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Entries in Old Hollywood (106)

Sunday
May102015

Mother's Day Special: "Now, Voyager" and Bette Davis

Happy Mother's Day, readers! Here's new contributor Angelica Jade Bastién returning to talk Bette Davis, tell all bios, and a 1940s classic. - Editor

When I introduce friends to Bette Davis for the first time I tend to show them Now, Voyager. Yes, the film gives us one of Davis' best performances but my love for it is deeply personal. Whenever I watch Now, Voyager I see my emotional landscape on the screen. As a teenager struggling with mental illness and a caring yet controlling mother who didn’t quite know how to handle it the film was a revelation. It gave me hope that I could become the woman I always dreamed of. Ultimately, my obsession with the film centers upon the multiple ways it explores motherhood. 

Now, Voyager is essentially about the transformation of Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) from spinster aunt figure to badass, emotionally realized womanhood. The film begins with Charlotte teetering at the edge of a nervous breakdown brought upon by the multitude of ways her mother, Mrs. Vale, controls her...

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Tuesday
Apr072015

Q&A: Best "Crazy," Gay Identification, and Old Hollywood Favorites

I'm a day late to our 'you ask, I answer' weekly party. But you didn't play along well with the rules this week. This time I asked for "weird" questions and got a bunch of the normal kind about favorite actresses! (Well, a few were weird. I love the Streep Hair question but I'll save it for another post) Since we're talking about weird let's start with this.

For some reason in the comments section this thing cropped up of people recommending I see After Hours (1985) and 'why haven't I seen it because it's got so many actresses and whatnot.' Bitch plz I saw that in 1986 on VHS (I broke my "R" Rated movie cherry in 1985, fwiw).I  don't think it's prime Scorsese or anything but Scorsese movies are such sausage parties that I treasure it as a real outlier in his filmography alongside Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and The Age of Innocence... the only other ones that seem more interested in actors of the female persuasion. 

But ignoring the assumption that I haven't seen it, it's a great film to bring up in a "weird" mood because everyone is a little touched. As a kid I L-O-V-E-D Terri Garr in everything.

HEY: since you asked - favorite performances of characters that are "a little touched"?

Oh great, now we have to define "touched" which is difficult. Two actors who I think do all time great work delineating the slow mounting crazy of their characters are Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver (Best Shot APRIL 15th! Join us) and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. For non-violent 'something's off here' characters anything Shelley Duvall ever played amirite. She's so perfectly "off". Michelle Pfeiffer is scalpel precise with her sociopathic tendencies in White Oleander and with Catwoman's unravelling (particularly at the end -- it's like watching glass break and all the pieces of her shattering everywhere). Speaking of unravelling I will never ever ever forget that trainwreck "concert" from Ronee Blakeley in Nashville.  Laura Dern, The Face, is really gifted with "heightened" crazy, less concerned with realism than auteurist mood, tone and style, especially with Lula (Wild at Heart) and, in her own words:

'...whatever I was in Inland Empire. I have no fucking clue!'

Classic actresses, unloved remakes, and more crazies after the jump...


But if you're speaking visibly bonkers -- actors going Mommie Dearest big with their psychosis -- I love the hell out of Fiona Shaw's crack-up in Black Dahlia, Steve Martin's dentist in Little Shop, Christian Bale's everything in American Psycho, Juliette Lewis's moodswings in Natural Born Killers, Brad Pitt's jumping bean lunacy in 12 Monkeys, and Bette Davis for time and all eternity in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

JOEYS: What remake does everyone hate but you secretly love?

Gus Van Sant's Psycho (1998) all the way. I really do love it in an academic "exercize" way. He has balls and really so does Anne Heche who I will forever wish had become a big movie star. TV seems to have sanded off her edges but she was a thorny wonder for awhile on celluloid.

Classic actresses, jack lemmon, and straight romance after the jump...

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Sunday
Apr052015

Link-a-round

Cinemascope Ari Folman (Waltz With Bashir) is working on a stop motion animated film about Anne Frank. Yes, that Anne Frank
The Stake has a great piece on Tina Fey's firestarter comedy, especially its willingness to constantly poke at our racial discomforts
Playbill has fun making Stephen King's books into stage musicals
Pajiba has seen (well the first ten minutes) of a porn parody of Guardians of the Galaxy with characters named Star Load, and Bonin
EW shares the 20 best episodes of Mad Men. Great choices overall - I'll be furious forever that Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss didn't win Emmys for "The Suitcase"
MNPP I missed Matthew Goode's birthday but this is the perfect gif set with which to celebrate


Women and Hollywood the annual Crystal Awards for women in film are here and this year's honorees are Nicole Kidman and Ava DuVernay
Boy Culture celebrates the one and only Buster Crabbe with some pre-code footage
Deep Dish celebrates Bette Davis on her birthday with lots of clips from TV & film
The Guardian raves about Carey Mulligan's career and artistry. She is currently playing Bill Nighy's ex-lover on Broadway at the moment in Skylight. Yes, Nighy. He is 36 years older.
Theater Mania yes, it's true. Cats will be revived on Broadway
Salon Michelangelo Signorile writes about the bleak state of gay characters on TV, usually sexless even in shows where their straight counterparts have plenty of physical intimacy (this is especially sad to read after Looking's cancellation though the article doesn't mention that)
Comics Alliance the superhero craze has officially jumped shark? an Avengers inspired menswear line is upon us. No, not a boys underoos line, a menswear line. Kind of brings us back to that gender doublestandard discussion again, right?
Huff Post Comedy speaking of double standards read this great piece on the headlines that would follow Madonna if she did the same things celebrity men her age or older did
Maria Shriver's Blog also has a piece on ageism and sexism via the prism of Madonna
i09 proof that awards are always political -- and it isn't just Oscar that's perpetually under attack -- in this investigative piece about a very weird two years for sci-fi's "Hugo" Awards
TV Line "The Muppet Show" will be returning to ABC at some point. Let this serve as your reminder that they tried to revive it one other time in the 1990s and Michelle Pfeiffer was a guest! Here is video proof. (Yes, I was very excited that night)

Unfortunately, as in The Muppets (2011) they thought it wise to invent a new Muppet character that wasn't even a tenth as good as any of the originals. Why does this keep happening? I'm all for shaking things up lest one be fossilized in nostalgia but if you can't come up with a good character DO NOT steal screen time from the good ones!

Friday
Apr032015

April Showers: Joan Crawford & "The Man Who Seduced Hollywood"

waterworks, some weeknights at 11

The danger of the "Best Shot" series is that sometimes the film consumes me for a whole week when I need to be focusing on other articles and behind the scenes duties (Oscar Prediction Charts coming soon!) But let's wash Mommie Dearest (1981) out of our systems with one last post by way of kicking off April Showers, our annual misadventure of gawking at shower scenes.

Mommie Dearest does practically begin with one. And not just any shower scene. It's funny. It's weird. It's glamorous. It's expensive. It's monogrammed. It turns wildly inappropriate during the dismount! 

Surrender to Joan's pink after the jump...

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Sunday
Mar292015

Shirley MacLaine talks "The Apartment" at TCMFF

Anne Marie here in Hollywood, reporting the way it crumbles. TCMFF-wise, that is.

Shirley MacLaine knows how to command a room. TCM Classic Film Festival honored the Oscar winner's 6 decade career with a screening of The Apartment last night, but when MacLaine  made her entrance to a standing ovation at the TCL Chinese stage, it was clear that the honor was all ours. Dressed in red & black sequins (reminiscent of Doris Mann), MacLaine sparkled with charm. But it's not just her incredible charisma. When a sound glitch caused feedback, she turned with a mischievous gleam in her eye and called out,

"Whoever's in charge of that: Fix it!"


Much of that no-nonsense professionalism Shirley MacLaine attributed to her friend, legendary director of The Apartment, Billy Wilder...

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Saturday
Mar282015

Christopher Plummer Honored

Anne Marie providing your concrete connection to TCM Classic Film Fest.

Besides the Oscars, there may be no symbol more Hollywood than the handprints outside the TCL Chinese Theater. As legend goes, Norma Talmadge walked through wet cement while theater entrepreneur Sid Grauman was finishing construction on the Chinese Theater, and the accident gave the showman a rock-solid idea. Whatever the tradition's origin, ever since the Chinese Theater opened in 1927, thousands of starstruck tourists and Hollywood hopefuls have made their way to the theater's courtyard, where they can marvel at the timeworn hand-and-footprints of everyone from Bette Davis to Tom Hanks to the cast of Harry Potter.

Yesterday morning, Christopher Plummer joined the ranks of cemented cinema stars. [more]

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