Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from Classic Movie Man!

Have a classic Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Noirvember film finale: “Road House” November 26, 2016 at Daystar Center

Noirvember Film Series: Road House
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: November 26, 2016
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald



Road House is one of my favorite melodramas from the late 1940s. It stars Ida Lupino in her first role as a “freelance” movie star. After her contract with Warner Bros. ended, Twentieth Century Fox mogul, Darryl F. Zanuck hired Lupino for the lead role of Lily Stevens.

In the film, Lily is hired by Jefty Robbins (Richard Widmark) to sing at his road house near the Canadian border. Little does she know that Jefty has more on his mind than hiring a new singer. Enter Pete Morgan (Cornel Wilde), Jefty’s friend and road house manager. At first, Pete and Lily are at odds, but soon a romance develops between them, enraging Jefty. Jefty is so crazy with jealousy over Pete and Lily’s romance that he sets Pete up and has him arrested and tried for burglary. In a perverted twist, Jefty asks the judge to remand Pete to his custody so he can break him and Lily. Road House coworker Susie Smith (Celeste Holm) acts as a buffer between the two lovers and Jefty.

Lupino’s characterization as the hard-edged lounge singer is a hoot. She smokes, drinks, and plays the piano all at the same time, making it seem natural and easy. Not too many actresses could make this work, but Lupino does so with great skill, including giving Lily a voice that sounds like whiskey and gravel. The heat generated between Lupino and Wilde is pretty hot, even by today’s standards. Director Jean Negulesco keeps the action moving, building things toward the dramatic conclusion.

Road House may not be a classic in the truest sense of the word, but it’s a ton of fun and not to be missed. 

Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark, Ida Lupino in Road House
Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.


Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Noirvember starts with “Laura” at the Daystar Center, November 5

The Noirvember film series begins Saturday night with Laura (1944) at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street. The movie begins at 6:45 p.m.

Set among Park Avenue society, Laura concerns the murder of Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), a beautiful young woman who captivated every man she met. Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the murder  by questioning the men in Laura’s life: literary critic Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) and playboy fiancĂ© Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). Did they have motives to kill Laura? Hypnotized by Laura’s portrait, as he continues the investigation, McPherson finds himself falling in love. When the case takes a strange turn, the suspense really begins. Filled with witty dialogue and one of the most famous film scores of all time, Laura is considered one of the best films noir ever produced.


The complete schedule for the Noirvember series is listed below. All films begin at 6:45 p.m.

Murder, My Sweet (1945) November 12
Gilda (1946) November 19
Road House (1948) November 26

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sullivan’s Travels: “There’s always a girl in the picture”

The posters for Sullivans Travels
emphasize “The Girl.”
Preston Sturges was one writer-director who could make fun of the American public and their conventions without insulting them. Even when he makes fun of motherhood, romance, and marriage, he never makes you feel foolish for believing in them. In 1941 Sturges took on the motion picture business that is both hilarious and poignant.

John L. (Sully) Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is a successful motion picture director best know for light comedies and musicals like Ants in Your Plants of 1939. However, at this point in his career he wants to tackle more serious fare. “Something like Capra” studio executive Mr. Hadrian (Porter Hall) says, to which Sullivan retorts. “What’s the matter with Capra?” He wants to film O, Brother Where Art Thou?, a novel that deals with “social significance” (think The Grapes of Wrath). Sullivan says “conditions have changed, these are troublous times.” The studio executives, Mr. Lebrand (Robert Warwick) and Mr. Hadrian, see their top moneymaker slipping away so they ask Sullivan what he knows about trouble? While Lebrand and Hadrian contrast Sullivan’s charmed life—boarding school, college—with their own hardscrabble youth—mostly fiction—selling newspapers and supporting their families. Sullivan has to admit that he doesn’t know what trouble is. At this point, Lebrand and Hadrian try to coax him into making Ants in Your Pants of 1941 with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, Jack Benny and Rochester, all names movie audiences would have been familiar with. This name-dropping continues throughout, which makes it even more enjoyable for classic movie fans.

