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I'd love to see a primetime triple feature on TCM of Levinson's DINER, TIN MEN and AVALON. I love how faithfully the director recreates the time period of Baltimore in those days. 

 

I didn't realize they were stealing a bit from the W.C. Fields segment in MILLION. You may be right about that. 

 

 

I tried to link that Fields snippet from YouTube, but alas, it's no longer available.  TCM showed the entire movie on 2010-01-03, but not to my knowledge since then.

 

Like Tin Men, the Fields segment of If I Had A Million begins with Rollo La Rue (Fields) driving out of a showroom with a brand new car that he and his wife Emily (Alison Skipworth) have poured all of their savings into. And then, exactly as in Tin Men, they get broadsided by a passing car.   The plots diverge from that point, but it would be beyond sublime for TCM to show that segment as a prelude to Tin Men.  It would be one of the finest acts of complementary programming imaginable.

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White-black movies

 

It's Martin Luther King Day, and the topic I've chosen today: white-black movies. What does this mean exactly? Well, it's when stories about white people are remade by Hollywood as stories about black people. An interesting idea that is not always transferred over successfully.

 

A good story is obviously a good story. But if the story is not well-suited to another culture, then a transracial remake may seem forced or badly contrived. To deal with this, some white-black movies contain slight adjustments, with the screenwriter changing elements from the original to make it fit black audiences. But despite a politically correct black-friendly approach to the storytelling, there may still be a good deal of whiteness within the narrative. So on a day like Dr. King's birthday, when the struggle of black Americans is given a specific definition, it might be asked why should white-black movies be made at all, when fully black movies that celebrate African culture in America can be made instead?

 

Some examples of white-black movies follow:

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1. THE PREACHER'S WIFE (1996). A white director (Penny Marshall) gives us a remake of the 1947 classic THE BISHOP'S WIFE. Denzel Washington takes Cary Grant's part as the angel, and the role of the wife passes from Loretta Young to Whitney Houston.

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The religious scenes in the remake reflect more of a gospel music influence, and the script has been altered somewhat to include musical interludes with Houston performing spiritual hymns (to sell a soundtrack). In addition, the newer version contains more violent scenes than the first film, perhaps to more dramatically show urban blight in the area surrounding the church and its congregation.

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2. GUESS WHO (2005). This is a reworking of GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, originally released in 1967. Bernie Mac assumes the Spencer Tracy role, and Ashton Kutcher takes Sidney Poitier's part. The basic scenario is reversed with a white man going to the home of a black girl in order to meet her family. Not sure what the remake accomplishes, though.

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The original production was a socially-conscious plea to abolish anti-miscegenation laws in the U.S. Those laws have long since been repealed, and anti-miscegenation is not an issue in the states now. Around the time GUESS WHO was released, there were over 100,000 married couples comprised of white husbands and black wives, so while such interracial unions may not have been commonplace, they were certainly represented in society without fear of recrimination. Therefore, the remake does not have the type of socially-conscious edge or political agenda the first motion picture had. Also, I'm not sure if this film, while humorous in spots, makes very positive points about black culture in America, or even about whites who assimilate into black culture. In many regards, it is just a typical rom-com. Maybe that was the point, but why?

 

In a way, it's like if someone were to come along and decide to remake FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Except instead of telling a musical story about Russian Jews being forced from their homeland because of antisemitism, it was suddenly repackaged as a western story about native American Indians being forced off their lands by European settlers. Again, what's the point? Is it to show how the cultures are interconnected in a greater sense by their mutual struggles and marginalization? Or is it simply the studios recycling stories without really paying attention to the impact this may have on audiences? Is it Hollywood carelessly superimposing the stories of one race on to another? In which case, unique cultures are grafted on to each other in such a way that they lose sense of the struggles that defined them and gave them their own individual identities in the first place.

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I tried to link that Fields snippet from YouTube, but alas, it's no longer available.  TCM showed the entire movie on 2010-01-03, but not to my knowledge since then.

