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The Smackdown Is Almost Here

24 July 2016 5:00 PM, PDT | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

The Supporting Actress Smackdown Of 1977 Is Just One Week Away. Get your votes in by Friday early evening. This week will be a '77 blitz at the blog to get you in the mood. 

The Nominees were...

Leslie BrowneThe Turning Point

Quinn Cumming, The Goodbye Girl

Melinda Dillon, Close Encounters

Vanessa Redgrave, Julia

Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr Goodbar 

Readers are our final panelist for the Smackdown so if you'd like to vote send Nathaniel an email with 1977 in the header line and your votes. Each performance you've seen should be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 hearts (1 being terrible 5 being stupendous) -- Remember to only vote for performances that you've seen! The votes are weighted to reflect numbers of voters per movies so no actress has an unfair advantage. 

Click to embiggen to see the 1977 goodies

Meet The Panelists

We'll do this piecemeal so you don't feel overwhelmed. »

- NATHANIEL R

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They Were Expendable

10 June 2016 7:30 PM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

John Ford's best war movie does a flip-flop on the propaganda norm. It's about men that must hold the line in defeat and retreat, that are ordered to lay down a sacrifice play while someone else gets to hit the home runs. Robert Montgomery, John Wayne and Donna Reed are excellent, as is the recreation of the Navy's daring sideshow tactic in the Pacific Theater, the 'speeding coffin' Patrol Torpedo boats. They Were Expendable Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1945 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 135 min. / Street Date June 7, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Jack Holt, Ward Bond, Marshall Thompson, Cameron Mitchell, Paul Langton, Leon Ames, Donald Curtis, Murray Alper, Harry Tenbrook, Jack Pennick, Charles Trowbridge, Louis Jean Heydt, Russell Simpson, Blake Edwards, Tom Tyler. Cinematography Joseph H. August Production Designer Film Editor Douglass Biggs, Frank E. Hull Original Music Earl K. Brent, Herbert Stothart, Eric Zeisl Writing credits Frank Wead, Comdr. U.S.N. (Ret.), Based on the book by William L. White Produced and Directed by John Ford, Captain U.S.N.R.

