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In February 1965, Mike Nichols was a rising stage-director best known as half of the comedy team of Nichols & May, the riotous byproduct of his and Elaine May’s collision as early members of the pioneering Chicago improv troupe the Compass Players. He was 33 years old. I was a 15-year-old high-school student working as a part-time ticket-taker at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., then a busy Broadway tryout house in the day when new plays were tweaked or overhauled on the road rather than in previews in New York. The National’s new attraction was The Odd Couple, Neil Simon’s third Broadway play. It had a middling advance sale. The stars were Art Carney, whose luster had faded a bit since his heyday as Jackie Gleason’s sidekick on television’s The Honeymooners in the 1950s, and Walter Matthau, a longtime character actor whose career had never taken off. »
- Frank Rich
Most people never step inside a casino until they’ve reached adulthood. When they do, they typically approach them with expectations of smartly dressed punters, towers of chips exchanging hands around a poker table, and hundreds of flashing, buzzing slots contraptions with waterfalls of coins pouting out. The reason for these particular images? Hollywood. Casinos have starred in the movies for decades. Bright, exotic and ever-so-slightly decadent, they make a perfect setting for every kind of story. From drama to comedy films, casinos have provided audiences with thrills and laughs in equal measures, and in this article we review five top movies that are based on gambling.
The Hustler (1961)
Credit: 20th Century Fox
Director: Robert Rossen
Running time: 134 min
Yesterday’s fourth annual The Contenders event at the DGA was a smash hit as 13 studios and distributors, along with their stars and filmmakers, got to show off their awards season slate to an audience heavy with Academy and key Guild voters. And those companies with big Oscar hopes showcased all the usual suspects this year from The Imitation Game to Birdman to Foxcatcher to The Theory Of Everything and on and on with the kinds of films that are usually awards fodder this time of year.
But perhaps the most surprising inclusion was the sudden presence of none other than Chris Rock in the race. Although Chris wasn’t there in person for the large industry crowd (he was busy in NYC boosting Saturday Night Live to its best ratings of the season), his movie Top Five was prominently included in Paramount’s reel right alongside their other upcoming »
- Pete Hammond
They are two of the most famous creators in the universe. Their work is quoted almost as often as Scripture. They have turned their pens into ATMs, making them richer than the creator of the universe. They have given rise to—and remain the symbolic deities of—two sides of a pop culture debate that is being fervidly argued out on some message board as you read this. But on this toasty summer afternoon in L.A., dressed in white shirts, jeans, and sneakers, Matt Groening, the 60-year-old creator/exec producer of The Simpsons (and Futurama), and Seth MacFarlane, the »
- Dan Snierson
The Anthology Film Archives in New York will present three classic Laurel and Hardy films from the 1930s on the big screen this weekend, Saturday, September 27. Here is the description of the program:
“Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are the movies’ greatest comic duo, the quintessential dumb and dumber odd-couple. Though critically overshadowed by Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, they were enormously popular, and proved a major influence on Abbott & Costello, Lucille Ball & Vivian Vance, and Jackie Gleason & Art Carney, not to mention Samuel Beckett (they were an inspiration for Waiting For Godot), Roman Polanski (who paid homage to them in his existentialist short films Fat And Lean and Two Men And A Wardrobe), and Ken Jacobs (whose Ontic Antics deconstructs one of their films).” –David Mulkins
County Hospital (1932, 20 min, 16mm, b&w. Directed by James Parrott.)
Tit For Tat (1935, 20 min, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Polly Bergen: 'Desperate Housewives' Emmy nominee; winner for 'The Helen Morgan Story' (photo: Felicity Huffman, Doug Savant, and Polly Bergen in 'Desperate Housewives') (See previous article: "Polly Bergen: Actress on Richard Nixon 'Enemies List'.") Polly Bergen began her lengthy — and to some extent prestigious — television career in 1950, making sporadic appearances in anthology series. She won an Emmy for Best Actress in a Single Performance – Lead or Supporting — beating Julie Andrews, Helen Hayes, Teresa Wright, and Piper Laurie — for playing troubled torch singer Helen Morgan (Show Boat) in the 1957 Playhouse 90 episode "The Helen Morgan Story," featuring veteran Sylvia Sidney as Morgan's mother. Curiously, Bergen's retelling of Helen Morgan's story was broadcast the same year that Ann Blyth starred in Michael Curtiz's Morgan biopic. Also titled The Helen Morgan Story, the film focused on the relationship between the singer and a »
- Andre Soares
It’s an understood rule of comedic actors that they can all do drama, as well. Comedy is harder, of course. But then not every comedic actor is truly an actor. Not every comedic performance is about more than good line readings and having the necessary timing to tell a joke. Stand-up comedians often get starring gigs on sitcoms, but that doesn’t mean they’ll wind up with an Oscar nomination someday. (Sorry, Sinbad.) Those who do end up with Academy recognition are those who were always set to shine on the big screen and wound up on TV as a short little detour along the way. Jennifer Lawrence, for example. And Tom Hanks. And Leonardo DiCaprio. But there are also former TV comedy stars who do great work in dramatic movies and never garner Oscar attention, and then they have to go back and do a Dumb and Dumber sequel. There »
- Christopher Campbell
Musician Kuana Torres Kahele provides the voice for the lonely volcano Uku, who breaks out into song in this scene, following the photo that debuted last month. Take a look at this new footage, then read on for more details from director James Ford Murphy.
