Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2016

Today Marks the 81st Anniversary of the Release of "The Bride of Frankenstein"



I've already written plenty about Bride of Frankenstein, but - let's get real - it's one of my favorite movies of all time.  I'm going to talk about it whether anyone cares or not.

The movie was released on April 22nd, 1935.  I've now seen it, probably 16 or 17 times, and every time I watch, like all great movies, I don't just enjoy it, I get something new out of it.  In short, I can't recommend it enough.  And, if you do watch it and don't like it, or if you don't see what I like about it, I'm always happy to chat on the topic.

Yes, the movie is supposed to be funny, so you may feel okay about laughing.  If you ever see Una O'Conner show up in anything, it's okay to laugh.  Yes, the film is supposed to be weird in both the modern and classic sense of the word, and it's generally the uncanny atmosphere of the movie I relish more than anything resembling a scare.  But, yes, it's mildly scary, sometimes, I guess.  And sad.  Only Dr. Pretorius here is having any fun.  Both Frankenstein the Doctor and Being are caught up in a world that torments them despite their better intentions and honest desires.

A complete story in only 80 minutes or so, even if I think you're selling yourself a disservice not watching Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein back-to-back for a good 3 hour movie.

Below are some posters for the picture - not the Mondo posters, many of which I quite like, but the original posters.  And, then, some of photography from stills and the film itself - one of the best visually imagined of the Universal Horror movies - or any movie in any year.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ann Miller

Ann Miller and I share a birthday, but she has better legs.

Here she is in Easter Parade, performing "Shakin' the Blues Away".



indeed.

On the Event of My 41st

Innocent When You Dream
Tom Waits



The bats are in the belfry
The dew is on the moor
Where are the arms that held me?
And pledged her love before?
And pledged her love before?

It's such a sad old feeling
The hills are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream
When you dream, you're innocent when you dream

I made a golden promise
That we would never part
I gave my love a locket
And then I broke her heart
And then I broke her heart

It's such a sad old feeling
The fields are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream
Innocent when you dream

Running through the graveyard
We laughed my, friends and I
We swore we'd be together
Until the day we died
Until the day we died

It's such a sad old feeling
The fields are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream
When you dream




Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bette Davis' 108th Birthday


Today would be the 108th birthday of Bette Davis.

Bette Davis passed in 1989, leaving behind a legacy of terrific film roles in a wide array of genres.  I'm quite fond of Davis, and when watching her, sometimes wonder if there would be a place for her in Hollywood of 2016.  I don't think she'd find much to do in movies - maybe she'd be an indie darling.  I do think she'd reign supreme over a critically beloved, poorly rated cable TV series that would run for 7 years or so.

Curious about Davis - she seemed to know she wasn't a Rita Hayworth or Ava Gardner, and unlike he Hollywood rival, Joan Crawford, seemed fine with status as a different kind of female star, someone whose appeal stemmed from, yes, the famous eyes, but also the spirit with which she infused her characters.  She always worked harder and fought harder, usually dictating her own terms behind the scenes.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

To Sterling Hayden on his 100th Birthday



Short of Harrison Ford, there aren't too many actors I look at and think "that guy is so cool.  I wish I were that guy."  But, yes, Sterling Hayden is absolutely one of those guys.  Maybe throw in Alan Ladd.

Today marks the 100th birthday of Sterling Hayden, the tall, tough-guy actor in two of my favorite noir movies of all time, The Killing and The Asphalt Jungle.  Of course, he was also the whacked out General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove and Capt. McCluskey in The Godfather.  And, for extra credit, he was in Johnny Guitar (as Johnny Guitar), mooning over a pancake-make-upped Joan Crawford.

Here's an article in The Boston Globe celebrating Hayden.  He sounds like maybe he was a difficult man, but I respect anyone who ran away to sea at 17 to sail the world and was in the 20th century up to his elbows as much as he was.  He was a goddamn commando in the OSS!  He flirted with being a Red!  He hated acting and just wanted to be on boats!

No one quite did world-weary-but-seemingly-invulnerable like Hayden.

If you've not seen The Asphalt Jungle, do so now.  It's got Monroe in an early role, it's directed by John Huston, and has Jean Hagen in a heartbreaking role as Doll.  And, of course, Hayden as Dix, the heist man who just wants to get back what his family lost in Kentucky.  Failing that, watch The Killing.  Which is early Kubrick, features a platinum Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook, Jr. and a host of other perfectly noir faces.






Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy B-Day to Jamie

In a beautiful valley in Hawaii, but I can't remember the name

Happy Birthday to Jamie, our very own Lois Lane here at The Signal Watch.

Y'all wish Jamie the best of birthdays.  I am without words to express how much I love her and how much she means to me.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy Birthday to My Brother

our birthday boy

To most of you, today is a day to wear green, tap into your Irish roots, get drunk on green beer and say something about St. Patrick chasing snakes out of Ireland.  And leprechauns.

In my clan, St. Patty's Day is my brother's birthday.  Today he's, like, 40-something.  I dunno.  If I figure it out, I have to figure out how old I am.

