11 items from 2013
Musicals have been tap dancing their way into moviegoers' hearts since the invention of cinema sound itself. From Oliver! to Singin' in the Rain, here are the Guardian and Observer critics' picks of the 10 best
• Top 10 documentaries
• Top 10 movie adaptations
• Top 10 animated movies
• Top 10 silent movies
• Top 10 sports movies
• Top 10 film noir
• More Guardian and Observer critics' top 10s
Historically, the British musical has been intertwined with British music, drawing on music hall in the 1940s and the pop charts in the 50s – low-budget films of provincial interest and nothing to trouble the bosses at MGM. In the late 60s, however, the genre enjoyed a brief, high-profile heyday, and between Tommy Steele in Half a Sixpence (1967) and Richard Attenborough's star-studded Oh! What A Lovely War (1969) came the biggest of them all: Oliver! (1968), Carol Reed's adaptation of Lionel Bart's 1960 stage hit and the recipient of six Academy awards. »
Stuntman and Burt Reynolds director Hal Needham dead at 82: Received Honorary Oscar in November 2012 Veteran stuntman and stunt coordinator Hal Needham, whose stunt-work movie credits ranged from John Ford Westerns to Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, and who directed a handful of popular action comedies starring Burt Reynolds, died today, October 25, 2013, in Los Angeles. Needham, who had been suffering from cancer, was 82. (See also: "Stunt Worker Hal Needham: Honorary Oscar 2012".) Born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 6, 1931, Hal Needham began his long Hollywood stuntman career in the mid-’50s. A former tree trimmer and paratrooper, and a motorcycle and car racer, Needham performed stunts in both big-screen and small-screen Westerns, such as John Ford’s 1962 classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, starring John Wayne and James Stewart; the all-star 1963 Best Picture Academy Award nominee How the West Was Won; and the television series Have Gun - Will Travel, doubling for star Richard Boone. »
- Andre Soares
Ed Lauter, the popular character actor who specialized in playing tough guys, has died at age 74. Lauter was one of those familiar faces who was recognized by audiences even though many viewers did not know his name. For movie buffs, however, Lauter was well known and highly respected. He had dabbled with being a standup comic in the 1960s before trying his hand at acting. Lauter quickly gained a reputation as a reliable character actor and he became in-demand during the 1970s. Among his most memorable roles were a ruthless prison guard in director Robert Aldrich's 1974 hit The Longest Yard and as Ann-Margret's ill-fated husband in Richard Attenborough's 1978 thriller Magic. Other prominent roles included Hitchcock's final film Family Plot, The Magnificent Seven Ride!, Breakheart Pass, French Connection II, Hickey& Boggs, Death Wish 3 and, most recently Trouble With the Curve and the 2011 Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
“Make Fats shut up for five minutes.”
Director: Richard Attenborough
Plot: Corky (Hopkins) is a magician without any confidence or stage presence. He eventually incorporates a dummy, known as Fats (also Hopkins), into his act and becomes a huge success. After a visit to the city where Corky is asked to undertake a medical exam before signing a contract with NBC, he decides to go into hiding in a log cabin owned by his high school crush. But is Fats in some way controlling Corky? And if so, what are his intentions?
Ventriloquist dummies are probably just behind clowns in the list of things that are meant for kids but actually freak you the hell out. It’s something about those dead eyes, the way the mouth moves with a clunky knocking wooden sound, but most of all, »
- Luke Ryan Baldock
Women in Film: Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, and dozens of movie actresses in curious morphing montage A few dozen top international female movie stars, most of them Hollywood celebrities, are seen in the Women in Film morphing montage below created by Philip Scott Johnson. The faces belong to actresses from the 1910s to the early 21st century. (Image: The ‘Daughter’ of Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner — who sort of looks like a cross between Eleanor Parker and Cyd Charisse as well — in the Women in Film morphing montage.) Just as interesting as trying to identify each of the famous faces is stopping the video while the morphing is going on, so you get Daughter of Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner, or Daughter of Audrey Hepburn and Dorothy Dandridge, or Daughter of Michelle Pfeiffer and Sigourney Weaver. Some of those Daughters are quite pretty; others look like they’ve just landed on this planet. »
- Andre Soares
Not many stars can pull off the whole first-name-only thing. Before Cher, before Madonna, and before Shakira, there was Ann-Margret.
