Hollywood Classics

The Godfather Main Title song

June 1, 1926 - Marilyn Monroe’s birthday

Today marks Marilyn Monroe’s birthday.

Marilyn remains to this day an iconic image inspiring artists, movie lovers, and pop culture at large.  Her physical allure combined with a touch of innocence and story of rags to riches fame have fueled her popularity for many decades since her career and tragic death.  

She’s known just as much for her life off-screen as for her Hollywood movie career which include classics All About Eve (1950), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Some Like It Hot (1959), among many others.  She’d been married to Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller and later had affairs with both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.

The circumstances surrounding her death, from an overdose barbiturates, still remain controversial and the subject of conjecture.  In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.

Here is a picture of Marilyn with Frank Sinatra and is one of the last known photographs of her before she died.  She will certainly remain a popular figure for many decades more to come.

Great little movie by the director of Memento, The Dark Knight, and the upcoming Inception.


Following, 1988 (dir. Christopher Nolan)
submitted by almosthere-

Lawrence Kasdan hosting The Maltese Falcon, May 10th 2010

Posted a few weeks back about the Academy hosting a series of film noir screenings at The Samuel Goldwyn Theater.  The kickoff is tomorrow night with The Maltese Falcon, hosted by Lawrence Kasdan.

Kasdan got his big break writing for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas on Raiders of the Lost Ark.  This is one of the greatest movies ever made.  Period.  It combines elements of pure adventure, pulp, romance, epic, and even comedy.  And it succeeds on almost every level.  Raiders carries a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

The success of Raiders led to writing the screenplay for Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, which we all know was one of the most successful and amazing movies in the last 30 years.

But Kasdan is not only a great screenwriter.  He is also a director.  He wrote and directed the 1981 noir Body Heat starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner.  Both are excellent, and Turner has never looked so stunning in this throwback to classic Hollywood pulp films. 

Kasdan also directed Silverado, The Big Chill, and Wyatt Earp among others.  He is among the most successful and brilliant minds in cinema history.  It will be an honor to see him at the screening of The Maltese Falcon.  Tickets may still be available.  Check out www.oscars.org.  The screening series continues all summer, so if you can’t make it tomorrow night, consider one of the other great films they will be showing.

The Black Dahlia - Film noir never looked so good in color

This movie was adapted from the novel of the same name by James Ellroy, writer of L.A. Confidential and directed by Brian De Palma, the director of The Untouchables and Scarface.  As a crime movie film noir, set in the 1930s and based off a high profile true-life Hollywood event, and after L.A. Confidential was nominated for nine Oscars, to say that the expectations were high for The Black Dahlia is an understatement.  You can see from the poster that the cast is also, at least in theory, packed with stars.  It has all the “elements” to be a classic, and even has some of nicest cinematography of that year (Academy-nominated) yet it goes down in a total embarrassment of flames.

This movie is a disaster and it’s hard to say exactly why.  The problems start right from the beginning with a riot that is very cartoonish.  Yeah, it has an amazing tracking shot that smacks of the one Orson Welles used to open A Touch of Evil.  But that is such a film student thing to focus on.  The dialogue has all the problems you’d expect and dread from a modern film noir.  Fast talk, lingo, inauthentic, calculated, written.  The actors feel like they just try to say their lines as quickly as they can and hope no one notices how vapid and ridiculous it all sounds.  When Bogart did the same thing in movies like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, at least it seemed to grow out of his character.  He took command of his scenes, and his presence and charm was like lightening.  Aaron Eckhart does his best and does have a way about him, but the story tries to focus on Josh Hartnett.  The only thing he does right is smoke cigarettes.  When he acts, it’s so expressionless, without wit, and the opposite of clever.  In The Big Sleep with Bogart, we may not understand what’s happening onscreen, but we know that at least Bogie does.  We trust that his character knows exactly what he’s doing, so we’re at ease.  But the characters here fumble around trying to look cool.  And they do look cool.  But they’re clueless, with the exception of Eckhart.

Again, the cinematography is excellent.   And there are a few interesting plot twists.  But if you want a great movie from this time period made in the last 20 years, just stick to L.A. Confidential.  Or for something more recent try Public Enemies with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, which is a different type of crime film altogether.

Dark Passage - Bogart and Bacall’s 3rd film together


Started watching Dark Passage (1947) the other night, only made it through half the film (going to finish it soon).  It’s Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s third movie together.  The two met on set during the filming of The Big Sleep, and later were married despite their considerable age difference.  They became Hollywood’s power couple of their time and their onscreen chemistry is sizzling.  It is amazing to think that Bogart passed away in 1957 and yet Bacall is still with us.  She was at this year’s Academy Awards and was given a standing ovation.  What an amazing woman.  She was and is great.

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Via Brooksilver

I think all those actors from that generation, like Bogart - they were wonderful actors. They didn’t act. They just came on and they did it, and the characters were wonderful.

– Anthony Hopkins
Lauren Bacall, stunning Hollywood leading lady.

Lauren Bacall, stunning Hollywood leading lady.

James Dean in East of Eden

East of Eden is a 1955 film, directed by Elia Kazan, and stars James Dean in his first major picture role, and is the only one out of the three he made that was released during his lifetime.  The film is loosely based on John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name and chronicles the journey of a young man searching for identity and vying for his father’s attention over his favored older brother.  In essence a retelling of the biblical Cain and Abel story.

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Le Samourai (The Samurai), 1967 (dir. Jean Pierre Melville)
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