Friday, December 29

Little Miss Temple

Sparkle, her mother would call out from the sidelines of a vast 20th Century Fox sound stage with hundreds of technicians quietly watching and Gertrude Temple's adorable little daughter would turn up the wattage.  Whether it was dialogue or crying, singing or dancing, that one word was all the direction the little girl with the 56 perfect corkscrew curls would require.  Mrs. Temple's daughter would become the most popular and famous child star in the history of motion pictures.

Wednesday, December 27

REVIEW: All the Money in the World

Directed by Ridley Scott
2017 Crime Drama
2 hours, 12 minutes
From Sony-TriStar Pictures

Michelle Williams
Christopher Plummer
Mark Wahlberg
Romaine Duris
Charlie Plummer
Timothy Hutton

Tuesday, December 26

Good 30s Films: Bringing Up Baby

1938 Screwball Comedy
From RKO
Directed by Howard Hawks


Katharine Hepburn
Cary Grant
Charles Ruggles
May Robson
Walter Catlett
Barry Fitzgerald
Fritz Feld

Monday, December 25

REVIEW: The Shape of Water

Directed by Guillermo del Toro
2017 Fantasy Romance Drama
2 hours, 3 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Sally Hawkins
Michael Shannon
Richard Jenkins
Octavia Spencer
Michael Stuhlbarg
Doug Jones

Friday, December 22

REVIEW: The Greatest Showman

Directed by Michael Gracey
2017 Musical Biography
1 hour 45 minutes
From 20th Century Fox

Hugh Jackman
Michelle Williams
Zac Efron
Rebecca Ferguson
Keala Settle
Sam Humphrey
Fredric Lehne

Tuesday, December 19

Character Actors: Bickford & Mitchell

Here are two of the most accomplished characters actors of  all time.  Should you not know their names, perhaps you recognize their faces.  If not that either, I guarantee you have seen them in countless films if you're into old ones.  They were not leading actors nor were they very far down in the credits. They delighted audiences as the fixtures they were in films for decades.  One started in 1923 and his last film was in 1961.  The other began his career in 1929 and ended it in 1966.  

Friday, December 15

REVIEW: Wonder Wheel

Directed by Woody Allen
2017 Drama
1 hour, 41 mins
From Amazon Studios

Kate Winslet
Justin Timberlake
Juno Temple
Jim Belushi
Jack Gore

Tuesday, December 12

Diamond Lil Herself

Mae West deserves inclusion in our salute to the 1930's because she was a huge star then but as hard as I try, I cannot come up with a worse actress who had reached her lofty status.  I have only seen three of her films all the way through and turned off a few more, all of which were cringe-worthy.  All she ever seemed capable of was S&M and in this case I mean standing and modeling.  Everyone else in her films handled most of the dialogue and nearly all of the action and she just stood there, over-bustled, breasts heaving, hands on hips, throwing out one little double entendre after another.

Friday, December 8

Claudette Colbert

Gossip maven Hedda Hopper once said of Claudette Colbert that she was the smartest, canniest, smoothest 18-karat lady I've ever seen cross the Hollywood pike.  That doesn't completely cover it but it's a good place to start.  I, too, always thought she was quite the lady, on screen and off.  Let the others run amok, but not Colbert.  It's apparent she thought well of herself and was not about to become embroiled in tawdry newspaper coverage or cheesecake photos or allow her personal life to become fodder for her many fans. 

Tuesday, December 5

Alice Faye

There's a temptation to call her a reluctant movie star and yet that doesn't quite capture the facts.  The truth is more like movies weren't everything to her as they are for so many who make them.  Hollywood history is bulging with stories of men and women who would do anything to hit the big time and most everything else was a distant second.  She was never a part of that crowd.  Her personal life, especially family and spending time with them, was far more important to her and she tended to think of being a performer as just a job.  She said she could take the movies or leave them and one day she would prove it. 

Friday, December 1

Good 30s Films: Alexander's Ragtime Band

1938 Musical Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Henry King

Tyrone Power
Alice Faye
Don Ameche
Ethel Merman
Jack Haley
Paul Hurst
John Carradine
Chick Chandler

Tuesday, November 28

The Lovers

They would be Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, the most popular movie singing duo of the 1930s, bar none.  You may find the title of this piece rather odd if you bought into the con job hatched by their boss, Louis B. Mayer of MGM, and circulated around Hollywood for decades that the pair, in fact, hated one another.  They not only didn't hate one another they were madly in love for as long as they knew one another.  What we were fed about them was one of the great Hollywood hoaxes.

