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    • Agnes Varda (1928-2019)


    • The Belgian-born French film director passed away in Paris on March 29, 2019 at the age of 90.

      Agnes Varda is often called the "grandmother of the New Wave." Although not a member of the Cahiers du cinema critical fraternity which formed the core of this movement, the Belgian-born Varda completed her first feature, "La Pointe Courte," in 1954, five years before the New Wave's first films. With almost no academic or technical knowledge of film (though she had been a still photographer for Jean Vilar's Theatre National Populaire), Varda told two parallel tales (a structure inspired by William Faulkner's "Wild Palms"): the jagged romance of a young married couple and the struggles of the fishermen in the village of La Pointe Courte. Critic Georges Sadoul called this work "certainly the first film of the Nouvelle Vague" and it set the tone for Varda's career to come, combining fiction with documentary and also, in its debt to Faulkner, illustrating Varda's desire to expand the language of film. "I had the feeling," she said later, "that the cinema was not free, above all in its form, and that annoyed me. I wanted to make a film exactly as one writes a novel."

      Unfortunately for Varda, "La Pointe Courte" (which was edited by Alain Resnais, who initially refused to work on it because Varda's techniques were close to those which he was developing) would be the only feature she would make in the 1950s. Although she lit the fuse under the New Wave, it was not until the explosive feature debuts of her male counterparts that Varda received another opportunity to direct a feature, "Cleo From 5 to 7" (1961), which established her as a significant talent on the international film scene. In "Cleo," the story of two hours of a woman's life as she waits to hear if she has cancer, we witness the emergence of a great Varda theme, borrowed from Simone de Beauvoir: "One isn't born a woman, one becomes one."

      From her first film to her most recent projects, Varda has shown a strong connection to the Earth, becoming a kind of cinematic Mother Nature, whose characters have been personifications of wood and iron ("La Pointe Courte"), sickly trees ("Vagabond," 1985), animals ("Les Creatures," 1966) and food ("Apple" of "One Sings, The Other Doesn't" 1977). The world of Agnes Varda is one expansive Garden of Eden, where characters can live without the human burden of morality or sin, whether that world is the French Riviera (the short "Du cote de la cote" 1958), the city ("Cleo from 5 to 7"), or the country ("Le Bonheur," 1965; "Les Creatures," "Vagabond"). Varda knows that this Eden is a mythical place which exists only in the minds of her main characters and for this reason, her films also contain contrasting elements: troubled characters (the struggling fishermen of "La Pointe Courte" or the suicidal wife of "Le Bonheur") or less picturesque surroundings (the frozen landscape of "Vagabond").

      Although Varda's initial impact on cinema was a powerful one, by the mid-1960s her career as a commercial filmmaker began to wane. After the improvisational and obscure "Lions Love" (1969), about an avant-garde woman director who goes to Hollywood, Varda completed only one more fictional commercial feature over the next fifteen years--the epic feminist tale of womanhood and motherhood, "One Sings, the Other Doesn't." She remained active by directing numerous shorts and documentaries, but much of her work went unseen or unnoticed.

      It was not until the mid-80s that Varda reemerged in the commercial realm. While "Kung Fu Master!" (1987) was a misnamed and rather tentative story of the abortive romance between a middle-aged woman (Jane Birkin) and a 14 year-old video game buff (played by Varda's son Mathieu), "Vagabond," a documentary-style feature about a young French female wanderer, was arguably her best work to date. It dealt with all her major concerns: the independence of women, the coexistence with nature, the need for freedom, the acceptance of chance, the cyclical nature of birth and death, the personification of nature, and the seamless blending of documentary and fiction. Sadly the illness and death of Varda's husband, filmmaker Jacques Demy, helped to inspire her affectionate docu-valentine to his youth in "Jacquot/Jacquot de Nantes" (1992).

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb).

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    • Dick Dinman & Alan K. Rode Meet THE PHANTOM LADY

    • DICK DINMAN & ALAN K. RODE MEET "THE PHANTOM LADY! Producer/host Dick Dinman and acclaimed author and Film Noir Foundation charter director Alan K. Rode salute the Arrow Academy Blu-ray releases of two certifiable Noir classics MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS and PHANTOM LADY. PLUS: Arrow hits the Blu-ray mark with SO DARK THE NIGHT and THE DAY OF THE JACKAL!

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934): When Sin Ruled the Movies

    • By Mark A. Vieira

      It's classic Hollywood-uncensored. Filled with rare images and untold stories from filmmakers, exhibitors, and moviegoers, Forbidden Hollywood is the ultimate guide to a gloriously entertaining and strikingly modern era, when a lax code of censorship let sin rule the movies.

      Forbidden Hollywood is a history of "pre-Code" like none other: you will eavesdrop on production conferences, read nervous telegrams from executives to censors, and hear Americans argue about "immoral" movies. You will see decisions artfully wrought, so as to fool some of the people long enough to get films into theaters. You will read what theater managers thought of such craftiness, and hear from fans as they applauded creativity or condemned crassness. You will see how these films caused a grass-roots movement to gain control of Hollywood-and why they were "forbidden" for fifty years.

      The book spotlights the twenty-two films that led to the strict new Code of 1934, including Red-Headed Woman, Call Her Savage, and She Done Him Wrong. You'll see Paul Muni shoot a path to power in the original Scarface; Barbara Stanwyck climb the corporate ladder on her own terms in Baby Face; and misfits seek revenge in Freaks.

      More than 200 newly restored (and some never-before-published) photographs illustrate pivotal moments in the careers of Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Greta Garbo; and the pre-Code stardom of Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, James Cagney, and Mae West. This is the definitive portrait of an unforgettable era in filmmaking.


      Mark A. Vieira is a photographer and author who specializes in Hollywood history. He has lectured at USC, UCLA, Lincoln Center, Universal Studios, and the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Vieira has appeared in documentaries such as TCM's Moguls and Movie Stars and Complicated Women. He is also the author of George Hurrell's Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille, and Into the Dark, among other film-related titles. Vieira resides in Los Angeles.

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    • Film Historian Donald Bogle Selects 4 Groundbreaking Movies for Black History Month

    • The author of TCM's forthcoming book Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films, The Filmmakers, selects four groundbreaking movies for Black History Month--and the months to follow:

      In 1949, Hollywood underwent a significant change in its depiction of African Americans. In the past, mainstream movies presented (with a few rare exceptions) portraits of Black characters as fundamentally contented carefree servants, who often performed dim-witted antics and provided many a film with much-needed but often enough cringe-worthy comic relief. The Black actors were always solid entertainers, able to make the most of their screen time. But the movies were reluctant to comment on the nation's long-festering racial divisions and conflicts: a fundamental racism that was eating away at the fabric of American life. That changed in 1949 with four striking motion pictures that zeroed in on the nation's race problem while offering talented Black actors and actresses a chance at meaningful and challenging roles. Here are those four films that broke new ground and led to powerful films of the 1950s and 1960s. Perfect films to view during Black History Month or at any time.

      Home of the Brave, directed by Mark Robson, produced by Stanley Kramer, and based on a play by Arthur Laurents (which originally dealt with anti-Semitism), told the story of a Black soldier, Peter Moss, who has suffered an emotional breakdown. A military psychiatrist works with the soldier to undercover the events that led to the collapse. What emerges is a tale of sound and fury that signifies much about the American way of life. While serving on a special mission with a small unit of white soldiers on an island in the South Pacific, Moss finds himself the target of racial taunts and slurs, all the more shockingly ironic because they occur while all the men are supposedly fighting for the land of the free and the home of the brave. Most traumatic for Moss is when his best friend from school--also on the mission--reveals his long-buried racism as well. That--as well as the friend's death on the mission--sends Moss over the brink. But during his sessions with the psychiatrist, it is also revealed that even before his experiences in the military, Moss has suffered such taunts and discrimination. In a sense, racism is deeply embedded in the nation's DNA.

      Starring as Moss was newcomer James Edwards, who precedes Sidney Poitier as the screen's first sensitive, intelligent, new style Black hero/leading man. Edwards is such a startling presence--unlike any Black movie actor who came before him--that you may feel certain that stardom awaits him. He appeared in such movies as Bright Victory, The Steel Helmet, The Manchurian Candidate, The Sandpiper, and Patton (his last film) and also had a long career in television. But the big movie roles went to Poitier. In many respects, Edwards' dilemma revealed that Hollywood was really ready only for one Black lead at a time.

      Also in the cast are Lloyd Bridges (as Moss's friend), Frank Lovejoy, Douglas Dick, Jeff Corey, and in an effectively vicious characterization, Steve Brodie. The movie ends with problems resolved and a supposedly redemptive theme of interracial male bonding as the soldier played by Lovejoy extends his hand in friendship and wants Moss to be a partner in a new business venture. Though today viewers are bound to feel the ending is rigged, it touched on some of the optimism of the post-World War II era. Of course, things did not work out that way as evidenced by the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the 1950s/1960s. But Home of the Brave sets the stage for other interracial male-bonding dramas to follow such as Edge of the City and The Defiant Ones.

      Also appearing in 1949 was producer Louis de Rochemont's independent production Lost Boundaries, directed by Alfred Werker. Here was the story of a young light-skinned Black doctor and his light-skinned wife. When a Black hospital in the South declines to hire the doctor because he looks too white, the couple moves North--to a white community in New Hampshire. There, the couple "passes" as white for some twenty years. The doctor sets up a successful medical practice. The couple raise two children as whites, and generally, their lives moves ideally---until, of course, the day when their deep, dark secret is revealed. The couple and their children find themselves rejected by their once friendly neighbors. Lost Boundaries earnestly sets out to expose and explore the community's racism as well as the family's self-examination, especially the children who have adopted some of the attitudes of the community and must now struggle to understand themselves as African Americans. The son goes to Harlem in search of his roots. The film ends on a note of racial reconciliation when the town's white minister preaches a sermon about tolerance, and we're led to believe the community is ready to "forgive" their former friends for that having drop of Negro blood.

      Though based on a true story, Lost Boundaries doesn't ring true the way it's dramatized. One cannot imagine that their light skin would have led to a rejection by the Negro community of the time. Perhaps the greatest compromise is that the major Black characters are played by white actors: Mel Ferrer, Beatrice Pearson, Susan Douglas, and Richard Hylton. But the actors work hard at investing their characters with an emotional truth, and despite the casting, the movie is otherwise fundamentally sincere and works steadily at uncovering some nasty aspects about the nation's race problems. There are also two performances by real African American actors that jolt the viewer. In the Harlem sequence, Canada Lee plays a police lieutenant and William Greaves is cast as someone who tries to help the son during this troubled time. Like James Edwards, both usher in new depictions of African American men: articulate and intelligent. Lee appeared afterward in a lead role in Cry, the Beloved Country, and Greaves, who had worked as a leading man in such post-War race movies as Miracle in Harlem and Souls of Sin, became an important documentary filmmaker.

      Twentieth Century-Fox's Pinky, directed by Elia Kazan, focused on racism in the deep South. Here was the story of a light-skinned young Black woman called Pinky (played by white actress Jeanne Crain) who, having studied in Boston where she has "passed" for white and also has had a love affair with a white doctor who wants to marry her, returns home to the South to visit her grandmother, played by Ethel Waters. But now as a Black woman in the South, she is subjected to repeated humiliations. At one point, a pair of locals attempts to rape her. Ultimately, Pinky must decide if she will remain in the South or will she deny her racial heritage and return North.

      Pinky was a troubled production that was a great challenge for Ethel Waters whose career stretched back to the teens and 1920s when she was a popular slinky blues singer, at first known primarily in the African American community. In time, she introduced such hits as "Am I Blue?" and "Stormy Weather" that reached a large mainstream audience. In the 1930s, she emerged as a Broadway star in such musicals as As Thousands Cheer and At Home Abroad, then as an acclaimed dramatic actress in Mamba's Daughters. In the 1940s, she appeared in such Hollywood films as Cairo and Tales of Manhattan. During the filming of MGM's 1943 Cabin in the Sky--in which she headed an all-star cast that included Eddie "Rochester" Anderson--she felt the director Vincente Minnelli was giving preferential treatment to the younger Lena Horne. Throughout, her complaints and outbursts on the set of Cabin in the Sky contributed to her reputation of being difficult. (Broadway producers and directors were already familiar with Waters' temper.) Afterward Waters said that she went for six years without a movie role.

      Twentieth Century-Fox had her test for the film. Originally, Pinky's director was John Ford, but he and Waters clashed. Fox chief of production, Darryl F. Zanuck, was impressed enough with Waters that he took Ford off the picture and replaced him with Elia Kazan. "Ford's Negroes were like Aunt Jemima. Caricatures," said Zanuck. "I thought we were going to get into trouble." Kazan had reservations about the film. He felt that white actress Jeanne Crain was wrong for the part of Pinky; she seemed disconnected from her character. Interestingly, later Kazan felt that disconnection somehow became appropriate for the character, who is torn between two worlds: white and black. Still, the casting of a white actress in this role was the film's greatest dishonesty. The same had been true of Lost Boundaries. Kazan, however, had no major problems with Waters. She appeared to need a director who took her seriously. In the end, she turned in a sensitive characterization, though the conception of the role as written retained the familiar devoted servant traits.

      Despite flaws, Pinky touched on the dilemma of an educated, forward-looking young African American woman in battle with a society which appears to have no place for her. The film also presented the prospect of an interracial romance though of course it permitted the audience to accept the relationship because there was no real interracial couple on screen. "The story may leave questions unanswered and in spots be naïve," wrote the reviewer for Variety, "but the mature treatment of a significant theme in a manner that promises broad public acceptance and b.o. success truly moves the American film medium a desirable notch forward in stature and importance."

      Pinky became the most commercially successful of the Negro Problem Pictures, with a cast that also included an older Nina Mae McKinney, Ethel Barrymore, and Frederick O'Neal. Pinky garnered three Oscar nominations: one for Jeanne Crain as Best Lead Actress and two Best Supporting Actress nominations, for Ethel Barrymore and, most significantly, Ethel Waters. Though Pinky won no awards in those categories, Waters became the first African American nominated for an Oscar since Hattie McDaniel, who won for Gone with the Wind ten years earlier.

      Of the Negro Problem Pictures, perhaps most unflinching was the 1949 MGM release Intruder in the Dust, based on William Faulkner's novel and directed by Clarence Brown. Many were surprised that MGM, the studio that prided itself on presenting a wholesome brand of entertainment, released this hard-hitting film. Also surprising was Brown at the helm. No one could ever question the talent of this director, whose well-made and engrossing films had featured such major stars as Garbo, Crawford, Gable, and the young Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet. But in Intruder in the Dust, he stretched his creative muscles and crafted an emotionally involving and racially provocative film that examined racism in the deep South.

      When a black man, Lucas Beauchamp, is wrongly accused of having killed a white neighbor, some in the community want to lynch him. The man himself, played magnificently by Juano Hernandez, refuses to be cowed by the community's racism. He's so assured that he doesn't feel compelled to prove his innocence. Ultimately, he makes the community examine itself, similar to Lost Boundaries but in a far deeper manner. Such actors as Claude Jarman Jr., Elizabeth Patterson, Porter Hall, and Will Geer gave fine performances. The movie was shot in Faulkner territory, Oxford, Mississippi. Real townspeople played roles. It was reported that director Brown was drawn to the Faulkner novel because he himself had once witnessed a lynching in Atlanta. Intruder in the Dust falls into a trap of stereotyping in a sequence with a frightened young Black character. Otherwise it's gripping and realistic.

      Born in Puerto Rico, Juano Hernandez had begun his career in such race movies as Oscar Micheaux's The Girl from Chicago and Lying Lips. Later he appeared in such films as Young Man with a Horn, Breaking Point, Stars in My Crown, and most startlingly, in Sidney Lumet's The Pawnbroker, which starred Rod Steiger. He was uniformly praised for his magnificent performance in Intruder in the Dust. But like James Edwards, Hernandez never had the kind of stardom that his talent deserved. Nor did the film have the success it merited. The New York Times named Intruder in the Dust one of the year's best films, "brilliant" and "stirring" and "one of the great cinema dramas of our time." But MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer disliked (hated is a better word!) Intruder in the Dust and did nothing to promote it. The film died at the box-office. But it has been rediscovered in recent years.

      All four films had compromises. In a covert manner, they still relied on modified stereotypes and tropes, such as the tragic mulatto and the mammy. Also promoted was an idealized theme of ultimate unity between black and white. Nonetheless, Hollywood had an awakening. Ralph Ellison said, "They are all worth seeing, and if seen, capable of involving us emotionally. That they do is testimony to the deep centers of American emotion that they touch." The studios now also acknowledged that black performers could be cast in serious, dramatic leading roles, and that movies could reflect racial dynamics (even if compromised) in the nation. The 1934 Imitation of Life had suggested there was a race problem in America. The Negro Problem Pictures indicated there was a race problem in the country and led the way to others that would come in the next decade.

      by Donald Bogle


      To pre-order Donald Bogle's Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films, The Filmmakers, releasing on May 2nd, or to learn more, visit: www.runningpress.com

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    • TCM Remembers Stanley Donen (1924-2019)


    • Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Stanley Donen on Monday, March 18 with the following festival of films.

      The schedule for the evening of Monday, March 18 will be:
      8:00 PM Private Screenings: Stanley Donen (2006)
      9:00 PM Singin' in the Rain (1952)
      11:00 PM On the Town (1949)
      1:00 AM Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954)
      3:00 AM Royal Wedding (1951)
      5:00 AM It's Always Fair Weather (1955)



      The gifted director/choreographer, one of the last remaining filmmakers from Hollywood's Golden Age, passed away February 21, 2019 at the age of 94.

      Between 1949 and 1959, Stanley Donen was either the key creative force behind or an essential element in the production of some of the most critically acclaimed musicals in Hollywood history. A former dancer, he befriended Gene Kelly, who joined forces with Donen on Broadway and later in feature films for the dancing legend like "On the Town" (1949) and what was widely considered the most popular musical ever made, "Singin' in the Rain" (1952). Donen also directed his idol Fred Astaire in "Royal Wedding" (1951) and "Funny Face" (1957), and helmed such crowd-pleasing titles as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954) and "Damn Yankees" (1958). In later years, he showed a deft touch with light comedies like "Indiscreet" (1958), as well as thrillers like "Charade" (1963). Though his directorial career wound down in the early 1980s, the visual and technical brilliance of Donen's body of work, which was rightfully feted with an honorary Academy Award in 1998, ensured that he would remain in the upper reaches of Hollywood's pantheon of musical directors as long as viewers continued to draw joy and inspiration from them.

      Born April 13, 1924 in Columbia, SC, Donen struggled to grow up Jewish in a region marked by intolerance for his particular faith. He found refuge at the movies, and fell in love with dancing after viewing one of Fred Astaire's effortless performances. He took tap lessons in his home town and graduated early from high school at 16, whereupon Donen lit out for New York City to make his way in show business. He earned his first Broadway credits as a member of the chorus in 1940's "Pal Joey," starring Gene Kelly. The veteran dancer befriended the younger man and later called on him to assist with the choreography for the play "Best Foot Forward." When Kelly lit out for Hollywood, he brought Donen with him, and the pair began their collaborations in film with the movie version of "Best Foot Forward" (1943). Donen soon began accumulating choreography credits on countless musicals, both with and without Kelly, including "Cover Girl" (1944), "The Kissing Bandit" (1948) with Frank Sinatra, and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1948) with both Kelly and Sinatra. The following year, he and Kelly shared directorial credit on "On the Town" (1949), a sprightly Comden and Green tune fest with Kelly, Sinatra and Jules Munshin as sailors on leave and in love in New York City. The Big Apple locations - the first for a movie musical - and memorable tunes like "New York, New York" made it a box office and critical hit, as well as an Oscar winner for Best Music.

      The picture established the Donen-Kelly team as one of the freshest and most innovative in Hollywood, and together, they were responsible for some of the genre's most enduring classics. "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) was perhaps the most iconic of these; an unflaggingly charming take on Hollywood's transition from silent pictures to talkies, it featured what was unquestionably one of the most indelible screen images of all time - the sight of Kelly crooning the title song while dancing through a studio-produced downpour. So great was its impact upon generations of viewers - many of whom were moved to explore dance and musicals after seeing the film - that it was later placed at #5 on the American Film Institute's Top Films of All Time and the top spot on its list of 100 Greatest Musicals.

      Had Stanley Donen stopped directing musicals after "Singin' in the Rain," his legacy would have been ensured for time in memoriam, but he continued to work on some of the form's best efforts for the better part of the next decade. He directed Fred Astaire - arguably the greatest of all musical film performers - in two projects. "Royal Wedding" (1951) was his first turn as a solo director, and featured the spectacular "You're All the World to Me" number, which saw Astaire literally dancing up the walls and across the ceiling of a room. It would later serve as the inspiration for countless scenes in other films and television shows, as well as the 1986 music video for Lionel Richie's pop hit "Dancing on the Ceiling," which Donen also directed. Donen also helmed "Funny Face" for Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, which earned him a Golden Palm nomination at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.

      The success of his efforts with Kelly and Astaire made Donen one of the top musical directors of the fifties, with perhaps only Vincente Minnelli ranking above him. As a solo director, he helmed such hits as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954) and "The Pajama Game" (1957) with Doris Day. Having firmly established himself as a top director of musicals, he was reluctant to rejoin Kelly in 1955 for "It's Always Fair Weather," and the experience - already tainted by Kelly's disintegrating relationship with MGM - was reportedly an unpleasant one. But "Damn Yankees" (1958), which Donen co-directed with the director of the Broadway production, George Abbott, brought the most active phase of his musical career to a close on a high note, as well as his fourth of five nominations from the Directors Guild of America, which had previously honored him for "Singin' in the Rain," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Funny Face."

      With the decline of the Hollywood musical in the late 1950s, Donen began making inroads to other genres. He made his first foray into romantic comedies with the delightful "Indiscreet" (1958), which marked the reunion of "Notorious" co-stars Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. The film was nominated for Best Picture at both the Golden Globes and BAFTA Film Awards. His next collaboration with Grant - 1960's "The Grass is Always Greener" - was a critical and financial flop, but their third go-round was "Charade" (1962), an engaging and polished thriller marked by Grant's repartee with co-star Audrey Hepburn and a terrific score by Henry Mancini. "Arabesque" (1966) attempted to recreate that film's chemistry with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren, but not even their star power could elevate the ponderous end result.

      Donen reunited with Hepburn for "Two for the Road" (1967), a bittersweet comedy-drama that explored the dissolution of a marriage between two seemingly hopeless romantics (Hepburn and Albert Finney). Told in a non-linear fashion that evoked the arthouse scene of Europe, the film was praised as Donen's boldest non-musical effort. He followed this with "Bedazzled" (1967), a cult favorite built around the then-popular comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. A colorful pop revamp of the Faustian legend, Moore starred as a nebbish short order cook who is granted his every wish - including a bedroom romp with Raquel Welch as the embodiment of lust - by a sardonic Devil (Cook) with a sense of coal-black humor. The film was a sizable hit with college audiences, who appreciated its fractured structure and nose-thumbing attitude towards religion.

      "Bedazzled" would prove to be Donen's last successful film. His follow-up, "Staircase" (1969), was a comedy-drama with Richard Burton and Rex Harrison as an aging gay couple. The offbeat casting led Fox to market the film as camp, which resulted in a backlash of negative reviews that lambasted the film as being in bad taste. "The Little Prince" (1974) failed to generate the same sense of wonder as the classic Antoine de Saint-Exupery book on which it was based, despite a score by Lerner and Lowe and the presence of Gene Wilder and Bob Fosse in its cast. "Lucky Lady" (1975) squandered the star power of its leads - Gene Hackman, Burt Reynolds and Liza Minelli - in a moribund dramedy about romance between bootleggers in the 1930s. "Movie Movie" (1978) was the sole standout of the decade for Donen - an amusing send-up of genre pictures from the 1930s by Larry Gelbart, the film's two-movies-in-one structure offered some terrific comic turns from the likes of George C. Scott and Eli Wallach. Sadly, the momentum it generated was squelched by "Saturn 3" (1980), an ill-advised foray into science fiction with Kirk Douglas and a badly miscast Farrah Fawcett as astronauts terrorized by a dubbed Harvey Keitel and his colossal, amorous robot. The film did manage to generate some attention for brief nude scenes by Fawcett, who at the time was still riding high on her post-"Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981) popularity.

      Donen's final turn in the director's chair for a major motion picture was "Blame It on Rio" (1984), an uncomfortable sex comedy which asked viewers to find Michael Caine's attempts to seduce his daughter's nubile teenage friend (Michelle Johnson) amusing. The abundance of nudity helped to make the film a modest hit, but Donen's heart was clearly not in the picture. He was absent from directing for most of the 1980s, save for a lovely musical number on an episode of "Moonlighting" (ABC, 1985-89) in 1986. Donen also lent his name and legacy to the Academy Awards telecast by serving as producer of the 58th annual ceremony that same year.

