Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Alfred Hitchcock

Died on this date in 1980 of renal failure

Some of the famous films he turned down directing duties on include Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Sleuth, Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Bad Seed, Jane Eyre, Anastasia, and Wait Until Dark.

Never won a Best Director Oscar competitively, but was presented with the Irving G. Thalberg award in 1968. He gave the shortest speech in Oscar history by saying "thank you" and walking off.

Has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; one for film and one for television.

Became a naturalized US citizen in 1956.

Shadow of a Doubt was his favorite film that he directed.

Had a lifelong fear of the police after his father had him locked up for ten minutes in a jail when he was a boy to show him what happened to people who did bad things.

Appeared in small cameos in most of his films.

In order to make Psycho, he deferred his usual pay of $250,000 and chose only to take 60% of the film's profits, which ended up being $15 million.

Always used what he called a "MacGuffin" in his films, which is something that is extremely important to the characters in the film and moves the plot, but has very little meaning to the audience.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Lionel Atwill

Died on this day in 1946 from pneumonia

Known for having wild sex parties, he was sentenced to five years probation in 1943 for perjury in the investigation of alleged orgies at his home. He later applied for and was granted termination of his sentence and it was expunged from his record.

Appeared in five of the eight "Frankenstein" films produced by Universal studios from 1931 to 1948.

Famous form playing Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein (1939). His portrayal was later spoofed by Kenneth Mars in Young Frankenstein (1974).

Died while filming Lost City of the Jungle. A double was used to help complete his remaining scenes.

Starred in two early two-strip Technicolor films: Doctor X and Mystery at the Wax Museum, both with Fay Wray.

His third wife, Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brook MacArthur, was previously married to Douglas MacArthur.

His first son, John Arthur Atwill, was killed in action during WWII.

Studied architecture before becoming an actor.

Nickname was "Pinky" because of the reddish coloring of his hair. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy 20th Anniversary Turner Classic Movies!

Twenty years ago today, Turner Classic Movies went on the air for the first time with a screening of Gone With the Wind. The network was so small at first that it wasn't even carried in all parts of the country, including Atlanta where the network is based out of. But, as Claude Rains says in Lawrence of Arabia, "big things have small beginnings", and in the past twenty years TCM has grown to be one of the most beloved and popular networks with a fiercely loyal fan base. In addition to the network, the TCM brand and community has become so large and popular that they now have an annual film fest and separate cruise where fans can have the opportunity to gather with fellow classic film lovers to meet each other and get an opportunity to celebrate the love of film with hosts Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, and in some cases the people involved in the making of the films being screened. Each year, these events seem to only get bigger with more and more people coming to discover a love of classic film.

Just yesterday, TCM wrapped it's fifth annual film festival in Hollywood where fans had the opportunity to see some of their favorite films as well as hear some of those film's stars speak about their work.
Jerry Lewis was on hand to speak about his career before a screening of his film The Nutty Professor, and was also honored earlier in the day when he placed his signature and hand prints in cement at a ceremony outside of the TCL Chinese Theatre, perhaps better known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre; an honor that was long overdue for the comedy legend.

On Sunday, Margaret O'Brien was on hand to talk about Mickey Rooney at a screening and last minute tribute for the actor who had passed away just a week before.
You couldn't help but be moved by all of the stories and kind words that she had to say about the late actor; from working with him as a child on the MGM lot to their most recent work together in the yet to be released film The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was a beautiful tribute for a giant talent that will be sorely missed.

For me, the highlight of the festival was the "Ask Robert" session, where fans got to sit down and ask TCM host Robert Osborne questions about his life and career. The big surprise came when Alex Trebek walked out on stage and it turned in to a sort of "This Is Your Life" tribute where members of Robert's family came out on stage along with TCM co-host Ben Mankiewicz, former "The Essentials" co-host Alec Baldwin, Eva Marie Saint, Robert Wagner, and many others all to honor and thank Robert for the times they've spent with him and for making TCM feel like a family for the past twenty years. 

TCM has meant a great deal to me over the years for a lot of reasons. I've loved classic films from as far back as I can remember, and to have a place that I know I can regularly go to enjoy these films on a regular basis makes me feel like I'm at home whenever I turn on the station. TCM is even responsible for bringing me together with my boyfriend, who I met on TCM's second annual cruise almost a year and a half ago. For each of us to finally be with a person who also loves classic films is something we didn't expect but are both very grateful for, and it's all because of TCM.

Happy Anniversary TCM! Twenty years is only the beginning!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Mary Pickford

Formed United Artists with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith.

One of the 36 founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Turned down the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd.

The first star to officially place their hand in cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, along with then husband Douglas Fairbanks.

Won a Best Actress Oscar for her first talking film, Coquette.

Born in Canada, she became known as America's sweetheart because of the wholesome roles she often played.

Founder of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.

The first movie star to form her own production company, Mary Pickford Film Corporation.

Made front page news in 1928 when she cut off her trademark curls into a short bob.

Did not become a US citizen until her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks in 1920.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Trivia Tuesday: Happy Birthday Lon Chaney!

Born in 1883 to deaf/mute parents

Only made one talking picture before his death, a remake of The Unholy Three, a silent film he made in 1925

Signed a legal affidavit declaring that all of the voices he performed in the talking version of The Unholy Three were his voice.

Was the favorite to play Count Dracula in Universal's Dracula, but became terminally ill from lung cancer and died of a throat hemorrhage before production ever began.

His ability to transform himself physically and with makeup earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces"

His grave in the Great Mausoleum at Forest lawn Cemetery (Glendale) remains unmarked to this day.

Because his performance in Tell It To The Marines was so convincing, he became the first actor to be granted honorary membership in the Marine Corps. Upon his death, it was arranged for a military chaplain and honor guard to be present at his funeral.

Famous for his various makeup creations, Tell It To the Marines was Chaney's only film in which he wore no makeup at all.

He could only wear the harness he wore to keep his legs behind his back in The Penalty for ten minutes at a time because it was so painful. 

The makeup Chaney created for his role in The Phantom of the Opera was so horrific, it was kept out of any publicity leading up to the premiere for added shock value when it was revealed during the film.