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3 items from 2015

‘A Night at the Opera’ at 80: An Experiment in Compromise

15 November 2015 3:00 AM, PST | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

By 1935, the Marx Brothers already had five movies to add to their already extensive Broadway and Vaudeville resume, among them the legendary Duck Soup and the near-classics Animal Crackers and Monkey Business. As we’ve often seen, however, some of our most beloved Hollywood favorites flopped upon first release. 1933’s Duck Soup, specifically, was the last of a five-picture deal the Brothers had at Paramount, and its commercial failure would spell a parting of the ways between the studio and the iconic comedy team.

Enter Irving G. Thalberg, the wunderkind who helped build MGM into a powerhouse. Perhaps best known today for the namesake honor given to producers at each year’s Academy Awards, Thalberg left an indelible mark on Hollywood before his untimely death in 1937 at the age of 36. In addition to launching such innovations as the first production code and the use of audience response questionnaires to hone »

- M. Robert Grunwald

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Close-Up on "To Be or Not To Be": Lubitsch Answers the Question of 'What's So Funny About the Nazis?'

27 July 2015 4:55 AM, PDT | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

 Close-Up is a column that spotlights films now playing on Mubi. To Be or Not to Be is playing on Mubi in the Us through August 28.In 2002, the American Film Institute selected To Be or Not to Be as one of the 50 funniest American movies of all time. In March of 1942, when the film was initially released, most critics weren't laughing. A movie lampooning Adolf Hitler may have been acceptable a few years prior (see, for example, Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator [1940], though even then Chaplin began to regret his decision after learning more of the Nazis' "homicidal insanity"). But by 1942, Pearl Harbor had been attacked, America had entered World War II, and, to make matters even more dour, the star of To Be or Not to Be, the radiant Carole Lombard, had died in a plane crash less than two months before the premiere. All told, those »

- Jeremy Carr

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New on Video: ‘Ninotchka’ one of the best films from Hollywood’s golden age

15 June 2015 8:41 PM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »


Written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

USA, 1939

It’s easy to see why Ninotchka works as well as it does, and why it’s one of the best films from Hollywood’s golden age and of arguably Hollywood’s greatest year. Just look at the talent involved. Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and Walter Reisch were all seasoned writers, though with their best work admittedly still to come. Ernst Lubitsch had directed a number of excellent silent films in Germany, had hit the ground running once in Hollywood, making his first American film with no less a star than Mary Pickford (Rosita [1923]), and after a series of charming musical comedies, many with Maurice Chevalier, directed the more sublime and sophisticated comedies for which he now best known, films like Trouble in Paradise (1932) and Design for Living (1933). While this was happening, Greta Garbo was working »

- Jeremy Carr

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2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

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