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Filtering by Category: Capturing a Golden Moment

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.

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

Capturing a Golden Moment #21: The Swimmer

 

The Swimmer (1968)

 

Director: Frank Perry, Sydney Pollack (uncredited)

 

Scene: "Empty Pool"

 

I've chosen the following scene for several reasons. This film, although a cult favourite, still remains unknown to many and celebrates its 50 year theatrical release anniversary this month. The central character effectively communicates a sincere paternal concern for the young boy whose pool he wishes to swim on his journey home. These moments also perfectly summarise how Ned Merrill, played with deep conviction by Burt Lancaster, typically deals with adverse situations by reimagining them differently. I've recently written about The Swimmer here.   

 

 

 

The Swimmer is available on Blu-ray and DVD here:

The Swimmer (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Starring Burt Lancaster, Janet Landgard, Janice Rule, Joan Rivers

Capturing a Golden Moment #20: The Big Sleep

 

The Big Sleep (1946)

 

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

Capturing a Golden Moment #19: The Drowning Pool

 

The Drowning Pool (1975)

 

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

 

Scene: "The Drowning Pool"

 

This is an investigative sequel of sorts, to 1966's Harper, with Paul Newman reprising his role as Lew Harper, private detective. The original is the one to see, with its more intriguing premise, creatively delivered storyline and colourful characters to hold our attention. The Drowning Pool does, however, have the title scene's showstopper: distinctive, suspenseful and wonderfully created by everyone involved behind and in front of the camera. If only the rest of the film delivered half the inspiration found here. *Warning: Some may find this scene's brutal, intense nature disturbing. 

 

 

 

The Drowning Pool is available on this DVD-R here:

Drowning Pool, The
$12.99
Starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Tony Franciosa, Murray Hamilton, Gail Strickland

 

It is also available for U.S. download here:

The Drowning Pool
$2.99
Starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Tony Franciosa, Murray Hamilton, Gail Strickland

 

And in this box set of 7 Paul Newman films here:

 

A.G.

Capturing a Golden Moment #15: Guys and Dolls

In this series, I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

Guys and Dolls (1955)

 

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

 

Scene: "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat"

 

Stubby Kaye as Nicely-Nicely Johnson sings this showstopping song fabulously, perhaps as a result of perfecting the role and number on Broadway during the show's 1200 performances. Guys and Dolls won the 1951 Tony Award for the Best Musical. With such lively and exuberant characters and songs like the one seen here, it's easy to see why.   

 

 

Guys and Dolls  is available on Blu-ray here:

Guys and Dolls [Blu-ray]
$18.49
Starring Various

 

It is also available for U.S. download here:

A.G.

Capturing a Golden Moment #14: Ikiru

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

Ikiru (1952)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Scene: "The Finale"

 

*Note: My approach to describing the following scene will be different than the preceding entries in this series. The dramatic effect of Ikiru's final moments is not as self contained as its predecessors and is cumulative in nature, relying on the narrative strength of what has come beforehand. I would therefore request that these moments be respectfully observed by those who have seen the entire film. Otherwise it would be like reading only the last pages of a literary masterpiece. Please pardon my reverential attitude here, but I consider this film to be cinema's finest, most spiritually profound work of art.  

This final scene concerns one of the office workers. After expressing silent outrage at his bureaucratic colleagues returning to their former ineffectiveness, he's stared down by his superior and reluctantly retreats behind a mountain of paperwork. At the end of the day he looks down from an overpass at some children joyfully using the playground his deceased former colleague Watanabe, with great effort and perseverance, created. (Previously celebrating his glorious accomplishment, Watanabe sat on the playground's swing in the night's freezing cold, singing a most poignant song). Two children abandon the swing, the seats of which are empty; the shot is held there as they gently sway back and forth. The song's tune is heard on the soundtrack. Is this meant as a symbolic invitation for us to fill the empty spaces and become "creators" ourselves? The figure stares down at the park before finally walking off. As he walks across the bridge from above, notice how the filmmakers ingeniously capture him if only for a few seconds, in a pyramid shape of the swing structure, the chains of which can still be seen swaying. And as he walks out of this framing device and then leaves the scene completely, is he representative of time that passes regardless of how we choose to live our lives, suggesting the fleeting nature of man’s opportunity to give unto others? Watanabe is gone but his creation, his spiritual inspiration, endures. Its meaning however, and perhaps more importantly what will be done about it, is left up to us.

 

 

 

Ikiru is available on Blu-ray (North America Region A locked) here:

Ikiru (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
$27.13
Starring Takashi Shimura

It is also available for U.S. download here:

Ikiru
$2.99
Starring Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Kyoko Seki, Makoto Kobori, Kumeko Urabe

Capturing a Golden Moment #13: Jaws

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

Jaws (1975)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Scene: "The Indianapolis"

This scene with no action per se, is perhaps the film's most terrifying. The immensely talented Robert Shaw plays Quint, who recounts his experience aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis with the actor's customarily unique and intense delivery. The harrowing ordeal Quint describes is enhanced by one's awareness of the real-life incident itself and Shaw's reported authorship of his vivid account. Shaw, an accomplished playwright, submitted his own re-write of the scene after an uncredited John Milius' first draft sparked a disagreement between credited writers Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. The added realism is in part due to the clever way the moment is foreshadowed by suggesting Quint's subtle reluctance to remind himself of the horrific event. Director Spielberg deserves credit for securing such natural performances from all 3 actors (including Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss).    

 

 

Jaws is available on Blu-ray here:

Jaws [Blu-ray]
$11.99
Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

It is also available on DVD here:

Jaws
$3.74
Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

Capturing a Golden Moment #12: Monkey Business (1931)

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

Monkey Business (1931)

Director: Norman Z. McLeod

Scene: "Punch and Judy Show"

Harpo is one of the Marx Brothers, all of whom are cruise ship stowaways running from the authorities. His exuberant infiltration of a puppet show fits right in with its slapstick nature, and increases the children's enjoyment, judging by their rambunctious response. Notice their adorable "waves goodbye" as Harpo makes his exit.

 

 

Monkey Business is available on DVD along with four other Marx Brothers' movies here:

Capturing a Golden Moment #10: A Night at the Opera

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

A Night at the Opera (1935)

Director: Sam Wood

Scene: "The Stateroom"

Many writers contributed to this epic farce, including its two principals: George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. Even an uncredited Buster Keaton worked on developing this famous scene. It was nearly scrapped, however, because it wasn't getting any laughs. Once the Marx Brothers ignored the script and started ad libbing the whole thing, it transformed into one of the all-time comedy classics.

 

 

A Night at the Opera is available on DVD here:

A Night at the Opera
$9.95
Starring Chico Marx, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Margaret Dumont

It is also available in a box set along with 6 other Marx Brothers comedies here:

Capturing a Golden Moment #8: North by Northwest

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

North by Northwest (1959)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Scene: "The Auction"

Cary Grant cleverly gets himself out a jam in one of the master's best exercises in suspense courtesy of Ernest Lehman's ingenious, original screenplay and the cast's perfect performances.

 

 

North by Northwest is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Amazon below:

North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition in Blu-ray Book Packaging)
$25.18
Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Martin Landau
North By Northwest
$5.97
Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis, Leo G. Carroll

The original recording of Bernard Herrmann's fabulous score can currently be ordered by clicking on the image below. (Intrada ships worldwide).

Capturing a Golden Moment #7: Sometimes a Great Notion

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

 

Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)

Director: Paul Newman

Scene: "Logging Accident"

Harrowing but poignant, Newman's directorial debut reveals the unique identities of his characters and their deeply commited relationships with one another in this stunningly tragic scene.

 

 

Sometimes a Great Notion is available on Blu-ray here:

Sometimes A Great Notion [Blu-ray]
$13.30
Starring Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick

It is also available on DVD here:

 

Sometimes a Great Notion
$17.98
Starring Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, Richard Jaeckel, Linda Lawson

Capturing a Golden Moment #6: Monkey Business (1931)

 

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

 

Monkey Business (1931)

Director: Norman Z. McLeod

Scene: "Passport Departure"

I wonder what Maurice Chevalier would have made of this.

 

 

Monkey Business is available on DVD along with four other Marx Brothers movies here:

 

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (The Cocoanuts / Animal Crackers / Monkey Business / Horse Feathers / Duck Soup)
$30.49
Starring Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont



Capturing a Golden Moment #5: White Heat

 

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

White Heat (1949)

Director: Raoul Walsh

Scene: "Prison Breakdown"

This little display of emotion demonstrates why James Cagney was such a great actor and commanding star. Creatively written by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts. Superbly delivered by director Walsh.  

 

 

White Heat is available on Blu-ray here:

White Heat [Blu-ray]
$13.76
Starring James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'brien, Margaret Wycherly

It is also available on DVD here:

White Heat
$9.50
Starring Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'brien, Margaret Wycherly

Capturing a Golden Moment #4: The Fastest Gun Alive

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) 

Director: Russell Rouse

Scene: "The Dance"

Another amazing showcase from the unstoppable Russ Tamblyn: From the young Bart Tare in Gun Crazy (1950) to Riff in West Side Story (1961) to Son of a Gunfighter in Django Unchained (2012) he's still going strong.

 

 

 

The Fastest Gun Alive is available On Demand from The Warner Archive Collection here:

Fastest Gun Alive
$19.98
Starring Glenn Ford, Jeanne Crain, Broderick Crawford, Russ Tamblyn, Allyn Joslyn