Monday, October 30, 2017

The High Commissioner (1968)

Police Sergeant Scobie Malone (Rod Taylor) was summoned from his ranch for a government mission, one of importance but also shrouded in mystery. Australia's High Commissioner, Sir Quentin (Christopher Plummer) is wanted for the murder of his first wife. Malone heads to London to arrest Quentin but what seems like a straightforward job is not what it seems. Quentin is in the middle of a very serious negotiations with foreign nations to prevent a world crisis. He pleads with Malone to give him just enough time to finish his negotiations and he will willingly head back to Sydney with Malone to face the charges. However, assassins try to kill Quentin before he can go through with his plan. Malone goes from jailer to bodyguard as he tries to protect Quentin. He must also face the three women in Quentin's circle. First there is Lady Quentin (Lilli Palmer), Sir Quentin's wife and confidante. She will do anything and everything to protect her husband. Then there is Quentin's secretary Lisa Pretorious (Camilla Sparv) who is also fiercely protective of his boss. And then there's the exotic Maria Cholon (Dalilah Lavi) who charms the men at Quentin's parties, including Malone, while secretly running a counter spy ring.

Originally released as Nobody Runs Forever, The High Commissioner (1968) was directed by British filmmaker Ralph Thomas. The story was based on Australian author Jon Cleary's novel The High Commissioner which was originally published in 1966. Meant to be a stand-alone story about police inspector Scobie Malone, the first novel was so popular Cleary subsequently wrote 19 more detective novels featuring the same character. Cleary's Malone novels and other stories were adapted into movies and TV shows over 20 times. He also wrote The Sundowners. When Nobody Runs Forever was released in the US later in 1968 the title was changed to match Cleary's novel.

The High Commissioner was filmed on location in London and at Pinewood Studios. There is one aerial shot of Sydney Harbor and you can see the beginning construction of the Sydney Opera House in the background. There is also a scene at a Wimbledon game later on in the film. Produced by indie Katzka-Berne Productions, as well as other production companies including Rod Taylor's Rodlor, unfortunately the film did not perform well at the box office and proved to be a financial loss.

Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer

This is a shame because as a political espionage, this movie has a lot to offer. It's got world politics, action, sex, betrayal and clashing cultures. Rod Taylor is in his element as a rough-and-tough Australian police sergeant. This part is not stretch for him by any means. Christopher Plummer is incredibly charming as the heroic yet pained Sir Quentin. He smolders on screen. Lady Quentin, played by Lilli Palmer, is much older than her husband. In fact Palmer was 15 years older than Plummer. However the age difference is never brought up in the film, something I found surprising and rather refreshing. It's clear there is an age difference but Sir Quentin isn't with her for political gain or for money. They simply love each other and this is made very clear in the movie. I wonder if this was an element of the story that was kept from the original novel or added to the movie. Some notable performances include Clive Revill as Joseph, the Quentin's butler who butts heads with Malone and secretly works as an agent. The High Commissioner was the last film for Franchot Tone who makes a brief appearance as Ambassador Townsend who in the story is bedridden in the city hospital. It's also the final film for Trinidadian singer and actor Edric Connor who has a small role as a foreign diplomat. Connor passed away a few months after the film was released.

The High Commissioner (1968) is quite satisfying. It had a lot of what I love about films from that era without being campy. It's a serious thriller with some implausible scenarios that require the audience to suspend their disbelief. The movie is beautifully shot, has some fine performances and is overall very enjoyable.

The High Commissioner is being released later next month from Kino Lorber on DVD and Blu-Ray. I watched the Blu-Ray which was quite a treat. Thank you to Kino Lorber for sending me this movie for review.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Warner Bros.: The Making of an American Movie Studio

Warner Bros.
The Making of an American Movie Studio
by David Thomson
Yale University Press
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300197600
232 pages
August 2017

AmazonBarnes and NoblePowells

When the film industry was in it's early years, Warner Bros. studio stood out as a leader and harbinger of change. They took a chance on adding sound to film with  when many other studios were still very comfortable churning out silents. They made socially aware films in a time when others focused solely on escapism. There were plenty of negatives too. Jack Warner was a tyrant who wanted full control, especially over his actors and actresses. In a roundabout way, Warner Bros. had a hand in the dismantling of the studio system especially when their own employees, notably Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland and James Cagney, fought back. They survived many ups and downs and still continue to be an important force in the industry today. Among the classic film community, Warner Bros. is known as the keeper of the flame. They have done much to protect, restore and release many classics, their own and those of other studio libraries they acquired like MGM and RKO.

In Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio, author David Thomson explores the ins and outs of the studio's varied history and the four men, the actual Warner brothers, who started it all. This book is not a narrative, linear history of the studio, rather a collection of critical essays. Thomson provides the readers with many varied insights and observations about the complicated history of a film giant.

The book explores a range of topics and covers all sorts of films and careers. Figures featured include Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Busby Berkeley, Bette Davis, James Cagney, Doris Day, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Michael Curtiz, Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Kay Francis and more. Films are discussed at length exploring how they fit in the timeline of Warner Bros. history. These films include: Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, Gold Diggers of 1933, Jezebel, The Letter, Casablanca, The Big Sleep, Young Man With a Horn, The Jazz Singer, White Heat, A Stolen Life, Mrs. Skeffington and more.

Then there are the four brothers themselves: Harry, Sam, Albert and Jack. Readers learn about their early days in Poland, their migration to Hollywood, Sam's untimely death and Jack's eventual takeover and domination.

The four Warner brothers. Left to right: Sam, Harry, Jack and Albert

This book does not contain a traditional linear narrative about the history of the studio. If you go into it with that in mind, like I did, you'll be disappointed. Reviews on Goodreads for this book have been mixed. Some didn't care for the author's voice and some were drawn to it. I recommend reading a sample before diving in.

Many thanks to Yale University Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.

The Warner Archive Podcast recently featured an interview with author David Thomson. Give it a listen.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sorority House (1939)

Sorority House (1939)

Alice Fisher (Anne Shirley) and her father Lew (J.M. Kerrigan) live simple lives. Mr. Fisher runs a humble grocery story and his bright daughter helps him with the ins and outs of the business. Attending Talbot University is a pipe dream for Alice until her father surprises her with a selfless gift. He sacrifices what little money he has for two years tuition so Alice can fulfill her dream. Once at college, Alice immediately gets caught up the social politics of sorority culture. Being part of a good sorority, like the Gamma House, ensures a proper standing in campus culture.

Anne Shirley and J.M. Kerrigan in Sorority House (1939)
Anne Shirley and J.M. Kerrigan
"I'll miss your brains." - Mr. Fisher to his daughter Alice

Alice rooms with two very different coeds. First there is Dotty (Barbara Read), a wise-cracking dame who befriends Alice and rejects sorority culture because she's been rejected herself. She refers to fellow rejects as dreeps (a dreary college girls who weep). Then there is Merle (Adele Pearce, later known as Pamela Blake) who has drunk the sorority Kool-Aid and wants nothing more than to be a member of the Gamma House. Alice and Merle soon discover the downside of sorority rushes. Merle becomes the target of powerful Gamma sorority ice queen Neva (Doris Jordan, later known as Doris Davenport). Alice gets a boost from medical student Bill Loomis (James Ellison), a big man on campus who has a lot of sway with the Gamma girls. However, Alice starts to lose sight of her values and the simple lifestyle her father taught her, as she gets caught up in the tangle of campus life.

Anne Shirley, Barbara Read and Pamela Blake in Sorority House (1939)
Anne Shirley, Barbara Read and Pamela Blake

"That doesn't sound very democratic to me." - Alice
"Whoever told you college was democratic? - Dotty

Directed by John Farrow, Sorority House (1939) is a collegiate drama released by RKO. Based on a story by Mary Coyle Chase, the script is injected with a poignant social message by screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. As I do with many of Dalton Trumbo's works, I had quite a strong reaction to the story line and characters. At one point I felt the urge to slap Alice across the face and burn the Gamma House down to the ground. The story hooks you from that initially emotionally heartwarming scene so when the kick in the butt comes at the story's climax you feel it. Sorority House isn't just your run-of-the-mill collegiate fluff. It's a story with an important social message. It warns against the dangers of groups like sororities that do a lot of damage when they exclude or try to control others behaviors. The moral of the story: "live and let live."

"The essence of success is a good start." - Mrs. Scott (Elizabeth Risdon)

I particularly enjoyed the performances by J.M. Kerrigan and Anne Shirley. Poor James Ellison has a rather weak role as Alice's boyfriend. He's really there for the plot and doesn't add much more to the movie which is unfortunate. Actresses Veronica Lake and Marge Champion have bit roles as coeds. I wasn't able to spot them but maybe someone with a sharp eye can. Chill Wills has a brief role at the start of the film.

Anne Shirley and James Ellison

1930s era Sorority House
The Gamma girls

I have absolutely no interest in modern collegiate life so I live vicariously through these old movies. Sorority House has it's silly and somewhat backwards moments (like Mr. Fisher telling Dotty she might not become an Abe Lincoln but she could be the mother of a future president). However, I loved it's overall message. If you're looking for a good double bill, I recommend Sorority House (1939) with RKO's Finishing School (1934), both available from the Warner Archive Collection.

Sorority House (1939) is available on DVD-MOD from Warner Archive. You can purchase the DVD from the WB Shop. Use my buy links to shop and you will help support this site. Thanks!

 Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Sorority House (1939) to review!

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Boxed Sets

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson DVD sets

We often talk about lost films, those have been destroyed due to fire or negligence. Recovering what we can from the farthest corners of the planet has been our mission in order to restore parts of film history. But what about the history of television? Some shows were neglected in much the same way. They were discarded or in some cases like The Dick Cavett Show or The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, they were taped over with new material. Many of those early episodes with interviews and performances that should have been preserved are lost forever. With The Tonight Show, many of the early episodes are lost but some episodes from the 1970s were recovered thanks to  copies sent to industry executives. These are gems that merit preservation for future generations.

Doc Severinsen, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon
Doc Severinsen, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon

Out of the NBC vault comes two new collections brought to us by Carson Entertainment and Time Life: The Vault Series: Collector's Edition and Johnny and Friends. Each of these DVD boxed sets boast a variety of episodes from the 1970s, '80s and '90s, some never before released in their entirety or at all. Bonus clips consist of episodes cobbled together from existing materials. Special episodes are preceded by a note giving some background on any technical difficulties, quality issues or missing segments. What makes these collections so specials is that they contain full episodes. These are not collection of clips or segments. You get the experience of the full episode presented just the way it appeared on its original air date.

The DVD menu gives you an option to watch the episodes and bonus clips with or without commercials. I implore you to watch them WITH the commercials. They are half the fun of watching these sets. There are lots of vintage commercials from brands such as Pillsbury, Budweiser, Fresca, KFC, Ore-Ida, Sanka, Subaru, RCA, Sears, JC Penney, Revlon, Delta, United Airlines, Alpo and more. Some of the commercials feature well-known actors early on in their careers. There are also Ed McMahon's sponsored spots for numerous brands which are a lot of fun to watch too.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson The Vault Series

The Vault Series set contains 6 DVDs and features 18 episodes and bonus clips (which watch like almost complete episodes). These include anniversary and birthday episodes, notable guest appearances and some serve as a time capsule. For example, 2 discs highlight one week in March 1976.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends

Johnny and Friends set contains 10 DVDs which 3 episodes and bonus clips. Each DVD highlights a particular regular guest on the show. These include: Don Rickles, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Burt Reynolds, Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy and Jim Fowler. Save the Don Rickles DVD for last because it's the best one.

Highlights of both sets include:

  • Ray Bolger song and dance numbers and a performance with Bing Crosby and Marvin Hamlisch
  • Charlton Heston on working with Cecil B. DeMille
  • Michael Caine and Sean Connery promoting The Man Who Would Be King
  • Orson Welles on the power of radio, on the good old days of radio.
  • Lucille Ball and Johnny Carson talking about their sex lives
  • A tipsy Dean Martin
  • Don Rickles insulting Johnny Carson and his guests
  • Don Rickles and Johnny Carson doing sit-ups with Olympian Olga Connolly (Fikotova)
  • James Garner and Ellen Burstyn discuss working together
  • Lauren Bacall discusses her admiration for Bette Davis
  • First appearances by David Letterman, Eddie Murphy, etc.
  • Burt Reynolds and Johnny Carson prank each other
  • James Mason discussing some of his worst films
  • Rodney Dangerfield's stand-up
  • Wildlife expert Jim Fowler and his animal friends
  • Bob Hope's entrances with Thanks for the Memories played by the band
  • Appearances by notable actors including Susan Sarandon, Clint Eastwood
  • Johnny Carson (finally!) performs Rhinestone Cowboy
  • Johnny Carson's skits including Carnac the Magnificent and Tea Time Movie matinee
  • The retro commercials.
  • The "More to Come" art in between commercial breaks often features classic film stars including Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Mae West, Shirley Temple, etc.

Both sets make fantastic gifts for the Johnny Carson fans in your life. If you want to pick only one of these two sets, I recommend the Vault Series over Johnny and Friends. I enjoyed the presentation of episodes more with that one. If you're a classic film enthusiast there is much to enjoy there. However, Johnny and Friends includes 4 more DVDs and a lot of truly excellent content. I wasn't as interested in some of the featured guests but with the full episodes I found plenty of other guests to capture by attention.

Watching full episodes of The Tonight Show, presented with retro commercials, is like taking a time travel trip to a bygone era of television history. These sets are so much fun to watch. I hope you'll give them a try.

Many thanks to Time Life for sending me these DVD sets for review. Shop The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson sets on Time Life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille (2016)

The Ten Commandments (1923)

In 1923, Cecil B. DeMille and his crew headed to the Nipomo Dunes of Guadalupe, California, a small town 160 miles north of Hollywood. DeMille brought with him carpenters, electricians, sculptors, painters, set decorators and many more to build a giant set for his new film The Ten Commandments (1923). His crew got to work on building a 900 feet wide and 100 feet tall set which included 20 Sphinxes and four 35 ton statues of Ramses. It was one of the biggest sets in movie history. Too big to build on the Paramount Studio lot, DeMille needed a wide open space that could double as Egypt and the Guadalupe dunes was just the location. The whole project was one of Biblical proportions well-suited for a film director whose approach to films was nothing less than epic. Too large to move back to Hollywood, the set's fate was up in the air. What would DeMille do with it? If he left it there, rival filmmakers would discover it and take advantage of their masterpiece to make their own movies. DeMille would have none of that. So he decided to bury the set, the entire set, in the sands of the dunes.

"If, a thousand years from now, archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian Civilization... extended all the way to the Pacific coast of North America. The sphinxes they will find were buried there when we had finished them." - Cecil B. DeMille

Fast forward 60 years later. It was the early 1980s and filmmaker Peter Brosnan and his team had set out to find the buried set of The Ten Commandments. It was a project that would be plagued by setbacks and bureaucratic red-tape. Brosnan's documentary, The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille (2016), tells the story the archaeological dig that spanned over 3 decades. What seemed like a relatively straightforward dig became anything but that. The film also explores the making of DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1923). Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Brosnan and his team searched for those who worked on the film and Guadalupe locals who either witnessed the production or were extras on the set. As a result of their work to capture these stories, Brosnan provides a plethora of archival footage. In this we find lots of interviews with extras, witnesses and with other figures including Agnes DeMille (Cecil's niece), screenwriter Jesse Lasky Jr., actor Pat Terence, actress Leatrice Joy (audio only) plus many of the people involved in the archaeological dig. There are also contemporary interviews with Peter Brosnan, his team members including Bruce Cradozo, Richard Eberhardt, Kelvin Jones, and DeMille's granddaughter Cecilia DeMille Presley. And to my surprise the documentary also covered the making of the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments which helps complete this almost century long story.

What the film lacks for in production quality it makes up for in a riveting story. The archival footage of the dig and the last surviving witnesses to the 1923 filming add much value to this documentary. I was riveted by the story of Brosnan and his team's quest to uncover the buried set. This is a fascinating documentary and well worth the time of any serious classic film buff.

The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille is now available for digital download. I encourage you to give this one a try. You can find the movie on iTunes.

Additional links: My review of The Ten Commandments (1923).

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview with Daniel Raim, Director of Harold and Lillian

October marks the home video release of Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber. If you follow me on social media, you know I've been a champion for this film ever since I reviewed it back in 2015. I recently hosted a Twitter chat for the movie's TCM premiere and have been recommending Harold and Lillian to anyone who will listen. Now that the film is available, I encourage you all to all to purchase the DVD or Blu-Ray which contains over 2+ hours of deleted scenes, words of wisdom from Lillian Michelson and a full lecture from Harold Michelson on storyboard art. To celebrate the release, I had a chat with director Daniel Raim about his work on the movie.

Daniel Raim got his start as a documentary filmmaker while he served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Born in Israel, he moved back on his own at the tender age of 15. He studied painting at art school but it wasn't until his time in the military where says he learned to "tell stories through camera and editing." Raim said, "I found it something I connected with on a level and enjoyed immensely. To look through the lens of a camera and see individual stories and to shape them." During the last week of his service, he had a premonition that he would go to Hollywood and meet a wise sage who would teach him the way of cinema.

Daniel Raim at the 2016 TCMFF.
Source: Zimbio
Raim found himself at the AFI where he met a sage in the form of Robert F. Boyle, the production designer who worked on Hitchcock masterpieces such as Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, North by Northwest, The Birds and Marnie. Boyle was then 90 years old and had founded the production design program at the AFI. Raim remembered hitting it off with Boyle immediately. He said to himself "this is the guy I want to learn cinema from. I wasn't interested in becoming a production designer per say but I was more interested in him." While the other AFI students didn't fully appreciate Boyle, Raim saw not only the opportunity to learn from him but also to tell his story.

The first documentary Raim made was The Man on Lincoln's Nose (2000), a 40 minute film profiling Boyle's career. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary. About the film Raim says "I made it my personal mission to make a documentary that takes the time to listen." At the time Raim felt that he didn't have the skills to make the film he really wanted to make. He followed up The Man on Lincoln's Nose with a feature length project called Something's Gonna Live (2010), which became a portrait of six artists, icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood. These include Robert Boyle (North By Northwest), Henry Bumstead (Vertigo), Conrad L. Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), Harold Michelson (The Graduate), Albert Nozaki (The Ten Commandments), Haskell Wexler (America, America). Raim said, "somehow all these careers and friendships were intertwined and there's a narrative about that."

It was during Raim's time at AFI that he met storyboard artist and production designer Harold Michelson. Harold had a long and varied career and worked on everything from The Ten Commandments to Spaceballs. He began as a storyboard artist in the studio era which then became New Hollywood. Raim remembers, "I'd go hang out in Harold's office... For hours, he'd just tell stories. Then I noticed on his bookshelf were all these original storyboards from Cleopatra, The Ten Commandments, The Birds, The Graduate, The Cotton Club. Mind-blowing, more than I could handle." Harold's stories weren't fanciful fantasies of a glorious time in Hollywood. They were about the real struggle to work in what Raim refers to as the "combat zone of working on a Hollywood movie production set." A place where egos often clashed. Raim told me that feature films during the studio era "were often storyboarded long before a direct was brought on. There was a script, someone like Harold storyboarded it, with all the camera placements, angles, height, tilt, lens... all of this was economical... to determine how much set they needed to build."

Then there was Harold's wife Lillian Michelson, the vivacious, charming and genius film researcher. In 1998, Harold invited Raim to meet Lillian at DreamWorks where she regularly had lunches with industry folks. Raim remembers,
 "[it] was amazing to be so warmly received. She [doesn't] know who I am.  She's immediately interested in who I am and what I'm doing. It's almost like being welcomed into a family you never knew you were a part of. It was like this open door in a way. The routine was that I'd have lunch, Lillian would spend half an hour yelling at Harold because of what he was eating. She'd go off and do her research work. Then I would spend the next few hours in Harold’s office soaking in all this amazing film history. I would leave these lunches completely energized.”"

Harold and Lillian Michelson (Source)

Fast forward to 2013. What started as an interest in Harold Michelson's work developed into a feature-length film about two personal and professional lives that made an impact on Hollywood and the lives of those who inhabited their world. During the process of working on the movie, Raim visited the Art Director's Guild and asked if they had any taped interviews of Harold that he could use. Harold had passed away in 2007 so anything Raim could get his hands on would be crucial. He received a Hi8 Analog cassette shot in 1998. When Raim went to digitize the grainy footage he recognized his voice on the other side of the camera. He remembers, "I don't even remember shooting this stuff. Later I recalled that I was asked to record this interview with Harold for his lifetime achievement award... The cinema gods have handed me the making of this film." This footage allowed for Harold Michelson's own voice to shine through in the documentary.

In addition to this, Raim had access to Harold's poems and cards and a very carefully selected and small pile of love letters that Lillian allowed him to use. In these Raim and his wife and co-producer/co-editor Jennifer Raim, found "nuggets of wisdom and humor and everything else that humanized them." Harold and Lillian were a real couple audiences could relate to. Raim said about their story:
"I was determined to make a film that puts the audience in the shoes of Harold and Lillian to experience what it must have been like to come to Hollywood in it's heyday... I wanted to create that narrative so I found the idea of that moment when she's stepped off the train in Hollywood for the first time. For me that's what the movie is about. That moment."
Even though Raim did not have Harold to film he did have Lillian, who like Harold did not care to be on camera. In addition to that, she was reluctant to discuss anything negative, especially about Harold. However, Raim didn't want to make a puff piece. He said to Lillian, "I promise you audiences will believe the movie only if you share with me some of these less flattering stories. These stories humanize Harold and make his accomplishments that much more believable." And that meant discussing Harold's drinking, his depression as well as her own challenges and her son's Autism. Raim made Lillian more comfortable by ditching the film crew. He didn't hide the fact that he was filming her but he scaled it back to make for a more intimate atmosphere.

A piece by Patrick Mate from Harold and Lillian

Harold and Lillian features excellent storytelling about two captivating figures. The film has added elements that effectively draw the audiences into the story. Artist Patrick Mate's illustrations would not only fill in the gaps where footage was lacking but would also enhance the storytelling and pay tribute to Harold's art. Early on in the process Raim had shown Mate a rough cut. Mate reluctantly agreed to view it and as soon as he did he knew this was a project he wanted to be involved with. Raim said "it was wonderful how Patrick's images tell a very nuanced story all in one frame." When you watch Harold and Lillian, look closely at Mate's illustrations. Some of them are references to classic films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and several others. Raim knew the ending of Harold and Lillian very early on. The train sequence when Lillian travels to Hollywood to meet Harold is the heart of the film. It was up to Mate to tell that story with his line illustrations and he did so quite beautifully. Those pieces were the first ones Mate created. If you watch closely you'll see the illustration techniques change throughout the film to what Raim called " a little more surreal, a little more adventurous."

Part of the whimsy of Harold and Lillian is the lovely music which includes an original score by Dave Lebolt as well as a classic piece by Debussy. About the music, Raim told me,

"I worked with him and at some point I arrived at a kind vision for the music based on an attitude I felt the music represented towards their life. . The Jaques Tati-esque music that's on the Blu-Ray, that was born out of thinking about their life and also my desire to present their life in a way that it channels the ups and downs. That they look back on it with humor, wit, compassion, love. To use music that wasn't inherently dramatic but presented a driving forward, how they approached life. They just kept going despite the challenges. There is a more poignant piece of music that we call the Lillian theme. That more poignant piano theme makes a statement that there's more to it than someone who organizes books on a shelf."

Would audiences get what the director was trying to get across? Raim received help and advice from Danny DeVito, a good friend of the Michelsons. He had collaborated with them on several projects. DeVito was one of the first people Raim interviewed for the film. He, along with editor Lynzee Klingman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), encouraged Raim to edit the movie down to 1-1/2 hours from it's original 2+ hours length. DeVito's involvement was so important to the film that Raim invited him to become executive producer.

Lillian Michelson, Daniel Raim, Jennifer Raim at the 2016 TCMFF. Source: Zimbio

Also instrumental to the movie was Jennifer Raim. Daniel Raim told me that Jennifer brought "a sensitivity and sensibility toward Lillian's very personal feminist struggles." This became crucial in presenting Lillian to an audience who would be primed to receive her message of perseverance and hope. One of the things that surprised Raim about the release of Harold and Lillian, despite the fact that it had a successful 68 city theatrical run, was how much of a rock star Lillian would be. He told me a story of how he and Lillian attended an American Academy of Dramatic Arts event where the Michelsons received a lifetime achievement award. The crowd of academy alums watched the documentary and shortly afterwards there was a line out the door to meet Lillian. One young woman told Lillian that her story inspired her so much that it helped lift her out of her depression and suicidal thoughts. In fact Lillian Michelson has had a profound effect on many people who have watched the film, myself included. She is the feminist hero many of us women look to for guidance and inspiration.

Following the success of Harold and Lillian, director Daniel Raim is busy with many new projects. He's working on a series of videos for the Criterion Channel on Filmstruck. While he was in Japan he made a documentary about one of his favorite directors Yasujiru Ozu. He continues to be inspired by stories of filmmakers and has other features currently in development. Stay tuned for more from this talented director. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @DanielRaim and check out his production company Adama Films.

Many thanks to Daniel Raim for taking the time to chat with me. Make sure you visit the official Harold and Lillian website to purchase a DVD or Blu-Ray copy of the documentary. It's also available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play for digital download and to rent on DVD Netflix.

Friday, October 13, 2017

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (9)

If you're gearing up for holiday shopping or looking for ideas on how to spend those bookish gift cards that are coming your way then you need to check out my last of new and upcoming classic film books.

Are you new to my list? Here are the details. The title link takes you to the book's Goodreads page. I have included Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's buy links for your convenience. Shopping through my links helps support my site. Thanks in advance!

Books include biographies, memoirs, scholarly texts, coffee table books and more from a variety of publishers. Publication dates range from September 2017 to March 2018. All dates are subject to change.

This might be the very first time one of my round-ups has NO Marilyn Monroe books. Shocker!

Happy shopping!

by Lawrence J. Quirk
William Morrow Paperbacks
624 pages – February 2018

by Michael Tapper
Columbia University Press
216 pages – September 2017

by Rebecca J. DeRoo
University of California Press
253 pages – October 2017

The Art of Horror Movies
by Stephen Jones
Applause Theatre and Cinema Books
256 pages – October 2017

by Jean Picker Firstenberg and James Hindman
Santa Monica Press
464 pages – October 2017

by Boze Hadleigh
Lyons Press
176 pages – October 2017

by Alain Silver and James Ursini
648 pages – October 2017

by Christopher Frayling
Reel Art Press
208 pages – October 2017

by Jay Jorgensen and Manoah Bowman
Dey Street Books
288 pages – October 2017

Hairpins and Dead Ends
The Perilous Journey of 25 Actresses Through Early Hollywood
by Michael G. Ankerich
BearManor Media
488 pages – October 2017

by Scott Eyman
Simon & Schuster
416 pages – October 2017

by Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley
University of California Press
392 pages – October 2017

by Richard Barrios
Running Press & Turner Classic Movies
264 pages – October 2017

by David Bordwell
University of Chicago Press
592 pages – October 2017

by George Tiffin
Head of Zeus
400 pages – October 2017

by Eliot Weisman with Jennifer Valoppi
Hachette Books
320 pages – October 2017

by Nancy Schoenberger
Nan A. Talese
256 pages – October 2017

Interviews with Stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era
by James Bawden and Ron Miller
University Press of Kentucky
394 pages – October 2017

A Jewish Life in Performance and Politics
 by David Weinstein
304 pages  – November 2017

Quick Takes series
by Daniel Herbert
Rutgers University Press
160 pages – November 2017

Hirmer Publishers
440 pages – November 2017

The Man Who Made the Movies
 The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox
Vanda Krefft
896 pages – November 2017

by Alan K. Rode
University Press of Kentucky
630 pages – November 2017
AmazonBarnes and NoblePowells

Monitoring the Movies
The Fight Over Film Censorship in Early Twentieth-Century Urban America
by Jennifer Fronc
216 pages – November 2017
AmazonBarnes and NoblePowells

by Dave Kehr
University of Chicago Press
272 pages – November 2017

Producer of Controversy
Stanley Kramer, Hollywood Liberalism, and the Cold War
by Jennifer Frost
University Press of Kansas
336 pages – November 2017

Quick Takes series
by David Sterritt
Rutgers University Press
152 Pages – November 2017

by Roger Moore
Michael O’Mara
160 pages – November 2017

by Mark Ripley
Columbia University Press
224 pages – November 2017

Seduced by Mrs. Robinson
How The Graduate Became the Touchstone of a Generation
by Beverly Gray
Algonquin Books
304 pages – November 2017

by Axel Nissen
277 pages – December 2017

The Real People Behind 400+ Fictional Movie Characters
by Hal Erickson
277 pages – December 2017

The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood
by Sherri Snyder
University Press of Kentucky
454 pages – December 2017

Classic Movie Fight Scenes
75 Years of Bare Knuckle Brawls, 1914-1989
by Gene Freese
344 pages – December 2017

by Alan Nadel
Rutgers University Press
276 pages – December 2017

by Jeremy Geltzer
277 pages – December 2017

by Pamela Hutchinson
106 pages – December 2017

edited by Gabriela Oldham
University Press of Mississippi
192 pages – January 2018

by George Hutchinson
Columbia University Press
416 pages – January 2018

The Gambler
How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
by William C. Rempel
Dey Street Books
416 pages – January 2018

by Kyle Edwards
Wallflower Press
144 pages – January 2018

by Joshua Glick
University of California Press
254 pages – January 2018

by Allan R. Ellenberger
University Press of Kentucky
396 pages – January 2018

by James L. Neibaur
275 pages – February 2018

Becoming John Wayne
The Early Westerns of a Screen Icon 1930-1939
by Larry Powell and Jonathan H. Amsbary
277 pages – February 2018

by Derek Sculthorpe
277 pages – February 2018

The Young Duke: The Early Life of John Wayne
by Chris Enss and Howard Jazanjian
224 pages – March 2018
Amazon Barnes and Noble Powells

Previous round-ups
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (1)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (2)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (3)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (4)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (5)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (6)

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (7)
New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (8)

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