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Billy Wilder, John Ford, and Douglas Sirk: Three Underappreciated Works Get New Life on Blu-ray

While it sometimes comes across platitudinous and trite, one cannot stay in any conversation about arthouse film more than five minutes without hearing the phrase “auteur” tossed out. It has become a tad sterile, but, as Andrew Dudley pointed out in The Major Film Theories, it is a valid form of critical theory. So for an August Blu-ray round-up, the conversation will revolve around three classic Hollywood “auteurs” and films from each that often go overlooked. Kino Lorber released Billy Wilder’s critique of war-time Hollywood, A Foreign Affair; the Warner Archive presented John Ford’s passion project Wagon Master; and Criterion added Douglas Sirk’s first foray into widescreen Technicolor, Magnificent Obsession, to their illustrious collection. While each release is a fairly underrated title in their director’s larger filmography, a close watch unveils tricks and tropes that each respective filmmaker would later use in their more popular works.
See full article at The Film Stage »

Seven Chances & Battling Butler The Buster Keaton Collection Vol. 3

In his day Buster Keaton’s popularity trailed that of Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, but now those reputations have switched around. These two ‘lesser’ Keaton features generate more sheer fun than anything going. Seven Chances and Battling Butler are great on remastered Blu-ray — better materials, no missing frames — but do yourself a favor and find a way to see a Keaton picture with a big audience!

Seven Chances & Battling Butler: The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 3

Blu-ray

Cohen Film Collection

Street Date August 20, 2019 / 29.98

Original Music composed and Conducted by Robert Israel

Produced by Joseph M. Schenck

Starring, and Directed by Buster Keaton

Seven Chances

1925 / B&w + Color / 1:37 Silent Ap / 56 min.

Starring: Buster Keaton, Snitz Edwards, Ruth Dwyer, T, Roy Barnes, Jean Arthur, Constance Talmadge.

Cinematography: Elgin Lessley, Byron Houck

Art Direction: Fred Gabourie

Written by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez, Joseph Mitchell from a play by Roi Cooper Megrue

Directed
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

A Foreign Affair

If you like Billy Wilder but haven’t seen everything he’s done, this is the film for you, a sparkling but typically sharp-tongued comedy-drama set in the last place expected in 1948 — bombed-out Berlin, rumored to be awash in corruption. Jean Arthur is the Iowa congresswoman out to clean up the town, and Marlene Dietrich a war survivor with a highly suspect past. Underrated John Lund is the Romeo with Captain’s stripes, brushing up on his (click) umlaut. And Millard Mitchell, of all people, steals the movie. Great cabaret songs by Friedrich Hollander, and an A-class commentary by Joseph McBride.

A Foreign Affair

Blu-ray

Kl Studio Classics

1948 / B&w / 1:37 flat Academy / 116 min. / Street Date August 6, 2019 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95

Starring: Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund, Millard Mitchell, Peter von Zerneck, Stanley Prager.

Cinematography: Charles Lang

Original Music: Friedrich Hollander

Written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Richard L. Breen; adaptation Robert Harari,
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

The Whole Town’s Talking

The Whole Town’s Talking

Blu ray

Twilight Time

1935 / 1:33:1 / 92 Min. / Street Date – March 26, 2019

Starring Edward G. Robinson, Jean Arthur

Written by Jo Swerling, Robert Riskin

Cinematography by Joseph H. August

Directed by John Ford

Overworked, under-appreciated and ever optimistic, Arthur Jones’ humdrum existence takes a turn for the weird when he returns home to find a stranger lurking in the shadows. Stranger still, the intruder is… Jones himself. Is this The Twilight Zone or a rough draft from Dostoevsky? No, it’s John Ford’s disquieting comedy from 1935, The Whole Town’s Talking.

Edward G. Robinson plays the mild-mannered paper pusher who bears more than a passing resemblance to a vicious mob boss named “Killer” Mannion. Once his co-workers note the uncanny likeness it’s all downhill – the delirious clerk is dragged to the police station for a brutal interrogation followed by that late night confrontation with the gangster himself.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington Back in Movie Theaters Nationwide on October 14th and 17th

Graft, Greed and One Man’s Fight Against Political Corruption: The TCM Big Screen Classics Series Brings Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Back to Movie Theaters Nationwide on October 14 and 17 Only.

he David-and-Goliath story, set within the not-so-hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol. This special presentation of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington also includes exclusive insight from TCM Primetime Host Ben Mankiewicz.

