“TCM Big Screen Classics: Dr. Strangelove” Movie Event Ticket Giveaway (Aug 26 – Sept 10)

Win Tickets to see “Dr. Strangelove”
on the Big Screen!
in Select Cinemas Nationwide September 18 & September 21!

CMH is thrilled to announce the next of our fabulous monthly movie ticket giveaways this year, courtesy of Fathom Events! That said, this month, we’ll be giving away SIX PAIRS of tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: Dr. Strangelove” on the Big Screen!

The film will be playing in select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day-only event on Sunday, September 18 and Wednesday, September 21 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time. (check theater listings here; please note that there might be slightly different theater listings for each date)

That said, here’s how you can enter to win a pair of tickets:
In order to qualify to win a pair of movie tickets via this contest, you must complete the below task by Saturday, September 10 at 10PM EST.

We will announce the winner(s) on Twitter on Sunday, September 11, between 6PM EST and 7PM EST. If a winner(s) does not have a Twitter account, we will announce that winner(s) via this blog in the comment section below.

TCM Big Screen Classics: Dr. Strangelove

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, September 10 at 10PM EST…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
Why would you like to see “Dr. Strangelove” on the Big Screen?

2) Then TWEET* (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win tickets to see “Dr. Strangelove” on the Big Screen courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @FathomEvents #TCMBigScreen

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

About the film: Through a series of military and political accidents, a pair of psychotic senior military officers – U.S. Air Force Commander Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) and Joint Chiefs of Staff General “Buck” Turgidson (George C. Scott) – hatch an ingenious, foolproof, and irrevocable plan to unleash a wing of B-52 bombers and their nuclear payloads on strategic targets inside Russia. When the brains behind the scheme, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers), a wheelchair-bound nuclear scientist with bizarre ideas about man’s future, accidentally activates the bombing mission, even the President of the United States is unable to stop it. The inevitable comes to pass as the efforts of the Pentagon brass and all the politicians in Moscow and Washington cannot undo the cascading series of cataclysmic events.

IMPORTANT NOTE for all prizing: This is a special two-day-only event at select theaters nationwide on Sunday, September 18 and Wednesday, September 21 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time. Winners will be responsible for their own transportation to the Event. Only United States entries are eligible. Please click here before you enter to ensure that the Event is scheduled at a theater near you and that you are able to attend.

Please note that only United States residents are eligible to enter this giveaway contest. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

You can follow Fathom Events on Twitter at @fathomevents

Can’t wait to win? You can buy tickets here:

Fandango - Movie Tickets Online

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Fathom Events, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, TCM Big Screen Classics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Classic Movie Anecdote: The Wizard of Oz and “Over the Rainbow”

Celebrating the Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz on August 25, 1939 with a Classic Movie Anecdote!

The Wizard of Oz was released nationally in the US on this day in 1939. That said, I just wanted to share this fun little anecdote told by Meredith Ponedel, niece of Dottie Ponedel who was Judy Garland’s make-up artist (and make-up artist to MANY other Hollywood icons)…

In this clip from our “Classic Movies & More” YouTube Channel, Meredith shares her childhood memories about the time Judy Garland called the house and sang “Over the Rainbow” to Meredith over the phone. Meredith was so young, she really didn’t understand the importance of this — and I hate to tell you what she did! So, please watch the video clip to find out!  Enjoy!

Hope this video made you laugh as much as I did :)

The Classic Movies & More YouTube Channel is a partnership between Classic Movie Hub (@ClassicMovieHub), Once Upon a Screen (@Citizen Screen) and Rob Medaska — all die-hard classic movie fans who want to share everything we can with you about the classics!

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Classic Movies and More YouTube Show, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Video Clips | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Film Noir Review: Lady in the Lake (1947)

“Some cases, like this one, kind of creep up on you on their hands and knees and the first thing you know, you’re in it up to your neck.”

First person perspective was a trick that film noir flirted with throughout the 1940s. Delmer Daves spent the first half of Dark Passage (1947) hiding Humphrey Bogart’s weathered mug, while Edward Dmytryk sparingly dropped the viewer into Dick Powell’s rumpled shoes in Murder, My Sweet (1944). The latter picture, the first appearance of iconic detective Philip Marlowe, would turn out to be just a sampler of what was to come, as MGM decided to expand upon the gimmick for a follow-up Marlowe film. Gifting actor/director Robert Montgomery with the 1944 novel The Lady In The Lake, the studio intended to spearhead the next big thing in Hollywood: a film shot entirely from the character’s point of view.

The initial response was apprehensive. Many felt the clunkiness of camera placement would quickly wear thin, while ornery author Raymond Chandler hated the notion outright. Admittedly, taking such a prominent character as Marlowe, and an actor known for his rugged good looks, Montgomery, and hiding their faces indefinitely seemed as though it would spell disaster for both the film’s quality and the studio’s ticket sales. Nevertheless, producer George Haight and Montgomery went forth with this wonky task, and the results were intriguing to say the least.

