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Entries in Anthony Quinn (5)

Friday
Apr212017

OTD: Annie, John Cameron Mitchell, and Field of Dreams

On this day (April 21st) in history as it relates to showbiz...

Anthony Quinn

1904 Oscar winning cinematographer Daniel L Fapp (West Side Story and Desire Under the Elms, among many films) born in Kansas City

1914 Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor born in England. Though he was BAFTA nominated Oscar never bit despite high profile films and collaborations with famous directors. Credits include: Repulsion, The Omen, Dr Strangelove, Star Wars, Frenzy, Dracula (1979) and MacBeth 

1915 Oscar's all time favorite Mexican actor Anthony Quinn born (Lust for Life, Viva Zapata, Wild is the Wind, Zorba the Greek, La Strada, etcetera)

1918 "The Red Baron," the famous German fighter pilot, shot down in World War I. Snoopy in Peanuts fantasizes about him repeatedly and he's also been a character in many films including Wings, Hell's Angels, and Darling Lili 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec052016

The Furniture: Design Inspires Van Gogh in Lust for Life

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

Kirk Douglas nearly drove himself over the edge while filming Lust for Life, inhabiting the character of Vincent van Gogh with a tenacity akin to the Method. The result was an Oscar nomination, likely the closest he ever came to a win. His emotionally volatile performance lends real weight to the oft-sensationalized biography of history’s most famously mad artist.

But the success of Lust for Life isn’t owed entirely to Douglas. Director Vincente Minnelli was a perfect match for the material, which necessitates a balance between the beauty that Van Gogh saw in the world and the feverish passion that drove him away from it. The Oscar-nominated production design team, led by frequent Minnelli collaborator Cedric Gibbons, offer a rich vision of the French countryside that serves as an essential counterpoint to Douglas’s madness.

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Sunday
Aug302015

La Strada

We close out our 1954 celebration with Amir on one of Federico Fellini's classic from the year...

Writing about canonical classics can be as difficult as it is rewarding. The larger amount of existing texts and the time that has been afforded to an artwork to cement its place in our cultural psyche allow for deeper familiarity and reflection in a way that is impossible with more recent films.  On the other hand, well, fresh angles are harder to find. What is there left to say about a film like Federico Fellini’s La Strada? Not much, but in truth, you can never talk too much about one of the best films ever made.

Growing up as an Iranian cinephile, and gradually getting into more serious films as a teenager, Italian cinema is the most natural foray outside of the local arthouse. Iranian cinema is not as indebted to any Western filmic culture as it is to the films of Italian masters; those films strike a particularly strong resonance. (Consider that the latest poll of the greatest films of all time voted on by Iranian film critics includes The Bicycle Thieves, La Strada and Cinema Paradiso all in the top ten.)

Fellini’s films are of a different breed than the neorealism of Zavattini, De Sica and Rossellini whose influence loomed heavily over the arthouse I was voraciously consuming at the time. To the dismay of some of his contemporaries, Fellini veered off quite drastically from his roots in neorealist cinema. [More...]

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Wednesday
Dec102014

A Year with Kate: This Can't Be Love (1994)

Episode 50 of 52: In which Katharine Hepburn starred in a movie with Jason Bateman, which will make every game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon you play significantly easier.

This is it. We’ve reached the final year of Katharine Hepburn’s career. Did Kate know that the three films she made in 1994 would be her last? Did she feel herself slowing down and decide that sixty two years in the spotlight were enough? Since she made no official announcement, it’s impossible to know Kate’s reasons for sure. Still, considering this was Kate’s last starring role, This Can’t Be Love feels like a retirement announcement.

Kate’s first final film was This Can’t Be Love, another TV movie starring Katharine Hepburn as Katharine Hepburn. Actually, she plays Marion Bennett, a world-renowned, Academy Award-winning actress who eschews public life and spends a lot of time being loveably grouchy to her chauffeur (an adorable puppydog-ish Jason Bateman). In Bennett’s younger days, she’d had a torrid offscreen affair with her co-star Michael Reyman (Anthony Quinn). Umpteen years later, Reyman has re-entered Marion’s life, but his intentions are more than merely amorous.

It’s a formula we know well by now, so let’s just settle in and enjoy it. Sprinkle the script with references to Kate’s career, add bits of Quinn’s womanizing past, mix in an opposites attract romance that sounds almost-but-not-quite-unlike Tracy & Hepburn, shake vigorously, and let the sophomoric senior squabbling begin. I actually considered making a drinking game out of counting Katharine Hepburn meta-references, but realized I’d get alcohol poisoning in the first hour. The African Queen, her brother Tom, Coco, her childhood nickname “Jimmy,” Song of Love, and even Rooster Cogburn get a shoutout. My favorite comes from Kate directly. It's a bit of dialog meant to echo the statue metaphor from The Philadelphia Story: “He put me on a pedestal. Good view, but awfully lonely up there.”

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Tuesday
Jun032014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Zorba the Greek (1964)

This week's 'Best Shot' film Zorba the Greek (1964) was a first-time watch for yours truly.  Oscar chose it for us since it won Walter Lassally's the Best Cinematography (Black and White) statue in the year we happen to be celebrating this month. At one point in the picture Zorba (Anthony Quinn and Anthony Quinn's giant expressive face), catches his employer Basil (Alan Bates, in young, stuffy, super pretty mode) sipping at alcohol. Zorba, a man of big appetites, forcefully tilts the bottle higher to get more booze down his boss's throat.

Don't be delicate..."

He tells his boss. That's good advice if you're watching Zorba the Greek which is, and I cannot understand why no actressexuals warned me of this, a fairly reprehensible motion picture. If this series were called Hit Me With The Shot That Shows Your Feelings About This Movie, my choice would be a tie between this suspicious side eye from Irene Papas as 'the widow...' and the moment a few beats later when she spits at the men and exits the scene.

[SPOILER] The film has two major female characters. One is referred to as a "silly old bitch" and the other has no name or voice. This film's treatment of the latter, "a wild widow" is disgusting. It views her only as a sexual conquest and then as a corpse that's not even worth remembering (she's never mentioned again). The heroes can't save her but, as it turns out, they don't care anyway. Back to our jaunty score and the story of laughing dancing men bonding and building things. She is robbed of identity. Her murder is reduced to local texture, nothing more than a setpiece. [/ SPOILER]

Zorba was a massive hit in 1964 and probably helped popularize the very familiar trope of the Life Force who shakes up the Staid Hesistant Protagonist and convinces him to Engage With Life. You know how that goes. The picture is fuzzy about the why, and what good it does anyone, but it's all about the journey anyway. The film peaks right in the middle with strong playful scenes about a mine, a monastery and Zorba's famous dancing. The first dance is the film's most beautifully lit scene, all shadowy impishness and physically stout feeling.

The next day Zorba confesses to deeper truths about his life and tells Basil he doesn't understand -  men, women, war... the whole lot. Basil objects that he does understand but Zorba retorts:

With your head, yes. You say this is right. This is wrong. When you talk, I watch your arms, your legs, your chest. They are dumb. They say nothing. So how can you understand?

Which is why it's so smart narratively, and also visually, that when Basil tries (awkwardly) to recreate Zorba's uninhibited passionate dancing later in the picture the shadows render him headless.

In these admittedly frequent moments when the film is all gesture and the body takes center stage, Zorba the Greek has a certain potency. It even has masculine charm. But some of the ideas jostling about in its brain aren't worth the widow's spit. Better it loses its head. 

OTHER BEST SHOTS FROM THIS FILM
click on the photo to read the corresponding article!

Monks refer to him as "the devil." When Zorba dances, he moves like a man possessed...
- The Entertainment Junkie 

The dark silhouettes made the women look like vultures scavenging for food... 
-Film Actually 

 

For dance is an important narrative motif here; it is the metaphor for how much vivacity and vitality one possesses, and how much one is willing to pull the utterly English stick out of one's utterly English ass...
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

all the people on this island are always in packs...
-The Film's The Thing 

 

NEXT TUESDAY NIGHT: A special one-off TV episode of our series. Since everyone will be binge-watching Orange is the New Black Season 2, you can choose the best shot of whichever episode (or episodes) you most want to talk about. Why fight it? It's all the internet will be talking about that week.