Friday, November 24

REVIEW: Last Flag Flying

Directed by Richard Linklater
2017 Drama
2 hours 5 minutes
From Amazon Studios

Steve Carell
Bryan Cranston
Laurence Fishburne
J. Quinton Johnson
Deanna Reed-Foster
Yul Vazquez
Cicely Tyson

Tuesday, November 21

REVIEW: Lady Bird

Directed by Greta Gerwig
2017 Comedy Drama
1 hour 34 minutes
From A24

Saoirse Ronan
Laurie Metcalf
Tracy Letts
Timothée Chalamet
Lucas Hedges
Beanie Feldstein
Lois Smith

Friday, November 17

REVIEW: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Directed by Martin McDonagh
2017 Comedy Drama 
1 hour 55 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Frances McDormand
Woody Harrelson
Sam Rockwell
Abbie Cornish
Lucas Hedges
Caleb Landry Jones
Zeljko Ivanek
Peter Dinklage
John Hawkes

Tuesday, November 14

The Garden of Allah

It wasn't long after our family moved to Los Angeles in 1956 that my movie-loving mother and I hopped in the family Oldsmobile and set out to discover all we could about the old days of Hollywood.  We checked out stars' homes but her big thrill was seeing where famous places were located or once located.  On several weekends we would look for where the famous Hollywood Canteen had been located or the Chateau Marmont Hotel, the Mocambo nightclub or the offices of Photoplay, Modern Screen or Screen Stories (the bibles of our lives) and The Garden of Allah.

Friday, November 10

Good 30s Films: Wife vs. Secretary

1936 Comedy
From MGM
Directed by Clarence Brown

Clark Gable
Jean Harlow
Myrna Loy
James Stewart
May Robson
George Barbier

Tuesday, November 7

Remakes: The Women

There have been three versions of The Women, the story of marriage, infidelity and gossip among a large circle of friends.  The most popular one was in 1939, certainly the template for the next two.  It was based on the Broadway smash by Claire Boothe Luce.  All three maintain the same basic story and have glittering casts.  One thing that made the play and the first and third movie versions particularly memorable is that there were no men.  In some circles these days, that doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Friday, November 3

Billy Haines: Run Out of the Movies

I don't think I've ever seen any of his 51 movies although I've glommed some clips from several of them and was flabbergasted at how femme he was on screen (and off).  I've always recalled him because of that and for one other thing.  His boss, Louis B. Mayer, fearsome head of MGM, told him to give up his live-in relationship (with boyfriend Jimmie Shields) or leave the movies.  William Haines left the movies.  How very admirable.

Tuesday, October 31

Good 30s Films: Dark Victory

1939 Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by Edmund Goulding

Bette Davis
George Brent
Humphrey Bogart
Geraldine Fitzgerald
Ronald Reagan
Henry Travers
Virginia Brissac

Friday, October 27

REVIEW: Goodbye Christopher Robin

Directed by Simon Curtis
2017 Autobiographical Drama
1 hour 47 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Domhnall Gleeson
Margot Robbie
Kelly Macdonald
Stephen Campbell Moore
Alex Lawther
Will Tilston

Tuesday, October 24

The Directors: George Cukor

Legendary needs to be the first word.  He was Mister Hollywood in so many ways.  Quite a number of his films certainly can be called legendary and he worked with so many of the greats in his day.  Like no other, the parties he threw at his beautiful home were legendary... and he did so nearly weekly for decades.  He could have conducted courses on being a bon vivant... and he probably did.  

Friday, October 20

REVIEW: Only the Brave

Directed by Joseph Kosinki
2017 Biographical Drama
2 hours 13 minutes
From Columbia Pictures

Josh Brolin
Miles Teller
Jeff Bridges
Jennifer Connelly
Taylor Kitsch
James Badge Dale
Andie MacDowell
Geoff Stultz

Tuesday, October 17

Good 30s Films: Libeled Lady

1936 Comedy Romance
From MGM
Directed by Jack Conway

Jean Harlow
William Powell
Myrna Loy
Spencer Tracy
Walter Connolly
Charley Grapevine
Cora Witherspoon

Friday, October 13

REVIEW: Marshall

Directed by Reginald Nudlin
2017 Biographical Drama
1 hour 58 minutes
From Open Road Films

Chadwick Boseman
Josh Gad
Kate Hudson
Stewart K. Brown
Dan Stevens
James Cromwell

Tuesday, October 10

Jean Harlow

In the1930s she was an original.  Some say Mae West came close and I say that's an insult to Harlow.  West was about as sexy as a bag of cement and she couldn't act her way out of a paper sack.  Unquestionably Harlow first became famous for her hair, an electric, very white, platinum blonde which enhanced her sexy demeanor.  She would in time become known as a good comedic actress.  

