Friday, October 2, 2015

Announcing the Universal Pictures Blogathon!

Universal Pictures turned 100 years old this year, and to celebrate this landmark film studio's centennial we are hosting The Universal Pictures Blogathon beginning Oct. 29th. Carl Laemmle would be proud.

Boys and ghouls, this will be a mad monster bash taking place the week of Halloween so invite your friends, your enemies, your daddy, your mummy, and all the spooks in your life to attend. Any one, any age, is welcome and...children of the night, any topic you vant to write about is fine with us!  

Universal Pictures distributed some of the most iconic motion pictures in Hollywood's history including a castle-full of delicious monster classics. 

What kind of articles could you write about for this event? You can cover a film, a series of films, a profile of a Universal contract player, a director, behind-the-scenes personnel, or the history of the studio itself. You've got a Universe of topics to choose from, but in case your brain went stiff for the moment, here are some suggestions to spark the flames of inspiration : 

Stars : Lon Chaney, Deanna Durbin, Laura La Plante, Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Abbott and Costello, Sandra Dee, Lana Turner, Audie Murphy, Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, David Niven, Hoot Gibson, Don Knotts, Mae Murray, Harry Carey, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, Marlene Dietrich, W.C. Fields, Mae West, Jon Hall, Maria Montez, Burt Lancaster, Irene Dunne, James Stewart, Tony Curtis. 

Films and Series : The Phantom of the Opera, Show Boat, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Mummy, Cohen and Kelly, Sherlock Holmes, The Black Cat, Three Smart Girls, My Man Godfrey, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Torn Curtain, Tammy and the Bachelor, Destry Rides Again, Spartacus, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Ma & Pa Kettle, The Chalk Garden, Francis the Talking Mule, The Bank Dick, Shadow of a Doubt, The Birds, Marnie, The Killers, Harvey, The Glenn Miller Story, All That Heaven Allows, Imitation of Life,  The Incredible Shrinking Man, Touch of Evil, Back Street, To Kill a Mockingbird,  Munster Go Home. 

Behind-the-Scenes : Carl Laemmle, Tod Browning, Alfred Hitchcock, Clarence Brown, Erich von Stroheim, Lois Weber, Douglas Sirk, Ross Hunter, Jean Louis, Mervyn LeRoy, Jack Pierce, Walter Seltzer, Frank De Vol, Elmer Bernstein, Delbert Mann, Henry Koster. 

Did you know that thirteen of the classic Hammer Horror films were released through Universal Pictures too? 

If you are new to blogathons, let us explain the rules of the party : 

  • All platters are served on a first come, first serve basis. 
  • If you don't post your post within the posting time, we'll miss your post and it won't be posted until our next post. 
  • Please park your carriage in the gate-house behind the castle. 
  • Listen to your host, especially since she has the longest fangs. 
  • The deadline for accepting walk-in invitations is midnight on Halloween - a bewitching time, don't you think? 
We know you vant to bite into this event, so what are you vaiting for? Drop a comment in the comment box below, or use the Contact Us tab at the top of the site to send us an email with your choice, then grab yourself a banner - or two or three - and help us spread the news. 

We hope you can join the party, we're going to have a howling good-time!




The Roster ( so far... ) 

The Delicious Little Devil ( 1919 ) - Movies Silently
The Phantom of the Opera ( 1925 ) - Silentology
All Quiet on the Western Front ( 1930 ) - Back to Golden Days
The Cat Creeps ( 1930 ) - Immortal Ephemera
Dracula ( 1931 ) - Classic Movie Hub Blog
                          Correspondence from Carl Laemmle - Stars and Letters
The Mummy ( 1932 ) - Old Hollywood Films
The Invisible Man ( 1933 ) - Reel Distracted
Werewolf of London ( 1935 ) - Caftan Woman
Bride of Frankenstein ( 1935 ) - A Shroud of Thoughts
Love Before Breakfast ( 1936 ) - Carole and Company
Tower of London ( 1939 ) - Speakeasy
Son of Frankenstein ( 1939 ) - Once Upon a Screen
The Sherlock Holmes Series - The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
The Wolf Man ( 1941 ) - Classic Becky's Brain Food
Here Come the Co-Eds ( 1945 ) - The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog
The Mummy Films of the 1940s - Classic Film and TV Cafe
                Bud and Lou Take on the Universal Monsters - Outspoken and Freckled
So Goes My Love ( 1948 ) - Phyllis Loves Classic Movies
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein ( 1948 ) - Another Old Movie Blog
Francis the Talking Mule ( 1950 ) - Silver Screenings
Creature from the Black Lagoon ( 1954 ) - Wide Screen World 
Midnight Lace ( 1960 ) - Silver Scenes 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Merv and Judy Head New Get-TV Variety Night

