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  1. Top News Stories

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    • Tokyo Drifter - Seijun Suzuki's Surreal 1966 Yakuza Thriller

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  1. New Books

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    • 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.

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    • Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934): When Sin Ruled the Movies

    • By Mark A. Vieira

      It's classic Hollywood-uncensored. Filled with rare images and untold stories from filmmakers, exhibitors, and moviegoers, Forbidden Hollywood is the ultimate guide to a gloriously entertaining and strikingly modern era, when a lax code of censorship let sin rule the movies.

      Forbidden Hollywood is a history of "pre-Code" like none other: you will eavesdrop on production conferences, read nervous telegrams from executives to censors, and hear Americans argue about "immoral" movies. You will see decisions artfully wrought, so as to fool some of the people long enough to get films into theaters. You will read what theater managers thought of such craftiness, and hear from fans as they applauded creativity or condemned crassness. You will see how these films caused a grass-roots movement to gain control of Hollywood-and why they were "forbidden" for fifty years.

      The book spotlights the twenty-two films that led to the strict new Code of 1934, including Red-Headed Woman, Call Her Savage, and She Done Him Wrong. You'll see Paul Muni shoot a path to power in the original Scarface; Barbara Stanwyck climb the corporate ladder on her own terms in Baby Face; and misfits seek revenge in Freaks.

      More than 200 newly restored (and some never-before-published) photographs illustrate pivotal moments in the careers of Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Greta Garbo; and the pre-Code stardom of Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, James Cagney, and Mae West. This is the definitive portrait of an unforgettable era in filmmaking.


      Mark A. Vieira is a photographer and author who specializes in Hollywood history. He has lectured at USC, UCLA, Lincoln Center, Universal Studios, and the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Vieira has appeared in documentaries such as TCM's Moguls and Movie Stars and Complicated Women. He is also the author of George Hurrell's Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille, and Into the Dark, among other film-related titles. Vieira resides in Los Angeles.

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    • Dick Dinman Salutes Shocking Audrey Hepburn Biography DUTCH GIRL

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES SHOCKING AUDREY HEPBURN BIOGRAPHY "DUTCH GIRL"! : Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back acclaimed biographer Robert Matzen whose new book DUTCH GIRL is creating a worldwide sensation as it chronicles for the first time teenager Hepburn's intense experiences through five years of Nazi occupation while having to contend with the fact that both her parents had sided with the Nazis.

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

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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

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    • Dick Dinman & Alan K. Rode Meet THE PHANTOM LADY

    • DICK DINMAN & ALAN K. RODE MEET "THE PHANTOM LADY! Producer/host Dick Dinman and acclaimed author and Film Noir Foundation charter director Alan K. Rode salute the Arrow Academy Blu-ray releases of two certifiable Noir classics MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS and PHANTOM LADY. PLUS: Arrow hits the Blu-ray mark with SO DARK THE NIGHT and THE DAY OF THE JACKAL!

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

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    • Dick Dinman Salutes the Late Julie Adams

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES THE LATE JULIE ADAMS: The late Julie Adams, who was so memorably savored by THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, reveals to producer/host Dick Dinman how she finally came to terms with the inescapable fact that (despite costarring with such major stars as Jimmy Stewart, Tyrone Power, Jeff Chandler, Tony Curtis, William Powell, Rock Hudson, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin) she will always be best remembered for her watery skirmishes with the "gill man."

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

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    • Dick Dinman & George Feltenstein Meet THE SEA HAWK & THE THING!

    • DICK DINMAN & GEORGE FELTENSTEIN MEET "THE SEA HAWK" & "THE THING"! The legendary Errol Flynn swashbuckler THE SEA HAWK and the original Howard Hawks sci-fi shocker THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD are two of classic film fan's most requested titles for Blu-ray release and Warner Home Video's Sr. VP of Classic and Theatrical Marketing George Feltenstein describes to producer/host Dick Dinman the decades long search for optimum elements necessary to ultimately create these two magnificent looking and sounding Blu-ray releases.


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

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    • 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 www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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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 www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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  1. Press Release

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    • TCM Remembers Doris Day (1922-2019)

    • The beloved actress/singer, one of the last remaining icons from Hollywood's Golden Age, passed away May 13 at the age of 97. Turner Classic Movies pays tribute to Doris Day on Sunday, June 9 with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day so please take note.

      The new schedule for Sunday, June 9 will be:
      6:00 AM Romance on the High Seas (1948)
      8:00 AM My Dream is Yours (1949)
      10:00 AM Tea for Two (1950)
      11:45 AM On Moonlight Bay (1951)
      1:30 PM Carson on TCM: Doris Day (1976)
      1:45 PM Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
      4:00 PM Calamity Jane (1953)
      6:00 PM Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)
      8:00 PM Pillow Talk (1959)
      10:00 PM Lover Come Back (1961)
      12:00 AM Move Over Darling (1963)
      2:00 AM The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
      4:00 AM Julie (1956)



      She embodied an image she hated, and for much of her life, sought a familial ideal never achieved, becoming, in the process, the biggest box-office draw in the movie business at one time before simply fading away. Doris Day became a phenomenon of sight and sound, a hit song machine in the first part of her career and, in the second, Hollywood's No. 1 female box-office star and the epitome of the girl next door. Her resume composed an American archetype - the pristine, bright-eyed sweetheart of America's neo-Victorian 1950s, even if she was far from her on-screen type. Though often successfully paired with leading man Rock Hudson in a series of iconic romantic comedies, off-screen she longed for what her characters always seemed to get in the end: the simple, stable existence of a housewife tending her corner of the American Dream.

