Feb 29, 2012

Classic Links

Jacqueline from Another Old Movie Blog has published a book of her film essays. Swell!— Another Old Movie Blog 

Here’s an explanation of Jean Dujardin’s greeting to “Melissa” during his acceptance speech. I have to admit I didn’t catch that part, or most of the speech. I was too excited— Movie Crazy/Leonard Maltin 

A restoration of the dreamy and devastating Children of Paradise (1945) will tour this year. Be still my beating heart!— Criterion Cast/Trailer 

What makes a classic film a classic? There are some good theories here— The Kitty Packard Pictorial 

This is a great Oscar fashion wrap-up that shows how many of those lovely dresses this year touched on the past. It also pays tribute to the enduring appeal of an exposed leg (though it does depend on the leg)— Movie Star Makeover 

I love this fascinating description of Dolores Hart and Elvis in some of their scenes together-- The Sheila Variations 

I didn’t know there was a color version of The Artist (2011). Thank heaven they never did, or plan to, release it-- IMDB

Feb 27, 2012

Classic Links

Ooh, look at all the snazzy hats. Do you think they’ll ever come back in style?— My Love of Old Hollywood 

This is a lovely gallery of early color celebrity shots. The Irene Dunne picture is particularly elegant. Love the Fields shot too— Salon: Slide Show , Article

Elizabeth Taylor gave Lindsay Lohan a ring and some sound advice— IMDB 

The top ten noir portraits. I wouldn’t call all these films noir, but this is still a great post— Speakeasy

Filming locations from the silent era— Detroit Free Press 

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Feb 24, 2012

Classic Links

Seven memorable Oscar moments. I’m having a hard time believing the one about the ceremony ending 20 minutes early— Mental Floss 

This is an interesting interview with Bogart’s son Stephen. I like how frank he is— The Telegraph 

Leonardo DiCaprio helps to bring Dorothy’s ruby slippers to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Good boy— IMDB 

I’ll bet the Academy would love to have these as well— IMDB 

This list of upcoming TCM programmers makes me wonder: how do they pick these people? It’s an interesting group— About.com 

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Feb 23, 2012

Book Review-- BFI Film Classics: Victim

by John Coldstream 

Victim (1961) is an unusual movie, because it succeeds on such vastly different levels. It is simultaneously a thriller, social statement and cultural force of change. Though its makers insisted that it was a movie about blackmail, it drew the most attention for being the first British movie in which the word “homosexual” was spoken. Perhaps Victim wasn’t meant to be about homosexuals, but it speaks expertly of their plight in 1960s Britain. 

In this brief, brilliant book, all of these factors are given thoughtful consideration. It attempts to separate what was intended from what was communicated by the film and doesn’t fuss too much about the areas where that distinction is difficult to make. It makes its points with text, charts, script pages and numerous stills from the film. 

I'm a big fan of the carefully-executed film monographs put out by the British Film Institute (BFI). Though there is a certain structure to the series, each book always has its own character, which depends upon the nature of the film being discussed. For those of you not familiar with the series, each edition describes the backstory, plot, production and reaction to a single movie. The books are never much more than a hundred pages long, but they are thorough, with strong research, fascinating insights and enough of the author’s personal imprint to keep them from getting too generic. 

They couldn’t have picked a better author for this edition. John Coldstream has had a hand in two books about Bogarde, the first his authorized biography of the actor and the second a collection of Bogarde’s letters which he edited. He also helped Bogarde to collect his own journalism in another book. The author's familiarity with the star of Victim gives the text an anchor from which the rest of the film can be explored. 

Without Bogarde’s participation, the movie would likely not have thrived as it has, and Coldstream is right to shine a spotlight on the courageous actor (who was a closeted homosexual himself) and his controlled, but tormented performance. Coldstream marks the progress of Victim with a chart that Bogarde sketched (and which is included inside the cover of the book) to show the various emotional peaks and valleys of his character. 

In part, the plot of Victim revolves around a group of homosexuals who are tormented by blackmailers taking advantage of the fact that their victim’s intimate activities are illegal in the current British society. It is also the story of Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde), a successful barrister who puts his marriage, career and reputation in jeopardy to help the victims while dealing with his own barely repressed homosexuality. 