Director James Ford Murphy, who also serves as Pixar's head of animation, revealed that they initially struggled a lot with how to bring a three-mile wide volcano to life.
We struggled with it a lot. But I feel like, once we were able to embrace the limitations of it, it unlocked all sorts of possibilities. I love that about animation: You can really make a mountain come alive. You »
American Gigola: Olnek’s Hilarious Sophomore Film Reinvents the Masculine Realm of Hustler Bonding
Few filmmakers are able to successfully create a distinctly unique universe of off-kilter comedy both consistent in tone and unwavering quality, especially if it also happens to be cobbled together from a mixture of limited resources. But you can add director Madeleine Olnek to a shortlist of such names with her sophomore film, The Foxy Merkins, an inspired ode to male-hustler buddy films from the vintage 1970s, transposed to modern day and removed from the arena of the heteronormative. Perhaps scrappy and episodic, which only adds to its infectious charm, this is an unfailingly funny film, proving Olnek to be a refreshing voice to behold in an era of repetitive storytelling and mediocre beats within the realm of independent film.
In what appears to be a bid to reconnect with her mother, Margaret (Lisa Haas) takes off to New York City, »
- Nicholas Bell
In music there are only 12 notes, so it's no wonder so many songs sound the same. But what about someone's voice? The way someone speaks is not bound by any kind of scale or music theory, rather it's the sum a person’s upbringing, their physicality, and their personality. So why do so many cartoon characters sound so eerily familiar? In this list we highlight 10 cartoon characters whose voices (and often their likenesses) are based on other actors. We also mention 5 other cartoon voices that are impressions in the bonus sections of related entries. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, these actors have been thoroughly praised by some of the best.
Over the past 3 decades The Simpsons has been on the air, America’s favorite family has gone through many changes. Aside from the quality of the animation, the most noticeable »
- Eli Reyes
Elaine Stritch - a showbiz survivor who at last became a household name in her 80s when she played Colleen Donaghy, the harridan mother of Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy, on TV's 30 Rock - died on Thursday at her home in Birmingham, Michigan, reports The New York Times. She was 89. Only last year, in failing health, she left New York to return to her home state of Michigan to be near relatives, though in the days leading up to her departure from her luxury Carlyle Hotel residence, The Times chronicled her nearly every hiccup - she was such a fixture of the city. »
- Stephen M. Silverman
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
Jake Coyle, Associated Press
New York (AP) - Elaine Stritch, the brash theater performer whose gravelly, gin-laced voice and impeccable comic timing made her a Broadway legend, has died. She was 89.
Joseph Rosenthal, Stritch's longtime attorney, said the actress died Thursday of natural causes at her home in Birmingham, Michigan.
Although Stritch appeared in movies and on television, garnering three Emmys and finding new fans as Alec Baldwin's unforgiving mother on "30 Rock," she was best known for her stage work, particularly in her candid one-woman memoir, "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty," and in the Stephen Sondheim musical "Company."
A tart-tongued monument to New York show business endurance, Stritch worked well into her late 80s, most recently as Madame Armfeldt in a revival of Sondheim's musical "A Little Night Music." She replaced Angela Lansbury in 2010 to critical acclaim.
