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SMACKDOWN 1954

 "I love that two people independent of one another gave Claire Trevor an extra star simply for being Claire Trevor." - Glenn

"Interesting to see the take of young people on these movies." - Les

"That was fascinating. I love the thoughts on Executive Suite, post-post-WWII and the "benevolent patriarch." " - B.D.

 

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Entries in Judy Garland (23)

Sunday
Aug232015

Coming on August 30th: Supporting Actress Smackdown 1954

The Supporting Actress Smackdown (and companion podcast), 1954 Edition, arrives in exactly one week. So let's...

MEET THE SMACKDOWN PANELISTS

We'll be discussing the Supporting Actress Oscar race of 1954 as well as the films themselves: The High and the Mighty, On the Waterfront, Broken Lance and Executive Suite. And you know how these things go. Sometimes other films from the year sneak in. This time we don't have any newbies but an All Stars Edition if you will with all previous panelists. 

Returning...


MARK HARRIS

Mark Harris is an editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, a Grantland columnist (about the Oscars and other things), and a contributor to New York magazine. He is the author of Pictures at a Revolution (2008) and Five Came Back (2014). He lives in New York City. [Follow him on Twitter]  

(Mark previously participated in the 1973 Smackdown)

What does 1954 mean to you?

I think of 1954 as a year with one foot planted in two different decades. It's just before Blackboard Jungle, just before rock 'n roll, just before Elvis, just before James Dean. In some ways it feels like the last year that you could describe as "post-WWII" before the country transitioned into being "pre-"something else. In terms of movies, I think of a kind of thick, glossy romanticism--Magnificent Obsession, Grace Kelly in Rear Window, Sabrina.

I think of capitalism and camel-hair coats and cigarettes and immense cars--the American dream inscribed in retail objects. And I think of Brando's first Oscar and of what his performance in On The Waterfront meant to the future of screen acting..

 

MANUEL MUNOZ 
Manuel Muñoz is the author of three books, including the Hitchcock-inspired novel, What You See in the Dark.  He teaches creative writing at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

(Manuel previously participated in the 1968 Smackdown)

What does 1954 mean to you?

With the right drink and the right circle, 1954 means me arguing that "Rear Window" was Hitchcock's strongest Best Director nomination and, after that's settled, listening to anyone who can tell me why Jane Wyman was nominated for "Magnificent Obsession".

 


TODD VANDERWERFF

Todd VanDerWerff is the Culture Editor for Vox.com, where he writes a lot about TV and movies. Before that, he was the TV Editor at The A.V. Club. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Grantland, Salon, Hitfix, and The House Next Door. [Follow him on Twitter]  

(Todd previously participated in the 1989 Smackdown)

What does 1954 mean to you?

I suppose I could say 1954 means nothing to me. Both my parents turned 5 that year, so that's something, I suppose. Wikipedia tells me that Lassie debuted in 1954, and Willie Mays made "The Catch" at the World Series. Those were both things!

When it comes to the films, however, 1954 is a year where I'm really familiar with the biggest hits (Rear Window! On the Waterfront!) and woefully underseen on some of the smaller treats. For example: I loved White Christmas (the year's top film) when I was 9. Would I still? Who knows. Godzilla hit US shores in 1954, something that's worth celebrating, even if it won't factor into our discussion. But I chose this year precisely because I know so little about the nominees. I look forward to getting to know them.

 

ANNE MARIE KELLY
Anne Marie is the author of TFE series A Year With Kate and Women's Pictures.
Her love of film began as childhood adulation of Katherine Hepburn & the Marx Brothers, and grew into a passion for Technicolor, Hays Code movies, and B-picture scifi. This led to a career in film preservation & history. Anne Marie is currently pursuing a Masters in Cinema Studies at USC. When not writing about movies, Anne Marie can be found working on movies, talking about movies, or watching movies. She also has several other hobbies and occasionally goes outside. [Follow her on Twitter.]

(Anne Marie previously participated in the 1941 Smackdown)

What does 1954 mean to you?

Even though I wasn't born yet, 1954 is the year that changed my life. In 1954, A Star Is Born was released, re-edited, and re-released in a shorter version. Thirty years later, a film historian named Ronald Haver rediscovered the lost scenes, and put together a nearly complete version of George Cukor's theatrical cut. And twenty years after that, my mom gave me the DVD of Ronald Haver's version for Christmas. My confusion at finding production stills in the middle of a WarnerColor Judy Garland musical sparked an interest in preservation that eventually blossomed into a vocation in film restoration. And I owe it all to Judy Garland.

 

BRIAN HERRERA (aka "StinkyLulu")
Brian convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. Follow him on Twitter. Or read his new book "Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in 20th Century US Popular Performance .

(Brian created the Smackdowns originally! He gave us his blessing and participated in the relaunch right here at TFE for the 1952 race)

What does 1954 mean to you?

1954 feels like the decade's pivot year -- the Salk polio vaccine trials begin, Brown v Board is decided, Joe McCarthy goes down in flames -- but it doesn't carry much personal resonance. Aside perhaps from the fact that it was the first year that the Miss America Pageant was televised. (Oscar went live-on-TV the year before.)

 

And your host...

NATHANIEL R
Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always at The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) but mostly blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner & Michelle Pfeiffer (specifically). Though he holds a BFA in Illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. He blames Boogie Nights for the career change. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1954 mean to you?

It's rather a horrible Oscar year for me as I am NOT fond of the Best Picture list and it was the monster birth of deglam (it may have started before that but Grace Kelly definitely popularized it as an Oscar tactic). But here are a few things I think of that give me great pleasure:

 

Marlon Brando saying "I coulda been a contenduh," Marilyn Monroe in general who kind of defines the 1950s (don't you think?) and had gone supernova the year before, and the following musical pleasures: Judy G singing "The Man That Got Away," the "Sisters" number from White Christmas which two of the most popular girls in my high school used to sing at our Concert Choir events, Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse's  sexual chemistry while dancing to "The Heather on the Hill" in Brigadoon and that barn dance in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Did you know there were over 20 musicals released in 1954?! It didn't use to be a special event only genre.


What does 1954 mean to you dear readers?

Do tell in the comments.

And remember to get your votes in on these ladies who give the performances within the films that we'll be discussing. Your ballots are due by Thursday August 27th - only vote on the performances you've seen as we weigh the ballots so that underseen or everyone-has-seen-it doesn't hurt or help.

The Nominees

The 95 smackdown was an absolute squeaker so since YOU are the collective sixth panelist you never know when your vote might count. On the smackdown podcast we'll surely consider this odd factoid: Several Oscar-favored actresses had supporting roles this year but none were nominated: Ritter (Rear Window), Moorehead (Magnificent Obsession), Stanwyck (Executive Suite), McCambridge (Johnny Guitar). What was that about?

Tuesday
Aug112015

Life Magazine Best Actress Covers, 1954

Researching 1954 for other posts, I came upon the realization that Life Magazine had featured not one, not two but three of the eventual Best Actress nominees on their covers that year in April (Grace Kelly who had a lot of films out that year including The Country Girl), September (Judy Garland for A Star is Born) and November (Dorothy Dandridge as "Hollywood's Fiery Carmen Jones"). It was "Hollywood's Brightest and Busiest New Star" vs. the World's Greatest Entertainer for the golden statue that year. The tag line to the Judy article was "Judy Garland Takes Off After Oscar" but it was not to be and Grace Kelly cemented the Princess effect with Oscar just a year after that had already helped Audrey Hepburn to her Roman Holiday win. (With Oscar, it rarely turns out that well for the older women, as you know)

This particular Best Actress race will haunt actressexuals forever as Judy Garland's A Star is Born performance is one of the greatest ever committed to celluloid. Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina) and Jane Wyman (Magnificent Obsession) were also nominated that year but did not get a Life cover. That's weird in Audrey's case as she was a regular cover girl. 

Finally while everyone knows that Dorothy Dandridge was a trailblazer this cover represents a twofer: She was not only the first African American nominated for a Leading Role at the Oscars (previous nominations had only happened in Supporting Actress) she was also the very first black woman to appear on the cover of Life Magazine!

Have you ever seen Carmen Jones? We've talked about it before.

Tuesday
May262015

Peggy Link

Theater Mania Juliette Binoche to return to the stage with Sophocles' Antigone
Playbill interviews Laura Benanti 
Variety the charming animated fable Song of the Sea takes Best Picture at the Irish Film Awards. Have you seen it yet? It was very nearly my favorite of last year's animated pictures. 
Guardian interviews Vincent Cassell on his disturbing Australian drama Partisan with a look back at his now-classic breakthrough in La Haine (which might get a sequel)
Variety critics hash out the best and worst of Cannes together with the most fascinating split being on Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin which Debruge finds "impenetrable" and for which Chang expresses rapturous love. (Note: they also seem to admire Carol more than love it - which is why I've always been less bullish than most early Oscar prognosticators in assuming AMPAS's future love for it)
Nick Davis, Tim Brayton, Ivan Albertson and Amir Soltani continue their collective committed Cannes 1995 retrospective hitting films like Shanghai Triad (I loved that one at the time!), The Madness of King George, and Todd Haynes classic [safe]


Sad News
The Guardian reports that 1960s superstar Omar Sharif has Alzheimers
Kenneth in the (212) RIP to Anne Meara aka "Mrs Sherwood" in Fame (1980) but was also a multiple Emmy nominee and Ben Stiller's mamma
In Contention in case you hadn't heard John & Alicia Nash, the subjects of the Oscar winning A Beautiful Mind were died in a car accident Sunday 

Popcorn Season
Coming Soon lists the "15 biggest disaster movies" but skimps on older films with only four movies listed that existed prior to 1996.
CHUD new pics from Ridley Scott's Martian featuring Matt Damon's space suit (the costume designer is Ridley Scott regular, Janty Yates) 
Empire shares new Ant Man images
/Film in more 'franchises never die' news, the Conan series may be revived as The Legend of Conan with Arnold Schwarzenegger back as the barbarian in his older years 
Observations on Film Art on the waning thrills of CGI comparing The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings and Mad Max Fury Road to the general contemporary action film
Pajiba Captain America Civil War is filming and thus, lots of photos from the set
The Dissolve has a long read on genre movies that followed in the wake of Star Wars: Flash Gordon, Superman, and Star Trek and where they went right and wrong
David Johns does a Law & Order style Daredevil edit. Good job 

Showtune to Go...
This morning we chatted briefly about the upcoming Peggy Lee biopic so why not a little Peggy for the afternoon? Enjoy this Peggy Lee & Judy G medley that kicks off with "I Like Men"

Friday
Sep192014

Advice on Life and Movies - The Best of RuPaul's Reddit AMA

 

RuPaul Charles, Supermodel of the World and the mad genius behind the reality TV phenomenon RuPaul's Drag Race, took some time away from myriad hosting/singing/writing/producing commitments to host an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit, with predictably delightful results. 

Along with discussing his career and favorite works of art, RuPaul also dispensed words of advice on fashion, confidence, and battling personal demons. Here are some of the best parts:

Why did you decide to go by your real name, RuPaul, instead of taking on a drag name?

Because I was stupid. It's important to use a stage name so that your real name doesn't appear on public records.

What's the fondest childhood memory you have?

The time my sister Renetta took me to the Canyon with a paper bag of cookies and a blanket, and told me "Ru-ru- this is a pic-nic." I was 5 years old. That's when I first learned about magic. Because to anyone else, it would be a paper bag and a blanket. But Renetta turned it into a magical event by calling it a pic-nic.

What makes a gay icon?


What makes a gay icon is someone who possesses both masculine and feminine qualities simultaneously. Someone with the power of Judy Garland and the vulnerability of Judy Garland is a shoe-in. The world we live in is made up of polar opposites, black/white, male/female, night/day, and a human being who possesses both masculine and feminine - vulnerability and strength - is intriguing to us, whether they be a singer or actor or dancer, intrigues us, because THAT Is who we really are. We are this world, all of it, and when we recognize it in other people - that person gets our attention. That person becomes the representation of your own potential.

If you had to pick one movie for the whole world to watch, what would it be?

The Wizard of Oz. It says everything you need to know about what we are doing on this planet.

Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?

I love A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. And I love a Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. I also love the Tom Perrotta books The Leftovers, and my all-time favorite book is Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Who is your comedy icon?

Joan Rivers!

I loved you in But I'm A Cheerleader. What was your favorite part of working on that film?

It would be watching Eddie Cibrian's booty in those cutoff jeans.

Dealing with anxiety I have repeated many of your quotes to myself, to keep going, to stop judging myself, etc. But sometimes the saboteur seems to be screaming so loud that I can't avoid it. When the saboteur gets too loud, how do you deal with it?

You have to nurture another voice that counteracts the saboteur. And you have to also ask yourself - are you willing to give up the payoff you get from succumbing to the saboteur?

What would you say is your most important piece of fashion advice?

Be yourself. Know your proportions. And have a good tailor.

I've got an artesian well on my property and the water pressure is lousy. Any suggestions?

