Posts Tagged ‘mgm’

A Day at the Races

Monday, September 17th, 2012

A Day at the Races

Tagline – The Year’s BIG Laugh, Music, and Girl Show!

Starring – Groucho Marx (Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush), Chico Marx (Tony), Harpo Marx (Stuffy), Allan Jones (Gil Stewart), Maureen O’Sullivan (Judy Standish), Margaret Dumont (Emily Upjohn).

Released – June, 1937

Directed By – Sam Wood

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

NOTABLE: A Day at the Races received an Oscar nomination for Best Dance Direction.

During the films production, MGM executive Irving Thalberg died as a result of pneumonia at the age of 37. It was Thalberg that brought the Marx Brothers to MGM, and after his death it is generally considered that the studio never again gave them the quality backing that they deserved.

Groucho Marx’s character was originally named Dr. Quackenbush. However, after finding out that there were at least a dozen legitimate doctors named Quackenbush, the studio, fearing legal problems, changed the name to Hackenbush.

A Day at the Races was the only Marx Brothers film to receive an Oscar nomination in a competitive category.

This motion picture provided the film debut for actor Richard Farnsworth.

In 2000, the American Film Institute named this picture the 59th funniest of all time.

Groucho Marx enjoyed the role of Dr. Hackenbush so much that he occasionally would sign letters to friends with the name.


Captains Courageous

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Captains Courageous (1937)

Tagline – The Most Exciting Picture Since “Mutiny on the Bounty”!

Starring – Spencer Tracy (Manuel Fidello), Freddie Bartholomew (Harvey Cheyne), Lionel Barrymore (Disko Troop), Melvyn Douglas (Frank Burton Cheyne).

Released – May, 1937

Directed By – Victor Fleming

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer

Description – Again – as in the stirring Mutiny On the Bounty – you live the roaring drama of men against the sea. You share the struggles, the heartaches, and the laughter, of courageous souls who leave the women they love to dare the wrath of the angry waves.

Harvey Cheyne is the spoiled son of his business tycoon and absentee father Frank Burton Cheyne. Shipped off to a private school, where he is shunned by his classmates, young Harvey is suspended due to his bad behavior.

Realizing that his son needs closer attention, his father decides to take Harvey along on a trans-Atlantic business trip. During the voyage Harvey displays arrogance to all around him, and during a prank gone wrong falls overboard off the coast of Newfoundland.

He is rescued by Portuguese-American fisherman Manuel Fidello and taken aboard the fishing schooner. Harvey tries to convince the captain of the schooner, Disko Troop, that he is wealthy and should immediately be taken to shore.

Captain Troop, not believing his story, refuses and puts Harvey to work at a low paying job for the three month duration of the voyage. Also on the schooner is the captain’s son Dan who gradually develops a friendship with Harvey as the young man begins to learn the ways of working on a ship.

With the guidance of Manuel, and the influence of the other tough crew-mates, young Harvey begins to learn a hard lesson. His former habits of demanding special treatment, lying, cheating, and whining to get what he wants are of no value at sea where every man, young or old, must pull their own weight.

Slowly, Manuel begins to become the father figure that Harvey had always wanted and needed. But, the hardest life-lesson is yet to be learned as tragedy looms in the near future for young Harvey.

NOTABLE: Captains Courageous received an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Spencer Tracy), and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Writing, Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

This motion picture would become the first MGM film to be shown on television, in 1955.

Spencer Tracy hesitated before finally accepting the role of Manuel Fidello because the role required him to sing in several scenes and to have his hair curled. Tracy’s new hairdo prompted a great deal of kidding from his actor friends with Joan Crawford referring to him as Harpo.

Captains Courageous was one of Lionel Barrymore’s last films. Degenerative arthritis was beginning to cripple him. The next year in You Can’t Take it with You, Barrymore hobbled around with crutches, and shortly after that film was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

When Spencer Tracy was presented his Oscar for this film he was shocked to find that the statue was inscribed to Dick Tracy. The very embarrassed Academy replaced the statuette.



Lust for Life Reveals the Torment Within Vincent van Gogh

Monday, April 30th, 2012

September, 1956MGM has released the biographical drama Lust for Life about famed Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. The film stars Kirk Douglas who brilliantly portrays the tormented life of van Gogh from his time in the coal-mining region of Belgium until his tragic end in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

The psysical characteristics embodied by Douglas bring the artist back to life. So much so, that during location filming, many of the older residents of the village where van Gogh lived thought that he had actually returned.

Douglas was so immersed in this role that his wife has stated, “When he was doing Lust for Life, he came home in that red beard of Van Gogh’s, wearing those big boots, stomping around the house—it was frightening.”

Directed by Vincente Minnelli, who insisted on the actual European locations, and supported magnificently by Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin, who was both friend and rival to van Gogh, and James Donald as Theo van Gogh, Vincent’s always supportive brother.

Lust for Life captures both the passionate intensity of the artist and the tortured genius who felt that he would never be able to portray what he sees on canvas.

Lust for Life

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Lust for Life (BD) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The best-seller comes to the screen…the drama of a man who lived with insatiable passion.

Starring – Kirk Douglas (Vincent van Gogh), Anthony Quinn (Paul Gauguin), James Donald (Theo van Gogh), Pamela Brown (Christine), Everett Sloane (Dr. Gachet).

Released – September, 1956

Directed By – Vincente Minnelli

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – Based on Irving Stone’s 1934 novel, this is the life story of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Many believe that one must experience failure in order to one day realize true success and the life of Vincent van Gogh is a strong testament to that belief.

His obsession with painting and his long suffering problems with mental illness made for a painful and unhappy life.

After failing as both a preacher in a coal-mining town and a social activist, van Gogh would sink into a state of depression. Coming to his aid is his devoted brother Theo, who provides for Vincent’s return to Holland and the home of his father.

A new interest in drawing restores some much needed enthusiasm to his life. Around the same time his recently widowed cousin Kay comes to live with the family for the summer. Vincent enjoys her company and soon finds himself falling in love with her.

Adding to Vincent’s personal turmoil is his new belief in God. Vincent believes that the best way to serve God is through love and art and not through any type of ritual reverence. This is in stark contract to the belief’s of his father, who is a Pastor, and the tension between the two dramatically increases.

No longer able to hide his feelings toward Kay, Vincent confesses his love for her only to be rejected. While in a local bar, Vincent meets a prostitute named Christine who is also in need of comfort and relief from her everyday life. Initially, the two get along very well and they, along with her infant son, share an apartment.

Christine provides Vincent with color paints to experiment with, and the added ability to convey his feelings on canvas with color, along with his growing feelings for Christine, provide Vincent with a new world of artistic creativity.

This period of euphoria proves to be short-lived, as Vincent’s temper and lack of money cause Christine to leave him. Add to this the fact that his father dies and Vincent’s emotional roller-coaster again spirals downward.

During these many agonizing years, only his brother Theo has constantly remained at his side providing both moral and financial support.

His meeting with friend and rival Paul Gauguin, along with the artistic community, provide van Gogh with a level of respect for his art. However, van Gogh never gets along with the other artists and Gauguin, always a critic, puts a strain on even their relationship.

It has been a long, unsatisfying life for van Gogh, but his darkest days are still ahead.

He begins to suffer hallucinations and seizures that he can not control and decides to voluntarily commit himself to a mental institution. After a while, he signs himself out and, with his brother Theo’s help, returns to the countryside to paint.

Van Gogh’s fear that he is still unable to put his vision on canvas once again begin to haunt him and ultimately lead to tragedy.

NOTABLE: Lust for Life won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Anthony Quinn), and received nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Kirk Douglas), Best Writing, Best Screenplay-Adapted, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color.

Many of the films locations were the actual spots visited by van Gogh during his life. On one location, Director Vincente Minelli had a portion of a field spray-painted yellow to more accurately replicate its appearance on a van Gogh painting.

During filming, a young Michael Douglas and his brother ran screaming from the theater in the scene where Van Goth severs his own ear because they believed their father, Kirk Douglas, had actually cut his own ear off.



Somebody Up There Likes Me

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

The Paul Newman Collection (Harper / The Drowning Pool / The Left-Handed Gun / The Mackintosh Man / Pocket Money / Somebody Up There Likes Me / The Young Philadelphians)

Tagline – A Girl Can Lift A Fellow To The Skies!

Starring – Paul Newman (Thomas Rocco Barbella/Rocky Graziano), Pier Angeli (Norma Graziano), Everett Sloane (Irving Cohen), Eileen Heckart (Ma Barbella), Sal Mineo (Romolo), Harold J. Stone (Nick Barbella).

Released – July, 1956

Directed By – Robert Wise

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – The life of Rocky Graziano started out tough. His difficult childhood included being beaten by his father (a former boxer), membership in a street gang, and a long list of criminal activities that led to his inevitable arrest and imprisonment.

Undisciplined, and possessing a strong resentment of authority figures, even his time spent in prison was a series of one problem after another. After finally being released, Rocky decides to start a new life.

However, before being able to settle into something, Rocky is drafted by the U.S. Army and sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey. His propensity for trouble follows him to training and, after punching a Captain, he goes AWOL.

Desperate to make some money, Rocky turns to fighting and changes his name to Rocky Graziano. His natural talent, and punching power, lead him to win all of his early bouts, but even with a new name, the military catches up to him.

After one of his fights, he is called to his manager’s office to speak with a couple of military personnel. Expecting to be taken back to the Army and again put in prison he decides to run. Realizing that he can’t run forever he turns himself in.

After serving a year in a United States Disciplinary Barracks, he is dishonorably discharged and looks to resume his boxing career. Rocky’s skills move him up the middleweight ranks and he is introduced to his sister’s friend Norma. Love has hit Rocky right between the eyes and the two soon marry.

Rocky’s rise continues and he becomes middleweight champion. A title defense against former champ Tony Zale is next. This will be the first of three legendary fights with Zale and will result in Rocky being knocked out in the sixth round.

1946 proved to be a tough year for Graziano as he not only lost his title, but was a victim of a blackmail attempt by someone he knew while in prison. He was told to throw a fight, but just couldn’t do it. Rocky faked an injury and did not fight the intended opponent.

His failure to notify the Boxing Commission of the blackmail attempt result in his suspension from the fight game. Eventually, his suspension is lifted and Rocky gets another chance to meet Tony Zale in the second of their memorable fights.

The stage is set for the up-and-down life of Rocky Graziano to get back to the top.

NOTABLE: Somebody Up There Likes Me won Oscar’s for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Best Art Direction, Set Decoration, Black-and-White. The film also received a nomination for Best Film Editing.

The role of Rocky Graziano was originally intended for James Dean. However, Dean was killed in an automobile accident before shooting. Paul Newman was asked to take the part. This was a break for Newman as some considered him to be too old for the part, and his first film The Silver Chalice proved to be a flop.

Actor Rod Taylor auditioned for the role and, although he did not get the part, the audition impressed MGM enough for them to sign him to a long-term contract.

Somebody Up There Likes Me provided the screen debut’s for Dean Jones, Robert Loggia, and Frank Campanella. It was also one of the first films in which Steve McQueen appeared.