Sunday, July 8, 2012

The AFI Top 100 Film Lists

Ok, now that I've blogged my way through the 100 top movies of all time according to the American Film Institute, let's take a list at the two lists I used. One was published in 1998 and the follow-up in 2007. Despite the fact that only a few years passed between the two lists, there were significant differences in the lists:

Film Release Year 1998 rank 2007 rank
Citizen Kane 1941 1 1
Casablanca 1942 2 3
The Godfather 1972 3 2
Gone with the Wind 1939 4 6
Lawrence of Arabia 1962 5 7
The Wizard of Oz 1939 6 10
The Graduate 1967 7 17
On the Waterfront 1954 8 19
Schindler's List 1993 9 8
Singin' in the Rain 1952 10 5
It's a Wonderful Life 1946 11 20
Sunset Boulevard 1950 12 16
The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957 13 36
Some Like It Hot 1959 14 22
Star Wars 1977 15 13
All About Eve 1950 16 28
The African Queen 1951 17 65
Psycho 1960 18 14
The General 1927 — 18
Chinatown 1974 19 21
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975 20 33
The Grapes of Wrath 1940 21 23
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 22 15
The Maltese Falcon 1941 23 31
Raging Bull 1980 24 4
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982 25 24
Dr. Strangelove 1964 26 39
Bonnie and Clyde 1967 27 42
Apocalypse Now 1979 28 30
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939 29 26
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948 30 38
Annie Hall 1977 31 35
The Godfather Part II 1974 32 32
High Noon 1952 33 27
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 34 25
It Happened One Night 1934 35 46
Midnight Cowboy 1969 36 43
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946 37 37
Double Indemnity 1944 38 29
Doctor Zhivago 1965 39 —
North by Northwest 1959 40 55
West Side Story 1961 41 51
Rear Window 1954 42 48
King Kong 1933 43 41
The Birth of a Nation 1915 44 —
A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 45 47
A Clockwork Orange 1971 46 70
Taxi Driver 1976 47 52
Jaws 1975 48 56
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 49 34
Intolerance 1916 — 49
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969 50 73
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 — 50
The Philadelphia Story 1940 51 44
From Here to Eternity 1953 52 —
Amadeus 1984 53 —
All Quiet on the Western Front 1930 54 —
The Sound of Music 1965 55 40
MASH 1970 56 54
The Third Man 1949 57 —
Fantasia 1940 58 —
Rebel Without a Cause 1955 59 —
Nashville 1975 — 59
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 60 66
Vertigo 1958 61 9
Sullivan's Travels 1941 — 61
Tootsie 1982 62 69
Stagecoach 1939 63 —
Cabaret 1972 — 63
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977 64 —
The Silence of the Lambs 1991 65 74
Network 1976 66 64
The Manchurian Candidate 1962 67 —
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966 — 67
An American in Paris 1951 68 —
Shane 1953 69 45
The French Connection 1971 70 93
Forrest Gump 1994 71 76
Saving Private Ryan 1998 — 71
Ben-Hur 1959 72 100
The Shawshank Redemption 1994 — 72
Wuthering Heights 1939 73 —
The Gold Rush 1925 74 58
Dances with Wolves 1990 75 —
In the Heat of the Night 1967 — 75
City Lights 1931 76 11
American Graffiti 1973 77 62
All the President's Men 1976 — 77
Rocky 1976 78 57
The Deer Hunter 1978 79 53
The Wild Bunch 1969 80 79
Modern Times 1936 81 78
Spartacus 1960 — 81
Giant 1956 82 —
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 1927 — 82
Platoon 1986 83 86
Titanic 1997 — 83
Fargo 1996 84 —
Duck Soup 1933 85 60
A Night at the Opera 1935 — 85
Mutiny on the Bounty 1935 86 —
Frankenstein 1931 87 —
12 Angry Men 1957 — 87
Easy Rider 1969 88 84
Patton 1970 89 —
The Sixth Sense 1999 — 89
The Jazz Singer 1927 90 —
Swing Time 1936 — 90
My Fair Lady 1964 91 —
Sophie's Choice 1982 — 91
A Place in the Sun 1951 92 —
The Apartment 1960 93 80
Goodfellas 1990 94 92
Pulp Fiction 1994 95 94
The Last Picture Show 1971 — 95
The Searchers 1956 96 12
Do the Right Thing 1989 — 96
Bringing Up Baby 1938 97 88
Blade Runner 1982 — 97
Unforgiven 1992 98 68
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1967 99 —
Toy Story 1995 — 99
Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942 100 98

Twenty-three films from the original top 100 films list were removed in 2007:

39. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
44. The Birth of a Nation (1915)
52. From Here to Eternity (1953)
53. Amadeus (1984)
54. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
57. The Third Man (1949)
58. Fantasia (1940)
59. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
63. Stagecoach (1939)
64. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
67. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
68. An American in Paris (1951)
73. Wuthering Heights (1939)
75. Dances with Wolves (1990)
82. Giant (1956)
84. Fargo (1996)
86. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
87. Frankenstein (1931)
89. Patton (1970)
90. The Jazz Singer (1927)
91. My Fair Lady (1964)
92. A Place in the Sun (1951)
99. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Four films released between 1996–2006 were added:

50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
83. Titanic (1997)
89. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Nineteen films made before 1996 were also added:

18. The General (1926)
49. Intolerance (1916)
59. Nashville (1975)
61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
63. Cabaret (1972)
67. Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
77. All the President's Men (1976)
81. Spartacus (1960)
82. Sunrise (1927)
85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
90. Swing Time (1936)
91. Sophie's Choice (1982)
95. The Last Picture Show (1971)
96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
97. Blade Runner (1982)
99. Toy Story (1995)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

#1 on both the 1998 and 2007 AFI Top 100 Movies list!
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film, directed by and starring Orson Welles. It was released by RKO Pictures, and was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories; it won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) by Herman Mankiewicz and Welles. Citizen Kane has been voted the greatest film of all time in each of the last five Sight & Sound's polls of critics, and is particularly praised for its innovative cinematography, music and narrative structure.

The story is a film à clef that examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character based in part upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Welles's own life.[4] Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers. Kane's career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is revealed through the research of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud."

After his success in the theatre with his Mercury Players and his controversial 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, Welles was courted by Hollywood. He signed a contract with RKO Pictures in 1939. Unusual for an untried director, he was given the freedom to develop his own story and use his own cast and crew, and was given final cut privilege. Following two abortive attempts to get a project off the ground, he developed the screenplay of Citizen Kane with Herman Mankiewicz. Principal photography took place in 1940 and the film received its American release in 1941.

A critical success, Citizen Kane failed to recoup its costs at the box office. The film faded from view soon after but its reputation was restored, initially by French critics and more widely after its American revival in 1956. Many film critics consider Citizen Kane to be the greatest film ever made, which has led Roger Ebert to quip: "So it's settled: Citizen Kane is the official greatest film of all time." In addition to the Sight & Sound polls, it topped the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list and its 10th Anniversary Update.

The film was released on Blu-ray on September 13, 2011 for a special 70th Anniversary Edition

Friday, July 6, 2012


Casablanca (70th Anniversary Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

#2 (1998) and #3 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Movies List
Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid
Bergman and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in the words of one character, love and virtue. He must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her Czech Resistance leader husband escape from the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.

Although it was an A-list film, with established stars and first-rate writers—Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch received credit for the screenplay—no one involved with its production expected Casablanca to be anything out of the ordinary; it was just one of hundreds of pictures produced by Hollywood every year. The film was a solid, if unspectacular, success in its initial run, rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. Despite a changing assortment of screenwriters frantically adapting an unstaged play and barely keeping ahead of production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic lead role, Casablanca won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic, and the film has grown in popularity to the point that it now consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time.

The play's cast consisted of 16 speaking parts and several extras; the film script enlarged it to 22 speaking parts and hundreds of extras. The cast is notable for its internationalism: only three of the credited actors were born in the U.S. The top-billed actors were:

* Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine. Earlier in his career, he had been typecast as a gangster. High Sierra (1941) had allowed him to play a character with some warmth, but Rick was his first truly romantic role.
* Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund. Bergman's official website calls Ilsa her "most famous and enduring role". The Swedish actress's Hollywood debut in Intermezzo had been well received, but her subsequent films were not major successes—until Casablanca. Film critic Roger Ebert calls her "luminous", and comments on the chemistry between her and Bogart: "she paints his face with her eyes". Other actresses considered for the role of Ilsa included Ann Sheridan, Hedy Lamarr and Michèle Morgan. Wallis obtained the services of Bergman, who was contracted to David O. Selznick, by lending Olivia de Havilland in exchange.
* Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo. Henreid, an Austrian actor who emigrated in 1935, was reluctant to take the role (it "set [him] as a stiff forever", according to Pauline Kael), until he was promised top billing along with Bogart and Bergman. Henreid did not get on well with his fellow actors; he considered Bogart "a mediocre actor", while Bergman called Henreid a "prima donna".

The second-billed actors were:

* Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari, a rival nightclub owner. Another Englishman, Greenstreet had previously starred with Lorre and Bogart in his film debut in The Maltese Falcon.
* Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte. Lorre, who was born in Austria-Hungary, had left Germany in 1933.
* Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault. Rains was an English actor born in London. He had previously worked with Michael Curtiz on The Adventures of Robin Hood. He later appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious with Ingrid Bergman.
* Conrad Veidt as Major Heinrich Strasser. He was a German actor who had appeared in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari before fleeing from the Nazis and ironically was best known for playing Nazis in U.S. films.

Also credited were:

* Curt Bois as the pickpocket. Bois was a German Jewish actor and another refugee. He had one of the longest careers in film, making his first appearance in 1907 and his last in 1987.
* Leonid Kinskey as Sascha, the Russian bartender infatuated with Yvonne. He was actually born in Russia.
* Madeleine LeBeau as Yvonne, Rick's soon-discarded girlfriend. The French actress was Marcel Dalio's wife until their divorce in 1942.
* Joy Page as Annina Brandel, the young Bulgarian refugee. The third credited American, she was studio head Jack Warner's stepdaughter.
* John Qualen as Berger, Laszlo's Resistance contact. He was born in Canada, but grew up in America. He appeared in many of John Ford's movies.
* S. Z. Sakall (credited as S. K. Sakall) as Carl, the waiter. He was a Hungarian actor who fled from Germany in 1939. His three sisters later died in a concentration camp.
* Dooley Wilson as Sam. He was one of the few American members of the cast. A drummer, he could not play the piano. Hal Wallis had considered changing Sam to a female character (Hazel Scott and Ella Fitzgerald were candidates), and even after shooting had been completed, Wallis considered dubbing over Wilson's voice for the songs.

Notable uncredited actors were:

* Leon Belasco as a dealer in Rick's Cafe. A Russian-American character actor, he appeared in 13 films the year Casablanca was released.
* Marcel Dalio as Emil the croupier. He had been a star in French cinema, appearing in Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion and La Regle de Jeu, but after he fled the fall of France, he was reduced to bit parts in Hollywood. He had a key role in another of Bogart's films, To Have and Have Not.
* Helmut Dantine as Jan Brandel, the Bulgarian roulette player married to Annina Brandel. Another Austrian, he had spent time in a concentration camp after the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria.
* William Edmunds as a contact man at Rick's. He usually played characters with heavy accents, such as Martini in It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
* Gregory Gaye as the German banker who is refused entry to the casino by Rick. Gaye was a Russian-born actor who went to the United States in 1917 after the Russian Revolution.
* Torben Meyer as the Dutch banker who runs "the second largest banking house in Amsterdam". Meyer was a Danish actor.
* Georges Renavent as Conspirator.
* Dan Seymour as Abdul the doorman. He was an American actor who, at 265 pounds, often played villains, including the principal one in To Have and Have Not, and one of the secondary ones in Key Largo, both opposite Bogart.
* Norma Varden as the Englishwoman whose husband has his wallet stolen. She was a famous English character actress.
* Jean Del Val as the French police radio announcer who (following the opening montage sequence) reports the news of the murder of the two German couriers.
* Leo White as the waiter Emile (not to be confused with the croupier Emil), from whom Renault orders a drink when he sits down with the Laszlos. White was a familiar face in many Charlie Chaplin two-reelers in the 1910s, usually playing an upper-class antagonist.
* Jack Benny may have had an unbilled cameo role (claimed by a contemporary newspaper advertisement and reportedly in the Casablanca press book). When asked in his column "Movie Answer Man", critic Roger Ebert first replied, "It looks something like him. That's all I can say." In response to a follow-up question in his next column, he stated, "I think you're right."

Part of the emotional impact of the film has been attributed to the large proportion of European exiles and refugees among the extras and in the minor roles. A witness to the filming of the "duel of the anthems" sequence said he saw many of the actors crying and "realized that they were all real refugees". Harmetz argues that they "brought to a dozen small roles in Casablanca an understanding and a desperation that could never have come from Central Casting". The German citizens among them nevertheless had to keep curfew as enemy aliens. Ironically, they were frequently cast as the Nazis from whom they had fled.

Some of the exiled actors were:

* Louis V. Arco as another refugee in Rick's. Born Lutz Altschul in Austria, he moved to America shortly after the Anschluss and changed his name.
* Trude Berliner as a baccarat player in Rick's. Born in Berlin, she was a famous cabaret performer and film actress. Being Jewish, she left Germany in 1933.
* Ilka Grünig as Mrs. Leuchtag. Born in Vienna, she was a silent movie star in Germany who came to America after the Anschluss.
* Lotte Palfi as the refugee trying to sell her diamonds. Born in Germany, she played stage roles at a prestigious theater in Darmstadt, Germany. She journeyed to America after the Nazis came to power in 1933. She later married another Casablanca actor, Wolfgang Zilzer.
* Richard Ryen as Strasser's aide, Captain Heinze. The Austrian Jew acted in German films, but fled the Nazis.
* Ludwig Stössel as Mr. Leuchtag, the German refugee whose English is "not so good". Born in Austria, the Jewish actor was imprisoned following the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria. When he was released, he left for England and then America. Stössel became famous for doing a long series of commercials for Italian Swiss Colony wine producers. Dressed in an Alpine hat and lederhosen, Stössel was their spokesman with the slogan, "That Little Old Winemaker, Me!"
* Hans Twardowski as a Nazi officer who argues with a French officer over Yvonne. He was born in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland).
* Wolfgang Zilzer as a Free French agent who is shot in the opening scene of the movie, was a silent movie actor in Germany who left when the Nazis took over. He later married Casablanca actress Lotte Palfi.

One of the lines most closely associated with the film — "Play it again, Sam" — is a misquotation. When Ilsa first enters the Café Americain, she spots Sam and asks him to "Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake." After he feigns ignorance, she responds, "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'." Later that night, alone with Sam, Rick says, "You played it for her, you can play it for me," and "If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"

Rick's toast to Ilsa, "Here's looking at you, kid", used several times, is not in the draft screenplays, but has been attributed to something Bogart said to Bergman as he taught her poker between takes. It was voted the 5th most memorable line in cinema in AFI's 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute.

Six lines from Casablanca appeared in the AFI list, the most of any film (Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz tied for second with three apiece). The other five are:

* "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" – 20th
* "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'" – 28th
* "Round up the usual suspects" – 32nd
* "We'll always have Paris" – 43rd
* "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" – 67th

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Godfather

The Godfather Collection (The Coppola Restoration) [Blu-ray]

#3 (1998) and #2 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Films List
The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne,[ the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte and Diane Keaton, and features John Cazale, Talia Shire, and Abe Vigoda. The story, spanning the years 1945 to 1955, chronicles the experiences of the Italian-American Corleone family. Two sequels followed: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.
The Godfather received Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In addition, it had been ranked third – behind Citizen Kane (1941) and Casablanca (1942) – on the AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies list by the American Film Institute, and second when the list was published again in 2007.

Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, the Don (the "boss") of the Corleone family, formerly known as Vito Andolini. He is the father of Santino (Sonny), Federico (Fredo), Michele (Michael) and Constanzia (Connie) and adoptive father to Tom Hagen. Husband of Carmela Corleone. A native Sicilian.
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, the Don's youngest son, recently returned from World War II. The only college-educated member of the family, he initially wants nothing to do with the "family business". His evolution from doe-eyed outsider to ruthless boss is the key plotline of the film.
James Caan as Santino "Sonny" Corleone, Don Corleone's hot-headed eldest son. As underboss, he is being groomed to succeed his father as head of the family.
Richard S. Castellano as Peter Clemenza, a caporegime for the family.
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, Don Corleone's informally adopted son, he is the family lawyer and consigliere (counselor). He is German-Irish, not Sicilian.
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams-Corleone, Michael's girlfriend and, ultimately, his wife and mother of his children.
John Cazale as Fredo Corleone, the middle son. Deeply insecure and not very bright, he is considered the weakest of the Corleone brothers.
Talia Shire as Constanzia "Connie" Corleone, the youngest child and only daughter. She marries Carlo Rizzi.
Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Tessio, a caporegime for the family.
Al Lettieri as Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo, a heroin dealer associated with the Tattaglia family.
Gianni Russo as Carlo Rizzi, Connie's husband. Becomes an associate of the Corleone family, and ultimately betrays Sonny to the Barzini family.
Sterling Hayden as Captain McCluskey, a corrupt police captain on Sollozzo's payroll.
Lenny Montana as Luca Brasi, an enforcer utilized by Vito Corleone.
Richard Conte as Emilio Barzini, Don of the Barzini family.
Al Martino as Johnny Fontane, a world-famous popular singer and godson of Vito. Loosely based on Frank Sinatra.
John Marley as Jack Woltz, a powerful Hollywood producer.
Alex Rocco as Moe Greene, a longtime associate of the Corleone family who owns a Las Vegas hotel. Based on Bugsy Siegel.
Morgana King as Carmela Corleone, Vito's wife and mother of Sonny, Fredo, Michael, and Connie, and adoptive mother to Tom Hagen.
Corrado Gaipa as Don Tommasino, an old friend of Vito Corleone, shelters Michael during his exile in Sicily
Johnny Martino as Paulie Gatto, a soldier under Peter Clemenza and Vito's driver.
Victor Rendina as Philip Tattaglia, Don of the Tattaglia family.
Simonetta Stefanelli as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, a young girl Michael meets and marries while in Sicily.
Louis Guss as Don Zaluchi, Don of the Zaluchi family of Detroit.
Tom Rosqui as Rocco Lampone, a soldier under Clemenza who eventually becomes a caporegime in the Corleone family.
Joe Spinell as Willi Cicci, a soldier in the Corleone family.
Richard Bright as Al Neri, Michael Corleone's bodyguard. He eventually becomes a caporegime.
Julie Gregg as Sandra Corleone, wife of Sonny

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)

#4 (1998) and #6 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Movies List

Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard. Set in the 19th century American South, the film stars Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, and Hattie McDaniel, among others, and tells a story of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era from a white Southern point of view.

The film received 10 Academy Awards (8 competitive, 2 honorary), a record that stood for 20 years until Ben-Hur surpassed it in 1960. In the American Film Institute's inaugural Top 100 Best American Films of All Time list of 1998, it was ranked fourth, and in 1989 was selected to be preserved by the National Film Registry.The film was the longest American sound film made up to that time – 3 hours 44 minutes, plus a 15 minute intermission, and was among the first of the major films shot in color (Technicolor), winning the first Academy Award for Best Cinematography in the category for color films. It became the highest-grossing film of all-time shortly after its release, holding the position until 1966; after adjusting for inflation, it has still earned more than any other film in box office revenue. As of 2012, there are five surviving cast members from the film.

* Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara
* Clark Gable as Rhett Butler
* Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes
* Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton
* Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara
* Barbara O'Neil as Ellen O'Hara
* Evelyn Keyes as Suellen O'Hara
* Ann Rutherford as Carreen O'Hara
* George Reeves as Stuart Tarleton
* Fred Crane as Brent Tarleton
* Hattie McDaniel as Mammy
* Oscar Polk as Pork
* Butterfly McQueen as Prissy
* Victor Jory as Jonas Wilkerson
* Everett Brown as Big Sam
* Howard Hickman as John Wilkes
* Alicia Rhett as India Wilkes
* Rand Brooks as Charles Hamilton
* Carroll Nye as Frank Kennedy
* Laura Hope Crews as Aunt Pittypat
* Eddie Anderson as Uncle Peter
* Harry Davenport as Dr. Meade
* Leona Roberts as Mrs. Meade
* Jane Darwell as Mrs. Merriwether
* Mary Anderson as Maybelle Merriweather
* Ona Munson as Belle Watling
* Ward Bond as Tom, Yankee Captain
* Cliff Edwards as voice of unseen Reminiscent Soldier
* Cammie King as Bonnie Blue Butler
* Mickey Kuhn as Beau Wilkes
* Patrick Curtis as Beau Wilkes (as a baby)
* Greg Giese as newborn Beau Wilkes/newborn Bonnie Blue Butler
* Emily Eby as Grandma Moses
* Paul Hurst as Yankee deserter
* Isabel Jewell as Emmie Slattery
* Yakima Canutt as Shantytown renegade

(The credits in the film contain an error: George Reeves and Fred Crane appear as the Tarleton brothers. Reeves plays Stuart, but is listed as Brent, while Crane, playing Brent, is listed as Stuart.)

As of January 2012, Alicia Rhett (born February 1, 1915), who played India Wilkes, is the oldest surviving cast member. Also surviving are Olivia de Havilland (born July 1, 1916), who played Melanie Wilkes; Mary Anderson (born April 3, 1920), who played Maybelle Meriweather; Ann Rutherford (born November 2, 1920), who played Scarlett O'Hara's younger sister, Carreen O'Hara; and Mickey Kuhn (born September 21, 1932), who played Beau Wilkes.

In an attempt to draw upon his company's profits, but to pay capital gain tax rather than a much higher personal income tax, David O. Selznick and his business partners liquidated Selznick International Pictures over a three-year period in the early 1940s. As part of the liquidation, Selznick sold his rights in Gone with the Wind to Jock Whitney and his sister, who in turn sold it to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1944. Today it is owned by Turner Entertainment, whose parent company Turner Broadcasting acquired MGM's film library in 1986. Turner itself is currently a subsidiary of Time Warner, which is the current parent company of Warner Bros. Entertainment. The film is the favorite movie of TBS founder Ted Turner, himself a resident of Atlanta.

In 1989, Gone with the Wind was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked it #4 on its "100 Greatest Movies" list.

Rhett Butler's famous farewell line to Scarlett O'Hara, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn", was voted in a poll by the American Film Institute in 2005 as the most memorable line in cinema history.

Leslie Howard's association to the screen character he most disliked, the winsome Ashley, later obscured his solid contribution to the British film industry and his fight to break the silence about the Holocaust.

In 2005, the AFI ranked Max Steiner's score for the film the second greatest of all time. The AFI also ranked the film #2 in their list of the greatest romances of all time (100 Years... 100 Passions).

After filming concluded, the set of Tara sat on the back lot of the former Selznick Studios as the Forty Acres back lot reverted to RKO Pictures and then was sold to Desilu Productions. In 1959, Southern Attractions, Inc. purchased the façade of Tara, which was dismantled and shipped to Georgia with plans to relocate it to the Atlanta area as a tourist attraction. David O. Selznick commented at the time,

Nothing in Hollywood is permanent. Once photographed, life here is ended. It is almost symbolic of Hollywood. Tara had no rooms inside. It was just a façade. So much of Hollywood is a façade.

However, the Margaret Mitchell estate refused to license the novel's commercial use in connection with the façade, citing Mitchell's dismay at how little it resembled her description. In 1979 the dismantled plywood and papier-mâché set, reportedly in "terrible" condition, was purchased for $5,000 by Betty Talmadge, the ex-wife of former Georgia governor and U.S. senator Herman Talmadge. She lent the front door of Tara's set to the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in downtown Atlanta, Georgia where it is on permanent display, featured in the Gone with the Wind film museum. Other items from the movie, such as from the set of Scarlett and Rhett's Atlanta mansion, are still stored at The Culver Studios (formerly Selznick International) including the stained glass window from the top of the staircase which was actually a painting. The famous painting of Scarlett in her blue dress, which hung in Rhett's bedroom, hung for years at the Margaret Mitchell Elementary School in Atlanta, but is now on permanent loan to the Margaret Mitchell Museum, complete with stains from the glass of sherry that Clark Gable, as Rhett Butler, threw at it in anger.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia (Collector's Edition)

#5 (1998) and #7 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Movies List
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company, Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the title role. It is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential films in the history of cinema. The dramatic score by Maurice Jarre and the Super Panavision 70 cinematography by Freddie Young are also highly acclaimed.

The film depicts Lawrence's experiences in Arabia during World War I, in particular his attacks on Aqaba and Damascus and his involvement in the Arab National Council. Its themes include Lawrence's emotional struggles with the personal violence inherent in war, his personal identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his newfound comrades within the Arabian desert tribes.


* Peter O'Toole as Thomas Edward "T. E." Lawrence. Albert Finney, at the time a virtual unknown, was Lean's first choice to play Lawrence, but Finney was not sure the film would be a success and turned it down. Marlon Brando was also offered the part, and Anthony Perkins and Montgomery Clift were briefly considered, before O'Toole was cast.Alec Guinness had previously played Lawrence in the play Ross, and was briefly considered for the part, but David Lean and Sam Spiegel thought him too old. Lean had seen O'Toole in The Day They Robbed the Bank of England and was bowled over by his screen test, proclaiming "This is Lawrence!" Spiegel disliked O'Toole, having worked with him on Suddenly, Last Summer (where O'Toole was an understudy for Montgomery Clift and considered to take over his part after Clift's alcoholism caused problems), but acceded to Lean's demands after Finney and Brando dropped out. Pictures of Lawrence suggest also that O'Toole carried some resemblance to him, in spite of their considerable height difference. O'Toole's looks prompted a different reaction from Noël Coward, who after seeing the première of the film quipped "If you had been any prettier, the film would have been called Florence of Arabia"
* Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal. Faisal was originally to be portrayed by Laurence Olivier; Guinness, who performed in other David Lean films, got the part when Olivier dropped out. Guinness was made up to look as much like the real Faisal as possible; he recorded in his diaries that, while shooting in Jordan, he met several people who had known Faisal who actually mistook him for the late prince. Guinness said in interviews that he developed his Arab accent from a conversation he had with Omar Sharif.
* Anthony Quinn as Auda abu Tayi. Quinn got very much into his role; he spent hours applying his own makeup, using a photograph of the real Auda to make himself look as much like him as he could. One anecdote has Quinn arriving on-set for the first time in full costume, whereupon Lean, mistaking him for a native, asked his assistant to ring Quinn and notify him that they were replacing him with the new arrival.
* Jack Hawkins as General Allenby. Sam Spiegel pushed Lean to cast Cary Grant or Laurence Olivier (who was engaged at the Chichester Festival Theatre, and declined). Lean, however, convinced him to choose Hawkins due to his work for them on The Bridge on the River Kwai. Hawkins shaved his head for the role and reportedly clashed with David Lean several times during filming. Alec Guinness recounted that Hawkins was reprimanded by Lean for celebrating the end of a day's filming with an impromptu dance. Hawkins became close friends with O'Toole during filming, and the two often improvised dialogue during takes, much to Lean's dismay.

Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish

* Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish. The role was offered to many actors before Omar Sharif was cast. Horst Buchholz was the first choice, but had already signed on for the film One, Two, Three. Alain Delon had a successful screen test, but ultimately declined due to the brown contact lenses he would have had to wear. Maurice Ronet and Dilip Kumar were also considered. Sharif, who was already a major star in the Middle East, was originally cast as Lawrence's guide Tafas, but when the above actors proved unsuitable, Sharif was shifted to the part of Ali.
* José Ferrer as the Turkish Bey. Ferrer was initially unsatisfied with the small size of his part, and accepted the role only on the condition of being paid $25,000 (more than O'Toole and Sharif combined) plus a factory-made Porsche. However, he afterwards considered this his best film performance, saying in an interview: "If I was to be judged by any one film performance, it would be my five minutes in Lawrence." Peter O'Toole once said that he learned more about screen acting from Ferrer than he could in any acting class.
* Anthony Quayle as Colonel Harry Brighton. Quayle, a veteran of military roles, was cast after Jack Hawkins, the original choice, was shifted to the part of Allenby. Quayle and Lean argued over how to portray the character, with Lean feeling Brighton to be an honourable character, while Quayle thought him an idiot.
* Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden. Rains had previously worked with Lean on The Passionate Friends. Lean considered Rains one of his favourite actors and was happy to work with him again.
* Arthur Kennedy as Jackson Bentley. In the early days of the production, when the Bentley character had a more prominent role in the film, Kirk Douglas was considered for the part; Douglas expressed interest but demanded a star salary and the highest billing after O'Toole, thus being turned down by Spiegel. Later, Edmond O'Brien was cast in the part. O'Brien filmed the Jerusalem scene, and (according to Omar Sharif) Bentley's political discussion with Ali, but he became ill due to a heart attack on location and had to be replaced at the last moment by Kennedy, who was recommended to Lean by Anthony Quinn
* Donald Wolfit as General Murray. Wolfit was one of O'Toole's mentors.
* Michel Ray as Farraj. At the time, Ray was an up-and-coming Anglo-Brazilian actor, who had previously appeared in several films, including Irving Rapper's The Brave One and Anthony Mann's The Tin Star. This however would be one of his last roles. Ray, under the name Michel de Carvalho, later became a prominent British businessman and, through his wife, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, is the majority shareholder in the Heineken brewing company, worth over £8,000,000,000 sterling as of 2002.
* I.S. Johar as Gasim. Johar was a well-known Bollywood actor who occasionally appeared in international productions.
* Zia Mohyeddin as Tafas. Mohyeddin was one of Pakistan's best-known actors, and launched a successful stage career in London after this film's success. Most famously, he played Dr Aziz in the stage and TV adaptation of A Passage to India in the late 1960s.
* Gamil Ratib as Majid. Ratib was a veteran Egyptian actor. His English was not considered good enough, so he was dubbed by Robert Rietti in the final film.
* John Dimech as Daud. Dimech was a waiter from Malta. His only prior film appearance was in 1959's Killers of Kilimanjaro.
* Hugh Miller as the RAMC colonel. Miller worked on several of Lean's films as a dialogue coach, and was one of several members of the film crew to be given bit parts (see below).
* Fernando Sancho as the Turkish sergeant. A well-known Spanish actor, best remembered for his roles in many spaghetti Westerns.
* Stuart Saunders as the regimental sergeant major
* Jack Gwillim as the club secretary. A well-known English actor often playing supporting roles in British war films, Gwillim was recommended to Lean for the film by close friend Anthony Quayle.
* Kenneth Fortescue as Allenby's aide
* Harry Fowler as Corporal Potter
* Howard Marion-Crawford as the medical officer. Marion-Crawford was cast at the last possible minute, during the filming of the "Damascus" scenes in Seville.
* John Ruddock as Elder Harith. Ruddock was a noted Shakespearean actor.
* Norman Rossington as Corporal Jenkins
* Jack Hedley as a reporter
* Henry Oscar as Silliam, Faisal's servant. Oscar frequently played ethnic parts, including the Sudanese doctor in The Four Feathers (1939).
* Peter Burton as a Damascus Sheik

Various members of the film's crew portrayed minor characters. First assistant director Roy Stevens played the truck driver who transports Lawrence and Farraj to the Cairo HQ at the end of Act I; the Sergeant who stops Lawrence and Farraj ("Where do you think you're going to, Mustapha?") is construction assistant, Fred Bennett; and screenwriter Robert Bolt has a wordless cameo as one of the officers watching Allenby and Lawrence confer in the courtyard (he is smoking a pipe). David Lean can be heard as the voice of the motorcycle driver asking Lawrence "Who are you?" at the Suez Canal.

The film is unusual in that it has no women in credited speaking roles.

Nonfictional characters

* T. E. Lawrence
* Prince Faisal
* Auda ibu Tayi
* General Allenby
* General Murray
* Farraj and Daud, Lawrence's servants
* Gasim, the man Lawrence rescues from the desert
* Talal, the man who charges the Turkish column at Tafas

Fictional characters

* Sherif Ali – A combination of numerous Arab leaders, particularly Sharif Nassir—Faisal's cousin—who led the Harith forces involved in the attack on Aqaba. The character was created largely because Lawrence did not serve with any one Arab leader (aside from Auda) throughout the majority of the war; most such leaders were amalgamated in Ali's character. This character was, however, almost certainly named after Sharif Ali ibn Hussein, a leader in the Harith tribe, who played a part in the Revolt and is mentioned and pictured in T.E. Lawrence's memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
* Mr Dryden – The cynical Arab Bureau official, was based loosely on numerous figures, including Sir Ronald Storrs, who was head of the Arab Bureau and later the governor of Palestine. It was largely Storrs' doing that Lawrence first met Faisal and became involved with the Revolt. This character is also partially based upon Lawrence's archaeologist friend, D.G. Hogarth, as well as Mark Sykes and Henry McMahon, who historically fulfilled Dryden's role as a political liaison. He was created by the screenwriters to "represent the civilian and political wing of British interests, to balance Allenby's military objectives."
* Colonel Brighton – In essence a composite of all of the British officers who served in the Middle East with Lawrence, most notably Lt. Col. Stewart F. Newcombe. Newcombe played much the same role as Brighton does in the film, being Lawrence's predecessor as liaison to the Arab Revolt; he and many of his men were captured by the Turks in 1916, though he later escaped. Also, like Brighton, Newcombe was not well liked by the Arabs, though he remained friends with Lawrence. (In Michael Wilson's original script, he was Colonel Newcombe; the character's name was later changed by Robert Bolt.) Brighton was apparently created to represent how ordinary British soldiers would feel about a man like Lawrence: impressed by his accomplishments but repulsed by his affected manner. (Lean argued that Brighton was "the only honourable character" in the film, whereas Anthony Quayle referred to his character as an "idiot".)
* Turkish Bey – The Turkish Bey who captures Lawrence in Daraa was—according to Lawrence himself—General Hajim Bey (in Turkish, Hacim Muhiddin Bey), though he is not named in the film. Though the incident was mentioned in Lawrence's autobiography Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a few historians have conjectured that this event never happened. This is not the view of Jeremy Wilson, The Authorised Biography of T. E. Lawrence or the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography A Prince of Our Disorder, John E. Mack, .
* Jackson Bentley – Based on famed American journalist Lowell Thomas, who helped make Lawrence famous with accounts of his bravery. However, Thomas was at the time a young man who spent only a few days (or weeks at most) with Lawrence in the field – unlike Bentley, who is depicted as a cynical middle-aged Chicago newspaperman who is present during the whole of Lawrence's later campaigns. Bentley was the narrator in Michael Wilson's original script, but Robert Bolt reduced his role significantly for the final script. Thomas did not start reporting on Lawrence until after the end of World War I, and held Lawrence in high regard, unlike Bentley, who seems to hold him in contempt.
* Tafas – Lawrence's guide to Faisal is based on his actual guide, Sheikh Obeid el-Rashid, of the Hazimi branch of the Beni Salem, whom Lawrence referred to as Tafas several times in Seven Pillars. Tafas and Lawrence did meet Sherif Ali at a well during Lawrence's travels to Faisal, but the encounter was not fatal for either party. (Indeed, this scene would create much controversy amongst Arab viewers.)
* Medical officer – This unnamed officer who confronts Lawrence in Damascus is based on an actual incident in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Lawrence's meeting the officer again while in British uniform was, however, an invention of Wilson or Bolt.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

#6 (1998) and #10 (2007) on the AFI List of 100 Top Movies
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The lyrics for the songs were written by E.Y. Harburg, the music by Harold Arlen. Incidental music, based largely on the songs, was by Herbert Stothart, with borrowings from classical composers.

Based on the 1900 children's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the film stars Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins. Notable for its use of special effects, Technicolor, fantasy storytelling and unusual characters, It has become, over the years, one of the best known of all films. It is far and away the best-known version of L. Frank Baum's book, perhaps even eclipsing the fame of the novel itself.

Although it received largely positive reviews, won two Academy Awards, and was nominated for Best Picture of the Year (losing to Gone with the Wind), it was initially a box office failure. The film was MGM's most expensive production up to that time, but its initial release failed to recoup the studio's investment. Subsequent re-releases made up for that, however. "Over the Rainbow" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the film itself received several Academy Award nominations.

Telecasts of it began in 1956, re-introducing the film to the public and eventually becoming an annual tradition, making it one of the most famous films ever made. The film was named the most-watched motion picture in history by the Library of Congress, is often ranked among the Top 10 Best Movies of All Time in various critics' and popular polls, and is the source of many memorable quotes referenced in modern popular culture.

* Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale
* Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel / Doorman / Cabbie / Guard / The Wizard
* Ray Bolger as Hunk / Scarecrow
* Jack Haley as Hickory / Tin Man
* Bert Lahr as Zeke / Cowardly Lion
* Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch of the North
* Margaret Hamilton as Miss Almira Gulch / The Wicked Witch of the West
* Clara Blandick as Aunt Em
* Charley Grapewin as Uncle Henry
* Pat Walshe as Nikko (the Head Flying Monkey)
* Terry as Toto (Credited as Toto in the film)
* The Singer Midgets as the Munchkins
* Mitchell Lewis as the Winkie Guard' Captain (uncredited)

None of the Singer Midgets' actual voices are heard in the film; their vocalizations were dubbed by professional singers and voice actors, including Pinto Colvig, Abe Dinovitch and Billy Bletcher, and singing groups The King's Men, The Debutantes and Ken Darby Singers. Although the Wicked Witch's guards spoke their own dialogue, their singing was also dubbed by others and was slowed down. Adriana Caselotti voiced Juliet, and Abe Dinovitch & Candy Candido voiced the Apple Trees.

Pat Walshe was the last surviving significant member of the cast when he died in December 1991, aged 91. Meinhardt Raabe was one of the last surviving Munchkin actors, and the last surviving cast member with any dialogue when he died in April 2010, aged 94

All of the Oz sequences were filmed in three-strip Technicolor. The opening and closing credits, as well as the Kansas sequences, were filmed in black and white and colored in a sepia tone process. Sepia-toned film was also used in the scene where Aunt Em appears in the Wicked Witch's crystal ball.

In his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum describes Kansas as being 'in shades of gray'. Further, Dorothy lived inside a farmhouse which had its paint blistered and washed away by the weather, giving it an 'air of grayness'. The house and property were situated in the middle of a sweeping prairie where the grass was burnt gray by harsh sun. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry were 'gray with age'. Effectively, the use of monochrome sepia tones for the Kansas sequences was a stylistic choice that evoked the dull and gray countryside.[citation needed] Much attention was given to the use of color in the production, with the MGM production crew favoring some hues over others. Consequently, it took the studio's art department almost a week to settle on the final shade of yellow used for the Yellow Brick Road

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Graduate

The Graduate (Special Edition)

#7 (1998) and #17 (2007) in the AFI Top 100 Movies List

The Graduate is a 1967 American comedy-drama motion picture directed by Mike Nichols. It is based on the 1963 novel The Graduate by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The screenplay was by Buck Henry, who makes a cameo appearance as a hotel clerk, and Calder Willingham. The film tells the story of Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), a recent university graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then proceeds to fall in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).

In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Initially, the film was placed at #7 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list in 1998. However, when AFI revised the list in 2007, the film was moved to #17.

Adjusted for inflation, the film is #21 on the list of highest-grossing films in the United States and Canada.

* Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson
* Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock
* Katharine Ross as Elaine Robinson
* William Daniels as Mr. Braddock
* Murray Hamilton as Mr. Robinson
* Elizabeth Wilson as Mrs. Braddock
* Buck Henry as Hotel Clerk
* Brian Avery as Carl Smith
* Norman Fell as Mr. McCleery
* Marion Lorne as Singleman party guest
* Alice Ghostley as Singleman party guest
* Mike Farrell as a bellhop at the hotel
* Richard Dreyfuss as Boarding House Resident
* Ben Murphy as the shaving student in the fraternity house
* Kevin Tighe as Carter, Carl Smith's fraternity brother
* Eve McVeagh as party guest
* Hamilton Camp as Second Hotel Clerk
* Donald F. Glut as College Student

The film boosted the profile of folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, whose soundtrack album The Graduate, on the strength of the hit single "Mrs. Robinson", rose to the top of the charts in 1968 (knocking off The Beatles' White Album). However, the version that appears in the film is markedly different from the hit single version, which would not be issued until Simon and Garfunkel's next album, Bookends. The actual film version of "Mrs. Robinson" does appear on The Graduate soundtrack LP.

According to a Variety article by Peter Bart in the 15 May 2005 issue, Nichols had become obsessed with Simon & Garfunkel's music while shooting the film. Lawrence Turman, his producer, made a deal for Simon to write three new songs for the movie. By the time they had nearly finished editing the film, Simon had only written one new song. Nichols begged him for more but Simon, who was touring constantly, told him he didn't have the time. He did play him a few notes of a new song he had been working on; "It's not for the movie... it's a song about times past — about Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff." Nichols advised Simon, "It's now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt."

Saturday, June 30, 2012

On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront (Special Edition)

#8 (1998) and #19 (2007) in the AFI Top 100 Movies of all times list.
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard Bernstein. It is based on a series of articles written in the New York Sun by Malcolm Johnson.

The film received eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. It is Leonard Bernstein's only original film score not adapted from a stage production with songs.

* Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy
* Rod Steiger as Charley Malloy
* Eva Marie Saint as Edie Doyle
* Lee J. Cobb as Johnny Friendly
* Karl Malden as Father Barry
* Pat Henning as Kayo Dugan
* Ben Wagner as Joey Doyle
* Fred Gwynne as Slim (uncredited)
* Martin Balsam as Gillette (uncredited)
* Pat Hingle as 'bartender' (uncredited)

On the Waterfront was based on a 24-part series of articles in the New York Sun by Malcolm Johnson, "Crime on the Waterfront". The series won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. The stories detailed widespread corruption, extortion and racketeering on the waterfront of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

To add realism, On the Waterfront was filmed over 36 days on-location in Hoboken, New Jersey (the docks, workers' slum dwellings, bars, littered alleys, rooftops). Furthermore, some of the labor boss's chief bodyguards/goons in the film (Abe Simon as Barney, Tony Galento as Truck and Tami Mauriello as Tullio) were real-life, former professional heavyweight boxers.
Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy and Eva Marie Saint as Edie Doyle in the film's trailer.

In On the Waterfront, protagonist Terry Malloy's (Brando's) fight against corruption was in part modeled after whistle-blowing longshoreman Anthony DiVincenzo, who testified before a real-life Waterfront Commission on the facts of life on the Hoboken Docks and had suffered a degree of ostracism for his deed. DiVincenzo sued and settled, many years after, with Columbia Pictures over the appropriation of what he considered his story. DiVincenzo claimed to have recounted his story to screenwriter Budd Schulberg during a month-long session of waterfront barroom meetings. Schulberg attended Di Vincenzo's waterfront commission testimony every day during the hearing.

Karl Malden's character of Father Barry was based on the real-life "waterfront priest" Father John M. Corridan, S.J., a Jesuit priest, graduate of Regis High School who operated a Roman Catholic labor school on the west side of Manhattan. Father Corridan was extensively interviewed by Budd Schulberg (who wrote the foreword to a biography of Father Corridan, Waterfront Priest by Allen Raymond).

On the Waterfront is also the only movie in which we can see the Andrea Doria, the Italian liner that sank in 1956 after a collision in the Atlantic Ocean: in a scene, Marlon Brando watches the ship as she descends the Hudson River.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Schindler's List

Schindler's List DVD (Universal's 100th Anniversary)

#9 (1998) and #8 (2007) in the AFI Top 100 Movies Lists

Schindler's List is a 1993 American film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as Schutzstaffel (SS)-officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern.

The film was a box office success and recipient of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score, as well as numerous other awards (7 BAFTAs, 3 Golden Globes). In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film 8th on its list of the 100 best American films of all time (up one position from its 9th place listing on the 1998 list).

* Liam Neeson – Oskar Schindler, a German Nazi businessman who saves the lives of over 1,100 Jews by employing them in his factory.
* Ben Kingsley – Itzhak Stern, Schindler's accountant and business partner.
* Ralph Fiennes – Amon Goeth, the main antagonist in the film; Goeth is an SS officer assigned to build and run the Płaszów concentration camp, and is befriended by Schindler, though he grows steadily suspicious of Schindler's true aims as the film progresses.
* Embeth Davidtz – Helen Hirsch, a young Jewish woman whom Goeth takes to work as his housekeeper, and finds attractive.
* Caroline Goodall – Emilie Schindler, Schindler's wife.
* Jonathan Sagall – Poldek Pfefferberg, a young man who survives with his wife, and provides goods to Schindler from the black market.
* Ezra Dagan – Rabbi Lewartow, a rabbi who acquires skills as a welder in Schindler's camp.
* Malgoscha Gebel – Wiktoria Klonowska, Schindler's mistress.
* Shmuel Levy – Wilek Chilowicz.
* Mark Ivanir – Marcel Goldberg.
* Béatrice Macola – Ingrid.
* Andrzej Seweryn – Julian Scherner.
* Friedrich von Thun – Rolf Czurda.
* Krzysztof Luft – Herman Toffel.
* Harry Nehring – Leo John.
* Norbert Weisser – Albert Hujar.
* Adi Nitzan – Mila Pfefferberg, Poldek Pfefferberg's wife.
* Michael Schneider – Juda Dresner.
* Miri Fabian – Chaja Dresner.
* Anna Mucha – Danka Dresner.
* Ben Darby – Man in grey.
* Albert Misak – Mordecai Wulkan.
* Hans-Michael Rehberg – Rudolf Höss.
* Daniel Del Ponte – Dr. Josef Mengele.

Although the film is primarily shot in black-and-white, red is used to distinguish a little girl in a coat. Later in the film, the girl is seen among the dead, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Although it was unintentional, this character is coincidentally very similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation). The scene, however, was constructed on the memories of Zelig Burkhut, survivor of Plaszow (and other work camps). When interviewed by Spielberg before the film was made, Burkhut told of a young girl wearing a pink coat, no older than four, who was shot by a Nazi officer right before his eyes. When being interviewed by The Courier-Mail, he said "it is something that stays with you forever."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain (Two-Disc Special Edition)

#10 (1998) and #5 (2007) in the AFI Top 100 Movies List

Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American comedy musical film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also providing the choreography. It offers a comic depiction of Hollywood, and its transition from silent films to "talkies."

Although it was not a big hit when first released, it was accorded its legendary status by contemporary critics. It is now frequently described as one of the best musicals ever made, topping the AFI's 100 Years of Musicals list, and ranking fifth in its updated list of the greatest American films in 2007.

* Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood. Although his performance in the song "Singin' in the Rain" is now considered iconic, Kelly was not the first choice for the role—Howard Keel was originally cast. However, Keel was replaced by Kelly as the screenwriters evolved the character from a "Western actor" to a "song-and-dance vaudeville" performer.
* Donald O'Connor as Cosmo Brown. The role was based on, and initially written for, Oscar Levant.
* Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden. Early on in production, Judy Garland (shortly before her contract termination from MGM), Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell, Leslie Caron, and June Allyson were among the names thrown around for the role of the "ingenue." Yet, Director Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly insisted that Debbie Reynolds always was first in their mind for the role. Although the film revolves around the idea that Kathy has to dub over for Lina's voice, in the talking scenes it was actually Jean Hagen's normal voice. Reynolds herself was dubbed in "Would You?" and "You are My Lucky Star" by an uncredited Betty Noyes. Also, when Kathy is supposedly dubbing Lina's voice in the live performance of "Singing in the Rain" at the end of the film, Jean Hagen is actually dubbing Reynolds' singing voice.
* Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont. Judy Holliday was strongly considered for the role of Lina, until she suggested Hagen, who had been her understudy in the Broadway production of Born Yesterday. Fresh off her role in The Asphalt Jungle, Hagen read for the part for producer Arthur Freed and did a dead-on impression of Holliday's Billie Dawn character, which won her the role. Her character was based on the silent picture star Norma Talmadge who bombed during the transition to talkies.
* Millard Mitchell as R.F. Simpson. The initials of the fictional head of Monumental Pictures are a reference to producer Freed. R.F. also uses one of Freed's favorite expressions when he says that he "cannot quite visualize it" and has to see it on film first, referring to the Broadway ballet sequence, a joke, since the audience has just seen it.
* Cyd Charisse as Don's dance partner in the "Broadway Melody" ballet.
* Douglas Fowley as Roscoe Dexter, the director of Don and Lina's films.
* Rita Moreno as Zelda Zanders, the "Zip Girl" and Lina's informant friend. Considered to be based on Clara Bow.
* King Donovan (uncredited) as Rod, head of the publicity department at Monumental Pictures.
* Judy Landon (uncredited) as Olga Mara, a silent screen vamp who attends the premiere of The Royal Rascal. She is considered to be based on Pola Negri and Gloria Swanson.
* Madge Blake (uncredited) as Dora Bailey, a radio show host. Considered to be based on Louella Parsons.
* Kathleen Freeman (uncredited) as Phoebe Dinsmore, Lina's diction coach
* Bobby Watson (uncredited) as diction coach during "Moses Supposes" number
* Jimmy Thompson (uncredited) as the singer of "Beautiful Girl"

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life (60th Anniversary Edition)

#11 (1998) and #20 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Movies list

It's a Wonderful Life is an American Christmas drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, that was based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", written by Philip Van Doren Stern.

Released in 1946, the film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.

Despite initially being considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has come to be regarded as a classic and is a staple of Christmas television around the world. Theatrically, the film's break-even point was actually $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box-office failure that today everyone believes ... it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were."

It's a Wonderful Life was nominated for five Oscars without winning any, although the film has since been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, and placed number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

# James Stewart as George Bailey
# Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey
# Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Henry F. Potter
# Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy Bailey
# Henry Travers as Clarence Odbody
# Beulah Bondi as Ma Bailey
# Frank Faylen as Ernie Bishop
# Ward Bond as Bert, the cop
# Gloria Grahame as Violet Bick
# H. B. Warner as Mr. Gower
# Todd Karns as Harry Bailey
# Samuel S. Hinds as Peter "Pop" Bailey
# Lillian Randolph as Annie
# Mary Treen as Cousin Tilly
# Frank Albertson as Sam Wainwright
# Virginia Patton as Ruth Dakin Bailey
# Charles Williams as Cousin Eustace
# Sarah Edwards as Mrs. Hatch
# William Edmunds as Giuseppe Martini
# Argentina Brunetti as Mrs. Martini
# Bobby Anderson as Little George Bailey
# Ronnie Ralph as Little Sam Wainwright
# Jean Gale as Little Mary Hatch
# Jeanine Ann Roose as Little Violet Bick
# George Nokes as Little Harry Bailey
# Danny Mummert as Little Marty Hatch
# Sheldon Leonard as Nick, the bartender
# Charles Lane as The rent collector
# Jimmy Hawkins as Tommy Bailey
# Karolyn Grimes as Zuzu Bailey
# Larry Simms as Pete Bailey
# Carol Coomes (AKA Carol Coombs) as Janie Bailey
# Charles Halton as Carter, bank examiner (uncredited)
# Joseph Kearns as Angel Joseph (voice, uncredited)
# Evelyn Moriarty as Girl in the bar (uncredited)
# Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as Freddie (Mary's annoying high school suitor)
# Max Wagner as Cashier/Bouncer at Nick's Bar
# Tom Fadden as Bridge Caretaker (uncredited)
# Stanley Andrews as Mr. Welch (uncredited)
# Adriana Caselotti as the singer in Martini's Bar (uncredited

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard (Special Collector's Edition)

#12 (1998) and #16 (2007) on the AFI 100 Best Movies Lists
Sunset Boulevard (also known as Sunset Blvd.) is a 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after the boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California.

The film stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, an unsuccessful screenwriter, Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, a faded silent movie star who draws him into her fantasy world where she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen with Erich von Stroheim as Max Von Mayerling, her butler and ex-husband. Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough and Jack Webb play supporting roles. Director Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper play themselves, and the film includes cameo appearances by leading silent film actors Buster Keaton, H. B. Warner and Anna Q. Nilsson.

Praised by many critics when first released, Sunset Boulevard was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won three. It is widely accepted as a classic, often cited as one of the most noteworthy films of American cinema. Deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the U.S. Library of Congress in 1989, Sunset Boulevard was included in the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 1998, it was ranked number twelve on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 best American films of the 20th century, and in 2007 it was 16th on their 10th Anniversary list.

Actor Role
William Holden Joseph C. "Joe" Gillis
Gloria Swanson Norma Desmond
Erich von Stroheim Maximillian "Max" von Mayerling
Nancy Olson Betty Schaefer
Fred Clark Sheldrake
Lloyd Gough Marino
Jack Webb Arthur "Artie" Green
Franklyn Farnum Undertaker
Larry J. Blake Finance man #1
Charles Dayton Finance man #2
Cecil B. DeMille Himself
Hedda Hopper Herself
Buster Keaton Himself
Anna Q. Nilsson Herself
H. B. Warner Himself
Ray Evans Himself
Jay Livingston Himself

In dissecting Hollywood's "world of illusion," Wilder carefully placed the story within as authentic a setting as possible and made use of Hollywood history. Norma Desmond's name is believed to have been inspired by actor/director William Desmond Taylor, who was murdered in 1922, and his close associate and friend Mabel Normand, whose career was marked by scandals surrounding the murder.

Swanson was considered a fitting representative of Hollywood's past, remembered nostalgically by older fans but unknown to many younger movie viewers. Her personal collection of photographs decorated the set of Norma Desmond's home, causing Desmond's fictional past to resemble Swanson's authentic career.

The script/film refers to real films such as Gone with the Wind and real people such as Darryl F. Zanuck, D. W. Griffith, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, Tyrone Power, Alan Ladd, William Demarest, Adolphe Menjou, Rod La Rocque, Vilma Bánky, Mabel Normand, Bebe Daniels, Marie Prevost, Betty Hutton, Pearl White and Barbara Stanwyck along with the Black Dahlia murder case. Norma Desmond declares admiration for Greta Garbo.

Wilder extended his Hollywood references into some of his casting choices. Erich von Stroheim was a leading director of the silent era. In the role of Max, he watches a film with Norma Desmond, and the briefly shown scene is from Queen Kelly (1929), which von Stroheim himself directed with Swanson in the title role. Cecil B. De Mille, often credited as the person most responsible for making Swanson a star, plays himself, and was filmed on the set of his current film Samson and Delilah at Paramount Studios. He calls Norma "young fella," as he had called Swanson, a tiny detail of authenticity suggested by De Mille.

Norma's friends who come to play bridge with her, described in the script as "the waxworks", are Swanson's contemporaries Buster Keaton, Anna Q. Nilsson and H. B. Warner, who, like De Mille, play themselves. Hedda Hopper also plays herself, reporting on Norma Desmond's downfall in the film's final scenes. (Coincidentally, both Keaton and Hopper would die on February 1, 1966.)

In a comic scene, Norma Desmond performs a pantomime for Joe Gillis as a Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty, in homage to Swanson's earliest film roles. She also performs a Charlie Chaplin impersonation identical to one she performed in the film Manhandled (1924).

The bed in the shape of a swan that Norma Desmond slept in was actually owned by the dancer Gaby Deslys, who died in 1920. It had originally been bought by the Universal prop department at auction after Deslys's death. The bed appeared in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) starring Lon Chaney.

Wilder also made use of authentic locales. Joe Gillis's home in the Alto Nido apartments is a real apartment block in central Hollywood and was often populated by struggling writers. The scenes of Gillis and Betty Schaefer on Paramount's backlot were filmed on the actual backlot, and the interior of Schwab's Drug Store was carefully recreated for several scenes. The exterior scenes of the Desmond house were filmed near an old house on Wilshire Blvd. built during the 1920s, which by 1949 was owned by the former wife of J. Paul Getty. The house was also featured five years later in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause. It was later demolished, and an office building now stands in its place.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

#13 (1998) and #36 (2007) on the AFI 100 Best Movies List

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British World War II film by David Lean based on The Bridge over the River Kwai by French writer Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa. The film was shot in Sri Lanka (credited as Ceylon, as it was known at the time). The bridge in the movie was located near Kitulgala.

The film achieved near universal critical acclaim, winning seven Academy Awards, and in 1997, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry.

* William Holden as US Navy Commander/Seaman Shears
* Alec Guinness as Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson
* Jack Hawkins as Major Warden
* Sessue Hayakawa as Colonel Saito
* James Donald as Major Clipton
* Geoffrey Horne as Lieutenant Joyce
* André Morell as Colonel Hornsby
* Peter Williams as Captain Reeves
* John Boxer as Major Hughes
* Percy Herbert as Private Grogan
* Harold Goodwin as Private Baker
* Ann Sears as nurse

The largely fictional film plot is loosely based on the building in 1943 of one of the railway bridges over the Mae Klong—renamed Khwae Yai in the 1960s—at a place called Tha Ma Kham, five kilometres from the Thai town of Kanchanaburi.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

"The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre."

The incidents portrayed in the film are mostly fictional, and though it depicts bad conditions and suffering caused by the building of the Burma Railway and its bridges, historically the conditions were much worse than depicted. The real senior Allied officer at the bridge was British Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey. Some consider the film to be an insulting parody of Toosey. On a BBC Timewatch programme, a former prisoner at the camp states that it is unlikely that a man like the fictional Nicholson could have risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel; and if he had, due to his collaboration he would have been "quietly eliminated" by the other prisoners. Julie Summers, in her book The Colonel of Tamarkan, writes that Pierre Boulle, who had been a prisoner of war in Thailand, created the fictional Nicholson character as an amalgam of his memories of collaborating French officers. He strongly denied the claim that the book was anti-British, though many involved in the film itself (including Alec Guinness) felt otherwise.

Toosey was very different from Nicholson and was certainly not a collaborator who felt obliged to work with the Japanese. Toosey in fact did as much to delay the building of the bridge as possible. Whereas Nicholson disapproves of acts of sabotage and other deliberate attempts to delay progress, Toosey encouraged this: termites were collected in large numbers to eat the wooden structures, and the concrete was badly mixed.

Some of the characters in the film have the names of real people who were involved in the Burma Railway. Their roles and characters, however, are fictionalized. For example, a Sergeant-Major Risaburo Saito was in real life second in command at the camp. In the film, a Colonel Saito is camp commandant. In reality, Risaburo Saito was respected by his prisoners for being comparatively merciful and fair towards them; Toosey later defended him in his war crimes trial after the war, and the two became friends.

The destruction of the bridge as depicted in the film is entirely fictional. In fact, two bridges were built: a temporary wooden bridge and a permanent steel/concrete bridge a few months later. Both bridges were used for two years, until they were destroyed by Allied aerial bombing. The steel bridge was repaired and is still in use today.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot

#14 (1998) and #22 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Films List

Some Like It Hot is an American comedy film, made in 1958 and released in 1959, which was directed by Billy Wilder and starred Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and George Raft. The supporting cast includes Joe E. Brown, Pat O'Brien and Nehemiah Persoff. The film is a remake by Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond of a 1935 French movie, Fanfare d'Amour, from the story by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan, which was also remade in 1951 by German director Kurt Hoffmann as Fanfaren der Liebe. However, both the French and German films were without the gangsters that are an integral part of the plot of Some Like It Hot. Wilder's working title for his film was Fanfares of Love, then Not Tonight, Josephine before he decided on Some Like It Hot as its release title.

During 1981, after the worldwide success of the French comedy La Cage aux Folles, United Artists re-released Some Like It Hot to theatres. In 2000, the American Film Institute listed Some Like It Hot as the greatest American comedy film of all time.

* Marilyn Monroe as "Sugar" Kane Kowalczyk
* Tony Curtis as Joe/"Josephine"/"Junior"
* Jack Lemmon as Jerry/"Geraldine"/"Daphne"
* George Raft as "Spats" Colombo
* Pat O'Brien as Detective Mulligan
* Joe E. Brown as Osgood Fielding III
* Nehemiah Persoff as "Little Bonaparte"
* Joan Shawlee as Sweet Sue
* Billy Gray ss Sig Poliakoff
* George E. Stone as "Toothpick" Charlie
* Dave Barry as Beinstock
* Mike Mazurki as Spats's henchman
* Harry Wilson as Spats's henchman
* Beverly Wills as Dolores, trombone
* Edward G. Robinson, Jr. as Johnny Paradise
* Mary Foley as violin player
* Colleen O'Sullivan a.k.a. Penny McGuiggan as Maude, violin
* Joan Kayne a.k.a. Joan Fields as Betty, clarinet
* Joan Waldor as drummer
* Helen Perry as Stella, trombone
* Sandra Warner as Emily, saxophone
* Gloria Tracy a.k.a. Tracy Moss as Gloria, harp
* Laurie Mitchell as Mary Lou, trumpet
* Marian Collier as Olga, clarinet
* Grace Whitney as Rosella, trumpet
* Pat Holbrook as band member
* Diane Boothe as band member
* Kay Rickman as Hortensia, trumpet

Aside from the title, the film bears no resemblance to a Bob Hope movie of the same name released in 1939.

The film was planned originally to be filmed in color,[citation needed] but after several screen tests, it was changed to black and white because of a very obvious 'green tint' around the heavy make-up required by Curtis and Lemmon when portraying Josephine and Daphne. The Florida segment, at the fictitious "Seminole Ritz", was filmed at the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California.

Some Like It Hot received a "C" (Condemned) rating from the National Legion of Decency (formerly the Catholic Legion of Decency). The film, along with Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and several other films, contributed to the end of the Production Code in the mid-1960s. It was released by United Artists without the MPAA logo in the credits or title sequence, since the film did not receive Production Code approval.

Tony Curtis is frequently quoted as saying that kissing Marilyn Monroe was like "kissing Hitler". However, during a 2001 interview with Leonard Maltin, Curtis stated that he had never made this claim. In his 2008 autobiography, Curtis notes that he did make the statement to the film crew, but it was meant in a joking manner. During his appearance at the Jules Verne Festival in France (2008), Curtis revealed on the set of Laurent Ruquier's TV show that he and Monroe were lovers in the late 1940s when they were first struggling for recognition in films.

The film's title is a line from the nursery rhyme "Pease Porridge Hot". It also occurs as dialogue in the film when Joe, as "Junior", tells Sugar he prefers classical music over hot jazz. The film's working title was Fanfares of Love, then Not Tonight, Josephine, before the release title was finally decided as Some Like It Hot.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV - VI) [Blu-ray]

#15 (1998) and #13 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Movies List

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film,written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the six-film saga. It is the fourth film in terms of the series' internal chronology. Groundbreaking in its use of special effects, unconventional editing, and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the original Star Wars is one of the most successful and influential films of all time.

Set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", the film follows a group of freedom fighters known as the Rebel Alliance as they plot to destroy the powerful Death Star space station, a devastating weapon created by the evil Galactic Empire. This conflict disrupts the isolated life of farmboy Luke Skywalker when he inadvertently acquires the droids carrying the stolen plans to the Death Star. After the Empire begins a cruel and destructive search for the droids, Skywalker decides to accompany Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on a daring mission to rescue the owner of the droids, rebel leader Princess Leia, and save the galaxy.

Produced with a budget of $11 million and released on May 25, 1977, the film earned $460 million in the United States and $337 million overseas, surpassing Jaws as the nominal highest-grossing film and remained that way until being surpassed by E.T. the Extra Terrestrial in 1983. When adjusted for inflation, it is the second highest grossing film in the USA and Canada as of 2010. Among the many awards the film received, it gained ten Academy Award nominations, winning six; the nominations included Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Picture. The film is often ranked among the best films of all time. Lucas has re-released the film on several occasions, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions are the 1997 Special Edition, the 2004 DVD release, and the 2011 Blu-ray release, which have modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, and added scenes.

* Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: Luke is a young man who was raised by his aunt and uncle on the remote, desert world Tatooine. He dreams of something greater than his current position in life and eventually finds it.
* Harrison Ford as Han Solo: Han is a sarcastic smuggler whom Obi-Wan and Luke meet at the Mos Eisley Cantina and with whom they later travel. He owns a ship called the Millennium Falcon and is good friends with Chewbacca, the ship's co-pilot.
* Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa: Leia is a member of the Imperial Senate and a leader of the Rebel Alliance. She plans to use the stolen Death Star plans to find the station's weakness.
* Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin: Tarkin is the commander of the Death Star and a Regional Governor of the Galaxy. He leads the search for the Rebel Base, hoping to destroy it.
* Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi: Obi-Wan is an aging man who served as a Jedi Knight and then Jedi Master during the Clone Wars. Early in the film, Kenobi introduces Luke to the Force.
* Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: 3PO is a protocol and interpreter droid who also falls into Luke's hands. He is rarely without his counterpart droid, R2-D2.
* Kenny Baker as R2-D2: R2 is an astromech droid who falls into the hands of Luke. He is carrying a secret message for Obi-Wan from The Princess.
* Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: Chewie is the Wookiee co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon and good friends with Han Solo.
* David Prowse as Darth Vader: Vader is a Dark Lord of the Sith and a prominent figure of the Galactic Empire who hopes to destroy the Rebel Alliance. He is voiced by James Earl Jones.

Lucas shared a joint casting session with long-time friend Brian De Palma, who was casting his own film Carrie. As a result, Carrie Fisher and Sissy Spacek auditioned for both films in each other's respective roles. Lucas favored casting young actors without long-time experience. While reading for Luke Skywalker (then known as "Luke Starkiller"), Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely and was selected instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in Carrie.

Lucas initially rejected the idea of using Harrison Ford, as he had previously worked with him on American Graffiti, and instead asked Ford to assist in the auditions by reading lines with the other actors and explaining the concepts and history behind the scenes that they were reading. Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and cast him instead of Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams (who would play Lando Calrissian in the sequels), and Perry King, who wound up playing Solo in the radio plays.

Many young actresses in Hollywood auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Cindy Williams. Carrie Fisher was cast under the condition that she lose 10 pounds for the role. Aware that the studio disagreed with his refusal to cast big-name stars, Lucas signed veteran stage and screen actor Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Additional casting took place in London, where Mayhew was cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas. Lucas immediately turned to Gary Kurtz, and requested that Mayhew be cast. Daniels auditioned for and was cast as C-3PO; he has said that he wanted the role after he saw a McQuarrie drawing of the character and was struck by the vulnerability in the robot's face.