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17 items from 2015

Halloween treat: Top 13 scariest Oscar movies of all time (Photo Gallery)

29 October 2015 1:00 PM, PDT | Gold Derby | See recent Gold Derby news »

In honor of Halloween, let's look back at those horror films that have been honored by Oscar with wins or nominations. True the motion picture academy has only occasionally embraced one of the most successful film genres. But a handful of performances that made our blood run cold proved to be red-hot with Oscar voters. -Break- The first frightfest to scare up an Oscar was "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1932). Fredric March tied for Best Actor (with "The Champ" star Wallace Beery) for his chilling portrayal of a scientist whose experiments turn him into a raving lunatic. The most recent was "Black Swan" (2010). Natalie Portman won Best Actress for her performance as a ballerina whose obsession with "Swan Lake" drives her insane.  Below, take a tour of the 13 spine-chillers that scared up Oscar nominations.  Photo: Anthony Perkins in "Psycho." Credit: Universal  --Wid...' »

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31 years ago today: ‘The Terminator’ opened in theaters

26 October 2015 5:00 AM, PDT | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

31 years ago today, audiences journeyed to the year 2029 then back to the ’80s as a Terminator hunted down Sarah Connor, seemingly an ordinary woman but actually the all-important mother of the leader in the fight for the survival of the human race. “The Terminator” opened in theaters on October 26, 1984. The sci-fi action movie was No. 1 at the box office for its first two weeks in theaters. It has since spawned four sequels, several video games, action figures and theme park rides and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the American National Film Registry. James Cameron directed the film with a relatively low budget — this was years before he would be the big shot given massive budgets for blockbusters like “Titanic” and “Avatar.” Other notable October 26 happenings in pop culture history: • 1935: Judy Garland, at age 12, first enchanted a public audience of listeners with her voice when »

- Emily Rome

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Mila Kunis And ABC Developing Raymond Benson's "The Black Stiletto" As A TV Series

18 October 2015 9:16 PM, PDT | | See recent CinemaRetro news »


We hate to brag but sometimes we just have to. Our own intrepid columnist, Raymond Benson, is enjoying some very exciting news. His acclaimed series of books based on The Black Stiletto character has been optioned by actress Mila Kunis's production company which is developing the property as a TV series for ABC. Kunis will executive produce the series, which centers on a  female hero who, in the tried-and-true tradition, keeps her real identity a secret. Raymond has been a contributor to Cinema Retro since issue #1, way back in '05. His column of "Top Ten Films" of specific years has already covered the entire 1960s and 1970s and is now focused on films of the 1950s. (If he doesn't slow down, we'll soon be covering the greatest hits of Wallace Beery as fodder for his column.) Raymond also writes reviews of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases, many of »

- (Cinema Retro)

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Academy Awards Film Series: From Class Distinctions to Incest - Adult Themes in First-Rate, Long-Thought-Lost Drama

8 October 2015 7:59 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

'Sorrell and Son' with H.B. Warner and Alice Joyce. 'Sorrell and Son' 1927 movie: Long thought lost, surprisingly effective father-love melodrama stars a superlative H.B. Warner Partially shot on location in England and produced independently by director Herbert Brenon at Joseph M. Schenck's United Artists, the 1927 Sorrell and Son is a skillful melodrama about paternal devotion in the face of both personal and social adversity. This long-thought-lost version of Warwick Deeping's 1925 bestseller benefits greatly from the veteran Brenon's assured direction, deservedly shortlisted in the first year of the Academy Awards.* Crucial to the film's effectiveness, however, is the portrayal of its central character, a war-scarred Englishman who sacrifices it all for the happiness of his son. Luckily, the London-born H.B. Warner, best remembered for playing Jesus Christ in another 1927 release, Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings, is the embodiment of honesty, selflessness, and devotion. Less is »

- Andre Soares

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Academy Award Film Series: It Takes Eastwood to Get Enthusiastic Praise for Derivative, Mostly Predictable Father Figure Melo

6 October 2015 5:33 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

'Million Dollar Baby' movie with Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood. 'Million Dollar Baby' movie: Clint Eastwood contrived, overlong drama made (barely) watchable by first-rate central performance Fresh off the enthusiastically received – and insincere – Mystic River, Clint Eastwood went on to tackle the ups and downs of the boxing world in the 2004 melo Million Dollar Baby. Despite the cheery title, this is not the usual Rocky-esque rags-to-riches story of the determined underdog who inevitably becomes a super-topdog once she (in this case it's a “she”) puts on her gloves, jumps into the boxing ring, and starts using other women as punching bags. That's because about two-thirds into the film, Million Dollar Baby takes a radical turn toward tragedy that is as unexpected as everything else on screen is painfully predictable. In fact, once the dust is settled, even that last third quickly derails into the same sentimental mush Eastwood and »

- Andre Soares

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Former Child Actor Moore Dead at 89: Kissed Temple, Was Married to MGM Musical Star Powell

10 September 2015 6:30 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

Child actor Dickie Moore: 'Our Gang' member. Former child actor Dickie Moore dead at 89: Film career ranged from 'Our Gang' shorts to features opposite Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper 1930s child actor Dickie Moore, whose 100+ movie career ranged from Our Gang shorts to playing opposite the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Stanwyck, and Gary Cooper, died in Connecticut on Sept. 7, '15 – five days before his 90th birthday. So far, news reports haven't specified the cause of death. According to a 2013 Boston Phoenix article about Moore's wife, MGM musical star Jane Powell, he had been “suffering from arthritis and bouts of dementia.” Dickie Moore movies At the behest of a persistent family friend, combined with the fact that his father was out of a job, Dickie Moore (born on Sept. 12, 1925, in Los Angeles) made his film debut as an infant in Alan Crosland's 1927 costume drama The Beloved Rogue, »

- Andre Soares

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A Unique Superstar: 20th Century Icon Garbo on TCM

26 August 2015 5:00 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

Greta Garbo movie 'The Kiss.' Greta Garbo movies on TCM Greta Garbo, a rarity among silent era movie stars, is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” performer today, Aug. 26, '15. Now, why would Garbo be considered a silent era rarity? Well, certainly not because she easily made the transition to sound, remaining a major star for another decade. Think Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, William Powell, Fay Wray, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, John Barrymore, Warner Baxter, Janet Gaynor, Constance Bennett, etc. And so much for all the stories about actors with foreign accents being unable to maintain their Hollywood stardom following the advent of sound motion pictures. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star, Garbo was no major exception to the supposed rule. Mexican Ramon Novarro, another MGM star, also made an easy transition to sound, and so did fellow Mexicans Lupe Velez and Dolores del Rio, in addition to the very British »

- Andre Soares

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Forgotten Actress Bruce on TCM: Career Went from Dawn of Talkies to L.A.'s Punk Rock Scene

25 August 2015 9:02 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

Virginia Bruce: MGM actress ca. 1935. Virginia Bruce movies on TCM: Actress was the cherry on 'The Great Ziegfeld' wedding cake Unfortunately, Turner Classic Movies has chosen not to feature any non-Hollywood stars – or any out-and-out silent film stars – in its 2015 “Summer Under the Stars” series.* On the other hand, TCM has come up with several unusual inclusions, e.g., Lee J. Cobb, Warren Oates, Mae Clarke, and today, Aug. 25, Virginia Bruce. A second-rank MGM leading lady in the 1930s, the Minneapolis-born Virginia Bruce is little remembered today despite her more than 70 feature films in a career that spanned two decades, from the dawn of the talkie era to the dawn of the TV era, in addition to a handful of comebacks going all the way to 1981 – the dawn of the personal computer era. Career highlights were few and not all that bright. Examples range from playing the »

- Andre Soares

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Hepburn Day on TCM: Love, Danger and Drag

7 August 2015 4:24 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

Katharine Hepburn movies. Katharine Hepburn movies: Woman in drag, in love, in danger In case you're suffering from insomnia, you might want to spend your night and early morning watching Turner Classic Movies' "Summer Under the Stars" series. Four-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Katharine Hepburn is TCM's star today, Aug. 7, '15. (See TCM's Katharine Hepburn movie schedule further below.) Whether you find Hepburn's voice as melodious as a singing nightingale or as grating as nails on a chalkboard, you may want to check out the 1933 version of Little Women. Directed by George Cukor, this cozy – and more than a bit schmaltzy – version of Louisa May Alcott's novel was a major box office success, helping to solidify Hepburn's Hollywood stardom the year after her film debut opposite John Barrymore and David Manners in Cukor's A Bill of Divorcement. They don't make 'em like they used to Also, the 1933 Little Women »

- Andre Soares

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Movie History Catalina Island Style

30 July 2015 2:00 PM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

A long time ago, sometime around 1912, a director by the name of D.W. Griffith packed up his filmmaking wares and took his crew, including favored cinematographer Billy Bitzer and star Mae Marsh, across the water to a relatively mysterious island off the Southern California coast to shoot a short film. The project, Man’s Genesis, subtitled A Psychological Comedy Founded upon the Darwinian Theory of the Evolution of Man (Is that Woody Allen I hear whimpering with envy?), isn’t one for which Griffith is well remembered, in the hearts of either academics or those given to silent-era nostalgia. (One comment on IMDb suggests that no one would ever mistake Griffith’s simple tale of a landmark of human development—man discovers his ability to craft and use tools in order to achieve a specific goal-- for “a serious work of speculative anthropology” and wonders “what the director and his »

- Dennis Cozzalio

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Southpaw – The Review

23 July 2015 10:36 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

Ever since two men slipped on gloves and sparred in a squared space, boxing has been a popular subject for mass media. I mean it’s a perfect venue, one man battling another, for everything from the legitimate theatre (the stage classic “Golden Boy”) and comic strips (“Joe Palooka” was a media sensation). But it seems to have been tailor-made for cinema, since it can cross over from “sports flick” to many other genres. It’s been a setting for laughs with screen comedians from Buster Keaton to Kevin James dancing about the canvas (plus The Main Event was a boxing “rom com”). And there are boxing biographies from Gentleman Jim to Ali. One modestly-budgeted 1976 smash turned into a huge franchise with Rocky (which will soon continue with Creed). But boxing’s biggest impact may be in prestige dramas, with Wallace Beery earning an Oscar as The Champ to the »

- Jim Batts

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‘Southpaw’ features another knockout Jake Gyllenhaal performance

23 July 2015 11:12 AM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »


Written by Kurt Sutter

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

U.S., 2015

All boxing films come down to three storylines, or all three wrapped in one—get beaten, get angry, get back to the top. Eighty years have passed since Wallace Beery made The Champ and Southpaw doesn’t try to rewrite the formula. It’s not a surprise, Barton Fink broke himself that way. Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the light heavyweight champion of the world, but it wasn’t always the high life. Billy was raised dumped from one foster home to the next because of his mother’s incarceration, but he eventually met his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) in a Hell’s Kitchen orphanage and turned it all around.

Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t look like your typical boxer like say Robert DeNiro, Mark Wahlberg or Will Smith, but doubts about his ability to perform disappear immediately as the film opens. »

- Colin Biggs

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Oscar-Nominated Film Series: First 'Pirates of the Caribbean' One of Most Enjoyable Summer Blockbusters of Early 21st Century

29 June 2015 4:13 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl': Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' review: Mostly an enjoyable romp (Oscar Movie Series) Pirate movies were a Hollywood staple for about three decades, from the mid-'20s (The Sea Hawk, The Black Pirate) to the mid-to-late '50s (Moonfleet, The Buccaneer), when the genre, by then mostly relegated to B films, began to die down. Sporadic resurrections in the '80s and '90s turned out to be critical and commercial bombs (Pirates, Cutthroat Island), something that didn't bode well for the Walt Disney Company's $140 million-budgeted film "adaptation" of one of their theme-park rides. But Neptune's mood has apparently improved with the arrival of the new century. He smiled – grinned would be a more appropriate word – on the Gore Verbinski-directed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, »

- Andre Soares

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The Top Father's Day Films Ever Made? Here Are Five Dads - Ranging from the Intellectual to the Pathological

22 June 2015 4:02 AM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

'Father of the Bride': Steve Martin and Kimberly Williams. Top Five Father's Day Movies? From giant Gregory Peck to tyrant John Gielgud What would be the Top Five Father's Day movies ever made? Well, there have been countless films about fathers and/or featuring fathers of various sizes, shapes, and inclinations. In terms of quality, these range from the amusing – e.g., the 1950 version of Cheaper by the Dozen; the Oscar-nominated The Grandfather – to the nauseating – e.g., the 1950 version of Father of the Bride; its atrocious sequel, Father's Little Dividend. Although I'm unable to come up with the absolute Top Five Father's Day Movies – or rather, just plain Father Movies – ever made, below are the first five (actually six, including a remake) "quality" patriarch-centered films that come to mind. Now, the fathers portrayed in these films aren't all heroic, loving, and/or saintly paternal figures. Several are »

- Andre Soares

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Every Best Picture Oscar Winner, Ranked From Worst to Best

6 May 2015 6:00 AM, PDT | Moviefone | See recent Moviefone news »

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the release of "Crash" (on May 6, 2005), an all-star movie whose controversy came not from its provocative treatment of racial issues but from its Best Picture Oscar victory a few months later, against what many critics felt was a much more deserving movie, "Brokeback Mountain."

The "Crash" vs. "Brokeback" battle is one of those lingering disputes that makes the Academy Awards so fascinating, year after year. Moviegoers and critics who revisit older movies are constantly judging the Academy's judgment. Even decades of hindsight may not always be enough to tell whether the Oscar voters of a particular year got it right or wrong. Whether it's "Birdman" vs. "Boyhood," "The King's Speech" vs. "The Social Network," "Saving Private Ryan" vs. "Shakespeare in Love" or even "An American in Paris" vs. "A Streetcar Named Desire," we're still confirming the Academy's taste or dismissing it as hopelessly off-base years later. »

- Gary Susman

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Starmaker Allégret: From Gay Romance with 'Uncle' (and Nobel Winner) Gide to Simon's Movie Mentor

27 February 2015 9:46 PM, PST | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

Marc Allégret: From André Gide lover to Simone Simon mentor (photo: Marc Allégret) (See previous post: "Simone Simon Remembered: Sex Kitten and Femme Fatale.") Simone Simon became a film star following the international critical and financial success of the 1934 romantic drama Lac aux Dames, directed by her self-appointed mentor – and alleged lover – Marc Allégret.[1] The son of an evangelical missionary, Marc Allégret (born on December 22, 1900, in Basel, Switzerland) was to have become a lawyer. At age 16, his life took a different path as a result of his romantic involvement – and elopement to London – with his mentor and later "adoptive uncle" André Gide (1947 Nobel Prize winner in Literature), more than 30 years his senior and married to Madeleine Rondeaux for more than two decades. In various forms – including a threesome with painter Théo Van Rysselberghe's daughter Elisabeth – the Allégret-Gide relationship remained steady until the late '20s and their trip to »

- Andre Soares

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Daily | Books | Chicago, Fincher, Rhythm

2 February 2015 7:45 AM, PST | Keyframe | See recent Keyframe news »

"Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry by Michael Smith and Adam Selzer offers a well-researched, in-depth chronicle of the Windy City’s role in cinema history," writes Susan Doll at Movie Morlocks. "From the early 1890s to World War I, the city was a major player in the motion picture business, giving the likes of Carl Laemmle, Gloria Swanson, Wallace Beery, Charlie Chaplin and Francis X. Bushman a leg up in their careers." Subjects of more recent book reviews include David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Tennessee Williams, H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Kirby. » - David Hudson »

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