Saturday, May 12, 2018
Friday, March 23, 2018
I noticed a lot of chatter online today about Joan Crawford and then that TCM was running some of her movies (I didn't watch them, I was doing other things). Today marks the 113th birthday of Joan Crawford, born in San Antonio in 1905 but mostly raised in Jamie's hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma.
I am happy to do what I can to be one of the folks who would like folks to remember Crawford for her long career, ever-transforming screen persona, and - frankly - stunning screen presence before she wound up in some campy movie in her final working years and was badly memorialized by Dunaway.
Even in not-great movies, Crawford is a force. All that is apparently a shadow of what she was like in person, and I am sure she would have terrified me if I'd met her, but since seeing Mildred Pierce during college, still one of my favorite films, I've been a fan. But there are still a ton of her movies I've yet to see.
Anyway, happy birthday, Ms. Crawford. I hope you're having a Pepsi somewhere among your fans and friends.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
I was unable to confirm yesterday when I saw the news, but now The Hollywood Reporter has it that actor Peggy Cummins has passed.
Cummins is in at least two fantastic movies, Curse of the Demon (1957) and, of course, one of my hands-down favorite films, Gun Crazy (1950).
You can read the linked article to get a notion of Cummins' career, which was fairly brief despite her obvious talents. Not everyone stays in pictures, or even in Hollywood.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
You probably know Gloria Grahame for her small but pivotal part in It's a Wonderful Life as Violet, the attractive blonde in Bedford Falls who fails to land Jimmy Stewart and is a headcase in the Pottersville segment of the movie.
But Grahame's career included a lot of noir, some musicals (she's in Oklahoma! as Ado Annie), and a life off-screen that was dramatic, to say the least. If you follow older films and want to see some top notch noir, I recommend (very highly):
- The Big Heat
- In a Lonely Place
- Human Desire
But this list is not even close to comprehensive when it comes to her body of work.
Like a lot of women of her generation in Hollywood, her rise was incredibly fast and her path out of Hollywood was rocky, to say the least. Curiously, Annette Benning is playing Grahame in an upcoming movie that covers the final years of Grahame's life, from what I can tell. Looks promising, as far as these movies go.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Today marks the 95th birthday of actor Veronica Lake.
I quite like Lake and she's in some great movies, from Sullivan's Travels to The Blue Dahlia. My favorite is This Gun For Hire. Lake's career in Hollywood was brief and tumultuous, and she was gone within a few years, but she left a tremendous mark few have been able to match.
Lake passed in the early 70's, but that's a whole other story. If you only know her from glamour photos, seek out one of her films.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Today marks the something-or-other birthday of Joan Crawford. Maybe 112th. As many actresses have done over the years, she lied about her age a few times, so it's hard to know exactly what year she was born.
I saw my first Crawford picture when they showed us Mildred Pierce in film school, and I've been a fan ever since.
I'm thrilled that it seems both the kids who are into TCM are placing Crawford in context - even my generation is lukewarm on the whole Mommie Dearest business - and now it seems FX's Feud: Bette and Joan is telling an audience about the person that was Joan Crawford (née Lucille LeSeur), and using the amazing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? to do so ain't all bad.
She was born in San Antonio and lived in Lawton, Oklahoma - both places our own Jamie lived. In fact, I believe Crawford's childhood home was only about two blocks from Jamie's childhood home.
If you've never seen What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, do so, and then watch Feud: Bette and Joan. And then watch Mildred Pierce. And then Grand Hotel. She's got dozens of movies in her history. Not all of them are terrific or hold up, but it'd be nice to rehabilitate Joan Crawford's memory a bit and for her to be more than Faye Dunaway overacting.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
I don't know where to start or what, exactly, to say about Starcrash (1978).
I'd heard of the movie decades ago as it was always in with the sci-fi/ fantasy movies at video rental shops, but with Caroline Munro in a vinyl bikini on the box cover, I knew better than to bother to rent the movie. When I was young enough to have to ask my parents to rent something for me, I didn't want to put up with the questions and then the reporting my parents would gleefully do given the first opportunity (my family looooooves a good embarrassing story, and a 10 year old Ryan standing there with a video with a buxom space-lady on the cover would have been fodder for them for weeks, if not years).
When I got older and was renting movies on my own, and, I know it seems counter-intuitive if you've been following this site for a while, but I already knew any movie relying on a bikini-clad off-brand actor on the cover wound up as a terrible decision. Yes, it was also the kind of thing that became fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 in it's later years when the cheaply produced post Star Wars/ post Mad Max knock-offs were showing up over and over at the video store, but without Joel or Mike to guide me through, it wasn't worth it.* And, I don't mind that at one point in my life I was subconsciously trying to understand what was and was not a good movie.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Friday, September 16, 2016
Today marks the 92nd birthday of actress and screen legend Lauren Bacall. She passed in 2014, just a month shy of her 90th birthday.
I don't often post pics of Bacall because stills never seem to capture her quite right, in my opinion. I can't really think of any other actress who strikes me exactly that way, but I've long since quit trying to find the "right" picture of someone who was lovely as a picture, sure, but who's voice and nuances of expression were what made her work so very well in movies.
Happy birthday, Ms. Bacall.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Today is the 113th birthday of Ms. Claudette Colbert, a film star who was especially prominent in the 1930's and 1940's.
I have only seen a few Claudette Colbert movies, but she's pretty terrific. And if you haven't seen It Happened One Night, fix that problem.
And if that doesn't work for you, I recommend her film Cleopatra from 1934.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
August 11th marks the 114th birthday of actress Norma Shearer, an actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood. I've seen a few of her movies, both silent and talkies, and she was a remarkably talented woman.
And she had one of the best profiles in movies.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Yesterday Ms. Lynda Carter turned 65. Happy Birthday to our ideal Wonder Woman.
Some folks may not know that Carter is a vocalist with several albums out there in the ether. Carter is currently performing with a band where she sings both original songs and some covers. She also appears as voice talent in several videogames, including Fallout 4, where she contributed a song or two as a lounge singer.
Earlier this year she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Gracies.
This fall, Carter is scheduled to appear as POTUS on CW's Supergirl TV series.
If you aren't following her on social media, we highly recommend doing so. Her account is a lot of fun.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
I watched On the Town (1949) just last year at The State Theater downtown, so there was no good reason to watch the movie again. But, Ann Miller. Sometimes these things happen.
Here's my write up from last time.
|best not to think on it too much|
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
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.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
I've lost track of how many times I've seen Gun Crazy (1950). And, in fact, over the past ten years its easily become one of my favorite movies. Tuesday night JAL and I met up at the Alamo to catch a screening which was, it turned out, part of a series the Alamo was doing about social issues in movies. And, of course, Gun Crazy is as good an example of how a good gun owner gets sucked into the issues of a bad gun owner as you're like to see.
The screening was either sold out or nearly so, which, even in a small theater at The Alamo on a Tuesday at 7:30 - for a movie that's now 66 years old - is a pretty good thing. What was truly surprising was that the screening was of a 35mm print struck in the 1960's, as near as I could tell.
Monday, February 1, 2016
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.