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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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One of the Greatest Film Noir Stars of Them All? Four Crime Classics to Remember

Dana Andrews movies: Film noir actor excelled in both major and minor crime dramas. Dana Andrews movies: First-rate film noir actor excelled in both classics & minor fare One of the best-looking and most underrated actors of the studio era, Dana Andrews was a first-rate film noir/crime thriller star. Oftentimes dismissed as no more than a “dependable” or “reliable” leading man, in truth Andrews brought to life complex characters that never quite fit into the mold of Hollywood's standardized heroes – or rather, antiheroes. Unlike the cynical, tough-talking, and (albeit at times self-delusionally) self-confident characters played by the likes of Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and, however lazily, Robert Mitchum, Andrews created portrayals of tortured men at odds with their social standing, their sense of ethics, and even their romantic yearnings. Not infrequently, there was only a very fine line separating his (anti)heroes from most movie villains.
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Debuts on this Day: Psycho, Spider-Man, Flatliners, Stardust

On this day in history at it relates to showbiz...

The Director and I

1787 Mozart competes his chamber piece "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" which has shown up in dozens of films over the years, many of which are classics. Here is but a small sampling of films that have used it in the past 40 years or so: Picnic at Hanging Rock, Alien, Sophie's Choice, The Bride, Hope & Glory, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, GI Jane, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Milk, and April and the Extraordinary World.

1896 Oscar nominated director Walter Lang (The King and I, 1956) is born

1897 Jack Haley is born. Enters screen immortality when he gets the part of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz when Buddy Ebsen has a terrible allergic reaction to the makeup...
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Remembering Actress Gray: Underappreciated Film Noir Heroine

Coleen Gray actress ca. 1950. Coleen Gray: Actress in early Stanley Kubrick film noir, destroyer of men in cult horror 'classic' Actress Coleen Gray, best known as the leading lady in Stanley Kubrick's film noir The Killing and – as far as B horror movie aficionados are concerned – for playing the title role in The Leech Woman, died at age 92 in Aug. 2015. This two-part article, which focuses on Gray's film career, is a revised and expanded version of the original post published at the time of her death. Born Doris Bernice Jensen on Oct. 23, 1922, in Staplehurst, Nebraska, at a young age she moved with her parents, strict Lutheran Danish farmers, to Minnesota. After getting a degree from St. Paul's Hamline University, she relocated to Southern California to be with her then fiancé, an army private. At first, she eked out a living as a waitress at a La Jolla hotel
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Remembering Actress Gray: Underappreciated Film Noir Heroine

Coleen Gray actress ca. 1950. Coleen Gray: Actress in early Stanley Kubrick film noir, destroyer of men in cult horror 'classic' Actress Coleen Gray, best known as the leading lady in Stanley Kubrick's film noir The Killing and – as far as B horror movie aficionados are concerned – for playing the title role in The Leech Woman, died at age 92 in Aug. 2015. This two-part article, which focuses on Gray's film career, is a revised and expanded version of the original post published at the time of her death. Born Doris Bernice Jensen on Oct. 23, 1922, in Staplehurst, Nebraska, at a young age she moved with her parents, strict Lutheran Danish farmers, to Minnesota. After getting a degree from St. Paul's Hamline University, she relocated to Southern California to be with her then fiancé, an army private. At first, she eked out a living as a waitress at a La Jolla hotel
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Top Screenwriting Team from the Golden Age of Hollywood: List of Movies and Academy Award nominations

Billy Wilder directed Sunset Blvd. with Gloria Swanson and William Holden. Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett movies Below is a list of movies on which Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder worked together as screenwriters, including efforts for which they did not receive screen credit. The Wilder-Brackett screenwriting partnership lasted from 1938 to 1949. During that time, they shared two Academy Awards for their work on The Lost Weekend (1945) and, with D.M. Marshman Jr., Sunset Blvd. (1950). More detailed information further below. Post-split years Billy Wilder would later join forces with screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond in movies such as the classic comedy Some Like It Hot (1959), the Best Picture Oscar winner The Apartment (1960), and One Two Three (1961), notable as James Cagney's last film (until a brief comeback in Milos Forman's Ragtime two decades later). Although some of these movies were quite well received, Wilder's later efforts – which also included The Seven Year Itch
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The Top Father's Day Films Ever Made? Here Are Five Dads - Ranging from the Intellectual to the Pathological

