Breaking Barriers: Rita Moreno

Breaking Barriers

Rita Moreno 

To quote Barack Obama at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, “[Rita Moreno] is still a leading lady of her era, a trailblazer with courage to break through barriers and forge new paths.” That’s not the only political powerhouse to show love to Moreno. Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor one said, “When I was younger, I idolized Rita Moreno. I still do.” When both the President of the United States and one of its Supreme Justices sing your praise, clearly you must be doing something right. For over 70 years Moreno has remained in the limelight, staying relevant in industry that not only tends to reward youth and beauty over talent and tenacity but also has a dark history of gender and racial discrimination. Needless to say, Moreno’s longevity  (and praise) didn’t come easy. She not only battled the blatant sexism of Hollywood but also it’s systematic racism that constantly tried to pigeonhole the Puerto Rican actress into the stereotypical of roles of hotheads and sexpots. But despite the myriad of hardships that came her way, both personally and professionally, Moreno never gave up and instead forged her way into the history books.

Rita Moreno portrait

The absolutely delectable Rita Moreno

Moreno was born in the coastal town Humacao, Puerto Rico. Although both her parent’s had jobs, money was tight and Moreno spent most of her formative years in poverty. By the mid-1930s her parents divorced and her mother, Rosa, whisked 5 year-old Rita out to Puerto Rica and brought her to America with the dream of finding more opportunity and some stability. They settled in New York City, making their new home in the South Bronx. The move was not an easy one for Rita. Like many of her fellow Puerto Rican transplants, Rita didn’t know how to speak English and had some difficultly integrating into her new culture. The earliest memories of her new home were marred by racism. In an interview she did with CBS news Moreno stated:

“I ran into racist stuff quickly,” Moreno said. “Even when I didn’t understand what the word ‘spic’ meant. But I could see the hatred in the face of these young kids, you know, white kids. …And I grew up feeling very, very inferior to just about everybody in the world.”

Luckily Moreno found something that offered her an escape: dancing. Her mother noticed the young tikes penchant for performance and quickly enrolled in lessons. It wasn’t long before the young dancer was wowing audiences with her Camera Miranda Act at weddings and bar mitzvahs. The acting bug came next and by the time she was 11 Moreno was already working on her on films, dubbing Spanish-language versions of American movies. Two years later the young actress would make her Broadway debut as Angelia in the play Skydrift. By the time Moreno was 14 she already know what many people don’t figure out until their late-20s: what she wanted to be when she grew up. In a bold move, the young performer soon dropped out of school to concentrate her time on show business.

Rita Moreno 1

Young Rita, preparing for stardom

By this time, Moreno had fashioned herself as “Latin Spitfire,” and was performing in nightclubs throughout New York. Her discovery is right out of the pages of a Hollywood fairy tale. While performing her act in New York, Moreno quickly caught the eye of a MGM talent scout who was impressed by the girl’s fervor. He quickly arranged for the Rita to have audition with none other than the boss himself – Louis B. Mayer himself. Needless to say, he was impressed and Moreno was signed to a seven-year contact on the spot. Unfortunately, the fairy tale pretty much end right there.

While signing to MGM was a huge opportunity for Moreno, it was also harsh learning experience. She was triple threat with ability to sing, dance, and act, but, like most woman of color in the industry, her talents were wasted. MGM simply wasn’t willing or able to utilize their newest acquisition to her fullest potential and often typecast Moreno as the stereotypical Latina sexpot. When she wasn’t playing that stereotype, she was playing some version of “the exotic other”, usually characters with no education, few morals, and heavy accents with origins from nowhere in particular.

Native American, Polynesian, Southeast Asian, Cajun – Moreno played them all and hated every minute of it. She says of time at MGM, “ It was limiting and it was humiliating and it was hurtful.” Of all her films at MGM, only one didn’t cast in as the stereotypical “other,” was Singin’ in the Rain, where she played the race-neutral ingénue Zelda Zanders. Well, if it could only be one film, at least it was one of the best.

Rita Moreno 2

Because there were totally Puerto Rican people in 1860s Siam…

When her time at MGM came to an end, Moreno signed on with Twentieth Century Fox. She hoped the change in studios would come with more opportunities to play new, challenging roles rather than stereotypical tripe offered at MGM. Of course, this did not happen and Moreno seemed to be just as confined at Fox as she was at MGM. Her tenure started with the role of sexy Cantina Singer in the western Garden of Evil and continued with the naive Native American, Ula, in Seven Cities of Gold.  One film that did manage to utilize the multi-talented actress was the Walter Lang film adaptation of the Broadway musical hit, The King and I. Of course, she was still portraying an exotic other, this time as Tuptim, a slave at the royal place of Siam, but at least the role allowed Moreno to fully utilize her talents as an actor and dancer.

After Fox opted not to renew her contract, Moreno became a free agent. By this time roles were infrequent and she was concentrated mostly to televisions screens. Finally, her luck would change and in 1961 the 26-year-old veteran of the entertainment industry was cast in the role of a lifetime: Anita in West Side Story. Not only did the role challenge her abilities as a actor, singer and dancer, but it also allowed her play something other than an exotic, accented other. To quote Moreno it was, “The first time I had ever played a young Hispanic woman who had a sense of dignity, who had a sense of self-respect.”

As we all know, the film was a massive success. Moreno would eventually go on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This made her the first Hispanic actress to take home an Academy Award and opened the door for hopeful Latinos in the entertainment industry.

Rita Moreno 3

I literally can’t handle all the sass in this picture right now.