The Swedish-born actress starred in Bye Bye Birdie and Viva Las Vegas, iconic films that turned her into a legend, but she wasn’t always the commanding presence we’ve seen onscreen. Life recently released never-before-seen photographs of a young Ann-Margret, shot for a 1961 profile, right before she hit it big in State Fair. It’s fascinating to check out the now-72-year-old star before the rest of the world could see her shine.
Check out the beautiful snapshots and »
- Sheridan Watson
Variety recently reported that Rita Moreno had joined the cast of the comedy Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. It's not uncommon for famous plays to be made into movies but this one affords us the rare opportunity to see three famous actresses we just don't see anymore strutting their stuff . In addition to Oscar winning Moreno, the one and only Ann-Margret will appear and acting icon and still Oscarless Gena Rowlands has the lead role of a retiree who hires a dance instructor (Cheyenne Jackson) to teach her. Cheyenne's been tweeting from Hungary where they start filming today!
Regarding the plot: As you may have guessed this pair's relationship starts out thorny but deepens. Dancing Miss Daisy?
The play has been performed across the Globe (you can see a past gallery of pairings here). It'll be interesting to see if Cheyenne & Gena have the kind of big screen chemistry »
- NATHANIEL R
Today, it seems audiences know "Bye Bye Birdie" only from the prominent mention of it on "Mad Men," when the Sterling Cooper agency tried to copy Ann-Margret's minimalist opening number for a diet soda commercial. But when the movie musical premiered 50 years ago (on April 4, 1963), it was a huge smash. It made an instant star out of the Swedish-born actress, as well as boosting the fame of co-stars Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde. Based on the Broadway hit musical, "Bye Bye Birdie" was seen as a trenchant pop cultural satire at the time. Everyone knows that Conrad Birdie, the hip-swiveling rocker who is drafted into the Army, and who stages a publicity stunt on the Ed Sullivan show by agreeing to kiss a teen fan before reporting for duty, is inspired by Elvis Presley, who had to put his career on hold in 1958 when he was drafted. But »
- Gary Susman
Before Hannibal Lector there was Corky and his foul-mouthed ventriloquist dummy, Fats. 1978’s Magic is an amazing movie for many reasons, not just because it's about a killer doll. It boasts and impressive cast including Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, and the creepy Fats voiced by Hopkins. Magic was directed by the Right Honorable Lord Richard Attemborough, who also won the Academy Award for Gandhi. This "psychological thriller" is definitely not a film for dummies.
Fats and Corky have an unusual relationship for a dummy and a ventriloquist. Corky was a shy failure of a magician until Fats came along. But Corky rebels against stardom, taking a job in the Catskills instead of a TV show. He is afraid that people will discover the truth about his situation: that Fats is the manifestation of Corky’s dark side and completely in control of the relationship. When Corky attempts to reunite »
- Sara Castillo
Arnold Schwarzenegger The Last Stand: Worst box-office bomb in Schwarzenegger’s career? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first movie-star vehicle since Jonathan Mostow’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003, the Lionsgate release The Last Stand opened in North America last Friday, January 18. Expectations weren’t high: Reviews have been mixed — The Last Stand has a 43% approval rating and a 5.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics — while pundits and distributor Lionsgate had been expecting a modest box-office debut somewhere in the low to mid-teens. Those, however, turned out to be much too optimistic. (Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger The Last Stand.) The tale of a law-and-order U.S. border sheriff (Schwarzenegger) out to stop a drug lord (Eduardo Noriega) from reaching the lawless South (that’s Mexico), The Last Stand grossed $6.3m at 2,913 North American locations according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Once inflation is factored in, that is »
- Zac Gille
Directed by Pete Docter
Here’s a question that has nagged at me for the last few years: what, really, is the difference between a film made by Pixar Animation Studios and a film made by DreamWorks Animation? (You could expand the question to include Blue Sky Studios, the company that works with 20th Century Fox and has made the Ice Age films, but I’m sticking with the Pixar-DreamWorks battle.) People continually divide the films of these studios, proclaiming that those movies of the former are automatically better than those of the latter. I may be wont to agree, but why? What separates these giants?
Both companies continue to leap forward in the technology of animating worlds and characters via computer, the images they create having progressed enormously in the last 15 or so years. »
- Josh Spiegel
11 items from 2013
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