Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Sneak Peak at 2010 posts

In January, I plan to start a three part seris on films that were based on John O'Hara novels.



John O'Hara (January 31,1905-April  11, 1970, born in Pottsville, PA, had a long and distinguished literary career, most notably as a novelist and as a writer of short stories. Many of his stories were set in the coal mining region of Pennsylvania.  He was unable to attend college due to the premature death of his father. A theme that would appear in this works. He worked as a reporter for various newspapers before moving to New York City, where he began to write short stories for magazines. In his early days he was also a film critic, a radio commentator, and a press agent; later, with his reputation established, he became a newspaper columnist.  In the three and a half decades following the publication of his first novel, Appointment in Samarra, O'Hara wrote twelve novels, five novellas, fifteen collections of short stories, nine published or produced plays, three credited screenplays (along with several unproduced screenplays and uncredited work on a half-dozen other films), and three collections of essays. A Rage to Live, Pal Joey, Butterfield 8, and From the Terrace were turned into movies. More than 400 of his stories were published in magazines, including some 300 in The New Yorker.


















Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!





I hope you had a great Christmas. Just wanted to post a special shout-out to readers of  my blog.  I could not do it without you!  Best wishes for 2010. I hope it will be a great year for everyone.

-Beth

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Barefoot Contessa (1954) : What is the Spanish Word for Cinderella?















Cast:
Humphrey Bogart .... Harry Dawes
Ava Gardner .... Maria Vargas
Edmond O'Brien .... Oscar Muldoon
Marius Goring .... Alberto Bravano
Valentina Cortese .... Eleanora Torlato-Favrini (as Valentina Cortesa)
Rossano Brazzi .... Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini
Elizabeth Sellars .... Jerry
Warren Stevens .... Kirk Edwards
Franco Interlenghi .... Pedro Vargas
Mari Aldon .... Myrna
Bessie Love .... Mrs. Eubanks
Diana Decker .... Drunken blonde
Bill Fraser .... J. Montague Brown
Alberto Rabagliati .... Nightclub proprietor
Enzo Staiola .... Busboy

Crew:
 
Joseph L. Mankiewicz-Producer,Director and Screenwriter
Mario Nascimbene-Composer (Music Score)
Jack Cardiff-Cinematographer
Arrigo Equini-Art Director
Michael Waszynski-Associate Producer
Sorelle Fontana-Costume Designer
William W. Hornbeck-Editor
Charles Knott-Sound/Sound Designer



Plot:

The story is that of a dancer, picked out of a night club in Madrid by a trio of Hollywood insiders who magical turn her into a movie star. At the height of her career, she gives it up to marry an Italian Count,but remains a simple, barefoot girl, at heart. There are echoes of Ernest Hemingway, of Scott Fitzgerald, of Dorothy Parker and of D. H. Lawrence in this film.













It is told using flashback recollections, fetched out of the silent thoughts of a group of gentlemen who are attending the Countessa's (Maria Vargas/Ava Gardner) funeral. One is the Hollywood director (Harry Dawes/Humphrey Bogart),who actually coaxes her away from Madrid and serves as a wise but passive counselor through most of her spangled career. Another is a loud-mouthed press agent (Edmund O'Brien/Oscar Muldoon) for an American multi-millionaire (Kirk Edwards/Warren Stevens)whose whimsical interest in movie-making accounts for the "discovery" of the girl. Yet another is a South American playboy (Alberto Bravano/Maurice Goring) who snags her briefly from this surly young tycoon. And the last is the Italian Count (Rossano Brazzi/Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini) who proves a dismal disappointment all around.


Gardner came out of near-poverty with no ambitions grander than becoming a secretary. She would have a very interesting life. In 1941, at age 18, she made a trip to New York to visit her older sister, who was dating a photographer. He took some pictures of her, put one in the window of his shop, where it was seen by an MGM messenger, who told his bosses about it. In the blink of an eye Gardner was signed by MGM.















On her first day at MGM, she would meet Mickey Rooney who pursued her relentlessly. He would be the first of three husbands-Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra. Bullfighters,CoStars and beach boys would become her lovers during between and after her marriages. While filming this movie in Italy she filed for seperation from Frank Sinatra. He would make repeated trips to try to win her back. While filming, she began a torid  affair with Luis Miguel Dominguin, who in the 1950s was Spain's premier matador. It was at this time that she decided to  Madrid.

Ernest Hemingway became a close friend (not a lover). He would teach her how to bullfight. A few years later she was involved in a horseback riding accident  involving a bull. She was at an Andalusian bull ranch observing testing of the bulls and someone suggested that she hop on a stallion and ride into the ring.. Drunk on Cognac, and Absinth, she pranced around on the horse and then the bull charged them. The horse stopped, reared up and threw Ava to the ground. She landed face down on her right cheek. Her cheek became horribly swollen and bruised. Several months later, there were attempts to correct the damage to Ava's face. If you look at pictures of Ava after 1957 you will notice that on one side of her face she has two dimples below her cheek. It was the result of the corrective plastic surgery.

She would make her home in Spain until the mid sixties and  then she moved to  London permanently.


















Casting Notes:
 
Rumors were that the story was about Rita Hayworth's rise to fame. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Kirk Edwards character was based on Howard Hughes.
 
