Oscar History

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Entries in Adaptations (182)


Swing, Tarzan, Swing! Ch.3: Lex Barker... and Queen Dorothy Dandridge?

As we approach the release of The Legend of Tarzan (2016) we're ogling past screen incarnations of the Lord of the Apes...

After Buster Crabbe filled a loincloth beautifully and Johnny Weissmuller & Maureen O'Sullivan gave us the deservedly definitive Golden Age Tarzan and Jane, the franchise had to recast or close shop. O'Sullivan left first and by the late 40s Weissmuller was feeling too old for the role and also called it quits. The producer Sol Lesser wasn't about to let the profitable franchise go, though, and led a search for a replacement. The winner was Lex Barker, a then little known blue blood actor from New York who had been disowned by his family for choosing an acting career (!) and he took up the loincloth in 1949 for Tarzan's Magic Fountain.

I opted to watch Barker's third go at the character in Tarzan's Peril (sometimes called Tarzan and the Jungle Queen) because it was the first Tarzan film to actually shoot some scenes in Africa (Kenya to be exact) and six actors down the call list was the curio factor of a young Dorothy Dandridge as "Melmedi, Queen of The Ashuba".

Dorothy & Lex after the jump...

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Stage Door: American Psycho The Musical

In the Stage Door column we review theatrical productions, often with one eye on their movie origins or connections.

We first alerted you to the glorius full bodied talent of Benjamin Walker way back in 2011 writing:

You're in for such a treat when you see him on the big screen. Major charisma he has. Big stardom awaits.

The movie career didn't happen quickly in the way we imagined despite a couple of lead roles (The Choice, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) but that major charisma is still blinding on stage. It's impossible to miss even when the strobe lights are flashing. And flash they do in his latest show. He's recently returned to Broadway as soulless Patrick Bateman in American Psycho the Musical. Yes, that American Psycho. The best selling 1991 novel turned initally troubled 2000 arthouse horror flick turned cultural mainstay and now a Broadway musical. We recite all the history to remind ourselves that American Psycho has never been a property to elicit universal praise in any iteration. Instead, it's always greeted with a mix of  "worst ever" / "how amazing!" And so it's gone with the Broadway musical...

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Review: Love & Friendship

Anyone who’s seen a film by Whit Stillman knows him to be an accomplished social satirist, continuing the legacy of authors like Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, and of course Jane Austen. In fact, the English writer is at the center of one the most sardonic exchanges in all of his films, when one of the characters expresses “I don't read novels. I prefer good literary criticism” when asked if he has read any of Austen’s works. Like the Romantic author, Stillman captures the wants, desires and fears of the haves as they desperately try to grab onto a world the have-nots are trying to infiltrate. In films like Metropolitan, Stillman wonders if the upper classes only let someone from a lower class to share their space as means of experimenting, or amusing them in their endless ennui. In Damsels in Distress he explores the notion of people constructing strict societal divisions in all aspects of their lives, such as in college. More...

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Throne of Blood's Best Shots - A Visual Index

After realizing that we'd never featured an Akira Kurosawa on Hit Me With Your Best Shot, we obviously had to. Ran (1985) was tempting but it gets a lot of attention already. So we opted to watch his other Shakespeare inspired masterpiece, Throne of Blood (1957) which is still the best Macbeth movie even if its more Macbeth-inspired than traditionally adapted.

If you've never seen it, give it a shot. It's gorgeous and haunting and unlike most Shakespeare films grippingly compact at only 110 minutes.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot(s)
Throne of Blood (1957)

Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cinematographer: Asakazu Nakai 
Click on any of the 11 images to be taken to its accompanying article

Throne of Blood teaches us how to watch it. 
-Antagony & Ecstasy

The minute we see Isuzu Yamada as Lady Asaji in this cold spare room, we know exactly where things will go...
-Scopophiliac at the Cinema 

One of my favorite ideas in these Japanese stories is that the living and dead (or the supernatural) could live together, without a hereafter.
-Cal Roth

What Shakespeare does with language, Kurosawa and Noh do with movement.
-Dancin Dan on Film 

Kurosawa injects into the tragedy of Macbeth an incredible sensorial expressiveness of poetic dimensions by placing it in mystic version of feudal japan.
-Magnificent Obsession 

Fujimaki's own splatter-painting.
-The Film Experience

The staging of the two actors is just brilliant...
-Zev Burrows 

The camera becomes like a piece of stagecraft
-Film Mix Tape

the vast space and the wealth that implies, as well as the ample room for Washizu and his wife to contemplate their guilt
-Film Actually

The movie builds with precision, early shots foreshadowing what is to come

My favorite scene in Macbeth and they do it very well here
-Rachel Wagner


The End.

NEXT TUESDAY NIGHT WARNING: "NOW a warning?" It's Death Becomes Her (1992), rereleased in a collectors edition. Please join us for what will surely be a fun group of screengrabs


Silent Chambers and Spider Webs in "Throne of Blood"

The first time I saw a Jackson Pollock in the flesh, I had to sit down, dumbfounded, in my attempt to take it in. I was staring at just one painting (and there were several) for a good 15-20 minutes before I had to force myself to move on. While the artist's famous splatter paintings seem random there's such an intricate hypnotic depth to them once you're in their presence, like it's possible to slip right inside them and get lost. Each flick of paint, every solid drop, on top of another streak and another spill gives the impression that the painting goes on for years underneath no matter which detail pulls your eye in.


I kept thinking of that Pollock painting - bear with me through this unexpected reference point - while watching Throne of Blood (1957)...

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TV @ The Movies: "Damien" Flashes Back

Though I know not why it's so, considering I prefer original material in nearly all mediums to rehashes, I sample nearly every TV series that's based on a movie. Not that the interest tends to last. So it was that I binge watched the first four episodes of A&E's new series Damen.  The Omen (1976) was the first horror film I ever watched that didn't involve vampires (I was really into vampires for some reason as a little boy, even though I was never a horror film aficianado). I snuck watched The Omen one night during one of its television airings in the early 80s.

Though the new series never mentions Damien's birthday, the wee Antichrist's birthdate was June 6th in the original movie (6/6 natch) which is also my birthday. Little me actually ran to the bathroom to make sure there was no mark of the beast on his scalp after the movie. (He had so many nightmares that week, poor little guy.)

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Stage Door: The Color Purple

The Color Purple (1985), Steven Spielberg's hit adaptation of the 1982 bestseller by Alice Walker lives in Oscar infamy as one of its two greatest losers with 11 nominations that produced zero wins. Here's a lesser known piece of trivia: The Color Purple, the stage musical adaptation of the same novel, narrowly avoided repeating that exact same trick at the Tony Awards in 2006. It was nominated for  11 Tony Awards but LaChanze won the Best Actress prize that eluded Whoopi Goldberg in the 80s for interpreting the mousy but resilient Celie.

Despite the original production closing only 8 years ago, The Color Purple is back on Broadway in a revival that's been winning raves; it's aiming for a bigger trophy haul this time. [More...]

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