Friday, December 30, 2016
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Debbie Reynolds, one of the last connections to Hollywood's golden age has passed away at age 84. Ms. Reynolds burst onto the scene in 1950's Two Weeks with Love. Her biggest break would come just two years later when she co-starred alongside Gene Kelly in the classic Singin' in the Rain. She would star in a succession of hits, taking time out to marry Eddie Fisher and become the mother of Carrie and Todd Fisher. After Eddie's much publicized affair with Elizabeth Taylor, she revitalized her career starring in such classics as The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She parlayed her considerable musical skills and talent into a successful Las Vegas act. In recent years, Debbie Reynolds has starred in numerous television projects, including the successful Disney Channel Halloweentown franchise. Sadly, her death comes just one day after her daughter Carrie's death from a heart attack.
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
When RKO bought the rights to the It's A Wonderful Life script, it originally wanted Cary Grant to play George Bailey.
The project eventually fell through and RKO sold the project to Frank Capra. Frank had a different actor in mind for the role.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
When Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse wrote the songs for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, they had one person in mind to perform the future classic song The Candy Man- Sammy Davis, Junior. Sammy was excited and eager to sing it, but the movie's producers didn't agree. They resisted the pleas of the songwriters and chose Aubrey Woods instead.
The songwriters and Sammy would get the last laugh, however. While Wonka and its soundtrack initially underperformed, Sammy took his version of the song to the top of the charts.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Jack Warner, one of the famed Warner Brothers, actually despised his studios' animated output. He expressed contempt for the Looney Tunes and once was quoted as saying that Mickey Mouse was one of the company's animated characters alongside Bugs Bunny. (Which he was not, of course.) Jack placed such little value on the characters that he sold them off for next to nothing in 1950. The studio would buy them back years later for millions.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
To Jerry Mathers, the Universal Studios lot was a playground. The lot has always been busy, but it was particularly busy around the time that Jerry Mathers was shooting his iconic sitcom Leave it to Beaver. One of the biggest film productions rolled onto the lot in 1959 when Alfred Hitchcock began production on Psycho. While Beaver and Psycho were miles apart creatively, they were practically neighbors on the lot, sharing a makeup artist- Robert Dawn. Mr. Dawn would often find himself rushed, so his very different work projects would often become twisted together. In one such instance, Dawn had to take Mother Bates' head to the Beaver set. Instead of being freaked out, Jerry was ecstatic to see the fake head (what 11 year old boy wouldn't be?) and actually got to help Dawn finish it.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Whenever Judy Garland would call the White House during John F. Kennedy's presidency, she would be put right through to the president, according to her daughter Liza Minnelli.
Judy would often babble on about whatever came into her head, but every phone call would end the same way- with the president requesting that she sing Over the Rainbow. She always obliged.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Ring Lardner, Jr. was an unapologetic leftist. He actually had joined the American Communist Party in 1937, though than as now, it was not illegal to do so. He became a publicist in Hollywood before deciding that he had a knack for screenwriting. He took a job with Twentieth Century Fox, where he worked on classics like Laura and Forever Amber. While the studios were uneasy about his politics, they ignored them until HUAC subpoenaed him and he refused to answer any questions.
He soon found himself fired by Twentieth Century Fox and blacklisted. He fled to England where he worked on a novel and wrote under a pseudonym. It is rumored that one of his films won a best screenplay Oscar, though that has never been verified. His presence on the blacklist would be lifted when producer Martin Ransohoff put his name on the credits of The Cincinnati Kid. Ring would go on to write the screenplay for the theatrical release M*A*S*H, setting up a huge franchise for Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that had turned its back on him. Mr. Lardner would pass away in 2000, the last of the Hollywood Ten to pass away.
Monday, November 28, 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Friday, November 25, 2016
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Hoyvin, glayvin! In the 1970's Jerry Lewis' career had hit the skids. He might have been revered in France, but he was box office poison in the United States. How could he parlay his previous fame into cash? Why not try his hand at promoting a chain of family-friendly cinemas?
You kids and your glayvin, hoyvin cinemas!
Jerry Lewis Cinemas was a chain of franchised theaters that foresaw the current trend of multi-plex theaters. Investors could build their theater from a pre-designed plan and show family-friendly second run films. Jerry Lewis' team provided an operational plan that would minimize overhead and maximize profits for the franchisees. How could they go wrong?
Jerry Lewis in person? Is that a threat?
Well, opening up a theater that wouldn't show more adult fare right when some of the greatest cinematic achievements were being made was a bad idea. That was one of the first changes Jerry made, allowing the franchisees more freedom in choosing what they exhibited. One of the biggest stumbling blocks, however, was the name. Meant to bring Hollywood glamour to the sticks, the name instead dragged them down. Jerry Lewis was seen as a hokey, schlocky also-ran who was no longer relevant. Plus, potential customers were confused. Did this theater only show those old, creaky Jerry Lewis films? By the end of the decade, some of these theaters resorted to showing porn, while the others slowly but surely shut down. Mr. Lewis was forced to declare this enterprise as dead as his career was.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Edward Dmytryk was born in Canada, the son of Ukrainian immigrants. They moved to Los Angeles, where Edward became a naturalized citizen who attended Hollywood High School and worked for Famous Players/Lasky. (Which later became Paramount Pictures.) He worked his way up, becoming a projectionist, film editor and eventually a director.
Mr. Dmytryk actually did join the Communist party and was convinced to not testify before HUAC. He fled the country and directed a film in England that was suppressed in the United States. He was soon returned to the United States where he was arrested and imprisoned. This time he gave into the pressure and testified twice, naming names. Hollywood rewarded him by re-hiring him. He then made the film he was most known for- The Caine Mutiny.
Edward never really apologized for his transgression, believing that he was justified because of the damage his career suffered.