Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...slightly delayed due to a weekend of movie bliss at the Noir City Film Festival!

...A couple of years ago there was an ill-advised pilot for a ROCKFORD FILES remake which fortunately never made it on the air. Now there's even worse news: a proposed movie with Vince Vaughn as Jim Rockford. Vince Vaughn? Ugh. Please, make it stop...!

...The Sheila Variations has a detailed analysis of one of my favorite movies, THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943). I certainly agree that the scene with Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur on the front steps is one of the hottest in all American film. As Sheila writes, "There is so much to say about how elegantly it is done, and how beautifully it is played, but there is still something about it that shocks, even in today’s world..." Which just goes to show you don't have to show anything in order to show everything. Or something like that.

...Beginning on July 6, 2012, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library will host the exhibit D23 Presents Treasures From the Walt Disney Archives. Reagan and Disney were friends, and Reagan was one of the hosts of the live coverage of Disneyland's opening day on July 17, 1955.

...The Los Angeles Times posted a short but sweet interview with Julie Andrews a few days ago.

...Classic Film Freak reviews THE STRANGE WOMAN (1946), a Hedy Lamarr film I've not yet seen.

...Here's a nice tribute to the World's Greatest Sportscaster of All Time. I'll assume I don't need to actually identify said sportcaster by name.

...Glenn Erickson of DVD Savant on the new Warner Archive DVD release of WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1951): "William Wellman's fine wagon train movie should be recognized as a classic... a superior show -- exciting, well written, intelligent."

...Jennifer Garlen, writing for Examiner.com, likes the movie too. I share her appreciation for Lenore Lonergan as the sharpshooting Maggie, a great character.

...Cliff's got a review up at Immortal Ephemera of THE DOORWAY TO HELL (1930), starring James Cagney and Lew Ayres. I'm unfamiliar with this film, a Warner Archive release... I also recently enjoyed Cliff's well-researched post on Jean Harlow's stand-in, Mary Dees.

...After reading Glenn Erickson's review of the Warner Archive "film noir double feature" disc with HOMICIDE (1949) and THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET (1949), it went on my wish list. I really like when the Archive gives "value added" with "twofer" discs or extras.

...The Self-Styled Siren recently reviewed BLANCHE FURY (1948), starring Stewart Granger and Valerie Hobson. Deb wrote a post on the same film at Sidewalk Crossings earlier this year. Another movie I need to catch up with!

...TCM now has a Hollywood Tour app. When I have time I'll be looking into it further.

...The BBC has cancelled the UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS sequel series after two seasons. To date only Season 1 has been shown in the U.S.

...Attention Southern Californians: This Saturday night at 5:00 p.m., film noir experts Alain Silver and James Ursini will be signing their new book, FILM NOIR: THE DIRECTORS, at Larry Edmunds Bookshop.  Then walk down the street to the Egyptian Theatre, where Julie Adams will be appearing at SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE (1956) as part of the Noir City Film Festival.

...Don't forget: Thursday night, April 26th, is the encore presentation of CASABLANCA (1942), playing in theaters nationwide.

...Notable Passing: Dora Saint, who wrote under the pen name Miss Read, has passed away at the age of 98.

Have a great week!

Seventeen Years Ago...

...Ginger went to the Great Beyond...

It's a very somber day for all Gingerologists - honestly, it's best to just reflect on her incredible life, and celebrate her greatness... so maybe spin a few Ginger movies today and remember all the Gingery goodness that she gave us to brighten up our lives, as well as those of future generations... it's so awesome that technology will 'preserve' most of her work for those future Gingerologists.

And to just present something a bit 'different' on this day that some of you may have not seen...here's a 'cartoon' editorial from Mike Peters, the dude who does 'Mother Goose and Grimm'...he is also an 'editorial cartoonist', and he did this one after Ginger's death...at first, you think..."er, a cartoon about the passing of someone?" ...but, after looking at it a bit...
...I believe he captured it PERFECT...cause, face it, isn't that how we ALL envision what's happening up there with Ginger and Fred? I always think of the final credits of 'The Castles', where they are dancing into the sunset, as it were... I love how she is 'floating'...which is truly how they danced on this terrestrial orb... and even the perfect song reference...it's kinda hard to argue with the fact that 'Cheek To Cheek' will FOREVER be their theme song (...sometimes I try to make it 'They Can't Take That Away From Me', but...I think that's an alternate, at best). I couldn't have come up with a more fitting eulogy for Ginger - great work, Mr. Peters.

Thanks to all the Gingerologists out there who are keeping her memory and legacy alive for future generations... That's my mission with this blog, and hopefully it will continue to be a 'source' for all things Ginger Rogers - but Y'ALL are really what makes this thing possible and work so well - great work.

As always, and ESPECIALLY today...

Keep It Gingery,

VKMfanHuey
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Happy Birthday Babs!