Friday, October 6

REVIEW: The Mountain Between Us

Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
2017 Adventure
1 hour 43 minutes
From Fox 2000

Idris Elba
Kate Winslet
Beau Bridges
Dermot Mulroney

Tuesday, October 3

Good 30s Films: Stage Door

1937 Comedy Drama
From RKO 
Directed by Gregory LaCava

Katharine Hepburn
Ginger Rogers
Adolphe Menjou
Andrea Leeds
Gail Patrick
Constance Collier
Lucille Ball
Ann Miller
Eve Arden
Jack Carson
Samuel S. Hinds
Franklin Pangborn
Grady Sutton

Saturday, September 30

REVIEW: Victoria and Abdul

Directed by Stephen Frears
2017 Historical Biography
1 hour 52 minutes
From Focus Features

Judi Dench
Ali Fazal
Eddie Izzard
Tim Pigott-Smith
Adeel Akhtar
Paul Higgins
Michael Gambon
Olivia Williams
Simon Callow

Friday, September 29

REVIEW: Rebel in the Rye

Directed by Danny Strong
2017 Biography
2 hours, 31 minutes
From IFC Films

Nicholas Hoult
Kevin Spacey
Sarah Paulson
Victor Garber
Hope Davis
Zoey Deutch
Lucy Boynton

Tuesday, September 26

REVIEW: Stronger

Directed by David Gordon Green
Biographical Drama
1 hour 56 minutes
From Roadside Attractions

Jake Gyllenhaal
Tatiana Maslany
Miranda Richardson
Clancy Brown

Friday, September 22

The Directors: Raoul Walsh

He got my attention when I was quite young because he directed some westerns I much admired.  He also directed many adventure films and crime dramas, two other genres I have always been drawn to.  He was a tough guy in real life and as a director but he never minded getting as much as he gave in that department.  It's probably one reason he was drawn more to male-driven stories and worked often with actors like Cagney, Flynn and Bogart.  He and I also had in common a love of those sassy, smart-mouthed actresses with some of his favorites being Virginia Mayo, Ida Lupino and Jane Russell. 

Tuesday, September 19

Good 30s Films: San Francisco

1936 Drama
From MGM
Directed by W. S. Van Dyke

Clark Gable
Jeanette MacDonald
Spencer Tracy
Jack Holt
Jessie Ralph
Shirley Ross

Friday, September 15

Paramount Pictures

It comes well-pedigreed being the fifth oldest film studio in the world.  It is also the second oldest American studio (behind Universal) and is the only one of the Big Six still in Hollywood. Like all but one of the big studios it was founded by a savvy Jewish businessman from Europe who saw early on that there was a future for him in the entertainment business.

Tuesday, September 12

William Powell & Myrna Loy

The gentleman once said about himself and his most frequent co-star...  we weren't acting, we were just two people in perfect timing.  Indeed.  The always-dapper dude from Pittsburgh and the rancher's daughter from Montana made 14 films together and seemed so perfect for one another that much of the public thought they were married in real life.  Interestingly (for Hollywood types), they weren't even romantically involved.

Friday, September 8

Good 30s Films: Drums Along the Mohawk

1939 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by John Ford

Claudette Colbert
Henry Fonda
Edna May Oliver
Ward Bond
John Carradine
Jessie Ralph
Robert Lowery
Arthur Shields
Chief Big Tree

Tuesday, September 5

Clark Gable

I saw him several times in the late 1950s at the ultra-glam Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.  As I outlined in a piece I called The Caddy, I was hopelessly trying to be one.  Gable and I had seen one another several times in passing.  One day we were in an area alone together and he looked at me, flashing that famous smile, and asked me if I was new.  He seemed very nice and not at all like the world-famous movie star he was.  He also looked even older than he appeared on the screen.  I thought he appeared quite worn out from his jaunt around the links but was trying to cover it up. I was rarely in awe of meeting movie stars but I made an exception for him.

Friday, September 1

Movie-Making in the 1930s

To be perfectly upfront, it took me years to get into films of the 1930s.  Oh sure, I liked some movies from that time but I generally just found them to be so old, mostly in black and white and kind of corny. In some ways, a bit of that still feels the same but let there be no doubt I have come to appreciate the decade. Quite a number of the movies are classics, a large number of actors remain among the most memorable of all-time and the decade undeniably had some bouts with history.

Tuesday, August 29

Good 70s Films: Three Days of the Condor

1975 Mystery Thriller
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Sydney Pollack

Robert Redford
Faye Dunaway
Cliff Robertson
Max von Sydow
John Houseman

Saturday, August 26

REVIEW: Wind River

Directed by Taylor Sheridan
2017 Crime Drama
1 hour 47 mins
From The Weinstein Company

Jeremy Renner
Elizabeth Olsen
Graham Greene
Jon Bernthal
Gil Birmingham
Kelsey Asbille
Tantoo Cardinal

Friday, August 25

Wholesome Lads

I think the last decade that could be called wholesome was the 1950s.  We've drifted away from that every decade since and even by 1970 it seemed like an anachronism.  And yet... and yet at least three actors tried to make careers out of that very trait.  Good looks, a sense of decency, a touch of innocence, a knack for tackling emotions and they were ready to go.  And even in the hard core 70s they were able to pull it off.  And then one day they no longer could.  Their first names all start with an R. Any idea who they might be?

Tuesday, August 22

Remakes: Stagecoach

We're starting a new series called Remakes which will highlight films that have been made more than once.  Sometimes the title is maintained, sometimes not.  Usually the original is by far the better film and occasionally the remake is surprisingly good. There have been times the remake becomes a musical where the original was not.  We'll see what we come up with.  Let's begin with Stagecoach.

