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A 20th Century Fox Retrospective Scrapbook: 1963


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Well, Cleopatra finally made it in 1963, but its impact on budgets was sorely felt. Many Fox releases of 1963 (only 19) had the distinct air of budget confines. Very few A-list films.

The Queen's Guards started the year off and has rarely been heard from since....

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Sodom and Gomorrah saw Robert Aldrich telling the tale of God's wrath on two wicked cities.

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30 Years of Comedy was another tribute to films of a bygone era....

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Mars attacked in The Day Mars Invaded Earth with Marie Windsor

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House of the Damned continued the horror theme.

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Nine Hours to Rama told of the hours that lead up to a notorious assassination, that of Gandhi. Seeing that there was another infamous assassination later in 1963, this was not a good time for this....

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Marilyn was Fox's documentary tribute to its late blonde superstar.

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Police Nurse was a crime fighting quickie.

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The Yellow Canary was a crime saga with Pat Boone and Barbara Eden facing off against Steve Forrest.

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So, Cleopatra made it. 3 Years in the making. It was a literate script, generally very well acted, but uit was all so clear it was too long and that the scenes with Rex Harrison were the best. Still an interesting piece and a good film, just not a masterpiece.

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In the drama The Stripper, Joanne Woodward took on a film once meant for Marilyn. Former Fox B player Claire Trevor returned for this.

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Harbor Lights was crime filmed in Puerto Rico

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The Leopard was a beautiful film, but a sluggish one. But many consider it a masterpiece, so maybe the reservations are just me.

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the young Swingers was a musical meant for the youth market.

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Of Love and Desire found Merle Oberon in obsessive love.

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Another assassination film. In September 1963. Sigh. Jack Nicholson co-wrote the script.

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The Condemned of Altona was the latest from Vittorio De Sica.

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James Stewart was perturbed by the raging hormones of daughter Sandra Dee in Take Her She's Mine. It had its moments. Also Fox was spoofing Cleopatra less than 6 months after its release.

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At least Move over Darling ended the year on a bright note, a wonderful comedy, with a great turn from Doris Day. It was also the year's most profitable film.

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I looked at this list last night on wiki. I can't even come up with ten films to recommend from this year. And I don't consider CLEOPATRA the studio's best film from 1963.

I guess I can come up with a Top 5:

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1. THE LEOPARD. Epic. Lancaster enters a new phase of his career.
2. NINE HOURS TO RAMA. Interesting. Horst Buchholz does a nice job.
3. CLEOPATRA. Too much has already been said about this film.
4. MOVE OVER DARLING. Doris Day stepping in for Marilyn Monroe. The first of two for Doris with Jim Garner. It's not as good as the original, MY FAVORITE WIFE, but has its moments.
5. TAKE HER SHE'S MINE. Above average comedy.

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This is the year the last few have been building up to and it's interesting to see the actual list. It seems heavy on foreign co-productions and outright acquisitions, with not much having being shot on the home lot. (Move Over, Darling was shot on the set already constructed for the Marilyn version.) And speaking of Marilyn, after all the legal wrangling and bad blood, Fox didn't waste any time turning the footage in their vaults into a "tribute" documentary, throwing in the wardrobe tests and nude swim from her uncompleted movie as added bait. In spite of the opportunism, it actually turned out pretty well and I'm p.o.'d that Fox hasn't kept a good print alive, but what else is new? I saw it in a theater and not again until the 1980's when a Boston station aired a horribly faded pan and scan print. It's a good overview of her work for Fox, including all the major musical numbers, and would be invaluable for programmers such as TCM.

Marilyn's shadow is over another project too: The Stripper. In a way it's like Bus Stop, showing the seedier end of the entertainment business, but I can't imagine Marilyn doing any better with it than Joanne Woodward did. It wasn't seedy enough to make it really credible and it's roots as an angsty William Inge play kept it pretty earthbound. The title seems like a desperate bid to attract an audience, with Gypsy Rose Lee thrown in to seal the deal.

I agree that Cleopatra isn't a masterpiece, but is very respectable filmmaking. Liz wasn't the strongest thing about it and sometimes she seemed indistinguishable from her character in, say, The V.I.P.'s, but I'm impressed each time I see it.

Of Love and Desire seemed to be Merle Oberon's bid to mine the same territory Lana Turner and Susan Hayward had been exploiting, the older woman/younger lover storyline. It's humid enough, but sometimes when there's humidity there's rot. She did brave a bikini, though. Take that, Lana and Susan.

I agree that The Leopard is the best of the bunch, but I'm curious about The Condemned of Altona, which seems to have a great pedigree, given the names involved. The name that scares me, though, is Jean Paul Sartre, who never struck me as particularly film-friendly. Has TCM ever shown it?

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, DougieB said:

This is the year the last few have been building up to and it's interesting to see the actual list. It seems heavy on foreign co-productions and outright acquisitions, with not much having being shot on the home lot. (Move Over, Darling was shot on the set already constructed for the Marilyn version.) And speaking of Marilyn, after all the legal wrangling and bad blood, Fox didn't waste any time turning the footage in their vaults into a "tribute" documentary, throwing in the wardrobe tests and nude swim from her uncompleted movie as added bait. In spite of the opportunism, it actually turned out pretty well and I'm p.o.'d that Fox hasn't kept a good print alive, but what else is new? I saw it in a theater and not again until the 1980's when a Boston station aired a horribly faded pan and scan print. It's a good overview of her work for Fox, including all the major musical numbers, and would be invaluable for programmers such as TCM.

Marilyn's shadow is over another project too: The Stripper. In a way it's like Bus Stop, showing the seedier end of the entertainment business, but I can't imagine Marilyn doing any better with it than Joanne Woodward did. It wasn't seedy enough to make it really credible and it's roots as an angsty William Inge play kept it pretty earthbound. The title seems like a desperate bid to attract an audience, with Gypsy Rose Lee thrown in to seal the deal.

I agree that Cleopatra isn't a masterpiece, but is very respectable filmmaking. Liz wasn't the strongest thing about it and sometimes she seemed indistinguishable from her character in, say, The V.I.P.'s, but I'm impressed each time I see it.

Of Love and Desire seemed to be Merle Oberon's bid to mine the same territory Lana Turner and Susan Hayward had been exploiting, the older woman/younger lover storyline. It's humid enough, but sometimes when there's humidity there's rot. She did brave a bikini, though. Take that, Lana and Susan.

I agree that The Leopard is the best of the bunch, but I'm curious about The Condemned of Altona, which seems to have a great pedigree, given the names involved. The name that scares me, though, is Jean Paul Sartre, who never struck me as particularly film-friendly. Has TCM ever shown it?

TCM's never shown THE CONDEMNED OF ALTONA, and it would have worked perfectly during the recent Fredric March Star of the Month tribute.

The Fox Movie Channel (FXM Retro) airs OF LOVE AND DESIRE occasionally. It's not very good. Oberon was involved with Steve Cochran at the time, but their relationship didn't last. Still she said nice things about him after he died a few years later.

Fox seemed determined to have Marilyn take her clothes off. She not only turned down THE STRIPPER, but she had also turned down SEVEN THIEVES in which the female protagonist plays a striptease artist. Joan Collins took that assignment and spent weeks studying real-life strippers before she did her big scene in the movie. Collins talks about this in one of the DVD extras.

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1 minute ago, TopBilled said:

TCM's never shown THE CONDEMNED OF ALTONA, and it would have worked perfectly during the recent Fredric March Star of the Month tribute.

The Fox Movie Channel (FXM Retro) airs OF LOVE AND DESIRE occasionally. It's not very good. Oberon was involved with Steve Cochran at the time, but their relationship didn't last. Still she said nice things about him after he died a few years later.

Fox seemed determined to have Marilyn take her clothes off. She not only turned down THE STRIPPER, but she had also turned down SEVEN THIEVES in which the female protagonist plays a striptease artist. Joan Collins took that assignment and spent weeks studying real-life strippers before she did her big scene in the movie.

Marilyn OK'd a still photographer on the set for the nude swimming scene, with the idea that she could dislodge Liz Taylor from the magazine covers of the world, and she did just that.

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1 minute ago, DougieB said:

Marilyn OK'd a still photographer on the set for the nude swimming scene, with the idea that she could dislodge Liz Taylor from the magazine covers of the world, and she did just that.

Seems like something publicity hound Jayne Mansfield would have done. These women were getting desperate.

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2 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Seems like something publicity hound Jayne Mansfield would have done. These women were getting desperate.

I have a soft spot for Jayne, but the poor dear didn't have anywhere near the clout of Liz and Marilyn. Losing the bathing suit top in the pool at Cannes was more her speed. You're right that things were getting desperate for that generation of actresses. Plus Playboy was dangling bigger and bigger dollar amounts in front of them.

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3 minutes ago, DougieB said:

I have a soft spot for Jayne, but the poor dear didn't have anywhere near the clout of Liz and Marilyn. Losing the bathing suit top in the pool at Cannes was more her speed. You're right that things were getting desperate for that generation of actresses. Plus Playboy was dangling bigger and bigger dollar amounts in front of them.

With regards to this period, I tend to prefer actresses like Ingrid Bergman and Anna Magnani. They continued to stretch themselves with challenging material. But they didn't feel the need to debase themselves.

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4 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

With regards to this period, I tend to prefer actresses like Ingrid Bergman and Anna Magnani. They continued to stretch themselves with challenging material. But they didn't feel the need to debase themselves.

Yes. Love them both. I'd add Geraldine Page.  It was pretty obvious who the work-oriented ones were and who the career-oriented ones were, though I don't suppose an actress could really be faulted for being a bit of both, given the nature of the business.

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13 minutes ago, DougieB said:

Yes. Love them both. I'd add Geraldine Page.  It was pretty obvious who the work-oriented ones were and who the career-oriented ones were, though I don't suppose an actress could really be faulted for being a bit of both, given the nature of the business.

Well said! I'm also a fan of Geraldine Page.

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