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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gangster Story (1959) Walter Matthau & The Secret of Convict Lake (1951) Glenn Ford & Gene Tierney


Gangster Story (1959)
65 min - Crime|Drama - December 1959 (USA)

Gangster and cop killer Jack Martin is on the run from the law, and hides out in a small town. Low on funds, he engineers a clever bank robbery that yields him a big bundle ...

Walter Matthau, Carol Grace, Bruce MacFarlane|
Director: Walter Matthau
Writers: Richard Grey (story), Paul Purcell

The Secret of Convict Lake (1951)

The Secret of Convict Lake is a 1951 American black-and-white western film starring Glenn Ford and Gene Tierney. It was directed by Michael Gordon and produced by Frank P. Rosenberg, with music by Sol Kaplan. The film was a critical and commercial success.

It co-starred Ethel Barrymore, and was the final film of actress Ann Dvorak.

The story is fiction, based on legends of Convict Lake, located in the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges of northern California.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sapphire (1959) Directed by Basil Dearden BAFTA Award Winner!



















Sapphire is a 1959 British crime drama. It focused on racism in London toward immigrants from the West Indies. The film was directed by Basil Dearden, and stars Nigel Patrick, Earl Cameron and Yvonne Mitchell. It received the BAFTA Award for Best Film and screenwriter Janet Green won a 1960 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Foreign Film Screenplay. It was a progressive movie for its time.

Earl Cameron who played the part of Dr Robbins, Sapphire's brother, would appear two years later in another English film dealing with racial issues, the 1961 film Flame in the Streets.

Dearden and Green later also collaborated on another 'social problem' film, Victim, although this one was focused on blackmail of gay men before the passage of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 provided limited decriminalisation of male homosexuality.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Revenge! Murder! Madness! Mother Love (1989) Diana Rigg, David McCallum










Mother Love is a British television drama that first aired in 1989. It was adapted by Andrew Davies from Laura Black's novel concerning a mother's obsessive love for her son, vengeful hatred of his father, her ex-husband, and the effect on her daughter-in-law and grandchildren. It starred Diana Rigg, David McCallum, James Wilby, and Fiona Gillies, and was directed by Simon Langton.

Christopher "Kit" Vesey (James Wilby) and Angela Vesey (Fiona Gillies), a British yuppie couple, have a presumably idyllic existence. Yet there is one troubling factor in their lives - an eccentric, and possibly, difficult mother-in-law (Diana Rigg).

Her odd behavior is confirmed in a series of incidents involving her ex-husband (David McCallum), a concert musician, and her ex-husband's second wife, Ruth (Isla Blair), an artist. Flashbacks throughout the series reveal bits of Helena's troubled past. Little by little, the young couple's life begins to fall apart and the mother-in-law begins to act out her feelings of intense jealousy in the form of revenge, implicating a dear old friend, and leading to murder.

Original channel: BBC
Original run: October 1989 – November 1989

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Janet Gaynor: Lucky Star, Sunrise, Paddy the Next Best Thing




Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, also known as Sunrise, is a 1927 American silent film directed by German film director F. W. Murnau. The story was adapted by Carl Mayer from the short story "Die Reise nach Tilsit" ("A Trip to Tilsit" by Hermann Sudermann.

Sunrise won an Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Production at the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929 and sixty years later was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress for films that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The 10th anniversary update of the American Film Institute's best 100 films in 2007 placed it #82, while the decennial Sight and Sound poll of 2012 for the British Film Institute named it the fifth-best film in the history of motion pictures by critics, and 22nd by directors.

Murnau chose the new Fox Movietone sound-on-film system, so it is one of the first with a soundtrack of music and sound effects.[citation needed] Although the original negative was destroyed in a nitrate fire in 1937, a new negative was created from a surviving print.

Lucky Star (1929) is a romantic drama film starring Janet Gaynor and directed by Frank Borzage. The plot involves the impact of World War I upon a farm girl (Gaynor) and a returning soldier (Charles Farrell). The movie was produced by William Fox with cinematography by Chester A. Lyons and William Cooper Smith, and the supporting cast includes Paul Fix and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams.

In the previous two years, Borzage had also directed Gaynor in Seventh Heaven and Street Angel, two of the three films (along with F.W. Murnau's Sunrise) for which Gaynor won the first Academy Award for Best Actress.

Paddy the Next Best Thing is a 1933 American romantic comedy film directed by Harry Lachman and starring Janet Gaynor, Warner Baxter and Walter Connolly. The screenplay was written by Edwin J. Burke , based on the 1912 novel Paddy the Next Best Thing by Gertrude Page and its later stage adaptation.

Both the film's leads were Oscar winners; Janet Gaynor won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in 1928 and Warner Baxter won the second Academy Award for Best Actor in 1929.

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MAE WEST The Heat's On, She Done Him Wrong, Klondike Annie, Belle of the Nineties










She Done Him Wrong is a Pre-Code 1933 Paramount Pictures comedy romance starring Mae West and Cary Grant. Its plot includes melodramatic and musical elements. Others in the cast include Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, Sr., Louise Beavers and Rochelle Hudson.




The film was directed by Lowell Sherman and produced by William LeBaron. The script was adapted by Harvey F. Thew and John Bright from the successful Broadway play Diamond Lil by Mae West. Original music was composed by Ralph Rainger, John Leipold and Stephan Pasternacki. Charles Lang was responsible for the cinematography, while the costumes were designed by Edith Head.

The movie is famous for West's many double entendres and quips, including her seductive, "I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand. Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every evening."


Blonde Venus, starring Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant, predates She Done Him Wrong by a year even though Mae West always claimed to have discovered Cary Grant for her film, elaborating that up until then Grant had only made "some tests with starlets."

Belle of the Nineties (1934) is Mae West's fourth motion picture, directed by Leo McCarey and released by Paramount Pictures. The film was based on West's original story It Ain't No Sin which was also to be the film's title until censors objected. Johnny Mack Brown, Duke Ellington, and Katherine DeMille are also in the cast.

Shooting commenced on March 19, 1934 and concluded in June. The film was released on September 21, 1934. It had a domestic (U.S.A.) gross of $2,000,000. As usual with West's films, some scenes were removed to be shown in different States. To be shown in New York, one of the biggest markets, they had to completely re-shoot the final scene. Mae West's character and the Tiger Kid were originally to complete their nuptials without a marriage ceremony, the ceremony had to be included.

A publicity stunt went awry when 50 parrots were trained to shout the original title of "it ain't no sin". The parrots were subsequently released in the jungles of South America still repeating "it ain't no sin" over and over again.

Klondike Annie is a 1936 black-and-white comedy film starring Mae West and Victor McLaglen. The film was co-written by West from her play "Frisco Kate", which she wrote in 1921. The film was directed by Raoul Walsh. Mae West portrays a kept woman by the name of Rose Carlton, "The Frisco Doll". She accidentally murders her keeper, Chan Lo, while he is trying to kill her and escapes on a steamer to Nome, Alaska. The Frisco Doll is now wanted for murder. En route she is given space in a cabin with a missionary woman, Sister Annie Alden. The woman is on her way to rescue a financially troubled mission in Nome. Sister Annie dies en route. The Frisco Doll, fearing apprehension by the Sheriff, assumes the identity of Sister Annie and dresses her up as a prostitute in a scene later deleted by the censors.

The Frisco Doll decides to keep Sister Annie's promise of rescuing the mission and raises the money through a soul-shaking sermon and song. Klondike Annie/Rose Carlton/The Frisco doll knows she needs to turn herself in and prove her innocence because it was self-defense. Steaming back to San Francisco she falls in love with the Captain of the boat, Bull Brackett. "Bull, ya ain't no oil paintin', but ya are a fascinatin' monster". This film caused a rift between West and William Randolph Hearst, who decided never to print West's name in any of his newspapers. The reason given was the racy material of the film and West's sexual persona in a religious setting. This may seem hypocritical due to his extramarital affair with actress Marion Davies. West was quoted as saying " I may have invited censorship into Hollywood, but I also saved the industry and Paramount."

The songs were composed by Gene Austin, who also appeared in the film.

Production began on September 16, 1935 and concluded in December of that year. Klondike Annie was released February 21, 1936 at a production cost of $1,000,000. As usual with West's films, scenes were deleted to make this film presentable in most markets. Eight minutes of the film were deleted. The footage is presumably lost forever. In this lost footage is the scene in which The Frisco Doll stabs Chan Lo when he was going to stab her instead. The other lost scene is when The Frisco Doll switched identities with Sister Annie and dressed Sister Annie up as a prostitute. The veiled connection of Sister Annie and The Salvation Army made this scene inappropriate to the censors but its deletion made the final print of the film appear choppy.

The State of Georgia went so far as to ban this film outright.

The Heat's On (1943) is a movie musical starring Mae West, William Gaxton, and Victor Moore, and released by Columbia Pictures.

Plot: Broadway star Fay Lawrence (West) is a temperamental diva who is reluctantly persuaded by a Broadway producer (Gaxton) to star in his latest production.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Just Imagine" Maureen O'Sullivan, El Brendel & "Madam Satan" (1930) Kay Johnson, Lillian Roth








Just Imagine (1930)
A 1930's science fiction musical comedy directed by David Butler. The film is probably best known for its art direction and special effects in its portrayal of New York City in an imagined 1980. It has never officially been released on VHS or DVD.


Starring El Brendel, Maureen O'Sullivan, John Garrick, Marjorie White
Directed by David Butler
Produced by Buddy G. DeSylva
Music by Hugo Friedhofer, Arthur Kay
Fox Film Corporation
Release date: November 23, 1930


Madam Satan (1930) is a dramatic pre-Code musical film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille for MGM, one of the few DeMille made for the Culver City studio. It has been called one of the oddest films DeMille made and certainly one of the oddest MGM made during its "golden age.”

Starring Kay Johnson, Reginald Denny, Lillian Roth
Directed & Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Written by Jeanie Macpherson, Gladys Unger

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Friday, April 19, 2013

The Old Dark House (1932) Boris Karloff & The Old Dark House (1963) Tom Poston



The Old Dark House (1932) is an American comedy horror film directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff, produced just one year after their success with Frankenstein, also released by Universal Studios.


The film is based on the 1927 novel Benighted by J. B. Priestley, published in the United States under the same title as the film, and was adapted for the screen by R. C. Sherriff and Benn Levy. The movie also stars Melvyn Douglas and features Charles Laughton (in his first Hollywood film), Ernest Thesiger, Raymond Massey, and Gloria Stuart as the ingenue. According to the Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural, the Femm family's ancient patriarch was played by a woman, Elspeth Dudgeon (billed as "John Dudgeon"), because Whale could not find a male actor who looked old enough for the role.

In spite of the presence of Karloff, The Old Dark House was largely ignored at the American box office, although it was a huge hit in Whale's native England. For many years, it was considered a lost film and gained a tremendous reputation as one of the pre-eminent Gothic horror films. In 1968, a print of the film was discovered by Curtis Harrington in the vaults of Universal Studios and was restored with the help of George Eastman House.


The Old Dark House (1963) is a comedy-horror film directed by William Castle. It is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name directed by James Whale. The film was based on the novel by J. B. Priestley originally published under the name Benighted, and the new screenplay was written by Robert Dillon.

Starring Tom Poston, Robert Morley, Janette Scott

Directed & produced by William Castle

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Silent film greats! Evelyn Brent & Wallace Reid






Silent film greats! Evelyn Brent & Wallace Reid

...6 films, 2 DVDs



Evelyn Brent Border River (1919), Underworld (1927), The Last Command (1928) 1 DVD

Edgar Jones stars and directs the silent 2-reel drama "Border River" (1919), one of Evelyn Brent's earliest surviving films in which she has a supporting role.

Underworld (also released as Paying the Penalty) is a 1927 silent crime film directed by Josef von Sternberg co-starring Clive Brook, George Bancroft and Larry Semon.

The Last Command is a 1928 silent film directed by Josef von Sternberg, and written by John F. Goodrich and Herman J. Mankiewicz from a story by Lajos Biró.

Star Emil Jannings won the very first Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performances in this film and The Way of All Flesh, the only year that multiple roles were considered.

In 2006, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. The supporting cast includes Evelyn Brent and William Powell.

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Wallace Reid : Carmen (1915) Roaring Road (1919) & Excuse My Dust (1920) 1 DVD

Carmen is a 1915 silent drama film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. It is based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée. The existing versions of this film appear to be from the 1918, re-edited release.

