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Alicia Vikander cast as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Only supporting actress winners are allowed to play this role!

"What on earth can Alicia bring to this role, and why bother? Good luck." - Tom F

"How long must we wait for Dianne Wiest as Lara Croft!?" - Mike

 

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Entries in Old Hollywood (120)

Thursday
Apr282016

TCM Classic Film Festival Starts Today!

Anne Marie here, reporting from sunny Los Angeles!

The 6th Annual TCM Classic Film Fest starts today in Hollywood, kicking off 4 days of fan-friendly classic film viewing. Though Turner Classic Movies's festival is only six years old, the TV channel works to make each year bigger and broader than the year before it. This year, TCM will honor legendary director Francis Ford Coppola with a handprint ceremony, and call on the likes of Angela Lansbury, Faye Dunaway, Rita Moreno, and Anna Karina to introduce its decades-and-countries-spanning festival lineup. If you thought "Classic Movies" meant films shot in LA from 1930-1950, TCM has some mind-altering revelations for you!

This year's theme is Moving Pictures; movies that not only move us to tears (It's A Wonderful Life and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), but also laughter (Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid), trepidation (Band of Outsiders), spiritualism (The Passion of Joan of Arc), and introspection (Network, M*A*S*H). Throughout the festival, TCM continues to challenge the defintion of "classic," expanding the cinema canon and bringing film experiences from across history and nations. I'll be on the ground to report on the best of these, with plenty of surprises on the way.

The TCM Film Festival comes on the heels of two major announcements from the network: the launch of the fan subscription service TCM Backlot, and the TCM/Criterion streaming collaboration to be launched in fall, Filmstruck. TCMFF, already a six-years-strong example of TCM's ability to engage with fans, provides the network with a platform to celebrate these new opportunities. Time and promotion will tell how propular these new ventures will be. In the meantime, we have a film festival to attend!

 

Would you use a classic movie subscription service like TCM & Criterion's FilmStruck?
Sign me up! Netflix is missing too many titles.
Nah, I can always watch them somewhere else.
I'm indifferent. What else is on?
Do Riddles

 

 

 

Tuesday
Apr122016

Happy 100th: Why Doesn't Movita Have a Biopic? 

Today is the Centennial of the Mexican American actress Movita, who was born as Maria Luisa Castaneda but renamed Movita by MGM because the name sounded Polynesian to them. Well maybe it's her centennial. She claims the studio fudged with her age to make her older for legal reasons. She's surely best remembered today as "Tehani" one of two young island beauties (the other being "Maimiti" played by Mamo Clark) that got entangled in all that Mutinous Best Picture business on the Bounty back in 1935 (if you know what I mean).

Movita went on to international fame and married two famous masculine hunks, first the boxer Jack Doyle and then superstar Marlon Brando (quite atypically she was an "older woman" marrying a young superstar) so we're guessing she had a type...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar312016

Burning Question: What current star would have benefitted most from the Studio System?

This post is brought to you by agonizing advertisements for The Huntsman: Winter's War. Which looks dreadful.

Sometimes when I look at Charlize Theron, it hurts. She has such old school "MOTION! PICTURE! SPECTACULAR!" scale to her persona, this inarguable magnificence / screen beauty. The catch: she's almost never in movies that do anything for her when she's doing so much for them.

She might be my #1 choice for current star whose career is alright but would have been spectacular under the Studio System when star magnetism was carefully catered to, packaged, and regularly served up rather than an "extra" your random movie can sometimes benefit from.

Who is yours?

Saturday
Mar262016

A Star is Risen!

For Easter weekend, here's Kyle Stevens author of Mike Nichols: Sex, Language and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism". You can read more about our team members here.


Stars are our larger-than-life figures. We worship them. We tell stories about them and fancy ourselves made in their images. In fact, bona fide movie star celebrity dates all the way back to 1909, when Carl Laemmle (who would later co-found Universal Studios) placed false notices of the tragic death of “the Biograph girl” in a street car accident. When it was revealed that she was alive and well, the nation rejoiced and everyone cesuddenly knew the name of Florence Lawrence. In this way, Hollywood stardom has always had not just a religious flavor but a Christian Messianic one at that.

Over the next century, countless stars have profited from the love of the resurrection narrative. Remember the elation when Barbra Streisand announced to the world that Lauren Bacall wasn’t in the tomb but gorgeous and talented and right there on-screen? And it was just two years ago that Matthew’s McConaissance brought him Oscar glory.  