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

They Were Expendable has always been appreciated, but hasn't been given a high roost in John Ford's filmography. Yet it's one of his most personal movies, and for a story set in the military service, his most serious. We're given plenty of service humor and even more sentimentality -- with a sing-along scene like those that would figure in the director's later cavalry pictures, no less. Yet the tone is heavier, more resolutely downbeat. The war had not yet ended as this show went before the cameras, yet Ford's aim is to commemorate the sacrifices, not wave a victory flag. By 1945 Hollywood was already rushing its last 'We're at War!' morale boosters out the gate and gearing up for production in a postwar world. Practically a pet project of legendary director John Ford, They Were Expendable is his personal tribute to the Navy. Typical for Ford, he chose for his subject not some glorious victory or idealized combat, but instead a thankless and losing struggle against an invader whose strength seemed at the time to be almost un-opposable. They Were Expendable starts at Pearl Harbor and traces the true story of an experimental Patrol Torpedo Boat unit run by Lt. John Brickley (Robert Montgomery), his ambitious second in command Lt. Ryan (John Wayne) and their five boat crews. The ambience is pure Ford family casting: the ever-present Ward Bond and Jack Pennick are there, along with youthful MGM newcomers Marshall Thompson (It! The Terror from Beyond Space and Cameron Mitchell (Garden of Evil, Blood and Black Lace) being treated as new members of the Ford acting family. Along the way Ryan meets nurse Sandy Davyss (Donna Reed). Despite their battle successes, the Pt unit suffers casualties and loses boats as the Philippine campaign rapidly collapses around them. Indicative of the unusual level of realism is the Wayne/Reed romance, which falls victim to events in a very un-glamorous way. There's nothing second-rate about this Ford picture. It is by far his best war film and is as deeply felt as his strongest Westerns. His emotional attachment to American History is applied to events only four years past. The pace is fast but Expendable takes its time to linger on telling character details. The entertainer that responds to the war announcement by singing "My Country 'tis of Thee" is Asian, perhaps even Japanese; she's given an unusually sensitive close-up at a time when all Hollywood references to the Japanese were negative, or worse. MGM gives Ford's shoot excellent production values, with filming in Florida more than adequate to represent the Philippines. Even when filming in the studio, Ford's show is free of the MGM gloss that makes movies like its Bataan look so phony. We see six real Pt boats in action. The basic battle effect to show them speeding through exploding shells appears to be accomplished by pyrotechnic devices - fireworks -- launched from the boat deck. Excellent miniatures represent the large Japanese ships they attack. MGM's experts make the exploding models look spectacular. Ford's sentimentality for Navy tradition and the camaraderie of the service is as strong as ever. Although we see a couple of battles, the film is really a series of encounters and farewells, with boats not coming back and images of sailors that gaze out to sea while waxing nostalgic about the Arizona lost at Pearl Harbor. The image of civilian boat builder Russell Simpson awaiting invasion alone with only a rifle and a jug of moonshine purposely references Ford's earlier The Grapes of Wrath. Simpson played an Okie in that film and Ford stresses the association by playing "Red River Valley" on the soundtrack; it's as if the invading Japanese were bankers come to boot Simpson off his land. Equally moving is the face of Jack Holt's jut-jawed Army officer. He'd been playing basically the same crusty serviceman character for twenty years; because audiences had never seen Holt in a 'losing' role the actor makes the defeat seem all the more serious. The irony of this is that in real life, immediately after Pearl Harbor, Holt was so panicked by invasion fears that he sold his Malibu beach home at a fraction of its value. Who bought it? According to Joel Siegel in his book The Reality of Terror, it was Rko producer Val Lewton. John Wayne is particularly good in this film by virtue of not being its star. His character turn as an impatient but tough Lieutenant stuck in a career dead-end is one of his best. The real star of the film is Robert Montgomery, who before the war was known mostly for light comedies like the delightful Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Montgomery's Brickley is a man of dignity and dedication trying to do a decent job no matter how hopeless or frustrating his situation gets. Whereas Wayne was a Hollywood soldier, Montgomery actually fought in Pt boats in the Pacific. When he stands exhausted in tropic shorts, keeping up appearances when everything is going wrong, he looks like the genuine article. Third-billed Donna Reed turns what might have been 'the girl in the picture' into something special. An Army nurse who takes care of Wayne's Ryan in a deep-tunnel dispensary while bombs burst overhead, Reed's Lt. Davyss is one of Ford's adored women living in danger, like Anne Bancroft's China doctor in 7 Women. A little earlier in the war, the films So Proudly We Hail and Cry 'Havoc' saluted the 'Angels of Bataan' that stayed on the job, were captured and interned by the Japanese. Expendable has none of the sensational subtext of the earlier films, where the nurses worry about being raped, etc.. We instead see a perfect girl next door (George Bailey thought so) bravely soldiering on, saying a rushed goodbye to Wayne's Lt. Ryan over a field telephone. Exactly what happens to her is not known. Even more than Clarence Brown's The Human Comedy this film fully established Ms. Reed's acting credentials. The quality that separates They Were Expendable from all but a few war films made during the fighting, is its championing of a kind of glory that doesn't come from gaudy victories. Hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, the Navy, Army and Air Corps units in the Northern Philippines that weren't wiped out in the first attacks, had to be abandoned. The key scene sees Lt. Brickley asking his commanding officer for positive orders to attack the enemy. He's instead 'given the score' in baseball terms. In a ball club, some players don't get to hit home runs. The manager instead tells them to sacrifice, to lay down a bunt. Brickley's Pt squadron will be supporting the retreat as best it can and for long as it can, without relief or rescue. Half a year later, the U.S. was able to field an Army and a Navy that could take the offensive. Brickley's unit is a quiet study of honorable men at war, doing their best in the face of disaster. According to John Ford, Expendable could have been better, and I agree. He reportedly didn't hang around to help with the final cut and the audio mix, and the MGM departments finished the film without him. Although Ford's many thoughtful close-ups and beautifully drawn-out dramatic moments are allowed to play out, a couple of the battle scenes go on too long, making the constant peppering of flak bursts over the Pt boats look far too artificial. Real shell bursts aren't just a flash and smoke; if they were that close the wooden boats would be shattered by shrapnel. The overused effect reminds me of the 'Pigpen' character in older Peanuts cartoons, if he walked around accompanied by explosions instead of a cloud of dust. The music score is also unsubtle, reaching for upbeat glory too often and too loudly. The main march theme says 'Hooray Navy' even in scenes playing for other moods. Would Ford have asked for it to be dialed back a bit, or perhaps removed from some scenes altogether? That's hard to say. The director liked his movie scores to reflect obvious sentiments. But a few of his more powerful moments play without music. We're told that one of the un-credited writers on the film was Norman Corwin, and that Robert Montgomery directed some scenes after John Ford broke his leg on the set. They Were Expendable is one of the finest of war films and a solid introduction to classic John Ford. The Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray of They Were Expendable looks as good as the excellent 35mm copies we saw back at UCLA. This movie has always looked fine, but the previous DVDs were unsteady in the first reel, perhaps because of film shrinkage. The Blu-ray corrects the problem entirely. The B&W cinematography has some of the most stylized visuals in a war film. Emphasizing gloom and expressing the lack of security, many scenes are played in silhouette or with very low-key illumination, especially a pair of party scenes. Donna Reed appears to wear almost no makeup but only seems more naturally beautiful in the un-glamorous but ennobling lighting schemes. These the disc captures perfectly. Just as on the old MGM and Warners DVDs, the trailer is the only extra. We're told that MGM shoved the film out the door because victory-happy moviegoers were sick of war movies and wanted to see bright musicals instead. The trailer reflects the lack of enthusiasm -- it's basically two actor name runs and a few action shots. The feature has a choice of subtitles, in English, French and Spanish. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, They Were Expendable Blu-ray rates: Movie: Excellent Video: Excellent Sound: Excellent Supplements: DTS-hd Master Audio Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? Yes; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 6, 2016 (5135expe)

Visit DVD Savant's Main Column Page Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail: dvdsavant@mindspring.com

Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson

»

- Glenn Erickson

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Jocelyn Moorhouse in conversation as part of Vivid Ideas

19 April 2016 8:44 PM, PDT | IF.com.au | See recent IF.com.au news »

Jocelyn Moorhouse and producer Sue Maslin.

Jocelyn Moorhouse has joined this year.s Vivid Ideas program, appearing in an .In Conversation. event presented by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (Aacta).

The event will be held June 16 at Event Cinemas on George Street.

Moorhouse.s most recent film, The Dressmaker, received five Aacta Awards, including the Aacta People's Choice Award for Favourite Australian Film, and quickly became one of the most successful films of all time at the Australian box office.

Moorhouse also directed Proof, starring Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe, and produced Muriel's Wedding, which made stars of Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths.

Internationally, Moorhouse directed Anne Bancroft and Winona Ryder in How to Make an American Quilt, and Michelle Pfeiffer, Colin Firth, Keith Carradine, Jason Robards, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jessica Lange in A Thousand Acres.

Topics to be discussed during Directing The Dressmaker: In »

- Staff Writer

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Series Mania: David Chase – ‘The Sopranos’ Was a Middle Finger at the TV Establishment’

17 April 2016 6:19 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Paris — The head of the jury at the 7th Series Mania, “The Sopranos” showrunner David Chase took to the stage for an extended interview, reflecting on a long and varied career that very nearly took some very different turns. Beginning with his childhood in New Jersey, he revealed that his youth was vital to his later career as a writer, but not for the reasons many expected. “We were one of the last families to get a television set,” he said. “My father didn’t want to do it. He thought I would spend all my time watching television. Which is what I did do once we got the television. He said he was going to put a lock on it, and he never did do that. But I did watch quite a bit on it.”

Describing post-war New Jersey as “sauvage,” painting a picture of an outgoing, outdoorsy child, »

- Damon Wise

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Don’T Bother To Knock (1952)

11 April 2016 9:20 AM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

The icon-establishing performances Marilyn Monroe gave in Howard HawksGentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959) are ones for the ages, touchstone works that endure because of the undeniable comic energy and desperation that sparked them from within even as the ravenous public became ever more enraptured by the surface of Monroe’s seductive image of beauty and glamour. Several generations now probably know her only from these films, or perhaps 1955’s The Seven-Year Itch, a more famous probably for the skirt-swirling pose it generated than anything in the movie itself, one of director Wilder’s sourest pictures, or her final completed film, The Misfits (1961), directed by John Huston, written by Arthur Miller and costarring Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.

But in Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) she delivers a powerful dramatic performance as Nell, a psychologically devastated, delusional, perhaps psychotic young woman apparently on »

- Dennis Cozzalio

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Patty Duke (1946-2016)

30 March 2016 7:00 PM, PDT | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

As I'm sure you've heard Patty Duke, the third youngest actor ever to win an Oscar (she was 16 when she took the industry's top prize for The Miracle Worker) and the former President of SAG, has died at the age of 69. Her birth name was Anna Marie Duke and by the time she was 14 she was already a famous thespian. She originated the role of blind and deaf Helen Keller in the hit Broadway play "The Miracle Worker". She and her Tony winning co-star Anne Bancroft both transferred over to the film version two years later to bring Helen Keller's incredible story to millions more. It really is a shockingly good movie, with two stellar performances, and it's devoid of the sentiments and easy comforts that you're expecting if you've only heard of it secondhand; that movie earns its "triumph of the human spirit" appeal. 

Photos, her son Sean Astin, »

- NATHANIEL R

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Remembering Patty Duke: An Actress Who Worked Miracles

29 March 2016 1:45 PM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Patty Duke falls into her own special niche when one discusses American movie and TV stars: 16 years old when she won her supporting-actress Oscar for her performance as unhearing, unseeing Helen Keller in the 1963 movie The Miracle Worker, she was perhaps the most dramatically formidable teenage actress ever. Her scenes of physical combat with Anne Bancroft, who won Best Actress as Helen's teacher, Annie Sullivan, are hair-raising more than 50 years later. Consider, too, that she followed this up with her own sitcom, The Patty Duke Show (1963-66), in which she split her performance between the roles of identical cousins, one outgoing and American, »

- Tom Gliatto

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Remembering Patty Duke: An Actress Who Worked Miracles

29 March 2016 1:45 PM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Patty Duke falls into her own special niche when one discusses American movie and TV stars: 16 years old when she won her supporting-actress Oscar for her performance as unhearing, unseeing Helen Keller in the 1963 movie The Miracle Worker, she was perhaps the most dramatically formidable teenage actress ever. Her scenes of physical combat with Anne Bancroft, who won Best Actress as Helen's teacher, Annie Sullivan, are hair-raising more than 50 years later. Consider, too, that she followed this up with her own sitcom, The Patty Duke Show (1963-66), in which she split her performance between the roles of identical cousins, one outgoing and American, »

- Tom Gliatto

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Entertainment News: Film, TV Star & Oscar Winner Patty Duke Dies at 69

29 March 2016 12:47 PM, PDT | HollywoodChicago.com | See recent HollywoodChicago.com news »

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho – She was a lesson in duality. One of her most famous roles was as “identical cousins” on “The Patty Duke Show,” and Anna Marie “Patty” Duke also made public her fight with bipolar disorder. She was also a talented actress, winning an Oscar as teenager for “The Miracle Worker.” Ms. Duke passed away on March 29th, 2016, at the age of 69, at her home in Idaho.

Anna Marie Duke (her friends call her “Anna”) became Patty Duke when she was only eight years old. She went on to fame in the role of Helen Keller in the original 1959-61 Broadway run of “The Miracle Worker,” co-starring Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan. The film version (1962) garnered Duke the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the youngest to ever win at the time at age 16. The next year she starred in “The Patty Duke Show,” with its familiar theme song beginning »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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From the People Archive: Patty Duke Opens Up About Her Battle with Bipolar Disorder

29 March 2016 12:15 PM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Patty Duke, best known as Helen Keller in the 1962 film The Miracle Worker, has died at the age of 69. After surviving the dark side of child stardom, Duke sat down with People in 1999 to open up about her battle with manic depression and reveal how she turned her life around. Read the profile below:It's feeding time at the 40-acre northern Idaho farm that actress Patty Duke calls home. Clad in faded overalls and work boots, Duke ignores three donkeys braying for their breakfast in favor of Tommy, her pet tortoise, to whom she proffers a banana. But while Duke tries »

- Michael A. Lipton and Liz McNeil

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From the People Archive: Patty Duke Opens Up About Her Battle with Manic Depression

29 March 2016 12:15 PM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Patty Duke, best known as Helen Keller in the 1962 film The Miracle Worker, has died at the age of 69. After surviving the dark side of child stardom, Duke sat down with People in 1999 to open up about her battle with manic depression and reveal how she turned her life around. Read the profile below:It's feeding time at the 40-acre northern Idaho farm that actress Patty Duke calls home. Clad in faded overalls and work boots, Duke ignores three donkeys braying for their breakfast in favor of Tommy, her pet tortoise, to whom she proffers a banana. But while Duke tries »

- Michael A. Lipton and Liz McNeil

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Patty Duke Dies; ‘Miracle Worker’, TV Star And Mental Health Advocate Was 69

29 March 2016 11:20 AM, PDT | Deadline | See recent Deadline news »

Update with more information throughout. Patty Duke, seared in popular memory as Helen Keller opposite the Annie Sullivan of Anne Bancroft in both the 1959 Broadway premiere of The Miracle Worker and in Arthur Penn’s 1962 film, has died. Duke, whose real name was Anna Pearce, also enchanted a generation of 1960s television viewers in her dual portrayal of look-alike cousins — the cheeky, all-American teen Patty and the sober, formal Cathy, on The Patty Duke Show, which… »

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Patty Duke Dies; ‘Miracle Worker’, TV Star And Mental Health Advocate Was 69

29 March 2016 11:20 AM, PDT | Deadline TV | See recent Deadline TV news »

Update with more information throughout. Patty Duke, seared in popular memory as Helen Keller opposite the Annie Sullivan of Anne Bancroft in both the 1959 Broadway premiere of The Miracle Worker and in Arthur Penn’s 1962 film, has died. Duke, whose real name was Anna Pearce, also enchanted a generation of 1960s television viewers in her dual portrayal of look-alike cousins — the cheeky, all-American teen Patty and the sober, formal Cathy, on The Patty Duke Show, which… »

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Patty Duke Has Died at Age 69; Oscar-Winner Was Beloved by Boomers for 'The Patty Duke Show' (Video Clips)

29 March 2016 11:19 AM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

Patty Duke, born on December 14, 1946 in Elmhurst, Queens, died on Tuesday morning March 29, 2016 at age 69, from sepsis from a ruptured intestine.  When she started as a child actress in game shows, soap operas and commercials, her stage manager Ethel Ross told her: "Anna Marie is dead; you're Patty now."  Patty Duke broke out on Broadway in 1959 in "The Miracle Worker," and went on to earn an Oscar at age 16 (the youngest ever until Tatum O'Neal) for playing the blind deaf mute Helen Keller opposite Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan. Years later she nabbed an Emmy nomination for playing Sullivan opposite Melissa Gilbert in a 1979 TV feature.The same year she won the Oscar, Duke also starred in her own sitcom "The Patty Duke Show" as two-of-a-kind identical cousins, fun American teen Patricia "Patty" Lane and prim and proper Scottish Catherine "Cathy" Lane. Sidney Sheldon developed the show for her, not. »

- Anne Thompson

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Breaking News: Oscar Winner Patty Duke Dead At Age 69

29 March 2016 11:15 AM, PDT | Cinemaretro.com | See recent CinemaRetro news »

By Lee Pfeiffer

Actress Patty Duke, who won an Academy Award for her performance as young Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" has died at age 69 from complications relating to an intestinal disorder. Duke was 16 years old when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting actress opposite Anne Bancroft in the classic film. Duke also starred in the popular 1960s sitcom "The Patty Duke Show" and went on to star in the feature film "Valley of the Dolls", which was lambasted by critics but which proved to be a major boxoffice success. However, Duke suffered from mental health problems and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982. Duke's tumultuous personal life extended to her love life, which saw her marry four times. Her husbands included director Harry Falk, rock promoter Michael Tell, actor John Astin and Michael Pearce, who was not in show business. She was the mother of actor Sean Astin, »

- nospam@example.com (Cinema Retro)

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Patty Duke, 'Miracle Worker,' Sitcom Star, Dead at 69

29 March 2016 11:03 AM, PDT | Rollingstone.com | See recent Rolling Stone news »

Patty Duke, the prolific actress who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 69.

"This morning, our beloved wife, mother, matriarch and the exquisite artist, humanitarian and champion of mental health, Anna Patty Duke, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place," her family wrote in a statement. "We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life."

Over her astounding 60-year career, Duke — born Anna Marie Duke »

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Patty Duke, Oscar-Winning Actress and TV Star, Dies at 69

29 March 2016 9:44 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Patty Duke, who won a supporting actress Oscar playing Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker,” starred in 1960s sitcom “The Patty Duke Show” and served as president of SAG, died Tuesday. She was 69.

Her manager, Mitchell Stubbs, confirmed that she died early Tuesday of sepsis from a ruptured intestine.

“She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be greatly missed,” Stubbs said.

The actress was a popular young star with her own TV show “The Patty Duke Show,” which ran from 1963 to 1967 and garnered her an Emmy nomination. In the show she portrayed two young women with distinctly different personalities, though it was not known at the time that she suffered from bipolar disorder. She later struggled with drug abuse and then became an advocate for mental health.

She served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from »

- Pat Saperstein

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Patty Duke, Oscar-Winning Actress and TV Star, Dies at 69

29 March 2016 9:44 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Patty Duke, who won a supporting actress Oscar playing Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker,” starred in 1960s sitcom “The Patty Duke Show” and served as president of SAG, died Tuesday. She was 69.

Her manager, Mitchell Stubbs, confirmed that she died early Tuesday of sepsis from a ruptured intestine. “She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be greatly missed,” Stubbs said.

Her life took dramatic turns: As a child actress, she was exploited by her managers and became  a young Oscar winner and then a wholesome TV star, followed by struggles with drug addiction and mental illness and eventual stability as head of SAG and a mental health advocate. She served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985 to 1988, succeeding her “Patty Duke Show” co-star William Schallert.

The actress was a popular teen star with her own TV series, »

- Pat Saperstein

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Patty Duke, Oscar Winner for The Miracle Worker and Sitcom Star, Dies at 69

29 March 2016 9:40 AM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Patty Duke, the acclaimed actress who starred as Helen Keller in the 1962 film The Miracle Worker and went on to headline her own sitcom, has died. She was 69. Her son confirmed the news of her death to Good Day L.A., according to The Hollywood Reporter. In a statement to USA Today, her rep said: "Anna 'Patty Duke' Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 a.m. Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed. »

- Alexis L. Loinaz, @alexisloinaz

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Tom Moore's 'The Flight Fantastic' Tells the Story of Legendary Flying Gaonas

28 March 2016 9:57 AM, PDT | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

This fascinating look at the world of the flying trapeze centers on one of the greatest acts in circus history, The Flying Gaonas. First performing on a trampoline, the Gaonas went on to become a star attraction for the best circuses in the world, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

"The Flight Fantastic"  opens April 1st a the Cinema Village in New York. 

Having left the center ring, we see The Flying Gaonoas pass the torch through teaching and coaching to new generations. When Tito decided to retire from the circus he did not retire from the trapeze and set up programs at Club Med and Camp Care for children with cancer.  When the next big circus act, the Vasquez Family, succeeded theirs, Tito’s comment about them was “I’m just glad they’re Mexican like us”.

You will love the circus spirit of this documentary.  And the love that went into creating it is a charisma to the trapeze artists themselves.

Sports Illustrated has said, "Tito Gaona may be the finest athlete in the world...whenever circus people gather to speak of the best acrobats of all time he will be mentioned; some will even say that Tito Gaona was the best ever."

Director Tom Moore, a long-time Broadway Director (and trapeze flyer), brings their story to life through interviews with family members and colorful archival material. The Gaonas light up the screen with their blazing charisma, a quality that is undiminished in their "second act".

