Yippee! It’s a Versatile Blogger Award!

•July 5, 2014 • 19 Comments

Hey, guess what, kids? I’ve been nominated for the coveted Versatile Blogger Award! I am practically walking on air!

For nominating me for this prestigious honor, I offer my humble thanks to Kellee over at Outspoken and Freckled, whom I first met in the Twitterverse and then in real life at this year’s Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. She was even more of a delight in person as she’d been on the World Wide Web, and meeting her was one of the highlights of my experience this year. Do yourself a favor and pay a visit to her blog – you only owe it to yourself!

In order to accept a nomination for a Versatile Blogger Award, the following is required:

  1. Thank your nominator and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Make your own 15 nominations and tell them they have been nominated.
  3. Offer up seven interesting facts about yourself.

In the words of Tracy Lord from The Philadelphia Story, “Oh, we’re going to talk about me, are we? Goody.” Seven interesting facts about me? Well, I don’t know how interesting they are, but here goes:

Me and Tito Jackson. TITO. JACKSON.

Me and Tito Jackson. TITO. JACKSON.

  1. I am a diehard Jackson 5 fan, to my very soul, ‘til the end of time. I even have a shrine to Michael in my basement. A few weeks ago, one of my BFs and I drove to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, to see the Jacksons perform, and by divine intervention complete chance, we got to meet both Tito and Jermaine Jackson and take pictures with them before they left for the airport. (Be still, my teeny bopper heart.)
  1. I have always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first short story when I was five years old, sitting on the living room floor in my grandmother’s house in Winchester, Kentucky. It was called The Richer Family, and it told the sad story of a rich family whose money couldn’t save them from tragedy. It was kinda noirish, now that I think of it.

    The Caribbean Room.

  1. I used to be completely obsessed with Johnny Depp. It started when I watched Pirates of the Caribbean during my annual watch-as-many-Oscar-nominated-movies-as-I-can-before-the-Oscars quest. Once I saw his Captain Jack sashay across the screen, I was a goner. I proceeded to buy – and watch – every Johnny Depp movie I could get my hands on (even clunkers like Private Resort, for cryin’ out loud). I put framed photos of him in my room. I transformed my library at home into the Caribbean Room, complete with signed pictures, Captain Jack action figures, switchplates, magnets, lamps, books – you name it, chances are it’s in that room. I had a shirt specially made that said “Mrs. Depp” on the front and “In my dreams” on the back. I was practically ill when my personal email to Oprah failed to result in a ticket to her show when he made an appearance. I bought every magazine I could find that had Johnny Depp on the cover (16, to be exact). I created a scrapbook full of newspaper and magazine clippings, as well as hundreds (upon hundreds) of pictures of him that I’d printed from the internet. (It’s really quite impressive, if I do say so myself. It weighs 14 pounds!) My daughters and I celebrated his birthday, singing to his photo and blowing out a candle we’d stuck in a Snickers bar. I told my boss I was sick so I could leave work and see Secret Window on the day of its release. I briefly considered getting a tattoo of the number 3 on my hand because he has one. It was RIDICULOUS. (But fun!) And, thank goodness, I eventually got over it and moved on to a similar, but not nearly as nutty, obsession for William Holden.

    Drive. Stop. Buy. Love it.

    Drive. Stop. Buy. Love it.

  2. Every year, my friend and I (the BF mentioned in Fact Number One) take a road trip for the World’s Longest Yard Sale. It starts in Addison, Michigan, and extends down Route 127 through Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, ending up in Gadsen, Alabama. Along the route, and in the little towns and villages along the way, you can find all kinds of yard sales, flea markets, and garage sales – you just drive and stop and buy. Drive and stop and buy. This will be our fourth time going to the sale – we always start out where we ended the year before, so this time we’ll be joining the sale in Florence, Kentucky. Over the years, I’ve brought home all kinds of goodies – a vintage vacuum cleaner (for three dollars!), a complete set of dishes, cookbooks, old movie magazines, dolls, vintage purses, a leather coat (for a dollar!), lamps, vintage radios, handmade soaps, jewelry, artwork, even a VHS box set of The Thornbirds (because of course, I still use my VCR every day) – quite literally a van full of stuff, every time. It’s a blast.
  1. My very first paying job was handing out leaflets advertising the Evelyn Woods Speed Reading Course. It was a humbling experience. I can’t tell you how many people walked right past me as if I weren’t there, or who took the paper from me, crumpled it up, and let it fall to the ground seconds later. Because of that experience (and that was almost 35 years ago), I always take flyers from people passing them out, and give them a smile and a grateful “thank you.” I know just how they feel!
  1. I love to paint – rooms, that is, not portraits. I have painted practically every room in my entire house, from the upstairs bathroom to the laundry room in the basement, and every wall in between. I started with the kitchen, around 15 years ago – I don’t know what made me start doing it, other than I hated the wallpaper that was on the walls and I was too broke cheap to hire somebody. None of the walls are just one color, though – the kitchen, for instance, has teal green paint sponged over white. The bathroom is yellow with tan polka dots. The living room is red and gold. And my favorite, my bedroom, has pink, mauve, and tan stripes. Here are the before and after pictures from my bedroom.
    Before.

    Before.

    After.

    After.

  1. I appeared on two episodes of an old E! TV network series called Mysteries and Scandals. Hosted by the uber-cool A.J. Benza, every half-hour episode focused on an actor or actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood who’d been involved in some kind of… well… mystery or scandal. I appeared in the episodes about Gail Russell and Gloria Grahame. For the Russell episode, which was the first one I did, I was flown out to L.A. and interviewed at the E! Studios. I was SCARED. TO. DEATH. In fact, I initially had no intention of even going – but I knew I’d regret it forever if I didn’t. So I screwed my courage to the sticking place and took the plunge. And I’m so glad I did it.  I remember when the episode first aired, I had a “viewing party” with my daughters, who were 2 and 5 years old at the time. They couldn’t have cared less. I’m all, “Look, there’s Mommy!” and they’re all, “Can I have another cookie?” (If you’re interested, the Russell episode can be seen here.)

And now, for the final piece of the Versatile Blogger pie, I am pleased to nominate the following blogs, authored by some of the most talented writers this side of the Pecos. Check ‘em out!

Speakeasy

She Blogged By Night

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Mildred’s Fatburgers

Stardust

Grand Old Movies

Virtual Virago

Mike’s Take on the Movies

Twenty-Four Frames

Hardboiled Girl

Cinematically Insane

True Classics

The Last Drive-In

1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die

Another Old Movie Blog

Thanks for stopping by and sharing my Versatile Blogger Award with me!

Livvie Trivia: Happy 98th Birthday, Olivia de Havilland!

•July 1, 2014 • 3 Comments

One of our last living treasures from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Miss Olivia “Livvie” de Havilland, was born in Tokyo, Japan, on July 1, 1916. The older sister of actress Joan Fontaine, de Havilland shared her acting talents with the world over a span of six decades. Her best-known film is undoubtedly Gone With the Wind (1939), and she also starred in such gems as The Strawberry Blonde (1941), In This Our Life (1942), To Each His Own (1946), and one of my favorite films, The Heiress (1949). She also managed to make her mark in realm of film noir with a dual role as twins in The Dark Mirror (1946) – if you haven’t seen it, check it out!

To honor the occasion of Miss de Havilland’s birth, join me in raising a glass to this great lady and enjoy some fun Livvie Trivia!

Olivia deHavilland’s father, Walter Augustus, was a British patent attorney, and her mother, Lillian, was a former stage actress who was educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

There were some good times.

There were some good times.

Sisters Olivia and Joan were estranged for many years – their feud became a thing of legend. Reportedly, when she was nine years old, de Havilland made a will in which she stated, “I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none.” And Fontaine once said, “I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she’ll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!” (Sadly, Fontaine passed away on December 15, 2013. de Havilland released a statement saying that she was “shocked and saddened” by her sister’s death.)

de Havilland’s middle name is Mary.

In 1919, de Havilland’s mother persuaded her husband to take the family back to England. The family stopped in California to treat a bronchial condition that was plaguing Olivia. Joan later developed pneumonia, and Lillian decided to remain in California, settling in a small town about 50 miles south of San Francisco. Walter de Havilland – who was reportedly a bit of a womanizer – left the family and returned to his Japanese housekeeper. Olivia’s parents divorced in 1925 (and the housekeeper became Walter’s second wife).

In 1933, Olivia appeared in Alice in Wonderland.

In 1933, Olivia appeared in Alice in Wonderland.

In high school, de Havilland was a member of the drama club and made her amateur theater debut in in 1933 Saratoga Community Players production of Alice in Wonderland. In summer 1934, director Max Reinhardt came to California to helm a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hollywood Bowl. Olivia was recommended to him by an assistant who’d seen her perform in the same production for the Saratoga Players. Olivia was give the understudy role of Hermia, and when the actress playing the role left the production, Olivia stepped in. When Reinhardt received word that he was to direct the Warner Bros’ film of Midsummer Night’s Dream, he persuaded Olivia to reprise her role. Shortly afterward, deHavilland signed a seven-year contract with Warners.

de Havilland stands a wee 5 feet 3 inches tall. (At least, that’s wee to me.)

Chemistry, indeed.

Chemistry, indeed.

In 1935, deHavilland was teamed with Errol Flynn in the action-adventure yarn Captain Blood. The two went on to appear in a total of eight films together, including The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), and They Died With Their Boots On (1941). In 2009, deHavilland admitted: “We did fall in love, and I believe that this is evident in the screen chemistry between us. But his circumstances at the time prevented the relationship going further.” (From 1935 to 1942, Flynn was married to actress Lili Damita and in 1943, he married Nora Eddington, from whom he was divorced in 1949).

On  November 28, 1941, de Havilland became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Olivia, Pierre Galante, and little Gisele.

Olivia, Pierre Galante, and little Gisele.

In 1946, deHavilland married novelist Marcus Goodrich; the two had a son, Benjamin Briggs Goodrich. The couple divorced in 1953. (Benjamin died of Hodgkins disease in 1991, just weeks before the death of his father.) Two years later, deHavilland married Pierre Galante, editor of Paris Match, a French weekly magazine. She and Galante have a daughter, Gisele, who works as a journalist in France. deHavilland and Galante divorced in 1979, but they remained close friend, and when he became ill with cancer, deHavilland nursed him until his death in 1998.

deHavilland received her first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. She lost to her GWTW co-star, Hattie McDaniel. She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for Hold Back the Dawn (1941). This time, she lost to her sister, Joan, for her role in Suspicion (1941).  She finally won the Oscar for To Each His Own (1946), was nominated again for The Snake Pit (1948) (but lost to Jane Wyman for Johnny Belinda. She was nominated the following year for The Heiress – and won.

Melanie Wilkes: one of de Havilland's best-known roles.

Melanie Wilkes: one of de Havilland’s best-known roles.

deHavilland is the last surviving major star of Gone With the Wind. (In fact, the only other cast member still living is Mickey Kuhn, who played Melanie’s son, Beau.)

During her years under contract to Warner Bros., de Havilland was frequently dissatisfied with the roles that she was assigned, and was looking forward to the end of her term with the studio in 1943. However, Warner Bros. informed her that six months had been added to her contract because of time that she had been suspended by the studio. In response, de Havilland sued the studio – the case reached the California Supreme Court which, in 1945, upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the actress, limiting the length of a contract to no more than seven years. The decision is known as “The de Havilland rule.”

After the court decision, Warner Bros. sent a letter to other studios in town that resulted in a “virtual blacklisting” of de Havilland, and she did not work in a film studio for the next two years.

She certainly was no Melanie in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

She certainly was no Melanie in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Some of her memorable films later in her career include Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1965), in which she co-starred with her friend, Bette Davis (1965); Lady in a Cage (1964), with James Caan and Jeff Corey; Airport ’77 (1977); a star-studded production whose cast included James Stewart, Jack Lemmon, and Lee Grant; and The Swarm (1978), directed by the “Master of Disaster,” Irwin Allen.

The actress moved to Paris, France, more than 50 years ago, and lives there still.

In a rare act of reconciliation, Olivia and her sister Joan Fontaine celebrated Christmas 1962 together along with their then-husbands and children.

 

For one of her final performances, in the 1986 television movie Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, de Havilland won a Golden Globe award.

Her last role was in 1988, in The Woman He Loved, a television movie about the love affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. The cast also included Julie Harris, Tom Wilkinson, Jane Seymour, and Phyllis Calvert.

And many happy returns of the day.

