Chaplin, Brando and A Countess From Hong Kong

Hong4There was a lot of buzz about A Countess From Hong Kong when it was first announced. After all, it would be Charlie Chaplin’s first film in more than ten years. The buzz increased, even more, when it came out that Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren would star. What a combination! The Little Tramp, Stanley Kowalski and Italy’s greatest export since pizza and pasta. How could it miss? Continue reading

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) William Keighley

dinner2What 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.[1] 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

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Frank Capra

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Arsenic and Old Lace is the story of two sweet and charming elderly sisters who happen to be mass murderers. It’s a delightfully hysterical farcical comedy with some dark overtones.  Perfect for this time of the year and especially on Halloween. Continue reading

Lady on a Train (1945) Charles David

 

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   Deanna Durbin spent the majority of her short career, she retired in her late twenties, at Universal where she made a series of light, but popular musicals that made her one of the top stars of the time. However, like many artists, Durbin wanted to do something different. In 1944 and 1945, she got her chance with the film noir, Christmas Holiday and the following year with the comedy/mystery film, Lady on a Train. Neither film did well at the box office. Durbin soon returned to her musicals until she retired, married her third husband, director Charles David, and moved to France where she lived for the rest of her life. Continue reading