Judy Garland sang as well as anybody, connected to emotional the core of a song better than anybody, danced toe to toe with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and was a great dramatic actress,
Category Archives: Film, TV, and the Arts
Billy Wilder, who co-wrote the screenplay for “Ninotchka,” Greta Garbo’s only comedy, said it has “the [producer/director Ernst] Lubitsch touch.” I say it has the Wilder touch.
Because I get Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and have a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), I have an unusually long list of movies I’ve seen a million times, all different genres, and never get tired of. Do they all have anything in common?
Hollywood does not produce as many great romantic comedies today. Big studios, the Hays Code, and repertory companies of great supporting actors and off-screen craftspeople no longer exist. Talent and star power are not what’s missing.
Journalists gave themselves permission to be writers, not just chroniclers. We explored our reactions to the people, subjects, and events we wrote about, instead of trying to hide them. We used fiction-writing and story-telling devices to tell true stories. We became participants, even characters, in our stories.
Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in Gone With the Wind,” and movie maids all her life, was criticized by African American leaders for perpetuating racist stereotypes. But the maids she played were smart, strong, dignified, and often superior to the white people they served.
Books that try to explain why comedy is funny are never funny. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said about pornography, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” Comedian Jack Paar once said, “Who cares?”
To sell “Star Trek” to TV networks, Gene Roddenberry had to present it in terms TV executives understood. He compared it to the Western series “Wagon Train,” which is still running on cable.
“The Fountainhead” was a serious effort to make a good movie. It’s so silly because it takes itself so seriously. The book and movie are vehicles for Ayn Rand’s controversial philosophy, which says greed is good, and strong people take what they want without apology. She influenced today’s privileged “1%”and conservative Republicans.
When the production team on White Heat first met, they asked themselves how to make James Cagney’s character the toughest, most menacing gangster ever filmed. Cagney said he told them to “make him nuts.”