Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Come Again?

Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn, and Jim Carrey.

Who are the last three people you would never expect to see in a movie about the Three Stooges.

Why, then, are they being talked about to fill the legendary roles of Moe, Larry and Curly.

Described as “Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest,” the movie is going to be directed by the Farrelly Brothers. That at least explains why Carrey is being courted, as he’s their biggest seller. Carrey’s also the biggest and best in physical comedy right now, so the only thing he has to do is gain 40 pounds and shave his head.

If you squint really hard – in the dark – we guess you might be able to picture Penn as Larry, but we don’t understand why the Farrelly brothers cast the unfunniest man in Hollywood for a movie about the funniest men of the 1930’s. That’s fine, though. He can act, so maybe he can just act funny.

But the guy who just played Che Guevara? Can he– and I’m honestly being serious when I ask this –can he even get through a line of dialogue without mumbling?

Are they casting for Shemp? Because I hear that Michael Clarke Duncan is available.

Back in the Chariot Again

When I was younger I wasn’t exactly seeking out classic films the way I do today. I sort of had to depend on my parents for that. I could count on my mom to show me Gone with the Wind or anything involving Montgomery Clift. And I could count on my dad to school me in the ways of Camelot and Ben-Hur. How exactly did he lure me into Charlton Heston’s epic world? Two words: Chariot race. My dad hyped up that chariot race so much, there was no way I could not watch. Granted, it’s probably been like 10 + years since I last saw the movie but those two words—and that scene—are still the most vivid things I remember.

My memory’s about to get a fresh jolt thanks to a new ABC mini-series that’s in the works. David Wyler, son of William Wyler who directed the 1959 flick, is producing a revamped version of Ben-Hur—the story of a prince-turned-slave who must win back his freedom in ancient Rome. Steve Shill of HBO’s Rome (how appropriate) is set to direct the $22.5 million project.

Already Wyler is talking about significant changes from the original. The lead role that once belonged to Charlton Heston (who won an Oscar for his portrayal), is being skewed younger, placing Ben-Hur in his mid-20s. (I’m thinking they’re gonna cast an unknown for this one.) Plus the new version will downplay the original film’s religious aspects. How very P.C. of them. Wyler says the new, “contemporary” version will be based more closely on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel than either the 1959 version or the 1925 silent adaptation. Not sure how that will make it more “contemporary,” but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Production is set to begin in May. To the chariots!

Before we see ABC’s re-imagined version, check out these fun facts I found out (courtesy of IMDb) about the 1959 film:

- It was one of the first films to involve huge marketing tie-ins, including 'Ben-His' and 'Ben-Hers' towels. (A quick search on eBay for these sadly turned up empty.)

- It was the only Hollywood film to make the Vatican approved film list in the category of religion. (And those Catholics are notoriously tough to please.)

- The chariot race was shot without sound. It was added later in post-production.

- Ben-Hur featured more crew and extras than any film that came before it. There were 15,000 extras for the chariot race sequence alone.

- Paul Newman was offered the role of Ben-Hur but turned it down because he said he didn't have the legs to wear a tunic. Burt Lancaster, an atheist, also turned down the role because he didn’t want to promote Christianity.


Quick Quips for March 31st

"If I have occasionally given brilliant performances on the screen, this was entirely due to circumstances beyond my control."
- George Sanders

Monday, March 30, 2009

Quick Quips for March 30th

"I learned two things at drama school: first, that I couldn't act; second, that it didn't matter."
-Wilfred Hyde-White

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quick Quips for March 27th

"My advice to widows - don't sell the house and don't sleep with Frank Sinatra."
- Lauren Bacall

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Siren Centerfold: Lauren Bacall

Yup, like Kristine said, Humphrey Bogart had that special something. And no one knew that better than Lauren Bacall. Of course, Bacall had some special qualities of her own, so when the two of them came together in films like To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep, they were simply unstoppable. She was seemingly the only one who could match Bogie's toughness on screen—and off. She could keep up with him, quip for quip and insult for insult.

Born Betty Joan Perske in 1924 in the Bronx, Bacall grew into a confident, statuesque star. Even after her beloved Bogie died in 1957, she continuted to churn out great work. Bacall went on to win two Tony awards and starred in the smash hit How to Marry a Millionaire alongside Marilyn Monroe. We just have one word for the pictures below: Fierce.

Before making it big, a teenage Bacall found work as a Broadway usher after she lost her job as a showroom model and quit acting school for lack of funds. She was voted the prettiest usher of the 1942 season in the pages of Esquire magazine. (In other news, they actually had a vote on prettiest ushers?)

Her appearance on a cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine at 18 years old got her noticed. She was spotted by the wife of director Howard Hawks, who gave her a screen test and cast her in To Have and Have Not.

During screen tests for To Have and Have Not, Bacall was extremely nervous. To stop herself from shaking, she pressed her chin against her chest and tilted her eyes upward to face the camera. This effect became her trademark. It was known as “The Look.”

Bacall turned down scripts she didn't find interesting and was therefore labelled as "difficult." Uh, we just call that smart.

This is my favorite picture of Bogie and Bacall. The two got hitched when Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45! And to think, the media freaked out when Hayden Panettiere started dating Milo Ventimiglia!

Matinee Man: Humphrey Bogart

While Humphrey Bogart might not your traditional looker, he still had that swagger about him. You know the kind I’m talking about – you’ll find it in the likes of Benicio del Toro, Javier Bardem or (sigh) Clive Owen. By all intents and purposes, they’re not the greatest looking guys, but they’ve got that…that something…that just you can’t resist. That’s what they’ve got that you ain’t got. And so did Bogart.

Bogart’s name is probably most synonymous with Casablanca, but there was also Key Largo in 1948 and The Caine Mutiny in 1954, for which he won his only Academy Award (for best actor). That’s all well and good, but I’m more interested in the fact that he got kicked out of prep school.
According to Wikipedia, there are a few stories behind the incident: “one story claims that he was expelled for throwing the headmaster (alternatively, a groundskeeper) into a man-made lake on campus. Another cites smoking and drinking, combined with poor academic performance and possibly some intemperate comments to the staff. It has also been said that he was actually withdrawn from the school by his father for failing to improve his academics, as opposed to expulsion. In any case, his parents were deeply dismayed by the events and their failed plans for his future.” But, what the medical world lost, the film world gained. And we couldn’t be more proud. Ladies, here is today’s Matinee Man: Humphrey Bogart.

In his signature look

See? He just had that thing

And here again

Quick Quips for March 26th

"Hollywood is full of pale imitations of Pamela Anderson and worse still, Pamela Anderson herself."
-Lisa Marchant

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Newsflash: WB Cracks Open the Vault

Ever tried to rent or Netflix a classic movie, only to realize it’s never been released on DVD? No? Just me then? Okay.

Well, you might still think this is cool. Warner Bros. is dipping into its archives and releasing classic films that, until now, had never been available on DVD. If you go to WarnerArchive.com, you can choose from 150 classic Warner movies and the studio will ship a made-to-order DVD for $19.95. The new-to-DVD titles include Possessed starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, All Fall Down with Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint and The Mating Game starring Debbie Reynolds.

Warner plans to add 20 films a month, and expects 300 titles to be available for home-viewing by the end of the year.

What movies would you like to see released on DVD?


Quick Quips for March 25th

"Every country gets the circus it deserves. Spain gets bullfights. Italy gets the Catholic Church. America gets Hollywood."
- Erica Jong

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Putting a Name to That Face!

Hey, it’s that guy. You know, THAT guy! The supporting character that seems to pop up everywhere—playing basically the same role every time. Try to find a movie without Tom Wilkinson in it these days. And, oh look, there’s Busy Phillips and Krysten Ritter in yet another “best friend” role. There you are again, Danny McBride, fast becoming one of those go-to comedy “guys.” The list goes on…

As I wrote about Karl Malden’s extensive movie career acting in mostly supporting roles, it got me thinking. There were tons of other recognizable faces in classic films that deserve a little recognition too. I’ve picked three of them to focus on.

Martin Balsam

He was a detective in On the Waterfront (the one whom Terry Malloy lovingly referred to as “shorty”). He was also a detective in Psycho, who met his untimely demise at the hands of the killer—and took a dramatic tumble down the stairs. Then he shook things up to play…a police chief in Cape Fear. To be fair, he didn’t play cops in all his roles. Balsam appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany’s as the smarmy movie exec O.J. Berman. And he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in A Thousand Clowns. Plus, his daughter Talia Balsam is an actress currently seen on Mad Men. She’s married to her Mad Men co-star John Slattery, and was previously—briefly—Mrs. George Clooney.

Rudy Bond

I became slightly determined to find out who this guy was after he kept showing up in all of my favorite Marlon Brando films. Like Karl Malden, Rudy Bond co-starred alongside Brando in some of his most memorable movies, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and The Godfather. Bond did let go of Brando’s coattails for films like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (ironically, Martin Balsam also appeared in this. And incidentally, it’s now being remade with Denzel Washington) and The Rose.

Thelma Ritter

Thelma Ritter—what a pip! Always the tough-tawkin’ female sidekick on hand to throw in her two cents and a little Brooklyn sass. You’ve no doubt seen her in films like All About Eve, Rear Window, Pillow Talk and The Misfits. Playing second-fiddle was never a thankless job for Thelma. She was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category SIX consecutive times (a feat only matched by Deborah Kerr)! She never won, though, but that hardly matters. I still love this broad.

Looking for more info on character actors? There are actually quite a few books on the subject. There’s this one, aptly titled “Hey! It’s That Guy!” and this one, titled “Names You Never Remember, With Faces You Never Forget.”

Hathaway to Save the Day...for Garland Movie

One of my favorite games is “Who’d Play That Guy in a Movie.” For example, I believe that if anyone were to make a movie of New York Rangers legend Mark Messier it would have to be a Muppet Movie because he'd have to be played by Sam the Eagle.

Of course, I most often find myself playing it by myself, but I do get excited when I can bring others on into the fun. I also get critical when it comes to casting such parts, considering it’s my damn game to begin with. But one such role has come up that I, along with Andrea, am 100-percent behind:

Anne Hathaway as Judy Garland.

The Weinstein Company (or, as I like to call them, the Dark Overlords of Hollywoodland) have optioned both the stage and film rights to Gerald Clarke’s 2001 biography Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland. The Weinstein boys say the book “portrays the dramatic highs and lows of the cultural icon’s life – from her tumultuous early years as a child performer to her last tragic days.” Of course, I hesitate to point out the fact that had Garland been under the Weinstein’s care, she’d probably have had the same, if not more problems, but I digress.

Going on looks alone, Hathaway is as near a hit as you’re going to get: she has the same full, round features as Garland. But more than that, Hathaway is veritable shape-shifter when it comes to roles. Easily one of the strongest actresses of our generation, if there’s anyone who can take this role on, it’s her. I, for one, am excited to see it.

Quick Quips for March 24th

"People think I have an interesting walk. I'm just trying to hold my stomach in."
- Robert Mitchum

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy 97th Birthday, Karl Malden!

Talk about old Hollywood. Actor Karl Malden turned 97 yesterday! If you don’t know his name, you probably know his face (it’s the nose). Born Mladen Sekulovich in 1912, Malden Americanized his name and established himself on Broadway in the late 1930’s and 1940’s. He went on to work with some of the best in the biz and always seemed to turn up in substantial supporting roles—most memorably in my two favorite movies of all time, A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront. In both films he held his own his against Brando. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Mitch in Streetcar (which he originated on Broadway), and was nominated for his role as Father Barry in Waterfront. As his career progressed, his roles got bigger in films like Baby Doll and Patton. He also became the pitchman for American Express in 1970s and 1980s, famously delivering the line “Don’t leave home without them!” in a series of TV commercials.

Further proving that he’s an anomaly in Hollywood, Malden avoided any personal scandals. He’s still married to the same woman he wed in 1938! (That’s more than 70 years for those who are bad at math.)

And even though he’s pushing 100, the man is still relevant. Even celebrity gossip site TMZ dedicated a post to him as early as last year! Karl Malden has proved you don’t have to look like Brad Pitt to have a long-lasting career in Hollywood. All you need is hard work and some good old fashioned character.

Happy Birthday, Karl Malden! Here’s to many more.

Quick Quips for March 23rd

"It's not what you are in Hollywood - it's what people think you are."
-Robert Stack

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Quips for March 20th

"I remember my brother once saying, 'I'd like to marry Elizabeth Taylor,' and my father said, 'Don't worry, your time will come.'"
- Spike Milligan

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Siren Centerfold: Gene Tierney

Since we’ve now made it a point to be more in the loop about classic movie screenings around NYC, we knew to check out a showing of the 1945 film Leave Her to Heaven at Film Forum last Thursday. Combination film noir and melodrama, the film stars Gene Tierney as Ellen Berent, a cold-hearted femme fatale who sinks her claws into an unsuspecting author, played by Cornel Wilde. Tierney nabbed a Best Actress Oscar nom for the role. She’s exactly the kind of character I talked about in my earlier post about femme fatales--one whose outer beauty belies sinister intentions. Too bad I didn’t see this movie earlier!

The good thing is, now I get to dedicate an entire post to the gorgeous Gene Tierney.

Proving she was more than just a pretty face, Tierney actually studied acting at a small Greenwich Village acting studio in New York. If she was going to choose acting as a career, her father insisted she start with Broadwaynot Hollywood.

Of course, with a face like that it didn't take long for Hollywood to notice.

Her first role in the theater consisted of carrying a bucket of water across the stage, prompting one critic to announce that "Miss Tierney is, without a doubt, the most beautiful water carrier I have ever seen!"

She had a notorious affair with John F. Kennedy. She met him while filming Dragonwyck in 1946. Kennedy eventually broke off the relationship because of his political aspirations. Incidentally, Tierney voted for Richard Nixon in the 1960 elections.

“Few actresses can resist playing bitchy women," Tierney once said. And few people could resist the lure of Gene Tierney.

Matinee Man: Rock Hudson

Ever heard of Winnetka, Illinois? Yeah, we hadn’t either, but apparently it’s where Home Alone was filmed. It was also the birthplace of Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. Ring a bell? Maybe you’ll recognize his stage name: Rock Hudson.

Hudson made 70 films, including many comedies with his most famous co-star Doris Day, and managed to reign in the 60’s and 70’s as Hollywood’s romantic leading man despite being one of the most notorious gay stars on the market. Sexual orientation is neither here nor there when it comes to looks, though, so feast your eyes on today’s Matinee Man: Rock Hudson.
With Doris Day

Apparently, he looked his best on the phone?

Hudson did get married, presumably to keep speculation of his personal life to a minimum. The union with Phyllis Gates lasted a whopping three years (1955-1958).

Quick Quips for March 19th

"Mr. Dean appears to be wearing my last year's wardrobe and using my last year's talent."
- Marlon Brando on James Dean

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quick Quips for March 18th

"Hollywood is where they shoot too many pictures and not enough actors."
-Walter Winchell

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Raise Your Beers!

Colin Farrell may be the hottest Irish actor out there today (eat your heart out, Rhys) but he’s certainly not the first. And this being St. Patrick’s Day and all, it’s only fitting that we honor those who emmigrated before him, paving the way for his sweet little ass. I’d like to take this opportunity to honor my heritage and my four favorite Irish actors (Why four? The four-leaf clover, my friend. They say it’s good luck). So join me, won’t you? Grab that Guinness and that corned beef and raise them high…

Peter O'Toole

Born in Connemara, Ireland on August 2, 1932, O’Toole was raised British…but I won’t hold that him completely against him. He hit it big in the ‘60s with back-to-back Best Actor Academy Award nominations for Lawrence of Arabia and Becket, finishing out the decade with classics like What’s New Pussycat? and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Colm Meaney

Straight outta Compton Dublin, Meaney started his career on the British TV series Z Car in 1978. He was on one episode. Fast forward nine years when Meaney made it big in the states thanks to Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. But I don’t watch that crap, so my favorite role Meaney was from the Nick Cage action masterpiece that was Con Air. He was ornery DEA Agent Duncan Malloy who was determined to bring John Cusack’s hijacked plane to the ground. Hilarity ensued. And by that, I mean explosions and bad southern accents.

Maureen O’Sullivan
Known best as the original Jane Parker, O’Sullivan starred across Olympic medalist Johnny Weismuller’s Tarzan in the six-film series. Our generation remembers her more easily, however, as Elizabeth Alvorg in 1986’s Peggy Sue Got Married (another Nick Cage flick…weird). She's also Mia Farrow’s mom.

Maureen O’Hara

Born Maureen FitzSimons in August of 1920 in Ranelagh, a suburb of Dublin, O’Hara starred in two of my favorite classics: 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street and 1961’s The Parent Trap. Needless to say, she holds a fond place in my heart.

Honorable mention: Brenda Fricker

Fricker gets an honorary mention here because most people know as Mike Meyers’ mom in So I Married and Axe Murderer - probably one of the best films released in July of 1993.

Newsflash: TCM Brings Us Moguls and Movie Stars!

Yesterday we brought you news of David Chase’s new Hollywood mini-series coming to HBO. Coincidentally, TCM announced their own plans for a 10-part documentary series exploring the history of the movie biz. (Chase’s series is fictional, TCM’s is not.) Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood is set to premiere in 2010, but we’re already geeking out over it. It will consist of 10 one-hour documentaries, each focusing on a different era of movie history. It will also show how moviemakers responded to major events in American history like the Great Depression, World War II and the Civil Rights movements.

"Our story will span more than 100 years of inventiveness and entertainment," said Jon Wilkman, who will write and produce the series. "From Thomas Edison to Steven Spielberg, from Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford to Sean Penn and Kate Winslet, we'll tell the stories of moguls and movie stars, the lives they've lived, the movies they've made and the impact they've had on lives around the world."

Each episode will include rarely seen footage and photographs, clips from notable films and interviews with film historians and major Hollywood figures. If you haven’t checked out any TCM documentaries before, you must watch their fascinating 2007 documentary Brando, all about—you guessed it—the iconic Marlon Brando. I first caught Brando at the Tribeca Film Festival two years ago and it offered an insightful look at the life of the enigmatic, yet immensely talented actor. TCM is great at collecting never-before-seen footage. Can’t wait to see what they do with Moguls and Movie Stars!


Quick Quips for March 17th

"I wouldn't be caught dead marrying a woman old enough to be my wife."
- Tony Curtis

Monday, March 16, 2009

Damn Remakes!

It’s honest to goodness been a long time since a good musical has hit the big screen. So I’m both excited and nervous to see what Hollywood does with its upcoming remake of Damn Yankees!

The original 1958 movie – which was adapted from the George Abbott Broadway play – follows middle-aged Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd who makes a deal with the Devil (disguised as “Mr. Applegate”) to help his baseball team win the league pennant. Boyd becomes “Joe Hardy,” a young baseball slugger and, in return, hands over his soul to Applegate and leaves his wife. I won’t tell you what happens, because it’s really exciting, but it involves some singing, some baseball and the Yankees.

For the remake, Jake Gyllenhaal has been cast as the young Joe Hardy and Jim Carrey has been cast as the Devil. The casting seems appropriate enough, except for the fact that neither of these two have proven their chops in the musical business. Worry not, though. Because thanks to the era of live sketch comedy, we’ve proof that both Gyllenhaal and Carrey can keep up with the big boys. Check out the videographic evidence below:

Jim Carrey from In Living Color

Jake Gyllenhaal on Saturday Night Live

Watch more Megavideo videos on AOL Video

Newsflash: Chase-ing a Ribbon of Dreams!

Hey, this sounds pretty cool. Sopranos creator David Chase has a new HBO mini-series in the works about the creation of Hollywood. It’s called A Ribbon of Dreams, taken from the Orson Welles quote: “A film is like a ribbon of dreams.” The series will focus on two men in 1913 Hollywood—a cowboy and a mechanical engineer—who form an unlikely production company. The show will feature them as they cross paths with a number of legends who shaped the movie industry, including John Wayne, John Ford, Raoul Walsh, Bette Davis and Billy Wilder. (The question on our minds is most certainly who they’ll cast!) The series will follow the growth of Hollywood from silent films to the golden age of talkies, right up to the present day. Sounds like our kind of show!

Quick Quips for March 16th

"You can always pick out actors by the glazed look that comes into their eyes when the conversation wanders away from themselves."
-Michael Wilding

Friday, March 13, 2009

Quick Quips for March 13th

"I have one or two tempermental outbursts a year - each one lasts six months."
- Tallulah Bankhead

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Matinee Man: Sean Connery

It’s always awkward the first time you hear your mother call someone “sexy,” whether or not it’s your father. For me, it was in my early teens while watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. She was talking about that old guy who played Harrison Ford’s father. Apparently he’s a big deal and was super hot in his prime (not counting this incident). A quick search proved that true.

So here’s your Matinee Man of the week: Sir Sean Connery.

Connery is probably most well known for his role as 007.