Now an Academy Award winning actress, Moreno thought winning the prestigious award would open doors to a wider ranger of parts.  Sadly, she was mistaken and demeaning roles of barefoot “natives” still came her way. Rather than accept the trite Hollywood had to offer, Moreno said “thanks, but no thanks” and left Hollywood in pursuit of more dignified roles. She found them on the stages of London and New York, where she happily worked for the next decade.

By the 1970s Moreno’s career hit a new stage. Although most actresses find work more difficult to come by as they age, the opposite seemed true for Moreno. Sure, she lost that “sexpot” look that made her so appealing in the 1950s/60s but she aged with an incredible grace while retaining her natural beauty. Add all of this to the Hollywood’s growing progressive nature at the time; Moreno was finally freed of the stereotypes that held her back for so long.

In 1971 Moreno became a cast member on the children’s television series The Electric Company. It often used sketch comedy and reoccurring characters to help further nurture children’s reading and writing skills. The cast won the 1972 Grammy for Best Recording for Children. In 1974 she was cast as Googie Gomez in the Broadway farce The Ritz. The show was extremely successful, playing for over 400 nights. As for Moreno, she would walk away with a Tony Award For Best Featured of Supporting Actress in a Play.

Rita Moreno 4

In 1977 Moreno guest starred as vulnerable prostitute, Rita Capkovic, in a three-episode arch on the The Rockford Files. The role won her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstand Guest Actress – Drama Series. With this award, Moreno became only the third person to have the “grand slam” of American show business: The EGOT AKA winning a competitive Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. This is such an incredible accomplishment in the entertainment industry that a whole episode of 30 Rock was dedicated to the concept. I’m not kidding, with only 12 people have ever done it. It’s basically the Nobel prize of the entertainment business…ok that might be a bit of hyperbole but still, you get what I mean. Moreno has one and that is just baller.

Since her EGOT win, Moreno has been working steadily in the entertainment business for the past three and a half decades. All her hard work and struggle throughout her 7-decade career culminated in 2004, when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. She has since been presented with the National Medal of Arts form Barack Obama in 2009. Oh, and she Sotomayor are basically besties now. Moreno even did the audio recording of her 2013 memoir My Beloved World. Not bad for a  little Hispanic girl from the Bronx.

Rita Moreno and Sonia Sotomayor

Don’t be fooled by the crazy amount of success that they got, they still they Rita and Sonia from the block…

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Legends Tribute, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Film Noir Review: Dark City (1950)

“Guys like you seldom get arrested. You get killed first.”

Dark City is a prime example of intermingling genres. It’s upfront in its blend of horror and film noir, an agenda that’s alluded to in the opening sequence. Danny Haley (Charlton Heston) confidently struts down a city street. Within moments, police sirens sound in the distance, and Haley’s moxie turns to paranoia — a feeling viewers will become well acquainted with for the majority of the film’s runtime. He doesn’t know it yet, but Haley is in for one of noir’s more unsettling descents.

Haley is a bookie who runs a crooked joint with Barney (Ed Begley), Augie (Jack Webb) and punchy janitor Soldier (Harry Morgan). Each of these men check out on the noir bingo board: the veteran, the hothead, the simpleton, and Haley, the smart guy living below his potential. He’s constantly being reminded of this, whether it be from local policeman Capt. Garvey (Dean Jagger) or his nightclub squeeze Fran Garland (Lizabeth Scott).

Dark City 1950 promotional poster.

The film’s promotional poster.

When she’s not pretending to sing torch songs (there’s plenty of lip-synching going on in classic noir, but, sadly, this one stands out as particularly bad), Fran is constantly trying to make an honest man out of Haley. As is to be expected from a noir protagonist, however, he’s content living his life with a scowl and a general hatred towards the finer things in life. It might seem silly to think of Heston, who would go on to define integrity in The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben Hur (1959), as a scowling punk, but here, with a babyface and a nasty demeanor, he’s terrific.

The inciting incident arrives in the form of Arthur Winant (Don DeFore), a businessman who comes into town looking for a good time. Taken by Garland’s feminine wiles, Winant gets played in a backroom poker game set up by Haley and his associates. It’s a standout scene in terms of style, cutting between close-ups of Winant’s sweaty brow and looming high angles of the table. Winant offs himself later that night, leaving behind a family, a sizable debt, and a brother, Sidney Vincent (Mike Mazurki), who comes into town looking for revenge.

Haley and the boys pull a fast one on Arthur Winant.
Haley and the boys pull a fast one on Arthur Winant.

This is where the film begins to spill over into the horror genre. In a scene that maximizes both its actors and its eerie tone, Barney is murdered by an offscreen assailant — seen only in his outline and the shape of his massive hands. The scene calls to mind the works of horror master Val Lewton, in that the fear of the unknown is conveyed through shadows and suggestively-placed camera angles.

Director William Dieterle increases this style as the story progresses, as quick cuts contrast with camerawork that’s noticeably static, and the fear that Heston tries to suppress is contagious. It gets to the point where I find myself nervously scanning the docks when Haley and Fran take a nightime stroll. The “River Of The Underworld” anecdote in this scene is another chilly touch, one which sums up the personal stakes before Haley and Augie hit the road in search of Arthur Winant’s widow (Viveca Lindfors).

"Don't you want to know what's going on in the world?"

“Don’t you want to know what’s going on in the world?”

It’s at this point that the film comes to a screeching halt for what always seems to be the kiss of death in noir: a romantic subplot. It’s perfectly fine that Haley thaws his big city heart –he’s smitten by the widow, her son, and their small town paradise — but it comes at the expense of the rich mood that the film had built up. Scenes involving the two are pleasant enough, but one can’t shake the feeling that they’re merely filler to pad out the film’s runtime. It would’ve been nice to see where the film could have gone had it stayed in its main setting.

