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    • An Interview with Christopher Plummer on His Recently Published Memoirs

    • On Friday, December 5th, TCM interviewed Christopher Plummer by phone about his new autobiography, IN SPITE OF MYSELF (published by Knopf). An actor of great range and versatility, Plummer has worked in every facet of the industry - theatre, television, radio and film - and we covered everything from John Barrymore to Plummer's appearance in STAR TREK 6: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY with fellow Canadian William Shatner to unsung stage legends such as Laurette Taylor to THE SOUND OF MUSIC to his upcoming title role in Terry Gilliam's THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS and much more.

      TCM: What was the main reason that compelled you to write IN SPITE OF MYSELF?

      Christopher Plummer: Well, I wanted to write about the old guard that had gone before television had come into play. All the great stars that I had worked with in the past because that really is history. Because they themselves have such links with the past that you feel like you know the past by knowing them. And I knew that a lot of young people - if they ever bother to pick up the book to read - will probably not know who the hell I'm talking about. But it doesn't matter because anybody who's interested in the arts, they should know and that's why I wanted to tell those stories.

      Well, it's great to have accounts of all these theatre people because there are no film records of them.

      CP: No, there's not. Kathreen Cornell, for example, only appeared in one movie. I think it was STAGE DOOR CANTEEN and she had a guest appearance like everyone else in that.

      Your book fills me with regret at not being able to have seen some of these great people on the stage.

      CP: Yes, I know, I know, and I was so lucky to have met them and some of them at the end of their careers. They were all still living that rich and extraordinary life that the theatre had in those days. Kathreen Cornell, for example, was the last actress to have her own private train which we traveled in across the U.S. and Canada before hitting Broadway. It was like a fairy story.

      TCM: I wanted to ask you about growing up in Canada. From your memoirs, it seems that music and theatre were your favorite arts as a teenager but there was little mention of cinema. There was one comment you made, "I shunned celluloid and adopted toward it a repulsively snobbish disregard." I was curious where that attitude came from? CP:(laughs) Well, that attitude came from almost everyone in the theatre in those days. Don't forget that we still had an almost snobbish disregard for the cinema. The theatre was the senior art and the cinema was this kind of brash newcomer that had come in and made a lot of people famous without a hell of a lot of training. And here we were in a profession where you had to train otherwise you wouldn't be tolerated. It was a very old-fashioned, extraordinary [attitude]...and it still hung on with a lot of Broadway actors in guys like Jason [Robards, Jr.] and George C. Scott. When I was on Broadway and they were my friends and they were a part of the rhythm of life in New York in the fifties, even they made movies to make money in order to be able to go back to the theatre and do great plays. That sort of stayed with me through the fifties and then you grow up and say, "C'mon on, the movies are [legitimate work].." Secretly, of course, I was lying because I went to the movies all the time as a kid. I saw thousands of films. I became a sort of boring film buff when I was fifteen or sixteen. It all changed in the sixties and seventies and we began to revere the cinema. But I still held on to that truth about the theatre and the training. That holds true to today.

      TCM: One comment you made in the book was that you read the John Barrymore biography, Good Night, Sweet Prince and that influenced you to want to become a stage actor.

      CP: Oh yes, hugely. It was the first book about an actor I had ever read and - my god - I thought that if this guy could look that good and be that good on the stage and still be a drunk - god love him! That was my idea of absolute heaven. To be able to drink, act, look handsome...and get girls!

      TCM: But you never had a chance to see him on stage did you?

      CP: No, but I knew his daughter Diana which I write about in the book. And she was full of stories about her dad even though she didn't know him that well either. But the little she knew of him she was obsessed by him and certainly shared a huge history of stories about him. I was very fond of Diana, such a self-destructive nature. It was a Barrymore disease, I guess, for awhile and she inherited it, I suppose. When I was in my sixties, I played him [John Barrymore] on the stage on Broadway and I somehow wish Diana could have seen me. I think she might have been proud of me. I hope so.

      TCM: Did you ever see the film version of Diana Barrymore's autobiography Too Much Too Soon? I was curious if Dorothy Malone captured what she might have been like?

      CP: Yes, she wasn't quite as flamboyant as Diana in life or on the screen. She was very good in it but I see Diana in other movies as herself and she's sometimes good and sometimes a little theatrical because she hadn't done that many films and was primarily a stage actress.

      TCM: In terms of John Barrymore on film, is there a particular performance that you most admire?

      CP: Well, it's such a shame that we couldn't see him when he was playing Hamlet on the stage, when he was in full control of his powers. I know that by the time he arrived on the screen he was kind of dissipated a bit..but I loved him in TWENTIETH CENTURY. I thought all of his theatricality was..given its true importance in that movie. And I liked his performance in a picture called MIDNIGHT. He was terribly good in that and I think he had a ball in MIDNIGHT. COUNSELLOR AT LAW, you can see every now and then, a touch of greatness in him. There are flashes of it, you know, as you watch it. There are certain scenes, particularly almost at the end, in that tension before he tries to commit suicide. And he's on that telephone call to the ship. There are moments in there of such pain and reality that you say, "Hey, wait a minute that must have been part of what he was like as Hamlet." So it crosses your mind. But then he goes back to being a ham. And one enjoys that in a way but there's something sad about it. I thought his Mercutio [in ROMEO AND JULIET, 1936] was a little over the top. But I knew - god who played Benvolio in that? - Basil Rathbone played Tybalt and he told me that he and Reginald Denny, he played Benvolio...they had to support Jack while he did his soliloquy. So the director said "Look, just stay out of frame and just hold him still for christsake, will you, so he can get through this speech?" So what you see is Jack doing the great Queen mab speech alone, of course, but what you don't see is Benvolio and Tybalt supporting him on either side. I mean, Basil Rathbone told me that story. Awful! (laughs)

      TCM: With you being such a classically trained actor, I was curious about your opinion of "The Method" and Marlon Brando's impact on the theatre world with A Streetcar Named Desire.

      CP: Listen, to me "The Method" is usually totally misunderstood. It doesn't mean that you have to mumble and not be heard. It means that you use it when you're in deep trouble, when you can't bring your imagination to work then you try and have a sense memory of your own that can help and I think that's true of any instinctive actor. You don't have to go to a method school to learn that. But when Marlon came to the fore and became the second - actually - very real actor, the first being Montgomery Clift...Monty and Marlon Brando were the two supremely realistic actors on the screen at that time. And it was just wonderful to watch and you realized they knew how to treat the medium. The Medium needed that then. Now I'm going to switch back a few decades before that to an actor not a lot of people will know but an actor called Robert Williams who was one of the most realistic comedians the screen had. He made Cary Grant look like he was overacting. Robert Williams was the lead opposite Jean Harlow in PLATINUM BLONDE which was directed by Frank Capra. To watch Robert Williams act was like seeing a comic using the Method, long before the Method became famous with Marlon and Monty. So people were doing it already, that's my point. Brando was great and I would have liked to use both my classical knowledge and Brando's kind of wonderful imaginative reality and mix them up and that would have been the perfect mix for any artist.

      TCM: I love the idea of actors playing characters in Shakespeare's plays that you don't ordinarily associate with Shakespeare such as Brando playing Mark Anthony in JULIUS CAESAR or Jack Palance in the same play which you talk about in your book.

      CP: Well, that is a true story you know and I'll never forget him [Palance] throwing his costume offstage in a rage because the critics hadn't recognized that he had worked very hard. And they were miserable to him. However, I do redeem Jack and I became very fond of Jack but it wasn't easy in the beginning because he was a pretty forbidding fellow. That stare would freeze anybody in their tracks. But I became very fond of him because there was a vulnerability about him. He redeemed himself as Caliban [in Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST]. He was terribly good as Caliban. He used all of his sort of hissing (makes vocal sounds like Palance)...and the thing he did in westerns. He used that and it worked. Raymond Massey was Prospero, he was Caliban. So he redeemed himself and I think the critics came back and praised him for that, which they should, because they were very unkind to him in JULIUS CAESAR.

      TCM: I've noticed that you've played some of the same characters over and over again on stage and in film - Oedipus Rex, Cyrano - and was curious if you liked replaying the role at different points in your life as you got older because you brought a different perspective to the character and got a new idea of how to approach him? Or was it something else?

      CP: Oh, god no. You're exactly right. Also, different people in different countries. I did Benedick twice [in Much Ado About Nothing], once in Stratford in Canada, and once in Stratford-on-Avon in England with totally different people, casts, and all that. Hamlet, you know, I've done twice. And Hamlet you can never do well enough until you are my age. For instance, I think I'd be terrific as Hamlet now because I've learned so much since that I could put it into Hamlet. Do you know what I mean? I don't think anybody can play that part and be the right age for it. It's not possible that anybody could be so witty, urbane, moving, touching, wise, all the things that Hamlet is...princely, cultured, way beyond his years. How can you do all that until you're old enough to have the technique in which to make it look all so simple? Everybody has to work so goddamn hard when they play Hamlet and I'm just as guilty as anybody else.

      TCM: Yes, it would be hard to accept a 20-year-old actor as a character like King Lear.

      CP: Yes, in a sense, because you would look right - he was about 26 - and I played him when I was 26 or 27. And then the next time I played him I was 30 and still looked ok. The booze hadn't gotten to me yet. (laughs) And I was better the second time. Of course. You learn more in the interum. And now I think I'm ready but sadly the movies have killed that you see because now they want you to look the part. Edwin Booth, the great American actor of the 19th century, played Lear until he was 65 or certainly into his sixties, and with long, white hair and nobody complained. He was wonderful in it.

      TCM: Now one play I wanted to ask about was THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN where you played Pizarro on the stage but in the film version of it you played the Inca King Atahualpa. Was that a different transition to make?

      CP: Yes, but I kept thinking when I was Pizarro on Broadway..I kept watching young David Carradine who was playing Atahualpa, the Inca king, and making all sorts of weird sounds. It was wonderful stuff he was doing. And I kept thinking if this was ever a movie, THAT'S the film part. He doesn't have much dialogue. All he does is come on and make these weird noises and look strange and wonderful. And those poor Pizarro has all these speeches to make, which in the theatre work great but on screen they're too long. You'd have to cut them. So I said Atahualpa for me. And then Bob [Robert] Shaw put it together with some other people and said would you want to come and play Atahualpa? And I said yes, absolutely. No, I had a fascinating time playing both those characters because I think Peter Shaffer wrote a play that was way ahead of its time although it was a hit in both London and New York. But it didn't quite hit the mark with its story about diverse cultures needing each other...societies dependent on one another. I think a few years later it would have worked better.

      TCM: There is a photo in IN SPITE OF MYSELF of William Shatner with the caption reading, "My rebellious understudy," and wanted to know about your experiences together in theatre in Canada.

      CP: No, in radio. We grew up in radio together in Montreal in both French and in English. So there was a lot of work going on. But rebellious understudy, by that I meant that Bill Shatner, who was my understudy, when he went on, he broke all the rules. He did everything I didn't do. So he was totally different from me in every single way. Even from sitting down to standing up. So I knew he was a rebel. And I knew that he was going to be a star.

      TCM: So that must have been a fun reunion when you starred together in STAR TREK 6: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY?

      CP: Oh, god yes. It really was fun. I enjoyed that and it was a good script too, a funny script.

      TCM: And now it's time for a few inevitable SOUND OF MUSIC questions. Did you ever have an inkling while you were filming it that it was going to be the huge boxoffice hit it became?

      CP: Well, I do mention in the book that during the last two days of shooting in California where we did most of the interiors people started coming to visit the set. Journalists would turn up, actors would turn up. Shirley MacLaine was there a lot because she was making a movie next door and...there was suddenly a strange interest in the thing which I thought very mysterious. And I remember Julie [Andrews] saying to me, "I have a feeling that we might be famous." And of course we had no idea the bloody thing was going to take off like it did. But I begain to have an inkling that something was afoot in California toward the end.

      TCM: And after THE SOUND OF MUSIC was a hit, did you receive a lot of screenplays with characters similar to the Captain Von Trapp character?

      CP: Yes, that's sort of why I decried my role as the Captain a lot. I don't decry the movie because it was a very well made movie.

      TCM: But you wisely turned all of those scripts down.

      CP: Well, not all of them. I did some of them because, you know, you have to make a living. But my type of roles are sort of uptight, urbane, sophisticated young men...sort of boring and dull. People don't have any imagination in this business, do they? I can do comedy. I can do all sorts of things. Why are they giving me this uptight crap? So I was so happy when I arrived at a certain age and I could become a character actor and be free of all that nonsense.

      TCM: One person you mention in your book that I love and have only seen rarely on screen but he's always wonderful is Michael Kidd. Of course he's more famous as a choreographer but you worked with him on your musical Cyrano and he was so great in IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER with Gene Kelly. What are your memories of him?

      CP: Oh, Michael Kidd was a gem. I mean I haven't heard anybody say anything about Michael Kidd that wasn't absolutely magical for them. Fred Astaire was over the moon about Michael Kidd when he worked with him as a choreographer. I was when he did Cyrano. He was absolutely wonderful the way he moved that whole evening. And his taste in it was extraordinary. He had a lovely human taste about everything. I've put his name down every year on a ballot to be honored, you know, by the Kennedy Center honors. And now he's gone and he's never been honored. To me, he was one of the very original, great choreographers of our history. It was Agnes DeMille and Michael Kidd. He did the original GUYS AND DOLLS, the movie version of it, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS...I mean, I can't believe that he has not been honored in the way he deserved to be. Yeah, I loved him. He was a great guy and he was the kind of guy who would say to you (imitated his voice), "Oh, I don't want that done, please" - he was so modest. And he shunned the limelight. Maybe that was why.

      TCM: One of my favorite directors that you worked with - Anthony Mann - had moved into big budget films at the time you made THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE with him. Your chapter on the making of that film was fascinating and would make a great film as well. But I was curious, since he was fired from SPARTACUS a few years before that, if you felt he had gotten in over his head with directing these epics? Having worked with him closely, do you feel it was harder for him to manage these big productions or that his style had changed from his earlier, more intimate noirs and westerns?

      CP: Well I loved working with him and don't think so at all. I think THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE was wonderfully directed. It looked wonderful, it moved well. The only problem with THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE was that the script wasn't very good. It was badly written because there was a huge conglomerate of writers on it that had come out of every hole in the wall. I don't know how they managed to stay in one room - one cigarette smoke filled room - as they all penned with very mundane script with a huge and wonderful cast. A terrific director. And I thought EL CID was an absolutely wonderful epic. That had classic porportions to it in its simplicity. No, I don't think so at all. I think Anthony Mann was a very, very unsung versatile director who could do the epic drama as equally well as he did film noir and westerns. He was good at all three. And you know the funny thing is he was one of the few Hollywood directors that I've ever met who adored the theatre because he started in the theatre.

      TCM: I didn't realize that. As a director or actor?

      CP: I think as an actor. But I didn't mention that in my book because I wasn't sure if he was a director or an actor but I do know that he started in the theatre as a young man.

      TCM: I'm going to jump ahead to something more recent, your performance as "60 Minutes" Reporter Mike Wallace in THE INSIDER. Was that intimidating to play someone who is still quite active and visible in their profession and would probably see your performance?

      CP: Well, it was kind of dangerous and I like danger because, you know, I think you have to go in where angels fear to tread. And I met Michael and have even been interviewed by him. And I watched him when I was a youngster...and he was barely a youngster too the angry young man of television. So I didn't have to do much research because I remembered very well how his voice sounded...and how he attacked everybody and was an extraordinary, probing commentator. No, that was wonderfully challenging and greatly helped I was by Michael Mann [the director] who kept me from imitating him. He insisted that I put some of my own personality into the Mike Wallace character which is correct..because otherwise that's just a simple imitation of the man and that's cheap. So he guided me very well though that and I admired him. And of course my friendship began with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino, both of whom I admire enormously. It goes without saying about Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, who is probably the most talented leading man that Hollywood has had in a long time.

      TCM: In 2005 both you and your daughter Amanda were both nominated for Emmy awards in separate television productions. Have you ever worked together on stage or in film or have any plans to?

      CP: No, we never have and I do want to very much. One avoided it for a while because it looked like we were pushing the family. You know, "Oh yes, I'll team up with my daughter and I'll get my grandmother to play all the other parts." So we avoided it and I think there is a sort of shyness about being related that can sometimes interfere with your work or with your freedom in your work. But now I think I would love to and there are a couple of plays that I am very much thinking about doing with her. Because I admire her enormously. She's a very original talent. She's extraordinary.

      TCM: There's a little independent film you made in Canada in 1978 that I'm quite fond of called THE SILENT PARTNER with Elliott Gould and Susannah York. You are very frightening in that film. At the time I saw it, it seemed like Canada was developing into a very active filmmaking location with lots of directors like David Cronenberg and Darryl Duke emerging.

      CP: Yes, The Canadian film industry was beginning. It started mostly in Montreal and the French film industry had started even before that in Montreal - the French-Canadian film industry - and they'd done some wonderful local movies which were shown in several French speaking countries such as France for example. And several of them were prize winning movies but then the English followed suit. I starred in an earlier Montreal movie, THE PYX, which I did with Karen Black. That was sort of the beginning of this new resurgence in English filmmaking. Then THE SILENT PARTNER came along several years later with Darryl Duke directing. He was a very talented director. And that script was written by our friend who is now a very big Hollywood director - Curtis Hanson. He was a very young guy then and had written a script - a really fascinating script. My wife's idea was to put me in a Chanel dress in the last scene - that was Elaine's idea - and I took it to Darryl and he said, "Oh, god, I don't think our friend the writer is going to like that" but he said, "I love it" and finally I think we won both of them over. It did work. It was a great idea.

      TCM: I'm curious if you've ever had the desire to direct after so many years of film and stage experience?

      CP: I've sort of collaborated on some of the television productions I've done particularly one-man shows such as Nabokov...Vladimir Nabokov, a wonderful writer. I did a one-man show on him [Nabokov on Kafka, 1989) for television which I loved doing because he was such a fascinating creature. So I've directed a little bit and directed on stage but I would rather go on being an actor. The agony of being a movie director - I don't envy them. I really don't because they spend at least two years of their lives and unless you're a hugely popular director with final cut and there are very few now that have that. You work hard and put your life into it and what happens? Some committee comes along and changes it all, particularly in the movies. And I think my god, I'm not going to do that. By the time this guy's in his third year of being cut by a committee, I've made 25 plays as an actor. I mean I can work so much harder and quicker. So I modestly remain an actor.

      TCM: In terms of your current projects, is the new Terry Gilliam film, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS completed yet?

      CP: No, he's waiting for all sorts of insurance problems to be cleared because of Heath Ledger's death. And although Heath Ledger was replaced by three actors as you know - Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell - which is terrific replacing, my god. There are still some monetary problems over insurance. Otherwise, it's almost ready to be released. And poor Terry has gone through torture.

      TCM: He seems to go through torture on all of his movies.

      CP: Oh, I know and I adore Terry because he has such a wild, wild imagination. And I keep saying to him, you know, it's so much easier Terry if you just scrap the movie and make the documentary.

      TCM: That's what they did about his La Mancha film.

      CP: That's right....which I loved that documentary. It was just wonderful. So that's coming out this year. And I just finished a movie with Helen Mirren who I adore about Tolstoy and his wife [THE LAST STATION]..and a very good script by Michael Hoffman which we made in Germany last winter and spring. That should be coming out soon and I'm looking forward to that because I think there was some depth in that and some fun. And the Tolstoys have not been written about that very much on the screen as a family. Order the television serial.

      TCM: I noticed you have another new project on your slate, a film version of Shaw's CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA.

      CP: Yes, we did it this summer up in Stratford, Canada with a wonderful young Black actress named Nikki James who looks sixteen..just the age that Shaw imagined her to be in his play and we're going to bring it to New York which we're trying to negotiate right now. It's a very funny play and a very timely one too. The references to the Egyptian takeover brings a response from the audience. You can hear them thinking "ah ha Iraq" which immediately springs to mind.

      TCM: One last question: In terms of all the great Broadway and theatre actors you've known and worked with, is there one that you'd love to introduce to somebody who knew nothing about the theatre? Or more than one?

      CP: Yes, it can't be one. It started in France because I grew up watching French cinema and French theatre and we got a lot of French theatre in Montreal you know that came over from Paris and our own French theatre. I would say one of the most exciting French actors was Pierre Brasseur. He did the most extraordinary work. If you saw him as Keen, he just electrified the house. They all had the grand manner of the theatre which you don't see anymore. And he was also marvelous in - you remember his performance in LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS [Children of Paradise]? He played the great ham actor Frederick Lemaitre and wiped the floor with everybody. He was so funny. That sort of acting I would say influenced me greatly. Of course, Laurence Olivier. When one was young one was influenced by him. Wonderful way with Shakespeare. He made it so attractive as well as Shakespearian. And He made it attractive for the world so Shakespeare was given a huge resurgiance by his movie HENRY V. He influenced a huge generation of actors which I was one. And soon you get to kick the habit and become your own master. Even beefy old Donald Wolfit was a great King Lear. I mean I saw him on the stage and he was extraordinary. When I played King Lear many, many years later I'm afraid I stole some things from Donald Wolfit. I thought "Oh boy, I didn't do him justice" but he was wonderful too. The people I would have loved to have seen were Laurette Taylor who I understand from everyone who worked with her that I knew was the greatest actress that America ever produced. She was so real when she came on that you thought she was giving a documentary performance. You'd thought she'd come in straight off the street. She was that real that Anthony Ross who played the gentleman caller in Tennessee Williams original production of THE GLASS MENAGERIE of which Laurette Taylor starred in told me that on the stage she would suddenly turn to you and say something by Tennessee Williams but say it with such reality that you thought she was speaking to you in confidence.

      Interview conducted by Jeff Stafford

      *This originally appeared on TCM's Movie Morlocks blog on December 13, 2008. You can View It Here..

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  1. New Books

    • All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson

    • By Mark Griffin

      Quintessentially tall, dark, and handsome, legendary movie star Rock Hudson epitomized all-American manhood at the pinnacle of his fame. The country's favorite leading man in the '50s and '60s, he exuded charm, strength, virility, and charisma in classics like Magnificent Obsession, Giant, and Pillow Talk. His mainstream appeal translated into box office success during the last hurrah of Hollywood's Golden Age. And yet, this Oscar-nominated talent's greatest performance came in real life, as for decades he kept his authentic self and his sexuality hidden in an extremely homophobic society.

      Now, in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS: A Biography of Rock Hudson (Harper; Hardcover; On Sale: December 4, 2018), author Mark Griffin probes beneath the façade to craft the definitive biography of the complicated, conflicted individual and widely misunderstood icon, whose illustrious career spanned 40 years and who was the first major celebrity to die of AIDS.

      To survive a chaotic and financially strapped Midwestern childhood, young Roy Fitzgerald found escape from his troubles--an estranged father, a violent stepfather, and a controlling mother--at the local cinema. Despite his humble circumstances, he yearned for a future onscreen. Looks and drive, as well as his stint on the casting couch with a notoriously unscrupulous agent, eventually transformed that dream into reality. Painstakingly, an unskilled but fiercely ambitious former truck driver was transformed into the camera-ready persona of Rock Hudson.

      Rising through the ranks at Universal, Hudson emerged as the studio's prized asset, a clean-cut matinee idol adored by colleagues and fans alike. Professional glory had a psychological cost for this vulnerable, insecure soul though. On celluloid and in gossip columns, he wooed countless attractive women, burnishing his manufactured image as a swoon-worthy romantic hero. Offscreen, he courted disaster as his gay relationships, affairs, and flirtations made him a prime target for exposure by tabloids and spurned ex-lovers.

      Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members, and former companions and unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, this comprehensive biography finally produces a multidimensional portrait of one of the most compelling figures in film history. Here, at last, are fresh insights into Hudson's controversial marriage to Phyllis Gates and his contentious dealings with boyfriend Marc Christian, providing answers to questions the late actor consistently evaded. Griffin also offers the first in-depth analysis of Hudson's entire body of work from his early bit parts to his collaborations with visionary director Douglas Sirk to his cheekily subversive bedroom farces with Doris Day to his transition to the small screen in the hit series McMillan & Wife. Along the way, this riveting account features memorable appearances from an A-list cast of characters, including Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, John Wayne, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and many other luminaries.

      Meticulously researched and vividly rendered, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS illuminates an all-too-human superstar whose life and legacy have significantly influenced American culture.

      Mark Griffin is the author of A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli. His interviews, reviews, and essays have appeared in scores of publications, including The Boston Globe, Premiere, MovieMaker, and Genre. Griffin, who recently appeared in the documentary Gene Kelly: To Live and Dance, lives in Lewiston, Maine.

    • More >
    • Handsome Johnny

    • By Lee Server

      Lee Server's in-depth research and vivid writing style have earned high acclaim for his bestselling biographies of Ava Gardener and Robert Mitchum. Now he turns his laser focus to a singular character in the annals of the American underworld--Johnny Rosselli--in HANDSOME JOHNNY: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin (St. Martin's Press, Nov. 13, 2018, $29.99).

      A protégé of Al Capone, Johnny Roselli abandoned his Boston roots for California and the bloody bootlegging wars of the Roaring Twenties, eventually becoming the Mob's "Man in Hollywood," and even producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s.

      Server uncovers previously unknown details about Rosselli, including:
      --The first detailed description of the biggest extortion plot in US history, the mob's plot to extort the entire movie industry and subvert the Hollywood unions.
      --The Syndicate's secret sponsorship of Columbia Pictures
      --The massive extortion deal that eventually landed Rosselli and his associates in federal prison.

      Server recounts the inside story of Rosselli's post-prison venture, working for Chicago boss Sam Giancana in Las Vegas, where he ran the town from his suites and poolside tables at the Tropicana and Desert Inn, enjoying the Rat Pack nightlife with pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

      Server also provides a detailed, first-time account of the most unexpected chapter in Rosselli's extraordinary life:
      --The CIA's recruitment of Rosselli to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro
      --The Kennedy brothers' secret connection to the murder plots
      --Rosselli's part in the eventual Washington investigations that tore apart the American intelligence service.

      Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, HANDSOME JOHNNY is a rich rollercoaster of a biography.

      LEE SERVER is the author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed biographies Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care and Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing. Robert Mitchum was named a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, "the film biography of the year" by the Sunday Times (U.K.) and one of the "60 Greatest Film Books." Ava Gardner was a New York Times Notable Book, and a New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today bestseller. He lives in Palm Springs, California.

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    • Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II

    • By Robert Matzen

      The story of one of the most enduring and beloved stars Hollywood has ever produced--Audrey Hepburn--has been told again and again since her passing in 1993. An Amazon search of books with her name will produce well over a thousand titles, with every aspect of her life but one covered in print: her years during World War II when she lived in the Netherlands under Nazi rule.

      On April 15, 2019--just weeks before what would've been her 90th birthday--critically acclaimed and bestselling biographer Robert Matzen reveals the true war story of this cinematic icon. The book, as shocking as it is vital and triumphant, is Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II [GoodKnight Books]. The culmination of years of painstaking research by Matzen--who conducted new interviews with people who knew Audrey Hepburn in the Netherlands, unearthed secret diaries, gained access to previously classified archives, and combed through decades of her own infrequent but revealing reminiscences in interviews--Dutch Girl contains substantive proof of holes, errors, and inventions in every previous Audrey Hepburn biography that's touched on her life during the war years. In fact, the real story is more incredible than anything presented by previous biographers.

      From debunking the mythology of Hepburn's lineage (did the wealthy van Heemstras actually have their money stolen by the Nazis?) to revealing the extent of her involvement with the Dutch Resistance and an active role tending wounded of the famed "Bridge Too Far" battle of Arnhem, Dutch Girl is a definitive biography that exposes an extraordinary story of courage, tragedy, perseverance, and triumph--and contributes immeasurably to the legacy of one of the world's most famous actresses, fashion icons, and humanitarians.

      Dutch Girl has been called a "true gift" by Hepburn's younger son, Luca Dotti, who has written a powerful foreword to the book that speaks to the lock-and-key under which this information had been kept in Audrey's heart, writing:
      "When my mother talked about herself and what life taught her, Hollywood was the missing guest. Instead of naming famed Beverly Hills locations, she gave us obscure and sometimes unpronounceable Dutch ones. Red carpet recollections were replaced by Second World War episodes that she was able to transform into children's tales. We knew we were missing the complete story of her life in the war--until Robert Matzen wrote to me introducing himself and his book, Dutch Girl. I now understand why the words Good and Evil, and Love and Mercy were so fundamental in her own narrative. Why she was open about certain facts and why she kept so many others in a secluded area of her being. Thank you, Robert Matzen."

      The third and final book in Matzen's 'Hollywood in WWII' Trilogy -- which includes the award-winning 2013 book Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 and 2016 bestseller Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for World War II--Dutch Girl is a not-to-be-missed spring 2019 release. Among the topics explored and new information revealed in it includes:

      --The riveting, untold story of a young Dutch ballerina in World War II who went on to become an Academy Award winning movie star, timeless fashion icon, and tireless UNICEF ambassador who devoted her life to fighting for the welfare of children in war-torn territories
      --Brand-new verified information about the van Heemstra family, including brutal executions of Audrey Hepburn's relatives by the Nazis and other direct family members deeply involved in the rise of fascism in Europe
      --Audrey Hepburn's active role in the Dutch Resistance and details about her daily life in Velp when the war "came home" and the village was under fire for seven months
      --Never-before-seen photographs, documents, and mementos provided by Audrey Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti, informing Matzen's research and shared in a full-color and black-and-white 24-page photo section

      Robert Matzen has gained a reputation as one of today's top authors in popular biography; for his latest book, Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, he lived in Audrey Hepburn's footsteps in the Netherlands, interviewed many who knew her, and dug deep into Dutch archives to uncover secret information, resulting in a eye-opening look into the hidden past of an icon. Dutch Girl is Matzen's eighth book and the third and final installment in his 'Hollywood in World War II' trilogy, with previous releases including the award-winning and critically acclaimed titles Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 [2013] and Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe [2016]. Regularly appearing ininternational press, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Hollywood Reporter, and PBS, Matzen's previous print work includes many articles about classic films and he maintains a popular blog at

      Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II [GoodKnight Books] will be available in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook formats on April 15, 2019 wherever books are sold.

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    • A Star is Born: Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away

    • By Lorna Luft and Jeffrey Vance

      New York Times bestselling author and daughter of Judy Garland tells the story of A Star Is Born (1954) -- at once the crowning achievement and greatest disappointment in her mother's legendary career. This is a vivid account of a film classic's production, loss, and reclamation.

      A Star Is Born -- the classic Hollywood tale about a young talent rising to superstardom, and the downfall of her mentor/lover along the way -- has never gone out of style. It has seen five film adaptations, but none compares to the 1954 version starring Judy Garland in her greatest role. But while it was the crowning performance of the legendary entertainer's career, the production turned into one of the most talked about in movie history.

      The story, which depicts the dark side of fame, addiction, loss, and suicide, paralleled Garland's own tumultuous life in many ways. While hitting alarmingly close to home for the fragile star, it ultimately led to a superlative performance -- one that was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost in one of the biggest upsets in Oscar® history. Running far too long for the studio's tastes, Warner Bros. notoriously slashed extensive amounts of footage from the finished print, leaving A Star is Born in tatters and breaking the heart of both the film's star and director George Cukor.

      Today, with a director's cut reconstructed from previously lost scenes and audio, the 1954 A Star is Born has taken its deserved place among the most critically acclaimed movies of all time, and continues to inspire each new generation that discovers it. Now, Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland and the film's producer, Sid Luft, tells the story of the production, and of her mother's fight to save her career, as only she could. Teaming with film historian Jeffrey Vance, A Star Is Born is a vivid and refreshingly candid account of the crafting, loss, and restoration of a movie classic, complemented by a trove of images from the family collection taken both on and off the set. The book also includes essays on the other screen adaptations of A Star Is Born, to round out a complete history of a story that has remained a Hollywood favorite for close to a century.

      Lorna Luft is the daughter of Judy Garland and Sid Luft. She is the author of the bestselling book Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir (Pocket Books, 1998). After making her television debut on her mother's 1963 Christmas special, Luft embarked on her own career as a singer and actress on the stage, film, and TV. She has performed on and off Broadway in Lolita, and Promises, Promises; in national tours of Grease and Guys and Dolls; at the Rainbow Room, the Hollywood Bowl, and the White House. Luft lives in Palm Springs, CA.

      Jeffrey Vance is a film historian, author, and producer. His books include Douglas Fairbanks (UC Press, 2008) and a trilogy of volumes published by Abrams on comedy legends: Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema (2003), Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian (2002), and Buster Keaton Remembered (2001). Vance lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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  1. DVD Reviews

    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Come HOME FROM THE HILL!

    • DICK DINMAN AND GEORGE FELTENSTEIN COME "HOME FROM THE HILL"!: Warner's own George Feltenstein rejoins producer/host Dick Dinman as both marvel at Vincente Minnelli's sensitive and powerful direction of HOME FROM THE HILL one of the most bracingly stinging rural domestic dramas ever produced and both pay tribute to one of star Robert Mitchum's most acclaimed performances ever as this emotionally potent masterwork joins the prodigious list of Minnelli classics previously released on the Blu-ray format 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 or

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    • Dick Dinman's "Best of '18" Holiday Gift Giving Shows

    • DICK DINMAN'S "BEST OF '18" HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING SHOW: "Dick's Best Classic Blu-ray Pick's for '18" include superb releases from the Warner Archive, the Criterion Collection, Kino Lorber, the Cohen Collection, Olive Films, Twilight Time, Flicker Alley and Indicator/Powerhouse and acclaimed author, film historian, and commentator Jeremy Arnold joins producer/host Dick Dinman to shine the holiday light on his sumptuously illustrated new book TCM's CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON (available from Running Press).

      DICK DINMAN SALUTES TCM'S "CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON": Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back popular author and film historian Jeremy Arnold who reveals the why's and wherefores of his choices of classic holiday films that he included in his marvelous new Christmas gift book TCM's CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES: 30 CLASSICS TO CELEBRATE THE SEASON (available from Running Press).

      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 or

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    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Survive THE LAST HUNT

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN SURVIVE "THE LAST HUNT"! : Robert Taylor takes no prisoners in his superbly conceived, savage and rivetingly intense performance of a lifetime in writer/director Richard Brooks' starkly effective western drama THE LAST HUNT and Warner Home Video's popular and engaging Senior Vice President of Classic and Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein joins producer/host Dick Dinman as both celebrate the astonishingly gorgeous Blu-ray release of this powerful film classic.

      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 or

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    • Dick Dinman Salutes Criterion's DIETRICH & VON STERNBERG IN HOLLYWOOD

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES CRITERION'S "DIETRICH & Von STERNBERG IN HOLLYWOOD" COLLECTION (Part One): Classic film fans of the erotically exotic Paramount Pictures collaborations of star Marlene Dietrich and director/photographer Josef Von Sternberg are over the moon about the Criterion Collection's brilliant restorations of all six of their hotblooded and aggressively seductive cinema masterworks together which are supplemented by a phenomenal array of special features and acclaimed writer and film scholar Imogen Sara Smith joins producer/host Dick Dinman as both marvel at the unparalleled depth and scope of this amazing collection.

      DICK DINMAN SALUTES CRITERION'S "DIETRICH & Von STERNBERG IN HOLLYWOOD" COLLECTION (Part Two): Acclaimed author and film scholar Imogen Sara Smith rejoins producer/host Dick Dinman as both discuss all six of the Dietrich/Von Sternberg cinema milestones and marvel at the virtually immaculate transfers and wide ranging special features included in this dazzling collection.

      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 or

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    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein are GUN CRAZY!

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN ARE "GUN CRAZY!": Producer/host Dick Dinman and Warner Home Video's Sr. V.P. of Classic & Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein salute the Blu-ray debut of the certifiable noir masterwork GUN CRAZY as well as the Blu-ray debuts of LES GIRLS (Gene Kelly's final MGM dance delight), Sergio Leone's spectacular THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES and two drastically different Vincente Minnelli CinemaScope and color triumphs: the delightful comedy DESIGNING WOMAN and the intensely dramatic TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN.

      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 or

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  1. Press Release

    • Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha Screens BACK TO THE FUTURE!

    • Motion Picture Historian Crawford Bringing the time travel/comedy to Omaha

      Film historian Bruce Crawford will be presenting the 1985 classic Back to the Future on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha. It has become one of the most popular adventure comedies in cinema history and spawned three sequels as well as comic books, video games and much more.

      In addition to the special event screening, writer, producer and co-creator of all three Back to the Future films, Bob Gale, will address the audience as well as actor Harry Waters Jr., who played singer Marvin Berry in the film--both will speak before the screening discussing the making of this iconic film. There will also be a meet-and-greet and autograph session for the fans.

      This event marks 26 years since Crawford started hosting film legends and the classic films on which they worked. He typically presents two movies each year, spring and autumn.

      Tickets to meet and hear Bob Gale and Harry Waters Jr. go on sale Thursday, Oct. 4 for $24 each and can be purchased at the customer service counters of all Omaha-area Hy Vee food stores. Proceeds will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association.

      For more information call (402) 932-7200 or (308) 830-2121 and visit

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    • Web Reviewer Glenn Erickson Launches 'CineSavant'

    • Web reviewer Glenn Erickson, aka 'DVD Savant' has established a new home under a new identity, 'CineSavant.' Reviewing independently since 1998, the Savant database has grown to over five thousand reviews and articles, and become one of the most respected and sought-out review pages on the web for news and opinions about classic films on disc. Readership boomed when the page Trailers from Hell picked up Glenn's reviews as featured content in 2015.

      A varied background helps add perspective to Glenn's reviews; from the UCLA Film School he worked in special effects, and then moved on to TV commercial work, and trailers for The Cannon Group. A long stint with MGM/UA Home Video led to editing large-scale DVD extras and other special projects. He began writing for the web in 1997 as 'MGM Video Savant.' Working with the film curators at MGM, Glenn helped detect and produced the restoration of the original ending of the film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. Glenn has published two books of reviews, and has been writing and researching for TCM since 2004.

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    • TCM Remembers Neil Simon (1927-2018)

    • Turner Classic Movies pays tribute to Neil Simon on Friday, September 14 with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that night so please take note.

      The new schedule for Friday, September 14 will be:
      8:00pm - The Odd Couple (1968)
      10:00pm - The Goodbye Girl (1977)
      12:00am - Lost in Yonkers (1993)

      Neil Simon passed away on Sunday, August 26 in New York City at the age of 91.

      A staff writer on the signature comedy series of television's infancy, "Your Show of Shows" (NBC, 1950-54), Neil Simon went on to establish himself as one of Broadway's most prolific and consistent hit makers. Over the course of four decades, a Simon play or musical opened most seasons on Broadway and were often turned into major motion pictures within a couple of years, including "Barefoot in the Park" (1967), "The Out-of-Towners" (1969), "The Sunshine Boys" (1975) and "California Suite" (1978). Simon also wrote his share of original screenplays, such as the mystery spoof "Murder By Death" (1976) and the charming romantic comedy "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), though it was largely his stage work that earned him his reputation. Perhaps his most enduring creation was "The Odd Couple," which was a play in 1965, a film in 1968 and a television show that ran five seasons starting in 1970, while over the decades popping up in other incarnations. In the 1980s, Simon began a series of semi-autobiographical coming-of-age plays focused on his alleged alter-ego, Eugene Jerome. Dubbed the Eugene Trilogy, the plays consisted of "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983), "Biloxi Blues" (1985) and "Broadway Bound" (1986), with the former two being turned into mildly successful feature films. After years as an unbridled hit maker, Simon earned the overwhelming respect of critics with "Lost in Yonkers" (1991), which earned him a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for drama. Though his success tapered off in his later years, Simon remained the most important playwright of the latter-half of the 20th century.

      Born on July 4, 1927 in The Bronx, NY, Simon was raised in Depression-era Washington Heights in northern Manhattan by his father, Irving, a garment salesman, and his mother, Mamie. Because his parents were engaged in a rocky relationship that often threatened to break apart, Simon and his older brother, Danny, were sent to live with one group of relatives or another. His father often left the family for long periods of time, leaving their mother to fend for herself until his return. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School when he was 16, Simon attended New York University, where he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force Reserve during the waning days of World War II, which led to an assignment at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, CO, where, as a corporal, he began writing for the USAF sports paper, the Rev-Meter. Following a short stint at the University of Denver, Simon moved back to New York, where he spent two years working in the mailroom of the East Coast Warner Bros. offices before quitting to write radio and television scripts with his brother, Danny.

      Simon and his brother managed to wrangle an interview with radio comic, Goodman Ace, who hired the sketch writing duo for $200 a week after reading just one of their jokes. Simon partnered with his brother for the next nine years, with the two writing for such radio programs as "The Robert Q. Lewis Show." They soon moved on to television to write for the day's biggest shows, including "The Red Buttons Show" (CBS/NBC, 1952-55), "The Phil Rivers Show" (CBS, 1955-59), and "Your Show of Shows" (NBC, 1950-54), which starred Sid Caesar and featured perhaps the best group of comics ever assembled: Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart. Following his entrée into the theater world with the Broadway revue, "Catch a Star" (1955), which he collaborated on with Danny, he became a staff writer on the sitcom, "Stanley" (NBC, 1956-57), which starred Buddy Hackett as the slovenly proprietor of a hotel lobby newsstand. Eventually, Simon struck out on his own when he wrote his first play, "Come Blow Your Horn" (1961), which told the story of a young man who yearns to leave his parents' home to live at his brother's swinging bachelor pad.

      "Come Blow Your Horn" opened on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where it ran for two years and became a big hit. Simon followed with "Little Me" (1962), which, while not as well-received as his first play, still earned the playwright his first Tony Award nomination. After "Come Blow Your Horn" was adapted in 1963 into a feature film starring Frank Sinatra, Simon had one of the biggest stage hits of his career with "Barefoot in the Park" (1963), a lighthearted comedy focusing on the marriage between a buttoned-down lawyer husband and his free-spirited wife that played on Broadway for over 1,500 performances, making it one of the longest-running non-musicals in the history of the Great White Way. The play was turned into a successful 1967 film starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. Meanwhile, his brother had gone through a divorce and was living with another divorced man, which sparked the idea for what eventually became "The Odd Couple" (1965). After several attempts to write the idea, Danny threw the idea over to Simon, who turned the comedy about a freakishly neat newspaper writer thrown out by his wife and forced to move in with a slovenly sportswriter into a Broadway smash that ran for over 900 performances and earned several Tony Awards, including Best Play.

      As with many of Simon's plays, "The Odd Couple" was adapted for the big screen in 1968, and starred Jack Lemmon as the fastidious Felix Unger and Walter Matthau, reprising his original Broadway role, as the slob Oscar Madison. Possibly one of the best feature adaptations of his stage work, the highly successful movie earned several award nominations, including Simon's first for an Academy Award. During this time, he churned out stage plays like "The Star-Spangled Girl" (1966), "Plaza Suite" (1968) and "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers" (1969), which continued his string of critical and financial hits. The following year, "The Odd Couple" was spun off to the small screen, where it spent five seasons on ABC with Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as Oscar. Meanwhile, he wrote the play to perhaps his second-best remembered stage production, "The Sunshine Boys" (1972), which focused on two aging vaudevillians forced back together after growing to hate each other for a television reunion. Following another Tony Award win for Best Play, the production was adapted into a critically acclaimed 1975 film starring Walter Matthau and George Burns; the latter of whom won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

      With his career at an all-time high, there seemed to be nothing that could bring Simon down. But in 1973, his wife of 20 years, Joan Baim, died after a prolonged battle with cancer. The agonizing 15 months of watching his wife slowly slip away left the playwright empty and devastated. Four months later, however, Simon shocked friends and colleagues when he married actress Marsha Mason following a brief courtship. He continued writing successful plays like "The Good Doctor" (1973), "California Suite" (1976) and "Chapter Two" (1977) while scripting original screenplays like "Murder By Death" (1976), a spoof on whodunit mysteries that featured Truman Capote as a wealthy recluse named Lionel Twain, who lures top private detectives (an all-star cast of Peter Sellers, Peter Falk, David Niven, Maggie Smith and James Coco) to his secluded mansion to solve a murder that's about to be committed. He next wrote the original screenplay for "The Goodbye Girl" (1977), an adult romantic comedy about a divorced mother and ex-Broadway dancer (Marsha Mason) engaged in a romance with an arrogant actor (Richard Dreyfuss) whose career is nearly ruined by a myopic director (Paul Benedict). Dreyfuss went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his winning, wacky performance.

      Returning to adaptations of his own work, Simon wrote the scripts for the screen treatments of "California Suite" (1978) and "Chapter Two" (1979), while writing the script for the comedy spoof "The Cheap Detective" (1978), starring Peter Falk, the book for the musical "They're Playing Our Song" (1979), and the stage play for "I Ought to Be in Pictures" (1980), which he turned into a feature starring Walter Matthau and Ann-Margaret in 1982. Simon next wrote the original screenplay for the feature comedy, "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), which starred Chevy Chase as a down-on-his-luck writer who seeks refuge from a pair of bank robbers at the home of his ex-wife (Goldie Hawn), only to run afoul of her new stuffed-shirt husband (Charles Grodin). Following his lighthearted romantic comedy, "Fools" (1981), which was directed for Broadway by longtime collaborator Mike Nichols, Simon adapted his play "The Gingerbread Lady" (1970) into the film "Only When I Laugh" (1981), which again starred wife Marsha Mason. Simon next wrote the play to "Brighton Beach Memoires" (1983), a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age comedy about a young Jewish teenager who experiences puberty and has a sexual awakening while trying to deal with his struggling family. The play was turned into a mildly popular film in 1986 starring Jonathan Silverman as Simon's alter-ego, Eugene Jerome.

      Simon returned to the stage with the more popular "Biloxi Blues" (1985), the second installment to what became known as the Eugene Trilogy. This time, the young Jewish kid from Brooklyn enlists in the Army and is sent to Biloxi, MS for basic training, where he falls in love, loses his virginity and runs afoul of an offbeat drill sergeant. In 1988, the play was adapted into a well-received film starring Matthew Broderick as Eugene and Christopher Walken as Sgt. Toomey. In 1983, Simon suffered another personal setback - albeit one not as tragic as losing Joan - when he divorced actress Marsha Mason following 10 years of marriage. Despite the split, the two remained friends and continued working together. Meanwhile, he reimagined "The Odd Couple" as "The Female Odd Couple" (1985), which was staged on Broadway with Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno in the leads. Simon rounded out his Eugene Trilogy with "Broadway Bound" (1986), which followed Eugene and his brother Stanley - obvious doubles for Simon and his own brother Danny - as they try to make it as comedy writers on radio and television. Unlike the previous two installments, however, "Broadway Bound" was not immediately adapted into a feature film or even television movie - the rare Simon play not to make such a transformation.

      During this time, Simon remarried once again, this time to Diane Lander, a former employee at the Beverly Hills department store, Neiman Marcus. Their relationship proved to be a rocky one, ending in divorce in 1988 following 18 months of marriage, only to reunite in early 1990. Though they again filed for divorce two years later, the couple reconciled until finally splitting for good in 1998. Though asked on several occasions, Simon had been remiss to talk about his relationship with her; even going so far as to not draw from their experiences in his work - a shock given his mining of all other areas of his life. Meanwhile, he wrote the farce "Rumors" (1988) for the stage before achieving massive popular and critical success with "Lost in Yonkers" (1991), a coming-of-age drama about two brothers left in the care of their intimidating grandmother who also houses the mentally deficient, but good-hearted Aunt Bella (Mercedes Ruehl). Simon's difficult tale of family dysfunction won several awards, including a Tony for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. After returning to the world of "Your Show of Shows" for a Broadway production of "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" (1993), he cited the high cost of producing plays on the Great White Way, controversially insisting that "London Suite" (1994) be produced off-Broadway.

      After penning a television version of his 1992 play "Jake's Women" (CBS, 1996), Simon wrote his 30th stage production, "Proposals" (1997), which opened on Broadway, but quickly closed, proving to be one of his least successful stage efforts. On the flip side, a revival of "The Sunshine Boys" enjoyed a much longer run thanks to the popularity of stars Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Meanwhile, Simon's feature output fell off following the box-office failure of "The Marrying Man" (1991) and "Neil Simon's 'Lost in Yonkers'" (1993), causing the writer to turn to the small screen with "Neil Simon's 'London Suite'" (NBC, 1996), with a cast that included Kelsey Grammer, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Richard Mulligan, and a misguided "The Sunshine Boys" (CBS, 1997), which was filmed in 1995 with Peter Falk and Woody Allen. His return to the big screen with the sequel "The Odd Couple II" (1998) sank at the box office despite the presence of the original actors, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Later that year, a remake of "The-Out-of-Towners" (1998), starred Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn in the roles originated in 1970 by Lemmon and Sandy Dennis.

      Turning to the publishing world, Simon wrote his memoirs in two parts, starting with Neil Simon Writes: A Memoir (1996); he followed with part two a few years later, Neil Simon The Play Goes On: A Memoir (1999). In his later years, Simon's stage work also began taking a hit with critics, though he found mild success with "The Dinner Party" (2000), starring John Ritter and Henry Winkler. After "45 Seconds from Broadway" (2001), which lasted just a few months, he revamped his two most famous characters for "Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple" (2002), which starred John Larroquette as Oscar and Joe Regalbuto as Felix, followed by his staging of "Rose's Dilemma" (2003) off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Also later in his career, his plays found new life on television with "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" (Showtime, 2001) and "The Goodbye Girl" (TNT, 2004) being adapted for the small screen.

      (Biographical data courtesy of TCMDb)

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    • Hammer Horror: A Frankenstein Septet at MoMA in New York, Oct. 12-18

    • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818, has inspired hundreds of films; in 1910 Thomas Edison produced the first cinematic version in his Bronx studio, starring Charles Stanton Ogle as the monster. Hollywood audiences fell in love with Frankenstein after the 1931 Universal Pictures version, featuring Boris Karloff's iconic block-headed, neck-bolted creature and the hysterical doctor's spectacular laboratory of tesla coils and steam-spewing equipment, all in glorious black and white.

      In 1957, the British production company Hammer Films produced the first of its seven Frankenstein films, which focused more on the Gothic aspects of the book and the obsession, ambition, and guilt of the doctor (usually played by Peter Cushing). These films overflow with mournful music, overwrought Victorian décor and costumes, lusty characters, and decidedly more disfigured, wrathful monsters--all amplified by a highly artificial, gruesome color palette that makes even a glimpse of blood into a horrifying experience.

      Hammer Horror: A Frankenstein Septet is presented in conjunction with It's Alive! Frankenstein at 200, a visual history of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, at The Morgan Library and Museum October 12, 2018-January 27, 2019.


      The Curse of Frankenstein. 1957.
      Directed by Terence Fisher
      Friday, October 12, 7:00 p.m.
      Monday, October 15, 7:00 p.m.

      The Revenge of Frankenstein.1958.
      Directed by Terence Fisher
      Saturday, October 13, 1:00 p.m.
      Tuesday, October 16, 7:00 p.m.

      The Evil of Frankenstein. 1964.
      Directed by Freddie Francis
      Saturday, October 13, 4:00 p.m.

      Frankenstein Created Woman. 1967.
      Directed by Terence Fisher
      Saturday, October 13, 7:00 p.m.
      Thursday, October 18, 4:00 p.m.

      Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. 1969.
      Directed by Terence Fisher
      Sunday, October 14, 1:00 p.m.
      Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 p.m.

      The Horror of Frankenstein. 1970.
      Directed by Jimmy Sangster
      Sunday, October 14, 4:00 p.m.

      Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. 1974.
      Directed by Terence Fisher
      Wednesday, October 17, 4:00 p.m.
      Thursday, October 18, 7:00 p.m.

      Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.

      For more information, links and showtimes, visit

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    • THE LION IN WINTER screening - 10/27 at Lake Placid Film Festival in NY

    • The Adirondack Film Society is proud to announce a special guest appearance by TCM contributor and author, Jeremy Arnold as part of the 2018 Lake Placid Film Festival, scheduled for October 26-28 in Lake Placid, NY.

      For the program, Jeremy has selected "The Lion in Winter", celebrating it's 50 Anniversary this year. He will introduce the film providing insights and observations about this landmark work featuring Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton, and why this "essential" film "matters". Jeremy is the author of "The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter", published in 2016 as the companion to TCM's Essentials series. "It is certainly essential, and it has been shown on Turner Classic Movies as part of the "Essentials" series, but it's also one of thirty classic films I profile in my new TCM book, "Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season.", comments Jeremy. "It's not usually thought of as a "Christmas film," but if you look at it through that prism, it certainly fits. It has one of the most common Christmas-movie plots: a dysfunctional family reuniting over the holiday period. It doesn't matter that it's also a historical drama set in France -- a period piece with period costumes. At heart, it's about family tensions, which the holiday season only exacerbates." "We are thrilled with this year's classic film choice by Jeremy," comments Adirondack Film Society Vice Chairman, Nelson Page. He continues, "The Lion in Winter" is one of those films that they just don't make any more. The actors have amazing chemistry on screen, where each performance shines and the dialogue crackles with unusual intensity. Not only is this film an "Essential", but a must see. Jeremy has made a wonderful programming choice which reflects how great films were made and why they are timeless."

      Jeremy is a son of Lake Placid, so it is more like a homecoming for all of us. In a recent interview, when asked why he keeps coming back to our event, he told Nelson "I've spent at least part of every summer of my life in Lake Placid, and trips to the Palace Theater are indelible memories. There's something very American about the way the theater marquee dominates Main Street; it makes going there feel like you're venturing to the center of the community in a way, and that movies are physically bringing people together. It sure says something that Lake Placid still even has its jewel of a theater. Most towns of this size don't anymore, and that reflects the area's affection for movies, that residents have been eager to keep supporting the Palace over the decades. Finally, I enjoy the diverse offerings at each year's film festival: new features, documentaries, classics, shorts. As an avid filmgoer, I want it all!"

      The Lake Placid Film Festival will offer another classic "The Heiress" (1949), directed by academy award winner, William Wyler. Our fest goers are in for a real treat at 6:30 Friday night, October 26th at the Palace Theatre. William Wyler's daughter and independent producer of film and television, Catherine Wyler will introduce the film and be joined by Kathleen Carroll, Artistic Director of the Lake Placid Film Festival for a conversation with the audience following the screening. Kathleen will be honored at a "Tribute Gala" presented by the Adirondack Film Society on Thursday, October 25th at the High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid at 6:00pm, for her invaluable direction and contributions to our organization since 2000.

      If you are a lover of classic films, you will want to learn even more in Jeremy's books, DVD commentaries or by tuning in to TCM's streaming service, FilmStruck. Also, make sure you tune in the first weekend of this December to TCM as Jeremy will present four Christmas movies from his new book.

      We invite everyone to join us for Jeremy's special presentation of "The Lion in Winter", which will kick-off our Saturday evening at the Palace Theatre, October 27th at 6:30pm. In addition to the introduction, he will host a Q&A following the film. Jeremy has become an annual favorite for festival audiences. For additional information please visit

    • More >
To Kill a Mockingbird - 50th Anniversary DVD
was $14.98
Out of the Past DVD
was $17.99
Rear Window DVD
was $14.98


  • 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