Friday, August 18

Good 70s Films: The Turning Point

1977 Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Herbert Ross

Anne Bancroft
Shirley MacLaine
Leslie Browne
Tom Skerritt
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Anthony Zerbe
Martha Scott
James Mitchell
Daniel Levans
Marshall Thompson

Tuesday, August 15

John Cassavetes

He is the greatest of maverick writer-directors whose most notable accomplishment-- and it's considerable-- is being the founding father of U.S. independent film-making.  Some may say one of the founding fathers and while that may technically be true, in my estimation no one was ever more dedicated to putting out indie films than this man.  Let's consider that the Independent Spirit Awards (televised every year usually one day ahead of the Oscar show) honors the best new film-maker with the prestigious John Cassavetes award.

Friday, August 11

Gena Rowlands

Here is half of one of the most legendary actress-director screen partnerships in Hollywood history.  There have been a number of other pairings but few evoke the stirring memories created by beautiful Gena Rowlands and her maverick husband, John Cassavetes.  Together, they were king and queen of the indies for 20 years, a deluxe duo who brought a searing realism to films like we'd never seen before. 

Tuesday, August 8

Good 70s Films: Ice Castles

1978 Romance Drama
From Columbia Pictures
Directed by Donald Wrye

Robby Benson
Lynn-Holly Johnson
Tom Skerritt
Colleen Dewhurst
Jennifer Warren
David Huffman

Friday, August 4

REVIEW: Lady Macbeth

Directed by William Oldroyd
2016 Period Drama
1 hour 29 mins
From Roadside Attractions

Florence Pugh
Cosmo Jarvis
Paul Hilton
Naomi Ackie
Christopher Fairbank

Tuesday, August 1

Good 70s Films: The Wind and the Lion

1975 Adventure Drama
From MGM
Directed by John Milius

Sean Connery
Candice Bergen
Brian Keith
John Huston
Steve Kanaly
Geoffrey Lewis
Simon Harrison
Polly Gottesman

Friday, July 28

Husband-Hunting Trios

Hollywood certainly never had a problem with recycling. It was accomplished most effectively with a trio of young women (often roommates) in search of husbands. The stories were all pretty trite and pointless but the actresses were almost always quite fetching and once in awhile the locations (usually European) made the film look more like an exciting travelogue with pretty hostesses. 20th Century Fox made a fortune with this well-worn plot.  Here are a dozen of them:

Tuesday, July 25

Good 70s Films: The Last of Sheila

1973 Murder Mystery
From Warner Bros
Directed by Herbert Ross

Richard Benjamin
Dyan Cannon
James Coburn
Joan Hackett
James Mason
Ian McShane
Raquel Welch

Friday, July 21

Good 70s Films: The Champ

1979 Drama
From MGM
Directed by Franco Zeffirelli


Jon Voight
Faye Dunaway
Ricky Schroder
Jack Warden
Arthur Hill
Joan Blondell
Strother Martin
Elisha Cook Jr.

Tuesday, July 18

Judith Anderson

She never worked that much in the movies, certainly not as much as some of her contemporaries and one wonders why. And let's get it out there and you can mull it over as we chat... Judith Anderson was a magnificent actress. She was highly-trained, a masterful stage actress, a vigorous interpreter of the classics and could have out-acted most of those contemporaries whom she merely supported in films. Was she identified as too much of a stage actress to even be offered much of a career in films? Was she too formidable for some? Did her playing Mrs. Danvers stall a future career? Was it her looks?  Her closeted lesbianism? What exactly?

Friday, July 14

Good 70s Films: Breaking Away

1979 Comedy Drama
From 20th Century Fox
Directed by Peter Yates

Dennis Christopher
Dennis Quaid
Jackie Earle Haley
Daniel Stern
Barbara Barrie
Paul Dooley
Robin Douglass
Hart Bochner

Tuesday, July 11

The Directors: Mike Nichols

The movies were fortunate to have had Mike Nichols want to come aboard as a director.  He had established himself as part of a sharp-edged comedy team and would ultimately be one of the most awarded directors on Broadway.  But you know what? He thought he had something to offer to the movies and as it turned out, he was so right. With just his first and second films, he gave Hollywood a face-lift.  Some would say it was needed, some would offer it wasn't.  He is a director whose films I made sure I saw (with one exception) and I was almost always rewarded with a great time.

Friday, July 7


She's one of those for whom we don't need a last name.  We know of whom we're speaking.  It seems more reasonable that I would have done a posting on her when I did my tribute to the 1940s since that was her most acclaimed decade but for one reason or another it didn't work out.  On the other hand it's not totally a head-scratcher to bring her up as part of our salute to the 1970s since she was not only still working but won her third Oscar in that decade. So let's see what we can say about Ingrid Bergman.

Tuesday, July 4

Good 70s Films: Network

1976 Drama
From MGM
Directed by Sidney Lumet

Faye Dunaway
William Holden
Peter Finch
Robert Duvall
Beatrice Straight
Ned Beatty
Wesley Addy
William Prince

Friday, June 30

REVIEW: The Beguiled

Directed by Sofia Coppola
2017 Period Drama
1 hour 33 minutes
From Focus Features

Colin Farrell
Nicole Kidman
Kristen Dunst
Elle Fanning
Oona Laurence
Angourie Rice
Addison Riecke
Emma Howard

Tuesday, June 27

Nicholson in the 70s

Jack Nicholson has spent his long career being one of the great movie stars... in my estimation, one of the greats of all time. When it comes to comedy, he's one of the best and his turns at drama render him positively riveting.  As of this writing he has made 60 movies as an actor, three as a director, six as a writer and eight as a producer.  He has been nominated for 12 acting Oscars (the most of any male actor) and won three of them.  He made 19 films before he came to worldwide attention in 1969s Easy Rider. Every decade since he has made a collection of memorable films. Here are those from the 1970s.

Friday, June 23

REVIEW: The Hero

Directed by Brett Haley
2017 Drama
1 hour 33 minutes
From The Orchard

Sam Elliott
Laura Prepon
Nick Offerman
Krysten Ritter
Katharine Ross

Tuesday, June 20

Madeline Kahn

Someone once described her as a Boticelli cracking a malicious grin.  I regarded her as the high priestess of movie comediennes in the 1970s whose deadpan expressions drove me crazy with laughter and whose voice was truly her best instrument. She was a sensation on Broadway, a multiple Tony nominee, and she admitted she owed her movie career mainly to Mel Brooks with an extra nod to Peter Bogdanovich.  

Friday, June 16

More Odd Careers

Here we have 10 more actors who indeed had some odd careers.  Some had a famous role... and then nothing.  There are even a couple of Oscar nominees.  Several were young and simply never graduated to adult roles.  Some come from acting families and didn't make the cut.  Some were very talented.  Let's see who they are.

Tuesday, June 13

And Then I Wrote

Being as fond of writers as I have always been, it has been fascinating for me over the years to become more aware of what movies come from the pen of the same person.  So, like any good sleuth, I have looked them up, always finding a few surprises along the way.  Of the 25 people listed, some have written an original work, some are adaptations of previously-published works and some are cowritten with others not mentioned.  I have not specified which is which.  Check it out:

Friday, June 9

REVIEW: My Cousin Rachel

Directed by Roger Michell
2017 Romance Drama
1 hour 46 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

Rachel Weisz
Sam Claflin
Holliday Grainger
Iain Glen

Tuesday, June 6

The Directors: Michael Cimino

With only eight films to his directorial credit, he climbed to the top of the 1970's New Hollywood directors heap and then fell from grace with a resounding thud so noisy and chaotic that his career never recovered. Michael Cimino was always a target for controversy,  He was 5'5" tall, odd-looking and always altering his facial looks.  As a Hollywoodite, he was imperious, contrary, a devil on a movie set and thumbed his new noses at producers, studio heads and Hollywood bigwigs.  He was determined to do it his way... restraint and budgets be damned.

Friday, June 2

Good 70s Films: Paper Moon

1973 Crime Comedy
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich

Ryan O'Neal
Tatum O'Neal
Madeline Kahn
John Hillerman
P. J. Johnson
Burton Gilliam

Tuesday, May 30


Here are three more actors who have added immeasurably to the films they have appeared in but despite looks and talents have never become the big stars they likely once aspired to be. I can't say that I have particularly followed their careers and yet I gave seen them all in countless films.  I suspect what they have in common is a certain blandness, which, unless one is Harrison Ford, it doesn't turn into a golden career.  Let's see who they are and perhaps enjoy a trip down Memory Lane.

Friday, May 26

The Directors: Paul Schrader

He was more successful and renowned as a screenwriter than a director and in both fields the result was edgy, noirish, brutal, sexual and existential and often focused on social alienation and cultural revolt.  There is no doubt he deserved his place among
that movie brat club of directors of the late 70s although he only made two films in that decade.  

Tuesday, May 23

Jill Clayburgh

For awhile in the late 1970s, Jill Clayburgh and I had a little romance, although she was unaware of it.  She made her mark playing strong, independent women and that was and is my favorite kind of woman.  She and Fonda, Dunaway, Burstyn, Marsha Mason and a few others ruled in those days and I saw most all of their films.  Clayburgh, in particular, though seemed to be more accessible than the others and she had a wonderful flair for comedy.

Friday, May 19

Julie Christie

Anticipation was feverish when Rex Harrison took to the podium in 1966 to announce the best actress winner for 1965. There were two British Julies in contention and most expected the last name to be called would be Andrews for her world-famous performance as Maria in the mega-hit The Sound of Music.  But the surname he called out was Christie and for a little-known film (in the States) called Darling.  It seemed astonishing and even more so because she was not nominated for her own mega-hit the same year, Dr. Zhivago. The world would sit up and take notice of everything this beauty would do but stardom would never be her cup of tea.

Tuesday, May 16

Good 70s Films: Tim

1979 Romance Drama
From The Australian Film Commission
Directed by Michael Pate

Piper Laurie
Mel Gibson
Alwyn Kurtz
Deborah Kennedy
Pat Evison
David Foster

Friday, May 12

The Directors: Milos Forman

He was a director of early Czech New Wave comedies who came to American films in the early 70s and directed an impressive but small collection of them about rebels, eccentrics and unlovable celebrities.  Due to his upbringing, he found the subject matter he wanted to explore in most of his films... the outsider who resists giving in to those who want to control his life.  He has enjoyed themes of liberty and free speech. After arriving on American shores he rather quickly won two Oscars for best direction. He seemed to have much to say so one wonders why he has worked so little as a movie director.

Tuesday, May 9

Good 70s Films: Hair

1979 Musical
From United Artists
Directed by Milos Forman

John Savage
Treat Williams
Beverly D'Angelo
Annie Golden
Dorsey Wright
Don Dacus
Cheryl Barnes
Miles Chapin
Charlotte Rae
Renn Woods
Nell Carter
Michael Jeter

Friday, May 5

Jason Robards

He was one of those powerful actors... booming voice, intimidating presence, a messenger of raw honesty.  He made 56 big-screen appearances, countless and often most prestigious television movies and revered Broadway performances.  Jason Robards was not only considered the premier interpreter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, but that work owes Robards a debt of gratitude for keeping the plays in the public's consciousness.

Tuesday, May 2

Good 70s Films: Robin and Marian

1976 Romance Adventure
From Columbia Pictures
Directed by Richard Lester

Sean Connery
Audrey Hepburn
Robert Shaw
Nicol Williamson
Denholm Elliott
Ian Holm
Richard Harris

Friday, April 28

Max in English

Max von Sydow has managed to balance his acting career on two different planes for many years.  On the one hand he started out in his native Sweden as director Ingmar Bergman's gloomy alter-ego and then morphed into an internationally sought-after character actor with an intellectual bent, often specializing in austere villainous roles. His tall, imposing, often severe and mysterious presence can occasionally give way to a glorious smile.  However one cuts it, this is a most watchable actor who has performed in foreign productions across the planet.

Tuesday, April 25

Charlotte Rampling

She doesn't look like a movie star and when I see her on the big screen I never catch her acting.  What she brings to her work is a seamless naturalness and extraordinary intelligence unlike almost anyone I've ever seen.  It's not like watching her up on that screen at all but rather like chatting with her on my sofa.  And the strangest thing is that she has never much acted like a star, never courted publicity or attention and yet she's made movies longer than most and is still at it.

Friday, April 21

The Directors: Hal Ashby

Ford, Hitchcock, Huston and all that crowd, no matter where they were as the 1970s dawned on that great sunny playground called Hollywood, must have wondered whatinthehell was happening to their profession?  Or for that matter... Hollywood itself.  Everybody was pissed off, against more than they were for, making depressing movies about real life and doing drugs.  It seemed like a movement to the old guys and they were sure no good could come of it.  Like all good movements, a leader is needed or at least a symbol.  Enter Hal Ashby. 

Tuesday, April 18

Good 70s Films: Darling Lili

1970 Musical Comedy Drama
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Blake Edwards

Julie Andrews
Rock Hudson
Jeremy Kemp
Lance Percival
Michael Witney
Gloria Paul
André Maranne
Jacques Marin
Bernard Kay
Doreen Keogh

Friday, April 14

Book Review: Nevertheless

It's been some time since I've read an autobiography/memoir and my life works better when I have one going.  Alec Baldwin has put together a bright and breezy one, ready for public consumption. I should tell you that I like Alec Baldwin and always have. There was a time I, um, really liked him but that's another posting. He's always impressed me as honest and sometimes a little loose-lipped and I thought the combination of the two would make for a good read. From my point of view he didn't disappoint.

Tuesday, April 11

Behind the Scenes I

How about meeting a few folks from behind the scenes? For the most part, for a majority of the public, these are some unsung heroes.  Within the industry, of course, these are heroes whose praises were sung all the time. Most actresses remember who dressed them for a particular film and we're visiting the movie colony's most famous costumer.  All actors care very much about how they are shot... we're speaking cinematographers here.  Stunt people are revered as well and the one we're saluting also handled directing B units on some of his films.  A director's best friend is an editor and whether you know it or not, she's yours, too.  Let's visit this first group of four.

Friday, April 7

Karen Black

She is probably as identified with the 70s as anyone could be although by the end of the decade there wasn't a lot of steam left. She had a near-genius IQ and a hunger to become noticed and acting was an easy call. While she certainly had moments of delivering heartfelt performances, her rather quirky personality and unusual look found her engaging in a number of unorthodox performances in oddball films. 

Tuesday, April 4

Good 70s Films: Chinatown

1974 Film Noir
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Roman Polanski

Jack Nicholson
Faye Dunaway
John Huston
Perry Lopez
John Hillerman
Roy Jenson
Diane Ladd
Joe Mantell
Bruce Glover

Friday, March 31

REVIEW: The Zookeeper's Wife

Directed by Niki Caro
2017 War Biography
2 hours 4 mins
From Focus Features

Jessica Chastain
Johan Heldenbergh
Daniel Brühl
Val Maloku
Iddo Goldberg

Tuesday, March 28

Roy Scheider

He was a unique character in a number of ways.  He looked like he knew his way around the docks of his native New Jersey with his misshapened, gaunt face and tough-guy demeanor and fists to back it all up.  At the same time, he had been a voracious reader since a childhood bout with rheumatic fever that kept him in bed for long periods of time.  He ultimately became a stage actor with a background in the classics.  He could be rough around the edges and yet kind and thoughtful.  He was an ideal candidate to become one of the leading figures of the film renaissance of the 1970s.

Friday, March 24

Out of Canada

Here are three actors, one man and two women, I very much liked at the height of their fame.  Each made a contribution to the movie world in his or her own way in the 60s and 70s and then seemed to disappear, at least from American screens.  Sometimes it seems to me that the further we get away from the 40s, the shorter careers were.  All are Canadians with two being specifically French-Canadians, born in Quebec, and the other comes from the opposite side of the country, British Columbia.  Any idea who they might be?

Tuesday, March 21

Good 70s Films: The Way We Were

1973 Romance Drama
From Columbia Pictures
Directed by Sydney Pollack

Barbra Streisand
Robert Redford
Bradford Dillman
Lois Chiles
Patrick O'Neal
Viveca Lindfors
Allyn Ann McLerie
Murray Hamilton
Herb Edelman
James Woods

Friday, March 17

The Bottoms Boys

Once upon a time there were four acting brothers and their last name was not Baldwin.  It was Bottoms and don't think we didn't have some fun with that back in the 70s.  Their first names are Timothy, Joseph, Sam and Ben. They have had varying degrees of success-- Timothy, by far, the most successful-- and today he is the most remembered of the four although the youngins today probably haven't heard of any of them.

Tuesday, March 14

The Directors: Alan J. Pakula

He came into his own in the 1970s with a trio of wonderful conspiracy thrillers, often called the Paranoia Trilogy, and his influence was celebrated throughout the entire decade.  The public flocked to his films because they knew they were in for a helluva good time.  He directed two stunningly-talented women to best actress Oscars. Before he directed he was a producer and part of a duo whose stamp on a film meant accolades for both.  What seems odd is that such a sophisticated filmmaker would not only fall in a slump from which he wouldn't truly recover but that his total directorial output was a mere 16 films. 

Friday, March 10

Odd Careers

There are some actors and actresses that I have the hardest time understanding how they made it in Hollywood.  They are usually not very talented and not good-looking, two prerequisites to carving out a successful career.  And there are others who are quite handsome or beautiful and may or may not have talent and they don't make it.  Some fell by the wayside because they just could never relate to the crazy business of movie-making.  Some had behavior issues or got a case of Mr. Bighead.  Some it's just plain perplexing.  Let's look at some odd movie careers.

Tuesday, March 7

Jeanne Moreau

France loves its cinema and for years has held three actresses in iconic status.  There's the sex kitten Brigitte Bardot, the beautiful ice queen Catherine Deneuve and the subject of today's posting, one of the great screen goddesses of our time, by far the best actress of the three, the luminous Jeanne Moreau.

Friday, March 3

Good 70s Films: Monte Walsh

1970 Western
From Cinema Center Films
Directed by William Fraker

Lee Marvin
Jeanne Moreau
Jack Palance
Mitchell Ryan
Jim Davis
G. D. Spradlin
Bo Hopkins
Matt Clark
Allyn Ann McLerie
Billy Green Bush

Tuesday, February 28

Robert Shaw

He delivered stern, raucous, steely-eyed performances, full of mischief, temperament and arrogance.  When he was in a scene, it was pretty difficult to watch anyone else.  While he began acting in the late 40s, he didn't really come into his own until the 70s and then he seemed to be everywhere.  It might have gone on forever, but sadly Robert Shaw was dead by the end of the decade.

Friday, February 24

REVIEW: A United Kingdom

Directed by Amma Asante
2017 Biographical Romance Drama
1 hour 51 minutes
From Fox Searchlight

David Oyelowo
Rosamund Pike
Jack Davenport
Tom Felton
Terry Pheton
Laura Carmichael
Vusi Kunene
Jessica Oyelowo

Tuesday, February 21

Good 70s Films: Murder on the Orient Express

1974 Mystery
From Paramount Pictures
Directed by Sidney Lumet

Albert Finney
Lauren Bacall
Martin Balsam
Ingrid Bergman
Jacqueline Bisset
Jean-Pierre Cassel
Sean Connery
John Gielgud
Wendy Hiller
Anthony Perkins
Denis Quilley
Vanessa Redgrave
Rachel Roberts
Richard Widmark
Michael York

Friday, February 17

Claire Bloom

The bloom is still on this English rose. She would fit into most any decade I am highlighting in these pages because she started movie acting in the late 1940s and made a movie for television as late as two years ago.  There is a delicacy about her lovely looks but she was always tougher and more resilient than perhaps many people gave her credit for.  I think the greatest compliment to bestow upon her is the great respect she has been accorded over the years.  Any production is most lucky to have Claire Bloom.

Tuesday, February 14

Peter Finch

When in 1954 I heard that Elizabeth Taylor and rampaging pachyderms were going to split open the silver screen in Elephant Walk, we know I had to go.  I was a wee bit of a thing but I knew a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Playing her rather childish, boozy husband was Peter Finch.  I had no idea who he was and he's lucky I paid any attention to him at all considering his competition.  His character seemed bedeviled and oh so moody.  I guessed that the actor was that way, too.  I thought I was on to something.

Friday, February 10

REVIEW: Fifty Shades Darker

Directed by James Foley
2017 Drama
1 hour 58 minutes
From Universal Pictures

Dakota Johnson
Jamie Dornan
Eric Johnson
Eloise Mumford
Rita Ora
Max Martini
Luke Grimes
Marcia Gay Harden
Kim Basinger

Tuesday, February 7

Glenda Jackson

She burst onto the world scene in the late 1960s with her independence, intelligence, slightly androgynous looks and saucer-like, mocha nipples, all of which were in full bloom in most of her subsequent movies. For my money, I didn't think I'd ever seen anyone quite like her. The 1970s were unquestionably her most acclaimed decade. By the early 1990s she was doing TV movies and then said goodbye to it all and went into politics.  What a career!  What an actress! What a woman!

Friday, February 3

Good 70s Films: Sunday Bloody Sunday

1971 Drama
From MGM-United Artists
Directed by John Schlesinger

Peter Finch
Glenda Jackson
Murray Head
Vivian Pickles
Peggy Ashcroft
Bessie Love

Tuesday, January 31

Sarah Miles

We can probably conclude that she is the same blithe spirit today that we realized she was when we first became aware of her 57 years ago.  Oh, like a lot of us as we age, she's let go of an assortment of childish notions, especially the ones that no longer serve her. There was a time when she seemed to court attention and then thumb her nose at any criticism.  She would do it her way. And that is one of the mainstays in her life.  She still does it her way but she's a bit more mellow about it.

Friday, January 27

Trevor Howard

He spent a long career playing military men.  What is fascinating about that is that he was twice turned down for military service and although he was ultimately accepted, he was eventually discharged because he was found mentally unstable. Trevor Howard played authoritarian roles most of the time. It was difficult for him to blend into the woodwork.

Tuesday, January 24

No Sale: Boy Singers with Brief Movie Careers

Earlier we did a piece on girl singers, four of them, with brief movie careers, and it's only fitting that we do the same for the boys. So here are four of them as well.  Let's see who they are. 

Friday, January 20

REVIEW: 20th Century Women

Directed by Mike Mills
2016 Drama
1 hour 59 minutes
From A24 and Annapurna

Annette Bening
Elle Fanning
Greta Gerwig
Billy Crudup
Lucas Jade Zumann

Tuesday, January 17

Good 70s Films: Ryan's Daughter

1970 Drama
From MGM
Directed by David Lean

Robert Mitchum
Sarah Miles
Trevor Howard
Christopher Jones
John Mills
Leo McKern
Barry Foster

Friday, January 13

The Directors: Bob Rafelson

For a short while, he was at the very center of the American New Wave that I referred to in my piece on Movie-Making in the 1970s.  Like his contemporaries, he wasn't looking for the cotton candy, happiness and Technicolor of the past, but rather a bitter look at truth, disillusionment and seemingly focusing on what folks were against rather than what they were for. When Bob Rafelson starting directing films, it was during a period of commercial and artistic revival. He and other brat-boy directors usually had a film school background, ventured freely into the counter-culture and were young and catered to them.

Tuesday, January 10

The Express Doesn't Stop Here Anymore

All these years later it doesn't really matter whether I saw Brad Davis or not but I am pretty sure I did... twice.  Both occasions were fleeting and a few weeks apart at the same gay bar. It was late, the bar was dimly lit and most of us had probably had a few too many. Dancing was not a specialty at the bar but here was this shirtless person dancing around by himself with a crowd gathered around him. 

Friday, January 6

Good 70s Films: Deliverance

1972 Drama
From Warner Bros
Directed by John Boorman

Jon Voight
Burt Reynolds
Ned Beatty
Ronny Cox

Tuesday, January 3

Movie-Making in the 1970s

Unless I live long enough to see another such decade, for me the 1970s will be the one that produced the most significant change in films.  The end of the 60s certainly brought about some vital considerations (Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Easy Rider, The Wild Bunch, 2001: A Space Odyssey... I mean helllloooo), and as fine and revolutionary as those films were, the industry itself was still operating with training wheels.  By the time the 70s were over, those wheels were not only long gone but we could scarcely catch our breath.