8 items from 2011
Actor and dialect coach Robert Easton, known as the "Henry Higgins of Hollywood," died of "natural causes" on Friday, Dec. 16, in the Los Angeles suburb of Toluca Lake. Easton was 81. Even if he never coached My Fair Lady/Pygmalion's Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, or Wendy Hiller, according to the Los Angeles Times obituary Easton's dialect students included Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, John Travolta, Patrick Swayze, Ben Kingsley, Charlton Heston, Arnold Schwarzenegger (who learned to talk with a Russian accent, as per the Times), and Forest Whitaker, who learned to talk like Idi Amin Dada for his Oscar-winning role in The Last King of Scotland. When not coaching, Easton taught at UCLA and USC. Additionally, he had small supporting roles in movies such as Joshua Logan's Paint Your Wagon (1969), starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, and Jean Seberg; Mike Nichols' Working Girl (1988), with Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, and Harrison Ford »
- Andre Soares
Originally published in the Observer on 18 December 1938
I am writing this letter now, so that the readers of the Observer can light their fires with it on Monday morning, and you will have six days after it has gone up the chimney to study my wants and decide what you are going to do about them. I know you will be very busy this Christmas, but in case you have time to think about the cinema, here are one or two suggestions for useful gifts.
Give back a film industry to England, just a little one. We have been very stupid, shortsighted and wasteful here, but most of us are sorry now. There are thousands of people out of work in the studios this Christmas, many of them with little prospect of getting back again. Be kind to them, please.
Whisper in the ear of politicians and City men, and »
Canny film producer known for his horror and sci-fi classics
The producer Richard Gordon, who has died aged 85, was involved with several offbeat classics of horror and science-fiction cinema. These included Arthur Crabtree's Fiend Without a Face (1958), which climaxes with a still-astonishing siege of a power station by disembodied, tentacled, malicious human brains, and Antony Balch's Horror Hospital (1973), a lively and perverse mad-scientist satire featuring Michael Gough and Robin Askwith.
It may be that Gordon and his brother, Alex, so closely associated that many reference sources mistakenly say they were twins, were the first people to take the now-common route from movie-crazed kid to industry professional, later the path of film-makers as different as Jean-Luc Godard and Steven Spielberg. As schoolboys, the Gordons founded a film society, then wrote for fan magazines and performed menial roles on low-budget productions, always motivated by a boundless enthusiasm for the films »
- Kim Newman
Each year come awards season we see hundreds of frozen grins and hear hundreds of ever so slight variations on that autopilot soundbyte "I'm just so honored to be ______." But how do the losing stars and snubbees really feel? One of my favorite things about celebrity biographies is that they have to dig a little deeper when it comes to the discussion of The Oscars; you can't fill whole books with soundbytes.
I was recently flipping through the new biography "Steve McQueen" by Marc Eliot and came across this passage on the Oscars. McQueen thought his sole nomination (The Sand Pebbles, 1966) was long overdue and eagerly participated in press events. He bought himself a burgundy Ferrari to reward himself for the nomination.
Yet on Oscar night, Paul Scofield won Best Actor...
The audience erupted in applause, even though Scofield was one of the many who did not show up. His co-star Wendy Hiller, »
- NATHANIEL R
Watching the Powell/Pressburger classic in the place it's set gave it a darker, more subversive slant
I've just returned from the Isle of Mull in Scotland. It was a holiday which quickly assumed the character of a secular pilgrimage to the key locations in the 1945 Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger classic I Know Where I'm Going!, a sublime and utterly distinctive romantic comedy, set towards the end of the second world war.
It stars Wendy Hiller as the headstrong, self-possessed and rather conceited young Englishwoman, Joan Webster, who travels to the Hebrides to marry a wealthy industrialist on the remote island of Kiloran. Foul weather strands her on the neighbouring island of Mull the night before their wedding – the first time in her life anything or anyone has ever interfered with her plans. Yet, little by little, she finds herself beguiled by the island and the islanders – in particular Torquil MacNeil, »
- Peter Bradshaw
Shirley MacLaine, Irma la Douce on TCM Shirley MacLaine is Turner Classic Movies' "Summer Under the Stars" star of the day today, August 10. This evening, TCM is presenting its last four Shirley MacLaine movies: Billy Wilder's Oscar winner The Apartment (1960), which is on right now; Vincente Minnelli's Some Came Running (1958), which earned MacLaine her first Best Actress Academy Award nomination; Lewis Milestone's Ocean's Eleven (1960), in which MacLaine has a mere cameo; and Anthony Asquith's omnibus feature The Yellow Rolls Royce (1964), in which MacLaine is one of about a dozen stars in several individual stories. [Shirley MacLaine Movie Schedule.] It's too late for me to recommend The Apartment, though recommendable it is. For one thing, this collaboration between Billy Wilder and screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond features what is, in my view, Fred MacMurray's best performance by far. Usually an intolerable leading man — macho, reactionary, humorless, unsexy, dull — MacMurray could be a fascinating slimeball, »
- Andre Soares
Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sidney Lumet, Murder on the Orient Express Sidney Lumet, whose performers ranged from Katharine Hepburn to Sharon Stone, from Ralph Richardson to Marlon Brando, from Anna Magnani to Al Pacino, from Lauren Bacall to Jane Fonda, from Simone Signoret to River Phoenix, from Paul Newman to Vin Diesel, from Wendy Hiller and John Gielgud to Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, and among whose films are Twelve Angry Men, Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict, and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, died earlier today at his home in Manhattan. Lumet, who had been suffering form lymphoma, was 86. Many won't recognize the name behind the aforementioned movies. That's because Lumet, strangely, was never a star director like Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, and John Ford, or more recently, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and James Cameron. Just as strangely, there has »
- Andre Soares
My conversations with industry insiders and Academy members lead me to believe that Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) remains the favorite to win the best supporting actress Academy Award, despite — or perhaps even because of — the recent brouhaha over her “Consider” advertisements. In terms of statistical analysis, though, one can find cause for both confidence and concern about her Oscar prospects…
Cause for Concern: The BAFTA-ampas Disconnect
British voters are believed to make up a sizable portion of the Academy, and BAFTA Award winners — which were announced after the Oscars prior to 2000, and have been announced before them since then — usually correspond with Oscar winners. Therefore, it is certainly noteworthy that BAFTA didn’t like Leo’s performance enough to even nominate her for its best supporting actress award, but did like the one given by Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit“), her primary rival at the Oscars, enough to nominate her in its best actress category. »
- Scott Feinberg
8 items from 2011
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