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The Star Wattage of Mildred Pierce (1945)

The 1945 cinematic adaptation of Mildred Pierce, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring, of course, Joan Crawford, is a very different beast to the 2011 HBO mini-series starring Kate Winslet. In all honestly it is not as good, but more significantly it is very different in terms of costume. Interestingly enough the mini-series, which is evidently a period piece, is closer in terms of historical accuracy than the near contemporary set Crawford version. This is not the be all and end all, because while Winslet’s Pierce may feel more real in terms of costume and setting, Crawford’s is arguably more fun. If for no other reason than to exemplify how the importance of star wattage took over everything back then regardless of what was contained in the script. Make no mistake, the story may be centred on Mildred Pierce but the movie is one hundred percent centred on Joan Crawford.
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Mildred Pierce

Mildred Pierce

Blu-ray

The Criterion Collection 860

1945 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 111 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date , 2017 /

Starring Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, Bruce Bennett, Lee Patrick, Moroni Olsen, Veda Ann Borg, Jo Ann Marlowe, Butterfly McQueen.

Cinematography: Ernest Haller

Art Direction: Anton Grot

Film Editor: David Weisbart

Original Music: Max Steiner

Written by: Ranald MacDougall from the novel by James M. Cain

Produced by: Jerry Wald, Jack L. Warner

Directed by Michael Curtiz

James M. Cain’s 1941 novel Mildred Pierce offers a venal and self-destructive view of America not with a story of respectable bourgeois society, not the criminal underworld. A de-classed, suburb-dwelling nobody fights her way onto the social register by using men and by hard work… and then watches as her obsessive goals blow up in her face In Cain’s worldview it’s every woman for herself. He drags in an odd personal theme,
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Father of the Bride

This is one of Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor's best, written and directed by the classy MGM team of director Vincente Minnelli and writers Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett. It inspired a decade's worth of TV family sitcoms and set the benchmark for weddings for generations. Great fun and solid sentiment without mugging or exaggeration. Father of the Bride Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1950 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 93 min. / Street Date May 10, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Bennett, Don Taylor, Billie Burke, Moroni Olsen, Melville Cooper, Leo G. Carroll, Rusty Tamblyn, Tom Irish, Frank Cady, Carleton Carpenter. Cinematography John Alton Film Editor Ferris Webster Original Music Adolph Deutsch Written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett from the novel by Edward Streeter Produced by Pandro S. Berman Directed by Vincente Minnelli

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

There's almost no point in reviewing Father of the Bride, as one doesn't need insights,
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The Beginning or the End

Stop! Don't touch that dial... if you like your atom-age propaganda straight up, MGM has the movie for you, an expensive 1946 docu-drama that became 'the official story' for the making of the bomb. The huge cast includes Brian Donlevy, Robert Walker, Tom Drake, Audrey Totter, Hume Cronyn, Hurd Hatfield, and Joseph Calleia. How trustworthy is the movie? It begins by showing footage of a time capsule being buried -- that supposedly contains the film we are watching. Think about that. Mom, Apple Pie, the Flag and God are enlisted to argume that we should stop worrying and love the fact that bombs are just peachy-keen dandy. The Beginning or the End DVD-r The Warner Archive Collection 1947 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 112 min. / Street Date September 22, 2015 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring Brian Donlevy, Robert Walker, Tom Drake, Beverly Tyler, Audrey Totter, Hume Cronyn, Hurd Hatfield, Joseph Calleia, Godfrey Tearle, Victor Francen,
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Best Actress Academy Award Winner Crawford Shines as Businesswoman/Mom with Evil Daughter

Joan Crawford in 'Mildred Pierce.' 'Mildred Pierce' review: Very entertaining soap opera Time has a way of making some films seem grander than they really are. A good example is Mildred Pierce, the 1945 black-and-white melodrama directed by Casablanca's Michael Curtiz, and that won star Joan Crawford a Best Actress Oscar. Mildred Pierce is in no way, shape, or form great art, even though it's certainly not a bad film. In fact, as a soap opera it's quite entertaining – no, make that very entertaining; and entertainment is a quality that can stand on its own. (The problem in recent decades is that cinema has become nothing but entertainment.) In the case of Mildred Pierce, the entertainment is formulaic and rather predictable – but in an enjoyable, campy sort of way. Unbridled Hollywood melodrama Now, what makes Mildred Pierce a melodrama is something known as the Dumbest Possible Action – Dpa for short.
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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.
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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.
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MGM's Lioness, the Epitome of Hollywood Superstardom, Has Her Day on TCM

Joan Crawford Movie Star Joan Crawford movies on TCM: Underrated actress, top star in several of her greatest roles If there was ever a professional who was utterly, completely, wholeheartedly dedicated to her work, Joan Crawford was it. Ambitious, driven, talented, smart, obsessive, calculating, she had whatever it took – and more – to reach the top and stay there. Nearly four decades after her death, Crawford, the star to end all stars, remains one of the iconic performers of the 20th century. Deservedly so, once you choose to bypass the Mommie Dearest inanity and focus on her film work. From the get-go, she was a capable actress; look for the hard-to-find silents The Understanding Heart (1927) and The Taxi Dancer (1927), and check her out in the more easily accessible The Unknown (1927) and Our Dancing Daughters (1928). By the early '30s, Joan Crawford had become a first-rate film actress, far more naturalistic than
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Walker on TCM: From Shy, Heterosexual Boy-Next-Door to Sly, Homosexual Sociopath

Robert Walker: Actor in MGM films of the '40s. Robert Walker: Actor who conveyed boy-next-door charms, psychoses At least on screen, I've always found the underrated actor Robert Walker to be everything his fellow – and more famous – MGM contract player James Stewart only pretended to be: shy, amiable, naive. The one thing that made Walker look less like an idealized “Average Joe” than Stewart was that the former did not have a vacuous look. Walker's intelligence shone clearly through his bright (in black and white) grey eyes. As part of its “Summer Under the Stars” programming, Turner Classic Movies is dedicating today, Aug. 9, '15, to Robert Walker, who was featured in 20 films between 1943 and his untimely death at age 32 in 1951. Time Warner (via Ted Turner) owns the pre-1986 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer library (and almost got to buy the studio outright in 2009), so most of Walker's movies have
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Long Before Day-Lewis, Oscar-Nominated Actor Played Lincoln: TCM 'Stars' Series Continues

Raymond Massey ca. 1940. Raymond Massey movies: From Lincoln to Boris Karloff Though hardly remembered today, the Toronto-born Raymond Massey was a top supporting player – and sometime lead – in both British and American movies from the early '30s all the way to the early '60s. During that period, Massey was featured in nearly 50 films. Turner Classic Movies generally selects the same old MGM / Rko / Warner Bros. stars for its annual “Summer Under the Stars” series. For that reason, it's great to see someone like Raymond Massey – who was with Warners in the '40s – be the focus of a whole day: Sat., Aug. 8, '15. (See TCM's Raymond Massey movie schedule further below.) Admittedly, despite his prestige – his stage credits included the title role in the short-lived 1931 Broadway production of Hamlet – the quality of Massey's performances varied wildly. Sometimes he could be quite effective; most of the time, however, he was an unabashed scenery chewer,
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Last Surviving Gwtw Star and 2-Time Oscar Winner Has Turned 99: As a Plus, She Made U.S. Labor Law History

Olivia de Havilland picture U.S. labor history-making 'Gone with the Wind' star and two-time Best Actress winner Olivia de Havilland turns 99 (This Olivia de Havilland article is currently being revised and expanded.) Two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland, the only surviving major Gone with the Wind cast member and oldest surviving Oscar winner, is turning 99 years old today, July 1.[1] Also known for her widely publicized feud with sister Joan Fontaine and for her eight movies with Errol Flynn, de Havilland should be remembered as well for having made Hollywood labor history. This particular history has nothing to do with de Havilland's films, her two Oscars, Gone with the Wind, Joan Fontaine, or Errol Flynn. Instead, history was made as a result of a legal fight: after winning a lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the mid-'40s, Olivia de Havilland put an end to treacherous
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Dangerous Davis Schedule

Bette Davis movies: TCM schedule on August 14 (photo: Bette Davis in ‘Dangerous,’ with Franchot Tone) See previous post: “Bette Davis Eyes: They’re Watching You Tonight.” 3:00 Am Parachute Jumper (1933). Director: Alfred E. Green. Cast: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh, Claire Dodd, Harold Huber, Leo Carrillo, Thomas E. Jackson, Lyle Talbot, Leon Ames, Stanley Blystone, Reginald Barlow, George Chandler, Walter Brennan, Pat O’Malley, Paul Panzer, Nat Pendleton, Dewey Robinson, Tom Wilson, Sheila Terry. Bw-72 mins. 4:30 Am The Girl From 10th Avenue (1935). Director: Alfred E. Green. Cast: Bette Davis, Ian Hunter, Colin Clive, Alison Skipworth, John Eldredge, Phillip Reed, Katharine Alexander, Helen Jerome Eddy, Bill Elliott, Edward McWade, André Cheron, Wedgwood Nowell, John Quillan, Mary Treen. Bw-69 mins. 6:00 Am Dangerous (1935). Director: Alfred E. Green. Cast: Bette Davis, Franchot Tone, Margaret Lindsay, Alison Skipworth, John Eldredge, Dick Foran, Walter Walker, Richard Carle, George Irving, Pierre Watkin, Douglas Wood,
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Three-Time Academy Award Nominee Turns 91 Today

Eleanor Parker: Palm Springs resident turns 91 today Eleanor Parker turns 91 today. The three-time Oscar nominee (Caged, 1950; Detective Story, 1951; Interrupted Melody, 1955) and Palm Springs resident is Turner Classic Movies’ Star of the Month of June 2013. Earlier this month, TCM showed a few dozen Eleanor Parker movies, from her days at Warner Bros. in the ’40s to her later career as a top Hollywood supporting player. (Photo: Publicity shot of Eleanor Parker in An American Dream.) Missing from TCM’s movie series, however, was not only Eleanor Parker’s biggest box-office it — The Sound of Music, in which she steals the show from both Julie Andrews and the Alps — but also what according to several sources is her very first movie role: a bit part in Raoul Walsh’s They Died with Their Boots On, a 1941 Western starring Errol Flynn as a dashingly handsome and all-around-good-guy-ish General George Armstrong Custer. Olivia de Havilland
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Possessed Review – Joan Crawford, Van Heflin d: Curtis Bernhardt

Possessed (1947) Direction: Curtis Bernhardt Cast: Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, Raymond Massey, Geraldine Brooks, Stanley Ridges, John Ridgely, Moroni Olsen Screenplay: Silvia Richards and Ranald MacDougall; from a story by Rita Weiman Oscar Movies Van Heflin, Joan Crawford, Possessed From the moment we see her shuffling across town in a comatose stupor to the homicidal climax, Possessed is Joan Crawford's picture all the way. And once you get past some of its contrived psychobabble, this Curtis Bernhardt-directed melodrama is also one of her best. [Note: Spoilers ahead.] In Possessed, Crawford plays Louise Howell, a private-duty nurse inexplicably obsessed with David Sutton, a cynical, hard-drinking mechanical engineer played by Van Heflin. That brings up my biggest objection to Possessed: the casting of the bland Heflin in a role that required an actor with a certain amount of animal magnetism. This viewer, for one, was unable to understand what made him put the
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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) - Blu-ray Review

The one that started it all for Walt Disney is given Diamond treatment on Blu-ray and it has never looked better. The conceited and wicked Queen (Lucille La Verne) can.t stand for anyone to be more beautiful than she. She consults her magic mirror (Moroni Olsen) daily to ask .who.s the fairest of them all.. Usually the Queen is decreed the fairest, but his time is different as her stepdaughter Snow White (Adriana Caselotti) has grown into the fairest in the land. The evil Queen can.t stand for it so she tasks her royal huntsman (Stuart Buchanan) to take Snow White into the woods, kill her, and bring back her heart as proof of her demise. The
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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves - DVD Review

The 1944 Technicolor sword and scandal flick takes us back to 1001 Arabian Nights. Maria Montez adds some Spanish flair to her starring role, but they never explain where here character got the accent in the desert. The Mongol Hulagu Khan (Kurt Ketch) invades and overthrows Baghdad disposing the Caliph (Moroni Olsen). The Caliph hides in the palace of Prince Cassim (Frank Puglia) with his young son Ali (Scotty Beckett). During their confinement, Ali makes a blood pact with Cassim.s daughter Amara (Yvette Duguay) to betroth themselves to each other. Cassim turns out to be a treacherous rat and sets a trap for the Caliph and he.s killed. Ali barely escapes, wearing the seal of Baghdad. During his
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