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Entries in Old Hollywood (133)

Saturday
Mar022019

Jennifer Jones, the early years and 'years at the top'

HAPPY JENNIFER JONES CENTENNIAL!

 Paolo wasn't kidding when he said that the Centennial of Jennifer Jones (that's today!) would be a challenge. Though we usually have some buy-in for centennials literally no one else on Team TFE volunteered for this one so it'll be short. But I'll do one or two pictures. i'm annoyed that I can't do Duel in the Sun (1946), which I've never seen, but I can't find it to stream. Actually easy availability is how I came up with your choices. So vote and tell me which of these films you most want to discuss:

 

But before we get there, and overview of her career.

And the eternal question: How long can any given star can stay at 'the top' from Old Hollywood to the right now...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul112018

Tab Hunter (1931-2018)

by Nathaniel R

Tab at the beach in the early '50sApologies that we didn't say our goodbyes to one of Hollywood's best hunks, Tab Hunter, in a timelier fashion.

Tab's real name was Arthur Kelm but back in the studio days almost everyone got a catchier name to boost their celebrity appeal... and you can't really beat Tab Hunter for a memorable name, can you? (Sometimes we wonder why actors don't do that now. Benedict Cumberbatch as a stage name and so many actors use their real names even if their real name is  long and hyphenated and hard to imagine on a marquee!).

Though born in New York his sun-kissed blonde beauty was a perfect fit for sunny California and Hollywood and he rose through the ranks quickly in films. Despite a few well regarded performances peppered throughout his career he was never considered a particularly strong actor and his fame diminished with time. Until recently but we'll get to that in a minute.

Tab Hunter and Dorothy Malone in "Battle Cry" from 1955, the year that made him a big star.

Yours truly first learned of him in the 1980s due to young me's obsession with Natalie Wood (my first actressexual fixation). The studio though they'd make a terrific onscreen couple and threw them together for back-to-back pictures in 1956 -- Burning Hills and The Girl He Left Behind -- because each had had big hits the year before. Teenage Natalie, already a star, was hot off of her first Oscar nomination for Rebel Without a Cause, ample proof that her child-star status would transfer well to adult stardom. Tab had had two huge hits in 1955 (Battle Cry and The Sea Chase). While his films didn't endure like Natalie's (with the arguable exception of Damn Yankees!), Warner Bros was passionate about his bankability...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul042018

100 Oldest Living Oscar Nominees & Winners

This fourth of July rather than celebrate America as a country, we're opting to celebrate our favorite American institution: Hollywood! And to be more precise, it's eldest living gems. We do this list every couple of years so it's time for another since list-topper Olivia de Havilland just turned 102 this week (remember when we had a week long party for her Centennial?). Two other gifted members of this list have birthdays on this National Holiday so they can pretend that all the fireworks and BBQs and picnics and time off work is for them. So a very happy 94th to Oscar-winning beauty Eva Marie Saint and 91st to super famous playwright Neil Simon on this very day!


Cherry pick a few people on this list and watch a couple of their movies this year to appreciate their gift or learn about it for the first time. Our very best wishes of good health and happiness to the following actors, directors and craftsmen of all kinds through their next birthday and the birthday after that!

100 OLDEST LIVING OSCAR NOMINEES/WINNERS AFTER THE JUMP...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun152018

"Monkey Business" Giggles

I caught a retro matinee of Howard Hawk's silly delight Monkey Business (1952) for my birthday last weekend. I'd never seen it before and was giggling throughout. Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Marlowe, and Charles Coburn were in great form but Ginger Rogers completely steals the movie -- no small feat with that cast!

She plays the ridiculously patient and then suddenly immature wife of a chemist (Grant) who is trying to find a formula for de-aging that he's testing on monkeys. Hijinx ensue! My main takeaway this week has been that modern comedies try too hard to have a message, a character arc, and "heart" to go with the laughs. This spring's I Feel Pretty and Life of the Party had this problem and one assumes the newly opened Tag does, too, merely because almost all comedies now do. Heart and message and meaty arcs (if you have to have them) should just spring from silliness rather than be inorganically thrown on top of the comedy like a blanket. That blanket is wet and it dampens the fun.

Do you have this problem with modern comedies and what do you love most about Monkey Business if you've seen it? 

Friday
Jan122018

Interview: Jamie Bell on falling in love with Annette Bening and his "Billy Elliot" reunion

by Nathaniel R

Jamie Bell has been famous since he was 14 years old. His debut film Billy Elliott (2000) about a young boy who discovers a passion for dancing that puts him at odds with his blue-collar community, became a global sensation. The charming film earned over $100 million (on a $5 million budget), received 3 Oscar nominations multiple BAFTAs, and eventually spawned a similarly popular stage musical which took yet more prizes.

The film also earned its young star the BAFTA for Best Actor in February of 2001. And, seventeen years later, here we are again. Jamie Bell is BAFTA nominated for Best Actor for his latest movie Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool. The romantic drama, now in limited release, is about the last days of Oscar winner Gloria Grahame's (Annette Bening) life and the young unknown actor Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) she falls in love with, and whose life she essentially takes over moving into his parents home (where they're both mothered by Julie Walter). 

I had the opportunity to speak with Jamie Bell a few times this season at events which was a gift since the actor is so charming and his talent somehow still undervalued 17 years later. Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool should change that as his best performance yet. Our interview is after the jump..

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Tuesday
Nov282017

Doc Corner: 'Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story'

More often than not, biographic documentaries can feel staid in the way they so relentlessly follow a basic Point A to Point B narrative. It is understandable, really. After all, one must suppose that if somebody is interesting enough to have a documentary made about them, then they must be interesting enough to sustain 90 minutes without the need for their story to be gussied up with stylistic bells and tricky whistles.

Still, watching as many of these sort of films as I do, it can grow tiresome and can take me out of whatever spell the filmmaker hopes to cast.

And then there is a movie like Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. This is a film that it would be easy to pigeonhole before the opening scene has even begun - and it’s true that Alexandra Dean’s film adheres to a very traditional birth-to-death narrative. But what makes the film so interesting beyond its subject is the way it turns what could be perceived as just standard bio-doc delivery into a unique advantage.

Click to read more ...