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|78 reviews in total|
Maybe because we know already from Monsters, Inc. that Mike and Sulley go on to work as a team on the scare floor of the powerful energy company, there is little drama in the conflict this prequel establishes. That would be less of a problem if the film were non-stop funny, but the humor in Monsters University is sadly lacking. In the past, when Pixar films have fallen short on the story level, they've been jam-packed with business and jokes -- like Mater's confrontation with a bidet in the underwhelming Cars 2 -- and breathtaking visual artistry. With Monsters University, it's possible that audiences may begin taking Pixar's continued state-of-the-art technical mastery for granted; people aren't as easily impressed if they don't care about what they're watching.
Notes from my recent intro, I have five favorite scenes: the shared phone call; the hat tipping rainwater in the doorway; the prayer at the bar; when snow starts falling again on the bridge and the brother toast in the closing scene. IAWL partially succeeds because of its small town charm and values. James Stewart was from a small town -- Indiana, Pennsylvania (now his museum needs a Capra miracle). You may not know this but Stewart was a real WWII hero, enlisting as a private in 1941. He flew over 20 missions and when he finally retired from the reserves it was as a brigadier general. (true story) Frank Capra was from a small town, Bisacquino, Sicily and during WWII he made a series of films called, Why We Fight. And on a personal note, Frank Capra is my favorite director because his movies inspire me. Back in the 1980's I used to write him and call him on our birthdays to chat. Donna Reed in real life was an Iowa farm girl. She sweetens the film and is lovely, innocent and pure representing both Stewarts reward and proof that he made the right choice. Trivia: "The Greatest Gift" story did not sell so the author Philip Van Doren Stern had copies printed and included them in the Christmas cards he sent out in 1943. Just like The Wizard Of Oz, IAWL did not cover its high cost upon its original release and was deemed a box office flop. And although Oscar nominated for Best Film, Director and Star it received no Academy Awards. Frank Capra wrote in his autobiography that he closed his book on the film. He thought his dream was over But something had happened, fans found the film and wrote to him, mostly praising some complaining but they kept writing. Decades later he was still answering letters, but the studio forgot about the film and it fell into public domain. In the 1970s, hundreds of TV stations started to play it every holiday season because they did not have to pay royalties. And so people had the chance to see it more than once and with repeated viewings word of mouth began to build and spread. But I'm here to tell you it's not the only one. There are dozens, no make that hundreds of films nearly this good just waiting to be discovered. I'll toss out a few titles: MEET JOHN DOE; YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU; MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON; LOST HORIZON and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN. Anybody know who directed those masterpieces? I have a hand written letter I got back in the 1980s that reads,"Dear Larry, Frank Capra was a fine director with high ideals who was able to put them up on the big screen without preaching. Sincerely, James Stewart." Well find some friends & family to watch it with you and then sit back for some fun, and enjoy this gift from Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart. Or better yet, see it the way they meant for it to be shared, on THE BIG SCREEN just before Christmas. And one last thing, I am sure they would want me to wish you be sure to have a Wonderful Life!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story of how this film came about is a fun one
and was inspired by
a real court case. Married writers Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin were
driving to their country home under stormy conditions when, Kanin asked
his wife to tell him a story.
She told of the real-life divorce of actor Raymond Massey and his wife who had turned for legal help to married lawyers. The idea of husband- and-wife lawyers intrigued the husband-and-wife writers, who sat up till four the next morning talking. They wondered what would the lawyers home life be like after fighting all day in court?
During discussions of the possible plot, the Kanins fell into referring to the lawyers as Spence and Kate. They even included bits of the stars' personalities in the two characters they could play.
ADAM'S RIB was the first script written specifically for Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn since their first movie together, WOMAN OF THE YEAR, in 1942. George Cukor was the natural choice to direct. He worked with the Kanins on their first screenplay, A DOUBLE LIFE and he had directed Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy in 10 films all total and he knew their acting styles. Tracy did not like to rehearse and disliked suggestions. Cukor, instead would watch the dailies and marvel at the nuances in Tracy's face and say he often discovered on screen the performance he wanted to coax out of Tracy but was afraid to ask for.
Hepburn on the other hand loved rehearsals and she would try every variation on the reading of the lines and every nuance she could come up with to polish her performance.
Hepburn and Cukor visited courtrooms in Los Angeles to soak up details they could use to make the film more authentic. Once ready, the company moved to New York because one of their cast was still on stage on Broadway. Cukor was happy for the chance to capture a near-documentary feel for some scenes, while Hepburn was happy to return to her NYC apartment so close she could walk to the set each morning. Always discreet about their relationship, Tracy took a suite at the Waldorf, a few blocks from Hepburn's apartment.
