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Suspicion

Alfred Hitchcock assembles all the right elements for this respected mystery thriller. Joan Fontaine is concerned that her new hubby Cary Grant plans to murder her. But Hitch wasn't able to use the twist ending that attracted him to the story in the first place! Suspicion Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1941 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 99 min. / Street Date , 2016 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring Joan Fontaine, Cary Grant, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, Auriol Lee, Leo G. Carroll Cinematography Harry Stradling Art Direction Van Nest Polglase Film Editor William Hamilton Original Music Franz Waxman Written by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville from the novel Before the Fact by Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley) Produced and Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Some movies don't get better as time goes on. Alfred Hitchcock got himself painted into a corner on this one, perhaps not realizing that in America,
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Lubitsch Pt.II: The Magical Touch with MacDonald, Garbo Sorely Missing from Today's Cinema

'The Merry Widow' with Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald and Minna Gombell under the direction of Ernst Lubitsch. Ernst Lubitsch movies: 'The Merry Widow,' 'Ninotchka' (See previous post: “Ernst Lubitsch Best Films: Passé Subtle 'Touch' in Age of Sledgehammer Filmmaking.”) Initially a project for Ramon Novarro – who for quite some time aspired to become an opera singer and who had a pleasant singing voice – The Merry Widow ultimately starred Maurice Chevalier, the hammiest film performer this side of Bob Hope, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler – the list goes on and on. Generally speaking, “hammy” isn't my idea of effective film acting. For that reason, I usually find Chevalier a major handicap to his movies, especially during the early talkie era; he upsets their dramatic (or comedic) balance much like Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorsese's The Departed or Jerry Lewis in anything (excepting Scorsese's The King of Comedy
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Cummings Pt.3: Gender-Bending from Joan of Arc to Comic Farce, Liberal Supporter of Political Refugees

'Saint Joan': Constance Cummings as the George Bernard Shaw heroine. Constance Cummings on stage: From sex-change farce and Emma Bovary to Juliet and 'Saint Joan' (See previous post: “Constance Cummings: Frank Capra, Mae West and Columbia Lawsuit.”) In the mid-1930s, Constance Cummings landed the title roles in two of husband Benn W. Levy's stage adaptations: Levy and Hubert Griffith's Young Madame Conti (1936), starring Cummings as a demimondaine who falls in love with a villainous character. She ends up killing him – or does she? Adapted from Bruno Frank's German-language original, Young Madame Conti was presented on both sides of the Atlantic; on Broadway, it had a brief run in spring 1937 at the Music Box Theatre. Based on the Gustave Flaubert novel, the Theatre Guild-produced Madame Bovary (1937) was staged in late fall at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre. Referring to the London production of Young Madame Conti, The
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Cummings Pt.2: Working with Capra and West, Fighting Columbia in Court

Constance Cummings in 'Night After Night.' Constance Cummings: Working with Frank Capra and Mae West (See previous post: “Constance Cummings: Actress Went from Harold Lloyd to Eugene O'Neill.”) Back at Columbia, Harry Cohn didn't do a very good job at making Constance Cummings feel important. By the end of 1932, Columbia and its sweet ingenue found themselves in court, fighting bitterly over stipulations in her contract. According to the actress and lawyer's daughter, Columbia had failed to notify her that they were picking up her option. Therefore, she was a free agent, able to offer her services wherever she pleased. Harry Cohn felt otherwise, claiming that his contract player had waived such a notice. The battle would spill over into 1933. On the positive side, in addition to Movie Crazy 1932 provided Cummings with three other notable Hollywood movies: Washington Merry-Go-Round, American Madness, and Night After Night. 'Washington Merry-Go-Round
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Few Musicals Have Been Nominated for Adapted or Original Screenplay

By Anjelica Oswald

Managing Editor

Into the Woods, Disney’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Broadway musical, could land an Oscar nomination for its screenplay, which was adapted by Lapine. It may be a stretch for Into the Woods to land in the top five, though. Adapted — or even original — musical screenplays may be discounted for the music in the Oscar race, which might be why few musicals are nominated for adapted or original screenplay. Twelve musicals have been nominated for adapted screenplay since 1929, but 2002’s Chicago was the last musical to do so.

Adapted from Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb’s 1975 musical of the same name, Chicago won six of its 13 nominations, including best picture. It was the first musical since 1968’s Oliver! to win best picture, but its screenplay lost to The Pianist.

