Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Randolph Scott

Randolph Scott was another favorite of my Dad's. I discovered his westerns and his comedies in the early seventies but I had already seen him opposite Shirley temple years before that. 

I've been watching a lot of Randolph Scott pictures today on NetFlix and YouTube, keeping them up in the corner of my screen as a type a project. I've seen SHE, TEN WANTED MEN and THE TALL T. I may watch GUNG-HO next. More a great screen presence than a great actor, Scott, like John Wayne, seemed to carve out a unique niche for himself in films and thus nowadays never really seems to get the credit he's due as a major star.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My First Tracy/Hepburn

Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in a computer-themed comedy? From 1957? Written by the parents of the late Nora Ephron? Yep. Circa 1979, this was my first exposure to one of the great romantic comedy teams of the movies.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Ludlow

Here's the Ludlow Theatre where I often saw movies in the mid to late seventies. To get there, I had to take the # 3 bus from the Courthouse, one block from my house. It was about a half hour trip. Sometimes, I'd walk it, which took much longer but I enjoyed walking in those days. Normally, if I walked one direction, I'd take the bus back the other.

In the photo here what they're describing as an "Adult Film"was, in fact, Raquel Welch's THE OLDEST PROFESSION, a 1967 Italian sketch comedy film featuring cavemen and aliens.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Asterix and Obelix

Today is the birthday of the late Rene Goscinny, co-creator, with Alberto Uderzo, of Asterix and Obelix, two of my all-time favorite comics characters. In recent years, they've also been a hit in live-action movies everywhere except the US with former French sex symbol Gerard Depardieu perfectly cast as Obelix! These new cinematic adventures tend not to get translated into English but even so they're hilarious if one knows the beloved characters well enough to follow along.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Divorce American Style

Although I have been a fan of Dick Van Dyke's movies going all the way back to MARY POPPINS, I had never actually seen DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE until last night...and I liked it. Oh, I didn't care all that much for the story. It was predictable every step of the way. Long-married couple fights, break-up, head for divorce and then reconcile.  Seriously, how could one NOT see that coming. No, what I liked about it was that it was NOT a typically silly sitcom movie like so many other from that period. This was, after all, a Norman Lear-Bud Yorkin production! They, of course, are the team that would soon enough revolutionize television with "realistic" character comedy on ALL IN THE FAMILY, SANFORD AND SON, MAUDE, ONE DAY AT A TIME, etc,--all shows not afraid to find humor in major, serious issues. They were doing already here in 1967. The film addresses divorce as it existed at the time (vastly different than today's version), prostitution and somewhat frankly discusses--or at least acknowledges the existence of--sex. 

Dick is pretty good although perhaps a little TOO Rob Petrie-like. Debbie's normal vivaciousness is toned down a few notches. The great supporting cast, though, included Tom Bosley as a divorced father having trouble keeping track of his and the other divorced fathers' kids. Tim Matheson who had just voiced TV's JONNY QUEST is in it as are Joe Flynn, Jean Simmons, Jason Robards, Lee Grant, a funny Shelley Berman, Dick Gautier and an almost unrecognizably thin Martin Gabel. Famous hypnotist Pat Collins gets good billing, too, as the film's climax is built around her act. There are even a couple of famous cartoon voices in there for discerning listeners! 

The individual set pieces are quite well done such as the pre-credits sequence with the man conducting the neighborhood arguments, the kids NOT being traumatized, cleaning out the bank accounts, the cars returning home at dusk. Very nicely directed and at times reminiscent of Jacques Tati! 

Sadly, it's the lead characters themselves that never really draw us in. By the end, I was glad they had reunited but it wasn't exactly a surprise. Yorkin followed up this promising film with Alan Arkin's INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU, another film with just ssssssomething missing! In that case though, what was missing was Peter Sellers. Dick followed it up with the fun seasonal hit, FITZWILLY. Oddly enough, Debbie followed it up with HOW SWEET IT IS!, a very similar if more traditional film but with a better role for her. It was directed by Jerry paris, best known for directing...THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Top 10 Cagneys

My Dad's favorite actor and my Dad's favorite movie, above. Equally at home in violent drama, witty comedy or heartwarming musical, Jimmy became a favorite of mine as well.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ricou and The Creature

I had seen images and the model but it wasn't until the early seventies when I finally was able to see the trilogy of 1950s films featuring the last great Universal monster--THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE and THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US. Now stuntman/actor Ricou Browning who was in that wonderfully designed montser suit much of the time, has been a guest at next month's 4th annual CINCINNATI COMICS EXPO.

Monday, August 5, 2013

You Can't Take It With You

Here's a classic from the Golden Age of Hollywood that I've never seen and yet that means a lot to me. In 1991, I had the pleasure to appear in several small roles in a re-creation of the LUX RADIO THEATRE radio script adaptation of this movie. Our version starred radio's Henry Aldrich, Ezra Stone, in the Lionel Barrymore role and Bob Hastings in the James Stewart role. I played Donald Meek's role. My wife, Rene, played two roles including that of Spring Byington. The longest re-creation ever done at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention, it was later written up under Ezra Stone's entry in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA. At some point, I really DO need to catch this movie.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

King Kong-1933

Hollywood makes no sense. Why in the world do they continue to waste money remaking a film that was pretty close to being perfect the first time? By the time I first saw KING KONG at Covington's Madison Theater in the early seventies, I had seen the Japanese revival and read about the original extensively in FAMOUS MONSTERS. But it still wasn't enough to prepare me for not just the brilliant stop motion work but also the riveting story, excellent performances and superior production values. I don't know how many times I've seen it since but its near-perfection never wavers.