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British Film and Hollywood: What If Hitchcock Had Stayed in the UK? Interview with Film Historian Anthony Slide

Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, and Ingrid Bergman: The 'Notorious' British (Hitchcock, Grant) and Swedish (Bergman) talent. British actors and directors in Hollywood; Hollywood actors and directors in Britain: Anthony Slide's 'A Special Relationship.' 'A Special Relationship' Q&A: Britain in Hollywood and Hollywood in Britain First of all, what made you think of a book on “the special relationship” between the American and British film industries – particularly on the British side? I was aware of a couple of books on the British in Hollywood, but I wanted to move beyond that somewhat limited discussion and document the whole British/American relationship as it applied to filmmaking. Growing up in England, I had always been interested in the history of the British cinema, but generally my writing on film history has been concentrated on America. I suppose to a certain extent I wanted to go back into my archives,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Cummings Pt.4: Career Peak with Tony Award Win, Acclaimed Mary Tyrone

Constance Cummings: Stage and film actress ca. early 1940s. Constance Cummings on stage: From Sacha Guitry to Clifford Odets (See previous post: “Constance Cummings: Flawless 'Blithe Spirit,' Supporter of Political Refugees.”) In the post-World War II years, Constance Cummings' stage reputation continued to grow on the English stage, in plays as diverse as: Stephen Powys (pseudonym for P.G. Wodehouse) and Guy Bolton's English-language adaptation of Sacha Guitry's Don't Listen, Ladies! (1948), with Cummings as one of shop clerk Denholm Elliott's mistresses (the other one was Betty Marsden). “Miss Cummings and Miss Marsden act as fetchingly as they look,” commented The Spectator. Rodney Ackland's Before the Party (1949), delivering “a superb performance of controlled hysteria” according to theater director and Michael Redgrave biographer Alan Strachan, writing for The Independent at the time of Cummings' death. Clifford Odets' Winter Journey / The Country Girl (1952), as
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Cummings Pt.3: Gender-Bending from Joan of Arc to Comic Farce, Liberal Supporter of Political Refugees

'Saint Joan': Constance Cummings as the George Bernard Shaw heroine. Constance Cummings on stage: From sex-change farce and Emma Bovary to Juliet and 'Saint Joan' (See previous post: “Constance Cummings: Frank Capra, Mae West and Columbia Lawsuit.”) In the mid-1930s, Constance Cummings landed the title roles in two of husband Benn W. Levy's stage adaptations: Levy and Hubert Griffith's Young Madame Conti (1936), starring Cummings as a demimondaine who falls in love with a villainous character. She ends up killing him – or does she? Adapted from Bruno Frank's German-language original, Young Madame Conti was presented on both sides of the Atlantic; on Broadway, it had a brief run in spring 1937 at the Music Box Theatre. Based on the Gustave Flaubert novel, the Theatre Guild-produced Madame Bovary (1937) was staged in late fall at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre. Referring to the London production of Young Madame Conti, The
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Cummings Pt.2: Working with Capra and West, Fighting Columbia in Court

Constance Cummings in 'Night After Night.' Constance Cummings: Working with Frank Capra and Mae West (See previous post: “Constance Cummings: Actress Went from Harold Lloyd to Eugene O'Neill.”) Back at Columbia, Harry Cohn didn't do a very good job at making Constance Cummings feel important. By the end of 1932, Columbia and its sweet ingenue found themselves in court, fighting bitterly over stipulations in her contract. According to the actress and lawyer's daughter, Columbia had failed to notify her that they were picking up her option. Therefore, she was a free agent, able to offer her services wherever she pleased. Harry Cohn felt otherwise, claiming that his contract player had waived such a notice. The battle would spill over into 1933. On the positive side, in addition to Movie Crazy 1932 provided Cummings with three other notable Hollywood movies: Washington Merry-Go-Round, American Madness, and Night After Night. 'Washington Merry-Go-Round
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Cummings' Ten-Year Death Anniversary: From Minor Lloyd Leading Lady to Tony Award Winner (Revised and Expanded)

Constance Cummings: Actress in minor Hollywood movies became major London stage star. Constance Cummings: Actress went from Harold Lloyd and Frank Capra to Noël Coward and Eugene O'Neill Actress Constance Cummings, whose career spanned more than six decades on stage, in films, and on television in both the U.S. and the U.K., died ten years ago on Nov. 23. Unlike other Broadway imports such as Ann Harding, Katharine Hepburn, Miriam Hopkins, and Claudette Colbert, the pretty, elegant Cummings – who could have been turned into a less edgy Constance Bennett had she landed at Rko or Paramount instead of Columbia – never became a Hollywood star. In fact, her most acclaimed work, whether in films or – more frequently – on stage, was almost invariably found in British productions. That's most likely why the name Constance Cummings – despite the DVD availability of several of her best-received performances – is all but forgotten.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Gardner, Crawford Among Academy's Career Achievement Award Non-Winners

Honorary Award: Gloria Swanson, Rita Hayworth among dozens of women bypassed by the Academy (photo: Honorary Award non-winner Gloria Swanson in 'Sunset Blvd.') (See previous post: "Honorary Oscars: Doris Day, Danielle Darrieux Snubbed.") Part three of this four-part article about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Honorary Award bypassing women basically consists of a long, long — and for the most part quite prestigious — list of deceased women who, some way or other, left their mark on the film world. Some of the names found below are still well known; others were huge in their day, but are now all but forgotten. Yet, just because most people (and the media) suffer from long-term — and even medium-term — memory loss, that doesn't mean these women were any less deserving of an Honorary Oscar. So, among the distinguished female film professionals in Hollywood and elsewhere who have passed away without
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

New Year, New Discoveries

For a dyed-in-the-wool film buff, getting a chance to see movies that haven’t been in circulation for decades is always enticing. Beginning tonight, UCLA Film & Television Archive is presenting a series called Columbia in the 1930s: Recent Restorations. Alongside established titles like Frank Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) and Howard HawksThe Criminal Code (1931) you’ll find other films that are virtually unknown: Attorney for the Defense (1932), East of Fifth Avenue (1933), By Whose Hand? (1932), Men in Her Life (1931), and Lover Come Back (1931). Stars include Edmund Lowe, Constance Cummings, Pat O’Brien, Lee Tracy, and Charles Bickford. I can hardly wait! I...

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See full article at Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy »

DVD Playhouse--April 2012

DVD Playhouse—April 2012

By Allen Gardner

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.) An eleven year-old boy (newcomer Thomas Horn, in an incredible debut) discovers a mysterious key amongst the possessions of his late father (Tom Hanks) who perished in 9/11. Determined to find the lock it matches, the boy embarks on a Picaresque odyssey across New York City. Director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter Eric Roth have fashioned a film both grand and intimate, beautifully-adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, thought by most who read it to be unfilmable. Fine support from Jeffrey Wright, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Viola Davis and the great Max von Sydow. Also available on Blu-ray disc. Bonuses: Featurettes. Widescreen. Dolby and DTS-hd 5.1 surround.

Battle Royale: The Complete Collection (Anchor Bay) Adapted from Koushun Takami’s polarizing novel (compared by champions and detractors alike as a 21st century version of A Clockwork Orange) and set in a futuristic Japan,
See full article at The Hollywood Interview »

Review: Criterion Presents "David Lean Directs NOËL Coward" On Blu-ray And DVD

  • CinemaRetro
On Blu-ray and DVD

4-Disk Box Set

By Raymond Benson

Any fan of British cinema must celebrate Criterion’s deluxe packaging of David Lean’s first four films as a director. These collaborations with writer, performer, and “personality” Noël Coward are exemplary examples of the fine work made by the Two Cities Unit production house, which was formed during the Second World War. In each case, the films are presented in beautiful new high-definition digital transfers from the 2008 BFI National Archive’s restorations. And, as this is a review for Cinema Retro, the readers of which include many 007 fans, it must be pointed out that there is indeed a connection between the films (three of them, anyway) and Bond. Actress Celia Johnson was Ian Fleming’s sister-in-law (her husband was Ian’s older brother, Peter Fleming), and her daughters Kate Grimond and Lucy Fleming are currently on the Board of
See full article at CinemaRetro »

William Wyler: Oscar Actors Director

William Wyler was one of the greatest film directors Hollywood — or any other film industry — has ever produced. Today, Wyler lacks the following of Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Frank Capra, or even Howard Hawks most likely because, unlike Hitchcock, Ford, or Capra (and to a lesser extent Hawks), Wyler never focused on a particular genre, while his films were hardly as male-centered as those of the aforementioned four directors. Dumb but true: Films about women and their issues tend to be perceived as inferior to those about men — especially tough men — and their issues. The German-born Wyler (1902, in Alsace, now part of France) immigrated to the United States in his late teens. Following a stint at Universal's New York office, he moved to Hollywood and by the mid-'20s was directing Western shorts. His ascent was quick; by 1929 Wyler was directing Universal's top female star, Laura La Plante in the
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Carole Lombard on TCM: My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred, The Racketeer

Carole Lombard Best remembered for her light comedies of the '30s and early '40s, Carole Lombard is Turner Classic Movies Star of the Day on Sunday, August 28, as TCM's continues its "Summer Under the Stars" film series. Unfortunately, TCM isn't showing any hard-to-find Carole Lombard movies. So, don't expect Swing High, Swing Low; We're Not Dressing; the eminently dreadful (and compulsively watchable) White Woman; I Take This Woman; Up Pops the Devil; It Pays to Advertise, Power, etc. [Carole Lombard Movie Schedule.] Having said that, TCM did show the lesser-known Virtue (1932) and Brief Moment (1933) earlier today, and will be showing The Racketeer (1929) later this evening. Directed by the all but completely forgotten Howard Higgin, The Racketeer is a crime melodrama that features future King Kong semi-villain Robert Armstrong. Chances are The Racketeer will turn out to be nothing more than a historical curiosity — but that's not a bad thing at all. First,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

New York's "Essential Pre-Code" Series: Week 1

  • MUBI
Each year New York residents can look forward to two essential series programmed at the Film Forum, noirs and pre-Coders (that is, films made before the strict enforcing of the Motion Picture Production Code). These near-annual retrospective traditions are refreshed and re-varied and repeated for neophytes and cinephiles alike, giving all the chance to see and see again great film on film. Many titles in this year's Essential Pre-Code series, running an epic July 15 - August 11, are old favorites and some ache to be new discoveries; all in all there are far too many racy, slipshod, patter-filled celluloid splendors to be covered by one critic alone. Faced with such a bounty, I've enlisted the kind help of some friends and colleagues, asking them to sent in short pieces on their favorites in an incomplete but also in-progress survey and guide to one of the summer's most sought-after series. In this entry: what's playing Friday,
See full article at MUBI »

Constance Cummings Dies

  • WENN
Long Day's Journey Into Night actress Constance Cummings has died in Oxfordshire, England. She was 95. The Seattle, Washington-born star died last Wednesday. The cause of death has not been disclosed. Cummings started her acting career in the theatre and after a stint on New York's Broadway, landed her first film role starring opposite Walter Huston and Boris Karloff in The Criminal Code in 1931. After a string of Hollywood films in the 1930s, Cummings and her playwright husband Benn Levy moved to his native England, where the actress carved out a successful film and theatre career. Cummings worked under Sir Laurence Olivier for three years at London's National Theatre, but often returned to America for work, where she won a Tony award for her performance in the Broadway production of Wings in 1979. Her husband Levy died in 1973. Cummings is survived by their son and daughter.

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