Monday, April 8, 2019

THE MAKING OF AN ICON: YOUNG AUDREY HEPBURN AND HER LIFE IN WARTIME EUROPE

 

  A REVIEW OF THE SOON-TO-BE-PUBLISHED BIOGRAPHY DUTCH GIRL: AUDREY HEPBURN AND WORLD WAR II...AND A BOOK GIVEAWAY

 

Audrey Hepburn. One of the most beloved stars in the history of Hollywood. An Oscar winner at age 25, she took the Best Actress award with her first starring role, as a runaway princess in Roman Holiday (1953). She would be nominated in the same category four times more and be honored, in 1993, with the Academy's Jean Hersholt humanitarian award. She was and is, 26 years after her death, a revered international style icon. And she has long been admired around the globe for her philanthropic work on behalf of the children of the world; in 1988 she embarked on her first mission for UNICEF, to Ethiopia, and in 1989 she was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Friday, March 22, 2019

ANOTHER BIG SCREEN ADVENTURE…AND…A BOOK GIVEAWAY


 WIN A COPY OF VICTORIA RISKIN’S NEW BOOK, FAY WRAY AND ROBERT RISKIN: A HOLLYWOOD MEMOIR (PANTHEON 2019) ...details at end of post...

On a Wednesday afternoon at the end of February, I slogged through the rain, my car moving at a crawl across a bridge mired in traffic, to the east side of the San Francisco Bay. Into wild and woolly Berkeley, California, I drove. Berkeley, that university town known far and wide for its political uprisings, fine school and lingering spirit of the late 1960s. But my visit on that rainy day had nothing to do with politics or school, though it did have something to do with a bygone era. I was on my way to see a movie, a very special screening at Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive of one of Hollywood’s great classics, a quintessential romp of a romantic comedy released at the tail-end of the Pre-Code era, It Happened One Night (1934).

Friday, February 15, 2019

Movie Music, the Communicating Link


Bernard Herrmann, likely the most celebrated of classic era film composers today, who wrote the scores  for Citizen Kane, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho and Taxi Driver among countless others, once said of the function of the film score:

Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock
“I feel that music on the screen can seek out and intensify the inner thoughts of the characters. It can invest a scene with terror, grandeur, gaiety, or misery. It can propel narrative swiftly forward or slow it down. It often lifts mere dialogue into the realm of poetry.”

This is surely true of Herrmann’s own remarkable work for Welles, Hitchcock, Scorsese and others, as it is of the contributions of Max Steiner to films like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, The Letter and Now, Voyager and David Raksin’s work on such films as Laura and The Bad and the Beautiful. Herrmann’s contention has been borne out over the decades through scores by the likes of Franz Waxman, Miklos Rozsa and the all of Hollywood’s “big five” Golden Age composers. Beginning with Jaws and Star Wars, the prodigious work of John Williams continues to prove Herrmann’s point as do the scores of modern era film composers such as Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Noir Year 2019: Coming Soon



Every December for the past several years the Film Noir Foundation has presented a one-night-only "Noir City Xmas" screening at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. This year that night was December 19 and the film was The Night of the Hunter (1955). The only film Charles Laughton ever directed, it is a chilling masterpiece, a tale told in images both beautiful and terrifying, with unforgettable performances by Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Obscure "Christmas Carols" of Christmases Past

 

YULETIDE CURIOS FROM THE FILM DETECTIVE

 

This month, The Film Detective, a two-year-old streaming service that refreshes its film library monthly, presents “25 Days of Christmas.” So far, offerings have included Peter Pan (1955), the live NBC production with Mary Martin famously starring as Peter Pan, and a 1990 Lifetime TV production, Home for Christmas, in which Mickey Rooney stars as a homeless ex-con taken in by a family at Christmastime.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

George Bancroft: What a Star, What a Character!



Big, blustery George Bancroft was in his mid-40s when he became a film star, breaking out in 1927 with a linchpin performance as mob boss "Bull Weed" in Underworld, Josef von Sternberg's prototypical gangster film. Bancroft was third-billed under dependably wooden Clive Brook, fluttery leading lady Evelyn Brent, and he stole the show with his powerhouse portrayal of a hoodlum with a heart.