He may be sleep deprived, but he's had a good year, what with the addition of my nephew.

Here's to my brother.  A decent guy, an adequate lawyer and a terrible bass player.

Happy birthday, man.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hey, Mom. Happy Birthday.

top row - Jason, me, The Admiral, bottom row - Amy, Jamie, The Kare-Bear

It's my Mom's B-Day.   She's trying to keep it on the QT, so don't tell anyone.  We're not making a big deal out of it.

Still, the Kare-Bear is the best, and we're not letting her B-Day go by without comment.  So, here's some family pics.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Birthday, Superman!


Some time ago, DC Comics stated in a letter column that Superman's birthday takes place on Leap Day.  No, it's not the date Action Comics #1 went to print or anything.  It's all a little muddled, but the Superman Homepage is here to give you details.

Thus, every four years, when February 29th rolls around, we get to wish Big Blue the best of birthdays.

I have to say, this looks like an ideal birthday party, if you ignore the guy who is constantly trying to kill you is hiding in the back of the room (get on that, Batman).  After all, who wouldn't want to be at a party with this crew?

While Superman is (sadly) a fictional construct, we consider him a pal and we hope that as he exists in the zeitgeist, he's somehow still able to have cake with all his pals.

Happy B-Day, Superman.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ida Lupino


Today is the birthday of Ida Lupino, born this day in 1918.

If you've never heard of Lupino, now is the time to look her up.  An actress from toddlerhood, Lupino appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, alongside Bogart (High Sierra) and a host of other notables, and was wildly talented, but somehow never passed into modern ideas of classic-film royalty.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy Birthday to Ms. Sherilyn Fenn


Happy Birthday to actress Sherilyn Fenn.  She's been great in some great movies and good in some bad movies and I was as stunned as the next person to see her combatting Bigfoot in the accurately titled 2012 SyFy/ Asylum movie, Bigfoot.

You may know her as Audrey Horne from cult TV series, Twin Peaks, making sweaters and saddle shoes a very good idea to high-school-me.


I am thrilled to say it seems she's returning to the role when the show returns late this year or early next year.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Birthday of Audrey Totter




Today marks the birthday of film and television star Audrey Totter, born this day in 1917 in Joliet, Illinois.

The 12th marked the second anniversary of her passing.  We remain big fans of Ms. Totter and continue to enjoy her work.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy Belated 100, Frank

You're correct.  You will never be this cool.

December 12th marked the 100th birthday of singer, actor, Ava Gardner sexer, and true 20th Century man, Frank Sinatra.  Old Blue Eyes himself.

Sinatra was a complicated man, and he is beyond our judgment.  Like Thomas Jefferson, we can only try to understand such a wild contradiction in life as a product of his times and his nature.   For every nightmare story about the guy, there's a dozen about him as a humanitarian.

And now, the first Sinatra song I ever learned specifically because it was Sinatra: "Strangers in the Night".  All you need to know about why I learned the song: fifteen year old boys are weird.



Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Uncle Walt


Today marks the 114th Birthday of Walter Elias Disney.  Maybe you've heard of him?

Since the 90's it's been both fair game and fun for the internet to point out Disney's many flaws from a modern context.  Yup.  The man was a product of his times, both in the best and worst ways, and his influence on the world magnified those traits considerably.  Also, if you think Walt was somehow unique in those questionable opinions, it's both a testament to the progress of American culture that we've reached a point where the documentable sexism, classism and racism seems weird, and - if that surprises you - maybe a sign you're not much of a non-fiction reader.

I recently watched the American Experience doc on Walt Disney, so you can probably pick up my opinions from that.

In the meantime, as we consider the absolutely gigantic multimedia empire Disney has become (TV networks, cable carriers, movies, innumerable TV shows, print and web, Amusement parks, cruise ships, private islands, that Frozen Freefall game Jamie plays non-stop)...  it all started with a Mouse, and one I have a lot of affection for.





Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gloria Grahame's Birthday


Today marks the 92nd birthday of actress Gloria Grahame.

We're big fans of the work of Ms. Grahame here at The Signal Watch, and seeing her listed in the credits for a movie will always get us to check it out.  We generally prefer her noir work, where she plays a wide range of roles, but always with a certain flair.  We particularly recommend her work in The Big Heat, Human Desire and In a Lonely Place.

But, she's also Ado Annie in Oklahoma! and she's Violet in It's a Wonderful Life.

Her personal life was like an unscripted noir that ignored the Hayes Code, but I'll let you look into that yourself.  What I will say is that she died too young, and I wish she'd had a second go with her career.  She's so darn good, it's hard to believe she wouldn't have ended up doing more on TV or in movies.

Here's to one of the good ones.  Do yourself a favor and take time out for a Gloria Grahame picture this month.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday to Noel Neill, Our Lois Lane!

Technically, Jamie is Our Lois Lane, and I hate to play favorites when it comes to the great talent that has come to the role in radio, movies and television.  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to tremendous affection for actress Noel Neill in her role as Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman, and her affiliation with Superman as a character in other ways.