 

Like Tin Men, the Fields segment of If I Had A Million begins with the Rollo La Rue (Fields) driving out of a showroom with a brand new car that he and his wife Emily (Alison Skipworth) have poured all of their savings into. And then, exactly as in Tin Men, they get broadsided by a passing car.   The plots diverge from that point, but it would be beyond sublime for TCM to show that segment as a prelude to Tin Men.  It would be one of the finest acts of complementary programming imaginable.

I remember recording that broadcast of IF I HAD A MILLION on VHS (right before I switched to DVD recordings). I had to throw it out with all my VHS tapes when I moved last year. I wish TCM would air it again. Fields and Skipworth were teamed up in several Paramount classics during the 30s-- they are one of my favorite screen pairings.

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TV episode titles that allude to classic film

 

Recently, I was watching an episode of the old John Ritter-Markie Post sitcom Hearts Afire. Yes, I have to admit it's one of my favorite shows of the 1990s (I like intelligently written romantic comedies). The episode was about a single career woman played by Conchata Ferrell who was approaching forty and could hear her biological clock ticking loudly. Not thinking she had much time to locate Mr. Right, she decided to get pregnant via artificial insemination. 

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Surprisingly, the episode was quite poignant, despite the requisite jokes about spermbanks. In fact, some of the more gentle humor comes from the reactions of John Ritter's character; he has a hard time with everyone being so casual about the word s-p-e-r-m. But it was the title of the episode that may well have been the funniest thing about this installment of Hearts Afire. It was an obvious reference to a silent film-- they called it 'Birth of a Donation.'

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Another show that first aired in the 1990s was Steven Bochco's classic legal drama L.A. Law. This series had some of the most clever writers working in television at the time. And it is no wonder they had some of the best, most clever episode titles. A few gems include: 'Bourbon Cowboy' from season seven; season five's 'The Gods Must Be Lawyers;' 'The Grace of Wrath' from the first season; 'Romancing the Drone' from season three; and my personal favorite-- 'Full Marital Jacket,' produced during the second season.

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The long-running sitcom Cheers, and its successful spinoff Frasier, both had memorable episode titles. On Cheers, we had these nuggets: 'From Beer to Eternity' from season three; 'The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One,' from season one; and season nine's 'The Days of Wine and Neuroses,' which is probably my favorite. Samples of great titles from Frasier include: 'To Kill a Talking Bird' from season four; 'High Crane Drifter' from season three; and a sixth season entry called 'Dial M for Martin.'

frasier.jpg

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Interesting twist.  I've noticed a few some years ago, but I can't think of them at the moment,  And, I'd have surely missed the "FRAISER" ones due to my NOT really liking that program.

 

For the record, "Seinfeld" referrences are lost on me due to me not finding THAT show funny, OR the least bit interesting.  Of course, it MIGHT have helped IF I had liked Seinfeld as a STAND-UP!

 

However, the closest I can come to this twist is that I've noticed, on the TV drama "Supernatural", they often use "classic rock" SONG titles as episode titles.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Interesting twist.  I've noticed a few some years ago, but I can't think of them at the moment,  And, I'd have surely missed the "FRAISER" ones due to my NOT really liking that program.

 

For the record, "Seinfeld" referrences are lost on me due to me not finding THAT show funny, OR the least bit interesting.  Of course, it MIGHT have helped IF I had liked Seinfeld as a STAND-UP!

 

However, the closest I can come to this twist is that I've noticed, on the TV drama "Supernatural", they often use "classic rock" SONG titles as episode titles.

 

 

Sepiatone

Thanks Sepia. I think the show Desperate Housewives used Stephen Sondheim lyrics for episode titles. 

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THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW had a number of episodes with titles that referenced movies.

 

A few examples:

"Bob and Rhoda and Teddy and Mary" (from Season 1)

"The Boss Isn't Coming To Dinner" (from Season 1)

"I Am Curious Cooper" (season 2)

"Thoroughly Unmilitant Mary" (from Season 2)

"The Six-and-a-Half-Year Itch" (from Season 2) 

"The Square-Shaped Room" (from Season 2): one of my favorite episodes where Rhoda decorates Lou Grant's living room

"Almost a Nun's Story" (Season 4)

"An Affair to Forget" (Season 5)

 

mary_tyler_moore_show.jpg

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I think the show Desperate Housewives used Stephen Sondheim lyrics for episode titles. 

 

Most of the DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES episode titles referenced Sondheim lyrics, but not all.

Some of the exceptions were "Come Back To Me," "Impossible," "Suspicious Minds" and "My Heart Belongs To Daddy."

 

DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION for years used titles of 1980s pop songs for the titles of the show's episodes, but eventually began using pop songs from other decades---perhaps when THE NEXT GENERATION was dropped from the name of the series.

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Most of the DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES episode titles referenced Sondheim lyrics, but not all.

Some of the exceptions were "Come Back To Me," "Impossible," "Suspicious Minds" and "My Heart Belongs To Daddy."

 

DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION for years used titles of 1980s pop songs for the titles of the show's episodes, but eventually began using pop songs from other decades---perhaps when THE NEXT GENERATION was dropped from the name of the series.

Interesting about Desperate Housewives. I am assuming Marc Cherry, the show's creator-producer, is a huge Sondheim fan. Is it possible the exceptions you mentioned were actually lyrics from unpublished songs?

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Singers who can act and actors who can sing

 

Some singers try their hand at acting, but they aren't very good at it. And some actors who try to transition into singing careers don't really succeed.

 

But there are some performers who are able to do both successfully. Maybe coming to music with an acting background gives them an understanding of showmanship. Or coming to acting with a music background, the voice (one of an actor's most important tools) is already disciplined and well-developed. Whatever the exact reason (maybe it is just all-around talent), here are some notables worth mentioning:

 

Singers who can act

525725025190322096_1365567220.jpg

Jeanette MacDonald was not a great dramatic actress by any stretch, but she was convincing in her many film roles at MGM. Audiences enjoyed her performances with Nelson Eddy, as well as with other costars-- like a famous collie.

imgres-42.jpg

Universal had Deanna Durbin, its teen singing sensation of the late 1930s and 1940s. She began as a singer but by the time her screen career ended, she had successfully essayed more serious roles-- one of them a film noir with Gene Kelly.

imgres-25.jpg

Doris Day was a natural in her first film at Warners, ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS. The studio usually assigned her musicals in the beginning, but she grew into a solid actress and could do dramatic roles when the opportunities arose.

imgres-33.jpg

One of Doris' costars, Frank Sinatra, matured into a fine dramatic actor as well. For his supporting role in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, he was awarded an Oscar. From this point on, there was no stopping ole blue eyes. He did it all-- musicals, comedies, crime dramas and westerns.

 

Actors who can sing

imgres24.jpg

People don't think of Susan Hayward as a songstress. But in the musical biopic on the life of Lillian Roth, Hayward sings quite well in I'LL CRY TOMORROW. Similarly, Sissy Spacek recorded all the tunes for the soundtrack of COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER. The real-life subject of the film, country superstar Loretta Lynn, gave her stamp of approval. Sissy wound up with a few hits on the country charts.

imgres-117.jpg

Jim Nabors, who played hayseed Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, as well as his own spinoff, could sing, too. Have you heard his version of 'How Great Thou Art'...? Golly, gee, it's good!

images21.jpg

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Interesting about Desperate Housewives. I am assuming Marc Cherry, the show's creator-producer, is a huge Sondheim fan. Is it possible the exceptions you mentioned were actually lyrics from unpublished songs?

 "Come Back To Me" is a reference to the Lerner and Lane song from the musical ON A CLEAR DAY YOU SEE FOREVER.

 "Suspicious Minds" is a reference to the pop song with the opening line "Caught in a trap," recorded by many artists but most famously by Elvis Presley.