      In 1993, Donen made his stage musical directing debut with an adaptation of Michael Powell's classic ballet fantasy-drama, "The Red Shoes" (1948), but the production was not a success. He returned behind the camera for the 1999 TV-movie "Love Letters," based on the long-running play by A.R. Gurney, with Steven Weber and Laura Linney as the lovers whose romantic history is played out over the course of several decades' worth of correspondence. As befitting a director of his stature, Donen received his share of lifetime achievement awards in the 1990s, which culminated in an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1998. His acceptance speech was marked by the charm and grace that he brought to his classic musicals - upon receiving his award, he executed a gentle dance with the trophy while crooning Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek." The moment served as a heart-warming reminder of Donen's legacy, as well as the whimsy and joy he brought to moviegoers throughout his career.

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb)

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  1. New Books

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    • All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson

    • By Mark Griffin

      Quintessentially tall, dark, and handsome, legendary movie star Rock Hudson epitomized all-American manhood at the pinnacle of his fame. The country's favorite leading man in the '50s and '60s, he exuded charm, strength, virility, and charisma in classics like Magnificent Obsession, Giant, and Pillow Talk. His mainstream appeal translated into box office success during the last hurrah of Hollywood's Golden Age. And yet, this Oscar-nominated talent's greatest performance came in real life, as for decades he kept his authentic self and his sexuality hidden in an extremely homophobic society.

      Now, in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS: A Biography of Rock Hudson (Harper; Hardcover; On Sale: December 4, 2018), author Mark Griffin probes beneath the façade to craft the definitive biography of the complicated, conflicted individual and widely misunderstood icon, whose illustrious career spanned 40 years and who was the first major celebrity to die of AIDS.

      To survive a chaotic and financially strapped Midwestern childhood, young Roy Fitzgerald found escape from his troubles--an estranged father, a violent stepfather, and a controlling mother--at the local cinema. Despite his humble circumstances, he yearned for a future onscreen. Looks and drive, as well as his stint on the casting couch with a notoriously unscrupulous agent, eventually transformed that dream into reality. Painstakingly, an unskilled but fiercely ambitious former truck driver was transformed into the camera-ready persona of Rock Hudson.

      Rising through the ranks at Universal, Hudson emerged as the studio's prized asset, a clean-cut matinee idol adored by colleagues and fans alike. Professional glory had a psychological cost for this vulnerable, insecure soul though. On celluloid and in gossip columns, he wooed countless attractive women, burnishing his manufactured image as a swoon-worthy romantic hero. Offscreen, he courted disaster as his gay relationships, affairs, and flirtations made him a prime target for exposure by tabloids and spurned ex-lovers.

      Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members, and former companions and unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, this comprehensive biography finally produces a multidimensional portrait of one of the most compelling figures in film history. Here, at last, are fresh insights into Hudson's controversial marriage to Phyllis Gates and his contentious dealings with boyfriend Marc Christian, providing answers to questions the late actor consistently evaded. Griffin also offers the first in-depth analysis of Hudson's entire body of work from his early bit parts to his collaborations with visionary director Douglas Sirk to his cheekily subversive bedroom farces with Doris Day to his transition to the small screen in the hit series McMillan & Wife. Along the way, this riveting account features memorable appearances from an A-list cast of characters, including Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, John Wayne, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and many other luminaries.

      Meticulously researched and vividly rendered, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS illuminates an all-too-human superstar whose life and legacy have significantly influenced American culture.


      Mark Griffin is the author of A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli. His interviews, reviews, and essays have appeared in scores of publications, including The Boston Globe, Premiere, MovieMaker, and Genre. Griffin, who recently appeared in the documentary Gene Kelly: To Live and Dance, lives in Lewiston, Maine.

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    • Handsome Johnny

    • By Lee Server

      Lee Server's in-depth research and vivid writing style have earned high acclaim for his bestselling biographies of Ava Gardener and Robert Mitchum. Now he turns his laser focus to a singular character in the annals of the American underworld--Johnny Rosselli--in HANDSOME JOHNNY: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin (St. Martin's Press, Nov. 13, 2018, $29.99).

      A protégé of Al Capone, Johnny Roselli abandoned his Boston roots for California and the bloody bootlegging wars of the Roaring Twenties, eventually becoming the Mob's "Man in Hollywood," and even producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s.

      Server uncovers previously unknown details about Rosselli, including:
      --The first detailed description of the biggest extortion plot in US history, the mob's plot to extort the entire movie industry and subvert the Hollywood unions.
      --The Syndicate's secret sponsorship of Columbia Pictures
      --The massive extortion deal that eventually landed Rosselli and his associates in federal prison.

      Server recounts the inside story of Rosselli's post-prison venture, working for Chicago boss Sam Giancana in Las Vegas, where he ran the town from his suites and poolside tables at the Tropicana and Desert Inn, enjoying the Rat Pack nightlife with pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

      Server also provides a detailed, first-time account of the most unexpected chapter in Rosselli's extraordinary life:
      --The CIA's recruitment of Rosselli to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro
      --The Kennedy brothers' secret connection to the murder plots
      --Rosselli's part in the eventual Washington investigations that tore apart the American intelligence service.

      Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, HANDSOME JOHNNY is a rich rollercoaster of a biography.


      LEE SERVER is the author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed biographies Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care and Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing. Robert Mitchum was named a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, "the film biography of the year" by the Sunday Times (U.K.) and one of the "60 Greatest Film Books." Ava Gardner was a New York Times Notable Book, and a New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today bestseller. He lives in Palm Springs, California.

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    • Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II


    • By Robert Matzen

      The story of one of the most enduring and beloved stars Hollywood has ever produced--Audrey Hepburn--has been told again and again since her passing in 1993. An Amazon search of books with her name will produce well over a thousand titles, with every aspect of her life but one covered in print: her years during World War II when she lived in the Netherlands under Nazi rule.

      On April 15, 2019--just weeks before what would've been her 90th birthday--critically acclaimed and bestselling biographer Robert Matzen reveals the true war story of this cinematic icon. The book, as shocking as it is vital and triumphant, is Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II [GoodKnight Books]. The culmination of years of painstaking research by Matzen--who conducted new interviews with people who knew Audrey Hepburn in the Netherlands, unearthed secret diaries, gained access to previously classified archives, and combed through decades of her own infrequent but revealing reminiscences in interviews--Dutch Girl contains substantive proof of holes, errors, and inventions in every previous Audrey Hepburn biography that's touched on her life during the war years. In fact, the real story is more incredible than anything presented by previous biographers.

      From debunking the mythology of Hepburn's lineage (did the wealthy van Heemstras actually have their money stolen by the Nazis?) to revealing the extent of her involvement with the Dutch Resistance and an active role tending wounded of the famed "Bridge Too Far" battle of Arnhem, Dutch Girl is a definitive biography that exposes an extraordinary story of courage, tragedy, perseverance, and triumph--and contributes immeasurably to the legacy of one of the world's most famous actresses, fashion icons, and humanitarians.

      Dutch Girl has been called a "true gift" by Hepburn's younger son, Luca Dotti, who has written a powerful foreword to the book that speaks to the lock-and-key under which this information had been kept in Audrey's heart, writing:
      "When my mother talked about herself and what life taught her, Hollywood was the missing guest. Instead of naming famed Beverly Hills locations, she gave us obscure and sometimes unpronounceable Dutch ones. Red carpet recollections were replaced by Second World War episodes that she was able to transform into children's tales. We knew we were missing the complete story of her life in the war--until Robert Matzen wrote to me introducing himself and his book, Dutch Girl. I now understand why the words Good and Evil, and Love and Mercy were so fundamental in her own narrative. Why she was open about certain facts and why she kept so many others in a secluded area of her being. Thank you, Robert Matzen."

      The third and final book in Matzen's 'Hollywood in WWII' Trilogy -- which includes the award-winning 2013 book Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 and 2016 bestseller Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for World War II--Dutch Girl is a not-to-be-missed spring 2019 release. Among the topics explored and new information revealed in it includes:

      --The riveting, untold story of a young Dutch ballerina in World War II who went on to become an Academy Award winning movie star, timeless fashion icon, and tireless UNICEF ambassador who devoted her life to fighting for the welfare of children in war-torn territories
      --Brand-new verified information about the van Heemstra family, including brutal executions of Audrey Hepburn's relatives by the Nazis and other direct family members deeply involved in the rise of fascism in Europe
      --Audrey Hepburn's active role in the Dutch Resistance and details about her daily life in Velp when the war "came home" and the village was under fire for seven months
      --Never-before-seen photographs, documents, and mementos provided by Audrey Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti, informing Matzen's research and shared in a full-color and black-and-white 24-page photo section


      Robert Matzen has gained a reputation as one of today's top authors in popular biography; for his latest book, Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, he lived in Audrey Hepburn's footsteps in the Netherlands, interviewed many who knew her, and dug deep into Dutch archives to uncover secret information, resulting in a eye-opening look into the hidden past of an icon. Dutch Girl is Matzen's eighth book and the third and final installment in his 'Hollywood in World War II' trilogy, with previous releases including the award-winning and critically acclaimed titles Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 [2013] and Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe [2016]. Regularly appearing ininternational press, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Hollywood Reporter, and PBS, Matzen's previous print work includes many articles about classic films and he maintains a popular blog at https://robertmatzen.com/blog/

      Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II [GoodKnight Books] will be available in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook formats on April 15, 2019 wherever books are sold.

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    • A Star is Born: Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away

    • By Lorna Luft and Jeffrey Vance

      New York Times bestselling author and daughter of Judy Garland tells the story of A Star Is Born (1954) -- at once the crowning achievement and greatest disappointment in her mother's legendary career. This is a vivid account of a film classic's production, loss, and reclamation.

      A Star Is Born -- the classic Hollywood tale about a young talent rising to superstardom, and the downfall of her mentor/lover along the way -- has never gone out of style. It has seen five film adaptations, but none compares to the 1954 version starring Judy Garland in her greatest role. But while it was the crowning performance of the legendary entertainer's career, the production turned into one of the most talked about in movie history.

      The story, which depicts the dark side of fame, addiction, loss, and suicide, paralleled Garland's own tumultuous life in many ways. While hitting alarmingly close to home for the fragile star, it ultimately led to a superlative performance -- one that was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost in one of the biggest upsets in Oscar® history. Running far too long for the studio's tastes, Warner Bros. notoriously slashed extensive amounts of footage from the finished print, leaving A Star is Born in tatters and breaking the heart of both the film's star and director George Cukor.

      Today, with a director's cut reconstructed from previously lost scenes and audio, the 1954 A Star is Born has taken its deserved place among the most critically acclaimed movies of all time, and continues to inspire each new generation that discovers it. Now, Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland and the film's producer, Sid Luft, tells the story of the production, and of her mother's fight to save her career, as only she could. Teaming with film historian Jeffrey Vance, A Star Is Born is a vivid and refreshingly candid account of the crafting, loss, and restoration of a movie classic, complemented by a trove of images from the family collection taken both on and off the set. The book also includes essays on the other screen adaptations of A Star Is Born, to round out a complete history of a story that has remained a Hollywood favorite for close to a century.


      Lorna Luft is the daughter of Judy Garland and Sid Luft. She is the author of the bestselling book Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir (Pocket Books, 1998). After making her television debut on her mother's 1963 Christmas special, Luft embarked on her own career as a singer and actress on the stage, film, and TV. She has performed on and off Broadway in Lolita, and Promises, Promises; in national tours of Grease and Guys and Dolls; at the Rainbow Room, the Hollywood Bowl, and the White House. Luft lives in Palm Springs, CA.

      Jeffrey Vance is a film historian, author, and producer. His books include Douglas Fairbanks (UC Press, 2008) and a trilogy of volumes published by Abrams on comedy legends: Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema (2003), Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian (2002), and Buster Keaton Remembered (2001). Vance lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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  1. DVD Reviews

    • Updated: January 3, 2011, 10:42 AM ET
    • Dick Dinman Salutes the Late Julie Adams

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES THE LATE JULIE ADAMS: The late Julie Adams, who was so memorably savored by THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, reveals to producer/host Dick Dinman how she finally came to terms with the inescapable fact that (despite costarring with such major stars as Jimmy Stewart, Tyrone Power, Jeff Chandler, Tony Curtis, William Powell, Rock Hudson, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin) she will always be best remembered for her watery skirmishes with the "gill man."

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Updated: January 3, 2011, 10:42 AM ET
    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Meet THE SEA HAWK & THE THING!

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN MEET "THE SEA HAWK" & "THE THING"! The legendary Errol Flynn swashbuckler THE SEA HAWK and the original Howard Hawks sci-fi shocker THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD are two of classic film fan's most requested titles for Blu-ray release and Warner Home Video's Sr. VP of Classic and Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein describes to producer/host Dick Dinman the decades long search for optimum elements necessary to ultimately create these two magnificent looking and sounding Blu-ray releases.


      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Updated: January 3, 2011, 10:42 AM ET
    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Come HOME FROM THE HILL!