In 2013, Stritch - whose signature "no pants" style »
- The Associated Press
The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences released this year's Emmy ballots last week. Now that the ballots are out, it's time for our annual two-pronged experiment, in which Dan tries to predict the likeliest nominees in each major category, while I pretend that I'm an actually TV Academy member and pick the six nominees that would make me the happiest. We are, as always, playing by the Emmy rules, which means we can't argue for someone who didn't submit themselves (say, Alan Cumming for "The Good Wife"), can't move someone from lead to supporting or vice versa, and can't declare that "True Detective" is a miniseries and therefore clear more room in the drama categories. I'm also obviously limited by what I watched and what I haven't. I think I saw maybe three episodes of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" this season, for instance, and while I like the show a lot, »
- Alan Sepinwall
22 Jump Street is in theaters this weekend, and its one of the few TV-to-Movie franchises that has gotten it right. This comes after so many have gotten it really wrong! Adapting a hit television show to the big screen seems like it would be an easy thing. The source material is great, there's an existing audience, it should be money in the bank. But bigger does not mean better. There's more than enough examples of great TV turned into garbage cinema. So much so, there was a fair amount of difficulty and debate narrowing it down to ten, epically awful movies. Criteria had to be established. There must be a method to this madness. Terrible films like The Smurfs, Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, or The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas still has an appeal to younger audiences who might actually be entertained by it. It does have some value. Once »
With the release of The Honeymooners: Classic 39 Episodes, and I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1, two of the most important and influential sitcoms have now hit Blu-ray. The former stars Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph, the latter stars Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley and Vivian Vance, and for those who grew up with these shows on television, these new 1080 masters are night and day in terms of picture quality. My review of both on Blu-ray follow after the jump. Both shows have very simple premises that often repeat the same narrative in different iterations. In The Honeymooners Gleason’s Ralph Kramden is a dreamer who works as a bus driver, with his best friend the mostly stupid but occasionally clever Ed Norton (Carney). In most of the episodes Kramden gets himself in trouble by thinking he’s smarter than he is. His failings make »
- Andre Dellamorte
The series ran from 1960 to 1966 and was the first animated series ever nominated for a primetime Emmy for comedy series.
Universal made a live-action movie in 1994 with John Goodman, Elizabeth Perkins, Rick Moranis and Rosie O’Donnell. Warner Bros. acquired the rights to “The Flintstones” as part of Time Warner’s acquisition of Turner Broadcasting in 1996.
Warner Bros. has been ramping up its animation activity over the »
- Dave McNary
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
What's It About? Everyone's favorite teen Pi Veronica Mars is all grown up. She's living in NYC with Piz and just about to snag a plum lawyer gig when she's called back to Neptune to help out her ex Logan. In typical Logan fashion, he's in legal hot water - this time around, he's accused of murdering his girlfriend. Oh, it's also their high school reunion. Fun times!
Why We're In: Okay, if you're a diehard Marshmallow, chances are you're already getting a copy of the movie from Kickstarter. But, hey, while you wait for them to be sent out, why not snag an extra copy or two?
Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
"Ace in the Hole" (Criterion)
What's It About? Kirk Douglas stars as a ruthless reporter scheming to keep his latest scoop in the headlines. A classic film noir, »
- Jenni Miller
When you create something for public consumption, you’re putting yourself in a very fragile position. For example, creating a popular television show means handing your beloved characters over to the world for weekly scrutinizing. Then again, it also means handing them over for weekly adoration. But no matter how beloved a show, movie, album, or book might be, no creator is perfect. And by default, no creator’s work is perfect.
That being said, there are few times in the world of pop culture where a creator has come forth and apologized for a large piece of work. Do »
- Samantha Highfill
A quarter-century ago, Kevin Costner hit a double-play, following up "Bull Durham" with "Field of Dreams" and becoming king of the sports movie. Twenty-five years later, as "Field of Dreams" marks its 25th anniversary (it was released on April 21, 1989), Costner is back with "Draft Day." The movie's about football, not baseball, and Costner's character plays in the executive suite, not on the field, but his mere presence still offers a reminder of great sports movies past.
And after all, isn't nostalgia a key element of sports movies? "Field of Dreams" makes this explicit -- we long for the sports heroes of our childhood, for a supposed long-gone golden age of our preferred sport, as a way of connecting with our past and bridging the generational divide that separates us as adults from our parents. Sports movies offer more than just the drama of winners and losers, or the journey from dream to achievement, »
- Gary Susman
Mickey Rooney, the supercharged child vaudevillian who grew up to become MGM's biggest star - despite barely standing over 5 feet tall - has died at the age of 93. Rooney, who had been in ill health for quite some time, passed away on Sunday, TMZ reports. According to the Associated Press, he was surrounded by family at his North Hollywood home, police said. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office said Rooney died a natural death. A genuine showbiz legend whose career, like his personal life, was often likened to a roller-coaster, Rooney was multi-talented, eight-times married and many times written off, »
- Stephen M. Silverman
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