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Unearthing a Forgotten Movie Star of Long, Long Ago

Kitty Gordon: Actress in silent movies and on the musical comedy stage. Rediscovering a long-forgotten silent film star: Kitty Gordon It seems almost unthinkable that there are still silent stars who have not been resurrected, their lives and films subject to detailed, if not always reliable, examination. Yet I am reminded by Michael Levenston, a Canadian who has compiled what is best described as a “scrapbook” of her life and career, that there is one such individual – and not just a “name” in silent films, but also from 1901 onwards famed as a singer/actress in musical comedy and on the vaudeville stage in both her native England and the United States. And she is Kitty Gordon (1878-1974). 'The Enchantress' and her $50,000 backside Kitty Gordon was a talented lady, so much so that Victor Herbert wrote the 1911 operetta The Enchantress for her; one who also had a “gimmick,” in that
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Oscar Winner and Queen of MGM on TCM: Still Relevant Adult Themes

Norma Shearer: The Boss' wife was cast in 'The Divorcee.' Norma Shearer movies on TCM: Early talkies and Best Actress Oscar Note: This Norma Shearer article is currently being revised and expanded. Please Check back later. Norma Shearer, one of the top stars in Hollywood history and known as the Queen of MGM back in the 1930s, is Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month of Nov. 2015. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that even though its parent company, Time Warner, owns most of Shearer's movies, TCM isn't airing any premieres. So, if you were expecting to check out a very young Norma Shearer in The Devil's Circus, Upstage, or After Midnight, you're out of luck. (I've seen all three; they're all worth a look.) It's a crime that, music score or no, restored print or no, TCM/Time Warner don't make available for viewing the
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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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Legendary Bergman on TCM: From Hollywood Career-Ruining Scandal to 3 Oscars and Another Bergman

Ingrid Bergman ca. early 1940s. Ingrid Bergman movies on TCM: From the artificial 'Gaslight' to the magisterial 'Autumn Sonata' Two days ago, Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” series highlighted the film career of Greta Garbo. Today, Aug. 28, '15, TCM is focusing on another Swedish actress, three-time Academy Award winner Ingrid Bergman, who would have turned 100 years old tomorrow. TCM has likely aired most of Bergman's Hollywood films, and at least some of her early Swedish work. As a result, today's only premiere is Fielder Cook's little-seen and little-remembered From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973), about two bored kids (Sally Prager, Johnny Doran) who run away from home and end up at New York City's Metropolitan Museum. Obviously, this is no A Night at the Museum – and that's a major plus. Bergman plays an elderly art lover who takes an interest in them; her
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Hepburn Day on TCM: Love, Danger and Drag

Katharine Hepburn movies. Katharine Hepburn movies: Woman in drag, in love, in danger In case you're suffering from insomnia, you might want to spend your night and early morning watching Turner Classic Movies' "Summer Under the Stars" series. Four-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Katharine Hepburn is TCM's star today, Aug. 7, '15. (See TCM's Katharine Hepburn movie schedule further below.) Whether you find Hepburn's voice as melodious as a singing nightingale or as grating as nails on a chalkboard, you may want to check out the 1933 version of Little Women. Directed by George Cukor, this cozy – and more than a bit schmaltzy – version of Louisa May Alcott's novel was a major box office success, helping to solidify Hepburn's Hollywood stardom the year after her film debut opposite John Barrymore and David Manners in Cukor's A Bill of Divorcement. They don't make 'em like they used to Also, the 1933 Little Women
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Rare Silent Film Actor Who Had Long Talkie Career Is TCM's Star of the Day

Adolphe Menjou movies today (This article is currently being revised.) Despite countless stories to the contrary, numerous silent film performers managed to survive the coming of sound. Adolphe Menjou, however, is a special case in that he not only remained a leading man in the early sound era, but smoothly made the transition to top supporting player in mid-decade, a position he would continue to hold for the quarter of a century. Menjou is Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Day today, Aug. 3, as part of TCM's "Summer Under the Stars" 2015 series. Right now, TCM is showing William A. Wellman's A Star Is Born, the "original" version of the story about a small-town girl (Janet Gaynor) who becomes a Hollywood star, while her husband (Fredric March) boozes his way into oblivion. In typical Hollywood originality (not that things are any different elsewhere), this 1937 version of the story – produced by
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The Men Who Would Be Hughes (Plus Hepburn and the end of Rko)

Howard Hughes movies (photo: Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in 'The Aviator') Turner Classic Movies will be showing the Howard Hughes-produced, John Farrow-directed, Baja California-set gangster drama His Kind of Woman, starring Robert Mitchum, Hughes discovery Jane Russell, and Vincent Price, at 3 a.m. Pt / 6 a.m. Et on Saturday, November 8, 2014. Hughes produced a couple of dozen movies. (More on that below.) But what about "Howard Hughes movies"? Or rather, movies -- whether big-screen or made-for-television efforts -- featuring the visionary, eccentric, hypochondriac, compulsive-obsessive, all-American billionaire as a character? Besides Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays a dashing if somewhat unbalanced Hughes in Martin Scorsese's 2004 Best Picture Academy Award-nominated The Aviator, other actors who have played Howard Hughes on film include the following: Tommy Lee Jones in William A. Graham's television movie The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977), with Lee Purcell as silent film star Billie Dove, Tovah Feldshuh as Katharine Hepburn,
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Il Cinema Ritrovato 2014

  • MUBI
"Nobody's really captured the quality of a film festival," observed musician/composer Neil Brand, "You're doing something that's pleasurable, but then the fatigue sets in..." It's true—a celluloid feast like Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna is a particular case, too, since so many of the films are rarities. It's like being a cake specialist and suddenly somebody offers you fifty magnificent cakes of unique recipe but says "You have to eat them all in an hour or I'll take them away and you'll never see them again." You plunge in, and even when nausea starts to replace pleasure you can't bring yourself to stop...

Cinephiles like to grumble, and the venues of Bologna attract a certain amount of criticism (one has a bar which runs between the front row and the screen, cutting the subtitles in half; air conditioning is switched on and off at random; and then there's
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Predictions for the 86th Academy Awards' Best Actress Category: Streep to Perform One More Record-Breaking Feat?

Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Actress (photo: Meryl Streep in ‘August: Osage County’) (See also: "Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Actor.") Compared to the vibrant Best Actor field, the 2014 Academy Awards’ Best Actress category looks somewhat anemic. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of quantity. Whereas ten actors could be called strong competitors for the Oscar 2014 shortlist, only five actresses can be considered truly strong candidates for this year’s Best Actress shortlist. Besides these five, there are three unlikely runners-up and a handful of long shots — and we mean "long" as in "light-years-away long." Note: Exact SAG Award and Academy Award matches are actually less common than you might think for the reasons mentioned in our previous Oscar 2014 predictions post (see link in the paragraph above). For instance, last year Marion Cotillard and Helen Mirren were both shortlisted for the Best Actress SAG Awards for, respectively, Jacques Audiard’s
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102-Year-Old Former Movie Extra to Attend Author Slide's Lecture About Hollywood Extras, Bit Players and Stand-Ins

Author Slide to discuss the history of Hollywood extras at historical Lasky-DeMille Barn Film historian Anthony Slide, author of dozens of books on Hollywood history, will be discussing his most recent work, Hollywood Unknowns: A History of Extras, Bit Players and Stand-Ins, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, located at a Hollywood historical landmark: the Lasky-DeMille Barn, right across the street from the Hollywood Bowl. (Check out: "The History of Hollywood Extras, Bit Players and Stand-Ins: Interview with Author and Film Historian Anthony Slide.") Pictured Above are Olivia de Havilland and her The Charge of the Light Brigade stand-in, Ann Robinson, circa 1936. As per the Barn's press release, "Mr. Slide will discuss the lives and work of extras, including the harsh conditions, sexual harassment, scandals and tragedies." Besides, he'll also talk about Central Casting and the Hollywood Studio Club, the residence of a number of up-and-coming actresses,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Meryl Streep Has Lost the Oscar 14 Times

Colin Firth, Meryl Streep Colin Firth tells Meryl Streep he should have been cast as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady, for he's British and Streep is not. Streep responds by telling him she can play any nationality, including Italian. As proof, she incarnates Anna Magnani in Bellissima. Well, something like that went on backstage at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony. (Photo: Bryan Crowe / ©A.M.P.A.S.) Meryl Streep's Best Actress Oscar for The Iron Lady was her third. Streep's previous two Oscars were as Best Supporting Actress for Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), featuring Dustin Hoffman, Jane Alexander, and Justin Henry; and as Best Actress for Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice (1982), with Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol. Only three other performers have won three Academy Awards: Walter Brennan as Best Supporting Actor for Howard Hawks and William Wyler's Come and Get It
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Tom Cruise: Beyoncé/A Star Is Born Rocker?

Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, Rock of Ages Tom Cruise to play opposite Beyoncé Knowles in Clint Eastwood's remake of A Star Is Born? That's a possibility, according to Deadline.com, which says Eastwood is in talks with Cruise. Or vice-versa. Cruise, who turns 50 next July 3 (Oliver Stone's movie was off by a day), plays a rock-and-roll star named Stacee Jaxx in Adam Shankman's Rock of Ages. Playing another rock-and-roller shouldn't be too much of a stretch. As per Deadline, the formerly pregnant Beyoncé is ready to shoot "as soon as June." Now, Rock of Ages opens next June 15, but Cruise — who had a major worldwide hit late last year with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol — is already busy working elsewhere. Last seen handing the Best Picture Oscar to The Artist's Thomas Langmann a couple of weeks ago, Cruise recently finished working on Christopher McQuarrie's One Shot
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Meryl Streep Hugs Naked Bald Man with Sword

Meryl Streep Oscar winner Meryl Streep became a three-time Academy Award winner after getting this year's Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady. In the above photo, Streep poses backstage with a naked man holding a strategically placed sword during the 84th Oscar ceremony held February 26. (Photo: Richard D. Salyer / © A.M.P.A.S.) Streep's previous two Oscars were as Best Supporting Actress for Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), featuring Dustin Hoffman, Jane Alexander, and Justin Henry; and as Best Actress for Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice (1982), with Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol. Her Best Actress competitors this time around were Viola Davis for The Help, Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe) for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn, Rooney Mara (in Noomi Rapace's original role) for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake,
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Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep Joined Together

Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep Octavia Spencer — quite literally — joins Meryl Streep at 2012 post-Oscar ceremony Governors Ball held at Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, CA, Sunday, February 26. Spencer was the Best Supporting Actress winner for her performance in Tate Taylor's socially conscious comedy-drama The Help. Streep was the Best Actress winner for her performance as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady. (Photo: Darren Decker / ©A.M.P.A.S.) Octavia Spencer was a first-time nominee. Her Best Supporting Actress competition consisted of fellow first-time nominees Jessica Chastain for The Help, Bérénice Bejo for Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist, and Melissa McCarthy for Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, in addition to two-time nominee Janet McTeer for Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs. McTeer had been previously shortlisted in the Best Actress category for Gavin O'Connor's Tumbleweeds (1999). Meryl Streep's competitors in the Best Actress
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Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Hold Hands

Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Tom Cruise poses with Meryl Streep during the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony at Hollywood and Highland Center on Sunday, February 26. Cruise, looking very much like his old Top Gun and Cocktail self, was the evening's Best Picture presenter. Streep was the Best Actress Oscar winner for playing Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady. Also worth noting, Cruise and Streep co-starred in Robert Redford's political drama Lions for Lambs in 2006. (Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.) Tom Cruise presented the Best Picture Oscar to Michel Hazanavicius' black-and-white near-silent comedy-drama The Artist. Cruise's movie Mission: Impossible IV – Ghost Protocol was a major late-year box-office hit and received quite enthusiastic reviews, but failed to be shortlisted in any Oscar category. Cruise's next film is Adam Shankman's Rock of Ages, featuring an extensive cast that includes Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Best Supporting Actress
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Tom Cruise Congratulates Meryl Streep

Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Tom Cruise congratulates Best Actress Oscar winner Meryl Streep — for Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady — backstage during the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony held at the Hollywood and Highland Center on Sunday, February 26. Cruise and Streep co-starred in Robert Redford's political/Iraq War drama Lions for Lambs in 2006; the film was a box-office flop in the United States, but did solid business overseas. (Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.) Tom Cruise wasn't nominated for anything this year; he was the presenter of the Best Picture Academy Award, which went to Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist. Cruise's movie Mission: Impossible IV – Ghost Protocol was a major late-year box-office hit and received quite enthusiastic reviews. Cruise's next vehicle is Adam Shankman's Rock of Ages, featuring an eclectic cast that includes Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough, Paul Giamatti, Russell Brand, Hugh Forte,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Jean Dujardin Photo: Golden Globes 2012

Jean Dujardin Actor Jean Dujardin won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for his performance as a fading silent-film star in Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist. In the above photo, Dujardin — who also won the Best Actor Award for The Artist in Cannes last year — poses backstage in the press room with his Golden Globe at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA, on Sunday, January 15. In many ways, The Artist borrows elements from George Cukor's What Price Glory?, in which Constance Bennett plays a rising star and Lowell Sherman a troubled producer, and the first two A Star Is Born movies, the first directed by William A. Wellman, and starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March; the second directed by Cukor, and starring Judy Garland and James Mason. All three movies, in turn, were inspired by real-life
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Martin Scorsese/Hugo Subject Georges Méliès Movies: Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

Several shorts directed by film pioneer Georges Méliès, played by Ben Kingsley in Martin Scorsese's well-received Hugo, will be featured throughout January 2012 at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Edison Theater in Fremont, Calif. The Méliès screenings will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, 21, and 28. On Jan. 7, the Edison Theater will show Méliès' 1910 short The Doctor's Secret prior to the main feature, the William S. Hart 1916 classic Western Hell's Hinges, which also features Clara Williams (excellent in the highly recommended The Italian) and Louise Glaum, a film vamp who four years later would star in Sex. Musical accompaniment by Frederick Hodges. On Jan. 21, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will celebrate "seven years of showing great films" with a screening of future two-time Oscar winner Lewis Milestone's 1928 The Garden of Eden. The romantic comedy stars one of the great beauties of the silent era, Corinne Griffith,
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New this Week: ‘Hugo,’ ‘The Muppets’ and ‘Super 8 (DVD)’

Hitting movie theaters this weekend:

Arthur Christmas - James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy

Hugo - Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee

The Muppets - Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper

Movie of the Week

Hugo

The Stars: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee

The Plot: Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

The Buzz: Director Martin Scorsese is not known for his family films. Throughout his career Scorsese has stuck to churning out gritty/grisly street films, realistic & vibrant tales about the harshness of life, about the hard-nose battle of good versus evil, of right versus wrong (of moral relativity), and of psychoses versus neuroses. His films are fairly hardcore and as thus are very often hard-r. His latest offering in Hugo, looks to be an
See full article at Scorecard Review »

Joan Blondell on TCM: Dames, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Dames Joan Blondell has always been a favorite of mine, much like fellow wisecracking 1930s Warner Bros. players Aline MacMahon and Glenda Farrell. The fact that Blondell never became a top star says more about audiences — who preferred, say, Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney — than about Blondell's screen presence and acting abilities. As part of its "Summer Under the Stars" film series, Turner Classic Movies is currently showing no less than 16 Joan Blondell movies today, including the TCM premiere of the 1968 crime drama Kona Coast. Directed by Lamont Johnson, Kona Coast stars Richard Boone and the capable Vera Miles. Blondell has a supporting role — one of two dozen from 1950 (For Heaven's Sake) to 1981 (The Woman Inside, released two years after Blondell's death from leukemia). [Joan Blondell Movie Schedule.] Unfortunately, TCM isn't showing the super-rare (apparently due to rights issues) The Blue Veil, Curtis Bernhardt's 1951 melodrama that earned Blondell her
See full article at Alt Film Guide »
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