Announcing the FIFTH annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 16-18

 

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Supporting stalwarts Aline McMahon and Guy Kibbee with an unnamed co-star in GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933
What’s great about being a character actor is you know that you can survive forever. It’s not about the gloss of your eyebrows.
— Martin Short

 

We’re back for a fifth consecutive year to honor the versatility and depth of supporting players with the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon. Based on a phrase borrowed from Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the WAC! Blogathon is an event that many look forward to each year. It’s a chance to pay tribute to the Louise Beavers and Eddie Andersons of the movie world — the names that seldom or never appeared above the title. Your enthusiasm for spotlighting the oft-nameless faces that appear in countless beloved movies is admirable, and Aurora, Kellee, and I extend sincere thanks to all of the bloggers who have joined us in the previous four years. We invite you all to help us make the fifth outing extra special. Get all the details after the jump…

Continue reading “Announcing the FIFTH annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 16-18”

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.

Continue reading “I Love Lucy…especially in LURED”

Review: Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide

turner-classic-movies-presents-leonard-maltins-classic-movie-guide-paperback-book-234_500The third edition of Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide drops tomorrow (September 29, 2015). Updated for the first time since 2010, and presented by Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the Guide covers films “From the Silent Era through 1965.” There’s more than 200 new entries — some of which are running on TCM tonight, including our TCM Party at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Why Be Good? (Maltin gives it 3 stars out of 4, in case you were wondering.)

The bulk of the book is capsule reviews, each of which includes the film’s year of release, running time, rating, director, major cast, and symbols indicating what formats are available. It’s fairly comprehensive, with more than 10,000 entries. Although it’s light on films before 1920, there’s plenty in here that I’ve never heard of. The “Index of Stars” at the end of the book is a partial listing of selected actors’ filmographies and is handy for recalling the name of a movie when you can only remember who starred in it.

Continue reading “Review: Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide”

Errol Flynn in LADY FROM SHANGHAI?

Back in May 2014, when Cinema Detroit was showing Sony Pictures’ 4K restoration of The Lady From Shanghai, I had occasion to research the making of Orson Welles’ classic film noir, and I discovered that, while Errol Flynn is (probably) not in the movie, he was present and was very much involved in the filming.

Continue reading “Errol Flynn in LADY FROM SHANGHAI?”

So…I’m going to be on TCM next Saturday 11/29

It doesn’t even really seem real, but just about a week from now, if you tune in to Turner Classic Movies (TCM), you’ll see me chatting with Ben Mankiewicz about the Bob Hope Christmas classic, The Lemon Drop Kid. I’m one of four TCM fans introducing favorite films on the afternoon/evening of Saturday, November 29. I am lucky enough to know the other three, Aurora Bugallo, Joel Williams, and Miguel Rodriguez, who are all friends I met first online via the live tweet I co-founded and organize, TCM Party, and then offline at the TCM Film Festival.

Apt descriptor of both the professional quality mic TCM sent, and, let’s be real, myself

The intros were all recorded in August via Skype, which I think is a cool use of technology. Mine took place at Cinema Detroit, the indie theater I co-own with my husband, Tim. While my programming there is mostly contemporary and decidedly indie, we have shown classics like The Lady from Shanghai, A Hard Day’s Night, and a whole mess of noir for Noir Detroit (during CD’s first full month, November 2013). I definitely think my experiences bringing people and movies together online influenced us to try to do the same offline with Cinema Detroit.

TCM site screen cap, shamelessly stolen from Joel Williams
TCM site screen cap, shamelessly stolen from Joel Williams

So here is the schedule for Fan Favorites on Saturday, November 29 (all times Eastern):

12:30 p.m. Meet Me in St. Louis – Aurora
2:30 p.m. The Lemon Drop Kid – Me
4:15 p.m. The Thing From Another World – Miguel
6:00 p.m. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Joel

Poster - Lemon Drop Kid, The (1951)_09

In case anyone is curious why the The Lemon Drop Kid…TCM producer Courtney O’Brien asked me to submit a list of 10 mostly family-oriented, somewhat holiday-related, classic movies that I would want to introduce. As it is extremely difficult to limit oneself to 10 films, I actually sent more than 10. This was the list I sent, there’s no particular order:

Christmas in Connecticut
It Happened on 5th Avenue
The Lemon Drop Kid
Remember the Night
Holiday Affair
Stand-In (1937)
Show People
The Rains Came
The Lady Vanishes
The 39 Steps
Rio Bravo
Angel and the Badman

There is nothing on here I don’t really love, but I’m glad they went with Lemon Drop Kid. It has a special place in my heart, because Christmas is a tough time for me. My mother passed away a few days after Thanksgiving in 2002 and during the holiday season, I often need a laugh, which this film provides. It does have some sentimental moments, but it’s mostly Hope one-liners, sight gags, and Runyon-esque characters and situations. Damon Runyon wrote the story it’s based on…think Guys and Dolls, Little Miss Marker…like that.

I cannot say enough good things about the people at TCM, who made the whole process easy for me, a total novice. Noralil, Courtney, Mardy and Ben…thanks for your patience and understanding.

So I hope you will tune in on Saturday afternoon, November 29, and check it out. And in the meantime…what would be on your list of 10?

 

WHAT A CHARACTER! 2014 – Day 2 – Monday posts

The Third Annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon — hosted by myself, Aurora of Once Upon A Screen, and Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled — is now in its second day of informative and entertaining posts, as the movie blogosphere spotlights those unsung actors on the periphery of the screen, bringing them to the center of attention.

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Vienna’s Classic Hollywood give overviews of not one, but two, unsung character performers, Charles Lane and Fritz Feld.

Sister Celluloid declares that Kathleen Howard “as W.C. Fields wife…took henpecking to operatic heights.”

Caftan Woman celebrates Esther Dale‘s “ability to take even a few seconds of screen time…and turn it into something memorable.”

Aurora at Once Upon a Screen sets out to prove that Thomas Mitchell is “synonymous with versatility.”

Joel’s Classic Film Passion takes a look at two of Harry Dean Stanton‘s many important films, Repo Man and The Straight Story.

Grand Old Movies highlights “that darling boy” whose face you know, but name you might not… Chester Clute.

Movies Silently writes that “One saving grace of Souls for Sale [1923] is its wonderful cast of character actors,” including Mae Busch.

Silent-ology pays tribute to the “funniest drunk of them all,” Arthur Housman.

Second Sight Cinema recalls Peter Lorre, “a great artist who is beloved, but only for a fraction of his gift.”

Silver Scenes investigates Dennis Hoey, the actor best known for portraying Inspector Lestrade in Universal’s Sherlock Holmes series.

Amy’s Rib inventories her favorite films among Charles Coburn‘s work.

Tales of the Easily Distracted finds that Agnes Moorehead was “was practically bulletproof with her chameleon dexterity.”

Third Annual What A Character! Blogathon 2014 Schedule

The 2014 What a Character Blogathon schedule has been set, and the blogathon is underway. There’s still plenty of time to join though. If you want to participate, check out the announcement immediately following, and contact one of us ASAP.

Sunday, November 16 – Hosted by Kellee

Ann Doran and Lurene Tuttle – Theresa on Once Upon a Screen

Billie Burke – Girls Do Film

Burgess Meredith – The Last Drive-In

Charles Durning – Movie Movie Blog Blog

Chris Cooper – Jack Deth on Paula’s Cinema Club

Christopher Lloyd – The Movie Rat

Dame Edith Evans – Margaret Perry

Edna May Oliver – Portraits by Jenni

Elsa Lanchester – Blog of the Damned

Frank McHugh – (This) Girl Friday

Leo Carrillo – Phantom Empires

Richard Widmark – Danny’s Reviews

Thomas Mitchell – Once Upon a Screen

Tony Randall – A Shroud of Thoughts

 

Monday, November 17 – Hosted by Paula

Agnes Moorehead – Tales of the Easily Distracted

Arthur Housman – Silent-ology

Charles Coburn – Amy’s Rib

Charles Lane & Friz Feld – Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

Chester Clute – Grand Old Movies

Dennis Hoey – Silver Scenes

Esther Dale – Caftan Woman

Harry Dean Stanton – Joel’s Classic Film Passion

John Ridgely – Comet Over Hollywood

Kathleen Howard – Sister Celluloid

Mae Busch – Movies, Silently

Peter Lorre – Second Sight Cinema

Rochelle Hudson – Bunnybun’s Classic Movie Blog

 

Tuesday, November 18 – Hosted by Aurora

Ann Dvorak – A Person in the Dark

Beulah Bondi – A Thousand Words

C. Aubrey Smith – Critica Retro

Cecil Kellaway – The Lady Eve’s Reel Life

C. Aubrey Smith – Critica Retro

Don Beddoe – Christy’s Inkwells

Edward Everett Horton – Outspoken & Freckled

Eric Blore – The Blonde at the Film

Grant Mitchell – Immortal Ephemera

Henry Travers – Movie Fan Fare

Iris Adrian – Speakeasy

Karl Malden – Oh Rachel Leigh

Melville Cooper – Classic Movie Hub

Ned Sparks – Paula’s Cinema Club

Raymond Burr – Shadows and Satin

Thelma Ritter – Cinephiled

Wallace Shawn – Moon in Gemini


Original announcement:

I was only a leading man for a minute; now I’m a character actor. — Robin Williams

In 2012, we – by that I mean myself, Aurora, and Kellee – borrowed a catchphrase from our beloved Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in order to host a blogathon dedicated to those amazing actors whose faces are familiar but whose names few remember.

The phrase is WHAT A CHARACTER, and the individuals concerned rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many star players wished they had. We never tire of seeing them or paying them tribute, and if the previous two installments of this event are any indication, neither do you.

What-A-Character-2014-03

So, here we are with the Third Annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon.

To say we’re thrilled is an understatement. We hope you’ll join us in spotlighting the Edward Arnolds, Alan Mowbrays, and Alice Bradys of the world, oft-forgotten names that never appeared above the title.

What-A-Character-2014-01

If this is right up your movie alley, then give us a shoutout…

Me (leave a comment below) — Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club or tweet (@Paula_Guthat)

Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled | (@IrishJayHawk66)

Aurora at Once Upon a Screen | (@CitizenScreen)

What-A-Character-2014-02

We ask that you adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Let one of the hosts know which character actor is your choice.  Since there are so many greats worthy of mention, we won’t take any repeats and we’re not limiting these to “classic” actors.  Great character actors have made their mark both before and since the end of the classic era and contemporary talents deserve some attention as well, so the field is wide open.
  • Please include your twitter and/or FB tag, email address and blog name & URL.
  • Publish the post for either November 16, 17 or 18.  Let us know if you have a date preference, otherwise we’ll split publicizing duties equally among the three days.
  • Please include one of the blogathon graphics in this post on your blog to help us publicize the event.
  • Include the graphic and link to the host sites in your WHAT A CHARACTER! post
  • If possible, please send any of the hosts the direct link to your WHAT A CHARACTER! post by the day before your due date. Otherwise we’ll simply link to your site’s home page.
  • HAVE FUN and spread the word!  There are so many great characters worthy of attention, we would like to honor as many as possible.

Check out some of the 2012 and 2013 posts. Also find out who’s who with this Key to the WHAT A CHARACTER! graphic.

Announcing the Third Annual What A Character! Blogathon (2014)

I was only a leading man for a minute; now I’m a character actor. — Robin Williams

In 2012, we – by that I mean myself, Aurora, and Kellee – borrowed a catchphrase from our beloved Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in order to host a blogathon dedicated to those amazing actors whose faces are familiar but whose names few remember.

The phrase is WHAT A CHARACTER, and the individuals concerned rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many star players wished they had. We never tire of seeing them or paying them tribute, and if the previous two installments of this event are any indication, neither do you.

What-A-Character-2014-03

So, here we are with the Third Annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon.

To say we’re thrilled is an understatement. We hope you’ll join us in spotlighting the Edward Arnolds, Alan Mowbrays, and Alice Bradys of the world, oft-forgotten names that never appeared above the title.