Cukor said his greatest trouble when working with these two was that they constantly would give in to the others wishes. And I can tell you why, it's because they were really in love. And you will see it in their eyes on this BIG screen better than you ever have on TV. In real life these actors met while making WOMAN OF THE YEAR and even though Spencer was married he was separated from his wife and she said being Catholic she could never grant him a divorce. So Tracy and Hepburn kept their love mostly private for 25 years until Spencer died just weeks after finishing GUESS WHO CAME TO DINNER in 1967. He died in a guest house owned by tonight's director George Cukor that he shared with Katharine Hepburn.
ADAM'S RIB was the sixth of nine films in which Hepburn and Tracy were teamed. They are perfect together as a husband and wife that are sexy, flirting and fighting!
The working titles for this film were "Love Is Legal" and "Man and Wife." I like to think of it also as Another Star Is Born because it really launched Judy Holliday.
In 1949, Garson Kanin had recently scored a Broadway hit with his play BORN YESTERDAY and wanted its star, Judy Holliday, to repeat her stage role.
Kanin once worked for Harry Cohn the infamous tyrant that ran Columbia Studios, and Kanin couldn't sell Cohn the script for A DOUBLE LIFE so Kanin sold it to Universal Studios and it was a big hit for them winning an Oscar for Ronald Colman. Kanin wanted to get back at Cohn because he was such a bully to work for so Kanin wrote his next play about a character based on Cohn, and it was called BORN YESTERDAY! And when Kanin told his agent to get the highest price he could for selling the film rights he added, sell it to anybody except Harry Cohn. To which the agent added, for any price? To which Kanin replied, not even for a million dollars!
So who do you think bought it and how much did he pay??? Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures paid a record 1 million dollars for the film rights but he decided that Kanin's discovery Holliday was too unknown to play the part on screen.
When Kanin shared this problem at a story conference for ADAM'S RIB, Hepburn suggested casting Holliday in the film's key supporting role, a housewife who stands trial for shooting her straying husband. She even encouraged the Kanins to build up the role in order to make it more of a showcase, and then Hepburn helped convince Holliday to take the part. Initially, the young actress refused saying she didn't like a line that referred to her as "Fatso." Hepburn assured her that the word could be changed: "They're writers. They know lots of words." After she signed for the film, Holliday insisted that "fatso" be restored.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Billy Wilder was best known for dramas DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE LOST
WEEKEND & SUNSET BLVD. but taste where changing and he added a new
partner I.A.L. Diamond. And he wanted to get back to his roots when he
wrote screwball comedies like BALL OF FIRE, NINOTCHKA and MIDNIGHT.
Top 10 interesting things about SOME LIKE IT HOT
1) This is actually the third version of the story after the 1935 - French film and 1951 - German musical version. Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond changed it to 1920s gangster/prohibition setting and added St. Valentine's Day like massacre plot and cast 1930's actors Pat O'Brien, George E. Stone and George Raft as gangsters. Look for Edward G. Robinson Jr. (son of the Edward G. Robinson) to jump out of the cake near the end of the film!
2) Danny Kaye and Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis where all considered to secure studio financing with Mitzi Gaynor as the girl. But when Marilyn Monroe heard about the film she wrote to Wilder asking if she could be in it after the success they had with 1955's THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH. So after she was signed for $200,000 and 10% of the gross Wilder was then able to cast the cheaper newcomers he really wanted, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as the male leads.
3) Lemmon and Curtis were afraid of their young careers getting damaged, of the make-up & costumes not working and especially walking in high heels... they did hire a trainer but fired him after they realized walking like men in heels was funnier!
4) George Raft who started his career as a coin tossing gangster in the original 1932 SCARFACE was originally a dancer and taught Jack Lemmon & Joe E. Brown to tango so well, watch closely, they even pass a rose between their teeth while dancing!
5) Supposedly when costume designer Orry-Kelly was measuring all three stars for dresses, he half-jokingly told Marilyn Monroe, "Tony Curtis has a nicer rear end than you," at which point Monroe pulled open her blouse and said, "Yeah, but he doesn't have a chest like this!" Film critic Roger Ebert notes: "she wears a clinging, see-through dress, with gauze covering the upper slopes of her breasts, the neckline scooping to a censor's eyebrow north of trouble."
6) In 2008, a Californian man (who found a little black dress in his closet) was stunned when appraisers for U.S. TV series "Antiques Roadshow" determined it once belonged to Marilyn Monroe. The frock - which Monroe was sewn into for SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) - was estimated to be worth $250,000
7) Tony Curtis came up with the idea to having his character Shell Oil Jr. sound like Cary Grant, who upon seeing the film said "Nobody talks like that!"
8) Marilyn Monroe was famously fragile, shy, insecure and often late. Wilder said a scene that would normally take an hour to shoot took 3 days to get right. It required 47 takes to get "It's me, Sugar" correct. Another scene required Monroe to rummage through some drawers and say "Where's the bourbon?" After 40 takes, Wilder pasted the correct line in one of the drawers. After Monroe became confused about which drawer contained the line, Wilder had it pasted in every drawer. When she finally does say it, she has her back to the camera, leading some to wonder if Wilder finally gave up and had it dubbed.
The girls in the band tell the story of one day they couldn't get Marilyn out of her trailer so Wilder asked Monroe's stand-in to rehearse the song "Running Wild" with the crew. Before long Marilyn heard the music and someone else singing her song so she came out to see what was going on Wilder took one look at her and said, "OK everybody, now from the top " and Marilyn nailed it on the first take!
SOME LIKE IT HOT director Billy Wilder was once asked why he put up with Monroe's nonsense. He famously replied, "My Aunt Minnie would always be punctual and never hold up production, but who would pay to see my Aunt Minnie?"
9) RECOGNITION: 6 Oscar nominations for Writing, Director, Cinematography, Sets and Lemmon for Actor (unfortunately that year it was competing with BEN-HUR which in my opinion is not that funny and Charlton Heston wears an even shorter skirt! Not fair!) SOME LIKE IT HOT only won only one Academy Award for Best Costume (FOOTNOTE: for strategic engineering under substantial and natural monumental obstacles, I'm sure.) Golden Globe wins for Best Comedy, Actor Lemmon & Actress Monroe; the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency awarded it a "condemned" rating (it's now considered PG-13) and finally in the year 2000, the American Film Institute listed SOME LIKE IT HOT as the number one greatest American comedy film of all time. What's number two? TOOTSIE...
10) One last piece of trivia, about my favorite scene. When they previewed the movie they found a problem with one scene, the audience was laughing so hard they missed several jokes so Billy Wilder gave a pair of maracas to Jack Lemmon to shake between the punch lines and re- shot the scene to allow the audience time to get the laughs out of there system!
During the early days after America's entry into WWII, Hollywood cranked up the pro-war propaganda machine to both explain and justify our late participation and urgent need to catch up in the global battle against fascism. This pre-Pearl Harbor story concerns one he-man opportunist's efforts to juggle the bad guys and bad (?) girls with questionable motives. At times it looks like a film noir and other times a spy romance/melodrama, but with cynical dialogue by the master Ben Hecht and tough-guy direction by Henry Hathaway, this chop suey has enough meat and potatoes to satisfy. Example of the catchy language: George Montgomery says to sexy Lynn Bari, "I like you because you're everything a girl should be, 115 pounds of lies, venom and kisses." Another line has spy Victor McLaglen reporting the only Japanese he could translate from a secret document was the number 7 and the word Pearl!!! Oh - and the reason most folks will be watching - the China Girl, Gene Tierney is scrumptious!
Dateline: Hollywood, Saturday, September 3, 2005.
From the moment Cinecon festival host Bob Birchard walked out in front of the audience at the Egyptian Theater to announce that Jenny Paxson of The Library of Congress was here to talk about THE DANGER SIGNAL before the screening, the mood was eager anticipation. Meanwhile Jenny, from the back row of the balcony shouted, "WHAT!?" (It seems the staff had forgotten to ask her ) As she dashed downstairs, Bob continued, "Jenny said she would love to introduce the film," and a voice from the stairwell responded, "NO I DIDN'T!" which broke up the crowd. As Jenny tried to catch her breath, she explained how this newly struck print of a formerly lost film came about. The Library of Congress recently acquired an old nitrate print of the title in a recently purchased collection. Unfortunately, the print was put together out of sequence and some footage was missing. By making notes on index cards of each scene, she was able to resequence the new safety print into a cohesive story. Even though some scenes and title cards were missing and a few shots showed brief decomposition, the performances and the story were so involving as to make up for the brief jumps in the film. Out of breath but relieved, Jenny said she hoped the audience would enjoy this premiere screening of the new print. As the film unrolled and the now prepared audience watched, they let their guard down and let the film in. Accompanist Gabriel Thibodeau's score set the tone from the melodramatic opening all the way through to the exciting runaway train climax and the crowd responded with enthusiastic applause. When spectators expressed appreciation of the film to Jenny after the screening, she praised the work of Library of Congress quality control technicians Bruce Horrell and James Cozart for the restoration of a once lost silent gem. Now with this fresh find, film buff's batteries will be recharged to find and restore more titles! See it if you can at The Library Of Congress, Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia this September 18th, 2010 at 7:30pm and it's FREE!