      She was born Doris Mary Anne von Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, in the Cincinnati, OH, suburb of Evanston, to Alma and Frederick von Kappelhoff and was the youngest of three children in a troubled household. In spite of the family's Catholicism, her parents divorced when Doris was only 12, due to Frederick's philandering. A tomboy in her earlier years, by adolescence she had developed a penchant for dance, but those aspirations were shelved when a car accident left her with a compound fracture of one leg and a tough 14-month rehabilitation. She began singing instead and, while still just a teenager, scored a job with the local dance band of Barney Rapp, who redubbed her Doris Day, after her number "Day After Day." She also met Al Jorden, a trombonist in Rapp's band and a temperamental character whom she disliked initially, but whom she eventually agreed to date.

      Around this same time, she landed a much bigger gig with the touring Les Brown and His Band of Renown. Both Brown, who took on a paternal role, and her mother discouraged her relationship with Jorden, especially when he proposed, but the 17-year-old Day insisted she only wanted to become a housewife. They married in New York in early 1941 while she was on tour, but it got off to an ominous start when, according to biographer David Bret, Jorden dragged his new wife to their hotel room and beat her up after seeing her kiss a fellow musician on the cheek. By Bret's account, violence was not infrequent during the marriage. When Day discovered she was pregnant, Jorden subjected her to a series of violent histrionics, including threatening to shoot her at one point, and leaving her ostensibly "for good." In February 1942, Day gave birth to a son, Terry. A repentant Jorden gave Day a brief reprieve, but he soon returned to his psychotic ways, so she began divorce proceedings. Jorden would kill himself a few years later.

      In 1944, she scored her first hit with Brown, "Sentimental Journey," which would strike a chord over the next year with many soldiers journeying home from war. She also developed a diva complex and became notoriously difficult to work with, throwing tantrums and cursing liberally when she did not get her way. Thus, it may have been a relief to some in the band when she and saxophonist George Weidler announced their engagement and her intentions, again, to leave show business for a simple family life. While quitting the touring circuit, Day agreed to a guest shot on the radio show "The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show." It led to recurring appearances, and Hope began referring to her on air and off as "J.B." - short for "jut-butt," in reference to her posterior. It also got the attention of Al Levy, an agent with the firm Century Artists, who soon began representing her. The buzz around her proved too much for the insecure Weidler, leading Day to divorce him after only eight months of marriage.

      Levy netted her a contract with Warner Bros. with a curious indenture to director Michael Curtiz, who, in addition to putting her in a series of films - starting with the musical comedy "Romance on the High Seas" (1948) - took in 50 percent of all non-movie showbiz revenue she earned. The dailies for "Romance" horrified Day, who insisted she take acting lessons, to which Curtiz responded, "You're a natural just as you are - if you learn how to act, you'll ruin everything." A song she sang for the soundtrack - "It's Magic" - reached No. 2 on the pop chart and earned her an Oscar nomination. Day also began an affair with co-star Jack Carson, which complicated amorous relationships with both Levy and Weidler. Jealous, Levy began stalking her and at one point tried to rape her, but she fended him off. Century Artists convinced her to not press charges as long as they agreed to shuffle him out to the firm's New York office. Partner Marty Melcher took over her business, and she soon began an affair with him, even though he was married to singer Patty Andrews of the famed Andrews Sisters. She reteamed with both Curtiz and Carson, getting top female billing in "My Dream Is Yours" (1949), and remained under the director's stewardship in "Young Man with a Horn" (1950), co-starring Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, and "I'll See You In My Dreams" (1952).

      Much of her early film work would prove fluffy treacle - "Tea For Two" (1950), "On Moonlight Bay" (1951), "The West Point Story" (1951), "Lullaby of Broadway" (1951), "April In Paris" (1952), "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" (1953), "Lucky Me" (1954), all imprinting her public image as the Pollyannaish "Girl Next Door." Her music career buoyed her film career and vice versa, with nearly every film issuing some kind of hit tune, resulting in seven of her 10 albums released between 1949 and 1955 charting in the top five. One rare non-crooning dramatic role, the anti-Klan noir film "Storm Warning" (1951), saw her wind up involved with two of her co-stars in that film, Ronald Reagan and Steve Cochran. But Day and Melcher married in 1951, with Melcher also adopting Terry. Many of her show business friends thought Melcher was just in it for the star's money. In fact, while making "Young at Heart" (1954), Frank Sinatra came to dislike Melcher so much he had him banned from the set.

