Long-awaited Curtiz book hits Hollywood; Egyptian Theatre hosts signing and screening

Alan K. Rode

Film noir expert Alan K. Rode has released “Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film,” published by the University Press of Kentucky. To mark the book’s launch, the American Cinematheque is hosting a book signing and screening of two Curtiz gems on Thursday night in Hollywood at the Egyptian Theatre.

The Sea Wolf” (1941) stars Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield, Ida Lupino, Gene Lockhart and Barry Fitzgerald in a tense and moody adaption of Jack London’s anti-fascist adventure novel. Robert Rossen (“The Hustler”) wrote the screenplay.

The Breaking Point” (1950) takes Ernest Hemingway’s tragic novel “To Have and Have Not” as its source material. Though the setting is changed from Key West to Newport Beach, Calif., Curtiz delivers a more faithful version of the book than the famous Howard Hawks vehicle starring Bogart and Bacall.

Here, John Garfield expertly plays Skipper Harry Morgan. Gravel-voiced Patricia Neal is the alluring vamp; Phyllis Thaxter, Wallace Ford and Juano Hernandez round out the cast.

Rode set himself quite the task when he decided to write about this master director. Uncommonly prolific across many genres (including Westerns, swashbucklers and musicals), Hungarian-born Curtiz made more than 60 movies in Europe and more than 100 in Hollywood, arriving in 1926 at the behest of Warner Bros. Studio.

He won the Best Director Oscar for 1942’s noir-tinged “Casablanca” and for a short called “Sons of Liberty” from 1939. He was nominated for Oscars five times and directed 10 actors to Oscar nominations. James Cagney and Joan Crawford received their only Academy Awards under Curtiz’s direction.

Crawford won for her comeback role, “Mildred Pierce,” a domestic film noir from 1945. With a screenplay by Ranald MacDougall, the movie improves and heightens the drama of James M. Cain’s novel.

Co-starring Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, Jack Carson, Eve Arden and Bruce Bennett, “Mildred Pierce” ranks as one of our all-time favorite films.

For tonight, however, we’ll just have to swoon over John Garfield. Life’s rough.

Rode will sign his book in the lobby at 6:30 p.m. He will also introduce the films, slated to start at 7:30 p.m.

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As AFI turns 50, this year’s fest looks set to be one of the best

We are very excited that AFI FEST presented by Audi starts in Hollywood on Thursday, Nov. 9, and ends Thursday, Nov. 16. This great fest is open to the public so check it out.

Load the app and pack some snacks – there are more than 100 movies showing!

Opening the festival on Thursday night is Dee Rees’ “Mudbound,” a drama set in post-World War II Mississippi, starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the American Film Institute, several 1967 titles will screen, such as: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Blow-Up,” and “Red Desert.”

On Saturday, Nov. 11, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris will be honored with a tribute following a 3 p.m. screening of “Wormwood,” about one man’s 60-year quest to illuminate the circumstances of his father’s mysterious death. Peter Sarsgaard stars. Morris’ credits include the Oscar®-winning “The Fog of War” (2003) as well as “Gates of Heaven” (1978), “The Thin Blue Line” (1988), “Tabloid” (2010) and “The Unknown Known” (2013).

The world premiere of Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” was scheduled to close the festival. On Monday, however, Sony pulled the film from the fest because of the sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey. In this thriller based on real events, Spacey initially played billionaire J. Paul Getty in 1973, as he refuses to give in to kidnappers who demand $17 million in ransom for the release of Getty’s grandson. The movie is still scheduled for theatrical release later this year but has been reshot, cutting Spacey and replacing him with Christopher Plummer.

Here at FNB, of course, we are super stoked about the neo-noir slate of programming, in particular:

Writer/director Aaron Katz’s “Gemini,” a thriller set in Hollywood starring Lola Kirke and Zoë Kravitz.

Have a Nice Day,” a Chinese animated noir about greed and ruthlessness amid China’s new economy, is generating buzz. Jian Liu writes and directs.

Gloria Grahame

“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” is Paul McGuigan’s film based on Peter Turner’s memoir of his relationship with actress Gloria Grahame, near the end of her life. Annette Bening plays Grahame, an icon of film noir. Jamie Bell plays her young lover, Peter. Julie Walters and Vanessa Redgrave round out the cast.

In “Molly’s Game,” Jessica Chastain is Molly Bloom, a former athlete targeted by the FBI after she gets involved in running high-stakes poker games. Based on a true story; directed by writing giant Aaron Sorkin.

