Category Archives: Movies

Classic Hollywood #80 – Lee Van Cleef

The Man With A Name, The Menacing Lee Van Cleef

Lee Van Cleef in Return of Sabata

For nearly 40 years Lee Van Cleef was typecast. He made a living at playing villains. But as he observed, “I didn’t much care if I got out of that bad guy role. I fell in love with the characters. I could do things I couldn’t do in real life, and generally a bad guy is a more colorful part. It’s always more fun to be nasty.”

A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, a trio of “spaghetti westerns” made by Italian director Sergio Leone from 1964-1967 established Clint Eastwood “the man with no name” as a major film star.

The second and third films of the Eastwood- Leone films, also brought Lee Van Cleef from mid-level billing status to international stardom.

For 15 years with hawk-like looks, penetrating gaze and low voice, the lean six foot two Lee Van Cleef toiled in films and television, almost always cast as a bad guy. He struggled to make ends meet.

The Breakthrough Role

But on April 10, 1965 Lee signed a contract for 30 percent more than he had ever previously made to co-star as bounty hunter Colonel Mortimer in For A Few Dollars More.

Up until the signing, Lee and his wife Joan had been living on residuals from television appearances, unemployment checks and her salary as a secretary. Prior to committing to the film Lee had not appeared in a film since 1962. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #79 – Dana Andrews, Harry Morgan & B.S. Pully

At A Nightclub Dana Andrews and B.S. Pully Start To Shave Harry Morgan (Sans Shaving Cream)

Harry Morgan Dana Andrews BS Pully at nightclub 1946 photo Nat Dallinger King Features

Attending a night club with a full beard which he wears for a current film role, actor Henry Morgan, was quickly spotted by fellow actors B.S. Pully, left, and Dana Andrews who proceeded to attempt a dry-shave to the delight of other patrons. Many film actors prefer to raise their own beards rather than spend hours in studio makeup rooms having false whiskers applied. Furthermore it adds a touch of realism to the actions of the wearer. photo Nat Dallinger for King Features Syndicate.

Although undated this photograph was probably taken sometime in 1944. Andrews, Morgan and Pully all appeared together in the film Wing and a Prayer. Morgan was bearded for his role as Ensign Malcom Brainard. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #78 – Marilyn Monroe and Alan Ladd

Marilyn Monroe’s First Public Appearance In Hollywood After Her Marriage To Joe DiMaggio – 1954

Alan Ladd Marilyn Monroe

Hollywood – March 9 – Marilyn Wows Movie Crowd – Marilyn Monroe made her first public appearance in Hollywood last night since her marriage to Joe DiMaggio and her trip to Japan and Korea, and promptly stole the show. She showed up with a new platinum-blonde hairdo and wearing a low-cut white satin sheath gown. The occasion was Photoplay magazine’s annual awards dinner at which she and Alan Ladd, with whom she’s pictured, were named Hollywood’s most popular actress and actor. (AP wirephoto 1954)

Marilyn Monroe and Alan Ladd may have been Hollywood’s most popular actress and actor, yet neither was ever nominated for an Academy Award. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #77 – Margaret Sullavan, Ernst Lubitsch & James Stewart – 1939

Margaret Sullavan, Ernst Lubitsch & James Stewart On The Set of The Shop Around The Corner – 1939

James Stewart Margaret Sullavan Ernst Lubitsch on set Shop Around The Corner 1939

The Shop Around The Corner wasn’t a very big hit for James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan when it was released in 1940. The “Lubitsch Touch,” director Ernst Lubitsch’s flare for sophisticated comedy, did not translate to a box office smash, domestically grossing $2.4 million ($76.9 million adjusted) according to Continue reading

The Beatles Leave London To Invade The U.S.A. – February 7, 1964

It Was 55 Years Ago Today – The Beatles Came to The USA

beatles feb 7 1964

Feb 7, 1964 – The Beatles Leave London For New York – The Beatles singing group is shown at London airport this morning prior to departing for appearances in New York. From left are Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. AP wirephoto via cable from London

Our headline (thank you, Sgt. Pepper) points out that remarkably it has been 55 years, not 20 years ago today that the Beatles left London for New York City. The British Invasion was underway. The world would never be the same, not just musically, but in fashion and pop culture.

If you want to get a sense of what Beatlemania was like when the Fab Four first arrived in New York, there is a forgotten little film Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #76 – Silent Movie Stars Reunite

A 1936 Gathering Of Silent Movie Stars

Silent films were virtually eradicated in 1929 with all the major film studios converting from silents to talkies. So it is kind of funny to see this 1936 news photo labeled “Old Time Film Notables.”

Most of the silent stars pictured above are not well known today, but they were “big” in their day. Continue reading

The Brooklyn Home Of Actor Edward Everett Horton (and His Interesting Life)

Famed Actor Edward Everett Horton Was Born & Bred In Brooklyn

Everett Edward Horton home BrooklynImagine living in a home that is old. Over 150-years-old.

If you’ve ever lived anywhere that has a long past, you’ve probably wondered who previously occupied the space before you. What were the people like who once lived there? What celebrations and heartbreaks happened there?

When passing by, no one would take a second look at the building at 316 Carlton Avenue in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. It’s just another tidy single family, four story brick home in a row of similar 19th century houses. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #75 – Child Star Jackie Cooper

Young Jackie Cooper Signs A Big Contract With MGM – 1931

Jackie Cooper child star signs contract with MGM Louis B MayerYoungest Long-Termer

Hollywood, Calif – Jack Cooper, seven-year-old hero of “Skippy” and the most promising youngster in Hollywood is earning the distinction of being the youngest star to have a long term contract as he prepares to put his “John Hancock” on the important looking document being held by Luis B. Mayer, vice-president of a leading motion picture company. While the salary was not disclosed it is believed there was an unprecedented number of naughts after the first figure to make him the highest paid youngster in the United States. His first thought after walking around the movie lot following the signing was to organize a football team. – (credit: International Newsreel Photo,  June 9, 1931

Being a minor Jackie Cooper could not legally sign his contract, his parents were the real signers. Continue reading

What Were The Best New York City Restaurants In 1929?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Columnist Rian James Shares His Picks For The Best Restaurants in New York City in 1929

Rian James (1899-1953) may not be a well known name today, but back in the 1920s and 30s, he was a widely read journalist and  “man about town.”

In 1933 James took a stab at writing for the movies. He wrote the screenplay for 42nd Street, one of the most successful and popular films of the 1930s. James would go on to write over three dozen screenplays.

As a columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1928-1935, James rambled all around New York City. Along the way James hobnobbed with everyone: the well-to-do, the hoi-polloi, actors,  and bohemians, in the process, hitting all the night spots. The stories James gathered made for a widely read column about the city he loved.

Four times a year the Eagle published a small guide Going Places With Rian James casting his top picks in New York City food and entertainment.

For the Summer 1929 Going Places, a good portion of  James’ 32 page booklet is devoted to dining. Unlike the modern Zagat restaurant guides or Yelp, consensus was not considered. The only thing that mattered was James’ opinion. James knew all the “in” places, the haunts of celebs, the exclusive, the ribald and the popular.

Proving he’s no snob, the best New York restaurant according to James is not at a high class hotel or Madison Avenue establishment. It’s Feltman’s, originator of the hotdog, in Coney Island that wins the prize.  James writes, “The best all-round food in all New York, excluding no place.”

This is a New York booklet written for New Yorkers.

James offers a unique slice of the New York dining scene just prior to the October 1929 stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression. The good times were to end soon after.

While there were a ton of contemporary guidebooks published about New York City, very few delved into the restaurant scene. James’ punchy one line descriptions tell you a lot more than many a detailed review.

The writing has some jazz age jargon such as “Beeway” for Broadway and “black and tan” for an establishment that has race mingling between Blacks and Caucasians. Sometimes there’s an “inside”, long forgotten, or even a risque reference such as this one:

BARNEY’S – 85 W. 3rd St.
The best bet for whoopee in the Village.

In other words, where you have the best chance of hooking up.

James later wrote several full length books about New York City: a full guidebook All About New York An Intimate Guide; John Day (1931) and another not surprisingly titled, Dining in New York; John Day (1934).

While you peruse this list, you may recognize some names long gone from New York’s glorious culinary past. Other eateries you never heard of just sound like they would have been a blast to visit.

What is stunning in the transient world of dining, is that there are a small number of restaurants that are still in business nearly 90 years later.

We have left Rian James’ spelling, grammar and punctuation as it is written in the booklet.

So with that, here is Rian James’ New York City’s restaurant recommendations for the summer of 1929, divided into his appropriate section headings in bold.

Restaurants of All Nations

Name      Address       Nation

L’AIGLON – 55th, E. of Fifth Ave. French
Complete French Cuisine.LUCHOWS – 110 E. 14th St. German
Complete German Cuisine. Try the German Rye Bread. Continue reading