“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#26, #25)…

July 28th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`This is getting really good! International espionage is at the heart of our next couple of entries. What is obvious… I absolutely love political thrillers on celluloid. Previous examples include:  The Ides of March, Cold War, Charlie Wilson’s WarDarkest HourDark Water,  The Post,   and Truth.

“`Let us continue the countdown of my favorite cinema of the last two decades!


~ #26 – ARGO (2012)

“`The fourth of six Best Pictures to make my list, Argo remains a likeable, crowd-pleasing film and perfectly shepherded by the movie-making talents of Ben Affleck. The top supporting cast includes Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Alan Arkin.  Best Pictures previously mentioned: The King’s Speech, Chicago, and The Green Book.

“`Nominated for seven Oscars, it won three; the other two, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.  Many of my choices have a knack for receiving accolades for writing. Chris Terrio adapted it from the 1999 book by the Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez. As a historical piece, the production made use of archival news footage from ABC, CBS, and NBC.

“`The narrative deals with the Canadian Caper, in which Mendez led a rescue of six American diplomats from Tehran, under the guise of filming a science fiction flick called Argo during the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis. Studio Six (a phony Hollywood production office at the core of the CIA plan)  proved so convincing that even months after the rescue was complete and the office had folded, twenty-six scripts were delivered to its address,  including one from Steven Spielberg.

“`Interpretations of the film’s popularity in Iran have varied, ranging from the fact that the movie portrays the excesses of the revolution and the hostage crisis,  which had been long glorified in Iran, to Iranians viewing it as a reminder of what caused the poor relations with America and the ensuing cost to Iran, decades after the embassy takeover. Either way, it is one of those rare films that educates as it entertains.


~ #25 – THIRTEEN DAYS (2000)

“`We have officially reached the halfway point of my countdown! Thirteen Days is the oldest selection on the list (Release date… December 2000). This dramatizes the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, presented from the perspective of the President John F. Kennedy administration. The second docudrama made about the crisis, the first was 1974’s The Missiles of October (the better production of the two in my humble estimation). The latter movie contains some newly declassified information not available to the earlier production

“`Kevin Costner headlines as Kenneth O’Donnell, who was a special assistant to the president. Dozens of familiar faces offer support as members of Washington politicos from the era. Bruce Greenwood shines as Kennedy. Unfortunately, the film was largely ignored by the public and it was a no-show during awards season.

“`Former JFK administration officials and contemporary historians, such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Special Counsel Ted Sorensen, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, have criticized the narrative for the depiction of O’Donnell as a main motivator of Kennedy and others during the crisis. According to McNamara, the duties performed by O’Donnell in the piece were closer to the role Sorensen played during the actual crisis. Incidentally, McNamara was also featured in another production on my countdown, The Post.

“`Costner traveled to Cuba in 2001 to screen the film for Fidel Castro. For the record, El Jefe enjoyed the screening.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The First Reality Television Show…

July 26th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`With apologies to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Roller Derby, and Wrestling, the very first successful reality television program was Candid Camera, created by Allen Funt.

“`While employed at an advertising agency,  Funt dreamed up gimmicks for radio programs. After his service during World War II, he created Candid Microphone, which had its premiere on the ABC radio network in 1947, using hidden microphones to snare everyday people. The format, though embarrassing to many of his prey, proved highly popular.

“`The man with the funny name became a reality television pioneer. Candid Camera ran from the 1940s to the 1980s.  Based on familiar man-on the-streets interviews, Funt placed folks in silly situations, just for their reactions. Audiences loved the concept.

“`Using a hidden camera, his televised practical jokes were essentially harmless. Once he got the desired surprised response, his announcer would proclaim:

“`After it went off the air, his son Peter Funt hosted several updated Candid Camera specials. Audiences responded accordingly, since they love to be in on the joke.

“`In 1964, Cornell University’s Department of Psychology was given permission to maintain an archive of all Candid Camera episodes for educational research. They eventually surmised that a psychological reaction of spontaneous behavior put in embarrassing situations is similar to reactive principals of folks who today use Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, among others.

“`As I said… Audiences respond accordingly, since they love to be in on the joke. Keep that in mind as you react to a post.

Smile! You’re on Social Media! 

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Rabbi Comic…

July 25th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Stand-up comedian Jackie Mason followed a path from ordained rabbi to borscht-belt comic in a career that lasted over sixty years. He shared tales from his orthodox Jewish background using a thick Yiddish accent to keep audiences entertained. The controversial comic gained national attention for a quick-witted observational humor and it led to television appearances and several successful one-man Broadway shows.

“`Mason turned to comedy full-time after his dad died in the late 1950s. He landed a career-changing booking as a performer on Steve Allen’s weekly television variety show in 1961. He also appeared on programs hosted by Gary Moore, Perry Como and Dean Martin. There were setback along the way; a rift with Ed Sullivan, which ended up in court. Mason won the case, but his career came to a halt after the decision.

“`Over the years, he did plenty of club appearances and television guest spots. By the early 1980s, Mason opened his one-man comedy show, The World According to Me, in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  The show became such a huge success that it ended up on Broadway. In 1987, He received a Tony Award for his efforts and won an Emmy in 1988 after a shortened version of the show aired on HBO.

“`In cinema, Mason co-starred in The Jerk, History of the World Part 1 and Caddyshack II. On television, he had a recurring role on The Simpsons. He also ranked #63 in Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.

“`The ever-contentious Jackie Mason (above right) was ninety-three.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Academy Museum First Week Plans…

July 23rd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has unveiled its schedule of inaugural in-person screenings and public programs, which will begin on September 30th. The Academy Museum is the largest repository in the United States devoted to the beauty behind the art and science of moviemaking.

“`During the first three months, the museum will offer the public a dynamic and diverse slate of over 115 film screenings, discussions and programs for film lovers of all ages, starting with two special presentations of The Wizard of Oz featuring live musical accompaniment by the American Youth Symphony conducted by Oscar-nominated composer David Newman.

“`Other highlights of the museum’s initial in-person programming include the launch of several ongoing series, including Stories of Cinema, Legacy discussions (the first with Bruce and Laura Dern), Oscar Sunday, Family Matinees, and In Conversation with behind-the-scenes auteurs of cinema. Special programs include a retrospective of the career of Anna May Wong, a screening of Malcolm X in 70mm, and Oscar Frights leading up to Halloween.

“`Educational programs will be ongoing. They will take place throughout in exhibition galleries, theaters and at the Shirley Temple Education Studio. Accommodative tours for hard of hearing and deaf communities, and low vision and blind communities will be offered monthly.

“`Virtual programs will continue leading up to the museum’s opening, including a conversation with Oscar-winning writer-director Spike Lee and writer-director-producer Shaka King.

“`Whew! Let me catch my breath…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”-21st Century 50 Fav Films (#28, #27)

July 22nd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Nearing the halfway point of the countdown of my favorite fifty films of the last two decades. Intrigue and suspense plays a central role in the next two entries.


~ #28 – RICHARD JEWELL (2019)

“`Directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood, the production focuses on the Centennial Olympic Park bombing and the aftermath. Security guard Richard Jewell finds a device during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and alerts authorities to evacuate. Later, he was wrongly accused of having placed the device himself. Jewell was one of those pseudo-tragic figures like Tonya Harding (I Tonya) and Mary Mapes (Truth).

“`Paul Walter Hauser is spot-on as Jewell and he was clearly snubbed during awards season in my estimation. This is Sam Rockwell’s second of four appearances on the my list, the previous was in JoJo Rabbit. Kathy Bates earned a Best Supporting Actress nod by the Oscars and the Golden Globes. Rounding out the stellar cast… Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde.

“`First hailed as a hero, Jewell was soon considered a suspect by local law enforcement and by the F. B. I. based on scientific profiling. Though never charged, he underwent a trial by media, which carried a toll on his personal and professional life.  Jewell was cleared after eighty-eight days of public scrutiny. Eric Rudolph would eventually confess and plead guilty to the bombing and other attacks.  The public circus surrounding the investigation has been widely cited as an example of law enforcement and media excesses. Jewell died in 2007 of severe heart disease, with diabetes and related complications as a contributing factor. He was only forty-four.

“`Eastwood sets out to characterize Jewell as an apathetic hero, while the director excoriates the justice department and broadcast journalism. His approach offers a pinch of snarky satire and his usual impeccable music score.


~ #27 – THE IDES OF MARCH (2011)

“`In 44 BC, the 74th day in the Roman Calendar became the moment in history Julius Caesar was assassinated, which made the Ides of March a turning point in the Roman saga. In 2011, it signified a taut political thriller starring Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. Gosling earned a Golden Globe nod for his performance, while Clooney was part of the team that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

“`A political allegory prior to the Trump-era, this movie experience seems quaint by contrast. At the time, it was a riveting drama that attempted to point out the scheming, lobbying, and manipulation that takes place during any election campaign. And while this may still be true, the candidates at least appear to be civil and focused on given issues of the day.  Amazingly, the talking points seem familiar and relevant by today’s standards.

“`Caesar’s murder was a final chapter in the crisis of the Roman Republic, and triggered a civil war that resulted in the rise to power his adopted heir, Augustus. On the fourth anniversary of Caesar’s assassination in 40 BC,  Augustus executed over three hundred senators and equites to avenge Caesar’s slaying. Centuries later, William Shakespeare dramatized the assassination in his eponymous tragedy.

“`Beware the Ides of March!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood” – Women Behind the Scenes…

July 20th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 explores female moviemakers during Hollywood’s Golden Age. John Coleman, Art Kirsch and I share iconic names during our chat.


Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#30, #29)…

July 15th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Movies with questionable points of view seem to find their own legion of fans. As I continue the countdown of my fifty favorite flicks of the twenty-first century, let me offer two productions that curtail political correctness in favor of what are charitably called arresting approaches to storytelling. But the scripts are well-defined in their purpose and they should be in the conversation.



“`A private dick with Tourette’s syndrome is out to solve the murder of his mentor. Edward Norton heads a formidable cast and portrays the gumshoe with the disease.  This neo-noir crime film was written, produced, and directed by Norton.  It was a passion project for the actor after reading Jonathan Lethem’s novel of the same name in 1999, but the production took nearly twenty years to get made. Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis, and Bobby Cannavale offer able support.

“`Despite an outstanding script, the film was only nominated by the Golden Globes (for Best Original Score). Like Cold War and Whiplash, improvisational themes are used to offer the colorful backdrop. Set in mid-twentieth century, New York, Norton enlisted musician Wynton Marsalis to re-create the cool-jazz sound reminiscent of Miles Davis in the mid-1950s. Daniel Pemberton complimented the effort with a stunning score.

“`Tourette’s syndrome is a neurodevelopmental condition that develops in early adolescence. Symptoms remain at the more severe end of the spectrum of tic disorders; sudden repetitive nonrhythmic movements that involve discrete muscle groups. It is characterized by blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing and defined facial expressions. The entertainment industry has been criticized for depicting those with Tourette as social misfits, and whose only tic is to randomly shout obscenities.

“`In my estimation,  Norton straddles the fence of providing an accurate characterization of a person with the disorder. As a method actor, his attention to detail is pristine and he succeeds in the effort.


~ #29 – CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007)

“`Male chauvinism is at the heart of this  Mike Nichols comedy-drama based on the story of United States Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, whose efforts led to Operation Cyclone,  a covert program to organize and support the Mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War. The witty banter is predictably written by Aaron Sorkin.

“`On my list of favs, this is the second of three appearances for Tom Hanks (previously The Post); the first of two appearances by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams; plus, Julia Roberts and Ned Beatty shine is this offering. Hoffman earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his effort.

“`Some Reagan-era officials criticized elements of this film. In February 2008, it was revealed that the film would not play in Russian theaters (What a surprise!). George Crile III, author of the book on which the production is based, wrote that the Mujahideen’s victory in Afghanistan ultimately delivered the power vacuum for Osama bin Laden. The original ending included the 9/11 attacks, an unintended tragic result most likely caused by Washington politicians leaving the country in ruins. Tom Hanks balked at the notion of the film becoming his generation’s Dr. Strangelove or Fail Safe with such a tragic ending. Instead, the rewrites included Avrakotos offering a cataclysmic warning with regards to American disengagement from Afghanistan and Charlie Wilson winning a clandestine award from the CIA.

“`And so it goes…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Celebrating Peter Lorre…

July 14th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`What a pleasure to join Art Kirsch and John Coleman on Celebrating Act 2 to discuss the life and times of Peter Lorre.


Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- My Day at a Game Show…

July 13th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`I have appeared on a number of game shows over the years, including twice on The Dating Game, Rhyme or Reason, The Better Sex, Let’s Make a Deal and Russian Roulette. The most I ever won as a contestant was one hundred dollars and a year’s supply of  Rice-a-Roni (the San Franciscan treat). I lost plenty of opportunities at tens of thousands of dollars in cash and two separate trips to the Bahamas.

“`My appearance on Russian Roulette has surfaced on YouTube. Embarrassingly, I lost on a question about cinema and literally got dropped from the show… ugh!!!


Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Finally…

July 12th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`With endless delays and global pandemic interference, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has announced that timed advance admission tickets will be available beginning at 9a on August 5th by visiting academymuseum.org and using the museum’s app. Opening on September 30th,  this museum will be the largest institution in the United States devoted to exploring the art and science of movies and moviemaking.

“`General admission tickets for museum exhibitions are $25 for adults, $19 for seniors 62 and older, and $15 for students. Visitors seventeen and under and California residents with an EBT card, will be admitted free. The Oscars Experience, an immersive simulation giving guests the chance of walking onto the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and accepting an Oscar, will require a separate $15 ticket.

“`Museum members receive complimentary general admission for unlimited visits and priority admission.  Visitors can learn more about membership, which includes a 10% discount in the Academy Museum Store, exclusive advance film screenings, and access to presale tickets, by visiting academymuseum.org.

“`The museum’s public spaces are accessible to visitors without a general admission ticket. They include the Walt Disney Piazza, Academy Museum Grand Lobby and Spielberg Family Gallery, Academy Museum Store, and Fanny’s restaurant and café.

“`The Academy Museum will be open from10a to 6p, Sunday through Thursday, and 10a to 8p, Friday and Saturday. The museum will require visitors to follow all COVID-19 public health guidelines.

“`The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is located at 6067 Wilshire Blvd.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#32, #31)…

July 7th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`It is time to continue my personal countdown of favorite films of the last two decades. If you just joined in, here is a recap of the past choices. You can also scroll down my blog to read my reviews of each selection:


#50 Gosford Park #49 The Reader #48 I Tonya #47 Molly’s Game #46 The Post

#45 Woman In Gold #44 Midnight In Paris #43 The Grand Budapest Hotel

#42 Jojo Rabbit #41 The Green Book #40 Hidden Figures #39 Truth

#38 Dark Water #37 Chicago #36 Darkest Hour #35 Cold War

#34 The Producers #33 Brooklyn


~ #32 – THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)

“`King George VI learns to cope with his stammer with the help of Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist.  After his brother Edward VIII abdicates the throne, the next monarch relies on Logue to help him make his initial wartime radio message upon Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939. The film crams a ten-year relationship into what seems to be scarcely a year. That said, The King’s Speech joins Chicago and The Green Book as the third (of six) Best Pictures to make my list. And the film makes a great companion piece to Darkest Hour as a visual narrative of Great Britain’s political machinations just before World War II.

“`Helena Bonham Carter has made a career of portraying royals of the period. Currently, she plays Princess Margaret on The Crown.  In this production, she was cast as  Elizabeth – The Queen Mother.  Colin Firth earned his Oscar for his portrayal of the stuttering royal. Geoffrey Rush and Guy Pearce round out this stellar cast. With twelve Academy Award nominations, it also received statuettes for Best Director (Tom Hooper), and Best Original Screenplay.

“`One cannot underestimate the importance of managing disabilities in the 1930s.  President Franklin D Roosevelt and King George VI had an essential duty to administer a stable calm to their nations while focusing on strategies to combat growing global fascist threats. Afflictions were naively regarded as weakness by society. Leaders obliged by hiding their maladies from the public.

“`The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists  championed this movie and launched their Giving Voice campaign around the time of its commercial release. Queen Elizabeth II, the daughter and successor of King George VI, was sent copies of the film before Christmas 2010. The Sun newspaper reported she had watched the film in a private screening at Sandringham House. A palace source described her reaction as being moved by the sincere portrayal of her father; high praise, indeed!


~ #31 – NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

“`A tidy neo-noir thriller, Nightcrawler was a sensation when released. Curiously, the potent piece of celluloid remains absent on streaming services. Expecting to see a horror production, I was spellbound to watch this story about an independent stringer who videotapes late night frantic events in Los Angeles to sell the footage to local television news outlets. Critics lauded the work as a naked indictment of both modern-day media practice and consumer culture.

“`Jake Gyllenhaal anchors the production as the creepy visual news reporter. He is supported by Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and the late Bill Paxton. It received an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay. Gyllenhall was favorably compared to Robert De Niro in his role in  Taxi Driver. Elisha Cook Jr could have played the lead if the movie had been made seven decades earlier.

“`As much as the flick indicts modern journalism, Nightcrawler’s director Dan Gilroy noted that his goal was for audiences to realize that by watching sensationalized news stories, they encourage unethical journalism. The script characterizes Los Angeles as a seedy town, much like Double Indemnity accomplished in the 1940s and Chinatown captured in the 1970s. Nightcrawler remains a cinematic guilty pleasure.

Until next time>                               “never forget”