When Governor Hubert “Happy” Hopper (Guy Kibbee) appoints affable Jeff Smith — head of the Boy Rangers — to the U.S. Senate, corrupt political boss Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) and secretly crooked U.S. Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains) believe they can easily manipulate the newly minted politician when he arrives in Washington. But guidance from his hard-nosed, Beltway-savvy secretary Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur), Mr. Smith exposes graft and greed that threatens the very fabric of American democracy, and the junior Senator becomes a heroic one-man filibuster.
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

David Ladd At "Shane" Screening, Beverly Hills, August 26

  • CinemaRetro
By Todd Garbarini

Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills will be presenting a Digital Cinema Package (Dcp) screening of George Stevens’s 1953 film Shane. The 118-minute film, which stars Alan Ladd as the hero and Jack Palance, Ben Johnson, Elisha Cook, Jr., will be screened on Sunday, August 26, 2018 at 3:00 pm.

Please Note: At press time, actor/producer David Ladd (son of actor Alan Ladd) will participate in a Q&A after the screening at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre on Sunday, August 26.

From the press release:

Shane (1953)

65th Anniversary Screening

Sunday, August 26, at 3 Pm

Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre

Q&A with David Ladd, Actor-Producer and Son of Alan Ladd

Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present a 65th anniversary screening of one of the most beloved Westerns of all time, George Stevens’ production of 'Shane.' The 1950s happened to be a golden age for cowboy sagas,
See full article at CinemaRetro »

Moonrise

Guilt, gloom, weird nightmares of death and persecution — and romance? The wondrous Gail Russell brings a spark of life into Frank Borzage’s weird expressionist masterpiece produced at the seldom-artistic Republic Studio. The bitter, despairing Dane Clark has just committed what a jury will likely call first degree murder, but the night can offer atonement and forgiveness, if he’ll just listen to Russell’s good advice.

Moonrise

Blu-ray

The Criterion Collection 921

1948 / B&W / 1:37 Academy / 90 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date May 8, 2018 / 39.95

Starring: Dane Clark, Gail Russell, Ethel Barrymore, Allyn Joslyn, Rex Ingram, Henry Morgan, Lloyd Bridges, Selena Royle.

Cinematography: John L. Russell

Film Editor: Harry Keller

Original Music: William Lava

From the book by Theodore Strauss

Written and Produced by Charles Haas

Directed by Frank Borzage

Frank Borzage’s 1948 Moonrise is a critic’s delight, especially among aficionados that like to point out the artistic margins of traditional Hollywood filmmaking.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

The Apartment

Savant’s vote for the best romantic comedy ever goes to a sordid fable about problems in the big city Rat Race: keeping both a job and one’s self-respect. Picking up where 1930s pre-Code movies left off, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s ‘how to succeed’ thesis divides people into two groups, Takers and those that Get Took. And yet the message it delivers is life & love- affirming.

The Apartment

Blu-ray

Arrow Video USA

1960 / B&W / 2:35 widescreen / 125 min. / Limited Edition / Street Date December 12 (29?) (?), 2017 / Available from Arrow Video

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Hope Holiday, Joan Shawlee, Naomi Stevens, Edie Adams, Johnny Seven, Joyce Jameson, Willard Waterman, David White.

Cinematography: Joseph Lashelle

Film Editor: Daniel Mandell

Original Music: Adolph Deutsch

Written by I.A.L. Diamond and Billy Wilder

Produced and Directed by Billy Wilder

… and it’s also the all-time champion New Years’ movie.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

National Film Registry Adds ‘Die Hard,’ ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ ‘Memento,’ and More Titles to Library of Congress

National Film Registry Adds ‘Die Hard,’ ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ ‘Memento,’ and More Titles to Library of Congress
As is annual tradition, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has announced this year’s 25 film set to join the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Selected for their “cultural, historic and/or aesthetic importance,” the films picked range from such beloved actioners as “Die Hard,” childhood classic “The Goonies,” the seminal “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and the mind-bending “Memento,” with plenty of other genres and styles represented among the list.

