Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2015 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival Recap

The 2015 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival ended Sunday evening, but here I am, on Tuesday still basking in the afterglow. As a first-time attendee, the festival exceeded my expectations.

I met attendees from around the country and the world, met fellow movie bloggers for the first time
that I’ve known online for years, and watched and enjoyed some favorite classic films—16 films in four days—on the big screen with fellow classic film enthusiasts. Honestly, what could be better than that?

Robert Osborne was missed, but the festival went forward without a hitch. With great hosts like Ben Mankiewicz—who my friend Kristina got to speak with right before she left—Illeana Douglas, Eddie Mueller, and Leonard Maltin, who soldiered on with a twisted ankle, how could it go wrong?

I found it difficult to walk along Hollywood Boulevard with my mouth closed, viewing and taking photos of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the famous footprints—Jeanne Crain anyone?—in the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre. And what a treat to actually see these classic films in legendary movie palaces like the Pantages, The Egyptian, and El Capitan.


Surely one of the benefits of the festival is meeting and making friends with fellow classic movie fans. It was wonderful to finally meet Laura (how could I not like someone whose avatar is a pic of Deanna Durbin) and Kristina, two bloggers I’ve followed for years and whose writing I admire. It was also fun to meet Joel and Trevor, two of the managers of @TCM_Party Twitter account and Kelly and Aurora, two of the most enthusiastic movie fans and all-around wonderul and friendly women on the planet (and okay, they write pretty well too).

Over the next few days and weeks I’ll give you a day-by-day recount of my experiences at the festival and I’m compiling some suggestions for first-time attendees (I hope many get the opportunity to attend). I mean, what could be better than watching a restored print of Calamity Jane with a theater full of Doris Day fans? Answer: not much!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

“Hitchcock in the 50s” film series to launch March 10 with screening of “Stage Fright”

Alfred Hitchcock directing Marlene Dietrich and Jane Wyman
on the set of Stage Fright
The 2015 Film Club is back at The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State St., Chicago. Hosted by Stephen Reginald, the film club will feature “Hitchcock in the 50s.” Alfred Hitchcock films to be screened, include Rear Window, Vertigo, and North By Northwest. Movies will be screened at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesdays of the month, starting March 11, 2015. Reginald will introduce each film giving background information before screenings, with discussion afterward. Reginald is a freelance writer/editor and popular instructor at Facets Film School in Chicago.


Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most successful directors in the history of film. During the 1950s, Hitchcock, no longer under contract to producer David O. Selznick, was  able to produce and direct properties that he truly believed in. During the 50s, Hitchcock produced some of his most famous and commercially successful movies, including Rear Window and Vertigo. Few directors’ work has be dissected and analyzed the way Hitchcock’s work has. Always focused on entertaining the audience first, “The Master’s” work remains fresh and contemporary and ripe for discussion.

Join us for “Hitchcock in the 50s!”


Stage Fright, one of Hitchcock’s most underrated thrillers features great performances from recent Oscar winner Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, and Alastair Sim. Wyman plays Eve Gill, a drama student who becomes a maid to stage star Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich) in an attempt to clear the name of her friend Jonathan Cooper (Todd) who she believes is being framed for murder by Inwood. None of the characters in Stage Fright are what they seem to be, which makes for a very entertaining movie. Filmed in England with a wonderful ensemble cast that also includes Sybil Thorndike, Kay Walsh, and Patricia Hitchcock. Be careful because you may find yourself suffering from stage fright!

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
Once a month we screen a classic film and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. To purchase your ticket in advance, click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.


Other dates and films screened

April 14, 2015                Strangers on a Train
May 12, 2015                 I Confess
June 9, 2015                  Dial M for Murder
July 14.2015                  Rear Window
August 11, 2015            To Catch A Thief
September 15, 2015      The Wrong Man
October 13, 2015           Vertigo
November 10, 2015       North By Northwest

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lizabeth Scott the quintessential “noir dame” dead at 92

Lizabeth Scott who became a star playing the femme fatale in many popular noir films from the mid-1940s to the early-1950s, passed away on January 31, 2015. She was 92 years old. In her prime, Scott starred opposite Burt Lancaster, Dick Powell, Robert Mitchum, and Humphrey Bogart. Scott was often compared, sometimes unfavorably, to Lauren Bacall because of her striking blond good looks and her husky voice.

