Happy birthday, Marilyn Monroe! She would have been 88 today.
Read more about her and see more photos here.
Happy birthday, Marilyn Monroe! She would have been 88 today.
Read more about her and see more photos here.
The FNB team is looking forward to the sixth annual Canned Goods For Good Causes charity ball & swag bag party, to be held on Monday, June 2, from 7 p.m. to 1a.m. at Hollywood’s King King, 6555 Hollywood Blvd., 90028. All proceeds from the event will benefit Peace Over Violence, a violence-prevention and crisis-intervention organization.
Emcee Travis Clark (Tiny Odd Conversations) will host an evening of comedy and music featuring comedians Sara Schaefer (MTV’s “Nikki and Sara Live”), Sam Comroe (Conan), Drew Lynch, Andie Bolt, and Lianna Carrera, and musicians Mary Morales, EVMB (LA Beatbox Champion), Rachel B, and DJ Little Kinky.
Greenbar Collective will sponsor one and a half hours of free signature cocktails from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Raffle prizes have been provided by: Actor’s Key, Adult Swim, Artist Nidhi Chanani, Artist Tess Fowler, Drongo Photo, Eufuria Pet Salon, Final Draft, Focus Features, Foxy and Fierce Bootcamp, Kneady Bakery, LGO Restaurants, Lola and Roxy’s Salon, Not a Burger Stand, Outback Steakhouse, Paramount Pictures, Perfect Touch Massage, Pickwick Lanes, Playroom Ent Games, and Push Pull Cardio.
Guests will take away gift bags with swag provided by Adult Swim, Craftsman Soap, Criterion, D3P, Disney, Focus Features, Inno Games, Inventing Daily, Ketchup Entertainment, Lionsgate, Little Orbit, Lok-A-Bolt, Miramax, Paramount, Shout! Factory, Universal Home Entertainment, Warner Bros., and more.
Just put on something swanky, bring a $25 donation for Peace Over Violence and you’re bound to have fun. To RSVP, email: [email protected]. See you there!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all! Need a little justification to treat yourself to some spring beauty products? Never fear, FNB is here. St. Pat’s comes but once a year and you deserve some brand-new gear. Here are a few ideas to get your green on this weekend.
It’s good when you have a few spare minutes and find yourself near a bookstore. In my case, I was browsing at Diesel Books in Brentwood and saw these yummy titles. Can’t wait to dig in.
By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington
The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).
Pick of the Week: John Garfield Day is Tuesday, March 4
A film noir feast: Nine movies with one of the great film noir stars, John Garfield – a quintessential New York City actor and Warner Brothers tough guy, whose movies and roles were full of nerve, chutzpah and street smarts, and who was born in the city, a.k.a. Jacob Julius Garfinkle. The Garfield noirs or semi-noirs shown that day are “Dust be my Destiny” (1939), “They Made Me a Criminal” (1939), “East of the River” (1940), “Out of the Fog” (1941), “The Sea Wolf” (1941), “Dangerously They Live” (1942) and (the best of the bunch) “The Breaking Point” (1950). Also showing that day: two interesting Garfield non-noirs “Four Wives” (1939) and “Flowing Gold” (1940).
Mark your calendar for this special day for film noir fans, and for all cinema-lovers – a day devoted to a classic movie hero and anti-hero in black-and-white, to the guy they called “Julie,” who lived passionately on screen and who died at 39, one of the tragic victims, many feel, of the ’50s Black List.
Friday, Feb. 28
8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Casablanca” (1942, Michael Curtiz). With Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Reviewed in FNB on Aug. 25, 2012. Also, TCM is bringing “Casablanca” to theaters for free screenings in 20 select cities on Tuesday, March 4.
Saturday, March 1
12 p.m. (9 a.m.): “On the Waterfront” (1954, Elia Kazan). With Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger. Reviewed in FNB on Feb. 20, 2013.
8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “In the Heat of the Night” (1967, Norman Jewison). With Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger and Lee Grant. Reviewed in FNB on Jan. 16, 2014.
2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967, Arthur Penn). With Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons. Reviewed in FNB on Feb. 4, 2013.
Monday, March 3
6:45 a.m. (3:45 a.m.): “The Informer” (1935, John Ford). With Victor McLaglen, Preston Foster and Heather Angel. Reviewed in FNB on Dec. 12, 2012.
Tuesday, March 4
John Garfield Day: See above. Also: “Casablanca” might be showing for free at your local theater (see above).
Stranger on the Third Floor/1940/RKO Radio Pictures/64 min.
There’s no definitive answer to the question of which movie is the first film noir but some experts make a case for “Stranger on the Third Floor” (1940, Boris Ingster) and it’s a pretty good argument. Others cite 1941’s “The Maltese Falcon” by John Huston and some film historians maintain that “Double Indemnity” (1944, Billy Wilder) holds the title.
Of the three directors, Ingster, who had worked with Sergei Eisenstein in Russia, is the least distinguished and “Stranger” lacks the makings of a great film. Now, 74 years after it was made, “Stranger” feels somewhat dated and contrived, but it’s indisputable that Ingster’s B movie – with its dramatic look and disturbing psychological theme – broke new cinematic ground.
John McGuire plays Michael Ward, an energetic and ambitious reporter for a New York City paper. Mike needs a raise so he can marry his girlfriend, Jane (Margaret Tallichet), an office worker with no last name. She’s beautiful, sweet, loyal and resourceful, i.e. the perfect wife and essentially an extension of John’s personality.
Mike snares a $12/week raise not for breaking a story but for testifying in a murder trial. He tells the court that he saw a weasely-looking kid named Joe Briggs (Elisha Cook, Jr.) standing over the slain body of a lunchroom proprietor. Mike’s statement brings a conviction and the death sentence for Briggs, who already has a record.
But slowly, anxiety and fear start to eat away at Mike: What if he’s wrong and Briggs is innocent? Back in his room at Mrs. Kane’s boarding house, the usually cocksure Mike is startled when he sees a shifty-eyed Stranger (Peter Lorre, whose small but crucial part got him top billing) with a long white scarf. Just as quickly as he appears, the Stranger vanishes.
It occurs to Mike that he usually hears the snoring of his fellow boarder Mr. Meng (Charles Halton), a meddling busybody, whom Mike dislikes. The silence makes Mike wonder if Meng met with foul play and he begins to fixate on what might have happened.
More than once Mike has been steamed enough to talk of killing Meng. Of course, he didn’t mean it, but his landlady (Ethel Griffies) and Jane both heard him say it. And if Briggs can be convicted on flimsy evidence, what’s to save Mike from a similar fate? Ingster then introduces a kaleidoscopic nightmare sequence, both stunning and scary, as Mike tosses and turns with his conscience. When he wakes, he barges into Meng’s room and, sure enough, his neighbor is dead. Mike goes to the police and, playing out the paranoia of his dream, finds himself under suspicion for both murders. After all, he found both bodies.
A call to the always-enterprising Jane spurs her to comb the streets looking for the real killer and eventually she evens out those finicky scales of justice. Now can she get that Bloomingdale’s bridal registry filled out? Sigh.
“Stranger,” though hokey and pat, is a landmark in the history of film noir.
Budapest-born Frank Partos conceived the story and wrote the screenplay. His other writing credits include the ’40s thrillers “The Uninvited,” “The Snake Pit,” and “The House on Telegraph Hill.”
Partos and Ingster bring an unmistakable stamp of German Expressionism to their work as they explore the workings of fundamental human emotions such as guilt, remorse and fear. There is a palpable sense of alienation and doom.
Like many directors of B-movies, Ingster made the most of what he had, which was a low-budget, low-profile flick. Most notably, he deserves high marks for creative, compelling visuals. The shadow of the Venetian blinds at the courthouse, thin horizontal bars stretching over the accused (Briggs) and symbolizing his imminent incarceration, became an essential element of film noir’s look and style. Similarly, trippy nightmare sequences became a hallmark of the genre.
The sets of “Stranger on the Third Floor” could be re-creations of famous theater stages in Dresden or Berlin at the height of the Expressionist movement – sparely furnished, carefully composed, with bold, geometric black and white patterns signifying indifference, helplessness and frustration. The courtroom resembles an auditorium and the newspaper with the huge headline “Murder” draws on Beaux Arts theater posters. The stylized, sleeping jury members seem like dancers in repose.
Most memorable of all is the masterful acting of Peter Lorre, who ratchets up the tension level as he effortlessly conveys the warped frisson his villain derives from random killings. Lorre and Cook, another stalwart film-noir player, would reunite the next year in “The Maltese Falcon.” The contributions of the much-parodied Lorre are sometimes undervalued, perhaps because we forget how much he shaped the portrayal of a man with a sick mind, lending depth and flamboyance in equal measure. He started that foray nearly 10 years before – introducing one of the most memorable psychopaths in cinema, a child murderer, in Fritz Lang’s “M” from 1931.
Alex Prager: Face in the Crowd at M+B Gallery in West Hollywood is well worth a visit; the FNB team attended the opening on Saturday night and snapped a few candids (below). The exhibition reveals an artist with an eye for sublime color and masterful compositions as well as a beguiling portrait-maker who deftly mixes kitsch and mystery with humor and poignancy.
Prager, 34, is a self-taught photographer and filmmaker who started shooting after seeing William Eggleston’s color images. A Los Angeles native, her work frequently draws on vintage Hollywood, retro advertising and neo-noir imagery. The new show features large-scale color photographs of elaborately staged crowd scenes that explore the psychological complexities of human interaction, specifically the dynamics of an individual within a mass of people.
“I’m fascinated by the experience of being involved in other people’s lives accidentally,” Prager said, noting that her work has been influenced by time spent in busy cities such as New York and London. “Crowds have always been an interest of mine. It may look like a sea of people, but there are so many interesting stories, all colliding silently.”
Prager directed hundreds of costumed actors on specially constructed sets, creating congested public spaces including an airport terminal, a city hall lobby, a beach and the Sunset 5 movie theater. The stories of the various characters within these crowds culminate in a new film, featuring actress Elizabeth Banks.
Alex Prager: Face in the Crowd will run at M+B through March 8.
By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington
The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).
PICK OF THE WEEK
“Mildred Pierce“ (1945, Michael Curtiz). Tuesday, Nov. 19; 10 p.m. (7 p.m.). With Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott and Ann Blyth.
Sunday, Nov. 17
10:15 a.m. (7:15 a.m.): “The Big Heat” (1953, Fritz Lang). With Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin.
8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Johnny Eager” (1941, Mervyn LeRoy). With Robert Taylor, Lana Turner and Van Heflin. Reviewed in FNB on August 4, 2012.
10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “Johnny Apollo” (1940, Henry Hathaway). Tyrone Power and Edward Arnold undergo father-and-son traumas and reversals as two wealthy Wall Street family members gone bad. Directed with Hathaway’s usual tough expertise. Co-starring Dorothy Lamour, Lloyd Nolan and Charley Grapewin.
Tuesday, Nov. 19
4:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.): “Man in the Attic” (1953, Hugo Fregonese). With Jack Palance and Constance Smith. Reviewed in FNB on March 5, 2013.
10 p.m. (7 p.m.). See “Pick of the Week.”
8 p.m. (5 p.m.). “The Maltese Falcon” (1941, John Huston). With Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Elisha Cook, Jr. Reviewed in FNB on November 10, 2012.
Thursday, Nov. 21
3:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m.): “Jeopardy” (1943, John Sturges). With Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan and Ralph Meeker. Reviewed in FNB on July 21, 2012.
“Lana Turner was the quintessential film noir blonde,” says author Dina Di Mambro in her new book, True Hollywood Noir: Filmland Mysteries and Murders, pointing to Turner’s standout part as Cora in “The Postman Always Rings Twice.”
The actress’s real life was no less fascinating than any of the roles she portrayed on the screen, says Di Mambro, setting up the chapter on Turner and the 1958 fatal stabbing of her boyfriend Johnny Stompanato.
A coroner’s inquest jury found the act (by Turner’s teenage daughter Cheryl Crane) to be justifiable homicide but there has long been speculation that Turner herself did the deed. In probing that theory, film historian and entertainment writer Di Mambro offers “the story you haven’t heard.”
It’s one of 12 stories Di Mambro explores in her book; the others are: William Desmond Taylor, Thomas H. Ince, Jean Harlow, Thelma Todd, Joan Bennett (and the shooting of Jennings Lang), George Reeves, Bob Crane, Gig Young, Natalie Wood, Robert Blake and death of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley). The finale, as it were, is a lengthy chapter on gangster Mickey Cohen.
Says Di Mambro in the book: “The West Coast mob, city corruption and Hollywood mysteries were often intertwined. This is a common thread through much of this book. … Many of the plots of the noir films were taken from actual happenings in the underworld.”
Di Mambro presents her facts in a straightforward, no-nonsense style, leaving the reader to decide which theory is most likely. Replete with vintage photos, the book clocks in at 230 pages, making it a pretty fast read cover to cover. It’s also a great reference volume if you prefer to dip in one grisly cold case at a time.
We at FNB especially like the fact that Di Mambro includes in her acknowledgements her “muse,” meaning her cat Sunny, who supervised the writing process. Nothing like a regal kitty to tap a true-crime scribe vibe.
Pegged to Friday’s release of “Gangster Squad,” Tere Tereba, author of “Mickey Cohen-the Life and Crimes Of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster,” will read and sign books at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 16 at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood, 6644 Hollywood Blvd., 323-463-3273.
Tere will discuss Cohen and and his Hollywood connections, such as Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. She’ll also share rare photographs and talk about the real-life Gangster Squad.