What-A-Character-2014-01

If this is right up your movie alley, then give us a shoutout…

Me (leave a comment below) — Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club or tweet (@Paula_Guthat)

Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled | (@IrishJayHawk66)

Aurora at Once Upon a Screen | (@CitizenScreen)

What-A-Character-2014-02

We ask that you adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Let one of the hosts know which character actor is your choice.  Since there are so many greats worthy of mention, we won’t take any repeats and we’re not limiting these to “classic” actors.  Great character actors have made their mark both before and since the end of the classic era and contemporary talents deserve some attention as well, so the field is wide open.
  • Please include your twitter and/or FB tag, email address and blog name & URL.
  • Publish the post for either November 16, 17 or 18.  Let us know if you have a date preference, otherwise we’ll split publicizing duties equally among the three days.
  • Please include one of the blogathon graphics in this post on your blog to help us publicize the event.
  • Include the graphic and link to the host sites in your WHAT A CHARACTER! post
  • If possible, please send any of the hosts the direct link to your WHAT A CHARACTER! post by the day before your due date. Otherwise we’ll simply link to your site’s home page.
  • HAVE FUN and spread the word!  There are so many great characters worthy of attention, we would like to honor as many as possible.

Check out some of the 2012 and 2013 posts. Also find out who’s who with this Key to the WHAT A CHARACTER! graphic.

Character actors and participating blogs:

Agnes Moorehead – Tales of the Easily Distracted

Ann Doran and Lurene Tuttle – Theresa on Once Upon a Screen

Ann Dvorak – A Person in the Dark

Arthur Housman – Silent-ology

Beulah Bondi – A Thousand Words

Billie Burke – Girls Do Film

Burgess Meredith – The Last Drive-In

C. Aubrey Smith – Critica Retro

Cecil Kellaway – The Lady Eve’s Reel Life

Charles Coburn – Amy’s Rib

Charles Durning – Movie Movie Blog Blog

Charles Lane & Friz Feld – Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

Chris Cooper – Jack Deth on Paula’s Cinema Club

Christopher Lloyd – The Movie Rat

Dennis Hoey – Silver Scenes

Don Beddoe – Christy’s Inkwells

Dame Edith Evans – Margaret Perry

Edna May Oliver – Portraits by Jenni

Edward Everett Horton – Outspoken & Freckled

Elsa Lanchester – Blog of the Damned

Eric Blore – The Blonde at the Film

Esther Dale – Caftan Woman

Frank McHugh – (This) Girl Friday

Grant Mitchell – Immortal Ephemera

Harry Dean Stanton – Joel’s Classic Film Passion

Henry Travers – Movie Fan Fare

Iris Adrian – Speakeasy

John Ridgely – Comet Over Hollywood

Karl Malden – Oh Rachel Leigh

Kathleen Howard – Sister Celluloid

Leo Carrillo – Phantom Empires

Melville Cooper – Classic Movie Hub

Peter Lorre – Second Sight Cinema

Richard Widmark – Danny’s Reviews

Rochelle Hudson – Bunnybun’s Classic Movie Blog

Thelma Ritter – Cinephiled

Thomas Mitchell – Once Upon a Screen

Tony Randall – A Shroud of Thoughts

Wallace Shawn – Moon in Gemini

Reckless Review – CHARLIE CHAPLIN: A BRIEF LIFE by Peter Ackroyd

Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life, the new biography by Peter Ackroyd, definitely lives up to its billing. Yet for all its brevity, it’s packed with telling details about Chaplin and his life and work. And at times, it’s really two biographies in one, as Ackroyd consistently describes the polarity between the Little Tramp, “Chaplin’s shadow self or alter ego,” and the man himself, which becomes the through line of the story of their parallel lives.

Where the Little Tramp was infused with “common humanity,” Chaplin apparently demonstrated very little or none of that trait in real life. Simply put, he used many friends and colleagues like the props in one of his films, tossing them aside when he was done. He expected absolute fidelity from his lovers and wives while pursuing any other woman who struck his fancy. He seemed to flirt with Communism but equivocated about his beliefs and continued to make a fortune from the stock market.

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If “hypocrite” is one way to describe Chaplin, another might be “control freak.” I had already known that he was a perfectionist who took on nearly every task in the making a film, but here Ackroyd relates this tendency to the entertainer’s constant anxiety about poverty while giving specifics about the multiple takes and bullying Chaplin employed on set, techniques that wore down his actresses and crew. “Multiple takes” could often mean tens, in some cases hundreds. The scene in City Lights where he buys a flower from a flower girl (Virginia Cherrill), in the process discovering that she is blind, “took two years and 342 takes to assemble.”

