Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Memoriam: Tony Curtis


Tony Curtis, 1925-2010

I first became aware of Tony Curtis in 1997, when I became obsessed with his 1957 movie, Sweet Smell of Success. It had everything going for it, and Tony Curtis-as-Sidney Falco was a wonderful performance. Why he wasn't nominated for a Best Actor Oscar is beyond my ability to comprehend. As I mentioned in a previous post, I watched Sweet Smell of Success every Friday night for fifteen consecutive weeks. Curtis became a hero to my pal and I, and we would quote Sidney Falco and Burt Lancaster's J.J. Hunsecker's lines constantly. Curtis became an icon of cool with us and anything he did on screen, regardless of quality, was fine with us. Curtis had made his reputaion in Sweet Smell of Success and he would always be press agent Sidney Falco to us. "A cookie full of arsenic", indeed.

I had seen Tony's breakthrough--at least as a serious actor and not mere teen idol--in The Defiant Ones, where his bigoted character John "Joker" Jackson was thrust into "equal" terms with Sidney Poitier's character, Noah Cullen. The immortal scene of Curtis and Poitier reaching out to one another while trying to escape is one of the greatest moments in cinematic history.

In 1998, I stumbled upon the 1971-72 British TV show, The Persuaders!, which I'd never heard of before. It had the future James Bond, Roger Moore, and Curtis partnered up as international playboys solving crimes in the French Riviera and throughout England. It became my all-time favorite TV show--it still is. It was a shock seeing him in middle age, though his boundless, acrobatic energy made that program the great fun it is.

Tony Curtis, 1925-2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Distractions, Distractions--and the Warner Archive


Mike Hammer must've spent hours marvelling over his wall-mounted, reel-to-reel answering machine in Kiss Me Deadly (1955)! I've been distracted as well, though not by gadgets. Seems I've spent the last few weeks in a big comic book mood and have neglected my blogging. I'm patiently waiting for the weather to cool down, the days to get shorter, and my attention span to grow longer as Fall--Florida has a Fall, of sorts--comes and Summer (and hurricane season) finally goes away.

I'm quite enamored with the Warner Brothers. Archive! I'm quite pleased that they've released The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, which is an entry in my beloved Husbands and Wives Detectives genre, and it gives me hope to think that they'll give the "Fast" series the same treatment. They've also been introducing me to several films I've never heard of. That, coupled with their frequent sales has been great.
Okay, I promise to get back into the swing of things and get those posts that've been sitting in virtual storage...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hepburn: The Power of Four


As soon as I saw these four statuettes standing side by side, I knew who their owner was... Katharine Hepburn, of course. These four symbols of career triumph--though meaning seemingly little to Kate--are on display at the Smithsonian. Her first Oscar, won for 1933's Morning Glory, is located on the far right. It's constructed of tin-plated bronze, whereas begininng in 1945, the Oscar was made of Britannia, a (mostly) tin alloy. Like the beat-up looking Holy Grail in that Indiana Jones movie, that first award is the one that holds the most fascination and the fact that it's all timeworn drives home the realization that it's the real thing. It was thought lost in the September 1938 New England Hurricane, but was later found intact. This Oscar had...adventures.

Whether one agrees with the movies Kate won her Oscars for--and I could and will go on about it in the future--it's still a staggering sight to see those Academy Awards all lined in a row.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Down to Business


In most of the northern hemisphere, Summer is coming to an end. But not here in South Florida, where it's 93 degrees Fahrenheit (or 34 Celsius or thereabouts) all of this changiness made me I realize that I've neglected Hollywood Dreamland for too long. This thought occurred to me when Patricia Neal died and I didn't write a single word in tribute to one of my favorite "dames." So I've put my other blog of '60s and '70s stuff on indefinite hiatus. I'd love to be able to continue two blogs at once but I just don't have it in me to do so. One or the other will invariably suffer, and so the Summer fling has come to a conclusion...for now. In the meantime, I will redouble my efforts at engaging your attention and hopefully entertaining those who stumble here. I'll have a new longwinded post next week, after the Labor Day weekend debauchery.