Your career on Broadway and in television is so vast and varied, what inspired you to make this documentary?

I feel I’ve been very fortunate in my career and life in that I’ve had an opportunity to do so many things.   A good many successful, and even more a great experience.   But like many people in the arts I’m always looking for a new adventure and a new way of work.  

Mike Nichols was once asked, what do you enjoy doing most plays or films, and he replied “Whatever I haven’t done last.”   Well, documentary was a form I had never had a chance to direct, and because of my passion for the trapeze, and my passion for film, it allowed me to combine my skills to tell a story I felt had to be told.

Do your past productions on B’way and in TV share anything in common with “Flight Fantastic”?

First and foremost, all of my productions whether on B’way or TV or film hopefully tell an interesting and intriguing story with compelling characters, with a lot of excitement and drama thrown in for good measure.   As a director, there is also probably a certain style and sense of theatrics that hopefully helps tell the story and progress the plot.

You say you also work out on the trapeze?  How did that come about?

What led to trapeze also led to making this documentary.  In retrospect, it all seems like a through line from the first time I took hold of the trapeze bar and “flew,” to making this film called “The Flight Fantastic.”  

 I had been entranced as a child with the circus, but more particularly the flying trapeze and I no doubt fantasized about being a trapeze star.     As my life and career went on of course, that faded into childhood and the past.   But one year, feeling I had been doing too much of the same thing for way too long, I began looking for a new adventure.   Well, I discovered the Flying Trapeze, and a childhood memory was brought to life when I had a chance to learn to “fly” with Richie Gaona at the Gaona Trapeze Workshop. 

As Sam Keene, a wonderful writer on the trapeze world said. “Sometimes a childhood fantasy that you never dared to dream, holds the key to renewal.”   And that is exactly what it did for me.  It gave me a new sense of exhilaration which led to better work and better life.   As I continued to practice it as a sport, I also got to know Richie and the whole Gaona family.   These were some of the greatest athletes who ever lived, and absolutely one of the “greatest flying acts in the history of the circus,” and outside the circus world,, most no longer knew who they were.   I felt I had the skills to right that wrong, and the result is “The Flight Fantastic.”

What other involvements do you have with the Gaona family?

The Gaona famly is quite the amazing group of individuals, charismatic and compelling, and I have gotten to know them deeply over the years, and have become almost a surrogate, though very wasp Gaona.   I have a photo where Richie photoshopped me, wearing a matching trapeze robe, into one of their iconic press photos, and it looks like Victor, the patriarch is looking at me saying something  like “Who let the blonde guy in???”

I’m very fond of all of them, and all of them, by the way, are very unique and different from each other, but the one I love the most was the matriarch Teresa (Mama Terre) Gaona.   Had she been alive, she would have been one of the stars of this film.  I am quite sure the warmth of this family came directly from her care.   People were drawn to her everywhere, and being around her made for a “happy” time.   There were four children that became performers on the trampoline and trapeze, but there are 3 others that had different careers altogether.   One of the narrators of this film is Jose, often called “The Walking Gaona.”

Who do you see as your audience? 

We knew that the film would have a core audience of those who love the circus and the aerial arts (and it has brought many to the film) but Tff seems to reach many others because of the warmth of the family, the closeness of the family, and the family’s ability to work together to build something  (as Paul Binder, founder of the Big Apple Circus says) “magnificent.”   It seems to reach old and young alike for many different reasons.   The ringmaster at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus used to say: “Ladies and Gentlemen, and Children of All Ages…..”

Something happens when an audience sees this film in a theatre.  (And this was a surprise to me when I first saw it on a big screen).  It seems to unite them in a shared sense of hope and joy.   It seems to rejuvenate and inspire.   At all of our screenings in many different places, the reactions have been the same and it has been very exciting. 

Tell us about Camp Care

Camp Care (a camp for children coping with cancer) is located on Lake Lure in North Carolina, and it was actually our first shoot for the documentary. It was knowing that Richie and Armando Gaona were going there to coach, teach, and support, that got me off of the theoretical idea and into the practical of making the movie.   Within a couple of days, I had gotten our equipment, and a few people together to help, and off we went.  

