More 4th of July Escapism: Small-Town Iowa and Declaration of Independence Musicals

More 4th of July Escapism: Small-Town Iowa and Declaration of Independence Musicals
(See previous post: Fourth of July Movies: Escapism During a Weird Year.) On the evening of the Fourth of July, besides fireworks, fire hazards, and Yankee Doodle Dandy, if you're watching TCM in the U.S. and Canada, there's the following: Peter H. Hunt's 1776 (1972), a largely forgotten film musical based on the Broadway hit with music by Sherman Edwards. William Daniels, who was recently on TCM talking about 1776 and a couple of other movies (A Thousand Clowns, Dodsworth), has one of the key roles as John Adams. Howard Da Silva, blacklisted for over a decade after being named a communist during the House Un-American Committee hearings of the early 1950s (Robert Taylor was one who mentioned him in his testimony), plays Benjamin Franklin. Ken Howard is Thomas Jefferson, a role he would reprise in John Huston's 1976 short Independence. (In the short, Pat Hingle was cast as John Adams; Eli Wallach was Benjamin Franklin.) Warner
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Today in History: Joan Crawford's Oscar, Bel Powley's Rise, Loretta Young's Emmy

Need to feel festive today? Think on these anniversaries or birthdays today in showbiz history and celebrate accordingly. 

1914 Director Morton DaCosta was born in Philly. Though most of his career was on the stage he did direct three features: Auntie Mame, The Music Man, and Island of Love, the first two of which were Best Picture nominees!

1933 The game "Monopoly" was invented -remember that time when it seemed like every "brand" was going to become a movie and Ridley Scott was going to make this one?

1942 Televangelist wife and pop culture makeup icon Tammy Faye Baker is born. 

Much more after the jump...
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Joy Saunders, Actress on Stage, TV, Dies at 89

Joy Saunders, Actress on Stage, TV, Dies at 89
Joy Silver died at home in Scarborough, N.Y. on October 24, 2014, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. She was 89.

Under the stage name Joy Saunders, she made her Broadway debut in the controversial and short-lived “A Pin to See the Peepshow” with Roger Moore, and appeared Off Broadway, in film, TV, and radio. Along with Tom Poston and Jason Robards, Joy was a founding member of the Greenwich Mews Theatre, a pioneer experiment in nontraditional casting. She was directed by Lloyd Richards and Morton da Costa.

She took a break from acting to raise her family.

Later television appearances included seven episodes of “Kate and Allie” and a role as a member of the cooking class on “Working It Out” with Jane Curtin and Stephen Collins. Staged readings included “Sisters of Sisters” by Cynthia L. Cooper, and a workshop production of “Waiting for Godot” under the direction of her son,
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Virgins and Prostitutes: Jones' Movies on TCM

Shirley Jones Movies: Innocent virgins and sex workers galore (photo: Shirley Jones and Burt Lancaster in ‘Elmer Gantry’) (See previous post: “Shirley Jones: From Book to Movies.”) I haven’t watched The Cheyenne Social Club (1970), a comedy Western directed by Gene Kelly, and starring 62-year-old James Stewart as a cowpoke who inherits an establishment that turns out to be a popular house of prostitution. Henry Fonda plays Stewart’s partner. And I’m sure Shirley Jones, as one of the sex workers, looks lovely in the film. Hopefully, director Kelly gave this likable, talented actress the chance to do more than just stand around looking pretty. But then again … For all purposes, The Cheyenne Social Club ended Shirley Jones’ film stardom; that same year she turned to TV and The Partridge Family. Jones would return to films only nine years later, as one of several stars (among them Michael Caine,
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Oscar Winner and Risque Memoirist Jones Has Her Day

Shirley Jones: From book to film A few weeks ago, Shirley Jones, 79, made headlines following the publication of her book of memoirs, concisely titled Shirley Jones: A Memoir. But why the headlines? Does Shirley Jones twerk like Miley Cyrus? Nope. (And that may explain why the release of Jones’ book wasn’t selected as’s Top Story of the Day.) So, were The Media and The People interested in Jones’ Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Elmer Gantry, or maybe they were curious about her work in several major 1950s musicals and 1960s comedies? Are you crazy? Who gives a damn about that? The Answer: Let’s just say that the furor had something to do with sweet and innocent all-American bare breasts and three-ways. Keep that in mind next time you watch Oklahoma! (Photo: Shirley Jones ca. 1955.) (On TCM: “Shirley Jones Movies: Innocent Virgins and Sex Workers Galore.
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TCM Classic Film Festival Continues To Expand In Final Weeks Before April 12 Opening

Latest Additions Include Star-Studded Appearances, Noted Film Historians,

An Opening-Night Poolside Screening of High Society (1956)

And a Vanity Fair Showcase of Architecture in Film

Complete Schedule for 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival

Now Available at

With just over two weeks left before opening day, the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival continues to expand its already-packed slate with new events and live appearances:

On opening night of the festival, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel will be the site of a poolside screening of the lavish Cole Porter musical High Society (1956), starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Actresses Maud Adams and Eunice Gayson will attend a 50th Anniversary screening of the James Bond classic Dr. No (1962) and participate in a conversation about being “Bond Girls.” Filmmaker Mel Brooks will be on hand to introduce his brilliant parody Young Frankenstein (1974). Filmmaker John Carpenter will introduce his favorite film, the
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Blu-Ray Review: Timeless ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Bursts With Life

Chicago – Norman Jewison’s 1971 adaptation of the Broadway smash “Fiddler on the Roof” offers a textbook example of the best possible way to make a musical for the big screen. It came out at a time when movie musicals were quickly becoming a dying art form, and yet Jewison somehow managed to avoid all the mistakes that marred so many other filmmakers.

His first excellent decision was to avoid casting any big names. Topol was a 35-year-old actor who first played the main role of Tevye in a 1967 West End production. In the massive array of extras contained on this sensational 40th anniversary Blu-Ray edition, Jewison claims that he utilized clipped fragments of his own graying hair to age his preferred leading man. Yet the director’s efforts were obviously not in vain. Topol turned out to be such an indelible choice that it’s practically impossible to think of anyone else in the role.
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Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Music Man’ Looks Sharper, Thunders Louder Than Before

Chicago – “The Music Man” is alive in a way few Hollywood musicals ever are. Its big numbers often grow organically, allowing melodies to emerge from the rhythm of speech, overlapping action or the seemingly mundane movement of characters across the frame. In the exuberant world of this ageless classic, music is less of a self-conscious construct than an irresistible life force infiltrating the cadence of everyday life.

Much of the film’s success must be attributed to the work of director Morton DaCosta and star Robert Preston. DaCosta directed Preston in the musical’s 1957 Tony-winning Broadway production, and insisted that his lead actor be cast in the 1962 cinematic adaptation, rather than the studio’s preferred star, Frank Sinatra. It’s impossible to imagine anyone but Preston in the role of “Prof. Harold Hill,” a charismatic con artist who seduces the simple citizens of River City, Iowa into financially supporting his
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Torino Glbt Film Festival 2009: Ferzan Ozpetek

2009 Torino Glbt Film Festival: Filmmaker Ferzan Ozpetek (above, with festival director Giovanni Minerba) presents "the films of his life." Ozpetek’s quotes below are from the festival’s press release. "I couldn’t have been happier when Giovanni Minerba made this proposition to me. I wanted to start out with a series of ‘Madames,’ ranging from the splendid Madame X, by David Lowell Rich, with Lana Turner, to Madame Rosa, [starring] Simone Signoret, and then on to Madame Sousatzka by John Schlesinger, with the intriguing Shirley MacLaine, and finishing off with Madame de… directed by Max Ophüls, in 1953. "Unfortunately there were problems in getting the films, so the only remaining ‘madame’ belongs to Ophüls himself, a film which had literally enraptured me [because of] its camera movement! There is another ‘mama’ that I dearly loved as a child: Auntie Mame by Morton Da Costa [made in] 1958. [...]
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