Tag Archives: Working Relationships

“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.

Travers and McKenna in
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.

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.