Remembering Hollywood’s hottest power couple

The Hitchcocks met while working at the Famous Players-Lasky studio in London in the early 1920s.

Happy birthday, Mr. Hitchcock, wherever you are! Alma’s b’day was Aug. 14, 1899; they were born a day apart.

Said Alfred, when he accepted the American Film Institute Life Achievement award: “I beg permission to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation, encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter Pat [Patricia Hitchcock], and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen. And their names are Alma Reville.”

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

Lauren Bacall has died at age 89

Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on Sept. 16, 1924.

Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on Sept. 16, 1924.

She was one of a kind and will be fondly remembered.

http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-hollywood/2014/08/lauren-bacall-dies-age-89

My favorite Lauren Bacall film noir: ‘The Big Sleep.’ Reviewed here: http://bit.ly/1pNUSvl

Another great Bogart & Bacall film noir is ‘Dark Passage.’ Reviewed here: http://bit.ly/1kBvxpi

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

The Film Noir File: Orson Welles taps Kafka in ‘The Trial’

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). All movies below are from the schedule of TCM, which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

The Trial posterThe Trial” (1962, Orson Welles). 8 p.m. (5 p.m.). Friday, Aug. 8.

Director-writer-actor Orson Welles presents an extremely faithful film adaptation of novelist Franz Kafka’s darkly comic and ultimately terrifying tale set in the Byzantine legal system of a nameless European country. A jittery, bumptious, unlikable guy (Anthony Perkins as Joseph K, who may be Kafka’s surrogate and dream self) wakes up one morning to find that he has been plunged into a bad dream: two tough cops invading his bedroom and accusing him of crimes they refuse to detail or explain.

He is persecuted by poker-faced nameless agents and subject to totalitarian police tactics as well as the brutal whims of an utterly arbitrary court. Defended by a sybarite lawyer (played by Welles), who rarely gets out of bed, K seems caught in an inescapable trap, facing inevitable punishment. But K keeps arguing with his accusers, protesting his innocence (which is clearly irrelevant) and trying to make sense out of a situation that is defiantly senseless from first moment to last.

“The Trial” translates Kafka’s masterpiece into eloquent words and icy, shadowy images of dread, underscored by a melancholy Baroque dirge, the Adagio in G by Albinoni. The movie is hampered by its low budget, much of which evaporated during shooting, and by its lack of Welles’ usual brilliant sound. But it has great visuals – shot by cinematographer Edmond Richard (“The Red Balloon”) in wide-screen black and white on mostly real Parisian locations.

And the film boasts a great cast: Perkins, Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Akim Tamiroff, Elsa Martinelli, Madeleine Robinson, Katina Paxinou, Gert Frobe and Michael Lonsdale.

“The Trial” is sometimes dismissed as a Welles failure. But it’s actually one of his most underrated movies, one of the most faithful of all adaptations of great 20th century literature, and a classic tale that, as Welles says in the prologue, has “the logic of a nightmare.”

Friday, Aug. 8: Jeanne Moreau Day

Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau

10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.): “Elevator to the Gallows” (“Frantic!”) (1958, Louis Malle). Louis Malle’s mesmerizing thriller about a desperate couple (Moreau, Maurice Ronet), trying to murder her husband and cover their tracks in a nearly empty office building at night. It’s no “Double Indemnity,” but it’s close. With a score by jazz master Miles Davis. (In French, with subtitles.)

Saturday, Aug. 9: William Powell Day

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Thin Man” (1934, W. S. Van Dyke). With William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan and Cesar Romero. Reviewed in FNB on July 28, 2012.

9:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.): “After the Thin Man” (1936, W. S. Van Dyke). With William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart and Joseph Calleia. Reviewed in FNB on June 6, 2013.

Monday, Aug. 11: Marlon Brando Day

Marlon Brando redefined the art of acting.

Marlon Brando redefined the art of acting.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951, Elia Kazan). Kazan’s peerless staging of Tennessee Williams’ play showcases Marlon Brando’s brilliant, massively influential lead performance as the brutal but charming Stanley Kowalski. Set in steamy New Orleans where Eros and death (“Flores para las muertos!”) dance their tango, this movie has one of the all-time great casts (three of whom, though not Brando, won Oscars).

Vivien Leigh plays Blanche DuBois, Stanley’s fragile, sensual, haunted prey. Kim Hunter is Stanley’s wife and Blanche’s sister, the screamed-over Stella. Karl Malden is Blanche’s kind and respectful suitor, mom-dominated Mitch. This is Kazan’s preferred cut, with the more downbeat ending, which gives full power to Blanche’s wrenchingly poignant last line “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” A masterpiece.

The Wild One poster10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.): “The Wild One” (1953, Laslo Benedek). With Brando, Lee Marvin and Mary Murphy. Reviewed in FNB on May 1, 2013.

11:45 p.m. (8:45 p.m.). “On the Waterfront” (1954, Elia Kazan). With Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger. Reviewed in FNB on June 5, 2014.

Tuesday, Aug. 12: Alexis Smith Day

10:15 a.m. (7:15 a.m.): “Split Second” (1953, Dick Powell). With Stephen McNally, Alexis Smith and Jan Sterling. Reviewed in FNB on March 5, 2013.

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “Conflict” (1945, Curtis Bernhardt). Marriage and murder, with Humphrey Bogart in one of his villain roles. Lesser Bogey; but still worth a look. With Sydney Greenstreet.

Wednesday, August 13: Cary Grant Day

9:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m.): “His Girl Friday” (1940, Howard Hawks). With Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy and Gene Lockhart. Reviewed in FNB on Jan. 22, 2013.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

A sip of Hollywood history: Cocktails at Yamashiro

The Bernheimer brothers began building the hilltop mansion in 1911. The residence was completed in 1914.

The Bernheimer brothers began building the hilltop mansion in 1911. The residence was completed in 1914.

The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles is hosting Cocktails in Historic Places from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, at Yamashiro in Hollywood! The “mountain palace” was completed in 1914 as a residence for the Bernheimer brothers, who were major collectors of Asian artwork. In the late 1920s, the property served as headquarters for the exclusive 400 Club, which catered to Hollywood’s motion picture industry elite. The Glover family opened Yamashiro Restaurant in the late 1940s.  The storied spot has a gorgeous garden and offers outstanding views of Los Angeles.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

Ahead of her time: An exceptional talent who made an art form of dressing the stars

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly take a stroll in "To Catch a Thief" (1955, Alfred Hitchcock).

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly take a stroll in “To Catch a Thief” (1955, Alfred Hitchcock).

“If it’s a Paramount film, I probably worked on it.”

So said the legendary costume designer Edith Head (Oct. 28, 1897-Oct. 24, 1981), who won eight Oscars over the course of her Hollywood career, dressing everyone from Barbara Stanwyck to Grace Kelly to Jackie Bisset. A peerless expert at marrying character and clothes as well as a master of disguising even a hint of a figure flaw, Head was a Tinseltown fashion tour de force.

She will be honored with a film series starting Friday, Aug. 8, at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood. The UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program, in association with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, are presenting: What I Really Do Is Magic: Edith Head and Hollywood Costume Design. The series runs through Saturday, Sept. 27.

Films include: “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “She Done Him Wrong,” “The Jungle Princess,” “The Lady Eve,” “Roman Holiday,” “To Catch a Thief,” “Sunset Blvd.,” “The Country Girl,” “A New Kind of Love,” “Artists and Models” and “Sweet Charity.”

In-person guests include: Carl Reiner, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis and authors David Chierichetti and Paddy Calistro.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

On the radar: Hollywood Redux exhibition in Santa Monica, film noir faves, remembering the blonde goddess

Love this photo of a (smiling!) Bogart & Bacall. Shot by Murray Garrett and on display at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica.

Love this photo of a (smiling!) Bogart & Bacall. Shot by Murray Garrett and on display at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica.

Murray Garrett: Hollywood Redux, a selection of black-and-white photographs including never-before-seen silver-gelatin prints from the artist’s archive, runs through Aug. 23 at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica. The Brooklyn-born Garrett, who worked in the Golden Age, typically used medium-format cameras, such as the Speed Graphic and Rolleiflex, to capture iconic moments from the lives of the entertainment industry’s elite and other popular figures of American culture and high society.

Taschen has released a must-read tome: Film Noir: 100 All-Time Favorites. From “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” to “Drive,” editors Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller present their top film-noirs and neo-noirs. Director, film noir scholar and “Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader provides the introduction.

Also, Tuesday, Aug. 5 marks the 52nd anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. RIP, Marilyn. See more images and read more about her life here.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

The Film Noir File: Jane Fonda is a high-class hooker in distress in neo-noir classic ‘Klute’

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). All movies below are from the schedule of TCM, which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

Klute posterKlute (1971, Alan Pakula).12:15 a.m. (9:15 p.m.). Friday, Aug. 1. With Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Roy Scheider and Jean Stapleton. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 26, 2013. Part of Jane Fonda Day and preceded at 11 p.m. (8 p.m.) by the broadcast of “AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda” (2014).

Sunday, August 3

2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.) “Advise & Consent” (1962, Otto Preminger). With Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, Don Murray, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford and Gene Tierney. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 4, 2013.

Tuesday, August 5: Barbara Stanwyck Day

12:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m.): “Lady of Burlesque” (1943, William Wellman). With Barbara Stanwyck, Michael O’Shea and Pinky Lee. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 12, 2012.

2:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.). “The Two Mrs. Carrolls” (1947, Peter Godfrey). With Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck and Alexis Smith. Reviewed in FNB on June 27, 2012.

Ball of Fire poster8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Ball of Fire” (1941, Howard Hawks). Hawks and ace writing team Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett’s sparkling gangster romantic comedy, with Missy Stanwyck as a red hot jazz mama (in Gene Krupa’s swing band, no less). Dana Andrews as her mobster boyfriend, and Gary Cooper as the shy encyclopedia writer/editor who comes between them. Also around for the riffs: Henry Travers, S. Z. Sakall and Dan Duryea.

Wednesday, August 6: Paul Muni Day

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang” (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932). The scorching fact-based Warners social protest drama, based on Robert E. Burns’ autobiographical depiction of an innocent man (Paul Muni as Burns) wrongly condemned to life on a Georgia chain gang. A powerhouse of a movie that has never lost its punch. With Glenda Farrell, Preston Foster and Allen Jenkins.

9:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m.): “Scarface” (1932, Howard Hawks). With Paul Muni, George Raft, Ann Dvorak and Boris Karloff. Reviewed in FNB on July 17, 2014.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

‘A Most Wanted Man’ ranks as one of the year’s best movies

A Most Wanted Man posterA Most Wanted Man/2014/Demarest Films/122 min.

Shocking violence has become so yawningly common, so eye-rollingly banal that its flippant depiction onscreen is often just par for the course.

But once in a while you see a movie that derives its tension not from a pool of trigger-happy cardboard psychos and their brutal pursuers but from white-hot sparks that fly between finely drawn flesh-and-blood characters; people with depth and dimension, with vital things at stake.  That’s the case with “A Most Wanted Man,” a sharp, suspenseful thriller (based on a John le Carré novel) by director Anton Corbijn.

Corbijn has assembled outstanding actors at the top of their game to bring this story to life. The story and the film belong to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014) as Günther Bachmann, a driven workaholic in a German government security/anti-terrorist agency in Hamburg.

His job is keeping surreptitious watch over a mysterious half-Chechen, half-Russian Islamic immigrant Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), who learns he is the potential heir to a fortune, assuming his claim to the money can be verified. In Günther’s mind, Karpov is a “minnow” in the larger quest to capture “a barracuda and a shark.”

Hoffman plays Günther with arresting realism. We see the dirt under Günther’s nails, hear the raspy voice that’s endured countless smokes and copious Scotch, see the hint of a pleased smile at the culmination of his search. Hoffman is mesmerizing.

Also turning in captivating performances are: Rachel McAdams as Karpov’s lawyer, Willem Dafoe as an uptight banker, Robin Wright as a CIA agent and Nina Hoss as Günther’s colleague.

Corbijn’s carefully rendered  mise-en-scène shows Hamburg, often shot against inky-blank nightscapes by Benoît Delhomme, as glossy and gritty, bustling and lonely. Herbert Grönemeyer provides a haunting score. Where Corbijn missteps is pacing what turns out to be a rather spare plot – the story idles a bit in the third act.

That’s a small flaw, however. Well crafted and superbly acted, “A Most Wanted Man” stands as one of the best films of 2014.

‘A Most Wanted Man’ is currently in theaters.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

Jules Dassin dazzles with double bill in Hollywood Exiles series

Jules Dassin’s ‘Rififi,’ a heist film set in Paris, is a cinematic masterpiece.

Jules Dassin’s ‘Rififi,’ a heist film set in Paris, is a cinematic masterpiece.

Paranoia marks many a film noir masterpiece. One reason in particular is that in the late 1940s, Hollywood directors, writers and actors faced political persecution as a result of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his harrowing witch hunt to uncover Communists. One of his most damning tools was a blacklist of people thought to be active in the Communist party, which, in his mind, was tantamount to threatening democracy and the American way.

Many of those under fire became voluntary exiles, hoping to rebuild their lives and careers abroad. While some left for Mexico, others, including Jules Dassin, Joseph Losey, Cy Endfield, Ben and Norma Barzman, and Donald Ogden Stewart, relocated in London, Paris and Rome. Drawing on film noir, neo-realism and modernist art cinema influences, Dassin and Losey were standout success stories. But, still hounded by the U.S. government and exploited by European producers looking for Hollywood talent on the cheap, the exiles found it was not an easy road.

