The Concession Stand

Friday, April 14, 2017

#1 in 1965: The Sound of Music


The success of Mary Poppins made Julie Andrews a bigger draw at the box office. Her next film would take the top spot with its elaborate musical sequences and sweeping vistas. That the film was set in Nazi Germany seemed to be lost on audiences who found it enchanting. It was a much needed hit for the beleaguered Twentieth Century Fox.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#1 in 1964: My Fair Lady


My Fair Lady was a risk- rather than cast the woman who originated the lead role and could sing- Julie Andrews- the producers chose Audrey Hepburn, who mimed to Marni Nixon's voice. The choice made Julie Andrews available to become Mary Poppins, which became her legendary Academy Award winning role. My Fair Lady, however, would walk away with the box office crown.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#1 in 1963: Cleopatra


Cleopatra is that rarest of films; while it sat atop the list of movies from 1963, its budget was so huge that it was still a huge box office disaster. The film never had a chance; it had already gone through millions of dollars before real production had even started. Century City would rise up around the Fox backlot because the studio was forced to sell off much of its property to stay solvent. Everyone tried to blame everyone else for this huge failure, but the ultimate mistake was made by the studio itself for believing that the overstuffed film would ever be popular enough to justify the massive costs.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#1 in 1962: Lawrence of Arabia


Lawrence of Arabia was a huge undertaking, involving two countries and millions of dollars. The film's sweeping scenic vistas were captured in 70MM, producing visuals that could only be enjoyed on a widescreen. It became a classic epic that would be richly rewarded at the box office.

Monday, April 10, 2017

#1 in 1961: West Side Story


West Side Story would usher in an era of lavish musicals that would be hugely profitable for Hollywood. As the 1960's wore on, audiences would tire of such films, but the resurgence of the musical would seemingly be just what Hollywood needed during an uncertain time. West Side Story, based on the Broadway musical, would take Hollywood by storm. It would not only become the number one film, but it would win big at the Academy Awards.

Friday, April 7, 2017

#1 in 1960: Spartacus


Spartacus never had many fans in Hollywood during its production. Kirk Douglas seemed to be the only person who had any faith in its success. Initially, its distributor just tossed the film out there and it underperformed. Unwilling to let it die, Kirk Douglas lobbied for a wider release, which he got. The film became a smash hit, propelling itself from an underperforming film to a major box office smash.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

#1 in 1959: Ben Hur


Ben-Hur would be another epic film that Hollywood hoped would set the theater-going experience apart from television. While the executives at MGM saw the film as a huge, widescreen spectacle, its director William Wyler did not. At the time, most directors had little power when it came to such decisions, so the picture would be the widescreen epic that MGM wanted. Time would eventually prove the MGM executives were right.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

#1 in 1958: South Pacific


Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific was a first of its kind production. While distributed and produced by 20th Century Fox, it was mostly backed and owned by the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization along with its Broadway production company. Previously, movie studios would insist on buying the film rights outright and making the film themselves. The film also marked a departure for film musicals. The familiar MGM musical formula called for extensive use of soundstages with more abstract staging. South Pacific used real world settings and expansive staging. It was a perfect production for its time.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#1 in 1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai


Based on a fictional novel set during World War II, The Bridge on the River Kwai was a rare intersection of critical acclaim, cinematographic grandeur and popularity. Widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, the film became an instant classic and soared to the top of the charts.

Monday, April 3, 2017

#1 in 1956: The Ten Commandments


Fresh off the success of his dubious best picture win for The Greatest Show on Earth, Cecil B. DeMille decided to mine the Bible for his next big epic. The Ten Commandments would not only provide him with a way to 'stand up' to communism's atheism, it would also be a great way to take advantage of the expansive big silver screen. This would be the second time Mr. DeMille had tackled the biblical story; he had made a silent version of the film in 1923.