Scott started out pursuing a career in the theater. In 1938 at 18, she found herself touring in Hellzapoppin. Her role in this production required her to do sketch comedy. Her next big break came as understudy to Tallulah Bankhead in the original Broadway production of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth. Bankhead never missed a performance. After Bankhead left, she was replaced by Miriam Hopkins. During Hopkins’s run, Scott went on for one night with great success. After Hopkins, Gladys George took over. George had no understudy, but Scott was called in to replace George during a brief illness. Scott’s performance was noted by Hollywood, but she wasn’t interested in a career in film, so she continued her theater studies and earned a living by modeling.


Producer Hal Wallis, who had just left Warner Brothers for Paramount, persuaded Scott to sign a film contract. Her first picture was the comedy-drama You Came Along (1945) costarring Robert Cummings. With a script by Ayn Rand, the plot centered on an Army Air Force officer (Cummings) hiding his leukemia from a US Treasury PR woman (Scott) traveling with him on a bond tour. Scott’s next role in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) would define her movie persona for the rest of her film career. The legendary Lewis Milestone directed the popular film noir starring the top-billed Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin. Though her role wasn’t all that big, she received good notices. Her blond good looks and husky low voice fascinated moviegoers.

Scott’s breakout performance came in Dead Reckoning (1947) where she shared equal billing with Humphrey Bogart. As Bogart’s duplicitous girlfriend and torch singer Coral “Dusty” Chandler, Scott is both mysterious and beguiling. Next up was the Hal Wallis production of Desert Fury (1947). One of the few noir films shot in Technicolor, Scott was billed under John Hodiak, but above Burt Lancaster. Panned by the critics when first released, today it is considered a classic by many noir aficionados. Scott had a brief reprieve from heavy drama with a comedy sketch in Paramount’s all-star Variety Girl (1947). The next year would see Scott back in another noir, I Walk Alone (1948) once again costarring Burt Lancaster. More roles followed, Pitfall (1948) costarring Dick Powell, Too Late For Tears (1948) costarring Don Defore, Dan Duryea, and Aruthur Kennedy, Easy Living (1949) costarring Victor Mature and Lucille Ball.

By the early 1950s, with the movie business changing, film roles were harder to come by. Scott, like many movie stars, worked on television during its golden age. A trained singer, Scott recorded an album in 1957 titled Lizabeth. That same year, Scott starred opposite Elvis Presley in Loving You where she played the manager of a country band who discovers Deke Rivers (Presley) and makes him a star. After Loving You, Scott pretty much vanished, pursuing personal interests in education and charity work. Her last film was Pulp (1972), a comedy that poked fun at the noir genre.

Scott will go down in history as someone who appeared in more noir films than any other actress. She will also be remembered for her iconic look and sensual low voice. To film fans, she will be remembered as the perfect “noir dame” who could hold her own against any tough guy that crossed her path.

Friday, January 30, 2015

“The Fast and The Furious” (1955) Free today

Happy Birthday Dorothy and John
In honor of the birthdays of the film’s two stars, Dorothy Malone (90 years old today!) and John Ireland, The Movie & Music Network is offering the movie for free today. To see the movie click here.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Screening of Hitchcock’s “Notorious” at Daystar Center February 10, 2015

When: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street

It’s complicated
Notorious is the most complex and perhaps the best of Alfred Hitchcock’s films produced during his first decade in America. The film features the star power of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, two of the director’s favorite performers. It also showcases the director’s technical storytelling skills, skills that he honed during his tenure in Hollywood.

Pretty as a picture
Grant and Bergman were two of the most glamorous movies stars of the day and they are photographed exquisitely by famed cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff. The close-ups of the two stars are beautifully lit and staged. Many of the shots are framed so well that they stand on their own as works of art.

Nazis in hiding
The plot revolves around Alicia Huberman (Bergman), the American daughter of a convicted Nazi spy. Intelligence agent T. R. Devlin (Grant) recruits her to infiltrate a group of Nazis hiding out in Brazil after World War II. Devlin arranges things so that Alicia reacquaints herself, with Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), the leader of the Nazis in Rio de Janeiro. Sebastian was smitten with Alicia several years earlier and is eager to try and woo her once again.

Cover blown
Things get complicated when Sebastian proposes marriage to Alicia. Devlin who has feelings for her reacts badly to this development and withdraws emotionally. Alicia marries Sebastian and continues her work as an agent of the United States government. After a party at their home, Sebastian discovers that his wife is a double agent and has been spying on him. With the help of his mother (Leopoldine Konstantin), Sebastian sets about to slowly poison Alicia in an attempt to hide her true identity from his fellow Nazi conspirators. Will his plan be successful?

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman at the racetrack
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
Once a month we screen a classic film and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. To purchase your ticket in advance, click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Backstory: David O. Selznik had originally planned to produce Notorious himself, but sold the property to RKO. Selznik lobbied for Joseph Cotton, who was under contract to the producer, to play Devlin. Hitchcock wanted Cary Grant. Hitchcock obviously won that fight. Clifton Webb and George Saunders were considered for the role of Sebastian. Selznik recommended Claude Rains for the role, which Hichcock agreed with. Notorious premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 15, 1946 with Hitchcock, Bergman and Grant in attendance.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Rod Taylor star of “The Birds” and “The Time Machine” is dead at 84

Rodney Sturt “Rod” Taylor was born on January 11, 1930 in a suburb of Sydney, Australia. He was the only child of a construction worker (William Sturt Taylor) and commercial artist and writer of children’s books Mona Taylor (née Thompson).

Taylor trained as a commercial artist, but got the acting bug after seeing Laurence Olivier on the stage in Australia while he was on tour.

The actor came to America to pursue his career and was signed to a long-term contract with M-G-M. During this period he had supporting roles in A Catered Affair, Raintree County, and Giant (sometimes billed as Rodney Taylor).

His big break came when he was cast in the George Pal production of H.G. Wells’s classic The Time Machine (1960). Another great part came his way in 1963 when director Alfred Hitchcock cast Taylor as Mitch Brenner in the thriller The Birds (1963), costarring Hitchcock discovery ‘Tipi’ Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette, and Jessica Tandy. Other starring roles would come Taylor’s way including Sunday in New York (1963), costarring Jane Fonda and Cliff Robertson, the all-star The V.I.P.s, and the John Ford production of Young Cassidy (1965), costarring Julie Christie and Maggie Smith. In the late 1960s, Taylor costarred with Doris Day in two popular film comedies: Do Not Disturb (1965) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). He was top-billed in the all-star production of the Arthur Hailey bestseller Hotel (1967).

In the 1970s, Taylor had roles in television, including the lead in Bearcats! From 1988 to 1990 Taylor had a recurring role on Falcon Crest starring Jane Wyman. Taylor’s last major film role was a cameo as Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (2009).

Taylor would have celebrated his 85th birthday on Sunday January 11.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” to screen January 13, 2015 at Daystar Center

When: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street

Spellbinding Suspense
Spellbound (1945) The Master’s first collaboration with star Ingrid Bergman is an intriguing look into the “secret recesses of the mind” as described in the New York Herald Tribune’s review. 

The Mysterious Dr. Edwardes
Bergman plays Dr. Constance Peterson, a dedicated psychiatrist who puts her career on the line when she falls in love with Dr. Edwardes (Gregory Peck). Is Dr. Edwardes an impostor, pretending to be someone he is not in order to avoid arrest for a cold-blooded murder? Or is he a victim of some horrible event from his past that threatens to destroy him? 

Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman
A David O.Selznick Production
Produced by David O. Selznick, Spellbound is a stylish and complex love story, featuring standout performances from Bergman and Peck. The dream sequences designed by artist Salvidor Dali are hauntingly beautiful, as is the film’s score by Miklos Rozsa (Ben-Hur).

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
Once a month we screen a classic film and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. To purchase your ticket in advance, click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Backstory: Spellbound was one of the first films to deal with psychoanalysis. Producer David O. Selznick had his own psychoanalyst on the set for accuracy. Selznick objected to the use of artist Salvador Dali because of the expense, but then decided that the publicity his work would bring to the project would be worth it.
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