Preston Sturges directs Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea
But no, Sullivan is determined to learn about suffering by disguising himself as a tramp with only a dime in his pocket! The studio suits reluctantly give in to Sullivan, but plan to exploit his adventure. They enlist studio publicist Mr. Casalsis (Franklin Pangborn) who has renovated DeMille’s “land yacht” that he used while filming Northwest Mounted Police (1940) to follow Sullivan. Along for the ride are a doctor, a writer, a secretary, a radio operator, a cook, studio publicists, and a driver. Sullivan ditches this group and spends a day with two sisters working as their handyman. When one sister gets too amorous, he runs away and hitches a ride with a truck driver who lets Sullivan out in Hollywood, the town he’s been trying to get away from. Sullivan stumbles into a diner where he meets “The Girl”—“There’s always a girl in the picture” (Veronica Lake) who has decided to leave Hollywood and forget about a career in the movies. At first she takes pity on Sullivan thinking he’s a tramp down on his luck, even buying him breakfast, until it’s revealed that he is in fact a famous director who knows (Ernst) Lubitsch, the director she would most like to meet.

McCrea and Lake at a revival meeting
When Sullivan goes back on his journey The Girl convinces him to take her along. Dressed as tramps, they travel with the poor and downtrodden, eating at soup kitchens, and sleeping in shelters. At one point they’re reduced to looking through trashcans for food. Sullivan decides they’ve had enough and the two return to Hollywood. Sullivan feels he has now “suffered enough” to direct O, Brother Where Art Thou? Before he returns to directing, Sullivan secretly hands out five-dollar bills to the homeless folks in appreciation for those who were kind to him. Unfortunately one man wants more and assaults Sullivan, steals the money and loads the unconscious director on a freight train. The thief runs away accidentally dropping cash on the train tracks. While trying to pick up the money, the thief is hit and killed by a train. When his mangled body is discovered, a studio identification card sewn into his boots identifies him as Sullivan (the thief stole Sullivan’s boots earlier). The studio and The Girl are informed that Sullivan is dead.

Sullivan and the chain gang watch a Mickey Mouse cartoon.
Sullivan wakes up in a freight car with no memory of what had happened to him. Due to his confusion and memory loss, he ends up assaulting a railroad worker who finds him. This assault lands him on a chain gang. When his memory comes back, no one believes he is John L. Sullivan the famous director. As life on the chain gang becomes more routine, he and the other prisoners go to a black church where they see the Walt Disney cartoon Playful Pluto. At first Sullivan watches the cartoon looking glum and unhappy, but when he sees the audience laughing, he joins them. It’s at this point he has an epiphany. Maybe directing movies that make people laugh, helping them to forget their troubles for a while, is nobler than he thought. Out goes his plans to film O, Brother Where Art Thou?, but how does he get off the chain gang?

Sullivan has an epiphany!
While thinking of ways to get off the chain gang, he has a brainstorm. He says he killed John L. Sullivan, which gets his picture in the paper and he is quickly released. When The Girl, now a movie star, sees Sullivan alive on the front page of the newspaper, she leaves the set (where Sturges is the director). She runs out of the soundstage, where she almost mows down Ray Milland, who looks like he’s in costume for Reap the Wild Wind (1941). Sullivan is released and reunited with the girl and his studio, but he decides “There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan.”

Sullivan is too happy to make O, Brother Where Art Thou?
Sturges supposedly wrote Sullivan’s Travels as a response to other comedy films that he thought tended to be preachy. I like to think that he was commenting on Hollywood and its tenancy to take itself too seriously. Preston Sturges loved movie comedy enough to make fun of it even if it was at his own expense.

This post is part of the Hollywood on Hollywood blogathon sponsored by the Classic Movie Blog Association (CMBA) running from October 17 to October 21, 2016. To read more posts in the Hollywood on Hollywood blogathon, click here.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Screening of the "The Innocents" October 15 at Daystar Center

October Film Series: The Innocents
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: October 15, 2016
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

The Innocents (1961) Deborah Kerr stars as Miss Giddens, a governess in nineteenth-century England. She is solely responsible for the education and well being of two small children (Miles and Flora) in a remote Victorian mansion. When strange things start happening, which includes the childrens’ personalities changing, Miss Giddens begins to think the departed spirits of the former governess and her lover are haunting them. Are they really being haunted or has the governess given in to hysterics due to an overactive imagination?

Based on Henry James’s novella, The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents is one of the scariest films ever made. French director Francois Truffant thought The Innocents was “the best British film since Hitchcock left for America.”


Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.


Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.


Daystar Center located at 1550 S. State St. works through a grassroots network of collaborations and partnerships with individuals and other nonprofit organizations. Through this web, they’re able to provide educational, cultural, and civic activities that enrich and empower their clients, guests, and community members. To learn more about classes and events offered at the Daystar Center, please visit their Web site.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Halloween film series at Daystar Center starting October 8 with “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”

The Chicago Film Club’s Halloween series begins with a screening of the classic The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) Saturday October 8, 2016 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State St. All movies start at 6:45 p.m.

A haunted cottage by the sea
When a young widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) rents a house by the sea, she finds that it’s haunted by the ghost of Captain Gregg (Rex Harrison), the home's original owner. The two clash at first, but come to an understanding that turns into friendship and eventually love. When a flesh-and-blood suitor (George Sanders) makes a play for Lucy, what will become of the captain? This beautifully filmed movie (Charles Lang’s black and white cinematography was Oscar nominated) gave Tierney the chance to play a woman of warmth and character, rather than the icy, aloof beauty she was too often cast as.

Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir and Rex Harrison as Captain Gregg in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Top-flight talent
Besides the cast, the film has quite the pedigree. The film score was composed by the legendary Bernard Herrmann (Vertigo, Psycho, Taxi Driver). Charles Lang (Sabrina, Some Like it Hot) was in charge of the black and white cinematography. Lang was nominated for 18 Academy Awards. Film editor Dorothy Spencer (Stagecoach, Foreign Correspondent) worked with some of the best directors in Hollywood, including Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and Elia Kazan edited the film. Fred Sersen who was in charge of the photographic effects department at Twentieth Century-Fox created the film’s special effects. Sersen won two Academy Awards for Best Effects (Crash Dive, The Rains Came). Gene Tierney’s husband, Oleg Cassini, designed the actress’s costumes. Cassini dressed Jacqueline Kennedy when she was First Lady. And last, but not least, the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Makiewicz is most famous for writing and directing All About Eve (1950), but he also directed A Letter to Three Wives (1949), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), Cleopatra (1963), and Sleuth (1972).


Other movies scheduled below:

October 15—The Innocents (1961) starring Deborah Kerr
October 22—The Body Snatcher (1945) starring Boris Karloff
October 29—Psycho (1960) starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh

Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.


Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.


Daystar Center located at 1550 S. State St. works through a grassroots network of collaborations and partnerships with individuals and other nonprofit organizations. Through this web, they’re able to provide educational, cultural, and civic activities that enrich and empower their clients, guests, and community members. To learn more about classes and events offered at the Daystar Center, please visit their Web site.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Great films of 1939: "Love Affair" October 1 at the Daystar Center

Great films of 1939: Love Affair
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: October 1, 2016
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

Love Affair (1939) is the original romance directed by Leo McCarey (The Awful Truth) starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer.

French painter Michel Marnet (Boyer) and American singer Terry McKay (Dunne) meet aboard a transatlantic ocean liner. Both are engaged, but they are attracted to each other and spend considerable time together. They quickly become the talk of the ship so the two try to be more discreet by eating alone and avoiding being seen together. The ship stops in Madeira where they visit with Michel’s grandmother Janou (Maria Ouspenskaya). His grandmother loves Terry and she wants Michel to settle down and marry her.


When they arrive in New York City, Michel and Terry agree to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months. Six months is the amount of time Michel needs to decide if he can drop the playboy life and support a relationship with Terry.

Remade with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr as An Affair to Remember (1957) and although charming in its own right, it has nothing on the original, which is rarely seen. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Actress (Dunne), Best Supporting Actress (Ouspenskaya), and Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Mildred Cam and McCarey).

Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.


Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.


Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.


Daystar Center located at 1550 S. State St. works through a grassroots network of collaborations and partnerships with individuals and other nonprofit organizations. Through this web, they’re able to provide educational, cultural, and civic activities that enrich and empower their clients, guests, and community members. To learn more about classes and events offered at the Daystar Center, please visit their Web site.
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