Carol Reed’s Oliver! was nominated for 11 Oscars and won five. It
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On TCM: Oscar Winner Colbert

Claudette Colbert movies on Turner Classic Movies: From ‘The Smiling Lieutenant’ to TCM premiere ‘Skylark’ (photo: Claudette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier in ‘The Smiling Lieutenant’) Claudette Colbert, the studio era’s perky, independent-minded — and French-born — "all-American" girlfriend (and later all-American wife and mother), is Turner Classic Movies’ star of the day today, August 18, 2014, as TCM continues with its "Summer Under the Stars" film series. Colbert, a surprise Best Actress Academy Award winner for Frank Capra’s 1934 comedy It Happened One Night, was one Paramount’s biggest box office draws for more than decade and Hollywood’s top-paid female star of 1938, with reported earnings of $426,944 — or about $7.21 million in 2014 dollars. (See also: TCM’s Claudette Colbert day in 2011.) Right now, TCM is showing Ernst Lubitsch’s light (but ultimately bittersweet) romantic comedy-musical The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), a Best Picture Academy Award nominee starring Maurice Chevalier as a French-accented Central European lieutenant in
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

New on Video: ‘Angel’

Angel

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Written by Samson Raphaelson

USA, 1937

Angel is a 1937 feature directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Marlene Dietrich. It’s not the greatest film of either one of their careers, however, it is a film deserving of attention, at the very least because it’s a film directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Marlene Dietrich. And now, it’s also available for the first time on an American-issued DVD, by way of Universal’s Vault Series collection.

Dietrich is Maria Barker, but we first see her as “Mrs. Brown,” the false name she registers under when arriving in France. She’s “in Paris but not in Paris,” there to meet an old acquaintance, the Russian émigré, Grand Duchess Anna Dmitrievna (Laura Hope Crews). At the same time, Anthony Halton (Melvyn Douglas) drops by the duchess’ “salon,” at the suggestion of a friend who sent him there for an “amusing time.
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Parfumerie: Theater Review

Miklos Laszlo, a Jewish émigré from Hungary, penned his play Illatszertar in 1936 before he fled Europe in 1938 for New York City. Acquired by producer-director Ernst Lubitsch and brilliantly adapted for the screen as The Shop Around the Corner (1940) by the immortal Samson Raphaelson (who wrote nine screenplays for Lubitsch including Trouble in Paradise, The Merry Widow and Heaven Can Wait), the sublime cast included James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut and Felix Bressart. It represents perhaps the very pinnacle of transcendent romantic comedy in cinema: precise, subtle, intricately intimate. The material was remade as a

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See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Trouble in Paradise

(Ernst Lubitsch, 1932, Eureka, PG)

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Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947) was an established character actor with Max Reinhardt's Deutsches Theater in Germany before he was 21 and started working in the cinema in 1913. He was one of the world's most accomplished directors when, in 1923, he was lured to Hollywood, a decade before Hitler drove most of Germany's leading film-makers into exile. Visual wit, a sophisticated worldly view of mankind's follies and fashionable urban settings in continental cities were the hallmarks of his work, and Trouble in Paradise, one of his greatest films, is widely considered to be flawless.

Suave society thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) and beautiful pickpocket Lily (Miriam Hopkins), both posing as aristocrats, meet while stealing from the rich guests of a Venetian hotel, join forces, and target Madame Colet (Kay Francis), the attractive young widow of a French millionaire. But things get truly complicated when Gaston develops a real affection for the heiress.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Netflix Nuggets: Who’s Up For a Miramax Marathon?

Netflix has revolutionized the home movie experience for fans of film with its instant streaming technology. Netflix Nuggets is my way of spreading the word about independent, classic and foreign films made available by Netflix for instant streaming.

Sorry, folks… there are simply too many great films streaming this week to post an image for them all, but that’s a good thing, eh? You’ve got your movie watching work cut out for you, due in great part to Miramax releasing damn near their entire catalog of films on one day!

B. Monkey (1999)

Streaming Available: 05/01/2011

Director: Michael Radford

Synopsis: Good-hearted schoolteacher Alan Furnace (Jared Harris) desperately wants some excitement in his life — and he may just get some. One lonely night at a London bar, Alan spies the raven-haired beauty Beatrice (Asia Argento) arguing with two friends, Paul (Rupert Everett) and Bruno (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Beatrice quickly befriends Alan and
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

The Merry Widow Review – Jeanette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier d: Ernst Lubitsch

The Merry Widow (1934) Direction: Ernst Lubitsch Cast: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Edward Everett Horton, Una Merkel, George Barbier, Minna Gombell, Sterling Holloway Screenplay: Ernest Vajda and Samson Raphaelson; from Franz Lehár's operetta Oscar Movies Highly Recommended Jeanette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier, The Merry Widow The Merry Widow is neither one of Ernst Lubitsch's most discussed nor best-liked films. Film critics and historians generally tend to focus on a couple of his early, pre-Code Paramount talkies, One Hour with You (co-directed with George Cukor) and Trouble in Paradise, and his later comedies Ninotchka and To Be or Not to Be. But that's the critics' and historians' fault. For the visually and aurally arresting The Merry Widow is a superlative musical, boasting sumptuous sets (production design by Cedric Gibbons), exquisite black-and-white cinematography (Oliver T. Marsh), and a magnificently staged ballroom-dancing sequence that should impress even those who couldn't care less about
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Five Easy Pieces was oddly conservative for a 1970s Jack Nicholson film

Hailed as a milestone for New Hollywood, Five Easy Pieces now reveals itself as a curio of a more conservative time, says John Patterson

Forty years on, Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces – the movie that made Jack Nicholson, as Robert Dupea, a Pacific-Northwestern dropout who loses himself among Texas wildcatters – stands as a truly protean experience. The first time I saw it, I wanted to be the same kind of self-absorbed, mercurially charming asshole Jack played (indulge me, I was 13); second time, not so much; third time, the cast infuriated me; fourth time, I thought the blue-collar characters were insultingly one-dimensional; fifth time, I got over it; and last week, we met in the middle, shook hands, and it felt almost like a masterpiece.

