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Monday, July 29, 2013

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1903, 1914, 1927) + Topsy & Eva (1927) $11.99 FREE ship



Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1903) Edwin S. Porter

Working for Thomas Edison, Edwin S. Porter was the first American "director," the pioneer who discovered how to use Edison's invention to tell stories and entertain audiences. His Uncle Tom's Cabin (1903) was one of the very earliest "full-length" American movies -- although "full-length" in 1903 meant about 14 minutes. According to a Notice in The New York Times, it premiered on August 3rd at Huber's Fourteenth Street Museum; sharing the program with it were several live acts, including a married team of "colored comedians."

Porter shot the film inside the Edison Company's studio in New York, and made sure there was no doubt whose film it was by including a “Sign” displaying the Thomas A. Edison ® in almost every one of the 14 separate scenes. (Edison had reason to be proprietary; within weeks after this film was made, Sigmund Lubin, his Philadelphia competitor released "a dupe" of it.) The movie's actors, sets, costumes, and much of its stage "business" derive from one of the turn-of-the-century theatrical "Tom Shows." Other than Edison's name, the film contains no credits and which UTC Company Porter employed has never been learned. But although many changes were required to turn a five act drama into a one-reel silent movie, Porter's film is extremely valuable as a partial record of what thousands of live audiences saw when the "Tommers" came to town.

Since most people in the film's original audience would have seen at least one "Tom Show," they already knew not just the larger story (and so could fill in the many gaps created by telling the story of a 500-page novel or a 3-hour play in less than 14 minutes), but the dialogue and "stage business" of the individual scenes. The catalog that the Edison company prepared to help sell the film to exhibitors provides descriptions that help 21st century viewers "see" what is going on ... As the catalogue also notes, Uncle Tom's Cabin was the first American film ever to include titles (called "announcements" here) to identify and introduce each new scene.





Like the typical "Tom show," this performance uses white actors in blackface for the major "black" parts, and black performers only as extras. This version also gives a vivid idea of how the "Tom show" version of Stowe's novel depicted slavery; most of the time, even at a slave auction, the slaves can't help dancing. The movie's subtitle is Slavery Days, which suggests its makers and its viewers believed this re-presentation was faithful to historical reality.

The movie was shot in 14 sequences, each with its own stage set and film title.

Original Score by Brian Pinette






Uncle Tom's Cabin (1914) Sam Lucas

This 1914 version of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic was directed by William Robert Daly. It was adapted Edward McWade from the play adaptation by George L. Aiken. It was the second known film adaptation of the story.

It starred Sam Lucas, Teresa Michelena, Marie Eline (again), Roy Applegate, Irving Cummings and Boots Wall. This was the first "white" film to have an African-American star, Sam Lucas.

Sam Lucas, one of the most respected and celebrated entertainers of his time, is credited with breaking barriers for black actors and becoming the first African American actor to star in a “white” feature film. Lucas is best remembered for his comic and dramatic roles performed on the minstrel circuit and Broadway stages, and by the end of his career, a major motion picture.

Lucas was born Samuel Mildmay in Washington, Ohio in 1840. He began singing and playing the guitar as a teenager and went on to establish a reputation as a performer while working as a barber. After the Civil War when African American performers (in blackface) were allowed to work in minstrel shows, Lucas joined traveling black companies and sang on the Ohio River steamboats. Lucas built a reputation as the best all-around entertainer in the business and was empowered to select his own shows which allowed him to star with the most successful black minstrel companies as a comedian and singer.

Dissatisfied with limited minstrel roles, Lucas attempted to establish himself as a serious actor by appearing in dramatic plays during the mid 1870s. By 1878, he became the first black man to appear as the title character in the serious stage production of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. At the age of 73, the veteran actor capped his career when he recreated the role of Uncle Tom in the 1914 film version released by World Film Corporation as well as two comedy shorts made as Tom. Lucas is believed to be the first African American actor to appear as Uncle Tom during the era. Shortly after completing the film, Lucas died after suffering a long bout of liver disease.
Release Date: 10 August 1914
Production Co: World
Runtime: 54 min


Uncle Tom's Cabin (1927)

Silent film “epic" directed by Harry A. Pollard and released by Universal Pictures. The film is based on the eponymous novel written by Harriett Beecher Stowe and was the last silent film version. It was preserved in a copy at the Library of Congress.

In this version of the film, all of the major slave roles, with the exception of Uncle Tom himself, were portrayed by white actors. Actress Mona Ray played the slave Topsy in blackface, while the slaves Eliza, George, Cassie and Harry were all presented as having very light skin coloring because of mixed-race heritage.



This two-hour movie spent more than a year in production and was the third most expensive picture of the silent era (at a cost of $1.8 million). Black actor Charles Gilpin was originally cast in the title role, but was fired after the studio decided his "portrayal was too aggressive." James B. Lowe then took over the character of Tom. One difference in this film from the novel is that after Tom dies, he returns as a vengeful spirit and confronts Simon Legree before leading the slave owner to his death. Black media outlets of the time praised the film, but the studio—fearful of a backlash from Southern and white film audiences—ended up cutting out controversial scenes, including the film's opening at a slave auction (where a mother is torn away from her baby).

The story was adapted by Pollard, Harvey F. Thew and A.P. Younger, with titles by Walter Anthony. It starred James B. Lowe, Virginia Grey, George Siegmann, Margarita Fischer, Mona Ray and Madame Sul-Te-Wan

Universal, 1927. Directed by Harry A. Pollard. Camera: Jacob Kull, Charles Stumar. 1hour 48min



Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom.

It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote more than 20 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential both for her writings and her public stands on social issues of the day.

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Topsy & Eva (1927) "Vaudeville Stars" the Duncan Sisters


Topsy & Eva (1927) The Duncan Sisters
The Duncan Sisters—Vivian as Little Eva, and Rosetta as Topsy.

Rosetta and Vivian Duncan were well-known vaudeville stars in 1923 when they asked Catherine Chisholm Cushing to write a musical for them "Based on 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'" Cushing used Stowe's characters, but drastically rewrote the story.

The plot depends mainly on the romantic relationship between George Shelby and an added character named Marietta, and on the misunderstandings between Mrs. Shelby and Augustine St. Clare, whom the script turns into her former beau. The (stage show) was essentially an occasion for singing, dancing and comic turns by the Sisters, especially Rosetta "in half-nudity and burnt-cork" as Topsy.

The play was very popular. After engagements in Los Angeles and San Francisco, it ran for 47 weeks in Chicago, played on Broadway for about four months, then went on the road for a national tour through 1926. In 1927 the Duncans combined the stage show with an 80-minute movie (on which D. W. Griffith did some of the directing). They "revived" the show twice in the 30s, with new songs, again in 1942, and apparently kept coming before America as Topsy and Eva well into the 1950s.

Both the film and stage show were internationally renowned and the two sisters toured the world and performed before sell-out crowds and Royalty. They were beloved worldwide via fans clubs until their passing ...

The Duncan Sisters as “Topsy and Eva” (1927)
Original Music Score, Brian Pinette
1 hour 48 minutes
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Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Topsy and Eva - 3 DVDs

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Beat Generation (1959) Mamie Van Doren, Vampira & Wayward Bus (1957) Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield



The Wayward Bus (1957)

The Wayward Bus is a 20th Century Fox 1957 film drama starring Jayne Mansfield, Joan Collins, Dan Dailey and Rick Jason. The film was based on the novel of the same name by John Steinbeck.



The Beat Generation (1959)

The Beat Generation stars Steve Cochran and Mamie Van Doren with Ray Danton, Fay Spain, Maggie Hayes, Jackie Coogan, Louis Armstrong, Vampira and Ray Anthony.

It is a sensationalistic interpretation of the beatnik culture of the "Beat Generation" (and is sometimes considered one of the very last films noir to be produced.) The movie was also shown under the title This Rebel Age.

The director was Charles F. Haas. Richard Matheson and Lewis Meltzer are credited with the screenplay. It was released by MGM in 1959.



Two obscure black and white classics on 2 DVDs.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

The story, not the special effects make a “film classic!” by Brian Pinette



Years ago, they said old does not mean better. But today, with computer generated images and epics - old actually is better.


Russell Crowe in "The Gladiator" was computer generated crowd scenes. That would have been unthinkable and impossible for Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith. Even Irwin Allen of the original "Poseidon Adventure" and "Towering Inferno" KNEW that it was the "human equation" (as per Miss Lillian Gish) that made a movie, NOT the special effects. The stories behind the people, the characters in a film make it a classic. Not the special effects and body parts and the objects that glimmer and shine ...

"The Sound of Music" and Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" and “The Wizard of Oz" & "It's A Wonderful Life" are forever. The people make it a story worth telling and re-telling and seeing and viewing over and over again. Animatronics come and go and can always be "topped" by the next computer operator, but simplistic story-telling and talent win hands down. But alas, those sort of films are far and in-between. Like “Gone With the Wind” it is not the characters were remember, it is the special effects. And soon, those effects fall by the wayside when someone else creates even better special effects.



Avatar” vs. Cameron’s “Titanic” ... hands down, the story, the characters and the love make “Titanic” the winner. tale told many times on film, from the early silent/sound era to Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb in the 1950s classic to numerable TV remakes ... it is the story, a simple story and the characters and the acting that makes a film a classic.
TODAY, many will never know that film was created to be "the universal language" -- to transcend time and space and borders. If you take out the human element, you are left with cookie cutter, modular creations. No sympathy, no empathy, just the same old, same old.


Classics are character based, character driven. The same way human lives are nurtured & inspired by relationships not the cars or houses we acquire. It is those personal and profound moments of joy and love that we take with us when we go. 

The family and friends we surround ourselves with, those are the magical memories of life and what makes life worth living.  They are our God given gifts ...


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Coleen Gray: “Film Noir" Kansas City Confidential & Kiss of Death (1947)





Kansas City Confidential is a 1952 film noir crime film directed by Phil Karlson and starring John Payne & Coleen Gray. The film was released in the United Kingdom as The Secret Four .

Karlson and Payne teamed up a year later for 99 River Street, another noir, followed by a 1955 color film noir, Hell's Island.

Kiss of Death is a 1947 film noir movie directed by Henry Hathaway and written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer from a story by Eleazar Lipsky. The story revolves around a former robber played by Victor Mature and the ruthless, violent Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark).



The movie also starred Brian Donlevy and introduced Coleen Gray in her first billed “starring" role. Her first film credit was “Red River” with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift where her name was mis-spelled in the titles.

Her last film (to date) was Mother (1978) with silent film star Patsy Ruth Miller in the title role.  The film was written, produced and directed by Brian Pinette and premiered at NYC MOMA.  It was written for both Miss Gray and Miss Miller.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

“Film noir" Desert Fury (1947) Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott & Black Narcissus (1947) Deborah Kerr




Black Narcissus is a 1947 film by the British director-writer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, based on the 1939 novel of the same name by Rumer Godden.

It is a psychological drama about the emotional tensions within a convent of nuns in an isolated valley in the Himalayas and features in the cast Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, Sabu, David Farrar, Flora Robson, Esmond Knight, and Jean Simmons.

Desert Fury is a 1947 Paramount Pictures color film noir drama starring Lizabeth Scott, John Hodiak and Burt Lancaster, with Mary Astor and Wendell Corey.

Directed by Lewis Allen, the story was adapted for the screen by A.I. Bezzerides and Robert Rossen, based on the racy novel Desert Town by Ramona Stewart. The picture was produced by Hal Wallis, with music was by Miklós Rózsa and cinematography in Technicolor by Charles Lang.



Desert Fury features “fast and furious” dialogue, dark secrets and outraged face slappings.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lillian & Dorothy Gish ~ Unseen Enemy, Hearts of the World, Orphans of the Storm, Romola


Lillian Gish had international acclaim and accolades. Dorothy Gish was quiet and subdued. Both had unpaparalled talent and were considered two of the greatest stars of the silent film era.

On one DVD

An Unseen Enemy is a 1912 Biograph Company short silent film directed by D. W. Griffith, and was the first film to be made starring the actresses Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish.

A critic of the time stated that "the Gish sisters gave charming performances in this one-reel film". The film was shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey where early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based at the beginning of the 20th century. (15min23sec)
Hearts of the World (1918; 1hr57min33sec)

Hearts of the World (1918) is a silent film directed by D. W. Griffith, a wartime propaganda classic that was filmed on location in Britain and near the Western Front, made at the request of the British Government to change the neutral mindset of the American public. (1hr57min33sec)




On one DVD


Orphans of the Storm is a 1921 drama film by D. W. Griffith set in late 18th century France, before and during the French Revolution.


