Ahem. Imagine, if you will, the following scenario:
You’re an actress in the early, rough-and-tumble days of silent film, a pioneer on the forefront of a burgeoning industry. You’re already popular enough that you’re used to random visitors demanding attention from you on the set, but you prefer to stay focused on your work—hell, your dress is so delicate you don’t even get to sit all the way down. You deserve to smoke your cigarette in peace.
A lot of times when I’m thinking about the Code, I tend to oversimplify it into a distinct “before” and “after;” the befores all exposition scenes in lingerie, the afters all punitive morality fables. The truth is a little more complicated than that, and the changes affected more than just skimpy costumes and suggestive dialogue. Choreography, as Busby Berkeley experienced, was also a target—especially if your pre-Code style relied more heavily on leggy chorus girls than Fred and Ginger gliding across the dance floor in evening wear.
In lieu of a full, minute-by-minute recap—at least for now—I’ve been thinking about all the great individual moments I had at this year’s TCM Film Festival. From new friends to fun events to magical movie sequences, there were so many little elements that had to come together to create the whole overall experience… and here are a few of my favorites! Continue Reading →
When you start to watch a musical made in 1954, starring Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds, with the same songwriters as Meet Me in St. Louis, you might think you have a pretty solid concept of what’s to come before you’ve even hit play. But that’s not quite the case with Athena, a film that seems to actively avoid many of this era’s favorite musical comedy tropes—the Broadway ingenue, the sailor, love-at-first-sight, and so on—while also playing within the confines of the genre. These two factors combine to make for an engagingly offbeat and joyfully eccentric original work from MGM, available on DVD and streaming from Warner Archive. Continue Reading →
I’m delighted to be heading to the TCM Film Festival once again this year, marking my third official trip to the fest—and second year with all the access that a coveted Classic pass provides! This year’s theme is “History According to Hollywood,” which, at another festival, might mean a drab selection of biopics and well-regarded … Continue Reading →
The Long, Hot Summer is a sticky Southern drama based on a combination of works by William Faulkner. It’s very much in the vein of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which came out just a few months later and, of course, also starred Paul Newman. Here, Newman plays Ben Quick, a drifter expelled from his previous town after being suspected of burning down a barn. He has the good fortune to catch a ride from Eula (Lee Remick) and Clara (Joanne Woodward), whose father, Will (Orson Welles), basically owns the town. Upon meeting Ben, patriarch Will becomes a little bit smitten with the hardworking, ambitious fellow—and who wouldn’t? Those dimples!—and eyes him as a possible heir to his throne, in place of his amiable but gutless son, Jody (Anthony Franciosa).
Women have been a part of the film industry since the very beginning, yet looking at the list of Oscar nominees throughout history can feel a little… monolithic. Women make up a tiny, tiny percentage of those even nominated for major awards; the number of those who have won gets to be downright fractional. Kathryn Bigelow remains the first and ONLY woman to ever win the directing award, which she earned for The Hurt Locker at the 2009 Oscars. Before that, only three other women (Lina Wertmüller in 1976, Jane Campion in 1993, and Sofia Coppola in 2003) had even been nominated; no women have been nominated since Bigelow won.
Downtown Los Angeles has seen a lot of change and transformation within this past century—and quite a bit even just in the past few years. The street was home to the first and largest theater and cinema district in the country, including twelve that still exist today. Once considered the main commercial district and center of the city, the area largely fell into disrepair during the ’70s and ’80s—some movie palace sites now live on only as parking lots. But seven years ago, local Councilman José Huizar established the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, which now includes a free annual event to encourage more visitors to check out the area. This year’s Night on Broadway took place this past weekend, and was a wonderful experience for any fan of classic movie theaters. Continue Reading →
Short and sweet this month, though not for any lack of musicals —within a span of about a week alone, you can catch An American in Paris, Funny Girl, or Fame on TCM! The flip side is that the “rarities” are a little scarcer for my purposes here, due to their annual Oscar history highlights. Most of the musicals airing this month are happily available for your viewing pleasure in just about every format, but here are a few to set the DVR for if you so choose. Since we’re in the Oscar spirit here, I’ve also included each film’s relevant award nominations or wins. Continue Reading →