Review: Hank and Jim and the 50-Year Friendship PLUS Giveaway

As a classic movie devotee, I’ve always wondered how two so different people as Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart — somehow he is never “James” — could maintain such a lasting and close friendship as theirs apparently was. I’d heard about the model airplane they built together, and the double dates. Yet Fonda was a New Deal Democrat who was married 5 times, had issues with his kids, and seemed to keep to himself; Stewart was a conservative Republican, got married once for life, had a decent relationship with his kids, and seemed to know everybody. The new double biography Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart, by Scott Eyman, acclaimed author of John Wayne: The Life and Legend, reconciles this conundrum, and in the process reveals that these two actors were more alike than I knew. Giveaway winner announced after the jump.
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Review: AVA: A LIFE IN MOVIES is a feast for the eyes and the mind

Ava Gardner — Grabtown, North Carolina’s Christmas gift to the world — was probably most familiar to me as one of the quintessential femmes fatales, Kitty in The Killers, and as the determined, loyal woman who saved her husband Frank Sinatra’s career by getting him the role of Maggio in From Here To Eternity. She was certainly the former, and she may have been the latter (she certainly tried), but she was much more than these things. My concept of Gardner has been considerably expanded, by a new biography of the star, Ava: A Life in Movies.

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31 Days of Oscar Blogathon – Day 3!

The truth of the matter is that while Hollywood admires people who win Oscars, it employs people who make money, and to be able to do one does not necessarily mean you can do the other.
— George Sanders

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George Sanders and Zsa Zsa Gabor on Oscar night, 1951. Sanders won Best Supporting Actor for his work as Addison DeWitt in ALL ABOUT EVE.

Today is the third and final day of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, our annual exploration of the phenomenon that is the Academy Awards, still the pinnacle of achievement in the film world. I’m keeping this introduction brief in order to avoid the dreaded wrap-up music, but be sure to check out Day 1, hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen, and Day 2, hosted by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled. It has been my honor to share five years of Oscar opining with these lovely and talented ladies. Our blogathon takes its cue from Turner Classic Movies’ 31 Days of Oscar, which runs through Friday, March 3.

And now, without further ado, today’s posts are…

Musings of a Classic Film Addict discusses legendary Luise Rainer’s back-to-back Oscar wins for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937).

Portraits by Jenni recounts the origin and development of the Academy Awards’ Best Song category through the 1960s.

Danny Reviews spotlights nine decades of the Strangest Oscar Wins of All Time — “not necessarily…bad films or performances, but [those that] don’t fit the traditional milieu of an Academy Award winner.”

Dreaming in the Balcony presents a rich analysis of both Kitty Foyle and Ginger Rogers’ work on that picture, which resulted in her one and only nomination and win.

Cary Grant Won’t Eat You makes a case for one of the most egregiously snubbed actors ever, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Cinematic Scribblings studies a film about the making of a film that blurs the line between life and art, François Truffaut’s Day for Night.

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies continues her examination of an all-important craft, costume design, in Academy Award-Winning Costumes Part 2 — 1961-1977. (Also see Part 1 — 1949-1960).

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Fifth Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Day 3

wacRoscoe Karns (above) welcomes you to the What A Character! Blogathon, now in its fifth fabulous year of celebrating those actors whose faces you know but whose names you may not. I’m your hostess for the Day 3 offerings. Be sure to also check out Day 1, hosted by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled and Day 2, hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen. It’s been my pleasure to work with these two dames to shed some light on the names below the title. And now, on with the today’s show…

  • Blogferatu presents a “grossly oversimplified horror overview” of John Carradine‘s career from the ’40s to the ’80s. “And not just any horror movies, but some of his schlockier moments.”
  • Cliff at Immortal Ephemera explores the sometimes sketchy biography of Stanley Fields, who “had a voice that matched his face. Either could have been raked over gravel.”
  • Aurora at Once Upon A Screen writes about Edmund Gwenn‘s career, including, but not limited to, his turn as everyone’s favorite Santa Claus and his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Silver Scenes declare of their WAC! choice, “Thurston Hall is his name and governors, senators, businessmen, and doting fathers are his game.”
  • Quiggy at The Midnite Drive-In contributes an appreciation of John Hillerman‘s “pomposity and refinement” in four essential roles.
  • Gary (aka @santaisthinking) guest blogs on Kellee’s Outspoken and Freckled about Victor McLaglen in two chapters: “His Adventurous Youth – Boers, Boxing, and Baghdad” and “His Career – Big Screen Grins and Bromance.”
  • Then Kellee herself analyzes why Joan Blondell, that “down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is scene-stealer,” rarely got top billing, despite her “talent, enduring work ethic and generosity of spirit.”

Happy reading, leave a comment, start a conversation! Additional awesomeness expected throughout the day so check back here soon. Many thanks to everyone who has supplied such entertaining and educational posts this year. I’ve personally expanded both my knowledge and my to-watch list, and I hope you all have too.

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What A Character! “Crazy Russian” Leonid Kinskey

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Just like everybody goes to Rick’s, everybody knows Leonid Kinskey, whether they know his name or not. Kinskey portrays Sascha, the voluble Russian bartender, in that classic of all classics, Casablanca (1943). We meet him quite early on, when Yvonne, Rick’s latest ex-girlfriend, has had a little too much to drink and needs to be escorted home. But as I learned, there’s more to Kinskey than Sascha. Not that I won’t bask in the glory that is Casablanca first…

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What A Character! Shot and A Chaser: M. Emmet Walsh

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Paula’s note: This post is one of several by movie maven Jack Deth that I have had the pleasure of hosting on this site. See the rest here.

Welcome Bloggers, Cinephiles, Film Fans, and Aficionados of “Just Plain Good!”

Having received an invitation from our hostess Paula to expand and illuminate that arena of young and unrecognized talent usually relegated to the back of a crowd or corner of a set before being noticed and given lines to speak and scenes to execute, I would be remiss to not give it my best effort and reach back to an unsung purveyor of the thespian craft, who literally started off in the background of Midnight Cowboy, Alice’s Restaurant, Little Big Man, and Cold Turkey in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Plying his craft while being one of many. Building up a body of work and a reputation for being able to fill any slot for any type of dumpy, balding, kind of slimy, local or municipal bureaucrat, guard, telegrapher, cop, or barber. Sometimes affixing a Southern accent, or sticking to his high-pitched, upstate New York pronunciations, while using whatever was at hand to enhance his many characters. Before crossing my path in a big way in a small, very personal cinematic gem ramrodded by Dustin Hoffman and directed by Ulu Grossbard. A film which also prompted the parole of recidivist convict, Edward Bunker (Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs), through his semi-autobiographic novel, No Beast So Fierce. Which makes up the two fingers of Rye for this…

Shot & A Chaser: M. Emmet Walsh

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I Love Lucy…especially in LURED

As #TCMParty people and/or readers of this blog may or may not know, I’m obsessed with the 1947 mystery-drama Lured. Sure, the presence of one of my favorite velvet-voiced British thespians, George Sanders, has a lot to do with it. But its major charm is Lucille Ball’s fine performance in the lead role, which, while allowing flickers of her comedic genius to show through, always makes me wish she’d done more dramatic roles.

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31 Days of Oscar: The Films of 1987

hope and glory7-07-gBy Jack Deth

Greetings all and sundry!
Having taken advantage of the much-hyped East Coast Snow Storm, and watched from my 23rd floor balcony as the surface dwellers dug themselves out, I’ve had time to contemplate the films of 1987 and their standing with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

A year sadly near void of the earlier risk takers and “All In!” gamblers of the previous decade, with many of the Academy choices leading toward less controversial, more palatable fare. So, keeping that in mind, allow me a few moments of your time to explore, excavate, and investigate the confusing, sometimes annoying choices of…

The 60th Academy Awards: Playing It Safe!

According to Box Office Mojo, a neat little reference source which proves useful in this treatise, 1987 was a rather prosperous year for film. With 238 entrants through the year, from the sublime (The Princess Bride) to the ridiculous (Ishtar, Real Men, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown), lots of diversions and variants in-between, and a surprising number of films in its Top 25 films nominated for Oscars.

For those uninitiated, I’ll be laying out this amalgam in the same way I’ve presented earlier critiques of the Academy’s decisions, entailing “The Top Six” categories, taking a “Top Down” perspective, plus a few personal bones to pick in the lower tiers.

So, without further ado, let’s start with the contenders for….
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31 Days of Oscar- THE CRAFTS: Costume Designer Sandy Powell

oscar-nominees-luncheon-2016-crop02While scrutinizing this year’s official Academy Award class photo, my eye was immediately drawn to red…not just those few actresses wearing scarlet-hued dresses, but also the neon crimson hair of costume designer Sandy Powell. It’s appropriate that color would draw the eye to her, as she used it to create some of this year’s most stunning and effective costume designs, including the instant classic Cinderella gown made up of many layers of painstakingly dyed blue fabrics. She is pitted against herself with two 2015 nominations, one for Carol, the other for Cinderella. Not so coincidentally, in both she dressed Cate Blanchett. The last time the two worked together, for 2004’s The Aviator, both took home Oscars (Blanchett for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn).

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31 Days of Oscar, Week 3: THE CRAFTS

bonnie-sketch-small-500wWe’re now just past the halfway point of both Turner Classic Movies channel’s Academy Awards tribute, 31 DAYS OF OSCAR, and the 31 DAYS OF OSCAR Blogathon, hosted annually by myself here at Paula’s Cinema Club, Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled, and Aurora at Once Upon A Screen.

31-Days-2016-02This week we salute the less renowned, but nonetheless essential, disciplines of movie-making…THE CRAFTS. Those who practice them are below the title in billing yet are decidedly indispensable to the overall effect of a film. Check out the fabulous Week 3 posts after the jump!

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