Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Glitches with Blogger

Please pardon the text alignment on some of the posts. I hope to get them corrected over the weekend.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

TCM Classic Film Festival

Well it is finally here. TCM's Classic Film Festival ,Thursday, April 22 – Sunday, April 25, in the heart of Hollywood.

I just looked at the schedule of events around Hollywood.  It looks like there is something for everyone. 

Alec Baldwin, Tim Roth, Esther Williams, Betty Garrett, Tab Hunter and filmmaker John Carpenter are slated to join the amazing collection of stars scheduled to take part in the first-ever  film festival.

 Also scheduled to appear are; Mel Brooks, Luise Rainer, Ernest Borgnine, Eva Marie Saint, Tony Curtis, Jon Voight, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Martin Landau, Anjelica Huston, Danny Huston, Buck Henry, Eli Wallach, Peter Bogdanovich and Stanley Donen.

I did not see Elizabeth Taylor on the festival schedule. It would be great (for those attending) to see her introduce CLEOPATRA.

If you happen to read this, and are at the festival, please share your thoughts here. I am unable to attend, but I want to go next year!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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Character Actor Corner: Chill Wills


He began performing in early childhood, going on to appear in tent shows, vaudeville, and stock throughout the Southwest. He also formed Chill Wills and the Avalon Boys, a singing group in which he was the leader and bass vocalist, in the '30s.

From  1930s through the 1970s he would appear in dozens of films,  but is best known for his westerns. Wills acted as sidekick in B westerns with such cowboy actors as George O'Brien, and he even did the voiceover of Francis the Talking Mule in the popular Universal-International film series of the same name.  In the fifties he appeared in Giant (1956). Perhaps the greatest moment of his career was being nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in The Alamo (1960). In the 1960s Wills' career began to slow, but he still found a few roles in The Rounders (1965; with Glenn Ford) and Fireball 500 (1966; with Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and Annette Funicello).

In 1975 he released a singing album--his first.

Wills passed away from cancer at the age of 73 in December 1978


While campaigning for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1960, Wills took out a series of ads with the declaration "Win, lose or draw, you`re all my cousins and I love you."It was signed "Your cousin, Chill Wills". One member of the Academy placed a response ad stating: "Dear Mr. Chill Wills, I am delighted to be your cousin but I voted for Sal Mineo. "It was signed, Groucho Marx!

Giant (1956)


Elizabeth Taylor ... Leslie Lynnton Benedict
Rock Hudson ... Jordan 'Bick' Benedict Jr.
James Dean ... Jett Rink
Carroll Baker ... Luz Benedict II
Jane Withers ... Vashti Snythe
Chill Wills ... Uncle Bawley
Mercedes McCambridge ... Luz Benedict
Dennis Hopper ... Jordan Benedict III
Sal Mineo ... Angel Obregón II
Rod Taylor ... Sir David Karfrey (as Rodney Taylor)
Judith Evelyn ... Mrs. Nancy Lynnton
Earl Holliman ... 'Bob' Dace
Robert Nichols ... Mort 'Pinky' Snythe
Paul Fix ... Dr. Horace Lynnton
Alexander Scourby ... Old Polo


Director and Producer....George Stevens
Screenwriter.... Ivan Moffat
Editor... William Hornbeck
Director of Photography...William Mellor
Editor... Philip W. Anderson 
Editor...Fred Bohanan
Producer...Henry Ginsberg
Composer ...Dimitri Tiomkin
Production Designer...Boris Leven
Screenwriter ...Fred Guiol
Costume Design...Moss Mabry and Marjorie Best

Production Notes:

Made for $5.4 million, Giant was filmed in Texas (Marfa, Valentine, Presidio County, Jeff Davis County), Charlottesville,Virginia (Albemarle County), California (Lake Arrowhead, Burbank, Los Angeles) and Arizona. Boris Leven designed the big Victorian mansion known as Reata in the movie, which rested near the small town of Marfa, Texas. Director George Stevens employed an open set during filming, with the Marfa townspeople venturing out to watch the production.

Casting Notes:

Elizabeth Taylor was not the first choice to play Leslie. Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn were considered before Elizabeth.