November 25th marked Neill's 95th, and we want to wish her a very happy belated birthday.

Ms. Neill was not in the first season of The Adventures of Superman when the role was played by actress Phyllis Coates.  She arrived in Season 2, and brought her own spark to the part.


She had practice!  Neill also played Lois in the 1948 Superman serials starring Kirk Alyn as The Man of Steel.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy 157th Birthday, Colonel Roosevelt


Today marks the 157th Birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, and, undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating human beings you can read about.

I've lost count of how many Roosevelt books I've read, and each one reveals another layer of the man.  Modern Americans would do well to study the challenges of his Presidency as they truly can provide instruction as to how history is nothing but a series of repeating circumstances, and the choices Roosevelt and his contemporaries made might shed light on our own path forward.

Of course, Roosevelt is most famous for his boisterous personality, his rich history of service, and his spirit of travel and adventure - all of which begins with a series of tragic preambles from his own ill health as a child, to the tragic death of his father, to the death of his mother and wife on the same day.  And even how he dealt with personal calamity can be instructive:  go be a cowboy.

The man was deeply flawed, had an outsized ego and the propensity to be a tyrant and make up his own laws when convenient.  He shattered his own party, handled some sensitive events better than others (the coal strike - pretty well, the Brownsville incident is still a mark of shame on his record), and had difficulty with personal relationships when they damaged his pride in any way, shape or form.

To have personal heroes as an adult is a difficult task.  You have to accept and admit that everyone is flawed, but its the nature of those flaws and what they did in spite or because of them that you can come to an understanding of what you value and your own ideals.

I am uncertain if Theodore Roosevelt is a personal hero.  Maybe I should be more of a Taft man, or James Garfield.  But there's something stirring about Roosevelt, and just keeping up with him in books recounting events moving ever further into the past can still be exhilarating.

Here's to our 26th Preisdent, the hero of Kettle Hill/ San Juan Hill.  The Governor of New York.  The Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  The Commissioner of the Police of New York City.  The New York State Assemblyman.  The cowboy.  The naturalist.  The explorer. The big game hunter.  The conservationists.  The elitist.  The progressive.  The soldier.  The son.  The father.

Here's to TR on his birthday.  Let us always celebrate the man for what he was - all the greatness and faults of America, all the things we could be and shouldn't be, all in one man.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Christopher Reeve's 63rd Birthday



Today would have marked the 63rd birthday of actor and activist Christopher Reeve.

A child of the 1970's and 1980's, of course I am most familiar with Reeve from his portrayal of Superman, and I've seen the Reeve-starring Superman movies dozens of times.  I've seen a few of his other movies, such as Somewhere in Time, Village of the Damned, Noises Off..., The Remains of the Day and a few other appearances.

You forget, because of the broadness of the Superman films, but Reeve was a heck of an actor.  Just to do what he did with his dual roles of Superman and Clark Kent, in film, is worth checking out.  It's near Shakespearean.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy 65th, Bill Murray


Today marks Bill Murray's 65th Birthday.  And while we never say it out loud, I'd posit that Bill Murray is one of the greatest actors of his generation.

People like Bill Murray, there's no question.  And his willingness to participate in surprising ways in films (see: the otherwise waste of a movie Zombieland) has become a bit of a calling card for him as he's made the very real realization that he is free to do as he likes, and movie-dom's acceptance that he's at his best when he's given a long leash.

Like a lot of my generation who were too young to stay up late enough for SNL, my first exposure to Murray was not the racy Caddyshack, which I didn't see until middle school, but the cultural megalith of Ghostbusters, which my mom took me to see opening day.*

I dig those early roles and his SNL stint.  Stripes.

Murray wasn't really pigeonholed from the start.  He did The Razor's Edge (no, I've never seen it), and never quite got locked into any particular character with which he became identified even as the roles became distinctly his own.  There's not a lot of similarities between Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters), Bob Harris (Lost in Translation), Bunny Breckinridge (Ed Wood), Frank Cross (Scrooged) or Raleigh St. Clair (The Royal Tenenbaums).

Probably my favorite role is from Rushmore as Herman Blume, the life-weary corporate mogul who is coming to terms with the failure of all parts of his life that aren't related to his business and finds a bit of a friend and inspiration and competition in Max Fischer.

If there is a thread between the parts, particularly his later roles, maybe it's the exhaustion the characters wear on their sleeve.  He gets what it means to be at the end of your rope, that it's not anger that sets in but, often, a sense of resignation.  Watching the characters climb back out against that point (or, in the case of Raleigh St. Clair, head towards that resignation) is what makes the performances interesting.  And, frankly, relatable.  Right up to and including Steve Zissou.

Here's to Bill on his 65th.  May the Garfield money have bought him many rounds of golf and a couple of good bottles of something.



*you're the best, Ma!  Dad, you still get point for getting me to many action movies, not the least of which is Empire Strikes Back opening weekend.  I haven't forgotten!