In the Fade” is Germany’s contender this year for Best Foreign Film Oscar. Diane Kruger plays a wife and mother who turns vigilante after violence rips her life apart. Fatih Akin directs and co-writes. This is one of 14 Foreign Language Oscar entries in the fest lineup.

An athlete with an unscrupulous agenda – figure skater Tonya Harding – is the subject of “I, Tonya,” from director Craig Gillespie. Margot Robbie stars. Our friend Bob Strauss of the LA Daily News describes this as “hilarious and hard-hitting.”

Spoor” is a new crime thriller by the great Agnieszka Holland and is Poland’s Best Foreign Film Oscar entry.

In Laurent Cantet’s “The Workshop,” set in a declining town near Marseille, the vibe of a writers’ group goes from soothing to sinister.

An estranged couple must join forces to find their missing son in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless,” which is Russia’s Best Foreign Film Oscar hopeful.

Other highlights include:

The 12-film Robert Altman retrospective will screen “M*A*S*H” (1970), “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971), “The Long Goodbye” (1972), “California Split” (1973), “Nashville” (1975), “3 Women” (1977), “Vincent & Theo” (1990), “The Player” (1992), “Short Cuts” (1993), “Kansas City” (1996), “Gosford Park” (2001) and “A Prairie Home Companion” (2006). Talent in attendance at screenings will be announced closer to the festival.

Call Me By Your Name” is a coming-of-age bisexual love story set in Italy in 1983, directed by Luca Guadagnino, based on André Aciman’s novel and starring Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Hostiles,” a highly anticipated Western by Scott Cooper, starring Christian Bale.

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” a sci-fi love story set during the Cold War.

Let the Sun Shine In” a comedy/romance with the always-wonderful Juliette Binoche; directed by Claire Denis.

Isabelle Huppert

Isabelle Huppert fans, take note. The inimitable actress stars in two dramas: Michael Haneke’s “Happy End” and “Claire’s Camera” by Hong Sang-soo. (“Happy End” is Austria’s Best Foreign Film Oscar contender.)

Another coveted ticket: “The Other Side of Hope” by Finland’s Aki Kaurismäki, a critics’ darling.

Talent scheduled to appear at AFI FEST presented by Audi includes: Christopher Nolan, Angelina Jolie, Sofia Coppola, Martin McDonagh, Agnes Varda and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”).

Enjoy!

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Romero honored at special screening of ‘Creepshow’

An indie director before the term was widely used, George Romero carved his own niche in the horror genre by brilliantly marrying over-the-top blood and guts with sharp social satire.

He broke new ground with his first effort, 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead.” Dismissed by critics, his low-budget film was a huge hit with audiences and grossed more than $50 million. Romero went on to direct these sequels: 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead,” 1985’s “Day of the Dead,” 2005’s “Land of the Dead,” 2007’s “Diary of the Dead” and 2009’s “George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead.”

The Bronx-born maverick moviemaker died on July 16, 2017; he was 77.

Comic book fans will no doubt appreciate Romero’s “Creepshow,” a 1982 black comedy shot in Pittsburgh, as were many of his other flicks. (Romero graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1960.)

Starring Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson and E.G. Marshall, the film was Stephen King’s first script. King also plays a part in one of the five stories, which are inspired by the EC and DC comics of the 1950s.

You can see “Creepshow” on the big screen on Wednesday, October 25, at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The Alex is hosting a tribute to Romero with a preshow reception and Q&A.

Happy Halloween, zombie people!

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Basinger and Pearce delight a sold-out audience at anniversary screening of ‘L.A. Confidential’

Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger spoke with critic Stephen Farber after the screening.

Kim Basinger’s initial answer to playing the voluptuous call girl Lynn Bracken in “L.A. Confidential” was a resounding “no.”

“I’m not going to play a whore! I’m a Mom now,” she recalled saying. (Basinger gave birth to daughter Ireland Baldwin in October of 1995.)

Basinger was speaking at Tuesday night’s screening of the movie, marking its 20th anniversary, held at the Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills. Co-star Guy Pearce (squeaky clean Det. Ed Exley) joined her for the Q&A, which was moderated by critic Stephen Farber.

But the film’s director Curtis Hanson was determined and invited Basinger to meet him at the Formosa Café to discuss the idea. (The famous bar/restaurant would later feature in the film – it’s there that Kevin Spacey as cop Jack Vincennes gives his perfectly timed line: “It is Lana Turner.”)

At the Formosa, Basinger said she experienced “the seduction of Curtis Hanson,” referring to his eloquence and deadpanning that he was “very manipulative.”

Kim Basinger and Guy Pearce share a scene in “L.A. Confidential.”

Hanson’s persistence paid off: Basinger won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal. “He believed in me much more than I believed in myself,” she said. “He had a magical connection with actors and with people in general.”

(Hanson and Basinger worked together again in 2002’s “8 Mile,” with Hanson remarking, while she was deciding whether to take the part, “I know if she fears it, she’s going to do it.” Sadly, Hanson died on Sept. 20, 2016.)

Fans wait in line late Tuesday afternoon at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Playing Ed Exley was a much easier choice for Pearce, who was unknown in America at that time, though he remembered being a little overwhelmed by the plot’s twists and turns. “I read the script and I was really confused,” he laughed.

(Hanson and Brian Helgeland earned an Oscar for their screenplay adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel.)

Once Pearce heard that fellow Aussie Russell Crowe had been cast as muscle-bound cop Bud White, he was eager to be a part of the production, adding that he went through extensive screen tests at Warner Bros. before it was a done deal.

“L.A. Confidential” turned out to be Pearce’s break-through role. As he put it: “It’s the greatest film I’ve ever been a part of. It sticks with me like nothing else.”

(Pearce went on to make many more films, including “Memento” in 2000, “The Hurt Locker” in 2008, and “Iron Man 3” in 2013.)

Basinger said director Curtis Hanson was a calming influence.

Pearce and Basinger both credit Hanson with being a calming presence and encouraging them to bring stillness to the screen. A true cinephile who had the cast watch a “film noir retrospective” to get in an old-school mood, Hanson pushed back when he was nudged by execs to speed up the production, telling them: “You can hurry me along all you want but I’m not going to go any faster.”

Veronica Lake was famous for her hair. Basinger was as well – as a Breck Shampoo girl. In the film, Basinger plays a call girl who is Lake’s doppelgänger.

Hanson’s treatment of his actors was often gentle but also spare. Basinger remembered being rattled after doing a scene repeatedly, noting that she had trouble walking gracefully in long gowns and clunky 1940s shoes, à la Veronica Lake.

She asked Hanson for help. His answer: “Do it again.”

“He was utterly inspiring, really,” said Pearce. “He was a mentor, a father figure and we stayed close friends.”

Pearce also shared Crowe’s advice before a close-up. He told Pearce: “Don’t blink.”

Basinger took the opportunity on Tuesday night to thank Pearce and Crowe for their support in her Oscar win, explaining that she’d been too flustered to do so at the time. With “Titanic” sweeping the awards that year, she was sure the trophy would go to Gloria Stuart. “When you hear your name, you freeze! You lose your hands. You lose your feet. You can’t think. I just sat there until Curtis, who was sitting behind me, nudged me. Jack Nicholson had to help me to the stage.”

At 63, and still every inch a beautiful blonde, Basinger looked sleek and slim in a black blazer and blouse, cuffed jeans, white socks and black Oxfords.

When an audience member asked if they had considered making Lynn a brunette for the film’s final scene (in which she leaves Los Angeles, with Bud, for Arizona), Basinger paused a moment, then replied:  “I don’t think there was any thought of that,” she said. “I think she was really happy being a blonde.”

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TCM Classic Film Festival honors Robert Osborne’s legacy

The TCM Classic Film Festival is dedicated to famed host and historian Robert Osborne. The fest runs Thursday through Sunday in Hollywood.

By Film Noir Blonde and Michael Wilmington

This year’s edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival will be bittersweet. Our excitement about four days filled with gorgeous movies and great guests is tempered with sadness because of a very sad loss: TCM host and historian Robert Osborne passed away on March 6 at his home in New York City. He was 84.

The fest, which runs in Hollywood from Thursday, April 6, to Sunday, April 9, is dedicated to Osborne’s memory and we hope that this year’s theme – Comedy in the Movies – will help to chase the blues away.

At Wednesday’s press conference, held at the TCL Chinese Multiplex Theatre, TCM representatives noted that Robert Osborne was the festival. As to how Osborne’s legacy and contributions (specifically his intros to the films) will be remembered going forward, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz said: “We would like to bring Bob back, sure, but there’s the question of doing it the right way. Maybe it’s a matter of having an introduction to his introduction.”

“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” screens poolside Friday night. Do we need to watch Bette and Joan for the 5,000th time? Maybe …

Some of the titles for a comedy-focused fest have obvious appeal, for example: “Born Yesterday,” “The Graduate,” “The Jerk,” “High Anxiety” and “Whats Up, Doc?

Others have a dark slant … which is right up our alley, of course: “Some Like It Hot,” “Beat the Devil,” “Unfaithfully Yours,” “Lured,” “Twentieth Century,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Harold and Maude,” “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Front Page.”

And the campy noir treat “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” will screen Friday night poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Additionally, there are tearjerkers, such as “Postcards from the Edge,” perhaps the greatest musical of them all, “Singin in the Rain,” and other feel-good fare, such as  “The Princess Bride,” “Casablanca,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

There are, in fact, nine themes for the fest: Discoveries; Essentials; Festival Tributes; Dark Comedies; Divorce Remorse; Movies Spoofs; Hey, That’s Not Funny; Special Presentations; and Nitrate.

As for Nitrate, the TCM program guide points out that films produced before the early 1940s were released on nitrate stock, which has a luminous quality and higher contrast than the cellulose acetate film that superseded it. (Nitrate was replaced because of its volatile nature.) The film noir classic “Laura” is part of this roster.

TCM programming director Charlie Tabesh explained at the press conference: “We try to get everyone interested in classic film, young and old. When we book, we try to put very different films against each other … so that people have a choice.”

That is an understatement! There are about 90 films at the fest.

Plus, there is a full slate of special guests and events – Mankiewicz will interview veteran actor Michael Douglas; director Peter Bogdanovich will discuss his career as will blacklisted actress Lee Grant; comedy greats Carl and Rob Reiner will be honored at a hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX – as well as panels, parties, presentations, book signings and more.

Mr. Osborne would be proud.

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Restored ‘Jamaica Inn’ highlights top acting talent

In Hollywood’s Golden Age, no one held court quite like Charles Laughton. Pompous and puffed-up, charming and shrewd, he often played characters brimming with confidence, or, some might say, entitlement. A case in point is Alfred Hitchcock’s “Jamaica Inn,” from 1939, in which Laughton plays Sir Humphrey Pengallan, an aristocrat lording it about in Cornwall, England, in the early 1800s, amid shipwrecks and pirates and a butler named Chadwick (Horace Hodges). Of course.

Based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel and made a year before Hitchcock’s Oscar-winning movie of Du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” the film introduces Maureen O’Hara as Mary, a headstrong young Irish woman (is there any other kind?) who travels to Cornwall to find her Aunt Patience, her last surviving relative. Mary finds Patience as well as much crafty scheming and seaside battles.

“Jamaica Inn” was the last film Hitchcock made in England before embarking on his stellar Hollywood career. Hitchcock’s wife and creative partner Alma Reville Hitchcock also worked on the movie. Laughton co-produced. (Laughton and O’Hara reunited for “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” also 1939, directed by William Dieterle. Lest anyone think Laughton was typecast as a British bigwig, this famous and poignant part let him show his acting chops.)

From left: Cohen Media Group Chairman and CEO Charles S. Cohen, Alfred Hitchcock’s granddaughter Tere Carrubba, Hitchcock leading actor Norman Lloyd, Alfred Hitchcock’s granddaughter Katie Fiala and KCETLink Media Group President and CEO Michael Riley at Tuesday’s screening of “Jamaica Inn.” Photo courtesy of Lisa Rose.

“Jamaica Inn” was recently restored and shown Tuesday night on the big screen at the Pacific Design Center’s SilverScreen Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by KCETLink Media Group, BAFTA Los Angeles and Cohen Media Group. The “Jamaica Inn” screening was held in advance of the movie’s KCET broadcast premiere, part of KCETLink’s Cohen Film Classics lineup.

Cohen Film Classics’ telecast of “Jamaica Inn” will air on Friday, March 24, on KCET in Southern California at 10:20 p.m. PT and on Link TV nationwide (DirecTV 375 and DISH network 9410) at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The restoration looks great and is well worth seeing.

Special guests at Tuesday’s event included Charles S. Cohen, KCET’s host of Cohen Film Classics, KCETLink Media Group’s Michael Riley, two of Hitchcock’s three granddaughters – Katie Fiala and Tere Carrubba – and legendary actor-producer Norman Lloyd, who played in “Saboteur” (1942) and “Spellbound” (1945) and produced many episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

Lloyd, 102, had the audience in the palm of his hand as he shared memories and anecdotes about working with the Master and Mistress of Suspense. “Alma Hitchcock knew as much about film as anyone who ever lived and Hitch knew it,” said Lloyd.

As for his famous leap from the Statue of Liberty in “Saboteur,” Lloyd said Hitch asked him: “Norm, can you do a back flip over the railing?” Lloyd agreed and it was shot in one take. “Hitch got it. I gave it. And forever after we were great friends. It was the greatest piece of acting I’ve ever done!”

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‘This Gun for Hire’ opens Noir City: Hollywood Festival on Friday at the Egyptian Theatre

The Veronica LakeAlan Ladd quintessential film noir “This Gun for Hire,” co-starring Laird Cregar, opens the Noir City: Hollywood Festival on Friday at the Egyptian Theatre. Directed by Frank Tuttle from a Graham Greene novel, the 1942 film helped shape many archetypes of the genre. Albert Maltz (one of the Hollywood Ten) and W.R. Burnett wrote the script, with an uncredited contribution from Tuttle. John F. Seitz shot it and Edith Head designed the costumes.

Noir City: Hollywood, the longest-running film noir festival in Los Angeles, is now in its 19th year. For 2017, the Film Noir Foundation and the American Cinematheque will present a program “replicating the movie-going experience of that time – 10 double bills, each featuring a major studio A picture paired with a shorter B movie … showcased exactly as it was back in the day.”

In Friday’s B-movie slot is the well regarded “Quiet Please, Murder” (1942, John Larkin), which stars the inimitable George Sanders as a con artist.

The Film Noir Foundation’s Eddie Muller will introduce the lineup. There’s a cocktail hour between films for all ticket buyers, sponsored by Clarendelle inspired by Haut-Brion and Teeling Irish Whiskey.

Compiled by Muller, Alan K. Rode and Gwen Deglise, the festival runs through April 2.

In honor of the film and the fest, we are re-running an earlier review of “This Gun for Hire.”

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Welcome the New Year with a glass from the past

Looking to add retro flair to your New Year’s Eve entertaining? Here are a few ideas to keep your bartender busy.

The LA Fizzy Blonde has a nice kick, sans alcohol.

The LA Fizzy Blonde
8 ounces ginger ale (don’t use diet)
2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Mix soda and juice. Add ice and lime slice to garnish.
From FNB’s own fridge

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The Biltmore’s Black Dahlia cocktail

The Biltmore’s Black Dahlia
This concoction is named after the mysterious Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. the Black Dahlia, who was allegedly seen at the Biltmore Hotel on the evening of Jan. 9, 1947. She disappeared that night and her mutilated body was found several days later.
3 ½ ounces Grey Goose Le Citron vodka
¾ ounce Chambord black raspberry liqueur
¾ ounce Kahlua
Ice
Shake ingredients in a shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange zest.
From the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and www.imbibemagazine.com
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The Hummingbird: perfection in a glass.

The St.-Germain Hummingbird
2 parts brut champagne or dry sparkling wine
1 ½ parts St.-Germain elderflower liqueur
2 parts club soda
Stir ingredients in a tall ice-filled Collins glass, mixing completely. Think of Paris circa 1947. Garnish with a lemon twist.
From St.-Germain

The classic Pink Lady cocktail has a mere three ingredients.

The Pink Lady
1 ½ ounces gin
2-4 dashes of grenadine
White of one egg
Shake well with cracked ice; strain into cocktail glass
From various sources; variations call for the addition of the juice of half a lemon, ½ ounce cream, ¾ ounce applejack and Maraschino cherry as garnish. Photo from www.tipsytexan.com
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This retro manual is available at LA’s Dragon Books.

The Ward 8
Juice of one lemon
½ jigger of grenadine
1 jigger of Fleischmann’s Preferred gin
Shake well with cracked ice. Strain into 8 ounce glass. Decorate with slice of orange and Maraschino cherry
From Fleischmann’s Mixer’s Manual, 1948
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The French Breeze is from 1961.

The French Breeze
2 ounces Calvados
2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1-2 dashes orange-flower water
¼ teaspoon fine granulated sugar
Chilled Champagne
Pour Calvados and juice into a cocktail shaker one-third full of cracked ice. Add orange-flower water and sugar. Shake the drink well and pour it into a chilled 12-ounce highball glass. Fill the glass with chilled Champagne and stir lightly to blend.
From Gourmet July 1961; posted this month by Brie Schwartz for Gourmet Live
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Eureka Lake poster

The Manhattan
2 ounces rye or Canadian whisky
½ ounce sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry to garnish
Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice, stir well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add cherry.
From www.cocktails.about.com

Choose your Fireman’s Brew by hair color.

If you’d rather keep the drinks list simple, try a pretty pale, such as Fireman’s Brew Blonde Beer, a Pilsner lager brewed and bottled in Southern California. The guys also make Fireman’s Brewnette and Redhead Ale.

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AFI FEST spotlights strong women in unusual roles

Isabelle Huppert

By Film Noir Blonde and Michael Wilmington

It’s clearly the year of Isabelle Huppert … at least at AFI FEST presented by AUDI, Huppert starred in two excellent films: “Elle” a thriller by Paul Verhoeven and “Things to Come” a family drama by Mia Hansen Love. In the first she is tough as nails; the second is one of the most human and tender roles of her career. Both are well worth seeing.

Overall, the festival highlighted many strong women’s roles:
Annette Bening in “20th Century Women,” by director Mike Mills
Nicole Kidman in “Lion,” by Garth Davis
Jessica Chastain in “Miss Sloane,” by John Madden
Oulaya Amamra in “Divines” by Houda Benyamina
Nathalie Baye, Marion Cotillard and Lea Seydoux in “It’s Only the End of the World,” by Xavier Dolan
Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte in “Julieta,” by Pedro Almodovar
Kika Magalhaes in “The Eyes of My Mother,” by Nicolas Pesce
Alice Lowe (actress, writer and director) of “Prevenge.”

And “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” by Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom is more than a little brilliant.

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AFI FEST 2016 honors Lupino, Dandridge and Wong

By Film Noir Blonde and Michael Wilmington

Ida Lupino directed “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The Bigamist,” both from 1953, as well as five other features.

Ida Lupino directed “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The Bigamist” as well as five other features.

The AFI FEST presented by AUDI, which runs in Hollywood from Nov. 10-17, will honor three brilliant women as part of its Cinema Legacy programming: Ida Lupino, Dorothy Dandridge and Anna May Wong.

Most famous as an actress, Lupino was also a director, writer and producer. She was the second woman (after Dorothy Arzner) to join the Directors Guild of America. Lupino was known for her energy and her intensity as well as her fiery temperament and mercurial character. She once described herself as “the poor man’s Bette Davis.” Like Davis, Lupino craved meaty, challenging roles and was not afraid to look unglamorous while playing them.

Dorothy Dandridge

Earlier in her career, she was billed as “the English Jean Harlow” and she was made to dye her hair blonde. But whether she was a blonde or a brunette, Lupino had a strong affinity with film noir. Lupino said of her early days: “I was going to play all the sweet roles. Whereupon, at the tender age of 13, I set upon the path of playing nothing but hookers.”

In addition to “They Drive By Night” and “High Sierra,” she earned 15 film noir or crime/mystery acting credits. She directed seven feature films (most notably “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The Bigamist” both from 1953) as well as many TV shows.

Dandridge, sometimes called the black Marilyn Monroe, was the first African American to receive a Best Actress Oscar nod. Dandridge was nominated for her performance in “Carmen Jones” (1954, Otto Preminger) but lost to Grace Kelly in “The Country Girl.”

Dandridge and Preminger began an affair during the shoot. He also started giving her career advice, which included turning down several roles. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for 1959’s “Porgy and Bess” (also directed by Preminger). In 1965, she died, alone, under mysterious circumstances. She was 42.

Anna May Wong

Wong was the first Chinese-American movie star. A native of Los Angeles, she worked in silent film, sound movies, television, stage and radio. But given the prejudices of the time, she did get her fair share of Hollywood roles.

Most egregiously, she was not considered for the lead of 1937’s “The Good Earth.” The part went to Luise Rainer. Wong made “Piccadilly” in London with director E.A. Dupont. She died in 1961 at age 56.

“The Hitch-Hiker,” “Carmen Jones” and “Piccadilly” will screen at AFI FEST.

This stellar fest is open to the public and will present galas, tributes, special screenings, world cinema, new auteurs, American independents, shorts and more.

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