Saturday, October 31, 2009
For her nun role, Reddy was nominated for a Golden Globe for Most Promising Female Newcomer.
2 years later, Reddy's vocals were heard in a strange little film called "All This and World War II" (1976).
IMDB says: Beatles' "significance" pushed to the breaking point in this bizarre documentary that juxtaposes their songs (sung by a number of rock stars) with World War II newsreel footage. Helen Reddy sings "Fool On The Hill" while Hitler relaxes at Bertchtesgaden, and Rod Stewart husks "Get Back" while Nazi troops goose step.
In November 1977, 6 months after STAR WARS premiered, came a $10 million dollar Disney musical mixing animation with live action called Pete's Dragon. Compared to Darth Vader, Jawas and Light Sabres - a cartoon dragon didn't stand a chance.
The film was a box office flop - but became a favorite on VHS/ DVD decades later. Helen Reddy is likeable as Nora- the lightkeeper's daughter who is still hoping her lost-at-sea husband will return home.
The film co-stars Shelley Winters and Jeff Conaway as Maine woods folk seeking their runaway orphan houseboy Pete.
Crowbarred into the family film is the shticky comedy of Mickey Rooney and Red Buttons and the big cheese du jour of mid 70s Broadway: Jim Dale as the charlatan doctor and dragon hunter.
With competing villains (Dale and Winters), hammy comics (Rooney & Buttons), claustrophobic Disney ranch/backlot settings, and the watered down choreography of the accomodating Onna White - the film misfires quite often.
Helen carries many musical numbers - but the film is miles away from repeating Disney's Mary Poppins (1964) success - and is closer to Bedknobs & Broomsticks (1971) but far more land-locked and less magical.
Still, Helen is charming with her Aussie accent peeking through her dialogue. Her lighthouse ballad "Candle on the Water" was nommed for Best Song at the Oscars that year. I think it's one of the prettiest songs.
Reddy went back to touring and contributed ballads for movies (Belushi's "Continental Divide" theme "I'll Never Say Goodbye to You"). She also performed in London and Broadway musicals of the 80s and 90s and wrote her memoir "The Woman I Am".
Reddy decided to retire from her singing career in 2002 after a lifetime on stage - and she is now happily working as a clinical hypnotherapist in Sydney.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My first encounter with the film was at age 7 when the film was featured on the Saturday Night Movie on ABC one summer night.
My cousins and I spent every weekend at our New Hampshire "camp" cottages in woods with our parents and grandparents.
The coming attraction came on and all the adults started reminiscing (through a fog of vodka and beer) about the spooky film and how we kids could NOT watch that movie.
"It's too scary!" they slurred at my cousins and I.
We kids all saw the promo clip of its climax with Rosemary shrieking: "What's wrong with his eyes?!!!!"
So of course we kept prying "what was wrong with his eyes?"..."What's wrong with the eyes?"
They wouldn't answer.
Next day cousin Cindy and I continued harping on the mystery. We kept asking my mom about those eyes.
It was 11am, and my hungover Mom blurted out (to shut us kids up) "He didn’t have any eyes."
We were stunned silent.
At age 7, the idea of a baby born with empty eye sockets freaked us out. It was certainly more scary than a demon baby with hooves and a tail.
My cousins and I walked around the field and woods that afternoon trying to imagine such a tragic handicap. ewww Gross.
My cousin Cindy (who came up with our grandparents because her mother worked weekends) went home and asked her mother about the film.
And the next weekend, Cindy told me: "My Mother said that the baby DID have eyes- they were just yellow."
I said: " oh "
Good Grief! Leave it to my Mom to goof it all up - and make it more scary for us.
I guess my dear mother just misunderstood the film's ending -- which reminds me of the old Rodney Dangerfield joke: "My wife aint too bright. It takes her an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes."
2 years later, the crappy made-for-TV 1976 sequel LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY aired on a Saturday night while we were being babysat by a neighbor who turned it on. I covered my eyes for the duration.
Turns out - in the sequel, Rosemary became Patty Duke and was quickly written off.
Little Adrian - the devil's son - shed his infant hooves and grew up as a normal-looking towheaded boy mentored by Tina Louise. Later, as a young man, he gets drugged & raped by Roman & Minnie's witchy granddaughter.
Monday, October 26, 2009
In the Beginning...
The Bible's Book of Genesis was a 1966 Dino DeLaurentiis film - directed by John Huston who cast himself as the voice of God - and as Noah.
The film consists of four main sections: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark, and the story of Abraham. There are also a pair of shorter sections, one recounting the building of the Tower of Babel, and the other the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Also starring Richard Harris, Ava Gardner, George C. Scott, Peter O'Toole, Michael Parks, Ulla Bergryo and others.
2 years later, Dino produced Barbarella.
and now The Book of Genesis is an illustrated novel by R. Crumb ! Looks cool.
That's INFO-Tainment !
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
One of my all-time favorite Soupy Sales clips--when TV was LIVE!
(CAUTION: brief bouncing boobies below!)
They took down Soupy's surprise(s)! So here's another one:
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Collin Wilcox Paxton, best known for her star turn as a "rape victim" in 1962's 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' died Oct. 14 of brain cancer at her home in Highlands, N.C. She was 74.
Wilcox Paxton began her acting career on the stage in Chicago as part of an improvisational group that included Mike Nichols, Elaine May and Shelley Berman, then moved on to Broadway, where she starred in 'The Day Money Stopped' opposite Richard Basehart. That 1958 production won her the Clarence Derwent Award for best supporting actress. She also starred opposite such grand dames of the stage as Tallulah Bankhead ('Crazy October') Geraldine Page ('Strange Interlude') and Ruth Gordon ('La Bonne Soup').
Her big-screen debut came in the adaptation of Harper Lee's 'Mockingbird,' where she played the white-trash girl who falsely accused Brock Peters' character of rape. After that once-in-a-lifetime role, Wilcox Paxton moved to television, where she guest-starred in a host of series including 'Dr. Kildare,' 'The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,' 'The Defenders,' 'The Twilight Zone,' 'Playhouse 90,' 'Death Valley Days' and 'Columbo.'
Wilcox Paxton's heart belonged to the stage, however, and she left Hollywood in 1981 to return to Highland, where she met and married Scott Paxton and founded the Highlands Studio for the Arts. She briefly returned to Hollywood in the 1990s and appeared in the 'Christy' TV series, as well as 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,' among other roles.
In addition to her husband, Wilcox Paxton is survived by her children Kimberley and Michael.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
The crow leader is named Jim Crow.
Jim Crow: [singing] I seen a peanut stand /And heard a rubber band /I've seen a needle that winked its eye / But I been done seen about everything / When I see an elephant fly.
Despite their jazzy pimptastic personalities and jive-talking - the crows are heroic in the film.
One blogger writes: Come on, blackbirds acting in a manner stereotypically assigned to African-Americans isn't that offensive. At least they didn't just get some white guy to do his best "black voice." Oh, really? They did?
Yes - caucasian Cliff Edwards (best known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket) voiced "Jim Crow".
Still nowhere as bad as Sunflower the pickaninny centaur in Fantasia (1940) who was edited out of the film by 1969.
Sunflower is a big Whoopsie Daisy! element- or should I say "Whoopsie Disney!"
Mad love is perhaps one of the sickest films of the mid 1930’s. It stars Peter Lorre as brilliant surgeon Dr. Gogol and Colin Clive as brilliant pianist Stephen Orlac who is married to somewhat less than brilliant actress Yvonne Orloc, played by Frances Drake.
The films starts off on a totally perverted level. Gogol is obsessed with Yvonne who is in a play that for some reason involves her getting a hot poker in her... well lets just say it is lowered between her legs and we see smoke rising as she screams.... cut to Gogol practically orgasming at the sight of it. But wait! It gets better! (Or worse depending on how you feel about that sort of thing).
Stephen Orlac is on train which has a terrible accident and loses both his hands. Yvonne appeals to Gogol to sew them back on so he can play the piano again. Of course he does, thinking her gratitude will be so great that she will put out and fulfill his , no doubt, sick fantasies about her. Since the pianist’s hands are ruined, he manages to steal a pair from a convicted murderer... who’ll know the difference? Well, Stephen for one, who now cannot play the piano, but can throw knives like a skilled assassin.
Things get worse from there as Doctor Gogol who is reduced to having a relationship with a wax dummy molded from Yvonne for one of her torture actress jobs after she refuses his advances. He, like any good doctor, then charges the couple up the wazoo for the surgery and convinces Stephen he is responsible for several murders because he is controlled by his new transplants. He does this by dressing as the hanged hand donor brought back to life in what must be the coolest halloween costume ever, metal hands and metal neck support with dark sunglasses and black hat. (I’d wear this everyday if I could!)
Does this all sound familiar? It should, this film is itself a remake of Robert Wiene’s silent «The Hands of Orlac» and based on the book by Maurice Renard of the same name. In addition, it has been done to death under various titles and in countless TV shows including one with Christopher Lee in 1960, «Hands of a Stranger» (1962), «The Crawling Hand» (1963) and even Hitchcock was in the planning stages of «The Blind Man» where instead of hands, eyes are replaced and retain the images of a murder. None, however reach the level of sick perversion of Peter Lorre’s Dr. Gogol.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Leslie Caron was such a charmer in this small film that did BIG business for MGM. Leslie Caron also shows her leggy sexy side in a great fantasy scene dance-off with Zsa Zsa Gabor.
But back to the puppets -- this integral scene has orphan Lili jobless and broken hearted and contemplating ending it all. (How does one throw themselves from atop a matte painting of a carnival high ladder?).
Just then, a clever puppeteer who has a crush on sweet Lili gets her to rejoin life and participate in a dialogue with his puppets - and bam! a new star act is born.
This sequence also made little John Waters take notice in Baltimore - and he soon made a tidy sum giving puppet shows to the neighborhood kids. It was John's first creative outlet - well, after playing "car crash" with his toy cars - and before his Grandmother gave him a movie camera as a gift.
Stick around for the second clip - and see the puppets - alive & well after the 1970 MGM auction (they went for $ 15 a piece!!).
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The death of cinema has been predicted since it began, but recently I have been thinking it might really be happening now.
When TV arrived on the scene and movies could be seen in the homme, the act of going to the local movie house seemed doomed... but in reality attendence went up... there was always something nice... eventful... about leaving your house and «going out» to see something on the big screen. When cable came around, once again the death bells toll, but for who? As blockbuster films came into being it was clear that a night at the movies was here to stay. The lines around the block for «Exorcist», «Jaws» and «Star Wars» was proof of that.
Now we have the internet, downloadable movies for ipods and computer screens, movies on demand from cable compainies, DVD rentals and sale,HUGE TVs in the house (bigger than some cureent day movie houses it seems) and the film going experience is once again a «dying artform». Seeing a film in a theatre is only one of several ways to see it now and the least convenient. Will this really be the end?
No, not in my opinion, but something else will be and it’s sadder than just some techology taking over the medium. The studios themselves have been slowing eroding the profits from films.. not for themselves of course, but for the actual movies houses and theatre chains that show the films. Most pay truly outrageous and should be illegal percentages to show a film these days... up to 90% of the take for the first two weeks in some cases. Nowadays most films don’t even play for two weeks! The «long roll out and finding a film’s audience» days are over and even the 15$ for a bag of 10 cent popcorns can’t hide the reaility of the situation. A movie house simply can’t turn a profit showing films anymore. Here in Québec we pay 9-16$ to see a first run film... seems like a lot of money and it is, for the consumer, but for the movie house only getting 10% of that... it’s peanuts. It's becoming too expensive for us and too expensive for them.
In the end, no new technology will kill the film experience... corporate greed will, like it kills everything else.
(On a side note; all the people that see no difference between the cinema and their filthy , noisy living rooms doesn’t help, either.)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Wizard of Oz is 70 years old...the surviving Munchkins are in their late 80s or 90.
Jerry Maren played the middle dude in The Lollipop Guild (and was a favorite of director Victor Fleming shown in photo holding Toto). Maren was also in The Terror of Tiny Town.
Bless all their hearts.
Read more about the Munchkins here.
Trivia: The production people at M-G-M really needed more little people for the Munchkin scenes. They resorted to hiring approximately 12 children for the scenes.
The two Brady guest actresses mentioned below have fascinated me for decades:
Teresa Warder played "Seattle Linda" in Season 1's episode called "The Undergraduate"
At the 7:10 mark, Mrs. Brady interrogates Marcia's school chum Linda thinking that she is Greg's mysterious crush. Warder (with her zombie stare and thick tongued speech) is something more apropos for a visit with The Addams Family.
I get such a kick out of Teresa as "Seattle Linda" and could listen to her strange delivery of dialogue all day. Just listen to her say: "SEE-AT-TULL" and
"Wullll, thuz one boy I like, the only problem is - he doesn't know I liiiike 'im."
This phenomenal debut by Ms. Warder on the Brady's sofa was her sole acting credit.
Meanwhile in Season 4's episode called "Law & Disorder", Bobby is made a safety monitor and is pestered by a frantic girl to save her cat Pandora. I call her "Spazzy Jill" as in:
"Pleeease! You've Gotta Get Pandora Out For Meeeee!"
"Spazzy Jill" is played by Ms. Shawn Schepps. Shawn was discovered by a TV casting agent while she emoted at kiddie Drama Class. Her unglamorous yet effective portrayal of a frantic girl worried for her cat's safety is truly memorable.
(see her chew the scenery at the 4:10 mark)
Shawn quit acting by her 20s and later became a screenwriter (Encino Man) and writer/producer on WEEDS - where she returned to guest roles. She went to Writer's Boot Camp and sounds like a good egg (read her alumni info).
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
(Note: there are a few scenes of animal cruelty that really bothered me in this film. I'd like to hope they were faked...but they were unsettling to me nevertheless.)
Monday, October 5, 2009
It’s not horror. It’s not necessarily a thriller. It kind of transcends the genre of drama. It makes perfect sense.
Nicole Kidman plays Anna, a Manhattan socialite and widow of ten years that is preparing to remarry. The fiancé, Joseph, is played by Danny Huston. All is well until a young boy with the same name as Anna’s dead husband starts hanging around her apartment building. Given the opportunity young Sean explains to Anna that he is the reincarnation of her deceased husband.
Anna is already secretly struggling with the transition from one marriage to another and this Sean kid doesn’t help. Her emotions range from angry to confused. Ultimately she entertains the notion of letting down her guard and falling in love with the ten-year-old version of her dead husband (see the very creepy resulting bathtub scene with Anna and the boy).
The whole family, including Anna’s mother (played by Lauren Bacall) and the former in-laws (Anne Heche and Peter Stormare), think she’s lost the proverbial plot. Joseph begins to show his own true adolescent colors as he flies into one childish rage after another in a fit of anger/jealousy over his fiancé’s dalliance with this working class schoolboy. Anna couldn’t care less. She’s busy discussing the logistics of sex and romance with young Sean over ice-cream sundaes.
Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) takes some great chances. In the first act, right after the big reveal, he lays in a shot of Kidman as she’s sitting in a concert hall, supposedly enjoying a show with her fiancé. Instead we get a two minute close-up of a very startled woman. This one continuous shot could be my favorite Kidman performance of all time. The production design is both rich and muted. Glazer’s wintertime in New York isn’t cinematic in a typical sense. It’s dirty and cluttered. The whole movie has a yellow tinge that adds to the ominous tone.
The key to understanding the unique beauty of this twisted little film is to defy the typical moviegoer propensity to focus on the star power. The real story in Birth is with the supporting cast. Mainly young Sean. Once you get him, you get the movie.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
She went by the name of Chris Charney and had guest appearances in several TV series, including COMBAT and FLIPPER in the 60s. This selection comes from THE BRADY BUNCH, Season 2, Episode 3: "The Slumber Caper" (originally aired on October 9, 1970). Christine played Paula; was not yet 18 and she still sported her original nose.
Baranski would later do Broadway and her Patsy Stone / "Lumley Lite" routine on the sitcom "Cybill" and in the mega hit Meryl Streep musical MAMMA MIA!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
stage 1 - THE BLONDE MOPPET
Jodie starts off as a TV kid with guest shots on episodes of The Doris Day Show and Julia (and later Mayberry RFD and The Partridge Family).
Her film debut comes alongside TV's Johnny Whitaker in the family film Napolean & Samantha (1972) which explores the young love of tweens and their friendly pet lion.
She will team up with Johnny Whitaker again for the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Tom Sawyer - the Musical (1973). She plays Becky Thatcher and makes Tom's palms sweaty.
Then we get into Jodie's next evolutionary stage:
stage 2: THE STREET WISE LOLITA
She plays a mini gangster's mini moll and vamps it up in the kiddie musical Bugsy Malone and plays the world-weary pal of Tommy Hyatt in Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More and the pre-teen prostitute in Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) - which brings Jodie her first Oscar nomination.
stage 3: THE DISNEY TOMBOY
Jodie spends her awkward years as a Disney stringy haired teen tomboy heroine in Freaky Friday and Candleshoe. She misses out on playing Princess Leia in Stars Wars (1977) when Disney won't release her from her contract.
Next comes her fabulous era (my personal favorite) as
stage 4: FOX ON THE RUN
Jodie is a young woman coming of age in the 1980 films Foxes and Carny and returns to films (post-Hinkley drama and college) to bed Rob Lowe in The Hotel New Hampshire (1984).
stage 5: THE STRONG WOMAN'S QUID PRO QUO
Jodie Foster gets her 1st Best Actress Oscar for The Accused (1988) as a woman who testifies against the group of men who raped her at the local bar, (She auditioned for this role - it was not handed to her). Two years later she stars in the horror-thriller Silence of the Lambs (1991) and wins her 2nd Oscar as Best Actress.
stage 6: FIRST TIME FEATURE DIRECTOR for Home for the Holidays and Little Man Tate.
stage 7: THE LEADING LADY in Nell, Somersby, Maverick and Anna & The King.
stage 8: BIG BAD MAMA in Panic Room, Flightplan and The Brave One.
stage 9: RETURN TO FAMILY FILMS with Nim's Island (2008).
stage 10: WAITING IN THE WINGS
Now on the verge of her 47th birthday, I can imagine Jodie Foster at home with her partner and kids thinking : maybe I'll focus on directing -- since I really don't want to do a cable TV series yet and Meryl Streep is so hot again at 60 and getting all the best roles in films anyway.
Still, a talented award winning actress like Jodie should consider a cable TV series - where most of the best roles for women now exist. Imagine Jodie tearing into the role of NURSE JACKIE or the power attorney bitch on DAMAGES. Though, she may wish to just direct films (and feel the personal & professional satisfaction of having carved out her own career) and choose not to go back to acting on the boob tube where her journey began.
Friday, October 2, 2009
But the car crash I cannot look away from is Judy Henske's leg meat at 3:13. She's a fit girl, and everybody has both relaxed and tight musculo-skeletal states, but the way that one section of thigh starts flailing and wobbling - jiggling doesn't come close to describing it at all - becomes a thing of fascination, completely taking over the experience of the song. Yipe. And not the good kind of yipe. It runs wild, poking the eyes with it's thrashing, and one has to ask, didn't the continuity person, director, assistant director, editor or producer notice it? My brain screams "CUT TO CLOSEUP!! CUT TO CLOSEUP!!" but they don't and nature shows us - on film - in perpetuity how we all came from the liquidy sea......
Plus that hairdo.....
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Memorable quote: "A fish may love a bird, but where would they live?"
Great Granduncle Lionel - the inspiration....
"This is the age of insincerity. The movies had the misfortune to come along in the twentieth century, and because they appeal to the masses there can be no sincerity in them."