   
Production Notes:
 
The flamenco scene was one of Gardner's favorites from her career. "Not only was I getting more and more intoxicated by the romantic rhythms of flamenco, but this was the first time I'd ever danced in a film, so I practiced every night on those cold Roman floors for three full weeks. We shot the scene in an olive grove in Tivoli, outside Rome, with 100 gypsies beating time to a phonograph record. When the phonograph broke, they kept right on beating and that was the take we used." She seemed to understand her character, saying "the only place she feels safe looking for love is back in the gutter where she came from." But she hated the way the film was promoted, "That damn advertising line, 'The World's Most Beautiful Animal' will probably follow me around until the end of time."



United Artist-Studio released the film was on September 29,1954.
Figaro-Production Company
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 




Costumes:
 
Gardner is exquisitely lovely and beautifully gowned by the Italian couturier Fontana. At the premeire of her first film she wears a gorgeous blue satin gown. On the boat in the riviera, she dons a black velvet bathingsuit. Later, there is one particularly stunning strapless Pink/Lavender satin gown, beaded in black and white, and a bolero jacket with long trailing sleeves.



 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Growing up in North Carolina she really hated to wear shoes, just like Maria Vargas. Ava was a tomboy and would put her shoes in the mailbox in the morning and  play in the country fields all day. 
 
The statue that was made of Gardner during filming, would later be purchased by Frank Sinatra. He placed it in his garden at his Palm Springs home. Talk about being obsessed! When he married Barbara Marx, in the mid 1970's,the statue was mysteriously removed from the premises.


Quotes:

Harry Dawes: "What's the Spanish word for Cinderella?" 

The film never clears this up, but it is Cenicienta.

Trivia:

 
Edmund O'Brien breathed so much credibility into the stock part of a Hollywood press agent that he won an Academy Award for best supporting actor of 1954. He also won a Golden Globe for this part.

 
Review/Final Thoughts:
 
Gardner was equally well served in The Barefoot Contessa (1954), which, in many ways, was a replay of her own rags-to-riches personal story. She is good in one or two moments—when she tells of a childhood in Madrid, and when she seeks the solace of her old friend, the director, in her last scene. 

Bogart is really good as her "all knowing" fairy godfather. But I really think that Edmund O'brien steals the show as the anxious,sweaty Studio press agent.
 
Even though this film was not a critical success, I really enjoyed it. You girls out there will love the costumes and Ava looks stunning.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Place in the Sun - 1951


















Cast:

Elizabeth Taylor-Angela Vickers
Montgomery Clift-George Eastman
Shelley Winters-Alice Tripp
Raymond Burr-Frank Marlowe
Lois Chartand-Marsha Eastman
Fred Clark-Bellows
Charles Dayton-Kelly
Ted de Corsia-Judge
Kathryn Givney-Mrs. Louise Eastman
Herbert Heyes-Charles Eastman
Frieda Inescort-Mrs. Vickers
William Murphy-Mr. Whiting
Anne Revere-Hannah Eastman
John Ridgely-Coroner
Walter Sande-Jansen
Douglas Spencer-Boatkeeper
Shepperd Strudwick-Anthony Vickers
Keefe Brasselle-Earl Eastman
Paul H. Frees-Rev. Morrison

Crew:

George Stevens -Director and Producer
Charles C. Coleman, Jr-. First Assistant Director
Ivan Moffat -Associate Producer
Hans Dreier -Art Director
Walter Tyler -Art Director
William C. Mellor -Cinematographer
Franz Waxman -Composer (Music Score)
Edith Head -Costume Designer
William W. Hornbeck -Editor
Pat Moore -Additional Editing
Wally Westmore -Makeup
Harry Brown -Screenwriter
Michael Wilson -Screenwriter
Emile Kuri -Set Designer
Gene Garvin -Sound/Sound Designer
Gene Merritt -Sound/Sound Designer
Gordon Jennings -Special Effects

Plot:

This film is based on the 1925 Theodore Dreiser novel and was originally filmed in 1931. This 1951 remake was directed by George Stevens under a new title. A PLACE IN THE SUN was the first of director Stevens' "American trilogy" of films - the other two films were the classic western SHANE (1953) and epic GIANT (1956). Production on this film started in 1949 and was not released until 1951. Location shooting took place in  Lake Tahoe, NV.


Montgomery Clift stars as George Eastman, poor relation to the rich Eastman family. His father is dead and his mother is a religious fanatic. George leaves religion behind and wants to be with the rich and beautiful people of the world. He works at menial jobs and the story begins with Monty hitchhiking to a big city to begin a new life. He wants his “place in the sun.” He had a chance encounter with his rich uncle and is offered a job at the family business (a women’s bathing suit factory). He starts off working on an assembly line where, against company policy, he starts a relationship with one of the factory girls, Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters).  Before long, however, he is spending time with his wealthy relatives where he meets and is instantly smitten by the luminously beautiful Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor). In her, he sees a future that embodies the good life. She is beautiful, rich, dresses impeccably and drives a nice car. What more could a man want? LOL!


Note: While watching this movie, look for a slow dissolve between scenes. It gives the film a ghostly quality.

At a formal party a few weeks later, Angela sees him shooting pool and strikes up a conversation. In the first minute of the movie she drives by him. She did not notice him hitchhiking in a t-shirt and jeans. In a nice suit, she now takes notice of the attractive ambitious George Eastman. Edith Head’s gorgeous famous white gown is showcased in this scene. It fits Elizabeth like a glove. It is probably one of the most famous scenes in 1950’s movie history.



George and Angela begin a love affair and now he is now caught in a love triangle. George's “place in the sun” seems assured, except that Alice doesn't want to let him go. Alice is also in “Trouble.” While dealing with Alice, Angela is constantly in his thoughts. Her image appears on billboards, newspaper articles and even a flashing sign outside of his bedroom window. While George tries to figure out how he can keep a charade going with Alice and still love his dream girl Angela, everything comes to a tragic head over Labor Day weekend at the Vicker's lakeside home.


