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About TawfikZone

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  1. Re: The Moon is Blue. I would say that Otto Preminger's advertising ploys for the film are ahead of its time; daring to take on the powerful Production Code is very gutsy and edgier films are certainly indebted to his efforts. However, the film itself wasn't as scandalous as he made it out to be . I can think of at least 2 films that used the word "pregnant" before The Moon is Blue- Tomorrow is Another Day and I'll See You in My Dreams. In the latter, the word is not inconspicuous at all as Doris Day's character repeatedly shouts the word to an oblivious Danny Thomas in a noisy jazz club. As far as other films ahead of their time I would add No Way Out another film about race relations. I think it's more interesting than many anti-racist films because the black characters are presented as people rather than saintly archetypes. You see them as intellectual people who fight for themselves rather than just depending on benevolent white folks. I thought that some of the 50s movies that critiqued suburbia like The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit and No Down Payment were ahead of its time in regards to its criticism of how the new middle class lifestyle is a sterile environment. You especially see this in No Down Payment where the community at first glance seems to be an egalitarian environment for all upwardly mobile young families. However, the hardworking, Christian Japanese family that is refused housing (initially) and the way that the white trash couple is shunned shows that there is trouble in paradise. Many people claimed that the ending was a total copout; I disagree. I thought the ending was intriguingly ambiguous and I thought the circularity of it implies that the characters undergo vicious cycles.
  2. I've heard that Beery was awful, Jane Powell admitted in an interview that she didn't like him and that he was a kleptomaniac, but I didn't know he was that awful. Supposedly, Harrison was hated by many of his co-stars. Several family members of Carole Landis, who had an affair with Rex Harrison, allege that she didn't commit suicide but was murdered by Harrison. I don't now if it's true but it certainly inspires the imagination. Somebody mentioned Susan Hayward. I've never heard a kind word about her. She sounded like a real piece of work. Before Leo and Kate Winslet started begging for Oscars, she was doing it incredibly belligerently according to colleagues. Many speculate that she won for I Want to Live because she harangued really hard for it (I personally would have given it to Roz Russell for Auntie Mame). Watching Susan Hayward movies, she always seemed hateful on screen. She does well at conveying hard, brittle women but I never found her convincing when her character had to have a softer change of heart.
  3. I love Crossfire; all 3 Robert's are fantastic in dynamic roles. It was waaaaaaaaay better than the schmaltzy Gentleman's Agreement. Although I thought Robert's 1 & 2 were great in The Racket, I thought the movie itself was ho-hum.
  4. I like Wyman in certain roles. I suppose my opinion of her (and maybe others share this) is a bit colored because she was terribly miscast as plain Jane English amateur detective in Stage Fright. It wasn't a good movie to be fair, but I thought she brought it down even more. I've seen her in other performances where she came off as a bit too mannered, like in Three Guys Named Mike. Perhaps she isn't as remembered as some of her contemporaries because many of her roles and films haven't aged as well. That said, she was stellar in All That Heaven Allows. The scene where she looks at her lonely self in the TV screen is unforgettably heartbreaking. I enjoyed some of her early supporting roles before she was a major star where she played the wisecracking blonde like in Footlight Serenade and My Favorite Spy. I look forward to seeing So Big as I'm looking at 1953 movies for a podcast I'm doing.
  5. Mitchum is absolutely amazing. He was a strong presence but could be subtle or flashy whetever the role required. Perhaps he wasn't seen as an artist like Kirk Douglas or Gregory Peck because he seemed to be more self-deprecating than a type like Douglas (who I like as an actor) who blew his own horn. According to co-star Jane Greer, she always respected Mitchum because he was an egoless performer who shared scenes rather than tried to steal them (like Douglas). Mitchum was a real natural and a brave actor, letting himself be be vulnerable onscreen with strong female stars like Jane Greer, Jane Russell, and Jean Simmons. As many commenters mentioned he wasn't always (or usually) victorious, often playing morally apathetic men above their heads in precarious situations. Another actor I liked from the same era was Robert Ryan, who also I felt used his strong burly physique in interesting ways, often conveying testosterone overboard combined with vulnerability and self-loathing. Both Mitchum's and Ryan's and Widmark's films have aged better on the whole than somebody like Gregory Peck.
  6. His was such a shame because he was viciously railroaded by a bunch of opportunistic wannabes and politicians looking to clamp down on sinful Hollywood as a means to cover up their own ineptitude at their jobs. I guess much hasn't changed in that respect.
  7. Although Box Office Poison isn't necessarily written about as point blank now as it was then, we still witness the ramifications to a degree. I think what helps many people overcome it is the power of celebrity as a brand as opposed to the idea of a studio manufactured movie star. For example many of the movies that actors like Matt Damon, George Clooney, Ryan Reynolds, and Johnny Depp in the last few years have flopped tremendously but people are still willing to invest in them because they are incredibly popular with people through their charismatic public personas on the talk show/press circuits. A classic case of Box Office Poison that comes to mind is Lana Turner in the early 50s, which was the time when the Studio System was losing ground. Although she seemed like she could be a real diva, I felt a bit sorry for her in this period because she was put in a bit of a vicious cycle; when a movie flopped (usually because it was bad), the studio would give her an even worse movie (i.e. Mr. Iperium) until it got to the point that she imploded with The Prodigal.
  8. I think the Oscars has gotten it wrong soooooo many times throughout its history. I could give so many examples of Oscar worthy performances, but I'll limit myself to a few. Jean Hagen gives one of the best comic villain performances in Singin' in the Rain. To be fair, I love Gloria Grahame and thought she was good in The Bad in the Beautiful (though she had more to do in The Greatest Show on Earth and Sudden Fear) so I won't hate on her winning, too much. That said, Gloria Grahame absolutely should have been nominated and won for The Big Heat the next year. It was an incredibly raw and surprising perf. I also would have possibly nominated Lee Marvin and Alexander Scourby. I thought Jan Sterling should have been nommed and won for her diabolical, trampy performance in Ace in the Hole. IMO she rises above the overwrought film. I never understood how Peter Ustinov didn't win for Quo Vadis? He was fabulously funny and frightening often at the same time. Karl Malden was ok, but Ustinov was a god. Although Arthur Kennedy was nominated 5 times, he never won. I think he definitely should have won for his predatory role in Peyton Place. I could also make a case for him in Some Came Running.
  9. Thanks for this fun bit of gossip. It's especially great to hear a story where Hedda Hopper loses. Out of all the gossip columnists, she seemed to be the worst, I suppose because she was bitter about being a failed actress. As I have been doing these podcasts of 1950s movies, she has come up quite a few times being a chief antagonist in the HUAC witch hunt debacle.
  10. I'm a neutral on High Noon, but by no means a fan. I found the allegory overpowering and gratuitous. I couldn't stand The Quiet Man myself, so to borrow your olive analogy, I guess it's like a kalamata olive, not my taste. I liked The Marrying Kind, a more interesting and innovative film than Born Yesterday; it just missed the cut in my Alternative Oscars. I didn't include The Lusty Men, only because I wasn't able to access a copy of it in the time I had to do this podcast. I'll definitely check it out since it's gotten a lot of love here.
  11. @LornaHansonForbes, I'm sorry you got a 404 error link. I bet I know what happened. Shortly after I posted this on Friday, I got some malware in my Wordpress theme. I changed themes and everything is working and should be bug free. Let me know if these links work for everybody. http://tawfikzone.com/?p=1214 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tawfik-zones-alternative-oscars/id1050460591?mt=2 PS. @LHF, I love your avatar. I think The Damned Don't Cry is a great Joan Crawford vehicle. Despite contrary opinion, it's not a Mildred Pierce knockoff.
  12. Howard Hughes from multiple sources seemed to be a real vindictive creep. According to Jean Simmons she was contractually forced to go to Hollywood because her studio in Britain (I think it was Rank or one of the big ones) sold her contract to Hughes without her knowledge. I'm not condoning the abuse, but Simmons beautifully transposed all the dysfunction and drama into a creepy and unsettling perf if I remember correctly.
  13. I think that people tend to underestimate her because she made acting look so effortless and also because many, in my opinion wrongly, attributed her as part of the wholesome propaganda of the 1950s. Watching her films today, many times her virginal, sunny veneer has been used subversively as her priggishness was often the butt of the joke. She also played a lot of intelligent, if neurotic, career women too. In addition to the films mentioned here, I also liked Day in Romance on the High Seas, which was an incredibly confident debut and she showed a lot of spunk; Move Over Darling; Calamity Jane; April in Paris; Please Don't Eat the Daisies; Storm Warning.
  14. Supposedly Lupino was never 100% comfortable with being a director and never fully committed to it, acting intermittendly. She was criticized by many feminists in the 60s and 70s not only for the female characters in her films but also for some of the comments she made about directing. She was quoted as saying that it is not a womanly field, admitted that it took a lot of strain out of her. She was also pretty self-deprecating about her ability calling herself the poor man's Don Siegel. Also, Lupino's alcoholism was getting out of hand. According to a documentary on her, she started drinking as a masochistic way to punish her hard-drinking, philandering husband Howard Duff. I always found it interesting that in the films and TV episodes they acted in together that the characters were adversarial with one another.
  15. I certainly agree that An American in Paris was a thorn on Singin' in the Rain's side in terms of Oscar love at the time. While Singin' got commendable reviews at the time, it didn't get raves (outside of Jean Hagen). People only recognized its genius when it was re-run on TV. For sure it's my BP choice. I'm glad that many of you also love Five Fingers. Also glad to see a shout out for Scaramouche which is such a great swashbuckler flick beautifully directed by George Sidney. The acting is really spirited and top notch. I have to respectfully disagree with the Viva Zapata choice. I found it to be too patchy and meandery. I don't know why Anthony Quinn won Best Supporting Actor. I thought Joseph Wiseman was the only compelling character in the film and he was consistently intense unlike Quinn who had one dramatic scene that felt out of place. Kingrat, The Long Memory is eligible with 1953 releases. I'm also calling Angel Face as a 1953 movie; it's tricky as it was sort of a bubble between 1952 and 1953, but according to most sources, it was theatrically released in LA in 1953. I look forward to rewatching Angel Face.
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