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Chicago – When is comes to appreciating life, one great practitioner is Anson Williams, better known as the character “Potsie” from the 1970s TV series “Happy Days.” Williams wants to remind everybody to “pay it forward,” as he does in highlighting his unlikely mentor in his new book, “Singing to a Bulldog.”
The focus for Anson Williams is on Willie Turner, a custodian he worked with in a department store. Willie gave the 15-year-old Williams life lessons, as he was navigating the road to being an actor. Even though Turner was illiterate and a drinker, he stuck with and guided Williams, which provided the impetus for the young actor and singer to find his path.
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com
And that path led to TV stardom in the sitcom “Happy Days,” which premiered in 1974. The »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Available for the first time on Blu-ray or DVD and remastered in high definition is forgotten film noir Witness to Murder, a 1954 Barbara Stanwyck potboiler also starring George Sanders and Gary Merrill. As written by Chester Erskine (The Egg and I, 1947), the film feels like plenty of other narratives, though its frustrating contrivance of hysteria as dramatic tension places it squarely within a particular male dominated paradigm. In particular, the film feels eerily reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, which actually opened a month after this Roy Rowland directed venture, doomed to be overshadowed and quickly forgotten. But, magnificently photographed by John Alton, it’s a shadowy and angular motion picture, enjoyable for its considerable melodrama as a portrait of misinformed and misogynistic gender politics.
Cheryl Draper (Barbara Stanwyck) witnesses a young woman being murdered in the apartment complex adjacent to her own. She calls the police to report what she sees. »
- Nicholas Bell
Seventy-five years after the premiere of "Gone With the Wind" (on December 15, 1939), it seems that nothing -- not the passage of time, not the movie's controversial racial politics, not the film's daunting length, and not even the release of certain James Cameron global blockbusters -- can diminish the romantic Civil War drama's stature as the most popular movie of all time.
The film is certainly a formidable artistic achievement, a cornerstone of movie history, and a highlight of a year so full of landmark films that 1939 has often been called the greatest year in the history of Hollywood filmmaking. Each viewing of the four-hour epic seems to reveal new details. Still, even longtime "Gwtw" fans may not know the behind-the-scenes story of the film, one as lengthy and tumultuous as the on-screen romance between Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). Producer David O. Selznick spent fortunes, hired »
- Gary Susman
Death on the Nile: Scott’s Biblical Epic Unworthy of the Gods
Arriving just in time for ritual slaughter is Ridley Scott’s update on the Moses fable with Exodus: Gods and Kings, an epic reveling in its white-washed glamour casting, a detail which ends as a faux pas eclipsed by the rather banal treatment on hand. Those unfamiliar with this particular bit of mythology may be a bit confused with Scott’s attempt at subtle rendering, eschewing grandiose melodrama for an angle that (at least tries) to favor a bit of soul searching for Moses, the key to his success hinging upon the identity crisis brought about by being raised as an elitist royal before he’s promptly banished when the taint of Hebrew heritage is revealed. Too solemn in its mighty grandeur, Scott’s treatment seems already mummified, an update that has even less cinematic magic than »
- Nicholas Bell
Sometimes, even when an actor isn't in many scenes, they resonate throughout the film; this is particularly true for Laura Dern, who plays Reese Witherspoon's mother in Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild." Perhaps most fitting because she's technically a spirit, Dern's character floats in and out of the movie through Witherspoon's flashbacks and visions.
As always, Dern is a pleasure to behold, at times sweet and sensitive and at other times a dreamer, trying to instill those same qualities in her daughter. In "Wild," she's definitely not the biggest role, but she certainly is an omnipresent one.
Moviefone Canada caught up with Dern at the Toronto Film Festival, where we spoke about playing a mother to Witherspoon, the poignancy of "Wild," and lifting the mood on-set.
