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SMACKDOWN 1954

 "I love that two people independent of one another gave Claire Trevor an extra star simply for being Claire Trevor." - Glenn

"Interesting to see the take of young people on these movies." - Les

"That was fascinating. I love the thoughts on Executive Suite, post-post-WWII and the "benevolent patriarch." " - B.D.

 

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Entries in Sunset Blvd (10)

Thursday
Jul302015

Vintage '95

The Supporting Actress Smackdown 1995 Edition arrives on Sunday so let's talk context since we haven't revisited as much of 1995 as we'd hoped to! We've only hit the Jane Austen trend, Nicole Kidman's breakout year, a Bonus Podcast on Actresses and Films to Revisit, and Dolores Claiborne. Damn, we had planned much more. But many of you will already have your own personal context for the year, which isn't true of many years of "Smackdown" events so it's fine.

In many ways, though, 1995 was a completely different world. The internet was still in its list-serve infancy. The idea of computer generated movies was a joyful novelty. And aside from Batman, superheroes were still mostly relegated to "light" TV shows. Remember Teri Hatcher in Lois & Clark ?

EW photoshoot from June 1995

Great Big Box Office Hits: 1) Toy Story... the first wholly computer generated feature film 2) Batman Forever 3) Apollo 13 4) Pocahontas 4) Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls 6) GoldenEye 7) Jumanji 8) Casper 9) Se7en 10) Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Michelle & Coolio. They had a hit film, smash video, and the year's #1 single. But zero oscar nodsOscar's Best Pictures: Braveheart (10 noms / 5 wins), Apollo 13 (9 noms / 2 wins), Babe (7 noms / 1 win), Sense & Sensibility (7 noms / 1 win), and Il Postino (5 noms / 1 win).

My theories as to what was just outside the shortlist plus more '95 goodies follow...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Sunset Blvd" 

For this week's special edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- temporarily redubbed "Hit Me With Your Second-Best Shot" as I've declared that iconic finale off limits -- we're looking at the finest Movie About the Movies ever made. Or one of them at least. The point is it's entirely unmissable and a candidate for any sane All Time Greatest Movie list. The film never gets old or becomes irrelevant even though those are two of its best and most horrifically stared-down topics.

Billy Wilder's masterpiece (or one of them at least), immeasurably aided by inspired performances from William Holden as the screenwriter to Gloria Swanson's screen siren, is not just an acting and writing triumph. It's also a stunner in all the craft categories, particularly its Oscar-winning art direction and its cinematography by John F Seitz, a seven time nominee. His work is magnificent throughout, providing maximum pleasure to "those wonderful people out there in the dark" with his expressive lighting.

So let's get right to those (second) best shots...

A Visual Index of Sunset Blvd (1950)

(Second) Best Shot. According to these 15 movie-loving participants
Click on any image to be taken to the corresponding article
Images presented in rough order as to when they appear in the movie

My New Plaid Pants - this is not technically an entry but people, let this be a lesson to you. If you've already chosen a shot, write a sentence or two about it. The hard part is choosing after all. If you've chosen, do it. We'll link up! 

100% macabre
- Movie Motorbreath *video entry* 


'Stars are ageless.' This shot disagrees."
-I Want to Believe 

There is one entity who has never betrayed her: her 'celluloid self.'"
-The Entertainment Junkie 

Everyone, including Norma, can't help but look at Norma...
-Sorta That Guy 

This image sums up Sunset Blvd., and even more than that,  the entire psychological universe of noir... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

No matter how crazy Norma Desmond may be, I always find her incredibly sympathetic...
-Film Actually 


We might be entering the movie’s world through Joe Gillis’s point of view, but unlike him, we *are* here to see Norma Desmond. 
-Coco Hits NY 

It's easy to imagine she does this ever year, even without a handsome writer..."
-Awards Madness 

Already too attached to Norma and her gifts...
-Dancin Dan on Film 


If Norma Desmond is a fictionalized version of Gloria Swanson, Max Von Mayerling is a quasi-(auto)biographical portrait of Erich von Stroheim...
-Paul Outlaw 

We expect cold humiliating truth but what we get is the film's most genuinely warm moment... 
- The Film Experience 


Norma Desmond would be proud of the leading lady portraying her..."
-54 Disney Reviews 

A true star always finds the light...
-Jija Crazy Movie *first time participant*

A one-man army of servants, for her sake, steps back into his role as director once more..."
-Allison Tooey  

Please do visit each article, share, and comment. The more eyes the merrier when it comes to worshipping great stars. You haven't forgotten what a star looks like.

NEXT WEDNESDAY: 1995's [safe] starring Julianne Moore

Tuesday
Jul142015

"I'm the greatest..."

Tuesday
Jul142015

Are you ready for your closeup? 

Let this serve as a kindly reminder that you do NOT want to miss this week's special edition of  Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sunset Blvd. (1950). The series is temporarily redubbed "hit me with your (second) best shot" as you may not use Norma Desmond's final scene, that infamous closeup... arguably the greatest final shot in the movies.

Anything else will do and there's plenty to choose from in this Billy Wilder masterpiece expressively shot by seven time Oscar nominee John F Seitz.

The movie is available on Netflix Instant Watch. Post your shot choice anytime before Wednesday night at 10 pm online (blog, tumblr, pinterest, twitter, facebook whatever) and let us know you did and we'll link up.

Can't wait to see your choices!

Monday
Jun292015

Beauty vs Beast: Mother Machine

Jason from MNPP here wishing everyone a happy Monday, and a happy July-4th-weekend-to-be - speaking of, hitting theaters this big holiday weekend is the latest movie in the unstoppable Terminator franchise... is anybody excited? I imagine it's hard for most of us to stir up a ton of enthusiasm five movies in and coming off of two entirely lackluster sequels, but I really love the cast that's been assembled so I will probably get suckered in one more time. Jason Clarke wouldn't steer us wrong... right? That said for this week's "Beauty vs Beast" let us look back at the last time the franchise was good with the movie every sequel since has been riding the fumes from, James Cameron's 1991 action classic Terminator 2: Judgement Day.You have one week to choose!

PREVIOUSLY Billy Wilder's birthday carried us up into the dark weird manors of the Hollywood Hills with a face-off between Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond and her post-dead boy-toy Joe, and Norma's stardust was too much for us to resist. She carried just under 80% of the vote! Said tom:

"While Joe seems to inspire those around him, Norma consumes them. She probably swallows them whole. You have to vote for someone with an appetite like that."

Monday
Jun222015

Beauty vs Beast: Down & Out In Hollywood

Jason from MNPP here, and I'm ready for my close-up - we're devoting today's edition of "Beauty vs Beast" to the late great director Billy Wilder, who was born on this day 109 years ago. If you had to pick your favorite Wilder picture, what would you go with? It's a query that'll break the brain of many a cinephile, so rich stands his cinematic legacy even all these decades later. I personally am torn between The Apartment (so glad I was able to hang out in the bar that Fran and C.C. frequent before it closed) and today's competitive centerpiece, 1950's Sunset Boulevard (aka still the greatest movie about Hollywood ever made), but cases made for a couple other Wilder films could probably convince me they were his be all everything too. Point being Billy didn't used to be big, he is big, and it's the pictures that got small without him. In that vein...

PREVIOUSLY Last week we wished Helen Hunt a happy birthday with a look back at her and Jack Nicholson's 1997 Oscar wins for As Good As It Gets -- facing them off y'all were decidely Team Carol with her thundering past a full 3/4ths of the vote. Explained Denny:

"Loved this film then and like it now, despite all the shit it gets. Jack is on fire - somehow Melvin doesn't come off like the complete and utter cliche he is on paper, and it's solely due to Nicholson's unique charisma - but it really is all about Helen Hunt and her warm, deeply lived-in performance as Carol. Yes the "fucking HMO pieces of shit" bit is great, but where the character (and the actress) really sings for me is in the quieter, more intimate moments. She somehow ups everyone's game when she's in a scene with them, and that's no small feat. But really, Carol wins just for being able to handle Melvin and all his bullshit."

Tuesday
Mar192013

Top Ten 1950s

This will be the last top ten off the top of my head whole decade thingies for a bit -- we need to get to real articles but I've been swamped off blog. But these discussions are fun, don't you agree? The 1950s were the first film decade I was obsessed with in that when I was first becoming interested in cinema in the mid 80s, the 50s somehow came to signify MYTHIC CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD to me, though cinema obviously stretched much much further back. So I guess I'll always be kind of attached to this decade when the movies got literally bigger (I do so prefer rectangulars to squares) and the era's stars really defined (at least for me) the concept of "Movie Star". I mean it's hard to argue with LIZ, BRANDO, CLIFT, DEAN, MONROE in all caps.

Which is why GIANT is such a perfect 1950s movie in so many ways even if it doesn't make my top ten

 

  1. Sunset Boulevard
  2. Singin' in the Rain
  3. A Place in the Sun
  4. A Streetcar Named Desire
  5. Night of the Hunter
  6. All About Eve
  7. Some Like it Hot
  8. Rear Window
  9. Sleeping Beauty
  10. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

 

ask me again tomorrow and maybe i'd vote for: All That Heaven Allows, Ben-Hur, Vertigo, Rebel Without a Cause, Imitation of Life, and A Star is Born
or maybe... Roman Holiday, Strangers on a Train, On the Waterfront, East of Eden, Breathless, Giant and From Here to Eternity ... 

What are you favorite 50s films?

Nina Foch & William Holden in "Executive Suite"Here's a few more notes from me on this CINEMASCOPE decade...

childhood favs (not all of them aged well)Brigadoon, Auntie Mame, The King and I, How to Marry a Millionaire, Kiss Me Kate, The Ten Commandments, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

underappreciated these days but that doesn't make them any less awesome: Face in the Crowd, Executive Suite, Black Orpheus, It Should Happen To You, Magnificent Obsession and Written on the Wind

I should probably rewatch: 400 Blows, High Noon, La Strada

I am not a fan of The African Queen, Gigi, or The Country Girl and I'm even cool on An American in Paris despite my beloved Gene Kelly.

Previous Top Ten Quickies
1930s | 1970s | 1980s