All of these plotlines converge on one point: by making homosexuality illegal, a society opens itself up to a torrent of additional crimes, from blackmail to theft. These elegantly stated points had their effect, as they helped to pave the way for a 1967 act which decriminalized private homosexual acts between consenting adults in the UK. 

Though the subject matter of Victim was groundbreaking, you get the sense that at least British society was ready for discussing, if not necessarily accepting the practice of homosexuality. The film received an ‘X’ rating in the UK and it was banned in the United States, but its release inspired thoughtful reviews and widespread appreciation for the courage of those in the production for tackling a difficult subject. 

Overall, this tidy little volume manages to capture the essence of a complex film and production, which did good business and promoted change, while simultaneously succeeding as an entertaining work of suspense. 

Thank you to Palgrave Macmillan for the opportunity to review this book.

Feb 22, 2012

Classic Links

When in doubt, remember this advice from Katharine Hepburn, “1. Never quit; 2. be yourself; and 3. don't put too much flour in your brownies.”-- The Telegraph 

More about Mother Dolores Hart and her return to Hollywood for the Oscars— LA Times 

Saul Bass wrote a children’s book and of course it is lovely— Brain Pickings 

I always love to look at Bass’ title sequences as well— Brain Pickings 

This is an interesting profile of a 99-year-old Academy member who has been acting since the 50s— LA Times 

It turns out Lindsay Lohan has been cast as Elizabeth Taylor for that Lifetime movie. She’ll get to play the role if she behaves herself, so who knows what will happen?— IMDB 

Wow—what a beautiful film book library! Mine is definitely not this impressive— Art, Movies, Wood and Whatnot 

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Feb 20, 2012

Classic Links

Dolores Hart is returning to Hollywood for the Oscars!— Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings 

This is a fantastic tribute to Ann Savage. She really does bite off the ends of words— The Sheila Variations 

Check out all the posts for the Classic Film and TV CafĂ©’s Dogathon— The Classic Movie Blog Association 

I love these screenshots of classic actors in cartoons, but why did they do that to poor Garbo?— The Silver Screen Affair 

It’s weird to see Lucille Ball as a blonde and William Cagney looks so much like his brother James!— Film Noir Photos

Feb 19, 2012

Quote of the Week

Training to be an actor is like going to school to learn to be tall.

 -Robert Mitchum

  Image, Quote

Feb 17, 2012

Classic Links

So Raquel Welch thinks Mae West was a man? It’s easy to make wild comments about the dead, isn’t it Ms. Welch?— IMDB 

More about Welch’s West comments, in addition to her films and wigs— Slate 

A beautifully-written article about the legendary Romanoff’s Supper Club—including a few recipes— KCET 

Why do you like the movies you like? This is an interesting post— Sidewalk Crossings 

The MI5 spied on Charlie Chaplin— The Guardian 

RIP Betty Barker, Joan Crawford’s long-time assistant— Alt Film Guide 

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Feb 15, 2012

Classic Links

This is a wonderful radio tribute to Carmen Miranda with lots of interviews and music. Well worth the half hour— The Kitchen Sisters 

An interesting interview with marvelous Max von Sydow. He reveals that Ingmar Bergman had a great sense of humor and liked to keep things fun on the set. I suppose he would have to what with the kind of subject matter he explored— The Guardian 

How Ida Lupino, Marsha Hunt and Loretta Young and other actresses got their big breaks— Shadows and Satin 

I love these unsung romances, but they are so bittersweet. They get you teary while you are mid-swoon— Who Can Turn the World Off With Her Smile? 

This is a great story about the discovery, conservation and restoration of films abandoned in places all over the world and the complications of saving them. In essence, digital is not forever, but what is?— Observations on Film Art 

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Feb 14, 2012

Valentine Links

I've seen so many wonderful Valentine's and love-themed posts over the past few weeks that I thought I'd collect them for a special edition of Classic Links.

 I can’t celebrate Valentine’s day without a clip of what is supposed to be the first kiss in movie history— Brain Pickings 

This Greta Garbo card is the best valentine I have ever seen— Immortal Ephemera 

A gorgeous gallery of actresses with hearts-- Pictures 

I've heard about all of these classic star romances several times, but something about the way they have been put together here is especially touching— A Person in the Dark 

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Feb 13, 2012

Classic Links

This is a beautiful tribute to Cary Grant with his daughter Jennifer and Peter Bogdanovich (who does a decent impression of Grant)— Dear Old Hollywood 

I am obsessed with this site. There are so many interesting pairings, and a lot from classic Hollywood— Awesome People Hanging Out Together 

This should be a trashy outfit, but Natalie Wood classes it up! It’s actually charming on her— If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger . . . 

