Andy Griffith, who was most well known for his role in television as Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-1968), died today at his home in North Carolina.
Griffith also starred in a handful of films including the amazing A Face In the Crowd (1957) which was directed by Elia Kazan and co-starred Patricia Neal. A Face In the Crowd is the story of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, a charismatic drifter who gains national fame after being given his own television show. On tv Rhodes comes across as a folksy, down home, good ol’ boy but in reality he’s a narcissistic and power hungry fraud.
A Face In the Crowd made a big impact on me the first time I saw it. It amazed me how relevant it still is today and how little we seem to have learned from its message. Its a film I think everyone should see and if you’re lucky enough to have TCM you can celebrate Andy Griffith’s contribution to classic film by watching it Wednesday, July 18th at 8pm.
Nora Ephron, screenwriter of films such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail, passed away yesterday. While not technically a classic film figure, she had many links to the classic film world. Her parents were screenwriters and among other films, wrote the 1956 film version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel, and the 1957 Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn comedy Desk Set.
Nora clearly had an admiration for classic film. Sleepless in Seattle has numerous references to An Affair to Remember. You’ve Got Mail is based on the 1940 Jimmy Steward film The Shop Around the Corner. When Harry Met Sally includes footage of Casablanca and references Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes.
I love Nora Ephron’s screenplays because of all the observations she makes within them that do nothing to advance the plot but still add so much charm and humor. The audience gets a movie and a personal essay for the price of one. An example from You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks’ internal dialogue:
The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.
Some other wonderful Nora Ephron lines:
All I’m saying is that somewhere out there is the man you are supposed to marry. And if you don’t get him first, somebody else will, and you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that somebody else is married to your husband – When Harry Met Sally
Sally: Well, if you must know, it was because he was very jealous, and I had these days of the week underpants.
Harry: Ehhhh. I’m sorry. I need the judges ruling on this. “Days of the weeks underpants”?
Sally: Yes. They had the days of the week on them, and I thought they were sort of funny. And then one day Sheldon says to me, “You never wear Sunday.” It was all suspicious. Where was Sunday? Where had I left Sunday? And I told him, and he didn’t believe me.
Sally: They don’t make Sunday.
Harry: Why not?
Sally: Because of God.
-When Harry Met Sally
Keith: It is easier to be killed by a terrorist after the age of 40 than it is to get married.
Annie: That is not true. That statistic is not true.
Becky: It’s not true, but it feels true.
Keith: It feels true because it is true.
-Sleepless in Seattle
Turner Classic Movies has released the schedule of this year’s “Summer Under the Stars” – a programming event that features films from one actor or actress each day in the month of August. Here’s when we suggest waking up with a “massive headache” or “nausea” so you can call in sick to work:
Thursday, August 2 – Myrna Loy
Are you ready for this? Starting at 1pm you can watch, in a row: Libeled Lady, Wife vs. Secretary, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, and Cheaper by the Dozen. *achew* I can already feel that cold coming on…
Sunday, August 5 – Claude Rains
Everyone’s favorite English actor with a French name takes center stage with showings of Kings Row; Now, Voyager; The Invisible Man; Mr. Skeffington; and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Tuesday, August 14 – James Cagney
A diverse schedule from gangster films to Billy Wilder comedies, this lineup includes The Public Enemy; White Heat; and One, Two, Three.
Wednesday, August 29 – Ingrid Bergman
I’ve been waiting forever to see Gaslight. I’m also curious about the Hitchcock-directed Under Capricorn. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sounds appealing as well.
Check tcm.com for the full schedule – it should be up soon.
I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and watch a whole film lately so this weekend I’m making time and having a Orson Welles (mini) movie marathon. I’ve been wanting to re-watch The Third Man for a while so I decided I may as well check out some of the other Orson Welles films my library has to offer.
Here’s what I’m planning on watching this weekend:
The Third Man (1949): Linds wrote a post a while back about this film’s amazing cinematography.
The Stranger (1946): Welles’ first box office success co-starring Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson.
Touch of Evil (1958): It’s probably a classic film fan crime that I haven’t seen this film yet. Written, directed, and co-starring Orson Welles.
Compulsion (1959): Based on the trial of Leopold and Loeb, Welles plays the murderers’ attorney.
