Hollywood Movie Memories Introduction

April 6th, 2011

From the black-and-white silent screen classics of the 1920’s to the glorious color productions of the 1950’s – these were Hollywood’s greatest decades.

Explore early Hollywood film history and the wonderful Hollywood Movie Memories that were created, as this was a time when both Hollywood and its stars were their most glamorous.

Continue reading for a brief primer of each of the featured film decades, with the films suggested for viewing those that I feel offer an accurate representation of each film genre for each year during this historic period in Hollywood.

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12 Angry Men

May 2nd, 2016

12 Angry Men (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Life is in their hands… Death is on their minds!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Juror 8), Lee J. Cobb (Juror 3), E. G. Marshall (Juror 4), Martin Balsam (Juror 1), Jack Warden (Juror 7), John Fielder (Juror 2), Jack Klugman (Juror 5),Edward Binns (Juror 6), Joseph Sweeney (Juror 9), Ed Begley (Juror 10),George Voskovek (Juror 11), Robert Webber (Juror 12).

Released – April, 1957

Directed By – Sidney Lumet

Produced By – Orion-Nova Productions

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – In a New York City courthouse, an eighteen-year-old boy has just been tried for the stabbing murder of his father. Closing arguments have been presented, and the judge has instructed the jury to decide, beyond any reasonable doubt, the boy’s guilt or innocence.

Should the verdict be guilty, a mandatory death sentence is required.

This is an impatient jury. One which seems to have already made up its mind that the defendant is guilty as charged. That is, except for one. Juror 8. It is his belief that most of the evidence is circumstantial, that the two key witnesses are unreliable, and he refuses to vote “guilty” without first discussing the charges and evidence in detail.

This discussion will not be orderly and calm, but rather argumentative and bigoted against “slum children.”

This is no open-and-shut case, and the actions of the jury will reveal more than just the accused’s guilt or innocence. Each juror’s prejudices and pre-conceived notions, about the accused and each other, will come to the surface. Each must be realized and dealt with before justice can be served.

After all, a young man’s life is at stake.

NOTABLE: In 2007, 12 Angry Men was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

12 Angry Men was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Picture, and Best Writing of Adapted Screenplay.

Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.

12 Angry Men provided the directorial debut of Sidney Lumet.

The ethnic background of the teen-aged suspect was deliberately left unstated. For the purposes of the film, the important facts were that he was NOT Caucasian and that prejudice (or lack of it) would be a major part of the deliberations process.

Men In War

February 19th, 2014

Men in War [Blu-ray]

Tagline – They Fought For Their Honor!

Starring – Robert Ryan (Lieutenant Benson), Aldo Ray (Sgt. Joseph R. “Montana” Willomet), Robert Keith (The Colonel), Phillip Pine (Sgt. Riordan), Nehemiah Persoff (Sgt. First Class Nate Lewis), Vic Morrow (Corp. James Zwickley).

Released – March, 1957

Directed By – Anthony Mann

Produced By – Security Pictures

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – Korea, September 1950, a platoon from the 24th Infantry Division finds itself isolated and cut off in enemy territory. Radio contact is lost and the men find themselves being killed, almost one-by-one, by enemy snipers.

Lieutenant Benson commands the platoon and is following very vague instructions to get to Hill 465 where he hopes the rest of the Division are located. The men are on foot when a lone jeep approaches being driven by Sgt. Joe ‘Montana’ Willomet. His passenger is a shell-shocked Colonel.

Sgt. Willomet and the Colonel are fleeing the battle of Nakdong River where the Colonel’s men were virtually wiped out. Sgt. Willomet thinks of the Colonel as he would his own father and has no intentions of turning over his jeep to Lt. Benson.

However, Lt. Benson and his men force Sgt. Willomet to turn over the jeep and continue on with them to Hill 465. Battle-hardened Sgt. Willomet proves invaluable to Lt. Benson as he saves them from a captured Korean soldier with a hidden weapon.

The rest of the trip proves to be a long, treacherous journey. When the men finally arrive at Hill 465 they find that it has been captured by Korean soldiers and must try to get it back. The hill will run red with blood before this day is over.

NOTABLE: The Pentagon refused to cooperate with the production of Men in War due to its depiction of a US Army unit without discipline.

Director Anthony Mann made his mark with 1940’s Film’s Noir and early 1950’s Westerns. He used elements of both types of film in the making of Men In War.

 

Voluptous Jayne Mansfield Takes Hollywood By Storm

February 17th, 2014

February, 1957 – A new Hollywood sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield, has shot to stardom after her appearance in the rock ‘n’ roll comedy The Girl Can’t Help It. Everyone is taking notice of the sexual appeal of the young actress and with statistics that read 40-19-36 how could they not?

Mansfield’s early success has earned her a co-starring role opposite Tony Randall in the film Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

The beautiful Miss Mansfield offers a lot more than just surface beauty though, as she speaks five languages, and is a classically trained pianist and violinist.

It will be interesting to see just how Hollywood and 20th Century Fox plan to use the new starlet and how favorably, or unfavorably, she will compare with the reigning queen of screen sexuality Marilyn Monroe.

Whatever the future holds for Jayne Mansfield, she will surely become one of the most iconic and recognizable blonde bombshells of the 1950’s.

Astaire Delighted By Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Funny Face’

February 12th, 2014

March, 1957 – Dance czar Fred Astaire was pleasantly impressed with Funny Face co-star Audrey Hepburn. This was Hepburn’s first screen musical and working with Astaire has her starting right at the top.

Directed by Stanley DonenFunny Face is the Cinderella-like story of Greenwich Village book store salesgirl Jo Stockton (Hepburn) and her transformation into a leading fashion model by photographer Dick Avery (Astaire).

The character of Dick Avery is loosley based on legendary photographer Richard Avedon who designed the opening sequence and was the films consultant. The location shooting in Paris is nothing less than beautiful and the music comes from the great team of George and Ira Gershwin.

Never has a ‘Funny Face’ been so appealing.

Funny Face

February 10th, 2014

Funny Face (1957) (BD) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – ‘S Wonderful! ‘S Marvelous!

Starring – Audrey Hepburn (Jo Stockton), Fred Astaire (Dick Avery), Kay Thompson (Maggie Prescott), Michel Auclair (Professor Emile Flostre).

Released – February, 1957

Directed By – Stanley Donan

Produced By – Paramount Pictures

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – Quality Magazine editor and publisher Maggie Prescott is on the lookout for the next big fashion trend. She wants something different, a new look, that is both “beautiful” and “intellectual.” Photographer Dick Avery is just the man for the job.

Maggie and Dick decide to start by finding the perfect location for the new look. They discover and take over a small book store called Embryo Concepts. The store is managed by Jo Stockton, a shy and philosophical young woman. Maggie decides to use Jo in some of the first fashion shots in order to give them a more intellectual look.

Jo agrees to do the shots, but right now has only one ambition. That is to get to Paris and attend a lecture by famed philosopher, Professor Emile Flostre.

While developing the negatives of the shots, Dick believes he sees something in Jo’s face. Something that makes Jo perfect for the entire new look fashion campaign. Maggie and Dick send for Jo and she is immediately set upon by hair designers, and fashion and makeup experts.

This is something that the philosophical Jo wants no part of, that is, until she hears Dick mention something about a fashion show in Paris. This would be the perfect opportunity for her to get to France.

It isn’t long before Maggie, Dick, and Jo are off to Paris. Dick and Jo begin shooting photos at all the famous landmarks in the beautiful city. It’s then that something no one expected begins to happen. Dick and Jo are falling in love.

NOTABLE: Funny Face received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Writing, Story and Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.

The character of Dick Avery, as played by Fred Astaire, is based on real-life photographer Richard Avedon who set up most of the photography for the film.

When scenes were filmed in Paris there existed a political problem in France that left cast and crew on edge due to the violent riots in the city.

Actress Cyd Charisse was offered the role of Jo Stockton, but turned it down. Initially, the agents for Audrey Hepburn also turned the role down, but after reading the script Audrey Hepburn overruled them and wanted the role. Hepburn had also been offered the lead in Gigi, but preferred to do this picture.

The films producers wanted both Hepburn and Astaire for the lead roles and resulted to a little trickery in order to get them both. When speaking with each, the producers told them that the other had already signed to do the picture, feeling that they would not pass up the chance to work together. They were right.