iheart Halloween!ūüĎĽ

Image result for halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday! It’s a day for self-expression. A day for fun and fantasy. A day for taking control of phobias and fears and turning your back on Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Where’s your power now Fred? Way to shut that mess down.

It’s also a day to indulge in all your favorite classic, creepy, monster, sci-fi horror films.

Therefore, in the spirit of Halloween, let’s pay homage to the original man of horror. The “Man of a Thousand Faces”- Lon Chaney.

 Man of a Thousand Faces РLon Chaney

lon chaney man of a

Lon Chaney (April 1, 1883¬†‚Äď August 26, 1930), born Leonidas Frank Chaney

Born to deaf parents, Lon learned to express himself and communicate visually. He took his desire to become an actor and created an art form and space for himself that was revolutionary to the motion picture industry. His makeup artistry allowed him to transform and become grotesque characters in films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). He’s regarded as one of the most important character actors of the silent film era. (Wikipedia)

lon chaney headshot

The original “monster maker”, he would scout out the daily call sheets for a studio finding out what types of extras were needed for that day’s shoot. He created a make-up toolbox of possibilities for him to achieve the look and characterizations needed to be chosen for a role. This talent was the impetus for his unparalleled reputation in the burgeoning film industry.

 lon unknown poster

This flick is by far my favorite Lon Chaney! 

Chaney’s alliance with Director Tod Browning was inspired! Browning was into the macabre and best known for his films Dracula (1931) and the cult classic Freaks (1932) and Lon Chaney had the acting and makeup skills to realize any twisted character¬†the director could come up with.

My favorite movie line is from their 1927 silent film The Unknown – “crack of your ass”. (okay, I can’t swear that’s what he¬†said) But, seriously, as Alonzo the Armless, he threatened his co-star Joan Crawford with bodily harm if she did not bend to his will. Remember Grandma Klump from Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor(1996)? “You might walk over, but you limpin’ back! “Chaney totally went there. Check it out:

Let’s talk about the level of twisted in this movie:

A word of advice, if you’ve got a thing about someone that’s all-consuming and you’d do anything to get with that person, forget about it!

Plot: This crazy man, Alonzo the Armless (Lon Chaney) has a knife-throwing act using only his feet and is in love with Nanon (Joan Crawford) who”can’t bear to be touched.” He has arms¬†but pretends not to for his circus¬†act and so Nanon will talk to him. When it’s discovered that he indeed has arms, he blackmails a low-rent surgeon to amputate them. Sick!

Nanon and Alonzo

lon and nanon

After his surgery, Alonzo returns to the circus and his knife throwing act. Hoping to rekindle his relationship, he strolls over to Nanon’s circus wagon to see his rival Malabar, the circus strongman, (Norman Kerry) with his hands all over his love. Holy crap, it’s on! Alonzo schemes to get his girl back by rigging the speed of Malabar’s horses in his act which will dislocate and sever his arms during the live circus performance.

Alonzo

lon feet

Alonzo’s sick plan is working until Nanon realizes what is happening and tries to stop the performance. And then boom! The”crack of your ass” line. As you saw in the clip, things didn’t really work out the way he saw it play out in his mind.

Malabar

lon malabar stretch

This documentary, The Many Faces of Lon Cheney, is a great biography for more in-depth background information and presents a great opportunity to discover your own Lon Chaney gem.

 

 

Lon Chaney is also the father of Lon Chaney, Jr who was best known¬†for his role in Universal’s “The Wolfman” (1941). The Wolfman is part of the original Universal Monster Franchise including “Dracula” (1931), and “Frankenstein” (1931).

Lon Jr always lived in his father’s shadow and in later years he battled¬†throat cancer¬†and chronic¬†heart disease¬†among other ailments after decades of heavy drinking and smoking. In his final horror film,¬†Dracula vs. Frankenstein¬†(1971), directed by¬†Al Adamson, he played Groton,¬†Dr. Frankenstein’s mute henchman.

¬†Chaney’s career in movies and television spanned four decades, from 1931 to 1971.

Make sure to add Lon Chaney, Sr. and Jr. films to your Halloween lineup. Classics!

 Image result for halloween

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Feud ūüėí Bette and Joan -Whatever Happened?

