Friday, July 31, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Sheesh. I don't think the major studios are all that interested in releasing classic movies any more. Back in December, I posted my wishlist for my most sought-after classic films not yet on DVD. Seven months later and only one has been issued: Johnny Eager (1942), the film that made me realize Robert Taylor was a much better actor than he's given credit for. Van Heflin won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this film, as a sad, sympathetic drunken buddy of the Taylor's title character. The Warner Archive released the movie on its DV-R program, but I just never cottoned to the idea of paying a huge conglomerate $20.00 for a mere burn of a movie that costs them next to nothing to make the "regular" way. At least Turner Classic Movies has a few of my requested movies airing in the next few months, so if I even owned a recording device I could tape said films. But it just looks like we've entered an era of the new and the latest rather than catering to the niche market that classic film has become.
It wasn't that long ago that an Astaire-Rogers boxed set (two volumes!) or a Thin Man Collection would soar high in sales. Perhaps it's because there just aren't that many great films left to release? Now you know I don't believe that for a second. These gi-normous movie corporations could sell fire to the Devil if they put their marketing boys and girls to work on the job. So what gives? Why so few classic movies being released on DVD? Or more specifically, why aren't the movies *I* want being released? They must want to give bootleggers job security... Come to think of it, that's most gracious in these economically tough times.
How many of your unreleased DVDs have made it to disc this year? Which ones were they?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Part of my fascination for the Golden Age of Hollywood is the actual era itself. I love the architecture, music, politics, and styles of the 1930s and early 1940s, and I often think about what was going on in my own (nearby) fair city of Miami while Hollywood was creating its very best movies with my favorite stars. Miami, Florida was already booming as a luxury tourist destination by the 1930s and would be the nation’s playground in the subsequent decades. Today, I present some snapshots of Miami as it appeared during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Take a look at these travel brochures. Perhaps they will entice you to make the trip.
The Miami Pan-Am airport terminal: Look at the design and the contrast between the dark surfaces of the terminal and the light, airy tropical attire of the passengers. I wish people dressed up today...I guess there's just no competing with ragged jeans and T-shirt...
Collins Avenue, 1940: Get a load of that bustling city! Cue the Gershwin music as everyone moves about in this subtropical paradise. Collins Avenue runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. This entire environment as it was during this time floods me with many images and fantasies, especially my Husband and Wife Detectives strolling along the sidewalks at night and taking in Miami’s typically balmy summer evenings—actually, they’re downright hot!
The traffic is relatively unchanged considering the time, population, and degree of urban expansion. It’s all in proportion, isn’t it? Miami seemed just as crowded then as it is today.
Here’s the Edsinger Hotel, where I live and write this blog—really! See? Right next to that typewriter is my stack of Ginger Rogers jpegs.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
~John Lennon, on the perils of celebrity
That bad old Susan Hayward. Here she is, circa 1961, rich, famous, and an Academy-Award winning actress, and yet her poor poor sister can barely make ends meet. So claimeth this hatchet job from the evil that was Confidential magazine. Susan's older sister Florence was involved in a custody battle for her 17-year-old son in late 1960 and was trying to publicly guilt Susan into helping her. "I can sew...and I can do general housework and I can work as a saleswoman. If someone would only give me a job I could earn enough money to support my two children." Florence claimed that she hadn't seen Susan since their mother's funeral in April, 1958. Another article claimed that Florence wandered the fringes of skid row with her teenage son.
Being a celebrity sure is a lousy way to live one's life. If you happen to have a falling out with a sibling or parent, they can access the press and for a chunk of change can lob a Molotov Cocktail at you and all your shortcomings. Celebrities get partial treatment in the courts, but they also get that celebrity used against them, with hangers on, disgruntled relatives, and psychopathic "fans" (remembering John Lennon again) all taking their toll. Susan wisely didn't comment on her sister's accusations, and whatever feud that the two sisters had going was deep. However, I believe that just because you happen to share an accident of birth with someone and through the randomnity of some great cosmic lottery you happen to share the same parents, doesn't mean you'll get along with, or even like those in your family. Those of us schlubs who aren't rich and famous never have to worry about a disgruntled somebody publicly taking us to task, though with the internet, I guess it's possible to some degree, but not on this blog--too small an audience!
Sorry for the rant today, but I needed to bring Susan's name back on this blog, seeing as I've essentially left her in the dust what with my Susan Hayward Craze not taking off like I'd hoped, but seeing as Hayward was at her peak in the 1950s, and Hollywood Dreamland tends to concentrate on the 1930s-40s, Susan is omitted by default. But when I get into a 1950s mood, you can bet that the tough and lovely Susan will be back at center stage. After all, I think she's the Bee's Knees.
I also hope that they caught that Nazi fugitive...
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Joan Fontaine: 15 (31%)
Katharine Hepburn: 15 (31%)
Ginger Rogers: 10 (21%)
Bette Davis: 7 (14%)
Martha Scott: 0 (‘nuff said!)
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Another piece of my childhood died this week.
Karl Malden, age 97. That’s a hell of a ride and one great career. Those from my generation know Malden first and foremost as Detective Mike Stone in the 1970s cop show, The Streets of San Francisco, which my grandfather and I watched together when I was a kid (come to think of it, why aren't those TV programs ever rerun anymore? I haven't seen an episode of Streets in twenty-five years). Malden is also remembered from those omnipresent American Express commercials where he would end each ad with “American Express Traveler’s Checks; don’t leave home without them!” I always thought he was so authoritative and that it was Malden-as-Mike Stone telling us to buy those traveler's checks! Maybe it was because he was always wearing that fedora. Ever see his early role in 1950’s Where the Sidewalk Ends? In it, Malden plays a by-the-book police lieutenant, kind of an early dry run for Mike Stone, who isn’t often mentioned as one of the 1970s great police characters, but if you’ve ever watched the show, you’re probably a fan of it and of Karl Malden—at least that’s how I became aware and appreciative of this man’s ability.
My favorite Karl Malden performances were On the Waterfront (1954), where he’s the decent man of the cloth and in Patton (1970), in which he was just about perfect as General Omar Bradley. I felt he should’ve been Oscar-nominated for that role. Malden was already an Academy-Award winner, for 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire. However, being the excellent character actor that he was, Malden could also play a villain with equal expertise. He was fantastic as a mean S.O.B. Sheriff in One-Eyed Jacks (1961)--a great movie nobody ever heard of--and as an outlaw gang leader in Nevada Smith (1966). When these actors die I think of what a forceful presence they were on screen. You take them for granted because they’re always around- sturdy, reliable, and when a man lives to be nearly 100, they really have been around as long as anyone can remember! These aren’t the kinds of deaths that sadden me, as Malden lived to fulfill his career potential and was a successful working actor for fifty years. I wish all beloved movie stars lived this long, so we wouldn’t mourn their unfulfilled potential, but rather celebrate their lives and careers, as we can with Karl Malden.