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Found 23 results

  1. "Sandy Koufax" is the answer to one of my favorite baseball trivia questions: "Which Hall of Fame pitcher had a career record of 36-40 exactly halfway through his career?" Of note: Koufax's 1965 World Series is the one where he took off Game 1 for Yom Kippur; yet he still managed to start 3 games, and win Game 7 on 2 days rest. In 1966, in his last regular-season game, he threw over 200 pitches. I take no pride whatsoever that he lost the last game he ever pitched to the 1966 Orioles. None whatsoever. Nope. No sir. And the thing is ... I'm being truthful here because he only gave up *1* earned run - Willie Davis made 3 errors in 2 plays by losing pop flies in the sun, and a 20-year-old Jim Palmer pitched a 4-hit shutout.
  2. Jeff Koons is a big-name artist: one of the most famous living artists in both America and the entire world. In fact, "Balloon Dog (Orange)" has established the record - which still stands - for "most money ever paid for an artwork by a living artist." On Nov 12, 2013, it sold for $58.4 million at a Christie's auction: "An Orange Balloon Dog Sold for $58.4M, So Here Are 10 Other Cool Jeff Koons Balloon Pieces" by Olivia B. Waxman on time.com --- "Balloon Dog (Orange)" - (DonRocks)
  3. "Let Us Now End American Colonialism" by Ernest Gruening on alaska.edu -- Delivered to the Delegates of the Alaska Constitutional Convention
  4. Hulu has wonderful digital-quality episodes of this wonderful series, but unfortunately, only has 30 of 39 first-season episodes. I'm not sure why, but I'm looking forward to seeing the rest if I can find them - from what I've seen so far, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" is a superior series to "The Twilight Zone," and I say that as a Twilight Zone fan. All episode links are to the wonderful reference website, "The Hitchcock Zone" - in particular, to their "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" subsection, which contains all directors, writers, and actors. If you're a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, The Hitchcock Zone should be bookmarked on your laptop. Anytime someone is referenced in this thread for the very first time, a hyperlink is made; all subsequent references are accompanied by a number in parentheses, e.g., (4), which is the number of episodes they've been involved with up until that point (in any major sort of capacity - director, producer, writer, etc.) Until all 39 episodes are included in this thread, there will be some numbers skipped - for example, do a "Find," then a "Repeat Find" on the name James Neilson - you'll see that, since episode 29 is missing, he skips from the hyperlink (the first reference) to number (3). Season One (Oct 2, 1955 - Jun 24, 1956) Joan Harrison (39), a close friend of the Hitchcock family, was Associate Producer of all 39 Season One Episodes 1.1. - "Revenge" - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Written by - Teleplay: Francis M. Cockrell (Writer of "Breakdown" on "Suspense," "The Expanding Human" on "The Outer Limits," 4 episodes of "Batman"), Story: Samuel Blas Featuring Ralph Meeker (Mike Hammer in "Kiss Me Deadly"), Vera Miles (Rose Balestrero in "The Wrong Man," Lila Crane in "Psycho") [The immediacy of the police car was a bit contrived (they were running out of time), but this is still a really powerful episode - with subject matter that is absolutely shocking considering it's over sixty-years old - and before it's over, you'll have your hands up to your face, saying, "Oh, *no*!"] 1.2. - "Premonition" - Directed by Robert Stevens (Directed 105 and Produced 102 episodes of "Suspense," Director of "Where is Everybody" and "Walking Distance" on "The Twilight Zone"), Written by Harold Swanton (Writer of 14 episodes of "The Whistler") Featuring John Forsythe (Charlie on "Charlie's Angels"), Warren Stevens, Cloris Leachman (Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress in "The Last Picture Show") [Although this was an extremely strong second episode (second episodes are notoriously weak, as people often have "one great idea" they use up for the pilot), "Premonition" has one of the worst fake piano playing sequences I've ever seen in Forsythe (supposedly) playing Chopin's Revolutionary Etude.] 3. - "Triggers in Leash" - Directed by Don Medford (Director of "To Trap a Spy"), Written by - Teleplay: Richard Carr (Writer of "The Riddler's False Notion" and "Death in Slow Motion" on "Batman"), Story: Allan Vaughan Elston (Writer of "Isle of Destiny") Starring: Gene Barry (Dr. Clayton Forrester in "The War of the Worlds"), Darren McGavin (Carl Kolchak on "Kolchak: The Night Stalker"), Ellen Corby (Grandma Esther Walton on "The Waltons") [A fun episode featuring three big-name actors, without going over-the-top in the least, or being condescending to the viewer. There is genuine tension here, relieved by a twist that turns out to be clever and funny, but only when the episode is over and you begin to breathe again.] 4. - "Don't Come Back Alive" - Directed by Robert Stevenson (Director of "Mary Poppins" and "The Love Bug"), Written by Robert C. Dennis (Writer of 4 episodes of "The Outer Limits," 4 episodes of "Batman," "Log 81: The Long Walk" on "Adam-12") Starring: Sidney Blackmer (3 episodes on "Suspense," William Lyons Selby in "One Hundred Days of the Dragon" on "The Outer Limits," Roman Castevet in "Rosemary's Baby") 5. - "Into Thin Air" - Directed by Don Medford (2), Written by - Teleplay: Marian B. Cockrell (Writer of 4 episodes of "Batman" (2)), Story: Alexander Woollcott (The inspiration for Sheridan Whiteside in "The Man Who Came to Dinner") Starring: Patricia Hitchcock (Alfred's Daughter, Barbara Morton in "Strangers on a Train") 6. - "Salvage" - Directed by Jus Addiss (Director of 3 episodes of "The Twilight Zone" (2)), Written by - Teleplay: Fred Freiberger and Richard Carr (2), Story: Fred Freiberger Featuring: Gene Barry (2), Nancy Gates (Martha Bradford in "Perry Mason's" "The Case of the Crooked Candle") 7. - "Breakdown" - Director: Alfred Hitchcock (2), Writer - Teleplay: Louis Pollock and Francis M. Cockrell (2) - Story: Louis Pollock Starring: Joseph Cotten ("Citizen Kane," "Gaslight," "The Third Man," etc.) 8. - "Our Cook's A Treasure" - Starring: Everett Sloan (Bernstein in "Citizen Kane"), Beulah Bondi ("Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "It's a Wonderful Life," etc.) Director: Robert Stevens (2) Writer: Teleplay, Robert C. Dennis (2) - Story, Dorothy L. Sayers 9. - "The Long Shot" - Starring: Peter Lawford (of "The Rat Pack") Director: Robert Stevenson (2) Writer: Teleplay, Marian B. Cockrell - Story, Alexander Woolcott 10. - "The Case of Mr. Pelham" - Starring: Tom Ewell (Richard Sherman in the play, "The Seven Year Itch") Director: Alfred Hitchcock (3) Writer: Teleplay, Francis M. Cockrell (3) - Story, Anthony Armstrong 11 -. "Guilty Witness" - Starring: Judith Evelyn (Miss Lonelyhearts in "Rear Window"), Kathleen Maguire (Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress as Leona Samish in "The Time of the Cuckoo"), Joe Mantell (Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor as Angie in "Marty") Director: Robert Stevens (3) Writer: Teleplay, Robert C. Dennis (3) - Story, Morris Hersham 12. - "Santa Claus and the 10th Avenue Kid" - Starring: Barry Fitzgerald (Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as Father Fitzgibbon in "Going my Way") Director: Don Weis Writer: Teleplay, Marian B. Cockrell (2) - Story, Margaret Cousins 13. - "The Cheney Vase" - Starring: Patricia Collinge (Birdie Hubbard in "The Little Foxes" - Premiered Feb 15, 1939 at the National Theater, Washington, DC), Darren McGavin (2) Director: Robert Stevens (4) Writer: Robert Blees 14. - "A Bullet for Baldwin" - Starring: John Qualen (Muley in "The Grapes of Wrath," Earl Williams in "His Girl Friday," Norwegian resistance member in "Casablanca"), Sebastian Cabot (Giles French in "Family Affair") Director: Jus Addiss (2) Writer: Teleplay, Eustace Cockrell and Francis M. Cockrell (4) - Story, Joseph Ruscoll 15. "The Big Switch" - Directed by Don Weis (2), Written by - Teleplay: Richard Carr (3), Story: Cornell Woolrich ("It Had To Be Murder" (source for "Rear Window"), "Goodbye, New York" on "Suspense") Starring: George Mathews (Sergeant Ruby in "The Eve of St. Mark"), Beverly Michaels (Betty in "Pickup") 16. - "You Got To Have Luck" - Starring: John Cassavetes (Academy Award Nominations for Best Supporting Actor as Private Victor Franko in "The Dirty Dozen," Best Original Screenplay for "Faces," and Best Director for "A Woman under the Influence"), Marisa Pavan (Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress as Rosa delle Rose in "The Rose Tattoo," married to Jean-Pierre Aumont for 45 years) Director: Robert Stevens (5) Writer: Teleplay, Eustace Cockrell, Francis M. Cockrell - Story, S.R. Ross 17. - "The Older Sister" - Directed by Robert Stevens (6), Written by: Teleplay - Robert C. Dennis (4), Story - Lillian de la Torre (Writer of "Dr. Sam Johnson: Detector") Featuring Joan Lorring (Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress as Bessy Watty in "The Corn is Green"), Carmen Matthews (Vinne in "Static" on "The Twilight Zone" (xx), Mrs. Boatwright in "Sounder"), Polly Rowles (Helen Donaldson on "The Defenders") 18. - "Shopping for Death" - Directed by Robert Stevens (7), Written by Ray Bradbury (Writer of "Farenheit 451," "The Martian Chronicles," and "I Sing the Body Electric") Starring: Jo Van Fleet (Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress as Cathy Ames in "East of Eden"), Robert Harris (Seth Bushwell in "Peyton Place"), John Qualen (2) 19. - "The Derelicts" - Directed by Robert Stevenson (3), Written by: Teleplay - Robert C. Dennis (5), Story - Terence Maples (Writer of "The Circuit" on "National Velvet") Featuring Robert Newton (Long John Silver in "Treasure Island"), Philip Reed (Kiing Toranshah in "Harum Scarum"), Peggy Knudsen (Diedre in "A Stolen Life"), Johnny Silver (Benny Southstreet in "Guys and Dolls"), Robert Foulk (Mr. Wheeler in "Green Acres"), Cyril Delavanti (3 episodes of "The Twilight Zone" (xx))
  5. "Acorn Park" on silverspringdowntown.com - this tiny sliver of a park is what's left of Francis Blair's original estate, "Silver Spring." Amazingly, even though my parents bought their house in Silver Spring in 1955, and as many times as I've driven by Acorn Park, I've never actually gotten out of the car and seen it. Acorn Park on wikipedia.com / Francis Preston Blair on wikipedia.com
  6. A little backstory: When a post asked which MLB baseball players approached a .400 batting average since Ted Williams last accomplished that...I thought of George Brett. Brett did get close, finishing one magic season with a .390 BA. Brett of course was a great baseball player, a hall of famer and fun to watch and follow. Brett played for the Kansas City Royals during their best period from the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's when they were one of the best teams in the major leagues, played in many playoffs, and made and won a World Series. But wait...While Brett was the star of the team he had an excellent high quality teammate in a fellow named Willie Wilson. Do any of you recall him? Willie Wilson was the fastest player in MLB during those years, made some all star teams and had a long successful baseball career, primarily with the Royals. Before Willie Wilson made it to MLB he was one of the all-time storied athletes in New Jersey high school team sports. I knew of him because he competed in the little conference of teams my town played in: The Suburban Conference in Northern NJ. The members of this conference were smaller schools in Northern NJ. The high school classes probably had between 150-300 students each. These were small, suburban schools. They were not known as incubators for super star athletes. Willie Wilson was the exception. For two years running he was All-State in both football and baseball and was also a tremendous basketball player. He dominated that conference, let alone was a super star in the state from among high school athletes. Reportedly he was the most recruited high school football player in the nation that year. Wilson spurned college football, was a high draft choice with MLB and within a few years made it to the big leagues for a long career. Go back to Willie Wilson's high school career and you can find the following video of his football highlights. Catch the following video. Its precious. Do you recall Thanksgiving day football games with your town's biggest rival??? Not only is the video precious but the comments take you back to those hallowed high school days........
  7. The UEFA Champions League was organized in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs' Cup, and reorganized in 1992 as the UEFA Champions League. --- UEFA Champions League, 2015-2016 Season (Ericandblueboy) UEFA Champions League, 2016-2017 Season (Ericandblueboy) UEFA Champions League, 2017-2018 Season (Ericandblueboy) UEFA Champions League, 2018-2019 Season (Ericandblueboy)
  8. I'd never before seen a single episode of "Gunsmoke," so I thought, well, why not at least watch the pilot, "Matt Gets It." This can be seen, albeit with very poor quality, for free right here on dailymotion.com. Within the first two minutes of the video, you'll notice a couple of remarkable things: * Look who gives the introduction to the series. * Just after the first shot of the cardboard cutout that is Dodge City (a real town in Kansas), Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arness) is giving a soliloquy in a graveyard. Keep your eye on the tombstone at the left of your screen (it's not subtle). Also, note that Chester Goode, Matt Dillon's partner, is played by Dennis Weaver (whom most people know from "McCloud"; you should know him from "Duel").
  9. Here is a video of seven-year-old Yo-Yo Ma playing with his sister, Yeou-Cheng Ma (*), at the Benefit for the National Cultural Center (**), on Nov 29, 1962, in front of President John Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and former President Eisenhower - all of whom you can get a glimpse of after the performance is over. The master of ceremonies is the great Leonard Bernstein. (*) "This Is New York: The Untold Story of Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma, Violin Prodigy and Medical Doctor" by Amelia Pang on theepochtimes.com (**) Ominously, just two years later, the National Cultural Center was renamed the John F. Kennedy Center in honor of the fallen President.
  10. "The Dam Busters" (1955) is most likely a film you've never before heard of, but if you don't know the story it tells, it is a film almost as compelling as one which accurately recalls the Normandy Invasions, or more contemporary to us, "The Imitation Game." The Dam Busters is very British, and seems as though it makes every attempt to reenact the incredible bombing of three German dams without embellishment - there are, I suppose, some dramatic additions and certainly some suppositions made, but they're kept to a bare minimum, and the film is executed with a stark, minimalist style that - at least for the first half - can even come off as being a bit dry. But the story itself is so important that everyone should know about it, and the only better way to learn about it would be to read a non-fiction book (and that would be *really* dry). The final 45 minutes of this film is action-packed, but not gratuitously - it's just a reenactment of an amazing mission carried out in WWII by the British, and the cinematographic effects of the actual mission are flat-out *great*. This film is an absolute must for anyone falling into one of these categories: 1) People with an interest in WWII 2) Historians 3) Fans of documentaries, even though this isn't a documentary (in fact, I suppose it couldn't really be called "non-fiction," but it's as close as you can come to that, while still being a movie made to entertain audiences (as opposed to pure education)). While I can't blanket-recommend the movie to everyone, because it is indeed dry in the first half, as they're working out the details of the mission, recruiting the troops, selling the plan to the bureaucrats, etc., for those in one of the above-three categories, I can recommend it without reservation. However, there is an unfortunate warning I must issue which will take up a disproportionate amount of this post, and there's no easy way to say it, so I'm just going to say it: There is a shocking (by our time's standards) use of the "N" word - not used in any type of directly derogatory way, but used in a remarkably casual fashion: It's the name of a black lab, a dog that today, we could easily name "Blackie" or "Midnight." And, as a result of this dog's unfortunate name, it's also a "code word" in the mission (which is mentioned only once in the film). It's shocking watching people use this word with no more reaction or emotion than saying "Fido" or "Rover" - it stands out like a sore thumb, but in the film's defense, it just does not appear to be meant as anything insulting - I know of some French sayings that incorporate a similar word that have been around for hundreds of years, and are still used today without any thought or malice by the person speaking them, although a general awareness is certainly coming over French (and almost certainly British) society. If this offends you - and I don't think it should, because it's not meant to - then stay away from The Dam Busters. It's such a minor part of the movie, but I'd be negligent if I didn't mention it - more disturbing to me is the fact that I do not remember one, single person of color in the entire film. I hate this characteristic in old films, but there's no point in boycotting them, because that will achieve nothing - my personal philosophy about 20th-century racism is to acknowledge, to mourn, to atone if you can, and to never go back there again. I must stress: This is but one example of millions, and is no more racist than society was in general, so if you boycott this, it would be consistent to boycott almost everything in the world before a certain era. Oh! I completely forgot about what might be the most interesting thing to today's audiences: Star Wars paid direct homage to this film in the final attack scene of the Death Star, when the Jedi fighters fly into the seam of the Death Star before shooting. This is not supposition on my part; it's a stated fact - my guess is that George Lucas remembered the actual attack - and "The Dam Busters" very well when he made Star Wars. That alone is reason enough to watch the film, and it's not a subtle reference; it's a screamingly obvious tribute.
  11. Gosh I've seen Cloris Leachman a lot lately - it's so easy to become familiar with actors and actresses in older films, because there just weren't as many. Leachman is the very first thing you'll see in "Kiss Me Deadly," a genuine classic, independently made, archetypal example of film noir from 1955. (The lower-body shots are certainly a stunt-double (either that, or they were sped up), because I'd bet my bottom dollar that Cloris Leachman couldn't run that fast. Interestingly, that opening shot was the very first time Leachman ever appeared on camera - likewise Maxine Cooper, who plays Mike Hammer's secretary, Velda.) Mike Hammer, a stereotypical Mickey Spillane detective, is played by Ralph Meeker, who has a somewhat similar role in Season 1, Episode 1 of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" later in 1955 - I suspect playing Hammer is what got Meeker his part in HItchcock's excellent "Revenge" (which you should watch on Hulu, if you're a member). Just in case you hear the name Christina Rossetti, and don't know who she is. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Boy, what is it about 1955? There is a *very* disturbing, albeit non-graphic, scene towards the beginning of this movie - certainly more than enough to make you pity Cloris Leachman. Wow, about the car bombs: I *just* saw an episode of "The Saint" called "The Careful Terrorist" which used a "double-bomb" method, planting an obvious one, but also a second, non-obvious one that was supposed to be the *real* agent of death. That episode, shall we say, "borrowed" that sequence of events from this film - fortunately, the "good guy" in both cases was somewhat superhuman in his intuitive abilities, and had the wits to figure out the sinister plot. This may be the most violent movie I've ever seen from the 1950s; the difference is that none of the violence is graphic (which, to me, makes it scarier) - I'm surprised at just how far they're willing to go with this. "Thugs" is too gentle of a word for what these mobsters are. Hammer is led to Christina Bailey's (Cloris Leachman's) "roommate," Gabrielle (Lily Carver), and it's very hard to tell what to think of her - this is one of the main elements in Film Noir - it's the story line, not the character development, that drives things. We know nothing about *any* of these people - it's almost Photographic in a way, since we're capturing moments in time. This particular film, after all, had a major influence on the French New Wave movement. This film has allegory written all over it - this is *not* the finish you'll be expecting. What a fascinating movie this was - a perfect fusion of Film Noir and hard science fiction. Jean-Luc Godard, a seminal figure in French New Wave cinema, was apparently deeply influenced by "Kiss Me Deadly," and it's not hard to see why - who knew that *Mickey Spillane* would indirectly influence an entire movement in Europe?! In "The Usual Suspects," I mentioned how annoyed I am at at internet know-it-alls who try to sound smart by misusing the term Film Noir (which "Kiss Me Deadly" most certainly *is*). Now, I'm going to say that I'm equally annoyed by people who misuse the term MacGuffin (which the suitcase in "Kiss Me Deadly" most certainly *is not* - when the reveal is made, the viewer realizes they've just seen a film unlike anything else they've ever seen before - it was no fluke that those opening credits were rolling in reverse order). "Kiss Me Deadly" is available for free, with good quality, on oldmovietime.com (and there are no Czech subtitles - I'm not sure why it says there are).
  12. I know nothing about "Blackboard Jungle" except that it's "the other" teen-angst film from 1955 that I was going to watch, along with "Rebel Without a Cause." The notorious high school principal, Mr. Warneke, is played by John Hoyt, who you'll find playing the Chief Medical Officer on the Starship Enterprise before Dr. McCoy came along in the "Star Trek" series pilot, "The Cage." (don't forget, the central action in "The Cage" takes place thirteen years before most of the current cast has come into the picture). It's amazing how many character actors you become familiar with over time - in this movie is someone I've encountered several times recently: "The Maytag Repairman," Jesse White, not credited in this film, but pictured here to the left of Glenn Ford (our right). White was in so many things I've seen lately that I'm thinking of giving him his own thread: And who's that in the glasses playing the student named Santini? It's Jameel Farah in his film debut. Interestingly, the Lebanese-American Farah (born in Toledo, OH) used his real birth name in this film; he eventually changed his stage name to Jamie Farr. You know how people say "the good old days were only old; they were never good?" This is one example of something that's both old *and* good: an ethnic actor unafraid to use his birth name for fear of being ostracized. So many famous actors, like this student, Artie West in the film, to the left of the column with curly hair and a cap on: Unfortunately, this actor, Vic Morrow - like James Dean - became more famous for how he died than how he lived. The opening of this film is a virtual parade of future Hollywood stardom, like that kid in the restroom smoking a cigarette: Twelve years later, he'd have the most successful year in all of Hollywood, winning Best Actor for "In the Heat of the Night" (yep: Sidney Poitier). Then, much later in the film, comes along Richard Deacon for a cameo: *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** With about thirty minutes left, Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) went from being completely ostracized by his students - with his wife threatened - to borderline accepted, for seemingly no reason. Perhaps it's Miller (Sidney Poitier) who was finally won over, and Miller is (as has been implied the entire film) leader of the gang, so to speak. The transition just seems a little abrupt to me, but regardless, it takes a *lot* of stress off of the viewer. This all happens shortly after Dadier walks in on Miller's gospel group, singing about Moses - a side of Miller that has not yet been seen before (it should be remembered that this film was released just one short year after Brown vs. Board of Education was decided). I've been negligent in not mentioning Dadier's lovely wife Anne (played by Anne Francis). Easily the main sub-plot of the film, Anne wants Richard (Glenn Ford) to move to a better school, with students who are more receptive, but she does have a secret ulterior motive: She has started to get anonymous letters, warning her about another woman - as far as the viewer can tell, these letters are absolutely untrue, and are efforts from the students to destroy Richard - that's why it's a little surprising that this all started happening right around the same time he was becoming accepted by them. With only thirty minutes left in the film, it's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. I have a hunch that it might be Lois Hammond herself ("the other woman") sending these letters, because she might have a crush on Richard. I say that, yet it's clearly a man who has called twice to warn the (expecting) wife, and that man is shaping up to be Miller (Poitier) - why on earth would he be doing this when Richard has shown absolutely *no* sign of infidelity? Maybe Miller really *does* want Richard to get the hell out of this school, and teach somewhere he can be appreciated - that would be fitting, because Dadier has been good to Miller this entire film, and Miller knows it. I'm writing this paragraph about ten minutes after the last one - Artie West (Vic Morrow) has quietly been perhaps the strongest supporting actor in this movie, and the producer and director have *very* cleverly led the viewers to follow their own biases down one street, when it has been West all along that was the source of all troubles (although I was almost certain West was the one who slugged Richard in the alley). Vic Morrow should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor if he wasn't, because he is *terrific* in this film. About the *only* over-the-top element (and I'm just about at the end) was when Santini (Jameel Farah) stopped West's attack with the American Flag - that was awfully heavy-handed, but I can give this fantastic movie one mulligan. Props also go to Rafael Campos who played Latino student Pete Morales - he was yet another quietly brilliant actor in this movie. If "Blackboard Jungle" was Poitier's springboard to Hollywood stardom (and his career began almost a decade earlier, so it might not have been, but *if* it was), it's perfectly understandable, because he comes across as the type of actor who America would embrace for his role in this film. He was brilliant, but so were any of a dozen other people - even small roles, such as Richard and Anne's doctor (Warner Anderson) were just brilliantly played. It's funny, I thought that the principal, Mr. Warneke (John Hoyt) was going to have such an influential role in this film, but he did almost nothing (which, in-and-of-itself, was *very* influential in terms of how the high school was run), but in terms of the movie, he was nearly non-existent, and it was the command performances of so many other actors that made "Blackboard Jungle" leaps-and-bounds better than "Rebel Without a Cause" - the former is *so* much better than the latter, that they really can't be compared; one is a period piece - a "Catcher in the Rye"-type piece of pablum, famous only for James Dean; the other, "Blackboard Jungle," is one of the finest films I've seen - easily the best "50s-era problem-teen" film I've ever watched, and if this wasn't nominated for Best Picture, and if several people weren't nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, then that's criminal. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie at all costs. I'm not going to "rank" it, but I will say that it's one of the finest movies I've ever seen - top 20? top 30? I don't know ... just see it, trust me and see it. People say this film is dated, and a product of its time; I think it's underrated, and way ahead of its time - it is *so much* more important than "Marty," which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the acting is *so much* better than it was in "Rebel Without a Cause," which had a lot more nominations - the academy simply wasn't ready for this type of movie in 1955. It's time for "Blackboard Jungle" to have a renaissance.
  13. Yet another film that I've always wanted to watch, but never have, "Rebel without a Cause" is such an American icon that even the title alone breeds familiarity. I'm not sure I've ever seen a film with James Dean in it before, either. Dean stars as Jim Stark, Natalie Wood co-stars as Judy, and Sal Mineo is in a supporting role as John "Plato" Crawford. Other famous names include Jim "Mr. Magoo" Backus as Frank Stark, Dennis "Blue Velvet" Hopper as Goon, and Edward "Sorry About That, Chief" Platt as Ray Fremick - what an all-star cast this was! And there was plenty more talent in this picture, too - you might even recognize Jesse "The Maytag Repairman" White in an uncredited role as a policeman, questioning Sal Mineo early on. The title instantly reminds of Marlon Brando's line in "The Wild One," in which Kathie Bleeker asks Johnny Strabler, "What're you rebelling against, Johnny?" To which Brando replies, "Whaddya got?" I had never before heard of a Sam Browne before this scene: From what I've seen so far, it's no coincidence that this "teen angst" film came out just four years after J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" (which, incidentally, may be the most overrated book I've ever read - at least, that's my interpretation of it upon first reading - if anyone can convince me otherwise, I'll have another go at it at some future point, but I found it very dated and painfully boring). "The Wild One," Rock-N-Roll music ... this is all Post-WWII expression, I suppose. I hate to say it, but we almost *need* another World War to remind ourselves of just how good we have things (and no, I'm not hoping for another World War, because the cost of that lesson would be far too expensive). Wow, this movie is more intense than I thought it would be, and from what I see in the scene where Jim's tires are slashed, he's a rebel *with* a cause - a very solid cause. Buzz Gunderson (played by Corey Allen) is a real shit-and-a-half, and why Jim agreed to go for round two after he so decisively won round one is beyond me. The editing (and cinematography) in this film is really good - it has a "slashy" feel to it, which mirrors a knife fight. Also, the juxtaposition of family problems (between families) is really effective at telling separate, but similar, stories. With 45 minutes left in the movie, I'm starting to wonder if "Rebel Without a Cause" means something entirely different than what I always assumed it meant. Jim has plenty of reason to be a "rebel" (if that's even the right word for it); but there was no good "cause" that should have made him this way. Restated, there was no justifiable "cause" that Jim should have become so troubled - and here I thought that James Dean was going to be a Marlon Brando-type character (in "The Wild One") - rebelling without any end game in mind, rebelling simply for the sake of rebelling. It's the difference between asking "What caused the rebel?" and "What's the rebel's cause?" Yes, he had a lousy family life, but that was a needless situation - it shouldn't have been like that, but, alas, it was. At 1:09 in the movie (on Amazon Prime), the song playing over the radio - dedicated to Jim from Buzz - is the exact same song in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, "Little Red Riding Rabbit": "The Five O'Clock Whistle." I'm having some trouble figuring out the meaning of the scene in the abandoned mansion with Jim, Judy, and Plato - I understand them needing some refuge, but it's an extended scene, and it doesn't seem like it quite fits in with the rest of the film - I suppose Jim and Judy needed some "alone time" to develop their relationship. Wow, now *Plato* - he was a rebel without a cause. Roger Ebert succinctly pointed out that Plato was gay in this film - something that I didn't pick up on, but I'm almost certain is correct - this shows you why Ebert is such a legendary film critic, and I should probably stick to writing about food and wine. DIShGo (who is watching the movie as I type) pointed out that Plato has a picture of "Shane" in his locker, lending further credence to Plato most likely being gay. You know, I'm observant enough, and I've watched enough films in my lifetime, that I *really* need to be picking up on things such as this - shame on me. This movie left me with some thinking to do - I'm not sure that I just watched a great film; I am certain that I just watched an important piece of Americana. It is certainly fitting that the movie ended where it was shortly after it began - in the planetarium, where the lecturer essentially gave an Existentialist talk about mankind. Foreshadowing? Oh, yeah. Rebel Without a Cause was also the final Hollywood film played by Marietta Canty, an important Black-American actress we should all know about.
  14. Believe it or not, "The Seven Year Itch" is the first film I've ever seen with Marilyn Monroe in it. I see in the opening credits that they'll be using Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #2 - this could be fun, painful, or anything in-between. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Speaking of painful, there's the beginning, where the "Manhattan Indians" send their wives and children away to escape the summer heat: RIchard Sherman (Tom Ewell), the middle-aged man left in Manhattan while his wife and son go up to Maine to escape the summer heat, plays his role with comic aplomb. He's got "that face" you've seen before, and I remember seeing him in the Emmy Award-winning, first-season episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Case of Mr. Pellham" (Season 1, Episode 10) - I guess 1955 was his Ewell's year. Ewell played this role on Broadway also, so he's well-practiced playing the part (and, so far, a perfect choice). Monroe and Ewell start off (I'm writing this as I'm watching) playing their parts with perfect comic ease - Sherman is hilariously smitten with Monroe's character (who has yet to be named), and Monroe is using that "dumb blond" voice which is making Sherman melt. Oh, and the Second Concerto is put to good use here! It's playing itself, not some corny "theme music," and so far it's working out in the best, most respectful way that I could possibly hope for. I'm only thirty minutes into the movie, but up until the point where he's (role-)playing the concerto in a fancy dinner jacket, this movie is just a *great* comedy, and both the acting and the music are delighting me to no end. And it fades into a "dance" that Sherman does with the building janitor, Kruhulik (Robert Strauss) which is so appropriate at this moment - it's like being forced to take a cold shower, and their back-and-forth really adds something to the hilarity of the moment. When I say "hilarious" and "hilarity," and rave about the first 30-40 minutes of this film; I haven't actually laughed at all - I'm just *highly* amused. Seven Year Itch isn't "laugh-out-loud" funny; it's "little giggle" funny, but it's just *so* well-done to this point, and an unexpected joy to watch - I was prepared for something of much lesser quality: Hopefully, it will maintain throughout the film, and if it does, then it must surely be considered one of the great comedy classics - I know it's "famous," but I don't know if it's "lauded" - I haven't looked yet, and am not going to until the film is finished. Goof: When Sherman runs for the refrigerator to get ice for Monroe's visit, he opens a refrigerator, not a freezer (there's a bottle of milk in there); yet, there's a perfectly frozen bowl of ice cubes. I guess this isn't a "goof" so much as a "who cares" - this movie wasn't designed to over-analyze. Aaannnnnnnd ... there's the second roller skate. This is the second film I've recently seen from 1955 that uses the term "tomato" to humorously (and indirectly) refer to a good-looking girl (the first was "Marty," in the scene where Marty's mom is trying to talk him into going to the nightclub - she told him that she heard that it has "lots of tomatoes" (not knowing what the term meant). Another thing I've noticed from TV shows and films from this era is just how popular soda (I'm talking club soda) was as a mixer back then. Seemingly *everyone* has "scotch and soda," "gin and soda," and so-forth. This has nothing whatsoever to do with "The Seven Year Itch," but I've seen it now probably dozens of times. When Monroe runs for the door to get the Champagne, rewind it and look at her shoes: She slides across the floor about a foot while stopping - I'm not sure if this was a mistake or a planned move, but it took some coordination on her part not to fall (not to over-analyze, but I think based on the way she bends her knees, this was a choreographed move; not an accident). Tragically, Marilyn does "The Tongue Thing." But all is forgiven. The look you make upon discovering Marilyn Monroe is in your friend's apartment: This film is much better than I thought it would be: It's genuinely funny, sweet, somewhat innocent, and just good, fun escapism. To state the obvious, Marilyn Monroe was *great* at playing a ditzy blonde, and I don't mean that sarcastically. Incidentally, Alfred Newman (who did the music) is Randy Newman's uncle.
  15. This is a great, not-very-well-known blues number with some great recordings. Here are Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, and Dakota Staton.
  16. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** In one of the very first scenes of "To Catch a Thief," a woman yells out her window that her jewels have been stolen, and you're immediately transported to Nice - this great webpage on the.hitchcock.zone has all the locations used in filming the movie. In that first scene, the use of the black cat going up-and-down, to-and-fro on the rooftop in the night is Alfred Hitchcock's tongue-in-cheek way of representing the cat burglar, John Robie (Cary Grant), who owns a black cat. When Robie visits his old acquaintance's restaurant, the restaurateur's daughter, Danielle (Brigitte Auber) motorboats him away to safety, all the while mocking him with allusions to cats ("rubbing his fur the wrong way," etc.). Grace Kelly can look rather fetching: <--- The filly from Philly, berried in Grant's tomb. And if you're wondering what that gorgeous car is they're driving, it's a 1955 Sunbeam Alpine Series III Classic Drive. At the end of this telephone call, Bertani (Charles Vanel) and Robie both say what sounds like "Bonjour," which I've never heard in my life as a way to say goodbye - I think this is a mistake, and a big one considering Vanel is French and would know better: Now, why would M. Foussard (Jean Martinelli) want to kill Robie, hmm? I think I've got this one figured out: A little *too* obvious at this point? Then again, there are only 17 minutes left in the movie. There's a *knee* that went up behind Robie at the climax! See that gray lump on the left? Surprisingly, this is not on the IMDB "Goofs" list. Very, very basic question (and I don't rule out the possibility that I'm missing something): If Robie wanted to prove his innocence, why didn't he simply confide in the chief of police, and agree to secretly leave the area for a week or two? If a crime happened during that time, he was, by definition, innocent (assuming he didn't have an accomplice).
  17. I'm breaking recent protocol by posting about "Marty," the Academy Award-winning film from 1955, because I haven't seen it recently; I'm pretty sure all the other movies I've posted about, I saw right before or during my initial post. But I've seen Marty twice, and have seen it within the past couple of years, and I think it's a splendid film - it watches like it could have been adapted from a play, but it wasn't. "Marty" is the shortest film ever to win the Best Picture award, with a runtime of only 90 minutes. Ernest Borgnine gives a magnificent performance (before Marty, he was known as a "tough guy" in films), and the scene at the dinner table with his mom is one of the saddest things I've ever watched in a movie (I also want to alert you that this scene is in the trailer). This movie isn't hard to find, and it's not boring *at all*, despite having no action, or guns, or profanity - it's a human drama of the most poignant type, that just about all of us can relate to. Try and find it if you can, and in the meantime, here's the original trailer - if you watch it, you'll have an idea what the film is about, but it won't ruin it for you; nevertheless, I'm going to announce a slight SPOILER ALERT:
  18. The Dantley-led Fighting Irish ended the Walton-led Bruins' 88-game winning streak. In the last 35 years, only Adrian Dantley and Michael Jordan have averaged over 30 points-per-game in 4 consecutive seasons in the NBA. Jan 8, 2015 - "Why Is One of the NBA's All-Time Great Scorers Refereeing JV Games?" by Dave McKenna on deadspin.com "From NBA to MoCo Rec League, Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley Won't Change His Stripes" by Dan Steinberg on washingtonpost.com When I was growing up, there was Adrian Dantley, and everybody else. I suspect that, other than players like Elgin Baylor, maybe Dave Bing, he's the most legendary DC-area high-school player in history - there were articles about him in the Washington Post seemingly once a week. I was in awe of him at age 12, and I distinctly remember Tracy Jackson (whose brother is a pretty good friend of mine (*)) saying in an interview that his role model was Adrian Dantley. (*) I will never forget the day Paint Branch played Springbrook, and Jackson windmill dunked it - he was about the only player on either team that could dunk in those days. He was joking after the game, and I remember him saying, "When we play Springbrook, we be playin' poker in the locker room and shit." And this guy didn't even curse (he also didn't talk like that; he was trying to be funny). This article does not surprise me *at all* - such was the mentality of Montgomery County (including DeMatha) basketball in the 1970s - they were a tight group. I'm thinking also about DaveO saying Dantley was a ball-hog, and I think the reason might be because he's viewing him as an NBA player; I'm viewing him as "hometown boy makes good." I also don't think he was any more of a ball-hog than Elvin Hayes, who averaged 1.8 assists-per-game over the course of his career (Dantley averaged 3.0). Hayes would get the ball, turn his back to the basket, start dribbling backwards, and then shoot his unstoppable left-handed, fade-away bank shot - he wouldn't even be looking at his teammates - as soon as he got the ball, you *knew* he was going to do this, and he did it quite effectively. All this said, I can see a statistical case made for either player being thought of as such - when you average over 20 points-per-game, and less than 3 assists-per-game, that's getting a little suspect; I wish I remembered Dantley's NBA game better than I do. I had absolutely *no* idea that the Notre Dame - UCLA game had this type of finish: This is one of the most exciting endings I have ever seen in a basketball game (I was also incorrect up top when I said "Dantley-led Notre Dame" - John Shumate led them that season; it was the following two seasons when you could legitimately call Dantley the "leader." For the very first time, I now understand why Walton apologized to people for "letting them down" - even though he did absolutely nothing wrong, this is the type of game that will eat at an athlete's core for the rest of their life.):
  19. I'd never heard of The Brooklyn Eagle, much less knew Walt Whitman (!) was its editor for two years, but at one time, it had the largest circulation of any afternoon daily newspaper in the United States. The Brooklyn Public Library has the entire set of newspapers online - a person could send a lifetime learning about the history of Brooklyn, just by going through these archives.
  20. The record price for "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" ($142.4 million) was broken today: "Les Femmes d'Algers (Version "O") by Picasso has set the all-time record, going for $179.4 million. "Two Artworks Top $100 Million Each At Christie's Sale" by Scott Reyburn on artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com
  21. As long as we're going beyond all those chanteuses I've been highlighting, here's "All the Things You Are". That's Charlie Parker on alto sax, Miles Davis on trumpet, Max Roach on drums, and I forget who else. This recording is so utterly perfect that it makes me cry. Someone posted a comment on this, on youtube or somewhere else, "this cured my cancer", which I thought pretty well summed it up.
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