

He wasn't as famous or as flashy as a lot of directors from his day.  He didn't care to be as well-known as his actors or to be bigger than his movies.  He wanted his films to stand on their own as good product but when he was done with them, he happily let the studio handle all remaining matters and he was on to his next film, his new adventure.  That is exactly what he thought of all of his films... they were great adventures.

Tuesday, March 8

The Brothers

Sons of a New York aqueduct police chief who had show business aspirations himself, Larry and Jerry Tierney, five years a part in age, grew up to be movie actors as did, briefly, a third brother, Edward.  Larry would enter the business as Lawrence Tierney and Jerry would change his name to Scott Brady.  It always astonishes me when the kids of cops and ministers go bad and both Tierney brothers had scrapes with the law as adults, although presumably no actor ever had more notoriety in this regard than Lawrence.  The brothers fussed and feuded with one another and spent a lot of their adult years not speaking.  Both would probably have cringed to think they were combined in one piece like this.

Friday, March 4

The Great Hoax: Kate & Spence

Movie-making is about illusion.  Quite often that illusion spills over into what the public is fed about the lives of movie stars.  In the good old days, it often took quite an army of friends and family, publicity people and sycophants, police and press to push the public's heads in the sand.  It was perhaps never done so completely, so beautifully than that which was accomplished by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

Tuesday, March 1

Good 40s Films: Crossfire

1947 Film Noir
From RKO Radio Pictures
Directed by Edward Dmytryk

Robert Young
Robert Mitchum
Robert Ryan
Gloria Grahame
Paul Kelly
Sam Levene
George Cooper
Jacqueline White
Steve Brodie
William Phipp

Friday, February 26

Glenn Ford

To tell the truth, he was never a favorite of mine.  I'm not even sure that he was an actor of any special note.  Oh, he was completely competent and had some good moments... a few very good moments... and that's about all I can muster.  I do think he was in fewer than 20 good-to-great films and I own them all.  I don't think I own any because they were Glenn Ford movies, per se, but simply that they were good films.

Tuesday, February 23

Character Actors: Cobb & Coburn

Here's another look at two character actors whose careers lasted for decades.  Without men like Lee J. Cobb and Charles Coburn, movies would be a helluva lot less interesting.  I regard the gruff Cobb as one of the finest character actors there ever was.  Gentlemanly Coburn with his monocle and fussy manners graced dramas and comedies alike but it was in the latter that he is most remembered.  Let's take a look at two fine actors.

Friday, February 19


Directed by Stephen Hopkins
2016 Sports Biography
2 hours 14 minutes
From Focus Features

Stephan James
Jason Sudeikis
Shanice Benton
Jeremy Irons
William Hurt
Carice van Houten
Barnaby Metschurat

Tuesday, February 16

Good 40s Films: Sullivan's Travels

1941 Comedy Drama
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Preston Sturges

Joel McCrea
Veronica Lake
William Demarest
Robert Warwick
Porter Hall
Margaret Hayes
Franklin Pangborn

Friday, February 12

Poor Bobby Driscoll

It is March 30, 1968.  Two boys come across a dead body in an abandoned tenement on New York City's lower east side.  Beer bottles and religious pamphlets are nearby.  He is white, 30-35, no identification and needle marks on his arms.  An autopsy is done and it is determined that he died of a heart attack.  He is buried in a pauper's grave.

Tuesday, February 9

Brazilian Bombshell

To say that there was never anyone quite like her is a serious understatement.  From South America came Carmen Miranda whose uniqueness brought undisputed razzle-dazzle to musicals in the 1940s.  Her English was always a stretch to understand but no one could miss the flashing eyes, the gyrating hips, the toothy, welcoming smile, the rapidly moving arms and hands and of course the turbans, usually piled high with fruits or flowers. Her staccato-like delivery of a song while always moving about like a whirling dervish was memorable.  Chic chica boom chica boom

Friday, February 5

REVIEW: Hail, Caesar!

Directed by Ethan & Joel Coen
2016 Comedy Drama Musical
1 hour 40 minutes
From Universal Pictures

Josh Brolin
George Clooney
Alden Ehrenreich
Ralph Fiennes
Jonah Hill
Scarlett Johansson
Frances McDormand
Tilda Swinton
Channing Tatum

Tuesday, February 2

Good 40s Films: The Dolly Sisters

1945 Musical Biography
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Irving Cummings

Betty Grable
John Payne
June Haver
S. Z. Sakall
Reginald Gardiner
Frank Latimore
Gene Sheldon
Trudy Marshall

Sunday, January 31

REVIEW: Jane Got a Gun

Directed by Gavin O'Connor
2015 Western
1 hour 38 minutes
The Weinstein Company

Natalie Portman
Joel Edgerton
Ewan McGregor
Rodrigo Santoro
Noah Emmerich
Boyd Holbrook

Saturday, January 30

REVIEW: 45 Years

Directed by Andrew Haigh
2015 Drama
1 hour 35 minutes
From Sundance Selects

Charlotte Rampling
Tom Courtenay

Friday, January 29

REVIEW: The Finest Hours

Directed by Craig Gillespie
2016 Drama
1 hour 57 minutes
From Disney

Chris Pine
Casey Affleck
Holliday Grainger
Ben Foster
Eric Bana

Tuesday, January 26

Anne Baxter

It may be that there was never an actress who made as many inferior movies as Anne Baxter did.  She made 50 films and is primarily known for just two of them.  Frankly, even in those two, I think the films are better than she is in them.  You may disagree.

Friday, January 22

Jeanne Crain

Actresses were hired for any number of reasons.  Sometimes it was for talent but often that talent was unknown or untapped at the time of hiring.  It was hoped the lady would develop some talent that would come through training and grooming.  Sometimes she was brought into the family of a great studio for her looks and sometimes it was because those looks projected some sort of image the studio was looking for.

Tuesday, January 19

The Directors: Otto Preminger

To say that this man was a challenge is a serious, multi-faceted understatement.  On the upside, without him it might have taken many more years to hack away at the censorship that stifled movies' creativity.  He also helped end the horrendous blacklist. On the downside was his behavior on film sets and his treatment of actors.  His tantrums were legendary.  He berated, belittled and insulted actors.  Some challenged him to fights, some wept, many said they'd never work with him again. 

Friday, January 15

Rambling Reporter III

Oscar Nominations

Well, they're out.  Let's discuss the top eight categories... picture, directing, writing and acting categories.  We offer kudos, boos, facts, predictions, snubs.  Just tap on read more below and let's get going.

Tuesday, January 12

Miss Rita Hayworth

She was known as The Love Goddess and her sultry looks set the standard for her generation.  During the war-torn first half of the 40s she became one of the two most popular pin-up queens for the men in the military (Betty Grable being the other) and her photos were plastered in lockers and adorned the sides of bombers.  Unlike a lot of top actresses, Rita Hayworth had a warm, personal appeal that stemmed greatly from an innate shyness from which she never recovered.

Friday, January 8

REVIEW: The Revenant

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
2015 Western
1 hour 56 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Leonardo DiCaprio
Tom Hardy
Will Poulter
Domhnall Gleeson
Forrest Goodluck
Lukas Haas

Tuesday, January 5

Good 40s Films: Rope

1948 Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

James Stewart
John Dall
Farley Granger
Cedric Hardwicke
Edith Evanson
Joan Chandler
Constance Collier
Douglas Dick
Dick Hogan

Friday, January 1

REVIEW: The Hateful Eight

Directed by Quentin Tarantino
2015 Western
3 hours, 7 minutes
From The Weinstein Company

Samuel L. Jackson
Kurt Russell
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Walton Goggins
Damien Bechir
Tim Roth
Michael Madsen
Bruce Dern
James Parks
Dana Gourrier
Zoe Bell
Channing Tatum