I know it has been well over a month since I posted anything here on Blame Mame, but I needed to post something about one of my faves... Barbra Streisand! Today is her 70th birthday! I haven't seen many of her films, but after seeing Funny Girl on the big screen at a local theaters Classic Film showings... I was hooked for life! I listen to that soundtrack all the time! So Happy Birthday Babs! Ive also included my favorite number from Funny Girl... just in case you're interested. 


"I'd Rather Be Blue" from Funny Girl


PS. I am going to make a better effort at posting more on here... I miss it. My life has changed a lot in the last 5-6 months and honestly, I haven't seen a classic film in full since November. I feel ashamed! Hehe. Well keep an eye out for new posts to come... I also have a new website in the works. Exciting stuff! Take care y'all!

Tonight's Movie: The Window (1949) at the Noir City Film Festival

Today was a terrific day of programming at the Noir City Film Festival: a triple bill of films based on stories by Cornell Woolrich. With short running times of 73, 81, and 87 minutes, seeing all three films was very doable...and in fact, as I explained in my review of SUDDENLY (1954), film fest viewers were unexpectedly treated to a quadruple bill!

First up was PHANTOM LADY (1944), which I first saw in 2009. I really enjoy Ella Raines, the film's leading lady. The movie has some great set pieces; I especially love Raines stalking a lying bartender. It was interesting that some of Franchot Tone's facial grimaces and reactions played more humorously, seen with a crowd, than when I'd watched it previously at home. The 35mm print had a somewhat dark "smudged" look, but on the whole was acceptable.

The second film on the schedule was BLACK ANGEL (1946), which I first saw about a year ago. It was a treat to see it in an especially gorgeous 35mm print. There are so many things I love about this film, including the performances by Dan Duryea and June Vincent, the music, and the stylish telling of a story with an unexpected resolution. Very highly recommended.

The final film in the Woolrich trio was new to me: THE WINDOW, a real nail-biter of a movie which seemed like a childhood nightmare come to life.

Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) and his parents (Barbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy) live in a dilapidated tenement building in New York. Tommy is sleeping on the fire escape on a hot summer night when he looks through a window and witnesses his neighbors (Ruth Roman and Paul Stewart) commit a murder. Since Tommy has a reputation for telling tall tales, his exasperated parents don't believe him, nor do the police. But the murderous neighbors learn what Tommy saw, and one night he's left at home alone...

THE WINDOW very effectively mixes a realistic, gritty setting with the stuff of nightmares. (There's a scene where Ruth Roman is peering into the little boy's bedroom window with a flashlight that will unnerve anyone who ever had a childhood bad dream about something scary being outside the window.) The movie was shot on location in New York, and the shabbiness of Tommy's apartment and neighborhood makes his experiences all the more believable; this is no glossy "Hollywood" film, but a very real, rather unpleasant world.

The performances are uniformly excellent, with Bobby Driscoll awarded a special juvenile Oscar for his work. I especially appreciated the performances of Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale as Tommy's worn down but loving parents, who are scraping by with the father working the night shift, while also doing their best to manage a somewhat difficult little boy. Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman are appropriately disturbing as the creepy neighbors.

THE WINDOW was directed by Ted Tetzlaff, from a screenplay by Mel Dinelli. The black and white cinematography was by Robert De Grasse and William Steiner.

In his introduction, the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller added the interesting tidbit that while the film is set during the sweltering summer months, the movie was actually filmed in very cold temperatures.

There's a little more information on films based on Cornell Woolrich stories in my review of NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950).

THE WINDOW is available in a remastered DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

Highly recommended. And watch it with the curtains shut tight!

Tonight's Movie: Suddenly (1954) at the Noir City Film Festival

SUDDENLY, a suspense film starring Sterling Hayden and Frank Sinatra, ended up being an unusual experience at the Noir City Film Festival -- I saw it twice! My experiences seeing SUDDENLY, the only digitally presented film of the festival, encapsulate both the problems and the promise of the digital film revolution.

The film was initially shown following NAKED ALIBI (1954), as the second half of Saturday night's tribute to Sterling Hayden.

In their talks preceding the Saturday screening, the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller and Alan Rode discussed the inescapable tidal wave forcing the change from film to digital projection. The Film Noir Foundation will probably be able to hang on to 35-millimeter film projection longer than anyone else, due to its longtime positive relationships with studios -- case in point, the brand-new prints Universal recently struck of both THE GREAT GATSBY (1949) and NAKED ALIBI.

However, the future will be digital, which along with its potential benefits will lead to all sorts of new problems. Muller and Rode particularly urged audiences not to settle for second-rate digital prints.