Lady in the Lake Movie Poster The film’s gimmick-promoting poster.

Ironically, the first distinct trait of the film was not the POV perspective, but rather the terse portrayal of Philip Marlowe. Aside from the fact that Montgomery’s uncaring inflection is the only tangible thread to observe, the actor channels Marlowe much differently than Dick Powell, Humphrey Bogart, or even George Montgomery before him. Where Powell proved disarming, Bogart played charming, and Montgomery pushed annoying, this Montgomery commits to making his detective distrusting. Ignoring conventional cleverness and a sense of humor (both Marlowe trademarks), the character’s stubborn makeover provided Hollywood with its most straight-and-narrow reinvention to date. Not a bad thing, necessarily, just different.

Behind the camera, Montgomery loosens his collar and has a bit more fun. The opening credits make use of a cheeky Christmas medley; chalk full of reindeer and snow pried right from a Frank Capra picture. The punchline, of course, is the reveal of a handgun, which stylishly sets the mood before launching into a pre-narrative introduction. As both the director and the character of Marlowe, Montgomery sits at a desk and addresses the audience directly, informing them of what to expect, and establishing the noir equivalent of the man behind the curtain. Lake occasionally returns to these desk-bound interludes, which play like infomercial accompaniment to the plot, but if taken without their intrusiveness to the pace, they are quite engaging. It is here that the film’s intention to have “YOU and Robert Montgomery solve a murder mystery together!” truly comes to fruition.

Lady in the Lake opening credits“I like your tan. That’s very Christmassy.”

The plot, marvelously complex like most of Chandler’s works, leads the detective on a missing persons case under the employment of frothy editor Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Totter). She feigns interest in Marlowe’s crime writing, but it quickly proves a ploy to call upon his services — which go on to include beatdowns, near death encounters, and a few gunpoint discussions. In terms of content, Lake fills up a bingo board of noir staples, from adulterous big shots (Leon Ames) to corrupted cops (Lloyd Nolan). Steve Fischer, who previously supplied the scripts for Johnny Angel (1945) and Dead Reckoning (1947), does a fine job carrying over Chandler’s patented quotables (“when it comes to women, does anybody really want the facts?”) to the screen, but there are times when the POV presentation deprives the prose of its typical potency. Thankfully, the director has the talents of Ames, Nolan, and a scene-stealing Jayne Meadows to cushion the quality dip.

Totter, whose piercing glares are given the most screen time, is assigned the daunting task of acting opposite an unseen force. Despite Montgomery’s sporadic appearance — often times through a mirror — his monotonous tone doesn’t offer much to elicit sparks off of in the romance department. As a result, Totter’s Fromsett does most of the heavy lifting, playing angered, annoyed, and ultimately infatuated with the aspiring crime novelist. Chandler actually creates a tone of sincerity between the two characters in the book, swapping Marlowe’s typical mocking for a true sense of kinship between the two. But even with Totter’s electricity in tow, as seen in films like The Set-Up (1949) and Tension (1949), her extreme facial expressions and sudden mood shifts make the relationship an admirable yet mixed bag. Effective only if allowed room for the silliness that comes with it.

Lady in the Lake, a rare sighting of Marlowe's face, Robert MontgomeryA rare sighting of Marlowe’s face.

Unfortunately, therein lies the problem with Lady In The Lake. Upon release, The New York Times commended Montgomery’s ability to wield the camera, but made a point of discussing the film’s narrative shortcomings:

“In making the camera an active participant, rather than an off-side reporter, Mr. Montgomery has, however, failed to exploit the full possibilities suggested by this unusual technique. For after a few minutes of seeing a hand reaching toward a door knob, or lighting a cigarette or lifting a glass, or a door moving toward you as though it might come right out of the screen the novelty begins to wear thin.”

To MGM’s credit, they managed to defy critical marks and turn Lake into a box office hit; claiming it would be the first of its kind and the most revolutionary style of film since the introduction of the talkies. They were obviously overstating the film’s potential, but even then, the emphasis on gimmickry was blatant. Like 3D and Smell-O-Vision, Lake’s POV was a business move first and a creative move second.

Lady in the Lake, A publicity still of Montgomery, Nolan, and Totter.A publicity still of Montgomery, Nolan, and Totter.

