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Entries in Oscars (50s) (122)

Thursday
Aug082019

Intermission/Posterized: Dino De Laurentiis 100th

Today in showbiz history the famous and sometimes infamous producer Dino de Laurentiis was born in a province of Naples, Italy. We'll take an intermission on our five or six part celebration today but we hope you've enjoyed the write-ups on Bitter Rice (1949) and the Fellini years, the creation of Dinocitta and its famous high-grossing but also-flopping The Bible: In the Beginning (1966), and his early years in America with gritty dramas like Serpico (1973) and Death Wish (1974). We resume tomorrow evening with the much-derided but very successful King Kong (1976) which just so happened to be the film debut of Jessica Lange.

Until then which of these 18 early De Laurentiis' productions have you seen? Do you have a favourite?He produced hundreds of his films in his career, starting at the age of 20, so this is just a small sample of his work in the first 30+ decades of his career...

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Monday
Aug052019

De Laurentiis pt 1: "Bitter Rice" and the Fellini Years

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  We’ll start with three of his key influential early films. Here's Eric Blume...

Bitter Rice was De Laurentiis breakthrough international hit. He married its star

De Laurentiis, born outside of Naples, set up his own company in 1946 when he was just 27 years old. He produced four smaller films before making a huge splash onto the international scene with 1949’s Bitter Rice, a film currently available through the Criterion Collection.  Bitter Rice serves up an arresting and hypnotic blend of melodrama, sexuality, and social commentary. The film is set in northern Italy during a typical spring where hundreds of poor women travel to the rice fields to work to the bone for forty days.  There are workers with a legal contract and then the “illegals” who come in hopes of getting an opportunity. Within this sociopolitical context, our story finds two thieves (Doris Dowling and Victoria Gassman) hiding amongst the farm, intertwined in love stories with an impulsive young peasant girl (Silvana Mangano) and a soldier from the nearby station (Raf Vallone)... 

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Thursday
Apr112019

Howard Keel Centennial: "Calamity Jane"

We're celebrating musical star Howard Keel's Centennial this week. Here's Tim Brayton...

Presenting a musical in which Howard Keel plays the obnoxious gunslinger love interest to a famous woman from the Wild West. My apologies if you feel a little bit of déjà vu from that logline: Nathaniel did, after all, just write about Keel's breakout performance in 1950's Annie Get Your Gun, about which every word of that sentence equally applies. And that's absolutely no accident. Warner Bros. had fought to get the rights to that stage musical as a vehicle for its up-and-coming singing star Doris Day, but lost out to MGM. When that film proved to be a hit, Warner's responded by developing an original Western musical based - oh so very loosely - on the life of Calamity Jane, famous frontierswoman and scout.

So eager was the studio to recreate that Annie magic that they even went to the trouble of borrowing Keel from MGM for the span of this one production. Not that you could tell any of this just by looking at 1953's Calamity Jane...

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Wednesday
Apr102019

Howard Keel Centennial: "Annie Get Your Gun"

Our Howard Keel Centennial celebration begins. Here's Nathaniel R...

What is the lasting legacy of Hollywood's biggest musical of 1950, Annie Get Your Gun? The best remembered thing about it may well be its place in Judy Garland's storied career; she was infamously fired well into production, marking in some ways the nadir of her career, and fueling the mythology of that comeback of all comebacks with A Star is Born (1954) after a four year absence from the big screen. But that's not the movie as it exists today, only what could have been. And "could have beens" are many with this troubled production which lost its original star (Judy), its first two directors (Busby Berkeley and Charles Walters) and one key supporting cast member (Frank Morgan as Buffalo Bill, who died after filming began) on its way to its final cut.

The first shot of Howard Keel in "Annie Get Your Gun"

Though "Annie Get Your Gun" has had a long healthy life on stages, big and small (including three Broadway runs: 1946-1949, 1966, and 1999-2001) it's most lasting cinematic contribution is the introduction of Howard Keel as a leading man...

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Saturday
Mar092019

Jennifer Jones Centennial: "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing"

Reader Request: You voted on which Jennifer Jones films we had to write about for her centennial and this was your top choice. So it's your fault, then.

One of the tag lines reads...

In each other's arms they found a love that defied 5,000 years of tradition!

'Defying tradition? But what's more traditional than Hollywood casting white stars in Asian roles?' he said sarcastically. Figured we should get this out of the way upfront and then try to ignore it: Jennifer Jones's last Oscar nomination came for playing Han Suyin, a biracial doctor, who falls for Mark Elliott, an American foreign correspondent (William Holden) in Hong Kong...

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Wednesday
Mar062019

Jennifer Jones Centennial: "Indiscretions of an American Wife"

We're celebrating Jennifer Jones's centennial. By your request (you voted on which two movies we'd cover), here's Nathaniel R...

Your viewing assignment should you choose to accept it, and you really should, is Vittorio de Sica's Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953), a floridly emotional 65 minute drama (you read that right) in which a very thirsty Jennifer Jones engages in some illicit behavior because what else can you do when confronted with the beauty of Montgomery Clift in the 1950s?

Though 1953 was arguably Monty's peak (he also starred in Hitchcock's I Confess! and the Best Picture winner From Here to Eternity that year), this melodrama from the Italian master Vittorio de Sica is Jennifer Jones's film from fussy indecisive start to farewell heartbreak finish...

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