My Review:


The acting in A PLACE IN THE SUN is spectacular. This moving romance captured the emotions of post-war audiences with its unflinching, painful depiction of one man's struggle to achieve the American dream, and the fates which conspire against him. Montgomery Clift does some of the finest acting of his career, he is especially convincing during several phone call scenes. He completely embodies the confused young protagonist of Theodore Drieser's novel. He is also very good in the beginning as the shy “outsider” of the family. His body language is very convincing. In many of the scenes you are supposed to be horrified by his actions and motives, but he plays for the audience’s sympathy and he wins. You yearn for him to succeed.


Liz Taylor plays Angela perfectly. She manages to make you believe she genuinely loves George Eastman. Her ability to be an angelic young girl and a voluptuous worldly woman at the same time was never more evident than in the scene where she comforts a troubled Monty Clift with the whispered utterance, "Tell momma." It's an incredibly screen moment. The camera cuts in so close, almost too close. She never looked more beautiful than she does in this film. She was only 18 and she glows. Elizabeth and Montgomery Clift would begin a close friendship that would last until his death. This is the first of their three movies. The second was “RAINTREE COUNTY” and the third was “SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER.”

She meet s Conrad “Nicky” Hilton while filming on location in Lake Tahoe, NV. He would become her first husband. Their marriage would last less than a year. He was addicted to alcohol and gambling. It was also rumored that he beat Elizabeth.                                                    
Shelley Winters is pitiful and annoying as Alice Tripp, which is exactly what the part calls for. At times, I wanted to slap her. Alice recognizes in George exactly what George sees in Angela: higher quality - someone made of finer material - and perhaps a way out of a dead-end life. She allows George to seduce her early in their relationship in an attempt to attach him permanently. Eventually,she makes a desperate attempt to force him the marry her. Shelly was nominated for an Academy award for this performance. It would also be one of the first movies that involve her getting in the water and swimming.  Her private life was a mess during filming. For two years, she had been datiing a married man. That man was screen icon Burt Lancaster. She ended the relationship when a Hollywood magazine annoucned that Lancaster's wife was pregnant.

This moving romance captured the emotions of post-war audiences with its unflinching, painful depiction of one man's struggle to achieve the American dream, and the fates which conspire against him. The only bad (over-the-top) performance comes from Raymond Burr (in his pre-Perry Mason days) as the overly dramatic prosecuting attorney. Just listen to the way he repeats, "Didn't you Eastman?" in an incredibly accusatory tone. This is the slowest part of the movie. It is still a great movie and worth watching. The sexual and class issues can be may seem outdated in the 21st Century, but that was the way life was in the 1950's.

Costumes:

Costumer Edith Head's designs for Liz in A PLACE IN THE SUN influenced "young miss" collections nationwide. It also earned her an Academy Award. Knockoffs of her party dress with a daisy-covered bust was the country's most popular prom dress that season. This silhouette has been popular ever since.In Edith Head's Hollywood, a biography on the groundbreaking fashion designer (she dressed Liz for A PLACE IN THE SUN, ELEPHANT WALK and more) and great friend of Elizabeth's, she had this to say about her:


Elizabeth Taylor is the most beautiful woman I've ever fit. She is not as easy to dress as Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, because she is a short woman - only 5'2". She's also extremely curvaceous and has short legs. But, you see, those are the kinds of minor imperfections that make for classic beauty. A woman's individual beauty is created by little mars in the state of perfect beauty. Elizabeth's fascination lies in those little discrepancies. She has aged gracefully, despite what her detractors have said. She is beautiful when she is plump and she is lovely when she trims down. A faulty figure can be changed by foundations and the proper use of dark and  light olors. But no makeup can create a face like  Elizabeth's. She is exquisite.
 The dress that Elizabeth wore.



In her autobiography “Shelley (Also Known as Shirley)" Winters states that she provided Stephens with ideas for her character’s wardrobe. She tried out for Alice in disguise and George Stevens could not believe it her. She wore no makeup,flattened her curled hair and dressed really frumpy for her audition. She wore her sister Blanches clothes for the audition. She was meeting Stevens at The Hollywood Athletic Club. She was seated next to him for almost 20 mins before he noticed her. Shelley had been appearing in bombshell roles and she really wanted a change. After getting the part of Alice, Shelley would temporarily dye her hair brown to add to her dowdy appearance.





Trivia:

To prepare for his role as a condemned man, Monty actually spent a night on death row at San Quentin prison in California.

Quote:

Alice-"I'm in trouble, George... bad trouble"

 Awards:

The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, and won six - Best Director (the first Oscar for Stevens), Best Screenplay (Michael Wilson and Harry Brown), Best B/W Cinematography (William Mellor), Best Dramatic Score, Best Film Editing, and Best B/W Costume Design (Edith Head).


Its other three nominations were for Best Picture (it lost to AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951)), Best Actor (Montgomery Clift) and Best Actress (Shelley Winters).








Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Affordable Retro Dresses-Custom Made to your measurements

I can only hem pants. At some point, I will have one of these dresses made for a portrait. I would like to loose 15 pounds first. Porshes Place offers many types of retro dresses. If you are big busted, you already know that it is hard to find a great looking and fitting vintage dress. If you have a party to go to this holiday season check out this link: 

CUSTOM MADE 1955 VOGUE REPRODUCTION LONG SLEEVE EVENING GOWN OR PARTY DRESS - 9280 - listing is for all sizes

http://www.etsy.com/shop/porshesplace

 

Happy Birthday to Princess Grace of Monaco


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day!