It was shot while Nixon was secretly bombing Cambodia in the winter of 1969-70, and released in September 1970, after the summer that saw the Kent State shootings in May,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Definitely, Maybe

Scintillating romantic comedy is the holy grail that everyone in Hollywood dreams of capturing. Producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have achieved some success reinvigorating classic formulas in their English comedies including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill.

But in crossing the pond for their latest effort, Definitely, Maybe, they run into some problems. Writer-director Adam Brooks ("Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason") doesn't have the knack for the genre demonstrated by the masters. Opening on Valentine's Day, the film hopes to tap the date crowd, but it falls somewhere between a mass audience crowd-pleaser and a literate class act. Business will be middling but not spectacular.

Yet the film is far from a complete washout, and this is chiefly a tribute to its immensely attractive and appealing cast. Ryan Reynolds proves to have the stuff of a true leading man. He plays disgruntled ad man Will Hayes, who receives divorce papers in the movie's opening scene. He goes to pick up his daughter Maya ("Little Miss Sunshine's" Abigail Breslin) at school, where she has just attended her first sex education class and has a million questions for her befuddled dad.

Maya's discovery of sex prompts her to ask Will how he met and fell and love with her mother. Instead of giving her a straightforward answer, Will recounts his romantic involvement with three women: college sweetheart Emily (Elizabeth Banks), flaky co-worker April (Isla Fisher) and aspiring journalist Summer (Rachel Weisz). He frames his history as something of a mystery that Maya will have to solve: Which of the three women became his wife, and which of the three is his true soulmate?

The answer to the first question is not immediately apparent, but the answer to the second is clear because Fisher has top billing and the most screen time. It's also clear because Fisher and Reynolds have the kind of sizzling chemistry that defines all the memorable movie couples. This film is a great showcase for both of them.

Will is an unusual romantic hero in that he spends most of the movie being dumped instead of conquering women. Considering that Reynolds has the looks to be a superstar, it's a shrewd decision for him to play against that and come across as awkward and even dorky in his pursuit of women. His lack of confidence in his sexual prowess makes him even more endearing.

Fisher, best known for her role in Wedding Crashers, is absolutely irresistible. She, too, seems frazzled and rumpled rather than glamorous. April is the kind of no-nonsense, down-to-earth woman who always has been the mainstay of romantic comedy. Fisher actually seems to be channeling Jean Arthur or Claudette Colbert.

Weisz and Banks are ravishing enough to make the contest among the three women viable, though Banks' role is underdeveloped, and even Weisz could use some meatier scenes. (A bland montage that shows Summer and Will falling in love doesn't do the trick.)

Kevin Kline has a sharp cameo as the drunk writer who is Summer's mentor and lover. But a lot of the other supporting players don't really have enough to do. Even Breslin is reduced to little more than a sounding-board until the very last scenes, when she finally gets to play a more active role in Will's search for fulfillment.

The film begins in 1992, when Will goes to work for Bill Clinton's campaign for president, and an entertaining subplot concerns Will's disillusionment with Clinton during the course of the '90s. But the evocation of the era is fairly lackluster. Cinematographer Florian Ballhaus does capture the allure of Manhattan, though the editing by Peter Teschner lets the picture drag on too long.

The bigger problem is that the romantic banter between Will and his three paramours strains for sparkling wit and only occasionally achieves it. In addition, the script cries out for the kind of clever plotting that distinguished such movies as It Happened One Night and "Adam's Rib." Is it impossible for today's writers to match the urbanity of Samson Raphaelson or Donald Ogden Stewart or Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin?

Such performers as Reynolds and Fisher might rank with Gable and Lombard or Tracy and Hepburn, but we'll never know until they get the crack scripts that helped to turn an earlier generation of actors into legends.

DEFINITELY, MAYBE

Universal

Working Title, StudioCanal

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Adam Brooks

Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner

Executive producers: Liza Chasin, Bobby Cohen

Co-executive producer: Kerry Orent

Director of photography: Florian Ballhaus

Production designer: Stephanie Carroll

Music: Clint Mansell

Costume designer: Gary Jones

Editor: Peter Teschner

Cast:

Will Hayes: Ryan Reynolds

April: Isla Fisher

Maya Hayes: Abigail Breslin

Russell McCormack: Derek Luke

Emily: Elizabeth Banks

Summer Hartley: Rachel Weisz

Hampton Roth: Kevin Kline

Gareth: Adam Ferrara

Arthur Robredo: Nestor Serrano

Running time -- 110 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

See also

Credited With | External Sites