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Heaven Can Wait

This may be the year for new cinephile converts to the cult of appreciation for the great Ernst Lubitsch. One of his last pictures but his first in color is this Production Code-defying tale of a serial philanderer and his relationship with the woman of his dreams, his wife. It’s stylized as a series of birthdays, and our hero is judged not by St. Peter but at the gates of Hades, by the fallen angel himself.

Heaven Can Wait

Blu-ray

The Criterion Collection 291

1943 / Color / 1:37 flat full frame / 112 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date August 21, 2018 / 39.95

Starring Gene Tierney, Don Ameche, Charles Coburn, Marjorie Main, Laird Cregar, Spring Byington, Allyn Joslyn, Eugene Pallette, Signe Hasso, Louis Calhern

Cinematography Edward Cronjager

Art Direction James Basevi, Leland Fuller

Film Editor Dorothy Spencer

Original Music Alfred Newman

Written by Samson Raphaelson from a play by Leslie Bush-Fekete

Produced and Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Wait one second,
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Dragonwyck

Before Vincent Price haunted houses, he chalked up plenty of experience as a Broadway star and a versatile character actor. This superb Joseph L. Mankiewicz gothic romance assigns him major leading man duty as a ‘dark and troubled’ soul — the kind that intimidates cowering leading ladies. With typical good humor, Price called it the first of his ‘dead wife’ movies!

Dragonwyck

Blu-ray

Twilight Time

1946 / B&W / 1:37 Academy / 103 min. / Street Date , 2018 / Available from the Twilight Time Movies Store / 29.95

Starring: Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, Vincent Price, Glenn Langan, Anne Revere, Spring Byington, Connie Marshall, Harry Morgan, Vivienne Osborne, Jessica Tandy, Trudy Marshall, Reinhold Schünzel, Grady Sutton.

Cinematography: Arthur C. Miller

Film Editor: Dorothy Spencer

Original Music: Alfred Newman

From the novel by Anya Seton

Produced by Ernst Lubitsch, Darryl F. Zanuck

Written for the screen and Directed by Joseph H. Mankiewicz

You’d have to say that Vincent Price’s film
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I’ll Be Seeing You

This unusually sensitive, overlooked WW2 romance skips the morale-boosting baloney of the day. Two people meet on a train, each with a personal shame they dare not speak of. Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten are excellent under William Dieterle’s direction, and Shirley Temple doesn’t do half the damage you’d think she might.

I’ll Be Seeing You

Blu-ray

Kl Studio Classics

1944 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 85 min. / Street Date November 21, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95

Starring: Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Spring Byington, John Derek, Tom Tully, Chill Wills, Kenny Bowers.

Cinematography: Tony Gaudio

Film Editor: William H. Zeigler

Special Effects: Jack Cosgrove

Original Music: Daniele Amfitheatrof

Stunt Double: Cliff Lyons

Written by Marion Parsonette from a play by Charles Martin

Produced by Dore Schary

Directed by William Dieterle

Aha! A little research explains why several late-’40s melodramas from David O. Selznick come off as smart productions,
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The Forgotten: James Whale's "By Candlelight" (1933) and "The Road Back" (1937)

One of the quirks of Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna's annual jamboree celebrating restored or rediscovered movies, is that expensive products of the Hollywood studio system can be just as obscure and hard-to-see as low-budget oddities, foreign arthouse affairs and forgotten silents from a hundred years ago. Dave Kehr's retrospective of neglected items from Universal's vaults demonstrates this clearly.James Whale always liked to say By Candlelight was his favorite of his own films, bypassing the more celebrated Frankenstein films. It's a romantic comedy of confused identities and it's no surprise that P.G. Wodehouse had a hand in the stage source.But in this movie, when a butler impersonates his master in order to seduce a wealthy lady who turns out to be a maid impersonating her mistress, all the irony of Wodehouse's inversion of traditional ideas about class has gone. All right, so George Orwell argued persuasively that Wodehouse
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TCM's Pride Month Series Continues with Movies Somehow Connected to Lgbt Talent

Turner Classic Movies continues with its Gay Hollywood presentations tonight and tomorrow morning, June 8–9. Seven movies will be shown about, featuring, directed, or produced by the following: Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart, Farley Granger, John Dall, Edmund Goulding, W. Somerset Maughan, Clifton Webb, Montgomery Clift, Raymond Burr, Charles Walters, DeWitt Bodeen, and Harriet Parsons. (One assumes that it's a mere coincidence that gay rumor subjects Cary Grant and Tyrone Power are also featured.) Night and Day (1946), which could also be considered part of TCM's homage to birthday girl Alexis Smith, who would have turned 96 today, is a Cole Porter biopic starring Cary Grant as a posh, heterosexualized version of Porter. As the warning goes, any similaries to real-life people and/or events found in Night and Day are a mere coincidence. The same goes for Words and Music (1948), a highly fictionalized version of the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart musical partnership.
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The Forgotten: George Archainbaud's "Hotel Haywire" (1937)

Really, I mean Preston Sturges' Hotel Haywire, because nobody's too interested in George Archainbaud, a Paramount contract director who had been directing for 20 years without helming a really memorable film (Thirteen Women, an uncomfortably racist pre-Code with Myrna Loy, is as exciting as it gets, and even that one is remembered chiefly for featuring the girl who threw herself off the Hollywood sign), He would continue for another 20, moving from B-westerns into TV westerns, without making anything else of particular note.Sturges wrote the script as part of his plan to get a long-term contract at Paramount. To particularly appeal to the suits there, he filled the story with roles for Paramount stars such as Mary Boland, Charles Ruggles, Fred MacMurray and Burns & Allen, none of whom were necessarily famous enough to carry a movie, but whose combined star-power might make an attractive investment for studio or future ticket-buyers.
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On a Clear Day You Can See Anniversaries Forever

On this day in showbiz history...

1886 Spring Byington is born in Colorado Springs. Goes on to supporting actress glory in Hollywood including Marmee in Little Women (1933, her feature debut) and an Oscar nomination as the eccentric hobbyist mom in You Can't Take It With You (1938). Curiously her screen daughter in that best picture winner Jean Arthur, an even bigger star, shares her same birthday (for the year of 1900)

1888 Thomas Edison files a patent for the Optical Phonograph (an early step in creating the cinema)

1903 Author and screenwriter Nathanael West is born in NYC. Movies adapted from his work include Lonelyhearts (1958) and The Day of the Locust (1975)

1915 One of the world's most celebrated playwrights, Arthur Miller, is born. His classics include Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and A View From the Bridge. After marrying movie star Marilyn Monroe, he wrote The Misfits (1961) for her which would eerily (considering its elegiac
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Judy by the Numbers: "I Don't Care"

Though nobody foresaw it at the time, 1948 was a major turning point in what would be Judy Garland’s last few years at MGM. After the one-two Freed Unit punch of Easter Parade and Words and Music at the beginning of 1948, Judy was supposed to head straight into her third Arthur Freed film,The Barkleys of Broadway. With Fred Astaire coaxed out of retirement, the duo of Astaire and Garland looked to be a new box office guarantee. Unfortunately, what wasn’t a guarantee was Judy’s health. After two months of rehearsal, Judy backed out of The Barkleys of Broadway, to be replaced by Ginger Rogers. This decision sounded the death knell for her partnership with Arthur Freed, the producer who had created the Judy Garland formula. Judy was too tired, too thin, and too weak to go on filming, until another producer from her past swooped back into the picture: Joe Pasternak.
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Judy by the Numbers: "Caro Nome/When I Look At You"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

With Judy Garland now such an established hit, MGM worked overtime to make the most of its musical star. This meant that while Arthur Freed and the Freed Unit "made" her by crafting her star image (and arguably used her to her best advantage), Judy couldn't work with them exclusively. She was too valuable a commodity for that. So, MGM also put her under the watchful tutelage of another producer well-known for his musical mojo: Joe Pasternak

The Movie: Presenting Lily Mars (1942)

The Songwriters: Walter Jurmann (music) and Paul Francis Webster (lyrics)

The Players: Judy Garland, Van Heflin, Fay Bainter, Spring Byington, directed by Norman Taurog

The Story: Had Judy's fateful short with Deanna Durbin turned out differently only six years previous, she might have met Joe Pasternak earlier. For most of the 1930s, Pasternak was a top producer at Universal Studios,
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Lubitsch Pt.II: The Magical Touch with MacDonald, Garbo Sorely Missing from Today's Cinema

'The Merry Widow' with Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald and Minna Gombell under the direction of Ernst Lubitsch. Ernst Lubitsch movies: 'The Merry Widow,' 'Ninotchka' (See previous post: “Ernst Lubitsch Best Films: Passé Subtle 'Touch' in Age of Sledgehammer Filmmaking.”) Initially a project for Ramon Novarro – who for quite some time aspired to become an opera singer and who had a pleasant singing voice – The Merry Widow ultimately starred Maurice Chevalier, the hammiest film performer this side of Bob Hope, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler – the list goes on and on. Generally speaking, “hammy” isn't my idea of effective film acting. For that reason, I usually find Chevalier a major handicap to his movies, especially during the early talkie era; he upsets their dramatic (or comedic) balance much like Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorsese's The Departed or Jerry Lewis in anything (excepting Scorsese's The King of Comedy
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You Can’t Take It with You

Frank Capra won his third Best Directing Oscar for this Kaufman and Hart adaptation. Star Jean Arthur is radiant, and relative newcomer James Stewart seems to have lifted his 'aw shucks' nice-guy personal from his role. With Lionel Barrymore, Ann Miller, Dub Taylor, Spring Byington and a terrific Edward Arnold. You Can't Take It with You Blu-ray + Digital HD Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 1938 / B&W / 1:37 flat / 126 min. / Street Date December 8, 2015 / 19.99 Starring Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Edward Arnold, Mischa Auer, Ann Miller, Spring Byington, Samuel S. Hinds, Donald Meek, H.B. Warner, Halliwell Hobbes, Dub Taylor, Mary Forbes, Lillian Yarbo, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson. Cinematography Joseph Walker Art Direction Stephen Goosson Film Editor Gene Havlick Original Music Dimitri Tiomkin Written by Robert Riskin from the play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart Produced and Directed by Frank Capra

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

One of Frank Capra's brightest, most entertaining features,
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Two-Time Oscar Winner Cooper on TCM: Pro-War 'York' and Eastwood-Narrated Doc

Gary Cooper movies on TCM: Cooper at his best and at his weakest Gary Cooper is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” star today, Aug. 30, '15. Unfortunately, TCM isn't showing any Cooper movie premiere – despite the fact that most of his Paramount movies of the '20s and '30s remain unavailable. This evening's features are Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Sergeant York (1941), and Love in the Afternoon (1957). Mr. Deeds Goes to Town solidified Gary Cooper's stardom and helped to make Jean Arthur Columbia's top female star. The film is a tad overlong and, like every Frank Capra movie, it's also highly sentimental. What saves it from the Hell of Good Intentions is the acting of the two leads – Cooper and Arthur are both excellent – and of several supporting players. Directed by Howard Hawks, the jingoistic, pro-war Sergeant York was a huge box office hit, eventually earning Academy Award nominations in several categories,
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Walker on TCM: From Shy, Heterosexual Boy-Next-Door to Sly, Homosexual Sociopath

Robert Walker: Actor in MGM films of the '40s. Robert Walker: Actor who conveyed boy-next-door charms, psychoses At least on screen, I've always found the underrated actor Robert Walker to be everything his fellow – and more famous – MGM contract player James Stewart only pretended to be: shy, amiable, naive. The one thing that made Walker look less like an idealized “Average Joe” than Stewart was that the former did not have a vacuous look. Walker's intelligence shone clearly through his bright (in black and white) grey eyes. As part of its “Summer Under the Stars” programming, Turner Classic Movies is dedicating today, Aug. 9, '15, to Robert Walker, who was featured in 20 films between 1943 and his untimely death at age 32 in 1951. Time Warner (via Ted Turner) owns the pre-1986 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer library (and almost got to buy the studio outright in 2009), so most of Walker's movies have
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Hepburn Day on TCM: Love, Danger and Drag

Katharine Hepburn movies. Katharine Hepburn movies: Woman in drag, in love, in danger In case you're suffering from insomnia, you might want to spend your night and early morning watching Turner Classic Movies' "Summer Under the Stars" series. Four-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Katharine Hepburn is TCM's star today, Aug. 7, '15. (See TCM's Katharine Hepburn movie schedule further below.) Whether you find Hepburn's voice as melodious as a singing nightingale or as grating as nails on a chalkboard, you may want to check out the 1933 version of Little Women. Directed by George Cukor, this cozy – and more than a bit schmaltzy – version of Louisa May Alcott's novel was a major box office success, helping to solidify Hepburn's Hollywood stardom the year after her film debut opposite John Barrymore and David Manners in Cukor's A Bill of Divorcement. They don't make 'em like they used to Also, the 1933 Little Women
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Two-Time Best Actress Oscar Winner Shines on TCM Today: Was Last-Minute Replacement for Crawford in Key Davis Movie of the '60s

Olivia de Havilland on Turner Classic Movies: Your chance to watch 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' for the 384th time Olivia de Havilland is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” star today, Aug. 2, '15. The two-time Best Actress Oscar winner (To Each His Own, 1946; The Heiress, 1949) whose steely determination helped to change the way studios handled their contract players turned 99 last July 1. Unfortunately, TCM isn't showing any de Havilland movie rarities, e.g., Universal's cool thriller The Dark Mirror (1946), the Paramount comedy The Well-Groomed Bride (1947), or Terence Young's British-made That Lady (1955), with de Havilland as eye-patch-wearing Spanish princess Ana de Mendoza. On the other hand, you'll be able to catch for the 384th time a demure Olivia de Havilland being romanced by a dashing Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood, as TCM shows this 1938 period adventure classic just about every month. But who's complaining? One the
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Last Surviving Gwtw Star and 2-Time Oscar Winner Has Turned 99: As a Plus, She Made U.S. Labor Law History

Olivia de Havilland picture U.S. labor history-making 'Gone with the Wind' star and two-time Best Actress winner Olivia de Havilland turns 99 (This Olivia de Havilland article is currently being revised and expanded.) Two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland, the only surviving major Gone with the Wind cast member and oldest surviving Oscar winner, is turning 99 years old today, July 1.[1] Also known for her widely publicized feud with sister Joan Fontaine and for her eight movies with Errol Flynn, de Havilland should be remembered as well for having made Hollywood labor history. This particular history has nothing to do with de Havilland's films, her two Oscars, Gone with the Wind, Joan Fontaine, or Errol Flynn. Instead, history was made as a result of a legal fight: after winning a lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the mid-'40s, Olivia de Havilland put an end to treacherous
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Oscar-Nominated Film Series: Poorly Cast Hoffman as Polemical Stand-Up Comic and Free Speech Advocate in Timorous Biopic

Lenny Bruce: Dustin Hoffman in the 1974 Bob Fosse movie. Lenny Bruce movie review: Polemical stand-up comedian merited less timid biopic (Oscar Movie Series) Bob Fosse's 1974 biopic Lenny has two chief assets: the ever relevant free speech issues it raises and the riveting presence of Valerie Perrine. The film itself, however, is only sporadically thought-provoking or emotionally gripping; in fact, Lenny is a major artistic letdown, considering all the talent involved and the fertile material at hand. After all, much more should have come out of a joint effort between director Fosse, fresh off his Academy Award win for Cabaret; playwright-screenwriter Julian Barry, whose stage version of Lenny earned Cliff Gorman a Tony Award; two-time Best Actor Oscar nominee Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy); and cinematographer Bruce Surtees (Play Misty for Me, Blume in Love). Their larger-than-life subject? Lenny Bruce, the stand-up comedian who became one of the
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Three 1930s Capra Classics Tonight: TCM's Jean Arthur Mini-Festival

Jean Arthur films on TCM include three Frank Capra classics Five Jean Arthur films will be shown this evening, Monday, January 5, 2015, on Turner Classic Movies, including three directed by Frank Capra, the man who helped to turn Arthur into a major Hollywood star. They are the following: Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; George Stevens' The More the Merrier; and Frank Borzage's History Is Made at Night. One the most effective performers of the studio era, Jean Arthur -- whose film career began inauspiciously in 1923 -- was Columbia Pictures' biggest female star from the mid-'30s to the mid-'40s, when Rita Hayworth came to prominence and, coincidentally, Arthur's Columbia contract expired. Today, she's best known for her trio of films directed by Frank Capra, Columbia's top director of the 1930s. Jean Arthur-Frank Capra
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Stage Door: "You Can't Take It With You" & "From Here To Eternity"

The Best Picture winners of 1938 and 1953, which were based on hit plays and best selling novels respectively, have moved to the stage. Let's take a look...

Annaleigh Ashford dances up a comic storm in "You Can't Take It With You"

You Can't Take It With You

For this Broadway revival of the classic 30s comedy, famously moviefied by Frank Capra back in the day, they've gone all star: James Earl Jones plays the tax-avoiding follow-your-dreams grandfather, Broadway vet and A+ comic actress Christine Nielsen (recently Tony nominated for Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike) is the easily distracted mother of a large brood, Rose Byrne her gorgeous daughter (essentially the 'Marilyn Munster' of this band of eccentrics), Fran Krantz from Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods her rich would-be fiancee and Annaleigh Ashford, who has been on such a brilliant role these past couple of years with her ex-hooker lesbian receptionist on
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Rooney Was No Andy Hardy in Real Life: Longest Film Career Ever?

Mickey Rooney dead at 93: Four-time Oscar nominee, frequent Judy Garland co-star may have had the longest film career ever (photo: Mickey Rooney ca. 1940) Mickey Rooney, four-time Academy Award nominee and one of the biggest domestic box-office draws during the studio era, died of "natural causes" on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hollywood. The Brooklyn-born Rooney (as Joseph Yule Jr., on September 23, 1920) had reportedly been in ill health for some time. He was 93. Besides his countless movies, and numerous television and stage appearances, Mickey Rooney was also known for his stormy private life, which featured boozing and gambling, some widely publicized family infighting (including his testifying in Congress in 2011 about elder abuse), his filing for bankruptcy in 1962 after having earned a reported $12 million (and then going bankrupt again in 1996), his eight marriages — including those to actresses Ava Gardner, Martha Vickers, and Barbara Ann Thomason
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