The additions span 1905 to 2000, and includes Hollywood blockbusters, documentaries, silent movies, animation, shorts, independent, and even home movies. The 2017 selections bring the number of films in the registry to 725.

“The selection of a film to the National Film Registry recognizes its importance to American cinema and the nation’s cultural and historical heritage,” Hayden said in an official statement. “Our love affair with motion pictures is a testament to their enduring power to enlighten, inspire and
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Titanic,’ ‘Die Hard,’ ‘Ace in the Hole,’ ‘Memento,’ and More Added to National Film Registry

Since 1989, the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress has been accomplishing the important task of preserving films that “represent important cultural, artistic and historic achievements in filmmaking.” From films way back in 1897 all the way up to 2004, they’ve now reached 725 films that celebrate our heritage and encapsulate our film history.

Today they’ve unveiled their 2017 list, which includes such Hollywood classics as Die Hard, Titanic, and Superman along with groundbreaking independent features like Yvonne Rainer’s Lives of Performers, Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger, and Barbara Loden’s Wanda. Also making this list are a pair of Kirk Douglas-led features, Ace in the Hole and Spartacus, as well as Christopher Nolan’s Memento and more. Check out the full list below and you can watch some films on the registry for free here.

Ace in the Hole (aka Big Carnival) (1951)

Based on the infamous
See full article at The Film Stage »

His Girl Friday

One of the greatest newspaper pictures ever (can there be many more in our future?), Howard Hawks’ gender-bending remake of The Front Page stands as a comedy classic. Its improvisational-sounding overlapping dialog still impresses as modernistic. Such stars as Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard and Claudette Colbert turned down Rosalind Russell’s revamped Hildy Parks role. Cary Grant’s surprised reaction to one of Russell’s unexpected ad-libs was directed directly to Hawks: “Is she going to do that?”. And it’s in the movie. Unfortunately all we could find was a textless trailer on this one.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

From Mad Method Actor to Humankind Advocate: One of the Greatest Film Actors of the 20th Century

From Mad Method Actor to Humankind Advocate: One of the Greatest Film Actors of the 20th Century
Updated: Following a couple of Julie London Westerns*, Turner Classic Movies will return to its July 2017 Star of the Month presentations. On July 27, Ronald Colman can be seen in five films from his later years: A Double Life, Random Harvest (1942), The Talk of the Town (1942), The Late George Apley (1947), and The Story of Mankind (1957). The first three titles are among the most important in Colman's long film career. George Cukor's A Double Life earned him his one and only Best Actor Oscar; Mervyn LeRoy's Random Harvest earned him his second Best Actor Oscar nomination; George Stevens' The Talk of the Town was shortlisted for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. All three feature Ronald Colman at his very best. The early 21st century motto of international trendsetters, from Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro and Turkey's Recep Erdogan to Russia's Vladimir Putin and the United States' Donald Trump, seems to be, The world is reality TV and reality TV
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Marlene Dietrich Retrospective Screening at the Metrograph in NYC

Marlene Dietrich in “Shanghai Express”: mptvimages.com/IMDb

If you’re a fan of actress, camp icon, and anti-fascist Marlene Dietrich or want to learn more about her, you’re in luck. The Metrograph theater in New York City is hosting “Marlene,” a retrospective featuring 19 of Dietrich’s films. The festivities kicked off May 23 and will continue until July 8.

Marie Magdalene “Marlene” Dietrich was born in Berlin in 1901. Dietrich began her career as a vaudeville performer in Weimar Germany. She moved to Hollywood and eventually became a revered film actress, “bisexual sex symbol, willful camp icon, [and] paragon of feminine glamour” — “comfortable in top hat and tails, ballgown, or gorilla suit.” But the actress did not forget about what was happening back home in Germany; Dietrich became involved in the fight against fascism during WWII. She “used her likeness to fundraise for Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Germany and performed on Uso tours, earning her the Metal of Freedom and Légion d’honneur by the French government,” the press release details. Dietrich died in 1992 at the age of 90.

