Is 2017 Our 1984?

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John Hurt passed on January 25th and with him a tremendous body of work worth celebrating. “The Elephant Man” (John Merrick), (Kane) “Alien”, “Harry Potter” (Garrick Ollivander), (Max) “Midnight Express” and two of his most prophetic roles – (Chancelor Sutler) “V for Vendetta” and as (Winston Smith) – in director Michael Radford‘s remarkable film, “1984”.

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John Hurt (Winston Smith)

Nineteen Eighty-Four, also known as 1984, is the British dystopian drama film written for the screen and directed by Michael Radford, based on George Orwell‘s novel of the same name. Starring John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, and Cyril Cusack, the film follows the life of Winston Smith in Oceania, a country run by a totalitarian government. (Wikipedia)

George Orwell’s terrifying vision comes to 2017.

Winston endures a squalid existence under the constant surveillance of the Thought Police. Winston works in a small office cubicle at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history (aka Alternate Facts) in accordance with the dictates of the Party and its supreme figurehead, Big Brother. A man haunted by painful memories and restless desires, Winston is an everyman who keeps a secret diary of his private thoughts, thus creating evidence of his thoughtcrime. (Wikipedia)

As a result of his resistance, Winston is tortured and learns about the state’s true purpose, the principles of doublethink — the practice of holding two contradictory thoughts in the mind simultaneously.

 

Right now our country is rapidly becoming Orwell’s vision of a country co-opted by tyranny. From Alternative Facts to out and out lies about events we witness with our own eyes; the parallels are stunning.

Watching and participating in the Women’s March and rallies, I’m heartened with the energy of this movement of 21-century change.

If the past is prolog, we already know what lies ahead if we aren’t resilient. But, our fate rests in our own hands and we can alter the ending of our “1984″ by fighting back against those who would be Kings and Dictators.

 

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Another brilliant John Hurt performance and cautionary tale “V for Vendetta” stares back at me as truth. Just turn on your television.

 

Thank you, Sir John for sharing your gifts and revealing truths of the human condition.

 

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Sir John Vincent Hurt (22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017)

 

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Dirty Dancing 30th Anniversary Event!

 

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Sunday, January 29 and Wednesday, February 1  

Fathom Events and Lionsgate present a special two-day event, Dirty Dancing 30th Anniversary, in select cinemas nationwide.

Click here for tickets.

 

I still remember sitting in the theater with my heart beating with anticipation as I reminisced about a time and music that is a flashback to my childhood memories. From the first beat, I knew I was in for a rockin’ good time.

Choreographed by Kenny Ortega“Dirty Dancing”(1987) is a soulful coming of age tale of star-crossed lovers Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze). The film showcases an award-winning dance soundtrack that genuinely represents the spirit of the early 1960’s.

 

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Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze

Written by Eleanor Bergstein, and directed by Emile Ardolino, “Dirty Dancing” was originally a low-budget film by a new studio, Great American Films Limited Partnership, and with no major stars (except Broadway legend Jerry Orbach in a supporting role), “Dirty Dancing” became a massive box office hit. As of 2009, it has earned over $214 million worldwide. (Wikipedia)

 

Dirty Dancing is based in large part on screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein’s own childhood: she is the younger daughter of a Jewish doctor from New York, spent summers with her family in the Catskills, participated in “Dirty Dancing” competitions, and was herself nicknamed “Baby” as a girl. (Wikipedia)

 

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Bergstein constructed the character of Johnny based on the stories of Michael Terrace, a dance instructor whom Bergstein met in the Catskills in 1985 while she was researching the story.

Dirty Dancing

Jack Weston (L) Patrick Swayze (R)

“Dirty Dancing” was the first film to sell more than a million copies on home video, and the Dirty Dancing soundtrack created by Jimmy Ienner generated two multi-platinum albums and multiple singles, including (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”, which won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song, and a Grammy Award for best duet (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes) . (Wikipedia)

 

 

So, whether it’s your first time or you’re enjoying it all over again, make sure to make plans to see “Dirty Dancing” on the big screen and, have the time of your life!

 

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The Resistance! ✌🏽

National Resist Day

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January 19, 2017

 

“Never be afraid to do what’s right…” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

On this day of resistance, I pledge to be a Resistor to intolerance, racism, and bigotry. I will never be afraid to stand up for what’s right; fighting for justice and humanity.

This video is my statement and commitment to “stay woke”, raising my voice and speaking out against tyranny.

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“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”

Thomas Jefferson

 

Selma – The Struggle Continues…

Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

 

Selma is a 2014 American historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James BevelHosea Williams, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lewis. The film stars actors David Oyelowo as King, Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Tim Roth as George Wallace, Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and rapper and actor Common as Bevel.

Selma

At first, I was skeptical on how this history would be portrayed. I didn’t want a melodrama about Bloody Sunday and those on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. But, Director, Ava DuVernay did an incredible job and for me, the film should be included as part of the historical record.

Selma was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. In your living room. In your face. The first march took place on March 7, 1965, organized locally by SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma Voting Rights Movement. State troopers and county posse men attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas after they passed over the county line, and the event became known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement beat activist Amelia Boynton unconscious, and the media publicized worldwide a picture of her lying wounded on the bridge.

Selma had four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, and Best Actor, and won for Best Original Song. It was also nominated for Best Picture and won Best Original Song at the 87th Academy Awards.

Whether you know the history or just learning, I consider the film Selma essential viewing for a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.  A Movement which we must always remember and never forget as …

 

The Struggle Continues.

Resistance!

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R. I. H.

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Without Lying Down – Women of the Golden Age!🎬

The Early Visionaries of American Film

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…Women were the driving force behind Hollywood and the movies. Today we pay homage to the women who broke the glass ceiling and wrote and directed the films that gave birth to the “Golden Age” of cinema and the motion picture industry.  Unfortunately, when the men realized the gold mine films were becoming, the women faded away thanks to the Hollywood studio system. Well, as the saying goes, “that’s the way they do you.”

 

Frances Marion 1918

Frances Marion 1918

 

Frances Marion was a trailblazer. becoming one of the most powerful screenwriters of the 20th century. With a career that spanned decades, she became the first female to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1930 for the prison life film The Big House, starring Robert Montgomery, Wallace Beery and Chester Morris.

Marion’s research included visiting San Quentin to experience the atmosphere and lingo of the inmates. The movie gave audiences their first taste of hearing prison doors slam shut, tin cups clanking on mess-hall tables and prisoners’ feet shuffling down corridors.

 

 

Adding to her accolades, Frances received the Academy Award for Best Story for The Champ in 1932. The tearjerker chronicled the relationship between a washed out boxer (Wallace Beery) and his young son (Jackie Cooper). Marion was credited with writing 300 scripts and producing over 130 films.

 

 

Born Marion Benson Owens (November 18, 1888) in San Francisco, California, she worked as a journalist and served overseas as a combat correspondent during World War I. On her return home in 1910, she moved to Los Angeles and was hired as a writing assistant and actress by “Lois Weber Productions”, a film company owned and operated by another pioneer female film director Lois Weber.

 

Lois Weber

Lois Weber – Film Director

Frances was quite beautiful and could have continued as an actress but preferred to work behind the camera. She learned screenwriting from Lois Weber and went on to become the highest paid screenwriter, woman or man. Hollywood moguls competed for her stories and stars of the day Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino brought her characters to life on the screen.

From 1919 – 1939 her star was ascendant, born at the right place and the right time, honing her craft during one of the most liberating eras for women in film.

 

 

When Marion met Mary Pickford (actress, producer, screenwriter) they became best friends with Marion writing screen adaptations of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Poor Little Rich Girl for Pickford. As a result of the commercial success of “The Poor Little Rich Girl” in 1917 Marion was signed as Pickford’s “exclusive writer” at the salary of $50,000 a year, an unprecedented arrangement for that time.

Pickford was the celebrated “America’s Sweetheart” and in 1919 together with her swashbuckler actor husband Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., director D.W. Griffith (Birth of a Nation) and “The Tramp” Charlie Chaplin established “United Artists” pictures.

These four were the leading figures in early Hollywood and this was their stand for independence against the powerful studio system. Mary Pickford was also  one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

 

In 1921, Frances Marion directed a film for the first time with Just Around the Corner. That same year, she directed her friend Mary Pickford in one of her own scripts entitled The Love Light. Their relationship was more than just writer and star, they were collaborators and the friendship between Pickford and Marion lasted more than 50 years.

Married four times, Frances Marion had two children with third husband, actor Fred Thomson. This was her longest marriage, lasting from 1919 until Thomson’s sudden and tragic death from a Tetanus infection in 1928. Frances’ great friend Mary Pickford had introduced them. Frances said it was love at first sight.

 

Fred Thomson and Frances Marion

Fred Thomson and Frances Marion

For many years she was under contract to MGM Studios, but, independently wealthy, left Hollywood in 1946 to devote more time to writing stage plays and novels. Frances Marion published a memoir Off With Their Heads: A Serio-Comic Tale of Hollywood in 1972.

Frances died on May 12, 1973 leaving a legacy of innovation, independence and inspiration for future aspiring female writers. The documentary, Frances Marion: Without Lying Down,” is an insightful profile of her life and achievements in Hollywood.

 

Without Lying Down

Mary Pickford and Frances Marion

 

Narrated by “Pulp Fiction” actress Uma Thurman and Oscar-winner Kathy Bates, who gives voice to the screenwriter’s own words taken from her letters, diaries. and memoirs. The documentary also features footage from more than twenty of Marion’s movies, with commentary by silent film historian Kevin Brownlow, and film critic Leonard Maltin.

Available for purchase at Amazon.com, I highly recommend checking it out!

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“I’ve spent my life searching for a man to look up to without lying down.” Frances Marion

 

It would take more than 60 years before women were once again present in meaningful numbers at every level of film production.

 

 

 

 

 

65th Anniversary 💃🏽 Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

 

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Singin in the Rain

 

Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies, and Warner Bros. Entertainment presents a special two-day event, Singin’ in the Rain 65th Anniversary, in select cinemas nationwide on Sunday, January 15 and Wednesday, January 18.

This special event also includes exclusive commentary from Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, who will give insight into this classic film.

 

“Singin’ in the Rain” is on my list as one of the greatest musicals of all time! Funny with incredible dance numbers and a memorable score that will stand for generations.

A previous post on some of my favorite musical moments includes “nails on a chalkboard voice” Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), who made Number One.

 

Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor star in one of the greatest musicals ever filmed. Musician Don Lockwood (Kelly) rises to stardom during Hollywood’s silent-movie era–paired with the beautiful, jealous and dumb Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen).

 

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Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

 

When Lockwood becomes attracted to young studio singer Kathy Selden (Reynolds), Lamont has her fired. But with the introduction of talking pictures, audiences laugh when they hear Lockwood speak for the first time–and the studio uses Selden to dub her voice.

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Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

 

This special 65th Anniversary Screening is a heartfelt dedication to Debbie Reynolds and in sympathy to the tragic loss of her daughter, actress, and writer Carrie Fisher.

Debbie was only 19 when she was cast in this classic but deftly held her own with the likes of legendary hoofers, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor!

 

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Mary Frances “Debbie” Reynolds (April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016)

 

In 2002, on the film’s 50th Anniversary, Debbie Reynolds shares her memories on the history and movie magic of “Singin’ in the Rain”.

 

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see “Singin’ in the Rain” on the big screen as it was originally shown.

“I’ll walk down the lane with a happy refrain…and singin’ just singin’ in the rain.”       Gene Kelly

 

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R.I.P. Debbie and Carrie

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