I love reporting all the goings on from the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival, held every year in Los Angeles. Not only is it a chance to see some great films with appreciative audiences, it’s also great to catch up with online #TCMParty friends who quickly become IRL friends, and to reunite with offline friends. It’s just a big classic movie love fest, as you can read below…more tweets and IG posts after the jump.
I sometimes have difficulty separating an artist from their art, although I’ve been able to accomplish it several times. Would I be able to do so when the artist in question was a President of the United States whose art included not only films, but policies that transformed the Republican Party, the American economy, and the course of the Cold War? Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg has arrived to pose this question.
Whatever your feelings about Reagan’s politics, and mine are by no means completely positive, this new book affirms any belief in the influence of film on society. It is written by Mark Weinberg, who in 1981, when the book begins, was serving as an assistant press secretary at the White House. He was one of the few staff members invited along on the Reagans’ weekends at Camp David, where there is a movie theater. In the privacy of the Aspen Lodge, the First Family and their guests sat in comfy chairs as popcorn was served in baskets, and watched contemporary and classic movies on Friday and Saturday nights, in good times (landslide re-election) and in bad (assassination attempts).
The book is organized mostly chronologically, with one chapter per film, beginning with the first weekend trip of Reagan’s presidency in February of 1981 (the film was 9 to 5) all the way up to 1987, including September of 1985, when the chosen film was Ronald and Nancy’s only one together, Hellcats of the Navy, which was also the last feature in which either Reagan appeared. The connections between the films and the memories in each chapter can be tenuous but are nonetheless fascinating. Weinberg was in a unique position of truly unparalled access, enabling him to now deliver an assortment of anecdotes; he seems to have been both an employee and a friend of both the Reagans, with a closeness verging on that of family.
While there’s still a week of Best Picture nominees and winners left in TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar tribute, today our Sixth Annual blogathon of the same name draws to a close with a bumper crop of fabulous and informative entries centered on the Golden Man and his history with everyone from Janet Gaynor to Forrest Gump and Agnes Varda.
Always Try discusses Katharine Hepburn’s [many] Oscar Wins.
Another Old Movie Blog analyzes the context around Joan Crawford’s win for Mildred Pierce.
Life’s Lessons Daily Blog delves into the social and emotional significance of the Awards in More than an Award Show: Oscars, The Host and Forrest Gump (1994).
Blog of the Darned presents seven films that should have been nominated for Best Picture in Great Movies: 7, Oscar: 0.
Old Hollywood Films recaps the career and Oscar year of Janet Gaynor, The First Best Actress Winner.
Moon in Gemini recalls a wide range of Forgotten Oscar Nominees and Winners from The Racket (1928) to Brad Dourif (yes, he got the nod!)
Classic Film Observations and Obsessions investigates Agnès Varda’s turn at an Oscar with Face, Places (2017).
Silver Screen Classics examines the first film to win the “Big Five” Oscars, It Happened One Night (1934).
The Nitrate Diva analyzes Best Screenplay winner Pillow Talk, “a movie that empathizes with the problems of working women and takes their concerns seriously.”
This post is part of the Sixth Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by myself, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Aurora at Once Upon A Screen.
Much like excellence in ice dancing, excellence in cinema is a subjective thing. The Academy Awards can only be a consensus on what is produced in a given year, but considering how difficult it can be to get even two people to agree on any film, it’s no wonder differences of opinion can and do crop up where gold is concerned, on everything from categories — which I have plenty of thoughts about, but that’s another post* — to particular nominees, or more to the point, NON-nominees. Herewith I present an unlucky 7 of this year’s most glaring Oscar omissions, in no particular order. Warning: There might be spoilers in here, depending on exactly what you consider a spoiler. Check them all out after the jump.
Welcome to Day 3 of the Sixth Annual What A Character! Blogathon, in which we celebrate 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 show…
First up, my co-host Aurora at Once Upon A Screen recaps the multi-faceted stage, TV, and film career of Mary Wickes from her earliest theater work to Sister Act and beyond.
Terry at A Shroud of Thoughts reminds us that William Schallert, who is so well-known for his intelligent and/or nice characters, could actually be “not exactly sympathetic…downright villainous.”
