8 items from 2017
By Lee Pfeiffer
All things come to those who wait. Having somehow inexcusably missed actor/writerJim Brochu's award-winning play "Zero Hour" that depicts the controversial life and career of Zero Mostel, I was able to see the show's most recent revival at the Theatre at St. Clement's which is just off Broadway. The show is presented by the Peccadillo Theatre Company, which specializes in staging worthy productions in the prestigious venue that is just off Broadway. For Brochu, the one-man show is a triumph.. He wrote the script himself and the production is directed with flair by three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie. Mostel was a larger-than-life talent and he is played with uncanny skill by Brochu, who somehow makes himself into the spitting image of the iconic actor (he doesn't bare the slightest resemblance to Mostel off-stage). The imaginative scenario finds the entire play set in Mostel's New York painting »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
I grew up on Broadway musicals. Once upon a time when going to see a show on Broadway didn’t cost you your mortgage plus the life of your first-born, my mom and dad were avid theatergoers. They saw the original production of South Pacific with Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, the original production of Camelot with Richard Burton and Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet, and the original production of The King and I with Gertrude Lawrence and a then little-known Yul Brynner.
When they were still dating they went into town to see Oklahoma! Over the years they saw Carousel, and Brigadoon, and Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady, and Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof, and Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly!, and the original West Side Story with Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert. My father fell asleep at Cats and my mother said she »
- Mindy Newell
An experimental film by an Irish playwright, shot in New York with a silent comedian at the twilight of his career? Samuel Beckett’s inquiry into the nature of movies (and existence?) befuddled viewers not versed in film theory; Ross Lipman’s retrospective documentary about its making asks all the questions and gets some good answers.
First there’s the film itself, called just Film from 1965. By that year our high school textbooks had already enshrined Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as a key item for introducing kids to modern theater, existentialism, etc. … the California school system was pretty progressive in those days. But Beckett had a yen to say something in the film medium, and his publisher Barney Rosset helped him put a movie together. The Milestone Cinematheque presents the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s restoration of Film on its own disc, accompanied by a videotaped TV production »
- Glenn Erickson
Film historian Robert Osborne, the effervescent primetime host of Turner Classic Movies since the cabler’s inception in 1994, has died. He was 84.
TCM’s general manager Jennifer Dorian released a statement saying, “All of us at Turner Classic Movies are deeply saddened by the death of Robert Osborne. Robert was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than 23 years. He joined us as an expert on classic film and grew to be our cherished colleague and esteemed ambassador for TCM. Robert was embraced by devoted fans who saw him as a trusted expert and friend. His calming presence, gentlemanly style, encyclopedic knowledge of film history, fervent support for film preservation and highly personal interviewing style all combined to make him a truly world-class host. Robert’s contributions were fundamental in shaping TCM into what it is today and we owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. Our »
- Carmel Dagan
George Segal rode talent and a hot streak to the top of the movie heap from the mid-1960s into the 1980s. If you only know Segal for his popular TV series “Just Shoot Me” and “The Goldbergs,” here are crucial earlier roles to check out.
This was a break-out role for Segal, a prestigious WWII drama with a mostly British cast that included John Mills, Tom Courtenay, James Fox, Patrick O’Neal, and Denholm Elliott. Segal played a charismatically amoral American sharpie, scrambling to maintain his place at the top of the black-market heap in a Japanese prison camp.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), dir. Mike Nichols:
Segal earned his lone Oscar nomination for this role, in Nichols’ adaptation of Edward Albee’s stinging marital drama. He brought brains and vulnerability as a college professor who, with his mousy wife (Sandy Dennis »
- Marshall Fine
“Don’T Mess With Huac”
By Raymond Benson
Perhaps the first film we saw that convinced us that Woody Allen could actually act—i.e., not be his nebbish, nervous comic persona from his early directorial efforts—was Martin Ritt’s 1976 comedy/drama, The Front, which appeared a year before Allen’s Annie Hall.
The Front was perhaps the first Hollywood film to tackle the subject of “the blacklist” that occurred in the movie industry in the late 1940s and throughout most of the 50s. This abominable practice was due to the investigation of “Communist infiltration” in Tinsel Town by Huac—the House Un-American Activities Committee. It was truly a dark time in U.S. history, one in which friends were pressured to “name names” or face the prospect of unemployment or worse, such as jail time. Note that the Hollywood studio heads were responsible for the actual blacklisting. The »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
William Peter Blatty, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter most famous for landmark horror film “The Exorcist” as well as the director of two films, “The Ninth Configuration” and “The Exorcist III,” has died. He was 89.
Blatty’s 1970 novel “The Exorcist” remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 57 weeks, and he subsequently adapted it for the 1973 bigscreen version directed by William Friedkin. That film was not only an enormous box office success, playing in theaters for months, but was Oscar nominated for best picture (becoming the first horror film ever so nominated) and won for Blatty’s adapted screenplay.
The film won several polls for scariest horror movie ever, and the Library of Congress designated “The Exorcist” for preservation as part of »
- Carmel Dagan
The Coen brothers' recent Hail Caesar! may have seemed pretty bold in featuring both a Roman sword-and-sandal epic and a water ballet musical in its story of old Hollywood chicanery, but in 1955 MGM went several steps further in producing Jupiter's Darling, which is simultaneously a Roman epic and a water ballet musical, starring the queen (and sole proponent) of the latter genre, Esther Williams.One of the perplexing things about the genius of the system, whereby a studio apparatus geared to make crowd-pleasing entertainment also produced, on a fairly regular basis, great cinematic art as a kind of incidental by-product (incidental except to the artists employed) is that often the mass audience, which was the ultimate arbiter of taste, would get things badly wrong. Thus Keaton's The General, his bravest and best film, was a commercial flop, and thus the climax of the Williams water-and-song cycle proved to be an »
8 items from 2017
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