"My Heart Belongs To Daddy" is a reference to the Cole Porter song that was famously sung by Marilyn Monroe. 

I always thought "Impossible" was a reference to the song from Rodgers and Hammerstein's CINDERELLA, but there is a song titled "Impossible" from the musical A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (with music and lyrics by Sondheim).

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Singers who can act and actors who can sing

 

Some singers try their hand at acting, but they aren't very good at it. And some actors who try to transition into singing careers don't really succeed.

 

But there are some performers who are able to do both successfully. Maybe coming to music with an acting background gives them an understanding of showmanship. Or coming to acting with a music background, the voice (one of an actor's most important tools) is already disciplined and well-developed. Whatever the exact reason (maybe it is just all-around talent), here are some notables worth mentioning:

 

Singers who can act

525725025190322096_1365567220.jpg

Jeanette MacDonald was not a great dramatic actress by any stretch, but she was convincing in her many film roles at MGM. Audiences enjoyed her performances with Nelson Eddy, as well as with other costars-- like a famous collie.

imgres-42.jpg

Universal had Deanna Durbin, its teen singing sensation of the late 1930s and 1940s. She began as a singer but by the time her screen career ended, she had successfully essayed more serious roles-- one of them a film noir with Gene Kelly.

imgres-25.jpg

Doris Day was a natural in her first film at Warners, ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS. The studio usually assigned her musicals in the beginning, but she grew into a solid actress and could do dramatic roles when the opportunities arose.

imgres-33.jpg

One of Doris' costars, Frank Sinatra, matured into a fine dramatic actor as well. For his supporting role in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, he was awarded an Oscar. From this point on, there was no stopping ole blue eyes. He did it all-- musicals, comedies, crime dramas and westerns.

 

Actors who can sing

imgres24.jpg

People don't think of Susan Hayward as a songstress. But in the musical biopic on the life of Lillian Roth, Hayward sings quite well in I'LL CRY TOMORROW. Similarly, Sissy Spacek recorded all the tunes for the soundtrack of COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER. The real-life subject of the film, country superstar Loretta Lynn, gave her stamp of approval. Sissy wound up with a few hits on the country charts.

imgres-117.jpg

Jim Nabors, who played hayseed Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, as well as his own spinoff, could sing, too. Have you heard his version of 'How Great Thou Art'...? Golly, gee, it's good!

images21.jpg

Mentioning Jim Nabors in the same breath as Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, and Susan Hayward is laughable.

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Mentioning Jim Nabors in the same breath as Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, and Susan Hayward is laughable.

Consider it the comic relief part of our program today. I am sure there are people who love him. He sold many records.

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Consider it the comic relief part of our program today. I am sure there are people who love him. He sold many records.

He must have had a very large family.

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Noir by the Numbers

 

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There's something about crime dramas that have numbers in the titles. It makes me want to watch them. Like there's a bit more novelty or authenticity to them. Here's some of the most well-known examples, broken down in subcategories:

 

By location

 

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711 OCEAN DRIVE

HIGHWAY 301

THE WOMAN ON PIER 13

SHACK OUT ON 101

RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11

THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET

 

By phone number

 

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DIAL 1119

SOUTHSIDE 1-1000

 

Others

 

images-17.jpg

TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE

PRIVATE HELL 36

THE 13TH LETTER

I DIED A THOUSAND DEATHS

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Coming up with a list of Essentials

imgres-171.jpg

A recent thread on the TCM message boards asked what individual posters would select if they were chosen to host a season of TCM's Essentials. I thought about it and soon found myself with a fun new task. As I tried to compose my own list of Essentials, I did some careful soul searching and a bit of research. I thought about what the word 'essential' means...

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-37-42-pm.pn

 

With this definition in mind, I decided not to restrict myself. I wrote down all the films I enjoy off the top of my head. It was close to 100. That was quite a lot, which would be several seasons worth of Essentials...but there is no way I could do just one season of Essentials, right?

 

Patterns emerged. Some films were ones that most anyone would choose as an essential. But some of my selections were what I might call 'pet films.' A pet film probably isn't essential to many people, but it's an underdog film that I would like to champion, hoping to turn others on to it. And it should be elevated to the level of essential or must-see viewing. One of my pet films is a rarely seen Ida Lupino picture.

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-08-38-pm.pn

As I scanned my initial list, I went to the IMDb and checked over my film reviews. I wanted to see if there were titles I had forgotten to include. Of course, there were a few. So I tacked them on to the original list.

 

I also looked at classics on Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime I haven't written reviews for yet-- like Paramount, Republic or Universal titles TCM does not often show that might be essentials. I noticed I had overlooked SUNSET BOULEVARD. So I added it, plus a few others I had seen on the streaming sites. I was up past one hundred now.

imgres-141.jpg

I realized my list was getting too unwieldy, and I would need to pare it down. Undoubtedly, this was not an easy thing to do. Kind of like dropping those extra pounds of winter fat you don't need but continue to hold on to. 

 

I figured I should go back and look at some earlier lists where I identified my top directors, and my favorite actors and actresses from the studio era. At least one film to represent each person at the height of their career should be in my final group.

 

I would have the majority of my films coming from the production code period, roughly 1934 to 1968. But I wanted at least one silent film, one pre-code, and a few post-code essentials from the 70s, and the 80s. I knew TIN MEN, which I consider one of the best films from the 80s, must remain on the list.

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-11-40-pm.pn

Also, I wanted at least one film from every main genre represented, which meant I needed to make sure one of the titles was animation, one was science fiction and one was horror. In fact, I realized that approaching this by genre is probably the best way to organize the information. I would cover all the major genres plus allow myself an additional category for some pet films. 

 

I am still going to have three seasons of TopBilled Essentials. I want a few of the usual suspects included (pictures that are overplayed but still worth celebrating because any one with good taste in classic film would certainly choose them). But I also want some films that are without a doubt essential but less predictable. There should be choices that when people see them on my list, they will stop and say-- 'oh yeah, that is an essential film, and I haven't seen it in a while...' etc.

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-39-47-pm.pn

As I write this column, I am still finalizing my selections. But I know my list is shaping up to be quite solid and most satisfactory. To be continued...

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Coming up with a list of Essentials

imgres-171.jpg

A recent thread on the TCM message boards asked what individual posters would select if they were chosen to host a season of TCM's Essentials. I thought about it and soon found myself with a fun new task. As I tried to compose my own list of Essentials, I did some careful soul searching and a bit of research. I thought about what the word 'essential' means...

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-37-42-pm.pn

 

With this definition in mind, I decided not to restrict myself. I wrote down all the films I enjoy off the top of my head. It was close to 100. That was quite a lot, which would be several seasons worth of Essentials...but there is no way I could do just one season of Essentials, right?

 

Patterns emerged. Some films were ones that most anyone would choose as an essential. But some of my selections were what I might call 'pet films.' A pet film probably isn't essential to many people, but it's an underdog film that I would like to champion, hoping to turn others on to it. And it should be elevated to the level of essential or must-see viewing. One of my pet films is a rarely seen Ida Lupino picture.

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-08-38-pm.pn

As I scanned my initial list, I went to the IMDb and checked over my film reviews. I wanted to see if there were titles I had forgotten to include. Of course, there were a few. So I tacked them on to the original list.

 

I also looked at classics on Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime I haven't written reviews for yet-- like Paramount, Republic or Universal titles TCM does not often show that might be essentials. I noticed I had overlooked SUNSET BOULEVARD. So I added it, plus a few others I had seen on the streaming sites. I was up past one hundred now.

imgres-141.jpg

I realized my list was getting too unwieldy, and I would need to pare it down. Undoubtedly, this was not an easy thing to do. Kind of like dropping those extra pounds of winter fat you don't need but continue to hold on to. 

 

I figured I should go back and look at some earlier lists where I identified my top directors, and my favorite actors and actresses from the studio era. At least one film to represent each person at the height of their career should be in my final group.

 

I would have the majority of my films coming from the production code period, roughly 1934 to 1968. But I wanted at least one silent film, one pre-code, and a few post-code essentials from the 70s, and the 80s. I knew TIN MEN, which I consider one of the best films from the 80s, must remain on the list.

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-11-40-pm.pn

Also, I wanted at least one film from every main genre represented, which meant I needed to make sure one of the titles was animation, one was science fiction and one was horror. In fact, I realized that approaching this by genre is probably the best way to organize the information. I would cover all the major genres plus allow myself an additional category for some pet films. 

 

I am still going to have three seasons of TopBilled Essentials. I want a few of the usual suspects included (pictures that are overplayed but still worth celebrating because any one with good taste in classic film would certainly choose them). But I also want some films that are without a doubt essential but less predictable. There should be choices that when people see them on my list, they will stop and say-- 'oh yeah, that is an essential film, and I haven't seen it in a while...' etc.

screen-shot-2015-01-21-at-12-39-47-pm.pn

As I write this column, I am still finalizing my selections. But I know my list is shaping up to be quite solid and most satisfactory. To be continued...

But the definition IS restrictive, so you HAVE to restrict yourself. A list of favorites is not what one considers to be essential.

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But the definition IS restrictive, so you HAVE to restrict yourself. A list of favorites is not what one considers to be essential.

Interesting point of view. Yesterday, I was at the library and I asked the reference librarian to help me find books or articles published about essential films. Believe it or not, nothing came up and she did a broad search for me. That led me to believe it is mostly a TCM marketing term. But then, she did find a website where Spike Lee, who was teaching a film course at NYU, listed what he felt were essential films for aspiring directors to watch. His list is quite lengthy. Take a look:

 

If he has 87, then I think I can still do 100...lol

 

http://www.openculture.com/2013/07/spike-lee-shares-his-nyu-teaching-list-of-87-essential-films-every-aspiring-director-should-see.html

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Yesterday, I mentioned I was putting together a list of what I feel are essential films. In doing so, I considered the definition of the word 'essential' and applied it to major genres. 

 

In one category, all the films have the same leading lady. Perhaps it's because all the best screwball comedies happen to star Claudette Colbert...?

 

*****

Essential Biopics: THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR; YOUNG MR. LINCOLN; MADELINE; THE BOSTON STRANGLER; BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY.

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Essential Star 'Reality': BOMBSHELL; A STAR IS BORN; SINGIN' IN THE RAIN; THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE; MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE.

 

Essential Musicals: TOP HAT; MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS; THE BAND WAGON; SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS; OLIVER!

 

Essential Noir: DOUBLE INDEMNITY; THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE; GILDA; OUT OF THE PAST; SUNSET BOULEVARD.

imgres-52.jpg

Essential Screwball Comedy: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT; BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE; MIDNIGHT; IT'S A WONDERFUL WORLD; THE PALM BEACH STORY.

 

Essential Romantic Comedy: THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER; BALL OF FIRE; THE MORE THE MERRIER; HEAVEN CAN WAIT; IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU.

 

Essential Westerns: THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON; RED RIVER; WINCHESTER '73; THE BIG COUNTRY; RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY.

imgres-9.jpg

Essential British: BLACK NARCISSUS; BLANCHE FURY; A NIGHT TO REMEMBER; SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING; THE REMAINS OF THE DAY.

 

Essential Educators: GOODBYE MR. CHIPS; THE CORN IS GREEN; GOOD MORNING MISS DOVE; UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE; STAND AND DELIVER.

 

Essential Social Message: MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW; HIGH NOON; THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK; GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER; AN EARLY FROST.

imgres-119.jpg

Essential LGBT: VICTIM; MAKING LOVE; MAURICE; PHILADELPHIA; BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

 

Essential 50s Drama: THE AFRICAN QUEEN; A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE; ON THE WATERFRONT; CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF; PATTERNS.

 

Essential Melodrama: CAMILLE; LOVE AFFAIR; BRIEF ENCOUNTER; HUMORESQUE; ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS.

images-7.jpg

Essential Literary Adaptations: LITTLE WOMEN '33; LES MISERABLES '35; REBECCA; GREAT EXPECTATIONS; THE RAZOR'S EDGE.

 

Essential Science Fiction: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL; FORBIDDEN PLANET; 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY; PLANET OF THE APES; BLADE RUNNER.

 

Essential War/Anti-War: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT; THE MORTAL STORM; IN WHICH WE SERVE; FRIENDLY PERSUASION; THE LONGEST DAY.

 

images-35.jpg

Essential Disney: FANTASIA; SONG OF THE SOUTH; TREASURE ISLAND; BEAUTY AND THE BEAST; THE LION KING.

 

Essential Horror: THE INVISIBLE MAN; THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE; HOUSE OF WAX; BLACK CHRISTMAS; THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

 

Essential Capers: THE ASPHALT JUNGLE; SEVEN THIEVES; OCEAN'S 11; TOPKAPI; GAMBIT.

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Essential Cold War Thrillers: THE IRON CURTAIN; THE BEDFORD INCIDENT; THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD; TOPAZ; WARGAMES.

 

Essential Action: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK; TERMINATOR 2 JUDGMENT DAY; DIE HARD; THE MATRIX; CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON.

 

Essential Swashbuckler: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD; THE BUCCANEER; THE MARK OF ZORRO; IVANHOE; SCARAMOUCHE.

 

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Pet Films: DARK COMMAND; THE STORK CLUB; THE STEEL HELMET; JENNIFER; THE WHISPERERS.

 

Essential 70s: THE GODFATHER; CABARET; CHINATOWN; THE SHOOTIST; NORMA RAE.

 

Essential 80s: ORDINARY PEOPLE; ZELIG; PLATOON; TIN MEN; DRIVING MISS DAISY.

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Essential Stage Adaptations: THE LITTLE FOXES; HAMLET '48; THE HEIRESS; HARVEY; OKLAHOMA!

 

Essential Silent: GREED; SUNRISE; SHOW PEOPLE; THE WIND; CITY LIGHTS.

 

Essential Epic Dramas: MARIE ANTOINETTE; GONE WITH THE WIND; QUO VADIS; WAR AND PEACE; BEN-HUR.

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Essential Holiday Films: A CHRISTMAS CAROL '38; REMEMBER THE NIGHT; IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE; MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET; EASTER PARADE.

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Classic movie slang

 

Some characters are so popular by the way they speak, their lines become catchphrases frequently repeated by movie goers.  One such character is Sugarpuss O'Shea. She may have some of the most unusual dialogue in the movies, ever. Maybe it's the way Barbara Stanwyck brings her to life on screen. But she definitely has a unique vocabulary. In fact, it's her special brand of communicating with Professor Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) that makes us love this movie.

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Here are some of the more memorable slang expressions uttered by Sugarpuss in BALL OF FIRE, starting with the club number she performed alongside Gene Krupa and his band:

 

Boogie! You hear the rhythm rompin'! Boogie! You see ther drummer stompin'! Drum boogie, drum boogie, Boogie! It really is a killer! Drum boogie, drum boogie, The drum boogie woogie.

 

Sample dialogue:

1. What's buzzin' cousin?

 

2. (looking around at the furnishings) Who decorated this place, the mug who shot Lincoln?

 

3. (arriving late for a discussion on slang) Don't tell me the jive session has beat off without baby?

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4. (about to kiss the professor) I'm going to show you what yum-yum is.

 

5. (re: the phone) Do you know what this means, 'I'll get you on the Ameche?' An Ameche is the telephone, on account of he invented it.

