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In this clip from the 1985 BBC documentary "In at the deep end", the great British actor and notorious hellraiser Oliver Reed (February 13, 1938 - May 2, 1999) teaches broadcaster Paul Heiney about acting in what appears to be Reed’s home, at the time this was filmed. Even though Reed’s initial instructions spark some hilarious reactions between the two, there might actually be some useful information here that could seriously benefit less experienced actors. When the lesson comes to an abrupt end because of Reed’s frustration, notice he cannot help but grin as he throws the young man out of his house. That levity and the camera still being present would indicate that this entire episode was purposely staged for humorous effect, which if so, it surely achieved.

End Credits #88: Cinema's 2019 Lost Treasures Stanley Donen, Albert Finney / Capturing a Golden Moment #23: Miller's Crossing / Julie Adams

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The iconic film director and choreographer Stanley Donen has sadly passed away at age 94. He received an Academy Award Honorary Oscar in 1997. His directorial debut was one of his best known films: a collaboration with actor, dancer and choreographer Gene Kelly, 1949’s On the Town which starred Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Subsequently, Donen directed, among others, Royal Wedding (1951, starring another dancing legend Fred Astaire), Singin’ in the Rain (1952, co-directed with Kelly and probably his most beloved musical), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), It’s Always Fair Weather (1955, again co-directed with Kelly), Funny Face (1957, starring Astaire with Audrey Hepburn), The Pajama Game (1957, co-directed with George Abbott and starring Doris Day), Indiscreet (1958, starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman), Damn Yankees (1958, co-directed with George Abbott), Charade (1963, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn), Arabesque (1966, starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren), Two for the Road (1967, starring the recently departed Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn), Bedazzled (1967, starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore), Staircase (1969, starring Rex Harrison and Richard Burton), Movie Movie (1978, starring George C. Scott), Saturn 3 (1980, co-directed with production designer John Barry and starring Kirk Douglas) and his last feature-length theatrical film Blame It on Rio (1984, starring Michael Caine). Stanley Donen (April 13, 1924 – February 23, 2019) R.I.P.

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The immensely talented, versatile and dynamic British actor Albert Finney has passed away at age 82. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and was an understudy to Laurence Olivier. After a few TV movies and series such as a recurring role in the U.K. soap opera Emergency-Ward 10 (1959), Finney received his first motion picture part in the Laurence Olivier starrer The Entertainer (1960) directed by Tony Richardson with whom he had previously worked in the theatre. His subsequent role was particularly memorable, as the angry young working class rebel Arthur Seaton in Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Next, he was featured in what probably became his best known early film character, that of Tom Jones (1963, pictured above) in the Academy Award winning Best Picture period comedy of the same name, also directed by Richardson. Finney was nominated for Best Actor (but lost to Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field). The actor made some notable film appearances throughout the subsequent years but they were sparse compared to his preferred theatrical setting. Films such as Two For the Road (1967, a romantic comedy hit), Charlie Bubbles (1968, which he also directed), Scrooge (1970), Gumshoe (1971), Murder On the Orient Express (1974, as writer Agatha Christie’s famous detective Hercule Poirot), The Duellists (1974), Shoot the Moon (1982), Annie (1982, as Daddy Warbucks), The Dresser (1983, as a Shakespearean actor), Under the Volcano (1984, for director John Huston), Miller’s Crossing (1990, as a vividly authoritative mob boss written and directed by the Coen brothers), Erin Brokovich (2000, as attorney Ed Masry), Traffic (2000, like Erin Brokovich also for director Steven Soderbergh), The Gathering Storm (2002, a TV movie as Winston Churchill), Big Fish (2003), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007, a real gut wrenching performance for director Sidney Lumet), The Bourne Legacy (2012) and his last, Skyfall (2012) all benefitted greatly from this superb actor’s skilful portrayals. I’m so glad I was able to meet this most gracious gentleman in Santa Barbara, California and tell him how much I enjoyed his performance in Miller’s Crossing. My sincerest condolences to family and friends. Albert Finney (May 9, 1936 - February 7, 2019) R.I.P.



In honour of actor Albert Finney here is a Golden Moment to share:

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Director: Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen

Scene: "Danny Boy"

These brief moments as much as any, cement Albert Finney’s iconic star status. Finney plays Irish mob boss Leo O’Bannon set during America’s Prohibition and there’s a contract killing ordered by rival Italian gangster Johnny Caspar that’s about to take place in his home. This violent scene is masterfully executed, stylishly delivered and provides the perfect testament to Leo’s resourcefulness and resiliency as well as Albert Finney’s everlasting endurance in cinema. *Warning: Some may find this scene's explicit violence disturbing. 


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Julie Adams, best known as a monster’s object of desire in Creature from the Black Lagoon (pictured above), has died at age 92. After appearing in a number of undistinguished “B” westerns, Adams signed with Universal Pictures, working with some of Hollywood’s brightest directors and stars in Bright Victory (1951, directed by Mark Robson, starring Arthur Kennedy), Bend of the River (1952, directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart), Horizons West (1952, directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Robert Ryan), The Lawless Breed (1953, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Rock Hudson), The Man from the Alamo (1953, also directed by Budd Boetticher, starring Glenn Ford), before landing her famous role in the horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, directed by Jack Arnold and starring Richard Carlson). She continued to co-star alongside some big names in The Private War of Major Benson (1955, with Charlton Heston) and The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959, with Joel McCrea). In addition she made numerous TV appearances in Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958 - 1961), Perry Mason (1963 - 1965), The Jimmy Stewart Show (1971 -1972) and Murder, She Wrote (1987 - 1993) among others. Julie Adams (October 17, 1926 - February 3, 2019) R.I.P.

Exploring the Artefacts #16: Unearthing Some Film Noir Music Gems


Exploring The Artefacts is a series in which I examine some unique and significant components, or by-products, of cinema storytelling that are often under-appreciated. 



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The subject of Films Noir has experienced a renaissance in the past several or so decades. Often overlooked amongst the prolific discussion of this category’s visual aesthetics and their sophisticated evolution of criminal subject matter are the substantial creative contributions made by film noir composers.



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These scores may remind us that fate will ultimately decide the characters' outcome and that it won't be "pretty". Perhaps they underline their characters' hopes and dreams, a pronounced emotional attachment or the uncertainty of a harsh and unforgiving environment. They may even offer a combination of these and other important narrative descriptions vital to noir’s most intrinsic qualities.


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In a Facebook chat room on Classic Film Noir, a member posted a stimulating question regarding which film of that type had the best musical score. The post garnered a flurry of well considered responses mentioning many well known, and a few not so well known, films and composers alike.




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This brought to mind a handful of films noir (five to be exact) produced during the classic time period that went unmentioned, deserving of greater recognition for their distinctive depictions of heated reactions within noir’s fatalistic atmosphere of cold indifference. Although varied in approach, all of these somewhat neglected scores are truly inspired and provide a pivotal contribution to the film noir lexicon.



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Here are the opening titles to five films noir deserving of more attention for their composers’ consequential input:

1. Ace in the Hole (1951) Composer: Hugo Friedhofer

There’s probably not much more that could foreshadow a film’s overall grim perspective than having its opening credits over dirt. Matching that rock bottom feeling of visual despair is Hugo Friedhofer’s music: impersonal, tragic but still compelling with notes of hopefulness, the last of which is shared by many a noir hero.



2. The Big Combo (1955) Composer: David Raksin

David Raksin’s bold and jazzy minor-key opening theme over an evening city skyline is noir personified, assuring us in no uncertain terms, this uncaring urban hustle won’t skip a beat no matter how many dark and dirty deeds are perpetrated within its confines.





3. Desert Fury (1947) Composer: Miklos Rozsa

Rozsa is no stranger to films noir having composed scores to some of its best including The Asphalt Jungle, Criss Cross and The Killers to name but a few. This is one of his lesser known contributions. Desert Fury still has his signature dynamic muscular framework only here there’s an underlying infusion of melodrama suggestive of the characters’ feverish passions in play, heightened sentiment being another noir trademark.



4. The Killing (1956) Composer: Gerald Fried

Gerald Fried’s wildly atonal, nonetheless exhilarating, score, announces its formidable presence even before the horses bolt from the gate. The composer’s chaotic fanfares signal the story’s off-kilter timeline and are creatively interspersed throughout a steady march toward this noir’s inevitable finale’ of destruction.



5. They Won’t Believe Me (1947) Composer: Roy Webb

The decisive hand of Fate is evident in Roy Webb’s haunting score by way of its ‘Brahmsian’ opening, specifically the use of steady timpani beats amidst the woodwinds’ swirling netherworld atmospherics, all perfectly suited to a film noir universe.

A.G.

Capturing a Golden Moment #22: Bad Day at Black Rock

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

 

Director: John Sturges

 

Scene: "Getting chilli"

This famous scene is spotlighted because it packs as much of a wallop as the beating dished out here by our hero John J. Macreedy (played with his customary thorough commitment by the legendary Spencer Tracy). Doubters of the one-armed man’s fighting method’s effectiveness (including at first, the star himself) might be surprised to know that a Marine instructor who saw the footage after completion told Tracy the karate blow if intentionally carried out, would have killed his adversary. Trivia buffs might also be aware of Tracy’s Oscar nomination for Best Actor in this film being denied a win by the same year’s competing performance by Ernest Borgnine (here playing Coley Trimble) in Marty. Finally, here’s a Trivia Question: As of this date, who is the only cast member of Bad Day at Black Rock still alive?

Bad Day at Black Rock is available on Blu-ray here:

Bad Day at Black Rock [Blu-ray]
Starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan

"Now Listen to Me..."

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Top Ten Treasured Performances Part 1: The Actresses (The First Five)

In this series, I'll outline both the finest performances by an actress and those given by an actor in a motion picture. The criteria concerns actors of both genders who are able to communicate an idiosyncratic and thorough understanding of how their characters feel toward, and relate to, the people and situations they are involved with. These performances are delivered in an entirely natural manner without unnecessary affectation or embellishment. Their preservation on film gives the viewer an opportunity to keenly scrutinise each thespian's work. Therefore, the acting must not only be appropriate for the cinematic medium (as opposed to a more emphatic stage delivery) but allow for new character revelations to be discovered upon repeat viewings.

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Treasure Trivia: Quiz #8


Treasure Trivia:

The Cinema Cafe has a chat room on Facebook that readers are welcome to join here. On Mondays, we have a movie trivia game called "Match-up Mondays" where the object is to name the common denominator between all of the films pictured and correctly identify them. 

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Like Quiz #7, each film has a memorable scene taking place at a similar site, only this time, instead of a pawnshop, it is a place (in one form or another) where most of us have likely frequented. Can you name the films shown and the locale each of their scenes has in common? Feel free to use all available resources. The first person to correctly identify all of the films and the common denominator here will receive a Region 4 (Australia) DVD (legitimately licensed from Universal) of The Great Gatsby (1949)


Here are the 6 films (Good luck!):



1.

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2.

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3.

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4.

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5.

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6.

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"Now Listen to Me..."

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"Now Listen to Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings:

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"Now Listen to Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings:

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