“Forgotten Hollywood”- From Screen to Television…

November 24th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 examines the transition of stars from cinema to the small screen, such as Raymond Burr, Karl Malden, Walter Brennan, George Reeves, Robert Young, and Lucille Ball. I am thrilled to join Art Kirsch and John Coleman for this engaging examination.

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Dark Christmas Carol…

November 23rd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`I must admit… There is great comraderie among the cast of Dark Shadows still alive. Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott have been lifelong friends since they co-starred in the spooky soap opera.                                 (Parker and Scott joining me at a book fest) —>

“`Now, they will join  David Selby, Nancy Barrett, David Henesy, Jerry Lacy, and others for a Zoom Christmas reading of A Christmas Carol on December 19th at 4p (pst). Spend Christmas in Collinsport!

“`This is going to be spectacular!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Alley Chat…

November 15th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 offers a complete rundown of a recent dedication of the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley in Hollywood. I join Art Kirsch and John Coleman for this engaging discussion.

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Leap of Faith…

November 9th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Dean Stockwell began his career as a child actor and spent seventy years providing audiences with memorable performances.  He is best remembered as Admiral Al Calavicci on television’s  Quantum Leap. Stockwell (right) earned Emmy and Oscar attention along the way.

“`Dean grew up surrounded by thespians. His father, Harry Stockwell, was an actor and lyric baritone singer in New York productions of Carousel and Oklahoma! as well as the voice of Prince Charming in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His elder brother was television and film actor Guy Stockwell.

“`Contracted my MGM, Stockwell appeared in Anchor’s Aweigh (alongside Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Kathryn Grayson), The Valley of Decision, The Green Years and as the son of Nick and Nora Charles in Song of the Thin Man.  Dean was loaned out by MGM to co-star in Gentleman’s Agreement and The Boy with Green Hair.  After his performances in Secret Garden and Kim, he took a break from Hollywood. As a young adult, he had impressive turns in Sons and Lovers and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

“`He was busy on television, guest-starring in Combat!, The Twilight Zone, Wagon Train, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dr. Kildare, Bonanza, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Mannix, The F. B. I.The Streets of San Francisco, ColumboMcCloud, The A-Team, Hart to Hart, Miami Vice and Murder She Wrote. Stockwell spent five years on Quantum Leap. This effort led to other guest-starring roles in sci fi episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, Stargate SG1, and Battlestar Galactica. He was close pals with Leap co-star Scott Bakula and Russ Tamblyn, who he had known since the 1940s.

“`Some of his most impressive work was delivered in the 1980s after a brief hiatus from show business. He was cast in  Dune, The Legend of Billie Jean, To Live and Die in L. A., Blue Velvet, and his celebrated turn in Married to the Mob. The latter film was his favorite.

“`Dean Stockwell was eighty-five.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Wild Bill…

November 3rd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 shares a great conversation about the iconic director… William Wellman. John Coleman, Art Kirsch, and I offer a stirring retrospective…

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Three Important Swan Songs…

October 30th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`The passing of Chadwick Boseman after leaving us with important final performances in Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom saddens all who feel a promise of great work left unfulfilled. It reminds us of the demise of James Dean after completing his job on Giant and Peter Finch hitting his stride in Network and then succumbing to a heart attack.

“`Let me offer three productions that became the final legacy of giants in the industry…

~ THE MISFITS (1961) – Arthur Miller and John Huston could never have realized that their efforts on this dreary classic would be the last cinematic moments of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.  Gable was in the autumn of his career but still could earn top billing. Doing most of his strenuous cowhand stunts in the Nevada desert was too much for his health and he died ten days after completion of the assignment of a heart attack. He was just fifty-nine.

“`Marilyn Monroe feared her career was sliding into oblivion without ever being considered a fine actress.  The Misfits was a promise of her efforts in studying The Method approach to acting. Her next two films would be frothy comedies with Dean Martin  (the kind of flicks she loathed making). Because of depression, she committed suicide before completing Something’s Gotta Give. And Shirley MacLaine replaced her in What a Way to Go.

~ GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967) –  With governmental censorship (The Hayes Code) removed from cinema in 1966, filmmakers were now free to approach contoversial issues on screen. What emerged was mature cinema that might not have been approved the year before, such as Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Point Blank,  and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.  This latter movie examines the practice of mix-marriage. Though the film seems quaint by today’s standards, the Stanley Kramer production would require nuanced performances, which he received from Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Beah Richards, and Spencer Tracy.

“`Tracy had not made a film in four years due to illness, turning down roles in The Cincinnati Kid and on television’s Batman. So concerned were the producers, the movie was only green-lighted when Kramer and Hepburn used their salaries to insure Tracy. This would be Tracy and Hepburn’s ninth film together. His last scene included a love-letter monologue to Kate that was sensitively delivered in his expert Tracy fashion.  The sixty-seven year old actor was dead two weeks later of heart failure.

~ THE SHOOTIST (1976) – After The Conqueror had completed shooting in 1956 in the Nevada desert near an atomic bomb test site, the actors and crew started being diagnosed with cancer. Director Dick Powell, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Pedro Armendáriz were among dozens involved with the production that died after contracting the disease.

“`During the making of In Harm’s Way,  John Wayne was diagnosed with cancer. As the star of The Conqueror, he figured this was forthcoming. By 1976, Wayne bravely took on his last part: An aging cowboy suffering from terminal cancer. Joining him on this last roundup were Hugh O’Brian, Harry Morgan,  Richard Boone, John Carradine,  Scatman Crothers, Ron Howard, James Stewart and Lauren Bacall. Stewart was a friend and had previously accepted an honorary Oscar for Gary Cooper who was also dying of cancer in 1961. Bacall had lost her husband, Humphrey Bogart, to the disease. It might have been The Duke’s finest hour on screen.  Consider what he was trying to deliver to audiences; a personal farewell.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Gospel According to Sahl…

October 26th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Mort Sahl toted a newspaper when approaching the stage to shape political satire in the 1950s and 1960s. He skewered presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Donald Trump. His biting commentary won him legions of fans beginning in the 1950s, and he was credited in inspiring modern stand-up comedians, including Lenny Bruce, Jonathan Winters,  Woody Allen, Dick Gregory, Phyllis Diller, and Shelley Berman.    MORT SAHL –>

“`Born in Montreal, Sahl moved with his family to Los Angeles and got his start as a comedian at San Francisco’s beatnik Hungry I Club. His Cold War point of view is credited for setting the standard for political comedy. He went on to perform at comedy clubs around the country and did not use profanity either on or off stage, nor did he drink, smoke, or use drugs.

“`Along with his nightclub performances, he appeared in movies and television shows, including his network debut on NBC Comedy Hour in May 1956. He was one of the interim hosts on The Tonight Show following Jack Paar’s departure. He hosted the initial Grammy Awards in 1959 and co-hosted the Academy Awards that same year.

“`In 1960, Sahl was placed on the cover of Time Magazine (a first for a comedian), and they referenced him as Will Rogers with fangs. His offerings of news commentary as satire earned him political and celebrity fans, such as Saul Bellow, S. J. Perelman, Adlai Stevenson, Marlene Dietrich and Leonard Bernstein. Tom Lehrer assumed Sahl’s approach in song and became a collegiate favorite.

“`Sahl was closely linked with John F. Kennedy. At the request of Joe Kennedy, Sahl started writing jokes for JFK to use while campaigning in 1960. He later became obsessed with the 1963 assassination. His focus on the Warren Commission, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing the president, became a big part of his act. He would join New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison in investigating assassination conspiracy theories. His nightly tirades eventually stalled his career.

“`By the 1970s the rising tide of counterculture eventually fueled Sahl’s partial comeback as a veteran comedian, and he was included along with the new comedians breaking into the field, including George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Pryor. In 1988, he performed a one-man Off-Broadway show, Mort Sahl’s America. Despite getting good reviews from critics, it was not a box office success.

“`Sahl ranked #40 on Comedy Central’s list of the hundred greatest stand-up comedians of all time, between Billy Crystal and Jon Stewart. In 2007, a number of pals, including Winters and Carlin, gave Sahl an eightieth birthday tribute. In 2011, the Library of Congress placed his 1955 recording, At Sunset, on the National Recording Registry.

“`Mort Sahl was ninety-four.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Celebrating Lon Chaney…

October 23rd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`What an absolute pleasure to have a discussion about the career of Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney Jr. on Celebrating Act 2 with John Coleman and Art Kirsch.

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#2, #1)…

October 21st, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`We have finally made it to the top of the countdown. Two words suffice… Damien Chazelle. As it turns out, the gifted director put together cinematic masterpieces; one a frothy musical and the other, an intense jazz-laden thriller. Both flicks also feature actor J. K. Simmons. He earned an Oscar for the effort. First, let me rundown the previous entries of what I consider the finest productions of the last two decades:

          

#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 – #31 Nightcrawler – #30 Motherless Brooklyn
#29 Charlie Wilson’s War – #28 Richard Jewell – #27 The Ides of March – #26 Argo
#25 Thirteen Days – #24 An Education – #23 The Queen – #22 Hell or High Water
#21 The Ladykillers – #20 Frost/Nixon – #19 American Hustle – #18 Nebraska
#17 Promising Young Woman – #16 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
#15 The Imitation Game – #14 The Trial of the Chicago Seven – #13 Spotlight
#12 Sideways – #11 Lincoln – #10 Mank – #9 The Artist – #8 My Week with Marilyn
#7 Bad Times at the El Royale – #6 The Social Network – #5 Get Low – #4 Stan & Ollie
#3 Lion

====================

~ #2 – LA LA LAND (2016)

“`Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this cotton-candy homage to Los Angeles. La La Land features a start that rivals the choreographic openings to  Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man and West Side Story. The style and tone of the movie were inspired by Jacques Demy’s  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort. It draws visual allusions to top musicals such as Broadway Melody of 1940, The Band Wagon, Singin in the Rain, and An American in Paris. The movie travels through the Warner Brothers lot, Angels Flight, Griffith Observatory, Rialto Theater, Lighthouse Cafe, the 10 Freeway, and Hollywood Hills. The story focuses on balancing a career pursuit in Tinsel Town and falling in love.

“`Chazelle actually conceptualized the idea of this musical before turning out Whiplash. Due to the latter movie’s success,  its star Miles Teller was set to team with Emma Watson on the project.  Eventually, the script landed on the doorstep of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. She was actually delighted for the opportunity because of her childhood love of musicals. She had appeared in a Broadway revival of  Cabaret and her favorite all-time film is Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. The two channeled their inner Tracy/Hepburn, Bogie/Bacall, Astaire/Rogers, and William Powell/Myrna Loy.

“`La La Land earned fourteen Oscar nods and won six; Best Director, Best Actress (Stone), Best Original Score, Best Original SongBest Production Design, and Best Cinematography. The movie matched All about Eve and Titanic for the most nominations. Hilariously, at the Academy Awards ceremony, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced it had captured Best Picture of the Year. They were wrong… Moonlight won. Ironically, this is the only false note delivered by this loving tribute to the American musical.

     

~ #1 – WHIPLASH (2014)

“`After Damien Chazelle finished completing the script of Whiplash, Right of Way Films and Blumhouse Productions  helped him turn fifteen pages of the script into an eighteen-minute short film. It received acclaim after debuting at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and attracted investors to produce a cinematic version.  The screenplay was based on his tempestuous bond with a former band instructor while he was in the Princeton High School Studio Band. I just love a Hollywood story!

“`With reference to the careers of Charlie Parker and Buddy Rich, the production’s soundtrack also features the arrangements of Duke Ellington and Juan Tizon (Caravan), and saxaphonist and composer Hank Levy (Whiplash). For his part, J. K. Simmons portrays a frustrated music professor who is profane, cruel, and utterly compelling. As a result, this psychological thriller has many neo-noir elements.

“`Loaded with bravado and swagger, Whiplash earned five Oscar nominations and received statuettes for Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Supporting ActorEntertainment Weekly and Movies.com named the production Best Motion Picture in 2014. It is better in my estimation… Simply, my FAVORITE movie of the twenty-first century.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Patriot…

October 18th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Colin Powell was one of our country’s most prominent Black figures for decades. He served three Republican presidents in senior posts and reached the top of the United States military as it was regaining its vigor after the trauma of the Vietnam War. His highs and lows included leading Allied forces that drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991, and later as the head of the State Department, relying on erroneous intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“`Powell was born in New York City , and raised in the South Bronx neighborhood, the son of a shipping clerk and a seamstress from Jamaica who arrived in America in 1920 aboard a United Fruit Company steamer. His path to success was the military’s  Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He was commissioned an Army second lieutenant in 1958.

“`He served thirty-five years in the Army, including two combat tours in Vietnam and stints in West Germany and South Korea.  He was injured twice during his service. He earned a White House fellowship while in the Army during Richard Nixon’s presidency and won the respect of officials who later would serve in senior posts under Reagan. He was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

“`One of his top accomplishments was his development of the Powell Doctrine on the use of military force, which arose out of ambiguous objectives and erratic troop build-up during the Vietnam War era. The doctrine states:

War should be a last resort; force, when used, should be overwhelming; there must be strong public support for it and a clear exit strategy.

“`While in the George W. Bush cabinet,  Powell was often at odds with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He announced his resignation after the president’s November 2004 re-election.

“`Powell espoused outspoken political rhetoric (especially against then-President Donald Trump) and claimed unabashed support for candidate Barack Obama.

“`A reluctant warrior and a true patriot, Colin Powell (right) was eighty-four.

Until next time>                               “never forget’

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Head of the Class…

October 14th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`I am happy to once again appear on Celebrating Act 2 with John Coleman and Art Kirsch. We have a conversation about those iconic movie moguls during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century 50 Fav Films (#4, #3)…

October 13th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`It is time for the presentation of the understudy… the opening act… two can’t miss celluloid beauties. Both films provide poignant stories that make me shed tears each time I sit down to watch. These are two wonderful examinations on my Top Fifty favorite movies of the last two decades.

====================

~ #4 – STAN AND OLLIE (2018)

“`Two journeyman charactor actors take on the opportunity to portray the finest comedy team in cinematic history and they knock it out of the park. Such is the story of Stan & Ollie. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly capture the mannerisms and the iconic routines that made the team famous. The movie focuses Laurel and Hardy’s personal relationship while they embarked on a gruelling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland during 1953.

“`The production was ignored by the Oscars, but Reilly received a Golden Globes nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy.  Ironically, Laurel and Hardy earned an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Subject for their work on The Music Box in 1931;  extremely rare for film comedians.

“`Stan was the creator of their comedy bits, Ollie (also known as Babe) could also sing. Hal Roach paired the duo in 1927 in Putting Pants on Phillip. Some of their best remembered movies include Tit for Tat, Big Business, Sons of the Desert and Way Out West. In the latter flick, they performed one of their best moments on screen when they crooned Trail of the Lonesome Pine. This is beautifully recreated in Stan & Ollie. Other famous personalities featured include actors Jimmy Finlayson, Harry Langdon, and producer Bernard Delfont.

“`After Hardy suffered a heart attack in 1954, the remainder of the tour was cancelled.  They never performed together on stage again. After Babe’s passing in 1957, Stanley kept working on bits for the team. Curiously, his home phone number was listed in the Santa Monica phone book. He was called by a fellow who wanted to pay a visit to the iconic comedian. That person was Dick Van Dyke and it became the reason he entered show business. And so it goes…

   

~ #3 – LION (2016)

“`Lion tells the tale of a young man’s twenty-five year odyssey to find his birth family. An episodic motion picture that begins as a subtitled masterpiece and ends with tour-de-force performances by Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara. It is based on the 2013 non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. This is a production that has the feel of a Dickens novel with unsparing realism of its Indian first half, and a modern angle due to its reliance on Google Earth as part of the plot line.

“`Lion received six Oscar nods: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, and love for Patel and Kidman. Remarkably, Sunny Pawar (who plays the young Saroo) was snubbed during awards season.  He is the heart of the movie and his emotional strings tug at the most hardened of hearts. I was sorry to see him grow up.

“`The finale has a heartfelt punch. As a child, the protagonist mispronounces his name as Saroo. When reunited with his mother, she calls him Sheru; the English translation… LION! Hence the title of the film…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 21st Century Fave 50 Films (#6, #5)…

October 8th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`We are getting down to the nitty gritty of my  favorite fifty movies of the last two decades. Today’s choices are incredibly well-made productions. Sensational writing and outstanding acting make these a cut above average releases in any given year. Let us get to it…

====================

~ #6 – THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)

“`Social media was in its adolescence when  The Social Network was released. It chronicles the rise of Mark Zuckerberg, who became the youngest media mogul on the globe. He refined the idea of how people would predominately communicate in the 21st century. In the spirit of cinema such as Network, A Face in the Crowd, and Citizen Kane, this production offers a glimpse of our collective future. It does not look pretty.

“`Without question, this is Aaron Sorkin’s essential work. EVERY word counts! The actors are handed volumes of word-heavy scripts. Jessie Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Max Minghella, and Armie Hammer (in dual roles) delivers. David Fincher creates a lightening paced narrative and he is one of two directors on my countdown who has two films in my Top 10 (The other – Mank). Nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Eisenberg),  it garnered three; for Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing.

“`The Social Network is a snarky exploration of how Facebook was born and it is a searing indictment of what it inevitably became. Sorkin’s portrait of Zuckerberg was hardly flattering, but upon reflection after his many testimonies before Congress, the film may have been too sympathetic on the media giant.

“`The Social Network has earned a fierce reputation since its initial release, and is cited by critics as one of the most topical motion pictures of the century. A sequel is being discussed. Representatives of Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok are holding their collective breath.

     

~ #5 – GET LOW (2009)

“`Get Low is the least-watched flick on my list, earning less than ten million in receipts.  Yet, critics who have sat through the movie found it to be visual poetry of the highest order. When released to cable platforms, PBS was the first to capitalize in presenting it to a viewing home audience.  High praise for truly forgotten cinema of recent history.  Like Harold and Maude, Get Low is destined to become a cult classic.

“`The eclectic cast includes Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, and Lucas Black. But, it was summarily ignored by the Oscar faithful. Duvall found the assignment so compelling, he co-produced the venture.

“`Get Low  takes place in the back-woods of 1930s Tennessee and it has the feel of hallowed cinema such as O Brother Where Art Thou? and To Kill a Mockingbird. Duvall’s character reminds us of Boo Radley, had he grown into full maturity. A multi-genre production, the film is an atmospheric mystery, tragic love story, and subtle comedy. Promising Young Woman and Parasite are recent examples of cinematic entertainment benefitting from a multi-genre approach.

“`When discussing the best actors of the last half-century, including De Niro, Hanks, Pacino, Bridges, and Day Lewis, Duvall certainly belongs in this conversation. And does Spacek and Murray ever make a bad movie? Just asking for a friend…

Until next time>                               “never forget

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Compliment to My Countdown…

October 5th, 2021

Manny P….

“`Art Kirsh and John Coleman allow me to promote my countdown of my favorite movies of the last two decades on Celebrating Act 2.

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Gritcast…

October 4th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`You can get an intimate look at the behind-the-scenes and off-camera life of John Wayne. Ethan, the Duke’s son, is hosting a podcast about his dad. Called the John Wayne Gritcast.  The show promises to give listeners insight into the movie star that America idolized. New episodes drop every Thursday.

“`They promoted the show on the estate’s Instagram. The inaugural episode of the Gritcast dropped last week. It features an interview with Patrick Wayne, one of John Wayne’s oldest children.

“`Patrick, who starred with his dad in the western comedy McLintock!, talked about the film’s difficult shoot (including the famous mud scene),  and nearly freezing with his dad while being stuck in a terrible Arizona motel.

“`The Colt Single Action Army revolver that John Wayne used in True Grit and The Cowboys is up for auction later this week.

Until next time>                               “never forget”