'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
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Oscar Nominated Moody Pt.2: From Fagin to Merlin - But No Harry Potter

Ron Moody as Fagin in 'Oliver!' based on Charles Dickens' 'Oliver Twist.' Ron Moody as Fagin in Dickens musical 'Oliver!': Box office and critical hit (See previous post: "Ron Moody: 'Oliver!' Actor, Academy Award Nominee Dead at 91.") Although British made, Oliver! turned out to be an elephantine release along the lines of – exclamation point or no – Gypsy, Star!, Hello Dolly!, and other Hollywood mega-musicals from the mid'-50s to the early '70s.[1] But however bloated and conventional the final result, and a cast whose best-known name was that of director Carol Reed's nephew, Oliver Reed, Oliver! found countless fans.[2] The mostly British production became a huge financial and critical success in the U.S. at a time when star-studded mega-musicals had become perilous – at times downright disastrous – ventures.[3] Upon the American release of Oliver! in Dec. 1968, frequently acerbic The
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87th Academy Award Winners: Birdman Tops Boyhood

Oscar 2015 winners (photo: Chris Pratt during Oscar 2015 rehearsals) The complete list of Oscar 2015 winners and nominees can be found below. See also: Oscar 2015 presenters and performers. Now, a little Oscar 2015 trivia. If you know a bit about the history of the Academy Awards, you'll have noticed several little curiosities about this year's nominations. For instance, there are quite a few first-time nominees in the acting and directing categories. In fact, nine of the nominated actors and three of the nominated directors are Oscar newcomers. Here's the list in the acting categories: Eddie Redmayne. Michael Keaton. Steve Carell. Benedict Cumberbatch. Felicity Jones. Rosamund Pike. J.K. Simmons. Emma Stone. Patricia Arquette. The three directors are: Morten Tyldum. Richard Linklater. Wes Anderson. Oscar 2015 comebacks Oscar 2015 also marks the Academy Awards' "comeback" of several performers and directors last nominated years ago. Marion Cotillard and Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress Oscars for, respectively, Olivier Dahan
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An Evening With Mitzi Gaynor, December 9, Regent Theatre, L.A.

  • CinemaRetro
By Todd Garbarini

The 60th anniversary of Walter Lang’s 1954 film There’s No Business Like Show Business, which stars Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Marilyn Monroe, and Mitzi Gaynor, will be celebrated on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at the Regent Theatre in Los Angeles at 7:00 pm. Scheduled to appear at the screening in person is actress Mitzi Gaynor who played Katy Donahue in the film. From the press release:

There's No Business Like Show Business. This Cinemascope musical hit from 1954 (nominated for 3 Oscars®) chronicles the ups and downs of an Irish showbiz family over the course of many years. The outstanding ensemble cast includes Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Marilyn Monroe and Johnnie Ray. The music by Irving Berlin includes the title song performed by Ethel Merman, "Heat Wave" performed by Marilyn Monroe, "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," and many other standards.
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The Definitive Movie Musicals: 40-31

Part of the list provides a few Best Picture nominees, a number of Oscar winners, and a childhood favorite that still pops up now and again. In reality, this list could be half-full of music documentaries, but for that reason, I stayed away from them. Plus, I did my best to include only films that really are musicals in every sense of the word. Plenty of films have lots of musical components, but only true musicals have performances in the film that truly drive the story forward. The songs in movie musicals have a purpose, if there could be a true definition.

courtesy of ew.com

40. Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

Directed by Michael Apted

Signature Song: “Coal Miner’s Daughter”

Michael Apted certainly has a dicey filmography, this probably being his best: a biographical piece featuring a breakout adult role from Sissy Spacek, winning her the Oscar for Best Actress.
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Following Anderson's Death, Only Two Gwtw Performers Still Living

Gone with the Wind’ actress Mary Anderson dead at 96; also featured in Alfred Hitchcock thriller ‘LifeboatMary Anderson, an actress featured in both Gone with the Wind and Alfred Hitchcock’s adventure thriller Lifeboat, died following a series of small strokes on Sunday, April 6, 2014, while under hospice care in Toluca Lake/Burbank, northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Anderson, the widow of multiple Oscar-winning cinematographer Leon Shamroy, had turned 96 on April 3. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1918, Mary Anderson was reportedly discovered by director George Cukor, at the time looking for an actress to play Scarlett O’Hara in David O. Selznick’s film version of Margaret Mitchell’s bestseller Gone with the Wind. Instead of Scarlett, eventually played by Vivien Leigh, Anderson was cast in the small role of Maybelle Merriwether — most of which reportedly ended up on the cutting-room floor. Cukor was later fired from the project; his replacement, Victor Fleming,
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One of Top Stars of Hollywood's Studio Era and Later on a pro-Vietnam War, 'Conservative' Republican, Has Died

Shirley Temple dead at 85: Was one of the biggest domestic box office draws of the ’30s (photo: Shirley Temple in the late ’40s) Shirley Temple, one of the biggest box office draws of the 1930s in the United States, died Monday night, February 10, 2014, at her home in Woodside, near San Francisco. The cause of death wasn’t made public. Shirley Temple (born in Santa Monica on April 23, 1928) was 85. Shirley Temple became a star in 1934, following the release of Paramount’s Alexander Hall-directed comedy-tearjerker Little Miss Marker, in which Temple had the title role as a little girl who, left in the care of bookies, almost loses her childlike ways before coming around to regenerate Adolphe Menjou and his gang. That same year, Temple became a Fox contract player, and is credited with saving the studio — 20th Century Fox from 1935 on — from bankruptcy. Whether or not that’s true is a different story,
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The Best of “Movie Poster of the Day,” Part 4

  • MUBI
Above: 1979 Hungarian poster for 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, UK/USA, 1968); Designer: unknown.

When I started the Movie Poster of the Day Tumblr almost two years ago to augment my weekly poster essays here, I thought I might well run out of great posters to post daily after a year or so. But the deeper I dig the more gems I seem to unearth and the more popular the site seems to become (nearly a quarter of a million followers to date).

I’ve been posting these Best Of round-ups every six months (see parts one, two and three) but I’ve found so much good stuff lately that I feel the urge to do these four times a year instead of twice. As usual I’m using the very unscientific method of number of likes and reblogs to judge a poster’s popularity, but it does tend to
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Rex Harrison hat on TCM: ‘My Fair Lady,’ ‘Anna and the King of SiamRex Harrison is Turner Classic Movies’ final "Summer Under the Stars" star today, August 31, 2013. TCM is currently showing George Cukor’s lavish My Fair Lady (1964), an Academy Award-winning musical that has (in my humble opinion) unfairly lost quite a bit of its prestige in the last several decades. Rex Harrison, invariably a major ham whether playing Saladin, the King of Siam, Julius Caesar, the ghost of a dead sea captain, or Richard Burton’s lover, is for once flawlessly cast as Professor Henry Higgins, who on stage transformed Julie Andrews from cockney duckling to diction-master swan and who in the movie version does the same for Audrey Hepburn. Harrison, by the way, was the year’s Best Actor Oscar winner. (See also: "Audrey Hepburn vs. Julie Andrews: Biggest Oscar Snubs.") Following My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison
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85th Academy Awards red carpet: Zeitlin, Adams, Tveit

Best Supporting Actress nominee Adams on the 85th Academy Awards red carpet Amy Adams, a Best Supporting Actress nominee for Paul Thomas Anderson's well-received psychological drama The Master, is seen arriving at the 85th Academy Awards show. Adams' competitors were the following: Jacki Weaver for David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, Anne Hathaway for Tom Hooper's Les Misérables, Sally Field for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, and Helen Hunt for Ben Lewin's The Sessions. Hathaway, as expected, turned out to be the winner. (See below photos of Aaron Tveit and Best Director nominee Benh Zeitlin on the Oscar red carpet.) This was Adams' fourth Oscar nod. Her previous ones, all in the Best Supporting Actress category, were the following: Phil Morrison's comedy-drama Junebug (2005); John Patrick Shanley's drama Doubt (2008), with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman; and David O. Russell's family drama The Fighter (2010), opposite Mark Wahlberg,
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Two Kerrs in 'Adult' Drama About Adultery, Bigotry, Closeted Homosexuality, May-December Sex

The Two Kerrs: John and Deborah in Tea and Sympathy play and movie [Please see previous article: "John Kerr Has Died: (Possibly) Gay Adolescent in play and movie versions of Tea and Sympathy."] Playwright Robert Anderson's psychological drama Tea and Sympathy is notable for a number of reasons: it marked Hollywood/British cinema star Deborah Kerr's Broadway debut (coincidentally, on her 32nd birthday, Sept. 30); one of the play's key characters (the one played by English Rose Kerr) turns out to be a sympathetic adulteress; and Anderson's play tackles homosexuality, a topic that, despite Elia Kazan's movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan also directed the play), remained taboo throughout the 1950s. Also worth mentioning is that Tea and Sympathy shows that the last sixty years haven't necessarily led to a major lessening in cultural or social prejudices, as the narrative would still be considered quite daring in the early 21st century -- even if for not the same reasons. (Above movie still: The two Kerrs, John and Deborah,
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DGA Awards vs. Academy Awards: Odd Men Out Jack Clayton, David Lean, Stanley Donen

Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi in Oscar nominee (but not DGA nominee) David Lean's Summertime DGA Awards vs. Academy Awards 1948-1952: Odd Men Out George Cukor, John Huston, Vincente Minnelli 1953 DGA (12) Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, Above and Beyond Walter Lang, Call Me Madam Daniel Mann, Come Back, Little Sheba Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Julius Caesar Henry Koster, The Robe Jean Negulesco, Titanic George Sidney, Young Bess DGA/AMPAS George Stevens, Shane Charles Walters, Lili Billy Wilder, Stalag 17 William Wyler, Roman Holiday Fred Zinnemann, From Here to Eternity   1954 DGA (16) Edward Dmytryk, The Caine Mutiny Alfred Hitchcock, Dial M for Murder Robert Wise, Executive Suite Anthony Mann, The Glenn Miller Story Samuel Fuller, Hell and High Water Henry King, King of Khyber Rifles Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, Knock on Wood Don Siegel, Riot in Cell Block 11 Stanley Donen, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers George Cukor, A Star Is Born Jean Negulesco,
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Carole Lombard Movie Schedule: Mr. And Mrs. Smith, Vigil In The Night, In Name Only

Carole Lombard on TCM: My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred, The Racketeer Mitchell Leisen's Hands Across the Table (1935) would have been more enjoyable had Carole Lombard ended up with Ralph Bellamy instead of Fred MacMurray. In fact, MacMurray's obnoxious Average Joe portrayal — who comes across as the Average Jerk instead — all but destroys the film. His character should have gone to, once again, Melvyn Douglas, Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant, Brian Aherne, Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Edward G. Robinson, Bela Lugosi, Ginger Rogers, May Robson, or just about anyone else in Hollywood at that time. I haven't watched Vigil in the Night (1940), a melodrama about two sisters/nurses that isn't considered one of George Stevens' best. The cast, however, is good: in addition to Lombard, there are Brian Aherne and Anne Shirley. Vigil in the Night is also of interest in that it's one of Lombard's rare post-1935 non-comedic roles.
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Linda Darnell on TCM: A Letter To Three Wives, No Way Out

Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain, A Letter to Three Wives Linda Darnell, the gorgeous leading lady of numerous 20th Century Fox productions of the '40s, is Turner Classic Movies' "Summer Under the Stars" player this Saturday, August 27. TCM, which has leased titles from the Fox library, is showing 14 Linda Darnell movies, including no less than 9 TCM premieres. [Linda Darnell Movie Schedule.] Right now, TCM is showing writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's A Letter to Three Wives (1949), winner of Academy Awards for Best Direction and Best Screenplay. This curious comedy-drama about a husband who leaves his wife for another woman — but whose husband? Linda Darnell's, Jeanne Crain's, or Ann Sothern's? — also earned Mankiewicz the very first Directors Guild of America Award and a Writers Guild Award (which Mankiewicz shared with Vera Caspary) for the Best Written American Comedy. The husbands in question are Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas, and Jeffrey Lynn.
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