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Showing posts from January, 2011

James Edwards African American Hollywood Icon By Pamela S. Deane - Book Review

By Monica Sullivan

James Edwards had angry eyes at a time in Hollywood history when many black actors made their livings singing, dancing and making people laugh. When a black actor (Sidney Poitier) finally made it into the top 10 Box Office, his characters were practically saints: over qualified, over achieving, and always, always, controlling their anger.

James Edwards had the talent, drive and charisma to become a major movie star. Although he worked steadily as an actor for many years and every single one of his performances was raw, real and memorable, he mainly stole scenes in other people’s star vehicles.

One of the pleasures of reading Pamela S. Deane’s new McFarland book, “James Edwards African American Hollywood Icon” is learning about the work I haven’t previously seen: much of it on television. Take “The Sound Of Darkness”, which aired on “Mannix” the month before Edwards died in early 1970. His job is to teach a temporarily sightless Mannix how to protect himself from be…

Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror by Robert Michael Cotter - Book Review

By Monica Sullivan
I was thrilled to read that the multi-talented Ingrid Pitt was receiving the McFarland book treatment in the form of Robert Michael Cotter’s new volume, “Ingrid Pitt, Queen of Horror, with a forward and commentary by Miss Pitt. Soon I was learning all about her days at Hammer films making “The Vampire Lovers”, and “Countess Dracula”, as well as one of my favorites, “The House That Dripped Blood” opposite Jon Pertwee. After reading about “The Sound Of Horror”, I had to see that one, too, although it is a very low budget Spanish film from 1964 and Ingrid Pitt was none too pleased with either the picture or her performance.
It was a real treat finding out about “The Asylum”, a 2000 movie Ingrid made with her daughter Steffanie Pitt plus Patrick Mower, Robin Askwith and Colin Baker. Ingrid at 63 was still a vibrant and bewitching presence and Steffanie is quite affecting as a young woman haunted by her horrifying childhood.
In the midst of all this enjoyable film resear…

Dana Andrews, The Face Of Noir by James McKay - Book Review

By Monica Sullivan
When you fall in love with Dana Andrews, it’s forever. Never mind that he was born over a century ago, or that his swan song was over 25 years ago. Today’s audiences know him as Detective Mark McPeherson from 1945’s “Laura”, naturally, but two years later, he was the centerpiece of “The Best Years Of Our Lives”. As Fred Derry, a traumatized and disillusioned WWII veteran, he should have won an Oscar. Instead, the Academy gave Frederic March his second Oscar as Al Stevenson and Harold Russell received two Oscars (one competition, the other honorary) as Homer Parish. Andrews’ naturalistic, so-real-it-doesn’t-look-like-acting performance was overlooked as the picture was heaped with Oscars, nine in all.
Of the major performances, Dana Andrews’ is the most keenly felt and carefully sustained. Unlike Al and Homer, Fred is not returning to a loving home, or to a secure future. No one else captured the heartache of the returning veteran as he did: the excruciating n…

Evelyn Brent: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Lady Crook by Lynn Kear and James King - Book Review

By Monica Sullivan
The movie career of Evelyn Brent spanned 36 years (from 1914 to 1950), a good stretch for any actress, but particularly for a trouper who adjusted to every industry change long after many of her contemporaries had fled the business. One of her best films was 1927’s “Underworld” directed by Josef Von Sternberg. Evelyn Brent was “Feathers”, torn between George Bancroft as Bull Weed and Clive Brook as Rolls Royce. Outwardly tough as nails, but inwardly filled with passion and conflict, Evelyn Brent was made for film noir before it even had a name. With such a triumph, she could and should have gone on to roles with ever more greater depth and complexity. That she did not is the old, sad story of Hollywood.
For the rest of her career Brent made movies of steadily diminishing prestige and importance. For every gem like “The Last Command”, there were poverty row quickies like “Mr. Wong, Detective” or “The Payoff” or “The Golden Eye”. B-Movie buffs treasure unpretent…

KUSF 90.3 FM I will miss you

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KUSF 90.3 FM I will miss you! I really will, your great collection of music that I listened to at all hours, when traveling abroad, and while in my City by the Bay. Your airwaves went dead on January 18, 2011 after broadcasting every day since 1977. I listened to Movie Magazine International so many times on your frequency and am ever so grateful that you carried this program in San Francisco.
Yes, you were "zapped" from the air without any advance warning. So thank you KUSF for many years of wonderful radio enchantment. 
Moira Sullivan San Francisco

Black Swan

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By Moira Sullivan Black Swan by film director Darren Aronofsky made its international film debut at the Venice Film Festival this summer and opened to mixed reviews by critics. Most definitely actress Natalie Portman is a strong contender for an Oscar this year, in what may be one of the defining roles of her career. She is absolutely brilliant in the film. Her role requires her to be the Swan Queen in a new ballet. Amidst stiff competition Nina Sayers is chosen to do the part convincing ballet director Thomas Leroy played by Vincent Cassel that she can play the more difficult black swan by biting him on the lip as he tries to kiss her.  The screenplay of Black Swan is the major problem of the film written by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz with only a couple of film credits to their names.  One needs to question why Aronofsky would want to put his name to a story in which women are still living at home in their bedrooms filled with white and pink stuffed animals and calling their mothers …