Posted by Richard Harland Smith on February 14, 2014
The other day a friend posted on his Facebook page a very unflattering picture of sports broadcaster and Olympic Winter Games commentator Bob Costas, who was/is suffering from an inconvenient case of pink eye, and then added some kindred spirits from the genres of horror and science fiction: Ronny Cox (or his prosthetic simulacrum) buggin’ out to the point of bursting from TOTAL RECALL (1990), gore-orbed Ray Milland at the end of X: THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES (1963), and Ronald Lacey in full ooey-gooey rich-and-chewy meltdown at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981). To which I added the above. Hardly remarkable in this day and age of Internet japery and it’s not that I posted it which strikes me now in retrospect as being so… it’s just that I thought of this image so quickly. I think, instantly. The opportunity arose and I had this image in my head, all loaded up, like that spring-action gun Travis Bickle has up his sleeve in TAXI DRIVER (1976), available to me in the way histamines and collagen are at my physiological disposal in the event of injury. These kinds of associations tell you a lot about yourself. [...MORE]
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on February 13, 2014
Tomorrow is February 14th, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d celebrate the occasion by taking a look at some sizzling screen romances that ignited while the cameras were rolling. Anyone who knows a thing or two about Hollywood history knows that it’s not uncommon for actors to fall head over heels for their costars. And who can blame them? When two attractive actors are asked to feign love while kissing and cuddling for our amusement I suspect that the lines between fantasy and reality can easily become blurred. These on set affairs seldom last but they can wreck marriages and leave a trail of broken hearts in their wake. But the heart wants what it wants and on some occasions these romantic rendezvous develop into long lasting loving relationships. And best of all? They often leave us with some passion filled films that make for great viewing on Valentine’s Day!
Posted by gregferrara on February 12, 2014
If you peruse the winners of the Motion Picture Academy’s Honorary Oscars for Career Achievement or the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, you’ll notice something. Where the actors are concerned, they’re all leads, all stars. Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck, Peter O’Toole, Bette Davis, Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Kelly, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, and Jane Fonda have all won one or the other or both. Supporting players don’t seem to have a lifetime of achievement in the movies, at least according to the powers that be. I happen to feel the exact opposite way.
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on February 11, 2014
On May 23rd of last year, the Buffalo arthouse chain Dipson Theatres announced they would cease operations at the North Park Theatre. The single-screen North Park opened in November of 1920, part of Michael Shea’s chain of Northeast movie palaces. It had been in disrepair for decades, with its vaulted ceiling murals barnacled in layers of soot and grime. Rundown though it was, it still retained an aura of grandeur, where movies were honored instead of consumed. I grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo, closer to mall multiplexes where greater attention was paid to upsizing popcorn than projecting images. So trips to the North Park felt like transmissions from another, more civilized world. It was there I saw Rear Window for the first time. The theatre’s demise would take part of my childhood with it, and inflict another indignity on that beleaguered, beautiful city. But then, on May 24th, The Buffalo News reported that the North Park wouldn’t close after all. The building’s owner, Buffalo attorney Thomas J. Eoannou, would be partnering with restaurateur Michael G. Christiano to keep it running, and to “restore the North Park to its grande dame status.” They have stood by their word, restoring the North Park to something approaching its original glory. The dark catacomb of my youth is now a sparkling palace, due to reopen this spring [UPDATE: the theatre will officially reopen on March 7th]. I visited the theater and spoke with Christiano and program director Ray Barker, to find out how this preservationist miracle came about.
Posted by Susan Doll on February 10, 2014
I recently picked up a used audiotape of the biography of Harry Cohn by Bob Thomas, King Cohn: The Life and Times of Harry Cohn. First published in 1967, the book was revised in 1990 with additional interviews and material; in 2000, it was republished, including an audiotape edition with a forward by Peter Bart. King Cohn is not groundbreaking in structure or shocking in content, but I did learn a great deal about the meanest movie mogul in Hollywood as well as the love of his life, Columbia Pictures.
Most of the Golden Age movie moguls started at the bottom in the movie business and worked their way up to head of production at their studios. While Cohn was no exception, I discovered that his entrance into the film industry was quite unique. He was working as a song plugger for sheet-music publishers when he had a brilliant idea to increase sales. The latest songs were routinely plugged at movie theaters between films by the house orchestras who played them while slides of pretty pictures were shown to the audience. Cohn believed that audiences would respond better to movie footage than slides, so he began to produce footage for theaters to project during the songs. To maximize the effect, Cohn learned to match the content of the images to the songs’ lyrics. Jack Cohn, Harry’s brother, worked for Universal Pictures at the time, and he showed Cohn’s innovation to studio owner Carl Laemmle. Laemmle was impressed enough to give Harry a job. Eventually, Harry and Jack left Universal to form their own production company.
Posted by Pablo Kjolseth on February 9, 2014
… red shoes and dance the blues. – David Bowie
Last week we screened a nice 35mm print of Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen, 1952). I’d put it on my film calendar two months ago and had no way of knowing that on the day of the show an arctic blast would slap us with snow and single-digit temperatures. Cold weather in Colorado is not a surprise in February (or March, or April, or May, even June), but this single digit temperatures was preceded by negative double-digit degree Fahrenheit nastiness. If you’re a film exhibitor like me, you want “sweet-spot” bad weather. You also don’t want a beautiful day so glorious that everyone stays outside staring at rainbows and fresco-tinged sunsets. Nor do you want weather so bad that people stay home hugging their space heaters. From my own personal and localized experience, the perfect weather to motivate people to go out to watch a movie is somewhere between mildly uncomfortable and somewhat nasty. (Think: Portland!) The definition of these parameters will change from place to place, as was clearly seen by Atlanta’s recent travails with two inches of snow. Under those same conditions, here in Colorado, we’d still be firing up our back-porch grills. If you go the other direction, however, and watch us under a three-digit heat wave, we all flee to the nearest A/C controlled environment like anyone else. [...MORE]
Let’s start with a rarely seen 1940 screwball comedy, Roy Del Ruth’s He Married His Wife. While I won’t pretend that this is anything but a minor but somewhat enjoyable trifle, there’s something rather weird about it that deserves discussion. A number of social scholars—admittedly some of them film historians, but quite a few of them not film people at all—have written about this movie in a specific context: how Hollywood treats romantic love.
The “he” of the title is horse racing mogul Joel McCrea. His preoccupation with—and incompetence at—the horse trade crowds out any other consideration. Ex-wife Nancy Kelly grew weary of perpetual also-ran status in her husband’s life, and divorced him. Ironically, divorce provides her with the opportunity to force her way higher on his list of priorities: as he is now committed to a punishing monthly alimony, he can’t help but think of her constantly. McCrea conspires with his lawyer Roland Young to end the alimony by getting Nancy married to someone, anyone—say, their mutual friend Lyle Talbot. The plan goes awry when she snubs poor Lyle for a flashy, oily gigolo Cesar Romero. McCrea starts to realize he cares about something much more than horses or alimony… (there’s no real surprise where any of this is heading—just check out the title of the movie if you have any questions).
What makes this interesting to social commentators is that the idea of making a romantic comedy about a divorced couple getting back together didn’t just happen the once, or even twice—it’s an idea you’ll find in: The Awful Truth, (1937), Philadelphia Story (1940), My Favorite Wife (1940), His Girl Friday (1940), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941), That Uncertain Feeling (1942), and Palm Beach Story (1942). Add He Married His Wife to that list and you have four such comedies appearing in 1940 alone—eight within five years.
Posted by Richard Harland Smith on February 7, 2014
I was rewatching Robert Siodmak’s seminal film noir CRISS CROSS (1949) the other day at the distance of maybe twenty years and I was struck by the angle on this door near the end of the film. Oh, hold on… [...MORE]
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on February 6, 2014
I usually go out of my way to avoid ruffling the feathers of my fellow film fanatics but there are plenty of things that get me riled up on a monthly basis. Sometimes a girl’s just got to let off a little steam so excuse me while I borrow a page from my fellow Morlock Richard H. Smith and draw your attention to a few things that have got me seeing red lately. Wanna rumble? Here’s how you can really get my goat!
Posted by gregferrara on February 5, 2014
It’s not easy to pull off a movie about a philosophy of how to live and I’m not sure many movies have ever done it. Most end up with feel-good endings and vague conclusions centered around some simplistic sentiment of finding happiness if you really try. In 1944, W. Somerset Maugham published The Razor’s Edge, a story dealing with that very thing, coming upon a philosophy for how to live one’s life, and Darryl Zanuck made it into a movie in 1946. The results are more or less what one would expect of such a venture except, in many small and strange ways, the movie has had a reach far exceeding that of its own renown. The movie may not be as famous anymore but a lot of what it gave birth to is as famous and popular as ever.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art in Movies Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Blu-Ray Books on Film British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller TCM Classic Film Festival Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies