Friday, September 30, 2011


It's time to see what goodies TCM (Turner Classic Movies) will be showing in the month of October. Here are my top ten picks of what is on:

OCTOBER 2 11:00 AM
The Time Machine(1960) - SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY

A turn-of-the-century inventor sends himself into the future to save humanity. I have always loved this movie of time travel. The Morlocks in the movie still scare me! (Cast: Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux)

OCTOBER 12 3:00 PM
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House(1948) - COMEDY

A New York businessman's dream of a country home is shattered when he buys a tumbledown rural shack. Next to Arsenic And Old Lace, this is the best Cary Grant comedy! (Cast: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas)

OCTOBER 19 1:00 AM
Tea And Sympathy(1956) - DRAMA

A faculty wife risks her marriage to help a troubled teen tormented by his fellow students. I saw this movie back when TNT showed classic movies, and I'd love to see it again. (Cast: Deborah Kerr , John Kerr , Leif Erickson)

OCTOBER 20 10:00 AM
State Fair(1945) - MUSICAL

An Iowa family finds romance and adventure at the yearly state fair. This musical was one of my grandfather's favorite movies. It brings back memories of me going to the fairs with him too. (Cast: Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews, Dick Haymes)

OCTOBER 25 11:00 AM
The Days of Wine and Roses(1962) - DRAMA

A husband and wife fight to conquer alcoholism. This is one of those classic movies that I have never seen - but I want to! (Cast: Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford)

OCTOBER 26 5:45 PM
The Bad Seed(1956) - HORROR

A woman suspects that her perfect little girl is a ruthless killer. This is what a classic horror should be. No blood or guts are needed to show true terror! (Cast: Gage Clarke, Jesse White, Joan Croyden)

OCTOBER 27 4:45 PM
April Showers (1948) - DRAMA

A family vaudeville act is torn apart by the father's drinking problem. I have never heard of even seen this movie, but from the description, I want to now. (Cast: Jack Carson, Ann Sothern, Robert Alda)

OCTOBER 30 12:00 PM
Berserk (1967) - HORROR

A lady ringmaster milks the publicity from a string of murders. Joan Crawford of the late 1960s was definitely not the Crawford of the MGM years. It's a great camp movie. (Cast: Joan Crawford, Ty Hardin, Diana Dors)

OCTOBER 30 8:00 PM
In The Good Old Summertime(1949) - MUSICAL

In this musical remake of The Shop Around the Corner, feuding co-workers in a small music shop do not realize they are secret romantic pen pals. This is the last great Judy Garland of the old years at MGM. (Cast: Judy Garland, Van Johnson, S. Z. "Cuddles" Sakall)

OCTOBER 31 8:00 PM
Village Of The Damned (1960) - HORROR

After a mysterious blackout, the inhabitants of a British village give birth to emotionless, super-powered offspring. Another classic horror movie that does not need blood to scare the heck out of people!
(Cast: George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Martin Stephens)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The man who brought you such musical visions as "Prom Night Dumpster Baby" and "You Have AIDS" now brings you his debut album. But wait -- not one flatulence joke? Not one reference to "fat chicks?" Nope, this is straight up big band jazz.

Seth MacFarlane often uses his Rat Pack throwback pipes to provide a signature musical flavor to "Family Guy." Whether it's Brian the Dog singing with Frank Sinatra Jr. or one of "Family Guy's" Bing Crosby/Bob Hope homage episodes, MacFarlane is an unabashed fan of the big band era. And now, with zero parody, MacFarlane has recorded his love letter to the era, "Music is Better Than Words."

Those expecting jokes should save their money. This album is front to back velvety big band jazz. Instead of Gary Coleman puns, there is a guest spot from Norah Jones. Instead of overtly offensive song titles, there's "You're the Cream In My Coffee." This is unapologetic jazz, baby.

The album is pretty swingin' if you dig the old school jazz scene. MacFarlane's passion for the era is evident and the fact that he takes the album so seriously results in a genuinely enjoyable throwback to a style and era that is almost universally loved. So watch out, Harry Connick Jr. If there were ever a jazz fight brewing, it'd be between these two...



When you hear about the classic movie dancing greats you automatically think of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and rightfully so. However there are a lot of capable dancers that left their mark on Hollywood. One such dancer that comes to mind was Dan Dailey. He lacked the polish of Fred Astaire, and the athletics of Gene Kelly, but he was 20th Century Fox's answer to the both of them in the 1940s, and he deserves to be remembered.

Born in New York City on December 14, 1915, to James J. and Helen Dailey, both born in New York City. He appeared in a minstrel show when very young, and appeared in vaudeville before his Broadway debut in 1937 in Babes in Arms. In 1940, he was signed by MGM to make movies and, although his past career had been in musicals, he was initially cast as a Nazi in The Mortal Storm. However, the people at MGM realized their mistake quickly and cast him in a series of musical films.

He served in the United States Army during World War II, was commissioned as an Army officer after graduation from Signal Corps Officer Candidate School at Fort Monmouth, NJ. He then returned Hollywood to more musicals. Beginning with Mother Wore Tights (1947) Dailey became the frequent and favorite co-star of movie legend Betty Grable. His performance in their film When My Baby Smiles at Me in 1948 garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

In 1950, he starred in A Ticket to Tomahawk, often noted as one of the first screen appearances of Marilyn Monroe, in a very small part as a dance-hall girl. He portrayed baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean in a 1952 biopic, Pride of St. Louis.

One of his most notable roles came in There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), which featured Irving Berlin's music and also starred Ethel Merman, Marilyn Monroe, Johnnie Ray, and Donald O'Connor, whose wife Gwen divorced O'Connor and married Dailey at about the same period.

As the musical genre began to wane in the mid-1950s, he moved on to various comedic and dramatic roles, including appearing as one of The Four Just Men (1959) in the Sapphire Films TV series for ITV, his television series, The Governor & J.J. and the NBC Mystery Movie series "Faraday & Company". His sister was Another World actress Irene Dailey.

A rumor that Dan Dailey was a cross dresser came out in the late 1950s, and it damaged his career. With the downfall of the American movie musical, his career was also hurt further. Dailey was always a heavy drinker, but when his only son committed suicide in 1975, it further sent him on a downhill spiral. Dailey broke his hip in 1976 while performing in The Odd Couple, and died on October 16, 1978 of anemia. He is an example of another talented star whose fame did not shine bright long enough in Hollywood...

Monday, September 26, 2011


Early Marilyn Monroe photos to be sold at auction

by Sandy Cohen, Associated Press

Copyrights and images from Marilyn Monroe's first photo shoot are hitting the auction block. A bankruptcy judge in Florida ruled last week that photos taken in 1946 of Norma Jeane Dougherty - who went on to become Monroe - will be sold at auction to settle the debts of the photographer.

Joseph Jasgur's photos, negatives and image copyrights will be sold in December by Julien's Auctions. The collection also includes several model-release forms Dougherty signed for Jasgur in Hollywood.

Darren Julien, chief of Julien's Auctions, said the photos have not been widely distributed and the collection has been locked up in court battles for more than two decades. He said the sale is significant because "it's very rare to see something where you can buy a copyrighted image of (Monroe), especially of her first photo shoot."

"It's really hard to put a value on something like this, because it's rare and not just for the collector," he said, noting that the owner of the copyrights will be able to sell and distribute the images. "These are probably the most significant images of Marilyn that are available because they're so early, from the first part of her career, and it's rare to have images like these where you're selling the rights, too."

He declined to estimate how much the images and copyrights will sell for at the company's "Icons & Idols" auction, to be held Dec. 2 to 4 in Beverly Hills.

The photos include a black-and-white head shot of the future Monroe wearing a jaunty beret, another of her in a halter top, and a color picture of her smiling in a striped bikini on the sand. Julien said Jasgur was hired by the Blue Book modeling agency to shoot the then-unknown Norma Jeane...


Sunday, September 25, 2011


As a youth in the 1980s, I remember seeing the movie The Boy With The Green Hair often on AMC. This was back when AMC aired "classic movies". Anyways, the movie always sort of scared me. It scared me, but it also haunted me in a good way. Since that movie aired, my copy on an old Beta tape has since broken, but the still haunts me. It is an odd movie, but a good one nevertheless.

The Boy with Green Hair was a 1948 American comedy-drama film directed by Joseph Losey. It starred Dean Stockwell as Peter, a young war orphan who is subject to ridicule after he awakens one morning to find his hair mysteriously turned green. Co-stars include Pat O'Brien, Robert Ryan, and Barbara Hale.

Finding a curiously silent young runaway boy (Stockwell) whose head has been completely shaved, small-town police call in a psychologist (Ryan) and discover that he is a war orphan named Peter Frye. Moving in with an understanding retired actor named Gramps (O'Brien), Peter starts attending school and generally begins living the life of a normal boy until his class gets involved with trying to help war orphans in Europe and Asia.

Peter soon realizes that—like the children on the posters, whose images haunt him—he, too, is a war orphan. The realization about his parents and the work helping the orphans makes Peter turn very serious, and he is further troubled when he overhears the adults around him talking about the world preparing for another war. Peter awakens the next day and his hair has turned green, prompting him to run away after being taunted by the townspeople and his peers. Suddenly, appearing before him in a lonely part of the woods are the orphaned children whose pictures he saw on the posters.

They tell him that he is a war orphan, but that with his green hair he can make a difference and must tell people that war is dangerous for children. He leaves determined to deliver his message to any and all. Upon his return, the townspeople chase Peter, and even Gramps tries to encourage him to consider shaving his hair so that it might grow back normally. He agrees to get his head shaved, and the town barber does the job—that night, however, Peter runs away. Later reunited with Gramps, Peter learns that there are adults out there who accept what he has to say and want him to go on saying it. He's sure that his hair will grow back in green again, and he will continue to carry his message.

Pat O'Brien and Dean Stockwell give Oscar worthy performances as the adopted parent and orphaned boy. Stockwell especially showed tenderness and sadness in his role. For a child star to make the audience feel that in their hearts is a sign of a great talent. For a movie made only three years after the war ended, The Boy With The Green Hair was a great commentary on the plight of war orphans.

The song "Nature Boy" written by Eden Ahbez and sung by an uncredited chorus was a primary theme of the score for the motion picture. Nat King Cole's version of "Nature Boy" shot to #1 on the Billboard charts, and remained there for eight weeks straight during the summer of 1948.

The Boy With The Green Hair may be dated by today's standards, but I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a different type of movie. It is a movie that will stick with you and make you think for years to come...

my rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The Andrews Sisters were not just popular in the 1940s...they WERE popular music in the 1940s. The Andrews Sisters were a prolific and highly successful close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras, consisting of three actual sisters: LaVerne, Maxene and Patty – LaVerne Sophia, contralto and redhead (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967); Maxene Angelyn, soprano and brunette (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995); and Patricia Marie "Patty" Andrews, mezzo-soprano, lead singer, and blonde (born February 16, 1918). Their harmonies and songs are still influential today, and these unusual and different pictures of the Andrews Sisters showcase not only their talents but their beauty as well...

Friday, September 23, 2011



Legendary bandleader Glenn Miller spent his last night alive at Milton Ernest Hall, on the outskirts of Bedford, Bedfordshire. On December 15, 1944, Miller was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, to play for the soldiers there. His plane (a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285) departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, Bedfordshire and disappeared while flying over the English Channel. No trace of the aircrew, passengers or plane has ever been found. Miller's status is missing in action.

There are three main theories about what happened to Miller's plane, including the suggestion that he might have been hit by Royal Air Force bombs after an abortive raid on Siegen, Germany. One hundred and thirty-eight Lancaster bombers, short on fuel, jettisoned approximately 100,000 incendiaries in a designated area before landing. The logbooks of Royal Air Force navigator Fred Shaw recorded that he saw a small, single-engined monoplane spiraling out of control and crashing into the water. However, a second source, while acknowledging the possibility, cites other RAF crew members flying the same mission who stated that the drop area was in the North Sea.

Further research by British scholars also seems to indicate that this is the most likely probability, making Miller's death a "friendly fire" incident. In his 2006 self-published book, Clarence B. Wolfe — a gunner with Battery D, 134th AAA Battalion, in Folkestone, England — claims that his battery shot down Miller's plane. Another book by Lt. Col. Huton Downs, a former member of Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal staff, argues that the U.S. government covered up Miller's death. Downs suggested that Miller, who spoke German, had been enlisted by Eisenhower to covertly attempt to convince some German officers to end the war early. The book goes on to suggest that Miller was captured and killed in a Paris brothel, and his death covered up to save the government embarrassment. However the Publishers' Weekly review talks of "breathlessly written suppositions."

When Glenn Miller disappeared, he left behind his wife, the former Helen Burger, originally from Boulder, Colorado, and the two children they adopted in 1943 and 1944, Steven and Jonnie. Helen Miller accepted the Bronze Star medal for Glenn Miller in February 1945.

The Miller estate authorized an official Glenn Miller "ghost band" in 1946. This band was led by Tex Beneke, former lead saxophonist and a singer for the civilian band. It had a make up similar to the Army Air Force Band: it had a large string section. The orchestra's official public début was at the Capitol Theatre on Broadway where it opened for a three week engagement on January 24, 1946. Future television and film composer Henry Mancini was the band's pianist and one of the arrangers. This ghost band played to very large audiences all across the United States, including a few dates at the Hollywood Palladium in 1947, where the original Miller band played in 1941. In a website concerning the history of the Hollywood Palladium, it is noted "[e]ven as the big band era faded, the Tex Beneke and Glenn Miller Orchestra concert at the Palladium resulted in a record-breaking crowd of 6,750 dancers." By 1949, economics dictated that the string section be dropped.

This band recorded for RCA Victor, just as the original Miller band did Beneke was struggling with how to expand the Miller sound and also how to achieve success under his own name. What began as the "Glenn Miller Orchestra Under the Direction of Tex Beneke" finally became "The Tex Beneke Orchestra". By 1950, Beneke and the Miller estate parted ways. The break was acrimonious and Beneke is not currently listed by the Miller estate as a former leader of the Glenn Miller orchestra.

When Glenn Miller was alive, various bandleaders like Bob Chester imitated his style. By the early 1950s, various bands were again copying the Miller style of clarinet-led reeds and muted trumpets, notably Ralph Flanagan Jerry Gray,and Ray Anthony. This, coupled with the success of The Glenn Miller Story (1953),led the Miller estate to ask Ray McKinley to lead a new ghost band. This 1956 band is the original version of the current ghost band that still tours the United States today. The official Glenn Miller orchestra for the United States is currently under the direction of Gary Tole. The officially sanctioned Glenn Miller Orchestra for the United Kingdom has toured and recorded with great success under the leadership of Ray McVay. The official Glenn Miller Orchestra for Europe has been led by Wil Salden since 1990.

Glenn Miller's widow, Helen, died in 1966. Herb Miller, Glenn Miller's brother, led his own band in the United States and England until the late 1980s. Herb's son, John continues the tradition leading a band playing mainly Glenn Miller style music. In 1989, Glenn Miller's daughter Jonnie purchased her father's house where he was born. The Glenn Miller Foundation was created to oversee the subsequent restoration.

The years that Glenn Miller had a hit band was not even a decade, and yet he left a lasting imprint into big band, popular, and jazz music. Sixty seven years after Miller's disappearance his final resting spot is still not known. However, his music lives in...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I am starting a new series talking about my five favorites in a particular genre. Hopefully this will spark some interest, as well as cause spirited discussion amongst the blog readers. For this first post in the series, I wanted to go big and spotlight my five favorite films of all-time. I have watched many movies from the earliest silent films to today's overbudgeted hits. I don't really consider myself an expert as much as I do a film lover, and these favorite films of mine I can never get tired or watching. If I could only watch five movies, these are the ones I would want to watch:

5. BIG FISH (2003)
Director Tim Burton is mostly known for his overblown remakes. I enjoy his movies though. The movie Big Fish was one of his original masterpieces. The movie centered around a dying father (Albert Finney) who told tall tales to his son. Even though he told tall tales there were truth and lessons in every story he told. I think the reason why this movie touches me everytime I see it is because my father in law died the year this movie came out. It is one of the few movies that can make my wife cry.

Because Cary Grant was so good looking, I think his acting ability was largely overlooked. He could do it all from drama to comedy, and the movie Arsenic And Old Lace is the best example of his comedy. As he discovers his loving aunts are really murderers his own life is turned upside down, and you can see the change in Cary Grant just by looking at the craziness he conveys in his eyes. Raymond Massey also gives the best performance of his long career as well.

3. WHITE HEAT (1949)
Like Cary Grant, James Cagney could play any role. However, Cagney's best role was as ruthless gangsters. There was no one more crazed and ruthless than the character of Cody Jarrett. The character had it all - a mother complex, mental illness, and a thirst to kill. The ending of the movie with Cagney screaming "top of the world, ma" is one of the best scenes ever filmed in Hollywood.

2. GOODFELLAS (1990)
It seems like Goodfellas is on television all of the time now. It is one of the movies that when it is on, I have to watch it. The film is nearly perfect especially Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta as mobsters. Liotta plays mobster turned rat Henry Hill. I got to see what the real Henry Hill looked like, and he was no Ray Liotta but the film was great. The movie makes me wish I was more than 25% percent Italian so I could be "made" as well.

1. JAWS (1975)
Yes, this movie is my favorite film of all-time. I have seen it a total of 70 times now. When I first saw Jaws as a child, I was afraid to let my legs dangle over my bed at night for fear that a shark would come around and bite my feet. I grew to love this film, and the best part of the movie is not seeing the shark. The shark was broken so much for young director Steven Speilberg that he had to rewrite most of the film. It made for a different movie, and probably made the film as suspenseful as it was. As for the acting, you can not get much better than Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. The film continues to remind me to never go back into the water!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Dolores Hope, the radiant wife of comedian Bob Hope, died peacefully Monday morning at her home in Toluca Lake, Calif., a family friend confirms to the news bureaus. She was 102 and had been in relativity good health until the past few months.

The former Dolores DeFina, born in the Bronx, was singing in a Manhattan nightclub under the professional name Dolores Reade when newcomer Bob Hope, after a performance in a Broadway show, walked into the club with the dancer George Murphy. Hearing Reade sing "It's Only a Paper Moon," Hope said to Murphy, "I'm going to marry her." He did, Feb. 19, 1934.

Lucille Ball once said, "The smartest thing Bob Hope ever did was marry Dolores."

Bob and Dolores honeymooned in Europe and sailed home on the Queen Mary – its final voyage before she was converted into a troop carrier for service during World War II. Hope, by then a famous radio comedian, began entertaining American servicemen overseas for the USO – and his wife often made the trips with him, sleeping on their coats and never complaining about the discomforts.

Giving up her career to raise their children – they had four: Tony, Linda, Kelly and Nora – Dolores was also active in charities, an inveterate golfer (like her husband), an animal fancier and an avid follower of current events. Then again, she and Bob had met every President and First Lady from Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt to Bill and Hillary Clinton. She considered herself a political independent.

While Bob traveled continuously, she kept adding on to their homes in Palm Springs and Toluca Lake (in the San Fernando Valley), which prompted her husband to quip when he got back from one trip, "Hey, I need a map."

Despite having put her singing career on hold for fifty years, Dolores reactivated it when she was in her late 80s, releasing CDs of old standards and singing at the Rainbow and Stars nightclub in New York's Rockefeller Center with her dear friend Rosemary Clooney. Both the CDs and the singing engagement were critical hits.

As she admitted, she paid to produce the CDs herself, "but it's better than buying another piece of jewelry," she said with a laugh.

A devout Catholic who liked to have a martini after Mass – Bob's den in the Toluca Lake house served as her private chapel – Dolores once asked Bob where he wanted to be buried. "Oh, just surprise me," he told her.

Bob Hope died in 2003, age 100, and is buried in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Dolores will have the plot beside him, and private services for family are planned for Friday.


NEW YORK (AP) — Tony Bennett makes 85 look like the new 55.

The legendary crooner celebrated his milestone birthday with a star-studded concert at the Metropolitan Opera House on Sunday, looking youthful and spry as he performed for more than an hour without taking so much as a water break. He danced, told jokes, and sang duets with Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Alejandro Sanz for a capacity crowd that included Robert De Niro and Katie Couric.

"I think it is amazing. He is amazing. This just goes to tell you nobody under 85 can complain about jack," said Whoopi Goldberg, who was also in attendance. "Don't tell me you are tired. I don't want to hear it. Tony Bennett can sing a cappella in the Met."

Former President Bill Clinton kicked off the evening's festivities. He said he and his wife, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also in attendance, have been long time fans of Bennett's music and art (Bennett is a painter as well).

"Tony Bennett has become part of our lives. Something special. Something different. An artist in so many ways," Clinton said.

Bennett, whose actual birthday was Aug. 3, then took to the stage and performed hits such as "The Best is Yet to Come," ''Everybody Loves a Winner," and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

He dedicated "The Good Life" to his good friend, Lady Gaga.

"I've been singing 50 years — I will be honest, 60 years — and I love it," said Bennett...


Sunday, September 18, 2011


My stepfather is a big man - a 6ft 4inch hunter. I have always been close to him, and we share a lot of the same interests. Surprisingly, we share our love of musicals as well - and it was my stepfather that introduced me to the musical Xanadau. I recently made my wife watch the movie with me, and although she said how cheesy it was, she ended up watching the whole movie with me. That sort of sums up what Xanadau is, it is a movie that most people hate but they can not stop watching.

Xanadu is a 1980 romantic musical fantasy film written by Marc Reid Rubel and directed by Robert Greenwald. The title is a reference to the poem "Kubla Khan, or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which is quoted in the film. Xanadu is the name of the Chinese province where Khan establishes his pleasure garden in the poem. Xanadu stars Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly, and features music by Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra, Cliff Richard, and The Tubes. The film also features animation by Don Bluth.

Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) is a talented artist who dreams of fame beyond his job, which is the uncreative task of painting larger versions of album covers for record-store window advertisements. As the film opens, Sonny is broke and on the verge of giving up his dream. Having quit his day job to try to make a living as a freelance artist, but having failed to make any money at it, Sonny returns to his old job at AirFlo Records. After some humorous run-ins with his imperious boss and nemesis, Simpson (James Sloyan), he resumes painting record covers.

At work, Sonny is told to paint an album cover for a group called The Nine Sisters. The cover features a beautiful woman passing in front of an art deco auditorium (the Pan-Pacific Auditorium). This same woman collided with him earlier that day, kissed him, then roller-skated away, and Malone becomes obsessed with finding her. He finds her at the same (but now abandoned) auditorium. She identifies herself as Kira (Olivia Newton-John), but she will not tell him anything else about herself. Unbeknownst to Sonny, Kira is one of nine mysterious and beautiful women who literally sprang to life from a local mural in town near the beach.

Sonny befriends a has-been big band orchestra leader-turned-construction mogul named Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly); Danny lost his muse in the 1940s (who is seen in a flashback scene to bear a startling resemblance to Kira); Sonny has not yet found his muse. Kira encourages the two men to form a partnership and open a nightclub at the old auditorium from the album cover. She falls in love with Sonny, and this presents a problem because she is actually an Olympian Muse. ("Kira's" real name is Terpsichore, and she is the Muse of dancing and chorus.) The other eight women from the beginning of the film are her sisters and fellow goddesses, the Muses, and the mural is actually a portal of sorts and their point of entry to Earth.

The Muses visit Earth often to help inspire others to pursue their dreams and desires. But in Kira's case, she has violated the rules by which Muses are supposed to conduct themselves, as she was only supposed to inspire Sonny but has ended up falling in love with him as well. Her parents (presumably the Greek gods Zeus and Mnemosyne) recall her to the timeless realm of the gods. Sonny follows her through the mural and professes his love for her. A short debate between Sonny and Zeus occurs with Mnemosyne interceding on Kira and Sonny's behalf. Kira then enters the discussion, saying the emotions she has toward Sonny are new to her--if only they could have one more night together, Sonny's dream of success for the nightclub Xanadu could come true. But Zeus ultimately sends Sonny back to Earth. After Kira expresses her feelings for Sonny in the song "Suspended in Time," Zeus and Mnemosyne decide to let Kira go to him for a "moment, or maybe forever," which they cannot keep straight because mortal time confuses them, and the audience is left to wonder her fate.

In the finale, Kira and the Muses perform for a packed house at Xanadu's grand opening, and after Kira's final song, they return to the realm of the gods in spectacular fashion. With their departure, Sonny is, understandably, depressed. But that quickly changes when Danny has one of the waitresses bring Sonny a drink--the waitress is an exact look-alike of Kira. Sonny approaches this enigmatic doppelgänger and says he would just like to talk to her. The film ends with the two of them talking, in silhouette, as the credits begin to roll.

What is interesting to note is Gene Kelly's role as Danny McGuire was an update homage to his role in 1944's Cover Girl. The movie marked Kelly's last movie musical, and I think he was the standout in the film. The movie bombed at the box office, but the movie soundtrack was a commercial success. The film, now over thirty years old has become a cult classic, and it even inspired a 2007 Broadway musical and successful tour. Xanadu is definitely a guilty movie pleasure. However, I don't really feel guilty when I watch this film...


Friday, September 16, 2011


HBO is preparing to bring the story of Fatty Arbuckle to their network. The project ,which is in development, would revolve around the famed comedian's rise and fall.

Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet is channeling his inner Fizbo the Clown for HBO.

The actor is attached to star in The Day the Laughter Stopped, a telefilm in development at HBO Films revolving around silent film star Fatty Arbuckle.

John Adams writer Kirk Ellis is on board to pen the project, with Barry Levinson on board to direct the telepic based on the book by David A. Yallop.

Arbuckle (1887-1933) was a silent film star, comedian, director and screenwriter who mentored Charile Chaplin and discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope.

The popular comedian also had his troubles: in 1921 Arbuckle was accused of raping and accidentally killing actress Virginia Rappe and was tried for her death three times. Though he was acquitted, the scandal plagued his career and worked sparingly in the 1920s.

The HBO telepic would span his rise to fame and subsequent fall.

"In addition to the fact that I'm from Kansas and he's from Kansas, I just always found it to be such a fascinating and tragic story," Stonestreet told Vulture. "He went from this jolly person who fell down and entertained people into a sexual deviant. It's a true story people don't know about, with a twist."

Ellis, Levinson, Stonestreet, Ron West, Chris Henze, Christine Vachon and Steve Kavovit are on board as executive producers.

It is really surprising that Arbuckle's life has not been made into a film sooner. Comedian Chris Farley was interested at one time in making an Arbuckle film, but Farley died of a drug overdose in 1997 before the project got off the ground. Eric Stonestreet is a talented actor, who could easily bring the tragic Fatty Arbuckle story to the screen...


Thursday, September 15, 2011


Polly Bergen is a very underrated actress and singer, who got her start in the early 1950s in show business. She has not only appeared with stars like Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum, but has emerged as an entrepreneur as well. As of this year she was still active in show business.

Polly Bergen was born on July 14, 1930. Bergen appeared in many film roles, most notably in the original Cape Fear (1962) opposite Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. She had roles in three Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy films in the early 1950s: At War with the Army, That's My Boy, and The Stooge. Bergen portrayed the first female President of the United States in the 1964 comedy Kisses for My President, co-starring Fred MacMurray as her "First Gentleman." Later roles included Mrs. Vernon-Williams in Cry-Baby, a 1990 John Waters film.

Bergen received an Emmy award for her portrayal of singer Helen Morgan in a May 1957 episode of the television series Playhouse 90 on CBS. Sylvia Sidney played her mother on the episode. Signed to Columbia Records, she also enjoyed a successful recording career during this era.

She was a regular panelist on the CBS game show To Tell the Truth during its original run. She also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. In 1963, Bergen co-starred with Doris Day and James Garner in the film comedy Move Over, Darling. Garner's character marries hers when he believes his long-lost wife (Day) to be deceased, only to have her turn up. The script initially was in production starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin under the name Something's Got to Give, but after Monroe died, Martin declined to begin again with a new leading lady. Bergen took over the role of Bianca, in which Cyd Charisse had originally been cast.

In later years she starred in a 2001 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Belasco Theater and received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Polly also appeared as Fran Felstein on HBO's The Sopranos, the former mistress of Tony Soprano's father, and former acquaintance of John F. Kennedy.

From 2007 to the present, Bergen has had a guest role in Desperate Housewives as Lynette Scavo's mother, Stella Wingfield, which earned her an Emmy Award nomination.

Another of her recent appearances came in CBS' Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation Candles on Bay Street (2006), in which she played the assistant to a husband-and-wife team of veterinarians.

Now into her 80s, Polly Bergen can be picky with her roles, and she is - but she enjoys the character roles she has turned to playing. When not working, Bergen lives in Connecticut and enjoys time with her three children and grandchildren...

UPDATE: Sadly Polly Bergen died on September 20, 2014 at the age of 84...
Polly Bergen Obituary

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


His exuberance could suck all the air out of a venue as large as New York’s Winter Garden. His massive ego was on display as he referred to himself in the third person, as Jolie, and as “the WOW.” He bragged that he was the first to break the sound barrier, as he had starred in Hollywood’s first full-length talking movie. Perhaps, had he lived a few decades longer, he might have claimed he invented the Internet. This man, who for years was celebrated as “the greatest entertainer of all time” by his contemporaries, was jazz singer/ actor/comedian Al Jolson. And anyone who has ever seen him in person, or played one of his records, or seen one of his movies, would immediately recognize the tremendous talent of actor/singer/dancer Mike Burstyn as he reprises one of Jolson’s many performances at the Winter Garden.

Jolson at the Winter Garden, which opened this week at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, was created and written by Burstyn and director/choreographer Bill Castellino, and for the more than 300 patrons who packed the main auditorium on opening night, it was, literally, a physical reincarnation.

Burstyn has it all down pat: the mushy-mouthed Brooklynese, the bombastic presentation, the little toss of the head at the end of a song as he spreads his arms wide to accept the adulation of the crowd. But most of all, Burstyn has captured the voice. It’s much more than an impersonation; if you listen with your eyes closed, it’s absolutely the real thing.

With his three sidekicks, Jacqueline Bayne, Laura Hodos, and Wayne LeGette, Burstyn begins with corny routines from burlesque, segues into dances from vaudeville, and sings such old-time “hits” as “Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on a Saturday Night?” As he acknowledges, “If you stabbed me, I’d bleed shtick.”

And, of course, he sings all of the Jolson classics: “For Me and My Gal,” “Rockabye Your Baby (with a Dixie Melody),” “Swanee,” “Toot Toot Tootsie,” “Sonny Boy,” “Sittin’ On Top of the World,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “April Showers” (Jolson’s personal favorite), and the show-stopping “Mammy.”

In an emotional digression, he responds with anger to those critics who regard him as racist because he performs in blackface. Blackface, a staple of the minstrel shows of the 19th century, was popular in vaudeville into the early 20th century---up until the 1960s, in fact, when it was finally abandoned during the Civil Rights Movement.

Jolson defends himself by rattling off some of the many other performers who worked in blackface, such as Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, George Jessel, Buster Keaton, and even the young Shirley Temple. He might also have mentioned Gene Kelly, Will Rogers, the Marx Brothers, George Burns, and Mae West, among many others.

He also describes an incident wherein a famous black performer was denied service in a segregated restaurant. Jolson took the entertainer by the arm, marched him into the restaurant, sat down with him, ordered lunch, and demanded service. He got it. “They wouldn’t dare throw us out,” he says with satisfaction.

Jolson, who was born in Lithuania, was a staunch American patriot, being the first entertainer to volunteer his services to perform for troops in America and overseas during World War II. In this protracted effort he contracted malaria and lost a lung. Later, at the start of the Korean War, he volunteered again, embarking on a tour of Korea in which he played 42 shows in 16 days. This tour is believed to have cost him his life, as he died shortly after his return from a massive heart attack, and, presumably, exhaustion.

Like Jolson, Burstyn also has an illustrious history of entertaining troops. As a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, he entertained troops both in peacetime and during three wars, and toured with Danny Kaye in a month-long round of army bases and hospitals following the Six-Day War.

The New York-born Burstyn, who began performing when he was seven years old, is the son of Yiddish theater artists Pesach’ke Burstein and Lillian Lux. He celebrated his family and their early 20th century Yiddish theater contemporaries in a documentary called The Komediant, which won an Oscar in Israel. Then, when it opened in New York as a stage review called On Second Avenue, it won him a nomination for a Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

In addition to Jolson, Burstyn has appeared off-Broadway as Mayer Lansky, Mayer Rothschild, P.T. Barnum, and Roy Cohn, among his many other roles. He also recreated his role as Barnum in The Netherlands in the Dutch language, one of eight languages he speaks fluently.

Today Burstyn lives in Los Angeles and visits Israel frequently. And you can be sure that when he drives to and from LAX along the 405, he never forgets to nod to his homeboy, Jolie, quiet at last in his pillared marble monument at Hillside Memorial Park.

Jolson at the Winter Garden will run Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p..m., with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. through September 25th at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., in North Hollywood. Call 877-733-7529 for tickets.


Monday, September 12, 2011


The 'Man of a Thousand Voices' is channeling Jimmy Stewart and a galaxy of other stars in a one-man show.
By Susan King

Veteran impressionist Rich Little admits it's tough getting a handle on contemporary stars. "How are you going to imitate Ashton Kutcher or Brad Pitt or Matt Damon?" asked Little over a cup of coffee at the Beverly Hilton. "Jack Nicholson is larger than life, so is Clint Eastwood. But there are not many people like Nicholson who are around today — larger than life, with very distinctive voices. How do you do George Clooney? I have worked at it. If you do Tom Hanks, you have got to do 'box of chocolates,' and even that is kind of old now. Good actors, but not voices."

The 72-year-old Little has been described as "The Man of a Thousand Voices" because of his uncanny characterizations of notables including Jimmy Stewart, Richard Nixon, George Burns and John Wayne. And yes, he's freshened up his act — now he's added Dr. Phil and even President Obama to his repertoire.

"There's a very good impersonator in Vegas called Gordie Brown," said Little. "He does a lot of rappers and singers I don't know. But he does Christopher Walken, and he does it well. But I am thinking to myself, how many people out there are getting this? Walken's done a lot of acting, but will Middle America know who the heck he is? It gets tougher as time goes on."

Little got his first big break on the 1963-64 "The Judy Garland Show" on CBS because she was impressed with his dead-on impression of James Mason, who was her costar in 1954's "A Star Is Born." The 1960s and '70s were the golden age of impressionists such as Little, Frank Gorshin, Marilyn Michaels, George Kirby, Fred Travalena, David Frye and Guy Marks. They headlined nightclubs and were in demand on such variety series as "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

Several of the celebrated impressionists from the era have died, but the Las Vegas-based Little is still performing. He recently did a three-week stint at the Riviera, and he's making a rare appearance in Southern California on Sunday afternoon at the Cerritos Center in his one-man show "Jimmy Stewart: A Humorous Look at His Life."

"I spent two years writing it," Little said. "Even though it's called 'Jimmy Stewart,' I use Jimmy Stewart as a vehicle to do other impressions of all the people involved in his life — the obvious ones are Henry Fonda, John Wayne, [Ronald] Reagan and Nixon. Jack Nicholson has no connection to Jimmy, so I kind of a made up a story that Jack Nicholson went over to Jimmy's house to bring him a script. I don't want it to be all stars from the '30s and '40s. I actually end up doing 25 impressions."

Little got to know Stewart, who died in 1997, doing the popular "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" specials on NBC in the 1970s and appearing together at benefits. "The thing about those roasts, it was always such a thrill to be on with so many giant comedians. I would sit on the dais and see Lucille Ball, Jack Benny and Don Rickles and all the giants like Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne."

And it could be intimidating. "You had to settle yourself," said Little. "Not only are you performing for America, but all of these fabulously talented people are watching you. Sometimes people got up [to perform] and they panicked. They were cut out of the show. I think they put me on because I could get up and intimidate the people sitting on the dais. I wasn't just standing up and telling jokes. I was doing the impressions of those involved in the roastee's life."

Little breaks into Stewart when he recalled telling the Oscar-winning legend, who spoke in a slow, halting pace, that one day he would love to do a one-man show on him. "He said, 'Rich, it would be boring. You know there is no controversy. I've lived a simple life. Why would you do a show on me?' I said, 'Because people are fascinated with you, and your career is incredible.' He said, 'First of all, if you did a show on me, oh, my God, it would be seven hours long and that would just be the opening statement!'"


Sunday, September 11, 2011


He was the actor who played JFK. He won an Academy Award for playing a mentally disabled man in the poignant film Charly. He blew the whistle on Hollywood malfeasance and was blacklisted for years as a result. He married well, once to the daughter of one of the world's richest women.

Cliff Robertson, who was 88 when he died Saturday at his Stony Brook, N.Y., home of natural causes, had not been a force in the film industry for years, and had not been in the top ranks of leading men even at his prime. But he made a difference nonetheless. He was Hollywood handsome, which helped in his portrayal of the dashing President John F. Kennedy in the 1963 film, PT 109, depicting the former Navy officer's WWII heroics. It was the first film to portray a sitting president. But Robertson won the Oscar in 1968 playing the antithesis of dashing: He was Charly, a retarded man (as they then called it) who becomes a genius after an experimental operation. Robertson knew well it was the role of a lifetime; he played it on TV as well as the film.

Robertson was a popular and busy actor, especially on Broadway and on television; he won an Emmy and theater awards in addition to his Oscar. He played The Big Kahuna in Gidget in 1959; most recently, he played kindly Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movies.

But in 1977, he called the cops on a Hollywood studio boss. The president of Columbia Pictures, David Begelman, had forged Robertson's signature on a $10,000 salary check, he told the FBI and the Beverly Hills police. The resulting scandal was bad for Hollywood, and the insiders let him know it. He said he couldn't get hired for four years. "I got phone calls from powerful people who said, 'You've been very fortunate in this business; I'm sure you wouldn't want all this to come to an end,'" Robertson recalled in 1984. (Begelman served time for embezzlement, returned to the film business, and killed himself in 1995.)

Born Sept. 9, 1923, in Los Angeles to a wealthy couple, the heir to a ranching fortune, he grew up in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego in the care of his grandmother.

Later, his second wife would be actress Dina Merrill, daughter of financier E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the massive Post cereal fortune. Their daughter, Heather, died from cancer in 2007; the couple divorced in 1986. Robertson's first wife was actress Cynthia Stone, the ex-wife of actor Jack Lemmon.

Their daughter, Stephanie Saunders, survives."He stood by his family, friends and colleagues through good times and bad," Saunders said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. "He made a difference in all our lives and made our world a better place. We will all miss him terribly"...

Friday, September 9, 2011


20th Century Fox recently announced that its film adaptation of the classic horror novel Frankenstein is moving forward to the pre-production phase, and will be fast-tracked for production with the newly brought on director Shawn Levy (who just finished up directing Real Steel).

The rush is obviously linked to the fact that their are three other studios with Frankenstein adaptations in the works, and the biggest returns will likely go to the film which is finished first.

In the original novel, Victor Frankenstein is a Doctor of Chemistry, and in his attempts to understand the nature of human life, he creates an artificial man out of the remains of dead men.

No real details are given as to how his technology worked, as they are described only as "the machines of life." Unlike in the later film adaptations, a bolt of lightning is not part of the experiment. It all seems to involve alchemy and surgery.

His experiment is successful, but the creature he animated is abysmally ugly, looking much worse than the Boris Karloff costume.

The story then mostly follows the creature, whose challenge is to survive in a world which turns him away because of his looks. Upon learning of his origin, he vows to deliver pain into Victor’s life. Hatred, pain, and a desire for revenge against his creator consume him. He frames Victor’s maid for murder, seeing her executed, and Victor flees the village in grief and despair.

When the monster finally finds him, he begs for the doctor to create a companion for him, but when Victor fails to do so, the creature murders Victor’s best friend and his fiancé in revenge. Victor and the creature die together in the frozen north.

Max Landis wrote the screenplay for the Fox adaptation, which is a sci-fi interpretation of the classic tale, taking place in future New Orleans. There is no title yet, nor have any actors been cast, but it is still the one most likely now to be finished first.

The closest competitor is Slasher Films with their recently announced Wake the Dead, based on the Steven Niles graphic novels about a pair of med students - one named Victor Franklin - who attempt to bring the dead to life. Haley Joel Osment is set to star in this one - his first starring role since the 2003 family film Secondhand Lions - with Director Jay Russell.

Ghost House Pictures is also working on The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, which is based on the novel of the same name.

Finally, Colombia Pictures is also working on an adaptation with producer Matthew Tolmach, but we have no other details at this time.

None of these four films have release dates set yet, but I would expect the first of them to appear in the blockbuster summer season of 2013, and the rest to show up a few months later.

There is no comparing the original 1931 Frankenstein to these supposed remakes. Boris Karloff's monster was one of defining moments in early horror movies. Surprisingly, Robert DeNiro's take on the monster in 1994 was very good, and it was more faithful than any of the movies to the original novel. We'll just have to see if these new Frankenstein versions have any scare in them...