    • DICK DINMAN AND GEORGE FELTENSTEIN COME "HOME FROM THE HILL"!: Warner's own George Feltenstein rejoins producer/host Dick Dinman as both marvel at Vincente Minnelli's sensitive and powerful direction of HOME FROM THE HILL one of the most bracingly stinging rural domestic dramas ever produced and both pay tribute to one of star Robert Mitchum's most acclaimed performances ever as this emotionally potent masterwork joins the prodigious list of Minnelli classics previously released on the Blu-ray format by the Warner Archive.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Updated: January 3, 2011, 10:42 AM ET
    • Dick Dinman's "Best of '18" Holiday Gift Giving Shows

    • DICK DINMAN'S "BEST OF '18" HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING SHOW: "Dick's Best Classic Blu-ray Pick's for '18" include superb releases from the Warner Archive, the Criterion Collection, Kino Lorber, the Cohen Collection, Olive Films, Twilight Time, Flicker Alley and Indicator/Powerhouse and acclaimed author, film historian, and commentator Jeremy Arnold joins producer/host Dick Dinman to shine the holiday light on his sumptuously illustrated new book TCM's CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON (available from Running Press).

      DICK DINMAN SALUTES TCM'S "CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON": Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back popular author and film historian Jeremy Arnold who reveals the why's and wherefores of his choices of classic holiday films that he included in his marvelous new Christmas gift book TCM's CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON (available from Running Press).


      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Updated: January 3, 2011, 10:42 AM ET
    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Survive THE LAST HUNT

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN SURVIVE "THE LAST HUNT"! : Robert Taylor takes no prisoners in his superbly conceived, savage and rivetingly intense performance of a lifetime in writer/director Richard Brooks' starkly effective western drama THE LAST HUNT and Warner Home Video's popular and engaging Senior Vice President of Classic and Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein joins producer/host Dick Dinman as both celebrate the astonishingly gorgeous Blu-ray release of this powerful film classic.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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  1. Press Release

    •  
    • Albert Finney (1936-2019)

    • British actor Albert Finney passed away Friday, February 8, 2019 at the age of 82.

      A dynamic, often explosive stage and screen star, Albert Finney emerged from the same class at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as Peter O'Toole and Alan Bates to become one of the most respected British performers of his generation. After earning his stripes in productions of such classics as "Julius Caesar" (1956) and "Othello" (1959), Finney had his breakthrough performance on the big screen as the rakish "Tom Jones" (1963), a role that earned him his first Academy Award nomination. He made himself practically unrecognizable as the titular "Scrooge" (1970) and as famed sleuth Hercule Poirot in "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974). Following a lengthy absence from features to concentrate on the stage, Finney returned to the big screen the following decade for Oscar-nominated turns in "The Dresser" (1983) and "Under the Volcano" (1984). Finney was memorable as a Thompson-wielding Irish mob boss in the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" (1990). He emerged triumphant again with his Academy Award-nominated performance in "Erin Brockovich" (2000), which opened the doors for supporting parts in big studio films like "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007) and smaller independents like "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007), giving the esteemed Finney a new lease on an already distinguished career.

      Born on May 9, 1936 in Salford, Lancashire, England, Finney was raised by his father, Albert Sr., a bookie, and his mother, Alice. Educated at Salford Grammar School, he failed his final GCE exams in a whopping five subjects. From the time he was 12 years old, Finney was performing in school plays, logging some 15 productions until the age of 17. Soon he found himself honing his craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he won the Gertrude Lawrence Scholarship during his second and third terms while attending alongside Peter O'Toole, Alan Bates and Brian Bedford. Finney left the Academy in 1955 with the Emile Little Award under his belt, which was bestowed upon students who had the most outstanding character and aptitude for the theater. Following his professional debut with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production of "Julius Caesar" (1956), he premiered in London with the company's staging of George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" (1956). Two years later, Finney earned critical acclaim opposite Charles Laughton in a West End production of "The Party" (1958).

      After his West End triumph, Finney joined the famed Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for their 100th anniversary season, performing Cassio in "Othello" (1959), directed by Tony Richardson with Paul Robeson in the lead; reuniting with Laughton to play Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream;" and understudying Laurence Olivier's "Coriolanus." A small role as Olivier's son in Richardson's "The Entertainer" (1960) marked Finney's entreé into films, which he followed by receiving excellent reviews for his stage turn in "The Lily-White Boys" (1960). His stellar performance on the London stage as "Billy Liar" (1960) significantly raised his profile, while his portrayal of the dissatisfied, working-class anti-hero Arthur Seaton in "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1961), director Karel Reisz's classic of British "angry young man" cinema brought him worldwide acclaim. Though he quit the starring role in David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) after four days in order to avoid being locked into a long-term film contract, Finney cemented his film stardom as the rakish, picaresque hero "Tom Jones" (1963) in Tony Richardson's lavish, bawdy hit, earning his first Best Actor Oscar nomination.

      That same year, Finney took Broadway by storm in John Osborne's "Luther" (1963), again directed by Richardson, before reteaming with Reisz for the remake of "Night Must Fall" (1964), on which Finney also made his debut as producer. In 1965, Finney founded Memorial Enterprises Productions with actor Michael Medwin, which was responsible for several outstanding features including his own directorial debut, "Charlie Bubbles" (1967), Lindsay Anderson's "If..." (1968) and "O Lucky Man!" (1973), as well as numerous plays, including Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg" (1968). Much to his chagrin, Finney reinforced his reputation as a romantic leading man opposite Audrey Hepburn as a bickering couple trying to save their happiness in "Two for the Road" (1967). Disdainful of his new sex symbol image, Finney sought to diminish his pretty boy status by hamming his way through the title role of "Scrooge" (1970), a musical take on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and delivering a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a Humphrey Bogart wannabe in "Gumshoe" (1971). His reaction to the sex symbol nonsense prompted him to absolutely submerge himself in the role of Agatha Christie's famous sleuth Hercule Poirot for "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974), which garnered the barely recognizable actor his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

      After "Murder on the Orient Express," Finney appeared in only one film over the next seven years, playing a small role in Ridley Scott's "The Duellists" (1978). From 1972-75, he directed several plays while serving as associate artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre. Beginning in 1975, Finney concentrated exclusively on stage acting as a member of the National Theatre, portraying the title roles of "Hamlet," Christopher Marlowe's "Tamburlaine the Great," "Macbeth" and Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya." In the early 1980s, Finney returned to the screen with a flurry of new movies, though the first few - "Loophole" (1981), Wolfen" (1981) and "Looker" (1981) - were embarrassments. But later that year he hit his stride in Alan Parker's harrowing portrait of divorce, "Shoot the Moon" (1981), giving a sexually-charged, rage-filled performance as a writer crazed with jealousy that his wife (Diane Keaton) and children seem to be getting along fine without him. After pocketing a nifty sum to play Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" (1982) for John Huston, he essayed the aging Donald Wolfit-like actor-manager to Tom Courtenay's "The Dresser" (1983), with both actors earning Best Actor Oscar nominations for their superb work.

      Over the years, Finney made a specialty of playing large, boozy, blustery men and was perhaps never better in this vein than as the gruelingly drunk diplomat of Huston's "Under the Volcano" (1984), adapted from Malcolm Lowry's autobiographical novel set in 1930s Mexico. Without overplaying the extremely difficult role, he imbued the self-destructive man with tragic nobility, earning his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination for an extraordinary performance. Finney reprised his stage role as a deceptive, drunken Chicago gangster in "Orphans" (1987), demonstrating his flair for dialects with an authentic South Side accent. In the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" (1990), Finney was an Irish mob boss warring with rival Italians, whose artistry with a Thompson machine gun was felt by four would-be assassins in a memorable shootout set to the Irish ballad, "Danny Boy." Continuing his sting of Irish characters, he was convincing as a tragic constable in a small Northern Irish border town in "The Playboys" (1992), a sexually repressed bus conductor in "A Man of No Importance" (1994) and an Irish cop unable to express his emotions in "The Run of the Country" (1995).

      In between his string of Irish-centric roles, Finney dropped his adopted brogue to make a fine, frumpish Southerner for Bruce Beresford's "Rich in Love" (1993), which he later followed with an appearance alongside old RADA chum Tom Courtenay in the London stage production of "Art" (1996). He next played a perpetually besotted television writer in two Dennis Potter-scripted miniseries, "Karaoke" (Bravo, 1996) and "Cold Lazarus" (Bravo, 1996), and the equally sodden Dr. Monygham in the lavish six-hour "Masterpiece Theatre" miniseries, "Joseph Conrad's 'Nostromo'" (PBS, 1997). In "A Rather English Marriage" (PBS, 1999), Finney played a former Royal Air Force squadron leader devastated by the loss of his wife, who forms an unlikely bond with a retired milkman (Tom Courtenay) sent by a concerned social worker to help care for his decaying estate. Following his turn as the grizzled, eccentric writer Kilgore Trout in "Breakfast of Champions" (1999), Finney essayed a former racing commissioner in the film adaptation of Sam Shepard's "Simpatico" (1999). The latter was particularly well-suited to this breeder of horses and son of a bookie.

      Though continually working, Finney had by this point in his career found himself less of a known commodity than in years past. But that changed when he was cast by director Steven Soderbergh to star opposite Julia Roberts in the commercial smash "Erin Brockovich" (2000). Finney played the skeptical, but open-minded California lawyer boss of Roberts' titular legal assistant, whose interest in a cancer cluster case gradually re-energizes him for what becomes the case of his career. Just like his character onscreen, Finney's own career was given new life, especially after he earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination - his first such honor in 16 years. That same year, he had a cameo as a chief of staff in Soderbergh's deftly crafted "Traffic" (2000), which he followed with a turn as acclaimed novelist Ernest Hemingway in "Hemingway, The Hunter Of Death" (2001). In 2002, he took on the role of Winston Churchill in the acclaimed HBO drama "The Gathering Storm," a love story offering an intimate look inside the marriage of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Vanessa Redgrave) during a particularly troubled, though little-known moment in their lives.

      For his role in "The Gathering Storm," Finney received widespread critical praise, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, a BAFTA TV Award as Best Actor, and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award. He received another Golden Globe nomination the following year, this time for his role as the senior Ed Bloom, a man whose tendency toward fanciful self-mythologizing puts him at odds with his disillusioned son (Billy Crudup) in Tim Burton's "Big Fish" (2003). After voicing Finnis Everglot in Burton's animated "Corpse Bride" (2005), Finney was the deceased uncle of a high-flying London businessman (Russell Crowe) who makes his nephew the sole beneficiary of his modest vineyard in "A Good Year" (2006). In "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007), Finney played Dr. Albert Hirsch, the man responsible for creating Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) by erasing his former identity and creating a new one through behavior modification. Next he portrayed 18th century clergyman and writer of hymns, John Newton, in Michael Apted's underappreciated historical drama, "Amazing Grace" (2007). Finney teamed up with Sidney Lumet for the director's excellent crime thriller, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007), playing a man who suffers the devastating loss of his wife (Rosemary Harris) during the botched robbery of their jewelry store perpetrated by their own desperate and misguided sons (Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman). Surprisingly, Finney was relatively inactive over the next five years, appearing in the next decade with a reprisal of Dr. Hirsch for "The Bourne Legacy" (2012) and a turn as Kincade opposite Daniel Craig's James Bond in "Skyfall" (2012).

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb).

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    • Julie Adams (1926-2019)

    • Julie Adams passed away Sunday, February 3, 2019 in Los Angeles at the age of 92.

      For generations of moviegoers, the name Julie Adams conjured up an arresting black-and-white image of the actress swimming gracefully through the murky waters of the Amazon - actually, Wakulla Springs in Florida - while the Gill-Man, the scaly man-fish monster in "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954), glided below her, captivated by her presence in his environment. The film, one of the greatest titles in science fiction history, came to encapsulate Adams' career, though she had been an in-demand actress, most notably in Westerns, since the late 1940s. Despite its popularity, "Creature" did little for her film career, but she became one of the most recognizable faces on television, providing poised, highly professional guest turns on series from the early 1960s through the first decade of the 21st century. If she bore any ill will towards her "Creature" typecasting, Adams did not show it, as the title of her 2011 autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon, clearly illustrated. If never a household name, Julie Adams enjoyed both exceptional career longevity and the lasting fame afforded to a cult icon.

      Born Betty May Adams on Oct. 17, 1926 in Waterloo, IA, she was raised primarily in Little Rock, AR. There, she caught the acting bug while performing in a grade school production of "Hansel and Gretel." After attending Little Rock Junior College, she lit out for Hollywood in 1946, where she lived with an aunt while studying drama and supporting herself as a part-time secretary. She made her screen debut in "Red, Hot and Blue" (1949), a comedy-musical vehicle for Betty Hutton; Adams was uncredited for her ironic turn as an aspiring starlet. She used her real name for seven low-budget Westerns, all shot within a period of five weeks, for producer Robert Lippert, who cast her as a frontier damsel in need of rescue by B-movie cowboys James "Shamrock" Ellison and Raymond Hatton. Her lucky break came in 1951 when she was tapped to appear in a screen test for Universal opposite Detroit Lions' defensive end Leon Hart, who was attempting to break into show business. The studio passed on Hart but signed Adams to a contract, for which they also changed her first name to Julia and later Julie.

      She worked steadily during the early 1950s, giving solid turns in features like "Bright Victory" (1951), which cast her as the fiancée of blinded soldier Arthur Kennedy. Universal made sure she remained in the public eye thanks to a cheeky publicity campaign that claimed that her legs - "the most perfectly symmetrical in the world," according to the PR hype - had been insured by the studio for $125,000. She enjoyed a string of leading lady turns opposite the likes of William Powell in "The Treasure of Lost Canyon" (1952), Rock Hudson in Raoul Walsh's Western "The Lawless Breed" (1953), and Tyrone Power in "The Mississippi Gambler" (1953) for Rudolph Maté. But these were soon overshadowed when Adams was cast as the female lead in Universal's "Creature from the Black Lagoon," which remained her most enduring film credit. Cast as a comely researcher on an Amazon expedition for a mythical man-fish hybrid, Adams' deep water swim, clad in a blinding white bathing suit while the Gill-Man lurked below her, became one of the most iconic images of the 1950s science fiction boom. Repeated TV broadcasts over the course of the next half-century preserved the popularity of both "Creature" and Adams' appearance in it, but also effectively overshadowed the screen work that came before and after it.

      Despite this career-arresting element, Adams worked steadily throughout the 1950s, though largely in unremarkable fare like "Francis Joins the WACs" (1954) and "The Looters" (1955), which co-starred her husband, actor Ray Danton, whom she had married the previous year. The union-gangster drama "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (1957) proved to be her last notable feature for decades; by the following year, she had moved almost exclusively into television. There were occasional returns to features, most notably "Tickle Me" (1965) with Elvis Presley, but for the most part, she remained one of the most prolific guest stars on episodic television during the 1960s, as well as an occasional series regular on "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ) as Denise Wilton.

      After surprising many with her appearance in Dennis Hopper's psychedelic "The Last Movie" (1971), Adams settled into a season of "The Jimmy Stewart Show" (NBC, 1971-72) as the spouse of Stewart's university professor. It was followed by a string of off-beat feature roles, including "McQ" (1974), with John Wayne in a rare foray into modern day action, as well as "The Psychic Killer" (1975), an oddball horror picture directed by Danton and a grim adaptation of noir novelist Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me" (1976). Adams began to settle almost exclusively into TV guest appearances for the next decade. From 1987 to 1993, she had a recurring role as the flirty real estate agent Eve Simpson on "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1996). She remained active on television through the new millennium, most notably in a pair of appearances as Amelia, one of the Others, on "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010). Viewers with keen hearing also noted Adams as one of the telephone voices in Roman Polanski's acclaimed film version of "Carnage" (2011). That same year, she published her autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon, which she co-authored with Mitchell Danton, one of her two sons from her marriage to Ray Danton.

      by Paul Gaita

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    • Kevin Brownlow to be Presented the Second Annual Robert Osborne Award

    • Turner Classic Movies has announced that the second annual Robert Osborne Award, recognizing an individual who has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic film alive for future generations, will be presented to one of the world's premiere film preservationists, Kevin Brownlow. The award on April 13 before a screening of Brownlow's directed film It Happened Here at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival. The first Robert Osborne Award was given out at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival to iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese and will continue to be presented annually at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

      Deeply respected and revered among his peers for his work in restoration of classic film, Brownlow is also a celebrated director, helming classics such as It Happened Here (1964) and Winstanley (1975) but Brownlow's focus has remained documenting and preserving the silent film era. Brownlow founded Photoplay Productions to produce documentaries on film and revive such silent classics as A Woman of Affairs (1928), Sunrise (1927) and Napoleon (1927). The latter represented more than 25 years of work for Brownlow, who is still looking for ways to improve on Napoleon's restoration. The 1980 premiere of the restored version of Napoleon brought Brownlow honors from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the London Critics Circle. In 2010, Brownlow received an honorary Oscar for his work as a film preservationist.

      "In a career spanning more than seven decades, Kevin has played an instrumental role in documenting the history of silent film and preserving and restoring more than 50 silent films," said Ben Mankiewicz, TCM Primetime Anchor and Official Host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. "Kevin is truly the embodiment of what the Robert Osborne award signifies, helping ensure that classic film will continue to be experienced as it was meant to be seen for years to come."

      "Kevin Brownlow has been a friend to TCM since the network was founded, and his work to preserve classic film history for future generations is a cornerstone of what TCM and the Robert Osborne award represent," said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming, TCM. "We have shown Kevin's documentaries and restorations on air many times before, but to be able to honor him at the TCM Classic Film Festival feels like the perfect way to honor a man who has worked tirelessly to ensure the legacy of classic film lives on."

      For more than 22 years, Robert Osborne served as the primetime host and anchor of TCM, helping millions of viewers discover and enter the world of classic movies, and dedicating his life to preserving and sharing the movies he loved. Embraced by fans around the globe as both a fellow movie lover and an unparalleled film historian, his legacy of devotion to classic films and their ability to inspire will live on through the Robert Osborne Award.

      For a complete bio and more information on Kevin Brownlow, please visit: filmfestival.tcm.com.

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    • Carol Channing (1921-2019)

    • Beloved, effervescent musical comedy star Carol Channing passed away from natural causes on Tuesday, January 15 in Rancho Mirage, California at the age of 97.

      Dubbed The First Lady of Musical Comedy, Carol Channing spent over five decades on the Broadway stage and was forever linked with signature leading roles in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Hello, Dolly!" The flamboyant peroxide blonde with the fire engine red lipstick and ever-present smile earned multiple Tony Awards for her extended stage runs in those Broadway blockbusters, as well as recognition for musicals "Vamp," "Showgirl" and "Lorelei." But Channing became a recognized pop culture icon far from New York theater circles, bringing her larger-than-life personality to primetime as the star of variety specials and with her Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated starring turn in the musical film "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967). With the exception of that stroke of pitch perfect casting and a brilliant performance, Channing's talent generally did not translate successfully to the big screen. No matter, as audiences were most captivated by the "Channing" persona, which they were able to enjoy with her many appearances on cheeky celebrity panel game shows, variety specials and awards shows. While Channing's highly recognizable voice was a favorite of impressionists, and female impersonators latched onto her thick-lashed caricature of a Broadway diva, the singer, dancer, and comedienne performed throughout her eighties, continually criss-crossing the country in musical comedy revues, one-woman shows, and endless revivals of her best loved characters, Dolly and Lorelei.

      Channing was born in Seattle, WA, on Jan. 31, 1921, but was raised in San Francisco where her father was a newspaper editor and high profile Christian Science lecturer. It was only in her late teens that Channing was informed that her German-American father had actually been born in Georgia to an African-American mother - a fact Channing kept private until the publication of her memoir in 2003. But prior to learning her family history, Channing was raised as an only child who learned to entertain herself from an early age. She first discovered her talent for entertaining others when the seven-year-old unleashed impressions of her teachers on the students at school and earned rounds of laughter. She was hooked on the positive feedback and after taking the stage in high school, she went on to study dance and drama at Bennington College in Vermont. Later, in New York, she aligned herself with avant garde theater but found more success when she began to work alongside Zero Mostel in a Greenwich Village club, doing imitations of early stage and screen stars like Beatrice Lillie, Sophie Tucker and Tallulah Bankhead.

      After some time working on the resort circuit and New York theater chorus and understudy gigs, Channing got her first break when she was cast by Gower Champion in the 1948 Broadway revue "Lend An Ear," in which she wowed audiences by playing such diverse characters as a French movie star, a British Christian Scientist, and 1920s flapper. The following year, she hit Broadway in a starring role as Lorelei Lee, the "Little Girl from Little Rock" for whom diamonds are a girl's best friends in the musical "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." The successful musical ran for nearly two years and transformed Channing into a bona fide Broadway star whose reputation spread far beyond the Great White Way. She went on to make her film debut in the Hal Wallis-produced melodrama "Paid in Full" (1949), but when she was not inundated with follow-up film offers, she revived her role of Lorelei in a Chicago run of "Gentlemen," toured the U.S. in "Pygmalion," and returned to Broadway in "Wonderful Town" and "Vamp."

      In 1955, Channing portrayed a beautiful artist's model transformed into a great singer by a hypnotic genius (Basil Rathbone) in the amusing TV musical special, "Svengali and the Blonde" (NBC). She hit movie theaters the following year in a role as the slightly mature love interest to Clint Eastwood in the oddball Western "The First Traveling Saleslady" (1956). An indefatigable stage performer, Channing also toured nightclubs across the U.S. in between theater engagements, often appearing alongside comic duo Burns & Allen. Channing graced the Broadway stage again in late 1963, brilliantly cast in the lead as brassy busybody and matchmaker Dolly Gallagher in "Hello, Dolly!" The blockbuster production garnered 10 Tony Awards including one for its star, who gave commanding performances for over three years. The original cast album became an all-time bestseller in its field; even bumping the Beatles off the music charts when it was released. Channing, herself chatty, effervescent, and rarely seen without an ear-to-ear grin, had established herself as a show business institution, so it was only natural that she would become a mainstay on personality-based game shows like "What's My Line" (CBS, syndicated, 1950-1975), "To Tell the Truth" (CBS, 1956-1968; syndicated 1969-1978) and make recurring appearances on the comedy/variety show, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" (NBC, 1968-1973).

      The Broadway star returned to the big screen with her role as a 1920s "jazz baby" in the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967), inarguably the best screen role to utilize the actress' charisma and talents. For her captivating performance, Channing won a Golden Globe Award and earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. During the same period, she found a great reception for a series of television specials, including "An Evening with Carol Channing" (CBS, 1966), "Carol Channing and 101 Men" (ABC, 1967) and "Carol Channing Proudly Presents the Seven Deadly Sins" (ABC, 1969), all of which featured musical performances by Channing and music and comedy from high profile showbiz guests. Appropriate screen roles remained at bay, though she did appear as Jackie Gleason's bohemian wife in a pallid Otto Preminger comedy "Skidoo" (1968). She starred again on Broadway in the 1970 comedy "Four on a Garden" and in 1971, discovered another excellent outlet as a voiceover actress in animated films when she landed a role in "Shinbone Alley" (1971). After earning another Tony nomination for reviving her famous character in the spin-off musical "Lorelei," Channing toured the U.S. with "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" in 1975.

      With the exception of a recurring guest character role on "The Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986), Channing stuck to the stage, reprising her role in "Hello Dolly!" in Los Angeles in 1977 and on Broadway again in 1978 before taking that production on the road in 1981. She and fellow Broadway leading lady Mary Martin played rival actresses in a touring musical production called "Legends," while Channing played The White Queen in an all-star version of "Alice in Wonderland" (CBS, 1985) on CBS. While continuing to perform regularly in nightclub acts in Las Vegas and throughout the U.S., Channing also recorded more than 20 children's albums, ramping up her voiceover career with roles in "Where's Waldo?" (1991), "Hans Christian Andersen's 'Thumbelina'" (1994), and the PBS series "The Magic School Bus" (1994-99). In 1994, Channing once again donned the familiar red dress and returned to the Harmonia Gardens for a 30th anniversary production of "Hello, Dolly!" The following year, she received a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award and embarked on a 51-city concert tour of the U.S., resurfacing on primetime with rare guest appearances (as herself) on "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC, 1995-2004) and "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003).

      In 2003, Channing released the memoir Just Lucky, I Guess and launched a national touring one-woman show entitled "The First Eighty Years are the Hardest." Well into her eighties, she continued to appear in stage revues that mixed song, dance and plenty of old show biz anecdotes while maintaining a screen presence with voiceover roles on animated series including "The Family Guy" (Fox, 1999-2002; 2005- ) and "American Dad!" (Fox, 2005- ).

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb).

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    • Web Reviewer Glenn Erickson Launches 'CineSavant'


    • Web reviewer Glenn Erickson, aka 'DVD Savant' has established a new home under a new identity, 'CineSavant.' Reviewing independently since 1998, the Savant database has grown to over five thousand reviews and articles, and become one of the most respected and sought-out review pages on the web for news and opinions about classic films on disc. Readership boomed when the page Trailers from Hell picked up Glenn's reviews as featured content in 2015.

      A varied background helps add perspective to Glenn's reviews; from the UCLA Film School he worked in special effects, and then moved on to TV commercial work, and trailers for The Cannon Group. A long stint with MGM/UA Home Video led to editing large-scale DVD extras and other special projects. He began writing for the web in 1997 as 'MGM Video Savant.' Working with the film curators at MGM, Glenn helped detect and produced the restoration of the original ending of the film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. Glenn has published two books of reviews, and has been writing and researching for TCM since 2004.

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  1. New Books

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    • All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson

    • By Mark Griffin

      Quintessentially tall, dark, and handsome, legendary movie star Rock Hudson epitomized all-American manhood at the pinnacle of his fame. The country's favorite leading man in the '50s and '60s, he exuded charm, strength, virility, and charisma in classics like Magnificent Obsession, Giant, and Pillow Talk. His mainstream appeal translated into box office success during the last hurrah of Hollywood's Golden Age. And yet, this Oscar-nominated talent's greatest performance came in real life, as for decades he kept his authentic self and his sexuality hidden in an extremely homophobic society.

      Now, in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS: A Biography of Rock Hudson (Harper; Hardcover; On Sale: December 4, 2018), author Mark Griffin probes beneath the façade to craft the definitive biography of the complicated, conflicted individual and widely misunderstood icon, whose illustrious career spanned 40 years and who was the first major celebrity to die of AIDS.

      To survive a chaotic and financially strapped Midwestern childhood, young Roy Fitzgerald found escape from his troubles--an estranged father, a violent stepfather, and a controlling mother--at the local cinema. Despite his humble circumstances, he yearned for a future onscreen. Looks and drive, as well as his stint on the casting couch with a notoriously unscrupulous agent, eventually transformed that dream into reality. Painstakingly, an unskilled but fiercely ambitious former truck driver was transformed into the camera-ready persona of Rock Hudson.

      Rising through the ranks at Universal, Hudson emerged as the studio's prized asset, a clean-cut matinee idol adored by colleagues and fans alike. Professional glory had a psychological cost for this vulnerable, insecure soul though. On celluloid and in gossip columns, he wooed countless attractive women, burnishing his manufactured image as a swoon-worthy romantic hero. Offscreen, he courted disaster as his gay relationships, affairs, and flirtations made him a prime target for exposure by tabloids and spurned ex-lovers.

      Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members, and former companions and unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, this comprehensive biography finally produces a multidimensional portrait of one of the most compelling figures in film history. Here, at last, are fresh insights into Hudson's controversial marriage to Phyllis Gates and his contentious dealings with boyfriend Marc Christian, providing answers to questions the late actor consistently evaded. Griffin also offers the first in-depth analysis of Hudson's entire body of work from his early bit parts to his collaborations with visionary director Douglas Sirk to his cheekily subversive bedroom farces with Doris Day to his transition to the small screen in the hit series McMillan & Wife. Along the way, this riveting account features memorable appearances from an A-list cast of characters, including Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, John Wayne, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and many other luminaries.

      Meticulously researched and vividly rendered, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS illuminates an all-too-human superstar whose life and legacy have significantly influenced American culture.


      Mark Griffin is the author of A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli. His interviews, reviews, and essays have appeared in scores of publications, including The Boston Globe, Premiere, MovieMaker, and Genre. Griffin, who recently appeared in the documentary Gene Kelly: To Live and Dance, lives in Lewiston, Maine.

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    • Handsome Johnny

    • By Lee Server

      Lee Server's in-depth research and vivid writing style have earned high acclaim for his bestselling biographies of Ava Gardener and Robert Mitchum. Now he turns his laser focus to a singular character in the annals of the American underworld--Johnny Rosselli--in HANDSOME JOHNNY: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin (St. Martin's Press, Nov. 13, 2018, $29.99).

      A protégé of Al Capone, Johnny Roselli abandoned his Boston roots for California and the bloody bootlegging wars of the Roaring Twenties, eventually becoming the Mob's "Man in Hollywood," and even producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s.

      Server uncovers previously unknown details about Rosselli, including:
      --The first detailed description of the biggest extortion plot in US history, the mob's plot to extort the entire movie industry and subvert the Hollywood unions.
      --The Syndicate's secret sponsorship of Columbia Pictures
      --The massive extortion deal that eventually landed Rosselli and his associates in federal prison.

      Server recounts the inside story of Rosselli's post-prison venture, working for Chicago boss Sam Giancana in Las Vegas, where he ran the town from his suites and poolside tables at the Tropicana and Desert Inn, enjoying the Rat Pack nightlife with pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

      Server also provides a detailed, first-time account of the most unexpected chapter in Rosselli's extraordinary life:
      --The CIA's recruitment of Rosselli to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro
      --The Kennedy brothers' secret connection to the murder plots
      --Rosselli's part in the eventual Washington investigations that tore apart the American intelligence service.

      Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, HANDSOME JOHNNY is a rich rollercoaster of a biography.


      LEE SERVER is the author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed biographies Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care and Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing. Robert Mitchum was named a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, "the film biography of the year" by the Sunday Times (U.K.) and one of the "60 Greatest Film Books." Ava Gardner was a New York Times Notable Book, and a New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today bestseller. He lives in Palm Springs, California.

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    • Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II


    • By Robert Matzen

      The story of one of the most enduring and beloved stars Hollywood has ever produced--Audrey Hepburn--has been told again and again since her passing in 1993. An Amazon search of books with her name will produce well over a thousand titles, with every aspect of her life but one covered in print: her years during World War II when she lived in the Netherlands under Nazi rule.

      On April 15, 2019--just weeks before what would've been her 90th birthday--critically acclaimed and bestselling biographer Robert Matzen reveals the true war story of this cinematic icon. The book, as shocking as it is vital and triumphant, is Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II [GoodKnight Books]. The culmination of years of painstaking research by Matzen--who conducted new interviews with people who knew Audrey Hepburn in the Netherlands, unearthed secret diaries, gained access to previously classified archives, and combed through decades of her own infrequent but revealing reminiscences in interviews--Dutch Girl contains substantive proof of holes, errors, and inventions in every previous Audrey Hepburn biography that's touched on her life during the war years. In fact, the real story is more incredible than anything presented by previous biographers.

      From debunking the mythology of Hepburn's lineage (did the wealthy van Heemstras actually have their money stolen by the Nazis?) to revealing the extent of her involvement with the Dutch Resistance and an active role tending wounded of the famed "Bridge Too Far" battle of Arnhem, Dutch Girl is a definitive biography that exposes an extraordinary story of courage, tragedy, perseverance, and triumph--and contributes immeasurably to the legacy of one of the world's most famous actresses, fashion icons, and humanitarians.

      Dutch Girl has been called a "true gift" by Hepburn's younger son, Luca Dotti, who has written a powerful foreword to the book that speaks to the lock-and-key under which this information had been kept in Audrey's heart, writing:
      "When my mother talked about herself and what life taught her, Hollywood was the missing guest. Instead of naming famed Beverly Hills locations, she gave us obscure and sometimes unpronounceable Dutch ones. Red carpet recollections were replaced by Second World War episodes that she was able to transform into children's tales. We knew we were missing the complete story of her life in the war--until Robert Matzen wrote to me introducing himself and his book, Dutch Girl. I now understand why the words Good and Evil, and Love and Mercy were so fundamental in her own narrative. Why she was open about certain facts and why she kept so many others in a secluded area of her being. Thank you, Robert Matzen."

      The third and final book in Matzen's 'Hollywood in WWII' Trilogy -- which includes the award-winning 2013 book Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 and 2016 bestseller Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for World War II--Dutch Girl is a not-to-be-missed spring 2019 release. Among the topics explored and new information revealed in it includes:

      --The riveting, untold story of a young Dutch ballerina in World War II who went on to become an Academy Award winning movie star, timeless fashion icon, and tireless UNICEF ambassador who devoted her life to fighting for the welfare of children in war-torn territories
      --Brand-new verified information about the van Heemstra family, including brutal executions of Audrey Hepburn's relatives by the Nazis and other direct family members deeply involved in the rise of fascism in Europe
      --Audrey Hepburn's active role in the Dutch Resistance and details about her daily life in Velp when the war "came home" and the village was under fire for seven months
      --Never-before-seen photographs, documents, and mementos provided by Audrey Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti, informing Matzen's research and shared in a full-color and black-and-white 24-page photo section


      Robert Matzen has gained a reputation as one of today's top authors in popular biography; for his latest book, Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, he lived in Audrey Hepburn's footsteps in the Netherlands, interviewed many who knew her, and dug deep into Dutch archives to uncover secret information, resulting in a eye-opening look into the hidden past of an icon. Dutch Girl is Matzen's eighth book and the third and final installment in his 'Hollywood in World War II' trilogy, with previous releases including the award-winning and critically acclaimed titles Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 [2013] and Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe [2016]. Regularly appearing ininternational press, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Hollywood Reporter, and PBS, Matzen's previous print work includes many articles about classic films and he maintains a popular blog at https://robertmatzen.com/blog/

      Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II [GoodKnight Books] will be available in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook formats on April 15, 2019 wherever books are sold.

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    • A Star is Born: Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away

    • By Lorna Luft and Jeffrey Vance

      New York Times bestselling author and daughter of Judy Garland tells the story of A Star Is Born (1954) -- at once the crowning achievement and greatest disappointment in her mother's legendary career. This is a vivid account of a film classic's production, loss, and reclamation.

      A Star Is Born -- the classic Hollywood tale about a young talent rising to superstardom, and the downfall of her mentor/lover along the way -- has never gone out of style. It has seen five film adaptations, but none compares to the 1954 version starring Judy Garland in her greatest role. But while it was the crowning performance of the legendary entertainer's career, the production turned into one of the most talked about in movie history.

      The story, which depicts the dark side of fame, addiction, loss, and suicide, paralleled Garland's own tumultuous life in many ways. While hitting alarmingly close to home for the fragile star, it ultimately led to a superlative performance -- one that was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost in one of the biggest upsets in Oscar® history. Running far too long for the studio's tastes, Warner Bros. notoriously slashed extensive amounts of footage from the finished print, leaving A Star is Born in tatters and breaking the heart of both the film's star and director George Cukor.

      Today, with a director's cut reconstructed from previously lost scenes and audio, the 1954 A Star is Born has taken its deserved place among the most critically acclaimed movies of all time, and continues to inspire each new generation that discovers it. Now, Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland and the film's producer, Sid Luft, tells the story of the production, and of her mother's fight to save her career, as only she could. Teaming with film historian Jeffrey Vance, A Star Is Born is a vivid and refreshingly candid account of the crafting, loss, and restoration of a movie classic, complemented by a trove of images from the family collection taken both on and off the set. The book also includes essays on the other screen adaptations of A Star Is Born, to round out a complete history of a story that has remained a Hollywood favorite for close to a century.


      Lorna Luft is the daughter of Judy Garland and Sid Luft. She is the author of the bestselling book Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir (Pocket Books, 1998). After making her television debut on her mother's 1963 Christmas special, Luft embarked on her own career as a singer and actress on the stage, film, and TV. She has performed on and off Broadway in Lolita, and Promises, Promises; in national tours of Grease and Guys and Dolls; at the Rainbow Room, the Hollywood Bowl, and the White House. Luft lives in Palm Springs, CA.

      Jeffrey Vance is a film historian, author, and producer. His books include Douglas Fairbanks (UC Press, 2008) and a trilogy of volumes published by Abrams on comedy legends: Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema (2003), Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian (2002), and Buster Keaton Remembered (2001). Vance lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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  1. DVD Reviews

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    • Dick Dinman Salutes the Late Julie Adams

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES THE LATE JULIE ADAMS: The late Julie Adams, who was so memorably savored by THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, reveals to producer/host Dick Dinman how she finally came to terms with the inescapable fact that (despite costarring with such major stars as Jimmy Stewart, Tyrone Power, Jeff Chandler, Tony Curtis, William Powell, Rock Hudson, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin) she will always be best remembered for her watery skirmishes with the "gill man."

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Meet THE SEA HAWK & THE THING!

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN MEET "THE SEA HAWK" & "THE THING"! The legendary Errol Flynn swashbuckler THE SEA HAWK and the original Howard Hawks sci-fi shocker THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD are two of classic film fan's most requested titles for Blu-ray release and Warner Home Video's Sr. VP of Classic and Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein describes to producer/host Dick Dinman the decades long search for optimum elements necessary to ultimately create these two magnificent looking and sounding Blu-ray releases.


      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    •  
    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Come HOME FROM THE HILL!

