Stars rarely get to choose when they want to retire. Usually, the phone stops ringing, or they slide down the credits until no one can remember who they once were, or they end up in terrible international co-productions, or like Tyrone Power (Solomon and Sheba) they die on the job or, like Spencer Tracy, because … Continue reading “Walk, Don’t Run (1966) ***”
Four smaller pictures took Broadway by surprise, each recording record-breaking openings. The most obviously commercial was crime drama Portrait in Black starring Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn. Turner’s box office throughout the 1950s had been inconsistent but audiences had responded to the previous year’s weepie Imitation of Life. However, co-star Anthony Quinn, despite two … Continue reading “Coming Soon – August 1960”
This Walt Disney version discarded much of Eleanor H. Porter’s original best seller not to mention a great deal of the tear-jerking section that played to superstar Mary Pickford’s strengths in the silent 1920 adaptation. Pickford was in her late 20s at the time and a movie mogul to boot (having launched United Artists) so … Continue reading “Pollyanna (1960) ***”
The only view the public in the 1960s ever heard was that of the movie critics. Generally more concerned with the bottom line than plaudits (unless those translated into box office), studios could harvest their own opinion about a movie’s worth through reported box office figures. Exhibitors were caught in the middle – being told … Continue reading “What the Exhibitor Said”
Outside of her brace of Oscars, Olivia de Havilland’s biggest achievement was in forcing studios to pay actors who did not want to work. She wasn’t the first person to take on the studios as I discovered when researching my book When Women Ruled Hollywood. Bette Davis, Myrna Loy and Hedy Lamarr preceded her. De … Continue reading “The Woman Who Beat Hollywood”
There could not be a more contemporary picture. As an examination of the problems of assimilating different cultures it is hard to beat. As an assessment of the difficulties of the transition of power it is faultless. In Gladiator Ridley Scott, taking a few liberties with the known facts, re-imagined the circumstances discussed here of … Continue reading “Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) ****”
ADVANCE BOOKING REACHES NEW HEIGHTS When these days you casually book your movie tickets online for a screening a week or a month ahead, you might not be aware it was not always so easy to book in advance. Sixty years ago it was a rarity. You had to wait in line outside the theater … Continue reading “In the News: July 1960”
Pandemic means pandemonium and these are by far the best scenes in the adaptation of John Wyndham’s famed sci-fi novel. Virtually everyone in the world is struck blind by the fierce brightness emitted from a bombardment of meteorites. When passengers on a plane realize their pilot is blind, the panic is breathtaking. Ditto a train … Continue reading “Day of the Triffids (1963)****”
Studios did not always trust movie theater managers to glance at the Pressbooks posted out to them, one of the initial functions of such marketing manuals being to tempt said managers into booking the film in the first place. So studios occasionally chose a more direct route of getting in a manager’s face and would … Continue reading “Pressbook: Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)”
David Lean spent months in Jordan capturing his vision of the desert for Lawrence of Arabia. Seth Holt was granted no such luxury, a few weeks at Shepperton Studios in England to make this British-German co-production. It is a surprisingly tight and effective drama made on a low budget excepting whatever fee induced Hollywood … Continue reading “Station Six Sahara (1963) ***”
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