“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#34, #33)…

June 30th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`As we continue the countdown of my favorite fifty films of the previous two decades, I am surely feeling a New York state of mind. The next two entries offers the Big Apple as the definitive backdrop. Historically, great cinematic stories have been enhanced by the New York skyline, including King KongManhattan Melodrama, On the Town, Guys and Dolls, and Woody Allen’s Manhattan.  My next two choices are standouts that belong on this provincial list…


~ #34 – THE PRODUCERS (2005)

“`Based on the eccentric 1967 movie that starred Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder and the 2001 Broadway musical, The Producers is the brainchild of arguably the funniest individual on the planet… Mel Brooks. The film stars an ensemble cast led by Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Roger Bart, and Jon Lovitz.

“`The premise…   The Internal Revenue Service seldomly investigate the finances of Broadway flops. Broderick’s character jests that by selling an excess of shares and embezzling the funds, a flop could generate up to two million dollars. Lane’s alter-ego goes on a search for the worst theatrical play in history.  Only Brooks uses Adolf Hitler for laughs, as he does in almost every movie he ever produced. And the score is very hummable.

“`The musical received four Golden Globe nominations despite mixed reviews. Lane compares favorably to Mostel; Broderick is no Gene Wilder. When I attended the West Coast production, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom were played by Jason Alexander and Martin Short. While Jason is no Nathan Lane, Short would have been a more hilarious on screen selection than Broderick in my estimation.

“`Brooks tramples on all comedy of manners. His pedigree stems from his membership on the writing staff of Your Show of Shows that included Woody Allen, Neil Simon, and Carl Reiner. He also collaborated with Buck Henry on Get Smart. There are reasons to take offense at his material. His work reminds us of bygone days when Don Rickles, Lenny Bruce, Redd Foxx and George Carlin were popular among wide swaths of the population.


~ #33 – BROOKLYN (2015)

“`Set in 1951, Brooklyn is a romantic drama and a co-production from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada. Saoirse Ronan solidified her star-status with this production. The movie follows a young Irishwoman who emigrates to Brooklyn to find employment.  She marries an Italian plumber and is forced to choose between her home town of Enniscorthy in Ireland, or her new life in Brooklyn.

“`Here is a coming-of-age film that could have been made during Hollywood’s Golden Age. It moves at a leisurely pace and can honestly be referenced as a chick-flick. I am an unabashed lover of this genre of moviemaking and I cite The Philadelphia Story, Father of the Bride, All about EveCousin CousineThe Big Chill, and Julie/Julia as a couple of my favorites. Brooklyn earned three Oscar nods: Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

“`The flick is faithfully adapted from Irish writer Colm Tóibín’s novel. The book and the movie have equally been praised for their refreshing perspective on the plight of the Irish immigrant. Brooklyn is set at a time when Irish migration to New York was thriving. By the end of World War II, new arriving citizens were able to discover bustling Irish communities in which women were arguably a more significant presence than men. These women immigrants were active in the workplace, placing marriage ambitions on hold to find practical occupations in places such as supermarkets, eateries, and stores.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Celebrating 1962…

June 27th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Where were you in ’62? Probably going to the movies… I join John Coleman and Art Kirsch to discuss great cinema in 1962 on Celebrating Act 2


Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#36, #35)…

June 24th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`And we are back to the countdown of my personal fifty favorite films of the twentieth century. Most lists of this kind provided by repositories (such as the Library of Congress or American Film Institute), film historians, and critics almost always include seldom-seen work created by foreign production companies, or deemed avant garde.  I marvel at how selections made by these revered individuals remain unfamiliar to me, and I watch a lot of cinema! That said, one of today’s choices falls into this deep-dish category of indie films that should be experienced.

“`Let the countdown continue…


~ #36 – DARKEST HOUR (2017)

“`Like Jojo Rabbit (#42), The Grand Budapest Hotel (#43), Woman in Gold (#45), and The Reader (#49), Darkest Hour has themes tied to World War II. It stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.  This account recalls his early days as prime minister during the May 1940 War Cabinet Crisis, while the Nazi Wehrmacht swept through Western Europe and threatened to defeat the United Kingdom. The blitz led to friction at the highest levels of the government between those who would make peace with Adolf Hitler, and Churchill, who refused.

`Gary Oldman’s electrifying performance brings Churchill to life and he earned a Best Actor Oscar for the effort. Nominated for six statuettes, it also earned an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. This is the first of two productions for which Oldman appears in my countdown.