It was thus rather ironic that the problems of the digital age were unexpectedly and vividly illustrated by that night's screening of SUDDENLY. SUDDENLY is a public domain film which was digitally restored by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films. Although the black and white picture itself was crisp and beautiful, there were fields of shimmering gold or yellow digital pixilation that jumped around the picture throughout the screening. After realizing the problem wasn't going to go away, I mentally shrugged and just settled in to enjoy the film, as did most of the audience. The compelling story and excellence of most of the print helped distract me from the ever-moving blob of gold.

I had the opportunity to speak to Eddie and Alan after the screening, and they were dismayed by what had occurred, to say the least.

When I arrived this afternoon for the day's Cornell Woolrich triple bill, Eddie announced while we were in line that the projection problems which had afflicted SUDDENLY had been corrected; apparently something as simple as turning off the projector between an initial test run and that night's screening led to the problems. One can only imagine how common issues like this could become in an all-digital age.

It was announced that SUDDENLY would be shown again tonight, properly projected, for anyone willing to sit through a quadruple bill! Since I had enjoyed the film and was on what I call a "movie vacation" for the first weekend of the festival, I took advantage of the opportunity to see SUDDENLY as it was meant to be seen, and I was very glad I did. It's quite a good movie and, other than one tiny skip, it looked terrific.

SUDDENLY fell into the public domain many years ago; there are numerous DVD and VHS prints available of varying quality, and it's also available via streaming, but no one has properly cared for the film until Lobster Films undertook its restoration. The murky, fuzzy print which can be streamed on Netflix looks absolutely nothing like the pristine, sharp picture I saw tonight.

Sterling Hayden plays Tod Shaw, the sheriff of the little town of Suddenly, California. (The film was shot in Saugus and Newhall, California.) One afternoon Tod receives a telegram advising that the President's train will be stopping in Suddenly later that day, and the President will be transferring to a limousine. Tod is immediately busy coordinating security with the Secret Service and state troopers.

Meanwhile, three would-be assassins (Frank Sinatra, Paul Frees, and Christopher Dark) take over a hilltop home which has perfect access to shoot the President. As circumstances unfold, Tod is imprisoned in the home along with Ellen (Nancy Gates), a young widow he loves; Ellen's little boy Pidge (Kim Charney); and Ellen's father-in-law "Pop," a former Secret Service man (James Gleason).

Although the film makes good use of its smalltown location filming, much of the film, written by Richard Sale, is effectively a one-room drama. There are a couple of too-convenient coincidences, such as Pop being a former Secret Service man, but for the most part it's quite a riveting film, with Sinatra's electric, creepy killer ("I was awarded a Silver Star") contrasting effectively with Hayden's low-key demeanor. There were a couple of over-the-top shots where Sinatra seems to be addressing the camera directly, but he's excellent, gradually peeling back the layers of his character's warped psyche. In the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, Frank Sinatra deeply regretted he had played a would-be Presidential killer.

I did wonder exactly why Tod is so hung up on Ellen at the outset of the film, given how strongly she discourages him -- and although there is sympathy for Ellen having lost her husband in the Korean War a few years previously, it's also difficult to understand her attitude toward Tod, a handsome, upright, churchgoing sheriff who would also be an excellent father for her young son. The story stretched credulity just a bit there for the sake of the evolving story.

I especially liked the plan Pop and a young TV repairman (James Lilburn) devise to deal with the assassins. Lilburn was the brother of Maureen O'Hara; his film roles also included playing young Father Paul in THE QUIET MAN (1952).

A couple random asides: advance Presidential security being just a matter of hours seems rather quaint by modern standards; was it ever really that simple?  (Of course, given recent stories about the Secret Service, maybe a lack of advance teams isn't a bad thing...) I was also amused that the war movie which Ellen wouldn't let her little boy see was BEACHHEAD (1954), which I saw just a few days ago.

SUDDENLY is a fast-paced 75-minute film directed by Lewis Allen (THE UNINVITED). It was shot by Charles G. Clarke. The musical score was by David Raksin. The cast also includes Willis Bouchey, Paul Wexler, Kem Dibbs, Clark Howat, Roy Engel, and John Beradino.

Although I had some minor quibbles with the film, as described above, it was obviously interesting enough for me to want to watch it twice in 24 hours!  I definitely recommend seeing it -- preferably in as nice a print as I saw  tonight.

Around the Blogosphere This Week...

...will be delayed by a day or two this week due to my having spent much of the weekend at the Noir City Film Festival.

I hope to have this week's link roundup posted by Monday night or Tuesday, once I've completed my posts on this weekend's movies.

The festival has been a great experience, seeing eight films in a little over 48 hours -- one of the films was shown twice. More on that coming soon!

Tonight's Movie: Naked Alibi (1954) at the Noir City Film Festival

NAKED ALIBI is a great example of why I love the Noir City Film Festival -- the opportunity to enjoy little-known films in gorgeous 35-millimeter prints. NAKED ALIBI was a fun, actioned-packed noir treat from start to finish.

The second night of the Noir City Festival celebrated actor Sterling Hayden and two of the films he made in 1954, with SUDDENLY following NAKED ALIBI. Judging by the size of the crowd, Hayden is popular with noir fans; as an actor, Hayden might not have always demonstrated the greatest range, but he has tremendous screen presence, a big man with attitude to spare. I've grown to like him a lot.

Hayden played a cop in both of the evening's films. While he plays a genial small-town sheriff in SUDDENLY, his police chief in NAKED ALIBI, Joe Conroy, has more of an edge. Joe is convinced that Al Willis (Gene Barry), a seemingly average guy who owns a small bakery, has killed three cops. Thanks to political pressure and sensational press coverage, Joe ends up losing his job as police chief, but he's not giving up on his attempt to prove that Al is a murderer.

Al, seemingly on the verge of cracking up under the pressure of constantly being tailed by Joe, tells his wife (Marcia Henderson) he needs to get away and clear his head, and he takes off for Border City, Mexico. The viewer isn't clear for quite a while whether it's Joe or Al who's got serious problems. Throw in Marianna (Gloria Grahame), a chanteuse in a Border City cantina who seems to know the married Al extremely well, and you've got the makings of an interesting movie.

Hayden and Barry are both good as adversaries fighting an increasingly violent battle. Hayden's very enjoyable to watch, whether he's bemused by Marianna's mixed messages or grimly determined as he tails Al. Barry's Al is a character which isn't completely explained, but what's there on screen is sure fun.

Gloria Grahame is someone I can generally take or leave -- I know, noir fans, that's heresy! -- I like her in some films and find her annoying in others. I liked her a lot in NAKED ALIBI, where she gives a low-key, appealing performance, including putting over the song "Ace in the Hole," dubbed by Jo Ann Greer. Marianna has some interesting shades, finding Al's dangerous edge exciting but losing interest when he goes too far and there's a nicer hunk of man (Hayden) in town. Grahame is sympathetic and interesting; it's ironic that this film came out the same year as HUMAN DESIRE, where I found her performance quite tiresome.

Chuck Connors got a nice round of applause when he first appeared onscreen as a cop working for Hayden. The cast also includes Casey Adams (aka Max Showalter), Billy Chapin, Don Haggerty, and Tol Avery.

The director of this 86-minute film was Jerry Hopper. The attractive black and white cinematography was by Russell Metty, with location shooting in Tijuana, standing in for "Border City," foreshadowing Metty's later work filming TOUCH OF EVIL (1957).

Here's video of the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller introducing this movie in Seattle earlier this year; his talk focuses on Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden, and it also includes a discussion about some of the problems related to the "digital revolution." (More on that issue coming in my review of SUDDENLY.)  Eddie's enthusiasm is contagious, and this video helps to illustrate why it's such fun to attend the films he hosts.

This Universal film is not available on VHS or DVD. Universal recently struck a beautiful brand-new print at the request of the Film Noir Foundation.

Anyone who has the chance to see this great-looking, entertaining movie at a future film festival should definitely take advantage of the opportunity.

...Out For No Good - screen cap sequence...

...OK - just some of the 'overflow' of screen caps from 20 Million Sweethearts...well, actually, these are ALL from the 'Out For No Good' number that Ginger so deftly executes... as always, there really need NO captions, as they speak VERY beautifully for themselves...





















...this last one is STILL my fave... Ginger peeved... when she sticks that lower jaw out, ya best duck, run, or pray, right?
Well, here's another sequence, from a bit further back, but still just as Gingery...
















...well, that should hold ya for awhile...although I WOULD like to reiterate how honkin' that microphone is...dang, it's like a 3-inch PVC pipe stuck on a pole...I just wonder if that's a REAL mic, or if it just a 'stage prop'... well, it's obvious Ginger wasn't actually singing during this scene (i.e., 'lip-synching'...not that there's anything wrong with that....), but they use these throughout the film. Folks weren't nearly as 'savvy' about the technical aspects of a performance in those days...
And, may I ALSO reiterate that Ginger is black is just redonkulous...whatever THAT means (I believe it's a nod to the affirmative...)
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Well, on to the next review, 'Change of Heart'...I've watched it, and as I remember, Ginger is in an almost 'glancing' role, although she really plays a key role in it, if that makes any sense... she is quite the 'trollop' in this one, so there's no sugar-coating it... but she LOOKS mahvalos, darlings...you know who I'm talking to... so there's something.
Anyway, that will be out in a few days, hopefully (where have ya heard THAT before?) - as we get ready for what is officially my least favorite week of the year henceforth, between Ginger's passsing on the 25th and the horrific tornado 'anniversary' on the 27th...again, April canNOT get thru quick enough for me..

Well, until then...

KIG!
VKMfanHuey
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