“Dancing and Singing at the Movies” ūüíÉūüŹĹūüé∂

musicals logo

 

It seems every time someone asks the question “What’s your favorite? (fill in the blank film) that’s what happens to me…BLANK; there are just too many. ¬†So, I decided to prep for the next occasion.

With the new film “La La Land” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone being touted as this generation’s “Singing in the Rain”, I decided to start with the Musicals genre. These are some of my favorites that also made AFI’s list of the Top 5 Musicals of all time!

 

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Can you name yours? ¬†Let’s share.

# FILM YEAR STUDIO
1 SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 1952 MGM
2 WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists
3 WIZARD OF OZ, THE 1939 MGM
4 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox
5 CABARET 1972 Allied Artists

 

Some of my favorite quotes!

 

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

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Lina: ¬†[with a voice to peel paint] ¬†And I cayn’t stand’im. ¬† ¬†Holy crap! This line makes the movie for me!!

 

This celebrated musical-comedy was directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, it offers a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood in the late 1920s, with the three stars portraying performers caught up in the transition from silent films to “talkies.” (Wikipedia)

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West Side Story (1961)

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[singing]

Bernardo: ¬†“I’d like to go back to San Juan.”

Anita: ¬†“I know a boat you can get on!”

Ha! ¬†Bernardo, you do you, cause I’m gonna do me!

 

Ah, the Sharks and the Jets who turn a knife fight into the coolest, choreographed ballet I’ve ever seen. I also have a particular fondness for this film having performed in a community theater stage production.

Jets

Jets

A musical romantic drama directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins,¬†the film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. It stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris.

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning 10, including Best Picture (as well as a special award for Robbins), “West Side Story” is the record-holder for the most wins for a movie musical. (Wikipedia)

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The Wizard of Oz (1939)

 

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Cowardly Lion: ¬†”¬†Alright I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.”

Tin Woodsman,¬†Scarecrow: ¬†“What’s that?”

Cowardly Lion: ¬†“Talk me out of it!”

 Oh, Lion Рyou just gotta love him!

Produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “The Wizard of Oz” is the most well-known and commercially successful adaptation based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.¬†The classic stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale. The co-stars include¬†Ray Bolger¬†(The Scarecrow), Jack Haley¬†(The Tin Man), Bert Lahr¬†(The Cowardly Lion), Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton¬†(The Wicked Witch of the West), with Charley Grapewin, Terry the dog (billed as Toto), and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins.

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years, it has become an icon of American popular culture. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to “Gone with the Wind”. It did win in two other categories, including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow” and Best Original Score by Herbert Stothart. (Wikipedia)

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The Sound of Music (1965)

 

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Maria: ¬†“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

 Without a doubt, Maria!  Amen!

 

This song by Christina Perri ¬†“A Thousand Years” isn’t from the film but I felt it perfectly reflected the relationship between Maria and the Captain.

“The Sound of Music”¬†was produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starred¬†Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. An adaptation of the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II¬†it was based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp.

 

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Cabaret (1972)

 

Image result for afi musicals list

 

Sally: ¬†” I’m going to be a great film star! That is¬†if booze and sex don’t get me first.”

This is a very prophetic quote considering the fate of many a would-be star.

 

This stylish, socially conscious musical drama was directed by the legendary choreographer¬†Bob Fosse and stars¬†Liza Minnelli, Michael York. and Joel Grey. The setting is Berlin in 1931 with the Nazis’ violent rise serving as a powerful, ever-present undercurrent in the film.

Liza Minnelli won the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of the flamboyant, cabaret performer, Sally Bowles, with the film also garnering Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Original Song Score and Adaptation, and Best Film Editing. It holds the record for most Oscars earned by a film not honored for Best Picture. “The Godfather” took the prize. (Wikipedia)

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Chicago (2002)

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Although the stylized, Jazz Age hit “Chicago”(2002) didn’t make the AFI Top 5, (#12), I couldn’t omit this sizzling number, Cell Block Tango. “He had it comin'”‚ėļ‚ėļ

 

A film version of Chicago was to have been the next project for Bob Fosse, who had directed and choreographed the original 1975 Broadway production but he died before realizing his vision.

Fosse’s distinctive jazz choreography style is evident throughout and he is thanked in the credits. The movie explores the themes of celebrity, scandal, and corruption in Chicago during the Jazz Age. (Wikipedia)

 

chicago movie

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger

 

Starring¬†Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ren√©e Zellweger, and Richard Gere,¬†“Chicago” centers on Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Zellweger), two murderesses who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago.

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah “Mama”

For her part, the multi-talented rapper, actress, producer, Queen Latifah’s role as Matron “Mama” Morton earned her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The movie was the winner of six Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Picture. The film was the first musical to win Best Picture since Oliver! in 1968.

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There are definitely a lot more for the list so please, let me know some of your picks in the comments!

 

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“Stormy Weather” – An African American Showcase ūüé• ūüé∂

¬†In honor of Black History Month, I’ll be featuring films either starring or representing African American themes.

My next film for the month is “Stormy Weather (1943). An¬†American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox. Considered one of the best Hollywood musicals with an all African-American cast, the other being MGM’s Cabin in the Sky. “Stormy Weather” is considered a brilliant showcase of some of the top African-American performers of the time, during an era when African-American actors and singers rarely appeared in lead roles in mainstream Hollywood productions, especially those of the musical genre.

Stormy Weather cast

This movie blew my mind! ¬†I saw it as a kid in the early sixties having no idea that there had ever been an all Black cast in a Hollywood production. Most of the premier entertainers of the 1940’s appeared in this tour de force that still stands as one of the best musicals of all time!

Classic Cab Calloway – “Zoot Suiting” it!

 

Directed by Andrew L. Stone
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Jerry Horwin, Seymour B. Robinson (story)
H.S. Kraft (adaptation)
Starring Lena Horne
Bill Robinson
Cab Calloway
Katherine Dunham
Fats Waller
Fayard Nicholas
Harold Nicholas
Ada Brown
Dooley Wilson
Music by Harold Arlen
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Editing by James B. Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July¬†21,¬†1943
Running time 78 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Lena’s rendition of “Stormy Weather”, featuring ¬†African-American modern dance innovator Katherine Dunham and dancers.

Katherine Dunham and troupe’s “Stormy Weather” full dance sequence.

“Stormy Weather” was the 2nd all Black cast film made by a major studio in the 1940’s. “Cabin in the Sky” (1943) was the 1st, produced by MGM. Lena Horne starred in both and became famous for her rendition of “Stormy Weather” although Ethel Waters first performed the classic at The Cotton Club Nightclub in Harlem in 1933.

Ethel Waters was a famous blues, jazz, gospel vocalist and actress. ¬†Her best-known recordings include “Dinah”, “Stormy Weather”, “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Cabin in the Sky” (She also starred in the film) Let’s enjoy her interpretation of the classic tune by Arlen and Koehler:

The song was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler who worked as music composers at the renowned Cotton Club from 1930-1934. They wrote many of the jazz revue songs that were performed at the club and are still classics today. Harold Arlen wrote the music and Ted Koehler the lyrics.

Awards

“Stormy Weather” was selected in 2001 to The Library of Congress National Film Registry.

 

Stormy Weather 1

Get ready to have your “mind blown”! ¬†This dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers is unreal. ¬†Check it out. ¬†Holy crap!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Master of Suspense?

Master of Suspense

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock ¬†(August 13, 1899¬†‚Äď April 29, ¬†1980)

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock aka “Master of Suspense” was a British born director known for his mastery of the suspense and psychological thriller. ¬†He was an innovator using film editing (cuts) as the basis to construct a film. He poked, stabbed and forced us to face our fears, obsessions and¬†compulsions.

Hitch is one of my favorite directors because of his fearlessness. He used a¬†voyeuristic¬†style and cuts to let you see inside the heads of his leading characters. Rear Window (1954) is a classic example of his style as the audience becomes the voyeur along with James Stewart’s character. We go along with Hitch and peer through the windows of Stewart’s neighbors and cross a line we otherwise wouldn’t.

In Psycho (1960) we peer through the peephole with “Norman Bates” (Anthony Perkins) and end up rooting for this very troubled individual. Not allowing patrons to enter the theater after Psycho started was a great gimmick. His most fearless move was what¬†occurred¬†in the first 45 minutes of the film. Now that’s risk and genius!

In 1992, the US Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Now, meet Hitchcock as he takes us through the Bates Motel and the events that occurred. This is Sir Alfred in all his shocking glory.

Although Hitchcock is legendary for his film editing genius, Rope (1948 ) proved to be his ultimate experiment. Instead of using film editing, he would shoot the movie in one long sequence. Stopping only to change the camera role. Like filming a play. Each role of camera film holds about 10-12 minutes of film.

The set was insane with flying walls and furniture. Jimmy Stewart once remarked about placing his drink on a table, turning back around and not only was the drink gone but the table it was sitting on. Everyone had to be on their mark and not drop a line because if anything went wrong they had to do everything  all over again. Hitchcock said the film just about killed him!

A Little Hitchcock History:

His first directing assignment, Number 13, began in 1922 but unfortunately wasn’t finished due to financial issues. His big break came in 1927 with the completion of his thriller The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. ¬†The plot revolved around a search for a Jack the Ripper type of serial killer and mistaken identity. Hitchcock’s first thriller is ripe with mood and the German Expressionist influence. A taste of things to come in Hitch’s¬†repertoire, it was a commercial and critical success.

Hitchcock-The_Lodger_1927_Poster

Hitchcock’s tenth film, Blackmail was released in 1929 and considered¬†Britain’s¬†first talkie. It also starts his usage of landmarks as a tradition and appears in the longest cameo of all his films.

Hitchcock-Blackmail_1929_Poster

The 39 Steps (1935) is widely considered the best of Hitchcock’s early films and made him a star in the U.S. ¬†It also branded Hitch’s obsession with the cold blonde, sophisticated leading lady which Grace Kelly would come to epitomize. Then there’s the infamous¬†“MacGuffin.” ¬†A¬†reoccurring¬†plot device that actually had no real significance¬†to the story-line. A decoy. Just another Hitch thing.

The 39 Steps

Alfred Hitchcock’s films were produced in¬†Britain until in 1939. When¬†David O. Selznick signed him to a seven year contract, Hitch relocated to the United States with his wife Alma Reville (his closest collaborator) and his daughter Patricia Hitchcock.

Alma Reville was an accomplished director, writer, editor and producer in Britain before she met Hitch while working¬†¬†at¬†Paramount‘sFamous Players-Lasky studio in London, during the early 1920s. Patricia Hitchcock appeared in several of her dad’s films including: Psycho, Strangers on a Train and Stage Fright.

Rebecca (1940) was Hitchcock’s first American film. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director but did not win. In fact, although nominated five times, he would never be afforded that honor.

Alfred Hitchcock  became an American citizen in 1956 and was a multiple nominee and winner of a number of prestigious awards. Hithcock was the recipient of  two Golden Globes, eight Laurel Awards, and five lifetime achievement awards including the first BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

Hitchcock received a knighthood in 1980 when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

What’s your quintessential¬†Hitchcock film?

  • Stage Fright (1950)
  • Saboteur (1942)
  • Strangers on a Train (1951)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Spellbound (1945)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  • The 39 Steps (1935)
  • Rope (1948)
  • Vertigo (1958)

Not here? Voice Your choice in the comments.

Check out Alfred Hitchcock’s substantial catalog.

The quintessential “Master of Suspense.”

That Thing You Do!

That Thing You Do : Cinema Quad Movie Poster

Set in Erie,¬†Pennsylvania¬†1964,¬†Tom Hanks‘ film – “That Thing ¬†You Do” chronicles the road to fame escapades of the fictional one-hit wonder group – “The Wonders” (the original spelling was “Oneders”, often mispronounced, The” O-need-ers”, a running gag in the movie. ūüôā ¬†This was Hank’s directorial debut and was written by and co-starred Hanks who plays the band’s¬†manager, Mr. White. It was produced by Jonathan Demme,¬†Academy Award winning director of The Silence of the Lambs¬†(1991).

The plot involves drummer Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) sitting in with the band after their regular drummer, Chad (Giovanni Rabisi) breaks his arm leap frogging over a parking meter before the annual¬†Mercyhurst College talent show. Really?! At the show, Guy’s feeling good and goes with his gut, making one little alteration to “That Thing You Do”, the number they’re performing at the show. And we’re off and running!

The Wonders

Guy Patterson “Shades” (Tom Everett Scott)

Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn)

Jimmy Mattingly (Jonathon Schaech)

the unnamed bass player (Ethan Emery)

“and the lovely” Faye Dolan (Liv¬†Tyler)

 

 

Cutting to the chase: 

Guy’s drumming is awesome, he changes the song tempo of “That Thing You Do” from ballad to upbeat, Faye calls Guy’s playing “wonderful” hence band’s name, teen girls dance, Villapiano restaurant gig, Tom Hanks signs the band changing the spelling from “The Oneders” to The Wonders. Boom! Number 1 hit record!

 

The rest, as they say, is one-hit wonder history.

that thing you do collage

Lenny (Steve Zahn) by far is my favorite Wonder! ¬†He gets it. ¬†Enjoy the moment. ¬†He’s relaxed, funny and always the life of the party. ¬†When asked a question by a reporter during their State Fair Tour he replies with a sorta crazy¬†nasally¬†sounding voice: ¬†“Oh I’m not here with these fellas, I gotta pig in competition¬†over at the livestock pavilion and I am gonna win that blue ribbon!” ¬†Leaving the reporter with a¬†stupefied¬†look on his face. ¬†Classic Lenny. ¬†Priceless!

 

It’s a fun-filled musical ride well worth the viewing!

 

See the Cast of ‘That Thing You Do!’ Then and Now

That-Thing-You-Do

Front Row: Tom Hanks, Liv Tyler, Tom Everett Scott. Back Row: Jonathon Schaech, Ethan Emery, Steve Zahn.

Read More: See the Cast of ‘That Thing You Do!’ Then and Now | http://screencrush.com/that-thing-you-do-then-and-now/?trackback=tsmclip

Happy Birthday, Ms. Lena Horne!

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was a singer, dancer, actress, and activist whose 1957 live album entitled, Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria, became the biggest-selling record by a female artist in the history of the RCA-Victor label. In 1958, this timeless beauty became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Tony Award for “Best Actress in a Musical” (for her part in the “Calypso” musical Jamaica).

Lena Horne

Lena Horne

I’m proud to say that Lena and I are sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. which in the summer of 1980 sponsored a 2-month series of benefit concerts for Soror Horne. Sixty-three years old and intent on retiring from show business, these concerts were represented as Soror Horne’s farewell tour, although her retirement lasted less than a year.

In May 1981, her one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music became an instant success garnering Horne a special Tony award, and two Grammy Awards for the cast recording. The 333-performance Broadway run closed on her 65th birthday, June 30, 1982.

 

Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music

Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music

 

In 1995, a “live” album capturing her Supper Club performance was released (winning a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album). In 1998, Horne released another studio album, entitled Being Myself. Thereafter, Horne essentially retired from performing and largely retreated from public view.

 

In her personal life, Lena Horne married twice,¬†Louis Jordan Jones in January 1937 (divorced in 1944). There were 2 children from that union –¬†daughter, Gail (later known as Gail Lumet Buckley, a writer) and son, Edwin Jones (born February 7, 1940 ‚Äď September 12, 1970)¬†who died of kidney disease. Lena’s second husband,¬† Lennie Hayton, was Music Director and one of the premier musical conductors and arrangers at MGM. They married in December 1947 in Paris and separated in the early 1960’s but never divorced. Hayton died in 1971.

Lena’s grandchildren include screenwriter Jenny Lumet, daughter of Horne’s daughter Gail and husband filmmaker, Sidney Lumet.¬†Her other grandchildren include Gail’s other daughter, Amy Lumet, and her son’s three children, Thomas, William, and Lena. Horne also has a great-grandson,¬†actor Jake Cannavale.

Lena was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. During World War II she refused to perform before segregated audiences and at The March on Washington, she performed and spoke in association with the NAACP, SNCC, and the National Association of Negro Women. Ms. Horne also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to help pass anti-lynching laws. In 1983, she was awarded the Spingarn Medal for outstanding achievement from the NAACP.

 

From her beginnings at The Cotton Club at age sixteen through her appearances in films, television, and on Broadway, Lena Horne’s career spanned over 70 years. Back in 2012 there were¬†rumors about singer Alicia Keys portraying Lena in a biopic. Sounds interesting. What do you think? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if it ever happens.

 

Lena Alicia 2

 

In honor of what would be Lena’s 98th birthday, I’m featuring her most notable film:

Lena Horne  June 30, 1917‚Äď May 9, 2010

Lena Horne
June 30, 1917‚Äď May 9, 2010

“Stormy Weather”¬†(1943) American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox

This movie blew my mind! ¬†I saw it as a kid in the early sixties having no idea that there had ever been an all Black cast in a Hollywood production. Most of the premier entertainers of the 1940’s appeared in this tour de force that still stands as one of the best musicals of all time!

 

Stormy Weather poster

Directed by Andrew L. Stone
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Jerry Horwin, Seymour B. Robinson (story)
H.S. Kraft (adaptation)
Starring Lena Horne
Bill Robinson
Cab Calloway
Katherine Dunham
Fats Waller
Fayard Nicholas
Harold Nicholas
Ada Brown
Dooley Wilson
Music by Harold Arlen
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Editing by James B. Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July¬†21,¬†1943
Running time 78 minutes
Country United States
Language English

“Stormy Weather” was the 2nd all Black cast film made by a major studio in the 1940’s. “Cabin in the Sky” was the 1st, produced by MGM. Lena Horne starred in both and became famous for her rendition of “Stormy Weather” although Ethel Waters first performed the classic at The Cotton Club Nightclub in Harlem in 1933.

The song was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler who worked as music composers at the renowned Cotton Club from 1930-1934. They wrote many of the jazz revue songs that were performed at the club and are still classics today. Harold Arlen wrote the music and Ted Koehler the lyrics.

Awards

“Stormy Weather” was selected in 2001 to The Library of Congress National Film Registry.

 

Stormy Weather 1

Get ready to have your “mind blown”! ¬†This dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers is unreal. ¬†Check it out. ¬†Holy crap!!

 

Ethel Waters was a famous blues, jazz, gospel vocalist and actress. ¬†Her best-known recordings include “Dinah”, “Stormy Weather”, “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Cabin in the Sky” (She also starred in the film) Let’s enjoy her interpretation of the classic tune by Arlen and Koehler:

“Stormy Weather”

 

Happy Birthday, Ms. Lena!

Lena Horne 2

 

 

 

 

 

“Dance and Sing Get Up and Do Your Thing” – AFI’s Top 5 Musicals

musicals logo

 

It seems every time someone asks the question “What’s your favorite? (fill in the blank) that’s what happens to me…BLANK. ¬†So, I decided to prep for the next occasion. ¬†Here’s the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 5 Musicals of All time! ¬†West Side Story and Cabaret have already made the list on my Songbird Oscar Winners post. ¬†I think I got this!

Can you name yours? ¬†Let’s share.

# FILM YEAR STUDIO
1 SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 1952 MGM
2 WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists
3 WIZARD OF OZ, THE 1939 MGM
4 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox
5 CABARET 1972 Allied Artists

 

Some of my favorite quotes from the films!

Singing in the rain poster

Lina: ¬†[with a voice to peel paint] ¬†And I cayn’t stand’im. ¬† ¬†Holy crap! This line makes the movie for me!!

 

 

 

West Side Poster

[singing]

Bernardo: ¬†” I’d like to go back to San Juan.”

Anita: ¬†“I know a boat you can get on!”

 

Ha! ¬†You do you, cause I’m gonna do me!

 

 

Wizard of Oz

Cowardly Lion: ¬†”¬†Alright¬† I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.”

Tin Woodsman,¬†Scarecrow: ¬†“What’s that?”

Cowardly Lion: ¬†“Talk me out of it!”

 

Oh Lion – you just gotta love him!

 

 

 

Sound of Music

 

Maria: ¬†“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

 

Without a doubt!  Amen!

 

 

Cabaret poster

 

Sally: ¬†” I’m going to be a great film star! That is, if booze and sex don’t get me first.”

 

Quote is dead on. ¬†What’s up Ms Liza?

 

 

 

 

Master of Suspense?

Master of Suspense

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock ¬†(August 13, 1899¬†‚Äď April 29, ¬†1980)

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock aka “Master of Suspense” was a British born director known for his mastery of the suspense and psychological thriller. ¬†He was an innovator using film editing (cuts) as the basis to construct a film. He poked, stabbed and forced us to face our fears, obsessions and¬†compulsions.

Hitch is one of my favorite directors because of his fearlessness. He used a¬†voyeuristic¬†style and cuts to let you see inside the head of his leading characters. Rear Window (1954) is a classic example of his style as the audience becomes the voyeur along with James Stewart’s character. We go along with Hitch and peer through the windows of Stewart’s neighbors and cross a line we otherwise wouldn’t.

In Psycho (1960) we peer through the peephole with “Norman Bates” (Anthony Perkins) and end up rooting for this very troubled individual. Not allowing patrons to enter the theater after Psycho started was a great gimmick. His most fearless move was what¬†occurred¬†in the first 45 minutes of the film. Now that’s risk and genius!

In 1992, the US Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Now, meet Hitchcock as he takes us through the Bates Motel and the events that occurred. This is Sir Alfred in all his shocking glory.

Although Hitchcock is legendary for his film editing genius, Rope (1948 ) proved to be his ultimate experiment. Instead of using film editing, he would shoot the movie in one long sequence. Stopping only to change the camera role. Like filming a play. Each role of camera film holds about 10-12 minutes of film.

The set was insane with flying walls and furniture. Jimmy Stewart once remarked about placing his drink on a table, turning back around and not only was the drink gone but the table it was sitting on. Everyone had to be on their mark and not drop a line because if anything went wrong they had to do everything  all over again. Hitchcock said the film just about killed him!

A Little Hitchcock History:

His first directing assignment, Number 13, began in 1922 but unfortunately wasn’t finished due to financial issues. His big break came in 1927 with the completion of his thriller The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. ¬†The plot revolved around a search for a Jack the Ripper type of serial killer and mistaken identity. Hitchcock’s first thriller is ripe with mood and the German Expressionist influence. A taste of things to come in Hitch’s¬†repertoire, it was a commercial and critical success.

Hitchcock-The_Lodger_1927_Poster

Hitchcock’s tenth film, Blackmail was released in 1929 and considered¬†Britain’s¬†first talkie. It also starts his usage of landmarks as a tradition and appears in the longest cameo of all his films.

Hitchcock-Blackmail_1929_Poster

The 39 Steps (1935) is widely considered the best of Hitchcock’s early films and made him a star in the U.S. ¬†It also branded Hitch’s obsession with the cold blonde, sophisticated leading lady which Grace Kelly would come to epitomize. Then there’s the infamous¬†“MacGuffin.” ¬†A¬†reoccurring¬†plot device that actually had no real significance¬†to the story-line. A decoy. Just another Hitch thing.

The 39 Steps

Alfred Hitchcock’s films were produced in¬†Britain until in 1939. When¬†David O. Selznick signed him to a seven year contract, Hitch relocated to the United States with his wife Alma Reville (his closest collaborator) and his daughter Patricia Hitchcock.

Alma Reville was an accomplished director, writer, editor and producer in Britain before she met Hitch while working¬†¬†at¬†Paramount‘sFamous Players-Lasky studio in London, during the early 1920s. Patricia Hitchcock appeared in several of her dad’s films including: Psycho, Strangers on a Train and Stage Fright.

Rebecca (1940) was Hitchcock’s first American film. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director but did not win. In fact, although nominated five times, he would never be afforded that honor.

Alfred Hitchcock  became an American citizen in 1956 and was a multiple nominee and winner of a number of prestigious awards. Hithcock was the recipient of  two Golden Globes, eight Laurel Awards, and five lifetime achievement awards including the first BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

Hitchcock received a knighthood in 1980 when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

What’s your quintessential¬†Hitchcock film?

  • Stage Fright (1950)
  • Saboteur (1942)
  • Strangers on a Train (1951)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Spellbound (1945)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  • The 39 Steps (1935)
  • Rope (1948)
  • Vertigo (1958)

Not here? Voice Your choice in the comments.

Check out Alfred Hitchcock’s substantial catalog.

The quintessential “Master of Suspense.”