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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Men In War

February 19th, 2014

Released – March, 1957  

Directed By – Anthony Mann

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).

Description – They Fought For Their Honor!

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 the 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 St. 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 the film 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

Released – February, 1957  

Directed By – Stanley Donan

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

Description – ‘S Wonderful! ‘S Marvelous!

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.


Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd Wed

September 18th, 2013

February, 1957 – Popular actress Elizabeth Taylor has married American theater and film producer Mike Todd in the small Mexican village of Puerto Marquez. Elizabeth had converted to Judiasm for the marriage which is the third for both Taylor and Todd.

Todd, 47, and Taylor, 24, met during the filming of Todd’s production of Around the World in 80 Days which would garner the Best Picture Oscar for 1956. Todd swept Taylor off her feet with the help of a 29.4 carat diamond engagement ring.

Elizabeth Taylor had been married to Michael Wilding just prior to Todd’s proposal when he told the star: “Don’t start looking around for someone to latch on to. You are going to marry only one guy, see, and his name is me.”

The ceremony was beautifully memorable with over 15,000 flowers, a mountain of cavier and enough champagne to float a boat. In attendance were Eddie Fisher (more on him in Liz’s future) who served as best man and Debbie Reynolds who was one of the bridesmaids.

Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd will honeymoon in Europe and plan to stop in at the Cannes Film Festival.