Alternate titles for Vertigo (1958) suggested for the studio, and thankfully rejected by Hitchcock— Lists of Note (Via Pussy Goes Grrr )

11 bits of wisdom from Alfred Hitchcock— Mental Floss 

The mannequin that used to be the talk of the town— Mental Floss

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Feb 12, 2012

Quote of the Week

It embarrasses me somewhat when a kiss goes on too long on the screen. Why, I want to turn my face away. I shouldn't be there. That's something between them!

-John Huston

(That's director Edmund Goulding manipulating William Twiddy and "Bill" Easton in the photo. The man behind the camera is a film student)

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Feb 10, 2012

Classic Links

Reading about the lovely, doomed romance of William Holden and Audrey Hepburn is always bittersweet— Happy Thoughts Darling

Weird and wonderful lost films. These kinds of posts both fascinate and depress me. First Men on the Moon (1919) looks crazy!— io9

Check out these galleries of the beautiful homes of the stars— Time Machine to the Twenties Part 1,   Part 2

Despite the graceless title, the Dead Celebrities Cookbook sounds like an honest tribute to classic Hollywood stars— LA Times 

This is a great essay about the pre-code era. There’s not much new here, but I like the feminist perspective on the code—Fempop

I never get tired of that PBR ad featuring Joan Fontaine— The Silver Screen Affair

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Feb 8, 2012

Classic Links

Zsa Zsa Gabor comes clean on her birthday this year and celebrates her true age. Turning 95 is something to brag about.— IMDB 

A fascinating interview with Diana Disney Miller, Walt’s oldest daughter. There's a great clip here that shows shots of Disney's private apartment at Disneyland as well— /Film 

This post about the films of Antonioni makes me realize that of all the things I like about his work, the way he uses silence is what I admire most— Riku Writes 

There have been loads of great viewing lists contributed by guests on this blog over the past few weeks, but this list of picks from Kim Morgan should be of particular interest to fans of classic Hollywood— Rupert Pupkin Speaks 

This is an interesting account of Marilyn Monroe’s famous last major photo session— Movie Morlocks/TCM

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Feb 7, 2012

The Kickstarter Campaign to Put Clark Gable on the Bench

I wanted to let you all know about a great Kickstarter campaign now in progress. Sculptor Lou Cella would like to sculpt a life-sized statue Clark Gable sitting on bench in front of the Clark Gable House in Gable’s hometown, Cadiz, Ohio. He has the support of the Clark Gable Foundation, also located in Cadiz. What they don’t have is the $80,000 needed to finish the project.

 For those of you not familiar with Kickstarter, it is a grassroots method of quickly gathering funds for the completion of various kinds of projects. I’ve seen it used most frequently to fund independent films. Each campaign is schedule for a set period of days. If the donation goal is not met by the last day of the campaign, then all funds are returned to the donors. So this is all or nothing!

 Since the campaign kicked off on February 1st (Clark Gable’s birthday), they’ve only raised $535. That’s a long way from success. There are lots of incentive prizes, even for donation of as little as a dollar. The campaign link is here.

There’s more information about the sculptor Lou Cella and the project on his Facebook page .

I really like this idea. It would be great to be able to go visit the statue some day. I always thought it would be fun to sit in Clark Gable's lap.

Feb 6, 2012

Classic Links

The “Gone Too Soon” and “March in March” blogathons should be a lot of fun. Any others coming up that I have missed?— Comet Over Hollywood, Sittin’ On A Backyard Fence

The mysterious disappearance of 1940’s starlet Jean Spangler-- MSNBC 

I’m with Scorsese. It would be great to see Dial M For Murder (1954) in 3D, as it was meant to be seen— 3D TV Watcher 

Most of the pics in this post about masks in the movies scared the crap out of me. I’ve never thought about the powerful effect they have in film— Movie Morlocks/TCM 

It’s funny how Stephen Bogart looks exactly and nothing like his father at the same time-- Washington Post

Feb 4, 2012

Book Review-- Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera

Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera 
by Ida Lupino with Mary Ann Anderson
Bear Manor Media 

Father made a remark. “Ida,” he said, “the player whose likeness appears on those pieces of film is important; the man who determines what pieces is the most important of all. He is the director. Just remember that!” 

I almost didn’t think I was going to make it past the first section of Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera. In it, author Mary Ann Anderson describes the sad condition of Lupino’s Brentwood Heights estate when they first became acquainted in 1983. It was horribly depressing to think that my beloved Ida had once lived in a place with a broken toilet and patio furniture sitting in the bottom of a slimy, green swimming pool.

Fortunately, she had the means to turn things around. Anderson, an agent who was her friend for twelve years, describes how she also played a role in improving Lupino’s late life circumstances. Then the book turns to the rest of Lupino’s life: before and behind the camera and personal details. It’s a fast, but substantial read.

Before reading Beyond the Camera, the only Ida Lupino biography I’d ever read was a book by William Donati. It turns out Lupino was not fond of the man. Though he was once her houseguest, she didn’t consider him a close friend, and his book was unauthorized.

As with Donati, it appears Lupino did not hold back her feelings when she felt strongly about another person. This included her neighbors, who would get soaked by her garden hose if they got on her bad side.

 It was amusing to read that she even had an issue with Robert Osborne, who irked her with some inaccurate reporting when he was better known as a writer. This is the first time I’ve heard of anyone being annoyed by Mr. Osborne! It’s a good thing he never got within hose range.

Author Anderson and Lupino

Reading Beyond the Camera is a lot like sitting next to Lupino while she dishes on these and other personalities, acting and her fascination with directing and producing. Always fiery and opinionated, she tended to be more generous in her opinions than you’d gather from these two anecdotes. For every enemy she crowns, there’s a long list of co-workers she throws her affection to, including Olivia de Havilland, Barbara Stanwyck and James Arness. She also had great respect for her longtime business partner, and one time husband, Collier Young.

Lupino shares loads of interesting anecdotes about her career and life. The moments that made me wish I’d been there with her where when she lost her temper, such as the time she got into a pushing fight with Mae Clarke at the Motion Picture Country Home because she thought Lupino had stolen her false teeth. The punch line for that story had both women laughing in the end.

Beyond the Camera is essentially a mixture of scrapbook and journal. It’s got tons of amazing photos. I don’t think I’ve seen half of these shots before. Most of them are candids from on the set, though there are a few personal photos from later in Lupino’s life. I’m most fond of a picture of her in velvet pants and elegant flats, peering intently into the lens while she directs a television western.

At times I wished the book a had had another edit. There were a few instances where transitions to quotes were a bit confusing or the phrasing puzzled me for a moment. In a way, this fit the loose, anecdotal style of the book, but it could have been an easier read. That said, I didn’t sleep much the night I picked up this book. Once Ms. Lupino started chatting in my ear, I had to see her through.

Thank you to Bear Manor Media for providing a review copy of this book.

Feb 3, 2012

Classic Links

Edward G. Robinson the collector— Immortal Ephemera 

The TCM Fest line-up is pretty good. I’m looking forward to seeing the Baby Peggy documentary— Hollywood Reporter 

For the Love of Hitchcock? Sounds good to me— Self-Styled Siren 

Hitch in space— Alfred Hitchcock Geek 

This is a fun photo quiz. I didn’t do as well as I expected though. That pic doesn’t look like Janet Leigh to me!— Via Margutta 51 

I’ve got to try the Wizard of Oz (1939)/Pink Floyd thing some day--even if the connection might be overrated— Wide Screen World 

This Full Service book seems unnecessary to me. Of course everyone was sleeping around in old Hollywood, so what? — The Guardian 

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Feb 1, 2012

Classic Links

An interesting review of the book, Harlow in HollywoodSittin on a Backyard Fence 

Shirley MacLaine on Downton Abbey? I can’t wait to see her tangle with Dame Maggie!— IMDB 

This is a nice account of Cecil Beaton’s photo session with Marilyn Monroe. Great pics— Blame Mame 

I didn’t know how much director Alexander Payne loved silent movies. This is a great speech— Leonard Maltin/Movie Crazy 

One of my favorite Norma Shearer costumes—the beauty mark! The spit curl! She’s so sassy— Film Noir Photos Image Source