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Portrait of Jennie

David O. Selznick’s marvelous romantic fantasy ode to Jennifer Jones was almost wholly unappreciated back in 1948. It’s one of those peculiar pictures that either melts one’s heart or doesn’t. Backed by a music score adapted from Debussy, just one breathy “Oh Eben . . . “ will turn average romantics into mush.

Portrait of Jennie

Blu-ray

Kl Studio Classics

1948 / B&W w/ Color Insert / 1:37 flat Academy / 86 min. / Street Date October 24, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95

Starring: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Cecil Kellaway, David Wayne, Albert Sharpe.

Cinematography: Joseph H. August

Production Designers: J. MacMillan Johnson, Joseph B. Platt

Original Music: Dimitri Tiomkin, also adapting themes from Claude Debussy; Bernard Herrmann

Written by Leonardo Bercovici, Peter Berneis, Paul Osborn, from the novella by Robert Nathan

Produced by David O. Selznick

Directed by William Dieterle

Once upon a time David O. Selznick’s Portrait of Jennie was an
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Cannes Film Review: ‘Sicilian Ghost Story’

In “Sicilian Ghost Story,” co-directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s superb follow-up to 2013’s Critics’ Week prizewinner “Salvo,” the duo evocatively interweave the richness of fairy tales with the obscenity of Mafia control. Based on the 1993 kidnapping of 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, held by the Mafia for 779 days in the hopes of silencing his informant father, the film invents a classmate with a crush who refuses to sweep Giuseppe’s disappearance under the rug. Her bond with the kidnapped boy, manifested through fairy tale symbols — a forest, a cave, animals, a lake — seamlessly dovetails with reality, drawing to the surface the anguish of a lost life together with the disgraceful fact that we as a society allow ourselves not to be haunted by acts of inhumanity. “Ghost Story” deserves a conspicuous place on international art-house screens.

Comparisons will be made with a host of other films using Brothers Grimm tropes,
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The Horrible Dr. Hichcock

"Death will take you as you sleep! A sleep as deep as Death!" Barbara Steele doesn't realize that her husband is using her to recover a forbidden sexual thrill. Riccardo Freda's film plays games with Alfred Hitchcock's filmography, but it also generates a Euro-horror spell like no other. Outrageous in 1962, it was a Technicolor ode to funereal surrealism. New in this review -- a crazy theory that might upend story assumptions about L'orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock. The Horrible Dr. Hichcock Blu-ray Olive Films 1962 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 77 88 min. / Street Date September 13, 2016 / L'orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock; Raptus The Secret of Dr. Hichcock, The Terror of Dr. Hichcock / available through the Olive Films website / 29.98 Starring Barbara Steele, Robert Flemyng, Montgomery Glenn (SIlvano Tranquili), Teresa Fitzgerald (Maria Teresa Vianello), Harriet White (Harriet White Medin), Spencer Williams, All Christianson, Evar SImpson, Nat Harley. Cinematography Donald Green (Rafaele Masciocchi) Film Editor Donna Christie
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Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Here's a sterling example of what Hollywood excelled at back in the golden age: Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, Claude Rains and Edward Everett Horton star in possibly the most magical of movies known as Film Blanc. A cosmic goof leaves a man with fifty years yet to live without a body -- so heavenly troubleshooters try to find him a new one. Here Comes Mr. Jordan Blu-ray The Criterion Collection 819 1941 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 94 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date June 14, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, Claude Rains, Rita Johnson, Edward Everett Horton, James Gleason. Cinematography Joseph Walker Art Direction Lionel Banks Film Editor Viola Lawrence Original Music Frederick Hollander Written by Sidney Buchman, Seton I. Miller from the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall Produced by Everett Riskin Directed by Alexander Hall

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Some movies are so entertaining that it's best to tell people,
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Dark Passage

Bogie's back and Bacall's got him! Or, at least she's got his voice, and a bundle of bandages. A David Goodis hardboiled crime tale becomes an absurd pile of coincidences and accidental relationships, all wrapped up (literally) in a giant plastic-surgery gimmick. Bogart and his new bride Bacall are charming, but there's a show -stealer at large: the great Agnes Moorehead plays the most entertainingly horrible harpy in film history. Dark Passage Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1947 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 106 min. / Street Date May 17, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 16.59 Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead, Bruce Bennett, Tom D'Andrea, Clifton Young, Douglas Kennedy, Rory Mallinson, Houseley Stevenson Cinematography Sid Hickox Art Direction Charles H. Clarke Film Editor David Weisbart Original Music Franz Waxman Written by Delmer Daves from a novel by David Goodis Produced by Jerry Wald, Jack L. Warner Directed by Delmer Daves

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Dark Passage
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Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9

Depraved convicts ! Crazy Manhattan gin parties! Society dames poaching other women's husbands! A flimflam artist scamming the uptown sophisticates! All these forbidden attractions are here and more -- including Bette Davis's epochal seduction line about impulsive kissing versus good hair care. It's a 9th collection of racy pre-Code wonders. Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9 Big City Blues, Hell's Highway, The Cabin in the Cotton, When Ladies Meet, I Sell Anything DVD-r The Warner Archive Collection 1932-1934 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 63, 62, 78, 85, 70 min. / Street Date October 27, 2015 / available through the WBshop / 40.99 Starring Joan Blondell, Eric Linden, Humphrey Bogart; Richard Dix, Tom Brown; Richard Barthelmess, Bette Davis, Dorothy Jordan, Berton Churchill; Ann Harding, Robert Montgomery, Myrna Loy, Alice Brady, Frank Morgan; Pat O' Brien, Ann Dvorak, Claire Dodd, Roscoe Karns. Cinematography James Van Trees; Edward Cronjager; Barney McGill; Ray June Written by Lillie Hayward, Ward Morehouse, from his play; Samuel Ornitz, Robert Tasker, Rowland Brown
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‘Our Gang’ Star Dick Moore Dies at 89

‘Our Gang’ Star Dick Moore Dies at 89
John Richard “Dick” Moore, a child star known for working in “Our Gang” and the husband of Jane Powell, died on Sept. 7. He was 89.

Moore was also a longtime AFTRA public relations consultant for more than three decades.

Moore was a native of Los Angeles. His mother’s chance meeting with a casting director led to his film debut a year later in “The Beloved Rogue,” in which he portrayed John Barrymore as an infant.

He joined Screen Actors Guild in 1937 and AFTRA in 1950. He was known onscreen as “Dickie” Moore and appeared in more than 100 films and television episodes before leaving acting in 1957.

He worked for two years on the “Our Gang/Little Rascals” series. Other credits include “The Blonde Venus” (as Marlene Dietrich’s son), “Million Dollar Legs” with W.C. Fields, “Peter Ibbetson” as young Gary Cooper, “Out of The Past” with Robert Mitchum and “Disorderly Conduct” with
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Former Child Actor Moore Dead at 89: Kissed Temple, Was Married to MGM Musical Star Powell

Child actor Dickie Moore: 'Our Gang' member. Former child actor Dickie Moore dead at 89: Film career ranged from 'Our Gang' shorts to features opposite Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper 1930s child actor Dickie Moore, whose 100+ movie career ranged from Our Gang shorts to playing opposite the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Stanwyck, and Gary Cooper, died in Connecticut on Sept. 7, '15 – five days before his 90th birthday. So far, news reports haven't specified the cause of death. According to a 2013 Boston Phoenix article about Moore's wife, MGM musical star Jane Powell, he had been “suffering from arthritis and bouts of dementia.” Dickie Moore movies At the behest of a persistent family friend, combined with the fact that his father was out of a job, Dickie Moore (born on Sept. 12, 1925, in Los Angeles) made his film debut as an infant in Alan Crosland's 1927 costume drama The Beloved Rogue,
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Movie Poster of the Week: Ernst Lubitsch’s “Broken Lullaby” and Other Auteurs Gone Wild

  • MUBI
Above: Swedish one sheet by Gösta Åberg for Broken Lullaby (Ernst Lubitsch, USA, 1932).

This rather unusual Swedish design, a mélange of various type and illustrative styles, is a poster for one of Ernst Lubitsch’s lesser known and most atypical films: Broken Lullaby (a.k.a. The Man I Killed). A dark film about a French soldier tormented by the memory of a German soldier—and fellow musician—whom he killed in Wwi, it screens this weekend and next in New York at Anthology Film Archives as part of "Auteurs Gone Wild," a tantalizing series programmed by Notebook contributor David Phelps.

The series includes nine refreshingly less-than-obvious works—all on 35mm—by such canonical figures as Hitchcock, Chaplin, Cukor, Capra, Lang and Von Sternberg. Phelps has chosen to shine a light on these authors’ least representative films: films that have been overlooked because they don’t fit the mold, because
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Program Notes Gone Wild

  • MUBI
A 9-film series of not-quite-classics (on 35mm), "Auteurs Gone Wild" runs at Anthology Film Archives from March 20-30, 2014; what follows are the director's cut of the program notes (with production stills of the auteurs themselves, mid-wild)—

***

If the Hollywood auteurs were the ghosts in the studio machine, what would they look like exorcised? Rather than author, the word "auteur" might have referred to a kind of rhetorician working within genre codes that, once decoded, would only reveal his own commentary on them. But what would happen if this auteur cleared his throat, managed a sip of water, and tried speaking in his own tongue? Typically, the critics who had authored the auteur as a placeholder and retroactive justification for their own generic interpretations would have to snub such attempts to break out of genre molds to go strange, personal places. For the irony is that these works, kind of laboratory
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With Durbin Gone, Who's Still Around from the '30s?

Oscar winners Olivia de Havilland and Luise Rainer among movie stars of the 1930s still alive With the passing of Deanna Durbin this past April, only a handful of movie stars of the 1930s remain on Planet Earth. Below is a (I believe) full list of surviving Hollywood "movie stars of the 1930s," in addition to a handful of secondary players, chiefly those who achieved stardom in the ensuing decade. Note: There’s only one male performer on the list — and curiously, four of the five child actresses listed below were born in April. (Please scroll down to check out the list of Oscar winners at the 75th Academy Awards, held on March 23, 2003, as seen in the picture above. Click on the photo to enlarge it. © A.M.P.A.S.) Two-time Oscar winner and London resident Luise Rainer (The Great Ziegfeld, The Good Earth, The Great Waltz), 103 last January
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The Forgotten: The Love Rack

James M. Cain was introduced to the concept of the "love rack" by his friend, screenwriter Vincent Lawrence (Hands Across the Table, Peter Ibbetson). Cain recalled, "I haven't the faintest idea whether this is a rack on which the lovers are tortured, or something with pegs to hold the shining cloak of romance, or how the word figures in it," but he learned from Lawrence that what makes the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet work is the balcony: the obstacle. The thing which separates the lovers and results in their being tormented with desire.

Cain had the idea of making the love story central to his narrative, rather than being "romantic interest," and to use it to tell a tale of murder. "Murder, I said, had always been written from its least interesting angle, which was whether the police catch the murderer." Cain instead wanted to show the development
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