Moviefone Canada: This film has very strong female characters. Having been in the industry for a while, have you seen any changes in the »
- Chris Jancelewicz
“I’d love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.” – Bette Davis
Over at GeekMom.com , founding editor and columnist Corinna Lawson wrote a review of both Wonder Woman #36 (featuring the new team of Meredith and David Finch) and Superman/Wonder Woman #13 entitled “Memo to DC: Wonder Woman Likes People. Honest.”
Corinna is not happy.
Neither am I.
Now it’s true that my opinion of the Amazon’s most recent adventures are tainted a bit by my experience in working on the title with two of the best people in comics, George Pérez and Karen Berger, in that I think we did the definitive version of Diana, incorporating and being true to the Greek mythology from which the character sprung. It’s also true that the tinge of envy I feel whenever I hear that a new writer has come on board the tile – Hey, DC!! What am I, »
- Mindy Newell
Directed by Frank Capra
Written by Robert Riskin
When Frank Capra came upon the 1933 Samuel Hopkins Adams story “Night Bus,” he thought it would make a great film. He bought the property and took it to screenwriter Robert Riskin, with whom he had worked a few years prior on Platinum Blonde (1931). The script was set to be Capra’s next feature for Columbia, then a lower-rung studio where he was their preeminent director. The problem? Nobody wanted to make the film. Several top actors and actresses of the day turned down the picture, Robert Montgomery, Carole Lombard, and Myrna Loy among them. Clark Gable, not yet the caliber of star he would become, eventually accepted the male lead, and Claudette Colbert eventually (and reluctantly) took the female lead … under the condition that her $25,000 salary would be doubled, which it was. The film’s entire budget »
- Jeremy Carr
Murder mysteries are so commonplace on TV that each week offers seemingly dozens of them on police procedural series and detective shows. But in the movies, whodunits are surprisingly rare, and really good ones rarer still. There's really only a handful of movies that excel in offering the viewer the pleasure of solving the crime along with a charismatic sleuth, often with an all-star cast of suspects hamming it up as they try not to appear guilty.
One of the best was "Murder on the Orient Express," released 40 years ago this week, on November 24, 1974. Like many films adapted from Agatha Christie novels, this one featured an eccentric but meticulous investigator (in this case, Albert Finney as Belgian epicure Hercule Poirot), a glamorous and claustrophobic setting (here, the famous luxury train from Istanbul to Paris), and a tricky murder plot with an outrageous solution. The film won an Oscar for passenger »
- Gary Susman
Episode 48 of 52: In which Katharine Hepburn makes a truly awful houseguest.
Stars! They’re just like us! Except that they aren’t. An entire media industry has been built around bringing our cultural idols closer to us--Twitter alone delivers the illusion of intimacy 140 characters at a time--but at the end of the day, would you actually want to live with one? When George S. Kaufman had to host Radio Personality and Famous Critic Alexander Woollcott for a week, the experience was so aggravating that the playwright and his partner Moss Hart wrote a scathingly funny satire about Woollcott called The Man Who Came To Dinner. I bring this up for two reasons: 1) It’s a great Christmas comedy starring Bette Davis so go watch it right now if you haven’t and 2) This seems to have been more or less James Prideaux’s motivation when he wrote Laura Lansing Slept Here. »
- Anne Marie
Dissolve the Russo brothers who did such a great job with Captain America Winter Soldier may be staying with Marvel unto infinity. And Infinity Wars
BadAss Digest kind of a dick move that DC announced a Flash movie shortly after The Flash series opened to great numbers but with a different actor. The star of CW's Arrow objects
Coming Soon Interstellar prequel comic
/Film 30 movies coming to TV from worst to best ideas
Mnpp Lmao! Which is hotter, Andrew Garfield or...?