And many happy returns of the day.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented a special tribute to de Havilland in 2006.  In 1998, President George W. Bush awarded her with the National Medal of Arts, and two years later she was given the Legion of Honor award from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

I know that you join me in wishing the happiest of birthdays to this grand lady of the screen, and extending our most sincere hopes for her good health, happiness, prosperity, and peace.

Born on the 27th of June: Remembering Moroni

•June 27, 2014 • 10 Comments

Known as one of Hollywood’s most dependable character actors, the mustachioed and balding Moroni Olsen frequently was seen in his films as a clergyman, doctor, or cop, but he holds a special place in cinema history for a far more unique performance – providing the voice for the Magic Mirror in the 1937 Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Aside from this fanciful role, Olsen was featured in nearly 100 films during his 35-year career, appearing alongside such stars as Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy. His credits include a number of first-rate screen gems, including The Song of Bernadette (1943), Notorious (1946), and Father of the Bride (1950), as well as five entries from the film noir era: The Glass Key (1942), Mildred Pierce (1945), Possessed (1947), The High Wall (1947), and Call Northside 777 (1948).

Born on June 27, 1889, in Ogden, Utah, Moroni Olsen (spelled “Maroni” at birth, according to his family’s 1900 census form), was the youngest of three children born to Norwegian immigrants Edward Olsen and his wife, Martha. Although he reportedly never saw a stage play until the age of 13, Olsen was immediately captivated by the theater and determined to make his living as a performer. Shortly after playing his first stage role during his senior year of high school, Olsen organized a group known as “The Strollers,” which presented one-act plays for residents of remote settlements in the area.

When he still had all his hair.

When he still had all his hair.

After his high school graduation, Olsen enrolled at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, but spent most of his time playing bit parts in a local stock company. He eventually received his degree from the Leland Powers School of the Theater in Boston, then returned home to teach speech arts at Ogden High School. Two years later, he was tapped to direct and perform in the traveling tent shows known as the Chautauqua Circuit. In 1920, while performing in one of the chautauquas, Olsen was spotted by director Maurice Browne and cast in his Broadway debut, playing Jason in Medea.

Off stage, Olsen continuing to share his skills and expertise with future thespians, heading the drama department at the Cornish School of Music in Seattle, organizing the Moroni Olsen Repertory Company, which toured the country for nearly eight years, and returning to his alma mater, the Leland Powers School in Boston, where he served as director. He resumed his Broadway career in 1933, earning acclaim for his portrayal of John Knox in Mary of Scotland, and later appearing with Katherine Cornell in Romeo and Juliet and The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Olsen’s success on the Broadway stage attracted the attention of Hollywood; in 1935, he signed a contract with RKO, debuting on the big screen as Porthos in The Three Musketeers (1935). Also that year he portrayed Buffalo Bill in Annie Oakley (1935), starring Barbara Stanwyck in the title role, and two years later, he entered Disney immortality as the voice of the Magic Mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Olsen entered the realm of noir in 1942, with The Glass Key (1942), starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. Here, Olsen portrayed Senator Ralph Henry, a political candidate whose daughter, Janet (Lake), becomes involved with the loutish but powerful Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy) in hopes of winning his support for her father’s campaign. The ambitious politician makes no bones about using Madvig for his own gain, telling his daughter, “Paul’s support means the governorship for me. You must be nice to him, Janet – at least until after the election.”

Olsen played a small, but pivotal role in Mildred Pierce.

Olsen played a small, but pivotal role in Mildred Pierce.

His second noir came in 1945, when he played a featured role in Mildred Pierce. In this first-rate offering, Olsen portrayed Inspector Peterson, a no-nonsense detective investigating the murder of Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott), the profligate spouse of the title character (Joan Crawford). Although most of the film’s accolades were reserved for Crawford’s Academy Award-winning performance, Olsen was singled out by several critics for his portrayal of the crafty lawman, including the reviewer for The Hollywood Review, who termed him “really excellent,” and Red Kann of Motion Picture Herald, who found Olsen’s performance to be “especially effective.”

Following such hits as Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946), starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman; It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), where he was heard as the voice of the angel who dispatches Clarence to earth; and Life with Father (1947), a delightful comedy featuring William Powell, Olsen was seen in a trio of films noirs, Possessed (1947), The High Wall (1947), and Call Northside 777 (1948). In the first, he portrayed a doctor who treats Louise Howell Graham (Joan Crawford), a home care nurse whose obsession with her former lover leads her to madness and murder.

Next, in The High Wall (1947), Olsen was again cast as a physician, this time as the head of a psychiatric hospital. Olsen’s final film noir, Call Northside 777, focused on the unflagging efforts of newspaper reporter Jim McNeal (James Stewart) to exonerate a man, Frank Wiecek (Richard Conte), who was wrongly imprisoned for the murder of a police officer 11 years before. With time running out, McNeal stumbles upon a new police technique that helps to prove Wiecek’s innocence and convinces the pardon board, headed by Olsen’s character, to set the man free.

Despite his relatively minor roles in these back-to-back noir features, Olsen turned in solid performances in each, earning his best reviews for his role in Possessed; in the Hollywood Citizen-News, Lowell E. Redelings noted his “top-notch” performance, and Harrison Carroll of the Los Angeles Herald-Express including the actor in his praise of the film’s “distinguished” supporting cast. Carroll offered similar accolades for the picture itself, terming it “a powerful film, holding a morbid fascination for the onlooker.”

Olsen tries mightily to referee the battling buddies on I Love Lucy.

Olsen tries mightily to referee the battling buddies on I Love Lucy.

During the next several years, Olsen continued to appear in a number of critical and commercial successes, including Samson and Delilah (1949); Father of the Bride (1950) and its sequel, Father’s Little Dividend (1951), appearing in both as the father-in-law of Elizabeth Taylor; and Lone Star (1951), in which he portrayed Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas. Between films, the actor resumed his stage career, appearing on Broadway opposite Helen Hayes in Mary of Scotland and directing numerous productions for the famed Pasadena Playhouse, including First Lady, starring Dana Andrews, and Merrily We Roll Along, with Robert Preston. He also made a rare television appearance on an episode of I Love Lucy, portraying a judge who hears a case where the Ricardos were sued by the Mertzes over a destroyed television set.

Olsen's last film.

Olsen’s last film.