Despite these flaws, there’s an undeniable draw to Lady In The Lake, even eight decades later. The more one watches it, the more Totter’s over-emoting plays perfectly; the more Paul Vogel’s halting camera moves and high-key cinematography feel strangely appropriate; the more the film’s haunting vocal chorus lingers; and the more Montgomery’s directorial debut seems admirable in that it dared to trip over its own stylistic ambition. Lady In The Lake is not a classic noir, nor is it even Montgomery’s finest noir — Ride The Pink Horse (1947) steals that title — but it does deserve to be appreciated for the very oddities that distinguish it from the pack. A recommended noir viewing, if for nothing else, the chance to get beaten up by Lloyd Nolan and kissed by Audrey Totter. How many other movies can make that type of proposal? C+

TRIVIA: For the unseen role of Chrystal Kingsby, the credited actress was Ellay Mort. As it turns out, no such person existed, and was a phonetic joke from the French phrase “elle este morte” meaning “she is dead.”

–Danilo Castro for Classic Movie Hub

Danilo Castro is a film noir enthusiast and Contributing Writer for Classic Movie Hub. You can read more of Danilo’s articles and reviews at the Film Noir Archive, or you can follow Danilo on Twitter @DaniloSCastro.

Posted in Films, Posts by Danilo Castro | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Five Fun Facts about ‘Fred Flintstone’

 “Yabba Dabba Doo!” Five Fun Facts about ‘Fred Flintstone’…

Well, perhaps the title of this post is a little misleading, in that our facts are not so much about Fred Flintstone ‘himself,’ but rather about Alan Reed, who was the actor who ‘voiced’ Fred Flintstone — but then again, where would our beloved prehistoric cartoon icon be without the marvelously talented and gravelly-voiced Alan Reed behind him!

And now for our fun facts…

alan reed fred flintstone

Alan Reed and famous Fred :)

1) During an early script reading for The Flintstones, Reed was supposed to yell ‘Yahoo!’ but spontaneously exclaimed ’Yabba Dabba Doo!’ instead — coining the phrase that would become Fred Flintstone’s signature expression. Can’t you just hear it now :)

…..

life with luigi alan reed and j carrol naish
Life with Luigi (CBS Radio): J. Carrol Naish as Luigi and Alan Reed as Pasquale. Image dated October 19, 1948. (c) Getty Images.
2) With a distinctive voice and 22 foreign dialects under his belt, Alan Reed enjoyed a successful radio career in the 1930s and 1940s. He was featured on some of the most popular shows of the time, and was heard in living rooms across America at one time or other on all four major broadcasting networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, Mutual). Some of his notable roles included poet ‘Falstaff Openshaw’ on The Fred Allen Show, ‘Solomon Levy’ on Abie’s Irish Rose, Riley’s boss on Life of Riley, Irma’s boss on My Friend Irma, and Italian immigrant ‘Pasquale’ on Life with Luigi. Reed also portrayed ‘Pasquale’ on the very-short-lived television version of Life with Luigi in 1952.

…..

alan reed sr amd alan reed jr on life with luigi, CBS RadioAlan Reed Jr. ‘appears’ with his father on Life with Luigi (CBS Radio) as Jimmy O’Connor.  Image dated October 19, 1948. Cropped from (c) Getty Images.

3) Born Herbert Theodore Bergman (some sources say Theodore Bergman), Reed initially worked under the name of Teddy Bergman, but in order to avoid being typecast for comedy and dialects (for which he was becoming quite well-known), he also started working under the name of Alan Reed to secure more dramatic roles. As to the inspiration for his ‘alternate’ name, well, Reed’s son’s name was Alan Reed Bergman — so in a nutshell ‘papa’ Reed was named after his son :)

…..

Alan Reed, Lana Turner and John Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946Alan Reed (right), Lana Turner and John Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946

4) Reed appeared in a film short in the fall of 1937, but then made his official feature film debut in 1944 opposite Gregory Peck and Tamara Toumanova in Days of Glory. Over the course of his 40+ year screen career, Reed appeared in over 25 films including classic movie favorites The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and Viva Zapata! (1952).

…..

Alan Reed as Boris in The Lady and the Tramp 1955Alan Reed as ‘Boris’ in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955)

5) In addition to voicing famous Fred Flintstone for Hanna Barbera, Reed also lent his vocal talents to Mr. Magoo’s 1001 Arabian Nights (1959) as the Sultan, and Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955) as ‘Boris’ the Russian wolfhound.

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

 

Posted in Cartoons, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Voice Actors | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

“TCM Big Screen Classics: The King and I” Movie Event Ticket Giveaway (August 5 – August 20)

Win Tickets to see “The King and I”
on the Big Screen!
in Select Cinemas Nationwide August 28 & August 31!

CMH is thrilled to announce the next of our monthly movie ticket giveaways this year, courtesy of Fathom Events! That said, this month, we’ll be giving away SIX PAIRS of tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: The King and I on the Big Screen!

The film will be playing in select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day-only event on Sunday, August 28 and Wednesday, August 31 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time. (check theater listings here; please note that there might be slightly different theater listings for each date)

That said, here’s how you can enter to win a pair of tickets:
In order to qualify to win a pair of movie tickets via this contest, you must complete the below task by Saturday, August 20 at 10PM EST.

We will announce the winner(s) on Twitter on Sunday, August 21, between 6PM EST and 7PM EST. If a winner(s) does not have a Twitter account, we will announce that winner(s) via this blog in the comment section below.

TCM Big Screen Classics: The King and I

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, August 20 at 10PM EST…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
What is it that you adore about “The King and I”?

2) Then TWEET* (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win tickets to see “The King and I” on the Big Screen courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @FathomEvents #TCMBigScreen

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas...@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

About the film: Winner of five Academy Awards, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s® regal classic tells the true story of Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr), an English widow who travels to Siam in 1862 to serve as governess to the King’s (Yul Brynner) children. She soon finds herself at odds with the stubborn monarch, but after “getting to know” each other, Anna and the King ultimately develop an extraordinary friendship that surprises them both.

IMPORTANT NOTE for all prizing: This is a special two-day-only event at select theaters nationwide on Sunday, August 28 and Wednesday, August 31 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time. Winners will be responsible for their own transportation to the Event. Only United States entries are eligible. Please click here before you enter to ensure that the Event is scheduled at a theater near you and that you are able to attend.

Please note that only United States residents are eligible to enter this giveaway contest. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

You can follow Fathom Events on Twitter at @fathomevents

Can’t wait to win? You can buy tickets here:

Fandango - Movie Tickets Online

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Fathom Events, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, TCM Big Screen Classics | Tagged , | 41 Comments

“W.C. Fields by Himself” Book Giveaway Facebook/Blog Contest (August)

“W.C. Fields by Himself” Book Giveaway!
Entry Task for Facebook/Blog Contest

Okay, now it’s time for the Facebook/Blog version of our “W.C. Fields by Himself: His Intended Autobiography with Hitherto Unpublished Letters, Notes, Scripts, and Articles” Giveaway contest! This time we’ll be giving away TWO copies of the book, courtesy of Taylor Trade Publishing. And, remember, we’re also giving away TEN MORE copies via Twitter this month as well, so please feel free to enter that contest too…

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this Facebook/Blog contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, September 3rd at 9PM EST. We will pick two winners via a random drawing and announce them on Facebook and here on this Blog the day after the contest ends (Sunday September 4).

If you’re also on Twitter, please feel free to visit us at  @ClassicMovieHub for additional giveaways — because we’ll be giving away TEN MORE books there as well! (Click here for twitter contest details as well as more information about the book.)

W.C. Fields by Himself contest by classic movie hub

…..

ENTRY TASK to be completed by Saturday, September 3rd, 9 PM EST — 

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
What do you love most about W.C. Fields? 

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

…..

About the Book: Fields never got around to writing his autobiography, but at his death in 1946, he left behind a vast assortment of notes, outlines, scrapbooks, letters, scripts, scenarios, and photographs. Now his grandson, Ronald J. Fields, has edited and woven this wealth of previously unpublished material into a unique new portrait of the Great One–in his own words. This book establishes the true facts about W.C. Fields’s early years: how, around 1895, he really got started juggling; how met his future wife Hattie; and how he felt about his incessant tours, triumphs, and film career.

…..

Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States and Canadian entries are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they meet the requirements above.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase it on amazon via this link (or click on image):

…..

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 14 Comments

“W.C. Fields by Himself” Book Giveaway (via Twitter August)

“W.C. Fields by Himself” Book Giveaway!
Entry Task for Twitter Contest

It’s time for our next giveaway! And I am happy to say that, this time, CMH will be giving away TEN COPIES of “W.C. Fields by Himself: His Intended Autobiography with Hitherto Unpublished Letters, Notes, Scripts, and Articles” via TWITTER, courtesy of Taylor Trade Publishing now through September 3rd. (plus TWO more copies via Facebook and this Blog, details to follow on Wednesday).

As many of you know, W.C. Fields is a particular favorite of mine, going back to when I was a little kid and saw “It’s a Gift” for the very first time (“No, I don’t know Carl LaFong – capital L, small a, capital F, small o, small n, small g. And if I did know Carl LaFong, I wouldn’t admit it!“).  That said, image my delight as I sifted through the many pages of personal notes, outlines, letters, scripts, and more! This is a treasure trove of cool stuff for any W. C. Fields’ fan.

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, September 3rd at 9PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick two winners on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • August 6: Two Winners
  • August 13: Two Winners
  • August 20: Two Winners
  • August 27: Two Winners
  • September 3: Two Winners

We will announce each week’s winner(s) on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub, the day after each winner is picked at 9PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winners on Sunday August 7 at 9PM EST on Twitter (and if you didn’t enter via Twitter, we will alert you via this blog article in the comment section below).

If you’re also on Facebook, please feel free to visit us at Classic Movie Hub on Facebook for additional giveaways (or check back on this Blog in a few days) — because we’ll be giving away TWO MORE copies via Facebook/Blog as well!

WC Fields book for blog…..

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by September 3rd at 9PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
What is one of your favorite W.C. Fields movies and why? And, if you haven’t seen any of his films, then please tell us why you’d like to win this book.

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message in its entirety*:
Just entered to win the “W.C. Fields by Himself” #BookGiveaway courtesy of @TaylorTrade and @ClassicMovieHub

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

…..

About the Book: Fields never got around to writing his autobiography, but at his death in 1946, he left behind a vast assortment of notes, outlines, scrapbooks, letters, scripts, scenarios, and photographs. Now his grandson, Ronald J. Fields, has edited and woven this wealth of previously unpublished material into a unique new portrait of the Great One–in his own words. This book establishes the true facts about W.C. Fields’s early years: how, around 1895, he really got started juggling; how met his future wife Hattie; and how he felt about his incessant tours, triumphs, and film career.

…..

Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States and Canadian entries are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they meet the requirements above.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase it on amazon via this link (or click on image):

…..

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Mini Tribute: Theda Bara and Fort Lee NJ, Classic Movie Travels

Born July 29, 1885 Theda Bara

“I have the face of a vampire, but the heart of a feminist.”

Silent Screen Siren, Theda Bara, made over 40 films from 1914 through 1926 (all but three from 1914-1919), becoming one of cinema’s earliest sex symbols. With her exotic looks and femme fatale roles, she quickly became known as ‘The Vamp” (the vampire) and was on her way to becoming one of Fox Studio’s biggest stars.

theda bara

Theda Bara

Although promoted as ”the daughter of an Arab sheik and a French woman, born in the Sahara,” Theda was actually born to a Cincinnati taylor and his wife, and was schooled in Cincinnati before making her way to New York City where she debuted The Devil on Broadway in 1908. She made her film debut in 1914 as an extra in The Stain, but it was her ‘big break’ role as ‘The Vampire’ in 1915′s A Fool There Was that set the course for her stardom. When Fox Studios moved from the East Coast to Hollywood, they took Theda with them, and it was in Hollywood where Theda would star in one of her biggest hits 1917′s Cleopatra.

theda bara cleopatra 1917Theda Bara, Cleopatra 1917

Unfortunately most of Bara’s films were lost in a 1937 fire at Fox’s storage facilities in New Jersey, so it is difficult for us to fully grasp Bara’s stardom and persona. But, we are very lucky that the Fort Lee Museum in NJ pays tribute to her at their museum and via their jitney tour.

That said, I would like to share some photos from a ‘Classic Movies and More‘ excursion (with colleagues Aurora Bugallo @Citizen Screen and Rob Medaska) to Fort Lee and the Fort Lee Museum — and, extend a big thank you to Tom Meyers, Executive Director of the Fort Lee Film Commission, for hosting us and providing great insight to us…

…..

theda bara display fort lee museum, photo (c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub

Theda Bara display (Fort Lee Museum)

…..

Theda Bara head dress scarf and costume jewelry, fort lee museum, nj photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub

Theda Bara head dress scarf and costume jewelry (Fort Lee Museum)

…..

theda bara head dress scarf, fort lee new jersey, fort lee museum; photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie HubA closer look at the head dress scarf

…..

theda bara costume jewelry, fort lee museum, nj; photo: ( c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub

And costume jewelry

…..

fort lee jitney tourThe Fort Lee Historic Jitney Tour includes many sites from the early days of cinema, including those pictured below

…..

theda bara way street sign fort lee nj; photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie HubTheda Bara Way

…..

theda bara photo at rock, comparison with theda bara rocks today in fort lee nj; photo of rocks: (c) 2015 Classic Movie Hub; photo of Theda Bara PD

The famous ‘Theda Bara rocks’ still sit in Fort Lee NJ on the lawn of an apartment complex

…..

fort lee museum in fort lee new jersey; photo: (c) 2015 Classic Movie HubThe Fort Lee Museum includes exhibits on Early Cinema as well as The Battle of Fort Lee , and Palisades Amusement Park (which also happens to have an Early Cinema connection)

…..

Last but not least, I’d like to share this short video with you from an interview we did with Tom Meyers, in which he talks about the Birth of Motion Pictures in Fort Lee, NJ:

For more ‘Classic Movies and More’ videos, please visit our YouTube Channel here.

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Mini Tributes, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Travel Sites | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Film Noir Review: The Prowler (1951)

“So I’m no good, but I’m no worse than anybody else.”

Film gris, noir’s politically apt little brother, typically goes undiscussed within the genre’s wider worldview. Granted, it’s far less sexy than a private eye picture or a femme fatale flick, but gris, a term coined by critic Thom Andersen, tapped into a societal pulse that needed a podium. It seeped up through the pavement in 1947, the result of leftist filmmakers like Edward Dmytryk (Crossfire), Abraham Polonsky (Force of Evil), and Jules Dassin (Thieves’ Highway). These Hollywood players had choked on the American Dream for too long, and the regurgitation of its values weren’t plastered on posters, but stirred into the pulp stew, where fictional characters could voice their creators’ disgust.

Classicism, materialism, and capitalism were laid on the chopping block for critique, while pessimistic fingers were pointed at society in lieu of bad seeds and sick individuals. The way Dmytryk and Polonsky spun it, America had planted them in the first place. Congress responded poorly, to say the least, and the aroused paranoia in Hollywood left gris directors subject to Blacklisting and discrimination. The movement was all but dismantled by 1951. It came courtesy of a man who went by many titles: the officer, the athlete, the charmer, but the one that proved most telling, and most indicative of society’s flaws, was The Prowler.

The Prowler, 1951, film posterThe film’s stark promotional poster.

For now, he’ll go by Webb Garwood (Van Heflin), Los Angeles beat cop. Along with graying partner Bud Crocker (John Maxwell), the affable duo stops in to check on a domestic disturbance call. No Peeping Toms are noted by the time they arrive, but Garwood’s disinterest soon turns flirty, and magnetism towards the domestic in question, Susie Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes) is palpable. He decides to stop by after his shift, under the pretense of “following up” on her complaint. Small talk about being from the same hometown in Indiana puts Susie at ease, and before her husband’s radio show comes to a close, the crass copper has worked his way into a torrid love affair.

But adultery isn’t enough for Garwood. He was a football star, a young man intent to take on the world — now, he’s a nobody working the city beat. He figures the world owes him, and Susie is the blonde bank account from which he’ll collect. Garwood manipulates the housewife by pretending to break things off, drawing both her and her husband’s insurance policy progressively closer. A final tidbit on her radio host spouse — his infertility — solidifies the final play. Garwood poses as the Peeping Tom from Susie’s initial call, and upon drawing Mr. Gilvray out in the open, guns him down under “accidental” pretenses. Turning back is officially off the table, and this entitled average joe is riding the Double Indemnity (1944) train straight down the line.

The Prowler, Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes

Adultery, deception, and domestic bliss.

Garwood’s goals prove far less cheap than that of Walter Neff and Phyllis Dietrichson: he intends to use Gilvray’s insurance money to marry, have a child, and live an idyllic life in Nevada (where it’s tax free). And yet, it’s precisely this “normal” desire that makes his actions all the more deranged. The story, concocted by Hugo Butler and ghostwriter Dalton Trumbo (who voices Mr. Gilvray in the film), provides a masterstroke of snappy rhetoric, where doom overshadows the danger of any dull preaching. “So I’m no good,” Garwood snaps at the sudden widow, “But I’m no worse than anybody else. You work in a store, you knock down the register; a big boss, the income tax; a lawyer, you take the bribes, I was a cop – I used a gun.” In a matter of mild comparisons, the keeper of the peace makes a twisted case for living beyond his means: everybody does it. Butler and Trumbo curse Garwood with minimal moral fiber, and to him, the scapegoat of society being crooked excuses his antics altogether. He’s a bad seed intent on wreaking havoc to the rest of the garden.

Ruggedly charming, Garwood still lives off his high school popularity. Note the way he sits in bed, shaving while shunning Susie’s calls in the first act — big man on campus, big man off it. The sense of smugness is sickeningly assured, and Van Heflin conveys it without the slightest concern for self-regard. Bug-eyed and quick to banter, Heflin was the rare noir actor who dished out more trouble than he received, serving as the lustful prize for both Barbara Stanwyck (The Strange Love of Martha Ivers) and Joan Crawford (Possessed). Something about his beer can simplicity drove dangerous women up the wall. The Oscar winner presents his finest homme fatale in Garwood, a guy whose impatience for middle class ease trumps his morality. That the chips keep stacking up against him is perversely satisfying to watch, especially given that he keeps trying to sneak in chips of his own.

the-prowler-van-heflin-evelyn-keyes-2Predator and Prey: Garwood in his scheming element.

Put-upon partner Susie is also delivered with career defining proficiency. A doe-eyed beauty with steady presence, Evelyn Keyes had already gotten her noir card with Johnny O’Clock (1947) and The Killer That Stalked New York (1950). Contrary to what her chorus girl origins suggest, however, the Texas actress radiated decency, and nowhere did this penchant prove more potent than in The Prowler. Her Susie is both level-headed and lonely, succumbing to domestic fraud only when she finds herself pregnant. She suspects Garwood killed her husband on purpose, and yet allows herself to be swayed into marriage and a retreat to a desert ghost town. All the while, Keyes performs as if lamenting her own integrity, aware of her self-damnation but too caught up in convenience to stop it.

The film’s irony, of course, is that this mockery of domestic bliss winds up in betrayal and retribution. Susie learns the truth regarding her former husband’s death, and the resulting set-up leaves Garwood shot down at a distance, like a rabid dog. Watching from the window of their hut, Susie stares at Garwood’s dusty corpse — the sheer indifference in her eyes enough to power a dozen films noir. The American Dream, for all its white picket fences and lawn trimming, wound up dead, and desperate, at the hands of its own lawmen. The gris movement appointed a worthy swan song.

Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes, The Prowler“I couldn’t bring myself to touch a gun again as long as I live.”

Prowler’s director, Joseph Losey, had been a major component of this “subversive” cinema. Between 1950-51, he cranked out a critique of Hispanic prejudice (The Lawless), a Red Scare remake (M), and a harrowing account of adolescence (The Big Night), all but smothering the viewer with social commentary. Each was released to varying success (the latter a victim of studio tampering), but it was the mildly received Prowler that would mark Losey’s masterpiece. The film instilled, and continues to instill, a grating sense of mistrust, where pursuit of the perfect nuclear family can lead to self-destruction.

Unfortunately, Losey, along with like-minded compatriot Butler, bore the brunt of their creation. Both were blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) within months of the film’s release, joining the already outcast Trumbo. Losey, a Wisconsin native, migrated to Europe and never again set foot on American soil. Oddly enough, his reported guilt echoed that of The Prowler, as he was fingered by an informant who, the director later learned, had an affair with his wife. Film noir may have exaggerated reality, but film gris clearly proved closer to, and in some cases, right from, the home. A+

Horizon Pictures & United Artists
Directed by Joseph Losey
Produced by Sam Spiegel
Screenplay by Hugo Butler and (uncredited) Dalton Trumbo
Based on the story by Robert Thoeren and Hans Wilhelm
Starring Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes, John Maxwell, Katherine Warren, and Emerson Treacy
Cinematography by Arthur C. Miller, A.S.C.
Music by Lyn Murray
92 Minutes

TRIVIA: Pulp novelist James Ellroy once called The Prowler his favorite film, and described it as “a masterpiece of sexual creepiness, institutional corruption and suffocating, ugly passion.”

…..

–Danilo Castro for Classic Movie Hub

Danilo Castro is a film noir enthusiast and Contributing Writer for Classic Movie Hub. You can read more of Danilo’s articles and reviews at the Film Noir Archive, or you can follow Danilo on Twitter @DaniloSCastro.

 

Posted in Posts by Danilo Castro | Tagged , | 1 Comment

“Pioneers of African-American Cinema” featured on TCM, and releasing on DVD/Blu-Ray PLUS Special Offer for CMH Fans

Paying Tribute to the Vital Works of America’s First African-American Filmmakers…

As you probably already know, CMH is giving away five copies of “Pioneers of African-American Cinema” this month (through July 30), courtesy of Kino Lorber.  This historic 5-disc set features significant, but long overlooked, achievements of early, independent African-American filmmakers — films that not only starred African Americans, but were funded, written, produced, directed, distributed, and often exhibited by African Americans as well.  There’s about 20 hours of material in the set, including feature-length films, shorts, fragments, trailers, and interviews with influential historians and archivists — plus an 80-page booklet of essays, photos, notes and more.  It’s really an incredible collection that allows us valuable insight into vital film history as well as the legacies of film pioneers Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, James and Eloyce Gist, and more.

Oscar Micheaux, Pioneers of African-American CinemaPioneering Director, Oscar Micheaux

…..

That said, we have some good news to share…

First of all, we are very happy to say that TCM will be paying tribute to ‘Pioneers of African-American Cinema’ by airing some of these extraordinary films on two Sunday nights — July 24th and July 31st. These primetime events (starting at 8PM EST and running into late night/early morning) will be hosted by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz with co-host Jacqueline Stewart who is a Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at The University of Chicago. Seven films and eight shorts will be showcased from the ‘Pioneers’ collection including Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates (1920), Richard Norman’s Regeneration (1923), Frank Perugini’s The Scar of Shame (1929), and Micheaux’s Birthright (1939).

But that’s not all. In celebration of the DVD/Blu-Ray release of ‘Pioneers of African-American Cinema’ on Tuesday (July 26), Kino Lorber has created a special 25%-off coupon code CMHS16 JUST for CMH fans — that can be used to purchase ‘Pioneers’ AND/OR any other DVD/Blu-Ray products at KinoLorber.com from now until July 31, 2016!

Kino Lorber coupon code for Classic Movie Hub Fans 25% off dvds until July 31 2016Take an additional 25% off your online order at KinoLorber.com. Apply coupon code CMHS16 during your online checkout. Valid through July 31, 2016.

…..

And for your reference, here’s what the ‘Pioneer’s DVD/Blu-Ray Collection includes:

* New digital restorations of over a dozen feature films, plus shorts, fragments, trailers, documentary footage, archival interviews and audio recordings

* Contemporary interviews with historians and film preservationists

* 80-page booklet with essays and detailed film notes

* Musical scores by DJ Spooky, Max Roach, Alloy Orchestra, Samuel Waymon, Makia Matsumura, Donald Sosin and others

Disc One (Total Running Time 282 minutes): Two Knights of Vaudeville Ebony Film Co., 1915. 11 minutes. Music by Donald Sosin Mercy the Mummy Mumbled (BLU-RAY ONLY) Ebony Film Co., 1918. 12 minutes. Music by the Alloy Orchestra. A Reckless Rover Ebony Film Co., 1918. 14 minutes. Music by Donald Sosin. Within Our Gates Oscar Micheaux, 1920. 73 minutes. Music by Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky. The Symbol of the Unconquered: A Story of the KKKOscar Micheaux, 1920. 59 minutes. Music by Max Roach. By Right of Birth Lincoln Motion Picture Co., 1921. 4 minutes. Music by Donald Sosin.Body and Soul Oscar Micheaux, 1925. 93 minutes. Music by Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky.Screen Snapshots (Micheaux footage, 1920, 1 minute) Bonus: An Introduction (7 minutes) Bonus: The Films of Oscar Micheaux (8 minutes)

Disc Two (Total Running Time – 259 minutes): RegenerationRichard E. Norman, 1923. 11 minutes. Music by Donald Sosin.The Flying Ace Richard E. Norman, 1928. 65 minutes. Music by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Ten Nights in a Bar RoomCPFC, 1926. 64 minutes. Music by Donald Sosin. Rev. S.S. Jones Home Movies Rev. Solomon Sir Jones, 1924-1926. 16 minutes. Music by Andrew Simpson. The Scar of Shame Frank Peregini, 1929. 86 minutes. Music by Makia Matsumura Bonus: The Color Line (5 minutes) Bonus: Ten Nights in a Bar Room – An Introduction (4 minutes) Bonus: About the Restoration (8 minutes)

Paul Robeson as Sylvester in Oscar Micheaux's Body and Soul (frame enlargement), courtesy Kino LorberPaul Robeson as ‘Sylvester ‘in Oscar Micheaux’s Body and Soul (frame enlargement), courtesy Kino Lorber

Disc Three (Total Running Time – 253 minutes): Eleven P.M.Richard Maurice, 1928. 60 minutes. Music by Rob Gal. Hell-Bound Train James and Eloyce Gist, 1930. 50 minutes. Restored by S. Torriano Berry. Music by Samuel D. Waymon.Verdict Not Guilty James and Eloyce Gist, 1934. 8 minutes. Restored by S. Torriano Berry. Music by Samuel D. Waymon.Heaven-Bound Travelers (BLU-RAY ONLY) James and Eloyce Gist, 1935. 15 minutes. Restored by S. Torriano Berry. Music by Samuel D. Waymon. The Darktown Revue Oscar Micheaux, 1931. 18 minutes. The Exile Oscar Micheaux, 1931. 78 minutes.Hot Biskits Spencer Williams, 1931. 10 minutes.

Disc Four (Total Running Time – 272 minutes): The Girl from Chicago Oscar Micheaux, 1932. 70 minutes. Ten Minutes to Live Oscar Micheaux, 1932. 58 minutes. Veiled AristocratsOscar Micheaux, 1932. 48 minutes. Birthright Oscar Micheaux, 1938. 73 minutes. Bonus: Veiled Aristocrats Trailer (4 minutes) Bonus: Birthright Trailer (4 minutes) Bonus: We Work Again(BLU-RAY ONLY) – WPA Documentary (1937, 15 minutes)

Herb JeffriesHerb Jeffries as ‘Bob Blake’ in Richard C. Kahn’s The Bronze Buckaroo (1930), courtesy Kino Lorber

Disc Five (Total Running Time – 243 minutes): The Bronze Buckaroo Richard Kahn, 1939. 58 minutes. Zora Neale Hurston Fieldwork Footage (excerpt) Zora Neale Hurtston, 1928. 3 minutes. Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940 (excerpt) Zora Neale Hurston, 1940. 15 minutes. The Blood of Jesus Spencer Williams, 1941. 56 minutes. Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. Spencer Williams, 1946. 60 minutes. Moses Sisters Interview Pearl Bowser, 1978. 32 minutes. Bonus: Texas Tyler Promo Film with Ossie Davis (1985, 6 minutes) Bonus: The Films of Zora Neale Hurston (2 minutes) Bonus: The Films of Spencer Williams (7 minutes) Bonus: The End of an Era (4 minutes)

…..

A Big Thank You to Kino Lorber for creating this important, historic collection (and for offering a special discount to our fans), and of course to TCM for airing some of these landmark films!

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Articles, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment