In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.
As a puzzle focused on movie posters, some of the chosen films or versions of their posters featured on it are not necessarily top notch. None of this can be said about the amazing poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic psychological thriller, Vertigo. The great designer Saul Bass produced a wide array of promotional images for this Hitchcock masterpiece, but the above one sheet version has become one of the most famous and striking posters in film history.
However, Vertigo is much more than a great marketing campaign. The film was worked on by some of the legends of the art form, and it shows. Although the movie’s reputation had gained steadily over the years as film lovers continued to see it over and over, a dramatic million dollar restoration and re-release of Vertigo in 1996 allowed even larger numbers of people to fully appreciate the beauty of Hitchcock and company’s work on it. Despite mixed reviews on its initial release in 1958, it has become one of the standard members of any compiled list of the finest films ever made, and actually replaced the legendary Citizen Kane at the top of Sight & Sound’s 2012 critics list.
Join me below, and we’ll discuss this amazing poster and film. Oh, by the way, there will be enormous spoilers for the movie after the break, so if you haven’t seen Vertigo yet I’d recommend you go take care of that momentous lapse in judgement first and then come back and finish reading this article.
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Jean Arthur (1900-1991) worked as a stenographer and then a model in New York before being signed to a contract by Fox in the early 1920s. For her, stardom did not come at once—she worked hard but found success difficult to come by. An early 1930s stint on Broadway boosted her confidence, and when she returned to Hollywood in 1932 she began to get better roles. However, she only really emerged as a star when Frank Capra cast her as reporter Babe Bennett in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in 1936. The director, who later said Arthur was his favorite actress, reunited with her later in the decade for two more comedy classics, You Can’t Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Arthur’s other starring roles in the late 1930s included playing Calamity Jane in The Plainsman, the screwball comedy Easy Living, and the aforementioned Only Angels Have Wings. In the early 1940s, she worked with director George Stevens on a pair of great romantic comedies, The Talk of the Town and The More the Merrier. She received her only Oscar nomination, for Best Actress, as Connie Milligan in the latter film.
Fifteen years ago, Katie Holmes saw the light at the end of the tunnel. She only had one season left of Dawson’s Creek and then she could concentrate on her movie career. Up until that point, Holmes hadn’t had much success in movies. When she was interviewed for the cover story of the October 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, Holmes was optimistic about her first real leading role in the movie Abandon. It didn’t work out the way she probably hoped. Knowing what we know now, the second-to-last question posed in this article is hysterical.
Late October is the perfect time for ghost stories that take place in big creepy houses. For Disney fans, that means taking a tour of one of the company’s best-loved theme park attractions, The Haunted Mansion. The ride has been a minor obsession for our own Daffy Stardust. We’re going to spend some time exploring the Mansion this week starting off with a look back at Daffy’s detailed tour.
Suzanne Somers is celebrating her 71st today. She grew up in San Bruno, California, and after college and a marriage that did not last, at the end of the 1960s she began working on a game show, The Anniversary Game, as a prize model. She eventually married the show’s host, Alan Hamel—they have been together for 40 years. She also began acting at that time—her first feature film role was an uncredited cameo in Bullitt. During the 1970s she appeared in guest roles on The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man, and three times on Starsky and Hutch. Then, in 1977, she landed the role that was both her breakthrough and the one she will always be most identified with, Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company.
I don’t know how this week’s revelations about producer Harvey Weinstein have been playing out with readers. We have been talking about the scandal in the comments section, but the site hasn’t taken on the subject directly. This isn’t a news site. Current events may come up, but they aren’t the focus of Le Blog. While I am unlikely to write a full article on Weinstein while the scandal is unfolding, I have no doubt we will be talking about it here for years to come. Before we get into this week’s recap of blog activity, I wanted to say a few words on the subject.
Indian-born filmmaker Mira Nair celebrates her 60th birthday today. While studying at Harvard, she became involved in the university’s theater program, and made a documentary film as her master’s thesis. She made three additional documentaries during the 1980s, before making her first narrative feature, Salaam Bombay!, in 1988. It won the Golden Camera at Cannes and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the BAFTA Awards. Nair’s next feature, Mississippi Masala, set largely in Mississippi and dealing with an interracial romance, won a number of film festival honors and was nominated for an Independent Spirit award for Best Feature.
Ben Whishaw is celebrating his 37th today. He began acting as a teen in a local youth theater group and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Within a year of his graduation, he had been cast in the lead role of Trevor Nunn’s revival of Hamlet at the Old Vic, and received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor. He has continued to work regularly on the West End, made his Broadway debut last year in a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and will return to Shakespeare next year, as Brutus in Julius Caesar in a production at London’s new Bridge Theatre.
Whishaw began working in film while still attending RADA, and in 2004 appeared in supporting roles in two films starring Daniel Craig, Enduring Love and Layer Cake. He was a BAFTA Rising Star Award nominee for the 2006 film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and starred as the poet John Keats in Bright Star. He has received three BAFTA Television Award nominations for Best Actor, winning for starring as Richard II in The Hollow Crown in 2012. That year also saw him make his debut in what is probably his most-recognized screen role.
Oliver Stone is a complicated and polarizing figure. He always has been. On the one hand, he’s a Hollywood liberal who is best-known for movies critical of the Vietnam war. On the other, his work is filled with sexism and he’s spending his later years cozying up to the likes of Vladimir Putin. This week, Stone made headlines for his contribution to the great Weinstein scandal. It seems like no matter who you are or where you stand, Stone has said or done something likely to alienate you.
That was less true twenty years ago, but the Oscar winning director was starting down a career path that would slowly erode his cultural relevance. But Movieline magazine still had enough interest in Stone to publish a two-part interview with the controversial filmmaker. The first half appeared in the October 1997 issue.
We have had a husband-and-wife pairing as headliners previously; today, we have our first time with headliners who were father and daughter.
George Osmond (1917-2007) served in World War Two, and married Olive Davis in 1944. He worked at various jobs over the years, including selling real estate and serving as postmaster of Ogden, Utah. But he also had a love of music, which he passed on to his nine children. His two oldest sons, George, Jr. (usually called Virl) and Tom, both suffered from partial deafness from birth, which made any kind of performing very hard for them, but their six younger brothers, along with their sister, all had successful careers in music. The Osmond brothers recorded together for many years, in various combinations, and had a #1 hit in 1970 with “One Bad Apple.”
Marie Osmond was born on her father’s 42nd birthday and turns 58 today. She began a solo career as a country singer in the early 1970s. She has had several charted albums and singles in her career, and continues to record and tour to this day. She and her older brother Donny have recorded and performed together regularly since the mid-1970s, when they had several charted hits and hosted a variety show on ABC for three seasons. Marie has also performed on Broadway in musicals like The King and I and The Sound of Music. Her biggest success as a solo artist was the title track from her debut album, a #1 Country single in 1973 that also reached #5 on the Hot 100.
Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! I hope it’s a lucky one. As Halloween approaches, I am planning to revisit some of the site’s spooky content. Given the date, I thought it made sense to kick off the seasonal flashbacks with a look at the movie that killed one of horror’s longest-running franchises.
Source: Franchise Killers: Jason X
Winning an Oscar is no guarantee of movie stardom. Just ask Mira Sorvino who won a Best Supporting Actress statue for her star-making role in Mighty Aphrodite. Sorvino seemed to have the makings of a movie star, but things didn’t work out that way. In a profile piece from the October 2002 issue of Movieline, Sorvino claimed she was happier being out of the spotlight. She frankly discusses the mistakes that she made in her career and her reputation for being “difficult”.
Stephen Moyer is turning 48 today. He graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and worked in English theater for several years. He began working in British television in the early 1990s, and made his film debut in 1997. Two of his early film roles involved starring in a pair of period piece/swashbucklers, Prince Valiant (opposite Katherine Heigl) and Princess of Thieves (opposite Keira Knightley). His subsequent film roles have been supporting roles for the most part—unlike his television career.
After around fifteen years of work in film and television, Moyer got his big break in 2008. He was cast in HBO’s adaptation of Charlaine Harris’s The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels—titled True Blood for television—in the role of Bill Compton. Not only did he remain with the series for its entire seven-season run, he ended up marrying his costar, Anna Paquin. Since the end of True Blood’s run, Moyer has had major roles on FX’s The Bastard Executioner and Fox’s Shots Fired, before landing a starring role on Fox’s just-premiered The Gifted.