Get-TV unveiled yesterday a new Monday night variety show line-up that kicks off October 12th with The Judy Garland Show at 8pm (ET ), Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey on Broadway at 9pm, and The Merv Griffin Show at 10pm. 

The Judy Garland Show originally aired in 1963 on CBS, but due to stiff competition from the popular Bonanza western series on NBC, it was canceled after its first season. GetTV will be airing all 26 of these episodes which featured guest stars such as Barbara Streisand, Diahann Carroll, Mel Torme, Bobby Darin, Ethel Merman, June Allyson and Jack Jones. 

In the 9pm time-slot will be a rotating variety program which may include classic CBS musical specials, or episodes from the Andy Williams, Dionne Warwick or Jim Nabors show. 

And last, but certainly not least, The Merv Griffin Show returns! To celebrate Merv's 50th anniversary ( the famed talk show host launched his series in the spring of 1965 ) Get-TV will feature a selection of 50 hand-picked episodes with such guest stars as Robert F. Kennedy, Carl Reiner, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., George Carlin, the Everly Brothers, Totie Fields and Jayne Mansfield. The episodes were originally an hour-and-a-half in length, but they will be trimmed down to one hour. 

Well, there you have it folks. It's a winning Fall line-up, and one that will finally rival Dancing with the Stars

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Rogues of Sherwood Forest ( 1950 )

After the box-office success of Warner Brother's The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938, a number of studios tried to replicate the appeal of the original by creating their own versions of the Robin Hood legends with such films as The Bandit of Sherwood Forest ( 1946 ), The Prince of Thieves ( 1948 ), The Story of Robin Hood ( 1952 ), The Men of Sherwood Forest ( 1954 ), and The Sword of Sherwood Forest ( 1960 ).

Most of these films were just standard fare, but one Columbia Pictures production stood out as a fitting sequel to ( or rather, a replica of ) The Adventures of Robin Hood, it was The Rogues of Sherwood Forest released in 1950. John Derek may not have had the charisma of Errol Flynn but he portrayed the character with a vigor suitable to the son of that knavish hero of yor. 

The Rogues of Sherwood Forest is set in a post-King Richard England. With his brother dead, Prince John ( George MacReady ) - now in his 50s - takes control of the throne once again and he hasn't lost any of his youthful zest for bloodshed and tyranny. Aghast at the injustice of this malicious monarch is Robin, Earl of Huntington, son of the famous Robin Hood, who has also since passed on. He rallies up some of his father's old cronies - including Little John, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet - and gathers a fresh band of outlaws to wage woodland war on Prince John and his cohorts. 

Alan Hale costars as Little John in his final film role ( and his third outing as the stout comrade ). The lovely Diana Lynn portrays Lady Marianne ( not Marion, but awfully close ) with the now-retired merry men of the greenwood being played by Billy House ( Friar Tuck ), Billy Bevan ( Will Scarlet ), and Lester Matthews ( Allen-a-Dale ). 

Gordon Douglas ( director of the Our Gang shorts ) takes the helm of this rousing Technicolor swashbuckler, which features some stunning cinematography ( by Charles Lawton Jr. ) and beautiful matte-painted backdrops. 

While many of the other Robin Hood remakes/sequels are worth a gander at, we believe The Rogues of Sherwood Forest boasts the best cast, filming, and script, which comes as no surprise since screenwriter George Bruce was no stranger to writing swashbucklers. Some of his previous films included The Man in the Iron Mask ( 1939 ), The Son of Monte Cristo ( 1940 ), and The Corsican Brothers ( 1941 ).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hollywood Home Tour - Fredric March

It's been awhile since the Hollywood Home Tour bus last passed by any celebrity homes, but Al is here today to introduce you to the latest home you will see : 

1065 Ridgedale Drive, Bel-Air

"Hi folks! It's Al here, welcoming you back to the Hollywood Home Tour bus. We're heading away from Bette Davis' home to take a gander at one of the truly legendary Bel-Air structures. 

"Back in 1932, Fredric March and his wife Florence Eldridge, commissioned architect Wallace Neff to design a spacious home for the couple to reside in while in Hollywood making films. What resulted was a 12,000 square foot French Normandy estate set in beautiful Bel-Air, a rural area at the time. 

"Let me stop the bus so that you can take pictures. Here it is on your right. Construction on the home began in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. As one of the biggest stars of the era, March had his home built as extravagantly as one would expect of a star. There were twenty-two rooms, eleven bathrooms, an octagonal dovecote tower, a private screening room, his-and-her living rooms, a wine cellar, an enormous swimming pool and, of course, the prerequisite tennis courts. 

"Wallace Neff had also designed Pickfair - the home of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford - as well as homes for Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, and Charlie Chaplin. He is often referred to as the Architect of Hollywood's Golden Age so it is no wonder that Fredric March chose him to design his residence.

"If you take a glance across the street you can see Frank Morgan's beautiful home. We'll get a better look at that house a little later in the tour."

Up-to-Date Info : Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston purchased the house in 2001 for $13 million, spent a tidy sum renovating it, and then sold it for $28 million five years later. Click here to see pictures of the March house when it was under construction.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Moments of Intuition from Seven Actresses - Part Three

Doris Day

When I was 12, I was bedridden for weeks because an accident had injured my legs and both of them were in heavy plaster casts. One morning, finally, the doctor had come to my hospital room and very carefully removed them. This was a happy day for me, for my dancing lessons had been long neglected, and I knew that if I was ever to become a professional dancer, I'd have to practice twice as hard now. 

The doctor usually had a poker face - you could never tell what he was thinking - but this time his look frightened me. When they had finished removing the plaster, they took me to the X-ray room. After they made the films, they brought me back to my room and left me alone. About half an hour later, the doctor and my mother came in. Mom was trying desperately to be cheerful. So was the doctor. He took my foot, raised it gently and said, "Wiggle your toes, Doris." I tried as hard as I could, but my toes didn't move. Then the doctor did something to the soles of my feet and said, "Did you feel that, Doris?" I just stared at him and shook m head. I was never so scared in my life. The doctor looked at my mother. Mom sensed the verdict. She started to cry. It was strange, but the moment I saw the first tear in her eye, I wasn't afraid any more. I said, "Don't cry, Mom. I'll be all right." Then the doctor said, "I'm sorry, Doris, you shouldn't hope. I'm afraid you won't walk any more."

But, intuitively, I knew the doctor had made a mistake. 

Six weeks later, I walked again. 

Natalie Wood

The one time that intuition hit me the hardest was on an evening in September, 1955. Nick Adams, Sal Mineo, Richard Davalos, Mrs. Davalos and I were having dinner at a Chinese restaurant in New York City. I guess we were the happiest group in the place. Nick and Sal started us laughing while we were eating wonton soup and kept us in stitches all through the egg rolls, chop suey and fortune cookies. After we finished dinner, we were still laughing. I don't remember at what. 

Suddenly, although until then I wasn't concerned at all, I had to know what time it was. I stopped laughing and asked Sal to let me see his watch. He was talking and didn't hear me. I had spoken in a low voice. Then I said, "Sal, Sal, what time is it?" I felt as if I were dreaming. Sal checked his watch and said, "It's nine thirty-one, Nat. Why?"

I said, "I don't know, but I think I'm going to cry." For no reason I could understand, my whole being was swept by a wave of almost unbearable sadness. It only lasted for an instant. Then I told the others to forget it. 

The next day, Nick told me that Jimmy Dean had been killed in an auto accident in California the night before. 

It wasn't until days later that I realized that Jimmy's death had occurred at about 5:30pm in California. At that moment, because of the difference in time zones across the states, it was 9:30pm in New York. 

This post is the final part of our republication of the 1957 Motion Picture magazine article that featured seven actresses sharing stories of moments of intuition. We hope you enjoyed reading it. Please be sure to check out the first post and the second part here! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Magnificent Dope ( 1942 )

"There's fun to be had in Dope!"

This was not the original tagline for The Magnificent Dope ( the Hayes Code would have never approved of that one! ), but it could very well have worked for the film is indeed fraught with humor. 

Henry Fonda stars as Tad Page, a country yokel selected by Dwight Dawson ( Don Ameche ) and his marketing manager/fiancee ( Lynn Bari ) as the "Laziest Man in America" for their advertising campaign. Dawson heads up the Dwight Dawson Institute, a self-improvement school for success that is floundering for lack of new students and subscribers to their correspondence courses. Dawson and his fiancee hit upon the idea of holding a contest to find the most complete failure in the country with the purpose of demonstrating that if the laziest man in America can take the Dawson course and find success in life, you can too. Only the bumpkin they selected has no interest in taking the Dawson course.....but plenty of interest in Dawson's fiancee! 

The Magnificent Dope was a mild hit upon its release in July of 1942, but today it has been almost completely forgotten, in spite of its many amusing scenes. Had the film been under Frank Capra or George Steven's direction it may have become a memorable classic, but as it is, this Dope could have been made more magnificent. Namely, George Seaton's screenplay - from a story by Joseph Schrank - would have benefited from a subtler touch. 

Tad Page is a lazy country boy and his philosophy of enjoying life to its fullest should have been demonstrated rather than described. 

"I haven't any respect for a man who was born lazy; it took me a long time to get where I am"

In You Can't Take it With You ( 1938 ) the Sycamore family were good honest simple folk, living life the way they wanted and accepting others who lived life differently, but they never preached their lifestyle unto others. In The Magnificent Dope, Tad Page openly promotes his lazy way of living to every soul he meets, professing that it was a skill he spent years improving upon. At first, you assume that Tad and Dwight are two characters with opposite natures, but upon closer inspection they are very similar - they are both promoters. Dwight promotes hard work and a firm handshake as the ingredients to success, while Tad promotes plenty of rural inertia and fishing as the secrets to a happy life. However, the Green Mountain hayseed holds the upper hand when it comes to natural public speaking. In fact, the Dawson Institute could take a lesson or two from Tad on the power of persuasion!

"This dope," some one discovers, "isn't a failure. He's the happiest man in the world." 

However, he puts his happiness and his philosophy of life in jeopardy when he falls in love with Dawson's fiancee, proving that even the Laziest Man in America will work when the stakes are high enough. 

The premise of The Magnificent Dope is excellent and a strong leading and supporting cast ( Edward Everett Horton, George Barbier, Frank Orth ) make it an A-class picture, but its script and Walter Lang's direction reduce it to secondary fare. As Frank Capra once said, "If you want to send a message, try Western Union". For this film, subtlety would have been the key to success. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Paramount Vault on Youtube

Ever since Warner Brothers released rarities from their vaults in their popular print-on-demand Warner Archive DVD-R series, other film studios have followed suit. Currently there is the Sony Pictures' Columbia Classics, MGM Classic Collection, the 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives, Paramount Vault and the Universal Vault Series. So far none have come close to the amount of films that Warner Archives have been releasing, nor the quality, but the Paramount Vault is penetrating a new method of making their archives accessible to the public. 

Currently they offer a number of great Paramount classics, available in their entirety, on Youtube.....and get this, they are absolutely free to watch! How long each of these films remain on Youtube we are unsure of, but at the moment most of the titles have been online for several months already. 

Many of the films date from the 1970s-1990s, but there is quite a nice selection of classics among them too, including these films ( * represents our viewing recommendations ) : 

  • *The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
  • *King Solomon's Mines
  • Paris When it Sizzles
  • The Devil and Miss Jones
  • No Man of Her Own
  • Casanova's Big Night
  • *Here Comes the Groom
  • A Touch of Larceny
  • The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 
  • *Omar Khayyam
  • *Elephant Walk
  • The Mountain
  • *On the Double
  • Dear Brat
  • Artists and Models
  • The Stooge
  • Crack in the World
  • Dark City 
  • The Colossus of New York
  • My Six Loves
  • The Fighting Kentuckian
  • A Girl Named Tamiko
  • Escape from Zahrain
  • Quebec
  • King Creole
  • *The World of Suzie Wong

Click here to check out the official Paramount Vault channel on Youtube and start watching!

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