Monday, October 1, 2018

A Star is Born Book Review and Giveaway


A Star is Born
Judy Garland and the Film That Got Away
by Lorna Luft and Jeffrey Vance
Running Press
Hardcover ISBN: 9780762464814
248 pages
September 2018
Amazon Barnes and NoblePowells

I'm doing things a little different this time with a video book review! Thank you to TCM and Running Press for sending me copies of their newest book about A Star is Born movies, most notably the 1954 version starring Judy Garland and James Mason. With the 2018 version coming out later this week, it's a great time to look at how these films fit into the context of Hollywood history and how the 1954 version failed to be Judy Garland's great comeback. Watch the video to find out what I had to say about this new book!





Because I received two review copies of the book I decided to host a giveaway for the additional copy.




GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!!
****************

To enter:

1) Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
2) In the comment section down below, tell me what is your favorite A Star is Born film (What Price Hollywood? counts) and why.
3) Include your e-mail address in the comment so I can contact you if you win. 
Addresses will be removed after the contest is over.

* Open internationally. 
* Must be age 18 or over.
* Must complete all three prompts to be eligible. 
* Contest ends October 4th at 11:59 PM EST.
* One winner will be selected, contacted via e-mail, and announced here.



Congrats to the winner Despina!


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ask Me Anything: Classic Movies Edition




Recently on social media I sent out a prompt for people to submit me questions about classic movies. I got some really great responses!

  • What’s an old film you’ve changed your mind on over the years? For better or worse.
  • What is a popular, well-liked classic film that you personally can't get into?
  • What classic movie that you love is one you feel is criminally overlooked by the general public?
  • What do you think was the best year for movies?
  • What are five classic films that you’d recommend people share with their friends when introducing them to the world of old movies?
  • If you could un-see any classic film and watch it again for the very first time, which one would it be?
  • Which classic film actor or actress do you think would have made an awesome YouTuber?
  • If you could go on a cross-country road trip with 3 classic film stars, who would they be, which type of vehicle would you take and who would do the bulk of the driving?
  • Pick a decade of movies to send to the outer limits of the universe as a time capsule of that Earth's BEST represents. Examples of why you chose that decade. .
  • How did you take the path into reviewing/writing about classic movies?
  • Which actor/actress would you most like to have dinner and drinks with while watching a classic movie MST3K style?
  • Which classic - a film that is commonly thought of among the pantheon of great old films - would you most like to see remade, and why?
  • Have you watched a classic movie that you felt should have been more popular but was maybe too ahead of its time, risqué, etc?
  • Who or what led you to become a fan of classic film?
  • What is the first classic movie you fell in love with?
  • What is the first classic movie you remember watching?
  • What is the best way to get young people interested in classic movies?
  • In your opinion, the best classic movie?

I recorded my answers and posted them up on my YouTube channel today. I hope you enjoy the questions and my answers! Thank you to everyone who participated.

And if you like my YouTube videos, make sure to subscribe to my channel.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Trapeze (1956)


“You really fly high” - Mike
“Because I’m not afraid of anything.” - Lola

As one of the few trapeze artists to ever perform a triple somersault, one of the most dangerous and highly skilled moves, Mike Ribble (Burt Lancaster) seems unstoppable. That is until a fall leaves him crippled and puts an end to his career as a flier. Years later Ribble is working as a stage hand at a Paris circus run by famous Bouglione (Thomas Gomez), a tyrant who cares little about his performers and a lot about making a profit. Ribble meets Tino Orsini (Tony Curtis), a talented young trapeze artist who idolizes Ribble and dreams of becoming a flier in the circus. With a little push from his old flame and fellow circus performer Rosa (Katy Jurado), Ribble takes Tino under his wing. The two work on a new act with Ribble as catcher and Tino as flier, with the intention of getting Tino to the ultimate goal of perfecting the triple. Working with Tino breathes new life into Ribble. But one woman stands in their way: Lola (Gina Lollobrigida). She’s a headstrong acrobat, who came from a particularly dire situation in her native Italy. Lola will do anything and step over anyone to succeed. When Bouglione puts this unlikely trio together for the act, the opportunist, the dreamer and the fallen star must come together to put on the performance of a lifetime. When both Ribble and Tino fall for the tempestuous Lola, will their act fall apart? Will Ribble finally be able to help Tino master that triple?




Trapeze (1956) was based on Max Catto's 1950 novel The Killing Frost by Max Catto. It was adapted to screen by Liam O’Brien (brother of actor Edmond O’Brien) and James R. Webb with uncredited help by writers Ben Hecht and Wolf Mankowitz. The film was plagued with legal troubles as other authors came forward claiming that the film’s plot was stolen from their own original stories. Author Badia Jacobs filed a lawsuit in 1962 claiming that her unpublished manuscript entitled “No Alternative” was plagiarized by Catto for his novel. In 1948, Jacobs gave her manuscript to agent Ben Medford and claims Medford subsequently plotted with Catto to steal the story and publish it as The Killing Frost. Jacobs did not find out about Catto’s novel until she saw the film adaptation years later. The two stories were vastly different and the judge eventually dismissed the case. Screenwriter Daniel Fuchs also filed suit. Fuchs’ story The Daring Young Man was published in Collier’s magazine in 1940 and he adapted it into a screenplay which he claims he gave to producer Harold Hecht who then stole it for the movie. After two years of litigation, both parties settled out of court for $50k.

Burt Lancaster’s production company, one he co-owned with Harold Hecht and James Hill, produced the film. At the time it was called Joanna Productions but was eventually was renamed Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions. Before becoming an actor, Lancaster was a skilled acrobat and trapeze artist. He performed in circuses, carnivals and nightclubs until an injury ended his career, much like character Mike Ribble in the film. Lancaster was eager to make a movie about the circus and relive his acrobat days. He partnered with his childhood friend Nick Cravat who became an adviser and body double in the film. Lancaster does the majority of his own stunts as a trapeze catcher in the film. Other stuntmen and women were used in the film. Eddie Ward of the Ringling Bros. Circus was a technical consultant. Tragically, Lollobrigida’s stuntwoman died during the filming of one of the scenes when she fell 40 feet and broke her back.

In the mid 1950s, Lancaster was on top of his game and his clout was enough to get an independent film like Trapeze under way. It was a big production shot entirely at the Cirque d’Hiver and the Billancourt Studios in Paris. Montgomery Clift was under consideration for the part of Tino. The role eventually went to Tony Curtis who was borrowed from Universal. Trapeze was director Carol Reed’s first American film. It was also Gina Lollobrigida’s first film with an American production company (an arrangement with Howard Hughes prevented her from making films in Hollywood). Trapeze was shot in CinemaScope and released through United Artists in July 1956. It was a huge hit earning $4.1 million in the first week and was screened in over 400 theaters in the United States. It broke United Artists’ record for highest grossing film both domestically and internationally.

Trapeze (1956) is an enjoyable film with lots of great aerial stunts and a love triangle drama to boot. Lancaster and Curtis proved to be a great onscreen duo and would later re-team for Sweet Smell of Success (1957). They play off of each other so well. Gina Lollobrigida plays a terribly unlikable character but she does it so well. I enjoyed Katy Jurado’s role as Rosa. She’s basically the polar opposite of Lollobrigida’s Lola. I would have liked a bit more backstory about Rosa and her relationship with Ribble. Jurado’s role is understated but key to giving the film a sense of balance. Otherwise you have three very headstrong characters (four if you want to add Gomez’ Bouglione) causing chaos in the story. In Catto’s novel, the love triangle becomes murderous and Tino and Ribble’s relationship turns out to be more than just mentor and apprentice. I'd love to see a modern remake take on Catto's LGBT love story and tragic ending.




Trapeze (1956) is available on Blu-Ray and DVD as part of the Studio Classics line. The disc includes subtitles, audio commentary by film historian Kat Ellinger, the original theatrical trailer and other Kino Lorber related trailers.


Thank you to Kino Lorber for sending me a copy of the Blu-Ray for review.

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