    • DICK DINMAN AND GEORGE FELTENSTEIN COME "HOME FROM THE HILL"!: Warner's own George Feltenstein rejoins producer/host Dick Dinman as both marvel at Vincente Minnelli's sensitive and powerful direction of HOME FROM THE HILL one of the most bracingly stinging rural domestic dramas ever produced and both pay tribute to one of star Robert Mitchum's most acclaimed performances ever as this emotionally potent masterwork joins the prodigious list of Minnelli classics previously released on the Blu-ray format by the Warner Archive.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Dick Dinman's "Best of '18" Holiday Gift Giving Shows

    • DICK DINMAN'S "BEST OF '18" HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING SHOW: "Dick's Best Classic Blu-ray Pick's for '18" include superb releases from the Warner Archive, the Criterion Collection, Kino Lorber, the Cohen Collection, Olive Films, Twilight Time, Flicker Alley and Indicator/Powerhouse and acclaimed author, film historian, and commentator Jeremy Arnold joins producer/host Dick Dinman to shine the holiday light on his sumptuously illustrated new book TCM's CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON (available from Running Press).

      DICK DINMAN SALUTES TCM'S "CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON": Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back popular author and film historian Jeremy Arnold who reveals the why's and wherefores of his choices of classic holiday films that he included in his marvelous new Christmas gift book TCM's CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON (available from Running Press).


      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Survive THE LAST HUNT

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN SURVIVE "THE LAST HUNT"! : Robert Taylor takes no prisoners in his superbly conceived, savage and rivetingly intense performance of a lifetime in writer/director Richard Brooks' starkly effective western drama THE LAST HUNT and Warner Home Video's popular and engaging Senior Vice President of Classic and Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein joins producer/host Dick Dinman as both celebrate the astonishingly gorgeous Blu-ray release of this powerful film classic.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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  1. Press Release

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    • Albert Finney (1936-2019)

    • British actor Albert Finney passed away Friday, February 8, 2019 at the age of 82.

      A dynamic, often explosive stage and screen star, Albert Finney emerged from the same class at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as Peter O'Toole and Alan Bates to become one of the most respected British performers of his generation. After earning his stripes in productions of such classics as "Julius Caesar" (1956) and "Othello" (1959), Finney had his breakthrough performance on the big screen as the rakish "Tom Jones" (1963), a role that earned him his first Academy Award nomination. He made himself practically unrecognizable as the titular "Scrooge" (1970) and as famed sleuth Hercule Poirot in "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974). Following a lengthy absence from features to concentrate on the stage, Finney returned to the big screen the following decade for Oscar-nominated turns in "The Dresser" (1983) and "Under the Volcano" (1984). Finney was memorable as a Thompson-wielding Irish mob boss in the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" (1990). He emerged triumphant again with his Academy Award-nominated performance in "Erin Brockovich" (2000), which opened the doors for supporting parts in big studio films like "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007) and smaller independents like "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007), giving the esteemed Finney a new lease on an already distinguished career.

      Born on May 9, 1936 in Salford, Lancashire, England, Finney was raised by his father, Albert Sr., a bookie, and his mother, Alice. Educated at Salford Grammar School, he failed his final GCE exams in a whopping five subjects. From the time he was 12 years old, Finney was performing in school plays, logging some 15 productions until the age of 17. Soon he found himself honing his craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he won the Gertrude Lawrence Scholarship during his second and third terms while attending alongside Peter O'Toole, Alan Bates and Brian Bedford. Finney left the Academy in 1955 with the Emile Little Award under his belt, which was bestowed upon students who had the most outstanding character and aptitude for the theater. Following his professional debut with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production of "Julius Caesar" (1956), he premiered in London with the company's staging of George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" (1956). Two years later, Finney earned critical acclaim opposite Charles Laughton in a West End production of "The Party" (1958).

      After his West End triumph, Finney joined the famed Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for their 100th anniversary season, performing Cassio in "Othello" (1959), directed by Tony Richardson with Paul Robeson in the lead; reuniting with Laughton to play Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream;" and understudying Laurence Olivier's "Coriolanus." A small role as Olivier's son in Richardson's "The Entertainer" (1960) marked Finney's entreé into films, which he followed by receiving excellent reviews for his stage turn in "The Lily-White Boys" (1960). His stellar performance on the London stage as "Billy Liar" (1960) significantly raised his profile, while his portrayal of the dissatisfied, working-class anti-hero Arthur Seaton in "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1961), director Karel Reisz's classic of British "angry young man" cinema brought him worldwide acclaim. Though he quit the starring role in David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) after four days in order to avoid being locked into a long-term film contract, Finney cemented his film stardom as the rakish, picaresque hero "Tom Jones" (1963) in Tony Richardson's lavish, bawdy hit, earning his first Best Actor Oscar nomination.

      That same year, Finney took Broadway by storm in John Osborne's "Luther" (1963), again directed by Richardson, before reteaming with Reisz for the remake of "Night Must Fall" (1964), on which Finney also made his debut as producer. In 1965, Finney founded Memorial Enterprises Productions with actor Michael Medwin, which was responsible for several outstanding features including his own directorial debut, "Charlie Bubbles" (1967), Lindsay Anderson's "If..." (1968) and "O Lucky Man!" (1973), as well as numerous plays, including Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg" (1968). Much to his chagrin, Finney reinforced his reputation as a romantic leading man opposite Audrey Hepburn as a bickering couple trying to save their happiness in "Two for the Road" (1967). Disdainful of his new sex symbol image, Finney sought to diminish his pretty boy status by hamming his way through the title role of "Scrooge" (1970), a musical take on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and delivering a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a Humphrey Bogart wannabe in "Gumshoe" (1971). His reaction to the sex symbol nonsense prompted him to absolutely submerge himself in the role of Agatha Christie's famous sleuth Hercule Poirot for "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974), which garnered the barely recognizable actor his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

      After "Murder on the Orient Express," Finney appeared in only one film over the next seven years, playing a small role in Ridley Scott's "The Duellists" (1978). From 1972-75, he directed several plays while serving as associate artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre. Beginning in 1975, Finney concentrated exclusively on stage acting as a member of the National Theatre, portraying the title roles of "Hamlet," Christopher Marlowe's "Tamburlaine the Great," "Macbeth" and Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya." In the early 1980s, Finney returned to the screen with a flurry of new movies, though the first few - "Loophole" (1981), Wolfen" (1981) and "Looker" (1981) - were embarrassments. But later that year he hit his stride in Alan Parker's harrowing portrait of divorce, "Shoot the Moon" (1981), giving a sexually-charged, rage-filled performance as a writer crazed with jealousy that his wife (Diane Keaton) and children seem to be getting along fine without him. After pocketing a nifty sum to play Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" (1982) for John Huston, he essayed the aging Donald Wolfit-like actor-manager to Tom Courtenay's "The Dresser" (1983), with both actors earning Best Actor Oscar nominations for their superb work.

      Over the years, Finney made a specialty of playing large, boozy, blustery men and was perhaps never better in this vein than as the gruelingly drunk diplomat of Huston's "Under the Volcano" (1984), adapted from Malcolm Lowry's autobiographical novel set in 1930s Mexico. Without overplaying the extremely difficult role, he imbued the self-destructive man with tragic nobility, earning his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination for an extraordinary performance. Finney reprised his stage role as a deceptive, drunken Chicago gangster in "Orphans" (1987), demonstrating his flair for dialects with an authentic South Side accent. In the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" (1990), Finney was an Irish mob boss warring with rival Italians, whose artistry with a Thompson machine gun was felt by four would-be assassins in a memorable shootout set to the Irish ballad, "Danny Boy." Continuing his sting of Irish characters, he was convincing as a tragic constable in a small Northern Irish border town in "The Playboys" (1992), a sexually repressed bus conductor in "A Man of No Importance" (1994) and an Irish cop unable to express his emotions in "The Run of the Country" (1995).

      In between his string of Irish-centric roles, Finney dropped his adopted brogue to make a fine, frumpish Southerner for Bruce Beresford's "Rich in Love" (1993), which he later followed with an appearance alongside old RADA chum Tom Courtenay in the London stage production of "Art" (1996). He next played a perpetually besotted television writer in two Dennis Potter-scripted miniseries, "Karaoke" (Bravo, 1996) and "Cold Lazarus" (Bravo, 1996), and the equally sodden Dr. Monygham in the lavish six-hour "Masterpiece Theatre" miniseries, "Joseph Conrad's 'Nostromo'" (PBS, 1997). In "A Rather English Marriage" (PBS, 1999), Finney played a former Royal Air Force squadron leader devastated by the loss of his wife, who forms an unlikely bond with a retired milkman (Tom Courtenay) sent by a concerned social worker to help care for his decaying estate. Following his turn as the grizzled, eccentric writer Kilgore Trout in "Breakfast of Champions" (1999), Finney essayed a former racing commissioner in the film adaptation of Sam Shepard's "Simpatico" (1999). The latter was particularly well-suited to this breeder of horses and son of a bookie.

      Though continually working, Finney had by this point in his career found himself less of a known commodity than in years past. But that changed when he was cast by director Steven Soderbergh to star opposite Julia Roberts in the commercial smash "Erin Brockovich" (2000). Finney played the skeptical, but open-minded California lawyer boss of Roberts' titular legal assistant, whose interest in a cancer cluster case gradually re-energizes him for what becomes the case of his career. Just like his character onscreen, Finney's own career was given new life, especially after he earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination - his first such honor in 16 years. That same year, he had a cameo as a chief of staff in Soderbergh's deftly crafted "Traffic" (2000), which he followed with a turn as acclaimed novelist Ernest Hemingway in "Hemingway, The Hunter Of Death" (2001). In 2002, he took on the role of Winston Churchill in the acclaimed HBO drama "The Gathering Storm," a love story offering an intimate look inside the marriage of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Vanessa Redgrave) during a particularly troubled, though little-known moment in their lives.

      For his role in "The Gathering Storm," Finney received widespread critical praise, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, a BAFTA TV Award as Best Actor, and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award. He received another Golden Globe nomination the following year, this time for his role as the senior Ed Bloom, a man whose tendency toward fanciful self-mythologizing puts him at odds with his disillusioned son (Billy Crudup) in Tim Burton's "Big Fish" (2003). After voicing Finnis Everglot in Burton's animated "Corpse Bride" (2005), Finney was the deceased uncle of a high-flying London businessman (Russell Crowe) who makes his nephew the sole beneficiary of his modest vineyard in "A Good Year" (2006). In "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007), Finney played Dr. Albert Hirsch, the man responsible for creating Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) by erasing his former identity and creating a new one through behavior modification. Next he portrayed 18th century clergyman and writer of hymns, John Newton, in Michael Apted's underappreciated historical drama, "Amazing Grace" (2007). Finney teamed up with Sidney Lumet for the director's excellent crime thriller, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007), playing a man who suffers the devastating loss of his wife (Rosemary Harris) during the botched robbery of their jewelry store perpetrated by their own desperate and misguided sons (Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman). Surprisingly, Finney was relatively inactive over the next five years, appearing in the next decade with a reprisal of Dr. Hirsch for "The Bourne Legacy" (2012) and a turn as Kincade opposite Daniel Craig's James Bond in "Skyfall" (2012).

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb).

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    • Julie Adams (1926-2019)

    • Julie Adams passed away Sunday, February 3, 2019 in Los Angeles at the age of 92.

      For generations of moviegoers, the name Julie Adams conjured up an arresting black-and-white image of the actress swimming gracefully through the murky waters of the Amazon - actually, Wakulla Springs in Florida - while the Gill-Man, the scaly man-fish monster in "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954), glided below her, captivated by her presence in his environment. The film, one of the greatest titles in science fiction history, came to encapsulate Adams' career, though she had been an in-demand actress, most notably in Westerns, since the late 1940s. Despite its popularity, "Creature" did little for her film career, but she became one of the most recognizable faces on television, providing poised, highly professional guest turns on series from the early 1960s through the first decade of the 21st century. If she bore any ill will towards her "Creature" typecasting, Adams did not show it, as the title of her 2011 autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon, clearly illustrated. If never a household name, Julie Adams enjoyed both exceptional career longevity and the lasting fame afforded to a cult icon.

      Born Betty May Adams on Oct. 17, 1926 in Waterloo, IA, she was raised primarily in Little Rock, AR. There, she caught the acting bug while performing in a grade school production of "Hansel and Gretel." After attending Little Rock Junior College, she lit out for Hollywood in 1946, where she lived with an aunt while studying drama and supporting herself as a part-time secretary. She made her screen debut in "Red, Hot and Blue" (1949), a comedy-musical vehicle for Betty Hutton; Adams was uncredited for her ironic turn as an aspiring starlet. She used her real name for seven low-budget Westerns, all shot within a period of five weeks, for producer Robert Lippert, who cast her as a frontier damsel in need of rescue by B-movie cowboys James "Shamrock" Ellison and Raymond Hatton. Her lucky break came in 1951 when she was tapped to appear in a screen test for Universal opposite Detroit Lions' defensive end Leon Hart, who was attempting to break into show business. The studio passed on Hart but signed Adams to a contract, for which they also changed her first name to Julia and later Julie.

      She worked steadily during the early 1950s, giving solid turns in features like "Bright Victory" (1951), which cast her as the fiancée of blinded soldier Arthur Kennedy. Universal made sure she remained in the public eye thanks to a cheeky publicity campaign that claimed that her legs - "the most perfectly symmetrical in the world," according to the PR hype - had been insured by the studio for $125,000. She enjoyed a string of leading lady turns opposite the likes of William Powell in "The Treasure of Lost Canyon" (1952), Rock Hudson in Raoul Walsh's Western "The Lawless Breed" (1953), and Tyrone Power in "The Mississippi Gambler" (1953) for Rudolph Maté. But these were soon overshadowed when Adams was cast as the female lead in Universal's "Creature from the Black Lagoon," which remained her most enduring film credit. Cast as a comely researcher on an Amazon expedition for a mythical man-fish hybrid, Adams' deep water swim, clad in a blinding white bathing suit while the Gill-Man lurked below her, became one of the most iconic images of the 1950s science fiction boom. Repeated TV broadcasts over the course of the next half-century preserved the popularity of both "Creature" and Adams' appearance in it, but also effectively overshadowed the screen work that came before and after it.

      Despite this career-arresting element, Adams worked steadily throughout the 1950s, though largely in unremarkable fare like "Francis Joins the WACs" (1954) and "The Looters" (1955), which co-starred her husband, actor Ray Danton, whom she had married the previous year. The union-gangster drama "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (1957) proved to be her last notable feature for decades; by the following year, she had moved almost exclusively into television. There were occasional returns to features, most notably "Tickle Me" (1965) with Elvis Presley, but for the most part, she remained one of the most prolific guest stars on episodic television during the 1960s, as well as an occasional series regular on "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ) as Denise Wilton.

      After surprising many with her appearance in Dennis Hopper's psychedelic "The Last Movie" (1971), Adams settled into a season of "The Jimmy Stewart Show" (NBC, 1971-72) as the spouse of Stewart's university professor. It was followed by a string of off-beat feature roles, including "McQ" (1974), with John Wayne in a rare foray into modern day action, as well as "The Psychic Killer" (1975), an oddball horror picture directed by Danton and a grim adaptation of noir novelist Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me" (1976). Adams began to settle almost exclusively into TV guest appearances for the next decade. From 1987 to 1993, she had a recurring role as the flirty real estate agent Eve Simpson on "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1996). She remained active on television through the new millennium, most notably in a pair of appearances as Amelia, one of the Others, on "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010). Viewers with keen hearing also noted Adams as one of the telephone voices in Roman Polanski's acclaimed film version of "Carnage" (2011). That same year, she published her autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon, which she co-authored with Mitchell Danton, one of her two sons from her marriage to Ray Danton.

      by Paul Gaita

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    • Kevin Brownlow to be Presented the Second Annual Robert Osborne Award

    • Turner Classic Movies has announced that the second annual Robert Osborne Award, recognizing an individual who has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic film alive for future generations, will be presented to one of the world's premiere film preservationists, Kevin Brownlow. The award on April 13 before a screening of Brownlow's directed film It Happened Here at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival. The first Robert Osborne Award was given out at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival to iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese and will continue to be presented annually at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

      Deeply respected and revered among his peers for his work in restoration of classic film, Brownlow is also a celebrated director, helming classics such as It Happened Here (1964) and Winstanley (1975) but Brownlow's focus has remained documenting and preserving the silent film era. Brownlow founded Photoplay Productions to produce documentaries on film and revive such silent classics as A Woman of Affairs (1928), Sunrise (1927) and Napoleon (1927). The latter represented more than 25 years of work for Brownlow, who is still looking for ways to improve on Napoleon's restoration. The 1980 premiere of the restored version of Napoleon brought Brownlow honors from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the London Critics Circle. In 2010, Brownlow received an honorary Oscar for his work as a film preservationist.

      "In a career spanning more than seven decades, Kevin has played an instrumental role in documenting the history of silent film and preserving and restoring more than 50 silent films," said Ben Mankiewicz, TCM Primetime Anchor and Official Host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. "Kevin is truly the embodiment of what the Robert Osborne award signifies, helping ensure that classic film will continue to be experienced as it was meant to be seen for years to come."

      "Kevin Brownlow has been a friend to TCM since the network was founded, and his work to preserve classic film history for future generations is a cornerstone of what TCM and the Robert Osborne award represent," said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming, TCM. "We have shown Kevin's documentaries and restorations on air many times before, but to be able to honor him at the TCM Classic Film Festival feels like the perfect way to honor a man who has worked tirelessly to ensure the legacy of classic film lives on."

      For more than 22 years, Robert Osborne served as the primetime host and anchor of TCM, helping millions of viewers discover and enter the world of classic movies, and dedicating his life to preserving and sharing the movies he loved. Embraced by fans around the globe as both a fellow movie lover and an unparalleled film historian, his legacy of devotion to classic films and their ability to inspire will live on through the Robert Osborne Award.

      For a complete bio and more information on Kevin Brownlow, please visit: filmfestival.tcm.com.

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    • Carol Channing (1921-2019)

    • Beloved, effervescent musical comedy star Carol Channing passed away from natural causes on Tuesday, January 15 in Rancho Mirage, California at the age of 97.

      Dubbed The First Lady of Musical Comedy, Carol Channing spent over five decades on the Broadway stage and was forever linked with signature leading roles in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Hello, Dolly!" The flamboyant peroxide blonde with the fire engine red lipstick and ever-present smile earned multiple Tony Awards for her extended stage runs in those Broadway blockbusters, as well as recognition for musicals "Vamp," "Showgirl" and "Lorelei." But Channing became a recognized pop culture icon far from New York theater circles, bringing her larger-than-life personality to primetime as the star of variety specials and with her Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated starring turn in the musical film "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967). With the exception of that stroke of pitch perfect casting and a brilliant performance, Channing's talent generally did not translate successfully to the big screen. No matter, as audiences were most captivated by the "Channing" persona, which they were able to enjoy with her many appearances on cheeky celebrity panel game shows, variety specials and awards shows. While Channing's highly recognizable voice was a favorite of impressionists, and female impersonators latched onto her thick-lashed caricature of a Broadway diva, the singer, dancer, and comedienne performed throughout her eighties, continually criss-crossing the country in musical comedy revues, one-woman shows, and endless revivals of her best loved characters, Dolly and Lorelei.

      Channing was born in Seattle, WA, on Jan. 31, 1921, but was raised in San Francisco where her father was a newspaper editor and high profile Christian Science lecturer. It was only in her late teens that Channing was informed that her German-American father had actually been born in Georgia to an African-American mother - a fact Channing kept private until the publication of her memoir in 2003. But prior to learning her family history, Channing was raised as an only child who learned to entertain herself from an early age. She first discovered her talent for entertaining others when the seven-year-old unleashed impressions of her teachers on the students at school and earned rounds of laughter. She was hooked on the positive feedback and after taking the stage in high school, she went on to study dance and drama at Bennington College in Vermont. Later, in New York, she aligned herself with avant garde theater but found more success when she began to work alongside Zero Mostel in a Greenwich Village club, doing imitations of early stage and screen stars like Beatrice Lillie, Sophie Tucker and Tallulah Bankhead.

      After some time working on the resort circuit and New York theater chorus and understudy gigs, Channing got her first break when she was cast by Gower Champion in the 1948 Broadway revue "Lend An Ear," in which she wowed audiences by playing such diverse characters as a French movie star, a British Christian Scientist, and 1920s flapper. The following year, she hit Broadway in a starring role as Lorelei Lee, the "Little Girl from Little Rock" for whom diamonds are a girl's best friends in the musical "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." The successful musical ran for nearly two years and transformed Channing into a bona fide Broadway star whose reputation spread far beyond the Great White Way. She went on to make her film debut in the Hal Wallis-produced melodrama "Paid in Full" (1949), but when she was not inundated with follow-up film offers, she revived her role of Lorelei in a Chicago run of "Gentlemen," toured the U.S. in "Pygmalion," and returned to Broadway in "Wonderful Town" and "Vamp."

      In 1955, Channing portrayed a beautiful artist's model transformed into a great singer by a hypnotic genius (Basil Rathbone) in the amusing TV musical special, "Svengali and the Blonde" (NBC). She hit movie theaters the following year in a role as the slightly mature love interest to Clint Eastwood in the oddball Western "The First Traveling Saleslady" (1956). An indefatigable stage performer, Channing also toured nightclubs across the U.S. in between theater engagements, often appearing alongside comic duo Burns & Allen. Channing graced the Broadway stage again in late 1963, brilliantly cast in the lead as brassy busybody and matchmaker Dolly Gallagher in "Hello, Dolly!" The blockbuster production garnered 10 Tony Awards including one for its star, who gave commanding performances for over three years. The original cast album became an all-time bestseller in its field; even bumping the Beatles off the music charts when it was released. Channing, herself chatty, effervescent, and rarely seen without an ear-to-ear grin, had established herself as a show business institution, so it was only natural that she would become a mainstay on personality-based game shows like "What's My Line" (CBS, syndicated, 1950-1975), "To Tell the Truth" (CBS, 1956-1968; syndicated 1969-1978) and make recurring appearances on the comedy/variety show, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" (NBC, 1968-1973).

      The Broadway star returned to the big screen with her role as a 1920s "jazz baby" in the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967), inarguably the best screen role to utilize the actress' charisma and talents. For her captivating performance, Channing won a Golden Globe Award and earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. During the same period, she found a great reception for a series of television specials, including "An Evening with Carol Channing" (CBS, 1966), "Carol Channing and 101 Men" (ABC, 1967) and "Carol Channing Proudly Presents the Seven Deadly Sins" (ABC, 1969), all of which featured musical performances by Channing and music and comedy from high profile showbiz guests. Appropriate screen roles remained at bay, though she did appear as Jackie Gleason's bohemian wife in a pallid Otto Preminger comedy "Skidoo" (1968). She starred again on Broadway in the 1970 comedy "Four on a Garden" and in 1971, discovered another excellent outlet as a voiceover actress in animated films when she landed a role in "Shinbone Alley" (1971). After earning another Tony nomination for reviving her famous character in the spin-off musical "Lorelei," Channing toured the U.S. with "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" in 1975.

      With the exception of a recurring guest character role on "The Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986), Channing stuck to the stage, reprising her role in "Hello Dolly!" in Los Angeles in 1977 and on Broadway again in 1978 before taking that production on the road in 1981. She and fellow Broadway leading lady Mary Martin played rival actresses in a touring musical production called "Legends," while Channing played The White Queen in an all-star version of "Alice in Wonderland" (CBS, 1985) on CBS. While continuing to perform regularly in nightclub acts in Las Vegas and throughout the U.S., Channing also recorded more than 20 children's albums, ramping up her voiceover career with roles in "Where's Waldo?" (1991), "Hans Christian Andersen's 'Thumbelina'" (1994), and the PBS series "The Magic School Bus" (1994-99). In 1994, Channing once again donned the familiar red dress and returned to the Harmonia Gardens for a 30th anniversary production of "Hello, Dolly!" The following year, she received a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award and embarked on a 51-city concert tour of the U.S., resurfacing on primetime with rare guest appearances (as herself) on "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC, 1995-2004) and "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003).

      In 2003, Channing released the memoir Just Lucky, I Guess and launched a national touring one-woman show entitled "The First Eighty Years are the Hardest." Well into her eighties, she continued to appear in stage revues that mixed song, dance and plenty of old show biz anecdotes while maintaining a screen presence with voiceover roles on animated series including "The Family Guy" (Fox, 1999-2002; 2005- ) and "American Dad!" (Fox, 2005- ).

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb).

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    • Web Reviewer Glenn Erickson Launches 'CineSavant'


    • Web reviewer Glenn Erickson, aka 'DVD Savant' has established a new home under a new identity, 'CineSavant.' Reviewing independently since 1998, the Savant database has grown to over five thousand reviews and articles, and become one of the most respected and sought-out review pages on the web for news and opinions about classic films on disc. Readership boomed when the page Trailers from Hell picked up Glenn's reviews as featured content in 2015.

      A varied background helps add perspective to Glenn's reviews; from the UCLA Film School he worked in special effects, and then moved on to TV commercial work, and trailers for The Cannon Group. A long stint with MGM/UA Home Video led to editing large-scale DVD extras and other special projects. He began writing for the web in 1997 as 'MGM Video Savant.' Working with the film curators at MGM, Glenn helped detect and produced the restoration of the original ending of the film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. Glenn has published two books of reviews, and has been writing and researching for TCM since 2004.

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To Kill a Mockingbird - 50th Anniversary DVD
$8.55
was $14.98
Out of the Past DVD
$14.36
was $17.99
Rear Window DVD
$10.47
was $14.98
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  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca
  •  
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca
  •  
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca