The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

End Credits #79: 2018 Lost Treasures John Gavin

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Actor John Gavin, best remembered for his distinguished roles in Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life (1959), Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960, as Sam Loomis), and Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960, as Julius Caesar) has died at age 86 succumbing to pneumonia. His performances may have been typically subdued, but their effectiveness were enhanced by his understated approach. One remembers most fondly the characters he portrayed more than the person who played them, which for a professional actor, is probably preferred. He also lent his talent to two films for director David Miller, Midnight Lace (1960) and Back Street (1961), in addition to Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967, for director George Roy Hill) and The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969, for director Bryan Forbes). Gavin also made numerous TV appearances in, for example, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1963 - 1965). After his acting career ended, Gavin was appointed Ambassador to Mexico by President Ronald Reagan, serving until June 10, 1986. John Gavin (April 8, 1931 - February 9, 2018) R.I.P.   

 

Treasured Images Special Edition: Enduring Stars Part 2 (of 2)

With the recent passing of actors from Hollywood's Golden Age and the various Award Shows now honouring them, my thoughts turned to those, as of this writing, still with us. I thought we might showcase some of those actors 90 and above and spotlight one of their past memorable characters. This is Part 2. Part 1 can be seen here

Treasured Images Special Edition: Enduring Stars Part 2

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"Now Listen to Me..."

 

Just some thoughts on current happenings: 

 

There are 15 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:

 

Despite a rather familiar premise, the supremely talented creators of this melodrama were able to deliver a storyline that is mature, sophisticated and genuinely heartfelt. Previously reviewed here, Now, Voyager will set sail Friday, February 2 at 3pm PST.  

 

 

 

 

One of the most intelligent and illuminating documentaries ever produced is Robert Epstein's 1984 feature The Times of Harvey Milk

(From left) Harvey Milk, George Moscone, Dan White

(From left) Harvey Milk, George Moscone, Dan White

Like the title suggests, this is an in-depth exploration of a time (the late '70s) and place (San Francisco) both of which were at sociological and political crossroads. Milk, after having run three times unsuccessfully, finally won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be elected. His hard fought success and subsequent campaign triumph in helping to defeat Proposition 6 (which would have banned gays and lesbians from working in public schools) are given careful attention and culminate in a jubilant celebration of communal will. These events contrast appreciably with the slow but acutely observed decline of Supervisor Dan White, making even more tragic the horrible events that follow.   

What makes this documentary so special is its highly charged but never embellished emotional subtext. In fact, Epstein hasn't sentimentalised his subject in the least. Instead he admirably allows viewers the chance to extract the topic's inherent wealth of sensitivity. The Times of Harvey Milk chronicles a community's metamorphosis and the enormous inspiration taken from the leader who helped bring it about: progressive support for the common good, fight for equality, trauma at having their civic representatives so violently taken from them, incredulity and rage toward a shocking verdict, to a final resting place of healing and reconciliation. This documentary offers a rare, unflinching and impassioned perspective on human capability both good and bad, and in so doing, transcends sexual preferences, geographical location and time. The Times of Harvey Milk, especially relevant to our times and so eloquently voiced by the universal language of cinema, will air Monday, February 5 at 6:45pm PST.  

 

 

 

 

It was British film director Peter Yates' brilliantly authentic heist film Robbery (more specifically the film's realistic opening car chase) that caused actor Steve McQueen to insist that the talented Brit be the one hired to direct the mega-star's unorthodox police procedural Bullitt

(From left) Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn

(From left) Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn

This was the first film produced by Steve McQueen's company, Solar Productions and Peter Yates' very next directorial assignment (his first in the U.S.) after Robbery (1967). In fact, Peter Yates was a professional race car driver prior to his film work and here directed the justifiably famous car chase himself, normally a duty left for the "second-unit" director. McQueen also strongly petitioned actor Robert Vaughn for the crucial part of his character's nemesis, Senator Walter Chalmers. After having read the script, Vaughn rejected the part in a film he felt had no sensible plot. McQueen's persistence beat Vaughn's resistance when the studio offered the actor so much money, he couldn't refuse. Much later, Vaughn justifiably felt that his performance in Bullitt was his best. 