Film School Rejects shares 7 movie scenes where actors imitated other actors. Amusing but why no ladies? »
- NATHANIEL R
Harvey Weinstein, like so many others who struggle so hard each year to create awards season campaigns for their prestige films, is mourning the death of Nadia Bronson, who passed away at age 67 from cancer. She worked with him on a host of films from Django Unchained to Silver Linings Playbook, to Shakespeare In Love and Inglourious Basterds. Harvey has penned the following remembrance to Bronson.
That is the word that comes to mind in describing Nadia Bronson. I have spent the better part of 20 years knowing her, and knowing her well. She had two favorite clients: one was to be expected, George Clooney — charming and erudite, in life and in movies, caring and concerned. When she wasn’t well I would always get his email to make sure she was being looked after. She loved him, he loved her back.
Her second client was not the usual suspect, »
- Harvey Weinstein
Fearless editor Jette has indulged my love for classic film by allowing me to look into older movies which have Texas connections -- mostly through the people involved in making them. We'll call this new column The Stars at Night (thanks to my sister for the title idea). For my first selection, I chose a Joan Blondell film. Blondell's family lived in Texas during her teenage years -- she was even crowned Miss Dallas once upon a time.
The beautiful blonde with big eyes and a wry delivery tended to be placed in supporting roles during the half-century of her career. I hoped that with her top credit in 1932's Three on a Match, Blondell would have a larger role here... but no such luck. The melodrama includes such notables as Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, along with Blondell, in the cast. However, it is early enough in their careers »
- Elizabeth Stoddard
Till I Can Get My Satisfaction: Kurosawa’s Striking Psychosexual Marathon
Past traumas hopelessly infecting the present factor significantly in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s monolithic psychosexual thriller, Penance, a five part made-for-television miniseries that premiered back in 2012 for North American audiences at the Toronto Film Festival, now receiving a limited theatrical release. Like many of Kurosawa’s best known works, he explores the ripple effects of tragic circumstances and their continually endless warping effects, perhaps sometimes seen as a metaphor for cultural tendencies at large. His latest plays like a tangential murder mystery of crossed paths, finally looping back to a finale that leads to more complicated depths, not unlike something David Lynch would do in this similar format of impressively orchestrated subplots and characterizations that makes for viewing in one sitting a head spinning ordeal.
A young girl, Emili, is murdered at school, the killer leading her off in front »
- Nicholas Bell
Scariest movies ever made: The top 100 horror films according to the Chicago Film Critics (photo: Janet Leigh, John Gavin and Vera Miles in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho') I tend to ignore lists featuring the Top 100 Movies (or Top 10 Movies or Top 20 Movies, etc.), no matter the category or criteria, because these lists are almost invariably compiled by people who know little about films beyond mainstream Hollywood stuff released in the last decade or two. But the Chicago Film Critics Association's list of the 100 Scariest Movies Ever Made, which came out in October 2006, does include several oldies — e.g., James Whale's Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein — in addition to, gasp, a handful of non-American horror films such as Dario Argento's Suspiria, Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre, and F.W. Murnau's brilliant Dracula rip-off Nosferatu. (Check out the full list of the Chicago Film Critics' top 100 horror movies of all time. »
- Andre Soares
History reduces the 2009 Video Music Awards to the big moment when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift to talk about Beyoncé. This is one of the most important things that ever happened to Kanye West and Taylor Swift; for Beyoncé, it was something that happened on a Sunday. I remember much more about the 2009 Video Music Awards. I remember that the show ended with Jay Z taking all the time in the world to get to the stage so he could duet with Alicia Keys on "Empire State of Mind," a track that already felt destined to become a Hall of Fame New York anthem, »
- Darren Franich
Who’s up for another catfight? Way back near the beginning of this series, I manufactured a rivalry between young Kate Hepburn and Miss Bette Davis, both sporting ear-splitting accents in two movies from 1934. This time, I don’t have to fake a competition. Katharine Hepburn’s 1979 TV movie happens to be a remake of a 1945 Bette Davis film.
