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Entries in witches (38)

Wednesday
Mar162016

Mercedes McCambridge Centennial: "Charlie's Angels" & "Bewitched"

Today is the Centennial of one of the most singular character actresses of the 1950s, Mercedes McCambridge, born in Joliet Illinois on this very day in 1916. We hope you've enjoyed our mini retrospective. We previousy discussed her sensational debut in All The King's Men (1949) her final Oscar nomination for the Texas epic Giant (1956) and her sorry fate in a teensy part in the Airport disaster series. (In the past, ICYMI, we've amply discussed The Exorcist in which she did truly legendary voice work as well as the fiery abandon of must-see western Johnny Guitar.) 

In The Concorde... Airport '79 article, Tim talked about the disaster genre's often ...um... disastrous treatment of aged film stars in cameos. But discarded stars of Old Hollywood also frequently collected paychecks through TV guest spots. On the small screen there was the same roulette wheel chances at success. In fact McCambridge was more frequently spotted on TV than in film, switching between both for her entire career after her launch in radio in the 1930s. Many early TV shows are impossible to see now but let's discuss her downright fantastic guest spots on Charlie's Angels (1978) & Bewitched (1968).

Murder mysteries and witchcraft -- and a chance to discuss two classic camp series (oh you know you want to!) follow after the jump....

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb152016

Beauty vs Beast: The Witches of Oz

Jason from MNPP here, trying to stop myself from making a deal with the devil to wish this entire week away before it's even really begun -- how can I hold off though? The Witch is out this weekend! I've been clamoring for the Sundance sensation since last year's Sundance, where it was a sensation, LAST YEAR, for Satan's sake. My patience is as worn-thin as the hair on a witch's chinny-chin-chin, yo. Anyway I was bothered and bewildered this morning to see that I have never used the most famous pair of witches of ever for our "Beauty vs Beast" series, so I'd say that it's high time we conjured this contest up (and we're talking about the 1939 film here, so keep Wicked out of it)...

PREVIOUSLY Turns out it wasn't just at the box-office that interest in the Zoolander films turned out to be very unpretty indeed - the contest between Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller's mad sexy creations was pretty uneventful too. It was the male model with the most-est who strutted off with the win though, taking 52% of the vote. Said Steven:

"The reason for Zoolander over Mugatu..... Magnum!!!!"

Thursday
Jun112015

RIP: Ron Moody & Christopher Lee

Though their careers were dissimilar, their images were not. The cinema lost two of its most deeply enjoyable sharp eyed bearded villains this week: Oscar nominee Ron Moody (Oliver!), died yesterday at 91 years of age; screen legend Christopher Lee's passing was also just announced though he died last week at 93. Both of these British actors, born in the 1920s, were best known for indelible villains and sorcerers and  both were singers, too. From there, of course, the careers significantly diverge.

Ron Moody was always best known as "Fagin," the petty thief with a whole gang of young pickpockets at his disposal in the Best Picture winner Oliver! (1968) for which he received a Best Actor nomination and won the Golden Globe. The role stuck to him as forcefully as the Emcee clung to Joel Grey defining him for decades and decades and audiences of multiple generations. His movie career, though it spanned 33 films, didn't contain many other highlights but he did play the sorcerer Merlin in two Disney films Unidentified Flying Oddball and A Kid in King Arthurs Court. He returned to the stage often including revivals of Oliver! (He didn't seem to resent how much Fagin defined him, calling the musical "magic".)

If you ask people to name Sir Christopher Lee's most famous role, on the other hand, they might well hesitate. There is nothing definitive or, rather, there is too much that is definitive. He was a genuine screen legend and worked what seemed like non-stop from 1948 through 2015 appearing in nearly 200 films before his death. Today it's nothing new for actors to be defined by franchise stardom but Christopher Lee was doing forever. He was best known for decades as the face of "Dracula" for Hammer Horror in several films, "Fu Manchu" in multiple films and "Rochefort" in two Three Musketeer films. The actor's fame rose again late in life through prominent popular roles such as "Count Dooku" in the Star Wars franchise and the wicked sorceror "Saruman" multiple times in Peter Jackson's Tolkien adaptations. 

Please share your favorite screen memories of these two acclaimed Brits. 