Anyone else have film watching plans of their own for the weekend?
On the last day of the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival, Angie Dickinson was briefly interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before a screening of the 1959 John Wayne western, Rio Bravo. Ms. Dickinson talked about getting the part in this, her first starring role in a feature film. She was recommended to Rio Bravo director Howard Hawks by the director of a Perry Mason episode she had done. She auditioned, got the part, and was signed to a contract with Hawks’ company.
Being new to film, Dickinson said she was looking forward to having Hawks as a mentor and hoped that he’d cast her in future projects. After months of silence from Hawks, she was sent to an audition on the Warner Bros. lot. At the main gate, the security guard handed her a permanent parking pass and that’s how she found out that her contract had been sold by Hawks to WB.
Reminiscing about costar John Wayne, Dickinson described him as “tender and sweet.” She called Rio Bravo his “cute movie” and said he was “a giant in every way.”
Director Stanley Donen was on hand to introduce his 1963 film Charade this past Sunday at the 2012 TCM Film Festival. Starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Charade is a romantic mystery that takes place in Paris. Mr. Donen was fun to listen to, as he’s sharp and energetic even at the ripe old age of 88. In the interview, he spoke very fondly of working with Grant and Hepburn and said he had a wonderful professional and personal relationship with each of them.
Mr. Donen was also asked what he thought the main difference was between movies then and now. He believes that aside from technological advancements, the main difference is that in the Golden Age of Hollywood, movies were made primarily for an adult audience and people with more life experience, whereas he believes that movies today cater to a younger audience. He also noted that while studio moguls back then wanted their films to make money, the execs also were concerned with making quality films that would improve their standing within the film community. They wanted to be respected as master filmmakers as well as successful businessmen. He believes that today, execs are held so tightly to the financial success of their studios that having a box office hit is the priority.
Kim Novak was honored this morning with a handprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Actress Debbie Reynolds and TCM host Robert Osborne were in attendance. Letters of congratulations from Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger were read, as they could not be present at the ceremony.
Despite a few rain showers, the TCM Film Festival was in full swing for day two. I saw three films today, two of which I had not previously seen.
I’m No Angel (1933)
This was my umpteenth Cary Grant film, but first Mae West film. I was surprised to learn that she wrote the screenplay, which was stuffed to the brim with innuendos. Clearly, this was a pre-Code film. In my opinion it was a good, not great film but I would absolutely recommend giving it a watch to see the very unique style of dialog and acting. It’s bolder than I imagined a film from ’33 would be and some of the lines are quite funny.
Nothing Sacred (1937)
I enjoyed this film, starring Carole Lombard and Fredric March, because it’s the rare screwball comedy that isn’t over-the-top silly. Lombard proved herself again to be a very gifted comedic actress. After seeing this film, it made me wonder what else she could have done in her career if not for her tragic death at age 33. The only thing I didn’t like about this film was the color palate. It was strangely like the muted color palate of the late 60′s/early 70′s instead of the brighter Technicolor look typical to classic films in color. I’m interested to know if anyone has seen a version where the color is vivid, as it the subdued color could just be found in the particular print I saw.
It’s indicative of the effectiveness of Hitchcock’s storytelling, James Stewart’s acting, and Bernard Herrmann’s score that each time I see this film, the ending leaves me breathless. The first time I saw this film was my freshman year of college. Even though I watched it on a 13-inch tv while wearing headphones so my roommate could study, it was gripping. Eight years later, I was able to watch it in the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theater with the same exhilarating effect. Kim Novak was on hand to introduce the film that I consider to be Hitchcock’s finest.
Last night officially kicked off the 2012 TCM Film Festival. One of my favorite movies, High Society, was set to be screening poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel. What a perfect setting it would be, as there are even a couple of pool scenes in the film. Unfortunately, the wind knocked the screen down just prior to the start time and the screening was moved indoors to a gathering space known as Club TCM.
Nevertheless, it was still great to hear Tina Sinatra talk about what Frank was like as a father, their relationship as she got older, and his style. She said his favorite saying was “do as I say, not as I do” which got a laugh from the crowd. In this excerpt from the interview, Tina discusses Frank’s offscreen personality as well as his relationship with Bing Crosby, who co-stars in High Society.