Crítica Retrô looks at a different kind of actor, Looney Tunes former main character and dependable sidekick, Porky Pig.LA
Cinematic Scribblings highlights standout Japanese actress Haruko Sugimura and her portrayals of “not always particularly pleasant people.”
Carole & Co honors “one of the foot soldiers of film (and TV) acting,” Nat Pendleton.
Prowler Needs A Jump surveys Patrick Magee‘s amazingly diverse, half-century career.
Co-host Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled provides a pronunciation refresher while honoring the oeuvre of Zasu Pitts.
That William Powell Site examines that star’s scene-stealing performance in Beau Geste (1926), “another opportunity for [him] to steal the show.”
LA Explorer catalogs the extensive career of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson through radio, films, and TV.
Silver Scenes recounts the life and work of “tough but lovable broad” Connie Gilchrist.
The Dream Book Blog reviews the roles of character actress and sometime Val Lewton muse Elizabeth Russell.
—> Stop back later in the day (Sunday, December 17, 2017) as I will be updating this list as more posts are published!
Bonus: Short clip featuring two of our What A Character honorees, Nat Pendleton and Zasu Pitts, in Sing and Like It (1934):
I’m not really one for musicals. I don’t universally enjoy them all. But when I like them, I really like them, and they are among my favorite films of all-time. For instance, 42nd Street, Dames, Swing Time, Singin’ in the Rain, and Romance on the High Seas (1948).
To sum up the plot (bear with me): Married couple Michael and Elvira Kent (Don DeFore and Janis Paige) each constantly suspect the other of infidelity. Michael though is too wrapped up in his work to go on the vacations Elvira plans for their anniversaries, and every year he cancels and they stay home. In the course of booking these trips, she meets Georgia Garrett (Doris Day) at the travel agency. Georgia never goes anywhere either; she’s broke and only goes to the agency to window-shop. When the Kents’ third anniversary rolls around, Elvira has reason to suspect that Michael’s inevitable postponement of this trip, a cruise to Rio, is because of his new blonde secretary.
While she’s still fuming with jealousy, the travel agency mistakenly delivers Georgia’s passport photo to Elvira, and that gives the latter an idea: In these pre-Internet, pre-TSA days, Elvira will send Georgia on the cruise in her place, so that Elvira can stay home and keep an eye on her husband without him knowing she’s still in town. Her insistence on going on the cruise by herself heightens Michael’s suspicion, and he in turn hires private detective Peter Virgil (Jack Carson) to go on the cruise and keep an eye on Elvira. Only with the help of her Uncle Lazlo (S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall) does Elvira successully sneak Georgia onto the ship. Once the ship sails, many complications ensue.
It’s a plot of Shakespearean complexity — with songs! *
Welcome all and sundry! Having been sidelined for awhile with the vagaries of an old body catching up with me, I was thrilled to see that the Sixth Annual What A Character! Blogathon was in the works, with some delightful selections from numerous cinephiles coaxing my attention to the newer batches of those who work in the background of sets and groups, inching their way closer to success.
To that end, allow me a few moments of your time while I dig out, dust off, root around, and unearth the career of some local homegrown Maryland talent in
What A Character: Master Craftsman Daniel Stern. Wise-Ass To The Stars!
Along with Chris Meloni (“Bound,” “Oz,” “Law & Order: SVU”) and Jonathan Banks (“Who’ll Stop The Rain,” “Wiseguy,” “Breaking Bad”), Stern was the tall, gangling scarecrow of an upstart who caught my eye providing sarcastic comic relief as one of four high school graduate buddies facing life’s daunting future in Breaking Away.
A Peter Yates-directed coming-of-age project from 1979, filmed in and around Bloomington, Indiana. A surprisingly good example of a on-location film that excels in “Bang For The Buck,” mixing teen angst, uncertainty, and a scaled-down version of a hometown bicycle “Tour de France” with the four friends — “Cutters,” named after the local families who cut and formed marble and granite for the state’s municipal and court buildings — going up against better-trained, -financed and -equipped fraternities. Adding a dash of underdog to the film’s drama and comedy that surprised audiences, the Golden Globes, and Academy of Arts and Sciences alike.
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.
Continue reading “Review: Hank and Jim and the 50-Year Friendship PLUS Giveaway”
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.
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
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.