The Roaring Road (1919) is a silent film action romance produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is taken from the short stories by Byron Morgan; Junkpile Sweepstakes, Undertaker's Handicap and Roaring Road.

This film was so successful that it spawned a sequel, Excuse My Dust from stories by the same author.

Excuse My Dust is a 1920 silent film action comedy produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is taken from a Saturday Evening Post short story The Bear Trap by Byron Morgan, who penned stories for the previous year's The Roaring Road.

Sam Wood directed Wallace Reid in one of Reid's most popular auto-racing pictures. Reid's young son, Wallace Jr., makes his first screen appearance here. This film is preserved in the Library of Congress.

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Body & Soul (1924), The Scar of Shame (1927), Within Our Gates, Symbol Of the Unconquered (1920)














Body and Soul is a 1925 race film produced, written, directed, and distributed by Oscar Micheaux and starring Paul Robeson in his motion picture debut.

An escaped prisoner seeks refuge in the predominantly African American town of Tatesville, Georgia, by passing himself off as the Rt. Reverend Isaiah T. Jenkins. He is joined in town by a fellow criminal, and the pair scheme to swindle the phony reverend's congregation of their offerings.

Jenkins falls in love with a young member of his congregation, Isabelle Perkins, even though she is in love with a poor young man named Sylvester, who happens to be Jenkins’ long-estranged twin brother. Jenkins steals money from Martha Jane, Isabelle's mother and convinces the young woman to take the blame for his crime. She flees to Atlanta and dies just as her mother locates her. Returning to Tatesville, Isabelle's mother confronts Jenkins in front of the congregation. Jenkins flees and during a twilight struggle he kills a man who tries to bring him to justice.

The following morning, Martha Jane awakens and realizes the episode with Jenkins was only a dream. She provides Isabelle (who is not dead) and Sylvester with the funds to start a married life together.

Directed & Produced by Oscar Micheaux
Written by Oscar Micheaux (novel and screenplay)
Starring Paul Robeson, Mercedes Gilbert, Julia Theresa Russell
Distributed by Micheaux Film Corporation
Release date: November 9, 1925
Running time: 1 hour 19 miutes

The Scar Of Shame (1927) Colored Players Film Corporation silent film
An educated, upscale young black musician marries a woman from a lower socioeconomic class to get her out of the clutches of her stepfather, who beats and abuses her.
The Scar of Shame is a silent film which was filmed in 1926 and released in 1927.

It was produced by the Colored Players Film Corporation of Philadelphia, in one of the earliest examples of "race movies", in which an entirely black cast performed a feature film specifically for a black audience. The film was produced and written by David Starkman and was directed by Frank Peregini, both white.

The Scar of Shame was a black silent melodrama with black actors written for a predominately black Audience. Melodramas were the genre of choice for early 20th century filmmakers.

This film emerged during a time of great breakthroughs in not only African American film but all art with the Harlem Renaissance when “a new sense of black consciousness emerged” likely after witnessing the bravery of African American soldiers in World War I. This was a collaboration of a “black cast, white crew and interracial production team” produced by the conspicuously named “Colored Players” who were mostly white, in 1927.

The Scar of Shame was one of the only three films produced by this company which was founded in 1926 in Philadelphia by a generous investment.

In Jane Gaine’s article on “Skin Color and Caste in Black Melodrama,” she claims that the film mostly takes its substance from D.W. Griffith’s films: Intolerance (1916) and Broken Blossoms (1919). Both of these Griffith classics starred Lillian Gish.

There are undeniable similarities between the films with scenes such as Spike beating Louise matching up remarkably with paternal beatings of the character Lucy (Lillian Gish) in Broken Blossoms.

Cast:
Harry Henderson - Alvin Hillyard
Norman Johnstone - Eddie Blake
Ann Kennedy - Mrs. Lucretia Green
Lucia Lynn Moses - Louise Howard
William E. Pettus - Spike Howard
Lawrence Chenault - Ralph Hathaway
Pearl McCormack - Miss Alice Hathaway

Original Music Score by Brian Pinette
1 hour 17 minutes

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2 Silent films by Oscar Micheaux 1st African American film-maker ... Within Our Gates & Symbol Of the Unconquered (1920) 1 DVD

Within Our Gates (1920) is a silent film by the director Oscar Micheaux that portrays the contemporary racial situation in the United States during the early twentieth century, the years of Jim Crow, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration of blacks to cities of the North and Midwest, and the emergence of the "New Negro". It was part of a genre called race films.

The plot features an African-American woman who goes North in an effort to raise money for a rural school in the Deep South for poor Black children. Her romance with a black doctor eventually leads to revelations about her family's past and her own mixed-race, European ancestry. The film portrays racial violence under white supremacy, and the lynching of a black man. Produced, written and directed by Oscar Micheaux in 1919 and released in 1920, it is the oldest known surviving film made by an African-American director.

Cast:
Evelyn Preer as Sylvia Landry
Flo Clements as Alma Prichard
James D. Ruffin as Conrad Drebert
Jack Chenault as Larry Prichard
William Smith as Detective Philip Gentry
Charles D. Lucas as Dr. V. Vivian
S.T. Jacks as Reverend Wilson Jacobs (uncredited).

Running time: 1 hour 17 minutes

The Symbol Of the Unconquered (1920)

In this silent film, a black heiress fights off the Ku Klux Klan to save her land. (1 of the 2 films Oscar Micheaux filmed as a 'response' to The Birth of A Nation)

The Symbol of the Unconquered (aka:The Wilderness Trail) is a 1920 silent "race film" drama produced, written and directed by Oscar Micheaux. It is Micheaux's fourth feature length film and along with Within Our Gates is amongst his earliest surviving works. This film was made at Fort Lee New Jersey and released by Micheaux on November 29, 1920. Extant at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Producer: Oscar Micheaux

Cast:
Iris Hall - Eve Mason
Walker Thompson - Hugh Van Allen
Lawrence Chenault - Jefferson Driscoll

Running time: 58 minutes

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Oscar Micheaux is remembered today as the first African-American filmmaker and as an outstanding entrepreneur of the early film industry. His films, some of which have been lost, include The Homesteader (1919), Within Our Gates (1920), The Symbol of the Unconquered (1920), and Body and Soul (1925), and range from mysteries to westerns, from political commentaries to musicals.

Both of his 1920 films -- Within Our Gates and The Symbol of the Unconquered -- respond directly to D.W. Griffith's groundbreaking celebration of the Ku Klux Klan, The Birth of a Nation (1915).

In answer to the several climactic scenes of attempted rape of white women by Black men around which the story of The Birth of a Nation centers, in Within Our Gates Micheaux flips the scene with a depiction of the victim as a Black woman and the perpetrator as a white man. The central section of The Symbol of the Unconquered, currently lost, hinges on the Black community's success in repelling a raid by the KKK, and much of the story serves to discredit the Klan's claims of justification for their violence against African-American communities.

While many of Micheaux's films are classified as "Race Films," filmed for an African-American audience and shown in segregated, "colored only" theaters, Micheaux's films -- especially his earlier works -- reached an audience which included whites.

His celebration of middle-class African-American experience provided hope for better times to come, and his practice of spreading blame across a racially diverse group of villanous characters (rather than directly pointing the finger at the white community as a whole) is an indication of his political sensibilities as a follower of Booker T. Washington.


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Friday, April 12, 2013

Head (1968) The Monkees, Annette Funicello, Victor Mature






Head (1968) The Monkees, Annette Funicello, Victor Mature

Head is a 1968 psychedelic adventure comedy film starring television rock group The Monkees, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. It was written and produced by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson, and directed by Rafelson.

During production, the working title for the film was "Changes", which was later the name of an unrelated album by the Monkees. A rough cut of the film was previewed for audiences in Los Angeles in the summer of 1968 under the name of "Movee Untitled".

The film featured Victor Mature as "The Big Victor" and other cameo appearances by Nicholson, Teri Garr, Carol Doda, Annette Funicello, Frank Zappa, Sonny Liston, Timothy Carey, and Ray Nitschke. Also appearing on screen in brief non-speaking parts are Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, and film choreographer Toni Basil.

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Annette Funicello in 'Thunder Alley" (1967)
Fabian, Diane McBain, Warren Berlinger

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Head & Thunder Alley plus on CD - Annette Funicello Country Album (1 DVD & 1 CD)


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