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Norma Shearer films Note: This article is being revised and expanded. Please check back later. Turner Classic Movies' Norma Shearer month comes to a close this evening, Nov. 24, '15, with the presentation of the last six films of Shearer's two-decade-plus career. Two of these are remarkably good; one is schizophrenic, a confused mix of high comedy and low drama; while the other three aren't the greatest. Yet all six are worth a look even if only because of Norma Shearer herself – though, really, they all have more to offer than just their top star. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, the no-expense-spared Marie Antoinette (1938) – $2.9 million, making it one of the most expensive movies ever made up to that time – stars the Canadian-born Queen of MGM as the Austrian-born Queen of France. This was Shearer's first film in two years (following Romeo and Juliet) and her first release following husband Irving G.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Queen of MGM: Fighting Revolutionaries, Nazis, and Joan Crawford

Norma Shearer films Note: This article is being revised and expanded. Please check back later. Turner Classic Movies' Norma Shearer month comes to a close this evening, Nov. 24, '15, with the presentation of the last six films of Shearer's two-decade-plus career. Two of these are remarkably good; one is schizophrenic, a confused mix of high comedy and low drama; while the other three aren't the greatest. Yet all six are worth a look even if only because of Norma Shearer herself – though, really, they all have more to offer than just their top star. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, the no-expense-spared Marie Antoinette (1938) – $2.9 million, making it one of the most expensive movies ever made up to that time – stars the Canadian-born Queen of MGM as the Austrian-born Queen of France. This was Shearer's first film in two years (following Romeo and Juliet) and her first release following husband Irving G.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Penelope Houston, Sight & Sound editor for 35 years, dies aged 88

The critic, who wrote several pioneering books and oversaw the magazine from 1956-1990, has died

Penelope Houston, who edited the British Film Institute’s cinema magazine Sight & Sound for 35 years, has died at the age of 88.

A charismatic figure keen on straight-talking, chain-smoking and betting on the horses, Houston took control of the iconic magazine in 1956, taking over from Gavin Lambert after he left for Hollywood. Houston had co-founded an earlier magazine with Lambert at Oxford, alongside editors Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz.

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See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

The Forgotten: Jack Cardiff's "Dark of the Sun" (1968)

  • MUBI
Commemorating Rod Taylor, we turn to Dark of the Sun, routinely dismissed as a nasty slice of thick-ear but admired by Scorsese for its unflinching brutality and lean, efficient technique: possibly the best film directed by great cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who otherwise could be said to have squandered years on dreck like Girl on a Motorcycle (lovely to look at, inane and obnoxious) and The Mutations (ugly to look at, inaner and obnoxiouser). It's always a bit of a crime when a great specialist becomes an undistinguished all-rounder, and Cardiff's belated return to cinematography was, on the whole, a happy day. His admired first film in the director's chair, Sons and Lovers, looks magnificent, but screenwriter Gavin Lambert felt Cardiff didn't really understand the material.

Well, in a sense the strength of Dark of the Sun, superficially an action/adventure yarn set in the Congo during revolution, is its simplicity:
See full article at MUBI »

Rooney Was No Andy Hardy in Real Life: Longest Film Career Ever?

Mickey Rooney dead at 93: Four-time Oscar nominee, frequent Judy Garland co-star may have had the longest film career ever (photo: Mickey Rooney ca. 1940) Mickey Rooney, four-time Academy Award nominee and one of the biggest domestic box-office draws during the studio era, died of "natural causes" on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hollywood. The Brooklyn-born Rooney (as Joseph Yule Jr., on September 23, 1920) had reportedly been in ill health for some time. He was 93. Besides his countless movies, and numerous television and stage appearances, Mickey Rooney was also known for his stormy private life, which featured boozing and gambling, some widely publicized family infighting (including his testifying in Congress in 2011 about elder abuse), his filing for bankruptcy in 1962 after having earned a reported $12 million (and then going bankrupt again in 1996), his eight marriages — including those to actresses Ava Gardner, Martha Vickers, and Barbara Ann Thomason
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

A Story of Love and Hate: The Night of the Hunter’s Journey from Failure to American Classic

  • HeyUGuys
Director Charles Laughton’s and screenwriter James Agee’s adaptation of the novel The Night of the Hunter has become a reverently admired and extremely influential film in the 60 years since the ‘failure’ of its initial release. The film has placed very highly in many international critical polls, including Cahier du Cinema’s 2007 listing of the ‘100 Most Beautiful Films’, where it sits at #2. Many filmmakers have cited it as a key inspiration, and Steven Spielberg showed it to the crew of E.T. in order to help them understand the child’s perspective from which he wanted the film to be told. It was even re-made as a virtually unwatchable 1991 TV movie with Richard Chamberlain as Harry Powell, and a musical stage version was created in the late ‘90s for which a soundtrack CD is available.

Perhaps the most important indication of the esteem in which the film is now held
See full article at HeyUGuys »

Top '60s Star Has Her Day on TCM

Natalie Wood movies: From loving Warren Beatty to stripping like Gypsy Rose Lee Three-time Academy Award nominee Natalie Wood, one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the ’60s, is Turner Classic Movies’ "Summer Under the Stars" performer today, August 18, 2013. TCM is currently showing Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass (1961), a romantic drama written for the screen by playwright William Inge (Picnic, Bus Stop). Wood is fine as a young woman who loses her emotional balance after she’s seduced and abandoned by the son (Warren Beatty) of a wealthy family in Kansas shortly before the Great Depression. For her efforts, she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination. (Sophia Loren was that year’s winner, for the Italian-made Two Women.) (See “TCM movie schedule: Natalie Wood Hot Hollywood Star.” Next in line is Richard Quine’s feeble attempt at screwball comedy, Sex and the Single Girl (1964), a movie that promises much more than it delivers,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

The Big City – review

Satyajit Ray's enduring 1963 masterpiece about one woman's struggle for independence is back on the big screen

Satyajit Ray, who died in 1992 at the age of 70, is one of the giants of world cinema. The son of a prominent Bengali literary figure, he was an accomplished writer, composer, editor and artist as well as a great movie director. His passionate interest in the cinema developed early on, and shortly after the second world war he accompanied Jean Renoir when he travelled to India to scout locations for The River. Subsequently he wrote a wonderfully perceptive article about this experience for Sequence, the film magazine edited by Lindsay Anderson, Gavin Lambert and Karel Reisz.

During a visit to Europe to work in the London headquarters of his Calcutta advertising agency, he saw Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves and decided that on his return he wanted to make a movie in
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

One of the Most Breathtaking Silent Movies (or Movies, Period) Ever Made: The Best of '21

One of the Most Amazing Silent Movies (or Movies of Any Era, Period) Ever Made Tops the List of Best of Movies Released in 1921 Rex Ingram’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Metro Pictures' film version of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez’s epic novel -- from a scenario by the immensely powerful writer-producer June Mathis -- catapulted Mathis’ protégé, the until then little known Rudolph Valentino (photo, left), to worldwide superstardom, as The Four Horsemen became one of the biggest box-office hits of the silent era. Ingram’s wife, the invariably excellent Alice Terry (right, dark-haired in real life; a light-haired in her many movies), played Valentino's love interest. Ninety-two years after its initial launch, the Four Horsemen remains a monumental achievement. Released by MGM, Vincente Minnelli's 1962 remake of this Metro Pictures production featured an all-star cast: Glenn Ford, Ingrid Thulin (dubbed by Angela Lansbury), Charles Boyer, Lee J. Cobb,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Something for Everyone at London's Lgbt Fest: From Silence to Sex

The 27th London Lgbt Fest offers tons of screenings in the coming days (Pictured above: Underground transgender superstar Divine in John Waters' 1974 sorta class Female Trouble) This year's London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival officially opened with a gala presentation of Jeffrey Schwarz’s I Am Divine this past Thursday. In the coming week, the festival will be showcasing dozens of features and shorts featuring characters of various forms of sexual orientation and gender identity from all over the world. Among tonight's features is John Waters' 1974 camp classic Female Trouble, starring Waters' muse Divine as a youngster who, after running away from home on Christmas Day, getting raped and pregant, and becoming a single mom, is transmogrified from loving schoolgirl to tough criminal. Waters' stock player Edith Massey plays Aunt Ida, who has obviously spent her life hanging out with the wrong straight crowd, remarking at one point in
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

How Hitchcock's Vertigo eventually topped the Sight & Sound critics' poll

Sight & Sound magazine has announced the results of its latest critics' poll to decide the greatest film of all time. Philip French charts the history of the poll

In the early 1950s, the British Film Institute was transformed by Denis Forman and Gavin Lambert. Forman was appointed director of the BFI in 1948, and one year later, he invited Lambert to edit what Lambert recalled as "the institute's terminally boring magazine Sight & Sound and bring it back to life". Both left the institute in 1955, Forman to help create Granada TV, Lambert to become a Hollywood screenwriter and novelist, and by then the National Film Theatre had been established on the South Bank, and Sight & Sound had become one of the world's pre-eminent film journals.

Among Lambert's innovations was a worldwide poll of critics to vote each decade on the top 10 films of all time, an immense undertaking that utilises the resources
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Donald Sutherland Photo, Nicolas Roeg Receives Dilys Powell Award: London Film Critics Awards 2012

Dilys Powell Award presenter Donald Sutherland The London Film Critics Awards were held this evening in, where else, London. Donald Sutherland was present to hand the Dilys Powell Award to veteran filmmaker and cinematographer Nicholas Roeg, 83, who directed Sutherland and Julie Christie in the classic 1973 psychological thriller Don't Look Now. [Full list of London Film Critics winners.] Among Roeg's other directorial credits are Performance (1970, with Donald Cammell), starring James Fox, Mick Jagger, and Anita Pallenberg; Walkabout (1971), with Jenny Agutter; The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), with David Bowie and Rip Torn; and Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession (1981), with Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, and Harvey Keitel. For television, Roeg directed Elizabeth Taylor and Mark Harmon in a remake of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth (1989), adapted by Gavin Lambert. Previous recipients of the Dilys Powell Award include Judi Dench, Julie Walters, Dirk Bogarde, Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard Attenborough, and Quentin Tarantino. Donald Sutherland photo via the London Film Critics' Twitter page.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

James Franco Drops Out of Broadway's Sweet Bird Of Youth

James Franco's Broadway debut will have to wait. Franco has dropped out of a planned revival of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman is still on board and so is director David Cromer. Sweet Bird of Youth revolves around an aging, hard-drinking movie actress, Alexandra Del Lago, who leaves town with an aging (35?), small-town escort/drifter, Chance Wayne. Wayne, in love with a corrupt Florida politician's daughter, wants Del Lago back in the movie game so he can have a chance in show biz as well. Elia Kazan directed Paul Newman and Geraldine Page in the original 1959 Broadway production, which earned Page a Tony nomination. Newman and Page reprised their roles in the somewhat watered-down 1962 film version directed by Richard Brooks. Page and Shirley Knight, who played Chance Wayne's love interest, were both nominated for Academy Awards as, respectively, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

A Week Of Discoveries on DVD* (Not Requiring a Gun to Find Them)

  • IFC
A look at what's new on DVD today:

"Meskada" (2010)

Directed by Josh Sternfeld

Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

When this thriller premiered at Tribeca this past spring, Alison Willmore wrote, "the second film from writer/director Josh Sternfeld ("Winter Solstice") has ambitions reaching beyond being a straightforward police procedural," though critics, including her, were mixed about the end result. Nick Stahl and Rachel Nichols star as small-town sleuths who investigate a botched home invasion case that claims the life of a young child in an affluent community and enflames class divisions when the main suspects are from the poorer community nearby. Grace Gummer, Meryl Streep's second daughter to go into the family profession, makes her film debut.

"Anywhere USA" (2008)

Directed by Chusy Haney-Jardine

Released by Cinevolve Studios

Winner of a Spirit of Independence prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Chusy Haney-Jardine's collection of three comic vignettes involves a
See full article at IFC »

30 Greatest Gay Actors #10: James Dean

Although he spent only two years in Hollywood before his untimely death, James Dean became the universal symbol of adolescent angst and attitude – an enduring icon of American film, one whose brooding non-conformity helped to challenge rigid notions of masculinity. He was a respected performer, often compared with such other young method actors of the period as Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando, and his brooding good looks promised success as a movie star, but Dean’s enduring fame and popularity rests on only three lead performances.

He is a cultural icon, best embodied by the title of his second starring role and most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause. Originally intended as a vehicle for the fast-rising star, Marlon Brando,

His most excellent role: Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean ultimately won the part of troubled Los Angeles teenager Jim Stark. The film, released soon after his death,
See full article at SoundOnSight »

A Single Man | Film review

Colin Firth is mesmerising as a bereaved gay man with a death wish in fashion designer Tom Ford's superb debut

Christopher Isherwood was one of the great prose writers of the 20th century, a man of complexity, honesty and wit, and the fashion designer Tom Ford, making his carefully stylised directorial debut, has done an altogether admirable job of bringing to the screen what many regard as his best novel.

Born in 1904, Isherwood grew up with the cinema, was fascinated by the relationship between literature and the new medium, and his most famous line occurs his most celebrated book, ­Goodbye to Berlin: "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking." Over the years he worked frequently on movies (his masterly novella, Prater Violet, was based on his experience of co-writing the 1934 Berthold Viertel film Little Friend), and when he and Wh Auden left Britain just
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Why we should give a damn about Victor Fleming

Victor Fleming directed two of the greatest films ever, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind. Yet he has rarely been given credit for their success. As the first critical biography of him is released, Philip French reassesses the legacy of the combative and intruiging director who created film magic with Judy Garland, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh

Seventy years ago, on 15 December 1939, one of Hollywood's most legendary movies, Gone With the Wind, a celebration of what the American South endured as a result of the Civil War, had its whites-only world premiere in Atlanta, Georgia. Its stars were there – Vivien Leigh, who played the brave, capricious, head-strong, thrice married heroine Scarlett O'Hara, and Clark Gable, Hollywood's democratically elected king, who played the handsome, pragmatic hero Rhett Butler; and also present, of course, was its producer, the "boy wonder" David O Selznick, who had been developing the film for three years,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Luciano Emmer obituary

Distinguished Italian director noted for art documentaries

Though the Italian media prefer to remember him as one of the inventors of the first popular programme of television commercials – called Carosello (Carousel) and broadcast each evening at peak viewing time on the only channel of the Italian public broadcaster Rai in the mid-1950s – Luciano Emmer, who has died aged 91, was a distinguished Italian cinema director. He directed a dozen features during 70 years as a film-maker, the first of which, Domenica d'Agosto (Sunday in August), became an international arthouse hit in 1950. He was, however, best known for scores of documentaries on art.

Born in Milan, Emmer spent most of his childhood in Venice, where his father was the city's municipal engineer. As a boy, he made good use of his father's free pass to the local cinemas, where his preference was for Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy, but he also
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

'Clover' author Gavin Lambert dies at 80

'Clover' author Gavin Lambert dies at 80
Gavin Lambert, the screenwriter and novelist who became an insightful chronicler of Hollywood in such works as his novel and screenplay Inside Daily Clover as well as his books On Cukor, Norma Shearer: A Life and Natalie Wood: A Life in Seven Takes, died Sunday of pulmonary fibrosis at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 80. The British writer, who became an American citizen in 1964, was twice nominated by both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the WGA for the 1960 screen adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, which he wrote with T.E.B. Clarke, and 1977's adaptation of the I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which he wrote with Lewis John Carlino.

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