Academy’s twenty-second Oscar Ceremony.
Hollywood 23 March 1950. The most successful movie at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony was Robert Rossen’s All The King’s Men. It has been voted Best Picture and also won the Best Actor award for Brodrick Crawford’s blistering performance as the corrupt Southern politician Willie Stark. For the same film. Crawford’s co-star Mercedes McCambridge, a distinguished stage actress making her motion picture debut, took the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The Academy voted Olivia De Havilland the Best Actress for the second time, for her portrayal of a gauche spinster in The Heiress.
Hollywood 8 June 1950. Hollywood is always full of young blond hopefuls with luscious bodies but little discernable talent. One such was former model Marilyn Monroe, who made little impact in the movies until she allowed herself to be ogled by Groucho Marx in last year’s film Love Happy. Then she got an agent, Johnny Hyde, who had her jaw remodelled and nose bob-tipped. He saw that Monroe had that special “something extra” and his lobbying of producers has secured her a small but significant part in the gripping thriller by John Huston, The Asphalt Jungle, as the mistress of crooked legal big-shot Louis Calhern. But Monroe has only to sprawl languorously
across the sofa in their love-nest to charge the screen with crackling sexual static. Born Norma Jean Baker in Los Angeles in 1926, she had an unhappy childhood followed by a marriage to her first husband at 16 simply to forestall a spell in the county orphanage. After the war she drifted into model work and then films. Making her screen debut in Dangerous Years.
Brando’s combustible Kowalski on screen
Los Angeles 29 September 1951.
It has cost Warner Bros. $75,000 to turn Marlon Brando into an international star. That’s the fee this graduate of the Actor’s Studio received to play Stanley Kowalski in Elia Kazan’s screen version of Tennessee William’s play A Streetcar Named Desire. Brando,
A leading exponent of the Method school of acting, plays the brutish, mumbling Kowalski like a Caliban in a torn tee-shirt, smouldering with sex appeal as he circles Vivien Leigh’s touchingly faded Southern Belle Blanche Dubois. The screenplay, written by Williams, makes some concessions to censorship but retains the steamy atmosphere of the original.
`Quo Vadis?` an expensive epic on a grand scale.
N. York 8 Nov. 1951
After six months of filming in Rome at a cost of nearly $7 million, the biggest
budget Hollywood movie since Gone With the Wind, the 171 minute Technicolor MGM spectacle Quo Vadis?, was complete and can now be sen on our screens. The highlights of this picture are the legionnaires return to the capital, the burning of Rome and the killing of the Christians in the arena. There had been several silent film adaptations from the Henry Sienkiewicz novel, but Louis B. Mayer dreamed of making his own version with his studio’s vast resources. Two years ago a company headed by director John Huston and with stars Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor went to Rome to begin shooting, but the production was shut down.
Bogart and Hepburn - Who would believe it!
New York 26 Dec. 1951
The extremely unlikely pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen, appears to have come off brilliantly.
The title refers to a rusty river steamer that takes the two stars down the Congo in German East Africa in 1914, but it is also a vehicle that carries them to new heights in what are essentially character parts. Here, Bogart is Charlie Allnutt, a scruffy, profane, unshaven, gin-drinking captain of a small trading boat and Hepburn plays Rose Sayer, a prim, temperance-espousing scrawny, Bible-quoting spinster missionary.
Tawdry truths lurk beneath the glamorous surface of Hollywood
Hollywood 15 Jan. 1952
Vincente Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful, paints a dyspeptic picture
Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas
Of Hollywood as seen through the career of ambitious producer Kirk Douglas and his relations with fading star Lana Turner, writer Dick Powell and director Barry Sullivan. Turner’s role does invite comparison with the turbulent trajectory of Diana Barrymore daughter of the Great Profile, John Barrymore. Her puff-ball blond vulnerability is ruthlessly exploited by Douglas, who predictably moves into overdrive as a prince of heels. Turner’s careering car ride when she realises that Douglas does not really love her is an explosion of emotion.
Zinneman follows new trail with Western
Hollywood 24 July 1952. Gary Cooper has brought a poor run of films to an end with his performance in Fred Zinneman’s challenging Western High Noon. He is sheriff Will Kane, the retiring lawman, troubled, decent and showing his age, who has to buckle on his gun-belt one last time to deal single-handedly with the return of an old enemy, Frank Miller, and his gang. It’s Kane’s wedding day, and Tex Ritter’s plaintive singing of the Dimitri Tiomkin-Ned Washington ballad “Do not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,” provides a haunting background to the action. which unfolds in `real time`. Grace Kelly plays his Quaker bride, and there are strong supporting performances from Katie Durado as an old flame and Lloyd Bridges as Kane’s cowardly deputy.
Claire Bloom and Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin’s `Limelight` buries -
London 23 October 1952. Charles Chaplin’s Limelight, has its world premiere today at the Odeon cinema Leicester Square. This is a deeply personal film in which Chaplin slips back into the Edwardian music hall of his youth to bring us Calvero, the broken-down comedian who nurses a young, paralysed ballerina back to health.
Poignant reminders of Chaplin’s past include the appearance of his one-time leading lady Edna Purviance as an extra, and a brief brilliant double act with his great silent era rival Buster Keaton. The crippled dancer Terry is touchingly played by 21 year-old British actress Claire Bloom. The premiere has been accompanied by a political storm in America for Chaplin.
Grable, Bacall and Monroe
Blondes prefer to marry millionaires!
Los Angeles 1- November 1953.
Gold-diggers Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Btety Grable rent a plush Manhattan penthouse as the first move in a determined manhunt in John Negulesco’s How to marry a Millionaire. Bacall is the one who winds up with the millionaire of the title, seemingly poor working stiff Cameron Mitchell. Earlier this year Monroe and Jane Russell memorably co-starred as an equally formidable pair of floozies, the two big girls from Little Rock in Howard Hawk’s entertaining adaptation of Anita Loos’ smash hit musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blonds. As the gold-digging Lorilei Lee, Monroe was superb, breathlessly singing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. Russell weighed in with an extraordinary routine in a ship’s gymnasium warbling “Ain’t there Anyone Here for Love” while fondling serried ranks of compliant musclemen
Corsier-sur-Vevey 23 August 1953 The fifth child of Charles and Oona Chaplin, a boy who will be named Eugene, was born today. This joyful; event comes at the end of many turbulent months for the Chaplins, who have now settled in Switzerland in an elegant villa, set in 37 acres of Parkland, which they bought from a former U.S. Ambassador for a reported $100,00. Chaplin will not be returning to the United States. On 19 September last year, after he and his family had sailed for Europe, U.S. Authorities rescinded his re-entry permit.
CinemaScope arrives with `The Robe`
New York 16 September 1953. Following the launch of the first 3-D movies and Cinerama last year, the cinema has now gone in for giganticism with the opening at the Roxy of The Robe, the first fiction feature film in 20th Century Fox’s new process called CinemaScope. This wide-screen
Technique was first developed in the 1920’s by French physisicist Henri-Jaques Chretin, and involves the use of a special lens that spreads the image over a larger area than the normal screen. The Robe itself is a rather uninspired Biblical epic , which stars Richard Burton, Victor Mature and Jean Simmons, and is directed by Henry Koster, but CinemaScope is impressive enough to hope its sweep will be used on better material.
New York 5 August 1954. The opening of A Star is Born, today must surely represent a landmark in the screen musical, and in the troubled career of its star, Judy Garland. The film is a musical remake of the 1937 drama of the same name that starred Janet Gaynor and Frederick March. That was loosely based on the 1932 What Price Hollywood, directed by George Cukor. Once again, Cukor is at the helm, and with the help of a magnificent score - songs by Gershwin, Rogers and Hart plus a host of others - and especially his leading lady, he has brought in a memorable film. The story is of Esther Blodgett, an aspiring young singer who reaches the upper echelons of success as Vicky Lester, only to have her heart broken by her film-star husband.
The dark shadow of McCarthyism lurks `On the Waterfront`.
Hollywood 15 April 1954. Some critics have suggested that Elia Kazan’s latest picture On the Waterfront, reflects his role as a `friendly` witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, where he admitted past membership in the Communist Party and named names. The movie, written by Bud Schulberg, who had a similar experience, is a clear parable of loyalty and betrayal.
It is the story of a docker, (Marlon Brando), who denounces the corrupt and all -powerful labour boss (Lee J. Cobb) to the police. Thus, he is considered an informer and has to suffer the consequences.
Lust for life brings cruel death to James Dean
Los Angeles 1 October 1955.
James Dean was killed yesterday in a car accident
While driving his silver Porche 550 Spider to Salinas to participate in their autumn racing event. It happened at 5.58 p.m. At the intersection of Highway 41 and Route 466. He left Hollywood in the early afternoon and was stopped by police at 3 p..m. For excess speeding. Nevertheless, he continued to step on the gas, with the sun in his eyes. A car in front driven by a student, had refused to let Dean travelling at 115mph, to pass.
With Wilder at the Helm, Marilyn Monroe sails full steam ahead.
New York 6 June 1955 Director Billy Wilder and screenwriter George Axelrod turn their mordant humour on the subject of sex in The Seven Year Itch. Tom Ewell is the New Yorker indulging inn Walter Mitty-ish fantasies one long hot summer while his wife is away. They are stimulated by the arrival of a curvaceous blond neighbour Marilyn Monroe, a devastating ingénue with more physical assets than brains, who likes to keep her panties in the fridge and who can recognise classical music because “there is’nt a vocal.” Monroe oozes unconscious sexiness. At one point she straddles a subway grating as the uprush of air from a passing train billows her white dress
Hayward perfects portrayal of alcoholism.
Los Angeles 21 December 55. Susan Hayward is no stranger to the bottle In 1947 in Smash up, The story of a Woman, she played a torch singer who gives up her husband and family for the booze. Reportedly, she researches the role by attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and even going on a binge herself. She hit the bottle again, though rather more romantically in the 1949 My Foolish Heart. This experience must have helped in the part of Lillian Roth
Montgomery Clift may be disfigured.
Los Angeles 13 May 56 Montgomery Clift, who was in the midst of filming Raintree County, has had a serious
Car accident. He was at the wheel when he suddenly lost control of the steering and ran straight into a tree. In the near-fatal accident Clift lost four teeth, broke his nose , fractured his jaw and suffered a huge cut from his nose through his upper lip, seriously damaging his face muscles.
Luscious Audrey graces lumbering
`War and Peace`.
New York 21 August 1956. Veteran director King Vidor’s War and Peace,
Opens today. Produced by Dino de Laurentis and shot on location in Italy at a cost of $6 million, it weighs in at 208 minutes. The money has certainly been well spent on the battle scenes, notably Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, which are epic, authentic and visually spectacular, but the film’s sprawling narrative fails to gel. The intimate scenes lack bite, and a motley conglomeration of accents from a multinational cast strains credibility.
Audiences however, will be delighted to se Audrey Hepburn again in only her third movie since Roman Holiday. Playing Tolstoy’s heroine, Natasha, the ravishing Miss Hepburn is perfectly cast and with her blend of innocence, vulnerability and inner strength, manages to overcome the limp screenplay (which required the input of six writers), a miscast and too-old Pierre in Henry Fonda, and a wooden Prince Andrei from her real-life husband Mel Ferrer.
A trip around the world worth five Oscars.
Hollywood 27 March 1957. The fact that flamboyant showman Michael Todd, whose film Around the World in 80 Days, carried off five Oscars, had never worked in the cinema before, was only one of the oddities at this year’s Academy Award ceremony. The Best Actor Oscar went to the virtually unknown Yul Brynner, who claimed to be a gypsy born in Outer Mongolia, for his performance as the despotic King of Siam in The King and I.
The Best Actress went to Ingrid Bergman for the title role in Anastasia, after she had been ostracised by Hollywood for many years.; and James Dean, for the second year running was a posthumous nominee for Best Actor in Giant. Although Around The World in 80 Days may be the most star-studded movie of all time, it failed to gain any acting honours, but was considered Best Picture.
Tony Curtiss and Burt Lancaster
`Sweet Smell of Success` has bitter flavour.
Los Angeles 19 June 1957. “Match me Sydney,” rasps Burt Lancaster’s ruthless New York gossip columnist J.J. Hunssecker as his grovelling `gofor` Sidney Falco, portrayed by Tony Curtiss, gropes for a light. These high-voltage performances power Sweet Smell of Success, directed by Alexander McKendrick who has returned from Britain’s Ealing Studios to his native America to deliver a blistering expose of the world of press agents and columnists. The resemblance between Hunsecker and Walter Winchell is wholly intentional.
Mike Todd killed in airplane crash
Hollywood 25 March 1958. The movie theatres in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles where Mike Todd’s Around the World in 80 Days, is showing have closed their doors today as a sign of mourning for the producer. The flamboyant impresario born Avron Goldbogen in June 1907 was killed three days ago when his plane crashed in a storm near Albuquerque.
Stompanato and Lana Turner
Star’s daughter kills mother’s lover
Hollywood 4 April 1958. Troubled star Lana Turner has always protested that “I find men terribly exciting,”
But she got more than she bargained for when she took former mobster Johny Stompanato, alias Johnny Valentine, into her bed. Stompanato was no funny valentine. While Turner was away filming in England he ran up massive gambling debts and reportedly sexually abused Turner’s unhappy 14 year-old daughter.
When Stompanato threatened to take a knife to her mother, Cheryl Crane plunged a nine-inch carving knife into his chest. The police arrived almost immediately, but too late to save the gangster. Cheryl has been arrested but is claiming self-defence.
Hitchcock, Stewart climb to dizzy heights
San Francisco 28 May 1958. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, would have looked like a good commercial proposition to Paramount, but they could hardly have anticipated the strength of the final product. Based on a French novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, the picture was cast with big box office stars James Stewart and Kim Novak, and photographed in colour and VistaVision in a variety of picturesque locations in and around San Francisco, where it has just opened to acclaim. It is clear that Hitch has accomplished something original and unexpected. The movie is not at all a conventional thriller, but rather a crime-drama -cum-black-romantic fantasy, and Stewart’s ex-police detective is hardly a conventional hero.
The heat’s on for Tony, Jack and Marilyn.
Hollywood 29 March 1959.Billy Wilders new film Some Like it Hot, is a high-water mark in screen comedy. Wilder and his usual screen writer I.A.L.Diamond have created an amalgam of parody, slapstick, romance and farce - modern in its sexual approach, nostalgic in its tribute to screwball comedies and old gangster movies.
The clever plot begins in the Chicago of the 1920s where Joe (Tony Curtiss) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), two jazz musicians who are on the run from gangsters, disguising themselves as “Josephine” and “Daphne” in order to join an all-girl band on its way to Florida. They become friends with Sugar Kane, the band’s singer with whom Joe falls in love. Wilder’s speedy comic style gets equally strong performances from all stars.
The New Wave breaks on the shores of Cannes
Cannes 16 May 1959. Accompanied by their “mentor” Jean Cocteau, the hot-heads of the New Wave arrived in force for this year’s Cannes Film Festival. In addition to Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Francoise Trufffaut, one also noticed the presence of Roger Vadim, Alain Resnais, and Marcel Camus, who could certainly be considered part of the New Wave. If Truffaut, Resnais and Camus came to speak up for for their own films, others arrived to support them. It was Francois Truffaut, the former harsh critic for Cahirs du Cinema, who carried off the Best Director prize for his first feature, The Four Hundred Blows. Truffaut derived the screenplay from his own deprived childhood, and follows the adventures of a 12 year-old Parisian boy, neglected by both his mother and his stepfather, who plays truant and takes to petty crime. He is placed in a reform school, but escapes to the coast. The film ends with a freeze of the child’s face as he runs to the sea and, perhaps, liberty. The films freewheeling quality is refreshing.
He-man Errol Flynn dies aged 50
Vancouver 14 October 1959. Errol Flynn has died of a heart attack at the age of 50. A life devoted to dissipation has finally caught up with him. According to Jack Warner, the star had long been one of the living dead, ravaged by drink and drugs, bottle-nosed bleary-eyed and wasted. Flynn’s recent films have cast him as a drunk: a wastrel expatriate in The Sun Also Rises
Ben-Hur: even bigger, but is it better?
Hollywood 18 November 1959. Just as it was in 1925, the future of MGM is riding on a big-budget production of Ben-Hur. Director William Wyler, who also acted as producer after the death of Sam
Zimbalist, worked as an assistant director on the chariot race in the original. This time around he has handed over the shooting of this thunderous sequence to Andrew Marton and ace stuntman Yakima Canut. Charlton Heston’s Judah Ben-Hur and Stephen Boyd’s Mesala battle it out to the death in the Circus Maximus, recreated at the Cinecitta studios in Rome, the largest outdoor set ever built. Budget 14.5 million
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