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William Fox and His Friends, Part 2

Dressed to KillMore from MoMA's spectacular retrospective (see part 1 of our guide here), skimming the cream from the top of the William Fox archives, a major studio whose films, apart from a few known classics by Frank Borzage, John Ford, et cetera, have been sunk in obscurity for too long. Fox opened his doors to experimental geniuses like F.W. Murnau and Erik Charell, and encouraged major talents like Ford, Howard Hawks, Raoul Walsh and Borzage to spread their wings.In Borzage’s masterpiece 7th Heaven, how many viewers have any problem with the glaring fact that the garret where Janet Gaynor lives is apparently reached by two completely different stairwells, one that’s angular, for the crane shot, and one that’s spiral for the overhead angle?UpstreamThe idea is consistent with the expressionist approach at Fox. Edgar G. Ulmer claimed that the German expressionists would build a new set for every camera angle,
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William Fox and His Friends, Part 1

Howard Hawk's prelapsarian rom-com, Fig Leaves (1926)Along with the output of Universal, the films of Fox, before the merger with Twentieth Century, have long been among the more mysterious and hard-to-see products of Golden Age Hollywood. When TCM made Warners' pre-Codes readily available to American eyes, these competing studios' outputs remained shut in some vault, unrestored and unavailable. Well, the Museum of Modern Art has liberated some fantastic early Universal films, and now it's the turn of William Fox's lost masterworks to see the light of the projector beam once more in MoMA's "William Fox Presents: Restorations and Rediscoveries from the Fox Film Corporation," May 18 - June 5, 2018.The season showcases little-seen films by John Ford, F.W. Murnau, Raoul Walsh, Howard Hawks and Frank Borzage, five of the starriest names on the studio's roster of directing talent, but also makes a case for genuinely obscure journeyman talents like Sidney Lanfield,
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Unearthing a Forgotten Movie Star of Long, Long Ago

Kitty Gordon: Actress in silent movies and on the musical comedy stage. Rediscovering a long-forgotten silent film star: Kitty Gordon It seems almost unthinkable that there are still silent stars who have not been resurrected, their lives and films subject to detailed, if not always reliable, examination. Yet I am reminded by Michael Levenston, a Canadian who has compiled what is best described as a “scrapbook” of her life and career, that there is one such individual – and not just a “name” in silent films, but also from 1901 onwards famed as a singer/actress in musical comedy and on the vaudeville stage in both her native England and the United States. And she is Kitty Gordon (1878-1974). 'The Enchantress' and her $50,000 backside Kitty Gordon was a talented lady, so much so that Victor Herbert wrote the 1911 operetta The Enchantress for her; one who also had a “gimmick,” in that
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Cummings' Ten-Year Death Anniversary: From Minor Lloyd Leading Lady to Tony Award Winner (Revised and Expanded)

Constance Cummings: Actress in minor Hollywood movies became major London stage star. Constance Cummings: Actress went from Harold Lloyd and Frank Capra to Noël Coward and Eugene O'Neill Actress Constance Cummings, whose career spanned more than six decades on stage, in films, and on television in both the U.S. and the U.K., died ten years ago on Nov. 23. Unlike other Broadway imports such as Ann Harding, Katharine Hepburn, Miriam Hopkins, and Claudette Colbert, the pretty, elegant Cummings – who could have been turned into a less edgy Constance Bennett had she landed at Rko or Paramount instead of Columbia – never became a Hollywood star. In fact, her most acclaimed work, whether in films or – more frequently – on stage, was almost invariably found in British productions. That's most likely why the name Constance Cummings – despite the DVD availability of several of her best-received performances – is all but forgotten.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Marx Bros. Wreak Havoc on TCM Today

Groucho Marx in 'Duck Soup.' Groucho Marx movies: 'Duck Soup,' 'The Story of Mankind' and romancing Margaret Dumont on TCM Grouch Marx, the bespectacled, (painted) mustached, cigar-chomping Marx brother, is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” star today, Aug. 14, '15. Marx Brothers fans will be delighted, as TCM is presenting no less than 11 of their comedies, in addition to a brotherly reunion in the 1957 all-star fantasy The Story of Mankind. Non-Marx Brothers fans should be delighted as well – as long as they're fans of Kay Francis, Thelma Todd, Ann Miller, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Allan Jones, affectionate, long-tongued giraffes, and/or that great, scene-stealing dowager, Margaret Dumont. Right now, TCM is showing Robert Florey and Joseph Santley's The Cocoanuts (1929), an early talkie notable as the first movie featuring the four Marx BrothersGroucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo. Based on their hit Broadway
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Remembering Actress Simon Part 2 - Deadly Sex Kitten Romanced Real-Life James Bond 'Inspiration'

Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine' 1938: Jean Renoir's film noir (photo: Jean Gabin and Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine') (See previous post: "'Cat People' 1942 Actress Simone Simon Remembered.") In the late 1930s, with her Hollywood career stalled while facing competition at 20th Century-Fox from another French import, Annabella (later Tyrone Power's wife), Simone Simon returned to France. Once there, she reestablished herself as an actress to be reckoned with in Jean Renoir's La Bête Humaine. An updated version of Émile Zola's 1890 novel, La Bête Humaine is enveloped in a dark, brooding atmosphere not uncommon in pre-World War II French films. Known for their "poetic realism," examples from that era include Renoir's own The Lower Depths (1936), Julien Duvivier's La Belle Équipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937), and particularly Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) and Daybreak (1939).[11] This thematic and
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La Bête Humaine and Cat People Actress Remembered Part 1 (Revised and Expanded Version)

'Cat People' 1942 actress Simone Simon Remembered: Starred in Jacques Tourneur's cult horror movie classic (photo: Simone Simon in 'Cat People') Pert, pouty, pretty Simone Simon is best remembered for her starring roles in Jacques Tourneur's cult horror movie Cat People (1942) and in Jean Renoir's French film noir La Bête Humaine (1938). Long before Brigitte Bardot, Mamie Van Doren, Ann-Margret, and (for a few years) Jane Fonda became known as cinema's Sex Kittens, Simone Simon exuded feline charm in a film career that spanned a quarter of a century. From the early '30s to the mid-'50s, she seduced men young and old on both sides of the Atlantic – at times, with fatal results. During that period, Simon was featured in nearly 40 movies in France, Italy, Germany, Britain, and Hollywood. Besides Jean Renoir, in her native country she worked for the likes of Jacqueline Audry
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

‘That Night In Rio,’ Hollywood, Romance, and Carmen Miranda

That Night In Rio

Directed by Irving Cummings

Written by George Seaton, Bess Meredyth, and Hal Long

Starring Don Ameche, Alice Faye, and Carmen Miranda

USA, 91 min.

Romance and harmless conflict run amuck in Irving Cummings’s That Night In Rio. The film follows American entertainer, Larry Martin (Don Ameche), as he impersonates his doppelganger, Baron Manuel Duarte. Once Manuel’s wife, Baroness Cecilia Duarte (Alice Faye) discovers the impersonation, she begins to want her husband to be as loving as the one portrayed by Larry. That Night In Rio also features several song and dance numbers from Carmen Miranda, at the time deemed “The Brazilian Bombshell.”

That Night In Rio is part of Twentieth Century Fox’s musicals set in Latin countries (like another Miranda film, Down Argentine Way). Like other Latin lover musicals of the era, That Night In Rio has a stereotypical depiction of Latin culture. This
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Daily Briefing. Radical America in 1980

  • MUBI
Catherine Grant's retweeted an intriguing find from Alternative Takes, the January/February 1980 issue of Radical America (Pdf). From the "Introduction": "Lynn Garafola's article, 'Hollywood and the Myth of the Working Class,' discusses such box office successes as Rocky, The Deer Hunter, Saturday Night Fever and Norma Rae, as well as some commercial productions that didn't do so well, such as Blue Collar and F.I.S.T. John Demeter's article, on the other hand, looks at two examples of a new class of technically advanced non-Hollywood left-wing movies: The Wobblies and Northern Lights. In a curious way, the Hollywood films that Garafola writes about are more political than the left-wing films."

For Bookforum, John Domini reviews Paolo Sorrentino's first novel, Everybody's Right, and finds that "this filmmaker's energetic wallow in prose does seem best appreciated as a cry for the beloved country, resonating off touchstones from
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'The Outlaw' Actress Jane Russell Dies At 89

'The Outlaw' Actress Jane Russell Dies At 89
The gentlemen might prefer blondes, but there's one brunette we'll be missing a lot more from here on out. At age 89, classic Hollywood actress Jane Russell has passed away.

Over her 43 years in the industry, Russell acted alongside some of the greats from Marilyn Monroe to Bob Hope. The buxom brunette was turned into a Hollywood sex symbol in the 1940s and 1950s after Howard Hughes catapulted her to fame. According to Variety, Russell died of respiratory failure in her home in Santa Maria, California on Monday February 28.

Russell leaves behind a legacy of straight-laced sensuality and tough-as-nails humor in her films and musical career. Here's a look back at the movies we love the most from her filmography.

The Outlaw

Russell's first film is also the one that set her up for the rest of her career. Howard Hughes made use of Russell's trademark figure and immediately projected her
See full article at MTV Movies Blog »

In Old Arizona Review Pt.2 – Warner Baxter, Edmund Lowe, Dorothy Burgess

In Old Arizona Review: Part I To play the Cisco Kid, a role fit to order for the dashing and lighthearted Mexican heartthrob Ramon Novarro (then at MGM), Fox† replaced actor-director Raoul Walsh, who was seriously injured in a road accident during a location-scouting trip, with second-rank leading man Warner Baxter [photo, with Dorothy Burgess]. (Walsh, who lost an eye as a result of the accident, can be seen as the Kid in some of the long shots. Irving Cummings, the future director of several Technicolor 20th Century Fox musicals, replaced him behind the camera.) But no matter how much brown makeup was plastered on his face, Baxter remains ridiculously miscast. His Cisco Kid is a tired-looking anti-hero — O. Henry's Kid was twenty-five but looked twenty; Baxter was thirty-nine but looked forty-five — whose Mexican accent is of the "Jew are beeyouteefullll" variety. Additionally, since his character says he's Portuguese, Baxter's [...]
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In Old Arizona – Warner Baxter, Edmund Lowe, Dorothy Burgess

In Old Arizona (1928) Direction: Raoul Walsh and Irving Cummings Screenplay: Tom Barry; from O. Henry's (aka William Sidney Porter) 1907 short story "The Caballero's Way" Cast: Edmund Lowe, Warner Baxter, Dorothy Burgess Oscar Movies, Pre-Code Movies Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona Tired In The Saddle What makes Irving Cummings and Raoul Walsh's In Old Arizona (barely) watchable decades after its highly successful initial release is its sheer bizarreness. Technically, the picture, billed as the first outdoor talkie, is of interest solely as a museum piece. Despite the use of the American Southwest's wide-open spaces as background, In Old Arizona is really not that different from other statically framed, slow-moving, and poorly acted films of the period. From a thematic standpoint, however, this racy Western is a must-see because of its in-your-face pre-Production Code sensibility, which allows murder to go unpunished and offers dialogue containing numerous risqué double entendres. The plot itself,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

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