This was the last Griffith film to feature Lillian and Dorothy Gish, and is often considered Griffith's last major commercial success, after boxoffice hits such as Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, and Broken Blossoms.
Like his earlier films, Griffith used historical events to comment on contemporary events, in this case the French Revolution to warn about the rise of Bolshevism. The film is about class conflict and a plea for inter-class understanding and against destructive hatred. At one point, in front of the Committee of Public Safety, a main character pleads, "Yes I am an aristocrat, but a friend of the people."
The film is based on the 1874 French play "Les Deux Orphalines" by Adolphe d'Ennery and Eugène Cormon, which had been adapted for the American stage by N. Hart Jackson and Albert Marshman Palmer as The Two Orphans, premiering at Marshman Palmer's Union Square Theatre (58 E. 14th St.) in New York City in December 1874 with Kate Claxton as Lousie.

It had been filmed in the United States twice before Griffith did his film: in 1911 by Otis Turner and in 1915 by Herbert Brenon (the lost Theda Bara film The Two Orphans). The play had also bee filmed twice in France in 1910: by Albert Capellani and by Georges Monca. (1hr54mi)




On one DVD

Romola is a 1924 American drama film directed by Henry King and shot on location in Italy.

The film stars Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, William Powell and Ronald Colman, and is based on the George Eliot novel of the same name. A copy of the film survives at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
This was the second film in which Henry King directed Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman for Inspiration Films, an independent production company which chiefly consisted of King, Charles Duell and stars Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess.

3 no-region DVDs (plays worldwide) = 4 classic gems!

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Friday, July 5, 2013

The Flying Scotsman (1929) Ray Milland





The Flying Scotsman (1929) Ray Milland

The Flying Scotsman is a 1929 black and white film set on the Flying Scotsman train from London to Edinburgh, also featuring the famous locomotive LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman.

Directed by Castleton Knight, the thriller is chiefly remembered for being the first acting role of Ray Milland, as well as for its daring stunts performed aboard the moving train.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elke Sommer in Lisa and the Devil & Ten Little Indians (1974)














Lisa and the Devil (Italian: Lisa e il diavolo) is a 1974 Italian horror film directed by Mario Bava.
The film is notable for its controversial release in the US, where it was heavily recut/refilmed and released as "The House of Exorcism". The film was released in Spain as El diablo se lleva a los muertos (The Devil Carries The Dead).
It stars Elke Sommer & Telly Savalas, Sylva Koscina and Alessio Orano with Alida Valli as The Countess.
The story involves a young American tourist, who stays the night at the home of a family of Spanish aristocrats whose house is plagued by supernatural evil and dark secrets involving necrophilia.

This is the European version. It is the film the Director, Mario Bava intended.

The US version includes new material that recasts the film as an "Exorcist" clone, with the main character possessed and recounting to the priest who's seeking to save her the story of how she became possessed.
Director: Mario Bava (31 July 1914 – 25 April 1980) was an Italian director, screenwriter, special effects artist and cinematographer from the "golden age" of Italian horror films. His work kick-started the giallo film genre and the modern "slasher film".


Ten Little Indians (And Then There Were None; 1974) Elke Sommer, Oliver Reed

Updated version of the Agatha Christie book "And Then There Were None. In this version, the group is invited, under false pretenses, to an isolated hotel in the Iranian desert. After dinner, a cassette tape (voiced by the legendary Orson Welles) accuses them all of crimes that they have gotten away with.

One by one they begin to die, in accordance to the Ten Little Indians Nursery rhyme. After a search is made of the hotel, they realize that the murderer is one of them. A few members of the group attempt to trust each other, but the question still remains, who can one trust? and who will leave the hotel alive?

Starring Elke Sommer, Oliver Reed, Maria Rohm, Charles Aznavour, Stéphane Audran, Gert Fröbe
Directed by Peter Collinson
Produced by Harry Alan Towers
Screenplay by Harry Alan Towers (as "Peter Welbeck")
Uncredited: Enrique Llovet
Based on Novel: Agatha Christie
Music by Bruno Nicolai
Cinematography, Fernando Arribas
Studio Corona Filmproduktion Talía Films COMECI
Country: France / Spain / Germany / Italy
Running time: 98 min.

Complete - un-cut ... includes theatrical trailers.
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