Thursday, February 21, 2013
When my fellow gal pals Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and Paula of Paula's Cinema Club and I decided to do another blogathon, #31DaysOfOscar was created. The idea was to bring together film bloggers of all genres to blog about the very best in film as celebrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Oscar. Be it the best in film, directing, actor, actress, editing, costume, song, screenplay or ANY aspect of the Oscar's 85 storied and sometimes scandalous years, there is a wealth of blogging material to cover a 5 week period of Oscar season. And how perfect to do so during the peak of awards season and to coincide throughout Turner Classic Movie's 31 Days of Oscar event. The following piece is my blog entry for this mega blogathon event.
In writing about some aspect of the Oscars, it's frankly tough to narrow down. So I decided to take a stab at a topic generally forgotten shortly after the Oscars takes place- the hosts. There has been a countless variety of hosts for the Oscar ceremonies over the past 85 years. Some years, hosts have pitched it solo and many years it was presented in a co-hosted or an assemble format. Historically, folks have been often quick to criticize the hosts' performances as the pressure is incredibly intense to please a large audience celebrating well... the very best in performing!
Not unlike the Saturday Night Live hosts across the years, only those hosts who truly possess mass appeal, can entertain with a universal humor, and ad lib on-the-fly with rapid-fire delivery if needed are popular enough asked to return again. I can only imagine the challenge of being the host of the biggest party of the year to honor and stand in front of some of the biggest talent in cinema (not to mention likely some of the biggest egos as well.) Not an easy gig.
As I do every year, I thoroughly look forward to watching the annual Academy Awards. And like always, my husband, my four kids and I will excitedly start watching from the very first moment of red carpet coverage to review all the Hollywood glitz and glamor of the most beautiful and talented stars to the last closing moments as this year's Oscars show has ended. A tradition we will undoubtedly continue throughout the years... see you on the red carpet!
The Daily Scandal; "Billy Crystal's Advice For This Year's Oscar's Host" :
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Like countless classic film fans, I have spent a lifetime in love with the mystique of Hitch films. The man was no doubt a master in suspense and thrill. While many of the films in his library of work are better known, SHADOW OF A DOUBT should not be over-looked as a definitive classic and a 1940's treasure. (Be forewarned that spoilers may come out in the paragraphs to follow as I plan to discuss details of the plot...)
We are introduced to the warm and affable cast of characters of the Newton family, just as the surprising news breaks that Uncle Charles is soon to arrive. Young Charlie, her 2 younger siblings and father rush down to the train station to greet her mother's younger brother. Though they barely know each other as the elder Charlie has been absent from the Newton's family's life minus the occasional parcels of gifts from afar, younger Charlie feels a strange connection to her mysterious uncle that goes beyond a shared name. She adores her uncle because of the pedestal that her mother has built up of him over the years, but the mysteries begin from the moment he steps off the train. At the family dinner that evening, young Charlie tells her visiting uncle that she can see something in him no one else can. She knows he has "wonderful secrets." During dinner when Charlie starts humming a tune she complains she can't get out of her head, she starts to blurt out the song's title, "The Merry Widow Waltz..." but then her uncle tips over his wine glass as a distraction before she finishes saying it. Clear only to the audience, she's somehow hit a nerve.
The details of uncle Charlie's darkness and callous ethics are revealed in bits and pieces throughout the film. It slowly builds the tension as each occurrence tests Charlie's and the Newton family's loyalties. When Charles first settles into his new dwellings (young Charlie's room), he goes to throw his hat on the bed but is stopped by Joe Newton due to superstition: "I just don't want bad things to come." As soon Mr. Newton leaves, Charles casually tosses his hat on the bed; sealing the fate of what evil lurks in his heart. Another example is when uncle Charles mocks Joe Newton's bank job upon opening an account at his bank, coldly displaying disrespect. And yet another is when all are seated at the dinner table and he refers to widows and "silly wives" as fat, wheezing animals with no purpose... his face grows cold; his head turning a transparent icy gaze at young Charlie.
If you found it difficult to follow from time to time with the duality of Charlies, keep in mind that the name "Charlie" is said a whopping 170 times in this film. On a personal note, we have an ongoing little joke in our family about this film. My 12 year-old son starting watching this with me one day and ever since then, in quiet moments, we utter "Charlie" out loud to each other as our inside joke to mock how many times that name's repeated. Sorry Charlie...
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Teresa Wright ... Young Charlie
Joseph Cotten ... Uncle Charlie
Macdonald Carey ... Jack Graham
Henry Travers ... Joseph Newton
Patricia Collinge ... Emma Newton
Hume Cronyn ... Herbie Hawkins
Wallace Ford ... Fred Saunders
Edna May Wonacott ... Ann Newton
Charles Bates ... Roger Newton
Saturday, February 2, 2013
I'm a fan of this hour long variety show that ran for four seasons on NBC from September 17, 1970 to June 27, 1974. The main star was comedian Flip Wilson. And while hard to imagine now, it was ground-breaking 43 years ago to have an African American headline such a hugely successful primetime show on network television, with a mostly white audience. Not to mention this premiered only 6 years after the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act. Yet by its 2nd season, it was the 2nd most watched television show in the nation.
Flip Wilson started his career playing to small clubs doing stand-up then rose to fame thanks greatly to Redd Foxx. After Foxx discovered this bright new talent, he overwhelming endorsed Flip to Johnny Carson. Consequently, Flip appeared on The Tonight Show more than 25 times with guest spots on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" and "Love American Style." NBC offered him a multi-year contract for his own show following his part of a Bob Hope special that showcased a parade of young comedic talent.
The format was comprised of comedy skits starring Flip himself as a variety of characters, along with popular stars of that time and music acts of the highest caliber. These music performances reflected some of the best and hottest in the industry: Louis Armstrong, James Brown, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Mahilia Jackson, Lena Horne, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Pointer Sisters, The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson Five were some of the legendary highlights. Also ground-breaking was the stage itself. Flip's opening monologues and skits were performed in a "theater-in-the-round" stage set with the audience wrapped around practically every side of it; a first in variety show style. The sets were often sparse too, which was intentional to focus on the talent.
The Flip Wilson Show became the platform for some hilarious characters that nearly pushed the society envelope such as con-artist Reverend Leroy, Freddy the unsuccessful Playboy, and Sonny the White House janitor who always outsmarted the President. But my favorite of all of his characters was the ever sassy, brash and flirty Geraldine Jones. When Geraldine came on stage, the audience would roar. Dressed in drag in the latest 70's minidress fashions, Flip Wilson portrayed Geraldine as the confident 'tell it like it is' hip gal with charasmatic charm. Inspired by Butterly McQueen's Prissy in GONE WITH THE WIND (1940), Geraldine was always outspoken, loyal to her beau "Killer" (never actually seen on screen) and known for her hilarious one-liners and taglines... "The devil made me do it!", "what you see is what you get, honey!"
What's memorable about this variety show was the diverse and long list of celebrity guests. Many times the musical acts would partake in the skits. Some key regulars were some of the funniest talent in television. Tim Conway, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Melba Moore, Bobby Darin and Roy Clark all made repeated appearances. In addition, dozens more of the most popular names in comedy and entertainment made guest spots over the 96 episodes... Bing Crosby, Bill Cosby, Ruth Buzzi, Lily Tomlin, Phyllis Diller, Don Rickles, Tony Randall, Johnny Cash, Jack Benny, Sammy Davis, Jr., Marty Feldman... the impressive list goes on and on.
One of the reasons for the show's extraordinary popularity besides showcasing the biggest stars of the entertainment industry, was the writing talent. Flip was the creator behind many of his characters and shared his writing talent along with the rest of the top-notch writing team of Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Herbert Baker, Hal Goldman, Hal Goodman, Al Gordon, Don Hinkley, Sidney Green, Larry Klein, Richard Hills, Stan Burns, Mark Marmer, Bob Schiller, Peter Gallway, Paul McCauley, Norman Steinberg, Bob Weiskopf and Winston Moss. The Flip Wilson show earned 16 Emmy nominations and won 2 of the golden statues for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety or Music (1971) and Outstanding Variety Series- Musical (1971).
Friday, February 1, 2013
The red carpet is rolled out, the limos are lined up, the Harry Winston jewelry and hottest designer gowns are perfectly fitted and the envelopes are sealed ... it's time for Oscar. Well, almost. To add to the building excitement of this momentous showcase of the very best in cinema, Aurora of Once Upon A Screen (aka @citizenscreen) and Paula of Paula's Cinema Club (aka @Paula_guthat) and myself decided to follow along with Turner Classic Movie's month long tribute, 31 Days of Oscar with our very own 31 DAYS OF OSCAR Blogathon.
And to kick off the very first week, here are your bloggers' contributions and passions on what inspires them for Oscar...
1. Vanessa of "Stardust" at http://www.bwallover.blogspot.ca gives us a glimpse into Hollywood's famed golden year (indeed it was!) in "Hollywood's Triumph: 1939" (tweet Vanessa at @callmeveebee )
2. Co-host Aurora of "Once Upon A Screen" at http://www.aurorasginjoint.com delights us with Oscar "Firsts" and her own Oscar memories that highlight why the Oscars still matter. (tweet Aurora at @citizenscreen )
3. Lindsey of "The Motion Pictures" at http://www.themotionpictures.net treats us with TWO entries! First up is "Oscar recollections: 10 favorite Best Actress winners"
"Oscar recollections: 10 favorite Best Actor winners." (tweet Lindsey at @TMPLindsey )
4. Pete of "Furious Cinema" ... http://furiouscinema.com also spoils us with TWO entries! First up is a personal fave of mine (I've seen this THREE times already and yes, the "D" is silent)
"DJANGO UNCHAINED" then he flips into classic Chicago gangsta-style with "Little Caesar" (tweet Pete at @furiouscinema )
5. Kevin aka "Jack Deth"... (hosted by) http://paulascinemaclub.com waxes 70's nostalgia with a heady brew in "1973: A Very Good Year"
6. The Gal Herself of "One Gal's Musings" ... http://onegalsmusings.blogspot.com
shows us it's a Battle of the Blondes or Girls Gone Wild! with "1960 Best Supporting Actress"
7. David of "Be Careful! Your Hand!" ... http://becarefulyourhand.blogspot.co.uk
charms us with a contentious collection of animated amazing features: "Oscars: Best Animated Feature 2009- Who Should Have Won?" But why stop there? David adds ANOTHER blog entry- to celebrate the unsung category of voice talent with "And The Oscar for Best Voice Acting Goes To..." (tweet David at @DavidOpie )
8. Ratnakar of "Seetimaar- Diary Of A Movie Lover" ... http://seetimaar.wordpress.com
composes a beautiful symphony of a cinematic Mozart masterpiece in "Amadeus" (tweet Ratnakar at @ScorpiusMaximus )
9. Ruth of "Silver Screenings" ... http://www.silverscreenings.
brightens our day with an early classic masterpiece of stunning cinema photography: "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" ( tweet Ruth at @925screenings )
10. Murtaza of "A Potpourri of Vestiges" ... http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com serves up "The Silence of the Lambs (1991): American Film- Maker Jonathan Demme's Case Study on Human Psychology" with some fava beans and a nice chianti. ( tweet Murtaza at @apotofvestiges )
Please savor these delicious blog entries as contributed by our blogger extraordinaires. This is only the first week and we are already brimming with talent. Be sure to add your feedback to these blog entries, follow along with TCM's 31 Days of Oscar this month and stayed tuned to our 31 DAYS OF OSCAR Blogathon in the weeks to come for the very best in Oscar blogging fun!
~Kellee (aka @IrishJayhawk66)
along with Aurora ( @citizenscreen ) and Paula ( @Paula_guthat )