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Superficial 'Broadcast News,' Sal Mineo-James Dean Bromance and Drunken Bette Davis: Oscar Movies

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'Broadcast News' with Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter. '31 Days of Oscar': 'Broadcast News' slick but superficial critics pleaser (See previous post: “Phony 'A Beautiful Mind,' Unfairly Neglected 'Swing Shift': '31 Days of Oscar'.”) Heralded for its wit and incisiveness, James L. Brooks' multiple Oscar-nominated Broadcast News is everything the largely forgotten Swing Shift isn't: belabored, artificial, superficial. That's very disappointing considering Brooks' highly addictive Mary Tyler Moore television series (and its enjoyable spin-offs, Phyllis and Rhoda), but totally expected considering that three of screenwriter-director Brooks' five other feature films were Terms of Endearment, As Good as It Gets, and Spanglish. (I've yet to check out I'll Do Anything and the box office cataclysm How Do You Know starring Reese […]


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Superficial 'Broadcast News,' Sal Mineo-James Dean Bromance and Drunken Bette Davis: Oscar Movies







Phony 'A Beautiful Mind,' Unfairly Neglected 'Swing Shift': '31 Days of Oscar'

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'A Beautiful Mind' with Russell Crowe. '31 Days of Oscar' on TCM: 'The Wind and the Lion,' 'The Man Who Would Be King' Turner Classic Movies' “31 Days of Oscar” continues on Saturday, Feb. 6, '16, with more recent fare – as in, several films released in the last four decades. Among these are The Wind and the Lion, The Man Who Would Be King, A Beautiful Mind, Swing Shift, and Broadcast News. John Milius' The Wind and the Lion and John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King are both 1975 releases featuring “Westerners” (i.e., white people) stranded in “exotic” and potentially dangerous locales (i.e., places inhabited by dark-skinned non-Christians) in the distant past: the former in early 20th […]


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Phony 'A Beautiful Mind,' Unfairly Neglected 'Swing Shift': '31 Days of Oscar'







Olivia de Havilland vs. Warner Bros.: Landmark Lawsuit

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Olivia de Havilland in 'The Heiress.' Olivia de Havilland vs. Warner Bros. (See previous post: “Olivia de Havilland Turns 99: Warner Bros. Legal Fight Changed U.S. Labor Law.”) In 1942, Olivia de Havilland reportedly turned down the colorless leading lady role in Raoul Walsh's Gentleman Jim, which would have paired her with Errol Flynn for the ninth time. Alexis Smith was cast instead. That same year, de Havilland also said no to the Jack Benny comedy George Washington Slept Here. Ann Sheridan had to step in. And she chose to go on vacation instead of playing one of the title characters in Irving Rapper's The Gay Sisters, co-starring Barbara Stanwyck and Geraldine Fitzgerald. Nancy Coleman was de Havilland's replacement. These, […]


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Olivia de Havilland vs. Warner Bros.: Landmark Lawsuit







31 Days of Oscar: 'Ben-Hur' 1959 Proves That Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better

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'Ben-Hur' 1959 with Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston: TCM's '31 Days of Oscar.' '31 Days of Oscar': 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Ben-Hur' are in, Paramount stars are out Today, Feb. 1, '16, Turner Classic Movies is kicking off the 21st edition of its “31 Days of Oscar.” While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is being vociferously reviled for its “lack of diversity” – more on that appallingly myopic, self-serving, and double-standard-embracing furore in an upcoming post – TCM is celebrating nearly nine decades of the Academy Awards. That's the good news. The disappointing news is that if you're expecting to find rare Paramount, Universal, or Fox/20th Century Fox entries in the mix, you're out of luck. So, […]


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31 Days of Oscar: 'Ben-Hur' 1959 Proves That Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better







Ernst Lubitsch Movies: 'The Merry Widow,' 'Ninotchka' Among Top 1930s Classics

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'The Merry Widow' with Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald and Minna Gombell under the direction of Ernst Lubitsch. Ernst Lubitsch movies: 'The Merry Widow,' 'Ninotchka' (See previous post: “Ernst Lubitsch Best Films: Passé Subtle 'Touch' in Age of Sledgehammer Filmmaking.”) Initially a project for Ramon Novarro – who for quite some time aspired to become an opera singer and who had a pleasant singing voice – The Merry Widow ultimately starred Maurice Chevalier, the hammiest film performer this side of Bob Hope, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler – the list goes on and on. Generally speaking, “hammy” isn't my idea of effective film acting. For that reason, I usually find Chevalier a major handicap to his movies, especially during the early talkie […]


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Ernst Lubitsch Movies: 'The Merry Widow,' 'Ninotchka' Among Top 1930s Classics







Ernst Lubitsch Best Films: Passé Subtle 'Touch' in Age of Sledgehammer Filmmaking

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Ernst Lubitsch: The movies' lost 'Touch.' Ernst Lubitsch movies on TCM: Classics of a bygone era Ernst Lubitsch and William Cameron Menzies were Turner Classic Movies' “stars” on Jan. 28, '16. (This is a fully revised and expanded version of a post published on that day.) Lubitsch had the morning/afternoon, with seven films; Menzies had the evening/night, also with seven features. (TCM's Ernst Lubitsch schedule can be found further below.) The forgotten 'Touch' As a sign of the times, Ernst Lubitsch is hardly ever mentioned whenever “connoisseurs” (between quotes) discuss Hollywood movies of the studio era. But why? Well, probably because The Lubitsch Touch is considered passé at a time when the sledgehammer approach to filmmaking is deemed “fresh,” “innovative,” […]


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Ernst Lubitsch Best Films: Passé Subtle 'Touch' in Age of Sledgehammer Filmmaking







SAG Awards Predictions: Brie Larson, Sentimentality and 'Diversity'

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Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in 'Room': 2016 SAG Awards. 2016 SAG Awards Predictions: Sentiment and 'Diversity' Last-minute SAG Awards predictions, as the 2016 SAG Awards ceremony will begin in about half an hour (Jan. 30) at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles. So far, there's one clear winner at the telecast. That's veteran film and (mostly) television actress Carol Burnett (The Carol Burnett Show, Annie), who will be handed the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will be handling that particular presentation. As for the SAG Awards' competitive motion picture categories, this year remains murkier than most even though the list of likely winners has been narrowed down in recent weeks – especially […]


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SAG Awards Predictions: Brie Larson, Sentimentality and 'Diversity'







William Cameron Menzies Movies: Murderous Joan Fontaine, Nazi Communists' Germ Warfare

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William Cameron Menzies. William Cameron Menzies movies on TCM: Murderous Joan Fontaine, deadly Nazi Communists Best known as an art director/production designer, William Cameron Menzies was a jack-of-all-trades. It seems like the only things Menzies didn't do was act and tap dance in front of the camera. He designed and/or wrote, directed, produced, etc., dozens of films – titles ranged from The Thief of Bagdad to Invaders from Mars – from the late 1910s all the way to the mid-1950s. Among Menzies' most notable efforts as an art director/production designer are: Ernst Lubitsch's first Hollywood movie, the Mary Pickford star vehicle Rosita (1923). Herbert Brenon's British-set father-son drama Sorrell and Son (1927). David O. Selznick's mammoth production of Gone with […]


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William Cameron Menzies Movies: Murderous Joan Fontaine, Nazi Communists' Germ Warfare









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