(From left) Paul Genge, Bill Hickman

(From left) Paul Genge, Bill Hickman

These anecdotes just help to confirm the supreme dedication of those responsible for the proficient storytelling viewers can easily see for themselves in the finished product. This is one helluva' tightly organised crime thriller, with genuinely understated performances. Foremost, there's McQueen's appropriately named cop Frank Bullitt, who's straight to the point and always keeping his cool no matter how out-of-hand his predicaments become... (and they get hairier than a grown gorilla). Robert Vaughn's convincingly slimy politician Chalmers is another standout. There's Jacqueline Bisset as Bullitt's appropriately concerned girlfriend Cathy, Don Gordon as Bullitt's no-nonsense partner Delgetti, Simon Oakland as his by-the-book boss, Captain Bennet, even a small but perfectly suited part for Robert Duvall as a helpful cabbie. **(Spoiler Alert)** In the film's shadowy opening, pay close attention to actor Pat Renella as the underworld figure Johnny Ross who takes it on the lam from the mob. This will help alleviate confusion when later, Ross is supposed to turn Government informant for Chalmers but is in fact being "impersonated" by another strong lookalike, actor Felice Orlandi as Albert Renick. The entire cast here are expertly guided by Peter Yates whose masterful accomplishments in the crime genre (Robbery, Bullitt and especially his masterpiece The Friends of Eddie Coyle) are without peer. As far as the plot goes, there definitely is one, deceptively simple at first but which later may seem hopelessly confusing unless viewers pay close attention to what the characters say almost under their breath as they uncover the truth about what's really going down. It all makes sense (barely) but you'll have to stay alert. The intricate screenplay was adapted by Alan Trustman and Harry Kleiner from Robert L. Pike's novel "Mute Witness" and photographed by one of cinema's best "on location" cinematographer's William A. Fraker. Credit producer Philip D'Antoni and his ideas for the San Francisco locales and car chase as neither were part of the novel or original script.     

It's the post-production contributors who really put the pedal to the metal starting with Frank P. Keller's inspired (and Academy Award winning) editing. Matched with John K. Kean's exceptional Academy Award nominated sound design and Lalo Schifrin's dazzling score, this crew drives their film to the winner's circle faster than a speeding 'Bullitt'. Bullitt will zoom past TCM Tuesday, February 6 at 3pm PST.      

 

 

 

 

The caper film first laid its roots in The Asphalt Jungle previously reviewed here. The depth of its characters and their fascinating interactions as the drama builds to a cathartic resolution, is why this film has become one of America's finest cinematic achievements. The 'planning' will start on TCM the morning of Sunday, February 11 at 4am PST.

(From left) Sterling Hayden, Brad Dexter, Louis Calhern, Sam Jaffe

(From left) Sterling Hayden, Brad Dexter, Louis Calhern, Sam Jaffe

 

 

 

 

Another classic John Huston directed motion picture, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is indeed an unforgettable American treasure and a prior TCM recommendation here. Its cinematic storytelling riches can be uncovered on TCM Monday, February 12 at 10:45pm PST.

 

 

 

 

A true romance film and of the highest artistic calibre has been reviewed in Opening Up a Treasure: Brief Encounter. Director David Lean's emotionally stirring "encounter" will begin on Wednesday, February 14 at 8am PST.

 

 

 

 

One of David Lean's more ambitious projects may have turned out less artistically accomplished than its director intended. Still, it has many attributes making Doctor Zhivago well worth seeing. Afterwards, I'd be truly appreciative if readers had a look at my review here. This epic scale romance will begin Wednesday, February 14 at 9:30pm PST.

Omar Sharif, Julie Christie

Omar Sharif, Julie Christie

 

 

 

 

Recently in a Facebook film chat room someone asked which film was better, Casablanca or Citizen Kane. This caused me to think about their differences, more specifically their varied approach to dramatic storytelling, to which I responded:

I think Casablanca for many, has a far more instantly recognisable appeal, including its characters some of whom possess highly emulative qualities. Its emotional pleas are up front and easy to assimilate. Citizen Kane has more complexity, flawed characters who are invested in the past, relationships that are changing and developing, mostly in a tragic way. Casablanca ends with heroic sacrifice and optimism. Kane is dire and ultimately about loss. Casablanca's highlights reminds one of its pleasures, immediate and gratifying. Kane is a deeply contemplative journey, requiring a significant investment of thoughtful consideration on the viewer's part in order to uncover its enormous wealth of profound insight into human relations."

Both films are showing on TCM this month, Casablanca on Wednesday, February 28 at (late evening) 1:15am and Citizen Kane, previously recommended here, Thursday, February 15 at (late evening) 1am PST.

Orson Welles, Dorothy Comingore

Orson Welles, Dorothy Comingore

 

 

 

 

There are a couple of film noirs showing back to back that are both well worth seeing. First is director John Sturges' Mystery Street reviewed here. This CSI noir with a 'Hitchcockian' twist can be checked out Friday, February 16 at 10:30am PST.

(Crossing the street) Marshall Thompson, Jan Sterling

(Crossing the street) Marshall Thompson, Jan Sterling

 

 

 

 

Following Mystery Street is star Jimmy Cagney's foray into noir, White Heat. A criminal's mother-fixated pathology and the undercover cop trying to catch him are the topics of this previous recommendation here. TCM's screen will heat up Friday, February 16 at 12:30pm PST. 

(From left) James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien

(From left) James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien

 

 

 

 

Bonnie and Clyde is a watershed gangster saga, re-imagined as the mythical romantic exploits of an impossibly gorgeous but infamous couple in crime. A prior review here includes a special contribution from Bob DiMucci who informatively reports on some of the film's critical responses at the time of its release. Following that, are my personal recollections at the tender age of 12 upon seeing this radically-new expeditious approach to American cinematic storytelling. The Barrow Gang will strike on TCM Saturday, February 17 at 11pm PST. 

Faye Dunaway, Warren Beatty

Faye Dunaway, Warren Beatty

TCM's current monthly schedule can be confirmed by clicking on the above image. For those who live in parts of the U.S. other than the western region, the time zone can be adjusted in the upper right-hand corner of TCM's programme.

(To be continued...) A.G.

Treasured Images Special Edition: Enduring Stars Part 1

With the recent passing of actors from Hollywood's Golden Age and the various Award Shows now honouring them, my thoughts turned to those, as of this writing, still with us. I thought we might showcase some of those actors 90 and above and spotlight one of their past memorable characters. 

Treasured Images Special Edition: Enduring Stars Part 1

Read More

Capturing a Golden Moment #20: The Big Sleep

 

The Big Sleep (1975)

 

Director: Howard Hawks

 

Scene: "Acme Book Shop"

 

In honour of the late Dorothy Malone (January 30, 1925 - January 19, 2018), here is her brief but sizzling scene as the Acme book store proprietress in The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart as private detective Philip Marlowe. Malone's on screen moments may be few, nevertheless, she matches Bogart's tenacity line for line, while managing to make quite a stylishly lasting impression of her own. 

 

 

 

The Big Sleep is available on Blu-ray here:

The Big Sleep [Blu-ray]
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone

 

It is also available on DVD here:

The Big Sleep (1946)
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone

"Now Listen to Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings: 

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21st Century Treasure Quest #16

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 10 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a further introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

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"Now Listen to Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings: 

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Sterling Silver Dialogue #23

 

Sterling Silver Dialogue From The Movies: 

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Do you know where they're from? Answers coming soon.

Special Film Noir Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"You know how it is, early in the morning, on the water? Everything’s quiet, except for the seagulls, a long way off. And you feel great. Then you come ashore, and it starts. And in no time at all, you’re up to your ears in trouble. And you don’t know where it began."

 

 

"You ever been locked up?"

(response) "Not the way you mean."

(reply) "I don't care what way it is. Some people can stand it and some people can't. The ones who can't would kill themselves and anybody else just to get out for five minutes."

 

"You don't think very much of people, do you?"

(response) "I don't think very much of anything."

 

 

"In this world, you turn the other cheek and you get hit with a lug wrench."

 

 

"Don’t ever change Tiger. I don’t think I’d like you with a heart."

 

 

"She looked like a very special kind of dynamite, neatly wrapped in nylon and silk. Only I wasn't having any. I'd been too close to one explosion already. I was powder shy."

 

 

"It's too bad Nick took the car."

(response) "Even if it was here we couldn't take it, unless we'd want to spend the night in jail. Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing... but stealing a man's car, that's larceny."

 

 

"I don't like this place."

(response) "It's a good spot. I used to come here with my girl when I was a kid. It's more frightening than romantic. It's the way love is when you're young... life is when you're older."

 

 

"What’s happened to business, anyway? Got nothin’ to do but sit here dopin’ the horses. How do you like Killie in the 7th?"

(response) "Eh, she’ll still be runnin’ when they start the 8th."

 

 

"Oh, your breakfast is on the table, darling."

(response) "Where else would it be?"

 

 

"They tried to get her last night."

(response) "They? A wonderful word. And who are they? They're the nameless ones who kill people for the great whatsit. Does it exist? Who cares? Everyone everywhere is so involved in the fruitless search for what? Why don't you turn her over to Pat? It's his job to protect her, if she needs protection. Or to question her if that's what's needed. Why are you always tryin' to make a noise like a cop?"

 

 

"I never met Parry... but I know psychologically he's no killer. He was just dumb.

(response) "What makes you think you're so smart. All you know is T-squares and drafting boards and not even much about them or anything else!"

(reply) "We've been through all of that before! A couple of hundred thousand times. A couple of hundred thousand years ago when I was a monkey and thought I wanted to marry you."

 

 

(To the partygoers) "Seems I've lost my manners or would anyone here know the difference?"

 

 

"What do you know about anything? You probably had your bread buttered on both sides since the day you were born. Safe. Safe on first, second, third, and home."

 

 

"You're dead, son. Get yourself buried."

"Don't remove the gangplank, Sidney, you may wanna get back onboard."

"The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river."

 

"Now Listen to Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings: 

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