Oscar History

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Entries in Janet Leigh (9)


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 ...


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.


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 "


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 ...


"The rain didn't last long"


Take Three: Anne Heche

Craig here with this week's edition of the character actor column "Take Three". Today: Anne Heche


Take One: Birth (2004)
Whilst watching Birth I’m sure you, like me, were thinking: just what the heck is Anne Heche doing in Central Park? Near the start of Jonathan Glazer’s reincarnation baffler Heche acts in mysterious ways. She suspiciously sneaks out of a hotel lobby and onto the snowy streets of Manhattan. She’s rustling around in the bushes, digging a hole. Is she burying the gift intended for Anna (Nicole Kidman)? Is it even a gift? It looks like some sort of proof, evidence. Her character, Clara, holds the film’s secrets from the get-go. In accordance with the way Glazer structures the script in these early scenes, fragmented by Sam Sneade and Claus Wehlisch’s editing, Clara becomes an enigma we know we'll worryingly come back to later.

Heche’s scenes with Sean (Cameron Bright) after the friction of the plot has been replaced by psychic damage throw a puzzling curveball (the buried package!) to the remainder of the film. These moments provide us with Heche’s best, and most tense, work to date. Insidious, slightly witchy and perverse, Heche reveals a reverse deus ex machina that shows Clara to be the queasily spiteful and questionable presence of the story. Her face, shot in extreme close-up, displays a deliciously evil sheen as she devastates the young boy. On evidence here, I’m baffled as to why filmmakers aren’t snapping Heche up to play the kinds of complicated icy queens usually reserved for Tilda Swinton. Birth features an all-round stellar ensemble but if you haven't seen it recently watch it again to see Heche wrench entire scenes away from the lot of them.

Two more Heche triumphs after the jump including Psycho (1998). Yes, that Psycho...

Click to read more ...


"We have 12 Vacancies. 12 Cabins. 12 Links" 

Kill Screen imagines Downton Abbey as a card based RPG. Love the artifact "pants of modernity"
Deja View a relic brochure from a time when Disney was seeking animators.
Irish Times is pissed about Streep's Oscar win and illustrates, again, that a backlash grows. But here's the interesting part...

One can think of many star actresses...who will submerge themselves in films bigger than themselves. But Streep has to be bigger than the movie, to the point where she can become, in effect, a substitute for it.

You may recall we were talking about just this fascinating issue (within the Oscar symposium). It's hardly a Streep-Only topic. What does it mean to "carry" a movie and should an actor ever be asked to? 

Rope of Silicon has "sexy" issues with Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh in the upcoming feature Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (omg please change the title). So do I and the first being that Scarjo, who I enjoy, is very different than Janet Leigh in body, age and looks. She might be able to summon up the contemplative paranoia mood of Leigh but otherwise it's a huge miss if you ask me.
Guardian odd lawsuit of day. Sandra Bullock is pissed that a watch company is selling a watch by comparing it to her Blind Side look.
Coming Soon Disney must've liked the response to titling Rapunzel Tangled because their next fairy tale musical will be based on The Snow Queen and it's called Frozen. Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars herself, gets lead vocal duties.
 remembers Black Swan with a new behind the scenes photo gallery. I don't remember Natalie wearing this white cloak thing onstage. Have I lost my mind or just my short term memory?
ioncinema details a new "slippery nature of truth" project called True Story starring Jonah Hill and James Franco. Brad Pitt's Plan B is producing. Pitt has good taste and this sounds interesting. 
Pajiba lists the 25 biggest animated hit (adjusted for inflation). Pixar doesn't even make the top 10!
Indiewire lists films they hope show at Cannes this summer

And even though I always try to let each year's Oscars go within a week's time of the ceremony, I find myself still reading Oscar recaps since I have emerged from my cave of silence. I did like these two overviews of the ceremony from two of my favorite online peeps, The Self Styled Siren and Glenn at Stale Popcorn. So if you also share the Oscar sickness, read 'em.