Sunday, November 02, 2014

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the internet...

...The great Norman Lloyd celebrates his 100th birthday next Saturday, November 8th. I'm fortunate to have seen him speak at screenings of REIGN OF TERROR (1949), THE LADY VANISHES (1938), and DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) over the past couple of years; he's seen here in a candid shot I snapped at a TCM Classic Film Fest gathering. He's a fascinating and witty speaker who has had a wealth of interesting experiences over the course of his long career. Lloyd's centennial will be celebrated at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on November 21st and 23rd; Alan Rode will host Lloyd at a double bill of SABOTEUR (1942) and A WALK IN THE SUN (1945) on the 21st, and LIMELIGHT (1952) will be shown on the 23rd. I will be out of town that weekend and certainly wish I could attend what's sure to be a wonderful celebration!

...At Where Danger Lives, Mark features a countdown of the 30 Greatest Hitchcock Posters.

...This week's YouTube find: Jane Seymour stars as twins in the TV version of DARK MIRROR (1984), roles played in 1946 by Olivia de Havilland; I saw Seymour's version first but don't believe I've watched it since it first aired. It also stars Vincent Gardenia and Stephen Collins (who has been the focus of some recent unpleasant news stories).

...It's sad how Mattel has destroyed the original concept of American Girl dolls; they were so enjoyed by my daughters and myself.

...Coming soon from the Warner Archive: Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 8. This set, which will initially be sold on traditional pressed discs, consists of James Cagney and Joan Blondell in BLONDE CRAZY (1931) (reviewed by me last year), Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery in STRANGERS MAY KISS (1931) (reviewed here), Paul Muni in HI, NELLIE! (1934), and Edward G. Robinson in DARK HAZARD 91934). Also out soon from the Archive: THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945) on Blu-ray.

...Coming from Fox Cinema Archives: MANILA CALLING (1942) starring Lloyd Nolan, Carole Landis, and Cornel Wilde, plus one of Nolan's not-yet-on-DVD Michael Shayne films, JUST OFF BROADWAY (1942), which I reviewed last year. This gives me hope that at some point I'll be able to see the only Shayne film not in my collection, TIME TO KILL (1942).

...Scott O'Brien, author of a new biography of George Brent, recently visited the Silver Screen Oasis where he answered written questions posted about the actor and his career.

...Over at Mike's Take on the Movies, Mike and his friend Kristina (of Speakeasy) cut a fun video recommending some of their favorite film books. Thanks to the video, along with a recent mention by Ivan at ClassicFlix, I've ordered "B" MOVIES by Don Miller. I also ordered Miller's HOLLYWOOD CORRAL: A COMPREHENSIVE B-WESTERN ROUNDUP, which has already arrived and looks fantastic. Kristina's THEY HAD FACES THEN Citadel book is on a future wish list!

...Kristina also has a great review of Joel McCrea and Fay Wray in the pre-Code adventure THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932), showing on TCM on McCrea's birthday next Wednesday, July 5th.

...If it's November, that means it's time for the Hallmark Channel's annual Countdown to Christmas! This year there are 12 new Christmas movies with stars such as Jane Seymour, Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Teri Polo, and Candace Cameron Bure.

...The Blonde at the Film has a new post up on Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Stanley Donen's CHARADE (1963). I haven't seen that in many years and have pulled it off the shelf in hopes of seeing it soon.

...A new-to-me title coming my way soon from my father: LADD: THE LIFE, THE LEGEND, THE LEGACY OF ALAN LADD by Beverly Linet.

...Speaking of Alan Ladd, Colin's latest post at Riding the High Country is on SHANE (1953). And be sure to stick around for the interesting discussion which follows -- it's already grown to quite a size despite the fact this is a brand-new post!

...Attention Southern Californians: Steak 'n Shake has come to California with the opening of a store in Santa Monica.

...Notable Passing: Conductor-Arranger Ian Fraser, an 11-time Emmy winner who worked frequently with Julie Andrews, has died at 81. Here are obituaries from Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

Have a great week!


Blogger Mark said...

Thanks Laura, as always. I read the Linet Ladd biography a few years back when I was writing him up for Noir City. It's unfortunate that it's essentially the only biography available, because his life and body of work really deserves a more thorough examination. If I remember correctly, Linet was a fan mag writer, and the book definitely reads along those lines.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Kristina Dijan said...

Thanks for the mentions! Good stuff here, now I have to add that George Brent book to my collection, have really enjoyed Scott O'Brien's bios thus far. Picture of Dorian Gray should be an amazing blu release! Cheers

4:32 PM  
Blogger Mike Perry said...

Thanks a bunch for the link thru to the vid that Kristina and I did. Enjoy the Ladd book, I have that one on my shelf as well. Author also did a good one on Susan Hayward.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're so welcome, Mark!

My dad mentioned how many now-gone people were interviewed for the Ladd book, hoping to enjoy it. The only other references I have on Ladd are the Citadel FILMS OF... book and a chapter in J.R. Parish's HOLLYWOOD'S GREAT LOVE TEAMS.

Mike, thanks for adding your thoughts on the Ladd book! Susan Hayward is another actress I'd like to read more about.

Glad to share the video with you both, Mike and Kristina! It was a lot of fun.

I agree, Kristina, I have to get that Brent book. I have books O'Brien wrote on Kay Francis and Virginia Bruce; he did a lot of primary source research and I'm hoping the Brent book will be similarly interesting.

Best wishes,

6:35 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I'm so excited that Blonde Crazy is going to be included in the next Forbidden Hollywood set! I loved seeing that again recently on TCM. At least I think that's where I saw it. I start to lose track. I'll have to read that American Girl article. I didn't realize the brand was slipping. A shame since I think my oldest is starting to become a bit more interested in fancier dolls.

8:56 PM  
Blogger mel said...

Thank you for the link to Mark's Hitchcock's posters, Laura. It's unusual to see such high quality reproductions on the Internet.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

The American Girl transformation is right out of my nightmares. I adored the American Girl historical dolls as a child. I have three. Maybe it's because I love history and vintage things, but the past has always seemed more genuine than the modern world so these dolls spoke to me in a very real and relevant way. They brought the past to life through play.

The article you reference, however, isn't completely accurate. The company still does have the historical girls, and even just began re-issuing Samantha, but things have drastically changed. Instead of being historically accurate, the girls' clothes have a basic shape of the time with a ton of modern embellishments and modern colors, with no regard to the true nature of the girl's background or the time. They are now all basically cutesy rich, which seems ridiculous when most of them were poor or middle class in the books.

The company has also altered many of the books to focus on the values aka social justice in the book, with little regard for the entire picture and the historical context. For example, the working poor is stressed in the Samantha books, the Depression in the Kit books, the environmental issues in the Julie books. Yes, that was part of it, but not the full picture. They've changed them from being well written historical fiction for the age group to being preachy and inaccurate.

When Mattel bought the line, I knew things would be bad. I endured the reduction in quality, discontinuing girls that were important to the timeline of America such as Felicity from the American Revolution and Molly from World War II, but I never thought they would completely alter the line so that it is unrecognizable. Why would you take a wonderful product, loved by generations, educational, basically well made, with great stories that brought history to life for children all over the world and basically throw it down the drain?

If they are having problems with the line, you should tell us why the product is important - not remake it in a desperate attempt to meet the need of a fad. I never understood why someone needed a doll like them in the first place. It's creepy. I never judged my dolls that way, especially not the American Girl dolls. The purpose was to celebrate differences and accomplishments. You were supposed to learn from people in different times - how you are like them, the differences, and how you can learn from them. As you can tell, I feel quite strongly about this and I am sad to see beloved childhood friends as a ghost of their former glory.

11:04 PM  
OpenID livius1 said...

Laura, as ever, thanks for linking to my place.
Best, Colin

12:16 AM  
OpenID fiftieswesterns said...

I'll trade you two Steak N Shakes for one In N Out Burger!

11:00 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

Hi Laura,
Lots of good stuff reported here. It is utterly amazing that so few books exist about Alan Ladd - he was a major star at his peak.

I am so pleased you are getting or have got the two Don Miller books. I have had both for many years. His "HOLLYWOOD CORRAL" was published as long ago as 1976 and is widely regarded, including by me, as THE book on the Series Western (or 'B' western). After Miller's death it was re-published in 1993 with much additional stuff of interest and I bought it again! Both are worth having because they have a completely new set of stills for the reprint. I am guessing it is this later book you have (with a production team from a Hoot Gibson movie on the front cover?).
Wonderful books - I hope they give you as much pleasure as they continue to give me.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

KC, I'm glad to see BLONDE CRAZY in this set too, it was fun including a really young Ray Milland. :)

Mel, doesn't Mark do a great job with the posters on his site?! I'm hoping to check out his recent book of film noir posters soon.

Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to share the details on American Girl and your thoughts on the changes. The dolls have been special to us -- I remember admiring Kirsten in a catalogue before my daughters were born! One had Molly and one had Samantha. They were special and worth the investment and still reside in our house. :) I'm really sad to read about every aspect of the changes.

Colin, you're so welcome, great post and I'm so glad Alan Ladd was the one who made SHANE and not another actor! :)

Toby, my dad told me he thought Steak 'n Shake might be better than In-N-Out but I really have trouble believing that could be true, much as I respect Dad's opinions! LOL!! :)

Jerry, I agree, Ladd is someone so deserving of closer critical and biographical attention -- in fact it's really a nice coincidence that Colin wrote about him in SHANE this weekend.

Yes, the edition I got of HOLLYWOOD CORRAL is the one with a Hoot Gibson production on the cover!

The "B" film book arrived today -- interesting it's a small paperback, but a lot of material seems to be in it (tiny print!) -- the format reminds me of a couple other paperbacks I have from roughly that era like Steven Earley's AN INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN MOVIES (Signet Mentor, 1978) or Higham and Greenberg's HOLLYWOOD IN THE FORTIES (Paperback Library, 1968). Looking forward to it!

Best wishes,

3:42 PM  

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