What are your favorite movie star resurrection stories?

Wednesday
Jan272016

Judy by the Numbers: "Dear Mr. Gable"

Anne Marie is charting Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

In 1936, 14 year old Judy was selected to perform at Clark Gable's birthday party. Gable, the biggest MGM star at that time, was to have an all out bash. For Judy's performance, Roger Edens wrote an intro lyric to an old MGM property, "You Made Me Love You," which directed the 1917 song specifically at Gable. At the party, Judy jumped out of a cake and sang the star his song, charming not only the birthday boy, but also his boss, Louis B. Mayer.

The Movie: Broadway Melody of 1938 (MGM, 1937)
The Songwriter: James V. Monaco (music), Joseph McCarthy (lyrics), Roger Edens (new title & intro)
The Players: Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor, Judy Garland, Clark Gable's photo, directed by Roy del Ruth

 

The Story: The result of her hit at the birthday party was that Judy Garland was cast singing her new song in  Broadway Melody of 1938. The Broadway Melody series was designed for MGM to try out up-and-coming talent; Buddy Ebsen made his debut there, and it helped make Eleanor Powell a star. Judy was no exception. All of the reviews raved about her: NYT called out her "amazing precocity" while The Hollywood Reporter asked why she'd been kept under wraps so long. "Dear Mr. Gable" would become her first single, too. Judy Garland was an overnight hit, but it would take her 2 more years and 5 more movies to become a star.

Wednesday
Jan132016

Judy by the Numbers: "The Texas Tornado"

Anne Marie back with the next installment in our new Judy Garland series. Before she was a legend, Frances Gumm was a contract player. This meant that MGM could loan her out to other studios. It was common practice for both large stars and minor players. But what makes you Frances unique is how rare it was for her. Today's musical marks the only time MGM loaned out Judy Garland; the rest of her contract with the studio would be spent snugly - if not comfortably - within the white walls of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Judy's next short would kick off the Garland legend, and jumpstart the young teen's career.
 
The Movie: Pigskin Parade (20th Century Fox, 1936)
The Songwriters: Lew Pollack (Music), Sidney D. Mitchell (Lyrics)
The Players: Stuart Erwin, Patsy Kelly, Betty Grable, Jack Haley, Judy Garland, directed by David Butler
The Story: Already under contract to MGM at the age of 14, the newly renamed Judy Garland's first feature film was a loan out to 20th Century Fox. Pigskin Parade was a low-budget musical - Fox's favorite kind - that cashed in on the early 30's fad for college crooners. Judy plays the hick sister of a barefoot football prodigy (Stuart Erwin) who's invited by accident to play for Yale. Judy gets a handful of numbers, all shot and sounding more or less exactly like this one: she stands, feet planted, and belts pep songs in medium closeup. Young Judy hasn't quite mastered lip synching yet, but already one of her defining features shines: she looks like she's having a hell of a lot of fun performing.
Wednesday
Jan062016

Judy by the Numbers: "The Land of Let's Pretend"

Judy at 8. In just ten years time she'll have a mini "Juvenile" Oscar!Editor's Note: With Anne-Marie in grad school we're taking it easier on her for 2016. After her invaluable deep dives into Katharine Hepburn with "A Year With Kate" and female directors in "Women's Pictures" something much shorter but reliably tuneful for you each Wednesday morning in '16: Judy Garland numbers! 

Anne Marie returning to you. Welcome to a new series exploring Judy Garland through the music she made famous and the songs that made her a star. Before she was Judy Garland, Frances "Baby" Gumm was the youngest of a three sister Vaudeville act. The child of Vaudeville performers, a family story states that she made her stage debut at 30 months singing "Jingle Bells." She was so entranced by the footlights that her father had to remove her after she sang the song - 7 times.

The Movie: "Bubbles" (Vitaphone Short, 1929 or 1930)
The Songwriters: Harry Akst (Music) and Grant Clark (Lyrics)
The Players: The Gumm Sisters, directed by Roy Mack

The Story: "Bubbles" is close to Frances Gumm's film debut; she and her sisters made a series of Vitaphone shorts for Warner Brothers. Though she's just 8 years old, it's already clear that there's something about young Frances - the short one on the right who mugs to a spot right of camera during her brief closeup. At the moment, that "something" is a big smile and an equally big (if tinny) voice. But such small stuff is what stars are moulded from.