Monday
May182015

Beauty vs Beast: Wicca Wicca What

By the power of three, Jason from MNPP here today to make you see, make you see. If you can believe it Andrew Fleming's 1996 teen witch classic The Craft turned 19 years old two weeks ago, and it celebrated the last year of its teens with the news that greets so many other movies of a certain age -- it's remake time! Leigh Janiak, the female director behind last year's sufficiently creepy film Honeymoon, is gonna find four new girls to make light as a feather, stiff as a board, for a whole new generation. For a subset of 90s kids, this is like blaspheming the great Manon himself - inconceivable! Star Fairuza Balk (who's celebrating her birthday later this week - happy birthday, Fairuza!) weighed in with wise words on it; we have yet to hear from "natural witch" Robin Tunney. But what do you guys think? (Also: WHO WOULD YOU CAST?) And most importantly...

Whose team are you on?
Team Sarah0%
Team Nancy0%

PREVIOUSLY Last week's Kramer vs Kramer poll stayed incredibly close the entire seven days, and in the end it was only seven votes that handed Joanna (Meryl Streep) the win. Obviously y'all were as torn up over choosing as was that little boy's home life. Said Mike:

"I can't even say enough about these two marvelous performances. Both Oscars were well deserved. Still one of my ultimate favorite performances given by Meryl."

Monday
Mar022015

The Witches of Huntsman?

Manuel here with some casting news. I had this fabulous idea of celebrating Leo DiCaprio’s casting in that 24 multiple personality film with a list of the 24 various personalities he’s already played. But once I started listing them alongside one another I realized Leo definitely needs to spice it up; lately, when he’s not playing a grieving wifeless man he’s playing a wealthy soulless man. Why not embrace another full-on comedic role? His turn in Catch me if You Can is still one of his best. Why so dour lately Leo?

They do make quite the beautiful trio, don't they?

Instead, let’s focus on a film that’s become more of an actressexual dream than any of us ever hoped for. Did you hear that The Huntsman film now boasts Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain?

I’m secretly hoping the trio of actresses will make The Huntsman more of a Witches of Eastwick type film, or maybe they can all band together against the eponymous protagonist in a 9 to 5 style workplace comedy? I mean, none of us would complain about a tied-up Hemsworth, now would we? Or perhaps they can work in a fun musical number a la The First Wives Club? The mind boggles imagining this trio of ladies making the film crackle with wit and chemistry; perhaps this is much too optimistic for what is presumably another tentpole blockbuster. I mean, are they even bringing back Colleen Atwood?

What other actress trio would you love these gals to channel in this sure to be pretty (and pretty drab?) spinoff? 

Thursday
Jan292015

Sundance: "The Witch" is a Riveting One-Of-A-Kind Horror Experience

Michael C. here with one of the big discoveries of Sundance 2015.

There is something happening in the horror genre right now.  Maybe its a response to the dreadful depths to which mainstream horror titles sank in the past decade but like antibodies fighting off an infection the indie scene has churned out one great movie after another in recent years: The Babadook, The Guest, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Under the Skin (which is totally horror, if not only horror). Like an unstoppable slasher the genre will just not stay down. Already at this Sundance we have had the astonishing It Follows and now comes Robert Eggers' The Witch another peak for the horror genre. 

The Witch is a true blast of originality that immerses the viewer in 1630's New England as a family of puritans banished to live isolated on the edge of wilderness is beset by the occult terrors residing in the nearby woods. The result is more than simply jump-outta-your-seat scary (though it is often that) it is genuinely unnerving in a way few films can manage. The effect is like a cold hand slowly closing over your heart.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan192015

Fairy Tales, Witches, and Oscars. An 87 Year History

Over on Twitter Alex posed an interesting question to me and I thought I'd share it with you. Is Meryl Streep the first actor to be Oscar-nominated for playing a witch, or anyone in a fairy tale for that matter? As far as I can tell the answer is "in the way that you mean, yes" and "I believe so."

Though no witches in the fairy tale or broom-riding sense have been nominated before Streep, technically a witch star turn has won an Oscar and another spell-caster has been nominated. The first would be Ruth Gordon's diabolical coven leaderbusybody in Rosemary's Baby which we discussed in worshipful detail here.  And Sir Ian McKellen was nominated for playing "Gandalf the Grey" who, being a sorcerer, is basically the male equivalent of a witch. Otherwise, no witches. The famous witches we think of when we think of the movies weren't actually nominated. No, not even the greatest of them all, Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz (1939). 

After the jump let's look back through cinema history and see how fairytale or witchy films like Into the Woods have fared at the Oscars shall we?  (This is an incomplete history. Feel free to share things I missed. Especially great witchiness.)

Click to read more ...