I first saw this film on TV as a child in the 1960s and thought it
delightful and sad. All the characters learn about the values of life,
family, honesty and love. Yes it's packed with whole-kernel corn but
what's wrong with that? I enjoy a good film noir, screwball comedy or
even classic horror film but every once in a while it is good to think
about the hopes our grandparents had for a better world after WWII and
why we fought that war.
So if you don't like the WALTONS style of family values, please skip it and take in a modern film calculated by accountants and marketing departments to separate your money from your pocket.
But if you like a good story packed with an ensemble of very talented actors delivering charming home-spun dialogue in a near dream like world of hope, check this out.
My favorite line is delivered by the stunningly beautiful Marsha Hunt (who is still a beauty today!) when she tries to convince handsome James Craig they are both really in love, "You do love me, don't you? Yes you do, you know you do." Of course he walks away with his head in the clouds, and in love. You will be too when you give this dated cookie a bite!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was lucky enough to catch this short at a film festival (either CINEVENT, CINEFEST or CINESATION) a few years back and the audience couldn't have loved it more! Made in 1916, it is a two-reel spoof of the early movie industry. SPOILERS: It starts with comedic (and literal at 6'2) giant Mack Swain playing a ham actor going to a neighborhood movie theatre where his latest western is about to be shown. He poses next to his likeness on the film's poster out front until someone recognizes him and then he acts meek. (A running joke is that he keeps doing things to be center of attention and then acts humble as he starts reciting a long list of his accomplishments.) The manger of the theater, upon recognizing the "star," even has the projectionist create a magic lantern slide to announce the "star's" presence to the audience and to ask him to take a bow. To balance the adoration for our hero, a "real" actor from the legitimate stage also attends the showing and frowns at every appearance of the "flicker star" on the screen. Meanwhile our hero leads the applause every chance he gets as the audience and us viewers watch the western romance unfold on the screen. Polly Moran can be spotted as a star-struck fan sitting just behind Max Swain in the cinema. My girlfriend loved the pianist in the film accompanying the western with bells, whistles, gun shots, drum beats, and sound effect galore. With the right music, this little comedy gem goes from a 6 to a 9!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS: With high production values this musical short has laid back, 20's crooner Rudy Vallee as the "Judge of Musical Discretion" presiding over the "Court of Musical Justice." With the assistance of a jury of musicians, Vallee hears three separate cases. The first involves Rev. Yass Indeed of the Congregation of Exquisite Peace in the River Jordan vs. Choirmaster Henry Whitewash. As the Rev. Indeed tells it, he instructed his "lazy choir leader to give us a song" and he immediately swung into "something that upsets the dignity of my congregation." Whitewash claims that the Rev. spoke snappishly to him, so he sung snappily back. The jury, after retiring to the jury room and arguing through instrumental phrases, finds in favor of the Rev, and Vallee sentences Whitewash to "sing forever through a megaphone." Vallee quickly dispenses with the next case, a divorce, urging the couple to forget their quarrels through "A Little Kiss Each Morning, A Little Kiss Each Night." The final case is the State vs. Betty, in which the judge tells Betty Boop (in the person of Mae Questel) that "she has broken every law of music. . .this boop-boop-a-dooping must stop!" However, Boop's rendition of "Don't Take Away My Boop-Boop-a-Doop Away" results in a verdict of not guilty, and even an animated version of the statue of Justice gets into the act, dancing until her dress falls away. At first I gave it a 7, but it's almost an 8!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lovely Irene Dunne plays Maggie, a popular Broadway musical-comedy star saddled with a possessive, extravagant and selfishly-annoying family. Maggie would like to rest or leave the house once in a while to experience "real life," but her parents (Alice Brady, Guy Kibbee), former entertainers themselves, worry that they'll lose their meal ticket and stand in her way. Dan (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), a handsome stage-door Johnny, is the Prince Charming who wants to rescue Maggie from her relatives. Dan teaches the repressed Maggie how to have fun on little to no money by taking her roller-skating and to a German restaurant where she takes the lesson to heart and gets drunk on cheap beer. SPOILERS: Dan gallantly sneaks the lady home and then falls asleep on the couch outside her bedroom. When he is discovered in the morning by her shocked family, Maggie is forced to choose between her new leading man or her old cast of hangers-on. Will true love win? Fairbanks and Dunn are first rate as is the supporting cast: Lucille Ball, Billy Gilbert, Jean Dixon, Guy Kibbee, Eric Blore and Franklin Pangborn.
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