Walters' films—including 'Good News,' 'Easter Parade' and Lili—are majestic, worthy of the same praise lavished on Vincente Minnelli and others
Most people under 50 have no idea who he was, but Crosby was a huge star, selling more than 1 billion records through the years
Legendary actress Joan Fontaine, who died last December at 96, was known for her great performances in two Alfred Hitchcock classics, Rebecca and Suspicion, nominated for the Best Actress Oscar in 1940 and 1941 for both films and winning for Suspicion. (The competition that year actually included her sister, Olivia de Havilland.) But only once during her great decade of stardom did Fontaine play a glamorous screen siren—when she played the tempestuous heroine of Daphne du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek. Finally, after years of being unavailable, that film is out on DVD in a glorious Universal Vault addition. It's one of the greatest fantasy films of the 1940s, winning the 1944 Academy Award for its amazing art direction, a lush costume drama of a 17th century English aristocrat and her love affair with a French pirate.
Shirley MacLaine is 80. Shirley MacLaine is an Oscar winner. Shirley MacLaine is a legend. And Shirley MacLaine is a legend who keeps working. There are other legends still out there. Sophia Loren is also 80, but mostly retired. Loren was recently feted by the AFI. Maureen O'Hara finally received her long overdue honorary Academy Award, but she is long retired and is confined to a wheelchair. Gena Rowland is still a very active legend, but more about her next month when her new movie co-starring gay heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson opens. Shirley's younger brother Warren Beatty is also a legend, but he has pretty much disappeared as well. You can catch MacLaine in a new film, Elsa and Fred, in theatres now.
Last Saturday night, legendary film star Maureen O'Hara was given an honorary Academy Award for her great career. The legend not only was overwhelmed but she sang a few bars of "Danny Boy" to a sold-out crowd, which included Clint Eastwood, who had a bit part in O'Hara's film i 60 years ago. We would like to think that Frontiers and our blog helped the great O'Hara finally get her long overdue honor. Long live Maureen O'Hara!
Jake Gyllenhaal is totally creepy in the new film Nightcrawler. The sexy actor lost 35 pounds to play the demented "hero" of this film, Lou Bloom, a far cry from the buffed stud of Prince of Persia. Movie fans can be grateful that Persia bombed and he was not sentenced to a life of hideous sequels. Instead, Gyllenhaal has purposefully gone out of his way to find dark, tortured characters to play.
The new Criterion Blu-ray release of Bob Fosse's masterpiece All That Jazz has made me all warm and fuzzy over the manic genius of dance. The legendary dancer/choreographer/director died over 27 years ago, but his magic and artistry still live on, mostly due to the few films he directed. Bob Fosse was many things: brilliant, ego-ridden, addicted to drugs, a serial cheater and, oh yes, well-endowed. (More on this later, as I want you to keep reading.)
"It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily."
Gene Raymond and Buddy Rogers were popular movie stars during the 1930s. Neither was a mega-star like Gary Cooper or Robert Taylor, but each of them co-starred with the great beauties of the day. Both men shared the same birthday, and both of them found more fame by marrying two of the most famous women of that era. They had one other thing in common
When a big star dies
The movie book of the year has arrived, and it is spectacular. The Making of Gone with the Wind by Steve Wilson is a fabulous new book released in conjunction with the opening of the Gone with the Wind exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. All of producer David Selznick's voluminous files are housed at the UT film center. And from this treasure trove of materials, Wilson has fashioned an opulent book that chronicles the making of the most famous film in history. There are some incredible photographs, copies of memos and story boards and a very intelligent retelling of the saga of Gone with the Wind from book to film.Last year we had the great Vivien Leigh tribute book (see blog) to savor. This year the spotlight is again on Leigh in the role that made her an icon for the ages. The making of Gone with the Wind was as convoluted as the plot of Margaret Mitchell's famous book. And like Harper Lee with To Kill a Mockingbird, Mitchell never wrote another book and spent the rest of her life trying to avoid its fame. Margaret Mitchell only lived 10 more years after the famous Atlanta premiere of GWTW. She was killed by a taxi while crossing a street in Downtown Atlanta on her way to see a movie.Gone with the Wind had three directors. George Cukor
This summer has been the worst movie period in decades. Most of the junk released has been an embarrassment. The few hoped for films
Actor James Shigeta died a few days ago at the age of 85. For viewers of a certain age, he was one of the first Asian male movie stars, and he was a very sexy leading man.Very few Asian or Asian-American actors have been given leads in American movies, and 50 years ago it was even rarer. But in 1961 James Shigeta starred in two popular Hollywood films
As we await the premiere of Sharknado 2: The Second One on the SyFy network tonight, who would've thought that of
Doris Day was one of the greatest movie stars in history. She ruled the box office for almost twenty years and then conquered TV with an equally popular sitcom. Doris Day turned 90 this year and she has been retired for years living as a relative recluse in Carmel, California. But is Doris a recluse? Apparently not as her 90th birthday party was well covered in photos this past April. Day has also done two recent voice over tributes on TCM lately - one on her own career and the other for good friend Rock Hudson. For years there have been attempts to lure Day back to Hollywood for any tribute she would attend.
James Garner died a few days ago, and the coverage of his death was pretty amazing. Everyone apparently loved him, on-screen and off. He was not a great actor
In the early 1950s Lee Grant had it all
Two Hollywood actresses from the Golden Age, Mona Freeman and Martha Hyer, died last month. Neither was a huge star, and most people under 50 probably had no idea who they were, but both ladies were beautiful and talented, and each had a few wonderful films. One was even nominated for an Academy Award.
1977 was a great year for Faye Dunaway. She finally won her Academy Award for her blistering performance in the now-classic Network. Previously nominated for Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 and Chinatown in 1974, Dunaway was at the pinnacle of her career. Little did she know that the long slide to oblivion had already stared.
Jane Fonda is probably the most polarizing celebrity in movie history. Praised as an actress, denounced as a traitor, Fonda has had more career changes than any actress to date, but she has come full circle. She was recently given the prestigious AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, and the ceremony was televised on TNT this past Saturday evening.
1974 was a great year for American films, possibly the finest year of the entire decade. Chinatown, Godfather II, Woman Under the Influence—classic after classic that 40 years later still retain all their original luster. Of all the films released that year, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore probably has the most meaning and topicality. Ellen Burstyn won the Academy Award for her groundbreaking portrayal of Alice under the direction of Martin Scorsese in his first studio "A" list film.
A goddess walks among us. She is 38, and she is not American. She is the French superstar Marion Cotillard—star of The Immigrant, in theatres now—and I have been bewitched by her since her amazing performance as Edith Piaf, which brought her the Academy Award back in 2008. I truly think that Marion Cotillard is the premiere actress of her generation. Every film she makes is unique and she is splendid in the varied characters she has played recently.
American movies have reached their nadir. This past Monday I decided to go see the No. 1 movie from the past two weeks – Neighbors and The Other Woman. I can only say that Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges must be rolling in their graves. These two great comedy masters would have been appalled at what is passing for comedy in films today.Neighbors: OK, I wanted to see Zac Efron in his shirtless scenes. Check. He looked great. But this raunchy comedy with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as a married couple with a fraternity next door was beyond the pale. Both the NY Times and the L.A. Times gave this disaster positive reviews. Critics have compared it to Animal House as one of the best. Please.
It's difficult to say who received worse publicity—Joan Crawford for being a bad mother or Faye Dunaway for playing her in Mommie Dearest. As the 'day of the mom' is here, we thought it fitting to rerun the Mommie Dearest story in which Faye Dunaway's great performance as the legendary Joan Crawford is finally given its due."Joan, thanks to Dunaway's performance, manages to steal Christina's story from beyond the grave." —Eric Henderson, Slant magazine "Why can't you give me the respect that I'm entitled to?" —Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford For over 30 years, Mommie Dearest has been the high-camp champ of motion pictures. There have been a number of worthy contenders, like Valley of the Dolls and Showgirls, but gay movie fans have a special reverence for both Joan Crawford and Faye Dunaway, who took on the movie idol and lived to regret it. The film's famous lines (almost any line in the film!) "No more wire hangers," "Tina, bring me the axe," etc., have entered camp nirvana. So why at this late date do we still need to talk about Mommie Dearest, and what more can be said? For starters, Faye Dunaway should be given the respect that she's entitled to.
Bette Davis has been a gay icon for decades. Next to Judy Garland, La Bette has probably inspired, entertained and thrilled more gays for years with her over the top performances and outlandish behavior. Choosing the greatest Bette Davis performance will also probably inspire, entertain and outrage her many gay fans. So many choices. The most obvious are of course, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and All About Eve. These are the most famous Davis performances and each of them is a treasure. Beyond their camp value, Davis is remarkable in both films. Eve saved her career in 1950 and Jane prolonged it in 1962. Davis was nominated for Best Actress for both films. (She did not win either – see Oscar blogs on both the 1950 and 1962 Oscar races.)