“Forgotten Hollywood”- One More For the Road…

December 31st, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`William Christopher played Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H through the entire run of the television series. He was a member of one of the most spectacular ensembles ever on a weekly program; a group that included Alan Alda, McLean Stevenson,  Larry Linville, Wayne Rogers, Jamie Farr, Gary Burghoff, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, David Ogden Stiers, and Harry Morgan. Before William Christopher (right) made his mark on the iconic show, he played Private Hummel on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. Though cast occasionally in films, it was the small screen he called home.

“`Christopher began his career in off-Broadway productions. He left the New York City stage for Hollywood, where he guest-starred in several well-known sit-coms and dramas, including The Andy Griffith Show, Death Valley Days, The Patty Duke Show, Hogan’s Heroes, That Girl, and later, Murder She WroteGood Times, Mad About You; plus, a couple of episodes of The Love Boat.

“`In feature films, Christopher co-starred in No Time for Sergeants, The Fortune Cookie, The Shakiest Gun in the West, and With Six You Get Eggroll. Frequently sharing screen time with his close friend, Jamie Farr, they also toured together during the mid-1990s in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple on stage.

“`Christopher, whose son Ned suffers from autism, devoted much of his spare time to the National Autistic Society, doing public service announcements to bring attention to the affliction. In 1985, William and wife Barbara penned Mixed Blessings, a love story about raising children with special needs.

“`The affable William Christopher was 84. Now PLEASE, bring on 2017.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Cinema’s Lost Gem…

December 30th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`The actress who helped define the origins of film noir; co-starred with Frank Sinatra in his initial screen appearance;  and stood toe-to-toe with Humphrey Bogart, Michèle Morgan is a forgotten star from Hollywood’s Studio Era, and a French legend. She received the inaugural Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

“`Morgan took acting lessons from Renè Simon, while serving as an extra in several flicks to pay for her drama classes. She was first noticed by director Marc Allgèret, who offered her a major role in Gribouille.  In 1938, Michèle co-starred with Jean Gabin in Port of Shadows  (Le Quai des brumes). Exterior sets were moody and dark, symbolizing nuanced fatalism; and it influenced the American film noir genre. The production was a fine example of poetic realism. It was the 1939 winner of France’s top cinematic prize, the Prix Louis-Delluc.

“`After the blitzkrieg of France in 1940 by the Nazis,  Michèle escaped to Hollywood, and was contracted by RKO Pictures.  Her screen career across the pond was relatively minor, apart from appearing in  Joan of Paris opposite Paul Henreid; and Higher and Higher, Sinatra’s motion picture debut. She was strongly considered for the female lead in  Casablanca; but, RKO wouldn’t release her for the amount of money Warner Brothers offered. She did co-star with Bogie in Passage to Marseille.

“`She continued her movie career in Paris after  World War II. Notable roles include La Symphoie Pastorale, which earned her a Best Actress accolade at the Cannes Film Festival; and Carol Reed’s  The Fallen Idol. In the 1970s, Michèle virtually retired from acting, making only a few appearances in cinema, television, and theatre.                   MICHELE MORGAN —->

“` In 1992, she was given an honorary Cèsar Award for her contributions to French cinema. Four years later, Morgan was awarded a Career Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival.

“`Film historians surmise that no one who passed away in 2016 had more of an impact on the business of movie-making during its Golden Age. Michèle Morgan was 96.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Debbie Reynolds Stricken and Dies…

December 28th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`The death of her child was simply just too tough to comprehend. Debbie Reynolds had been rushed to the hospital, just a day after the passing of her daughter Carrie Fisher. Her son Todd called this a medical emergency. Debbie and Carrie were quite close, and the legendary actress was distraught over her latest personal tragedy. The family was in the process of making funeral arrangements.

“`Debbie Reynolds was one of Hollywood’s brightest stars during the 1950s and 1960s, and is best known for her part in Singing in the Rain in 1952. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Other films include How the West was Won and The Singing NunReynolds also had several hit records, and went #1 with the song Tammy from Tammy and the Bachelor. She continued to stay active, preserving memorabilia. And, she made sure MGM costumes and artifacts would end up in appropriate Hollywood museums.

“`Reynolds was married to Eddie Fisher from 1955 to 1959, and they had two children. He left her to wed Elizabeth Taylor. Two other husbands made foolish business deals, and cost Debbie millions of dollars; leaving her almost broke, and eventually, thrice divorced.

“`She received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, but was too weak to attend the event. Reynolds was recognized for her decades-long commitment to various charities, including the mental-health organization she founded, The Thalians. Debbie was a benefactor of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. On a personal note, I interviewed her in 2012 on my Forgotten Hollywood Radio Show. Ms. Reynolds additionally owned a personal copy of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History.

“`The Los Angeles Fire Department had confirmed the transport of an adult female in fair-to-serious condition at 1p to  Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Reynolds may have suffered stress-induced cardiomyopathy, or takotsubo syndrome. She died just 32 hours after the loss of her beloved Carrie. My thoughts and prayers to her family for enduring extraordinary adversity; an unbelievable turn of tragic events.

“`Debbie Reynolds was 84; a singularly buoyant personality to grace the screen.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- May the Force Be With Carrie Fisher…

December 27th, 2016

Manny P here…

“`Carrie Fisher found enduring fame as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. In 1987, her autobiography, Postcards from the Edge, became a best-seller. It became a 1990 motion picture that starred Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep. Her parents were Hollywood royalty — Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Plus, Carrie was briefly married to singer Paul Simon.

“`She made her movie debut opposite Warren Beatty in Shampoo. The actress co-starred in The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, Hannah and Her Sisters,  Charlie’s Angels, Austin Powers, and Scream 3. Recently, she reprised her defining role as Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Episode VIII (2017).             CARRIE FISHER (w/ c-3po)

“`Her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, which she’s performed across the country since 2006, was adapted into a book, made its way to Broadway in 2009, and captured for HBO in 2010. Carrie wasn’t coy about revealing details of her mental illness, drug addiction, or failed relationships. In fact, she was relentless in efforts to de-stigmatize mental health issues.

“`She co-hosted The Essentials on TCM with Robert Osborne in 2007. Harvard College gave Fisher its annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism. Her memoir, The Princess Diarist, was released in November 2016. The book is based on the diaries she kept during filming of the original Star Wars trilogy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A new documentary, Bright Lights:  Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, will screen at the upcoming Palm Springs Film Festival; it first debuted at Cannes Film Festival in May; and was set to air on HBO in early 2017. But now, it will air on January 7th.

“`With a thriving career left in tact, Carrie Fisher was 60.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 12 Flicks Missing from Film Registry…

December 26th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`Now that the Library of Congress made 25 additions to the National Film Registry, I’ve exercised my right to vote for 50 movies for next year’s consideration, per the repository’s bylaws. I also determined that a dozen of these motion pictures remain obvious omissions. Here is my reasoning:

~ DINNER AT EIGHT (1933) – An MGM extravaganza, including thespians that appeared in Grand Hotel:  John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore. Plus, dialogue between Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler near its conclusion is movie-magic.

      

~ SAN FRANCISCO (1936) – Another MGM production showcasing two of the most popular stars in their stable; Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald.  Yet, it’s Spencer Tracy who earned the first of many Oscar nods for his work; and predicted future accolades when typecast as a priest. The special effects are spectacular, and set the stage for a litany of disaster pictures.

~ HIGH SIERRA (1941) – Spencer Tracy became a bankable star in 1936; Humphrey Bogart established himself as an “A”-List actor with this movie. He also had a relatable human side as Mad Dog Earle, which convinced John Huston to cast him in The Maltese Falcon.

~ THE WOLFMAN (1941)Universal was the HORROR studio of the 1930s. The following  generation of monsters were secured in the next decade after the popularity of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula, and The Mummy. Inheriting his dad’s vast mantle, Lon Chaney Jr. succeeded Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi as the lot’s next big thing.

         

~ HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941) – Modern day celluloid fantasies were popular at the advent of World War II. The genre originates with this film. The Devil and Daniel Webster, A Portrait of Jennie, and The Bishop’s Wife were given a green-light after much ballyhoo for Mr. Jordan. Decades later, this was remade as Heaven Can Wait.

~ LIFEBOAT (1944) – Might be Alfred Hitchcock’s eighth addition to The National Registry. The entire production is filmed on a single set. While floating on the ocean, the cast includes noteworthy performances from William Bendix and Hume Cronyn, among others. The cameo of Hitchcock in the film is quite clever.

~ MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949) – A stepchild of King Kong; the stop-action animation was perfected by Ray Harryhausen. Like the aforementioned film, Robert Armstrong co-stars with this large ape. And, like The Wizard of Oz and The Picture of Dorian Gray, the finale was colorized for maximum effect.

   

~ THEM! (1954) – Considered one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s (along with The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Blob). The ensemble includes first-rate performances from Edmund Gwenn, James Arness, and James Whitmore. The giant ants are really scary, too!

~ AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956) – This initial multi-actor travelogue that influenced the casting of later productions, such as It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and The Longest Day. David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, and Cantinflas brings the writings of Jules Verne to life. Producer Mike Todd was killed in an airplane crash shortly after the film was completed. He was married to Elizabeth Taylor at the time.

~ THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY (1957) – Robert Youngson provides the first compilation in a series of silent film-snipets.  The early days of moving pictures were introduced to 1950s theater-goers (including me); our initial hello to Harry Langdon and Laurel & Hardy. Plus, the insightful ironic opening score is Chopin’s Tristesse, the French word for sadness. On-screen antics became a dichotomy to real-life tragedies that befell the Hollywood elite of the Roaring Twenties.

~ THE LONGEST DAY (1962) – Over 40 international stars were cast in a re-creation of the Allied D-Day Invasion of Normandy. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sal Mineo, Curt Jurgens, and Red Buttons recount harrowing stories of bravery. The battle segments are among the most realistic, until Steven Spielberg’s opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.

      

~ IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (1963) – Almost every significant comedian of the day is in this slapstick romp, such as  Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, and The Three Stooges. Some critics may consider it over-the-top. But, each month, it is screened somewhere in the nation to sellout crowds. Stanley Kramer’s only produced comedy is an all-out side-splitter.

“`Among modern classics I voted for:  1994’s QUIZ SHOW, a terrific motion picture that was unlucky to be released the same year as Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption; and 2001’s GOSFORD PARK, the production that influenced the creation of Downton Abbey.

“`That’s what you call a celluloid baker’s dozen

   

“`We will see if the Library of Congress agrees with my overall analysis for review in 2017. Any of my 50 recommendations would be great additions to the National Film Registry. I sent a link of this blog story to their official website.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Best Wishes to Carrie Fisher

December 23rd, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`Carrie Fisher is currently in the Intensive Care Unit of a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a heart attack aboard an airplane. A large gathering of media personnel was camped outside Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Her condition remains critical.

“`Fisher was on a flight from London to Los Angeles International Airport when she went into cardiac arrest. Fellow passengers, including a nurse, assisted her, according to air traffic control. When the plane descended into LAX, Carrie was awakened. She started throwing up and said she couldn’t breathe.

“` The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to LAX for a patient on an inbound flight in cardiac arrest at 12:11p. LAFD firefighter paramedics were standing by for the plane’s arrival, provided advanced life support, and aggressively treated and transported the patient to a local hospital. They continue to monitor her heart.

“`Carrie’s the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. She’s best known as Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy. Her thinly veiled autobiography Postcards from the Edge was adapted into a 1990 cinematic version, starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

“`Let’s hope for a speedy recovery to Ms. Carrie Fisher.

 

=============================================

“`A Chewbacca rendition of Silent Night is adding Star Wars flair to the holiday  classic. A video with related film clips has been watched nearly 2.5 million times on YouTube. This parody song was first created in 1999 by web designer Scott Anderson, who writes on his site that he made it for a parody Christmas album, Christmas With Chewbacca. The song has made the rounds online for several years.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Dick Van Dyke Loves Mary Poppins…

December 21st, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`Dick Van Dyke has agreed to appear in a Mary Poppins update. The cast includes Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep, and Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Filming is already underway in London, with the finished production expected to hit theaters in 2018, during the holidays. Mary Poppins Returns is directed by Rob Marshall. Emily Blunt stars as the nanny.

“`Van Dyke is slated to be cast as a banker, and may also sing. Plus, the 91-year-old is slated to dance. The legendary comedian appeared as chimney sweeper Bert in the 1964 original. He has hinted that Julie Andrews may also have a cameo role.

“`According to a Disney spokesperson,  this script draws from P. L. Travers popular children’s books series. Poppins is returning 20 years later to re-visit the Banks Family in Depression-era London. New songs will be composed with the blessing of Richard Sherman, who penned some of the original iconic tunes.

“`Dick Van Dyke (right) recently appeared in supporting roles in the Night at the Museum series of films. Recipient of five Emmys, Tony, and a Grammy,  Van Dyke was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.  He received the Screen Actors Guild’s highest honor:  SAG Life Achievement Award. He has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and was designated a Disney Legend by the Disney organization.

“`Van Dyke recently revealed he has no plans to retire; good news for his fans.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Marilyn Workout…

December 20th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`Marilyn Monroe became world-famous for her figure. But, it’s surprising that maintaining an alluring hourglass involved a lot of effort. Before she was cast in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Philippe Halsman photographed her for LIFE Magazine, taking a few candid shots of her daily workout routine. One snapshot of her in a white dress made it onto the cover of the April 7th, 1952 issue,  while pictures of Marilyn lifting weights in a terry-cloth bikini top were left on the cutting room floor, and have rarely been seen. At the time of the photo shoot, Marilyn Monroe (below) wasn’t yet a household name.

   

“`The black-and-white photographs depict a very-serious  Marilyn performing military presses and squats with a bar; and bench-pressing small weights. She detailed her regimen, later that year,  in a September interview with the now-defunct Pageant Magazine.  Monroe explained that she spent 10 minutes every morning practicing bust-firming exercises with small weights. But, she maintained she wasn’t a fitness-freak.

      

“`She cracked a smile mid-handstand, and gave a come-hither look after her workout, while relaxing on the floor. The backdrop of her modest apartment on the outskirts of Los Angeles spoke to Marilyn Monroe’s very-real effort in becoming a major motion picture star.

“`Va-Va-Voom!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Holy Villainous Etchings, Batman!

December 19th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`The actor who portrayed Batman in the 1960s television program is selling paintings he has created of villains from the show at an art gallery in the central Idaho resort town of Ketchum, near where he now lives. The opening night of Criminals on Canvas will be this Wednesday at the Gilman Contemporary Art Gallery, and West is scheduled to attend.

“`Over the last 50 years, West has been busy with art. The actor is now ready to share the fruits of his labor. The gala also features new prints of various characters from the original Batman  series. Plus, the attendees will even have an opportunit to purchase some of the actor’s art that evening. Each piece is a part of a limited edition of 100 prints, and sells for $500.

“`Fans are definitely glad to hear West has not abandoned his Gotham City roots.  The actor’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne is part of the campy series that was a popular live-action adaptation of the DC Comics hero. West’s deadpan portrayal of the hero seared the Caped Crusader into the national consciousness as he battled Catwoman, Penguin, Joker, and Riddler. These days, Batman has become a household name. Warner Brothers continues to develop the franchise into films and an animated series.

“`West has kept a good number of his pieces out of circulation; but, the actor says his artwork is absurd, and even satirical. It remains to be seen if it will also be profitable for the artist.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Bye Bye to Zsa Zsa…

December 18th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`Zsa Zsa Gabor was a legendary Hungarian actress and a Hollywood icon, who became a socialite along with her sister Eva. She began her stage career in Vienna, and was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936. She was married nine times, including to George Sanders and hotel magnate Conrad Hilton.  Zsa Zsa Gabor —>  emigrated to the United States in 1941,  and became a starlet with European style; a witty personality that epitomized exotic glamour… dah-ling.

“`Described by director John Huston as a serviceable actor, she had roles in  Moulin Rouge, Lili, Touch of Evil, Road to Hong Kong, and Pepe. On the small screen, Gabor flourished: A frequent guest on The Merv Griffin Show. She was also a panelist on What’s My Line?; and guest-starred on  The Red Skelton Show, The Life of Riley, Make Room for Daddy, Burke’s Law, Bonanza, Mr. Ed, F-TroopMy Three SonsRowan & Martin’s Laugh In, Gilligan’s IslandBatmanNight GalleryThe Fresh Prince of Bel-AirThe Love Boat, The Fact of Life, and Hart to Hart. In 1993, This is Your Life televised a tribute to Gabor. Zsa Zsa was humorously memorable as a spokesperson for AAMCO.

“`Ms. Gabor occasionally appeared in theatre. From 1961 to 1970, Zsa Zsa portrayed Elvira in national tours of Blithe Spirit. She made her Broadway debut in Forty Carats. Over the next decade, Gabor nationally toured in Bell Book and Candle, Arsenic and Old Lace (with Eva), and Ninotchka.

“`Zsa Zsa purchased a 8,878-square-foot Hollywood Regency-style home in Bel-Air that once belonged to Elvis Presley, and was originally built by Howard Hughes. She had a long-running feud with German actress Elke Sommer that began in 1984 when both were on Circus of the Stars, and it escalated into a multi-million dollar libel lawsuit by 1993. However, Zsa Zsa lost most of her total fortune in Bernie Madoff-related investments. Last year, her only child died.

“`Zsa Zsa invented a new kind of fame, borne out of multiple marriages, conspicuous wealth, and a jaded wisdom about the glamorous life. The great-aunt of Paris Hilton, and the spiritual matriarch to the Kardashians, Simpsons, and other tabloid faves. Gabor was a hall-of-mirrors celebrity; famous for just being famous.

“`The ubiquitous Zsa Zsa Gabor was 99.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Lincoln Center Events in 2017…

December 16th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`The Film Society of Lincoln Center has several events lined up that are worth noting for 2017:

~ 26th Annual New York Jewish Film Festival – A fine tribute to comedy  legends – Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder – with a 50th anniversary screening on Thursday, January 19th at 6:15p of Mel Brooks’  The Producers, with a poster exhibition honoring their work. They will be on display in the Furman Gallery of Walter Reade Theater for the duration of this fest; and a video tribute running in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater of film and television clips from some of Mostel and Wilder’s best moments. NYJFF tickets are currently on sale to Film Society and Jewish Museum members; and available to the public on Thursday, December 22nd.

~ 44th Annual Chaplin Award Gala – Honoring the legendary career of two-time Oscar-winner Robert De Niro; a remarkable talent and a legendary actor,  who portrayed a few of the most unique characters in film history. The event will be attended by noted presenters, and includes cinematic and interview snipets, culminating in the presentation of the Chaplin Award.

“`The Annual Gala began in 1972, with Charlie Chaplin returning from exile to accept the commendation. Since then, the award has been re-named for Chaplin. Many film industry’s most notable talents have been honored, such as Bette Davis, James Stewart, Laurence Olivier, Billy Wilder, Diane Keaton, Federico Fellini, Robert Altman, Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Tom Hanks, Alfred Hitchcock, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Sidney Poitier, Michael Douglas, Catherine Deneuve, and last year, Morgan Freeman.  The Lincoln Center’s most important fundraising event, this supports the organization’s work to enhance the awareness, accessibility, and understanding of the art of cinema. The upcoming gala is May 8th at the David H. Koch Theater.

“`The Film Society of Lincoln Center is devoted to supporting art, and elevating the craft of cinema. The Lincoln Center shines a spotlight on the everlasting, yet, evolving importance of the moving image. This nonprofit organization was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international film.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Loss of a Welsh Gem…

December 15th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`Bernard Fox was a Welsh-born film and television actor,  best known  for bombastic roles on Bewitched and Hogan’s Heroes; and for two cinematic productions based on the most famous ocean liner mishap in history.  Fox had memorable turns in A Night to Remember in 1958, and Titanic in 1997.  He was sometimes cast when Terry Thomas was unavailable.

“`After his naval service in the Royal Navy during World War II, Bernard  began in earnest a six-decade career;  initially in movies. His big screen credits included The Longest Day, The Million Dollar DuckBig Jake, YellowbeardStar!Herbie Goes to Monte CarloThe Mummy, and One of Our Spies is Missing.                             BERNARD FOX  —>

“`Fox prospered on the small screen, mostly in sitcoms; guest-starring in Perry MasonThe Andy Griffith ShowThe Dick Van Dyke Show, The MonkeesF-TroopMcHale’s Navy, I Dream of JeannieThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., Here Comes the Brides, M*A*S*H* and Columbo. He also appeared in Munster Go Home, based on the iconic television show.

“`The venerable Bernard Fox was 89.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- LOC National Film Registry 2016

December 14th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`The Library of Congress has released its annual addition to the National Film Registry for 2016. The 1980s and 1990s are fully represented with the inclusion of The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride, Thelma & Louise, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Lion King, and Rushmore. These are worthy selections that could have been chosen decades from now. My personal interest lies in classic cinema that made this year’s class. They include:

~ STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (1928) – Buster Keaton was an ingenious craftsman. This flick is remembered for its breath-taking stunts and cyclone finale. After making the movie, the actor made a disastrous move to MGM, which ended his productive career. His fame rests on his array of work from 1920 to 1928 when, with shorts and features, he displayed a seamless mastery of comic technique, editing, superb photoplay, and intricately visual gags.

~ LOST HORIZON (1937) – Frank Capra’s big-budget, romantic fantasy delivered an emotional respite for a public that sought escape from the Great Depression, and yearned for personal utopias. Through literature and celluloid, Shangri-La became a household term. A grandiose adventure, this motion picture stands out for stunning cinematography and extravagant sets; a hallmark of  Hollywood’s Golden Age. Plus, it features the handsome Ronald Colman.

~ BALL OF FIRE (1941) – In this Howard Hawks-directed screwball comedy, Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck really shine; with able support by character actors, which included Dana Andrews, S.Z. Sakall, Henry Travers, Allen Jenkins, and Dan Duryea. It oozes with colorful period slang and boogie-woogie riffs, highlighted by an energetic performance from legendary drummer, Gene Krupa. This production mirrored a mood of a pre-World War II citizenry. The Billy Wilder-Charles Brackett script is kind of a swing-era adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

~ BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955) – The landmark motion picture that coincided with the rise in popularity of Elvis Presley and rock n roll. The film titles opened to the strains of Rock Around the Clock.  It starred Glenn Ford, and made stars of Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow. This movie had none of the subtlety of the cinema made by Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and James Dean; but, all of the reality and grit.

~ EAST OF EDEN (1955) – Speaking of Dean, his career exploded for 18 months before his tragic death due to a car accident. He starred in just three pictures, and his first was this brooding drama. Jo Van Fleet garnered an Oscar for her startling performance in support. It was a great year for the actress, as she also co-starred in The Rose Tattoo and I’ll Cry Tomorrow. James Dean received the first of two Oscar nods.

~ THE BIRDS (1963) – It’s the seventh title added to the National Film Registry from the work of director Alfred Hitchcock. This was his followup production after Psycho.  Starring Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, and Suzanne Pleshette, this is widely considered the last important movie made by Hitch. Despite its confusing ending, the master of suspense delivers his usual chills. His promotion in theaters for the film are now considered legendary.

~ POINT BLANK (1967) – A neo-noir crime movie directed by John Boorman, it starred Lee Marvin and  Angie Dickinson. This flick was not a box office success in 1967; but, it has since gone on to become a cult classic, eliciting praise from such critics as film historian David Thomson. A forgotten movie that helped usher in the new wave of modern dramas that included Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate.

~ FUNNY GIRL (1968) – The musical autobiography of Fannie Brice earned its star, Barbra Streisand, an Academy Award (she tied with Katharine Hepburn). Upon receiving her statuette, Streisand famously proclaimed — Hello gorgeous! This movie was adapted from the 1964 Broadway production, and it features an infectious score and award-winning numbers, such as Second Hand Rose and People. It was Streisand’s first screen role. Omar Sharif co-starred.

“`The Library of Congress selects 25 movies for preservation, each year, for their vault in Culpeper, Virginia, because of their cultural, historic or artistic importance. This year’s picks bring the total number of films in the Registry to 700. The choices have become increasingly diverse and eclectic since the Registry was created in 1989.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Goodbye to Alan Thicke…

December 13th, 2016

Manny P. here… 

“`Alan Thicke portrayed a likable dad on the popular sitcom Growing Pains, which aired from 1985 until 1992.  The show led to a number of television films. Alan was nominated for three Emmy Awards in the 1970s as a writer for Barry Manilow’s talk show, and later, for a satirical take on this genre, in the variety show America 2-Night. His son is pop singer Robin Thicke.

“`Thicke grew up in Ontario, Canada.  He became an amiable Canadian talk show host,  before making his name in the United States. Norman Lear hired him to head the writing staff of Fernwood 2-Night. Early in his career, Thicke was the composer of several tunes, including the first theme to Wheel of Fortune,  The Facts of Life, and Diff’rent Strokes. ALAN THICKE ->

“`Appearing in a number of minor films, Alan was prolific on the small screen; guest-starring in The Love Boat, Murder She Wrote, Married with Children, How I Met Your Mother, 7th Heaven, and seven episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful. In 1988, Alan hosted the Miss USA Pageant and Miss Universe Pageant, replacing in both cases, Bob Barker. The next  year, Dick Clark took over Miss USA, while John Forsythe took over Miss Universe. Thicke co-hosted Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade with Joan Lunden for seven years, when he was succeeded by Regis Philbin.

“`Thicke was a frequent pitchman for ads on Sirius, including for Optima Tax Relief. On stage, he appeared in Chicago. In 2013, Alan was inducted along Canada’s Walk of Fame. He was on the Board of Directors for the Alan Thicke Center, which specialized in the fight and research against diabetes.

“`Alan Thicke was 69.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- In the Splash Zone…

December 12th, 2016

Manny P. here…

“`Months after SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment ended a breeding-orca program amid pressure from animal rights activists, company officials announced they’ll develop in Abu Dhabi a new  SeaWorld park without orcas —  the first outside the United States. The locale opens in 2022 on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island; a man-made property fast becoming a tourism and entertainment hub that is near the southeast tip of the Arabian peninsula. Willie is now free… and so is  Shamu.

“`The Abu Dhabi location will have a research, animal rescue and rehabilitation center, which will open ahead of the park, and the theme park will focus on educating visitors about ocean conservation, officials said. The two companies had been in talks since 2011 about a park in Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates.

“`SeaWorld  decided to terminate its innovative program in March following a season of declining attendance, and pressure from activists after the release of the critically acclaimed Blackfish in 2013. The documentary chronicled the life of Tilikum, an orca that killed a trainer during an Orlando performance in 2010. The film implied killer whales become more aggressive while in captivity. Since the release of this documentary,  SeaWorld has undergone a major shakeup, and currently, is in the middle of cost-cutting efforts. The company announced the elimination of 320 jobs across its 12 parks.

“`The Abu Dhabi location will have aquariums. But, it will also use 3-D mapping and virtual-reality technologies that immerse visitors in virtual scientific expeditions and deep-sea dives. The project is to be built and operated by the Abu Dhabi-government-backed developer, and SeaWorld will license its brand and provide expertise in animal care.

“`The project is in the early stages of design, and company officials aren’t releasing details about size, costs, or types of attractions.

Until next time>                               “never forget”