Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
- Gene Kelly wore a toupe???
- There is footage of Grace Kelly in her casket??
Oh Gene, you still have the best smile any side of the Mississippi and I'm proud to attend the same University you did, this will just take me a second to get used to. Please don't hold it against me.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
One of the wonderful things I bought is an edition of Cinegram, one of London's film magazines devoted to the 1939 film Love Affair starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. It's kind of falling apart in my hands but I fell in love with it because I think the montage of images is just lovely and it also features a few write ups on its stars that are quite fun.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
For right now I leave you with this picture I took of Hitchcock's former flat at 153 Cromwell Road where he lived from 1926-1939. Though situated along a posh street in Kensington nestled between white columned elegance, the spirit of the former master of suspense still casts a special spell over the building. You can almost see Norman Bates' mother peeking through a window.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Amongst the packing and panicking I just wanted to let you all know that because I will be studying abroad for the fall semester, my hop across the pond being only a few days away, I will be on hiatus until December. I hope to still pop in from time to time (and potentially post a few things) but my ability to do so will be entirely unreliable as I will want to spend every second I can exploring my new surroundings. Once I return to the states I definitely want to continue blogging, so no I haven't deserted my little internet spec and I hope to find you all here and well when I return. :)
Also: Go participate in Millie's Hitchcock birthday bash! I'm sorry I wasn't able to.
I leave you with pictures of some seriously fierce british people.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
2. Your favourite appearance by a star in drag (boy-girl or girl-boy).
3. Your favourite Laurel & Hardy film; short or feature, or one of each. (This will sort out the men from the boys - or perhaps the men from the girls.)
5. The thirties or forties star or stars you most think you'd like, but have yet to really get to know.
6. Your favourite pre-Petrified Forest Bette Davis film.
7. Your favourite post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford film.
8. Your favourite film that ends with the main character's death.
9. Your favourite Chaplin talkie.
10. Your favourite British actor and actress.
11. Your favourite post-1960 appearance by a 1930's star.
12. Dietrich or Garbo? Dietrich
13. Karloff or Lugosi? Lugosi
14. Chaplin or Keaton? (I know some of you will want to say both for all of the above. Me too. But you can't.) Definitely Keaton for me (though of course I love Chaplin as well)
15. Your favourite star associated predominantly with the 1950's.
16. Your favourite Melvyn Douglas movie.
17. The box-office failure you most think should have been a success.
18. Your favourite performance by an actor or actress playing drunk.
19. Your favourite last scene of any thirties movie.
20. Your favourite American non-comedy silent movie.
21. Your favourite Jean Harlow performance.
22. Your favourite remake. (Quizmaster's definition: second or later version of a work written as a movie, not a later adaptation of the same novel or play.)
23. Your favourite Orson Welles performance in a film he did not direct, not including The Third Man.
24. Your favourite non-gangster or musical James Cagney film or performance.
25. Your favourite Lubitsch movie.
26. Who would win in a fight: Miriam Hopkins or Barbara Stanwyck? (Both in their prime; say in 1934 or so.)
27. Name the two stars you most regret never having co-starred with each other, and - if you want - choose your dream scenario for them. (Quizmaster's qualification: they have to be sufficiently contemporary to make it possible. So, yes to Cary Grant and Lon Chaney Jr as two conmen in a Howard Hawks screwball; no to Clara Bow and Kirsten Dunst as twin sisters on the run from prohibition agents in twenties Chicago, much though that may entice.)
28. Your favourite Lionel Barrymore performance.
29. Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard or Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour? (See note on question 14.)
But if the latter: which ones...?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
- Arch nemesis of Gracie Allen?
- Being and becoming
- To stare down racist scum and republicans with great contempt
- To pass the nuts. I mean, pass the guests the nuts
- The eternal good sex woman wife
- A lanky brunette with a wicked jaw
Friday, July 31, 2009
- Ron Howard and Jason Robards' film debut
- "During filming, Yul Brynner's hand was cut by a former crazed lover who traveled across Europe to find him. There are scenes where Brynner's bandaged hand is not shown on screen and there are scenes where he is holding a prop to camouflage the hand."
Monday, July 27, 2009
- 10-10:30am Arrival. Generally spent chit chatting, watching Golden Girls, or sitting in for framing purposes and an audio check when they are filming a Turkish television show that mainly focuses on Eastern Europe's relation to Russia and the United States.
- 10:30-11am Fax out for the first show, where everyone on the crew goes to their respective locations during taping so the technical director can make sure that everyone can hear and speak to himself and the director over the headset (communication is key during a broadcast to keep things going smoothly), as well as about a million other details (are the plasmas working, which remote is going to which plasma, are any of the lights burned out, are the different sound cues working, etc)
- 11-12:15pm Lunch and an occasional episode of I Love Lucy, or more recently the tour de france.
