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Home Movie News Eugène Lourié Homage + Burt Lancaster-Ava Gardner Noir ‘The Killers’ + Vanessa Redgrave ‘Daisy’

Eugène Lourié Homage + Burt Lancaster-Ava Gardner Noir ‘The Killers’ + Vanessa Redgrave ‘Daisy’

Adrienne Corri The River: Eugène Lourié Jean Renoir collaboration
Eugène Lourié homage: Adrienne Corri (Mrs. Alexander in A Clockwork Orange) in Jean Renoir’s 1951 drama The River.
Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The Art Directors Guild (ADG) Film Society and the American Cinematheque (AC) will honor Production Designer Eugène Lourié with a double feature: Andrew Marton’s Crack in the World (1965), starring Dana Andrews and Janette Scott, and Jean Renoir’s classic The River (1951), with Nora Swinburne and Esmond Knight. The screenings will be held on Sunday, June 27, at 5:30 pm. at the Egyptian Theatre.

A panel discussion will be held between screenings with panelists Bernard Glasser, producer of Crack in the World as well as Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line and Return of the Fly; William Creber, Production Designer of Planet of the Apes, The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and The Greatest Story Ever Told; and film historian Michael Hyatt, who restored The Day of the Triffids and was part of the team that restored Sweet Smell of Success and My Fair Lady. Production Designer John Muto will moderate.

The rarely screened Crack in the World is described as “a science fiction film remarkable for its eerily prophetic ecological message.” Lourié designed both the film’s sets and visual effects.

Based on a novel by Rumer Godden, The River is one of Jean Renoir’s greatest works. This coming-of-age tale about two English girls in India was nominated for two BAFTA awards, and was the first film to be shot on location in India using three-strip Technicolor.

The River screening will feature a print restored by The Academy Film Archive in cooperation with The British Film Institute and Janus Films. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Below is more information about Eugène Lourié, from the ADG’s press release:

Born in Russia in 1903, Eugène Lourié moved to France to pursue art direction in the French Film Industry at a very young age. The former scenery painter and extra began his career as a Production Designer in 1930, designing sets for The Parisian Theatre. Upon moving to the USA in 1941, Lourié worked on films such as This Land is Mine (1943); The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and The River (1951). He is best known for his collaborations with Jean Renoir and specifically the art direction for La Grande Illusion (1937), as well as Battle of the Bulge (1965) and Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight (1952).

Additionally, Eugène Lourié did notable work for Max Ophüls, Robert Siodmak and Samuel Fuller, and in 1970 his work on Krakatoa: East of Java was nominated for an Academy Award. Lourié was also a special effects specialist as well as a theatrical set designer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. He spent a half-century in Hollywood and in 1985 shared this experience in his book, My Work in Films.

Representing the ADG is president Thomas A. Walsh. Working with him are the American Cinematheque’s Gwen Deglise and Grant Moninger. General admission: $11. American Cinematheque members: $7. Students/Seniors with valid ID: $9. All screenings start at 5:30 p.m.

The Egyptian Theatre is located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard. This is the second of this year’s screening series highlighting the work of renowned Production Designers and their creative colleagues. The screening series is sponsored by Variety.

24-hour information is available at 323-466-FILM (3456). Tickets can also be purchased at by searching the zip code 90028 to find the Egyptian Theatre.

Photo: United Artists.

The Killers Ava Gardner Burt Lancaster Robert Siodmark
Ava Gardner Burt Lancaster The Killers
The Killers with Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster.

Burt Lancaster & Ava Gardner: ‘The Killers’ Academy Screening

Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946), the film noir that catapulted Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner (above) to stardom, will be screened as the next feature in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ series “Oscar Noir: 1940s Writing Nominees from Hollywood’s Dark Side.” The Killers will be shown on Monday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Screenwriter Billy Ray (Shattered Glass, State of Play) will introduce the screening. (The Killers is sold out. More info below.)

Screenwriter Anthony Veiller turned Ernest Hemingway’s classic short story into a classic film noir. The Killers, about a former boxer and the men out to get him, isn’t one of my favorites noirs, but it’s great to look at thanks to Ava Gardner and cinematographer Elwood Bredell. Also in the cast: Edmond O’Brien, Albert Dekker, Sam Levene, Virginia Christine, and Charles McGraw.

Produced by Mark Hellinger, The Killers earned four Academy Award nominations, including Directing (Robert Siodmak), Film Editing (Arthur Hilton), Music – Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Miklós Rózsa) and Writing – Screenplay (Veiller).

At 7 p.m. Who Killed Who? (1943), an MGM Tex Avery cartoon, and the episode “The Scorpion Strikes” from the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel will be screened as part of the evening’s pre-feature program.

“Oscar Noir” is a summer-long series featuring 15 film noir classics from the 1940s, all of which were nominated in writing categories.

Note: The Killers is sold out. A standby line will form on the day of the event, and standby numbers will be assigned at approximately 5:30 p.m. Any available tickets will be distributed shortly before the program begins. [Right: Virginia Christine, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner.]

Ticketholders should arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the feature to ensure a seat in the theater. All tickets to individual evenings in the series are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit the Academy’s website.

Image: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library

Billie Dove
Billie Dove.

Billie Dove: Last Years of Silent Movie Star at Motion Picture Country House

In TheWrap, writer and television producer Irma Kalish writes about Billie Dove’s last years at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, inland from Malibu.

The article is a great read. Billie Dove, though not the “Queen of Silent Movies” as claimed in Kalish’s piece, was a popular star in the 1920s. Not one of her fifty or so movies could be called a classic, but Dove did appear in a number of well-regarded and/or box office-friendly vehicles.

Among her films of that era were All the Brothers Were Valiant (1922), with Lon Chaney; The Black Pirate (1926), an early two-strip Technicolor adventure starring Douglas Fairbanks; Kid Boots (1926), in which she supports Eddie Cantor and Clara Bow; and American Beauty (1927), in the title role.

No wonder Howard Hughes was fascinated with her. According to Hollywood lore, Hughes paid Dove’s husband, director Irvin Willat, to divorce the actress so she’d be free to hang out with the multimillionaire.

Every once in a while, a Billie Dove movie pops up on Turner Classic Movies. In Blondie of the Follies (1932), she supports Marion Davies. Blondie isn’t the greatest of movies, but Davies has a very funny scene in which she imitates Greta Garbo, while Dove has what may well be one of her most memorable on-screen moments: mouthing “son of a bitch” to a bunch of kids.

Billie Dove died on Dec. 31, 1997, at the Motion Picture Country House. She was 94. Below is a snippet from Kalish’s article:

“She must have been in her early 90s then, but her voice was steady and her mind was focused. The charm was evident. We spoke at length, comparing notes on the movie business then and now. I confess that her end of the conversation far outshone mine. Those early years of Hollywood cinema are known as the Golden Silents, and here was ‘The American Beauty’ (as she was nicknamed) sharing some of her 14-carat memories.”

The Motion Picture Country Fund has proposed closing down its Long-Term Care facilities, which once housed the likes of Billie Dove. “My dearest hope then – the hope of many, many others – is that the doors of Long-Term Care will remain open…” writes Kalish.

Vanessa Redgrave & James Earl Jones in ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ stage production

Tony Award winners James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave, the latter recently seen on-screen in the romantic comedy-drama Letters to Juliet, will join forces in the Broadway premiere of Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Driving Miss Daisy.

Under the direction of David Esbjornson, Driving Miss Daisy will have its first presentation on Oct. 7 at the John Golden Theatre. An official opening will follow on Oct. 25.

Driving Miss Daisy opened Off-Broadway in 1987. Morgan Freeman and Dana Ivey played the leads.

Directed by Bruce Beresford, the 1989 film version earned Broadway star Jessica Tandy a Best Actress Academy Award, while Morgan Freeman, reprising his stage role, received a Best Actor nomination. Playwright Uhry, for his part, won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The film itself won that year’s Best Picture Oscar as well, even though director Beresford wasn’t even nominated.

Vanessa Redgrave won a Tony for Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and has had five Academy Award nominations and one win (as Best Supporting Actress for Julia, 1977).

James Earl Jones won Tonys for The Great White Hope and the original Broadway production of Fences. His sole Oscar nomination was for reprising his The Great White Hope stage role in the 1970 film version.

Set in Atlanta and spanning the years from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, Driving Miss Daisy features an elderly Jewish widow whose son hires a black man to drive her around. (As the son in the movie version, Dan Aykroyd got a Best Supporting Actor nomination.) After some animosity, a friendship develops between driver and passenger.

Dana Ivey was actually born in Atlanta. Redgrave, Tandy, and Wendy Hiller, who played Miss Daisy onstage in London, were all born in the United Kingdom.

Someone should consider a movie remake directed by Sarah Polley and starring the two upcoming Driving Miss Daisy Broadway players.

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1 comment

kate buford -

THE KILLERS sold out! For a complete backstory of the movie and Lancaster’s casting therein, please see my biography, BURT LANCASTER: AN AMERICAN LIFE, Knopf 2000; Da Capo Press paperback 2001; U.K. hardcover and paperback editions from Aurum Press; recent new U.K. Aurum paperback in 2008. New York Times Editors’ Choice, Best Book of 2000; LATimes bestseller and Best Book of the Year. Ditto for Washington Post, SF Chronicle, and more. Thanks!


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