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.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Preston Sturges series: Screening of “Hail The Conquering Hero” September 13 at Daystar Center

Preston Sturges series: Hail The Conquering Hero
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: September 13, 2016
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) is a satirical comedy/drama about Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Eddie Bracken). Woodrow who wants to be a Marine like his father “Hinky Dinky” Truesmith who died a hero in World War I. After only a month, Woodrow is discharged from the Marines due to his chronic hay fever. Disappointed and embarrassed, Woodrow pretends to be fighting overseas while secretly working at a shipyard in San Diego.

Eddie Hodges, Ella Raines, William Demarest

By chance, Woodrow meets six Marines who just returned from the Battle of Guadalcanal in a local tavern. He buys them a round of drinks and discovers that Master Gunnery Sergeant Heffelfinger (William Demarest) served with Woodrow’s father in the 6th Marines in World War I. The Marines concoct a scheme to save Woodrow from embarrassment by telling his mother that he has received a medical discharge. The seemingly harmless deception gets completely out of control when Woodrow is given a hero’s welcome in his hometown.

Woodrow, never comfortable with the deception, is at the breaking point when his girlfriend Libby (Ella Raines), who he told not to wait for him, is engaged to the mayor’s son. Will Woodrow be able to tell the truth without destroying his family’s reputation? Will his hometown reject their “hero?”



This was Sturges’s last movie for Paramount. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. You’ll be happy to discover folks from the Preston Sturges stock company including Raymond Walburn, Franklin Pangborn, and Esther Howard.

In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”


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.



Friday, September 9, 2016

Mitzi Gaynor is on Twitter!

Movie and stage legend Mitzi Gaynor joined Twitter this August! The star of the classic movie musicals, There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), Les Girls (1957), The Joker Is Wild (1957), and probably her most famous role, Ensign Nellie Forbush, USN, in South Pacific (1958).

Gaynor was signed to a contract by Twentieth Century-Fox at age 19 and soon found herself in the musical  My Blue Heaven (1950) alongside Betty Grable and Dan Dailey. She quickly followed that with a featured role in Take Care of My Little Girl (1951) starring Jeanne Crain. Now on her way, Gaynor had her first starring role in Golden Girl (1951), a musical set against the backdrop of the Civil War. Next was the all-star romantic comedy We’re Not Married (1952) featuring, among others, Ginger Rogers, Fred Allen, Marilyn Monroe, and Paul Douglas. Other starring roles followed, including Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952), The I Don’t Care Girl (1953), Down Among the Sheltering Palms (1953), and the western Three Young Texans (1954). Her last film for Fox was There’s No Business Like Show Business, the studio’s first musical filmed in Cinemascope.
movie

In the mid-50s, Gaynor secured a contract with Paramount Pictures. Her first picture for that studio was Anything Goes (1956) also starring Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor. She followed that up with The Birds and the Bees (1956), a musical remake of The Lady Eve (1941), with Gaynor playing the role Barbara Stanwyck created in the original. Probably her most famous role at Paramount was in the film The Joker is Wild (1957) costarring Frank Sinatra and Jeanne Crain, another former Fox contractee (Crain starred in Take Care of My Little Girl featuring Gaynor). While filming The Joker is Wild, Gaynor auditioned for and won the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (1958). The film was a blockbuster at the box office, making it the biggest moneymaker that year and the highest grossing Rogers and Hammerstein musical until The Sound of Music (1965). Gaynor’s performance was nominated for a Golden Globe Award (Best Actress- Comedy or Musical) and the actress became an international star overnight.

Gaynor closed out the 1950s with the romantic comedy Happy Anniversary (1959) costarring David Niven. The film is notable for an early screen performance by Patty Duke (she played the daughter of Gaynor and Niven) who would go on to win an Academy Award for her next film, The Miracle Worker (1962)). Next up for Gaynor was the Stanley Donen directed comedy, Surprise Package (1960) costarring Yul Brynner and Noel Coward. Gaynor’s last screen role was in For Love or Money (1963) costarring Kirk Douglas.

With the end of the studio system and the demise of movie musicals, Gaynor put together a Vegas Act and concentrated on live stage performances as well as television specials. Today Gaynor is actively involved with charities, including The Professional Dancers Society. Gaynor has been president of that organization since 2003.

#TCMParty friends and others, why don’t you welcome Gaynor to Twitter (@TheMitziGaynor) by following her? You can also like her on Facebook and visit her official website.


Note: Some of the details for the above was taken from Ms. Gaynor’s official website.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Review: "LIFE Film Noir: 75 Years of the Greatest Crime Films"

When someone tweeted the cover of LIFE Film Noir: 75 Years of the Greatest Crime Films, I had to go out and buy it. After all it had Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney on the cover! What it is is a 96-page glorified magazine with neat images from some of the most famous films noir. Author/journalist J. I. Baker is credited on the masthead as editor and writer. The brief introduction is credited to him, but the essays that accompany the films don’t include bylines. The film profiles are short and the entire book can be read in under an hour.

Of the 20 films profiled—starting with The Maltese Falcon (1941) and ending with L.A. Confidential (1997)—film noir fans are bound to criticize some of the choices. I for one was surprised to see Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943) on the list. Shadow of a Doubt is one of my all-time favorite movies and although there are noir elements to it, I don’t generally associate it with noir. The writer acknowledges this by stating, “Though Hitchcock isn’t generally associated with noir, he had worked in Berlin early in his career and was deeply influenced by German expressionism, which helped define the genre’s look.”

Some of the other film choices are obvious: Double Indemnity (1944), Laura (1944), Mildred Pierce (1945), and Out of the Past (1947). The book also looks at more modern films (Neo Noir) like Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Dirty Harry (1971), Chinatown (1974) and Taxi Driver (1976).

Designed to sell on the newsstand along with magazines like People and Us, 75 Years of the Greatest Crime Films is worth a look, but at $13.99 retail, it may be a bit steep for what it offers. You can pick up your copy wherever magazine are sold and from Amazon. But a trip to your local library may be the most economical option.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Great films of 1939: "Wuthering Heights" September 3 at the Daystar Center

Great films of 1939: Wuthering Heights
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: September 3, 2016
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

Wuthering Heights (1939) is the tale of Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) and Cathy’s (Merle Oberon) tortured love affair, based on the novel by Emily Bronte. As a young boy, Heathcliff was rescued from poverty by Cathy's benevolent father. After his death, Cathy's brother Hindley treats Heathcliff like a hired hand. Heathcliff is filled with rage and bitterness, but he stays because of his love for Cathy, who longs for life of comfort and ease. Cathy eventually marries a wealthy neighbor, which makes Heathcliff burn with jealousy and makes him move embittered.


Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (William Wyler) Wuthering Heights is “one of the most romantic films Hollywood ever made,” this according to the Los Angeles Times.

Part of the “Great movies of 1939” series. Discover some of the greatest movies from Hollywood’s most famous year.


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.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Tab Hunter Confidential now on DVD and Blu-ray

Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm) was a teen idol during the mid-1950s. Hunter starred in dozens of movies—most of which are forgettable—but his popularity with teenage girls was phenomenal, making him a top box office attraction. He even scored a number 1 hit record—“Young Love”—that knocked Elvis out of the top spot. So popular was Hunter as a singer that Jack Warner at Warner Bros. founded Warner Records specifically to promote their hot property. The documentary Tab Hunter Confidential, based on his autobiography, tells his story.

Hunter was born in New York City to Gertrude Gelien and Charles Kelm. Hunter’s dad was abusive to his mother. His parents eventually divorced with his mother taking her two sons (Hunter had an older brother named Walter) and moving to California.  Even as a teenager, Hunter’s good looks got noticed. He got so much attention from the opposite sex in school that he joined the Coast Guard at 15, lying about his age, to escape. He was eventually discharged from the Coast Guard when his real age was revealed. Now a California boy, Hunter was signed by agent Henry Wilson in the early 1950s and eventually landed a long-term contract with Warner Bros. Wilson was also the agent of Hollywood heartthrobs Guy Madison, Rock Hudson, and Rory Calhoun. Hunter appeared in several forgettable films, but caught the public’s attention as a Marine having an affair with a married woman in the World War II drama Battle Cry (1955), one of the biggest films of that year. He was quickly given male lead status in films like The Burning Hills and The Girl He Left Behind (both 1956 and both costarring Natalie Wood). During this time, Hunter was appearing on television, performing in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates (1958) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1959). It’s hard for us to imagine today how popular Hunter was. Not only was he a movie star, but he was a recording artist who sold millions of records. The publicity machine said Hunter was “6" of rugged manhood who stirred the heart of every woman” and he was called “The Sigh Guy” which was based on the reaction of his female fans upon seeing him.


Like many Hollywood idols, Hunter had a secret. He was a homosexual (he recounts that the term gay was never used in his day). Hunter says his homosexuality was the worst kept secret in Hollywood, but the studio publicity machine at Warners kept the rumors at bay by pairing him on dates with young female stars like Debbie Reynolds and Wood. Hunter details his relationships with actor Tony Perkins and champion figure skater Ronnie Roberston (Hunter himself was a competitive figure skater in his teens), as well as with Etchika Choureau, his French costar in Lafayette Escadrille (1958).

The documentary presents Hunter, a naturally shy and modest man, front and center. He details his struggles with his hidden private life. It also features input and commentary on the times by Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Connie Stevens, George Takei, and Clint Eastwood. Also in the mix are film critic Rex Reed, gossip columnist Rona Barrett and many others. These friends and costars help put 1950s Hollywood and the old studio system and the power they waged over their contract players into context. In spite of all these conflicts, Hunter was dedicated to his work and honoring his contract. Unfortunately, he felt that some of his best work was on loan from his home studio. Hunter points to Gunman’s Walk (1958) where he was cast against type as a murderer and That Kind of Woman (1959) opposite Sophia Loren. Hunter disillusioned with the roles Warners was offering him decided to buy out his contract and work as a freelance artist. This was the beginning of the end. Hunter said, “leaving Warner Bros. was career suicide.” Without the backing of a major studio, Hunter found it difficult to obtain lead roles in major Hollywood productions. This and the fact that Hunter’s All-American image was losing its luster with the public. His fall was quick. He went from costarring with Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth in They Came to Condura (1959) to flying on a magic carpet in The Golden Arrow (1962), an Italian production that dubbed someone else’s voice for his in English?! He received third billing (under Fabian and Shelley Fabares) in the surfer movie Ride the Wild Surf (1964), and perhaps the worst of this period, The Birds Do It (1966) playing second banana to Soup Sales.

In the late 1960s, Hunter worked steadily in dinner theater. In the 1970s, Hunter guest starred on television appearing in shows like The Love Boat, Police Woman, Hawaii Five-O, and Charlie’s Angels. His career took a wild turn when John Waters cast him as Todd Tomorrow in Polyester (1981) opposite transvestite drag queen Divine. The attention was short-lived; no major movie roles followed.

Hunter’s last film role was in  Dark Horse (1992), based on his original story about Allison Mills, a girl crippled in an accident with her favorite horse, Jet, also crippled. Allison learns to rise above her disability with the help of Jet who eventually runs again.

The above could be Hunter’s story. Introduced to horses and horseback riding by his older brother, Hunter was most at home caring for and riding horses in competition. He’s now retired and living with his long-time partner, film producer Allan Glaser, in Santa Barbara, California. According to Glaser, Hunter’s main joy in life is taking care of his horse Harlow, grooming her and cleaning her stall every day.

Tab Hunter Confidential is available from Amazon.com in DVD and Blu-ray formats.
Run Time 90 minutes
DVD Released August 23, 2016
Not rated

Friday, August 26, 2016

2017 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival date set: April 6 – 9, 2017

The dates for the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival have been set for April 6 – 9, 2017. Tickets will go on sale sometime in November.

Held over four days in the heart of Hollywood, the TCM Classic Film Festival is a place where movie lovers from around the world can gather to experience classic movies as they were meant to be experienced: on the big screen, in some of the world’s most iconic venues, with the people who made them. Moreover, the TCM Classic Film Festival strives to be a place where a community of movie fans of all ages can share their love of classic movies with each other, make new friends and see films as they are seldom seen today.

Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy In The Movies
“A day without laughter is a day wasted,” said Charles Chaplin, and we at TCM concur. Join us for the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival, exploring COMEDY IN THE MOVIES. From lowbrow to high, slapstick to sophisticated comedies of manners—we will showcase the greatest cinematic achievements of lone clowns, comedic duos and madcap ensembles.

2017 Festival Pass Information:
Passes for the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival are set to go on sale to the public in November 2016. Fans will be able to purchase them through the TCM Classic Film Festival website. The number of passes available is limited, especially for top-level “Spotlight” passes.

The “Spotlight” Festival Pass: $2,149 – Includes all privileges available to “Classic” and “Essential” passholders, plus entry to all screening events; entry to the exclusive
opening-night party following the red-carpet gala screening at TCL Chinese Theatre; meet-and-greet events with TCM hosts and special guests, and a limited edition TCM Classic Film Festival poster.

The “Essential” Festival Pass: $799 – Includes all privileges available to “Classic” passholders, plus entry to the opening-night red-carpet gala screening at TCL Chinese Theatre and official TCM Classic Film Festival collectibles.

The “Classic” Festival Pass: $649 – Includes four-day access to film programs at all festival venues Thursday, April 6 – Sunday, April 9 (does not include admittance to the opening-night red-carpet gala screening at TCL Chinese Theatre or the opening-night party); access to all Club TCM events, panels and poolside screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; an opening-night welcome reception at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; and the closing-night event.

The “Palace” Festival Pass: $299 – Includes three-day access to screenings at three historic venues, Friday, April 7 – Sunday, April 9 : the TCL Chinese Theatre (excluding the opening-night red-carpet gala), the Egyptian Theatre, and poolside screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Note: This pass does not grant entry to the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres multiplex, Club TCM events or official parties and receptions

To stay on top of TCM Classic Film Festival news, click here.
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