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Oberon on TCM: Actress with Mystery Past Wears Men's Clothes, Fights Nazis

Merle Oberon movies: Mysterious star of British and American cinema. Merle Oberon on TCM: Donning men's clothes in 'A Song to Remember,' fighting hiccups in 'That Uncertain Feeling' Merle Oberon is Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month of March 2016. The good news: the exquisite (and mysterious) Oberon, whose ancestry has been a matter of conjecture for decades, makes any movie worth a look. The bad news: TCM isn't offering any Oberon premieres despite the fact that a number of the actress' films – e.g., Temptation, Night in Paradise, Pardon My French, Interval – can be tough to find. This evening, March 18, TCM will be showing six Merle Oberon movies released during the first half of the 1940s. Never a top box office draw in the United States, Oberon was an important international star all the same, having worked with many of the top actors and filmmakers of the studio era.
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Few Top Oscar Contenders on Academy's 2016 Best Song Longlist

Best Song Oscar 2016 contender 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. 74 entries in contention for 2016 Best Song Academy Award 'Tis the season for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to announce the semi-finalists – in some instances, the semi-semi-finalists – for the Academy Awards. Today, the Academy released the list of songs eligible for the 2016 Best Song – or rather, Best Original Song – Oscar. There are 74 contenders, with titles ranging from “Happy” and “I'll See You in My Dreams” to “Hypnosis” and “Bhoomiyilenghanumundo.” Curiously, apart from the inevitable animated and/or kiddie flicks (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, Anomalisa, Pan, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Home, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water, etc.) most of this year's contenders are songs from smaller movies and Bollywood/South Asian releases. Exceptions include Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades of Grey, Ryan Coogler's Creed, Kenneth Branagh's
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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
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Full AFI Festival Lineup And Schedule Unveiled

The American Film Institute announced today the films that will screen in the World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, Shorts and Cinema’s Legacy programs at AFI Fest 2015 presented by Audi.

AFI Fest will take place November 5 – 12, 2015, in the heart of Hollywood. Screenings, Galas and events will be held at the historic Tcl Chinese Theatre, the Tcl Chinese 6 Theatres, Dolby Theatre, the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian, the El Capitan Theatre and The Hollywood Roosevelt.

World Cinema showcases the most acclaimed international films of the year; Breakthrough highlights true discoveries of the programming process; Midnight selections will grip audiences with terror; and Cinema’s Legacy highlights classic movies and films about cinema. World Cinema and Breakthrough selections are among the films eligible for Audience Awards. Shorts selections are eligible for the Grand Jury Prize, which qualifies the winner for Academy Award®consideration. This year’s Shorts jury features filmmaker Janicza Bravo,
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AFI Fest Completes Lineup, Includes 10 Foreign-Language Oscar Contenders

The American Film Institute has completed its AFI Fest lineup: 127 films from 45 countries will screen from Nov. 5 to 12.

The festival includes 38 films directed/co-directed by women, 17 documentaries and 10 official foreign-language Oscar contenders, including Argentina’s entry “The Clan,” Hungary’s “Son of Saul” and Romania’s “Aferim!” along with Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Dheepan.” The screenings and events will take place at the Tcl Chinese Theatre, Tcl Chinese 6 Theatres, Dolby Theatre, Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian, El Capitan Theatre and Hollywood Roosevelt.

AFI has already announced a trio of world premieres: the opening night film, Angelina Pitt Jolie’s “By the Sea,” on Nov. 5; the Will Smith drama “Concussion” on Nov. 10; and the closing night film, Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” on Nov. 12. It’s also scheduled galas for Michael Moore’s documentary “Where to Invade Next” on Nov. 7 and the Chilean miners drama “The 33” on Nov.
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More Than 'Star Wars' Actress Mom: Reynolds Shines Even in Mawkish 'Nun' Based on Tragic Real-Life (Ex-)Nun

Debbie Reynolds ca. early 1950s. Debbie Reynolds movies: Oscar nominee for 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown,' sweetness and light in phony 'The Singing Nun' Debbie Reynolds is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” star today, Aug. 23, '15. An MGM contract player from 1950 to 1959, Reynolds' movies can be seen just about every week on TCM. The only premiere on Debbie Reynolds Day is Jerry Paris' lively marital comedy How Sweet It Is (1968), costarring James Garner. This evening, TCM is showing Divorce American Style, The Catered Affair, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and The Singing Nun. 'Divorce American Style,' 'The Catered Affair' Directed by the recently deceased Bud Yorkin, Divorce American Style (1967) is notable for its cast – Reynolds, Dick Van Dyke, Jean Simmons, Jason Robards, Van Johnson, Lee Grant – and for the fact that it earned Norman Lear (screenplay) and Robert Kaufman (story) a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award nomination.
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U.N.C.L.E.: Will International Moviegoers Save WB's Domestic Box Office Flop?

'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' 2015: Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' movie is a domestic box office bomb: Will it be saved by international filmgoers? Directed by Sherlock Holmes' Guy Ritchie and toplining Man of Steel star Henry Cavill and The Lone Ranger costar Armie Hammer, the Warner Bros. release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has been a domestic box office disaster, performing about 25 percent below – already quite modest – expectations. (See also: “'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Movie: Bigger Box Office Flop Than Expected.”) This past weekend, the $80 million-budget The Man from U.N.C.L.E. collected a meager $13.42 million from 3,638 North American theaters, averaging $3,689 per site. After five days out, the big-screen reboot of the popular 1960s television series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum has taken in a mere $16.77 million. For comparison's sake:
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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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Astaire Dances Everywhere Today on TCM

Fred Astaire ca. 1935. Fred Astaire movies: Dancing in the dark, on the ceiling on TCM Aug. 5, '15, is Fred Astaire Day on Turner Classic Movies, as TCM continues with its “Summer Under the Stars” series. Just don't expect any rare Astaire movies, as the actor-singer-dancer's star vehicles – mostly Rko or MGM productions – have been TCM staples since the early days of the cable channel in the mid-'90s. True, Fred Astaire was also featured in smaller, lesser-known fare like Byron Chudnow's The Amazing Dobermans (1976) and Yves Boisset's The Purple Taxi / Un taxi mauve (1977), but neither one can be found on the TCM schedule. (See TCM's Fred Astaire movie schedule further below.) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals Some fans never tire of watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing together. With these particular fans in mind, TCM is showing – for the nth time – nine Astaire-Rogers musicals of the '30s,
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Cruise Performs Laugh-Out-Loud Stunts in MI5 Trailer (with Bonus Teaser)

'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' star Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' trailer: Movie stunt combo "Desperate times. Desperate measures," says Tom Cruise aka Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation trailer aka the Mission: Impossible 5 and/or MI5 trailer. Whatever you call it, that particular line could be read in a number of ways: Tom Cruise's superstardom is in the doldrums – at least that's what we hear from those who see reality only through U.S.-focused lenses – and he needs all the box-office help he can get. Hence, MI5. Hollywood is in dire need of a mammoth domestic blockbuster following a year of mediocre-performing tentpoles at the U.S. box office. Hence, MI5. The world's socioeconomic fabric is about to unravel. Hence, MI5 – so humankind can go with a bang. Not only with a bang, but with mirth as well.
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Best of the Week: Film

On ‘Cinderella’ and feminism; How Branagh and Weitz altered the glass slipper

We find ourselves in a time and place where the voice of feminism has never been louder. Issues like Gamer Gate, sexism in Cosplay, a woman’s right to an opinion on fantasy, comics, or horror, as well as a myriad of issues outside the realm of pop culture like slut shaming, and blame for being raped flood news outlets on a daily basis. As a result, there’s been a constant cry for change from men and women alike, internationally. We’re seeing stronger representations of women in cinema, and on television. 2013’s Frozen offered a very necessary shift to the Disney Princess dynamic, suggesting that one saves oneself, that love is genderless, and that the kind of love that saves need not strictly be romantic… read the full article.

SXSW 2015: ‘The Overnight’ is an insightful,
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‘Plunder Road’ is a fast paced, ruthlessly efficient heist adventure

Plunder Road

Written by Steven Ritch

Directed by Hubert Cornfield

U.S.A., 1957

It is a wet, late night. Raindrops fall down on the sleepy Utah countryside like a hail of bullets on a battlefield. Five men in two trucks drive silently to a mysterious location, each wrestling internally with the rising tension befitting a major heist scheme. They are Eddie (Gene Raymond), Commando (Wayne Morris), Skeets (Elisha Cook Jr.), Roly (Stafford Repp) and Frankie (Steven Ritch, who also serves as screenwriter). Amidst the impressive storm they successfully halt a speeding train, blow up the outside wall to one of its cars and make away from a hefty sum of gold bullion. This is but the first part of their plan, for now the group must traverse police roadblocks along the way to the City of Angels, all while under the guise of various types of truck drivers (liquid chemical transportation,
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Most Notable Apartheid Movies: From Brando to Whoopi. Which Ones Have You Seen?

Marlon Brando in ‘A Dry White Season,’ James Earl Jones in ‘Cry the Beloved Country’: Apartheid movies (photo: Marlon Brando in ‘A Dry White Season’) (See previous post: “Nelson Mandela: Sidney Poitier and ‘Malcolm X’ Cameo Apperance.”) Besides the Nelson Mandela movies discussed in the previous two posts, South Africa’s apartheid has been portrayed in a number of films in the last few decades. Among the most notable ones are the following: Zoltan Korda’s Cry the Beloved Country (1951). Based on Alan Paton’s novel, this British-made film features Canada Lee and Charles Carson as two men struggling to deal with the disastrous consequences of apartheid. Ralph Nelson’s The Wilby Conspiracy (1975). Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine star as, respectively, an anti-apartheid South African activist and a British engineer on the run from South Africa’s secret police, headed by racist Nicol Williamson. Chris MengesA World Apart
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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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Two-Time Oscar Winner Rolls Her Big Eyes Tonight

Bette Davis’ eyes keep ‘Watch on the RhineBette Davis’ eyes are watching everything and everyone on Turner Classic Movies this evening, as TCM continues with its "Summer Under the Stars" film series: today, August 14, 2013, belongs to two-time Oscar winner Bette Davis’ eyes, cigarettes, and clipped tones. Right now, TCM is showing the Herman Shumlin-directed Watch on the Rhine (1943), an earnest — too much so, in fact — melodrama featuring Nazis, anti-Nazis, and lofty political speeches. (See “Bette Davis Movies: TCM schedule.”) As a prestigious and timely Warner Bros. release, Watch on the Rhine was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award and earned Paul Lukas the year’s Best Actor Oscar. Bette Davis has a subordinate role and — for once during her years as Warners’ Reigning Queen — subordinate billing as well. As so often happens when Davis tried to play a sympathetic character, she’s not very good; Lukas, however,
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2013 TCM Classic Film Festival Adds More Movies, Stars & Frank Capra’s The Donovan Affair (1929) To Lineup

The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival continues to expand, with newly added appearances by legendary stars at screenings of some of their most memorable films, including Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Marvin Kaplan, Barrie Chase, Polly Bergen,Coleen Gray, Theodore Bikel and Norman Lloyd, as well as producer Stanley Rubin, Clara Bow biographer David Stenn, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) film collections manager Katie Trainor and director Nicholas Ray’s widow, Susan Ray. In addition, TCM’s Essentials Jr. host and Saturday Night Live star Bill Hader will present screenings of Shane (1953) and The Ladykillers(1955).

And The Film Forum’s Bruce Goldstein will present a special screening of Frank Capra’s The Donovan Affair (1929), complete with live voice actors and sound effects to replace the film’s long-lost soundtrack.Mel Brooks is slated to talk about his comedy The Twelve Chairs (1970). Carl Reiner, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Marvin Kaplan
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On TCM: 1930s Rko Star Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers movies on TCM Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire became movie stars thanks to Dorothy Jordan. Jordan, Ramon Novarro’s leading lady in three popular early MGM musicals, had been cast as the second female lead in Rko’s Flying Down to Rio, a 1933 musical starring Mexican Dolores del Rio as a (hilarious) Brazilian and Gene Raymond as her red-white-and-blue suitor. But instead of practicing her tap dancing, Jordan opted to get married to King Kong co-director Merian C. Cooper. Enter Ginger Rogers. And what followed in the next two-and-a-half decades were a series of delightful performances in movie comedies, dramas, and musicals. Ginger [...]
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Tarzan, Ann Sothern, Ingrid Bergman: Warner Achive

John Carter, based on the John Carter of Mars series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, was released last weekend with underwhelming box-office results in North America. Expect a more enthusiastic reception for the Warner Archive's release of the late '60s television series Tarzan (season one, in two parts) in celebration of the Lord of the Apes' 100th anniversary. Ron Ely stars, while guests include former Tarzan Jock Mahoney, Academy Award nominee Julie Harris (The Member of the Wedding), Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols, Woody Strode, Russ Tamblyn, Maurice Evans, Jack Elam, and Chips Rafferty. Also coming out via the Warner Archive Collection are several lesser-known titles that should definitely be worth a look, especially considering the talent involved. Released in a newly remastered print, the 1941 drama Rage in Heaven was directed by W.S. Van Dyke (aka "One-Take Woody"), and stars Ingrid Bergman, Robert Montgomery, and George Sanders. Christopher Isherwood contributed to the screenplay.
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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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Joan Crawford Movie Schedule: Forsaking All Others, Possessed

Robert Montgomery, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Forsaking All Others Joan Crawford on TCM: Mildred Pierce, Flamingo Road, When Ladies Meet Schedule (Et) and synopses from the TCM website: 6:00 Am Forsaking All Others (1934) A woman pursues the wrong man for almost twenty years. Dir: W. S. Van Dyke. Cast: Robert Montgomery, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable. Bw-83 mins. 7:30 Am I Live My Life (1935) A flighty society girl tries to make a go of her marriage to an archaeologist. Dir: W. S. Van Dyke. Cast: Joan Crawford, Brian Aherne, Frank Morgan. Bw-97 mins. 9:15 Am Love On The Run (1936) Rival newsmen get mixed up with a runaway heiress and a ring of spies. Dir: W. S. Van Dyke. Cast: Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone. Bw-80 mins. 10:45 Am When Ladies Meet (1941) A female novelist doesn't realize her new friend is the wife whose husband she's trying to steal. Dir: Robert Z. Leonard.
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