- 12-15pm-2pm Final preparations for taping and the show itself. Time for television magic (or chaos, depending on the day). Unlike a film set, in television the location of those in ultimate power is separated from the set itself. The control room houses the director, the technical director who makes the actual shot changes per the commands of the director, the assistant director in charge of keeping time (unlike film television is timed down to the second), the producers, and the chyron (graphics) operator. In the room adjacent to the control room is audio, which should be fairly self explanatory. All of this is being fed to profile, where the servers are located and the tape is laid down on two different tracks. In studio are the hosts of the show, the ped cam operators, the jib operator (the camera on a crane that looks like this. i've spent quite a bit of time on it), the stage manager, and the prompter op (me) who also does lighting for the first show.
- 2:15pm-approx. 3pm Fax out for the second show. Rinse, lather, repeat explanation of first fax out.
- Approx 4pm-5:15pm Taping of the second show. Though in most cases the events proceed in similar fashion to those for the first show, in this case the two hosts have been away and we have either had to do shows with one remote host, two remote hosts, two guests, two remote guests, and several remote interviews that change some of the segments of the show and make prompting a bit weird when you are responding to the needs of talent that isn't actually in front of you and can't see or directly communicate with you. The second show also on rare occasion has to go live because there is something wrong with the tape or Brett Favre decides to come out of retirement again, meaning anything goes, que sera sera, whatever will be will be. More chaos, more television magic.
- 6pm Both shows have now been fed, our work is done.
- Blocks: The segments of the show divided by commercial breaks
- On heads: Being on headset, aka laughing at whatever great comments the director is making that day and in general acting like 8 year olds on walkie talkies.
- IFB: Earpiece used by talent mainly to hear what the producers are saying during taping.
- Float a segment: A segment that has either been removed from the show or may be used in a different segment
- Ready for faces: Person on set sitting in for the video person who essentially paints with electronics, making sure that flesh colors are adjusted correctly and all the levels in all the different locations and monitors look approximately the same.
- Set your dead pot: The assistant director informing the audio engineer to get ready for the out sound cue, which has to be hit at exactly the right time to correspond to the last second of the show.
- You're hot: Indication that one of the camera's needs to be reframed because there isn't enough head room
- Woof: Stop.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
How can you dislike a film involving Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Hugh Laurie as they put their superpower rings together to create the best Austen film I have seen? No, it is not the most faithful of adaptations, and yes, Thompson was too old for the part (though they did change the age of Elinor Dashwood to late 20s, meaning that she was still too old) but after spending years of labor and love on the screenplay for the film it is crystal clear that she had such an understanding of the character and for me this absolutely shines through. It should be noted that I am biased, as I will defend Greer Garson's Elizabeth Bennett until my dying day. Ang Lee's direction is very understated and I love that, as with his best known work Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, nature has a harmonious place in the world of the Dashwoods. It's also fun to see Hugh Grant playing something other than the cad.
I don't think I ever completely appreciated William Holden's talent as an actor until I saw this film. Without a doubt this is one of the greatest films of all time, one of the greatest screenplays of all time, and I wish that in such a time of unrest we would revert to smart, gritty films of the 70s instead of pretty colors and compositions with little substance. This film also proved that Faye Dunaway was an excellent actress, beret or no beret. Watch for Cindy Grover's one big scene as William Holden's wife, it will absolutely take your breath away. This film is a must watch, and is especially frightening in its very accurate prediction of the takeover of reality television, the continued downsizing of the individual, and how ratings and mindlessness have taken over popular culture and our society.
4. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989)
For me this film is a perfect example of a script making all the difference in a film. I've never been a big Meg Ryan fan (Billy Crystal is always fantastic in my book) and there's nothing all that artistic about the filmmaking, but I think that's because Rob Reiner knew it was all about the relationship between these two characters and not any weird camera angle he could come up with. It is a chick flick but the well structured, incredibly well written script elevates this film to its standing as one of the greatest romantic films of all time.
I have a special place in my heart for animated films (and Tim Burton), and paired with a catchy musical score and unique premise I found this film irresistible. Not only does it mix together two of my favorite holidays, it has a rather gothic style all its own that is a feast for the eyes and walks an interesting line between the darkness of its design and the lightheartedness of its premise and plot. Great for kids but still enjoyable for adults.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I own the first season of this show on dvd. Because I'm still eight. And still wish that I had a gigantic vault full of money to dive into.
What are your favorite cartoons from childhood? I'm feeling nostalgic this morning.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Laura Reynolds: Years from now when you talk about this-and you will-be kind.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
King Solomon's Mines (1950)
Directed by Compton Bennett & Andrew Marton
Yes, sorry. I was confused there for a moment. They look so similar.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
There is a difference between sentimentality and honest sentiment.
I hardly ever remember celebrity birthdays, and wouldn't have without glancing at Lolita's page, but because I now know, and because I always seem to be up for gushing about Barbara Stanwyck, here we be. If you want to look at some amazing scans, The Classic Maiden has aplenty for the occasion (her stanwyck collection is a sight to see).
Note: Instead of being a day late and a dollar short as is my usual custom, I choose to be the day early bird that catches the worm because the day of I will be at work, and tomorrow evening (yes, I openly admit it) I'm seeing the Harry Potter Movie.
