skip navigation

Movie News - Our extensive online Hollywood film and classic DVD news page.

  1. Top News Stories

    •  
    • David Thomson discusses The New Biographical Dictionary of Film: Sixth Edition

    • David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, recently released in its Sixth Edition (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), has been selected as the featured TCM "Movie News" book for August. It was voted the best film book of all time in a poll of international critics by Sight & Sound magazine, called "the finest reference book ever written about movies" by film columnist Graham Fuller and named by editor Tom Nissley as "the greatest bathroom book of all time." Thomson himself was hailed as "probably the greatest living film critic and historian" by Benjamin Schwarz, former literary and national editor for The Atlantic.

      "I am touched and flattered," was Thomson's response to these accolades in a recent interview for TCM. He seems happy for readers to pick up his 1,154-page "Dictionary," no matter the location where they choose to leaf through it: "By the TV is common. Bedside, often. And, yes, a bathroom book. But I think since 1971 - when the book began as a project - our sense of the bathroom has developed a lot."

      Composed as a series of career biographies/commentaries, the book makes for compulsive reading, and every entry yields examples of Thomson's imposing knowledge and wit, along with his flair for dead-on analysis and evocative language. He writes of Marilyn Monroe, the book's cover girl in a playful pose from Some Like It Hot, "If she sometimes resembled a sleepwalker, perhaps that showed how many dreams impelled her." James Franco, who has earned an entry in the latest edition, is described as "immensely sympathetic and entirely implausible." Thomson muses of Judy Garland's compassionate performances in The Wizard of Oz and A Star Is Born that "Perhaps she yearned to care for people; is that the vibrato always trembling in her voice?"

      The Thomson wit can sting. He describes Lana Turner as being "close to the spirit of small-town waitresses ready to be picked up by a toothbrush salesman with a cousin in casting." Of Robert Redford in Indecent Proposal (1993), he writes that an undeveloped script left "time to see how far Redford resembled used wrapping paper." Still, the assessments - however subjective - are generally positive and often generous.

      Previous editions of the book were published in 1975, 1980, 1994, 2004 and 2010. Along with Franco, the more than 100 new entries in the Sixth Edition include Amy Adams, Casey Affleck, Steve Coogan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Danes, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Lawrence, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Shannon, Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams.

      Along with performers, the book offers looks at the careers of producers, writers, directors and other film artists and craftsmen.

      In addition to new entries, Thomson revises existing biographies as various individuals add to their credits or are the subjects of rethinking by the author. In revising one biography, he notes wryly that "Updating Meryl Streep is always eventful." His summation: "It seems possible that she is troubled by her stature now... and she is, in a plain, decent way, someone much troubled by the world. Well, she has done her best with that dilemma, and she represents the best we will ever have."

      In planning his revisions Thomson has been aided by Knopf editor Robert Gottlieb, who "opened my eyes to some '30s actors and actresses and to Japanese players." Re-evaluations included those for directors Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks: "I once underrated Lubitsch. I think now I am too kind to Hawks. But what this all adds up to is the need to keep seeing the classics and questioning them."

      The first edition was a labor of love, and Thomson says now that he was not sure at the time that it would ever see publication. In the early 1970s, with no access to online sources of information and limited opportunities for seeing older films, research was laborious. "Literally, I spent hours and months in the BFI [British Film Institute] Library in London, making lists of credits from trade papers because filmographies simply didn't exist. Now there are databanks so the work is easier. But the databanks are not always accurate and often films depend on some people who are not in the credits. So knowing the inside stuff matters."

      In that first edition Thomson wrote that the most important actors in film history were Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum and Barbara Stanwyck. Why? "Because they are actors who would probably not have 'worked' onstage, but who bring fantastic intelligence and personality to the camera. I think if you go back to the early '70s people were generally too much of the opinion that great acting has to be theatre. It can be. But there is great acting onscreen, too. Of course, some people are good at both."

      The new edition includes many individuals who are better known for their work in television than in the world of feature films, and Thomson acknowledges that TV is producing some of today's most interesting film work. "I was always opposed to the snobbery towards TV," he notes. "And now we are in a golden age of television in which long-form series are generally far better than our theatrical movies. I think it was clear with Matthew McConaughey in True Detective that we were watching a movie event. I think Top of the Lake may be the best thing [director] Jane Campion has done."

      Thomson dreams of a seventh edition "that is a complete rewrite of the whole book," though "various entities have to remain in business, or alive, for that to happen." He is now "at a point where I would love the chance to redo a lot of big entries, placing these people in a newer historical perspective - for example, Griffith, Eisenstein, Chaplin, Hawks, Hitchcock, Renoir, Godard. It is not that my feelings would be different, but I think the age I grew up in - of auteur appreciation - has shifted and by now business, technology and audience response mean more. I felt I was watching movies, but I see now that I was watching screens. There's a big difference and it doesn't bode well for the art of film."

      As for the exact nature of the "Dictionary," he allows that "It's up to readers and reviewers to say what sort of book it is. For myself, I think it's a collection of genres: It is a reference book; it's a kind of critical history of film; it's a memoir; it's a book about the nature of careers; and it's even a kind of novel about someone writing this book."

      Thomson, born in London, began seeing movies there "at the age of five, sitting on the knees of my parents. This was 1945, and I'm not sure whether the first film was Olivier's Henry V or a Lassie movie in which the dog is pursued by Nazis [Son of Lassie] . Whichever it was, I had to be taken outside because I was in tears at my emotional involvement - with burning pageboys in the Shakespeare film, and the plight of Lassie." By the age of eight he was going on his own to three theaters within walking distance, and asking strangers to take him into the theater if the film was rated so that children required adult company. "Sounds alarming now, but it was safe then," he observes.

      As a youngster he had no particular ambition to write about films: "I was mainlining on fantasy." But by the time he was 14 or so his mother had become alarmed at the number of films he was seeing when he was "supposed to be doing homework in order to go to Oxford. So she made a bargain with me. If I insisted on seeing movies, then I had to write something about them. The fantasy rush had to be turned into respectable intellectual process." He began writing essays of about a hundred words each on certain films and presenting them to his mother.

      Thomson eventually enrolled not at Oxford but in the London School of Film Technique. He continued his habit of thinking and writing about films and published his first book, Movie Man, in 1967. In addition to the various editions of the "Dictionary," he has written more than 30 other books including America in the Dark: Hollywood and the Gift of Unreality (1978), Hollywood: A Celebration (2001), "Have You Seen...?": A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films (2008), The Big Screen: The Story of Movies (2012) and Moments That Made the Movies (2013). He has published studies on such screen personalities as Warren Beatty, David O. Selznick, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, Nicole Kidman, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper and Bette Davis, along with such novels as Suspects (1985) and Silver Light (1990). His books about Beatty and Kidman incorporate elements of fiction, and the 1987 Beatty book alternates chapters with a Thomson novel, Desert Eyes. In the interview he notes that "I don't make much distinction between fiction and non-fiction, and I think I get that from movie-going. Movies seem to be about fact - the truth at 24 times a second - and yet they are dreams."

      In addition to his books Thomson has contributed to The New York Times, Film Comment, Movieline and Salon. Currently, he writes regularly for The New Republic.

      Thomson first visited the U.S. in 1973 and came here to live in 1975. He notes that he gets back to England "once a year, sometimes more," and thinks of himself as both English and American. He lives in San Francisco with his second wife, with whom he has two sons. He has three children by a first marriage who live in England, and three grandchildren - "so far." Earlier this year he was the recipient of the Mel Novikoff Award, named after the San Francisco exhibitor and presented to an individual or institution whose work "has enhanced the film-going public's appreciation of world cinema."

      Because of his 1993 book Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick, written with the cooperation of the Selznick family, Thomson was asked by executive producer Jeffrey Selznick to write the script for Turner Entertainment's The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind. He recalls that project as "one of the happiest times of my life - in the Selznick archive in Austin, Texas, working with Jeffrey and Danny Selznick, the two sons of David O. Selznick, and bringing this film to life - a full two-hour documentary that was shown on TNT in 1989, the 50th anniversary of GWTW."

      How about Gone With the Wind itself, which he first saw in one of its re-releases when he was 12 or so? "Today, I think one has to be honest - the film has dated. Why not? Just as it's hard now to show The Birth of a Nation [1915] without exploring our history, so GWTW is a portrait of attitudes to the South, the Civil War, to black life and so many other things that jar in the culture of 12 Years a Slave. That's just the way it is. I think if you are an historian of the movies you have to be ready to see and admit the way in which the culture moves on.

      "It's an issue that faces TCM all the time. Yes, it's fun to enjoy the past, but you have to be able to see what is archaic, wrong and dangerous. Film tries to deal with reality but it has a constant urge to turn into fantasy. It's our duty to watch this and talk about it. By 2014, GWTW and The Birth of a Nation are epic achievements over which we need to have mixed feelings."

      Thomson served as a Guest Programmer for TCM in 2007, when his film picks were Act of Violence (1949), Angel Face (1953), Mr. Arkadin (1955) and The Killing (1956). He watches the channel regularly and finds it "a treasury" that "offers the chance of filling holes" in his research. "I cherish TCM, and in my world I meet many people who live by it. I love the decision to run silent films and wish it would show more foreign stuff."

      By Roger Fristoe

    • Comment
      share:
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. New Books

    •  
    • Elizabeth and Michael

    • By Donald Bogle

      One of the country's leading authorities on popular entertainment presents an eye-opening and unique biography of two larger-than-life legends--Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson--and their unlikely yet enduring friendship.

      From the moment Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson met, they were hooked on each other. He peered into her violet eyes and was transfixed; she, in turn, was dazzled by his talent, intrigued by his sweet-tempered childlike personality, and moved by the stories she had already heard about his troubled early life. Soon a deep friendship blossomed, unexpectedly unlike anything either had ever experienced. Through thick and thin, through their various emotional upheavals, through the peaks and valleys of their careers, through their personal traumas and heartaches, through the unending health issues and extreme physical pain that each experienced, and through the glare of the often merciless public spotlight, their bond held them together, and their love for each other endured.


      Donald Bogle skillfully recreates the moving narrative of Taylor and Jackson's experiences together and their intense emotional connection, without shying away from the controversies that swirled around them. Through interviews with friends and acquaintances of the two stars, as well as anonymous but credible sources, Elizabeth and Michael emerges as a tender, intimate look at this famous "odd couple" and a treasure to their millions of fans.

    • More >
    •  
    •  
    • Robert Wagner's I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses

    • By Robert Wagner and Scott Eyman

      In a career that has spanned over sixty years, Robert Wagner has witnessed the twilight of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the rise of television, becoming a beloved star in both film and TV. During this time, he became acquainted, both professionally and socially, with many of the greatest female screen personalities of all time. I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses (On-sale: 11/15/16) by Robert Wagner, with co-author Scott Eyman, provides an intimate and revealing account of the charisma of these women on film, why they became stars, and how their specific emotional and dramatic chemistries affected the choices they made both as actresses and as women.

      I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES offers a privileged look behind the scenes at some of the most well-known women in show business. Among Wagner's subjects are Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Dorothy Lamour, Debra Paget, Jean Peters, Linda Darnell, Betty Hutton, Raquel Welch, Glenn Close, and the two actresses whom he ultimately married, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John. In addition to offering perceptive commentary on these women, Wagner examines topics like the strange alchemy of the camera--how it can transform the attractive into the stunning, and vice-versa--and how the introduction of color brought a new erotic charge to movies--one that enabled these actresses to become aggressively sexual beings in a way that that black and white films had only hinted at.


      Robert Wagner is the star of such films as A Kiss Before Dying, The Longest Day, The Pink Panther, and most recently, the Austin Powers franchise. On television, he starred in It Takes a Thief (with Fred Astaire), Switch (with Eddie Albert and Sharon Gless), and Hart to Hart (with Stefanie Powers). He has recently appeared on Two and a Half Men and NCIS. He is married to actress Jill St. John.

      Scott Eyman is the author of eleven books about the movies, including Lion of Hollywood: The Life of Louis B. Mayer (which the Wall Street Journal called one of the five best books ever written about Hollywood), Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille, and more recently, John Wayne: The Life and Legend.

    • More >
    •  
    •  
    • King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman's Technicolor Revue

    • King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman's Technicolor Revue tells the story of the making, release, and restoration of Universal's 1930 Technicolor extravaganza King of Jazz. Authors James Layton and David Pierce have uncovered original artwork, studio production files, behind-the-scenes photographs, personal papers, unpublished interviews, and a host of other previously unseen documentation. The book offers a richly illustrated narrative with broader context on the film's diverse musical and theatrical influences. The story concludes with an in-depth look at the challenges Universal overcame in restoring the film in 2016. Additionally, the book's appendix provides a comprehensive guide to all of the film's performers, music, alternate versions, and deleted scenes.

      King of Jazz was one of the most ambitious films ever to emerge from Hollywood. Just as movie musicals were being invented in 1929, Universal Pictures brought together Paul Whiteman, leader of the country's top dance orchestra; John Murray Anderson, director of spectacular Broadway revues; a top ensemble of dancers and singers; early Technicolor; and a near unlimited budget. The film's highlights include a dazzling interpretation of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," which Whiteman had introduced to the public in 1924; Walter Lantz's "A Fable in Jazz," the first cartoon in Technicolor; and Anderson's grand finale "The Melting Pot of Music," a visualization of popular music's many influences and styles. The film is not only a unique document of Anderson's theatrical vision and Whiteman's band at its peak, but also of several of America's leading performers of the late 1920s, including Bing Crosby in his first screen appearance, and the Russell Markert Dancers, who would soon become Radio City Music Hall's famous Rockettes.


      James Layton is Manager of the Museum of Modern Art's Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center. Prior to this he worked at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, where he curated two gallery exhibitions and the website Technicolor 100. Layton has also acted as Cataloguer and Workflow Coordinator at the East Anglian Film Archive in Norwich, UK, and is co-author of the Image Permanence Institute's informational poster Knowing and Protecting Motion Picture Film (2009).

      David Pierce is an independent film historian and archivist. He was formerly the Head of Preservation and Curator of the National Film and Television Archive at the British Film Institute. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, and his report on the survival of American silent feature films was published by the Library of Congress in 2013. He founded the Media History Digital Library, providing free online access to millions of pages of motion picture magazines and books.

    • More >
    •  
    •  
    • THE ESSENTIALS: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter

    • By Jeremy Arnold
      Forward by Robert Osborne

      Since its inception on Turner Classic Movies in 2001, The Essentials has become the ultimate for movie lovers to expand their knowledge of must-see cinema and discover or revisit landmark films that have had a lasting impact on audiences everywhere.

      Based on the hit series, THE ESSENTIALS by Jeremy Arnold showcases 52 must-see movies from the silent era to modern times. Readers can enjoy one film per week, like on the show, for a year of great viewing, or indulge in a movie-watching binge-fest. Each film is profiled with entertaining discourse on why it's an Essential, and running commentary is provided by TCM's Robert Osborne and Essentials guest hosts past and present: Sally Field, Drew Barrymore, Alec Baldwin, Rose McGowan, Carrie Fisher, Molly Haskell, Peter Bogdanovich, Sydney Pollack, and Rob Reiner.

      Featuring full-color and black-and-white photography of the greatest stars in movie history throughout, THE ESSENTIALS is the ultimate curated guide to 52 films that define the meaning of the word "classic."


      Jeremy Arnold, a writer and film historian, is the author of Lawrence of Arabia: The 50th Anniversary, a coffee-table book companion to that film's Blu-ray release. In addition to his work for numerous film trade publications, he has written over five hundred programming articles for the Turner Classic Movies website and contributed audio commentaries and historical essays to the DVD and Blu-ray releases of classic films.

    • More >
    •  
  1. DVD Reviews

    •  
    • Dick Dinman & William Wellman Jr. Salute BATTLEGROUND!

    • DICK DINMAN & WILLIAM WELLMAN JR. SALUTE "BATTLEGROUND!": BATTLEGROUND remains producer/host Dick Dinman's all-time favorite WW2 film and distinguished actor, writer and producer William Wellman Jr. rejoins Dick as both salute William Wellman's Oscar-winning once in a lifetime epic military drama which has just been beautifully remastered on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

    • More >
    •  
    •  
    • Dick Dinman & Eddie Muller are ON DANGEROUS GROUND!

    • DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER ARE "ON DANGEROUS GROUND": The Warner Archive has just released an astonishing looking (and sounding!) Blu-ray rendition of Nicholas Ray's dark yet hypnotically beautiful film noir ON DANGEROUS GROUND which features a steely yet sensitive performance from noir icon Robert Ryan that easily ranks up there with his finest efforts ever and producer/host Dick Dinman and his guest "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller dissect the various qualities which make this film so captivatingly unique (including the plaintively emotional score by Bernard Herrmann which was one of his two favorites).

      PLUS: SHORT TAKES: Kino's Kl Classics' THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET, DAISY KENYON and Cohen Film Collection's SUDDEN FEAR.

      COMING ATTRACTIONS: The Warner Archives' BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK and Twilight Time's KISS OF DEATH.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

    • More >
    •  
    •  
    • Dick Dinman & Eddie Muller Explore THE ASPHALT JUNGLE!

    • DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER EXPLORE "THE ASPHALT JUNGLE": Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back the "Czar of Noir" himself Eddie Muller as both celebrate the Criterion Collection's pristine release on Blu-ray of John Huston's THE ASPHALT JUNGLE which remains conceivably the greatest "heist/noir" masterwork ever committed to celluloid. (It's early in the year but its difficult to conceive that any home video outfit in the ensuing year will be able to top the astonishing "special features" included on this sensational disc.)

      PLUS: Show opener "Dick's Picks" salutes the Criterion Collection's recent Blu-ray releases of Robert Altman's McCABE & MRS. MILLER, Marlon Brando's ONE EYED JACKS and Howard Hawks' HIS GIRL FRIDAY.

      COMING SOON: DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER ARE "ON DANGEROUS GROUND"!

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

    • More >
    •  
    •  
    • Dick Dinman Salutes Air Hero Jimmy Stewart!

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES WW2 AIR HERO JIMMY STEWART: The dual releases of Olive Films stunning Blu-ray incarnation of the James Stewart air power classic STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND as well as author Robert Matzen's awe inspiring book MISSION: JIMMY STEWART AND THE FIGHT FOR EUROPE, which for the first time ever reveals the truth about Stewart's dangerous bombing missions over Germany, give producer/host Dick Dinman ample motivation to salute the spectacular military career of screen icon Stewart and Dick is joined by returning guest Robert Matzen as they marvel at the courage, skill and fortitude of this certifiable American hero.

      The opening DICK'S PICKS segment salutes Olive Films and their latest Blu-ray releases of not only STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND but Orson Welles' MACBETH (two versions!), HOUDINI, THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI, VILLA RIDES. ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING and two new 4k releases of THE QUIET MAN and JOHNNY GUITAR (first time in original widescreen format on home video!).

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

    • More >
    •  
  1. Press Release

    •  
    • IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER at NYC's Film Forum Celebrating Betty Comden's Centennial, 5/3

    • Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen's It's Always Fair Weather, starring Kelly, with music by AndrĂ© Previn and screenplay and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, will have a special screening at 8:15 pm at Film Forum on May 3, the 100th anniversary of Betty Comden's birth. The screening will be introduced by Green's daughter, actress, singer, and Tony-nominated lyricist/songwriter Amanda Green.

      Born Basya Cohen to Russian immigrants in Brooklyn on May 3, 1917, Betty Comden first attracted attention as part of the Revuers, a theater troupe comprised of herself, Judy Holliday, Leonard Bernstein, and Adolph Green, which performed to acclaim at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village. Her first Broadway show was 1944's On the Town with Green, Bernstein, and choreographer Jerome Robbins - besides writing the book and lyrics (including the iconic "New York, New York"), she and Green also co-starred in supporting roles.

      In the late 1940s, Comden and Green went Hollywood, where they wrote screenplays for classic films like Singin' in the Rain and The Band Wagon. Even after the move to Hollywood, the team continued to write lyrics for Broadway, teaming with many of American musical theater's most important composers, including Bernstein (Wonderful Town), Jule Styne (Bells Are Ringing, Subways Are Sleeping, Fade Out - Fade In, Hallelujah, Baby!), and Cy Coleman (On the Twentieth Century, The Will Rogers Follies). Her final public appearance was at Film Forum.

      35mm. Approx. 102 Min.

      For more information, links and showtimes, visit www.filmforum.org

    • More >
    •  
The Egg and I DVD
$8.55
was $14.98
Westward The Women DVD
$14.96
was $19.99
The Graduate (Criterion Collection) DVD
$23.35
was $29.95
Close

Close

  •  
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca
  •  
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca
  •  
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca