Showing posts with label Ann Blyth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ann Blyth. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ One Minute to Zero (1952)

One Minute to Zero (1952) is a war drama that explores the conflict between humanitarian efforts and the inherent atrocities of war. This story is told through the lens of the Korean War and magnified through the love story of the two main characters. Robert Mitchum plays Colonel Steve Janowski, an American Colonel fighting to help protect the South Koreans from an imminent North Korean invasion.  Steve thinks he has everything under control until he meets his match with Mrs. Linda Day (Ann Blyth), an official from the United Nations on a humanitarian mission to help in South Korea. Steve has to evacuate all Americans from Seoul but Linda refuses to leave because she still sees much to do to help the South Koreans. They are both fighting for the same cause but have very different points of view on how it should be done.

Steve and Linda begin to fall in love when Steve saves Linda from an air raid. That moment of danger heightens their attraction to each other. Steve keeps having to save the stubborn and reluctant Linda who keeps putting herself into danger. Linda is no damsel in distress though. She doesn't always realize the gravity of the situations she puts herself in but it's because she is determined to carry out her humanitarian mission is sometimes blinded by her will to do good.

Steve carries Linda over his shoulder but she fights him the whole time.

The romantic plot line is at the forefront of the story but this movie does not romanticize war. The film contains a lot of real footage from the Korean War which is both fascinating and often times difficult to watch. There is one very intense scene in which Steve has to reluctantly make a decision about attacking a group of refugees because North Korean rebels have hid themselves amongst a group of them as they march across the border. Linda watches this with dismay. This is a pivotal scene in the movie and very effective. Not only do we mourn the terrible loss of innocent civilians but also the deaths of American troops who leave loved ones behind.

Even with it's very serious subject, there are some light moments too. I think it is absolutely crucial than in any heavy drama but there be moments of respite. A little bit of humor goes a long way. Otherwise you'll be overwhelmed and will not be receptive to the story as a whole. There is a funny scene in the beginning of the film when Colonels Steve and John (William Talman) are getting ready and Steve realizes he needs to get his trousers mended.

Steve steps out of the room to hand his pants to a bellboy and John locks him out of their room. Linda catches Steve in the hallway without his pants on.

Seeing Mitchum both topless and pantless made me smile!

This is a great war drama for those who want a sobering story that really takes a harsh look at the realities of war. Blyth and Mitchum are charming and while their chemistry isn't electric you really do come to appreciate that their characters are meant for each other and they would see that if only they could set aside their differences.

Also, this movie is very relevant today considering the ongoing problems with North Korea and the growing tensions between North and South Korea. It's always great to tie in a classic film to current events especially when you are trying to get someone interested in older movies.

One Minute To Zero from Warner Bros.

One Minute To Zero  (1952) is available on DVD MOD from the Warner Archive Collection.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received One Minute to Zero (1952) from Warner Archive for review.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Robert Osborne interviews Ann Blyth at a screening of Mildred Pierce (1945)

Ceiling of the Grauman's Egyptian Theatre

Press Photo
I had the privilege of attending a special screening of Mildred Pierce (1945) at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival. This event was #1 on my list of all the events and screenings I wanted to attend.

I will try to transcribe the interview that happened before the screening to the best of my ability. It's not word-for-word and some paraphrasing is used.

Robert Osborne introduced Ann Blyth and said she was one of the sweetest nicest people in the world. But we all know her as Veda, the evil daughter in Mildred Pierce (1945). He encouraged us all to hiss and boo at her now and get it over with. To which Ann Blyth responded "I don't care."

Robert Osborne: Osborne notes that Blyth was so wonderful as the evil Veda but she was never typecast because of that role. It's kind of a miracle given Hollywood tendency to typecast during that time period. After Mildred Pierce, Blyth went on to play very lovely ingenues, very nice ladies, etc. Osborne asked Blyth how she came to play Veda in Mildred Pierce.

Ann Blyth: Blyth had to test for the part and she learned much later that a lot of actresses tested for the same role. She says that she was the lucky one and mentions hitting it off with director Michael Curtiz. Joan Crawford did the test with Blyth which was very unusual for a star of Crawford's stature at that time. It made a huge difference in how Blyth started to think about the character having the actress who will be playing opposite her as her mother doing the test with her.

Osborne: We hear so many negative stories about Joan Crawford

Blyth: "I have nothing but wonderful memories of her." Blyth said it was a wonderful learning experience working with Joan Crawford. Crawford was kind to her all during the making of the movie and in private afterwards for many, many years.

Osborne: Blyth was an actress on Broadway and was in Watch on the Rhine as a very young girl.

Blyth: Blyth noted that that was what brought her to Los Angeles and Universal Pictures.

Osborne: Osborne notes that Blyth was loaned out to Warner Bros.

Blyth: And every other studio too! Paramount, 20th Century Fox, etc. She was sent to London to do a picture with Tyrone Power [I'll Never Forget You (1951)]. Blyth got excited talking about Power and remembering his beautiful face and gorgeous brown eyes.

Osborne: Osborne pointed out that Blyth had a batch of handsome leading co-stars.

Blyth: Someone had asked Blyth years ago who she would want to be stranded on a deserted island with. They started listing all the names of the men she had co-starred with and she responded "well, couldn't I take them all with me?"

Osborne: Osborne noted that Blyth's last film was with Paul Newman.

Blyth: Blyth said Newman was a dream and was always well-prepared and professional. That film was The Helen Morgan Story (1957) which was also directed by Michael Curtiz.

Osborne: Osborne asked if she had a favorite among the men she worked with.

Blyth: They were all so different, so talented each in their own particular way. Blyth noted that they were all so good looking and that was the easy part for her. It would be very hard for her to chose a favorite. Can't she chose them all? She had some of the best experiences with actors like Farley Granger, Gregory Peck, etc.

Osborne: Osborne pointed out that Blyth had made a few films in which her leading men were much much older than her. He included Charles Boyer as an example. Boyer was 29 years Blyth's senior [A Woman's Vengeance (1948)].

Blyth: It never entered her mind that these actors were much older. She just appreciated working with such wonderful and talented people. Age had nothing to do with it.

Osborne: Blyth has a wonderful singing voice but wasn't used in musicals for a long time.

Blyth: Blyth noted that she sang in her very first movie. Chip off the Old Block (1944) with Donald O'Connor. Universal didn't use her in musicals after she did Mildred Pierce but she did do a lot of musicals when she moved to MGM.

Osborne: Osborne asked Blyth if making musicals was fun for her.

Blyth: She replied yes especially because of all the beautiful music she was able to sing and called it a "hell of an experience."

Osborne: Osborne points out Kismet (1955), The Student Prince (1954), Rose Marie (1954) in particular. After Blyth treated us with a few musical notes, Osborne asked her why did she stop making films right after The Helen Morgan Story (1957).

Blyth: Things were really beginning to change a lot at that time. However, she did make a serious mistake because there was interest in her doing The Three Faces of Eve (1957) which she turned down. She reminisced that it would have been extraordinary to do that film. The role eventually went to Joanne Woodward.

Osborne: Osborne asked if it was different at each of the several studios she worked at.

Blyth: The movie she made with Tyrone Power was filmed in England so her experience with 20th Century Fox Studios didn't amount to very much. Blyth grew up at Universal so she has distinct memories of that studio. They had a little schoolhouse she attended. She had marvelous teachers when she was there and felt very cared for. They would be with her on the set of different films. Universal was a small studio in comparison to MGM and Paramount.

Osborne: Osborne pointed out to us that Blyth still stays in touch with a lot of her friends from her Hollywood days.

Blyth: Jane Powell, Jane Withers, Joan Leslie, etc. They get together at least 4 times a year especially during Christmas time (My interjection: CAN I HANG OUT WITH YOU LADIES TOO?!).

Blyth says that she feels very blessed and Osborne notes that we were all very blessed to have her there that day. And I agree! It was such a wonderful experience to hear Blyth talk and to watch her on the big screen in Mildred Pierce!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TCM Classic Film Festival Day #4 Recap

Saturday was the third official day of the festival but my fourth day of TCM Classic Film Festival festivities. It started off with a bit of a disappointment. We got there a bit late to check-in to the Jane Fonda Handprint Footprint Ceremony at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. I didn't realize that I had to RSVP as a member of the press to attend so I couldn't get press access. Carlos and I ended up going across the street and watched a bit of it from afar. A lot of celebs were there. Eva Longoria, Jim Carrey, Maria Shriver, Jane's son Troy Garrity, Lily Tomlin and Jane's brother Peter Fonda. I didn't really care about any of them except for Jane and Peter Fonda to be honest. Robert Osborne introduced and mentioned that Jane Fonda's hand and footprints would be placed next to her father Henry Fonda's hand and footprints. Later Jane thanked TCM for all that they do for classic films and also recalled that her father told her not to let anyone in Hollywood walk all over her and now they will both have everyone in Hollywood walking all over them. From what I heard later, Jane Fonda did a peace sign with one hand when she did her handprints. The rest of the day was so incredibly amazing that not being close enough to the ceremony didn't end up mattering at all.

After seeing the Handprint Footprint ceremony from afar, I headed to the Chinese Multiplex next door for my first movie of the day. The festival had a great power station at the Multiplex. It was sponsored by Delta Airlines and at the station you could plug in your cell phone, laptop or any other electronic device in order to charge up. It was a fantastic service and one I wish were available at the other locations of the festival. While I was charging up my iPhone, I got a chance to speak to speak to TCM's executive producer Tom Brown. He was waiting to go pick up Burt Reynolds for an event.

I met with Laura of Laura's Miscelleanous Musings afterwards and we got in line for The Lady Vanishes (1938). I had never seen the film before and I was excited to see Norman Lloyd again. Carlos also attended and at one point, he got to shake hands with Robert Osborne. LUCKY!

The screening of The Lady Vanishes (1938) was hosted by Leonard Maltin and special guest Norman Lloyd got two standing ovations. For being 98 years old, Norman Lloyd is in really good shape. He's very mobile, Maltin told us that he plays tennis every day and his mind is very sharp. A lot of other guests needed help getting to the stage and back but Norman Lloyd needed no assistance. He was incredibly funny and charming. I will be writing a more in depth post in the future and I hope to include a little of the video I shot of the interview. And as an added bonus, Norman Lloyd watched the film with us and actor Marvin Kaplan was there to watch the film too!

After The Lady Vanishes (1938) screening, Carlos and I headed to Club TCM at the Roosevelt Hotel and attended the Conversation with Max von Sydow event which was also hosted by Leonard Maltin. Max von Sydow was fashionably late and the event lasted just under an hour. At the beginning of the event, the announcer told the audience that there would be no pictures and no autographing after the interview per Max's request. I think this should be the case for all these Club TCM interviews. I overheard someone say that the Conversation with Tippi Hedren event had gotten out of control. People started pushing and shoving to get an autograph or picture. Not cool, people! It is a privilege to see these stars, not a right.

Max von Sydow's interview was great. I plan to do an in depth post on it later. We were disappointed they didn't discuss Three Days of the Condor (1975). It was really fantastic to see Max von Sydow so up close (we were in the second row!). And to top it all off, Carlos and I got to shake hands with Leonard Maltin afterwards.

Afterwards, I went to the Club TCM lounge and stumbled upon Ann Blyth being interviewed by Robert Osborne for a TCM special. I cried. These taped interviews for TCM promos are not scheduled or announced so if you catch one it is just an added bonus.

Ann Blyth is so beautiful. I overheard that the segment will be used for an Ann Blyth Summer Under the Stars day. I'm not in the background of the interview because I was crying so I hid away from the camera. I didn't take notes on this so I won't be doing a post. I was too emotional anyways because Ann Blyth was at the top of my list of classic film stars I wanted to see at the festival. She is just so stunningly beautiful and that perfect smile of hers still dazzles to this day. Wow. She was super sweet too and would pose for pictures. Robert Osborne was totally flirting with her and kept telling her that she found the fountain of youth because she still looks so good. She's 88 years old, has 5 children, 10 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild on the way. I loved the fact that she said she exercises with a Bosu ball and does weight lifting because I do the same.

I didn't think this day could get any better but it did. After the Ann Blyth taping, we went to go play a trivia game called "What's the Score?" with Alex Trebek at Club TCM. Our team "Musical Chairs" came in 4th place. On my team was Karen from Shadows and Satin. I have no ear for music so I was pretty terrible at the trivia but everyone else on my team was great. We lost the 4 way tie-breaker. It was so much fun to do a trivia game with Alex Trebek. I am a huge Jeopardy! fan and have always dreamed of being on the show but I'm not very good at quick trivia. So if this is the closest I'll ever come to Jeopardy! then I'm okay with that. Alex Trebek was charming and a lot of fun. He was great with the audience and we just had a blast. This same game had been played on the last TCM Cruise and Trebek mentioned the cruise several times too.

TCM Photo

Darnell, Dan, myself and Carlos at the trivia game.

Afterwards, Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen... and I left to go wait in line for Mildred Pierce (1945) screening at the Grauman's Egyptian. We were pretty early in line. Ann Blyth was interviewed for 15 minutes by Robert Osborne. There were a couple standing ovations and lots of clapping. It was a very appreciative audience and great screening. A more in depth post to come.

Carlos got into a screening of Le Mans (1975) with special guests Chad McQueen (Steve McQueen's son) and two race car drivers Vic Elford and Derek Bell.

I loved these two pictures I took of Norman Lloyd and Max von Sydow putting their hands up in appreciation of the standing ovations they received!

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