I imagine the abridged version of Barbara's life would read something like this:
Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine B.A.M.F in training tough as nails will cut you like the Queen Stevens (you can see why they changed it) July 16th in Brooklyn, NY 102 years ago, and I imagine if she had it her way she would still be working. Smoking kills, kids. She was the consummate professional, and garnered tremendous amounts of praise from practically everyone she worked with. There were no "you rock, don't ever change" remarks made in her acting yearbook, but a verifiable love fest as gathered together by Ella Smith in her book Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck. In a special on the making of The Thorn Birds, Richard Chamberlain said that she was everything that you have ever heard about her and more. He then went on to say how honored he was that he seemingly turned the old girl on in his nude scene and laughed in a really creepy way, but I digress.
Though she is best known for her performance as that femme fatale of all femme fatales Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity, or even for her role as Victoria Barkley on the tv western The Big Valley (and I adore both), for me Babs was at her best in comedy.
My Favorite Babs Performances:
- Ball of Fire (1941): It's just pure 40s fun and was the film that made me a fan. It features a host of fantastic character actors, and babs and gary cooper are adorable.
- The Lady Eve (1941): A Preston Sturges classic. I think these two scenes speak for themselves.
- Baby Face (1933): In this racy pre-code Babs quite litereally sleeps her way to the top of an established bank. Ohh the censors had trouble my friends. Right there in New York City.
- Clash By Night (1952): Babs in all of her melodramatic glory (and an early performance of Marilyn Monroe). Pure 50s angst.
- Lady of Burlesque (1943): How can you hate a ridiculous B movie based on a book by Gypsy Rose Lee called The G-String Murders? And if I can do splits and cartwheels when I'm 36 I'll be in pretty good shape.
Honorable Mentions: Titanic (1953) and any of her work with Frank Capra from The Miracle Woman (1931) and The Bitter Tea of Genera Yen (1933), two startlingly gritty Capra before Capra pictures, to her later work in Meet John Doe (1941). Basically I've never run into a Stanwyck film I didn't like. Well, except for The Bride Walks Out, which I wish I could kick in the teeth.
Much as I love Meryl Streep, Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, she definitely has my vote for best actress of our time.
"Barbara Stanwyck, who lives for today and tomorrow and only seldom for yesterday, did, however, sit up late one night talking with me about her childhood. And some of the things she said are now permanently etched in my memory."
I cannot recall, Shirley," she said, "ever hearing anyone say to me as a child, 'I love you!'" Barbara spoke of having no memories of her father or mother, since both had died soon after she was born. "I tell you this," she continued, "only to make you aware of how fortunate you are to have been surrounded by so much love all your life. Both your parents who love you are still alive. You have your husband, your two children, and even members of your husband's family who adore you."
But I'm grateful for what I do have. Every night before i go to sleep I thank God for what he has given me. When I awake each morning I again thank God for being here this day."
Barbara Stanwyck, that night, made me totally aware of how lucky I have been all my life. Until she underlined everything, I now know I had been taking all those blessings for granted."
(scanned by me)
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Night of the Hunter (1955)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The Innocents is the story of an English governess (Miss Giddens), played by the legendary Deborah Kerr, who takes a post as caretaker for two children living in their uncle's mansion in the english countryside. As with many horror films looks are deceiving, and the fairytale grounds and darling children, Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens) become grotesque when Miss Giddens suspects that they are being controlled by their former governess and her lover who want to enter the children's bodies to continue their affair in the flesh. Giddens finds out that the two were not careful about their relationship, potentially corrupting the children even if no witchery is involved. Everything the children do appears sinister and adult as she takes up the crusade for their souls. In the end it remains unclear whether Miss Giddens has simply gone mad or the children are truly possessed.
Deborah Kerr was a perfect choice for the sexually repressed English governess who becomes increasingly paranoid and unstrung as the film progresses. She combined her ability to play the perfect, proper lady with a vulnerability and sensuality that created a very unsettling effect in her scenes with young Miles (Martin Stephens) who became a man child that seemed to view Miss Giddens as his lover rather than his governess. In an extremely creepy scene, one that gave 20th Century Fox pause 50 years ago and still resonates today, Miles kisses Miss Giddens goodnight on the mouth in a way that a child would and should not kiss a woman, leaving Giddens speechless and frightened. Though the children are potentially corrupted in the film, Jack Clayton kept the real children innocent by never showing them the script in its entirety. The cast is excellent across the board, with two of the finest children's performances I have ever seen.
Also of great note in the film is the art direction and work of cinematographer Freddie Francis in creating the perfect gothic nightmare, from the bright, airy beginnings and beautiful grounds of the house, to the more odd and unsettling compositions as Giddens suspicions arise, to the increasingly claustraphobic end and denoument.
What I love about this film is the fact that, as is the case with a more recent and equally brilliant horror film El Orfanato (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007) the viewer is left to decide if they want to view the film on a completely supernatural or completely realisitic level, with evidence to support either theory. But even if the viewer decides that ghosts have really taken over the children, the real and terrifying prospect of how adult behavior can harm an impressionable child is ever real and present.
Stay tuned for pt 2 (The Night of the Hunter)