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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

    • The Girl on the Balcony - Memoir by Olivia Hussey

    • By Olivia Hussey

      Olivia Hussey, forever immortalized as the definitive Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, provides readers with a captivating look inside her life in Hollywood through her remarkable, and sometimes tumultuous, career and personal life.

      Born in Argentina, Hussey, at the young age of 15, was cast in the role of a life-time by acclaimed director Franco Zeffirelli. With the international spotlight thrust upon her, stardom proved to be the more challenging part for her to conquer.

      Her candid memoir--written with her son, Alexander Martin, child of Dean Paul (Dino) Martin and grandchild of Dean Martin--takes readers on an emotional journey through her many challenges and blessings. Highlights include her experience as an "It Girl" in swinging 1960s London; her enduring friendship with her Romeo and Juliet co-star, Leonard Whiting; three tumultuous marriages; her inspirational fight through stage-four breast cancer; debilitating agoraphobia; bankruptcy; and ultimately a journey of self-discovery in India that led her on a path to fulfillment.

      Her stories take readers up close to the age-defining figures she knew well--The Beatles, Vanessa Redgrave, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Anthony Perkins, Christopher Reeve, Sir Laurence Olivier, Ingrid Bergman and more--revealing intimate details, startling facts and bizarre coincidences. Hussey also reveals, for the first time, the identity of the actor and fellow newcomer who raped her but would not break her.

      "My mother has lived a remarkable life. Growing up, I saw, first hand, the slings and arrows of her daily life, but I was aware there was so much more to know. So, we began to talk," said Alexander Martin, co-author of The Girl on the Balcony. "Through our two-year conversation, I was able to piece together her extraordinary story. I came to understand her and, ultimately, to admire her. It was so moving."

      "Writing this memoir with my talented son has been one of my greatest joys," said Olivia Hussey. "Putting my story on paper required the perfect partner and Alexander exceeded my expectations."

      The Girl on the Balcony is available wherever books are sold.

      Olivia Hussey
      At 15 years old, Olivia Hussey made her undeniable mark in modern-day cinema as Juliet--one of the most celebrated roles ever written. A seasoned veteran of the London stage, Hussey debuted opposite Vanessa Redgrave in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She has appeared in more than two dozen films, including Death on the Nile with Bette Davis and Peter Ustinov; Jesus of Nazareth (where she reunited with Zeffirelli); The Last Days of Pompeii, opposite Sir Laurence Olivier; Lost Horizon; The Bastard; Hallmark Hall of Fame's Ivanhoe with James Mason; Showtime's Psycho IV: The Beginning and Steven King's IT.
      Visit Olivia online at

      Alexander Martin grew up in Los Angeles, California. After attending the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London, England, he returned to Los Angeles with the intention of taking up the family business. Working as both an actor and writer, he appeared in the films Can't Hardly Wait, 21, Three Priests, and Josie and the Pussycats. A little over two years ago, while he was beginning work on his first book, his mother called and asked if he would help her with her memoir--it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. He now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with his wife and son.

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    • Must-See Sci-Fi: 50 Movies That Are Out of This World

    • By Sloan De Forest

      Spanning nine decades and branded by the most trusted authority on film, Turner Classic Movies: Must-See Sci-Fi showcases 50 of the most shocking, weird, wonderful, and mind-bending movies ever made.

      From A Trip to the Moon (1902) to Arrival (2016), science fiction cinema has produced a body of classics with a broader range of styles, stories, and subject matter than perhaps any other film genre. They are movies that embed themselves in the depths of the mind, coloring our view of day-to-day reality and probably fueling a few dreams (and nightmares) along the way.

      In Turner Classic Movies: Must-See Sci-Fi, fifty unforgettable films are profiled, including beloved favorites like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Fantastic Voyage (1966), groundbreaking shockers like Planet of the Apes (1968) and Alien (1979), and lesser-known landmarks like Things to Come (1936) and Solaris (1972). Illustrated by astounding color and black-and-white images, the book presents the best of this mind-bending genre, detailing through insightful commentary and behind-the-scenes stories why each film remains essential viewing. A perfect gift for any film buff or sci-fi fanatic!

      Sloan De Forest is a writer, actor, and film historian who has written about film for Sony, Time Warner Cable, the Mary Pickford Foundation, and Bright Lights Film Journal. She has contributed essays to the books Natalie Wood: Reflections on a Legendary Life by Manoah Bowman and Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl by Jay Jorgensen and Manoah Bowman. She lives in Hollywood-mentally, spiritually, and geographically.

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    • Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom

    • by Leonard Maltin

      Leonard Maltin is one of the world's most respected film critics and historians. From his thirty-year tenure on the hit TV show Entertainment Tonight to his annual paperback reference work Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide (and its companion volume, Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide), Maltin stands without equal as a thought leader on Hollywood's past and present.

      On July 2, 2018, Maltin - a New York Times bestselling author several times over with over 7 millions books sold - will release a gorgeously produced 400-plus page trade paperback, HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom. This newest work of Maltin's will be released by GoodKnight Books, an award-winning boutique American publisher, which in recent years has become well-known for their expertly curated catalog of biographies and non-fiction books about Hollywood's Golden Era (including the 2016 bestseller, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert Matzen).

      In HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD, Maltin opens up his vast and illustrious personal archive to take readers on a fascinating journey through film history. A pioneer of "self-publishing," Maltin began interviewing greats of Hollywood as a precocious teenager in 1960s New York City. At only thirteen-years-old he became a regular contributor to the magazines Film Fan Monthly and The 8mm Collector (known today as Classic Images), as well as publishing his own humble journal called Profile - "literally cranked out by a mimeograph machine," he reveals. He has since gone on to enjoy a prolific freelance writing career with regular bylines in publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Smithsonian, and Playboy magazine (where he served as film critic for six years).

      Featuring over 200 rare photos and a veritable treasure trove of never-before-seen material, HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD is divided into four key sections:

      "Hollywood Featurettes" - key feature articles from Maltin's Movie Crazy newsletter are shared for the first time, providing new perspectives on such topics as the masterful soundtrack subtleties of Casablanca and Hollywood's long standing love affair with remakes.

      "Early Interviews" - which shines the spotlight on teenaged Maltin's interactions with movie stars, directors, and movers and shakers in Hollywood's Golden Age, including Warner Bros. sexy, wise-cracking pre-Code siren Joan Blondell, Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor Burgess Meredith, early screen heartthrob George O'Brien, and Cecil B. DeMille's right-hand-man Henry Wilcoxon, among others.

      "Later In-Depth Interviews" - where Maltin shares first-hand stories of working with Orson Welles, how Buster Keaton forged a new career for himself in the television era, and what life was like under Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, Harry Cohn, and other titans of Tinseltown through seven carefully selected conversation transcripts with some of Hollywood's most significant behind-the-scenes players.

      "The Forgotten Studio" - an eye-opening look at RKO Radio Pictures, which gave us such classics as King Kong and the many dance musicals of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

      Leonard Maltin's love of movies and vast knowledge of their history shines through from HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD's first page to the last, which is sure to prove as wildly entertaining to readers as it does deeply informative to future film scholars.

      Leonard Maltin is one of the world's most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely used reference work, Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide, as well as his thirty-year run on television's Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, appears regularly on Turner Classic Movies, and hosts the weekly podcast Maltin on Movies for the Nerdist network with his daughter Jessie. His books include The 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, votes for films to be selected for the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He is the recipient of awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, George Eastman House, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego's Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park (or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?)

      He holds court at Follow him on Twitter (@LeonardMaltin) and Facebook (/LeonardMaltin).

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    • Herbert Marshall - A Biography

    • by Scott O'Brien

      Herbert Marshall - A Biography (BearManor, 2018) details the unique twists and turns in the career of a man who reluctantly became an actor. "My father was responsible for making me dread the theater," he admitted. After being sacked as an office boy for a London accountant, Bart Marshall (as friends called him) finally followed in his father's footsteps. That is, until King and Country stepped in during WWI. "I was a Lady from Hell," he mused years later. "The London Scottish, a kilted infantry regiment." On the Western Front, shrapnel destroyed Bart's knee. His leg was amputated. What Marshall brought to the screen was rooted in the unforeseen consequences of this traumatic war injury.

      Film historian/author Kevin Brownlow (who wrote the book's Foreword) notes how Marshall played subtlety with audiences emotions. Norma Shearer rhapsodized, "The first time I ever saw Mr. Marshall on screen ... I thought I had never seen a lady so thoroughly and convincingly loved." Her sentiments were echoed by Garbo, Dietrich, Colbert, Stanwyck, Crawford, Bette Davis--all clamoring for his service as leading man. Off-screen, Bart was seduced into a scandalous affair with Gloria Swanson. Marshall's forte, as director Edmund Goulding pointed out, was having "the most seductive voice on the screen." Marshall could coax moonlight into champagne for the Lubitsch classic Trouble in Paradise (1932). He was equally adept at stripping away one's sense of security, playing the menace in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (1940).

      Not to be overlooked is Marshall's dedication helping hundreds of amputees and vets during WWII. He was more candid about himself in these situations, and made a tremendous hit with the men. While Marshall cast his spell on moviegoers, he was adamant about one thing. "I am not a gentleman," he insisted. "To me the term implies artificiality--a studied pose, and I'm damned if I'm artificial!" As the late Robert Osborne aptly stated, "Marshall's personal story is a fascinating one."

      Scott O'Brien's biographies on Kay Francis, Virginia Bruce, Ann Harding, Ruth Chatterton, George Brent and Sylvia Sidney made the "Best of the Year" category in various publications. Herbert Marshall - A Biography is illustrated with 170 photos from the actor's private life and professional career.

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  1. DVD Reviews

    • 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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    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Salute 7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS Blu-ray Debut!

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN SALUTE "7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS" BLU-RAY DEBUT!: For more than a decade passionate fans of the joyous Oscar-winning once-in-a-lifetime musical classic 7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS have been waiting for the day when this incomparably original and unique certified masterwork would make it's debut on 1080p Blu-ray. Well, fans, that day has finally arrived and your producer/host Dick Dinman and his frequent guest Warner Home Video Sr. V.P. of Classic & Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein celebrate this momentous occasion while George explains the herculean challenges and obstacles he and his dedicated staff faced in ultimately bringing this happiest of all cinema classics to Blu-ray fruition.

      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 the Scott/Boetticher Blu-ray Collection!

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES THE SCOTT/BOETTICHER BLU-RAY COLLECTION: British home video label Indicator/Powerhouse has just released FIVE TALL TALES: BUDD BOETTICHER & RANDOLPH SCOTT AT COLUMBIA BLU-RAY COLLECTION and to celebrate this long-awaited occasion legendary western star Randolph Scott is saluted along with the director of seven of Scott's finest cinema classics Budd Boetticher. Dick Dinman's guests are Michael Dante who costarred with Scott in a Boetticher directed western and has some great stories to tell, as well as Senior Vice President In Charge Of Restoration for Sony Pictures Entertainment Grover Crisp who describes the arduous and time-consuming process it took to bring the Scott-Boetticher cinema milestones to 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 or

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    • Dick Dinman & Bob Furmanek Survive the Horror of the 3D MAZE!

    • DICK DINMAN & BOB FURMANEK SURVIVE THE HORROR OF THE 3D "MAZE"!: With their amazingly immersive 4K 3D Blu-ray release of the terror-filled chiller THE MAZE (distributed by Kino Lorber Entertainment) the 3D Film Archive continues their acclaimed tradition of painstakingly restoring the original 50's 3D classics to their visual sensation-inducing brilliance and to celebrate the occasion the 3D Film Archive's head honcho Robert Furmanek rejoins producer/host Dick Dinman with his account of the challenges inherent in restoring not only 3D picture but 3 Channel Stereo Sound to this much requested creep-fest.

      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 & Eddie Muller Dispense a Double Dose of Dana!

    • DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER DISPENSE A DOUBLE DOSE OF DANA: The Warner Archive has just released on Blu-ray legendary director Fritz Lang's last two American-made edge-of-your-seat thrillers WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT in their original wide screen SuperScope incarnations and popular film noir author and TCM host Eddie Muller rejoins producer/host Dick Dinman as they both salute the unjustly underrated star of both films, Dana Andrews.

      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

    • Revisit the Set of THE GREAT ESCAPE in New Documentary on DVD & Digital HD August 21

    • From filmmaker and film historian Chris Espenan comes The Coolest Guy Movie Ever--a fascinating forensic documentary about the making of the classic World War II adventure film The Great Escape--to DVD and digital HD from Virgil Films on August 21, 2018, after a special screening earlier this year at Marché du film in Cannes.

      Before Evans, Hemsworth, and Downey Jr. there was McQueen, Garner, and Bronson. These men represented what it meant to be tough guys in the 1960s, and they had the acting chops to play the toughest characters around--including the real life airmen who pulled off one of the most improbable escapes in war history.

      The filming locations of the enormously popular World War II adventure The Great Escape have become enshrined over the years by film buffs and historians alike, forever changing the landscape of the small German towns that once played host to these Hollywood heavyweights. Now for the first time, Filmmaker Chris Espenan set out to visit all of the locations in Germany where the 1963 film was made, while compiling facts, behind-the-scenes stories, and inside information on how the film was produced.

      From visiting Geisel Gastag Studios in Munich to the Bavarian town of Füssen, Espenan assembled a unique team of cameramen, historians, film buffs, and local experts who painstakingly found the exact spots where actors Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, David McCallum, and others toiled in the summer of 1962.

      Uncovering treasures such as footage from a German television news shoot--which included a rare interview on the set with Steve McQueen--to getting first person interviews from the locals who were there during filming, The Coolest Guy Movie Ever is a true labor of love, fashioned by filmmakers who exult The Great Escape as one of the most memorable World War II movies ever made, featuring one of the greatest casts ever assembled, and for many, indeed, The Coolest Guy Movie Ever.

      "The Great Escape is my favorite film of all time," said Producer Steve Rubin. "It is the first film I started researching for my book 'Combat Films 1945-2010', the subject of my 1993 documentary Return to The Great Escape, and the reason I was nominated for Best Classic Commentary in 2004 for The Great Escape: Special Edition. When filmmaker Chris Espenan came to me with the idea for The Coolest Guy Movie Ever, I literally dropped everything to help him."

      Executive Producer and Virgil Films CEO Joe Amodei echoed Rubin's sentiments when he said "As a young boy exploring the big wide world of motion pictures for the first time The Great Escape excited me, thrilled me and cemented a love for movies that has stayed with me forever. This is the film that started it all."

      About Virgil Films - Virgil Films & Entertainment was founded in 2003 by Joe Amodei to acquire, market and distribute DVD, TV and Digital Product in the feature film, documentary, special interest and sports categories. The company has built partnerships with OWN, Sundance Channel Home Entertainment, National Geographic Cinema Ventures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Major League Baseball Productions, Morgan Spurlock's Warrior Poets and other high-profile entertainment brands since their inception. Releases from Virgil Films include the Oscar-nominated documentary Glen Campbell...I'll Be Me; the award-winning documentary Miss Representation; the critically acclaimed, timeless, best-selling Forks Over Knives; and the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo and its sequel Korengal. They have also released the compelling Facing Darkness, I Am Chris Farley, I Am Heath Ledger, Blood on the Mountain, Legends of the Knight, The Winding Stream and others. Follow them on twitter: @virgilfilms

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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

    • 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