Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Under the Stars 2010! My Preview

Its my second favorite time of the year, TCM's Summer Under The Stars. Obviously, 31 Days of Oscar ranks #1. I couldn't wait to see what the creative team at TCM has come up with this year. With great anticipation I click the SUTS link on TCM's home page marquee it redirects to reveal the timed countdown to this year's flash presentation of iconic silhouettes of 31 stars for each day of August. The style was recognizably the work of  Micheal Schwab who has a long list of prestigious clients including AT&T, both Coke & Pepsi, The Gap, Estee Lauder, Mastercard, AmTrak and even a movie star Robert Redford. The general navigation is the same as previous years but this year's collectable download are 31 Limited Edition Trading Cards illustrated by Micheal Schwab of course. They are available as a down-loadable PDF file that must be printed out on color printer and cut out, folded, and glued together to create the double-sided Trading Card. One side dons the Schwabs silhouettes of the featured star. The other side provides a schedule of the stars movies for that day topped with a quote. Although I am fond of the artwork, it might be a rather tedious even for a maniac.
Cover of "Hang 'Em High"
Cover of Hang 'Em High
Now to answer the most important question on my mind,"Who are the 31 Stars?" Well, the first of Schwabs illustrations revealed by the flash countdown was the iconic black silhouette of a man in western hat wearing a grey badge with a white noose in the fore ground, without reading the caption its easily recognized as Clint Eastwood ("Hang 'Em High") for the featured star for August 31st. I am not sure why we are first redirected to the end of the month.

A click on August 1st brings up the iconic profile of our favorite sleuth from "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" representing the first star Basil Rathbone. His Trading Card quote appears to be from the film as well. I won't spoil the rest for you, I'll let you enjoy the revelation of guessing each star and movie for the rest of the silhouettes.

At the bottom of the main navigation look for a link to the down-loadable printable PDF file available for you to view the entire months schedule at once and a link to list of DVDs for sale for this years SUTS movies.

I haven't determined if their is a connection for the particular iconic role that was chosen to represent each star. In some cases I would have chosen a different more recognizable profile for the star. I think I would have better recognized Norma Shear in her the sexy bob of the "liberated woman" in Precode "Divorcee" instead of the bejeweled head dress of "Romeo & Juliet."

Their were some surprises. Along with many well known favorites from the Golden Age of Hollywood, there were a few less known actors. For August 30th, I didn't recognize the purple dressed tea-cup holding silhouette of Thelma Todd from "Horse Feathers" nor the gun totting muscular profile of Woody Strode ("Sergent Rutledge") for August 5th.

Woody Strode is an African American actor known to that John Ford gave him the title role in Sergeant Rutledge (1961)as a member of the Ninth Cavalry falsely accused of rape and murder; he appeared in smaller roles in Ford's later films Two Rode Together (1961) another SUTS film. Strode was one of the last friends of Ford. This 6' 4" NFL star became a Golden Globe winner for best supporting actor in Spartacus in 1960. He was noted for film roles that contrasted with the African-American stereotypes of the time. I discovered him first in the opening sequence of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Thelma Todd was an American actress. Appearing in about 120 pictures between 1926 and 1935, she is best remembered for her comedic roles in films like Marx Brothers' Monkey Business and Horse Feathers.  Her tea-cupped hand hints to her slef nick name "Hot Toddy." This blonde beauty queen was teamed up with ZaSu Pitts for slapstick comedies as Hal Roach's attempt to create a female version of Laurel and Hardy. Todd's shorts often cast her as a single working girl with her embarrassing side kick, Pitts struggling through some hilarious predicament. She also had roles in several Laurel and Hardy films. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning before her last film, the full feature comedy, The Bohemian Girl was completed.

TCM always satisfies by presenting my all time favorites as well as illuminating me on some screen gems that I had not discovered. I look forward to exploring both of these less discussed actors and their movies in this year's Summer Under The Stars.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rock, Rock, Rock | Free online

Rock, Rock, Rock (film)Rock, Rock, Rock is a 1956 black-and-white motion picture featuring performances from a number of early rock 'n' roll stars, such as Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, Teddy Randazzo, The Moonglows, The Flamingos, and The Teenagers with Frankie Lymon as lead singer. Future West Side Story cast member David Winters is also featured. Famed disk jockey Alan Freed makes an appearance as himself. The voice of the main character (Dori Graham) was sung by Connie Francis.

The movie has a fairly simple plot: teenage girl Dori Graham (played by then 13-year-old Tuesday Weld) can't convince her dad to buy her a strapless gown and has to get the money together herself in time for the prom.

The soundtrack album, also titled Rock, Rock, Rock, is nowadays widely regarded to be Chuck Berry's first album. Many of the artists featured in the film do not appear on the album, and only four songs on the album ("Over and Over Again," "I Knew From the Stars," "You Can't Catch Me," and "Would I Be Crying") actually appear in the film.
Both Jack Collins and Valerie Harper (who makes a brief appearance as an extra in the crowd at the prom) made their film debut in Rock, Rock, Rock.

 Watch Rock, Rock, Rock (film) free online or download free at the Internet Archive :

Life with Father | Watch Online Free

Cover of "Life with Father"
Life with Father is a 1947 American comedy film. It tells the true story of Clarence Day, a stockbroker who wants to be master of his house, but finds his wife and his children ignoring him, until they start making demands for him to change his own life. In keeping with the autobiography, all the children in the family (all boys) are redheads. It stars William Powell and Irene Dunne as Clarence and his wife, supported by Elizabeth Taylor as a beautiful teenage girl with whom Clarence's oldest son becomes infatuated, along with Edmund Gwenn, ZaSu Pitts, Jimmy Lydon and Martin Milner.
WAtch Online for free. Download from Internet Archive:
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The Kennel Murder Case | Free Online Movie

The Kennel Murder Case is a 1933 murder mystery novel written by S. S. Van Dine with fictional detective Philo Vance investigating a complex locked room mystery.
A Warner Bros. film version of The Kennel Murder Case appeared in 1933. The film was directed by Michael Curtiz and starred William Powell as Philo Vance, reprising the role after appearing as Vance in three films for Paramount, and Mary Astor as Hilda Lake, the victims' niece. Many film historians (including William K. Everson, who pronounced it a "masterpiece" in the August 1984 issue of Films in Review) consider it one of the greatest screen adaptations of a Golden Age mystery novel, and rank it with the 1946 film Green for Danger.

The Kennel Murder Case was remade by Warner in 1940 as Calling Philo Vance with James Stephenson as Vance and William Clemens directing. World War II-era espionage stood in for the skulduggery of the art world in the remake.

The novel The Kennel Murder Case can be read here, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. Enjoy the film The Kennel Murder Case here or download for free at the Internet Archive.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

D.W. Griffith's Abraham Lincoln (1930) | Free Online

Abraham Lincoln (film)Image via Wikipedia
Abraham Lincoln, also released under the title D. W. Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln', is a (1930) is a biographical film about American president Abraham Lincoln directed by D. W. Griffith. It stars Walter Huston as Lincoln and Una Merkel, in her first talking role, as Ann Rutledge. The script was co-written by Stephen Vincent Benét, author of the Civil War prose poem John Brown's Body. This was the first of only two sound films made by Griffith. The film was not a hit at the time, but in recent years it has come to be regarded as one of the definitive films on Lincoln.
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Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Flag: A Story Inspired By the Tradition of Betsy Ross | 1927 2-strip Technicolor silent short

An Independence Day Treat from TCM, The Flag: A Story Inspired By the Tradition of Betsy Ross (1927) is a rare example of 2-strip Technicolor silent short from MGM. Score added by Vivak Maddala in 2002. Directed by Arthur Maude. This is the romanticized patriotic story of George Washington (Francis X Bushman) trying to talk Betsy Ross (Enid Bennett) into creating a flag for the country. Only 20 minutes long. Unremarkable plot, but stunning to watch. The 2 color process is an aesthetically pleasing medium for Betsy's creamy white complexion against a patriotic palette of rich reds and navy blues.
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Who is the mysterious TCManiac?

First, I'll tell you who I am not. I am not affiliated with TCM. I am not some superbot created by software developers. I am not being paid by TCM or anyone else to dedicate my time to tweeting. I am a real flesh and blood human being. I am a real maniac for TCM. I really do keep my TV tuned to TCM 24-7. I created the TCManiacs twitter as a result of my sincere passion for watching Turner Classic Movies.

How I got started?
Well, I've been a fan of TCM since its inception. As I lay flat on my back recovering from a disabling health crisis unable to do little more than watch TV and surf the internet, I found refuge watching TCM round the clock. I soon developed an obsessive habit of keeping a browser tab open for the TCM schedule and beating Robert Osbourne's introductions to finding out facts for upcoming movies. My entire day and night became defined by the TCM line-up. At the beginning of 2009 I decided to check out twitter and lucked up on some fellow TCM fans to friend. During the 31 days Oscar I decided to dedicate a twitter just to share my TCM obsession by tweeting about every movie every day of February. I was totally overwhelmed by the number of fellow TCM maniacs that became my following. Its been a WIN WIN in everyway for me. I have had the opportunity to share fun stuff with some incredible fellow classic movie lovers and bloggers. With so many followers I became committed to maintaining the twitter schedule and finding fun stuff for upcoming TCM movies.
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As I mentioned before, I am not employed by anyone nor being paid for my time maintaining tweets and blog. However, you may express your appreciation for my labor of love by dropping a token of your appreciation in the hat. Simply click the Donate button below. Any amount your heart moves you to give no matter how small will be graciously accepted.
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Even if you decide to skip tipping the hat, please take the time to comment or send a message with your thoughts and suggestions. Send ideas on more fun stuff you would like featured. Send me links to your own classic movie websites. I just want to hear from you! Let me know what sharing my little obsession is worth to you. Every follower is priceless to me!

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