Have you hugged your Veteran today? Please show your appreciation for their brave service to our country.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

THE BIG LIFT (1950)







Cast:

• Montgomery Clift - T/Sgt. Danny MacCullough
• Paul Douglas- M/Sgt. Henry "Hank" Kowalski
• Cornell Borchers - Frederica Burkhardt
• Bruni Löbel- Gerda

Crew:

• Director- George Seaton
• Written - George Seaton
• Produced - William Perlberg
• Music - Alfred Newman

Cast Notes:













Paul Douglas-was a Yale graduate. He played professional football with the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets before turning to regional theatre. He parlayed his love of athletics into a prosperous career as a sports announcer in the 1930s; in the next decade he became a radio actor and master of ceremonies (he was the announcer for bandleader Glenn Miller's final program in 1944). A frequent visitor to the Broadway stages, Douglas became a star in the tailor-made role of vulgar junk tycoon Harry Brock in Garson Kanin's play Born Yesterday, in which he was co-starred with Judy Holliday. After 1,024 appearances as Harry Brock, Douglas made his first film, 1949's A Letter to Three Wives. An unlikely prospect for movie stardom with his burly build and longshoreman's voice, Douglas nonetheless remained popular throughout the 1950s. He is best remembered for his brace of baseball pictures, It Happens Every Spring (1949) and Angels in the Outfield (1951), and for his reteaming with Judy Holliday in 1956's The Solid Gold Cadillac. Among Douglas' five wives were actresses Virginia Field and Jan Sterling. Though the newspaper obituaries insisted that Paul Douglas had not been ill before his fatal heart attack in 1959, he looked so drawn and haggard in his last appearance on the TV series The Twilight Zone that the episode ("The Mighty Casey") had to be reshot with Jack Warden in Douglas' part. ~( Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide)


















Montgomery Clift- This film was the 2nd of the 4 military themed movies that he would star in. The first was The Search (1949), The Big Lift (1950), From Here to Eternity (1953) and The Young Lions (1958). The Search is also a gem and quite similar in style and theme to The Big Lift. The Young Lions (with Brando and Dean Martin) is also worth seeing.

Production Notes:

The film was released on April 26, 1950, less than one year after the Soviet blockade of Berlin was lifted and the air lift operations ceased. Because the film was shot in Berlin in 1949, it provides a unique glimpse of the post-war state of the city as it struggles to recover from the devastation wrought by World War II.

The actual Air Traffic Control system at Templehof is portrayed in the film, permitting the viewer to vicariously experience the frustration experienced by both controllers and aircrews during missions, including being buzzed by Soviet fighters while in formation.

All military roles except those of Clift and Douglas were portrayed by actual military personnel stationed in Berlin.












Plot:
It was shot on location in the city of Berlin, Germany, and tells the story of two U.S. Air Force sergeants (played by Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas) who meet and fall in love with two women in Berlin during the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift. This was Monty’s 4th film and Paul’s 5th.

The story begins at the start of the Berlin Blockade, as Allied forces begin airlifting food, fuel and other supplies from their zones of occupation into Berlin. U.S. Air Force sergeants Danny MacCullough (Montgomery Clift), flight engineer of a C-54 Skymaster, and Henry "Hank" Kowalski (Paul Douglas), an air traffic controller, are friends sent to Germany from a base in Hawaii to beef up the operation. Kowalski, who was captured and tortured by Germans during the war, has openly mixed feelings about helping in the cause.

During a public relations event staged at the Tempelhof Airport in the American sector, MacCullough meets an attractive German woman, Frederica Burkhardt (Cornell Borchers). MacCullough does not know that getting involved with Frederica will be an adventure. She offers to show him around Berlin some time when he gets a day off. To her surprise, MacCullough shows up at her work "address", where she is separating usable bricks from rubble on the streets of Berlin. While walking Frederica home, MacCullough bumps into a painter who spills paint all over him. Frederica offers to give it to the cleaners. She finds new civilian clothing for MacCullough to wear. He discovers that he left his ID papers in his uniform. He has to walk around Berlin without papers, which is very dangerous at this particular time in history. During the tour of the city, they get stuck at the border between West and East Berlin without proper papers, and escape when the incident becomes comically bungled by the authorities arguing over the exact location of the boundary.













Under the deadline pressure of being ordered back to the United States, McCullough proposes to Frederica, and she accepts his proposal. McCullough starts to plan the wedding.

Meanwhile, Hank Kowalski has also met a woman, Gerda (Bruni Löbel). She works at Tempelhof Airport mobile concession stand. She asks a lot of questions about America’s history and is trying to learn about the US. At times, Kowalski mocks her. Their bickering offers some of the funniest moments in the movie. He has contempt for most Germans and does not trust them. Gerda is the only German he trusts.

At her apartment building, Frederica’s neighbor offers to mail her letters. Lately, he has become suspicious of her. At a party he meets Hank and Gerta. Hank is suspicious of her too. The contents of the letter are given to Hank just before McCullough marries her. He passes the letters to McCullough to interrupt the wedding. She is not in love with him, but is exploiting his emotions to get to America, where her German lover lives.

Hank, on the other hand, finds that he is in love with Gerda when she suddenly fights back in their arguments. That is the moment that he falls in love with Gerda and lets his guard down. Kowalski decides to stay in Berlin.

McCullough gets his uniform back from the cleaners one size too small ,and gets on the next plane to the U.S.