The Corn Is Green (based on the play by by Emlyn Williams) is the story of Miss Moffat, who gets off her tuffet to teach the Welsh miners to read. The role of a strong-willed woman who changes the lives of her impoverished pupils would be catnip for either of our great actresses, so it’s no surprise that Bette and Kate both played Miss Moffat 34 years apart. What is surprising is how different »
- Anne Marie
Ivor Novello last film: 'Autumn Crocus' (photo: Ivor Novello and Fay Compton in 'Autumn Crocus') Can a plain looking, naive spinster school teacher ever find real love in faraway places? This was a question asked by Shirley Booth in Arthur Laurents' 1952 stage play The Time of the Cuckoo; Katharine Hepburn in the 1955 David Lean-directed film version, Summertime (1955); and Elizabeth Allen in the 1965 Richard Rodgers-Steven Sondheim musical adaptation, Do I Hear a Waltz? Can such a woman's yearning for romance ever be satisfied? "Yes" and "No," according to Basil Dean's fine 1934 British film Autumn Crocus, which marked the last film appearance of British stage and screen superstar Ivor Novello (Alfred Hitchcok's The Lodger). Autumn Crocus starts out during the holiday season, when two British schoolteachers decide to spend their vacation together on the Continent. Soft-hearted Jenny Grey (Fay Compton) longs to see the Austrian Alps, »
- Danny Fortune
Pop-culture-inspired toys are not going out of style anytime soon. With so many options to choose from these days, it can be a little overwhelming. But companies like U.K. studio A Large Evil Corporation make it easy to throw money at them, especially with its new line of vinyl horror toys. How often do you see a toy repping the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, starring Bette Davis and Joan “Show Me Your Eyebrows” Crawford? Um, never. Amazing! We’re digging the red stuff on the Carrie toy… and holy Halloween is that a Don’t Look Now creepy lady doll? Indeed. Large Evil is the gift that keeps on giving. We should have known after spotting its Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy earlier this year. (Hello there, toy with a beer. So win!) Head to...
- Alison Nastasi
Written & Directed by Gregg Araki
Just in case the title wasn’t enough of a hint, White Bird in a Blizzard provides enough ponderous dialogue and artsy flourishes to reveal itself as the pretentious mess that it is. Unsure whether it’s an indie mind-screw or a conventional potboiler, Blizzard splits the difference, interspersing clumsy dream sequences with a laughably-predictable mystery plot. This film actually seems determined to squash any chance for dramatic tension. On that count, at least, it succeeds wildly.
Shailene Woodley continues her reign of terror with a third lackluster offering in 2014. In contrast to Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, she gets to play a bad girl in White Bird in a Blizzard, though the results are similarly mediocre. Things start with a 17 year-old Kat Connor (Woodley) recalling the day her unstable mother, Eve (Eva Green), disappeared without a trace. »
- J.R. Kinnard
In the gritty, sexy and scary old school tradition of exploitation and grindhouse art comes the kick-ass poster for Blanc/Biehn Productions’ latest fright flick, Fetish Factory, created by Los Angeles based artist Aaron Kai.
Aaron Kai’s meticulously executed, photorealistic film-inspired artwork has been featured globally from Hollywood to Tokyo to commemorate high-profile landmark events including Blade Runner: The Final Cut 25th Anniversary, The Bette Davis Centennial, and the Jules Verne Film Festival.
Fetish Factory is written and directed by Staci Layne Wilson, based on a story by Lony Ruhmann. The plot centers on pin-up vixens vs. bloodthirsty zombies, and is set in post-apocalyptic Hollywood. The film stars Carrie Keagan (Reno 9-1-1!), Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End), Jennifer Blanc (Everly, Havenhurst, Hidden in the Woods), Daniel Quinn (Rubber), Stephen Wastell (Criminal Minds), Jenimay Walker, (Serpent’s Kiss), Tristan Risk (American Mary), Emma Julia Jacobs (Hitchcock »
- Phil Wheat
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