Author Archives: mdoares

THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE:
“Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow”
by Chris Hoey

1. Yesterday today and tomorrow image1Sophia Loren certainly says a lot when it comes to matters of love and marriage, and all the other wonders that accompany such pursuits. In “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” she plays the wife who is always finding ways to keep a precarious marriage going by selling black-market cigarettes on the street and remaining pregnant to avoid jail. Audiences around the world love the stories behind the relationships and marriages that make up communities everywhere. If relationships are the building blocks of communities, movies about relationships are a study in architecture – both great and foolish.

O. Henry’s famous story about the husband and wife who both give up their most prized possessions in order to please the other brought the humble couple trying to make the most of their relationship to the masses.

2. Yesterday today and tomorrow image 2 Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” shows marriages in all states of development – Ms. Torso who shuns many suitors while awaiting her height-challenged serviceman, the newlyweds who spend most of their time with the shades drawn, the thirty-somethings who sleep on the fire escape together to escape the heat, and of course the Torvalds, who seem to Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) to have had the ultimate breakup. Even Lisa (Grace Kelly) and Jeff share a window into their relationship with the audience throughout the film as they contemplate taking the plunge into marriage.

In “The War of the Roses” we see a bitter divorce turn into a grudge match of epic proportions. A pair feuding partners tries to bully their stubborn spouse out of the house in order to gain the upper hand in the eyes of the court. In the end, everyone loses, especially the house.

3. yesterday today and tomorrow image 31988’s “Beetlejuice” even features a couple who make the most of their after-life together as they haunt the home they inhabited in their former life as people who were alive. Tim Burton renders Alec Baldwin and Andy McDowell as a pair too in love to let go.

In “Death Becomes Her,” Bruce Willis plays a plastic surgeon who uses his skill to keep his wife, Goldie Hawn, looking good even after “death.” A potion, it seems, to keep her young forever actually has some fatal side-effects, but the benefits include never aging.

4. yesterday today and tomorrow 4Perhaps O. Henry’s ironic tale takes its most twisted iteration in “Indecent Proposal.” Audiences found themselves rooting for the young lovers who are presented with an obscenely lucrative offer in exchange for their fidelity. Even the audience loses in this one.

The tale of the couple trying to make it in the world with only their love to guide them and the story of the pair that has had simply too much shine a light into the bedrooms and living rooms that make up our communities. Audiences will continue loving these stories yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Watch Yesterday Today and Tomorrow on MovieZoot.com now.

WORKING WITH A SPOUSE:
Travers and McKenna in
“THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH”
by Sheri Warren Sankner

1. Classic Hollywood CouplesSome of the silver screen’s greatest films have been made by real-life couples playing opposite each other. While not all of these relationships lasted personally, they certainly made for memorable performances and sometimes interesting headlines. There’s long-time lovers Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

2. Bogart_and_Bacall_To_Have_and_Have_NotOne of Hollywood’s greatest love stories unfolded in the 40s despite a 25-year age difference between the two. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall fell in love while making their 1944 film “To Have and Have Not,” married in 1945, and then starred in three more successful films: “The Big Sleep,” “Dark Passage” and “Key Largo.” Unfortunately, Bogart passed away in 1957.

Another great love story that developed over 25 years and through nine films was that of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Tracy was a devout Catholic with a handicapped child who felt he could not divorce his wife, so the classic Hollywood pair never married. But they did share a deep emotional bond both on and off-screen. Their films included “Desk Set,” “Woman of the Year,” “Adam’s Rib,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” among others.

3. Liz and DickOf course, no article on film working relationships would be complete without mentioning Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who were twice married and divorced. They met on set in 1963 while filming “Cleopatra” and their legendary volatile relationship was well documented. They made 10 films together, including “The Taming of the Shrew;” “The Comedians;” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf;” “Divorce His, Divorce Hers;” “The V.I.P.s;” and “The Sandpiper.” Despite their explosive relationship, the pair’s onscreen chemistry was undeniable and their projects were often award winning.

4. Paul_Newman_and_Joanne_Woodward_1958_-_2From the 60s to the 80s Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward epitomized a successful working relationship with a string of well-lauded movies, all while remaining happily married off screen. In fact, they could be considered the most successful married actors in the history of Hollywood. In addition to the Oscar-nominated “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” in 1990, they played opposite each other in six other films, including “Harry and Son (1984), “The Drowning Pool” (1975), “Winning” (1969), “A New Kind of Love” (1963) and “From the Terrace” (1960). Newman and Woodward married in 1958, after starring together in the highly acclaimed film, “The Long, Hot Summer.”

5. Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna

 

British actors Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna were also a noted successful husband and wife acting duo who made several successful films together, including this week’s MovieZoot.com Watchlist 1957 comedy, “The Smallest Show on Earth” (also known as “Big Time Operators”). Travers and McKenna play Matt and Jean Spencer, a young middle class couple who inherit a rundown neighborhood movie theatre known as the Bijou. Along with fleabag business comes its three elderly and tottering employees – a boozing projectionist Percy played by Peter Sellers, a doorman/janitor Tom played Bernard Miles and a ticket-taker and former silent-movie accompanist, Mrs. Fazackalee played by Margaret Rutherford.

6. Movie posterIn trying to make the best of a bad situation, the Spencer’s set up shop and began to deal with the trials and tribulations of small-time cinema ownership: second-rate sound and projection woes, meager film selections (mainly American B-Westerns), and miscellaneous audience mishaps. Just when they’re about to give up, old Tom hatches a dubious plan for the Spencer’s to make a huge profit on their less-than-thriving enterprise, whereby the Spencer’s attempt to run the business as usual in order to convince a successful competitor to buy them out. It’s a good-natured situational comedy with some amusing antics and memorable characters. The Travers-McKenna team really works well together both as a real-life and fictional married couple.

7. Travers and McKenna Born FreeTravers and McKenna met first when they appeared together in a London play, “I Capture the Castle” in 1954. They were both married to other people at the time. They reunited years later, after McKenna had split with actor Denholm Elliott. This time they connected, getting married in 1957, the same year the couple made “The Smallest Show on Earth.” They made six films together, (four playing husband and wife), including “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” (1957), “Storm Over Jamaica” (1958), “Born Free” (1966), “Ring of Bright Water” (1969), and “An Elephant Called Slowly” (1970).

Many believe the couple’s personal and professional crowning glory in films and in their ensuing passion for animal rights came with the 1966 groundbreaking film, “Born Free.” Portraying noted wildlife conservationists, Joy and George Adamson, in the film based on the best-selling novel, it dramatically shifted global perceptions on wildlife and ecology. Suddenly people were attracted to careers as veterinarians, preservationists and zoologists.

The international box office smash literally changed the course of Travers’ and McKenna’s lives forever. With the real George Adamson serving as technical director while shooting the film, it deeply affected them so much that they dedicated the rest of their lives to wildlife missions. They formed a documentary film company and wrote, produced and created nature/wildlife films. “The Lion Who Thought He Was People,” made in 1971 was one of the best known and loved documentaries.

8. bill-travers-profile-pictureAfter Bill Travers’ death 1994, the couple’s son, Bill Travers Jr., kept the family’s enthusiasm and wildlife mission alive, serving as CEO of the Born Free Foundation. Virginia authored several wildlife books, including “On Playing with Lions” in 1976, “Some of My Friends Have Tails” in 1970, “Beyond the Bars: The Zoo Dilemma” in 1987, “Into the Blue” in 1992, and “Journey to Freedom” in 1997. Her autobiography, “The Life in My Years,” was published in 2009. In 2011, she appeared in the long-running, award-winning BBC documentary series, “Natural World.”

Watch The Smallest Show on Earth this week on MovieZoot.com.

Working Relationships

Hollywood loves to explore and exploit couple-dynamics. In some films, men and women are pitted against each other; other times they are working together for a common goal. But whether in tandem or in opposition, male/female relationships in the movies are exposed to their core essence, leaving the viewer to juxtapose their own experiences with the film – thus drawing them in through their own personal engagement – vesting them into the story being told.

This week, MovieZoot.com is proud to feature four films dealing with the working relationships of men and women with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the Howard Hawks’ 1940 His Girl Friday, John Wayne and Jennifer O’Neill in Howard Hawks’ 1970 Rio Lobo, Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna in Basil Dearden’s 1957 The Smallest Show on Earth and the unforgettable Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren in Vittorio De Sica’s 1963 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

So sit back and enjoy this week’s presentations of the love and war of the sexes as we explore working relationships on MovieZoot.com.

His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday is the 1940 American screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy telling the story of a hard-charging New York newspaper editor who discovers that his ex-wife is engaged to a milquetoast insurance agent and tries to lure her back into his world by taunting her with the story of a convicted murderer’s impending execution. When she discovers that the accused murderer may be innocent, her reporter instincts kick in and she wants back in the professional newspaper game – and of course, the possibility of working with him!

Rio Lobo

Rio Lobo is the Howard Hawks 1970 American Western starring John Wayne Jennifer O’Neill and Jorge Rivero (George Rivers), telling the story of McNally, a Union Army leader, who is protecting a routine gold shipment when it is attacked by Confederate forces. He loses the gold and one of his officers in the raid, but later, at the end of the Civil War, McNally learns that the Confederate raiders had inside help and he vows to uncover the traitors. After a chance encounter with one of the turncoats, McNally travels to the town of Rio Lobo hoping to right the wrong, but makes an unexpected discovery.

The Smallest Show on Earth

The Smallest Show on Earth is the 1957 Basil Dearden British comedy starring Peter Sellers, Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna where a young couple inherit a run-down old theater from a relative, and go through all kinds of comedic gyrations to get the theatre (and the three aged workers that come with it) restored, profitable and sold.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is a 1963 comedy anthology film by Italian director Vittorio de Sica, starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni that consists of three hilarious short stories about couples of different circumstances in different parts of Italy. A fantastic trilogy examining the relationship of men and women, this film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1964 Academy Awards.

SCREWBALL DOESN’T GET MUCH SCREWIER:
In “HIS GIRL FRIDAY,” Russell Steals the Show From and Hearts of Grant and Bellamy
by John Francis

1. His Girl Friday PosterDirector Howard Hawks’ 1940 screwball classic “His Girl Friday” is one of the best comedies ever made. Starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy, it’s on numerous top 100 comedies of all time lists.

Based on the successful stage play, “The Front Page” by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, the film, re-titled “His Girl Friday,” was adapted to the screen by Hecht, MacArthur and Charles Lederer. The plot is a little convoluted, and like many slapstick comedies of the day, includes everything but the kitchen sink: there’s a gun, a convicted murderer on the lam, a rolltop desk, counterfeit bills, subterfuge, false arrests, a shady gangster, reporters playing poker, a hapless sheriff, and all manner of shenanigans.

It’s fast-paced, antic, and at times preposterous, with some snappy repartee, and spot-on comedic performances by its leads, who appear as if they could do this stuff in their sleep (especially the super-suave Grant, who made a career out of fast-talking playboys and rascals).

2. Grant Russell BellamyEven with both Grant and the solid Bellamy on the top of their game (they had appeared together just three years prior in “The Awful Truth,” whose setup was oddly similar to “His Girl Friday) this film is easily a triumph for Russell, who owns the film and shines in every scene she’s in, often outdoing the formidable Grant.

That in itself is an oddity since Russell was probably director Hawks’ seventh or eighth choice for the role, after such big stars of the time as Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Margaret Sullavan, Ginger Rogers, Irene Dunne, Joan Crawford, and Jean Arthur, who was the first choice. Arthur was actually suspended by the studio when she refused to take the role.

Russell was well aware that she was far down the list of choices, which made her a little insecure. According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, that early on during filming, Russell noticed how Hawks was treating her and confronted him: “You don’t want me, do you? Well, you’re stuck with me, so you might as well make the most of it.”

It’s also said that during her initial scenes with Grant, Hawks didn’t say a word. So, in frustration she asked Grant for advice, he simply said, “If he didn’t like it, he’d tell you.” She finally asked Hawks how he felt about her acting and he told her, “You just keep pushin’ him around the way you’re doing.” That sealed it.

Russell took what was originally was written for a man, the hard-charging reporter Hildy Johnson and made it her own. The New York Times review by Frank Nugent said the role seemed tailor-made for Russell:

“Charles Lederer, who wrote the adaptation, has transposed it so brilliantly it is hard to believe that Hecht and MacArthur were not thinking of Rosalind Russell, or someone equally high-heeled, when they wrote about the Hildy Johnson who once had a printer’s ink transfusion from a Machiavellian managing editor and never again could qualify as a normal human being.”

3. Grant & RussellCriterion.com was equally effusive: “One of the fastest, funniest, and most quotable films ever made, ‘His Girl Friday’ stars Rosalind Russell as reporter Hildy Johnson, a standout among cinema’s powerful women. When adapting Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s smash hit play ‘The Front Page,’ director Howard Hawks had the inspired idea of turning star reporter Hildy Johnson into a woman, and the result is an immortal mix of hard-boiled newsroom setting with ebullient remarriage comedy.”

In addition to its stars, the other thing “His Girl Friday” had going for it is its snappy, fast-paced dialogue. In fact, Hawks deliberately had the writers write overlapping dialogue, with the actors (especially Grant and Russell) talk over each other, interrupt each other, cut each other off, in other words, like most people talk. He also had them talk faster than they normally would and allowed the actors to improvise their lines.

Hawks wanted a fast-paced film and he got one. It’s said that the normal rate of verbal dialogue in most films is about 90 words a minute, but in “His Girl Friday, the dialogue was delivered at a blistering 240 words a minute.

4. Grant Bellamy RussellIt influenced many films and directors after that, most notably Robert Altman, who made a career out of overlapping dialogue. It created some problems for the actors and sound people and the critics weren’t kind at first, but over the years it has gained more and more acclaim.

The film has certainly earned its accolades and still continues to rack up awards. It was named No. 19 on American Film Institute’s 100 Years …100 Laughs; Premiere magazine voted it as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” in 2006; it was voted no. 10 in Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list in 2005; and was one of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die” compiled by Steven Schneider. Director Quentin Tarantino has called it one of his favorite movies.

By the way, the title comes from Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe,” whose male companion/servant was named Friday. So a “girl Friday” was a female assistant who did a variety of chores and errands. From the way Hildy pushed Walter (Grant) around, the film probably should have been titled “Her Guy Friday.”

Watch His Girl Friday on MovieZoot.com now.

ROMANTIC ADVENTURES:
The Many Loves of Elizabeth Taylor
By Sheri Warren Sankner

1. Taylor,_Elizabeth_posedWith her raven hair, ruby lips and trademark violet eyes, Dame Elizabeth Taylor was true Hollywood royalty, the last major star to come out of the golden age studios. Ranked #7 in the American Film Institute’s list of the 50 “Greatest American Screen Legends,” Liz Taylor captured hearts as a child actress and continued to enthrall audiences throughout her more than 50-year career. She appeared on over 1,000 magazine covers.

Taylor was born in London to American art dealers. She lived there until the age of seven, when the family relocated to Los Angeles in 1939. At a family friend’s urging the strikingly beautiful little girl took a screen test that impressed bigwigs at Universal Pictures enough to sign her. “There’s One Born Every Minute” was released in 1942 when she was 10. While the studio dropped her after one film, MGM soon picked her up.

Her first MGM production, “Lassie Come Home” (1943), was followed by “The White Cliffs of Dover” (1944) and “Jane Eyre” (1943). Then came her career-defining film: “National Velvet” (1944), in which she played Velvet Brown opposite Mickey Rooney. The box office smash made over $4 million, and more importantly, solidified her long-term relationship with MGM as its top child star. At 15, Taylor starred in 1947’s biggest box office hit, “Life with Father” with William Powell and Irene Dunne. She also co-starred in the hugely successful ensemble film “Little Women” in 1949.

2. ET with Montgomery CliftThe 1950s-1960s saw the beautiful star’s greatest, most lauded roles on the silver screen and her legendary scandal-ridden love life plastered in the tabloids. She co-starred in “A Place in the Sun” (1951) with friend Montgomery Clift, in box office hit “Ivanhoe (1952), and in this week’s MovieZoot Watchlist favorite “The Last Time I Saw Paris” (1954). In 1955, she appeared in the hit “Giant” with James Dean, who died that year without ever seeing the release of his greatest film. “Raintree County” (1957) with Montgomery Clift, who was seriously injured during the film with Taylor actually saving his life, brought her an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Southern belle Susanna Drake.

3. Cat on a Hot Tin RoofIn 1958, she starred as Maggie Pollitt in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which amassed rave critical reviews and another Academy Award best actress nomination. In 1959, she appeared in another mega-hit and received yet another Oscar nomination for “Suddenly, Last Summer,” though she lost for the third time. Taylor finally won the golden statue in 1960 for her performance of call girl Gloria Wandrous in “BUtterfield 8.”

4. Elizabeth_Taylor_1960Taylor’s personal life at the time, including her many affairs, marriages and divorces, was constant fodder for the gossip columnists. She married first husband, hotelier Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, in 1950 at 18 in a traditional, white satin gown made by Helen Rose, who designed Grace Kelly’s dress for her wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco. The marriage, characterized by physical abuse, lasted only about eight months. In early 1952, Taylor married second husband, actor Michael Wilding, the father of her first two children, Michael and Christopher, in a civil ceremony in London. They divorced in 1957.

5. Mike Todd and BabyTaylor’s wedding to third husband, producer Mike Todd was held in Acapulco, Mexico in February 1957. Todd, who was considered the first great love of her life, died in a plane crash in March 1958. He presented her with a 29-carat diamond ring, the first to add to Taylor’s world-renowned jewelry collection. They had one daughter, Elizabeth Frances “Liza” Todd. Not one to remain single for long, Taylor married fourth husband singer Eddie Fisher less than a year after Todd’s death in a synagogue in Las Vegas. Fisher married her 3½ hours after divorcing her good friend and former Matron of Honor at her Todd wedding, Debbie Reynolds. What a tangled web!

6. ET with Richard BurtonTaylor had a scandalous extramarital affair with the second love of her life, Welsh actor Richard Burton, while making the most expensive film at that time. “Cleopatra” earned Taylor a formidable $1 million paycheck. Burton became her fifth husband in 1964 while on this epic film that took many years to complete due to her struggle with a life-threatening illness.

7. Cleopatra with Richard BurtonIn 1966, she returned to the screen with Burton as the frumpy, sharp-tongued and hard-drinking Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” a performance that brought a second well-deserved Oscar win. The famous couple co-starred together again in “The Taming of the Shrew” in 1967. Nicknamed “Liz and Dick,” the jet-setting couple made 11 films together and shared a lavish lifestyle. Burton gave Taylor the famous 69-carat “Burton-Taylor” diamond. They divorced in 1974, but re-married in 1975. Their second marriage ended in 1976.

While her acting career began to wane, she continued to appear in films until the mid-1970s. By December 1976, Taylor had traded Hollywood for Washington, marrying sixth husband, John Warner, a Republican politician from Virginia. The semi-retired Taylor worked on his Senate campaign, but life as a politician’s wife in Washington, D.C. brought her little satisfaction and much boredom, loneliness and depression. Her weight bloomed and she became addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol. The couple divorced in 1982.

In the 1980s, Taylor acted on the stage and in several television films and series. She became the first celebrity to launch a perfume brand and was an early activist of HIV/AIDS, after the death of good friend Rock Hudson.

8. Liz TaylorAfter Warner, Taylor was engaged to Mexican lawyer Victor Luna and New York businessman Dennis Stein, though she never married either. She met seventh (and last) husband, construction worker Larry Fortensky, while they were both in rehab at the Betty Ford Center in 1988 and they married at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch on October 6, 1991. The wedding was a media circus with one photographer even parachuting into the ranch. Taylor garnered $1 million from People for the wedding pictures, which she used to launch the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Their marriage ended in divorce after five years.

9. Tabloid coverThroughout her life, this legend was constantly hounded with media attention. Taylor married eight times (seven different men), endured more than 40 operations and 100 hospitalizations, and led an excessive lifestyle, including accumulating one of the most expensive private jewelry collections in the world. After years of ill health, she died of congestive heart failure at the age of 79 in 2011.

Check out the feminine wiles of Elizabeth Taylor (with co-stars Van Johnson and Roger Moore) this week with MovieZoot.com’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”

Notice the surprising comparisons to Taylor’s real life and loves. Life can often imitate art.

LYNDA CARTER:
Her Debut Film May Have Put Her on the Map, but “Wonder Woman” Made Her a Star
by John Francis

1. Bobbie Jo Poster“Wonder Woman” was one of the biggest box office and critical hits of 2017, catapulting star Gal Gadot into superstar status and blowing the capes off all the male-dominated superhero movies of the past year.

Why it took so long to reboot the franchise from its TV heyday of 1975-79 is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, while many male DC and Marvel superheroes were getting their own crappy films (C’mon down Green Lantern and Ghost Rider!), Wonder Woman was languishing in rerun hell.

Even though it only lasted three seasons on ABC and CBS, “Wonder Woman” was faithful to the popular DC comic books that fans had been reading since it was created in 1941, and made Lynda Carter a star.

Carter, who was once voted “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organization, made her film debut in 1976’s “Bobby Jo & The Outlaw,” which she appeared in after being in the pilot for “Wonder Woman.”

2. Lynda as Wonder Woman“Bobbi Jo,” directed by B-movie auteur Mark L. Lester (“Truck Stop Women,” “Roller Boogie” and “Commando”), had two things that made it stand out from other B-movie trash: Carter exposed her breasts for the first and only time in her career (except for being on a Playboy pinup in “Apocalypse Now”) and it starred a former evangelist preacher in the role as “The Outlaw,” Marjoe Gortner, who had been preaching since he was 4 years old.

Carter later disowned her participation in the movie, probably because of her nude scene and the extreme violence and to distance herself from the straight-laced, all-goodness heroine she played in “Wonder Woman,” to this day the one character she is most closely identified with.

Oddly enough, Carter appeared in only eight other films after “Bobbi Jo,” preferring to guest star on episodic TV and TV movies and spend time on her musical career (she’s released four albums so far).

Her best known roles outside of Wonder Woman include stints in “Sky High,” “Dukes of Hazzard” and two satirical “Super Trooper” films as Governor Jessman. Recently, she’s played the role of U.S. President Olivia Marsdin on The CW hit series “Supergirl.”

The storyline for “Bobbi Jo” goes something like this: A young country music wannabe named Bobbie Jo Baker takes off from her job as a carhop to join with a modern day Billy the Kid wannabe for an adventure in theft, homicide and mayhem.

3. Lynda and Marjoe Shooting While not all that well received when it first came out, “Bobbi Jo” has attained a somewhat cult status, primarily because of Carter’s celebrity status since “Wonder Woman” and for Gortner’s performance as the wild, Billy the Kid-style outlaw. Gortner never became the star he thought he should be, and was last seen producing celebrity charity golf tournaments.

But the movie has received some grudging praise in recent years as a decent example of B-movie exploitation fare from the 1970s.

“ ‘Bobbie Jo and The Outlaw’ efficiently mimics the greatest escapist trash produced by AIP or Roger Corman during the wild and woolly 1970s; only it’s not as consistently slick, and suffers from sloppy editing,” says coolasscinema.com. “There’s plentiful action, funny lines, beautiful women, bloody shootouts, ample nudity and subtextual content for a film whose narrative didn’t require any. A good chunk of the film’s success can be attributed to its great cast.”

“A fun ‘on the run’ movie, ‘Bobbie Jo And The Outlaw’ will live on in infamy for Carter’s nude scene but outside of that is fairly middle of the road stuff,” says DVDTalk.com. “Not terrible, not amazing, the film has its moments to be sure, and as a time killer you could do worse but it’s not particularly well written and relies too heavily on coincidence and cliché to work as well as it should have. Recommended for fans, a genuinely fun rental for the masses.”

And this from cinemaretro.com: “It may not be in the same league as ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967), but it’s still an extremely enjoyable, well-directed, written and acted low-budget feature that definitely deserves to be seen. The stunning Lynda Carter gets to show a bit more range then she did as Wonder Woman and is extremely convincing as the hopeful and somewhat naïve Bobbi Jo.”

41st Annual Gracie Awards - Arrivals Carter, meanwhile is continuing her music career at age 66, and she is said to have been invited to appear in the upcoming sequel to “Wonder Woman” in an as-yet undetermined role. She has been effusive in her praise for the new film, its star Gadot and its director Patty Jenkins. And it’s obvious she still has a soft spot for a character she played more than 40 years ago.

“Many actresses or actors, they want to divorce themselves from a role because we are actors, we really aren’t the people that we play,” Carter told USA Today. “But I knew very early on that this character is much more than me certainly, and to try to divorce myself from the experiences that other people have of the character is silly.”

See Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw on MovieZoot.com.

 

Romantic Adventures

What’s better than setting out on an adventure and finding romance? Not much!

This week, MovieZoot explores romantic adventures that involve time travel in Bing Crosby and Rhonda Fleming’s 1949 adventure A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; the attempted hijacking of African uranium in Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones’s 1953 adventure Beat The Devil; the love-on-the-run film in Lynda Carter and Marjoe Gortner’s 1980 drama Bobby Jo and the Outlaw; and Liz Taylor and Van Johnson’s 1954 classic romantic star-crossed lovers in The Last Time I Saw Paris.

This week, love and travel contribute to some classic romantic adventures — so curl up on the couch, wrap yourself in your favorite afghan, and be prepared to travel the rocky road of courtship on the edge!

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is the 1949 black & white Tay Garntt musical comedy starring Bing Crosby and Rhonda Fleming that tells the story of a blacksmith who, thrown from his horse in Connecticut circa 1912, wakes up in Arthurian Briton where he helps Camelot’s King Arthur save his kingdom from the evil wizard Merlin. There are also some terrific performances by Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Rhonda Fleming and William Bendix.

Beat the Devil

Beat the Devil is the 1953 black & white John Huston action adventure comedy starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida and Robert Morley telling the story of a motley crew of swindlers and ne’er-do-wells on their way to Africa to lay claim to land rich in uranium deposits in Kenya as they wait in a small Italian port to travel aboard an ill-fated tramp steamer en route to Mombasa.

Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw

Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw is the 1976 crime drama film directed by Mark L. Lester. It stars Marjoe Gortner and “Wonder Woman” actress Lynda Carter where a young country-star wannabe Bobbie Jo Baker takes off from her carhop career to join with a young, modern Billy the Kid wannabe for an adventure in theft, homicide and mayhem.

The Last Time I Saw Paris

The Last Time I Saw Paris is the 1954 Richard Brooks drama/romance featuring an all-star cast with Van Johnson, Elizabeth Taylor, Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed and Roger Moore in which a post-war soldier/journalist/wannabe novelist in Paris journeys through heart-wrenching love and loss, rags to riches, and a final redemption that is sure to fill a few tissues!

WHERE THE DEVIL DID THAT ACCENT COME FROM?
Bogart in Italy in “BEAT THE DEVIL”
by Chris Hoey

Beat the Devil image 1Any young man looking to attract a romantic partner can tell you, “travel to another country — your accent will drive them wild.” Somehow, Humphrey Bogart and Gina Lollobrigida both capitalized on the exotic mystique that accompanies a commanding voice with a touch of something that’s difficult to pinpoint. Hailing from Manhattan, New York, it seems like it would be easy to nail down the origin of Bogie’s brilliant drawl, but the stories about his accent seem to outnumber the films he starred in.

In “Beat the Devil,” accents abound. This story is set in Italy, where Maria, played by Gina Lollobrigida, sounds at home, but John Huston cleverly makes sure the American audience understands with a handy little trick. In revealing the film’s first major plot point, Maria reads from a newspaper. Huston sets up a single shot of the newspaper she’s reading so the audience can read along. Maybe modern directors of reality TV can learn from the classics that you don’t always have to provide a subtitle for those who come from the deep bayou in Louisiana or the Jersey Shore.

Beat the Devil image 2Bogart, who seems at home in any locale, had an accent that commanded attention anywhere. Many stories about his trademark enunciation trace its origin not to his home, but to an injury to his upper lip. Many who met him referred to his speech pattern as having a lilt or a lisp. Maybe the mysterious leading man’s scar tissue is the source of all the attention.

Some stories recount an abusive father who gave young Humphrey a fat lip that never fully healed, but the most often repeated tale comes from Bogart’s days in the military. Apparently, Bogart was involved in transporting a prisoner who took advantage of an opportunity to smack his captor in the mouth with his handcuffs. Any assistance provided by the military doc may have made matters worse, leaving Bogart with significant scar tissue that paid dividends. You can just imagine a young beauty approaching Bogart in a two-bit gin joint and asking where his accent came from. “Experience, sweetheart. That’s where it’s from,” Bogart would reply. Maybe the best answer to the mystery accent is the one that accents the mysterious origin.

Bet the Devil image 3 It seems that Bogart’s accent wasn’t the only gem to emerge accidentally, when it comes to “Beat the Devil.” The film would be the last that John Huston and Bogart would do together. The collaboration that started with “The Maltese Falcon,” and also produced “The African Queen” would finish here with a Truman Capote script.

Beat the Devil image 4As Bogart was the main backer of the film, and had such trust in his colleague, Huston, Capote was given the freedom to do much of the writing as the film was being filmed — a situation that would scrap any production.

The resulting film, Beat the Devil is unexpected and intriguing — just like Bogart’s accent.

THE MAKING AND REMAKING OF AN AFFAIR IN ROME:
Two Men, Two Visions, Two Movies in One
by John Francis

1. Clift & Jones in IndiscretionThe 1954 film “Indiscretion of an American Wife” suffers from an identity crisis. It’s also a prime example, perhaps even a cautionary tale, of a powerful producer clashing with a world-renowned director and coming up with a product nobody is really happy with.

“Indiscretion” started life as “Stazione Termini,” directed by legendary Italian neorealist filmmaker Vittorio De Sica and featured Hollywood stars Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift, as a visiting American housewife and her Italian lover.

The film experienced problems from the get-go, from who was going to play the leads — Ingrid Bergman and Linda Darnell were considered for the housewife and Marlon Brando, Louis Jourdan, and Richard Burton, were considered for the Italian lover — to who would direct, produce and write the film.

Carson McCullers was originally set to write the screenplay, but she was fired by producer David O. Selznick (of “Gone With the Wind” fame) and a series of writers, including Paul Gallico, Alberto Moravia, Luigi Chiarini, Giorgio Prosperi, Cesare Zavattini, and, finally, Truman Capote, were brought on board.

Anytime there are five or more screenwriters listed, you’re going to have problems. And no doubt, the meddlesome Selznick and the creative De Sica more than likely had their share of input on the final script. And, although credited with co-writing the screenplay, Capote later said he only wrote two scenes for the film!

And that was before filming even started. Much of the conflict and confusion would come later, after De Sica’s 89-minute final product somehow morphed into Selznick’s Hollywood-ized 63-minute version titled “Indiscretion of an American Wife.” But more on that later.

2. Indiscretion Poster“Stazione Termini” was supposed to be a showcase for Selznick’s wife Jones, but why he would pair a glamorous Hollywood actress with a decidedly non-glamorous Italian director, whose neorealist films were filmed in a more natural and realistic manner, with little studio work and utilizing actual locations and often amateur or non-actors, is anybody’s guess.

Jones, in particular, seemed like a fish out of water. She was still dealing with the death of her dear husband Robert Walker in 1951, was having problems with her two-year marriage to Selznick and was missing her two children with Walker. Jones, who was said to require a lot of direction to give a consistent performance, didn’t speak Italian and De Sica, who favored a more naturalistic, improvisational style of acting, didn’t speak a word of English.

To complicate things even more, Jones developed an attraction to Clift, but then found out the actor preferred men to women, sending her into a rage. In “’The Films of Montgomery Clift” by Judith M. Kass, Jones “reportedly became so overwrought that she stuffed a mink jacket down the toilet of a portable dressing room.”

It didn’t help matters much that Selznick and De Sica clashed constantly over the direction and tone of the film, with Selznick sending De Sica 40- and 50-page letters discussing the film on a daily basis, even though De Sica could not read English. De Sica would agree with Selznick, then just do what he wanted to do.

3. Italian Poster for IndiscretionAfter De Sica delivered his 89-minute film “Stazione Termini,” Selznick took it and reduced it to 63 minutes and made it look like a slick Hollywood romance wherein Jones’ housewife was tempted by infidelity, but doesn’t succumb — all to preserve Jones’ pristine reputation.

Clift was particularly incensed by Selznick’s truncated version, whose title was changed to “Indiscretion of an American Wife,” calling it “a big fat failure.”

The edited film was so short of feature length that Selznick had to add a prologue featuring Patti Page, who was making her film debut, singing two songs, “Autumn in Rome” and “Indiscretion.”

The great New York Times critic Bosley Crowther capped his review of “Indiscretion” with: “The picture is prefaced, we should warn you, by what can only be termed a juke-box short.”

The reviews of “Indiscretion” were not exactly scathing, more like indifferent, although De Sica’s original version received more acclaim in later years. Both films were released together by film preservationists Criterion Collection on DVD, allowing film buffs to compare the two versions.

“This new film of Signor De Sica implies nothing but a personal mistake,” writes Crowther, reviewing “Indiscretion.” “The crisis may be no less painful for the individual involved, but for the ordinary person who sees it, it has small significance.”

And film fans hoping for a romantic vision of Rome with two attractive American leads frolicking in all the familiar Rome landmarks, would be severely disappointed. The film takes place almost entirely at Stazione Termini, the railroad station of the title. They’d be better off watching another 1953 film, “Roman Holiday,” the romantic comedy with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn directed by William Wyler or even 1954’s lighthearted “Three Coins in the Fountain” with Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire and Jean Peters. Rome has been better presented in a number of films since then. Even De Sica’s own “Bicycle Thieves” (often mistranslated as “The Bicycle Thief”) gives a better accounting of Rome, albeit a depressed post-World War II city trying to regain its glory.

Watch “Indiscretion of an American Wife” on MovieZoot.com.

“CASABLANCA EXPRESS”:
Fun With The “What-ifs”
by Chris Hoey

1. Casablanca ExpressWinston Churchill famously travelled during World War II in order to negotiate face to face with his allies and enemies. It’s a strategy that worked out well for the heroic Prime Minister. What if the Blitz had succeeded in bringing the UK to its knees? What if the United States hadn’t entered the war when it did? What if D-Day or Dunkirk had been utter failures, rather than the stories of perseverance and fortitude that we know today?

“Casablanca Express” explores the big “what if” of Churchill’s travels. The nightmare that must have kept the Prime Minister’s protectors awake at night is the stuff of this film. What if the charismatic leader had been intercepted by the Nazis during one of his longer journeys? How could he be recovered? Could a train heist for a valuable human be foiled even after the prize was captured? “Casablanca Express” answers these, and many other fun questions that are the kind of complete hypothetical situations that only security planners plan for.

2. Casablanca ExpressOf course, delving deeply into the unknown outcomes of the “what ifs” drives many films and epic stories that we love. One of the greatest film scenarios that leaves the audience with these types of questions in their minds, “Casablanca” poses the question almost directly. What if Ingrid Bergman’s “Ilsa” had not gotten on that plane? Would she regret it for the rest of her life? We trust Humphrey Bogart’s “Rick” to prophesy the future. Rick knows she will, but we wish they could be together.

The television series “The Man in the Castle” also poses one of the more popular “what ifs” in history: What if the Germans had won World War II? How would the United States be different today if the Statue of Liberty were used as an icon of fascism, instead of the beacon of freedom it is today?

3. Casablanca ExpressSome of our most revered films operate on the greatest versions of this question; and we love the story most when it involves World War II. What if the Ark of the Covenant was found and fell into the hands of the most evil regime in history? Would Indiana Jones be enough to wrestle the secret weapon from the hands of the sinister Nazis? Harrison Ford proved to render a perfectly believable hero to prevent this tragedy.

A second classic “what if” story is at work in “Casablanca Express.” What if this story takes place on a train? So many high stakes stories of murder and mayhem include trains, planes, cars, and even blimps. Of course, “Murder on the Orient Express” made housewife Agatha Christie a household name. Harrison Ford, again a hero in a “what if” story, portrays the President of the United States in “Air Force One.” Like “Casablanca Express,” the situation of a world leader who is captured by the enemy while in transit tickles our sense of big “what if” questions.

4. Casablanca ExpressStories and films of all types find fertile story-telling in exploiting the big “what ifs” of our times. Many of these involve important and beloved world leaders. Often these stories take place in times of great peril for great people along with the world’s people. One thing that is certain in the uncertain world of the “what ifs,” is the intrigue and excitement these stories bring.

Watch “Casablanca Express” on MovieZoot.com.