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Entries in Ben-Hur (16)

Tuesday
Aug062019

De Laurentiis pt 2: The '60s epics of Dinocittà

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  Here's Tim Brayton...

Yesterday, Eric took us on a tour of the first phase of Dino De Laurentiis's one-of-a-kind career as a producer, the era when he and Carlo Ponti helped usher a number of major works of late Neorealism into the world, introducing the first wave of international art cinema masterpieces. We now arrive at the 1960s, when De Laurenteiis was emboldened by those early successes to indulge himself in the first of his many flights of staggering, ill-advised ambition. Near the start of the decade, De Laurentiis opened a movie studio on the outskirts of Rome, an enormous playground for moviemaking nicknamed Dinocittà (after the famous Cinecittà, then and now the heart of the Italian film industry).

The Dinocittà experiment perfectly describes De Laurentiis's singular personality. A visionary producer can tell what is going to be popular in the future, and thus can jump in on trends at the moment of their inception. The hacks who make up the bulk of commercial producers know what was popular a year ago, and thus crank out movies that feel like uninspired cash-grabs and knock-offs. De Laurentiis had the gift and curse of knowing what's popular right this instant, and so his biggest swings – and too often, his biggest misses – came out just barely on the back side of the historical moment when they could live up to his extravagant hopes...

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Sunday
Jul142019

Happy 91st to Nancy Olson, the last surviving cast member of "Sunset Blvd."

by Nathaniel R

It seems like we've been losing lots of Classic Hollywood people in the past year so we wanted to wish Nancy Olson of Sunset Blvd a very happy and healthy 91st birthday today. She's the last surviving member of that stone cold classic which netted her an Oscar nomination when she was just 22. Olson was such a success in Sunset Blvd that she went on to be paired with co-star William Holden in a few more pictures. Olson has long since retired, her last significant acting gig being in the shortlived primetime soap opera "Paper Dolls" in the 1980s. 

Olson's birthday, paired with Olivia de Havilland's incredible 103rd birthday earlier this month (wow) got us thinking about who is still with us from all time classics pre-1960s because there aren't a lot of them *sniffle*.  So after the jump, a quick perusal of some gigantic classics and the (credited) cast members who are still around to be endlessly grilled about them...

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Wednesday
Jul262017

Quick Take: Gore Vidal on Film

Variety recently announced that Kevin Spacey is to bring Gore Vidal to our screens in a Netflix original film. Directed by Michael Hoffman (dir. The Last Station), Spacey might be the most perfect casting, and judging by some coded, jovial remarks at the Tony Awards this year, may relish a role like this.

Vidal's life has previously been on screen in documentaries: Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia and Best of Enemies, about his combative relationship with William F. Buckley.

Vidal: Writer, bon vivant, public intellectual and unapologetic homosexual has a rich, albeit chequered history in cinema. Screenwriter for the frenzied Suddenly, Last Summer, debauched bloodbath Caligula and his own notorious novel Myra Breckinridge was adapted into X-rated 1970 film.

And as uncredited writer of Ben-Hur, he was responsible for those lingering glances between Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston - not that Heston ever knew that...

Friday
Mar102017

On This Day: Globes for two goddesses. Plus a non-jolly green giant

On this day in history as it relates to showbiz...

1892  One of Old Hollywood's most undersung but talented 1930s directors Gregory La Cava is born. Classics include Stage Door and My Man Godfrey
1913
 Famed abolitionist and American hero Harriet Tubman dies of pneumonia. So glad she's getting biopic treatment soon. And twice over!
1938
The 10th annual Oscars are held with The Life of Emile Zzzzzola winning Best Picture and Louise Rainer taking her consecutive Best Actress prize but the most enduring anecdote was of course the theft of Alice Brady's Oscar for In Old Chicago.
1958 Sharon Stone is born in Pennysylvania

The 1959 Golden Globes (and more) are after the jump...

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Thursday
Dec082016

Kirk Douglas Centennial: Spartacus (1960)

Here's Eric to continue our mini Kirk Douglas fest. The actor turns 100 tomorrow

The story goes that Kirk Douglas was so disappointed that William Wyler didn’t cast him as the lead in 1959’s Ben-Hur that he optioned Howard Fast’s similarly-themed novel Spartacus for his chance to conquer the Roman Empire...  

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Friday
Nov182016

Happy Birthday Mickey! And Other Things to Celebrate. 

On this day in showbiz history...

1872 Suffragette Susan B Anthony is arrested for illegally voting. She was recently forced to turn over in her grave. Where's her biopic?
1917 Pedro Infante, Mexico's biggest movie star has his centennial next year! He died young at only 39 but not before his legend was cemented with nearly 60 movies and over 300 songs
1928 Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse sound cartoon is released.  It was his third appearance but Disney considers this Mickey Mouse's official birthday. So happy birthday!
1932 The 5th annual Oscar ceremony before the ceremonies started following exact calendar years...

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