Paul Newman Birthday Appreciation Post

On the occasion of Paul Newman‘s 91st birthday, I would like to run down what is part of my essential Newman viewing (A Newman Dozen [12 plus 1]).

Some picks may be obvious, others I like because, heck I like them. Where applicable I will offer up some explanation where there may need to be one.

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) – Early evidence of the star power to come.

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Until They Sail (1957) – sometimes I am in the mood for a sentimental tearjerker and I go to this one

Annex - Newman, Paul (Until They Sail)_NRFPT_03

The Long, Hot Summer (1958) – You can feel the heat, the pulsating searing chemistry between Newman and Woodward. Although I prefer the next title when it comes to my Southern dramas, I will still sit back and watch this one.

newman-woodward

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – Ah Brick and Maggie the Cat. Might be a slightly water down version of the source material, but I am still down with it. Favorite scene? When Brick and Big Daddy are in the basement reminiscing.

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The Hustler (1961) -Fast Eddie got his Oscar 25 years later; but this is where it started.

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Paris Blues (1961) – I like the music.

PBLUES

 

Hud (1963) – I am starting to sense a pattern in terms of the roles Mr. Newman plays …

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A New Kind of Love (1963) – I don’t know I just like this film because it is a bit of a romp. And it looked like husband and wife were having fun while making it.

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Torn Curtain (1966) -A minor Hitchcock film but still a good film in general. My lasting impressing is recounting Hitch talking about a pivotal scene where he wanted to convey to the audience just how difficult it is to kill a human hand-on-hand.

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Cool Hand Luke (1967) – No failure to communicate how awesome this film is!

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – As my dad said when I gave him the VHS during the Christmas of 1994, “Two fools.” And lovable fools they are…

Actors Paul Newman (R) and Robert Redford are shown in a scene from their 1969 film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in this undated publicity photograph. Legendary film star Newman, whose brilliant blue eyes, good looks and talent made him one of Hollywood's top actors over six decades, has died, a spokesman said on September 27, 2008. He was 83 and had been battling cancer. REUTERS/Courtesy 20th Century Fox/Handout (UNITED STATES). NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. Original Filename: 2008-09-27T141316Z_01_SIN43_RTRMDNP_3_NEWMAN.JPG

 

The Sting (1973) – Redford and Newman and Hill reunited and it feels so good!

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The Verdict (1982) – When I was a kid I just remember thinking this is a “serious, adult” film. Surely is but then I had to watch it in religion class in high school (yup, religion class) as an example of a morality play.

the verdict paul newman

 

How’s about y’all out there in the interwebs … what are some of your favorite Newman films?

The Runaway Success of the Ava DuVernay Barbie (& Why It’s So Important)

ava duvernay barbie

This is about as close I (and many) will be getting to this doll….

Earlier this year when Mattel launched their Sheroes one-off doll series, made to celebrate Variety Magazine’s Power of Women Luncheon honorees, a lot of buzz was generated around the inclusion of filmmaker Ava DuVernay (director of indie gem Middle of Nowhere and 2014’s critically-acclaimed but awards overlooked Selma).  Along with Trisha Yearwood, Sydney “Mayhem” Keiser, Emmy Rossum, Kristin Chenoweth and Eva Chen, the dolls were created to raise money for various charities.

When word got out about the dolls and Ms DuVernay’s likeness being captured in particular, consumers took to social media, demanding that the doll be made available for public purchase. Well, fast forward almost eight months later and a sign that Mattel heard the roar of the masses – yesterday the company announced that the doll would be available for sale on Monday (today) through their website: barbiecollection.com, with the proceeds going to charity.

Well here on the East Coast, Monday has come and nearly gone and well, so has the Ava DuVernay Barbie doll. After a prompt from my college roommate, I slunk away and attempted to pre-order first on the aforementioned Barbie website and then on Amazon.com, only to get shunted on both counts. I investigated and the doll was, in fact, completely sold out. And I could not be happier.

Although sales have declined in recent years, for many women my age (high, low and in-between), Barbie is a well-remembered part of our childhood.  For better or worse, Barbie did symbolize a sort of rite of passage for me anyway. That said, among the chief complaints about the dolls concerns their fetishization, exaggeration and misrepresentation of the female form and the product line’s lack of diversity.

As someone who has collected select Barbie dolls over the years, I generally follow the development of new lines and dolls as they come in. To their credit, it seems that Mattel has attempted to address some of these criticisms, all in an effort to keep up with the times, and by consequence, keep its place on shelves in doll sections around the world.

Enter Ava DuVernay. Flush off the success of Selma and with rumors swirling about her involvement in a Marvel MCU franchise (Black Panther), her profile has surely been raised in 2015. But neither Mattel nor I could have predicted that the demand would be so great. But what does this mean?

Simply stated – Representation Matters.  Of course there are those professional collectors who see this most limited of editions as a gold mine – but they have always been here and will continue to seize any new opportunity. However I suspect a larger portion of those who laid down their $65.00 today are people like me and my friend, women of color who are over the moon to see a creative powerhouse like DuVernay getting her just due and consider getting the doll as a way of celebrating her accomplishments and showing our support. We also recognize and understand how much of an inspiration she can be for young girls who will now know who she is and hopefully see a new world of possibilities open up to them.

Mattel and Barbie have been moving forward and made it their mission to expand Barbie’s world and imbue her with the traits and characteristics that will serve to inspire girls who play with the dolls to someday aim high.

This is an excellent step in that direction.

 

 

Wes Craven (1939-2015)

Just a few thoughts regarding the passing of filmmaker Wes Craven, who passed away on Sunday.

I can never claim to be a horror-genre aficionado, but as a fan of cinema, it would be remiss of me to not recognize Craven’s contribution an often dismissed genre. While for many, horror may not qualify as “high cinematic art,” it should be recognized that at its best, it’s able to frighten audiences and leave a lasting impression. And that he did in creating one of the most terrifying screen characters – Freddy Krueger – a figure that is literally the stuff of (my and many others’) nightmares.

In addition to the frighteners he put on me with Mr. Krueger, here are a couple of additional titles that I quite enjoyed:

Swamp Thing (1982): Not technically a horror film, more sci-fi; but still, it provided its own form of late night entertainment.

Vampire in Brooklyn (1995): Despite some “less than favorable” reviews and no good vibes from the people behind the scenes, this horror comedy is one that for whatever reason, I liked when I first saw it. Or maybe I was more intrigued by the concept than by the delivery.

Red Eye (2005): I liked this one so much I wrote about it in 2012! An exhilarating, 85-minute thrill ride from start to finish, it definitely was a Goldilocks “just right” in terms of creating tension and coming to (relatively) satisfying resolution.

Oh shoot, I almost forgot about Scream (1996) – mainly the first one. To me, a measure of success for a film is determined by how often your art is imitated. Scream is a perfect example – since its release, not only were there the requisite sequels, but the Scream franchise launched a thousand derivative facsimiles and brought new life to a genre (slasher flick) that had grown a bit stale. The irony of course being that Craven, along with others, helped usher in the first wave with his Nightmare on Elm Street series.

How about you? Any Craven faves?

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P.S. … after many failed attempts, I think I might just finally check out The Last House on the Left (1972). Thanks(?) to this piece in The Guardian newspaper, I was reminded that while not a perfect film, it may be worth a look, if only for its social commentary.

The Force Will Be With Me …. Always

At this stage, my relationship status with the Star Wars franchise can best be described as ‘mixed.’

There have been bumps in the road, but overall, I have had a lifelong appreciation, some might say obsession, with Star Wars episodes 4-6 especially; so much so that as a youth:

  • I read the novelization of Star Wars an innumerable amount of times (don’t ask me to recall anything); as well taking multiple trips to the library to read articles and companion books about the Star Wars universe. Big deal you might say, but I will admit, even now, to not being the most voracious of readers – so this was in fact quite a feat of accomplishment for me.
  • Founded my own Star Wars fan club at my elementary school – granted there were probably only 5 members, and they were friends who probably just pitied me.
  • I took to playing with my brothers’ action figures and sets, once they aged out of them (don’t think they are aware of that fact — SURPRISE, guys).
  • I remember it like it was yesterday the moment my brothers came in from seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater and regaling us all with a blow by blow detail of what happened. It was so cool.
  • During a few bouts of illness, I passed my days of convalescence away by getting up early in the morning and timing it just so that I could watch every episode of the trilogy in succession before my dad and brothers got home from school. Please note younger readers – I was a youth in the time of the dinosaurs and when you would have one – maybe two televisions in the house and you had to do this interesting thing called SHARING. But I digress.

All of this to say Star Wars was a major part of my life. And in many ways, I can credit these three films being one part of what got me so passionate about movies. In fact, I give them a lot of credit.

Even as I got older and my cinematic tastes broadened and came to include multiple genres, there were still moments of fond recollection as I recalled these films. During my college years, I paid service to this mindset going to the re-release of at least one film (I think it was The Empire Strikes Back). If my roommate is reading this, I hope she will confirm which one(s) me might have seen in Charlottesville.

So, you can imagine my excitement at the very mention of prequels (Episodes 1-3) …

excited-baby

… but then I got to the end of The Phantom Menace (the only one I went to the theater to see of the set).

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Needless to say, it did feel like a part of my childhood had been decimated by a world-weary, adult-level of cynicism. It followed that seeing these films felt more like an obligation than an event one meets great anticipation. I feared, maybe the magic was gone forever.

Years of dormancy followed, filled with the continued excitement of simply going to the movies, attending film festivals and just the business of getting on with one’s adult life.

So when (again) there was a major Star Wars announcement – that we would be moving forward with the story set in a galaxy far, far, away, I met it with a curious ambivalence.

Details trickled in and I made note of them and then, earlier this year, THIS happened:

Legit tears of I don’t know what – streamed down my face. I could not describe it. I watched that trailer I don’t know how many times, I texted family and friends describing my elation. I endured buffering on my YouTube feed, watching the live Star Wars trailer event, which included the seemingly odd experience of watching people watch the trailer breaking it down and reacting.

Yeah! Something to look forward to!

Fast forward to this past weekend’s events in San Diego (SDCC) – and this happened …

… followed by the pleasure of seeing old and new friends on stage talking about their experience.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  (L-R) Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac at the Hall H Panel for `Star Wars: The Force Awakens` during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** John Boyega; Daisy Ridley; Oscar Isaac

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 10: (L-R) Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac at the Hall H Panel for `Star Wars: The Force Awakens` during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** John Boyega; Daisy Ridley; Oscar Isaac

 

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  (L-R) Actors Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford at the Hall H Panel for `Star Wars: The Force Awakens` during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Carrie Fisher; Mark Hamill; Harrison Ford

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 10: (L-R) Actors Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford at the Hall H Panel for `Star Wars: The Force Awakens` during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Carrie Fisher; Mark Hamill; Harrison Ford

All to be capped off by a wonderful, surprise celebration for the fans …

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10: Following the `Star Wars` Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif., the audience of more than 6000 fans enjoyed a surprise `Star Wars` Fan Concert performed by the San Diego Symphony, featuring the classic `Star Wars` music of composer John Williams, at the Embarcadero Marina Park South on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 10: Following the `Star Wars` Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif., the audience of more than 6000 fans enjoyed a surprise `Star Wars` Fan Concert performed by the San Diego Symphony, featuring the classic `Star Wars` music of composer John Williams, at the Embarcadero Marina Park South on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

I don’t think anything more needs to be said about the level of elation I feel.

In the end, all of this was to say the force has indeed been re-awakened in me and I cannot wait until the holiday season to catch Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the big screen.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10: Following the `Star Wars` Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif., the audience of more than 6000 fans enjoyed a surprise `Star Wars` Fan Concert performed by the San Diego Symphony, featuring the classic `Star Wars` music of composer John Williams, at the Embarcadero Marina Park South on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 10: Following the `Star Wars` Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif., the audience of more than 6000 fans enjoyed a surprise `Star Wars` Fan Concert performed by the San Diego Symphony, featuring the classic `Star Wars` music of composer John Williams, at the Embarcadero Marina Park South on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

 

P.S. the downloadable app is pretty kick-ass too 🙂

 

Happy 99th Olivia!

Happy July 1st everyone! I decided to carve out a bit of the day today to celebrate Ms. Olivia deHavilland’s 99th birthday. Yeah!

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In doing my little bits of “research,” I surprised myself by discovering that to date, I have never really put together an appreciation post solely dedicated to one of my favorite actresses of the “classic” Hollywood era. Now is great as time as any, right?

In addition to the films I have already covered, which include …

Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) A personal all time fave and essential viewing for those who want to see the legendary deHavilland/Errol Flynn chemistry is all its Technicolor glory.

The Snake Pit (1948) Here, deHavilland delivers one of her most powerful dramatic performances as a young woman battling mental illness.

Raffles (1939) It’s light, it’s oh so British – just a lot of fun and a great diversion.

 

… here are a few more films from her prolific career that I consider personal favorites:

In This Our Life (1942) The follow up to John Huston’s prodigious directorial debut (The Maltese Falcon) this film is a melodrama of the highest order, but top marks for being a rare film for its time in attempting to deal with racial discrimination in a somewhat realistic manner.

To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949) – Both of these films earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress. And both are notable for how each character transitions from ingénue to a woman who realizes the bitter truths of this world.

Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) – A film from her later period and if I am to be honest, I probably like the whole of the film more than her individual performance in it.

In this Robert Aldrich thriller, she plays Miriam (cousin to the titular Charlotte, played by Bette Davis), a woman whose  character takes a decidedly curious turn by the end of the story. A piece of trivia: de Havilland was a recast; Miriam was initially to be portrayed by Joan Crawford, in a part that would be a reunion for her and Davis, off of the recent success of the earlier Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It was at the suggestion of costar and friend, Bette Davis, that Olivia be considered for the role.

de Havilland in "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" (1964)

de Havilland in “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” (1964)

(And no, before you ask, I did not forget her role as Melanie in Gone With the Wind). I’ll leave it at that.

What are some of your favorite deHavilland films? Share, share and share with me below in the Comments section.

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Good Night, Betty

Betty-Joan-Perske-before-she-was-Lauren-Bacall-1944-2With sultry looks and a voice to match, Lauren Bacall epitomized the allure, glamor and resilience required of the 1940s film noir heroine/femme fatale. To the masses, she is probably most recognized for her professional and personal partnership with the legendary Humphrey Bogart, but that is only one part of the picture. Over the course of her decades long career, she held her own, through her extensive work on stage and on the  screen.

Born in the Bronx in 1924, Bacall’s striking appearance made it easy for her to find work as a model while pursuing an acting career. Her breakthrough came in 1944 when the 19-year old was plucked from obscurity and cast alongside one Humphrey Bogart in Howard Hawks’ production of To Have and Have Not. And the rest, as they say, is history …

In recent years, she appeared in more than a few prominent features, winning the Golden Globe and SAG Awards in 1996 for her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces; she was also nominated for an Academy Award, but lost out to Juliet Binoche (The English Patient).

As one of the few remaining survivors from Hollywood’s golden age, her passing at age 89, serves as a reminder that as the days increase, our direct links to that shared cinematic past are continuing falling away. We are well served to remember and appreciate the contribution that she, and others, made to the art form.

 

Here are a few films I recommend you take a look at:

(With Bogart)
To Have and Have Not (1944), dir. Howard Hawks
The Big Sleep (1946), dir. Howard Hawks (be warned, do not think about the plot too much)
Dark Passage (1947), dir. Delmer Daves
Key Largo (1948), dir. John Huston (fourth and final film with Bogart)

(Post-Bogart)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), dir. Jean Negulesco
Written on the Wind (1956), dir. Douglas Sirk – although she plays it rather straight here, this is a melodrama of epic proportions.

I know some people may be asking where is a film like Designing Woman (co starring Gregory Peck) on this list? Well I admit, I have not seen it.

What are some of your favorites?

WRITTEN ON THE WIND - American Poster by Reynold Brown 3

Fare Thee Well, Friend

When someone as well known and entertaining as Robin Williams passes away rather unexpectedly, the response is profound and immediate. Over the course of his vaunted career, he left audiences in fits of unbridled fits of laughter at his manic displays, but he could also reach moving, sentimental heights through the power of performance in films such as Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society. He even pleasantly popped up in some unexpected places too (Dead Again).

Which is funny, because as a youth, I had quite the opposite reaction. Allow me to elaborate.

I found the poster!

I found the poster!

My brothers and I grew up in the time of Mork and Mindy. Apparently, my parents assumed that my brothers (especially) were huge fans – so much so that they bought a poster of Robin Williams in rainbow suspenders. This poster found residence for a number of years prominently displayed in their room. I tell you something – that poster was the source of many a bad dream. I swore his eyes staring down at me with the sole intent of tormenting my 4-5 year old soul.

Of course, this was all worked up in my head because as the years wore on, this response was replaced with a feeling of fondness when I would see him on the big screen and small because at the end of the day, he laid it out there for you to enjoy. Sure, there may have been a few “misses” along the way – no artist worth their salt will have a 100%, perfect track record. In fact, the ability to take that leap and see how everything shakes out, is something to be respected and admired. And in that regard, I truly respect the man and the gifts he shared with the world.

It has been said over and over in the 24+ hours since the news of his passing, but there is that bitter irony that a person who could make us laugh and leave us so full, also has within themselves something quite the opposite. Not surprising because I think that is a central theme of the human condition but, I would like to think that for fleeting moments, Williams’ art allowed him to exorcise just a little of that darkness. And through our joy in his performance, he was able to experience some measure of pleasure and satisfaction.

And while I may be permitted momentarily to be selfish, wishing that he was able to continue to share that energy with us, I also recognize the punctuated loss felt by those who were nearest and dearest to him. For them, I extend the deepest of sympathies.

 

That Time I Spent an Evening with Eli Wallach …

… well, that is not 100% true. Sure I was there and he was there, but so were about 100 other movie fans and collectors of memorabilia. You are probably wondering the wheres and whys – so gimme a sec, I am getting there …

It was late June 2005 (almost 9 years to the day as a matter of fact), and I stood in line outside Christie’s auction house in Rockerfeller Center, giddy with anticipation about the I was about to attend – a sneak preview of Marlon Brando’s personal effects that were about to hit the block. Sure, in hindsight the idea of gawking at one’s items that were likely never meant for public eyes, is a rather morbid curiosity. But the main attraction for me came a couple of hours later after walking through the labyrinthine halls of the famed establishment. Film director Arthur Penn, Eli Wallach and renowned critic Richard Schickel joined us lucky attendees for a panel discussion where they shared with the audience stories about Brando’s life and their thoughts on the influence his career had on screen acting.

Whenever I attend a discussion like this, I am always in awe of the fact that I am in the presence of people who have first-hand knowledge and tales to tell concerning individuals, ‘idols,’ who are otherwise so distant to me. It was wonderful to not only hear Wallach talk about working with Brando, but this was a moment to reflect on and remind myself of the immense talent that sat before me.

Though not as lauded as many of his contemporaries (Brando, James Dean, Montgomery Clift), Wallach was principally referred to as a “character actor,” having the ability through through the power of his performances, to transform himself into whatever the role required, regardless of medium (film, television or stage). Many of you may not be so intimately acquainted with his body of work (see IMDB), and might find yourselves surprised by his roles in some of Hollywood’s greater films of the middle-late middle part of the last century. When you get a chance, be sure to check out these notable classics:

  • The Good The Bad and the Ugly (w/ Clint Eastwood)
  • How the West Was Won
  • The Misfits (*an ILC personal favorite)
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Baby Doll (feature film debut)

So when I heard of the news of his passing early yesterday, I recalled fondly that warm summer evening when I had the privilege of being in the company of a great talent.

eli wallach, carol baker, baby doll

Eli Wallach and Carol Baker in Baby Doll (1956)


For a good retrospective read on Wallach, check out my blogging buddy, leopard13’s post: http://le0pard13.com/2014/06/25/my-favorite-films-of-a-master-character-actor-eli-wallach/.

And check out TCM on Monday, June 30th starting at 9:00AM for an 11-hour marathon of his films.

A Tribute to Ruby Dee (1922-2014)

Ruby DeeEarlier this month, we lost a good actress and by all account a greater human being. Legendary actress of stage and screen (big and small), Ruby Dee passed away at the age of 91 on June 11th. At least for the bulk of my lifetime, I knew of her through her activism, partnership with husband Ossie Davis and the films she would grace with her presence in her later years.

I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of my favorite films that showcase Dee from earlier in her long and prolific career. While the roles were never “headliners” in the way we think of modern movie stardom, it is worthwhile to note the film projects she chose to affiliate herself with. There are quite a number from this period in her career to choose from, but I am just going to highlight a few.

No Way Out (1950): Featured alongside husband Davis (both uncredited), this Sidney Poitier/Richard Widmark drama handled its challenging subject matter rather well.

The Tall Target (1951): A political thriller set at the height of the Civil War, Dick Powell is the star, but Ruby Dee features heavily in her role as Rachel, a slave accompanying her mistress aboard a train with a mysterious passenger.

Edge of the City (1957): Another film from the era (also starring Sidney Poitier) that examines the friendship between longshoremen Poitier and John Cassavetes and how the tense racial environment around them affects that relationship; the film is directed by Martin Ritt.

St. Louis Blues (1958): A fictionalized account of the life of American musical pioneer WC Handy (Nat King Cole). In this film Dee stars as Elizabeth, Handy’s steadfast wife.

If you get the opportunity, please seek out these films and get a glimpse of quiet confidence with which Ruby Dee carried herself in these roles.


* I would have added her performance as Rachel Robinson in The Jackie Robinson Story, but I honestly do not remember if I have seen it.

Programming Notice: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will be airing a 2-movie tribute to Ruby Dee on Saturday, June 28th, featuring the aforementioned Edge of the City and the screen adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun.

Joan Crawford Birthday Post

Any appreciation I have for Joan Crawford is interesting for me. I mean she is not an absolute favorite of mine (her acting never blew me away), I concede that the combination of her striking beauty and indomitable will produced the requisite star power for success in the studio system. This was on full display not only in her early silent performances but, with the advent of sound, during her halcyon days at the dream factory that was MGM.

joan crawfordIn honor of the anniversary of her birth, I decided to dedicate this post to highlighting some of my favorite Crawford films.

The Unknown (1927)of course centered the performance by Lon Chaney, this film is deliciously demented.

Our Dancing Daughters (1928)I think the TCM description says it best: “A flapper sets her hat for a man with a hard-drinking wife.” Yup, that.

Our Modern Maidens (1929)Crawford’s final silent film.

Rain (1932)Paging Sadie Thompson. Based on the Somerset Maugham story of a prostitute and missionary stuck on an island.

The Women (1939): Seriously how could this not be on my list? JUNGLE RED FORVEVER

Mildred Pierce (1945)sure she is a pushover for Vida, but she gets hers in the end. Not exactly what I would consider a noir, this performance gave Crawford her Academy Award for Best Actress.

Humoresque (1946): Crawford at her melodramatic finest.

Possessed (1947): Crawford played unstable so well. This was it for me. I love watching this movie.

Sudden Fear (1952): Crawford is a classic film-noir damsel in distress.

Johnny Guitar (1954)A recent add to my list as I have only recently seen it. A saucy Western where the protagonist/antagonist are female and the men feel a little like window dressing.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) Time to play “opposite day” with previous entry; a film which posits aging females as macabre, grotesque figures that are either to be pitied or feared.

Over her the decades, she went from flapper (ingénue) to a matron, slowly growing off kilter to and finally descended into to the horror camp arena. While this is sadly the fate that many actresses of her time had to suffer (but has a lot changed), Crawford approached every role with equal parts aplomb and dedication to her craft.

What are some of your favorite Crawford pics?