Trivia:

• Monty famously rejected the role eventually played by William Holden in Sunset Boulevard. He rejected many other parts including Bus Stop (the Don Murray role), Moby Dick (Gregory Peck), Trapeze (Tony Curtis), Shane (Alan Ladd), A Star is Born (James Mason), On the Waterfront (Marlon Brando), Mrs Miniver (Richard Ney), Rio Bravo (Dean Martin) and East of Eden (James Dean).

• Monty and Marlon Brando were often touted as rivals during the 50s - both were born in Omaha, Nebraska.


Final Thought:

At first, I did not think I would like this movie. I watched it because I like Monty. This was Monty’s 4th film and he relied on his acting coach to be on set during his scenes. It caused a little friction with the cast and crew, but you cannot see it in his acting. Paul Douglas was outstanding in this movie and I think he stole the show. The film does a good job of showing the destroyed Berlin trying to recover. Rubble is everywhere. I enjoyed this movie and history buffs will like it. It is shown on Fox Movie Channel and I think that TCM has it in their library.







Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tribute to Veterans coming soon

My next post will be a tribute to those who have proudly served the USA.

Circle of Friends Award

I am passing this award to http://silentsandtalkies.blogspot.com/. Katie Gabrielle is the author and besides offering great classic movie reviews,she is also a talented artist. On her blog, you will find great sketches of classic film icons.  Please check out her blog. You will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Changes are good................Right?

Hello Friends:
I have made a few changes to make my blog more compatible with Facebook. I was having trouble with the feed. Let me know if you like it.

Thanks,
Beth

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Halloween!


Character Actor Corner: Beulah Bondi


Miss Beulah Bondi appeared in over 70 films,several Broadway Hit Plays, and appeared on Television. Of slight stature, with a gaunt, pale looking face, dark hair and deep-set, penetrating eyes, she was a veteran actress who worked well into her 80s.

Born Beulah Bondy in Chicago, Illinois on May 3, 1888, she began her acting career on the stage at age 7.  She changed the spelling of her name from Bondy to Bondi because her father disapproved of her chosen profession.  Upon graduation from Valparaiso University, she joined a stock company, working throughout the U.S. until her 1925 Broadway debut in Kenneth S. Webb's "One of the Family" at the 49th Street Theatre on December 21, 1925. The show was a modest hit, racking up 238 performances. She next appeared in another hit, Maxwell Anderson's "Saturday's Children," which ran for 326 performances, before appearing in her first flop, Clemence Dane's "Mariners" in 1927. Philip Barry's and Elmer Rice's "Cock Robin" was an extremely modest hit in 1928, reaching the century mark (100 performances), but it was Bondi's performance in Rice's "Street Scene," which opened at the Playhouse Theatre on Jamuary 10, 1929, that made her career. This famous play won Rice the 1929 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was a big hit, playing for 601 performances

Her film debut occurred at age 43, in 1931's Street Scene. Though young in age, Bondi specialized in playing mothers, grandmothers and society dowagers. Look for Beulah in movies made in the1930's and 40's. You will probably find her in the next one you watch. In her role as Rachel Jackson in "The Gorgeous Hussy" (1936), she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Nomination. She is probably best remembered for her role as Mrs. Bailey, the mother of George Bailey, in "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946). Her own favorite performance was as a bigoted women, Ma Bridges, in 1957's "Track of the Cat."

Her last movie role was in a TV movie "She Waits" (1971) as Mrs. Angela Medina.  In 1977, she won  an Emmy for her performance on the dramatic TV series The Waltons. As often as she played the ideal mother in films, she never married or had children in real life. She lived alone  in a beautiful three story house built into the Hollywood Hills. She died on January 11, 1981 at age 92 in Hollywood, California of pulmonary complications due to broken ribs she suffered in a fall at her home.

The Baron of Arizona- 1950





















Cast:
Vincent Price ... James Addison Reavis,Brother Anthony and Unknown Gypsy
Ellen Drew ... Sofia de Peralta-Reavis
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Pepito Alvarez
Beulah Bondi ... Loma Morales
Reed Hadley ... John Griff
Robert Barrat ... Judge Adams (as Robert H. Barrat)
Robin Short ... Tom Lansing
Tina Pine ... Rita (as Tina Rome)
Karen Kester ... Sofia as a Child
Margia Dean ... Marquesa de Santella
Jonathan Hale ... Governor
Edward Keane ... Surveyor General Miller
Barbara Woodell ... Mrs. Carrie Lansing
I. Stanford Jolley ... Mr. Richardson
Fred Kohler Jr. ... Demmings

Crew:
James Wong Howe -Cinematographer
Paul Dunlap -(Composer (Music Score))
Samuel Fuller -Director
Arthur D. Hilton -Editor
Carl Hittleman-Producer
Samuel Fuller -Screenwriter

Review:

This film tells the tale of swindler James Addison Reavis, played with devilish fortitude by Vincent Price. Reavis almost succeeded in swindling the entire territory of the Arizona away from the U.S. It was a scam so bold it would make Bernie Madoff proud.  His claim also included portions of New Mexico and he cited an ancient Spanish land grant as proof that he was entitled to the territories. Reavis married the heir to the land grant thereby making him a Baron, and his wife (Ellen Drew) a Baronness. Before he was convicted  Reavis also scammed various mines and the Southern Pacific railroad for right-of way rights to operate on his land. The incredible but true story impressed Director Sam Fuller enough that he wrote the screenplay.  He had heard the story while while traveling in the U.S. Southwest as a reporter.

The film starts out with the Govenor of Arizona and other men drinking brandy and discussing the history of Arizona. The Govenor briefly describes Reavis' actions and then the movie goes back in  time to 1880. Here is the basis of the scam.  Reavis worked as a clerk in the land office at Santa Fe, New Mexico so that helped him a great deal. He heard about old spanish land grants and wanted a piece of the action.

First he found a peasant man named Pepito Alvarez, who was guardian over an orphan child. He told the man that he was from the land office and  his child was heir to the Peralta land grant. The man lived near the boundries of the Peralta Land Grant. They soon move in with Revis who obtains a governness named Loma Morales (Beulah Bondi ) for the child. The child is told that she is really a baronness and is schooled in how to be a lady of royal birth. She is told that she will become rich. With this part of his scam going well he needs to create and falsify documents to back it up.  Before leaving for Spain, he carved a bogus message on a rock that stated that in 1750 Queen Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain had declared the area as belonging to the Peralta Land Grant. He travels to Spain to forge documents to back up his case. He even becomes a monk to get a look at and change the documents. He spends at least 7 years overseas.












Next, he heads back to the U.S. to marry a (now grown) Sophia de Peralta.  After the wedding, he hatches his plan to deceive the people and government of the territories of AZ and NM. He collects rent from ranches,farms and mines for eleven years.  He boldly collected rent from the Southern Pacific railroad for right-of way rights to operate on his land. The Baron and Baroness become one of the wealthest in Arizona.  Enraged townsfolk travel to Phoenix to protest his actions.

Finally on June 27, 1896, his trial begins.  To find out what happens, you need to watch the movie.


Trivia:

Shot in 15 days.

Quotes:

Rita, the Gypsy Dancer: Who are you?

James Addison 'The Baron' Reavis, aka Brother Anthony: A wanderer like Cain looking for a woman of my own.

(You have to see the movie to appreciate the Quote.)

Final Thoughts:

I liked the movie, but I thought that a few things could have been changed. Beulah Bondi was not given much to do with her part. I also would have liked to learn more about James Addison Reavis. Through research,I found out that he had been scamming people since the Civil War.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today's Star Birthdays

A very Happy Birthday to :

Catherine Deneuve














Joan Fontaine













Annette Funicello

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Green Years (1946)





Cast:


Charles Coburn - GreatGrandpa Alexander "Dandy" Gow
Tom Drake - Robert Shannon
Beverly Tyler - Alison Keith
Hume Cronyn - (Grand )Papa Leckie
Gladys Cooper - Grandma Leckie
Dean Stockwell - Robert Shannon, 8 years
Jessica Tandy - Kate Leckie
Selena Royle - Mama Leckie
Richard Haydn - Jason Reid
Andy Clyde - Saddler Boag
Norman Lloyd - Adam Leckie
Robert North - Murdoch Leckie
Wallace Ford - Jamie Nigg
Eilene Janssen - Alison Keith as a Child
Hank Daniels - Gavin Blair
Richard Lyon - Gavin Blair as a Child
Henry O'Neill - Canon Roche
Henry Stephenson - Professor Blakely




Crew:


Victor Saville - Director
Leon Gordon - Producer
Archibald J. Cronin - Book Author
Arnold A. Gillespie - Special Effects
Cedric Gibbons - Art Director
Donald Jahraus - Special Effects
George Folsey - Cinematographer
Hans Peters - Art Director
Herbert Stothart - Composer (Music Score)
Irene Sharaff - Costume Designer
Robert Ardrey - Screenwriter
Robert J. Kern - Editor
Sonya Levien - Screenwriter


Plot:


This novel was adapted by "The Green Years" by A.J. Cronin. The book in many ways is autobiographical.   A.J. Cronin was Scottish and raised by relatives in a mining town.  He became a doctor.


The film starts by showing that  young Robert Shannon (Dean Stockwell) is orphaned he leaves his home in Ireland and travels to Langford, Scotland, home of his Presbyterian maternal Gandparents (the Leckies).  Although Robert is Catholic his Presbyterian family tolerates his religous difference. Growing up in the home of his penny-pinching (Grand) Papa Leckie (Hume Cronyn) is made bearable by his doting but irresponsible great-grandfather Gow(Charles Coburn).   Rounding out the cast are Great Grandmother Leckie (Dame Gladys Cooper), loving grandmother Leckie (Selena Royle),and kind aunt Kate(Jessica Tandy). Robert is  leary of his  money hungry uncle Adam(Norman Lloyd) that lives in London.Adam is a always looking to make money at the expense of others.


At the center of this movie is Robert and GreatGrandpa's relationship. Robert is drawn out of his shell by GreatGrandpa. On several occassions Great Grandpa saves the day for young Robert by paying for a new communion suit and teaching him to fight when classmates tease him about a suit that his Great Grandmother made for him. Great Grandpa is the only one that is supportive of Robert's Catholic faith. He is the only member of the family to attend Robert's first communion.


 At his school,  Robbie adjusts and is befriended by Gavin and Allison, whom he grows to love as the years pass. As he matures into a young man (Tom Drake)Robbie’s dreams turn to medicine and becoming a doctor. His studies are  guided by  Prof. Rattray Blakely (Henry Stephenson), who recognizes Roberts scholastic talents.  Supported by everyone in the family except his Grandfather Leckie, he studies for a scholarship as a way to escape life toiling in the local boiler-works. Grand Papa Leckie does not want Robert to go to college and is really jealous of Robert's intellegance. An Attack of the flu causes Robert to miss one part of his Scholarship exams and he fail to obtain the scholarship. When GreatGranpa Gow dies, the Leckies are surprised when a recently added codicil to GreatGandpa Gow's will is discovered, in which it is stipulated that all of his life insurance money is to be used to pay for Robert's university education. Grand Papa Leckie does not want Robert to go to college and is really jealous of Robert's intellegance. He wants Robert to give him the money since he has "allowed" Robert to stay with the family for over ten years. The rest of the family forces Grandpa Leckie to change his mind and allow Robert to attend college.   With his tuition paid, the promising young scientist attends his first day at the university with his former schoolmate and sweetheart, Alison Keith, at his side.




Trivia:


There is an unusual pairing of married actors Hume Cronyn (age 35) and Jessica Tandy (age 37), here playing father and daughter. Jessica also happened to be pregnant with their first child.


Awards:


Nominated Best Cinaematography-George Folsey


Nominated Best Supporting Actor-Charles Coburn 


Review and Final Thoughts:


The Green Years is an unexpected gem of a film.  For some odd reason, I did not think that I would like it. The mostly American cast pull off thick Scots and Irish brogues without loosing them.


This drama refects Scotch characteristics from the thrifty Papa Leckie to the drinking Dandy. Religious differences are tolerated, and education is valued as the key to a better future.


There is alot of drama to keep you interested. Dame Gladys Cooper is great as GreatGrandma Leckie. The constant bickering between GreatGrandpa Gow and GreatGrandma Leckie add comic relief when needed. Also, Dean Stockwell is so cute as Robert, it is hard to keep your eyes off of him.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Princess Grace Photos coming soon

Bon Jour,

I will be posting some photos of Princess Gratia Patricia Kelly Grimaldi in the next few days. I just picked up my parents at the airport and they had a great time in Paris, Monaco and Nice. In the south of France they toured the palace in Monaco and visited the Casino at Monte Carlo.














Please tell your friends about my blog. Thanks!

Bonsoir,



Beth

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ava Gardner Festival This Weekend, October 9-10 in Smithfield,NC











This year’s festival will kickoff during the Ava Gardner Festival Gala this Friday evening, October 9th and will continue Saturday, October 10th from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.The theme for the fifth annual festival celebrates the special relationship Ava shared with Ernest Hemingway.

Ava called Ernest Hemingway "Papa," and he called her "Daughter." The accomplished author admired Ava's work in the films based on his works, and considered her "the most exciting woman of her generation."

During her career, Ava Gardner did three films based on Hemingway works: The Killers, The Sun Also Rises, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. To celebrate their special relationship, these films will be shown at the Howell Theater, 141 South Third Street in Downtown Smithfield, on Saturday, October 10th. The films are free to the public but the capacity of the screening room is limited to 150 people. The Killers will be shown at 9:30am, The Snows of Kilimanjaro at 12:00pm, and The Sun Also Rises at 2:30pm.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Character Actor Corner: Charles Coburn










Born in Macon, Georgia in 1877, Charles Coburn was an actor whose talents allowed him to star on the stage, in motion pictures, and on radio and television. He was known for his trademark monacle.  At age fourteen, when only a Program Boy at the Savannah Theater, Coburn began his love affair with acting. He eagerly accumulated valuable theater experience as an usher, doorman, treasurer, and finally at age eighteen, the theater manager. By twenty one, Coburn was regularly working as an actor in stock companies. He and his wife, Ivah Wills, formed their own successful touring company, The Coburn Players, in 1905 specializing in Shakespearian plays.


Coburn left the stage in grief following the death of his wife in 1937 and was persuaded to try out for character roles in motion pictures. Performing in over forty films between 1938 and 1959, Coburn received critical acclaim and in 1943 was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The More the Merrier. He also starred in The Green Years,Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Monkey Business with Marilyn Monroe, and King's Row with Ronald Reagan. He also worked with Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve, and Bing Crosby in Mr. Music and Gregory Peck in The Paradine Case.

Coburn was particularly proud of being a Georgian, and he regularly visited the University of Georgia Library. Before his death in 1961, Coburn bequeathed to the Library all of his theatrical library and vast papers including scripts, scrapbooks, celebrity photographs, publicity photographs and motion picture stills. He died of a heart attack in New York City.
 












Abandon Ship! (1957)



















Cast:

Tyrone Power ... Alec Holmes (Crescent Star Executive Officer)
Mai Zetterling ... Nurse Julie White
Lloyd Nolan ... Frank Kelly
Stephen Boyd ... Will McKinley (officer on Crescent Star)
Moira Lister ... Edith Middleton
James Hayter ... 'Cookie' Morrow
Marie Lohr ... Dorothy Knudson
Finlay Currie ... Mr. Wheaton
John Stratton ... Jimmy 'Sparks' Clary
Victor Maddern ... Willy Hawkins
Eddie Byrne ... Michael Faroni
Noel Willman ... Aubrey Clark
Moultrie Kelsall ... Daniel Cane
Robert Harris ... Arthur J. Middleton
Gordon Jackson ... John Merritt

Crew:

Director... Richard Sale

Produced by...

