Announcing the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out its first Awards at a dinner party for about 250 people on May 16, 1929, to honor movies released from August 1, 1927 – August 1, 1928. The organization’s first president, Douglas Fairbanks, hosted and presented at the ceremony, held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. The brainchild of MGM studio mogul Louis B. Mayer, the Academy was formed in 1927 as a non-profit dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the film industry. Some might argue about some of those achievements, but there is one thing that is sure to impress classic movie and Hollywood fans: When the music plays to open this year’s Oscars on March 4, 2018, it will be the 90th time the film industry has honored achievements in movies. Check out all the 1929 nominees and winners.

If you look through 90 years of Oscars ceremonies, you’ll find numerous surprises, disappointments, and controversies, any number of which may spur debate from film aficionados. That’s where we come in. For the sixth consecutive year, I am joining forces with Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and @Irishjayhawk66 and Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and @CitizenScreen to bring you the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Given Oscar’s special anniversary and all of the memories, we hope you’ll consider joining us to make this the best and brightest outing yet. Details & list of participating blogs after the jump…

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Sixth Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Day 3

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):

 

 

 

 

 

 

What A Character! The cast of ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948)

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! *

Continue reading “What A Character! The cast of ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948)”

What A Character! Daniel Stern – Wise-Ass to the Stars

Daniel Stern in Home Alone (1990)

By Jack Deth

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.

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Announcing the SIXTH ANNUAL What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 15-17, 2017

When you think about your very favorite classic movies, what makes them your favorites? The films worth watching multiple times, endlessly discussing, or just chilling out with…what makes them the cinematic equivalent of comfort food? Sure, great writing is key, but those lines are just words without the right actors delivering them. Beautiful costumes are great, but without the right actors wearing them, they’re just clothes. Stunning, authentic art direction and set design are wonderful, but empty, without the right actors inhabiting that world. And gorgeous cinematography can only hold your eye for so long, without the right actors being lit. And so on…
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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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Announcing the 5th Annual 31 DAYS OF OSCAR Blogathon!

31 Days of Oscar BlogathonWelcome for the fourth time to the 31 Days of Oscars Blogathon redux, making this the fifth installment of our grand celebration of all things Oscar!

Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Aurora of Once Upon A Screen, and yours truly of Paula’s Cinema Club started this event to coincide with Turner Classic Movie’s 31 Days of Oscar marathon. For 31 days, TCM spotlights the movies and players that have made a legend of the golden statuette. This Blogathon is our way to pay tribute to the network and the movies we love. We hope you join us in the effort. Details after the jump!

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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

wac-2016-kinskey

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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