Feud

 

Bette Davis is at the top of my list of incredible actresses of classic film and her infamous relationship with Joan Crawford is legendary. So, when I heard Ryan Murphy’s 2017 series¬†“Feud” was recreating their tumultuous battles in the film¬†“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” I had to check it out. Susan Sarandon¬†(Davis) and Jessica Lange¬†(Crawford) bring back old Hollywood and pull back the layers of the complexity between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

 

 

Director Robert Aldrich’s cult classic “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” (1962) is brilliant! It’s not fair, but to the powers that be, women in Hollywood age but men are considered “salt n pepper” hot. Aldrich’s production capitalized on the star power of the “past their prime” celebrated divas and the result is a glimpse into the real-life feud between the stars.

 

Bette Davis (L) Joan Crawford (R)

 

Not to be too biasedūüėĄ¬†but, Ms. Davis literally kicked Joan’s behind! Crawford was way over her head onscreen and off as Bette outperformed and out strategized her nemesis. Bette is my hero because she took on roles other actresses wouldn’t touch because of their image.

 

Image result for of human bondage 1934

Bette Davis in “Of Human Bondage”

 

She wasn’t afraid to go there and if the role required her to look unattractive she was game. An original in a class by herself, in “Of Human Bondage” (1934) her appearance was shocking to audiences of the time as she portrayed a callous woman dying of tuberculosis; not a pretty sight.

 

 

“What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” is a 1962 American psychological thriller-horror film¬†produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, about an aging actress who holds her paraplegic sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion.

 

feud bette and joan

Alfred Molina as Aldrich (L)   Robert Aldrich (R)

The screenplay by Lukas Heller is based on the 1960 novel of the same name by Henry Farrell. Upon the film’s release, it was met with widespread critical and box office acclaim and was later nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Costume Design, Black and White. (Wikipedia)

 

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? bette and joan

Bette Davis (L)  Joan Crawford (R)

feud bette and joan

Susan Sarandon (L)  Jessica Lange (R)

In true Bette Davis fashion, she came up with her own makeup for the role. She said that Jane was someone who never washed her face but just added more makeup.

In “Whatever Happened…” The young neighbor was played by Davis’ daughter B. D. Merrill who, followed in the footsteps of Joan Crawford’s daughter Christina, and wrote a scathing memoir, “My Mother’s Keeper”, that depicted her mother in a harsh light. However, unlike Christina who waited until after Crawford’s death to publish “Mommie Dearest”, B.D. published hers in 1985 while Davis was still alive but in poor health.

 

"Feud"

B.D (Davis’ daughter-L) ¬† Kiernan Shipka portrays B.D in “Feud”

 

It was an open secret that Davis and Crawford loathed each other, and filming was contentious as their real-life hatred for one another spilled over into the production, and even after filming had wrapped.

 

Image result for feud bette and joan

 

The film’s success spawned a succession of horror/thriller films featuring psychotic older women, later dubbed the psycho-biddy subgenre, among them Aldrich’s Hush‚Ķ Hush, Sweet Charlotte, What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? and What’s the Matter with Helen?. It was parodied by the Italian comedy film What Ever Happened to Baby Toto?¬†(Wikipedia)

Shaun Considine’s 1989 book Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud chronicles the actresses’ rivalry, including their experience shooting this film.

 

 

Both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had incredible and challenging careers and personal lives. If I’ve peaked your interest and you’d like to learn more, check out this eye-opening documentary.

 

 

 

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 ‚Äď 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.

 

Macabre the 13th

I really don’t need an excuse to watch the creepy, macabre “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962) but on Friday the 13th it just seems apropos.

WHAT-EVER-HAPPENED-TO-BABY-JANE

 

 

This film showcases not only the destructive rival between two sisters Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) and Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) but also the real life, career-long rival between the actresses. That’s at the center of what makes this such a fabulous movie. I can just see Bette’s wheels turning as she relishes her slow, ongoing torture of Joan, her on-screen nemesis.

 

What ever jane and blanche

 

Directed by Robert Aldrich¬†from the novel by Henry Farrell, the story revolves around former child star – Baby Jane Hudson who can’t make the successful transition to film unlike her sister Blanche who spent her childhood in Baby Jane’s shadow. But, because of a car accident, Blanche is left crippled and Jane is begrudgingly forced to take care of her. Emphasis on the begrudging! – The result? – 133 minutes of pure on the edge of your seat, I can’t believe she just did that, sadomasochist Baby Jane Hudson.

What ever i've written a letter

Baby Jane – “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy”

 

 

What ever blanche bird

Blanche Hudson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For full disclosure, I’ve always loved Bette Davis! Check out my previous post, If it’s Sunday, break out the hankies! Bette always sought out challenging roles and wasn’t afraid to “go there.” As a matter of fact, in her first acclaimed film, “Of Human Bondage” she both emotionally and physically portrayed the grotesque nature of her character. She made her appearance “haggish” wanting to express the true physical appearance of someone with tuberculosis.

The success of “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” re-energized both actresses careers in the 60’s as the “psycho-biddy” subgenre of horror/thriller films featuring psychotic older women came into vogue. Two other movies that followed the trend were Aldrich’s Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte¬†and What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?.

“What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, winning one for Best Costume Design.

So, on this Friday the 13th if you’re looking for a treat – I recommended spending a little time with the Hudson sisters and find out – “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”

 

iheart Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday! It’s a day for self-expression. A day for fun and fantasy. A day for taking control of phobias and fears and turning your back on Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Where’s your power now Fred? Way to shut that mess down.

It’s also a day to indulge in all your favorite classic, creepy, monster, sci-fi horror films.

Therefore, in the spirit of Halloween, let’s pay homage to the original man of horror. The “Man of a Thousand Faces”- Lon Chaney.

 Man of a Thousand Faces РLon Chaney

lon chaney man of a

Lon Chaney (April 1, 1883¬†‚Äď August 26, 1930), born Leonidas Frank Chaney

Born to deaf parents, Lon learned to express himself and communicate visually. He took his desire to become an actor and created an art form and space for himself that was revolutionary to the motion picture industry. His makeup artistry allowed him to transform and become grotesque characters in films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). He’s regarded as one of the most important character actors of the silent film era.

lon chaney headshot

The original “monster maker”, he would scout out the daily call sheets for a studio finding out what types of extras were needed for that day’s shoot. He created a make-up toolbox of possibilities for him to achieve the look and characterizations needed to be chosen for a role. This talent was the impetus for his unparalleled reputation in the burgeoning film industry.

 lon unknown poster

This flick is by far my favorite Lon Chaney! 

Chaney’s alliance with Director Tod Browning was inspired! Browning was into the macabre and best known for his films Dracula (1931) and the cult classic Freaks (1932) and Lon Chaney had the acting and makeup skills to realize any twisted character¬†the director could come up with.

My favorite movie line is from their 1927 silent film The Unknown – “crack of your ass”. (okay, I can’t swear that’s what he¬†said) But, seriously, as Alonzo the Armless, he threatened his co-star Joan Crawford with bodily harm if she did not bend to his will. Remember Grandma Klump from Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor(1996)? “You might walk over, but you limpin’ back! “Chaney totally went there. Check it out:

Let’s talk about the level of twisted in this movie:

A word of advice, if you’ve got a thing about someone that’s all consuming and you’d do anything to get with that person, forget about it!

Plot: This crazy man, Alonzo the Armless (Lon Chaney) has a knife throwing act using only his feet and is in love with Nanon (Joan Crawford) who”can’t bear to be touched.” He has arms¬†but pretends not to for his act and so Nanon will talk to him. When it’s discovered that he indeed has arms, he blackmails a low-rent surgeon to amputate them. Sick!

Nanon and Alonzo

lon and nanon

After his surgery, Alonzo returns to the circus and his knife throwing act. Hoping to rekindle his relationship, he strolls over to Nanon’s circus wagon to see his rival Malabar, the circus strongman, (Norman Kerry) with his hands all over his love. Holy crap, it’s on! Alonzo schemes to get his girl back by rigging the speed of Malabar’s horses in his act which will dislocate and sever his arms during the live circus performance.

Alonzo

lon feet

Alonzo’s sick plan is working until Nanon realizes what is happening and tries to stop the performance. And then boom! The”crack of your ass” line. As you saw in the clip, things didn’t really work out the way he saw it play out in his mind.

Malabar

lon malabar stretch

This documentary, Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces is a great biography for more in-depth background information and presents a great opportunity to discover your own Lon Chaney gem.

Here it is, Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces

 

Lon Chaney is also the father of Lon Chaney, Jr best known¬†for his role in Universal’s The Wolfman (1941).

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 ‚Äď 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.