Category Archives: Movies

Old New York In Photos #64

Gracie Square, 84th Street and East End Avenue 1949

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 1

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 2

1949 East End Ave 84th Street 3This sequence of photos from 1949 show a car coming down East 84th Street and entering 110 Gracie Square.

The stills are from the movie East Side, West Side starring Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck and James Mason.

The vantage point from the dead end of East 84th Street is one you will rarely see in old photos of New York. The wall in the foreground marks one of the entrances to Carl Schurz Park.

Nearly seven decades later the changes in this view are minimal.

84th Street Google 2009Some of the canopy’s to the buildings along Gracie Square are gone. 110 Gracie Square was renumbered for the film, it is really 10 Gracie Square, one of the most exclusive co-op buildings in the city. Built in 1930 as a rental building, famous past residents include Gloria Vanderbilt, conductor Leopold Stokowski (Vanderbilt’s husband), New York Times editor and author Charles Merz, and theater critic and author Alexander Woollcott. A five bedroom penthouse apartment has been on the market for over two years. Why so long? The original price tag was $23 million. Currently the asking price will only set you back $15 million, but be prepared for the monthly maintenance charges of $16,747. In 1937 the building went into foreclosure and the entire building was sold for $450,000!

The building seen in the first two photographs on the northwest corner of 84th Street and East End Avenue is the Chapin School, Continue reading

Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

June 1, 2016 Would Have Been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

10 Rare Photographs From Her Life

A simply stunning unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde's home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

A simply stunning, unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde’s home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

June 1 marks Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday. We have pondered this before: what would an elderly Marilyn Monroe have been like? Reclusive and mentally ill like her mother was? Elder stateswoman of the movies and spokesperson for women’s rights? It’s all conjecture, there’s obviously no clear answer.

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

As much as Marilyn accomplished, her life was unfulfilled. No babies, no aging to segue into nuanced character roles in films, no Broadway or television career, no venturing into social activism on issues that would have concerned her.

When Marilyn died at the age of 36 in 1962, she became immortalized in ways that probably would have amused her. The movie goddess is still forever young, and has become an icon of many things: the 1950s; glamor; gay rights; womanhood and sex to name a few.

As time passes and the people who actually knew her pass away, Marilyn becomes more of a figurehead of a time rather than a once living flesh and blood person. Authors are drawn to Marilyn and have made her the subject of hundreds of books and millions of words analyzing her without knowing her.

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1950 film which includes Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan's Island!)

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1951 film which includes Donald Crisp, Jeffrey Lynn and Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island!)

This literary interest in every aspect of Marilyn’s life was not displayed when she was alive. Only six books were written about her during her lifetime. True, there were the articles in magazines that gave superficial glimpses into her life. But Marilyn and the publicity machine that surrounded her obfuscated much of who she really was.

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #52

Jayne Mansfield In An Unusual Pose

Jayne Mansfield satire striptease Las Vegas photo UPIThis undated photograph of an upside down Jayne Mansfield in a very sheer blouse was taken by a UPI photographer and is captioned “Jayne Mansfield in a satire of Las Vegas striptease.”

Jayne played Las Vegas a number of times beginning in 1958 and returned many times to pick up large paychecks: upwards of $25,000 per week.

Never a shy woman, in 1963 Mansfield revealed a lot more than this outfit does, when she appeared nude in the film Promises, Promises.

Classic Hollywood #51

James Cagney & Boris Karloff – 1940

James Cagney Boris Karloff 1940Movie Stars Twinkle At Own Party
Hollywood, Calif. – It was a dead heat when Boris Karloff (right) and James Cagney, screen menaces, exchanged leers on meeting at the first annual gambol of the Screen Actor’s Guild held here March 14. Credit line – Acme 3/16/40

Useful / Useless tidbits

The French Society of Mental Sciences in 1937 asked Boris Karloff to fill out an extensive 58 page questionnaire about his own mental health. The psychiatrists who put together the questionnaire were trying to determine how all the horror versus sympathetic roles Karloff had played on screen had affected his real life. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #50

Marilyn Monroe Without Makeup – 1954

Marilyn Monroe in the morning with no makeup cloes up photo Milton GreeneIt is said that Marilyn Monroe was an expert at posing for photographers. During her early modeling days she questioned her photographers about the technical aspects of photography and over time and with studying, Marilyn learned how to always look her best in front of the camera.

So it was unusual that anyone would ever get to photograph Marilyn without makeup.

It dd happen occasionally, but those sans makeup photographs are the exception.

With photographer and one time business partner Milton Greene, Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #49

Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney with hat

There is a lot that can be written about Gene Tierney (1920-1991), but I’ll keep it brief because her life has been well documented and Gene wrote her autobiography Self Portrait in 1979 which candidly told of her many ups and downs.