I can safely say that I don’t think I have ever been in a more inspirational, supportive and caring environment.    Many of these kids had just gotten out of a hospital room to come to camp which is held for one week every year, and their joy in being there was palpable.  That they never complained, and that they worked through fear to go up on that trapeze to achieve their goal was impressive at every turn.   And it wasn’t just the kids, as I was also very impressed with the counselors, many who arranged their year of study or work just to be available at Camp Care  for these children, some of whom had been coming to the camp for years.   I have so much film of this camp, as I just couldn’t stop filming, as around every corner and every group of children, there was something remarkable.   I could have stopped right there and made a documentary about this magical place alone.   I look forward to going back there again some day as I remember it and everyone there with great fondness. 

In the days when the circus was one of the most important events of the year and when audiences went to see their favorite performers each and every season, The Flying Gaonas were Big Top royalty. Often called the "First Family of the Air", The Flying Gaonas are a 4th generation Mexican circus family. They began their careers on the trampoline, but quickly took to the air.

From the beginning, Tito Gaona always knew he wanted to be a trapeze artist and used to fly with any trapeze act that came to the circus, starting at the age of 10. And after seeing the Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis movie “Trapeze”, Tito convinced his father, Victor - a legend in his own right- and siblings to develop a trapeze act, making their debut at the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers circus. It took only a couple of years for them to become one of great acts of the circus, and in their time they were the headliners in circuses around the world. Most notably, they performed for 17 years with Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey, The Big Apple and the legendary European circuses. For this, The Flying Gaonas won the circus world's highest award, The Golden Clown, at the international circus festival at Monte Carlo - the Oscars of the circus world.

The charismatic and very handsome Tito was the center of the act and one of the foremost innovators in the world of trapeze. People would come again and again to see him perform, and often he would have arenas of 40,000 people chanting and clapping: “Tito, Tito, Tito! It is said that Tito communicated with an audience as if he or she was a very personal friend, and he could mesmerize 25,000 or 40,000 people at a time.

When the Gaonas were in residence at Madison Square Garden with the Ringling show, the flying act was covered by all the major media in the city, each and every year. NBC news called him “arguably the greatest athlete in the world today.”

It is said that their skill came from their father,Victor and that their warmth and generosity came from their mother, Teresa. “The Flight Fantastic” is dedicated to her memory.

The Flight Fantastic “is Tom Moore’s first documentary feature, although he has had a long career in theatre, film, and television fiction. He directed the film of “Night Mother” with Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft, following his direction of the Broadway production with Kathy Bates, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and for which he received his second Tony nomination

In the theatre, Mr. Moore is best known as the director of the original production of “Grease”, which ran for eight years and is one of the longest running shows in the history of Broadway. Over the years, this production introduced John Travolta, Richard Gere, Patrick Swayzee, Peter Gallagher, Treat Williams, Barry Bostwick, Marilu Henner, Adrienne Barbeau, and countless others.

His first directorial Tony nomination was for the direction of the Big Band Musical “Over Here!”, which brought the Andrews Sisters out of retirement. Other Broadway productions include the critically-embraced revival of “Once in a Lifetime” (with John Lithgow, Deborah May, Treat Williams, and Jayne Meadows) at the Circle-in-the Square, “Division Street”, “The Octette Bridge Club”, “A Little Hotel On The Side” with Tony Randall and Lynn Redgrave, and the short-lived, but legendary

“Frankenstein” at the Palace Theatre.

 His most recent Broadway production was “Moon Over Buffalo” with Carol Burnett.

 On television, he directed Disney’s first original musical for television, “Geppetto”, starring Drew Carey and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. He has helmed episodes of “ER” (Emmy nomination), “Mad About You” (Emmy nomination), “L.A. Law” (Emmy nomination), “Cheers”, “Ally McBeal”, “Gilmore Girls”,”Thirtysomething”, “Cybil” and many others.

He was a fellow at the American Film Institute, and he holds a B.A. from Purdue University and an M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Drama. He was also awarded the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, by Purdue University.

As an avocation, Mr. Moore is actively involved with the Circus Arts, and spends as much time as possible on the flying trapeze. »

- Sydney Levine

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