During the summer of 1954, he returned to his home state, directing outdoor musical pageants in Salt Lake City and Ogden that depicted the progress of Utah pioneers, and later that year was seen in the popular big screen comedy The Long, Long Trailer (1954), starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Sadly, the film would be his last. On November 22, 1954, after complaining of feeling “ill and tired,” Olsen was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment. The coroner’s office attributed his death to natural causes, but more recent sources indicate that Olsen died after suffering a heart attack. At the time of his death, Olsen was directing rehearsals for Trelawny of the Wells, scheduled to open the following month at the Pasadena Playhouse. The actor, who never married, was 65 years old.

Moroni Olsen was once aptly described as possessing a “strong, rugged face, a voice of deep and powerful timbre, and a physique that takes the world in its stride.”  Although his name is all but forgotten by today’s audiences, the character performances delivered by the actor in his impressive body of films serve as a lasting and memorable testament to his versatility, dependability, and talent.

More Adventures in Paradise: Turner Classic Movies Film Festival 2014

•June 23, 2014 • 8 Comments

Better late than really, really late, I sometimes say.

With that in mind, more than two months after the 2014 Turner Classic Movies film festival (TCMFF) screened its last movie, sold its remaining souvenirs, and served up its final cocktail, I am finally getting around to writing about my experience at this event.This was my second year at the festival – my inaugural visit was to the 2013 fest, and I fully intend to be at every one that I can physically attend – even if I have to walk every step of the way! (Sorry. Gone With the Wind flashback.)

Last year, I saw a total of eight films, only one of which (Cluny Brown, with Jennifer Jones and Charles Boyer) was new to me. This time around, I was determined to not only see more movies, but to also see more movies that I’d never seen before. I accomplished both – I saw 11 (woot woot!), and only three were films that I’d seen before. In all, I only saw one noir (Double Indemnity) and one pre-Code (Hat-Check Girl), in sharp contrast to my maiden TCMFF voyage where, of the eight features, four were noir and one was pre-Code.

Here’s what happened this time around.

(Warning. This post is kinda long.)

Check-In: Wednesday, April 10, 2014

The view outside our room. For real.

The view outside our room. For real.

Like my first go-round with the TCMFF, I attended the 2014 festival with Kim, one of my few real-life friends who shares my affinity for classic movies. Last year, we were fortunate to be able to bunk with her sister, who lives in L.A. But a few months ago, her sister had her first baby, so we thought it best to make other plans – three’s company, five’s a crowd, as the saying goes. (Or something like that.) The Roosevelt Hotel and the Loews were quite a bit out of our price range, but I lucked upon an adorable little hotel right behind the Loews, called the Hollywood Liberty. The prices were affordable, and the website photos showed a low-budget but altogether adorably quaint décor that I thought would be perfect for the occasion. Score!

When Kim and I arrived, though, we were greeted by the realization that the entire hotel was under renovation – there were power tools, stacks of building materials, and large buckets of plaster and paint in the lobby; mattresses, lamps, and miscellaneous debris piled up in the hallway; and a row of toilets lined up outside the back door. It was beyond belief – I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it. Fortunately, the staff was pleasant (when we requested towels, for instance, we were very pleasantly told that they would bring them as soon as they got them out of the dryer) (seriously). Also, after spending our first (harrowing) night in the Norman Bates Suite, we were moved to one of the renovated rooms, which was like the difference between Marie Windsor and June Allyson, if you know what I mean. And if you can believe it, I am actually considering staying there again next year. Not strongly considering it, but considering it.

Shirley Jones looked GREAT. (photo by Annie I. Bang.)

Shirley Jones looked GREAT. (photo by Annie I. Bang.)

The First Day: Thursday, April 11, 2014

In an upgrade from last year, we purchased the Essential pass this time around, which gives you entrance to the opening night screening, which was Oklahoma!, one of the new-to-me movies. In case I haven’t mentioned this previously, I’m not a huge musical fan. There are several that I love dearly – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Wizard of Oz [duh], Singin’ in the Rain, Bye Bye Birdie, Annie Get Your Gun, West Side Story, and a handful – a very small handful – of others. So, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled at the prospect of seeing Oklahoma!, but I was looking forward to getting all dolled up to walk the red carpet, as well as seeing the film’s star, Shirley Jones, in person. Walking the red carpet was a real trip! Because I didn’t know any better, we arrived relatively early, so I only got to see a few stars – Shirley Jones, Tippi Hedren, Margaret O’Brien (or, to be more accurate, Margaret O’Brien’s back). I didn’t find out until after I’d returned home that we missed a number of other luminaries who didn’t step on the carpet until later, like Kim Novak, Maureen O’Hara, George Chakiris, Diane Baker, Leonard Maltin, and Wink Martindale. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be more hip next time. But the entire atmosphere was positively electric – I felt like such a celebrity, especially when I walked past the cheering fans sitting in the bleachers. It was so much fun.

Oklahoma took a surprising dark turn.

Oklahoma took a surprising dark turn.

The highlight of the evening was seeing the gorgeous Shirley Jones, who was interviewed by TCM’s Robert Osborne. She was clad in all black – a short, flowing top, what appeared to be leggings (!), and black, high-heeled boots. She was as sharp as a tack. During her interview, I learned that she’d been, at age six, the youngest member of her church choir, and that she’d made her film debut in Oklahoma! at the age of 18. She said that her co-star, Gordon MacCrae, was her favorite singing partner (“I just loved his voice,” she said), and she told a juicy little story about the movie Carousel (1956), in which she was originally to star opposite Frank Sinatra. All of the pre-recording had been done, costumes had been fitted, and the film was practically in the can when Sinatra abruptly quit. He said that it was because the film had to be shot twice – for Cinemascope and for CinemaScope 55, and he’d “only signed on to do one movie.” But Jones revealed that he actually left the picture because he’d gotten a phone call from his then-wife, Ava Gardner, who was shooting Mogambo in Africa. “She told him to get down there or she was going to have an affair with Clark Gable,” Jones said. Scandalous! Incidentally, and to my pleasant surprise, I enjoyed Oklahoma! immensely. The songs were engaging, the colors were exquisite, and it was surprisingly dark in theme – which is always appreciated by a noir lover.

The Second Day: Friday, April 12, 2014

On Approval: It's already on my Amazon.com wish list.

On Approval: It’s already on my Amazon.com wish list.