Bill Holden was first choice for Bick Bennedict and Robert Mitchum and Alan Ladd were considered  to  play Jett Rink.


Giant premiered at New York City’s Roxy Theatre on October 10, 1956.  Most People only know Giant as the last James Dean's last  picture, but it is more than that, Giant is a plead for tolerance and equalty that should resonate today, specially for it's accuracy. Racial equality and  Women's equal rights are themes  in this film.

Based on Edna Ferber's novel, the film takes place across 25 years mainly around two characters: Doctor's daughter Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor as beautiful as ever) and cattle baron Jordan "Bick" Benedict (Rock Hudson).  They meet when Bick travels to Maryland to buy Leslie's horse (War Winds). Sparks fly and Bick ends up taking more than a horse back to Texas, He takes a wife.  You do not see their wedding in the film. However, you do see her sister's marriage later in the film. Leslie leaves her family and fiance (Rod Taylor) and boards a train with Bick.

At first sight, flat and dusty west Texas is a shock to Leslie, but she is  determined to make her marriage work.  This does not sit well with his sister Luz (Mercedes MacCambridge). A power struggle between the two women quickly developes and as a result of an accident,  Leslie wins. War Winds and Luz lose.  Through 25 plus years, Bick and Leslie try to keep their marriage afloat despite several bumps on the road, among them, the diferent expectations concerning their children, and a worker who later becomes a tycoon Jet Rink (James Dean) who secretly loves Taylor's character and envies Hudson's.  Bick's racist view toward the Mexicans is also a recurring theme. That racism makes Bick a very interesting character who is asked to change constantly in the film. It makes  Hudson's role is  big challenge, but he pulls  it off. Elizabeth Taylor, who did not have a character as deep as Hudson, carries the huge film and does a commendable job. She is particullary good in the scenes where she is standing up for her right to listen/speak, while her husband and his cronies talk politics. Watch  for Texan Chill Wills..he is a bona fide scene stealer as crusty, cantankerous Uncle Bawley. 

Chill Wills below:

 James Dean, despite having a lot less screen time than the other two, shows why he had a huge future in film. Tragically, he would lose his life days after completing his portion of the film.  Warner Brothers made Dean sign an agreement that he would not drive his racecar while working on the film. He was driving the  Porshe to a race when someone pulled in front of him. He and his mechanic passenger were killed instantly when they hit the car.

 Jett Rink becomes a destroyed man who, despite achieving all kind of wealth, all kind of power, is miserable, is nothing after not having the only thing he wants, the love of  a Benedict. First it was Leslie, later it was her Daughter Luz (Carroll Baker). 


Another favorite Stevens' staple requires applying aging makeup to his lead actors, and Giant does this to great effect to its three main characters. Hudson and Dean wear padding to show the battle of the bulge that comes with middle age. Dean, Hudson and Taylor age effectively from the use of  facial makeup and streaks of gray hair.

Moss Mabry and Majorie Best were the costume designers for Giant. Moss Mabry also designed the famous red jacket worn by James Dean in the classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

Giant (wardrobe for Elizabeth Taylor's character)  was one of his most difficult assignments.  The script called for Elizabeth to make 42 clothing changes.

Young Leslie

Middle aged Leslie and some special visitors-her real life children:

Middle aged Leslie and Bick below:

Middle aged Jett Rink below:


Dean gives a great performance for sure, this film has excellent performances all around, including a young Dennis Hopper. He plays the conflicted son of Bick and Leslie.

Young Dennis Hopper

Rock Hudson has to show Bick's gradual transformation is seen only through the broad strokes of arguments and fistfights, and his literal landing at the bottom the salad bar of Sarge's cafe to the tune of "Yellow Rose of Texas" adds the exclamation point.

Taylor shows off her notable acting talent in this film. Not only does the 23-year old actress look like a middle aged Texas matron during the second reel, but she moves like one and takes on the entire body language of a mature woman. She also changed to voice  and gave it a  weaker sound/cadence. Although Dean's performance is the one most remembered, Taylor's work is great too. One of her best.

The film is truly an epic as big as Texas. The cinematogrphy is GIANT as well. George Stevens has always had a knack for landscapes. The only downside was that the film slowed at Jett's Hotel opening. I like to call this film the original "Dallas". Definitely one of the best soapy films of the 1950's.


  • Edna Ferber based the Jett Rink Character on real life Texas oilman Glenn McCarthy.  With his oil earnings he opened the Shamrock Hotel in Houston,TX . He spent over $1 million on the opening, dubbed "Houston's biggest party." He also had his own private jet.

  • Molassas was used as a substitute for oil

  • James Dean's last film. He died driving his racecar a few days after his portion of filming was completed.

  • War Winds is played by the same horse that was used in the film, BLACK BEAUTY.

  • George Stevens shot  860,000 ft of film for GIANT.  It took 1 year to edit the 3 year project.

  • The Worth/Evans ranch in Marfa,TX was used as Riata for the film.  The Reata Ranch House  was only a 3 sided facade. Not many people know it, but the design for the Reata Ranch House is based on a real Texas mansion. It was based on the  Waggoner Mansion. It still stands in Decatur, Texas, northwest of Fort Worth.

  • The large picture in the Reatta Ranch House was borrowed from a Hotel. It now hangs at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Reata Ranch House below:   

The Waggoner Mansion below:


Adarene Clinch: "Why, Luz, everybody in this county knows you'd rather herd cattle than make love."

Luz Benedict: "Well, there's one thing you got to say for cattle... boy, you put your brand on one of them, you're gonna know where it's at!"

Jett Rink: Everybody thought I had a duster. Y'all thought ol' Spindletop Burke and Burnett was all the oil there was, didn't ya? Well, I'm here to tell you that it ain't, boy! It's here, and there ain't a dang thing you gonna do about it! My well came in big, so big, Bick and there's more down there and there's bigger wells. I'm rich, Bick. I'm a rich 'un. I'm a rich boy. Me, I'm gonna have more money than you ever *thought* you could have -- you and all the rest of you stinkin' sons of ... Benedicts!


Academy of Motion Picture Sciences (Oscar)

  • Winner-Georgie Stevens-  Best Director 1957
  • Nominated Oscar Best Actor in a Leading Role-James Dean
  • Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role-Rock Hudson
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role-Mercedes McCambridge
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color-Boris Leven and Ralph Hurst
  • Best Costume Design, Color-Moss Mabry and Marjorie Best
  • Best Film Editing-William Hornbeck,Phillip Anderson, and Fred Bohanan
  • Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture-Dimitri Tiomkin
  • Best Picture-George Stevens and Henry Ginsberg
  • Best Writing, Best Screenplay - Adapted-Fred Guiold and Ivan Moffat

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pal Joey (1957)-"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"


Rita Hayworth ... Vera Simpson
Frank Sinatra ... Joey Evans
Kim Novak ... Linda English
Barbara Nichols ... Gladys
Bobby Sherwood ... Ned Galvin
Hank Henry ... Mike Miggins
Elizabeth Patterson ... Mrs. Casey

The rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Leon Alton ... Printer Salesman (uncredited)
Isabel Analla ... (uncredited)
Robert Anderson ... Policeman (uncredited)
Maurice Argent ... Second Tailor (uncredited)
Tol Avery ... Detective (uncredited)
Rita Barrett ... Stripper (uncredited)
Eddie Bartell ... Barker (uncredited)
Steve Benton ... Electrician (uncredited)
Barry Bernard ... Vera's Butler (uncredited)
Gail Bonney ... Heavyset Woman (uncredited)
Sue Boomer ... Secretary (uncredited)
Paul Cesari ... Pet Store Co-Owner (uncredited)
George Chan ... Chinese Pianist (uncredited)
Barrie Chase ... Dancer in Daydream Sequence (uncredited)
Sydney Chatton ... Barker (uncredited)
Nellie Gee Ching ... Chinese Dancer (uncredited)
Jane Chung ... Flower Lady (uncredited)
Jean Corbett ... Dancer (uncredited)
Oliver Cross ... Bit Part (uncredited)
Judy Dan ... Hat Check Girl (uncredited)
Giselle D'Arc ... Vera's Maid (uncredited)
Jules Davis ... Red-Faced Man (uncredited)
George DeNormand ... Bit Part (uncredited)
Helen Elliot ... Travelers' Aid (uncredited)
Franklyn Farnum ... Person (uncredited) E
Elizabeth Fenton ... Chinese Dancer (uncredited)
Michael Ferris ... First Tailor (uncredited)
Bess Flowers ... Person (uncredited)
George Ford ... Electrician (uncredited)
Allen Gin ... Chinese Drummer (uncredited)
Everett Glass ... Pet Store Owner (uncredited)
Bob Glenn ... Sailor (uncredited)
Connie Graham ... Stripper (uncredited)
Bobbie Jean Henson ... Stripper (uncredited)
John Hubbard ... Stanley (uncredited)
Ellie Kent ... Carol (uncredited)
Cheryl Kubert ... Girl Friend (uncredited)
Pat Lynn ... Chinese Dancer (uncredited)
Ramon Martinez ... Headwaiter (uncredited)
Mara McAfee ... Sabrina (uncredited)
Henry McCann ... Shorty (uncredited)
Raymond A. McWalters ... Army Captain (uncredited)
Joe Miksak ... Barker (uncredited)
Ernesto Molinari ... Tony the Chef (uncredited)
Robin Morse ... Bartender (uncredited)
Jean Nakaba ... Chinese Dancer (uncredited)
Al Nalbandian ... Barker (uncredited)
George Nardelli ... Headwaiter (uncredited)
Bek Nelson ... Lola (uncredited)
Ilsa Ostroffsky ... Stripper (uncredited)
Roberto Piperio ... Waiter (uncredited)
Edith Powell ... Stripper (uncredited)
Jack Railey ... Hot Dog Vendor (uncredited)
Mabel Rea ... (uncredited)
Robert Reed ... Boy Friend (uncredited)
Hermie Rose ... Bald Club Owner (uncredited)
James Seay ... Livingston (uncredited)
Howard Sigrist ... Sidewalk Photographer (uncredited)
Jo Ann Smith ... Stripper (uncredited)
Genie Stone ... Girl (uncredited)
Frank Sully ... Barker (uncredited)
Betty Utey ... Patsy (uncredited)
Pierre Watkin ... Mr. Forsythe (uncredited)
Frank Wilcox ... Col. Langley (uncredited)
Frank Wilimarth ... Sidewalk Artist (uncredited)
Andrew Wong ... Chinese Club Owner (uncredited)
Lessie Lynne Wong ... Chinese Dancer (uncredited)
Barbara Yung ... Chinese Dancer


John O'hara-Author 
George Sidney: Director
Dorothy Kingsley: Writer - based on the musical play 
Lorenz Hart: Source for Musical and Film
Richard Rodgers: Source for Musical and Film
Fred Kohlmar: Producer
Harold Lipstein: Cinematographer - Technicolor
Viola Lawrence: Editor
Jerome Thoms: Editor
Nelson Riddle: Musical Conductor
Walter Holscher: Art Director
William Kiernan: Set Decorator
Louis Diage: Set Decorator
Jean Louis: Costumes
Hermes Pan: Choreography
Ben Lane: Make Up
Helen Hunt: Hair

*This is the last post  in the 3 part seris of movies based on John O'Hara novels/shortstories

Behind the Curtain:

The original 1940 Broadway production was directed by George Abbott and starred Gene Kelly. There have been several revivals since, including a 2008–2009 Broadway run, and this 1957 film adaptation starring Frank Sinatra,Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak.

It is  based on a character and situations John O'Hara created in a series of short stories published in The New Yorker.

Lots of great songs  featuring Frank Sinatra, with words and music from Rodgers and Hart. Rita's voice was dubbed by Joann Greer. Kim's voice was dubbed by  Trudy Erwin.

  • "There's A Small Hotel"
  • "I Could Write A Book"
  • "The Lady is a Tramp"
  • "My Funny Valentine"
  • "Zip"
  • "What Do I Care For a Dame"
  • "A Great Big Town"
  • "I Didn't Know What Time It Was"
  • "That Terrific Rainbow"
  • "Bewitched"
  • "Do It the Hard Way"
  • "Plant You Now, Dig You Later"
  • "Take Him"
  • "Happy Hunting Horn"


Frank Sinatra, riding high as an actor and a singer in 1957, the chance to play Joey Evans in the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Pal Joey must have seemed irresistible, because Joey is nothing less than a failed Frank Sinatra. Frank sings several songs in the movie and he is  great!  He's a saloon singer who bounces from town to town, dame to dame, always hungry for the big time but too much of a heel and a phony to ever make it.

After being kicked out of one town he ends up in San Francisco. He winds up at  a floundering saloon that has lots of pretty dames for him to make passes at.  An old friend,Ned Galvin (Bobby Sherwood)is the saloon piano player. One of the dancers is wholesome Linda English (Kim Novak) and Joey  he is floored by her. Joey shows the owner that he can sing by belting out "There's a Small Hotel." The owner hires him on a temporary basis. Later that evening, the entire band is hired by society widow Vera Simpson (Rita Hayworth). It turns out that she is a former stripper and is talked into performing her signature song "STRIP " at the charity auction.  Joey flirts and makes passes at Vera while Gawking at Linda. Vera shoots him down,but Linda does not have a clue at this point in the movie.

Next Ned walks Linda home, and Joey tags along. There happens to be a room available in Linda's building and Joey rents it. Very Interesting!

A few nights later, Vera Simpson (Rita Hayworth) comes into the bar and claims she wants a serenade; after giving Joey the brush off at the auction, but she falls victim to his street-smart charms, especially after he croons "The Lady Is a Tramp."  The look on Vera's face is priceless.  Later, Vera sings "Bewitched ,Bothered and Bewildered." Rita's songs were dubbed by Joann Greer.

At one point Linda (Kim Novak) mouths "My Funny Valentine."  Actually sung by  Trudy Stevens.

Joey and Vera become a couple and she sets the crooner up in the swankiest nightclub on Nob Hill, to be called (what else?) Chez Joey, while also installing him on her lavish houseboat.

Will Joey be a kept man, complete with a fully monogrammed wardrobe, or go for true love? Hey, it was the '50s, so you can probably guess the ending. Also, I did not mention "Scruffy." He is a pooch that Linda and Joey adopt.


When Vera Simpson is singing "Bewitched" there is a very obvious mismatch between her lips and the words as she is turning away from the window.

Watch Frank  behind Rita Hayworth during the auction scene and "Strip" number. Swinging Frank  looks like he is having a ball!
Linda English: What did I do last night?
Joey Evans: You kissed me.
Linda English: I wasn't myself.

Joey Evans: Whoever you were, you were great!

Joey Evans: You treat a dame like a lady and a lady like a dame.

1958 Academy AwardsNominated Best Art Direction
Nominated Best Costume Design
Nominated Best Film Editing
Nominated Best Sound Recording 

1958 Golden GlobesWon -Best Actor (Music/Comedy)-Frank Sinatra
Nominated-Golden Globe Best Motion Picture-Musical/Comedy

With gorgeous location photography, a Richard Rogers score, and three terrific lead performances,add a cute doggie, and  Pal Joey is worth your time. It's a Gasser Man!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gliches on Blog-Applications

Hello All!

I have been having issues with internet explorer and my laptop hard drive.  Health issues too.  At the moment, I am using Mozilla/Firefox to briefly pass along this update, it may be a few days before the next "real" post will be added to the blog. I am also re-designing it.

You may notice that you are unable to see my Music Application, and Celebrity Birthday Application.  These are really "fluff" items, but it makes me mad just the same.

I will be adding several pages devoted to  Retro Fashions,hair styles, vintage hat/glove (photos of my collection)and Classic Celebrity Recipes for food and drink.

See you soon!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Tabs Added to Blog

I have added some tabbed pages below the header.  They are:

Cary Grant's Cocktail Lounge
Recipes of the Stars
Vintage Hairstyling and Make Up
Vintage Fashion (coming soon)

Poll...Favorite George Stevens film

Since TCM will be spotlighting George Stevens films in April, look for  a new poll to keep you busy until my next film review. In April I plan to finish my seris on John O'hara novels turned into films. I also plan to review a George Stevens film and  add a new Charactor Actor Corner post.

Poll closed. Ginger Rogers wins as best dancer..