HAHAHA. Sissy that water!

 

Friday
Jun202014

Dear Link People

Cinema Blend Rian Johnson (of Brick and Looper fame) will direct at least one of the new Star Wars movies. Interesting choice
Very Smart Brothas has smart things to say about Yaya DaCosta's casting as Whitney Houston in that upcoming lifetime biopic. (I just discovered this site which I gather is pretty popular on the black internet. Some really funny posts)
MNPP Michael Haneke's Flash Mob is waiting on its lead actress. But who will it be?

In Contention top 10 performances in Roman Polanski films
AV Club talks Judy Garland and the Oscar fuck-up of 1954. One of my favorite topics!
i09 Pixar's next short is called Lava
Esquire 10 best films set in New Jersey from Atlantic City to Cop Land
Just Jared Matthew McConaughey on the red carpet for more prizes. Curiously talk is spreading that McConaughey won't be back for Magic Mike XXL. I actually think that's a great move on the movie's part but I wasn't expecting it since Hollywood usually tries to give you more of the same in sequels. (I've already discussed this but If Tatum wants to build a cash cow franchise out of this for himself as a producer that could even survive without him onscreen, he needs to understand that the topic calls for fresh meat each time. Sorry to be so crass about it but it's true!) 

Most Awesome Tweet of the Day/Month/Possibly the Year
If only they had done another one in a car with Brad in the back seat! 

 

 

 

I haven't seen this movie in way too long.

Opposing Netflix Views
Vulture wonders how Chelsea Handler and Netflix are going to work around the talk show format which requires topicality which you can't get when you film in advance. But...
Mashable thinks this won't be what we're expecting an disrupt television again 

 

Tuesday
Jun102014

Get Happy!

It's Judy Garland's birthday, after all! It oughta be a federal holiday in which everyone gets the day off to stay home and watch old MGM musicals. Who's with me? Let start a petition.

Thursday
Mar272014

The Linkettes

Wonkette crazed religious rightwing preacher says that Frozen will make you gay. And a witch!
Pajiba saves me the trouble of doing a Yes No Maybe So on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) traiser
24 Frames Per Second Mynt Marsellus follows up on that "screenplays you must read" article we were discussing the other day with 5 screenplays by women or people of color to add diversity to it. Fine choices
People Emma Watson looks great in menswear

In Contention on the final James Gandolfini film The Drop from the director of Bullhead
The Exploding Kinetoscope demands that you take Summer Stock (1950) more seriously. There's more to that Judy Garland film than "Get Happy"
Los Angeles Magazine James Franco on his poetry and being on that "leaked" list of Lindsay's lovers...
TFE ...icymi we discussed that list here
Gilt City if you have $175-$235 to spare you can see Cate Blanchett, Isabelle Huppert and Elizabeth Debicki in The Maids on stage here in NY. Good goddess, what a trio. That's above my pay grade but if you see it, do tell me how magical it was. (Cheaper worse tickets go on sale and will surely sell out instantly) on Monday. 
MNPP [nsfw] JA's off to Italy but first a bath and a Mr Ripley reminder
AV Club... whoa. OCD VHS recordings are being put to good use in San Francisco 
Film School Rejects "are you hating movies properly?"

Today's Must See
Oooh, I don't know how I missed this yesterday but Just Jared posted set pics from Suffragette the new Carey Mulligan/Meryl Streep political period piece. FWIW, because no site ever gives credit on these things when they post set pics, the costumes are by Jane Petrie, a relatively new Costume Designer whose previous credits include genre pictures like An American Haunting, Moon and 28 Days Later. But she's moving straight into prestige films. She's got Suffragette as well as the Stephen Frears Lance Armstrong biopic if that one stays on track. 

Meryl in "Suffragette"

Today's Must Read
Ester Bloom, who wrote a couple of pieces here at TFE a few years ago, has a terrific essay up on Flavorwire about the sexuality (or lack thereof) in Wes Anderson's films and how Grand Budapest Hotel is and isn't a significant departure in this regard. Consider this bit.

Anderson is famous for fawning over his symmetrical landscapes the way other directors dote on their female stars; if he is turned on by anything, it seems to be dioramas. The people who fall in love in Anderson’s universes are either actual children, like the awkward tweens of Moonrise Kingdom, or metaphorical ones, like the emotionally stunted Herman Blume of Rushmore and Richie Tenenbaum of The Royal Tenenbaums. And all hearts break in the end.

It's a really good read so click on over