Ted Richmond .... executive producer
John R. Sloan .... producer
Tyrone Power .... producer (uncredited)

Original Music... Arthur Bliss

Cinematography...Wilkie Cooper

Film Editing...Raymond Poulton

Casting.... Paul Sheridan

Production Design...Wilfred Shingleton

Art Direction...Ray Simm (as Raymond Sim)

Makeup Department
Joan Smallwood .... hair stylist
Neville Smallwood .... makeup artist

Production Management
R.L.M. Davidson .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

David Eady .... second unit director
Basil Keys .... assistant director

Art Department
Basil Mannin .... scenic artist

Sound Department
John Cox .... sound supervisor
Red Law .... sound recordist
Winston Ryder .... sound editor
Bill Salter .... sound recordist (as W.S. Salter)

Special Effects ...Wally Veevers

Camera and Electrical Department

Eric Gray .... still photographer
Ronnie Taylor .... camera operator
Maurice Gillett .... supervising electrician (uncredited)
Skeets Kelly .... camera operator: second unit (uncredited)

Editorial Department
Valerie Leslie .... assembly cutter

Music Department
Muir Mathieson .... conductor

Plot:

Based on a true story, the luxury cruise liner the SS Crescent Star strikes a discarded land mine in the South Atlantic and sinks in the ensuing explosion. Of the ship's 1,156 passengers, few survive. Among them is Executive Officer Alec Holmes (Tyrone Power), who clings to the flotsam of the ruined vessel. There are others clinging to the wreckage. Then, Alec sees ship's nurse Julie White (Mai Zetterling ), with whom he is in love, foundering in the water, he swims out to save her. From a lifeboat in the distance, Will McKinley (Stephen Boyd), one of the ship's officers, beckons to Alec and Julie to join them. Alec abandons the survivors on the wreckage and swims toward Julie. When Alec and Julie get to the boat, Alec realizes that the boat, built to hold nine passengers, is in danger of capsizing. Once Alec is onboard , the ship's fatally injured captain,passes his command and his cherished ring to Alec, admonishing him to "save as many as he can." After Darrow dies, Alec dons the captain's jacket, then orders his body cast over the side. Meanwhile, Frank Kelly (Lloyd Nolan) is critically injured and close to death. He is a friend of Alec's and was also an officer on the ship. Noland's performance is gut wrenching and outstanding.  There are several other crises and all 27 survivors have there own storyline in the movie. To add to the chaos, a shark is circleing the boat. Who will live and who will die? You will have to watch it to find out.

Costumes:

White nautical uniforms, Life Jackets, Wet Clothing,a tux and one formal dress.

Quotes:

Alec: "The Dog Stays, we can not eat human beings."  "We can eat a dog!"

Edith Middleton:  on Alec..... "Now there's a Man!"

Trivia:

Outside the U.S. it was titled Seven Waves Away.


Funny Scene (one you should not miss):

Watch the shark footage!  I thought it was a dolphin.  Also, the entire movie was shot in a tank. In reality, someone would have been the shark's dinner.

Review:

Two survivors are left for dead after Alec leaves the wreckage to swim toward the boat and Julie. There is even a dog floating on the wreckage. The movie does not clear up what happened to them. Did they live or die?  In spite of this, trust me you will enjoy this movie.  I think it was better than Lifeboat.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Character Actor Corner: Lloyd Nolan


This very familar face  played in 156 roles in all types of media. A cop,doctor,soilder or father are the roles that he was most cast in. The son of a San Francisco shoe factory owner, American actor Lloyd Nolan made it clear early on that he had no intention of entering the family business. Nolan developed an interest in acting while in college. He flunked out of Stanford because he spent most of his time in amateur theatricals. He then entered Santa Clara College. He then landed a job on a freighter. When the ship sank due to a fire, he headed for Hollywood.

 In 1927, he began studying at the Pasadena Playhouse, living on the inheritance left him by his father. Stock company work followed, and in 1933 Nolan scored a Broadway hit as vengeful small-town dentist Biff Grimes in One Sunday Afternoon (a role played in three film versions by Gary Cooper, James Cagney, and Dennis Morgan, respectively -- but never by Nolan). Nolan's first film was Stolen Harmony (1935); his breezy urban manner and Gaelic charm saved the actor from being confined to the bad guy parts he played so well, and by 1940 Nolan was, if not a star, certainly one of Hollywood's most versatile second-echelon leading men. As film historian William K. Everson has pointed out, the secret to Nolan's success was his integrity -- the audience respected his characters, even when he was the most cold-blooded of villains. The closest Nolan got to film stardom was a series of B detective films made at 20th Century-Fox from 1940 to 1942, in which he played private eye Michael Shayne -- a "hard-boiled dick" character long before Humphrey Bogart popularized this type as Sam Spade. In 1945, he appeared as Officer McShane in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. His role as Dr. Swain in Peyton Place is my favorite Noland role. Nolan was willing to tackle any sort of acting, from movies to stage to radio, and ultimately television, where he starred as detective Martin Kane in 1951; later TV stints would include a season as an IRS investigator in the syndicated Special Agent 7 (1958), and three years as grumpy-growley Dr. Chegley on the Diahann Carroll sitcom Julia (1969-1971). In 1953, Nolan originated the role of the paranoid Captain Queeg in the Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, wherein he'd emerge from a pleasant backstage nap to play some of the most gut-wrenching "character deterioration" scenes ever written. Never your typical Hollywood celebrity, Nolan publicly acknowledged that he and his wife had an autistic son, proudly proclaiming each bit of intellectual or social progress the boy would make -- this at a time when many image-conscious movie star-parents barely admitted even having children, normal or otherwise. Well liked by his peers, Nolan was famous (in an affectionate manner) for having a photographic memory for lines but an appallingly bad attention span in real life; at times he was unable to give directions to his own home, and when he did so the directions might be three different things to three different people. A thorough professional to the last, Nolan continued acting in sizeable roles into the 1980s; he was terrific as Maureen O'Sullivan's irascible stage-star husband in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). Lloyd Nolan's last performance was as an aging soap opera star on an episode of the TV series Murder She Wrote. He died after  he completed filming, at age 83.