If it’s Sunday, breakout the hankies!

Cinema sign

Melodrama Sunday Movie Classics

In a previous post I talked about maybe being a little anal about the rules for Saturday and Sunday afternoon movie watching. I shared my rules for Saturday afternoon movie viewing which is B-horror and science fiction. I also shared 3 of my favorite flicks. The Blob (1958), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and The Tingler (1959). (hope you check ’em out)

So, for Part 2 I’m showcasing Sunday and my criteria for some great classic melodrama.

I love melodramas because they can be so over the top and cathartic (think movie therapy) and there’s no better day to indulge than on a lazy Sunday, vegging on the couch, better yet if it’s a rainy day.

According to dictionary.com:

Melodrama – Exaggerated and emotional or sentimental, sensational or sensationalized: over dramatic.

Bette Davis is my favorite Melodrama Diva! Talk about emotional and dramatic, she had those attitudes down pat. With her I find myself either talking back to my TV screen or weeping. (this is why rain helps) So, let’s find out about “The First Lady of the American Screen:

Bette Davis

Bette Davis color

 Ruth Elizabeth Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989) known as Bette Davis

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ms. Davis is regarded as one of the greatest actors in cinema history. Bette Davis was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice. She was also the first person to receive 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. With more than 100 films, television and theater roles to her credit, in 1999, Davis placed second on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Bette was known for her no-nonsense, no-holds barred personality and wasn’t afraid to take on unsympathetic character roles. In the RKO film Of Human Bondage (1934), she played such a character as Mildred, the cruel and vicious waitress.  A film adaptation of the 1915 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. This melodramatic adaptation about a crippled doctor’s destructive and compulsive passion for this coarse waitress was advertised with the tagline on one of its posters: “The Love That Lifted a Man to Paradise…and Hurled Him Back to Earth Again.”

In her 1st major, critically acclaimed part she insisted on looking hideous to depict the ravages of the disease tuberculosis on the human body. She wasn’t nominated for an Oscar but so impressed fellow artists that they insisted she be a write-in on the ballot.

Bette_davis_of_human_bondage

Bette as “Mildred” in Of Human Bondage 1934

A little bit of Mildred’s charm:

 Let’s take a look at her 10 Oscar nominations and 2 wins:

  • 1935: Won for Dangerous, as a self-destructive, alcoholic actress (really a make-up for not winning Of Human Bondage)

 

  • 1938: Won for Jezebel, as a self absorbed 1850’s southern belle whose insistence on wearing a red-dress to a formal affair (white = chaste) brings scandal and disapproval. Her man “Pres” Henry Fonda was too through with her.

 

  • 1939: Nominated for Dark Victory, as Judith Traherne, an impetuous, terminally ill Long Island socialite. (yes that’s Bette with a drunken Ronald Reagan) Big time tear-jerker! – Bette’s favorite!  

 

  • 1940: Nominated for The Letter, as a low-down, adulterous murderer who has absolutely no remorse for blowing her lover away. However, karma is a bitch.

 

  • 1941: Nominated for The Little Foxes, as Southern aristocrat Regina Giddens – that girl put the cold in cold-blooded.  

 

  •  1942: Nominated for Now, Voyager, as Charlotte Vale – a dowdy, overweight, spinster, abused by her mother but fights back and achieves a starling transformation in body and spirit. An incredible performance! My absolute favorite Bette Davis role! 

Charlotte on the edge of a well deserved nervous breakdown:

 

Charlotte’s journey:

 

  • 1944: Nominated for Mr. Skeffington, as Fanny Skeffington, a woman so conceited that she tries to steal her daughter’s boyfriend, loses her looks after an illness but still has the nerve to treat her husband like dirt and still believe she can have any man – no way. In the end she learns the hard way that “a woman is beautiful when she’s loved and only then.” (too bad it’s after her husband goes blind in a concentration camp)

 

  • 1950: Nominated for All About Eve, as Margo Channing  an insecure Broadway star challenged by the younger, conniving Eve – “Fasten your seat-belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”  It was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered.

  • 1952: Nominated for The Star, as Maggie, a washed-up actress trying to revive her career. Notably, at this time in Bette Davis’ career, she was struggling for roles despite her body of work. Bette’s ego was blamed.

 

  • 1962: Nominated for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the demented Baby Jane Hudson who tortures and terrorizes her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford)  Much like their real life rivalry. This role renewed her success and paved the way for other deranged characters in such films as: Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) and The Nanny (1965)

 ♦♦♦♦

Bette continued to perform in film and on television in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1983 at the age of 75 she had a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. Nine days later she suffered a stroke. Despite her failing health she continued to work until her death in 1989.

This is an in-depth retrospect of “The First Lady of the American Screen”

Enjoy! Don’t forget to bring your hankie.

 

African-American Oscar History Pt. 2

Last year’s 86th Academy Awards marked a historic night for black filmmakers at the Oscars. It’s the first time a black film – 12 Years a Slave — won best picture; the Academy’s most prestigious award. John Ridley won for Best Adapted Screenplay and Steve McQueen won as Producer.

But, as the 1959 Grammy Award winning vocalist Dinah Washington sang: “What a Difference a Day Makes.”

I’m recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of Black Artists in Hollywood; especially considering the lack of African-American nominations for this year’s 87th Academy Awards.

 

 Oscars 2015: No black actors or female screenwriters, directors or cinematographers were nominated.

 

History

The 12th Academy Awards is historic for being the 1st Oscar nomination for an African-American and 1st Oscar win. Hattie McDaniel accepted her award in 1940 as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Gone With the Wind” as the character – Mammy.

hattie

Hattie McDaniel

 

However, if David O. Selznick (Producer, film studio executive) hadn’t pulled a favor, she might not have been able to deliver her acceptance speech at all. At the time, the Cocoanut Grove nightclub (located in the Ambassador Hotel) was segregated so Ms. McDaniel wasn’t even allowed entrance. Selznick pulled another favor so she could be seated at a table at the very back of the room with her agent. To add insult to injury, Hattie McDaniel wasn’t allowed to speak her own words, the acceptance speech was written by the studio.

Despite all the prejudice, Hattie McDaniel – who at the time was one of the biggest African-American actors in the world -promoted herself for the nomination. After the release of the movie, she placed a stack of outstanding film reviews on O. Selznick’s desk and the rest is history.

 

First Best Actress Oscar 

In 2002, Halle Berry became the 1st (and to date) only African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. The Oscar was for the film “Monsters Ball”.

 

Halle Berry 2002 Best Actress

Halle Berry 2002 Best Actress

Dorothy Dandridge – (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) is the 1st African-American actress to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in 1954 for her performance in “Carmen Jones.” She has been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was married to dancer Harold Nicholas. Check out my previous post on the Nicholas Brothers here.

Dorothy_Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge

Halle Berry portrayed her life in the HBO biographical film “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” in 1999.

Halle_Berry Introducing Dorothy Dandridge

 

Watching Halle’s acceptance speech again while researching this post, I burst into tears reliving her emotion as she tries to process the win and the historical significance of this moment. Looking forward to the acceptance speech of our second Best Actress Oscar Winner.

 

Halle and Denzel Oscars

Halle and Denzel Oscars

This win also marked the 1st time two African-American performers won in leading role Oscars in the same year (Denzel Washington, Training Day).

 

 

oscars 3

Best Supporting Actress

1st to Win: Hattie McDaniel “Gone With the Wind” 1940

Hattie McDaniel 1940 Oscars

Although known as an actress she was a professional singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer, and television star; she was the first black woman to sing on the radio in the U.S. and has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the first black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp.

  • Hattie McDaniel was also the oldest African-American actress to win an Academy Award (age 44).

  Finally – 50 Years later the 2nd Winner!

Winner: Supporting Actress – Whoopi Goldberg “Ghost” 1990

  • First African-American actress to receive two acting nominations overall.

  • Second African-American actress to win Best Supporting Actress.

Whoopi oscar

Whoopi Goldberg 1990 Best Supporting Actress

 Winner: Supporting Actress – Jennifer Hudson “Dreamgirls” 2006

jennifer hudson

Jennifer Hudson 2006 Oscar

  •  First African-American actor (male or female) to win an Academy Award for a debut film performance.

  • Youngest African-American actress to win or be nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

  • Youngest African-American actor (male or female) to win an Academy Award (age 25).

  • First African-American actress to win an Academy Award for a musical film.

Oscar

Oldest African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award (age 83) – Ruby Dee “American Gangster” 2007.

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

For her life and career see my previous post here: Ruby Dee

 

oscar red

Winner: Supporting Actress – Mo’Nique “Precious” 2009

Mo'Nique

Mo’Nique

  • Second film to feature African-American nominees for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer

Winner: Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer  “The Help” 2011

  • Third film to feature African-American nominees for both Best Actress and Supporting Actress.

Lupita oscar 1

Winner: Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o  “12 Years a Slave” 2013

  • First black African (Kenyan) actress to be nominated.

  • First black African to win in any category.

  • Second black actor to win for a debut performance.

 

  Congratulations and Cheers to these exceptional artists!

 

champagne cheers

 

We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

 

 

If it’s Sunday, breakout the hankies!

Cinema sign

Melodrama Sunday Movie Classics

In my last post I talked about maybe being a little anal about the rules for Saturday and Sunday afternoon movie watching. I shared my rules for Saturday afternoon movie viewing which is B-horror and science fiction. I also shared 3 of my favorite flicks. The Blob (1958), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and The Tingler (1959). (hope you check ’em out)

So, for Part 2 I’m showcasing Sunday and my criteria for some great classic melodrama.

I love melodramas because they can be so over the top and cathartic (think movie therapy) and there’s no better day to indulge than on a lazy Sunday, vegging on the couch, better yet if it’s a rainy day.

According to dictionary.com:

Melodrama – Exaggerated and emotional or sentimental, sensational or sensationalized: over dramatic.

Bette Davis is my favorite Melodrama Diva! Talk about emotional and dramatic, she had those attitudes down pat. With her I find myself either talking back to my TV screen or weeping. (this is why rain helps) So, let’s find out about “The First Lady of the American Screen:

Bette Davis

Bette Davis color

 Ruth Elizabeth Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989) known as Bette Davis

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ms. Davis is regarded as one of the greatest actors in cinema history. Bette Davis was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice. She was also the first person to receive 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. With more than 100 films, television and theater roles to her credit, in 1999, Davis placed second on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Bette was known for her no-nonsense, no-holds barred personality and wasn’t afraid to take on unsympathetic character roles. In the RKO film Of Human Bondage (1934), she played such a character as Mildred, the cruel and vicious waitress.  A film adaptation of the 1915 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. This melodramatic adaptation about a crippled doctor’s destructive and compulsive passion for this coarse waitress was advertised with the tagline on one of its posters: “The Love That Lifted a Man to Paradise…and Hurled Him Back to Earth Again.”

In her 1st major, critically acclaimed part she insisted on looking hideous to depict the ravages of the disease tuberculosis on the human body. She wasn’t nominated for an Oscar but so impressed fellow artists that they insisted she be a write-in on the ballot.

Bette_davis_of_human_bondage

Bette as “Mildred” in Of Human Bondage 1934

A little bit of Mildred’s charm:

 Let’s take a look at her 10 Oscar nominations and 2 wins:

  • 1935: Won for Dangerous, as a self-destructive, alcoholic actress (really a make-up for not winning Of Human Bondage)

 

  • 1938: Won for Jezebel, as a self absorbed 1850’s southern belle whose insistence on wearing a red-dress to a formal affair (white = chaste) brings scandal and disapproval. Her man “Pres” Henry Fonda was too through with her.

 

  • 1939: Nominated for Dark Victory, as Judith Traherne, an impetuous, terminally ill Long Island socialite. (yes that’s Bette with a drunken Ronald Reagan) Big time tear-jerker! – Bette’s favorite!  

 

  • 1940: Nominated for The Letter, as a low-down, adulterous murderer who has absolutely no remorse for blowing her lover away. However, karma is a bitch.

 

  • 1941: Nominated for The Little Foxes, as Southern aristocrat Regina Giddens – that girl put the cold in cold-blooded.  

 

  •  1942: Nominated for Now, Voyager, as Charlotte Vale – a dowdy, overweight, spinster, abused by her mother but fights back and achieves a starling transformation in body and spirit. An incredible performance! My absolute favorite Bette Davis role! 

Charlotte on the edge of a well deserved nervous breakdown:

 

Charlotte’s journey:

 

  • 1944: Nominated for Mr. Skeffington, as Fanny Skeffington, a woman so conceited that she tries to steal her daughter’s boyfriend, loses her looks after an illness but still has the nerve to treat her husband like dirt and still believe she can have any man – no way. In the end she learns the hard way that “a woman is beautiful when she’s loved and only then.” (too bad it’s after her husband goes blind in a concentration camp)

 

  • 1950: Nominated for All About Eve, as Margo Channing  an insecure Broadway star challenged by the younger, conniving Eve – “Fasten your seat-belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”  It was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered.

 

  • 1952: Nominated for The Star, as Maggie, a washed up actress trying to revive her career. Notably, at this time in Bette Davis’ career, she was struggling for roles despite her body of work. Bette’s ego was blamed.

 

  • 1962: Nominated for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the demented Baby Jane Hudson who tortures and terrorizes her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford)  Much like their real life rivalry. This role renewed her success and paved the way for other deranged characters in such films as: Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) and The Nanny (1965)

 ♦♦♦♦

Bette continued to perform in film and on television in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1983 at the age of 75 she had a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. Nine days later she suffered a stroke. Despite her failing health she continued to work until her death in 1989.

This is an in-depth retrospect of “The First Lady of the American Screen”

Enjoy! Don’t forget to bring your hankie.