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Entries in Oscars (40s) (71)

Thursday
Jan052017

What's your favorite Jane Wyman?

It's Jane Wyman's Centennial.  The actress was born on this day in Missouri in 1917 as Sara Jane Mayfield.

Like many major stars her legacy rests on a period that's only about a decade long -- in Wyman's case the mid 40s through the 50s, or more specifically the Best Picture winner The Lost Weekend (1945) through the Douglas Sirk classic All that Heaven Allows (1955) a period in which she specialized in childlike women and their inverse young widows-- but her career was long, stretching from bit parts in the early 30s through TV stardom in the 80s.

Her greatest hits and Oscar triumphs after the jump. Which is your favorite?

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Tuesday
Jan032017

Your First Film Screening of 2017? Mine was "Casablanca"

Happy 2017, everyone! Dancin' Dan here, to celebrate how I rang in the New Year in cinema.

I personally opted not to go with any of the new releases, instead choosing January 1st to see a 35mm print of one of my Top Three films of all time, Casablanca. Apparently the print is making the rounds in honor of the 1943 Best Picture winner's 75th Anniversary. The timing, as always with Casablanca, is confusing: Casablanca premiered in New York in November of 1942 but it didn't become Oscar eligible until the 1943 film year winning the Oscar in March 1944 sixteen whole months after its premiere. Technically it's not quite 75 yet.

But never mind that, because Casablanca is always worth celebrating. It's so easy to fall in love with the shared beauty and charisma of stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and to applaud the film's witty, instant-classic lines. This time around, though, I was particularly struck by two things...

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Friday
Oct282016

Oscar Horrors: The Uninvited

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening we look back on a horror-connected nomination until Halloween. Here's Tim Brayton on a '40s ghost story...

The Uninvited (1944)  is a rarity among 1940s horror films twice over. For one thing, it's one of the vanishingly tiny number of genre films from that decade to receive Oscar attention, nabbing a Best Cinematography nomination – which is why we're here now, of course. For the other, it's one of the almost-as-tiny number of American horror films of its generation that actually commits to the paranormal. For years, stretching back into the 1930s, almost any time you saw a Hollywood film set in a haunted house, it was an easy bet that by the end of the last reel, you'd find out it was just an elaborate ruse by jewel thieves or some other damn thing. Not so for The Uninvited! Its ghost is real, and presents a genuine danger.

The film's readiness to tell an old-fashioned ghost story without apology or restraint is undoubtedly connected to the recognition given to Charles Lang's deeply shadow-soaked cinematography. 

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Monday
Oct242016

Oscar Horrors: "Dr Jekyll and Mr Mouse"

Boo! It's time for "Oscar Horrors". Each night at 7 through Halloween we look back on a horror film or horror-adjacent film's Oscar nomination until Halloween. Here's Nathaniel R...

Here's an odd statistic to consider. Did you know that Tom & Jerry was Oscar's favorite character-based cartoon franchise? The MGM cat and mouse team won seven Oscars in the Best Animated Short category, more than any other series but for Disney's "Silly Symphonies" which also won seven times. Tom & Jerry's very first short was nominated and they won for four consecutive years from 1943-1946 at the peak of their fame.

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Monday
Oct242016

The Furniture: Designing Dignity in "How Green Was My Valley"

"The Furniture" our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber

Filmmaking is often an art borne of flexibility. Tim Burton built Sleepy Hollow from scratch when he couldn’t find just the right town in the real world. Vincente Minnelli was forced to make Brigadoon indoors in Hollywood, because the studio wouldn’t pay for an expensive production in Scotland. Both films are likely better for it, too.

The same is perhaps true for How Green Was My Valley, which premiered 75 years ago this week. John Ford wanted to make shoot it on location in Wales, but World War II intervened. Instead, the production team built an entire mining town in the Santa Monica Mountains. This condensed and idealized version of the setting of Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel is among the most emotionally resonant sets of its era.

The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Art Direction.

The design team consisted of Richard Day, Nathan H. Juran and Thomas Little, no stranger to Oscar success. They based their village on Gilfach Goch, a quintessential Welsh mining town, but they dramatically reduced the size and jammed the houses much closer to the colliery...

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Sunday
Oct092016

George Sidney Centennial: "The Three Musketeers"

by Nathaniel R

After looking at three popular musicals Anchors Aweigh (1945), Kiss Me Kate (1953), and Bye Bye Birdie (1963), in our mini George Sidney Centennial celebration, we're closing up with his other primary mode: the adventure flick. Curiously those films also feel like musicals even when they aren't. Case in point is The Three Musketeers (1948) and the subliminal feeling that at any moment a song and dance number might break out. That's not only because glorious Gene Kelly is the star. This feeling radiates outward from the ebullient movement of all of the swordsmen. It's also firmly embedded in the swooning romantic overtures that happen instantaneously between Gene Kelly and each of the women. Lana Turner is the devilish Lady de Winter and June Allyson is the saintly Constance and, in case you're wondering, no one will ever accuse this movie of subtlety or evolved gender politics. Still the love scenes are memorable for their queer duet of completely earnest and purposefully comic registers.

While The Three Musketeers, MGM's second biggest hit of the entire decade, never abandons its swashbuckler adventure commitments to make room for the theoretical song and dance number, it does make quite a few overtures to other identities. This treatment of the Alexander Dumas story is also a romantic comedy, a slapstick farce, and even a stylized melodrama...

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Monday
Oct032016

Now Streaming: Luke Cage's Day Off - A True Story

The following titles are now streaming for your pleasure. We've freeze framed them at entirely random places and shared the first thing that came up as is our whimsical practice. Do you have any desire to see (or revisit) these based on this evidence? 

NOW STREAMING ON NETFLIX

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
LOL. Totally forgot about this sly partners in crime shopping scene. Have you seen this recently? It's so great but for every cutaway to Mickey Rooney (sigh). Nominated for five Oscars including Best Actress. (It's actually kind of a surprise that this hasn't been remade since it was originally envisioned for Marilyn Monroe and could have obviously been an entirely different sort of movie.)

seven more after the jump including Marvel's Luke Cage and a 1940s Best Picture winner...

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