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Entries in Janet Leigh (9)

Thursday
Oct062016

George Sidney Centennial: Bye Bye Birdie

Our Centennial celebration of director George Sidney continues with Jose on Bye Bye Birdie

George Sidney’s adaptation of the Tony award winning musical Bye Bye Birdie continued showing his prowess when it came to making big, bold, Technicolor musicals. The plot imagines the frenzy surrounding the imminent departure of an Elvis-like superstar, who receives his draft notice, but decides to reward one of his biggest fans with one gift before leaving: a televised kiss. Though the plot’s depiction of how the media thrives on scandals surrounding celebrities was rather prescient (not to mention how it predicts how love and sex would become “prizes” on reality shows) its gender and racial politics have made it one of the most icky musicals of the era.

Its casting proved significant for two reasons: for the big part of Kim MacAfee, the director chose a complete unknown he discovered dancing in a Las Vegas casino. After being selected out of millions, just like Kim, Ann-Margret would go on to become one of the biggest stars of the decade.

In fact just a year after Birdie, Sidney cast her opposite the real life Elvis in Viva Las Vegas -- perhaps as a tribute to how he discovered her and also to Birdie?...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jun042016

When Tony Met Janet. And Other Stories...

Today in movie related history...

1907 Cracking Rosalind Russell is born. Stars in many classics including: His Girl Friday, Gypsy, and Auntie Mame and is nominated for 4 Best Actress Oscars. The only actresses that share her fate of 4 Best Actress nominations w/out a win: Greta Garbo, Marsha Mason, and Barbara Stanwyck. Of the four only Marsha Mason didn't receive an Honorary later on.
1913 Suffragette Emily Davison runs onto the track at the Epson Derby and is trampled by King George V's horse. It's a huge turning point in the court of public opinion and the suffragette movement. It was reenacted in last year's Suffragette.
1936 Bruce Dern is born and never stops acting thereafter. Also donates Laura Dern to the world for which he has our undying gratitude
1940 The last allied soldiers leave Dunkirk. Britain's PM vows that his forces will "never surrender". Christopher Nolan is currently filming a movie about Dunkirk called, you guessed it, Dunkirk
1942 The Battle of Midway begins in World War II. John Ford directed an Oscar winning documentary about it that you can watch for free online. If you're interested in the topic you should definitely read Mark Harris's book "Five Came Back" about famous Hollywood directors during the war. 

1951 Rising actors Janet Leigh (23) and Tony Curtis (26) are married. Much bigger stardom is thrown at them like so much rice via iconic films like Psycho, A Touch of Evil, and The Manchurian Candidate (Hers) and Some Like It Hot, Spartacus and The Defiant Ones (His) shortly thereafter. They break up in '62 but not before gifting us with Jamie Lee Curtis.
1952 70s TV star Parker Stevenson is born. Later becomes half of The Hardy Boys and marries Kirstie Alley who famously refers to his junk "giving me the big one" in her 1991 Emmy speech. This was long before the days when the internet made bulge-watching a national pasttime. (Music cue: "Class" from Chicago here, please. Whatever happened to it? It's all Kirstie Alley's fault!)
1964 Kōji Yamamura is born. Later nominated for an Oscar for the Animated Short Mount Head. It's worth your ten minutes, it's so trippy.
1975 Angelina Jolie emerges. The world is never the same.
1978 Deniz Gamze Ergüven is born in Turkey. She was Oscar nominated last season for her debut film Mustang, which made our top ten list.

They're here.

1982 Poltergeist and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan both open in theaters
1984 Bruce Springsteen releases his classic "Born in the USA" album the title track of which is used in many movies since. The first video "Dancin' in the Dark" introduces the world to soon to be household name actress Courtney Cox. 
1989 The Tiananmen Square protests come to a violent end in Beijing with hundreds of young protesters killed. Hollywood has ignored it despite their love of historical event movies and Chinese films usually ignore it too due to the topic being taboo with the government. But two sexually controversial movies released in the Aughts used it as part of the narrative: the gay drama Lan Yu (2001) which won four Golden Horse awards and, more prominently, the college student drama Summer Palace (2006) which was banned at home, and withdrawn from competition at Cannes. Both films are worth seeing.

Monday
Jul062015

Beauty vs Beast: Motel Hell

JA from MNPP here, wishing you all a happy Monday and wishing what would have been a happy 88th birthday to the great, sadly passed Janet Leigh. She's been gone for over a decade but Janet's legacy still looms tall with several classics -- Touch of Evil and The Manchurian Candidate both come to mind -- but as it has been said we all go a little mad sometimes and color me mad when I realized that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has somehow never found itself "Beauty vs Beast"-itized. It's a prime pick whose time has come! Slap on your favorite wig and let's play!

PREVIOUSLY This weekend Terminator: Genisys flopped box-office-wise and according to your votes maybe they should've thought about bringing Linda Hamilton along for the ride since her Sarah Connor trounced Full Metal Arnold in our face-off taking just under 80% of the vote. Said SusanP:

"As far as I'm concerned no contest -- Sarah Connor in a walk. Plus, when you list her pros you are neglecting her most important/awesome assets: The Arms "

Wednesday
Oct312012

Oscar Horrors: Looking into PSYCHO

Here lies… a film no other man could have made – Psycho.

Matt here! Alfred Hitchcock directed Psycho just after he made Vertigo and North by Northwest, two gigantic Technicolor productions for Paramount. Imagine the pitch he made – Shoestring budget, black & white, killing off Janet Leigh after 40 minutes, main character’s a schizophrenic taxidermist motel-owner. He shot it in a few months on the Paramount lot using a television crew, paying for everything himself.

The rest is history. After spending roughly $800,000, it has grossed over $50 million and had enormous cultural impact. Recently, it placed 34th in Sight & Sound’s “Greatest Films of All-Time” critics poll. In 1960, it was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Director. One single bathroom sequence revolutionized expectations for audiences, filmmakers, and censors. What business does a true-blue, low-budget horror flick have in the pantheon of cinematic art?

While Psycho may not be Hitchcock’s greatest film, it is the apex of his directorial control, his auteurist posture. More...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Aug182012

"The rain didn't last long"