“`History reflects that Churchill was not alone in wanting to defy Nazi aggression, though he was clearly the leader of the cause. His predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, followed a foreign policy of appeasement. His signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 conceded the German-speaking Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia to Germany and then hailed peace in our time. It was Churchill’s scoff at the folly of the agreement that is a precursor to this absorbing tale.


~ #35 – COLD WAR (2018)

“`One of two spectacular foreign movies on my countdown, Cold War is an international co-production from Poland, France and the United Kingdom.  The language spoken is Polish; the cinematography is globally dramatic, maybe the most pristine ever presented in the genre of black-and-white films. Had epochal cinematographer Gregg Toland been alive, he might have been mesmerized by the results on screen. Cold War also presents an evocative music score and an impeccable production design. This gorgeous piece of cinema would make my list just for its technical values and I could watch this film with the volume turned down.

“`Set in Poland and France during the Cold War from the late 1940s until the 1960s, the tale follows a musical director who discovers a young singer and explores their fateful love story. This is a well-worn narrative (Dr. Zhivago comes to mind). My only issue: The scenes could have been fleshed out a bit more since the characters are so interesting. The movie clocks in at a brief eighty-eight minutes.

“`If $100 million is the bellwether for a successful run in the United States, Cold War grossed $4.6 million, domestically and an underwhelming twenty million, globally. Yet, it received three Academy Award nods; for Best Director (Paweł Pawlikowski), Best Foreign Language Film, and of course, Best Cinematography.  All three Oscars went to the remarkable Roma. 2018 was a prodigious year for immaculate productions from foreign countries.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Fade to Noir…

June 22nd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`The long-anticipated return of film noir is right around the corner. Here are the sinister details…


Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#38, #37)…

June 17th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Let me proceed with the countdown of my favorite fifty movies of the twentieth century.  Many of the quality motion pictures I have selected tackles social and cultural issues. So far, my picks have examined race, British class structure, political malfeasance, propaganda, international reparations of stolen property, workplace equity, and the dark money in presidential elections.

“`Time to present my next offerings…


~ #38 – DARK WATER (2019)

“`The tale dramatizes Ohio environmental attorney Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after contaminating an area with unregulated chemicals found in their cookware. The film is based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare by Nathaniel Rich. It detailed a twenty-year legal battle against the corporation

“`The production was inspired from earlier work: Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action. Dark Water stars Mark Ruffalo and features Anne Hathaway, Mare Winningham, Tim Robbins, and Bill Pullman. This quality effort was snubbed during awards season.  Ruffalo has indicated his interest in selecting assignments based on issues that negatively affect society.

“`The DowDuPont breakup spun off a new company that continued to lose value throughout the second half of 2019 as investors grew concerned about the potential liabilities related to the earlier DuPont’s fluoropolymer product. After Dark Waters was released on November 12th, DuPont’s stock price dropped even further by 7.15 points from 72.18 to 65.03. Many executives still work, or recently worked, at the company.

“`DuPont eventually sold their business interests to The Chemours Company. Chemours paid $200 million to address environmental damages in North Carolina. A prior settlement in both West Virginia and Ohio cost $671 million, which was split between the two companies.


~ #37 – CHICAGO (2002)

“`One of three musicals to make the countdown, Chicago won an Oscar for Best Picture, the second of six profiled (the other, Green Book). With an amazing pedigree, it is based on the 1975 stage musical; 1942 William Wellman flick Roxie Hart, starring Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, George Montgomery, Nigel Bruce, Phil Silvers, William Frawley, and Spring Byington; and the 1927 silent film adaptation of the original 1926 play.

“`A screen version of Chicago was slated as the next project for Bob Fosse, who directed and choreographed the original 1975 Broadway show and had earned an Oscar for his direction of the movie version of Cabaret. Although he died before realizing his efforts, Fosse’s distinctive jazz choreography style is evident throughout the 2002 production, and Bob is thanked in the credits. The music score was penned by the legendary John Kander and Fred Ebb. Nominated for twelve Oscars, it won six, including  Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound.

“`Top performances from a cast that features  Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, Taye Diggs, Christine Baranski and Queen Latifah. The most stylish film musical since Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret, it influenced later twenty-first century productions, such as Enchanted, The Greatest Showman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Rocketman, Into the Woods, and two other productions that I include in my Top 50. I will present them soon.

Until next time>                               “never forget’

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Footsteps on Campus…

June 16th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`In 1971,  a two-part award-winning documentary aired on network television that was well produced by USC’s Annenberg School. The production’s subject was simply what life was like at an average junior high school. The curious thing… It was MY high school, while I was going there!

“`This peak at Van Nuys Jr. High features teachers who are no longer with us and students who are now in their mid-sixties. While re-watching this documentary, I see old friends who I recognize as they were. I actually returned to my childhood. It was nostalgic to clearly see on screen my colleague at KNX, Pete Demetriou, Sue Finque, Arlene Simsarian, Jeff Dracup, Joe Finci, Cliff Zellman (below left)and so many others I called classmates. I think the cameras actually caught me for a moment sitting in drama class.

“`As an educator at Fullerton College and Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, I found the content quite riveting. Children in 1971 had just lived through the tumultuous 1960s and they questioned everything that had to do with authority. As Bob Dylan penned, These times, they are a-changing. He was right.

“`These episodes each run roughly under an hour, but they are clearly worth a visit. ENJOY!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Primal Force of Nature…

June 13th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Ned Beatty was one of the finest character actors in the last half of the twentieth century.  He would have found complete success in any generation of cinema. Appearing in over 160 films, he was nominated for an Oscar, two Emmys, and a Golden Globe; he also won a Drama Desk Award (for his performance as Big Daddy in a revival of Cat on A Hot Tin Roof).  He is best remembered for his role as the head of UBS in Network.

“`Beatty began his career singing in gospel and barbershop quartets in Kentucky and at his local church. He received a scholarship to sing in the a cappella choir at  Transylvania University  in Lexington. A member of the newly founded Actors Theater of Louisville, one of his notable performances was as Willy Loman in  Death of a Salesman in 1966.

“`In 1972, Beatty made a stellar motion picture debut in Deliverance, starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. A climatic scene ensured stardom for the actor. Other memorable roles include The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, All the President’s Men, 1941Nashville, Back To School, Silver Streak, and Charlie Wilson’s War. He co-starred in three other Reynolds’ vehicles:  White Lightning, Stroker Ace, and Switching Channels. He also had a recurring role in two of the Superman series of movies. On television, he guest-starred in The Waltons, The Rockford Files, Gunsmoke, Hawaii 5-0The Streets of San Francisco, M*A*S*HMurder She Wrote, Kojak, and Roseanne.

“`Ned Beatty (above) was eighty-three…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Anna May Wong in Mint Condition…

June 11th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`The United States Mint  is pleased to announce the addition of pioneering females to be honored during the first year of the American Women Quarters™ program.  Anna May Wong will join Sally Ride, Maya Angelou and two other female trailblazers as subjects for the 2022 American Women quarter dollars.

“`Wong’s career spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage, and radio, from 1919 until her death at fifty-six in 1961. Frustrated by the stereotypical supporting roles she reluctantly played in Hollywood, Wong left for Europe in the late 1920s, where she appeared in a couple of notable plays and movies, and spent the first half of the 1930s traveling between the United States and Europe for film and stage work. She was often passed over for the lead roles and Wong rejected assignments that featured Asian Americans in a negative light. She paid less attention to her cinematic career during World War II and devoted energy to aid China’s campaign against Japan.  ANNA MAY WONG ->

“`Proposed designs for the Wong coin will be reviewed on June 16th and June 17th by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and June 18th by the Commission of Fine Arts. Mint officials have yet to disclose in what order the five 2022 American Women quarters will be issued.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#40, #39)…

June 10th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Let me continue the countdown of my person favorite cinema of the initial twenty years of the 21st Century. The previous ten picks had an abundance of well-known personalities that were profiled, including Don Shirley, Tonya Harding, Maria Altman, Ben Bradlee, Molly Bloom, Katharine Graham as well as icons of the Lost Generation, such as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Let me provide absorbing tales about modern luminaries in the next two offerings.


~ #40 – HIDDEN FIGURES (2016)

“`African American female mathematicians and computers who worked in the 1960s at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race are the subjects in this feel-good film. Katharine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson broke glass ceilings, yet this fascinating story was seldom referenced until this flick was released. Among the tasks achieved: A calculation of flight trajectories for Project Mercury and future missions; IBM feeds to accelerate calculations; and various engineering projects to provide safer spacecrafts.

“`Hidden Figures received three Oscar nominations:  Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe express a firm commitment in providing cinematic content  that places persons of color in appropriately accurate situations. Co-star Mahershala Ali also appeared in Green Book (#41).

“`After Hidden Figures was released, charities, institutions and independent businesses who regard the film as relevant in improving youth awareness in education and jobs in technology, science, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, organized free screenings to spread the  film’s message.  Plus, the Walt Disney Company partnered with the Department of State on the Hidden No More exchange program, which was inspired by the film and brings fifty women from across the globe who have excelled in spacecraft engineering, data solutions, and STEM-related education to network and provide fellowship for their colleagues.


~ #39 – TRUTH (2015)

“`Based on American television news producer Mary Mapes’s memoir,  Truth and Duty:  The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power, the movie is based on the story of CBS’s 60 Minutes report that George W. Bush had received preferential treatment to keep him out of the Vietnam War. The Killian documents controversy took place during the Bush / John Kerry presidential contest and resulting last days of Dan Rather and Mapes at CBS News. The film was in development since 2007.

“`Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett,  Stacy Keach, and Dennis Quaid provides fine performances as the story breaks down what goes into a 60 Minutes news segment. The screenplay further examines the politicization of the reaction to stories by pundits with opposing viewpoints.

“`Truth never caught on with the public. Plus, CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves did not approve of the film, the network refusing to allow ads promoting its release.  However, Rather praised the motion picture, saying:

There’s so much right in the film… I think it’s the best thing that’s ever been up on the big screen about how television news really works, the reporting side of it.

“`A Mary Mapes assessment sums up the sad legacy of this production: Truth gets lost in the scrum. My advice to you… It is time for some scrum searching to find this gem of a movie.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- As They Say…

June 7th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 takes a look at iconic quotes from fabulous motion pictures. John Coleman and Art Kirsch makes our day with these spoken gems. Let us round up the usual suspects…


Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#42, #41)…

June 3rd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`The countdown of my fifty favorite movies continues. Let me recap the previous selections:


“`My next two choices are just as special…


~ #42 – JO JO RABBIT (2019)

“`Cinema is rich with celluloid that examines how ordinary citizens survived a war along the homefront. Mrs. Miniver and Hope and Glory come to mind. Jo Jo Rabbit illuminates the negative effects of belonging to Hitler’s Youth during World War II. This assignment offers a comedic portrait of the dictator, much like Charlie Chaplin’s expose in  The Great Dictator, and the many contributions made by Mel Brooks throughout his career.

“`The movie analyzes the dangers of propaganda to those who blindly abide by it, especially children. There is an Anne Frank-esque character (Elsa), whose moral fiber and individualism finds her at odds with fascism, vulnerable to punishment, and ultimately, an essential reason Jo Jo ultimately rejects Nazi propaganda. The production walks a fine line between satire and allegory. The surprise was that funding was available for a subject matter considered taboo.

“`JoJo Rabbit received five Academy Award nods and took home an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, and Sam Rockwell head up an eclectic cast. In fact, Rockwell appears in more flicks (4) than any other actor in my countdown.

“`Jojo Rabbit is having an impact on the teachings of the Holocaust. On December 19, 2019, the USC Shoah Foundation announced it was working together with Searchlight Pictures to develop a classroom curriculum based on the depiction of Nazism in cinema.  Jo Jo Rabbit is cited as the catalyst for this educational offering.


~ #41 – GREEN BOOK (2018)

“`The first of SIX Oscar-winning Best Pictures on my film list remains the most controversial. Pundits called the 2018 winner a bland offering. The critical darlings were The Favorite and Roma; the people’s choice were Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody. I argue Green Book is a worthy production created by Peter Farrelly, best known for his sophomoric work:  Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary.

“`The flick is based on the true story of a 1960s concert tour of the Deep South by classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley and bouncer Frank Tony Lip Vallelonga, who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.  Audio recording heard in the documentary, Lost Bohemia, features interviews with Shirley and Vallelonga confirming that they had a close friendship. Both died within three months of each other in 2013.  The motion picture earned five Academy Award nominations and collected three Oscars, the other two for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali). Viggo Mortensen heads the talented cast.

“`The title of the movie refers to  The Negro Motorist Green Book, a publication known as the bible of Black travel during Jim Crow. It was published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green for thirty years, when open legally prescribed discrimination against African Americans and other people of color was widespread. Right after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed racial discrimination that made the Green Book necessary, publication ceased.

“`This production has been criticized for advancing a white savior narrative that perpetuates stereotypes. The Help was similarly castigated. In an interview, Farrelly addressed the issue by suggesting that  the screenplay earnestly tried to equally depict common ground between the characters. Historically, Green Book brings to light the fabulous classical and jazz career of Don Shirley. His story remains fascinating and bold.

Until next time>                               “never forget”