Who Makes Me Laugh?

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WHO MAKES ME LAUGH?

The TCM Film Festival 2017 Red Carpet

Working the TCM Film Festival Red Carpet on April 6, 2017, afforded me the opportunity to ask celebrities, writers, actors, producers and TCM staff a question that follows the theme of the festival, Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies. I wanted to know who makes them laugh. Here’s what they said:

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TCM’s Kellie O’Neal: “Charlie Chaplan!”

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The Czar of Noir, the CEO of The Film Noir Foundation, and host of TCM’s Noir Alley on Sunday mornings, Eddie Muller: “My wife! That’s why I married her.”

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Diane Baker greets Martin Landau during the Red Carpet Rush on Thursday, April 6. Landau participated in a special interview during the festival.

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Actress and Educator Diane Baker, a close friend of the late TCM Host Robert Osborne: “The Golden Girls because it’s timeless, Betty White and her deadpan delivery, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Judy Dench in As Time Goes By.

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Actor Chris Tucker and the legendary Quincy Jones visit with credentialed media on the Red Carpet. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images for TCM)

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Martha Rogers pointed to the man standing to her left.

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“My husband, Dick Cavett, makes me laugh. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and says something hysterically funny!”

(Photo by Getty News for TCM)

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TCM’s Mark Wynns, who made the final film introduction on Sunday evening for Lady in the Dark at the Egyptian: “My three-year-old son!”

 

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Stathis Giallelis, who attended a screening of Elia Kazan’s America, America!: 

“Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, and my family!”

(Photo by Getty News for TCM)

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TCM Producer Anne Wilson: “The people I work with!”


Sara Karloff: “Mel Brooks!”

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Keir Dullea: “Danny Kaye! He was hysterical.” Dullea attended a screening of David and Lisa. (Photo courtersy of Michelle Conte)

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TCM’s Charlie Tabesh: “Elaine May. I tried to get her to come to the festival. Mel Brooks, Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker…”

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Director Sean Cameron: “Steve Martin!”

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Cameron was the emcee for the evening and introduced special guests to the fan gallery.

Wyatt McCrea: “My uncle, Jody McCrea! He could make my grandfather (legendary actor Joel McCrea) fall on the floor laughing!” McCrea attended a screening of The Palm Beach Story.

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Actors Rusty Goffe, Julie Dawn Cole, and Paris Themmen attend the 50th anniversary screening of In the Heat of the Night and were in attendance for the poolside screening of Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.

Goffe:  “Mel Brooks!”

Cole: : “Mel Brooks!

Themmen: “Christopher Guest”

(Photo courstesy of Getty Images for TCM)

 

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TCM’s Pola Changnon: “My husband, Dustin Hoffman, and Jack Lemmon!”

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TCM’s host of Trailblazing Women, Illeana Douglas: “Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, and Albert Brooks, who is truly a genius!”

 

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Beau Bridges greets Lee Grant on the Red Carpet…

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images for TCM)

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Historian, writer and popular #TCMFF presenter Cari Beauchamp (with son Jake): “Sue Lloyd!” Beauchamp introduced 5 films, two of which were added as TBAs. Beauchamp wrote Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood and My First Time in Hollywood.

 

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TCM’s General Manager Jennifer Dorian, here greeting a fan: “My girlfriends!”

Actress, Thalians officer and friend of Debbie Reynolds, Ruta Lee chats and giggles during her interview on The Red Carpet. Lee once claimed Reynolds was one of the funniest ladies she’d ever met, and was in attendance at a screening of Singin’ In The Rain with Todd Fisher.

 

Historian, author, and host of Treasures From the Disney Vault on TCM, Leonard Maltin:

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“My wife and I have made each other laugh for 42 years! ”

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images for TCM)

Todd Fisher, sister of Carrie Fisher, and son of legendary triple-threat Debbie Reynolds was happy to talk to credentialed media on the #TCMFF Red Carpet. When told this reporter was a native Texan, Fisher replied “You know, my mother was from Texas, and she enjoyed acknowledging it. My mother was very funny. But I have to say that the funniest person I ever knew was my sister, Carrie.”

Fisher appeared at the TCM Film Festival for screenings of “Singin’In The Rain”and “Postcards From The Edge,” and participated in memorializing his mother and sister. During the pre-interview for the screening of “Postcards From The Edge” with Richard Dreyfuss, Dreyfuss broke down in tears, was unable to speak for a few moments, and admitted it was the first time he had “broken down”since Carrie Fisher’s death, even though he had been close to her.

The TCM Film Festival 2017 was dedicated to the memory of TCM Host Robert Osborne.

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Memorials for Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds were also part of the festival events.

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Australian Classic Film Superfan John Sambuco Visits TCM Studios in Atlanta!

Australian classic film superfan John Sambuco spent the day of September 27 as a special international guest in the TCM Studios in Atlanta. Sambuco had been on an extended visit to the U.S.A. during the month of September, and when TCM staff heard he would be in Atlanta, he was invited to spend the day touring the studios with TCM staffers.

When did you first find out that you would be able to visit the TCM Studios?

About a week before I arrived in Atlanta. At the time I was visiting Washington, D.C.

Was the studio anything like you expected?
The studio was a lot bigger than I expected it to be. It was so exciting so to see so many people in one place, who are so passionate about classic film. Everyone had classic film posters and books around their desk. I found it to be such an inspiring working environment.

Did you get to have lunch with the staff?



Yes, I had lunch in the canteen with some of the staff members. During lunch, I tried sweet potato pie for the first time. This is something which isn’t commonly found in Australia.


John Sambuco outside Turner Studios in late September

Who met you and greeted you for the tour?
Two wonderful members of the social media team, Noralil Fores & Marya Gates. They both took me on an insightful tour of the office and studio.

Turner Studios, Atlanta….

Did you have a chance to meet TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz?
Ben was in the studio filming some introductions for the up-coming Christopher Lee star of the month. During a short break on the set, Ben introduced himself to me.

Did you meet the director?
Yes, briefly. The director was very kind allowing me to watch the filming shoot.

What are some of your favorite classic films? Genres?
My favorite genres are MGM musicals, film noir, and screwball comedies. I have so many favorite classic films. I’ll list a few which are:

Meet Me In St. Louis(1944) – One of very few films which I would describe as “flawless”. Everything is perfect. The pacing, the direction, the cast. Margaret O’Brien literally steals every scene she is in.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – the film which I think I’ve seen the most. As a child, I literally watched this a few times each week. Almost 80 years later, adults and children are still enjoying this brilliant film. This film truly exemplifies the word “Timeless.”
Gone With The Wind (1939) – Possibly the greatest example of storytelling on film. I’ve seen this film more than 30 times, and continue to be entertained with each viewing. Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel & Olivia de Havilland were all perfectly cast. On my visit to Atlanta, I also visited the Margaret Mitchell House, where Margaret Mitchell wrote most of the novel. Inside there are exhibits about the making of the movie as well as the film’s  premiere in Atlanta.
Kiss Me, Kate (1953) – In my opinion, this is the most underrated MGM musical. The film introduced me to the magic of Ann Miller, who soon became (and still is) my favourite classic movie star. Ann Miller literally steals the film from the rest of the cast. The Cole Porter songs are all wonderful. “Too Darn Hot” is my favourite musical number from a movie musical. I was fortunate enough to see the film in 3D a few months ago at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Melbourne, Australia. It was a completely different experience to the standard 2D version. If you ever have the opportunity to see this in 3D at a theatre, I cannot recommend it enough.

I know that TCM in Australia has very different programming from its counterpart in the U.S.A. What would you like the American audience to know about TCM?

The American TCM audience is so fortunate to have such a wonderful network showing such a broad spectrum of classic films, with very exciting themed programming. I wish I had the ability to access the American TCM channel from Australia.

If you could introduce a film, what would you choose and why?

The Lady Vanishes (1938) –
Alfred Hitchcock is my favourite director, and this is my favourite Alfred Hitchcock film.

Although it was filmed very early in Hitchcock’s career, I love the way Hitchcock seamlessly integrates suspense, comedy, mystery, action and romance. All would become critical elements in his later work.

Whilst I know what is going to happen next, I find I always experience the same level of suspense and tension as I did the first time I saw the film. It’s the perfect film for the repeat film viewer.

Why did you became so interested in classic films?
I first discovered classic film when I was 14 years old during the late 1990s. The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) was the first classic film (aside from The Wizard Of Oz (1939) I had watched. It was 1998. I was 14 years old, and home unwell from school. This was being shown on TCM in Australia. I was bored, and there wasn’t much else on, so I gave it a shot. After seeing this, I became hooked on not only Bette Davis, but classic films in general. My other favourite Bette Davis films include, Now, Voyager (1942), The Letter (1940), Jezebel (1938), All About Eve (1950) & What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1961).

For me, classic films had a magical element which I felt was lacking in contemporary films. Classic film stars were naturally glamorous, and they knew how to act. For the first time ever, watching a film became more than just entertainment. For me, it was an experience. The fusion of music, lighting and the performances in these films gave me goosebumps, which always left me wanting more.

Do you have any theatres in your city which screen classic films?

Yes, in Melbourne, Australia (where I live), there are two theatres which regularly screen classic film:

ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) – ACMI is a film museum and theatre complex, which celebrates the moving image and brings many wonderful film exhibits to the city. Earlier in the year, ACMI displayed a retrospective of costumes by Orry-Kelly, and also hosted a Scorsese exhibition, which I heard will be coming to the Museum of Moving Image in New York next year.

The Astor Theatre – The Astor Theatre is a historic art-deco theatre from the 1930s, which still regularly shows classic films as part of its repertory programming. The Astor is my favourite place to watch movies, and over the years it’s given me the opportunity to see many of my favourite films on the big screen.

 

Do you enjoy classic Italian cinema?

I am Italian-Australian, so I have also have a big interest in classic Italian cinema. My favourite Italian film is Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973). I love the way he has accurately captured all of the characters from a typical Italian village, and respectfully presented them in a comedic form. The score by Nino Rota is one of my favourite film scores. I have shown the film to my grandparents who immigrated from Italy, and they indicated it is a very accurate portrayal of life in an Italian village during the 1940s.

Some of my other favourite Italian films include Il Decameron (1971), Rocco And His Brothers (1960), La Dolce Vita (1960), Pane, Amore e Fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams) (1953) and Tenebrae (1982).

A Cinecittá studios photo of John Sambuco from Rome, Italy. The sculpture in the background is a prop from the opening sequence of Fellini’s Casanova

On a recent trip to Rome, I was lucky enough to visit the classic Cinecittà film studios, which was very interesting. They have exhibits on the history of the Italian film industry, as well as a room dedicated to Fellini. Benito Mussolini originally built Cinecittà as a means to communicate fascist propaganda to the Italians, many of whom were illiterate during the 1930s. Popularity with the medium of film led to the growth of the industry, and the eventual development of the neorealist movement.
John visited the Margaret Mitchell House…

Zoo Atlanta…


The Aquarium…..

Centennial Park…
And many more sites of interest.
All photos provided by Australaian Superfan,  John Sambuco.

Thanks, John!

THE QUIET MAN KISSES

A first kiss is always memorable. It always intimates something more, of a moment of passion that has yet to be realized. But there is always a hint and a spark the first moment that lovers meet.

 

The tints and shades of the vibrant images in The Quiet Man also promise deep passion, and the ethereal blues and fleshly reds of Mary Kate Danaher’s shepherdess ensemble evoke images of Madonnas reposing in cathedrals and churches, but Mary Kate evokes the promise of the flesh with the dedication of fealty to her heritage, her church, and her own convictions. When Sean Thornton is stricken by the vision of Mary Kate in the meadow tending to the sheep, her gaze promises that her “Walls of Jericho” eventually will crumble in dedication and in response equal to the flood of Sean Thornton’s emotions.

The first kiss: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MkQyRE0byBI

Sean is searching in the dark, confused and unsure of his feelings. He knows something has changed in the cottage. He realizes something is different. The undulating rhythm of the wind ignites passion like the fire burning in the center of the frame at the beginning of the scene, like the fire burning in the hearts of the lovers. They both  recognize the passion.  It initiates, approaches, retreats, and finally resolves into the physical manifestation of Mary Kate’s slap, revealing how she still struggles with the strength of her desires for Sean Thornton.

In The Quiet Man, the first kiss between Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton, does just that. It reveals a tempestuousness, a desire, and an incomparable yet incomplete passion, and  viewers recognize that unrequited passion, either from their own lives, or in the lives of others. The yearning and desire from the first kiss in The Quiet Man between Mary Kate and Sean reveals expectation, but once the initial kiss is rebuffed by Mary Kate’s slap, viewers are strapped in for the desperate buggy ride to the final moment of  The Quiet Man‘s fully-realized passion later in the film.

 

In the cemetery, Mary Kate and Sean both reveal they don’t want to wait for the “walking out together” or the “thrashing parties.” Their first embrace, however, elicits a bolt of lightening and a clap of thunder, and Mary Kate immediately makes the sign of the cross over her heart, revealing her fear that her love for a man has superseded the desires of her loyalty to her God and her church. She seeks a divine protection from the unbridled passion in her soul.

Mary Kate then looks at Sean with a fear in her eyes, and retreats to the safety of the arch of a long-disintegrated church or chapel, bringing Sean into her imagined comfort zone.  Sean follows her, and they release the desire they have felt since Sean first saw the vision of the shepherdess in the verdant meadow. Mary Kate doesn’t retreat from Sean’s attentions anymore.

The second kiss: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hHWdzUvXecQ

Surrounded by a storm and weathering the drops of rain anointing their love, they commit to each other’s desires and passions under the arch that represents an accepting embrace of their fleshly plea for each other.

Maureen O’Hara, in her 2004 autobiography with John Nicoletti, ‘Tis Herself, revealed her explanation for the lasting nature of the popularity of those scenes: “Why is the scene so erotic? Why were Duke and I so electric in our love scenes together? I was the only leading lady big enough and tough enough for John Wayne. Duke’s presence was so strong that when audiences saw him finally meet a woman of equal hell and fire, it was exciting and thrilling” and during “those moments  of tenderness, when the lovemaking was about to begin, audiences saw  for a half-second that he had finally tamed me–but only for that half-second.”

 

In light of the Pope’s visit to this hemisphere this week, it is fitting that such a film be discussed on such a historic day and in conjunction with St. Valentine’s Day. The struggles allowed to voice themselves in John Ford’s The Quiet Man reveal how closely, in some respects, the film adheres to Catholic precepts of proper behavior in the 1950s. Mary Kate Danaher exemplifies chastity before marriage, acquiescing to her religious beliefs, but the worldly Sean Thornton brings all the disregard of tradition expected of a worldly-wise pugilist. His resolve to win the heart of the woman he loves forces him to reevaluate his attitude toward local Irish traditions, Catholic religious beliefs, and the village that raises his inner child, as well as the woman who ignites his soul.

Do real life experiences ever approach the passion in this film? They obviously do, or at least viewers of this film hope they do. To find such a passion, experience it, and accept it is what makes our existence thrive and resonate with our own desires.

Here’s hoping all visitors to the Kissathon have such a kiss in your future!

Read more about what people have said about The Quiet Man…

Link to article and official trailer for “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary:

http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/new-quiet-man-documentary-reveals-stormy-relationship-between-maureen-ohara-and-john-ford-154426385-237506091.html

Leonard Maltin discusses the “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary: http://blogs.indiewire.com/leonardmaltin/re-examining-john-wayne-and-the-quiet-man-20150309

Malachy McCourt and his disdain for The Quiet Man: http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/Quiet-Man-an-idiotic-stupid-anti-Irish-film-Malachy-McCourt.html

Aurora roars about The Quiet Man: http://aurorasginjoint.com/2012/07/31/the-quiet-man/

The official TCM comments: http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24069/The-Quiet-Man/articles.html

I would be remiss in my duties to fans of Miss O’Hara if I did not reiterate Miss O’Hara’s urging to audiences at the TCM Film Festival in 2014 that her religious beliefs played a very important part in her life and the decisions she made during her introduction to How Green Was My Valley with Robert Osborne.

“It is wonderful to be the age I am, and still have God unable to put up with me”: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e3IhZu6Fb6w

Scorsese on the smooch: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/scorsese-quiet-man-kiss-is-one-of-cinemas-best-217816.html

 

This post was created in conjunction with Second Sight Cinema for “A Kiss is Just a Kiss Blogathon” here: http://secondsightcinema.com/happy-valentines-day-weekend-weldome-to-the-you-must-remember-this-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-blogathon/

Check out all the fabulous blog posts about kisses! http://secondsightcinema.com/happy-valentines-day-weekend-weldome-to-the-you-must-remember-this-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-blogathon/

Robert Mitchum, The First Noir Cowboy….

Robert Mitchum’s Summer Under The Stars Celebration–The One and Only Noir Cowboy

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Blood on the Moon
Where a woman’s bullet kills as quick as a man’s!
When there’s blood on the moon, death lurks in the shadows
….

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Tomorrow, Robert Mitchum is honored with a Summer Under The Stars Celebration, and in light of the Summer of Darkness highlighting film noir and the popular online film noir course taught by Professor Richard Edwards of Ball State University, I am happy that TCM is airing 1948’s Blood on the Moon.

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Shot outside of Sedona, Arizona, and directed by Robert Wise (1914-2005), a director most well-known for his nurturing of the Von Trapp Family Singers in The Sound of Music in 1965, Blood on the Moon would be part of the Western genre that Wise was completely unfamiliar with in his directorial career. Based on Luke Short’s 1941 novel, Gunman’s Chance, Blood on the Moon tested Wise’s unfamiliarity with the Western genre, and his lack of passion for it, but it may have proven an asset to the film’s success. Since this was Wise’s first A-budget film, he was obviously concerned that all would go well, and the weather proved to create some problems in Sedona, but Wise claimed that “we tracked the weather like we were at NASA at a rocket launching” receiving three different weather reports each day, and the crew would often follow the good weather through the valley. Wise’s dedication would pay off.

According to author David Meuel in The Noir Western: Darkness on the Range, 1943-1962, “While Wise was respectful of the genre’s traditions and conventions, he wasn’t married to them. He felt obliged to be true to the spirit of the western, but he also felt free enough to infuse this film with some of the elements of the norror and noir films he had recently done for RDO and which the studio (later nicknamed the “House of Noir) specialized in.”

A minor Out of the Past regrouping would see Mitchum and cinematographer Nicholas Musaraca using their creativity to infuse the Western with Robert Wise’s “craftsman’s soul,” according to Mitchum biographer Lee Server. “Synthesizing techniques he had gleaned from his two creative mentors, Val Lewton and Orson Welles, Wise set out to make Blood on the Moon a studied, uniquely atmospheric Western.”

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Meuel credits some of Blood on the Moon‘s success to “Robert Mitchum, an actor whose ability fo convey emotional complexity ad moral ambiguity made hin a noir icon and whose work her is as intriguing as his work in any of his oir crime films.”

The character of Jim Garry was just one more of Mitchum’s “outsider roles” by Server’s accounts, and “a solitary gunfighter-for-hire with a conscience, a script’s mysterious stranger about to be made even more msterious by the actor’s enigmatic style.” The other cast members rounded up for the location shoot included “architect Norman Bel Geddes’ refined young daughter, Barbara” (eventually ‘Miss Ellie’ on the primetime saga, Dallas), who had been “recently signed to a long-term contract; Robert Preston, playing his patented role of the corrupt best friend,” and “Walter Brennan as a grizzled homesteader.”

The film’s costumer, selected by Wise, was Joe De Young, a man who worked for Howard Hawks in Red River, and was a “specialist in Western attire.” According to Server, “De Young came up with the authentic but idiosyncratic, sometimes bizarre outfits (bearskin and gaudy plaid cots, derby hats) that would give the film another of its distinctive qualities.”
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When Mitchum strolled and strutted on the set ” in beard, greasy hair, high-domed Steson, and chaps” appeared to be “anything but the conventional well-groomed, respectable Western hero.” Server’s biography revealed that director Wise claimed “the first scene we shot after Mitch got outfitted was in the barroom. Walter Brennan was sitting at a table with a couple of pals, and Brennand was very intrested in the Old West, it was a hobby of his. And I’ll never forget when Bob came on the set, just standing there, wth the costume and the whle attitude that he gave to it, and Brennan got a look at him and was terribly impressed. He pointed at Mitchum and said, ‘That is the goddamndest realest cowboy I’ve ever seen!”

Meuel claims that the term “the noir western” is very “oxymoronic. On one hand, we have the bright, expansive, colorful landscapes; upright heroes; and nation-building exuberance we associate with most film westerns. On the other, we have the dark, claustrophobic, black-and-white (mostly black) cityscapes; flawed, compromised heroes; and bitter disillusionment of the classic noir crime dramas of the 1940s and 1950s.” It may be called a “sub-genre” but it also might be a “budding film form” in its own right. But Meuel also reveals that “the ‘Wild West’ of the movies was a darker, moodier, more complicated place” after World War II.

Nicholas Chennault’s synopsis, sums up the action concerning Blood on the Moon:

“Jim Garry (Robert Mitchum) is drifting from Texas, when he’s invited by old friend Tate Riling (Robert Preston, in his sleazy friend mode) to join him in a get-rich-quick scheme with corrupt Indian agent Jake Pindalest (Frank Faylen).

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John Lufton (Tom Tully) is the local cattle baron, who has long provided beef for the reservation while grazing his herds on reservation land. Pindalest, on Riling’s urging, has given Lufton notice that he’ll no longer be buying Lufton’s beef, and Lufton has to find new grazing land. He’s trying to move his cattle back to the basin where he used to graze, but now there are homesteaders there to resist, led by Riling. Kris Barden (Walter Brennan), who used to work for Lufton, is prominent among them.

Lufton has two daughters, one of whom, Carol (Phyllis Thaxter), is romantically interested in Riling and the other, Amy (Barbara Bel Geddes), takes a few shots at Garry. After being fully informed of the set-up and participating in stampeding Lufton’s herd, Garry decides the scheme isn’t for him and saves Lufton from two of Riling’s gunmen. He’s hurt in a fight with Riling but gets Pindalest to tell the army to back off on the deadline for removing Lufton’s herd.

SPOILER ALERT

Riling, Pindalest and a couple of gunmen come after Garry, who’s wounded and holed up at Barden’s place. Amy Lufton shows up to give medical care and to help fight off the bad guys. (You can tell Riling’s sleazy because of the loud, plaid jacket he wears.) In the end Garry kills one of the gunmen, shoots it out with Riling, and gets Amy.”

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The fistfights were real. Server revealed that director Wise wanted both Mitchum and Preston to do their own stunts and the principal actors both agreed. They had both become fast friends on the set and spent a lot of time “getting under the skin of the girls, played by Bel Geddes and Phyllis Thaxter.

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“I wanted this to look like a real fight,” Wise said. He wanted it to have that “awkward, brutal look of a real fight, and when it was done for the winner to look as exhausted as the loser. And Mitch was excited about this. He knew exactly what I was going for. I think he probably knew more than I did about barroom fights like this one.” So the actors crashed around on the set for three days to orchestrate the film’s most realistic sequence. ” As for his work with Mitchum, Wise added that “Bob was just fine to work with” and that “he liked this part and he contributed a number of ideas… He never wanted to do too much. Just enough and then hold back a little, leave something a little unspecified. He was very bright, very facile, quick with language. But he likes to give the impression that he somehow wasn’t articulate.”
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If you want to enjoy Mitchum as one of the first noir cowboys directed by the genius of Robert Wise and photographed by the talented Nicholas Musaraca, your opportunity starts Wednesday at 12:30 central on TCM.

This post was created as part of the Summer Under The Stars Blogathon sponsored by Kristen Lopez and Journeys in Classic Film.

Resources:

David Meuel, The Noir Western: Darkness on the Range, 1943-1962, McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2015.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Noir-Western-Darkness-1943-1962/dp/0786494522

Lee Server, Robert Mitchum, “Baby, I Don’t Care.” St. Martin’s Press, New York. 2001.
http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Mitchum-Baby-Dont-Care/dp/0312285434  

Nicholas Chennault, http://thegreatwesternmovies.com/2014/01/18/blood-moon/

THE STORY OF G. I. JOE

This is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon hosted by Kellee (@IrishJayHawk66) of Outspoken and Freckled, Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon a Screen, and myself, @Paula_Guthat of this blog, are back our Third Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Update: Scroll on down to the end of the post to see the list of 2015 participants so far.

This is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon hosted by Aurora at Once Upon a Screen, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club.

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The Story of G. I. Joe is a movie heralded by General Dwight D. Eisenhower as “the finest war film” he had ever seen, and it is indeed heartwarming that The Story of G.I. Joe is screened during the annual 31 Days of Oscar on TCM because it is one of those films that is not necessarily a blockbuster, but it based on historical moments written about and recalled by Ernie Pyle. It is one of those films that tied together the horrors of war, such as they could be revealed in the 50s, to the forefront of American sensibilities in the dark security of the neighborhood cinema. Men who had just returned from WWII wanted a film they could connect with, a film they could pin all their memories on, and The Story of G.I. Joe gave them one of those social events to connect with their pasts in the hedgerows, on the battlefield, on the PT Boats and in their hearts. In the fifties, going to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night was a celebration of the end to the work week, and many folks would go out to dinner, and then to a movie.

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In 1944, Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote to his wife Geraldine Seibolds Pyle and told her: “Of course I am very sick of the war and would like to leave it and yet I know I can’t. I’ve been part of the misery and tragedy of it for so long that I’ve come to feel a responsibility to it or something. I don’t know quite how to put it into words, but I feel if I left it would be like a soldier deserting.”
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In the homey style of a personal letter to a friend, Ernest Taylor Pyle wrote articles about off the beaten track and remote places across America and the people who lived there. In 1940, he went to London in time to witness the great fire bombing at the end of December. When America entered World War II, he became a war correspondent for Scripps-Howard newspapers. He accompanied Allied troops on the invasions of Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France, using his homey reporting style to tell the story of the beaches and foxholes of World War II. Ernie Pyle humanized the most complex, mechanized, destructive war in history and told the stories of the men and women who fought it with empathy, humor, and sensitivity.

One of Ernie Pyle’s most widely read and reprinted columns, “The Death of Captain Waskow,” appeared when the Allied forces were bogged down at the Anzio beachhead in Italy in January 1944. Ernie wrote about the death of Captain Henry Waskow of Belton, Texas, an exceptionally popular leader in January 10, 1944. His men brought his body down from a mountainside by mule and placed it next to four others, but the soldiers didn’t want to leave Captain Waskow.

“The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave … one soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, ‘God damn it.’ That’s all he said and then he walked away …

“Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer and bent over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper but awfully tenderly, and he said: ‘I sure am sorry, sir.’

“Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand in his own, he sat there for a full five minutes … looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. “And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain’s shirt collar and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of the uniform around the wound and then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.”
—Excerpted from the blog “History Because It’s There” by Kathy Warnes.

Actor Burgess Meredith looks over the script with Ernie Pyle....

Actor Burgess Meredith looks over the script with Ernie Pyle….


The story about “The Death of Captain Waskow,” however, almost couldn’t find the director it actually needed to help bring the poignant Pyle moments to the screen. Director William A. “Wild Billl” Wellman just happened to be a fighter pilot in WWI and had a deep-seated hatred of the infantry. His rigid aversion to directing a film about the infantry in WWII forced producer Lester Cowan to finagle and cajole him with Christmas presents for his children, invitations, and other tricks of a producer’s trade, but it was meeting Ernie Pyle himself at his home in Albuquerque and spending several days with him that actually convinced Wellman to saddle himself with the directorial duties.

The Story of GI Joe begins as Pyle joins C Company, 18th Infantry in North Africa, and the correspondent becomes close to the men and often writes about their exploits in his columns and would mention soldiers by name, which was much appreciated by both the soldiers and the soldier’s families back home. Pyle often followed and wrote about other units, but meets up again with C Company in Italy. Using actual American GIs in the film also added to the realism of the action.
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After the film, the American veterans of the North African and Italian campaigns were transferred from the European Theatre to the Pacific, and many of them were killed in the fighting on Okinawa, the exact same battle in which Ernie Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner. Pyle, hired as a consultant on The Story of GI Joe, and the transferred GIs never saw the film in which they had appeared. Pyle was one of the 36 American war correspondents killed in World War II.

Pvt. Archie Connell is one of the many real GI's in Ernie Pyle's "Story of G.I. Joe."

Pvt. Archie Connell is one of the many real GI’s in Ernie Pyle’s “Story of G.I. Joe.”

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Burgess Meredith, a protegee of playwright Maxwell Anderson (Anne of the Thousand Days) who hand-picked Meredith to star in Winterset, Meredith’s first screen role, stars as Ernie Pyle, and brings his war-weary eyes and quiet observance to the front as he slogs along and writes and feels what the men feel that he’s writing about.
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Meredith’s performance in this film resonates in his eyes. Watch them react, watch them disbelieve the painful realities, and watch them empathize with the men he has chosen as the subject of his craft.

When William Wellman dragged Robert Mitchum onto the screen from obscurity in Westerns like “Hoppy Serves a Writ,” he also gave us an actor to be reckoned with. Mitchum, as the man in charge of C Company, has already absorbed the painful moments of seeing men wounded in action or die while trying to advance to a new position closer to the enemy. His cynical nature is never uncaring, but always realistic. His death in the movie is the story of Captain Waskow.
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Mitchum’s screen roles would flirt off and on with World War II scenarios, like John Huston’s Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in 1957, until the lalte 80’s when he apppeared as Victor ‘Pug’ Henry in The Winds of War and War and Rememberance.
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But Mitchum never again would be nominated for Best Supporting Actor or Best Actor at the Academy. The Story of G.I. Joe was nominnated for three other Oscars: Ann Ronnell for Best Song, “Linda”; Leopold Atlas, Guy Endore, and Phillip Stevenson for Best Screenplay, and Ann Ronnell and Louis Applebaum for Best Music for a Drama or Comedy.
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To listen to the Oscar-nominated song, “Linda,” here’s a link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6dJF7royh8c

Note: Wally Cassell, who played PVT. Dondaro in The Story of GI Joe is 99, and is considered the second oldest actor alive from the era of Classic Hollywood at the time of publication.

Bill Wellman, Jr., at the TCM Film Festival 2012...

Bill Wellman, Jr., at the TCM Film Festival 2012…


(The theme of the Turner Classic Film Festival 2015 is “History According to the Movies” and The Story of GI Joe would be an excellent choice for a screening this year, expecially with an introduction by Bill Wellman, Jr.)

BOOKS

(Also excerpted from Kathy Warne’s excellent references collected in her article about Ernie Pyle on the “History Because It’s There” website: http://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/ernie-pyle-homespun-journalist.html )

Boomhower, Ray E. The soldier’s Friend: A Life of Ernie Pyle, Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006.

Miller, Lee Graham. The Story of Ernie Pyle. Greenwood Press, 1970. Nichols, David. Ernie’s War: The Best of Ernie Pyle’s World War II Disptaches. Simon & Schuster, First Touchstone Edition, 1987.

Tobin, James. Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness to World War II. Modern War Studies. University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Pyle, Ernie. Brave Men. Bison Books, 2001.

LINKS:

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon:

Once Upon A Screen: http://aurorasginjoint.com/2015/01/05/31-days-of-oscar-blogathon-2015/

Outspoken and Freckled:http://kelleepratt.com

Paula’s Cinema Club:http://paulascinemaclub.com/2015/01/05/call-for-posts-31-days-of-oscar-2015/

History Because It’s There, a blog by Kathy Warnes: http://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/ernie-pyle-homespun-journalist.html

A History of G.I. Joe–the doll created by Hasbro: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1915120,00.html

Robert Mitchum at the premiere screening of "Mister Moses" in Houston, Texas, at the Meyerland Cinema in 1965. (From a private archive)

Robert Mitchum at the premiere screening of “Mister Moses” in Houston, Texas, at the Meyerland Cinema in 1965. (From a private archive)

Maureen O’Hara and John Ford’s Way With Women

Maureen O'Hara at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 in April....

Maureen O’Hara at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 in April….


Maureen O’Hara, 93, and still as feisty as ever, travelled from Idaho this year where she lives with her grandson and his family to attend the TCMFF 2014, introduce How Green Was My Valley with Robert Osborne, and have a short interview with Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
This image must be one of Maureen O'Hara's favorites as she chose it for the cove of her 2004 autobiography...

This image must be one of Maureen O’Hara’s favorites as she chose it for the cover of her 2004 autobiography…

Even though her career spans 62 years, Robert Osborne writes in this month’s Now Playing Guide for TCM that she has been filmed in Technicolor more than any other actress (34 times) and “she has lost none of her Irish spunk.” During her interview with Osborne prior to the screening of How Green Was My Valley at the Turner Classic Film Festival in 2014, Osborne asked her how it was working with director John Ford, and she proclaimed, “I thought we were here to talk about me!” She began her film career under contract to Charles Laughton and his production partner with the film Jamaica Inn, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

As Esmeralda in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" with Charles Laughton...

As Esmeralda in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with Charles Laughton…


Her conversation with Osborne also revealed her devotion to Laughton for nurturing her career (she would appear as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Laughton as part of her contract with him.) “What more can someone do for you,” she proudly stated, “than start you off in life.”
Fans crowd around O'Hara and TCM Host Robert Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in April for her interview during the TCM Film Festival...

Fans crowd around O’Hara and TCM Host Robert Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in April for her interview during the TCM Film Festival…

David Meuel’s new book, Women in the Films of John Ford, reveals how O’Hara’s development as an actress under the guidance of Ford paralleled some of the patterns of achievement that other actresses experienced under his astute on-set dictatorship. Mildred Natwick’s short, but pivotal scene in 3 Godfathers reveals how Ford could wield one shining moment into the fabric of the next half of a film.

Mildred Natwick and John Wayne in "3 Godfathers"

Mildred Natwick and John Wayne in “3 Godfathers”


As Natwick’s character lay dying after the birth of her son, she asks the three men gathered round her, “Will you save my baby?”
Honoring the request from the mother...

Honoring the request from the mother…


Then her final statement resonates throughout the rest of the film,” You tell him about his mother who so wanted to live…for him,” and her comments underscore all the ensuing motivations of the three godfathers.
Forming a plan...

Forming a plan…


Natwick’s comments in Meuel’s book reveal that “I’ve never forgotten that Ford seemed pleased with the scene and pleased that I’d done it.” She sensed from Ford how to play the role because ” you get things by osmosis from a wonderful director.”

Jane Darwell’s performance in The Grapes of Wrath also reveals how Ford inspired Darwell, already a well-known and well-respected performer, to greater acclaim.

Ma Joad facing yet another hardship...

Ma Joad facing yet another hardship…


Darwell’s career as a Hollywood character actress followed her many years as a devoted stage actress, but her most well-known role, besides that of being the bird lady in Mary Poppins, was that of Ma Joad in the successful screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. One reason of the enduring popularity of the character of Ma Joad, according to Meuel, is that Darwell’s characterization “has become a synonym for women who bear great hardship with great dignity.” Darwell also became “a favorite of Ford’s” as she appeared in My Darling Clementine, 3 Godfathers, and The Sun Shines Bright.

Initially, Ford wanted O’Hara for the role of Honey Bear Kelly in Mogambo, according to Meuel, and ended up with Ava Gardner, an actress “he didn’t think was all that good.” But in Mogambo, Gardner earned her first and only Academy Award nomination, and her performance is one of her best.

Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner in "Mogambo."

Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner in “Mogambo.”


According to the TCM Database article explaining why Mogambo is an ‘essential,’ “Ava Gardner turned out to be a much greater beneficiary of Ford’s instruction on Mogambo. Her work as Honey Bear Kelly is marked by an ease, even a playfulness, that would seldom if ever surface in her following projects.”

So Ford could wrench an effective performance from someone he deemed initially as less successful at her craft than O’Hara. He elicited those sterling screen seconds in his own way, and made Natwick, Darwell, Gardner, O’Hara, and others the better.

But O’Hara’s opinions and comments, revealed through the years in interviews and O’Hara’s own autobiography that her relationship with Ford alternated from rocky to smooth, and her comments vacillated from his admiring pupil to a woman who always staunchly defended his directing, but sometimes questioned his motives.

Like the time Ford slapped O’Hara for talking to another director. The event strained their relationship, and she never understood why Ford had acted that way, but she eventually went back to engaging in conversation with him and working for him.

'Tis her favorite scene in "How Green Was My Valley."

‘Tis her favorite scene in “How Green Was My Valley.”

The Ford/O’Hara relationship spanned 20 years and began on the set of 1941’s How Green Was My Valley, the film O’Hara introduced at the Turner Classic Film Festival on April 12 in the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Her favorite moment in the film, documented in her autobiography, occurs when her character of Angharad is “outside the church after Angharad gets married. As I make my way down the steps to the carriage waiting below, the wind catches my veil and fans it out in a perfect circle all the way around my face. Then it floats straight up above my head and points to the heavens. It’s breathtaking.” She was obviously impressed with the way she had been showcased in her career-making initial role with Ford.

The triumvirate...

The triumvirate…

Her collaboration with John Wayne in three of Ford’s films, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, and The Wings of Eagles, also revealed that the romantic chemistry she had with Wayne was like “lightning in a bottle.”

"Lightning in a bottle...."

“Lightning in a bottle….”


But her fourth Ford collaboration, 1955’s The Long Gray Line, also starring Tyrone Power, had O’Hara revealing that “it was by far the most difficult” film she had made with Ford.
Tough...

Tough…


Not tough...she adored Tyrone Power's wicked sense of humor...

Not so tough…she adored Tyrone Power’s wicked sense of humor, and here they are together in “The Black Swan”…

Setting many of his films in the past often saddled Ford with the label of being “old-fashioned” but as O’Hara has claimed in interviews and her 2004 autobiography, ‘Tis Herself, Ford loved anything Irish, and any way he could maneuver more Irishness into his films or his own personal life was a way to reconnect or reconstruct his life to his own more idealized version of itself.

O’Hara’s relationships with men who lived large on life’s stage, like Che Guevara, whom she deemed a “freedom fighter,”surprised her when she found out how much he knew about Ireland. Her last husband, Charles Blair, whom she adored, was a record-setting aviator and Brigadier General in the Air Force. The legendary John Wayne, for whom she lobbied Congress to award him a Congressional Medal of Honor, was also one of those connections that paired O’Hara socially and/or professionally with some of the most daring or famous men of the 20th century.

On the Red Carpet at the Turner Classic Film Festival with her grandson, Conor Fitzsimons...

On the Red Carpet at the Turner Classic Film Festival with her grandson, Conor Fitzsimons…


During her one of her festival interviews with Osborne, she finally stated that “Ford loved being Irish, and was thrilled when he could do something involved with Ireland. Anybody who is very talented and very good at their job… 90 percent of the time will treat you well.” And 90 percent seems to be the magic number Maureen O’Hara has designated for John Ford.
'Tis all there is to say or write or think about the matter....

‘Tis all there is to say or write or think about the matter….

Sources, Links, and Websites:
David Meuel’s Women in the Films of John Ford:
http://www.amazon.com/Women-Films-John-David-Meuel/dp/078647789X

Maureen O’Hara’s ‘Tis Herself: http://www.amazon.com/Tis-Herself-Autobiography-Maureen-OHara/dp/0743269160

The fabulous “Direced By John Ford” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Directedbyjohnfordcom/398684916875651?ref=ts&fref=ts

Moving tribute video by June Parker Beck with Robert Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”: http://t.co/er6MiUGoXY
IMDB Biography of Maureen O’Hara: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000058/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
Maureen O’Hara’s Star of the Month Celebration on TCM, TUESDAYS IN JULY: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/1008293|0/Maureen-O-Hara-Tuesdays-in-July.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maureen-OHara-Magazine-Website/131269913567989?ref=ts&fref=ts
Fan Website: http://moharamagazine.com
Wikipedia:http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen_O’Hara
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I am so happy to be included in “The John Ford Blogathon” from July 7-13 hosted by Krell Laboratories: http://krelllabs.blogspot.com/2014_07_01_archive.html
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Follow me on Twitter @suesueapplegate
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christy.putnam.5?ref=tn_tnmn
The Silver Screen Oasis: http://silverscreenoasis.com/oasis3/viewtopic.php?f=92&t=4260&start=840
KKES Radio Classic Film Expert, Sundays from 12-1p.m.: http://www.1027thehog.com
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/39646-sue-sue-ii/
The Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/classic-film-in-national/christy-putnam

Actress Debbie Reynolds’ online auction party…

TCM Film Festival Guest and TCM Cruise favorite Debbie Reynolds appeared onscreen last evening in another royal blue suit (not this one!) looking lovely. That shade is so complementary and illuminates how vibrant she still is…

The Debbie Reynolds Auction Preview Party was live-streamed on USTREAM for the Hollywood Motion Picture Experience last night from The Debbie Reynolds Studio in West Hollywood. Reynolds was being interviewed by host Steven Sorrentino, with comments from time to time from her son, Todd Fisher, who was wearing a cap and t-shirt, and running around organizing guests and comments. Reynolds discussed the “Gone With The Wind” furniture, Charlie Chaplin’s hats, a carved, wooden buffet used in several Tyrone Power swashbucklers, posters, and dresses. Reynolds, remarking she had fallen earlier in the week and hit her head, even did her impression of Mae West (It’s still spot on!) Son Todd arrived with water for Reynolds, and his wife, actress Catherine Hickland, came to visit with play-by-play host Sorrentino about the collection while Reynolds took her break and did interviews with other media representatives. An open bar helped insure all the patrons were happy, and viewers were able to watch it for free online by following this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hollywood-motion-picture-experience-presents

Fisher chatted with Stan Freburg, recording artist, comedian, and author, and right before the break, he reminded viewers that Reynolds had to leave to take a break and do a few interviews. Later on in the evening, an online drawing, entered by more than 1500 auction bidders, afforded one lucky participant an extra $1000 to use for bidding on the item of his or her choice. (Colleen from Minnesota was the winner. Two soft-cover catalogs were also awarded as 2nd and 3rd prizes.) Reynolds picked the winning slip out of a silver punch bowl.

After one of the interviews, the online audience was treated to a live-streaming of the “action” as patrons mulled around the exhibit in view of a stationary camera. A pianist was playing “Somewhere in Time” and helped everyone feel in a more expansive mood so that preparing a bid on a favored item wasn’t such a stressful activity. The live feed camera then settled on the “Gone With The Wind” chairs, and the cherubs on the mirrors that were so lovingly restored by Reynolds’ father were readily visible.

Sorrentino, who also offered his Sammy Davis impression while extolling the virtues of the Rat Pack suit colllection, and Reynolds also chatted about two lovely wooden/gilt mirrors that her father helped restore. She purchased them at the MGM auction, and they had been in several Judy Garland movies. Reynolds said it took her father about a year to completely restore them. After her interview, the live feed camera settled on the “Gone With The Wind” chairs, and the cherubs on the mirrors that were so lovingly restored by Reynolds’ father were readily visible.

All of these items were professionally well-preserved. Reynolds explained that Fisher carefully inventoried many of the costumes, and removed the labels which kept the clothing acid free, and she also stated that they consulted the experts at The Smithsonian about proper storage and restorations.

Also during the interview, I think I saw the portrait of Greer Garson from “Mrs. Parkington,” and then I saw the Norma Shearer dress from “Romeo and Juliet.” While they had some tech problems with the live feed sound, and Sorrentino kept trying to locate which camera to pitch to, Reynolds kept chatting and posing for photos with visitors. Laugh-In’s Joanne Worley, Dick Van Patten, and Reynold’s Thalians pal Ruta Lee were reported to be in attendance, but I never saw them onscreen.

Cameraman Roy Wagner, a good friend of Fisher’s, discussed some of the historic cameras featured in the auction with Todd. The Aikley camera Oscar-winning Cameraman Linwood Dunn owned was used on “King Kong,” “Citizen Kane,” and was used for many RKO films. The Vista Vision camera in the auction is one of the few remaining working Vista Vision cameras, and filmed special effects for the “Star Trek” television series, and many classic films like “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn. Wagner discussed the “six-foot” rule during filming (a safety zone which allowed only the Director of Photography within the 6 foot perimeter circling the camera while in use). Wagner also discussed the magic of the box and what each camera had experienced in its varied history.

Daughter Carrie Fisher supposedly made a quick appearance early in the evening.

The last of the lots go on the block this weekend.

Don’t forget to have some fun!

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