Along with Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Brian DePalma, Arthur Penn, Francis Ford Coppola, John Frankenhiemer and Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet was one of the filmmakers from the period roughly beginning in the late 1950’s through the late 1970’s that shaped and formed my love of cinema. With the imminent demise of the studio system, that period was a significant turning point in American film. Overblown, over budgeted Hollywood productions and television would help end the Hollywood Studios stranglehold. A new order was on the horizon as were a new legion of filmmakers and Sidney Lumet was right in the mix. Continue reading
If you have been or are a diehard admirer of The Beatles, like myself, you won’t find much that is new in Ron Howard’s recent documentary despite claims to the contrary. There are a few pieces of footage here and there, but if you have watched the definitive, ten hour, Beatles Anthology, or any other of the many documentaries like the Maysles Brothers What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. (1964), The Compleat Beatles (1982), the multiple releases of The Ed Sullivan Show performances or more recent works like Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) and The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006) along with the many bootleg copies of concert tapes that have surfaced over the years, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, even with the participation of Apple, brings little that you have not seen already to the table. Continue reading
One of the earliest films depicting Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and the gunfight at the OK Corral was a 1932 work called Law and Order. While the character’s names were changed, the film told the tale, fictitious as it was, of the infamous Tombstone shootout. Since the making of that film there have been numerous others detailing, correctly or incorrectly, generally more the latter, the story of the battle between the Earp Brothers and the Clanton’s’ at the OK Corral. In 1939, there was Frontier Marshal with Randolph Scott as Earp and Cesar Romero as Doc Holiday. According to Jon Tuska in his 1976 tomb on the Western film (The Filming of the West), it was this script that was given to John Ford and was used as the basis for his My Darling Clementine. Continue reading
What would happen if you took an arrogant, caustic and cynical New York City intellectual and transplanted him into the heartland of America? That was the premise of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s hit play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. The play premiered on Broadway in October 1939 and ran for more than two years, 730 performances to be exact. Legend has it Moss Hart came up with the idea after a visit from the prickly theater critic, New Yorker columnist, Alexander Woollcott, to his country home and began making one demand after another, including shutting off the heat and insisting on a bed time snack consisting of cookies and a milkshake. Woollcott was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table, a self-proclaimed group of witty and sometimes verbally vicious intellectuals trading barbs and witticisms. They met every day for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel. Among the members were Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Robert E. Sherwood, Heywood Broun, Ruth Hale (Broun’s wife) and Marc Connelly. There were other members, some officially part of the group and others who were unofficial occasional visitors. Continue reading
When Jimi Hendrix arrived back in the states from England, he along with his new backup musicians, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, came back as rock stars. In Britain, The Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded a series of singles including, Hey Joe and Purple Haze. In 1967, the Experience came to America and really hit it big at the Monterey Pop Festival with Hendrix famously setting his guitar on fire. After the festival, the band went on tour with the headlining teen pop group, The Monkees, which Hendrix nicknamed, the Plastic Beatles. It was an odd pairing to say the least. The crowds were mostly fans of The Monkees, young teenybopper girls and their mothers. The site of the psychedelic rock threesome with their wild clothes, permed hair and hard rock music must have shocked the mothers in the audience out of this house dresses. They must of thought the group ranked to the left of obscene. Continue reading
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers and peace and love to everyone all over the world.
Young Peter Bogdanovich was an obsessive film lover watching over 400 films a year. In the days long before home video, this was an especially impressive count. Peter keep a file of 3×5 index cards with notes on every film he watched. In his twenties, while acting, directing and producing various theater productions including an off-Broadway production of Clifford Odets, The Big Knife, with Carroll O’Conner, Bogdanovich met Dan Talbot. Talbot, owner of the legendary New Yorker Repertory Theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, recently began programming classic films. Peter lived only a few blocks from the theater. In exchange, for free admission to the theater, Bogdanovich offered to write program notes for the films Talbot was showing. They had an agreement. Continue reading