I saw three movies on the second day – the only one that was new-to-me was the first one, On Approval (1944), a delightfully witty, smart, and rather scandalous British comedy which evoked so many laughs that I feel compelled to see it again because I know I missed some of the lines. The plot is too complicated for me to try to encapsulate and make any reasonable amount of sense – in a nutshell, it’s about two Victorian-era couples who embark upon a month-long trial marriage to see if they are suited to each other. The film stars Beatrice Lillie, Googie Withers (who I know best from Night and the City), and Clive Brook, who also directed.

Movie number two was my favorite film noir: Double Indemnity. I’ve seen this on the big screen before, and more times on the small screen than I care to count, but there was NO WAY that I was going to pass up seeing it at the TCM fest.

Funniest movie of all time? Quite possibly.

Funniest movie of all time? Quite possibly.

My final movie of the day was another one that I’ve seen many times – Blazing Saddles – but I absolutely love this film and, as a bonus, Mel Brooks was there in person, interviewed by Robert Osborne. He was just as hilarious and engaging and endearing as I always thought he’d be – he told the audience that Blazing Saddles may be his favorite movie, and then added, “I really think – and it’s not right for me to say this – I think this could be the funniest motion picture ever.” Brooks shared that there were very few laughs when he first screened the film for Warner Bros. execs – one of them gave Brooks a list of scenes he wanted changed. “No farting. You can’t punch a horse. You can’t beat up an old lady. There were about 20 of them,” Brooks recalled. “If I’d listened to him, the movie would have been around 12 minutes long. I didn’t cut a sentence or a word or even an expression on somebody’s face. It was beyond vulgar – it was dirty. But I was just a scruffy little kid from Brooklyn and there were no rules.”

The Third Day: Saturday, April 13, 2014

The scenes with Douglas and Hackman "sizzled" in I Never Sang For My Father.

The scenes with Douglas and Hackman “sizzled” in I Never Sang For My Father.

Kim and I parted ways on Saturday, each doing our own thing – I started out the day seeing I Never Sang for My Father, starring Gene Hackman and Melvin Douglas, and introduced by Douglas’s charming granddaughter, actress Illeana. The film focuses on the struggle between a father and a son – Illeana said that her grandfather may have been a little intimidated by Hackman “and I think he upped his game a little bit. The scenes with Hackman really sizzle.”

Next up was The Great Gatsby, starring Alan Ladd and Betty Field, which I’ve long wanted to see. The film was introduced by Ladd’s son, David, who said that Gatsby was very important to his father. “Paramount didn’t want him to make it. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Alan Ladd don’t really go together – he was more of an action guy,” David Ladd said, adding that his father finally threatened to go on suspension if he wasn’t allowed to do the film. “This and Shane are my father’s two favorite roles, and I believe this is the best version [of The Great Gatsby]. This movie is not cinematic art, but the casting is impeccable. This one, he was especially proud of.”

Hatcheck Girl. It had these people in it.

Hatcheck Girl. It had these people in it.

Movie number three was Hatcheck Girl (1933), the only pre-Code film on my schedule and one of the films I was most looking forward to seeing. Introduced by Katie Trainor and Ann Mora from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Hatcheck Girl stars Sally Eilers – “coined as the Janet Gaynor with hips,” Mora said. The film, which co-stars Ginger Rogers, centers on, well, a hatcheck girl. To be honest, though, I don’t have a clue what this picture was about, what happened in it, or pretty much anything else. The only thing that stuck with me is that it was rather dull and I was rather disappointed. And sleepy.

I love this movie so much I could eat it on a biscuit.

I love this movie so much I could eat it on a biscuit.

I’d originally planned to join Kim at this point to see The Pawnbroker, where Quincy Jones was the special guest, but at the last minute, I gave into my innermost desire and saw one of my favorite films, the single movie that I have seen more often than any other – The Women (1939). What a kick it was to see this classic on the big screen! Also, I saw it in the El Capitan Theater, which was my first time being in this classic venue. Before the screening, Ben Mankiewicz interviewed actress Anna Kendrick, introducing her to the audience by telling us that the guest he was about to bring out was born in 1985. “That only gets a laugh at the TCM Film Festival,” he added. Kendrick said that she was introduced to The Women when she was 12 years old, while she was doing a show on Broadway. “I was just so in love with it. I watched it over and over and over. When I went back to Maine, I tried to make my friends watch it,” Kendrick said. “Sylvia is the greatest character of all time, [but] every time Miriam Aarons comes in, I’m like, ‘That’s a bad bitch.’”

The Final Day: Sunday, April 14, 2014

The last day of the festival, I can now say from experience, is bittersweet and fraught with mixed objectives. I’m sad at the thought of the fest being over for another year, and no longer being in the swirling whirlwind of people who are as obsessed about classic movies as I am. On the other hand, I’m pretty exhausted and longing for a salad, some grilled chicken and a glass of fat-free Lactaid milk. I’m practically all-movied-out, but I feel an almost desperate need to cram in, on this last day, as many movies as are physically and logistically possible. I’d love to take a nap, but I can hardly wait to get to the closing night party, take pics with old and new friends (and even meet some more!), and down a glass of something.

Tokyo Story was beautifully done, but so sad.

Tokyo Story was beautifully done, but so sad.

My first movie of the day was Tokyo Story (1972), a Japanese film about an older married couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their children and grandchildren. It was introduced by Illeana Douglas, who told the audience that she’d been in an independent movie in the early 1990s called Grief, whose director had been obsessed with Tokyo Story. “The characters (in Grief) keep leaving to see Tokyo Story,” she said. The film was slow-moving, but beautifully shot and terribly sad. Having recently lost my grandmother, and getting closer each day to having an empty nest, the film was particularly moving to me. In fact, Kim and I went to lunch at a nearby Japanese restaurant after the movie and I completely broke down in sobs during the meal. It was CRAZY.

The Academy Award-winning Best Boy was a highlight.

The Academy Award-winning Best Boy was a highlight.

And as if I hadn’t cried enough already, our next movie was Best Boy (1979), an Oscar-winning documentary that basically left me in a sizable puddle on the floor. This film depicted several years in the life of Philly Wohl, the 52-year-old mentally retarded cousin of the film’s director, Ira, showing his development from dependence on his elderly parents to independent living in a group home. When I re-read this description, I can appreciate that one might wonder why the film evoked such emotion in me, and it’s kind of hard to explain. First off, the film managed to make you feel that you really knew Philly and his family members, and you grew to care about them.  Secondly, it was just so real, showing the director’s efforts to convince Philly’s mother to let him go, and her understandable reluctance to release him into the world. I feel like I’m still not doing a good job of explaining myself – plus I don’t want to give away any key events – so let’s just say it was an excellent movie, it made me cry, and I wasn’t the only one in the theater snuffling and mining my purse for tissue. Ira Wohl, who is now Philly’s guardian, was on hand for a question-and-answer session after the screening; he shared that Philly recently turned 86 and “he still has a better social life than I do.” Wohl also told the audience that he became a social worker after the release of the film. “I decided to go back to school and become a therapist when I was in my 40s,” he said. “But in my eyes, there’s not that much difference between a social worker and a documentary filmmaker.”

Another highlight was Ben Mankiewicz's interview with Alan Arkin. (photo by John Sciulli)

Another highlight was Ben Mankiewicz’s interview with Alan Arkin. (photo by John Sciulli)

My final film of the day was the only movie from the festival that I’d originally had no intention of seeing: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968). But after seeing Best Boy, we weren’t yet ready to call it a day, and our remaining choices were The Quiet Man, which, I’m kind of ashamed to admit, has never held any great fascination for me; Employees’ Entrance, which I love, but I own on both VHS and DVD; and Easter Parade which, well, it’s a musical. Plus, we learned that Alan Arkin would be at the Lonely Hunter screening, so off we went. Arkin was interviewed before the screening by Ben Mankiewicz, offering us a fascinating glimpse into his persona (which was once described, Mankiewicz told us, as “short-tempered and moderately cantankerous”). Arkin talked about his family, his experiences with such films as Glengarry Glen Ross, and the start of his career with Second City in Chicago. “Acting used to be the reason for my existence, but thank God I’ve gotten past that,” Arkin added. “You are more than your profession.” He also shared his feelings about being nominated and ultimately winning the Academy Award for Little Miss Sunshine, stating that one of the reasons he became an actor was because of the sense of family and camaraderie that is generated on a production. “Awards separate the actors,” Arkin said. “The moment of nominations is joyous because it unites you with others. . . . but the rest is bullshit.”

In The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Arkin portrayed a deaf-mute named John Singer, who moves to a small town in order to be near his institutionalized best friend, and develops a friendship with the sensitive teenaged daughter of his boarders. I confess that I wasn’t necessarily bowled over by the movie, which seemed to be especially ham-handed when it came to issues like racial strife. Still, Arkin turned in an excellent performance and I’m glad we chose this screening as our movie-going swan song.

More on this later . . .

More on this later . . .

On my last day in Los Angeles, Monday, April 15th, I took a tour of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It was a wonderful experience and a perfect ending to my trip to California. I learned some fascinating tidbits about the stars buried there – so much so that I’ve decided to cover the tour in a separate post.  So stay tuned!

Other Stuff:

One of my favorite things about seeing movies at TCMFF is the way the fest attendees clap for everything – the title of the film, the names of the performers and the director, when certain stars first appear on screen, following musical numbers, the end of the movie – it just fills me with joy.

The historic Musso and Frank's.

The historic Musso and Frank’s.

Outside of being at the fest, I had several other memorable experiences – on the first day, Kim and I visited the Iguana Vintage Clothing Store on Hollywood Boulevard, where we spent at least an hour trying on sunglasses, looking at clothes, and trying to decide between the Michael Jackson cigarette case or the Jackson Five buttons. It was a blast – even though before I returned home four days later, I’d managed to lose not one but BOTH pairs of the glasses that I bought there. On another day, I had lunch with my friend, Alan Rode, at the famed Musso and Frank’s restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, where I had their flannel cakes! It was very historic. (It’s also where I lost the first pair of my glasses.) (Okay, I promise not to mention the glasses again.)

Unlike last year, I didn’t spend much time checking out the celebrity interviews that were conducted in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. However, while passing through one day, I did catch part of one – which just happened to be none other than the great Jerry Lewis. So awesome.

See you next year!

After we attended the screening of Oklahoma!, Kim and I had planned to see Johnny Guitar, but it started before Oklahoma! let out. So, instead, we went to a karaoke party at the famed Pig ‘N’ Whistle, had a couple (three) martinis, and wound up closing the place down!

And that about wraps it up for another year. The TCM Film Festival is simply all that. From the real-life meetings with friends you’ve conversed with on Twitter or Facebook, to the star sightings, to the almost painful (but, for me, SO much fun) process of deciding which movies to watch, to the experience of seeing, on the big screen, one classic film after another, there’s nothing like it. That’s why I’ll be back again next year. And the year after that. And the year after that . . .

Happy blogiversary to me — 3.0! (Or is it 2.1?)

•June 23, 2014 • 9 Comments

On June 23, 2011, Duke University’s Kyrie Irving was the number one pick in the NBA draft.

Actor Ted Shackelford, Gary Ewing of Knots Landing fame, celebrated his 65th birthday.

And I hit “PUBLISH” for the first time on this blog, launching Shadows and Satin!

Can you believe it’s been three whole years? I can’t. But time flies when you’re having fun. (And fruit flies like a banana.)

Writing this blog has been — in the words of Don Cornelius — a stone gas! And it’s a pleasure to take the opportunity, once again, to thank Dark Pages Senior Writer and Speakeasy blog author, Kristina Dijan, who encouraged me to start it in the first place. My most sincere thanks, also, to anybody who has ever read a single word I’ve ever written here.

Ever.

To celebrate my three-year blogiversary, I am continuing my tradition of offering you a great quote from one of my favorite actresses — this time, it’s Jean Harlow, from Hold Your Man (1933):

“You wouldn’t be a bad looking dame, if it wasn’t for your face. “

By the way, if you haven’t seen this pre-Code gem, check it out.

You know why.

The Billy Wilder Blogathon: Famous Couples of Noir — Chuck and Lorraine in Ace in the Hole (1951)

•June 22, 2014 • 14 Comments

They were two of film noir’s most unsavory characters – and that’s saying something.

Charles Tatum (Kirk Douglas) and Lorraine Mimosa (Jan Sterling) were like two ships that pass in the night – and then turn around and crash into each other. In Billy Wilder’s dark and uncompromising 1951 feature Ace in the Hole (also known as The Big Carnival), Tatum and Mimosa enter the Film Noir Hall of Fame as one of the era’s most dysfunctional couples.

In Ace in the Hole, Tatum is an unethical newspaper reporter whose view of his profession is expressed early in the film: “I didn’t go to any college, but I know what makes a good story,” he says. “Bad news sells best. Good news is no news.” Determined to work his way back to the “big time” after being fired from 11 newspapers, Tatum is finally presented with the ideal opportunity – while working on a small New Mexico publication, he happens upon Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict), a curio shop merchant trapped in an old Indian cavern. After learning that rescuers can free Minosa within a day’s time, Tatum works in concert with the corrupt local sheriff (Ray Teal) to effect an operation that will take at least a week, providing him the chance to write a daily series of widely read articles.

Meet cute?

Meet cute?

Tatum’s other partner in crime is Leo’s slovenly wife, Lorraine, who initially plans to use her spouse’s accident as a chance to leave him. Tatum convinces her to stay, using her status as a “grieving spouse” to spice up his acclaimed stories. Charles and Lorraine first meet as he’s on his way to the cavern; Lorraine is walking along the road and he picks her up in his car. Even though she reveals that her husband is trapped in the cave, she doesn’t seem very troubled: “Dumb cluck,” she grouses, “everybody keeps telling him, ‘Stay out of that place, stay out of there.’” In fact, rather than centering on any sort of concern for her spouse, Lorraine’s entire conversation instead reflects her cynical nature and her complete dissatisfaction with her life. When she’s asked if it’s true that Indians lived in the cavern 450 years ago, Lorraine responds, “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t been around that long. It only seems that long.”

From the start, the relationship between Tatum and Lorraine is a contentious one – and one in which each sees the other for exactly what they are. In the scene where Lorraine shares her plans to leave town, she tells Tatum that it’s actually her second attempt – the first time, she made it all the way to Kansas before her husband caught up with her. As Tatum watches her take the last $11 out of the shop’s register, he chides her for abandoning her husband in his current state: “Nice kid,” he remarks. “Got a little jump on him this time, huh? Can’t run after you – not lying there with those rocks on his legs.” But Lorraine isn’t fazed; she knows that Tatum’s top priority is his career – certainly not the safety and well-being of her husband. “A lot you care about Leo,” she rejoins. “I’m on to you – you’re working for a newspaper. All you want is something you can print. Honey, you like those rocks just as much as I do.”

The site of the accident turns into a circus-like atmosphere.

The site of the accident turns into a circus-like atmosphere.

Before long, in response to Tatum’s moving stories, a throng of curiosity-seekers and reporters from around the country descend on the area. As time wears on, the rescue site takes on a circus-like atmosphere – hence, the title – complete with carnival rides, balloons, concession stands, and even a theme song (“We’re Coming Leo”). Tatum, the only reporter allowed access to Leo inside the cavern, becomes a celebrity, and just as Tatum had predicted, Lorraine starts raking in the cash as her curio shop/diner becomes a hub for the swarm of visitors. She next turns her sights to Tatum – paying him a visit in his room, she expresses her gratitude to him for convincing her to stay, estimating that she should pull in more than a thousand dollars before the first week is out. But she soon finds that Tatum is not of a mind to join her celebration. When he tells her to stop smiling (“Your husband’s stuck under a mountain. You’re worried sick. That’s the way the story goes.”), Lorraine playfully challenges him to “make [her]”. And he does, delivering a double-cheek slap that leaves her silent and stunned.

In another scene, Tatum orders Lorraine to attend a religious service for her husband, and Lorraine drawls, “I don’t go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.” But Tatum isn’t as immune to Lorraine’s charms (such as they are) as he would like to believe. Before long, he summons Lorraine, ostensibly to chide her for spending too much time with the other reporters. But Lorraine takes the conversation in a different direction, musing on her future once she leaves New Mexico and moves to New York, and envisioning an encounter with Tatum there. “Maybe you’ll buy me a couple of drinks. Maybe you’ll even take me out for a big evening. You won’t be ashamed of me. I’m going to buy me a new trousseau – I’ll look real swell.” In response, Tatum derisively suggests that she “wash that platinum out of [her] hair,” and then grabs a handful of her locks and pulls her in for one of the cruelest, least tender kisses I’ve ever seen.

The first kiss: it wasn't pretty.

The first kiss: it wasn’t pretty.

The relationship between Tatum and Lorraine – as well as the efforts to rescue Leo – continues to spiral out of control, but I’m not going to give anything else away. Just keep in mind that Ace in the Hole is film noir.

Don’t count on a happy ending.

Other stuff:

Billy Wilder not only directed the film, he was also the producer and wrote the screenplay, along with Walter Newman and Lesser Samuels.

The song “We’re Coming Leo” was written by the songwriting team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, who were responsible for a number of popular songs of the 1940s and 1950s, including Buttons and Bows and Que Sera Sera. Wilder reportedly told the men to write “the worst song you can, with bad rhymes and everything else bad.”

In addition to the well-known “baggy nylons” quote, Ace in the Hole is rife with standout lines. Two of my other favorites are these:

Tatum: “I can handle big news and little news. If there’s no news, I’ll go out and bite a dog.”

Lorraine: “I’ve met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you – you’re 20 minutes.”

The film was inspired by the real-life case of Floyd Collins in Kentucky.

The film was inspired by the real-life case of Floyd Collins in Kentucky.

After the release of the film, Billy Wilder was sued by actor Victor Desny (who can be seen in uncredited roles in such films as The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Story of Three Loves). Desny claimed that he’d contacted Wilder’s secretary in 1949 to propose a film based on the real-life story of Floyd Collins, who was trapped in a cave in Kentucky in 1917.  Wilder’s attorneys claimed that Desny had not developed a formal story submission, and that because of the historical nature of the Collins case, it was not protected by copyright laws. The case eventually reached the California Supreme Court, which ruled that Desny’s oral submission was legitimate, and Wilder’s attorneys paid Desny $14,350.

In an interview depicted in the film, the first man to visit the site of the accident (played by Frank Cady of Petticoat Junction fame) states that he is an employee of the Pacific All-Risk Insurance Company. This is the name of the company that employed Walter Neff in Double Indemnity (1944), which was also directed and co-written by Billy Wilder.

The film didn’t do well at the box office – audiences may have been put off by the unremittingly grim story. However, critics hailed the performances of both Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling. The reviewer for Motion Picture Herald wrote that Douglas “enacts the heel reporter ably, giving it color to balance its unsympathetic character,” and in the New York Times, Bosley Crowther described the actor as “full of the arrogance and the cruelty of the desperately insecure.” Sterling’s performance – which won her the National Board of Review Award as best actress of 1952 – was hailed by Crowther, who wrote that she “fills with venom the role of the victim’s trampish wife,” and the critic for Newsweek, who claimed, “The surprise of the film is Jan Sterling’s petulant, uneasy characterization of Minosa’s wife, Lorraine. Miss Sterling has been drab and desperate on screen before this, but with Ace in the Hole she becomes a star.”

You can find Ace in the Hole on DVD, as well as various sites on the internet. Check it out, if you haven’t already – and if you have, isn’t it time you dusted off your copy and gave it another look?

You only owe it to yourself.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This post is part of the Billy Wilder Blogathon, hosted by Aurora over at Once Upon a Screen, and Kelley at Outspoken and Freckled. Visit either of these sites to check out the many great posts being presented as part of this event!

The 1967 in Film Blogathon: Wait Until Dark

•June 20, 2014 • 17 Comments

If Wait Until Dark (1967) had been filmed 15 years earlier, and in black and white, it would likely have been considered to be film noir. Wait until dark, indeed.

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna, this thriller shows a few short hours in the life of a blind woman whose life is turned upside down by three hoods who are searching for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe she has hidden in her apartment. The film starts out at a leisurely pace as it slowly – and somewhat cryptically – introduces the main characters and sets the stage for the action to come. But once it gets rolling, it doesn’t let up.

Who are the players?

Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn): Blind for about a year, and newly married, she is struggling to acclimate herself to her new world – she takes classes at “blind school” but she relies on a teenage neighbor for help, and seems determined, most of all, to become the “world’s champion blind lady” that her husband expects her to be.

Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.): Although he’s absent through most of the film, Sam is the linchpin that sets the entire film in motion, as the coveted doll is given to him by a stranger at the airport.

Alan Arkin is AWESOME in this film.

Alan Arkin is AWESOME in this film.

Roat (Alan Arkin): The sadistic, sardonic, and thoroughly evil ringleader of the quest for the missing doll. He blackmails a couple of con men – Mike Talman (Richard Crenna) and Sgt. Carlino (Jack Weston) – into helping him in his nefarious effort.

Gloria (Julie Herrod): Susy’s neighbor and helper, she turns out to be more assistance than Susy could have dreamed.

Things I Love:

When we first meet Gloria, she is bratty and sullen; we’ve already been told that she resents Susy and has a crush on Susy’s husband. Early on, in fact, she throws a complete tantrum, dashing pots and pans and utensils to the floor after a confrontation with Susy. But Gloria later shows herself to be a steadfast source of strength as Susy’s life becomes a nightmare and her apartment a prison. The relationship between the two is quite touching and is a highlight of the film.

Jack Weston, a bad guy? You bet.

Jack Weston, a bad guy? You bet.

It’s fascinating to see Jack Weston in a bad guy role – I’m far more accustomed to seeing him in such lightweight fare as Please Don’t Eat the Daisies and The Incredible Mr. Limpet. He does a bang-up job as a conscienceless hood – so much so that you’re almost glad when he gets his – shall we say – comeuppance.

Alan Arkin was a revelation in this film – I believe that this is my favorite Arkin performance. His Roat not only dons a couple of unique and masterful disguises in his effort to spin a web that will attract the sought-after doll, but he also tosses off some of the picture’s best lines.  In one scene, when he’s telling his co-conspirators about the woman who’d betrayed him, he grouses, “She was trespassing, Mike, poaching. Going into business for herself. Bad news. Things like that go on, what d’ya have? Anarchy. No discipline, no sense of order. Bad news.” And late in the film, he shares with Susy that Talman and Carlino were out to get him: “Did you know they wanted to kill me? I did. I knew it even before they did. They were awful amateurs, and that’s why you saw through them.”

In the film, Arkin’s character mentions Hammacher Schlemmer, that fun store with all of the awesome gadgets. There used to be one in downtown Chicago near my job, but it disappeared several years ago. And I confess that I never knew how to pronounce the store’s name until I heard Alan Arkin refer to it. (Thanks, Alan!)

That's one of Arkin's characters on the left.

That’s one of Arkin’s characters on the left.

Alan Arkin played three different roles in the film – Roat, Roat Jr., and Roat Sr. All three received mention in the credits. Real telephone numbers were used in the movie – not those generic 555 exchanges. It’s a small thing, to be sure, but yet another reason why I love this movie.

One of my favorite scenes shows Susy’s breakdown when she realizes that her telephone line has been cut. She starts to completely lose it, but then she suddenly gives herself a figurative slap in the face, pulls herself together, and instead of allowing herself to wallow in victimhood, she starts taking steps to fight back. It’s an awesome thing to see – you’ll want to cheer.

I’m no fan of scary movies, but I have to hand it to Wait Until Dark for serving up one of the scariest movie moments I’ve ever seen – you know, one of those unexpected, jump-two-feet-out-of-your-seat moments. Trust me – it’s a good one.

Other Stuff:
The film was based on a play by Frederick Knott, who also wrote the 1952 Broadway hit Dial M for Murder.

Hepburn and her producer/husband, Mel Ferrer.

Hepburn and her producer/husband, Mel Ferrer.

The movie was produced by actor Mel Ferrer, who was married at the time to Audrey Hepburn. The two were divorced the year after the film’s release. Audrey Hepburn was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. She lost to Katharine Hepburn in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

In my memory, I always associate this movie with See No Evil, a 1971 release that starred Mia Farrow as another blind woman in peril. It was pretty good, but I always felt that Wait Until Dark was the far superior film.

Henri Mancini wrote the music for the film’s title song; the lyrics were penned by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, who also wrote the words to Buttons and Bows, Que Sera Sera, Silver Bells, and Mona Lisa (and the theme song for the TV show Mr. Ed!).

If you’ve never seen this film, or if it’s been a while since you gave it a watch, do yourself a favor and check it out – until I started on this post, I hadn’t seen it in more than 30 years, and believe me, it still packs the same punch! You won’t be sorry.

This post is part of the 1967 in Film Blogathon, hosted by The Rosebud Cinema and Silver Screenings. Visit either of these sites to check out the many great posts being presented as part of this event!

 
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