Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Performs Bernard Herrmann...

James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo
While perusing YouTube the other night I happened on the video below of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, performing Bernard Herrmann's "Scene d'Amour" from his score for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. I watched and listened several times, swept up in it...and then, afterward, remembered something I'd nearly forgotten...

900 Lombard, San Francisco, today
Just about a year ago a videographer friend and I toured and shot footage of San Francisco film locations. I later recorded a voice track and hoped to post the video online, but had problems uploading it. Naturally, we got footage of Vertigo sites (the film includes many locations in the city) and I also took some still photos of 900 Lombard St., "Scottie Ferguson's" apartment in North Beach. The building had changed so little in the 50+ years since the movie was made that I almost expected a vintage green Jaguar to pull up and an elegant, ethereal blonde to slide out...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Kick your cares down the stairs...and come to Holiday Inn (1942)

Holiday Inn (1942) is famed as the film in which Bing Crosby first sang "White Christmas." I love its teaming of Crosby with Fred Astaire, their song and dance routines, the comedic rivalry between them, Irving Berlin's sensational music, the wintry New England scenery...everything about it.

In this video review, New YorkTimes critic A.O. Scott discusses Holiday Inn - with film clips. He does talk about the "Abraham" number...but doesn't suggest censoring it. Click to watch...

Scott's review started with a clip of a clever Fred Astaire routine, his New Year's Eve dance "under the influence" with Marjorie below to watch the entire sequence...CLIP NO LONGER AVAILABLE...a good excuse to just watch the movie!

(I probably don't need to add: don't try this yourself!)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Holiday Moment with Judy and Mel...

On December 6, 1963, Judy Garland taped "The Christmas Show" to air a few weeks later as the holiday episode of her weekly CBS-TV variety show. She was joined by by both family (including Liza) and singer/songwriter Mel TormĂ©, writer (with Bob Wells ) of  "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)"...Click to watch Judy and Mel sing this holiday classic...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas in Connecticut (1945) special holiday season...

Christmas in Connecticut (1945), a jewel of a holiday romantic comedy, was released at a  time unlike any other in America...scant months after VE Day, just days before VJ Day - and by December 1945, World War II was finally over and many veterans were home in time for Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Artful Nostalgia of Richard Amsel

Murder on the Orient Express poster
Richard Amsel was a prolific graphic artist and illustrator who created some of the most indelible images of the '70s and '80s.

Born on December 4, 1947, he was raised near Philadelphia, in the west side suburb of Ardmore where his parents owned a toy store. An artistic prodigy from early youth, he graduated from Lower Merion High School in 1965; he had been Art Editor of the school yearbook. He went on to attend the Philadelphia College of Art and stood out among his classmates there. Some have suggested that Amsel's precocious talent intimidated even his art instructors at the college.

While still in art school, he won a poster art contest for the Barbra Streisand film, Hello Dolly (1968). His career took off as a result... he was just 21 years old.

Richard Amsel went on to create a series of magazine ads for designer Oleg Cassini, illustrated movie posters and developed a long association with TV Guide magazine. In addition, he created the art for Time Magazine's Lily Tomlin cover in 1975.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

JOHN M. STAHL...a reappraisal and a reaffirmation

Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven
by guest contributor doctor sabelotodo

Author's Disclaimer

Not until I started researching and reading did I realize the extent of the tremendous amount of heresay, recyled disinformation and vague references that exists in the written media about director John M. Stahl - both online and in book form. I prefer to write (cryptically) off the top of my head but felt lacking in sufficient details concerning the film legacy of Mr. Stahl. I love film but dislike film will not see mise en scene mentioned...

Sunday, December 5, 2010


One of the most charming and potent portrayals of Americana to grace the screen, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) tugs at the heartstrings as powerfully today as it did 65+ years ago when it was crafted by MGM's "Freed Unit."

The film's sparkling perfection is the work of producer Arthur Freed, director Vincente Minnelli, an incomparable ensemble cast, an ace artistic and technical team, songwriters Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin and...Technicolor.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Clint and Me

Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force (1973)
by guest contributor Magic Lantern 21

“Good guy…that last one he shot was a good guy!”

Eleven words… my claim to celebrity status; my fifteen minutes of fame which if you took a stop watch and measured, would run well under that length of time. And although I would have many small screen appearances later on in “The Streets of San Francisco,” these few words to this day still get me the most attention. Why? Because Clint Eastwood films are both well known and greatly admired not only in the U.S., but also by audiences around the world. Therefore to be associated with a Clint Eastwood movie usually guarantees that an actor (even a bit one as myself) will receive instant and lasting recognition.