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And even the professor gets in on the act:

 

Professor Bertram Potts: I've just finished my article on slang. Twenty-three pages compiled from a dozen reference books, eight hundred examples.

Prof. Robinson: Well?

Professor Bertram Potts: Everything from the idiotic combination of "absotively" to the pajorative use of "zigzag." I traced the evolution of "hunky-dory," tracked down "skidoo" from "skedaddle." Eight-hundred examples and I may as well throw it in the wastebasket. Three weeks work...

Prof. Robinson: You're hysterical.

Professor Bertram Potts: Outmoded... based on reference books twenty years old. Take "smooch," take "dish," take, uh...

Prof. Oddly: "Hoi toi toi?"

Professor Bertram Potts: "Hoi toi toi." Not one of them included.

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I once asked my Mom about some of that, as she was a teenager about the time that movie came out, and as teenagers are more prone to using slang than adults, she said SHE had never HEARD of some of them before.

 

However, there probably are other examples of where popular slang of the day is used( without someone feeling some of it had to be "made up") like in I MARRIED A WITCH, a young lady tells her date, "SOLID, JACKSON!  NOW you're COOKIN' WITH GAS!"

 

 

Sepiatone

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I once asked my Mom about some of that, as she was a teenager about the time that movie came out, and as teenagers are more prone to using slang than adults, she said SHE had never HEARD of some of them before.

 

However, there probably are other examples of where popular slang of the day is used( without someone feeling some of it had to be "made up") like in I MARRIED A WITCH, a young lady tells her date, "SOLID, JACKSON!  NOW you're COOKIN' WITH GAS!"

 

 

Sepiatone

My father always said, "Now you're cooking with gas", and I cringed every time. It's an expression which has thankfully disappeared from use.   Anyone who still uses it is a mug.

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a175.jpg


Marion Davies had the most lavish home of any star. It was an opulent Santa Monica beach home with 100 rooms.  One room was done entirely in gold leaf.  Outside there was an enormous marble pool with a marble bridge.  Plus, there were 2,000 lockers for guests who swam in the pool or nearby ocean.  She and paramour W.R. Hearst actually spent more time here than they did at his ranch in San Simeon.


 


This area, along Pacific Coast Highway, was very popular among stars.  Davies’ home was the center of what was called Millionaires Row.  Her neighbors included Cary Grant & Randolph Scott who shared a beach house nearby.


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Meanwhile, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr.’s home was referred to as Pickfair.  It was built on 56 acres and located in the San Ysidro Canyon in Beverly Hills.  It had the usual amenities: stables, tennis courts and a swimming pool.  The press dubbed it a “place only slightly less important than the White House.”


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John Barrymore’s place was called Bella Vista.  It had 16 buildings, two swimming pools, a pond stocked with trout, a nearby skeet shooting range, an aviary with exotic birds, an English tavern, a frontier bar shipped down from Alaska and quarters for a dozen servants.  Interestingly, Barrymore often ate meals outside near one of the pools on a rickety card table.


 


William Powell was known for installing the most modern electrical gadgets in his large home.  With the press of a button, panels would slide back and walls would open to reveal private bars.  In one room, a grill came up from the floor.  The house had 32 rooms.  Jean Harlow lovingly decorated each one.


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Meanwhile, Powell’s ex-wife Carole Lombard hired William Haines to design a new home for her in Santa Monica.  This was before she married Clark Gable and moved to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley next door to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.


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John Gilbert built a special bedroom in his home for Greta Garbo.  It had all Venetian furniture and the adjoining bathroom was done in black marble with gold fixtures.  When she didn’t marry him, he ripped it all out and redid it in pink marble.


 


When Edward G. Robinson bought a new home, it came with a badminton court.  But he didn’t like that, so he had it taken out. In its place, he installed his very own art gallery.


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I don't know if an image is available, but if so, it's too bad you couldn't include the place David Niven and Erroll Flynn shared and affectionately called "Cirrosis-by-the-Sea"!

 

 

Sepiatone

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