There was no love lost between Billy Wilder and film director Mitchell Leisen. Over the course of many interviews Billy expressed his strong feelings that Leisen ruined his scripts. He had no regard for the written word, changing, moving and deleting lines without a thought to storyline. Yet in Cameron Crowe’s essential, “Conversations with Wilder,” Billy states, “Midnight, that was a good picture.” The distaste for Leisen seems to stem more from the making of “Hold Back the Dawn,” the final film Wilder, and his partner Charles Brackett, wrote for Leisen (their final screenplay before Wilder embarked on his directing career was “Ball of Fire” for Howard Hawks who Wilder admired). “As a director,” Wilder said to Crowe, “he was alright. You could get to be an old man writing just Mitch Leisen pictures.” In “Hold Back the Dawn,” there was a scripted scene involving a cockroach that was never filmed. Wilder and Brackett worked on this scene for many long hours but Charles Boyer refused to talk to a cockroach, as the script dictated, a bit which would have showed a softer side to his character. Leisen, siding with his star, just cut the scene out without regard. This burned Billy and they fought and fought, but Billy, just a writer, low in the Hollywood hirarchy, lost the battle. In Leisen’s defense, one just has to take a look at “Midnight” and “Hold Back the Dawn” and ask how bad can he have destroyed them? Both of these films are good and still contain the wit and intelligence of Wilder’s and Brackett’s work. What’s lacking, is the acidic cynicism that Wilder’s self directed films contained throughout much of his career. I liked that cynicism, it is part of what separated and defined Wilder from most everyone else. Continue reading
I’ll See You in My Dreams
Calling all Baby Boomers! Finally, an honest, realistic, touching, poignant look at the boomer generation reaching the age of retirement. An endearing performance by Blythe Danner as a widow, able to retire and live comfortably thanks to an insurance policy on her husband who passed away twenty years ago. Her daily life is one of quiet routines; reading The New York Times, playing cards, bicycling, playing golf with the girls, all who live, unlike Danner, in a retirement community. Danner’s performance shows how much this talented actress has been wasted in so many menial roles over the years. It’s a performance that should be remembered come award season. I’ll See You in My Dreams is a bittersweet, emotionally rich film. A must see! Continue reading
This Saturday is National Classic Film Day and Twenty Four Frames is celebrating by joining an impressive group of bloggers for the My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon. I will be writing about Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot, a film I fell in love with way back when. If you are interested in participating, contact Rick Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read all about it, rules and other participants, etc. at the following link.
I am currently reading Author, Playwright, New England Historian and fellow Blogger, Jacqueline T. Lynch’s upcoming biography of Ann Blyth, remembered best for her role as Veda in Mildred Pierce, However, Blyth had a long wide ranging career in film, music, television and theater. Ms. Lynch’s sparkling new bio covers it all in fascinating detail. I will be interviewing the author right here in the near future. The book, Ann Blyth: Actress Singer Star will be available June 18th.
Coming soon – new reviews here on Suddenly, Kid Galahad and Crime Wave.
Just a short note on a few recent happenings. First off, I was interviewed in mid-April by Chicago Tribune writer Nina Metz for an article she was writing on Chicago and the gangster film. Below is the link. http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/movies/ct-mov-0424-chicago-closeup-20150424-column.html#page=1
Next, I just want to mention that I am one of 19 contributors to a new e-book called “The Fabulous Films of the 30’s.” The book is presented by the CMBA (Classic Movie Blog Association), edited by Danny Reid, and is free on Smashwords and just .99 cents for Amazon’s Kindle. Why free on Smashwords and .99 cents on Amazon? Well, the big “A” does not like to give away free stuff. That said, all the proceeds from the sale of our book on Amazon will be donated to Film Preservation.
Below are the links to both Smashwords and Amazon.
Finally, and on a slightly different subject, I wanted to mention that two of my photographs are currently on exhibit at the Octagon Arts Center in Clearwater, Fla. The exhibit runs through May 14th. If you are in the area, stop by and visit. There’s a wide variety of art work by local artists that I know you will enjoy.
Many actors, musicians and other artists have pursued second artistic careers during or after their main career. Many with a passion for creativity that could not be contained within one art form. Actors have pursued painting, sculpture and photography. Photographers have wanted to expand their art to filmmaking. Sculptures want to paint and painters want to sculpt. Artists of all kinds look to expand their vision though various media. It comes with the desire to create. Below are three actors and one musician who went on to express themselves in the art of photography. Continue reading
Here are five films that are sexier, steamier than anything 50 Shades of Grey will expose. Due to the Production Code’s innate rules Hollywood’s films of yesteryear had to find ways to express sexually within rules that would not allow nudity, long kisses or even married couples in bed together. Here are five films from the heyday of Hollywood that are sexier than 50 Shades of Grey. Continue reading
In a brilliant career that spanned more than 50 years Mike Nichols gave us some of the finest works in stage, screen and TV. A short tribute.
The comedy team on Nichols and May. Continue reading