One thing most film aficionados agree on is that Gene Tierney was one of the most beautiful stars to ever grace the silver screen. During the height of her film career in the 1940s she adorned the covers of hundreds of magazines. She wasn’t just beautiful, she was stunningly drop dead gorgeous. Continue reading

Possible Oscar Boycott Ignores Other Underrepresented Actors

Time To Put A Stop To Hollywood’s Casting Bias – Microcephalics Insultingly called “Pinheads” Get The Shaft in Oscar Process

microphely 1

Everyone is now aware that for the 2016 Academy Awards no African-Americans were nominated for Academy Awards in the major acting categories. This has led to some people calling out the racist members of the Academy saying they will boycott the Oscars and things “have to change.”

microphely 2 zipBut there are so many groups not represented with nominations. If we’re going to go through with this diversity campaign let’s go full tilt.

In this country where we strive for equality the question arises – is it fair to single out the omission of only African Americans?

There is one group of entertainers that has been far more glaringly ignored in the Oscar process since the Academy’s  founding, and yet no one is standing up for them.

Microcephalic actors have not been recognized by the Academy – ever. Disparagingly called “pinheads” by sideshow aficionados, these people have been thoroughly neglected by the Hollywood elite and the Academy.

Schlitzie in Tod Browning's Freaks

Schlitzie in Tod Browning’s Freaks

Director Tod Browning was the only filmmaker brave enough to break the stigma of using people with microcephaly prominently in a film with his 1932 classic Freaks.

Since then, I know of no film that has featured a microcephalic actor with any prominent role. Therefore there have been no microcephalic actors nominated for an Academy Award.

True, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin starred in 1993’s The Coneheads, but they were only actors who looked like people with microcephaly and they were not nominated for anything either.

How can we let this obvious oversight and discrimination continue? When will we see a fair representation of this unrecognized group of people?

Beetlejuice - An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Beetlejuice – An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Besides Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern Show and Patrick from Spongebob Square Pants, where are microcephalics being represented in entertainment? Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #48

Frank Sinatra And Family At The Stork Club – 1947

And the story of when Frank Sinatra met The Godfather author Mario Puzo.

Frank Sinatra and Family at Stork Club 1947

New York – FAMILY HARMONY – Dispelling the rumors of a rift, crooner Frank Sinatra takes time off to entertain his wife and their children Frankie Jr., and Nancy, with dinner at The Stork Club. 10 -17-1947

Despite the news caption that harmony had returned to the Sinatra marriage, it would be only three years later that Frank’s wife Nancy filed for legal separation. The two were divorced in 1951 and Frank immediately married Ava Gardner.

During December Turner Classic Movies has featured Frank Sinatra as its star of the month in honor of what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday.

One movie that TCM will not be showing as part of their Sinatra tribute will be The Godfather. Though Sinatra does not appear in the movie, the character of singer/actor Johnny Fontane was assumed to be based upon Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra and his lawyers were wary at the inclusion of the mob-affiliated Fontane character in the book and later the movie. The lawyers wanted to see a manuscript before the book was published. The request was refused.

In the book, Puzo thought he portrayed the Fontane character sympathetically. But Puzo also realized that if Sinatra thought the character was himself, he might not like it – the book  – or Puzo.

This turned out to be a very astute assumption: Sinatra was not pleased when he read the book.

After the publication of The Godfather in 1969, at Elaine’s restaurant in New York, Puzo had a clear indication he was not on Sinatra’s buddy list. Host and owner Elaine had asked Sinatra if he would like to meet Puzo who was dining there at the same time as Puzo. Sinatra emphatically said, “no.”

As Mario Puzo described in his 1972 book The Godfather Papers, (G.P. Putnam Sons) Puzo finally met Sinatra in August 1970 In West Hollywood, California at the famous Chasen’s restaurant. Continue reading

Sean Connery On James Bond

Quotes From Sean Connery About James Bond

Sean Connery and the women of Goldfinger

Sean Connery and the women of Goldfinger

The most recent double oh seven Daniel Craig has talked about getting typecast as secret agent James Bond. Craig doesn’t seem to view typecasting as a problem. With the recent blockbuster opening of Spectre, the latest installment of the Bond series, Craig is probably laughing all the way to the bank if he has indeed been typecast.

With the man who played James Bond originally, it is hard to gauge what his true feelings are towards the character.

Sean Connery greeting press August 1965 photo Apis Paris

Sean Connery & the press – August 1965

Sean Connery has always been protective of his private life and after he gained worldwide fame playing James Bond, he developed a justifiable, deep suspicion of the fourth estate.

Connery has said he intensely dislikes intrusions by the press “Particularly, the critical personality profiles that run in magazines and newspapers. The actors utter these inanities, then go to some movie set and pose for pictures in some mock-up kitchen. The article will then read: ‘Here’s Sean Connery, a real homebody, frying eggs in his own kitchen.’ “

Because he had to answer the same insipid questions thousands of times, Connery, quickly built up a resentment around all the publicity surrounding James Bond and the Interchangeability of himself and the character.

Therein lies the complex love/hate relationship between Connery and the character that made him one of the world’s biggest movie stars.

The following quotes from Sean Connery about the character of James Bond were all made from 1963 -1972 when he was playing 007. The source is listed before the quote.

James Bond magazine Sean ConnerySydney Morning Herald, 1963 –

After the first Bond film Dr. No was released:

“I’ll be honest with you. There’s not much of James Bond in me.”

“The only real difficulty I found in playing Bond was that I had to start from scratch. Nobody knew anything about him, after all. Not even Fleming. Does he have parents? Where does he come from? Nobody knows. But we played it for laughs, and people seem to feel it comes off quite well.”

“I’m grateful to the film for giving my career a lift like this, but I must be careful not to get too typed. I hope to make a completely different type of film.”

Elizabeth Trotta, Newsday, 1963-

On being similar to the Bond character –

“Yes, I do identify with him. I too enjoy drinking, women, eating the physical pleasure – smells and tastes living by my senses, being alive.  And as far as Bond is concerned, he has no past.”

Anthony Carthew, New York Times, 1964 –

After Goldfinger completed filming.

“I don’t really suppose I’d like Bond if I met him. He’s not my kind of chap at all.”

Sean Connery From Russia With Love“Bond makes his own rules, and that’s fine as long as you’re not plagued by doubts.” “But if you are—and most of us are—you’re sunk. That’s why Bond is so attrac­tive to women. By their na­ture they’re indecisive, so a man who is absolutely sure comes as a godsend.” Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #47

Harold Lloyd Between Takes On The Set of Professor Beware! – 1938

Harold Lloyd on set 1939Noted fun-maker rests during an idle moment on location. Harold Lloyd , now in production on his current comedy “Professor Beware!” is seen here taking it easy between “takes”. This is the first Lloyd picture in almost two years. – photo: Harold Lloyd Productions

In the 1920s Harold Lloyd was one of the top box office stars. By the 1930s he was reduced to making a film every two years. With the completion of Professor Beware!, LLoyd said he was now planning on getting ramped up and start making two films per year.

Instead, Professor Beware! turned out to be Harold Lloyd’s next to last film.

The story for Professor Beware! was written by Colonel Crampton Harris, the former law partner of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

Lloyd plays an egyptologist who sees parallels between ancient happenings and his own life that seem like reincarnation and may spell doom for him. Lloyd’s co-star was the unknown Phyllis Welch, but Lloyd had originally offered the female lead to Jean Arthur, who turned it down.

A strange story connected with the film concerns the usually inoffensive Lloyd almost being censored. The Hays office called Lloyd and his staff in for a meeting and wanted a scene cut in which Lloyd’s character is driving in the street, bumps into a fire engine and tells the firemen there is a fire at the pier and yells “fire!” Lloyd was flabbergasted and asked what was wrong with saying “fire”.

Lloyd insisted to the censor that removing the scene would ruin the plot. The Hays office censor said that no actor should ever say the word “fire” on screen. The censor explained that two times previously it had led to  trouble  when a person out on the street buying a ticket at the box office heard the word fire and went to call the fire department.

Lloyd asked the overzealous censor if he had seen the film in a projection booth with no audience and if he had laughed, to which which replied that is where he viewed the movie and  he had not laughed. In a real theater situation, Lloyd explained, the audience would be laughing so hard at that point, that when the word fire was uttered no one would be able to hear it. Believe it or not, the censor agreed with this argument and left the scene intact.

The movie itself did not catch fire and was greeted lukewarmly by the critics and the public. Lloyd then made up his mind to give up acting until “he found the right story.”

After a career appearing in over 200 films, it took another seven years for the highly popular Lloyd to make another film, which ended up being his final movie The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (released 1947).

In 1945 producer-director Preston Sturges convinced Lloyd that he should play the lead character in his new film which was originally slated to star Eddie Bracken as Harold Diddlebock. Considering Sturges’ reputation as a comedic genius, Lloyd agreed.

In an interview with the New York Times after the filming was completed, LLoyd said, “Basically, Preston and I think alike even when our approach is different. I like to go out on the set with a scene mapped out and work from my head; Preston comes on with a blueprint he’s sweated over beforehand to the last detail. He can do his cutting a reel at a time, and stay with it indefinitely; it’s an effort for me to stay in a projection room with an uncut story. After I’ve seen three good ideas go through the chopper, I have to come up for air.”

The strained creative relationship Continue reading