      Day, who came to hate her virginal image, did manage to play out of type as she eased into her career. Her breakthrough role, in fact, tapped her tomboy youth for what would become her personal favorite of her films, "Calamity Jane" (1953). She played the butch Western heroine through a light-hearted romantic musical frame, with another song "Secret Love," becoming a chart-topper along with the entire movie soundtrack. She showed dramatic range again in "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955), playing 1920s singing star Ruth Etting, whose career was marred by a relationship with a gangster, played by James Cagney. She did her turn in Alfred Hitchcock's famous stable of blondes in "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956), with even Hitchcock slipping in a song for her, "Que Sera, Sera," which went on to win the Oscar for Best Song. She went much darker with "Julie" (1956), a thriller in which Day's character discovers her second husband to be abusive, violent and the murderer of her first spouse. Day loathed it, as it smacked too much of personal experience, but she did the film because Melcher served as producer.

      She made another splash in musical comedy with the movie adaptation of the Broadway hit "The Pajama Game" (1957), but the fanciful genre was on the wane. She would return to suspense in 1960's "Midnight Lace," but with the further reminders of her own violent past, she swore off darker films. She veered almost exclusively to straight, mild-mannered comedy roles as a savvy housewife or intrepid, romantically stand-offish career "gal" typically paired with lead males such as Clark Gable in "Teacher's Pet" (1958); David Niven in "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" (1960); Cary Grant again in "That Touch of Mink" (1962); James Garner in "The Thrill of It All" (1963) and "Move Over Darling" (1963); and Rod Taylor in " Do Not Disturb" (1965) and "Glass Bottom Boat" (1967). For all her pairings, it would be her trio of romantic comedies with Rock Hudson (and an ever-supporting Tony Randall) that would have the most resonance. It started with "Pillow Talk" (1959), a for-the-time steamy "sex" comedy with Day as a New York professional with no time for men, constantly exasperated by the charming playboy in her apartment building who shares her party phone line. The movie became one of the top-grossers of 1959 and Day's turn earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. They reunited in "Lover Come Back" (1961), as rival ad executives who, sight unseen, grow to hate each until they hook up, while "Send Me No Flowers" (1964) had them married off and Hudson, mistakenly thinking he's dying, trying to set Day up with a new husband. The irony of the dynamic on-screen relationship and the friendship that developed off-screen, was that Hudson was a closeted homosexual, which Day claimed not to know until his later death from AIDS.

      With the American New Wave beginning to churn out less glossy, more realistic films, Day's formulaic and tepid movies began to seem dated. She famously turned down a role that might have reinvented her, the randy Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate" (1967). Just after the production ended on her last movie, "With Six You Get Egg Roll" (1968), Melcher began feeling ill and one day did not wake up. A review of her business showed that he had managed it poorly and squandered much of her fortune. He had also signed off on a new project unbeknownst to her; an eponymous CBS sitcom, which now became a necessity. "The Doris Day Show" (1968-1973) began with her as a widowed big city woman moving back to her rural roots with her sons. Though it did well in the ratings, the show was retooled every season, adding bland premises such as moving to San Francisco, working as a secretary, writing for a magazine and sending the kids off to boarding school. When her network contract was up in 1973, she effectively retired to Carmel, CA where she became an animal benefactor with her Doris Day Pet Foundation, which found homes for stray animals, and the Doris Day Animal League, an animal rights group that in 2006 merged with The Humane Society.

      She mostly retired her showbiz name, becoming known to locals as Clara Kappelhoff - with Clara a pet name given her during the making of "Tea For Two" in 1950. In 1976, she married again to Barry Comden, a maitre d' at a favorite restaurant of hers, but it would last only five years. She returned to TV briefly in 1985 in the Christian Broadcasting Network's "Doris Day's Best Friends" (1985-86), a show about pets. When Rock Hudson appeared as a guest on one episode, viewers were shocked at how his illness had emaciated him. He died only months later. In 2008, she was awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy Award, but did not show up at the ceremony to accept it, effectively proving herself to be one of the more dedicated recluses Hollywood had yet produced.


      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb)

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    • Agnes Varda (1928-2019)


    • The Belgian-born French film director passed away in Paris on March 29, 2019 at the age of 90.

      Agnes Varda is often called the "grandmother of the New Wave." Although not a member of the Cahiers du cinema critical fraternity which formed the core of this movement, the Belgian-born Varda completed her first feature, "La Pointe Courte," in 1954, five years before the New Wave's first films. With almost no academic or technical knowledge of film (though she had been a still photographer for Jean Vilar's Theatre National Populaire), Varda told two parallel tales (a structure inspired by William Faulkner's "Wild Palms"): the jagged romance of a young married couple and the struggles of the fishermen in the village of La Pointe Courte. Critic Georges Sadoul called this work "certainly the first film of the Nouvelle Vague" and it set the tone for Varda's career to come, combining fiction with documentary and also, in its debt to Faulkner, illustrating Varda's desire to expand the language of film. "I had the feeling," she said later, "that the cinema was not free, above all in its form, and that annoyed me. I wanted to make a film exactly as one writes a novel."

      Unfortunately for Varda, "La Pointe Courte" (which was edited by Alain Resnais, who initially refused to work on it because Varda's techniques were close to those which he was developing) would be the only feature she would make in the 1950s. Although she lit the fuse under the New Wave, it was not until the explosive feature debuts of her male counterparts that Varda received another opportunity to direct a feature, "Cleo From 5 to 7" (1961), which established her as a significant talent on the international film scene. In "Cleo," the story of two hours of a woman's life as she waits to hear if she has cancer, we witness the emergence of a great Varda theme, borrowed from Simone de Beauvoir: "One isn't born a woman, one becomes one."

      From her first film to her most recent projects, Varda has shown a strong connection to the Earth, becoming a kind of cinematic Mother Nature, whose characters have been personifications of wood and iron ("La Pointe Courte"), sickly trees ("Vagabond," 1985), animals ("Les Creatures," 1966) and food ("Apple" of "One Sings, The Other Doesn't" 1977). The world of Agnes Varda is one expansive Garden of Eden, where characters can live without the human burden of morality or sin, whether that world is the French Riviera (the short "Du cote de la cote" 1958), the city ("Cleo from 5 to 7"), or the country ("Le Bonheur," 1965; "Les Creatures," "Vagabond"). Varda knows that this Eden is a mythical place which exists only in the minds of her main characters and for this reason, her films also contain contrasting elements: troubled characters (the struggling fishermen of "La Pointe Courte" or the suicidal wife of "Le Bonheur") or less picturesque surroundings (the frozen landscape of "Vagabond").

      Although Varda's initial impact on cinema was a powerful one, by the mid-1960s her career as a commercial filmmaker began to wane. After the improvisational and obscure "Lions Love" (1969), about an avant-garde woman director who goes to Hollywood, Varda completed only one more fictional commercial feature over the next fifteen years--the epic feminist tale of womanhood and motherhood, "One Sings, the Other Doesn't." She remained active by directing numerous shorts and documentaries, but much of her work went unseen or unnoticed.

      It was not until the mid-80s that Varda reemerged in the commercial realm. While "Kung Fu Master!" (1987) was a misnamed and rather tentative story of the abortive romance between a middle-aged woman (Jane Birkin) and a 14 year-old video game buff (played by Varda's son Mathieu), "Vagabond," a documentary-style feature about a young French female wanderer, was arguably her best work to date. It dealt with all her major concerns: the independence of women, the coexistence with nature, the need for freedom, the acceptance of chance, the cyclical nature of birth and death, the personification of nature, and the seamless blending of documentary and fiction. Sadly the illness and death of Varda's husband, filmmaker Jacques Demy, helped to inspire her affectionate docu-valentine to his youth in "Jacquot/Jacquot de Nantes" (1992).

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb).

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    • TCM Remembers Stanley Donen (1924-2019)


    • Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Stanley Donen on Monday, March 18 with the following festival of films.

      The schedule for the evening of Monday, March 18 will be:
      8:00 PM Private Screenings: Stanley Donen (2006)
      9:00 PM Singin' in the Rain (1952)
      11:00 PM On the Town (1949)
      1:00 AM Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954)
      3:00 AM Royal Wedding (1951)
      5:00 AM It's Always Fair Weather (1955)



      The gifted director/choreographer, one of the last remaining filmmakers from Hollywood's Golden Age, passed away February 21, 2019 at the age of 94.

      Between 1949 and 1959, Stanley Donen was either the key creative force behind or an essential element in the production of some of the most critically acclaimed musicals in Hollywood history. A former dancer, he befriended Gene Kelly, who joined forces with Donen on Broadway and later in feature films for the dancing legend like "On the Town" (1949) and what was widely considered the most popular musical ever made, "Singin' in the Rain" (1952). Donen also directed his idol Fred Astaire in "Royal Wedding" (1951) and "Funny Face" (1957), and helmed such crowd-pleasing titles as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954) and "Damn Yankees" (1958). In later years, he showed a deft touch with light comedies like "Indiscreet" (1958), as well as thrillers like "Charade" (1963). Though his directorial career wound down in the early 1980s, the visual and technical brilliance of Donen's body of work, which was rightfully feted with an honorary Academy Award in 1998, ensured that he would remain in the upper reaches of Hollywood's pantheon of musical directors as long as viewers continued to draw joy and inspiration from them.

      Born April 13, 1924 in Columbia, SC, Donen struggled to grow up Jewish in a region marked by intolerance for his particular faith. He found refuge at the movies, and fell in love with dancing after viewing one of Fred Astaire's effortless performances. He took tap lessons in his home town and graduated early from high school at 16, whereupon Donen lit out for New York City to make his way in show business. He earned his first Broadway credits as a member of the chorus in 1940's "Pal Joey," starring Gene Kelly. The veteran dancer befriended the younger man and later called on him to assist with the choreography for the play "Best Foot Forward." When Kelly lit out for Hollywood, he brought Donen with him, and the pair began their collaborations in film with the movie version of "Best Foot Forward" (1943). Donen soon began accumulating choreography credits on countless musicals, both with and without Kelly, including "Cover Girl" (1944), "The Kissing Bandit" (1948) with Frank Sinatra, and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1948) with both Kelly and Sinatra. The following year, he and Kelly shared directorial credit on "On the Town" (1949), a sprightly Comden and Green tune fest with Kelly, Sinatra and Jules Munshin as sailors on leave and in love in New York City. The Big Apple locations - the first for a movie musical - and memorable tunes like "New York, New York" made it a box office and critical hit, as well as an Oscar winner for Best Music.

      The picture established the Donen-Kelly team as one of the freshest and most innovative in Hollywood, and together, they were responsible for some of the genre's most enduring classics. "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) was perhaps the most iconic of these; an unflaggingly charming take on Hollywood's transition from silent pictures to talkies, it featured what was unquestionably one of the most indelible screen images of all time - the sight of Kelly crooning the title song while dancing through a studio-produced downpour. So great was its impact upon generations of viewers - many of whom were moved to explore dance and musicals after seeing the film - that it was later placed at #5 on the American Film Institute's Top Films of All Time and the top spot on its list of 100 Greatest Musicals.

      Had Stanley Donen stopped directing musicals after "Singin' in the Rain," his legacy would have been ensured for time in memoriam, but he continued to work on some of the form's best efforts for the better part of the next decade. He directed Fred Astaire - arguably the greatest of all musical film performers - in two projects. "Royal Wedding" (1951) was his first turn as a solo director, and featured the spectacular "You're All the World to Me" number, which saw Astaire literally dancing up the walls and across the ceiling of a room. It would later serve as the inspiration for countless scenes in other films and television shows, as well as the 1986 music video for Lionel Richie's pop hit "Dancing on the Ceiling," which Donen also directed. Donen also helmed "Funny Face" for Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, which earned him a Golden Palm nomination at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.

      The success of his efforts with Kelly and Astaire made Donen one of the top musical directors of the fifties, with perhaps only Vincente Minnelli ranking above him. As a solo director, he helmed such hits as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954) and "The Pajama Game" (1957) with Doris Day. Having firmly established himself as a top director of musicals, he was reluctant to rejoin Kelly in 1955 for "It's Always Fair Weather," and the experience - already tainted by Kelly's disintegrating relationship with MGM - was reportedly an unpleasant one. But "Damn Yankees" (1958), which Donen co-directed with the director of the Broadway production, George Abbott, brought the most active phase of his musical career to a close on a high note, as well as his fourth of five nominations from the Directors Guild of America, which had previously honored him for "Singin' in the Rain," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Funny Face."

      With the decline of the Hollywood musical in the late 1950s, Donen began making inroads to other genres. He made his first foray into romantic comedies with the delightful "Indiscreet" (1958), which marked the reunion of "Notorious" co-stars Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. The film was nominated for Best Picture at both the Golden Globes and BAFTA Film Awards. His next collaboration with Grant - 1960's "The Grass is Always Greener" - was a critical and financial flop, but their third go-round was "Charade" (1962), an engaging and polished thriller marked by Grant's repartee with co-star Audrey Hepburn and a terrific score by Henry Mancini. "Arabesque" (1966) attempted to recreate that film's chemistry with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren, but not even their star power could elevate the ponderous end result.

      Donen reunited with Hepburn for "Two for the Road" (1967), a bittersweet comedy-drama that explored the dissolution of a marriage between two seemingly hopeless romantics (Hepburn and Albert Finney). Told in a non-linear fashion that evoked the arthouse scene of Europe, the film was praised as Donen's boldest non-musical effort. He followed this with "Bedazzled" (1967), a cult favorite built around the then-popular comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. A colorful pop revamp of the Faustian legend, Moore starred as a nebbish short order cook who is granted his every wish - including a bedroom romp with Raquel Welch as the embodiment of lust - by a sardonic Devil (Cook) with a sense of coal-black humor. The film was a sizable hit with college audiences, who appreciated its fractured structure and nose-thumbing attitude towards religion.

      "Bedazzled" would prove to be Donen's last successful film. His follow-up, "Staircase" (1969), was a comedy-drama with Richard Burton and Rex Harrison as an aging gay couple. The offbeat casting led Fox to market the film as camp, which resulted in a backlash of negative reviews that lambasted the film as being in bad taste. "The Little Prince" (1974) failed to generate the same sense of wonder as the classic Antoine de Saint-Exupery book on which it was based, despite a score by Lerner and Lowe and the presence of Gene Wilder and Bob Fosse in its cast. "Lucky Lady" (1975) squandered the star power of its leads - Gene Hackman, Burt Reynolds and Liza Minelli - in a moribund dramedy about romance between bootleggers in the 1930s. "Movie Movie" (1978) was the sole standout of the decade for Donen - an amusing send-up of genre pictures from the 1930s by Larry Gelbart, the film's two-movies-in-one structure offered some terrific comic turns from the likes of George C. Scott and Eli Wallach. Sadly, the momentum it generated was squelched by "Saturn 3" (1980), an ill-advised foray into science fiction with Kirk Douglas and a badly miscast Farrah Fawcett as astronauts terrorized by a dubbed Harvey Keitel and his colossal, amorous robot. The film did manage to generate some attention for brief nude scenes by Fawcett, who at the time was still riding high on her post-"Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981) popularity.

      Donen's final turn in the director's chair for a major motion picture was "Blame It on Rio" (1984), an uncomfortable sex comedy which asked viewers to find Michael Caine's attempts to seduce his daughter's nubile teenage friend (Michelle Johnson) amusing. The abundance of nudity helped to make the film a modest hit, but Donen's heart was clearly not in the picture. He was absent from directing for most of the 1980s, save for a lovely musical number on an episode of "Moonlighting" (ABC, 1985-89) in 1986. Donen also lent his name and legacy to the Academy Awards telecast by serving as producer of the 58th annual ceremony that same year.

      In 1993, Donen made his stage musical directing debut with an adaptation of Michael Powell's classic ballet fantasy-drama, "The Red Shoes" (1948), but the production was not a success. He returned behind the camera for the 1999 TV-movie "Love Letters," based on the long-running play by A.R. Gurney, with Steven Weber and Laura Linney as the lovers whose romantic history is played out over the course of several decades' worth of correspondence. As befitting a director of his stature, Donen received his share of lifetime achievement awards in the 1990s, which culminated in an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1998. His acceptance speech was marked by the charm and grace that he brought to his classic musicals - upon receiving his award, he executed a gentle dance with the trophy while crooning Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek." The moment served as a heart-warming reminder of Donen's legacy, as well as the whimsy and joy he brought to moviegoers throughout his career.

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb)

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    • Albert Finney (1936-2019)

    • British actor Albert Finney passed away Friday, February 8, 2019 at the age of 82.

      A dynamic, often explosive stage and screen star, Albert Finney emerged from the same class at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as Peter O'Toole and Alan Bates to become one of the most respected British performers of his generation. After earning his stripes in productions of such classics as "Julius Caesar" (1956) and "Othello" (1959), Finney had his breakthrough performance on the big screen as the rakish "Tom Jones" (1963), a role that earned him his first Academy Award nomination. He made himself practically unrecognizable as the titular "Scrooge" (1970) and as famed sleuth Hercule Poirot in "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974). Following a lengthy absence from features to concentrate on the stage, Finney returned to the big screen the following decade for Oscar-nominated turns in "The Dresser" (1983) and "Under the Volcano" (1984). Finney was memorable as a Thompson-wielding Irish mob boss in the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" (1990). He emerged triumphant again with his Academy Award-nominated performance in "Erin Brockovich" (2000), which opened the doors for supporting parts in big studio films like "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007) and smaller independents like "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007), giving the esteemed Finney a new lease on an already distinguished career.

      Born on May 9, 1936 in Salford, Lancashire, England, Finney was raised by his father, Albert Sr., a bookie, and his mother, Alice. Educated at Salford Grammar School, he failed his final GCE exams in a whopping five subjects. From the time he was 12 years old, Finney was performing in school plays, logging some 15 productions until the age of 17. Soon he found himself honing his craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he won the Gertrude Lawrence Scholarship during his second and third terms while attending alongside Peter O'Toole, Alan Bates and Brian Bedford. Finney left the Academy in 1955 with the Emile Little Award under his belt, which was bestowed upon students who had the most outstanding character and aptitude for the theater. Following his professional debut with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production of "Julius Caesar" (1956), he premiered in London with the company's staging of George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" (1956). Two years later, Finney earned critical acclaim opposite Charles Laughton in a West End production of "The Party" (1958).

      After his West End triumph, Finney joined the famed Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for their 100th anniversary season, performing Cassio in "Othello" (1959), directed by Tony Richardson with Paul Robeson in the lead; reuniting with Laughton to play Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream;" and understudying Laurence Olivier's "Coriolanus." A small role as Olivier's son in Richardson's "The Entertainer" (1960) marked Finney's entreé into films, which he followed by receiving excellent reviews for his stage turn in "The Lily-White Boys" (1960). His stellar performance on the London stage as "Billy Liar" (1960) significantly raised his profile, while his portrayal of the dissatisfied, working-class anti-hero Arthur Seaton in "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1961), director Karel Reisz's classic of British "angry young man" cinema brought him worldwide acclaim. Though he quit the starring role in David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) after four days in order to avoid being locked into a long-term film contract, Finney cemented his film stardom as the rakish, picaresque hero "Tom Jones" (1963) in Tony Richardson's lavish, bawdy hit, earning his first Best Actor Oscar nomination.

      That same year, Finney took Broadway by storm in John Osborne's "Luther" (1963), again directed by Richardson, before reteaming with Reisz for the remake of "Night Must Fall" (1964), on which Finney also made his debut as producer. In 1965, Finney founded Memorial Enterprises Productions with actor Michael Medwin, which was responsible for several outstanding features including his own directorial debut, "Charlie Bubbles" (1967), Lindsay Anderson's "If..." (1968) and "O Lucky Man!" (1973), as well as numerous plays, including Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg" (1968). Much to his chagrin, Finney reinforced his reputation as a romantic leading man opposite Audrey Hepburn as a bickering couple trying to save their happiness in "Two for the Road" (1967). Disdainful of his new sex symbol image, Finney sought to diminish his pretty boy status by hamming his way through the title role of "Scrooge" (1970), a musical take on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and delivering a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a Humphrey Bogart wannabe in "Gumshoe" (1971). His reaction to the sex symbol nonsense prompted him to absolutely submerge himself in the role of Agatha Christie's famous sleuth Hercule Poirot for "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974), which garnered the barely recognizable actor his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

      After "Murder on the Orient Express," Finney appeared in only one film over the next seven years, playing a small role in Ridley Scott's "The Duellists" (1978). From 1972-75, he directed several plays while serving as associate artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre. Beginning in 1975, Finney concentrated exclusively on stage acting as a member of the National Theatre, portraying the title roles of "Hamlet," Christopher Marlowe's "Tamburlaine the Great," "Macbeth" and Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya." In the early 1980s, Finney returned to the screen with a flurry of new movies, though the first few - "Loophole" (1981), Wolfen" (1981) and "Looker" (1981) - were embarrassments. But later that year he hit his stride in Alan Parker's harrowing portrait of divorce, "Shoot the Moon" (1981), giving a sexually-charged, rage-filled performance as a writer crazed with jealousy that his wife (Diane Keaton) and children seem to be getting along fine without him. After pocketing a nifty sum to play Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" (1982) for John Huston, he essayed the aging Donald Wolfit-like actor-manager to Tom Courtenay's "The Dresser" (1983), with both actors earning Best Actor Oscar nominations for their superb work.

      Over the years, Finney made a specialty of playing large, boozy, blustery men and was perhaps never better in this vein than as the gruelingly drunk diplomat of Huston's "Under the Volcano" (1984), adapted from Malcolm Lowry's autobiographical novel set in 1930s Mexico. Without overplaying the extremely difficult role, he imbued the self-destructive man with tragic nobility, earning his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination for an extraordinary performance. Finney reprised his stage role as a deceptive, drunken Chicago gangster in "Orphans" (1987), demonstrating his flair for dialects with an authentic South Side accent. In the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" (1990), Finney was an Irish mob boss warring with rival Italians, whose artistry with a Thompson machine gun was felt by four would-be assassins in a memorable shootout set to the Irish ballad, "Danny Boy." Continuing his sting of Irish characters, he was convincing as a tragic constable in a small Northern Irish border town in "The Playboys" (1992), a sexually repressed bus conductor in "A Man of No Importance" (1994) and an Irish cop unable to express his emotions in "The Run of the Country" (1995).

      In between his string of Irish-centric roles, Finney dropped his adopted brogue to make a fine, frumpish Southerner for Bruce Beresford's "Rich in Love" (1993), which he later followed with an appearance alongside old RADA chum Tom Courtenay in the London stage production of "Art" (1996). He next played a perpetually besotted television writer in two Dennis Potter-scripted miniseries, "Karaoke" (Bravo, 1996) and "Cold Lazarus" (Bravo, 1996), and the equally sodden Dr. Monygham in the lavish six-hour "Masterpiece Theatre" miniseries, "Joseph Conrad's 'Nostromo'" (PBS, 1997). In "A Rather English Marriage" (PBS, 1999), Finney played a former Royal Air Force squadron leader devastated by the loss of his wife, who forms an unlikely bond with a retired milkman (Tom Courtenay) sent by a concerned social worker to help care for his decaying estate. Following his turn as the grizzled, eccentric writer Kilgore Trout in "Breakfast of Champions" (1999), Finney essayed a former racing commissioner in the film adaptation of Sam Shepard's "Simpatico" (1999). The latter was particularly well-suited to this breeder of horses and son of a bookie.

      Though continually working, Finney had by this point in his career found himself less of a known commodity than in years past. But that changed when he was cast by director Steven Soderbergh to star opposite Julia Roberts in the commercial smash "Erin Brockovich" (2000). Finney played the skeptical, but open-minded California lawyer boss of Roberts' titular legal assistant, whose interest in a cancer cluster case gradually re-energizes him for what becomes the case of his career. Just like his character onscreen, Finney's own career was given new life, especially after he earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination - his first such honor in 16 years. That same year, he had a cameo as a chief of staff in Soderbergh's deftly crafted "Traffic" (2000), which he followed with a turn as acclaimed novelist Ernest Hemingway in "Hemingway, The Hunter Of Death" (2001). In 2002, he took on the role of Winston Churchill in the acclaimed HBO drama "The Gathering Storm," a love story offering an intimate look inside the marriage of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Vanessa Redgrave) during a particularly troubled, though little-known moment in their lives.

      For his role in "The Gathering Storm," Finney received widespread critical praise, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, a BAFTA TV Award as Best Actor, and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award. He received another Golden Globe nomination the following year, this time for his role as the senior Ed Bloom, a man whose tendency toward fanciful self-mythologizing puts him at odds with his disillusioned son (Billy Crudup) in Tim Burton's "Big Fish" (2003). After voicing Finnis Everglot in Burton's animated "Corpse Bride" (2005), Finney was the deceased uncle of a high-flying London businessman (Russell Crowe) who makes his nephew the sole beneficiary of his modest vineyard in "A Good Year" (2006). In "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007), Finney played Dr. Albert Hirsch, the man responsible for creating Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) by erasing his former identity and creating a new one through behavior modification. Next he portrayed 18th century clergyman and writer of hymns, John Newton, in Michael Apted's underappreciated historical drama, "Amazing Grace" (2007). Finney teamed up with Sidney Lumet for the director's excellent crime thriller, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007), playing a man who suffers the devastating loss of his wife (Rosemary Harris) during the botched robbery of their jewelry store perpetrated by their own desperate and misguided sons (Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman). Surprisingly, Finney was relatively inactive over the next five years, appearing in the next decade with a reprisal of Dr. Hirsch for "The Bourne Legacy" (2012) and a turn as Kincade opposite Daniel Craig's James Bond in "Skyfall" (2012).

      (Biographical info courtesy of TCMDb).

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    • Julie Adams (1926-2019)

    • Julie Adams passed away Sunday, February 3, 2019 in Los Angeles at the age of 92.

      For generations of moviegoers, the name Julie Adams conjured up an arresting black-and-white image of the actress swimming gracefully through the murky waters of the Amazon - actually, Wakulla Springs in Florida - while the Gill-Man, the scaly man-fish monster in "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954), glided below her, captivated by her presence in his environment. The film, one of the greatest titles in science fiction history, came to encapsulate Adams' career, though she had been an in-demand actress, most notably in Westerns, since the late 1940s. Despite its popularity, "Creature" did little for her film career, but she became one of the most recognizable faces on television, providing poised, highly professional guest turns on series from the early 1960s through the first decade of the 21st century. If she bore any ill will towards her "Creature" typecasting, Adams did not show it, as the title of her 2011 autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon, clearly illustrated. If never a household name, Julie Adams enjoyed both exceptional career longevity and the lasting fame afforded to a cult icon.

      Born Betty May Adams on Oct. 17, 1926 in Waterloo, IA, she was raised primarily in Little Rock, AR. There, she caught the acting bug while performing in a grade school production of "Hansel and Gretel." After attending Little Rock Junior College, she lit out for Hollywood in 1946, where she lived with an aunt while studying drama and supporting herself as a part-time secretary. She made her screen debut in "Red, Hot and Blue" (1949), a comedy-musical vehicle for Betty Hutton; Adams was uncredited for her ironic turn as an aspiring starlet. She used her real name for seven low-budget Westerns, all shot within a period of five weeks, for producer Robert Lippert, who cast her as a frontier damsel in need of rescue by B-movie cowboys James "Shamrock" Ellison and Raymond Hatton. Her lucky break came in 1951 when she was tapped to appear in a screen test for Universal opposite Detroit Lions' defensive end Leon Hart, who was attempting to break into show business. The studio passed on Hart but signed Adams to a contract, for which they also changed her first name to Julia and later Julie.

      She worked steadily during the early 1950s, giving solid turns in features like "Bright Victory" (1951), which cast her as the fiancée of blinded soldier Arthur Kennedy. Universal made sure she remained in the public eye thanks to a cheeky publicity campaign that claimed that her legs - "the most perfectly symmetrical in the world," according to the PR hype - had been insured by the studio for $125,000. She enjoyed a string of leading lady turns opposite the likes of William Powell in "The Treasure of Lost Canyon" (1952), Rock Hudson in Raoul Walsh's Western "The Lawless Breed" (1953), and Tyrone Power in "The Mississippi Gambler" (1953) for Rudolph Maté. But these were soon overshadowed when Adams was cast as the female lead in Universal's "Creature from the Black Lagoon," which remained her most enduring film credit. Cast as a comely researcher on an Amazon expedition for a mythical man-fish hybrid, Adams' deep water swim, clad in a blinding white bathing suit while the Gill-Man lurked below her, became one of the most iconic images of the 1950s science fiction boom. Repeated TV broadcasts over the course of the next half-century preserved the popularity of both "Creature" and Adams' appearance in it, but also effectively overshadowed the screen work that came before and after it.

      Despite this career-arresting element, Adams worked steadily throughout the 1950s, though largely in unremarkable fare like "Francis Joins the WACs" (1954) and "The Looters" (1955), which co-starred her husband, actor Ray Danton, whom she had married the previous year. The union-gangster drama "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (1957) proved to be her last notable feature for decades; by the following year, she had moved almost exclusively into television. There were occasional returns to features, most notably "Tickle Me" (1965) with Elvis Presley, but for the most part, she remained one of the most prolific guest stars on episodic television during the 1960s, as well as an occasional series regular on "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ) as Denise Wilton.

      After surprising many with her appearance in Dennis Hopper's psychedelic "The Last Movie" (1971), Adams settled into a season of "The Jimmy Stewart Show" (NBC, 1971-72) as the spouse of Stewart's university professor. It was followed by a string of off-beat feature roles, including "McQ" (1974), with John Wayne in a rare foray into modern day action, as well as "The Psychic Killer" (1975), an oddball horror picture directed by Danton and a grim adaptation of noir novelist Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me" (1976). Adams began to settle almost exclusively into TV guest appearances for the next decade. From 1987 to 1993, she had a recurring role as the flirty real estate agent Eve Simpson on "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1996). She remained active on television through the new millennium, most notably in a pair of appearances as Amelia, one of the Others, on "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010). Viewers with keen hearing also noted Adams as one of the telephone voices in Roman Polanski's acclaimed film version of "Carnage" (2011). That same year, she published her autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon, which she co-authored with Mitchell Danton, one of her two sons from her marriage to Ray Danton.

      by Paul Gaita

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  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

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