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Entries in silent films (32)

Saturday
Jun142014

Two "Dracula" Actresses

The Los Angeles Times reports that one of the last remaining silent era actors has passed away. The actress in question, Carla Laemmle, had an easy in to the movies: her uncle Carl Laemmle founded Universal Studios and invited her family to live in a bungalow on the lot.  Carla only had a small part in the horror classic Dracula (1931) but a key one: she uttered the first line of dialogue. She didn't appear in many pictures in her long life, dying at 104 years of age, but she apparently just recently filmed a role in a new horror film Mansion of Blood (2014) starring Gary Busey.

In happier news - this is not a double RIP -  Lupita Tovar, a Mexican beauty who starred in the Spanish language version of Dracula that same year (in those early days of sound they made simultaneous alternative versions for other markets with the same sets and costumes) is still with us at 103 years of age. Lupita also comes from a movie family or, rather, began one. She is the mother of Oscar nominee Susan Kohner (Imitation of Life) and grandmother to the directors Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz (of About a Boy fame)

Related: Oldest Living Screen Stars of Note

Thursday
May082014

Links

Salon "Dear serial tweet-favoriter: you are a coward" lol. a must read for anyone with a Twitter account
The Uncool Cameron Crowe's agonizing search for a title for Almost Famous (2000)... in notepad form
Film School Rejects two members of the staff watched "the 50 best movies of all time" and here are their takeaways from that two year process
Antagony & Ecstasy on King Vidor's The Crowd (1928) at the great end of silent filmmaking
Kenneth in the (212) shares a pretty great X-Men related Graham Norton wherein Fassy & McAvoy see gay fan art of themselves


MNPP tries to rekindle his love for George Clooney with his three favorite Clooneys. Good choices
Variety asks where the kids movies are this summer in the absence of Pixar
The Wire "Zac Efron hits bottom by accepting life advice from Tom Cruise" haha. I'm linking that for the title alone 
i09 see what your favorite webcomics would look like animated 
Cinesnark terrific examination of why Captain America films are what Superman films have failed to be 

news bits
Empire the ever employed Liam Neeson joins A Monster Calls... the new feature from the director of The Impossible. I can't wait until it's retitled something dull like "Dark River"
Cinema Blend The Flintstones getting a new animated feature because no franchise is allowed to ever die
In Contention The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby will be released in three different versions. It's a neat experiment but it fills me with horror. Goodbye final cut and "definitive" versions. That's a thing of the past (Malick, Lucas, and Scott have been trying to force that on us for years with their "oh, i'm sorry did i say i was finished i wasn't finished" tinkering so I'm sure they're thrilled.)
Guardian Andrea Arnold to direct first US film, a road trip called American Honey. I hope she casts professional actors this time. 

Tuesday
May062014

In Blog No One Can Hear You Link

MNPP "Do Dump or Marry" with the cast of Neighbors 
Shadowplay "everything that's wrong with Stanley Kramer..." (Judgment at Nuremberg) 
Cooper wishes a happy birthday to silent god Rudolph Valentino with beauteous gifs
Pajiba a righteous rebuttal to Shailene Woodley's ignorant anti-feminist comments
In Contention I should have linked this on my Star Wars day post but Kris did a history of Oscar and George Lucas' galaxy far far away

HuffPo Emma Stone and Gabourey Sidibe on their own body image and ignoring the haters ("too skinny" / "too fat")
Kenneth in the (212) loves Desperately Seeking Susan (as do I). You can visit the locations as they exist now in NYC 

small screen
Variety the rumors were true. Lisa Kudrow's brilliant biting showbiz satire The Comeback is returning to television. Albeit for a tiny six-episode run
Kevin P. O'Keefe terrific retrospective on the brilliant pilot episode of Glee all those long long years ago...

On a whim, I rewatched the pilot episode of Glee – first aired five years ago this month – just to see if it was as good as I remembered it. If anything, it’s better. In fact, it’s great. Yet watching Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and co. fresh-faced, unaffected by the ills that would befall them and the show over the next five years, is strangely heartbreaking. It’s a bit like watching a horror film backward.

I am so confident that show would have a gorgeous place in history if they had only wrapped it up with Season 2. 
AV Club Ancient Egypt is hot right now in Hollywood what with Ridley Scott's Exodus in production and new series from HBO and Fox going there, too. Spike TV joins the parade with a new series Tut
Comics Alliance how did I never hear that cheesy Electro Woman and Dyna Girl from Saturday Mornings in the 70s got its own unaired TV pilot in the Aughts? 

Today's Must Read
The Daily Beast looks back at Battlestar Galactica and charts what ineffable fanservice quality it had at the time that helped reshape pop culture. Really good piece which touches on a lot of genre films and tv that pop culture currently or still worships.

must see
I somehow missed this recent BuzzFeed gallery on movie posters improved with animation. Some are annoying with all the choppy looping reset feel that comes with most gifs. I like the subtler ones like the tense Sigweavie breathing of Alien or the elegant rippling Atonement but my favorite is probably this one for Fight Club. Pointedly cinematic... literally.

 

 

Moving posters for motion pictures are the future. Learn to love them.

 

Thursday
Apr172014

100th Anniversary: Cabiria

Tim here, asking the most burning question of them all: who’s ready to talk about Italian silent film?!?!

(Blogging pro-tip: italics and interrobangs make people excited to discuss things that they are not, in fact, excited to talk about).

But actually, we do need to talk about Italian silent film a little bit. Because this weekend marks the centennial anniversary of one of the greatest milestones in film history: Cabiria, a massive historical epic produced and directed by Giovanni Pastrone, and written by literary celebrity Gabriele D’Annunzio. It’s a film in which the title character, played by Lidia Quaranta as a young woman and Carolina Catena as a child, escapes the eruption of Mt. Etna, is captured by Carthaginian pirates, is rescued by a great Roman warrior Fulvio Axilla (Umberto Mozzato) and his muscular slave Maciste (Bartolomeo Pagano), who are themselves then caught up in the Second Punic War as Hannibal (Emilio Vardannes) attempts to conquer Rome. And this involves naval and land battles, and of course the elephants for which Hannibal is famous.

After the jump: Cabiria's unique and hugely influential place in fim history

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb132014

17 Days Til Oscar

Today's Useless But Fun Oscar Trivia Numbers Chain!

17 years ago The English Patient (1996) won 9 Oscars, driving Julia Louis-Dreyfus Elaine to the brink of madness "quit telling your stupid story about the desert and just die already. die!!!" and making it one of the seven most-Oscared films of all time. (Only Titanic and Return of the King have since beat it). Can Gravity, which has 10 nominations but will definitely lose Best Actress, tie The Patient's record -- it would have to win ALL of its other nominations -- or do you foresee a "spread the wealth" year?

Sal Mineo is the only 17 year-old of either gender ever nominated for an Oscar. That nomination came for his role as "Plato" in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Mineo also holds the record of youngest (male) actor to two nominations as he was nominated for Exodus (1960) by the age of 22. He would have turned 75 this very year had he not been murdered at the age of 37 in West Hollywood.

• Nomination #17 was the lucky number for Meryl Streep with The Iron Lady, finally giving her her controversial and long-awaited third win (2011). If it had only been for The Devil Wears Prada (2006) instead!

• There are only three people who've ever been nominated for an Oscar exactly 17 times. Those lucky souls are the production designer George W. Davis who won Art Direction Oscars for The Robe (1953) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959),  the composer Miklós Rosza who won Best Original Score for Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), as well as A Double Life (1947) and Ben-Hur (1959) and, finally and most recently, Gary Rydstrom who has been nominated in three different categories (Animated Short Film  and both Sound categories) and has won 7 Oscars! 

• In 1917 the Oscars hadn't been invented yet but if they had I'm reasonably certain that Mary Pickford would have won Best Actress unless scary Theda Bara had intervened (Pickford had at least three hits that year and then we could have been spared her career-tribute Oscar win for Coquette which so embarrasses Oscar historians!) 

And finally I made this photograph (and also the snowballs) this morning which I have christened

SEVENTEEN SNOW DAYS TIL OSCAR  

I had planned to do something far more elaborate an hour or two afterwards. (Yes, I am one of those sick sick people who loves winter and the snow) but then it quickly turned to sludge. Boo!