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September 8: Happy Birthday Patsy Cline and Peter Sellers


Patsy Cline (1932-1963) was born in Virginia, and when her father walked out of the house when she was 15, she dropped out of high school to work as a waitress and bring in some income.  She began singing at a local radio station, and for several years became increasingly popular in the tri-state area where she lived.  In 1955 she signed her first record contract.  She made a lot of records in the late 1950s, and had one major hit, “Walkin’ After Midnight,” which reached #2 on the Country chart in 1957.

However, it wasn’t until she got free of her initial record contract, which had some very restrictive provisions, that Cline began to enjoy consistent success.  She had her first #1 hit, “I Fall To Pieces,” in 1961; it also did well as a crossover hit.  Although she had a temporary setback due to a late 1961 auto accident, she rebounded with several additional hit singles in the next year and a half.  She also began to act as a mentor and support figure for other women trying to make it as solo country acts, like Loretta Lynn and a very young Barbara Mandrell.

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September 8: Happy Birthday Martin Freeman and Pink


Martin Freeman celebrates his 45th birthday today.  He began acting in British television, where his first major role was in the BBC’s mockumentary sitcom The Office.  He appeared in films like Love, Actually and as Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  He got another plum British TV role in 2010 when he was cast in a series that updated some famous detective fiction to the 21st century:

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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: Dr. Strangelove

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In late June 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.

This third installment in Building My Movie Posters Puzzle sees yet another leap forward on the calendar, this time from 1939 to 1964. I can promise you that this will not be a continuing trend. It is of some mild interest that despite the 25 years of progress between the release of our last entry, The Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick and company made the decision to shoot entirely in black and white, whereas Oz is famously presented in both black and white and color. Obviously, for a long time after, filmmakers felt very free to select either approach to filming and displaying their movies. Although color was steadily becoming the preferred format, if you take a look at the top-grossing films of 1964 you will find a few that were released in black and white, including Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Zorba the Greek, The Night of the Iguana, and A Hard Day’s Night. You appeared to need a motivating artistic reason for shooting in black and white, but studios were apparently not yet dead set against it and there was plenty of audience left that didn’t seem to mind (at least one commenter here at LeBlog claims to never watch black and white movies).
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The Oscars – Snub or No Snub?

Okay, I admit it. Despite some evidence that arms my better judgement, I tend to take the Academy Awards relatively seriously. The same can NOT be said for any of the other awards shows. Grammys? Avoid ’em like the plague. Golden Globes? meh. Tonys? Why would I watch? I haven’t seen any of the shows. The Oscars, however, hold a special place for me, in part, because they generally get them at least partly right. While business politics certainly play a role at times in who gets nominated or who wins, at least the Academy has mostly held out against public opinion when it comes to giving out their awards. The public has awful taste. The public made the “Flintstones” movie a hit. The public made “Cliffhanger” a hit. The public loved “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

Do they always get it right? Certainly not. You’d have a hard time getting everyone to agree on what that means, anyway. But I feel like most of the time, the film or performer that wins is indeed worthy, even if the winner wouldn’t have been my personal choice.

Every year about this time, we get lists of the “biggest snubs” in Oscar history. What is a snub? Well, in my book, it generally isn’t a case where a film or performance appears to me to have been a little bit better than the one that beat it. A snub is when I just can’t fathom what they were thinking. I will not be entertaining candidates who were not nominated. I also will not be listing great directors and performers who just never won. Anytime somebody wins, others lose. It is an inescapable fact. So, I will be addressing very specific matchup results which some people have denounced as “snubs” and I will ask the question: Snub or No Snub?     Read the rest of this entry

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