The “Marlene” retrospective will feature Dietrich’s seven films with director Josef von Sternberg: “The Blue Angel,” “Morocco,” “Blonde Venus,” “Dishonored,” “Shanghai Express,” “The Devil Is A Woman,” and “The Scarlet Empress.” The actress’ collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock (“Stage Fright”), Orson Welles (“Touch of Evil”), and Billy Wilder (“A Foreign Affair”) are among the other films screening at the Metrograph. A documentary about Dietrich, Maximilian Schell’s “Marlene,” will also screen. All of the films, besides “Marlene,” will be shown in 35mm.

Head over to The Metrograph’s site for showtimes and more information. The featured films and their synopses are below, courtesy of the Metrograph.

Angel

1937 / 91min / 35mm

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Melvyn Douglas

While English statesman Herbert Marshall worries over international affairs, his glamorous wife (Dietrich) concerns herself with, well, international affairs, beginning a tryst with a dashing stranger (Melvyn Douglas) who she only allows to know her as “Angel.” Dietrich’s last film on her Paramount contract is a spry, surprising love triangle, one of the least-known of Lubitsch’s essential works from his Midas touch period.

Blonde Venus

1932 / 93min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant

A.k.a “The One with the Gorilla Suit,” which Dietrich dons to perform her big number “Hot Voodoo.” It’s all for a good cause: she’s an ex-nightclub chanteuse who’s gone back to work to pay for husband Herbert Marshall’s radium poisoning treatments, though she later allows herself to become the plaything of Cary Grant’s dashing young millionaire, earning only contempt for her sacrifice.

Der Blaue Engel

1930 / 106min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings, Kurt Gerron, Rosa Valetti

Mild-mannered, uptight schoolteacher Emil Jannings lives a faultlessly law-abiding, by-the-book existence, but it’s all over when he gets a glimpse of Dietrich’s nightclub chanteuse Lola-Lola, and is immediately ready to ruin himself for her amusement. The first collaboration between Dietrich and von Sternberg made her an international star, and linked her forever to her seductive, world-weary delivery of the song “Falling in Love Again.” We’re showing the German-language version, preceded by a four-minute-long Dietrich screen test.

Desire

1936 / 95min / 35mm

Director: Frank Borzage

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, John Halliday, William Frawley

Dietrich and Gary Cooper reunite in this delightful urbane comedy by Borzage, a master of romantic delirium, here working somewhat after the style of producer Ernst Lubitsch. La Dietrich’s stylish jewel thief stashes a clutch of pearls in the pocket of an upstanding American businessman, and while trying to get back the goods she can’t help but notice the big lug isn’t half bad-looking. An excuse to recall the following lines from the 1936 Times review: “Lubitsch, the Gay Emancipator, has freed Dietrich from von Sternberg’s artistic bondage.” Those were the days.

Destry Rides Again

1939 / 94min / 35mm

Director: George Marshall

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Mischa Auer, Charles Winninger

Jimmy Stewart, still in his rangy, impossibly-good-looking phase, is a marshal who sets out to clean up the wide-open town of Bottleneck without firing a shot in this charming Western musical comedy. The local roughnecks present him one kind of challenge; Dietrich’s saloon singer Frenchy, belting out her rowdy standard “The Boys in the Back Room,” quite another.

The Devil Is A Woman

1935 / 80min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Lionel Atwill, Edward Everett Horton

Dietrich and von Sternberg’s final collaboration, and an apotheosis of sorts. In Spain in the early years of the 20th century, Lionel Atwill’s loyal suitor Pasqualito and the revolutionary Cesar Romero are teased into a frenzy by legendary coquette Concha (Guess who?). The coolly scrolling camera and baroque compositions are courtesy of an uncredited Lucien Ballard and Von Sternberg himself, doing double duty as cinematographer.

Dishonored

1931 / 91min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen

Dietrich plays X-27, a Mata Hari-esque spy for the Austrian Secret Service tasked with using a bevy of costume changes (Russian peasant, feathered helmet, leather jumpsuit) to gather information on the Russians during World War I. Outrageous plotting, high chiaroscuro style, and the star’s earthy sensuality mark this unforgettable pre-code treasure, beloved by Godard and Fassbinder both. Says Victor McLaglen: “the more you cheat and the more you lie, the more exciting you become.”

A Foreign Affair

1948 / 116min / 35mm

Director: Billy Wilder

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Jean Arthur, John Lund, Millard Mitchell

Against the backdrop of a ruined postwar Berlin, another conflict is just heating up, as Dietrich’s cabaret singer with rumored Nazi ties vies with Jean Arthur’s Iowa congresswoman-on-a-fact-finding-mission for the affection of American officer John Lund. Wilder’s penultimate collaboration with co-writer Charles Brackett is a black comic delight full of crackling, piquant dialogue, and Dietrich’s knowing slow-burn has never been better.

Judgment At Nuremberg

1961 / 186min / 35mm

Director: Stanley Kramer

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner

Dietrich’s last truly substantial screen appearance came as part of the ensemble for Kramer’s courtroom drama, playing the widow of a German general executed by the Allies who’s befriended by investigating judge Spencer Tracy in this fictionalized retelling of the events of a 1947 military tribunal addressing war crimes by civilians under the Third Reich. Rounding out the all-star cast are Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Judy Garland, William Shatner, and Maximilian Schell, who would win the Academy Award for Best Actor, and later directed a portrait of Dietrich.

The Lady Is Willing

1942 / 92min / 35mm

Director: Mitchell Leisen

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Fred MacMurray, Aline MacMahon, Stanley Ridges

Leisen, considered a comic talent on-par with Lubitsch during the screwball era, lends characteristic sparkle to this mid-career attempt at reconfiguring Dietrich’s very 1930s star persona to fit the needs of the 1940s women’s picture; here she plays a glamor-gal diva whose life changes when she discovers a baby on Eighth Avenue and decides to adopt, passing through melodramatic coincidences and a vale of tears before falling into the arms of Fred MacMurray.

Lola

1981 / 113min / 35mm

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Armin Mueller-stahl, Mario Adorf, Matthias Fuchs

Dietrich had for all purposes retired from the screen by the time that Fassbinder began his frontal assault on West German popular culture, but her image and her unlikely combination of cool irony and torrid emotion left a profound mark on his films. Lola, the candy-colored, late-1950s-set capstone of his “Brd Trilogy” in particular draws heavily from The Blue Angel, with bordello singer Barbara Sukowa torn between Mario Adorf’s sugar daddy and Armin Mueller-Stahl’s incoming building commissioner in boomtown Coburg.

Marlene

1984 / 94min / Digital

Director: Maximilian Schell

More than twenty years after Schell had co-starred with Dietrich in Judgment at Nuremberg, during which period she’d retired to a life of very private seclusion, he tried to get her to participate in a documentary about her life. She finally gave in — sort of. Dietrich offered only her memories and her famous voice, refusing to appear on camera, but necessity became a boon to the resulting film, a sort of guided tour of Dietrich’s life and work, which simultaneously reveals much and deepens her mystery.

Morocco

1930 / 92min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Adolphe Menjou

After The Blue Angel, shot in Germany, was a hit, von Sternberg was given full run of the Paramount backlot, where he would conjure up all manner of exotic destinations out of thin air. First stop: North Africa, where French legionnaire Gary Cooper competes with sugar daddy Adolphe Menjou for the favors of Dietrich’s cabaret star Amy Jolly, who in one scene famously rocks a men’s tailcoat and plants a smooch on a female fan.

Rancho Notorious

1952 / 89min / 35mm

Director: Fritz Lang

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, Mel Ferrer, William Frawley

Teutons Lang and Dietrich team up in a Technicolor wild west of deliberate, garish artifice in this singularly claustrophobic oater, in which a revenge-mad Burt Kennedy goes looking for his fiancée’s killers at a hideaway inn run by Dietrich, and discovers dangerous, unbidden desires instead. As the chant of the film’s recurring, persecutorial Brechtian ballad goes: “Hate, murder, and revenge.”

The Scarlet Empress

1934 / 104min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dresser

Have ever a screen persona and a historical personage found such a hand-in-glove-fit as did Dietrich and Empress Catherine the Great of Russia? While the Motion Picture Production Code was preparing to chasten American movies, Dietrich and von Sternberg got together to throw one last lavish S & M orgy, a flamboyant film of 18th century palace intrigues and ludicrously lapidary décor.

