February Blogathons

Fabulous Films of the 1940s Blogathon
Entry Deadline: Feb 8th [CMBA Members Only]
Dates: Feb 17th- Feb 2, 2013
Host :Classic Movie Blog Association
Weblink: http://clamba.blogspot.com/2013/01/fabulous-films-of-1940s-blogathon.html

The Classic Movie Blog Association invites you to appreciate the fabulous '40s in the month of February. Any film made during that never-dull decade is welcome for review.

Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon
Entry Deadline: Now
Dates: Feb 3-5, 2013
Hosts: Classic TV Blog Association
Weblink: http://classic-tv-blog-assoc.blogspot.com/2013/01/classic-tv-variety-show-blogathon.html

Variety is the spice of life and variety shows were the spice of television for the longest time in the mid- to late 20th century. Join the gang at the Classic TV Blog Association as they remember the heydays of classic film stars on the small screen, and newly-minted TV singing stars.

Other Blogathons Mentioned Before

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon officially opens today, Jan 31st

Scene of the Crime Blogathon is ongoing

The NostalgiaTHON is always open.

Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones in Driving Miss Daisy!

Flash! Angela Lansbury - Tony-, Oscar-, and Golden Globe- winning actress - will appear onstage in Driving Miss Daisy in Australia! Opening night is February 3rd. The play runs until the end of May and hops from Brisbane to Sydney to Melbourne to Adelaide.

Appearing as Hoke, the man who drives Miss Daisy, is multiple award-winning actor James Earl Jones! I'm dying to see what he does with this part. I'm so accustomed to Morgan Freeman's version. (The latter originated the role onstage and performs in the award-winning film.)

This is a three-person play of a woman, her chauffeur and her son as they age over thirty years or so. Appearing as Daisy Werthan's son is Tony- nominated actor Boyd Gaines.

Get more info here: http://daisyonstage.com.au/

5 Classic Movie Remakes in Development

Watch for a second helping of these familiar films on the big screen soon ... or at sometime in the future ... or maybe never.

1. Annie
Remake's Release Date: Unknown 
Mitzi Green as Annie in 1932

The Howard Gray comic strip  about a perky girl from an orphanage first came to the screen in 1932, starring Mitzi Green. There have been other variations on this family-friendly tale in both film and television, including the 1982 Broadway-based, musical version starring Aileen Quinn, which was a big success.

Now in development is another Annie, this time starring Willow Smith, the pint-sized daughter of movie stars Will and Jada Smith, who is a singer in her own right. Though Willow has performed in movies before, this will be her first big-screen starring role. Annie seems the usual early step to stardom which many young girls in show business enjoy on their résumé.

In the Meantime...
For other movies about young orphans who make a positive change in the world around them, watch Anne of Green Gables (1934) with Dawn O' Day aka Anne Shirley, The Little Princess (1939) with Shirley Temple, The Secret Garden (1949) with Margaret O'Brien and Pollyanna (1960) with Hayley Mills. These are all literary adaptations, so the books are available as well.

2. Dirty Dozen, The
Remake's Release Date: Unknown
According to Baseline Studio Systems, the Dirty Dozen remake follows,  "A major [who] drafts twelve condemned soldier-prisoners for a dangerous mission." The plot of the remake will be largely similar to its 1967 predecessor, it seems.

Robert Aldrich directed and Lee Marvin stars in the earlier production. No word yet on who is up to bat this time. Screenwriter Zak Penn has been rewriting this one for at least five years. Development limbo seems to please fans of the original. Screen Rant shares its two cents on the subject here: Remake Alert: The Dirty Dozen

In the Meantime...
Watch 4 for Texas (1963) and The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) for other films directed by Robert Aldrich about a group of men making tough decisions.

3. My Fair Lady
Remake's Release Date: Unknown
Audrey Hepburn in publicity still for My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn can't catch a break with My Fair Lady (1964).  The actress was cast in a film version of a hit Broadway show when some preferred the stage star - Julie Andrews; was dubbed in the musical when she wanted to use her own vocals; and was snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, some say, for "taking" Ms. Andrews' role.

Nearly fifty years later, Ms. Hepburn gets another kick in the teeth over the same movie when screenwriter/ actress Emma Thompson (who is writing the remake of My Fair Lady) claims the Oscar-winning star of Roman Holiday "can't really act."

My Fair Lady, Alan Jay Lerner's and Frederick Lowe's musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, follows a professor who wagers he can cultivate a flower girl into an accepted member of high society. The remake is set to star Colin Firth as the professor and Carey Mulligan as the fair lady.

Ms. Mulligan, has read the script and says it is "just telling [the same story] in a new era to a new generation of people." Screenwriter Thompson has made the new interpretation about a father who is "selling his daughter into sexual slavery for a fiver."  She continues, "This is a very serious story about the usage of women at a particular time in our history. And it's still going on today."

This film is not coming to the screen any time soon.

In The Meantime...
To get a sense of how Lerner and Lowe's original Eliza (Julie Andrews) would perform the role, listen to the Broadway cast recording. It's superb! Pygmalion (1938) is an award-winning, non-musical predecessor to My Fair Lady; take a gander at Wendy Hiller's spunky performance opposite Leslie Howard.

4. Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The
Remake's Release Date: 2013

James Thurber's short story of a man who spends more time in heroic daydreams than in reality was adapted for the screen in 1947. The film stars the indefatigable Danny Kaye and is produced by Samuel Goldwyn.

Goldwyn and Thurber apparently disagreed with how the film turned out, according to Life Magazine, Aug 18, 1947, page 19, et. seqAccording to Turner Classic Movies, Goldwyn and Sylvia Fine (Kaye's wife and co-writer of her husband's songs) may have had a few disagreements as well.

This time around there might be fewer squabbles, since Ben Stiller is starring in, producing and directing the movie.

In the Meantime...
Read  V. Bartilucci's take on the remake and what it means for fans of the original.

Revisit other Danny Kaye classics where the actor's puppy dog eyes gaze adoringly at Virginia Mayo: Wonder Man (1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) and A Song is Born (1948).

5. Star is Born, A
Remake's Release Date: Unknown

A Star is Born -the story of a woman whose career in entertainment is on the ascent as her husband's career falters- has been remade almost every twenty years since 1937. In the original screenplay, Janet Gaynor and Fredric March turn in perfectly serviceable performances in a straight dramatic telling of the story.

The Judy Garland version in 1954 is the most famous remake and the first to make a musical of the tale.  About twenty years after Garland was nominated for her stirring performance, another (less successful) version was made.

Thus, it seems A Star is Born is overdue for a retelling and Clint Eastwood is here to provide direction. The most famous casting choice associated with this remake is pop star Beyonce Knowles-Carter. The singer/actress has recently dropped out of the project citing scheduling difficulties.

Since Mrs. Carter is a singer and has performed on a stage in every one of her films, it's likely this project is to be a musical version. Without the Grammy-winning songstress, the story might well have a slim chance of returning to its non-musical roots.

However, with this casting in mind, and with Eastwood directing, the filmmakers seem to be eschewing the quiet drama and want to exhibit the Garland style of knock-your-socks-off power.

In the Meantime...
Revisit Janet Gaynor's version. Ms. Gaynor brings an ever-present vulnerability to the role, so (unlike the others associated with this role) you're not always sure that she will bear up under her burdens.

Have you heard of any remakes?

6 Classic Movie Tips on How to Be the Best Aunt or Uncle

With a new addition to Java's extended family, a new crop of aunts and uncles are made. Since yours truly is becoming a veteran in this field (Where has the time gone?), I would like to share a bit of advice with the newbies and explain how the principles of being an aunt or uncle are exemplified in classic films.

1. Be Excited!

With the first wail of the baby in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Gideon murmurs, "I'm an uncle," and faints dead away.

You don't have to pass out or anything, but being an uncle or aunt is exciting. You are almost like mom or dad (But with the advantage of returning the kids to their parents when you're done babysitting ) and you are a different version of grandma or grandpa (which means you're up for any crazy thing). You are that perfect blend of authority figure, modernity and screwy fun to them. Celebrate it!

2. Get Your Bluff in Early Because a Tantrum is Not Cute (Especially after they learn to speak)

An aunt who exemplifies the opposite of this principle is Monica Breedlove in The Bad Seed (1956).
"Aunt" Monica, the next door neighbor, spoils young Rhoda with trinkets, dessert and anything else to the point where the girl feels entitled to have these treats. The little one throws a tantrum if she cannot get her way. This lack of discipline only exacerbates the girl's innate greed and leads to crime.

I'm not saying that if you give the kid an extra ice cream bar, she'll murder the gardener in the basement (as Rhoda does); just don't do anything the parents will have to undo. You are there to help raise a responsible adult; you're not there show how awesome you are (even though you are pretty cool).

3. Learn from Your Nieces and Nephews
Whether your nieces and nephews are young tykes or full-fledged adults with their own families, you might still think of them as babies. That's ok. We can learn from "babies" as well.

In Pollyanna (1960), Aunt Polly runs the town with an iron fist, a lack of compassion and a sour disposition. With the introduction of her orphaned niece, who has plenty to be depressed about but instead sees the positive in everything, the whole town gets a facelift. They begin to appreciate life, aid their fellow man/woman, and most of them even smile. Ultimately, when Pollyanna needs help they are now prepared to assist.

4. Support the Parents; Gently Offer Observations (When Appropriate)

Mrs. Almond, one of the title character's aunts in The Heiress (1949), quietly reminds her brother not to compare his daughter unfavorably with his late wife. "She cannot compete with this image you have of her mother," she warns. I love this scene because the brother and sister are being both frank and gentle. From then on, however, other characters withhold vital information, become unbearably cruel, and spin webs of deception, which makes everyone miserable.

Near the end of the movie, years later, when the heiress' life has not gone as planned, Mrs. Almond still visits her niece and continually extends invitations to her own house. At this point, the aunt could rub her prescience in everyone's face and leave her brother's daughter to rot, but she doesn't. Give this woman a medal for her wisdom and compassion.

5. When Nephews and Nieces Are Older, Be There To Listen and Humbly Share Advice

This is an extension of # 4 above.

Develop a relationship with the ankle biters when they are younger; it's easier for them to trust you when they are older. That ease will lead them to talk to you and trust your opinion when mulling over a problem.

Uncle Beemish in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) is a listening ear for his adult niece, Margaret, who is raising her rambunctious younger sister. He doesn't demand anything, he calmly makes suggestions and leaves them for Margaret to contemplate and make her own decisions.Wonderful.

Another example: Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!(1955).

6.  Savor the Moments
In The Searchers (1956), Uncle Ethan spends time with his brother's family - time that will be short-lived due to a massacre. From then on, Ethan becomes a nasty and vengeful man on the hunt for his one surviving niece who is abducted. One minute you're here, the next it's all over.

My own Uncle LSP (that man of mystery we've discussed before) said to me on occasion, "Enjoy this time now, kid. Pretty soon you'll be an adult with bills." Frankly, as great as childhood was, I wouldn't turn back the clock for anything. Still, I know what he meant - savor your moments. Perhaps he was savoring a moment with his niece when he said it.

Do you have any tips for aunts and uncles? Share one, with or without a movie reference.

ICONS Radio Hour- Modern Interviews of Classic Movie Stars

Modern interviews of classic movie stars are on ICONS Radio Hour.

Just finished the Arlene Dahl interview. The MGM star reveals that she was first choice to play the shrieking silent film star who has trouble when movies with sound are made, a role that went to Jean Hagen. I'm speaking, of course, of Lina Lamont in the classic Singin' in the Rain (1952).  Dahl turned down the role because she didn't believe she could do the screaming "Brooklynese," as she calls it.

Below is the link to the website for the Dahl interview. There are others, including a chat with Farley Granger, Jamie Niven (a son of David Niven), Jean Simmons and even one of Robert Osbourne.

ICONS Radio Hour is hosted by writer/director John Mulholand and Stephen Bogart.


Update: March 12, 2013
As of this date, ICONS has pulled down the interviews on its website.

Update: March 6, 2014

  • The ICONS Radio Hour is hosted by Stephen Bogart. This interview is of the host discussing his father, actor Humphrey Bogart. You may find it at Kiwi6.com by clicking here.

January Blogathons, Classic Movies in a Cinema Near You, Stage Plays

January Blogathons

Java has found only one movie-themed blogathon beginning in January.  If you know of any more, please apprise me and I'll add its information.

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon
Entry Deadline: Jan 31st - Feb 28th
Dates: Feb 1- March 3, 2013
Hosts: Aurora from Once Upon a Screen, Paula and Kellee
Weblink:  http://onceuponascreen.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/31-days-of-oscar-blogathon/

The 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon coincides with Turner Classic Movies' month-long tribute to Academy-Award winning films.

Scenes of the Crime: Crime Film Blogathon is still open

Entry Deadline: Now

Dates:December 1, 2012 - April 30, 2013

Host(s): Furious Cinema, Criminal Movies and Seetimaar

Weblink: http://www.furiouscinema.com/2012/09/scenes-of-the-crime-crime-film-blog-a-thon-dec-1-april-30/

Any film featuring crime as a main plot point - heists, police procedures, etc. - can be reviewed.

The NostalgiaTHON is always open.
Entry Deadline: N/A
Dates November 1, 2012 -(No End Date)
Hosts: Andy Watches Movies and Cinema Schminema
Weblink: http://andywatchesmovies.com/2012/11/01/nostagliathon-blogathon-introduction/

NostalgiaTHON is a perpetual blogathon that encourages you to revisit a film that you watched in childhood and report your experience.

Classic Movies in a Cinema Near You

Cinemark presents its Classic Series beginning Jan 2nd. The following films will run nationwide:

January 2nd:  2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -      Rated G

January 9th:   Rocky (1976)- Rated PG

January 16th: The Sound Of Music (1965)- Rated G

January 23rd:  To Catch A Thief (1955)- Not Rated

January 30th: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969)- Rated PG

Find a cinema that is showing these films in your area by going to this website: http://www.cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series

Stage Plays

The Heiress by Ruth and Augustus Goetz is still on Broadway. The Tony-Award-winning play is notable for many things including having been adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Olivia DeHavilland. Click here, here and here for a discussion of the film version.

The play's engagement runs through January and ends February 10th. Here's the official website: http://theheiressonbroadway.com/
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