Uncategorized

Simpson Sunday: Frankly, My Dear…

Gone With the Wind Rhett Scarlett

Season 10, Episode 20: The Old Man and the “C” Student

After ruining Springfield’s chances of hosting the Olympics, Bart is forced to volunteer at the nursing home where their Grandpa lives as part of a community service project at school. During his time volunteering there, he and Lisa watch Gone With the Wind with the residents. Only this is an “edited for seniors” version of the movie where anything unhappy has been cut out. Instead of hearing Clark Gable’s infamous last line, they hear dubbed-in dialogue that alters the ending so that Rhett declares his love for Scarlett and says they should remarry. Almost everyone loves the new ending, except for Bart and Hans Moleman who notice some glaring omissions.

Bart Simpson Watching Gone With the Wind

Hans Moleman Watching Gone With the Wind

Advertisements

Head (1968)

Head The Monkees 1968

“Hey, hey, we are The Monkees

You know we love to please

A manufactured image with no philosophies

We hope you like our story

Although there isn’t one

That is to say there’s many

That way there is more fun”

Attempting to explain the plot of Head is truly an exercise in futility. The above quote comes less than 10 minutes into the movie, so you certainly can’t say this movie makes any false pretenses. Pretty much everything mentioned in this chant is what Head delivers. (Although I wouldn’t say it’s a “no philosophies” movie since it does have some political moments in it.)

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the members of The Monkees got together with Jack Nicholson and spent the weekend taking drugs and brainstorming ideas for a movie, look no further than the movie Head. No, really, that actually is how this movie came about. Apparently every crazy idea they came up with made it into this one movie.

You could say that Head is an abstract satire of TV/music stardom, but there really isn’t one main story; it’s more of a series of vignettes and musical numbers that deal with themes like free will.This is a movie that truly has a little bit of everything: Davy Jones doing a parody of Golden Boy with Annette Funicello, Mickey Dolenz assaulting a Coke machine, a parody of The Perlis of Pauline, a cameo by Frank Zappa, The Monkees being terrorized by a giant Victor Mature, lots of 60s psychedelia, and of course, lots of music.

Given the non-linear nature of the film, Head simply isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But despite that, I’m one of the people who loves this movie. It doesn’t make sense in the way that people traditionally expect movies to, but it has a lot of interesting things going on in it. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. In terms of editing and visuals, it’s a really fascinating movie to watch. There’s plenty of comedy in it. All things considered, this movie is endlessly entertaining to me. The fact that it doesn’t have a conventional plot, but still manages to be so entertaining, makes it the kind of movie that’s perfect to watch if I’ve really mentally exhausted myself at work that day. I don’t have to think about it, it makes me laugh, and I love the music in it — after a long day, it’s pretty much everything that I could possibly want. But just because I don’t have to think too hard about it doesn’t mean it’s totally without meaning; I really do like the way it handles the themes of freedom.

What’s on TCM: September 2014

Melvyn Douglas Greta Garbo Ninotchka

Happy September, everyone! Summer Under the Stars is always a tough act to follow, but TCM does an awesome job of doing so. There are two huge things that I am very excited for. The first of which is Melvyn Douglas as Star of the Month. I have always loved Melvyn Douglas and he never seems to quite get as much credit as he deserves. There’s also a ton of his movies I’ve never seen, so I’m really happy to have the chance to see more of his work.

The second thing I am so, so excited to see is that every Friday this month will be a 24-hour marathon of pre-code movies! That’s right, 24 glorious hours of wild, fast-paced, innuendo-laden movies! Friday Night Spotlight isn’t just for prime time this month! With my annual 30 Days of Pre-Codes event, it’s no secret that I adore the pre-code era. If you have yet to explore much of this wild and fascinating era of film making, this is a golden opportunity because you’ll have the chance to see so many of the pre-code essentials (Baby Face, Three on a Match, Red Headed Woman, Design for Living, just to name a few) as well as many other great ones. Don’t miss The Story of Temple Drake on September 12 at 2:30 AM or Call Her Savage September 26 at 2:15 AM. They’re on late at night so it might be easy to overlook those, but they’re a couple of my favorite pre-codes and I don’t see them on TCM very often. If you only know Clara Bow as a silent film star, you’re going to be in for a real treat with Call Her Savage. 

Now, onto the rest of the schedule…

(more…)

The Outstanding Ensemble Cast of “Since You Went Away”

 

Since You Went Away Cast

There’s no way to talk about Since You Went Away without talking about how incredible the cast is as a whole. It’s one of those movies where virtually every actor who appears in it is extremely memorable. Lead roles, supporting roles, everybody makes an impact.

Since You Went Away Claudette Colbert

I’ve already talked a bit about how much I love Claudette Colbert’s performance in Since You Went Away, but her outstanding work doesn’t stop after the first scene. Claudette Colbert was initially hesitant to take the part of Anne Hilton because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be seen as old enough to be the mother of teenage daughters. But fortunately, a nice salary and the assurance that she would be boosting audience morale were enough to convince her to take the part. Anne may have been old enough to have teenage daughters, but it gave Claudette Colbert to prove just how much range she had. She handled everything from being warm and maternal to uncertain and afraid without missing a beat.

Jennifer Jones Robert Walker Since You Went AwayCasting actors who are married to each other to play a young couple in love hardly seems like a stretch. But if Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker’s relationship was ever like Jane and Bill’s relationship, those days were long behind them. By the time they made Since You Went Away together, Jones and Walker’s marriage was essentially over. They had separated in late 1943 and would be divorced a year after the movie was released. But their ability to put personal issues aside for the sake of the movie is extremely impressive and a testament to their talent. Their rapport is so strong and they made such a believable couple, I was very surprised to find out Jones and Walker were actually on the verge of divorce at the time.

Since You Went Away Shirley Temple

When she appeared in Since You Went Away, Shirley Temple, then 16 years old, hadn’t made a movie in two years. Although Shirley Temple is most widely celebrated for her work as a child actress, she proved to be more than just a cute kid in Since You Went Away. Temple gave Brig such a wonderful natural charm without being over-the-top precocious. All of the cast had great chemistry together, but I particularly love Shirley Temple’s scenes with Monty Woolley. The friendship between Brig and Col. Smollett never fails to warm my heart.

Since You Went Away Shirley Temple Monty Woolley

While Shirley Temple is associated with sweetness and light, Monty Woolley had the opposite screen image; best remembered for playing the acerbic Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner. Monty Woolley certainly had plenty of chances to do what he did best in Since You Went Away, but Col. Smollett is a character that let him show some softness as well. It’s a very well-rounded role that let him show how much talent he really did have.

Since You Went Away Agnes Moorehead

Agnes Moorehead plays Emily Hawkins, Anne’s snobbish friend, and boy does she ever excel at playing someone you love to hate. I tend to think of Emily as being like Sylvia Fowler: The War Years. Her haughty attitude, back-handed comments, and wardrobe would certainly make Sylvia Fowler proud. But while Sylvia Fowler is a total caricature, Emily Hawkins feels like someone you could actually meet, which makes the scene when she gets taken down a peg one of the best of the movie.

Since You Went Away Hattie McDaniel Joseph CottenJoseph Cotten was a perfect fit for the role of Tony, the handsome, charismatic friend of the Hilton family. It’s certainly not hard to see how someone like him would be so alluring to young ladies like Jane and Brig. I absolutely love his scenes with Claudette Colbert. Even though there is clearly an attraction and a little bit of history between Tony and Anne, Joesph Cotton never plays Tony as someone who is out to steal his friend’s wife. But there’s just enough of a spark to leave the audience wondering if they’re going to wind up together at the end of the movie.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s Hattie McDaniel.  Simply put, Fidelia is a classic Hattie McDaniel role. She got to do everything that made her so likable.

Benjamin Braddock and Mrs. Robinson: The Parts That Almost Got Away

Dustin Hoffman Ann Bancroft The Graduate

The Graduate is a movie I love every single aspect of. To me, it’s about as close a movie gets to perfection. By far, one of my favorite aspects of it is the cast. Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock and Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson are two of my favorite performances ever committed to celluloid; a career-defining film for both of them.

Nobody has ever played an awkward young guy quite as brilliantly as Dustin Hoffman did in The Graduate. He projected just the right amount of nervous energy and uncertainty. Mrs. Robinson is such a wonderfully rich role for a more mature woman and Anne Bancroft played that very complex character to the hilt.

Last week, I talked about how it’s hard to imagine The Graduate without songs like “Mrs. Robinson” and “The Sound of Silence,” but neither of those songs were originally intended to be used in the film. It’s even harder to imagine The Graduate without Anne Bancroft or Dustin Hoffman, but remarkably, neither of them were even close to being the first choices for their roles.

Jeanne Moreau Lana Turner Ava Gardner

Jeanne Moreau was director Mike Nichols’ first choice to play Mrs. Robinson, but the producers didn’t want her. Lana Turner, Shelley Winters, Susan Hayward, Patricia Neal, Angela Lansbury, Judy Garland, and Doris Day were all considered for the part. Ava Gardner was very interested in the part, but Nichols wasn’t very interested in her.

Robert Redford Anthony Perkins Warren Beatty

Before Dustin Hoffman came into the picture, Mike Nichols had considered Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Burt Ward, Robert Wagner, George Hamilton, Anthony Perkins, George Peppard, and Jack Nicholson for the part of Benjamin. Robert Redford was a top contender for the part, but ultimately Mike Nichols didn’t think audiences would find him believable as an underdog type.

When Hoffman was approached about auditioning for Benjamin, Dustin thought he was so wrong for the part that he wondered if he was being made fun of.  After Nichols convinced Hoffman it wasn’t a joke, he agreed to come in for a screen test with Katharine Ross and the result was nearly disastrous. When he arrived for the screen test, Hoffman looked so common and unpolished that producer Joseph E. Levine mistook him for a messenger. The test was supposed to be a love scene and at the time and not had Hoffman never done a love scene before, he was convinced that someone like Katharine Ross would never be interested in a guy like him. Dustin was certain he had failed miserably, but he got the part because he had the awkward quality they had been looking for all along.

A Few Final Thoughts on TCMFF 2014

TCMFF is more physically demanding than I expected.

As I was leaving the airport to come home, there were some employees standing near the entrance to the baggage claim area saying things like, “Have a nice day!” and “Enjoy your visit!” to people as they left. Not me, though. When I walked by, they said, “You’re almost there, you can make it!”  I’m sure I did look pretty exhausted by that point. I was coming right off a very long day at the festival, I was running on very little sleep, my shoe was starting to bother me and I was just ready to go home.

I knew the days would be long, but since I’m a person who likes walking and I generally walk a few hundred miles a year, I thought spending a few days running around within just a few blocks of Los Angeles should be no problem for me. Hahahahaha….no.  Maybe it would have been easy under normal circumstances where I’m eating normally, not jetlagged and not spending over 12 hours a day in theaters.  But I can’t wait to do it again.

The quality of prints were consistently very good.

During press day, Genevieve McGillicuddy and Charles Tabesh said that one of the biggest challenges of programming a festival like this is finding prints in acceptable quality.  Once the festival got started, I quickly appreciated how much effort they put into finding good prints.  The movies I saw were an even mix of digital and 35mm and they were all consistently very good, and in some cases, pristine. The lowest quality print I saw was National Velvet, but that’s completely forgivable considering it was a last minute addition.

The midnight movie selections were perfect.

Reactions to Eraserhead were generally…confused, but there’s no denying that Eraserhead and Freaks are two of the ultimate midnight movies.

You won’t be able to do it all, but what you will do will be amazing.

TCMFF is a bit like having your own On The Town type experience.  Only instead of having one day to do everything you want, you have four days and there will probably be at least two things happening at any given time that you’d love to be doing. (And that’s only if you come strictly for the festival events. If there are other things you want to see and do around town, I recommend either coming a day or two early or staying after the festival.)  I went into the festival with my list of movies and events to go to,  but I also went into it expecting those plans to change at any time.  And they did change, but I’m not sorry they changed, either.

I would have loved to have seen Maureen O’Hara, Jerry Lewis, and Quincy Jones in person, but the things I went to instead of those events and screenings were things I enjoyed so much that if I had it to do all over again, I would have made the exact same choices.  I realize that if I had gone to the Quincy Jones conversation on Friday like I originally planned to, I probably would have ended up missing either Why Worry? or Employees’ Entrance, and since both of those were highlights of the festival for me, I have no regrets.

The festival may be over, but I still have movies to watch.

Since it simply wasn’t possible to see everything, I came home with Fifth Avenue GirlSorcererOn Approval, Written on the Wind and Hat Check Girl on my list of movies I need to see.

The people are as exciting as the movies.

If you’ve been following other bloggers’ coverage of TCMFF, you’ve read a lot of people saying how appropriate it is that the theme for this year’s festival was “Family: The Ties That Bind” because there is a very strong sense of family among attendees.  At the risk of sounding clichéd, they’re all absolutely correct about that.

This was my first time attending the festival and even though I knew many people who were going to be there, it was also my first time getting to meet them in person. Despite the fact that I’ve known some of these people for years, there was still a small part of me that was a little worried that it would be totally weird to spend a few days going up to people and saying, “Hey, I know you from the Internet!”

Once I got there and started seeing people, I realized I had nothing to worry about. Excitement kicks in before you even have time to think of it as being potentially weird.  And after all, they know me from the Internet too and it’s fun for everybody be able to put a voice and a face to the blogs they read. No awkwardness, just an instant sense of camaraderie.  Even in cases where I had read a person’s writing but never personally knew the person behind the blog, it was still like running into an old friend.  I flew out there by myself, but once I got there, there was never a moment where I felt like I was alone.  Getting to spend a few days surrounded by so many friends in this classic film utopia was one of the most completely joyous experiences I’ve ever had.

What’s on TCM: March 2013

Greer GarsonHappy March, everyone!  Hopefully you’ve all been enjoying 31 Days of Oscars, I know I have.  But we already have just a few days left of that before it’s back to the standard TCM schedule.  Greer Garson will be the Star of the Month for March and her movies can be seen every Monday night this month.  TCM will also be shining the spotlight on director Roberto Rossellini every Friday night in March.  Now, let’s take a look at the rest of the schedule:

(more…)