Thankfully, Bright Suburb does revert back to its Dark City mood for the final act. This is where the film reaches its apex, as Haley and Vincent brawl in a rundown motel. Darkened visuals come back into play as the boogeyman murderer creeps upon an armed Haley, and the resulting fistfight is extremely aggressive for the era. In the midst of this scuffle, Vincent’s face is exposed for the first — and only — time in the entire film. And though police arrive to plug a few holes in him, Vincent gets away – only the shattered glass of his window escape remains. In what feels like a precursor to John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), it’s a chilling, ambiguous note one didn’t often see in crime pictures.

Sidney Vincent sneaking up on a scared Danny Haley.

Sidney Vincent sneaking up on a scared Danny Haley.

Haley behaves as if Vincent choked some empathy into him for the final scene, where he romances Garland and they share a laugh that brings down the curtain. It’s an underwhelming sendoff, frankly, as it betrays the bleak character that Heston had worked so hard to perfect. But worst comes to worst, you can just turn the film off after the fight and be none the wiser.

All in all, inconsistency is the silent killer of Dark City. It’s ironic that a film with such a tough title would fall victim to fluff, but that’s precisely what happens during the second act. Scott, Webb, and Begley otherwise bring vitality to the table, while Heston, in his film debut, plants the seeds that would later bloom into stardom. Still, the unsung hero of Dark City, and the actor who gives the film its distinct edge, is Mike Mazurki. Though onscreen for less than a minute, his presence looms large over the other characters and their actions. When The Boogeyman knocks on a hotel door to punch your ticket, ten-to-one says he’s the spitting image of Mazurki.

B- TRIVIA: Burt Lancaster was initially cast as Haley, but the actor didn’t want to work with Lizabeth Scott again, whom he had previously dated.

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–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 | 4 Comments

Win a Subscription to Warner Archive Instant (TEN subscriptions to giveaway in April and May)

Watch Classic Movies Instantly with Warner Archive Instant
We’re giving away TEN Annual Subscriptions
Now through June 3rd!

We are so excited to say that we have a very special giveaway to announce today! Thanks to the fine folks at Warner Archive, CMH will be giving away TEN annual subscriptions to Warner Archive Instant, a fabulous streaming service that will give fans instant access to over 800 classic films and television shows! Wow, think about all of films you’ll have at your fingertips — all year long! That said, I’ve already started exploring the service myself, and I have to say there’s lots of my favorites there, as well as lots and lots of films that I haven’t even seen yet…

warner-archive-contest=300x250

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Okay, so let’s get started…

In order to qualify to win one of these subscriptions via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, June 3 at 10PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on TEN 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.

  • April 1: One Winner
  • April 8: One Winner
  • April 15: One Winner
  • April 22: One Winner
  • April 29: One Winner
  • May 6: One Winner
  • May 13: One Winner
  • May 20: One Winner
  • May 27: One Winner
  • June 3: One Winner

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 10PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday April 2 at 10PM EST.

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Here’s how you can enter:

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, June 3 at 10PM 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

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the Warner Archive Instant Subscription #Giveaway courtesy of @WarnerArchInst and @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Why would you like to win a subscription to this service? 

*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.

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.

Please allow us at least 24 hours to approve (and post) your comment, as we have an unprecedented amount of spam to sift through…

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But that’s not all, Warner Archive is offering a 40% discount on subscriptions for CMH fans – so if you can’t wait to win a subscription via this contest, you can purchase it now by clicking on the image below :)

Warner_Archive_subscription_contest_CMH

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only United States (excluding the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

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

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 157 Comments

Behind the Door (1919) DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest (via Twitter in April)

Behind the Door DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest 
1919 Silent starring Hobart Bosworth, Jane Novak and Wallace Beery

Okay, it’s time for our next Giveaway! In celebration of its April 4th release date in just a few days… CMH will be giving away FIVE COPIES of  the newly-restored 1919 silent classic, Behind the Door on DVD/Blu-Ray, courtesy of Flicker Alley via TWITTER (plus ONE more copy via Facebook and this Blog, details to follow later this week).

Behind the Door DVD starring Wallace Beery

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This newly restored edition represents the most complete version of the film available since 1919, thanks to the collaboration of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Library of Congress, and Gosfilmofond of Russia. This film is indeed a rarity, so if you want to learn more about it before you enter, here is a sneak peak:

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And now for the giveaway contest…

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, April 29 at 8PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner 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.

  • April 1: One Winner
  • April 8: One Winner
  • April 15: One Winner
  • April 22: One Winner
  • April 29: One Winner

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 8PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday April 2 at 8PM EST.

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 ONE MORE copies via Facebook/Blog as well!

Behind-the-Door Hobart Bosworth and Jane NovakJane Novak and Hobart Bosworth

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, April 29 at 8PM 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

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the “Behind the Door” #DVDBluRayGiveaway courtesy of @flickeralley and @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Why would you like to win this DVD/Blu-Ray? 

*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.

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.

Please allow us at least 24 hours to approve (and post) your comment, as we have an unprecedented amount of spam to sift through…

Behind-the-Door Hobart Bosworth and Jane Novak 3

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About the Release:  Hobart Bosworth stars as Oscar Krug, a working-class American, who is persecuted for his German ancestry after war is declared. Driven by patriotism, Krug enlists and goes to sea. However, tragedy strikes when his wife (Jane Novak) sneaks aboard his ship and is captured following a German U-boat attack. Krug’s single-minded quest for vengeance against the sadistic German submarine commander (played with villainous fervor by Wallace Beery) leads to the film’s shocking and brutal climax. Bonus Materials Include: the re-edited and re-titled version of the film that was distributed in Russia, outtakes featuring music composed and performed by Stephen Horne, a behind-the-scenes look at the restoration, a featurette spotlighting director Irvin Willat by film historian Kevin Brownlow, an image gallery, and souvenir booklet.

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

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

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the DVD/Blu-Ray, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 22 Comments

5 Things You May Not Know about Sterling Hayden

5 Things You May Not Know about Sterling Hayden

 PBDSTHA EC024

Like today is his birthday. Happy 101st Birthday to the legend Sterling Hayden!

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He was a beauty

Sterling Hayden 1So pretty.

Sure, most stars during the classic era of Hollywood were beautiful but Paramount decided to take it to the next level with Hayden. In 1941 the studio dubbed him “The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies!” Exclamation point and all! Oh, and he was The Beautiful Blond Viking God.

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He preferred the sea life to an academic one 

Sterling Hayden 2Sterling and greatest love: sailing at sea

When Hayden was 15 years old, he dropped out of boarding school and took a job on a sailboat, sailing from New London, Connecticut to Newport Beach, California. He continued to work at sea, slowly rising through the ranks, and by the by the time he was 21 he had earned his Master Mariner license, allowing him to serve as captain of a trading sailboat in the Caribbean.

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He kind of hated Hollywood

Sterling Hayden 3Sterling Hayden, getting that cash in The Killing (1956, director Stanley Kubrick)

Despite spending four decades in tinsel town, Hayden was never particularly fond of the place. He didn’t hold actors in very high regard and usually just took roles to finance his high sea adventures.

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He wrote some books

Sterling Hayden 4Sterling with his children on the boat he named his autobiography after

After walking away from Hollywood in the late 1950s, Hayden began writing. His first book was an autobiography called The Wanderer. His second book, an 700-page epic novel that takes place on at sea during turn-of-the-century America, was essentially a window into his love of the sea.

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His biggest regret was snitching

Sterling Hayden TestifyingTestifying

Due to his admiration of the Yugoslavian Communist guerilla fighters he fought alongside of during WWII, Hayden joined the Communist Party in 1946. This led him to be called to testify before the House Committee of Un-American Activities in 1951. Unlike many of his cohorts, Hayden fully cooperated by naming those who where in the party with him, an action he regretted later in life, stating “Not often does a man find himself eulogized for having behaved in a manner that he himself despises.”

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Birthday Legends, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Breaking Barriers: Hattie McDaniel

 

Breaking Barriers

Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel has the distinct honor of being the first black actor in history to win an Academy Award. On February 29th, 1940, she defied the odds and beat four white actresses, including her own co-star Olivia de Havilland, to win that Oscar gold. This was, and remains, an incredible accomplishment. And as much as Tinsel Town likes to gives itself a pat on the back for this amazing moment, we must always remember to take off the rose-tinted glasses when it comes to Classic Hollywood. Yes, she won the Award but because the Oscars were held at the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, she almost wasn’t even allowed into the Ceremony. The hotel was a white only establishment and Producer David O Selznick had to pull in some favors to just to get her into the building. Even then, she was still segregated from her white counterparts. While Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland were seated at a large, lavish table in the near the front of the room, McDaniel was forced to sit at a small table in the back with her escort and agent to keep her company. This constant contradiction, simultaneous praise and racial humiliation, is perhaps one of the defining traits of McDaniel’s career.

hattie_mcdaniel

Clearly we need to the brouche-watch back in style

Hattie McDaniel was born in 1895 in Wichita, Kansas to two former slaves. Lets just digest for a moment. The woman who broke racial barriers through her Academy Award winning portrayal of a slave was the child of two slaves. The irony in this is so hard, Alanis Morissette might have to do a remix…but I digress. After both her parents were freed due to a little thing called the 13th amendment to Unites States constitution, Henry and Susan McDaniel went on to pursue careers in performance. Henry moonlighted as minstrel performer when not preaching the word of God and Susan spent her time as gospel singer. Just like her parent’s, Hattie showed an aptitude for performance, even winning an elocution contest in her middle school years. She attended Denver East High School, where she was active in the theater club but eventually dropped out to join her father’s minstrel show.

The show consisted almost entirely of the McDaniel Family… guess I forgot to mention that McDaniel had 12 older siblings. During those years entertaining with her family, McDaniel honed her songwriting abilities, eager to become a multi-talented performer. When her brother, Otis, passed away in 1916, the troupe broke up. Although she formed an all-female minstrel troupe with her sister, it didn’t pay the bills and the next few years would be difficult for McDaniel. Outside of her minstrel show, she worked several additional jobs just to make ends meet. It’s also during this she would start to develop a character that would come to define her career for better or for worse: the sass-talking, all-wise mammy.

 hattie_mcdaniel

Hattie McDaniel – the beta version

McDaniel finally caught a break in 1920 when she joined Professor George Morrison’s Melody Hounds, one of the most respected all black touring companies in Denver. She toured with them for 5 years, before returning to Denver to embark on a radio career. In 1925 she sang live with the Melody Hounds on Denver radio, thus making her one of the first black women to sing on public American radio.  Obviously this is a woman of many “firsts.” She began recording jazz singles for Okeh and Paramount records, her career steadily rising throughout the late 1920s. Everything seemed fine and dandy but then the stock market crash and Hattie was basically at square one, once again.

After the crash, McDaniel took whatever employment came her way. She ended up working as bathroom attendant and waitress at Club Madrid in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The club, of course, was white-only, but that didn’t stop McDaniel from pestering the owner to let her sing. Her tenacity paid off and the owner finally, though very reluctantly, let her sing. Before long McDaniel was out of the bathroom and onto the stage, becoming a regular fixture in front of the Club Madrid spotlight.

hattie_mcdaniel_radio

McDaniel finally arrived to Hollywood in 1931 and continued to build her career. She once again populated the radio waves, appearing on the show The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour. In the show, she played the stereotypical sassy-black maid constantly at odds with her rich white employers. In another bit of life’s cruel irony, despite her massive popularity in the show, her salary was still incredibly low and the actress had to moonlight as an actual maid to keep herself afloat.

In early 1932 McDaniel began getting uncredited film roles, usually as a background singer. Later that year she was finally offered a more substantial role in the film The Golden West as a maid. The next year she was cast in the incredibly successful Mae West vehicle I’m No Angel as a…yup, you guess it, a maid. Over the next couple years, she would appear in a dozen uncredited roles, usually as the subservient maid. In 1934 she joined the Screen Actors Guild. Now with the union backing her, she was able get more attention and larger roles.

Hattie’s first major role was in the John Ford film Judge Priest along side Will Rogers. Ford was quite impressed with her talents and added scenes (at the expense of others) specifically to showcase them. The role helped McDaniel keep a busy schedule, appearing in 14 films in the year 1935 alone. Her most prominent part came from the George Steven romance Alice Adams. Like the rest of her previous roles, McDaniel played the sassy maid to white family.  That year she also appeared in China Seas with Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, whom she formed a strong friendship with.

hattie_mcdaniel_portrait-2
Hattie McDaniel looking absolutely radiant

At this point in her career, McDaniel was probably the most popular black actress in America. And although McDaniel faced the humiliation of racial segregation, she was able to maintain her friendships with many of Hollywood’s top white stars such as Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Henry Fonda just to name a few. This fame, however, also opened her up to criticism from the black community. The criticism came from her willingness to accept and play stereotypical roles such as subservient cooks and maids. Organizations such as the NAACP saw her work as demeaning, degrading, and simply untrue in its representation to the modern black experience. Many called for her to fight the racist Hollywood system, rather than aggressively pursue roles that made it clear her people were seen as nothing but second-class citizens.  Although completely understanding of her critics, Hattie worked to add at least some black representation on the silver screen. She also is quoted as stating, “Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn’t, I’d be making $7 a week being one.”

In the late 1930′s casting began for the David O’ Selznick’s big screen adaption of Gone with the Wind. Although McDaniel seemed like a natural choice to play the role of Scarlett’s loyal but highly opinionated house slave, Mammy, there was plenty of competition for the role. Apparently even the president’s maid wanted in on the action. McDaniel also appeared to be at somewhat of a disadvantage due to her reputation as a comedic actress and her lack of dramatic roles. However, when McDaniel walked into her audition in her own maid’s uniform, the role was hers and the rest is Hollywood history.

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Taking a break between takes of Gone with the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming director)

The premiere of the film turned out to be a major ordeal for all the black actors involved with the production. The film was set to screen at Lowe’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, because, well, where else other than Atlanta could you have a premiere of Gone with the Wind. Although Selznick wanted McDaniel at the premiere, MGM advised all of the film’s black actors not to attend due to Georgia’s strong Jim Crow laws. Because of his great friendship with McDaniel, Clark Gable threatened to boycott the Grand Theatre premier if she wasn’t permitted to attend. McDaniel, however, convinced him to attend it anyway. Although she was not able to attend the Atlanta premiere, she was featured front and center at the Hollywood premiere a week later. Once again, we see a career caught in contradiction. Although Hollywood wouldn’t fight for her right to attend the premiere in Atlanta, they did praise her on their own turf.

The film, to the surprise of no one, was a gigantic hit. Critics loved it and audiences flocked to see it. McDaniel’s was praised for her equally comical and endearing portrayal of Scarlett’s closest confidant. And as we know, her efforts were rewarded at the 12th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony, when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Not only was she the first black actor to win an Academy Award, she was also the first to attend the Award’s banquet.  She understood how momentous this was, for a black woman to win a white man’s award and ended her 67-second long acceptance speech with the words: “I sincerely hope I will always be a credit to my race and the motion picture industry.”

Despite this honor, she and her black escort were forced to sit a segregated table, far away from the rest of Gone With the Wind cohorts. Yes, she may have broken barriers that night, but she was still forced to sit alone and she was still prevented from going to any of the after parties. And although the film solidified her status as Hollywood’s leading black actress, she was still targeted by black activists who remained critical of her choice to play the role of subservient houses slave with seemingly no children, no family, and no ambition in life other than to serve those who take residence in Tara. For being such a momentous occasion in Hollywood, it certainly seemed like a lonely for Hattie.

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A tearful Hattie McDaniel accepting her Oscar.

As I said earlier, this combination of career success and racial humiliation is at the heart of McDaniel’s story. She worked hard, aggressively pursuing roles to further her career, no matter what the role. And yes, that came at a cost. Very few of her roles had an inherent dignity, as they were nothing but trite stereotypes showing the black woman as nothing but a highly opinionated, loud mouthed but ultimately non-threatening maid there to serve her white employers. However, through the relationships she formed outside of the screen, she created a black presence in white Hollywood that showed her white counterparts that stereotype simply wasn’t true. She showed them that despite the racism, humiliation, and overall degradation that black people faced not only in Hollywood but around the country, they could hold their heads up high while working in system designed to keep them down. She not only won the Academy Award but she won the respect of Academy, showing them people of color are more than just the stereotypes that are written about them. McDaniel showed the white public what black people knew all along, that her people are first class and dignified.

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Character Actors, Classic Movie Hub, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Win Tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: The Graduate (50th Anniversary)” (Giveaway runs March 24 – April 8)

Win Tickets to see “The Graduate” on the Big Screen!
in Select Cinemas Nationwide Sunday, April 23 & Wednesday, April 26!

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”

Yay! The Contest is over and the winners are:
Britney, Shelia, Phil, Carrie, Tomas, Andrew, Brad, and Samantha. Check back on Friday 4/21 because we’ll be announcing our next Ticket Giveaway then…

CMH is thrilled to announce the 5th of our 14 movie ticket giveaways this year, courtesy of Fathom Events!

That said, we’ll be giving away EIGHT PAIRS of tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: The Graduate” – the timeless classic starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft— the way it was meant to be seen — on the Big Screen!

In order to qualify to win a pair of movie tickets via this contest, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, April 8 at 6 PM EST.

We will announce the winner(s) on Twitter on Sunday, April 9, 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.

The Graduate TCM Big Screen Classics Fathom Events

The film will be playing in select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day-only event on Sunday, April 23 and Wednesday, April 26 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 there might be slightly different theater listings for each date)

About the film:

Dustin Hoffman stars as the confused, floundering Benjamin Braddock, a new college graduate who seems to have no ambition in life until he crosses paths with the very married Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft).

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, April 8 at 6PM EST…

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

THE QUESTION:

What is it about “The Graduate” that, in your opinion, makes it a Classic? And, if you haven’t seen it, why do you want to see it on the Big Screen?

2) Then TWEET* (not DM) the following message:

Just entered to win tickets to see “The Graduate” on the Big Screen courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @FathomEvents #TCMBigScreen

*If you don’t 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.

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.

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

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Fathom Events, TCM Big Screen Classics | 53 Comments

Breaking Barriers: Dorothy Dandrige

 

Breaking Barriers
Dorothy Dandridge

Multi-talented, incredibly beautiful, and disciplined in the performing arts since childhood, Dorothy Dandridge could have been as big as Beyonce if she was just born 80 years later. Instead she was born in 1922. A time when opportunities for African Americans were incredibly limited, and the opportunities that did exist were incredibly demeaning. Her life was never easy and neither was her career. And yet, that never stopped Dandridge from fighting. Even against the insurmountable odds she faced, Dandridge went head first into the battle against the racism that permeated through Hollywood.

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The Beautiful Dorothy Dandridge

As I mentioned earlier, Dandridge’s life was not easy. Her mother, Rudy, was an aspiring entertainer who left Dorothy’s father before she was even born. Dorothy would never meet her father, while her sister, Vivian, barely remembered him at all. After the divorce Rudy became what we now call a “stage-mom” and placed all her dreams and aspirations of stardom onto her children. She even allowed her long-time friend-turned-lover, Geneva Williams, to take over the role of disciplinarian, forcing the sisters to practice to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. If her impossible standards weren’t met, the pair would be cruelly punished.

Rudy and Geneva fashioned the young entertainers as “The Wonder Children,” and the act went on the road. For years they toured the Southern portion of the United States with the National Baptist Convention. This nomadic lifestyle would cause young Dorothy to not only miss out on a proper education, but a normal childhood as well.

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The Dandridge “Sisters”

When the Great Depression hit, the sisters found themselves out of work. The family then packed up and moved to Los Angeles, hoping to find a more forgiving job market. They soon met another aspiring youngster, Etta Jones, and reinvented themselves as “The Dandridge Sisters.” The trio was spotted in venues up and down California, sharing the spotlight with established figures such as the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra and Cab Calloway. Behind their growing success, however, the Dandridge sisters encountered the unrelenting segregation and racism of the entertainment industry. For starters, many of the venues they toured were white only. Although they were allowed to sing and dance for white audiences, that was pretty much it. Too often the sisters were not allowed to eat in the restaurants or even use the bathroom of the very venues they entertained in, due to the color of their skin.  It was an incredibly harsh and demeaning lesson for the teenaged Dandridge to learn.

By the mid-1930s, The Dandridge Sisters were featured in films such as Teacher’s Beau and the Marx brothers’ A Day at the Races. Their popularity quickly ballooned and soon they found themselves on the stage of the famed Cotton Club. More New York gigs followed, including a stint at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The sisters reached their zenith when they began their tour of Europe. Unfortunately for them, so did tensions between nation-states, and World War II erupted not long after they began their tour. Needless to say it was cut short and the sisters returned home.

At this point Dandridge was in a relationship with Harold Nicolas, one half of the dancing duo, The Nicolas Brothers, and they helped Dandridge get a bit role in the race film Four Shall Die. Remember when I said that Dorothy could have been Beyonce. Well, one of the reasons I say that is because not long after her role in Four Shall Die, The Dandridge sisters broke up and Dorothy moved forward with her solo career. Bye Kelly and Michelle…I mean Vivian and Etta.

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Dorothy Dandridge, Harold Nicholas and Fayard Nicholas in Four Shall Die

In 1941 Dandridge had small role in the John Wayne vehicle Lady From Louisiana. She then appeared in a dance number with now hubby Harold Nicholas in the film Sun Valley Serenade. Like many sequences featuring black performers, their dance routine was cut from many theaters in the American South. Dandridge played the supporting role of Princess Malimi in Drums of the Congo but was soon back to small, uncredited roles in films like Lucky Jordan and Happy Go Lucky. She managed a small but respectable role in Hit Parade of 1943. Soon after, however, Dandridge decided to take an extended break from performance to work on her marriage. In 1943 Dandridge gave birth to her and Harold’s only child, a daughter Harolyn. What should have been one of Dandridge’s most joyous moments in her life quickly turned into a nightmare.

When Dandridge went into labor, Harold was nowhere to be found as his extensive touring schedule kept him away from home. As the baby grew, it was obvious something was wrong. Little Harolyn couldn’t speak and was unresponsive to most external stimulus. She was diagnosed with brain damage and the doctor said it was because of the lack of oxygen to the brain during the home delivery. By this time Dandridge also became aware of her husband’s frequent philandering while on tour. She became increasingly depressed and internalized her problems. Not only did she blame herself for her child’s mental condition but also blamed herself for her husband’s cheating ways – believing her lack of sexual experience caused him to cheat.  She kept out of the spotlight, only singing in nightclubs from time to time to support her daughter’s medical needs. It was only after her divorce from Nicolas in 1949 did she return to performing.

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Dandridge 2.0

The Dandridge that returned to the Nightclub scene was not the one that left. This new incarnation of Dandridge was no longer the cute-as-a-button dancer next door but rather, a sophisticated and sexy siren of song. The revamp was an entirely professional move. She wanted to make movies again but felt her only avenue was through the nightclub scene. Once again, she was forced to sing at all white venues that wouldn’t allow her to socialize with guests who paid good money to watch her perform. Despite the money she brought in to these clubs, everything from bathrooms, to swimming pools and even dressing rooms were off limits. Instead, Dandridge got storage spaces and service entrances. But the pain and planning eventually paid off and Hollywood once again came knocking. However, her return to Tinsel Town didn’t mean an end to her experience under racism.

Dandridge finally returned to the big screen after a six-year hiatus in 1951. Unfortunately, as par for the course for black actors at the time, it was in a less-than flattering role. During this time in Hollywood, most actresses of color were stuck in the stereotypical roles of the neutered housemaid or the “exotic” other, driven by their lust and sexuality. In Tarzan’s Peril she played Melmedi, an African Queen aka the latter of the two. Dandridge flat-out refused to play a maid, probably losing a couple of opportunities with that decision. I, for one, applaud the decision to choose dignity over denigration.

She returned to the nightclub scene and pretty much killed it (in a good way). She remained a staple in Hollywood before heading back east to New York, where she became the first black women to perform at the Waldorf Astoria. She became renown for beauty and sex appeal during her performances. Although she actually strongly abhorred how club owners hyper-sexualized her in their promotions, she understood the unfortunate concept of “sex sells,” no matter how much she hated it.

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Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge star in Bright Road (1953,   director)

Her worked paid off in spades in 1953 when Dandridge was finally cast in her first starring role as Jane Richards, opposite Harry Belafonte in the Bright Road. The role was neither a maid nor an exotic character from worlds away. No, Jane Richards was a dedicated young teacher who believes the best of one her most troubled students. The role was everything a black actress at the time could ask for. Unfortunately, however, the film tanked. Badly. And the abysmal box-office performance was said to have hurt Dandridge’s chances at landing further leading roles.

Luckily, the film didn’t affect her popularity in the nightclubs. By the next year, Dandridge’s nightclub popularity was so strong that Twentieth Century Fox took their chances and signed her to a three-picture contract.

dorothy-dandridge_harry-belafonte_carmen-jones

Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge star in Carmen Jones (1954, Otto Preminger director)

When Dandridge got wind that an all black reincarnation of the Bizet opera Carmen was in the works, she saw her chance to prove her worth as an actress. The title role Carmen Jones was brazen and sexy, yet vulnerable and tragic – the type of role any woman would want. When she first went to audition for Otto Preminger, the film’s director, she dressed in her Saks Fifth Avenue best, hoping the outfit would make her appear as a dignified, serious actor. Unfortunately, the plan backfired and Preminger basically said she wasn’t “earthy” enough for the role. Well, that didn’t stop Dandridge. The next time she showed up in a short skirt, tight shirt with dark make up and a “come hither” attitude. As we all know, she got the part.

Although the part of Carmen Jones was a fast-talking, tough hearted vixen, Dandridge was anything but. She spent much of her time on the set focusing on her performance rather than socializing with the cast. She did, however, begin a romance with the married but long-time separated Otto Preminger, who was hell-bent on helping Dandridge become a star. Their work paid off as the film was a box-office smash, attracting both white and black audiences from all walks of life. Dandridge, even if just for a short time, did indeed become a star.

She became the first black woman to ever grace the cover of Life magazine. Not long after, she became the first black women to receive a Best Actress Academy Awards nomination. She ultimately lost to Grace Kelly.

dorothy-dandridge_life

With Carmen Jones under her belt, Dandridge assumed that roles would come pouring in. She was, after all, the hottest nightclub attraction in the worldm and a Best Actress nominee. But for the rest of her life, it would appear to be fate’s cruel joke.

In 1955 she was offered the role of Tuptim in The King and I. After discussing the role with Preminger, she refused. He thought she should not degrade herself by playing a slave after having just been nominated for an Oscar and she agreed. Although morally righteous in her stance, it did nothing for her career and the offers she assumed would pour in began to dry up.  It would be three years before she made another silver screen appearance, this time opposite James Mason and Joan Fontaine in Island in the Sun. In 1958 she appeared in the forgettable The Decks Ran Red. Her only other role of note came in 1959 with Otto Preminger’s Porgy and Bess. Although a strong role that tested her ability as an actress, she faced backlash from the black community who thought she had “sold out” by playing a seemingly stereotypical role of drug addict. She would appear in one more film, 1960′s Malaga opposite Trevor Howard.

During this time she became pregnant by Preminger. He broke up with her and she had an abortion. She then married Jack Denison, who can only be described as gold digger. After Jack put much of her money towards bad investments, by 1962, Dandridge found herself broke and Jack split…because, ya know, gold digger. Although she continued to work in the nightclub scene, her popularity had dwindled to a fraction of what it once was, and by 1963, she could no longer pay for the 24-hour care her daughter needed. Lynn was then placed in a state institution. Soon after, Dandridge suffered a nervous breakdown. By the end of her life she became dependent on drugs and alcohol, which would lead to her premature death in 1965, when she overdosed on anti-depressants. She was just 42 years old.

dorothy-dandridge_final

Although her life ended tragically, no one can deny the impact that Dandridge had on the entertainment world. She rose to stardom at a time when black people couldn’t even use the same fountain as white people, and fought for roles that brought dignity to her people. She is a source of constant inspiration for women of color in the entertainment industry today. Without her, there is no Janet. There is no Rihanna. There is no Beyonce.  So everyone bow down to original Queen: Queen D.

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Legends Tribute, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Michael York Autographed Blu-Ray Giveaway (Facebook/Blog March)

“Something for Everyone”
Michael York Autographed Blu-Ray Giveaway

Yay! The Contest is over and the winner is: Laura

And… now it’s time for our Facebook/Blog version of the “Something for Everyone” Giveaway. Yes, we have one more Michael York autographed copy of the Blu-Ray to giveaway this month, courtesy of Kino Lorber!  This is in addition to the 4 autographed copies we’re giving away on Twitter. And, yes, you can enter both contests to increase your odds of winning!

In order to qualify to win via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, April 1 at 10PM EST.  We will pick one winner via a random drawing and announce him/her on Facebook or this Blog (depending on how you entered) the day after the contest ends (Sunday April 2).

something for everyone starring michael york and angela lansbury

…..

ENTRY TASK to be completed by Saturday, April 1 at 10PM EST:

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

THE QUESTION:
What are some of your favorite Michael York roles and why? And, if you’ve never seen a Michael York film, why do you want to win this Blu-Ray?

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. Also, please note that, due to spamming, we must approve all comments, so please allow us at least 24 hours to approve your comment. Thanks!

About the film: Newly re-mastered in HD! Seduction and Murder Scandalizes German Nobility! The great Angela Lansbury (Murder, She Wrote) and Michael York (Cabaret) star in this slick blend of drama and black comedy with a fairy tale setting in a Bavarian castle. In post WWII Germany, the aristocratic Von Ornstein family has fallen on hard times. Countess Von Ornstein (Lansbury) can’t maintain her castle, but things begin to look up with the arrival of a handsome and young footman named Conrad (York) who apparently can do “anything” asked of him. Determined to become a member of nobility, Conrad one by one, cons, seduces, corrupts and compromises everyone who crosses his path. Set in the authentic 100-year-old castle, this polished mix of humor and suspense with a great twist ending truly offers Something For Everyone. Legendary Broadway producer, Harold Prince (West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof) made his feature film directorial debut with this handsome production written by Hugh Wheeler (Sweeney Todd) and based on the celebrated classic novel, The Cook by Harry Kressing.

You can visit Kino Lorber on their website, on Twitter at @KinoLorber or on Facebook.

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

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

For complete rules, click here.

And if you can’t wait to win, you can buy it here on amazon:

 …..

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | 15 Comments

Buster Keaton Blu-Ray/DVD Giveaway (Facebook/Blog March)

The Buster Keaton Celebration Continues!
Blu-Ray/DVD Giveaway

Yay! The Contest is over and the winner is: Steve

And, now for the Facebook/Blog version of our Buster Keaton giveaway, courtesy of Kino Lorber!  We’ll be giving away 1 Buster Keaton Blu-Ray/DVD via this version of our contest… winners’ choice of either The General (and Three Ages) OR Steamboat Bill Jr (and College)! And don’t forget, we’re giving away 4 more copies via the twitter version of this contest — and, yes, you can enter both contests to stack the odds in your favor!

In order to qualify to win via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, April 1 at 9PM EST.  We will pick one winner via a random drawing and announce him/her on Facebook or this Blog (depending on how you entered) the day after the contest ends (Sunday April 2).

the general buster keaton   steamboat bill jr

Winners’ choice of two classic titles: The General (and Three Ages) OR Steamboat Bill Jr (and College)

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ENTRY TASK to be completed by Saturday, April 1 at 9PM EST:

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

THE QUESTION:
What is your favorite Buster Keaton film and why? And, if you haven’t seen any of his films, why do you want to win one of these titles?

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. Also, please note that, due to spamming, we must approve all comments, so please allow us at least 24 hours to approve your comment. Thanks!

About the films:

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. was Buster Keaton’s last independent silent comedy and also one of his finest. He stars as the effete son of a gruff riverboat captain (Ernest Torrence), who struggles to earn his father’s respect (and the love of beautiful Marion Byron). But the film is best remembered for the climactic cyclone sequence—a slapstick tour-de-force in which Keaton’s comedic stunts are performed amid the full-scale destruction of an entire town. A stone-faced response to Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman, COLLEGE follows a frail scholar as he tries to win the heart of a girl (Anne Cornwall) through athletics. Keaton used his own physical agility to brilliant comic effect, as his character suffers a series of crushing failures. But the greatest surprise comes at the end, when the scrawny intellectual finally releases the physical tiger within.

Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL is not simply one of the greatest silent comedies ever made, it is one of the greatest films—of any era. In restaging the true story of one man’s journey behind enemy lines to reclaim his captured locomotive during the Civil War, Keaton stages a series of complex chases, using lumbering trains as comedic props. Keaton’s inventive mind is matched only by his physical athleticism, making THE GENERAL a truly breath-taking experience. Keaton’s first foray into making feature films, THREE AGES is a parody of D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, dramatizing man’s quest for love in three parallel settings—a modern city, the Stone Age, and ancient Rome—and loading each plotline with amazing stunts and hysterical sight gags.

You can visit Kino Lorber on their website, on Twitter at @KinoLorber or on Facebook.

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

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

And if you can’t wait to win, you can buy them on amazon:

  

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments