Posts published under “The Greats”
SINGING IN THE RAIN (DVD) Did you realize it has been 60 years since the release of Singing in the Rain? Wow! This wonderful musical was first released in 1952…..the year I was born (true confessions). Turner Classics celebrated the event with a special big screen presentation in select theaters on July 12th. From what I’ve read, the shows were sold out and audiences were more than pleased with the quality of the re-mastered flick. If you missed this event (as I did), don’t worry. Just grab that DVD that’s in your collection and enjoy! My friends and I did and we’ve been singing (and smiling) every since!
Back in the mid nineties, one of the best directors of the past fifty years hit his stride and no one noticed. In the spirit of John Cassavetes, John Sayles built up one of the most impressive resumes without one dime from major studios. Lone Star marked Sayles culmination of writing and directing. The film is set in a Texas border town where Sheriff Sam Deeds is serving the last of his term when the skeleton of one of his predecessors is unearthed. This leads to the uncovering of many secrets of the small border town and its people. Sayles takes the remaining time not only to tell the mystery of the skeleton, but also of the politics of the town and its residents being a border town with an Army base.
Critics adored this film particularly the performance of Matthew McConaughey, he showed that he could do a dramatic turn every now and then. The rest of the film sees some of great performances from actors like Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Pena, and Clifton James. While it gained notoriety, Sayles still did not get any support from major studios, and even though there was no real breakthrough with the public. As with previous and future Sayles movies, without the support of major studios, his films were relegated to art house theaters and devoted fans.
By this time, Sayles had made a name for himself with films like: Return of the Secaucus Seven,The Brother From Another Planet, Matewan, Eight Men Out, City of Hope, and Passion Fish. All of the movies are ensemble pictures written more to show character development over plot, however for Lone Star, Sayles used flashback not only for the first time in his films but in the best way possible as a true story telling device. After Lone Star, Sayles went on to make Sunshine State, Casa de los Babys, and Silver City among other films. Never breaking from his independent roots and from ensemble movies. However, now Sayles was beginning to display new style to his writing that is more concerned with social ideals within the communities that the characters represent. In the process, he has solidified himself at the very least as a titan of independent film if not one of the best directors living today.
THE GREATS: We Are Gathered Here In The Name Of The Robert Evans, The Robert Evans, And The Robert Evans
The Kid Stays in the Picture is the story of Robert Evans, or more simply put, it tries to contain Robert Evans. For a behind the scenes player, Robert Evans has led one of the more interesting lives in Hollywood history. It would take far too much time to describe his life events one by one, but here is a quick recap: failed actor turned producer; starred opposite Cagney, Ava Gardner, Tyrone Power, and Errol Flynn; Married Ali McGraw; Lost McGraw to Steve McQueen; out-dealed Sinatra; brought Paramount back from the dead; oversaw the production of The Odd Couple, Rosemary’s Baby, True Grit, Love Story, Harold and Maude, The Godfather, and Serpico while head of production at Paramount from 67-74; produced independently Chinatown, Marathon Man, Urban Cowboy, Popeye, The Cotton Club, and The Two Jakes; Married four times; investigated for murder; caught twice with boat loads of cocaine; sold and then payed rent to live in his Beverly Hills mansion; is good friends with Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, and Henry Kissinger; gave Stanley Jaffe and Michael Eisner their first breaks in the biz; made an enemy of Francis Ford Coppola; created Peter Bart‘s career; and had sex with most women over the age of 35 in Hollywood. This man is the Donald Trump of Hollywood, and was well before Trump could start his comb-over.
The film is very good and the book is amazing. The film is an array of pictures from the life of Evans mixed with clips from his and others work he oversaw through out his career, along with Evans narrating it all. The downfall of the movie is that it skips over some of the finite details of Evans’ life that are fascinating. However, for all that the movie lacks, the book has it all and more. Evans is a straight shooter and ego-maniac, which always makes for the best story telling. The book and the film lead with his quote of, “There are three sides to every story: yours…mine…and the truth. No one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.” Much like Trump, Evans has perfected the art of BS, if he says it then it is true somewhere he is sure of it. Read more »
The last introduction to a feature is here. So this part will be short. Obviously the main title explains it all. These are the great movies/performances/pieces of work that exist in the world. Therefore, in honor of a great Director that we lost in this past week. This feature this week is for Sidney Lumet, and if you need to know of his greatness just look at his filmography.
12 Angry Men (1957 DVD) This is one of if not the best of Lumet’s films. The story is that of 12 jurors who are faced with the trail of a young man who is charged with murder and is facing the death penalty. Upon the first vote all but one votes for guilty, the lone dissenting vote is that of Juror #8 (played by Henry Fonda). As the movie goes on Fonda then goes back over the evidence, and one by one the jurors re-examine their ideas of why they want to suspect to be guilty. The movie itself is a great look at society of the time, and has been remade twice over the years. However, the original had the element of Lumet. Like more recent ones, this was a one set shoot and the movie relies heavily on the actors performances. The cast is rounded out with Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, and Ed Begley. Lumet pulls out of them some of their best performances of any other their careers.
The interesting back story and performance is that of Lee J. Cobb. A native New York actor who ran off to Hollywood in the 20′s to be a star. After a few years of minor minor roles, he ended up with the Group Theater where he met Elia Kazan. This relationship would prove fruitful and controversial. Through Kazan and the Group Theater, Cobb was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Through their pressure and his wife having a nervous break down, Cobb named names. Afterwards, he and fellow informant Kazan went onto make the perceived Anti-Communist On The Waterfront. Cobb maintained some success through movies like 12 Angry Men, Exodus, How The West Was Won, and his last in the Exorcist.
Where this all ties in is with his role as Juror #3 in 12 Angry Men. In the film, Cobb plays the last hold out in the room. The character is obsessed with the disappointment of his son, and how he did not live up to his expectations. It becomes clear that he is projecting his anger over his son on the proven not-guilty defendant. In the end, Cobb’s character caves when he realizes his faults and how he was about to have a man killed for his own short comings. It is not known whether Cobb’s past was his motivation or influenced Lumet’s direction. However, Sidney Lumet appeared to give Cobb a confessional for a brief moment, and the last moments in the deliberation room show the brilliance of two greats of film, Cobb and Lumet.