5 items from 2015
Constance Cummings: Actress in minor Hollywood movies became major London stage star. Constance Cummings: Actress went from Harold Lloyd and Frank Capra to Noël Coward and Eugene O'Neill Actress Constance Cummings, whose career spanned more than six decades on stage, in films, and on television in both the U.S. and the U.K., died ten years ago on Nov. 23. Unlike other Broadway imports such as Ann Harding, Katharine Hepburn, Miriam Hopkins, and Claudette Colbert, the pretty, elegant Cummings – who could have been turned into a less edgy Constance Bennett had she landed at Rko or Paramount instead of Columbia – never became a Hollywood star. In fact, her most acclaimed work, whether in films or – more frequently – on stage, was almost invariably found in British productions. That's most likely why the name Constance Cummings – despite the DVD availability of several of her best-received performances – is all but forgotten. »
- Andre Soares
After The Seventh Victim‘s disappointing returns, Val Lewton and Rko clashed over their next project. Lewton wanted a comedy, provisionally titled The Amorous Ghost, as a change of pace; studio boss Sid Rogell, Lewton’s bete noir, insisted on a sequel to Cat People, which Lewton resisted. Then Rko suggested a Universal-style monster rally, They Creep By Night, reuniting villains from past Lewton pictures. Charles Koerner rescued Lewton from this absurd prospect by pitching a maritime thriller. “Call it The Ghost Ship,” Koerner ordered. Lewton also scored a big, though past-his-prime star in Richard Dix, an Oscar nominee for Cimarron (1931).
The result is equal parts The Sea Wolf and M, with a dash of Edgar Allan Poe. Tom Miriam signs on as third officer on the ill-starred freighter Altair, ruled by Captain Stone (Richard Dix). At first Stone merely seems strict, but his homilies about authority take on a »
- Christopher Saunders
Charles Brackett ca. 1945: Hollywood diarist and Billy Wilder's co-screenwriter (1936–1949) and producer (1945–1949). Q&A with 'Charles Brackett Diaries' editor Anthony Slide: Billy Wilder's screenwriter-producer partner in his own words Six-time Academy Award winner Billy Wilder is a film legend. He is renowned for classics such as The Major and the Minor, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., Witness for the Prosecution, Some Like It Hot, and The Apartment. The fact that Wilder was not the sole creator of these movies is all but irrelevant to graduates from the Auteur School of Film History. Wilder directed, co-wrote, and at times produced his films. That should suffice. For auteurists, perhaps. But not for those interested in the whole story. That's one key reason why the Charles Brackett diaries are such a great read. Through Brackett's vantage point, they offer a welcome – and unique – glimpse into the collaborative efforts that resulted in »
- Andre Soares
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 »
- Andre Soares
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the release of "Crash" (on May 6, 2005), an all-star movie whose controversy came not from its provocative treatment of racial issues but from its Best Picture Oscar victory a few months later, against what many critics felt was a much more deserving movie, "Brokeback Mountain."
The "Crash" vs. "Brokeback" battle is one of those lingering disputes that makes the Academy Awards so fascinating, year after year. Moviegoers and critics who revisit older movies are constantly judging the Academy's judgment. Even decades of hindsight may not always be enough to tell whether the Oscar voters of a particular year got it right or wrong. Whether it's "Birdman" vs. "Boyhood," "The King's Speech" vs. "The Social Network," "Saving Private Ryan" vs. "Shakespeare in Love" or even "An American in Paris" vs. "A Streetcar Named Desire," we're still confirming the Academy's taste or dismissing it as hopelessly off-base years later. »
- Gary Susman
5 items from 2015
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