To explore this unique era of filmmaking, UCLA is hosting the series Hollywood Exiles in Europe, which opens Friday, July 25, and runs to Sunday, Aug. 17. This series was co-curated by Rebecca Prime, author of the book “Hollywood Exiles in Europe: The Blacklist and Cold War Film Culture.” Prime and Norma Barzman will attend Friday’s opening feature: Christ in Concrete (1950, UK/US, Edward Dmytryk), a depiction of hardships endured by Italian-American construction workers.

On Saturday, July 26, there’s a top-notch film noir offering from Dassin: “Rififi” (France, 1955) and “Night and the City” (UK/US, 1950). In shadow-drenched, dangerous London, crooked fight promoter Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) double-crosses everyone he encounters as he tries to outrace the night. The night is faster. This is a top film noir, a stunning achievement of style and suspense. From Gerald Kersh’s novel; with Gene Tierney, Herbert Lom, Francis L. Sullivan and Googie Withers.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments

The Film Noir File: ‘Out of the Past,’ newly out on Blu-ray, hits TCM on Thursday

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). All movies below are from the schedule of TCM, which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week:

 Robert Mitchum falls hard for Jane Greer and, baby, he doesn’t care.


Robert Mitchum falls hard for Jane Greer and, baby, he doesn’t care.

Out of the Past” (1947, Jacques Tourneur). 2 a.m. (11 p.m.). Thursday, July 24. With Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 12, 2010. (See Tourneur‘s “Cat People” below, on Sunday.)

Wednesday July 23

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Bullitt” (1968, Peter Yates). With Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn and Robert Duvall. Reviewed in FNB on Oct. 27, 2012.

10:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m.): “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948, John Huston). With Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Alfonso Bedoya and Bruce Bennett. Reviewed in FNB on Nov. 31, 2012.

12:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m.): “Belle de Jour” (1967, Luis Bunuel). With Catherine Deneuve, Michel Piccoli, Jean Sorel and Genevieve Page. Reviewed in FNB on Aug. 8, 2013.

2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.): “Blowup” (1966: Michelangelo Antonioni). With David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles and The Yardbirds. Reviewed in FNB on June 19, 2014.


Thursday, July 24

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “Out of the Past” See Pick of the Week.

Metropolis posterSaturday, July 26

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Metropolis” (1927, Fritz Lang). With Brigitte Helm, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Alfred Abel. Reviewed in FNB on May 29, 2014.

2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.): “Spider Baby” (1964, Jack Hill). An insane, incestuous, greed-crazed Southern family runs amok in a dilapidated, decaying mansion. One of the wildest and campiest of all the ’60s low-budget horror quickie noirs, with a plot that makes “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” look like “The Song of Bernadette.” Lon Chaney Jr., Sid Haig and Quinn K. Redeker costar.

Sunday, July 27

12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.): “The Ladykillers” (1955, Alexander Mackendrick) With Alec Guinness, Katie Johnson, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom. Reviewed in FNB on July 31, 2013.

2 p.m. (11 a.m.): “Blackboard Jungle” (1955, Richard Brooks.) With Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier, Anne Francis, and Vic Morrow. Reviewed in FNB on Apr. 18, 2013. In Memoriam: Paul Mazursky.

4 p.m. (1 p.m.): “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955, Nicholas Ray). With James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper and Jim Backus. Reviewed in FNB on Apr. 18, 2013.

Cat People poster8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Cat People” (1942, Jacques Tourneur). Subtle, moody, gently chilling, this low-budget RKO supernatural noir, about a foreign émigré (Simone Simon) – whose soul is coveted by a coven of cat people – is a poetic suspense movie in which the horrors are suggested rather than shown. It was the first of the legendary Val Lewton-produced literate fright classics. Scripted by DeWitt Bodeen; with Kent Smith and Tom Conway.

9:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m.): “The Curse of the Cat People” (1944, Robert Wise & Gunther von Fritsch). Producer Val Lewton’s sequel to the classic “Cat People,” with the spirit of the first film’s beautiful feline victim Simone Simon returning to bedazzle the child of her bereaved ex-husband (Kent Smith). Robert Wise’s directorial debut, and a good one. (Followed at 10:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m.), by the documentary “Martin Scorsese presents Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows.”)

12:15 a.m. (9:15 p.m.): “Pandora’s Box” (1928, G. W. Pabst). With Louise Brooks, Fritz Rasp and Francis (Franz) Lederer. (Silent German Movie with music score.) Reviewed in FNB on Nov. 3, 2012.

2:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m.): “La Haine” (1995, Mathieu Kassovitz). Stylish, stark and violent black-and white drama of French juvenile delinquency in Paris and its suburban banlieues. With Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde and Said Taghmaoui. (In French with subtitles.)

Wednesday, July 30

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Detective Story” (1951, William Wyler). With Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix and Lee Grant. Reviewed in FNB on June 20, 2013.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Comments