Shanghai Express

1932 / 82min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong

“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily,” proclaims Marlene Dietrich with the disdain of an empress, though in fact she’s a high-class courtesan, re-encountering former lover Clive Brook on an express train rolling through civil war-wracked China. The fourth of Dietrich and von Sternberg’s collaborations is a riot of delirious chinoiserie artifice and sculpted shadowplay — Dietrich’s co-star Anna May Wong was never again shot so caressingly.

The Song Of Songs

1933 / 90min / 35mm

Director: Rouben Mamoulian

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Brian Aherne, Lionel Atwill

So often the instrument of corruption, Mamoulian’s film allows Dietrich to be the corrupted one, playing a country girl, Lily, who comes to big-city Berlin and quickly becomes the model and muse of sculptor Brian Aherne. Lionel Atwill’s preening decadent Baron von Merzbach admires Lily’s nude form in marble, and decides to bring the original home with him, where she slips into the role of the cynical sophisticate, though her heart remains with the artist.

Stage Fright

1950 / 110min / 35mm

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, Alastair Sim

Hitchcock’s last film in his native England until 1972’s Frenzy is an audaciously-structured thriller, making use of an extended flashback and a whiplash narrative about-face. Acting student Jane Wyman tries to save beau Robert Todd from taking the fall for a murder committed by stage star Dietrich, who shows her hypnotic charm in a show-stopper performance of “I’m the Laziest Gal in Town.”

Touch Of Evil

1958 / 95min / 35mm

Director: Orson Welles

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles

It’s not the size of the part, but what you do with it. Playing a brothel keeper in a seedy border town in Welles’s magnificently baroque late noir, Dietrich only has a clutch of lines, but they’re the ones you remember, whether her famous requiem for crooked cop Hank Quinlan, or her reading of his “fortune”: “Your future’s all used up.” Bold and self-evidently brilliant, you could use Touch of Evil to explain the concept of great cinema to a visiting Martian.

Marlene Dietrich Retrospective Screening at the Metrograph in NYC was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

The Forgotten: George Archainbaud's "Hotel Haywire" (1937)

Really, I mean Preston Sturges' Hotel Haywire, because nobody's too interested in George Archainbaud, a Paramount contract director who had been directing for 20 years without helming a really memorable film (Thirteen Women, an uncomfortably racist pre-Code with Myrna Loy, is as exciting as it gets, and even that one is remembered chiefly for featuring the girl who threw herself off the Hollywood sign), He would continue for another 20, moving from B-westerns into TV westerns, without making anything else of particular note.Sturges wrote the script as part of his plan to get a long-term contract at Paramount. To particularly appeal to the suits there, he filled the story with roles for Paramount stars such as Mary Boland, Charles Ruggles, Fred MacMurray and Burns & Allen, none of whom were necessarily famous enough to carry a movie, but whose combined star-power might make an attractive investment for studio or future ticket-buyers.
See full article at MUBI »

Remembering Cinema's Pioneering Women at American Cinematheque

One of cinema's early comediennes, Dorothy Devore: between 1918 and 1930, the Ft. Worth-born actress was seen in nearly 100 movies, both features and shorts. Among them were 'Salvation Sue,' 'Naughty Mary Brown' and 'Saving Sister Susie,' all with frequent partner Earle Rodney. 'Comediennes of the Silent Era' & film historian Anthony Slide at the American Cinematheque Film historian and author Anthony Slide, once described by Lillian Gish as “our preeminent historian of the silent film,” will attend the American Cinematheque's 2017 Retroformat program “Comediennes of the Silent Era” on Sat., May 6, at 7:30 p.m., at the Spielberg Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Slide will be signing copies of his book She Could Be Chaplin!: The Comedic Brilliance of Alice Howell (University Press of Mississippi), about the largely forgotten pioneering comedy actress of the 1910s and early 1920s. The book signing will take place at 6:30 p.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

"Tear Down the Fences": Watching Capra in the Age of Trump

  • MUBI
The retrospective Frank Capra, The American Dreamer is showing April 10 - May 31, 2017 in the United Kingdom.Frank CapraFrank Capra has fallen badly out of fashion in recent decades. While still well-known for the extraordinary Depression-era purple patch that produced It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), the critics have rarely been kind. His work is routinely derided as “Capra-corn” for its perceived sentimentality and “fairy tale” idealism while the man himself is written off in favour of contemporaries Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch.Elliot Stein, writing in Sight & Sound in 1972, attacked Capra’s “fantasies of good will, which at no point conflict with middle-class American status quo values”, arguing that his “shrewdly commercial manipulative tracts” consist of little more than “philistine-populist notions and greeting-card sentiments”. Pauline Kael found him “softheaded,” Derek Malcolm a huckster hawking “cosily absurd fables.” To an extent,
See full article at MUBI »

James N. Kienitz Wilkins Introduces His Film "Indefinite Pitch"

  • MUBI
Mubi is partnering with the New York Film Festival to present highlights from Projections, a festival program of film and video work that expands upon our notions of what the moving image can do and be. James N. Kienitz Wilkin's Indefinite Pitch (2016), recipient of the festival's Kazuko Trust Award, is showing on Mubi in many countries around the world from October 18 - November 16, 2016.I’ve come to the conclusion that movies always communicate the circumstances in which they were made, and most of the time, these circumstances are unconscious influences. If one identifies with movies, or has dedicated one’s life to, or expects to make a living from, movies, then circumstantially, one's personal ambitions, dreams and memories get riskily exposed. Indefinite Pitch tries to pinpoint this.But not everything can be pinned down. In music, not all instruments make notes with a clear pitch. The rising and falling background
See full article at MUBI »

On a Clear Day You Can See Anniversaries Forever

On this day in showbiz history...

1886 Spring Byington is born in Colorado Springs. Goes on to supporting actress glory in Hollywood including Marmee in Little Women (1933, her feature debut) and an Oscar nomination as the eccentric hobbyist mom in You Can't Take It With You (1938). Curiously her screen daughter in that best picture winner Jean Arthur, an even bigger star, shares her same birthday (for the year of 1900)

1888 Thomas Edison files a patent for the Optical Phonograph (an early step in creating the cinema)

1903 Author and screenwriter Nathanael West is born in NYC. Movies adapted from his work include Lonelyhearts (1958) and The Day of the Locust (1975)

1915 One of the world's most celebrated playwrights, Arthur Miller, is born. His classics include Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and A View From the Bridge. After marrying movie star Marilyn Monroe, he wrote The Misfits (1961) for her which would eerily (considering its elegiac
See full article at FilmExperience »

Tiff 2016. Wavelengths Shorts

  • MUBI
Há Terra!I want to apologize for providing this Wavelengths avant-garde preview a little later than I might've liked. Hell, given that it's been over a week since movies died, I'm not exactly sure how much more kindling I can chuck onto the pyre. But I should remark that compared with previous years' iterations of the Tiff Wavelengths series, 2016 does feel a bit...off. I'm chiefly referring to the experimental short films here. (My second part, addressing the Wavelengths features, will be along in a matter of days.) Make no mistake. There's plenty of great work in this year's programs. But I do feel that the disparity this year between the truly exceptional films and the mediocre-to-not-very-good ones is markedly high.I enjoy films, and more than this, I enjoy enjoying them. I hardly get my kicks by being a nattering nabob of negativity. But programmers have to work with what is available to them,
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The Top Ten Funny Ladies of the Movies

The recent box office success of The Boss firmly establishes Melissa McCarthy as the current queen of movie comedies (Amy Schumer could be a new contender after an impressive debut last Summer with Trainwreck), but let us think back about those other funny ladies of filmdom. So while we’re enjoying the female reboot/re-imagining of Ghostbusters and those Bad Moms, here’s a top ten list that will hopefully inspire lots of laughter and cause you to search out some classic comedies. It’s tough to narrow them down to ten, but we’ll do our best, beginning with… 10. Eve Arden The droll Ms. Arden represents the comic sidekicks who will attempt to puncture the pomposity of the leading ladies with a well-placed wisecrack (see also the great Thelma Ritter in Rear Window). Her career began in the early 1930’s with great bit roles in Stage Door and Dancing Lady.
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