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James Cagney in Footlight Parade (1932) Available on Blu-ray from Warner Archives

Great news for fans of old musicals! James Cagney in Footlight Parade (1932) is now available on Blu-ray from Warner Archives

Footlight Parade is sheer cinematic joy. In this Depression-era romp, a timid stenographer (Ruby Keeler) removes her glasses and – wow! – she’s a star. A gee-whiz tenor (Dick Powell) asserts his independence. Plucky chorines tap, greedy hangers-on get their comeuppances, and an indefatigable producer/dancer (James Cagney) and his Girl Friday (Joan Blondell) work showbiz miracles to stage live prologues for talkie houses to keep their company afloat during hard times. Honeymoon Hotel, By a Waterfall and Shanghai Lil are the shows, directed by Busby Berkeley and filled with imagination-bending sets, startling camera angles, kaleidoscopic pageantry and a 20,000-gallon-per-minute waterfall. Curtain up!

James Cagney demonstrates his Big Apple hoofer bonafides while adding his one-of-a-kind fiery grit to this Busby Berkeley musical packed with the usual sensational suspects. Chester Kent (Cagney
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Footlight Parade

This amazing Busby Berkeley extravaganza is the best choice to impress newbies to pre-Code musical madness: it is absolutely irresistible. James Cagney’s nervy, terminally excitable stage producer makes the tale of Chester Kent accessible to viewers otherwise allergic to musicals — he’s as electric here as he is in his gangster movies. Remastered in HD, the fantastic, kaleidoscopic visuals will wow anybody — we really expect Porky Pig to pop up and stutter, “N-n-n-o CGI, Folks!”

Footlight Parade


Warner Archive Collection

1933 / B&w / 1:37 flat Academy / 104 min. / Street Date July 16, 2019 / available through the WBshop / 21.99

Starring: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert.

Cinematography: George Barnes

Art Directors: Anton Grot, Jack Okey Film Editor: George Amy

Original Music: Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal Harry Warren, Al Dubin

Written by Manuel Seff, James Seymour

Produced by Robert Lord

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

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Lou Weiss Dies: Chairman Emeritus of the William Morris Agency Was 101

  • Deadline
Lou Weiss, chairman emeritus of the William Morris Agency and one of the last vestiges of the old guard of a bygone era in the entertainment business, passed away at 9:30 Am on April 8, due to complications from an appendectomy. He was 101.

Weiss retired in 2007 after 70 years at Wma. During his tenure, which tracked the rise of the television medium, Weiss became one of the most powerful agents in the TV industry.

Born on March 22, 1918 in New York City’s lower east side, Weiss started in the mailroom at the New York William Morris agency in 1937, with the help of his comedian/actor uncle and Wma client, George Burns.

With the advent of World War II, Weiss was drafted into the Us Army and became a 2nd lieutenant with the 10th Mountain Division serving in Italy. Upon returning from the war to his job, Weiss reported to the legendary Abe Lastfogel (“Mr.
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Christopher Knopf, 'Emperor of the North' Screenwriter, Dies at 91

Christopher Knopf, 'Emperor of the North' Screenwriter, Dies at 91
Christopher Knopf, the prolific screenwriter behind Emperor of the North, 20 Million Miles to Earth and a host of TV Westerns in the 1950s and '60s, has died. He was 91.

Knopf died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at his home in Santa Monica, a family member told The Hollywood Reporter.

Knopf wrote for the CBS Western Zane Grey Theater, starring Dick Powell, and its spinoff, Trackdown, starring Robert Culp; penned the pilot episode for ABC's The Big Valley; and created CBS' Cimarron Strip, starring Stuart Whitman.

His much-admired television work also included 1977's Scott Joplin: King of Ragtime (for which he won a Writers ...
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Film Review: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

  • Variety
Film Review: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is purportedly the most-produced of all the Bard’s plays, but neither that nugget nor its cinematically friendly fantasy elements has done it many favors on film. Hollywood’s most famous stab was a notorious flop — stage titan Max Reinhardt’s garish 1935 Warner Bros. extravaganza featuring such unlikely (and highly variable) Shakespearean actors as Dick Powell, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney and Joe E. Brown. An almost equally starry 1999 effort, shot in Italy with Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Calista Flockhart and Christian Bale, wasn’t much better.

Since then there’s been the lamentably self-explanatory “A Midsummer Night’s Rave,” and the inexplicable “Strange Magic,” one Disney cartoon that children of all ages found easy to resist. That’s 80 years of evidence suggesting “Dream” might best be left sleeping by American filmmakers.

All the more surprising, then, that director-adapter Casey Wilder Mott’s debut feature proves
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The Awful Truth

The Awful Truth

Blu ray


1937 / 1:33 / 91 Min. / Street Date April 17, 2018

Starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Ralph Bellamy

Cinematography by Joseph Walker

Written by Viña Delmar

Edited by Al Clark

Produced and directed by Leo McCarey

Thanks to Louis Armstrong and his fellow geniuses, the Jazz Age transformed a generation and dominated pop culture for close to two decades; Vanity Fair and Life recorded the nightlife of hot-to-trot sophisticates while early risers followed the seesaw romance of a willowy flapper named Blondie Boopadoop and her paramour Dagwood Bumstead, a lovesick Dick Powell wannabe.

It was Powell who helped popularize the uptempo rhythms pervading the fast and loose musicals of the era, in particular Paramount’s raucous output which flaunted hot jazz on the soundtrack whether it starred Crosby as a college crooner or W.C. Fields as a double-dealing misanthrope. Even Norman McLeod’s Alice In Wonderland began with a bouncy
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Oscar Hosts: Performers Who Have Hosted the Academy Awards

  • Gold Derby
The first Oscar ceremony in 1928 took place at the famous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, with tickets going for five dollars (about $70 in today’s money). The ceremony lasted only about 15 minutes, and was hosted by director William C. deMille and actor Douglas Fairbanks, who was also the first president of the motion picture academy. Winners in 12 categories were announced weeks prior to the event, which was the only Oscar ceremony in history to not be broadcast on radio.

Actor and comedian Bob Hope holds the record for the most frequent Oscar host with 19 appearances either solo or as co-host. For most of the 1990s and early 2000s, Billy Crystal was synonymous with the Oscars, hosting on nine occasions, always bringing out his now-classic medley of songs that interpolated the titles of the Best Picture nominees for that year. Crystal’s fellow “Comic Relief” host Whoopi Goldberg made history twice when she
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Neo Noir Pays Homage to Welles' Crime Drama and Other Classics of the '40s and '50s

Neo Noir Pays Homage to Welles' Crime Drama and Other Classics of the '40s and '50s
Trouble Is My Business with Brittney Powell. Co-written by actor/voice actor Tom Konkle, who also directed, and Xena: Warrior Princess actress Brittney Powell, Trouble Is My Business is a humorous homage to film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s, among them John Huston's The Maltese Falcon and Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. Konkle stars in the sort of role that back in the '40s and '50s belonged to the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Dick Powell, and Alan Ladd. As the femme fatale, Brittney Powell is supposed to evoke memories of Jane Greer, Lizabeth Scott, Lauren Bacall, and Claire Trevor. 'Trouble Is My Business': Humorous film noir homage evokes memories of 'The Maltese Falcon' & 'Touch of Evil' A crunchy, witty, and often just plain funny mash-up of classic noir tropes, from hard-boiled private dicks to the easy-on-the-eyes femme fatales – in addition to dialogue worthy of Dashiell Hammett and, occasionally
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Gold Diggers of 1935

The fourth in the popular Gold Diggers musicals, Gold Diggers of 1935 is glossier than previous entries and, since it was produced nearer to the depression’s end, pointedly free of the heavy dramaturgy that made the earlier entries so compelling. It’s a strong entry nonetheless with Busby Berkeley taking over both direction chores and, not for nothing, coming up with the ne plus ultra of Berkeley extravaganzas, Lullaby of Broadway. Starring the inveterate charmer Dick Powell and the Invisible Man’s girlfriend, Gloria Stuart.
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Footlight Parade

Another pre-code musical from director Lloyd Bacon and more unforgettably wack-a-doo dance sequences from Busby Berkeley. This one features a powerhouse cast including Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and the incendiary James Cagney (whose galvanic tap dancing leaves the adorably klutzy Ruby Keeler in the dust). Fun-starved depression audiences made this another big hit for Warners, the film doubled its budget at the box-office.
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42nd Street

Produced in the midst of the great depression, director Lloyd Bacon’s pre-code crowd-pleaser doesn’t ignore the grim cloud hanging over the country. The film’s dramatic elements could easily have tipped over to tragedy but Bacon’s choreographer (and unofficial co-director) Busby Berkeley devised a series of phantasmagorical dance sequences (including the 20 minute finale) that transported the downcast ticket-buyers of 1933 to a happier place (at least for 89 minutes). Starring Warner Baxter, Dick Powell and a dazzling Ginger Rogers.
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Titanic (1943)

In 1942, with the war going fairly well for Germany, Joseph Goebbels green-lit a lavish, technically complex account of the sinking of the Titanic, one with a decidedly different viewpoint. All blame falls on Evil British plutocrats, and a decent, ethical German officer is the only competent man on the bridge. Kino’s features a game- changing extra — a superb commentary that explains everything about this crazy picture.

Titanic (1943)


Kino Classics

1943 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 85 min. / Street Date October 17, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95

Starring: Sybille Schmitz, Hans Nielsen, Kirsten Heiberg, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Karl Schönböck, Charlotte Thiele, Otto Wernicke, Franz Schafheitlin, Sepp Rist, Claude Farell, Theodor Loos.

Cinematography: Friedl Behn-Grund

Film Editor: Friedal Buckow

Visual Effects:< Ernst Kunstmann

Original Music:< Werner Eisbrenner

Written by Herbert Selpin, Walter Zerlett-Olfenius

Produced by Tobis Filmkunst

Directed by Herbert Selpin, Werner Klingler

Everyone loves movies about the sinking of the Titanic, and if
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The Curious Languor of Robert Mitchum

  • MUBI
Everyone notices the eyes first, languid, those of a somnambulist. Robert Mitchum, calm and observant, is a presence that, through passivity, enamors a viewer. His face is as effulgent as moonlight. The man smolders, with that boozy, baritone voice, seductive and soporific, a cigarette perched between wispy lips below which is a chin cleft like a geological fault. He’s slithery with innuendo. There’s an effortless allure to it all, a mix of malaise and braggadocio, a cocksure machismo and a hint of fragility. He’s ever-cool, a paradox, “radiating heat without warmth,” as Richard Brody said. A poet, a prodigious lover and drinker, a bad boy; his penchant for marijuana landed him in jail, and in the photographs from his two-month stay he looks like a natural fit. He sits, wrapped in denim, legs spread wide, hair shiny and slick, holding a cup of coffee. His mouth is
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Remembering Cortez: Biographer Van Neste Discusses Paramount's 'Valentino Threat'

Remembering Cortez: Biographer Van Neste Discusses Paramount's 'Valentino Threat'
Ricardo Cortez: Although never as big a star as fellow 1920s screen heartthrobs Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro, and John Gilbert, Cortez had a long – and, to some extent, prestigious – film career, appearing in nearly 100 movies between 1923 and 1950. Among his directors: Allan Dwan, Cecil B. DeMille, D.W. Griffith, James Cruze, Alexander Korda, Herbert Brenon, Roy Del Ruth, Frank Lloyd, Gregory La Cava, William A. Wellman, Alexander Hall, Lloyd Bacon, Tay Garnett, Archie Mayo, Raoul Walsh, Frank Capra, Walter Lang, Michael Curtiz, and John Ford. See previous post: “Remembering Ricardo Cortez: Hollywood's Silent “Latin Lover” & Star of Original 'The Maltese Falcon'.” First of all, why Ricardo Cortez? Since I began writing about classic movies and vintage filmmakers roughly 30 years ago, people have always been curious why I choose particular subjects. It sounds kind of corny, but I have always wanted to do original work and perhaps make a minor contribution to film history at the
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

TCM Remembers WB Actress Who Would Become Broadway Star

Canadian-born actress Alexis Smith (born 1921) would have turned 96 years old today, June 8. Turner Classic Movies is celebrating her birthday by presenting nine of her movies, mostly during her time as a Warner Bros. contract player. In addition to Michael Curtiz's box office hit Night and Day, a highly fictionalized Cole Porter biopic starring Cary Grant as a heterosexual version of the famed gay composer. Night and Day is being shown as part of TCM's Gay Pride Month celebration. Alexis Smith died on June 9, 1993, the day after she turned 72. After her film career petered out in the 1950s, she went on to receive acclaim on the Broadway stage, making sporadic film appearances all the way to the year of her death. Smith's last film appearance was in a minor supporting role in Martin Scorsese's overly genteel period drama The Age of Innocence (1993), starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder.
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TCM goes to war on Memorial Day: But thorny issues mostly avoided

Submarine movie evening: Underwater war waged in TCM's Memorial Day films In the U.S., Turner Classic Movies has gone all red, white, and blue this 2017 Memorial Day weekend, presenting a few dozen Hollywood movies set during some of the numerous wars in which the U.S. has been involved around the globe during the last century or so. On Memorial Day proper, TCM is offering a submarine movie evening. More on that further below. But first it's good to remember that although war has, to put it mildly, serious consequences for all involved, it can be particularly brutal on civilians – whether male or female; young or old; saintly or devilish; no matter the nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other label used in order to, figuratively or literally, split apart human beings. Just this past Sunday, the Pentagon chief announced that civilian deaths should be anticipated as “a
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The Scar

Director Steve Sekely’s hardboiled film noir leans heavily on the talents of star-producer Paul Henreid and camera ace John Alton — the three of them whip up the best gimmick-driven noir thriller of the late ‘forties. Strained coincidences and unlikely events mean nothing when this much talent is concentrated in one movie. It’s also a terrific show for star Joan Bennett, who expresses all the disappointment, despair and angst of a noir femme who knows she’s in for more misery.

The Scar (Hollow Triumph)


Kl Studio Classics

1948 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 83 min. / Street Date April 18, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95

Starring: Paul Henreid, Joan Bennett, Eduard Franz, Leslie Brooks, John Qualen, Mabel Paige, Herbert Rudley, George Chandler, Robert Bice, Henry Brandon, Franklyn Farnum, Thomas Browne Henry, Norma Varden, Jack Webb.

Cinematography: John Alton

Film Editor: Fred Allen

Original Music: Sol Kaplan

Written by Daniel Fuchs from a
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Nine Actors Who Reinvented Themselves and Revitalized Their Careers

  • Cinelinx
Some actors manage to catch lightning in a bottle twice. It’s impressive enough to find your niche in Hollywood’s A-list even once. Occasionally, an actor will reinvent him/herself and begin a new phase of their careers that will be even more successful than it was before. Here are nine actors who had a cinematic rebirth.

Liam Neeson- Neeson has had a long career, and the early part of it was in dramatic roles. An intense dramatic actor, he apeared in films like The Dead Pool, Dark Man, Schindler’s List, Rob Roy and Les Miserables. His career rebirth came after playing Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars-Episode one: The Phantom Menace. After that, he got more offers for actions parts and recreated himself as an action hero in films like Gangs of NY, Batman Begins, Taken, Clash of the Titans, the A-Team, Unknown, the Grey, Taken 2,
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Newswire: Liam Neeson is the latest Philip Marlowe

Liam Neeson will follow in the footsteps of many hard-boiled men before him to play the legendary private-eye Philip Marlowe, previously embodied by the likes of Dick Powell, Humphrey Bogart, Elliott Gould, and Robert Mitchum. Variety reports that Neeson is going to tackle the role in a film titled, well, Marlowe, which is based on not one Raymond Chandler’s novels, but The Black-Eyed Blonde, a more recent work by Benjamin Black. (Black is a pseudonym for John Banville.) The plot follows Marlowe as he investigates the case of a woman’s missing former lover—you know, your usual noir stuff.

William Monahan of The Departed fame is writing the screenplay for the project, and told Variety: “It’s hard to tell who has the more of a lion’s heart and soul, Philip Marlowe or Liam Neeson. I hope I’ve done the both of them and a picture
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The Forgotten: Seth Holt's "Station Six - Sahara" (1963)

  • MUBI
Seth Holt is an odd figure. An editor at first, his career spans classic Ealing comedies (The Lavender Hill Mob, 1951) and gritty kitchen sink drama (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 1960), while his overlapping career as producer saw him preside over the classic The Ladykillers (1955). On becoming a director, he worked mainly at Hammer, which made radically different content from Ealing but perhaps shared the same cozy atmosphere.Taste of Fear (a.k.a. Scream of Fear, 1961) is a zestful Diabolique knock-off, while The Nanny (1965) continued Bette Davis' career in horror. It's incredibly strong, beautifully made and quite ruthless: Bette referred to Holt as "a mountain of evil" and found him the most demanding director she'd encountered since William Wyler. During the daft but enjoyably peculiar Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971), Holt developed a persistent case of hiccups that turned the screening of rushes into hilarious occasions. Then he dropped dead of a heart attack,
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