The reporting of the City Lights story is just one example of the remarkable even-handedness Ackroyd maintains throughout the book. He is sympathetic to the entertainer’s childhood trauma, tracing the roots of Chaplin’s personality in his unstable, impoverished early life in truly dismal South London, but he doesn’t shy away from “the erratic, whimsical and imperious way in which Chaplin conducted his private life” either. Of his relationship, or lack thereof, with Cherrill, Ackroyd writes, “At the age of twenty she may have been too old for him.” Chaplin’s ill treatment of Lillita MacMurray (aka Lita Grey), first cast as leading lady in The Gold Rush, may be the most egregious example of his behavior towards women, but there are many other episodes presented here.

Despite the intermittent unpleasantness of his subject, the author also manages to capture the magic of Chaplin’s work, imparting a desire at least in this reader to see more of it, particularly A Woman in Paris, with which “Chaplin established a new cinema of social manners as well as a novel style of acting,” influencing both Ernst Lubitsch and Michael Powell. By what alchemy can someone so detached and cruel produce such heartbreaking emotions in the audience, about which he was ambivalent?

To sum up, Brief Life is a fascinating read. Obviously, completely new content would be an impossibility, but Ackroyd’s perspective on Chaplin’s duality is refreshing and insightful. As regular readers know, I am a relatively new silent film fan, and I learned quite a bit. If there is any flaw in it, it is the lack of footnotes or endnotes; I prefer the line between facts and interpretation to be clearer than that. There is, however, an extensive bibliography. It also does this designer’s heart good to see a book so appropriately well-crafted and old-fashioned — beautifully typeset, complete with a colophon, and silent-era-style typefaces for the headings, on deckle-edged pages. In some cases they do make them like they used to. Brief Life is perfect for any of those with an interest in filmmaking in general or Chaplin in particular…as long as they don’t mind a little of the gilding wearing off the idol.

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Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd is published by Doubleday on October 28.

The getTV Mickey Rooney blogathon MEGAPOST

The audience and I are friends. They allowed me to grow up with them. I’ve let them down several times. They’ve let me down several times. But we’re all family.

Mickey Rooney would have celebrated his 94th birthday this month, and in tribute, getTV is dedicating a substantial portion of the month’s programming to him. Kellee (@IrishJayHawk66) of Outspoken & Freckled, Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon a Screen, and myself, Paula (@Paula_Guthat) of Paula’s Cinema Club, are thrilled to join forces with getTV for their first ever blogathon collaboration to celebrate Rooney’s career with The getTV Mickey Rooney Blogathon, running the entire month of September.

As the posts are published, I will update this list. Check back for great new Mickey Rooney posts throughout September.

All about getTV
getTV is a digital subchannel available over the air and on local cable systems dedicated to showcasing Hollywood’s legendary movies. The network, operated by Sony Pictures Television Networks, launched in February 2014. It features Academy Award® winning films and other epic classics titles. getTV distribution is close to covering nearly 70 percent of all U.S. television households across 65 markets, including 40 of the top 50 designated market areas (DMAs). The network is broadcast by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Univision Television Group and Cox Media Group owned stations and others. For information, visit getTV and connect with the network on Facebook and Twitter @getTV.

If you’d like to submit a blog post (or several) dedicated to Mickey Rooney – on his life, career, television work or a particular film – you can do so by submitting the entry to any one of the event hosts throughout the month of September.

Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club (leave comment below) – Twitter @Paula_Guthat
Aurora of Once Upon a Screen and Twitter @CitizenScreen
Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and Twitter @IrishJayHawk66

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We ask only that you please do the following:

  • Leave us a comment or send us a Tweet with your preferred Rooney topic
  • Let us know when you post your entry so we can promote it
  • Please copy @getTV on all tweets related to this event
  • Include the blogathon banner provided by getTV (above) in your post as well as the following statement:
    • “This post is part of The getTV Mickey Rooney Blogathon hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club taking place throughout the month of September. Please visit the getTV schedule for details on Rooney screenings throughout the month and any of the host sites for a complete list of entries.”
  • Have fun!

Thank you!