WEIRDLAND: 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

What Are You Doing New Years Eve? by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

"She & Him" with M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel

Still of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50" directed by Jonathan Levine


I have known Joe Gordon-Levitt for going on 12 years. We first met in the summer of 2000 while doing a tiny movie called Manic, where we bonded over a mutual appreciation for Harry Nilsson and Nina Simone and I have been lucky enough to call him one of my dearest friends ever since. When we did 500 Days of Summer 8 years later, we spent every lunch hour dancing to Marvin Gaye in the hair and make up trailer; we had loads of fun. I hope to do a thousand more movies with him because he's simply the best. But in the meantime, we made a little New Year's duet for all of you! The original by Nancy Wilson. ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

John Garfield in "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Castle on the Hudson", "Out of the Fog" and "Body & Soul"

John Garfield and Lana Turner as Frank and Cora in a promotional still of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946)

In his retrospective narration, Frank remembers how fatal his decision to stay became. Cora, the quintessential femme fatale, sneaks into Frank's room later in the evening to talk about their future on her own terms. The lovers plan to murder the woman's unloved husband - and it is the unfaithful wife Cora who plants the idea of murder into Frank's head so that they can be together. The ambitious, yet soul-less seductress argues that with her husband dead, she would inherit the financial security of the restaurant:

Cora: Frank, do you love me?
Frank: Yes.
Cora: Do you love me so much that nothing else matters?
Frank: Yes.

Cora and Nick enjoy an idyllic week together. They frolic at night in the surreal surf and enjoy romantic trysting with the breathing room given them by Nick's absence:

"It was the happiest I'd ever spent in my life. I wouldn't let myself think. And Cora wouldn't even discuss what was going to happen when Nick came home. All I cared about was her being happy. And as for me, I felt as if I was riding on a cloud". However, when Nick is being driven home, Frank has only one option. He hurriedly packs and leaves and becomes a vagabond once more: "After a couple of weeks in L.A., I-I sunk low enough to hang around the wholesale market where they bought a lot of their stuff, hoping I, I'd run into her. I just couldn't get her out of my mind".

Obsessed and drawn back by the memory of angel-faced Cora, Frank locates Nick's car at the Los Angeles market, and with only a half-hearted protest, he is convinced to return with Nick to Twin Oaks. In the cafe, Cora is stunned to see Frank re-appear: "Frank: Have you been thinkin' about me, Cora?" -Cora: "I couldn't forget ya that quick".

"For the first time in his life he has done the decent thing... protecting the Warden’s reputation and saving Kay from a jail term. This is clearly of comfort to him as he is led to the chair. The sub-text is that none of this would have been possible without the inspiration and influence of Warden Long, whose ethical approach was no doubt modelled on the man who wrote the screenplay, Lewis E Lawes, Warden of Sing Sing.

Is it any better than the original? Marginally. It’s fast paced (just 76 minutes) and Garfield’s brashness and quick-fire gangsterisms perhaps top Spencer Tracy’s, and Sheridan’s Kay is more believable than Bette Davis the first time around". Source: www.prisonmovies.net

"Garfield was on voluntary suspension from Warner Bros. because of dissatisfaction with roles the studio was offering him (usually criminals or prison inmates) when he was sent the script for "Castle on the Hudson". His reported response when offered one more prison saga was, "Parole me!" It was director-screenwriter-producer Robert Rossen, a friend of Garfield's, who persuaded him to take on Spencer Tracy's old role. Garfield agreed to do the film provided the studio would not change the original ending, which had Tommy going to the electric chair to cover for the girlfriend, who had shot and killed a treacherous lawyer. When the film opened, The New York Times began its review by joking, "This is merely a routine notice that Mr. John Garfield, formerly of the Group Theatre, who was recently sentenced to a term in Warner Bros. Pictures, is still in prison."

"Garfield had some trepidation about succeeding the highly regarded Tracy -and, indeed, some critics accused the younger actor of borrowing from both Tracy and James Cagney in his performance. When the film is viewed today, however, it's easy to see that Garfield made the role his own. In later describing his preparation for the climactic execution scene, he explained how he used his Method training to make the experience seem real: "Naturally I hadn't ever been to the chair before, so it required a little imagination to go back into my past and find the emotion I needed... When I got onstage for the first performance of Awake and Sing (his first major stage role with the Group Theatre), it felt like the electric chair... and that feeling is what I was remembering when the movie cameras were grinding." Source: www.tcm.com

In his analysis of the Cagney persona, Harvard intellectual Lincoln Kirstein wrote, "No one expresses more in terms of pictorial action, the delights of violence, the overtones of a semi-conscious sadism, the tendency towards destruction, towards anarchy, which is the basis of American sex appeal". Cagney had become a big star, but the poor Irish kid from the Lower East Side never forgot where he had come from. Taking note of this, Communist screenwriter John Bright was going to put him in with some folks who could use the star's new altruism for their benefit. The involvement with the radicals came back to haunt Cagney in 1940 when he testified before Martin Dies' then kinder, gentler convening of the HUAC in Washington. With his career at stake, Cagney disowned his former friends and claimed that as a kid growing up in a poor neighborhood, he just wanted to help those who were on the bottom. "What the hell did I know about the ebb and flow of political movements?" he cried.

Poster of "Out of The Fog" starring Ida Lupino and John Garfield (1941) directed by Anatole Litvak

Goff (John Garfield) is dazzling Stella (Ida Lupino) with his ill-gotten wealth. After introducing Stella to several ritzy clubs, he conspires to take her to Havana's more decadent hot spots -shades of Clifford Odets' aborted anti-Batista play.

To "The Boston Daily Record", John Garfield enthused: "The film has something important to say. It shows how men such as I portray are kicked around until they eventually turn against society, adopting the fascist idea of seizing what they want". The casting for the plum role of fascistic gangster Goff became intense. Though James Cagney was discussed for the role, director Anatole Litvak had favored George Raft.

Howard Barnes felt that "Out of the Fog" was "a work of genuine distinction" and said Garfield gave "what is unquestionably his greatest screen portrayal as the petty hoodlum who turns gentle people into killers." Garfield is frightening and he imbues the thug character with chilling mood swings. -"The Left Side of the Screen: Communist and Left-Wing Ideology in Hollywood, 1929-2009" by Bob Herzberg (2011)

John Garfield as Charley Davis in "Body and Soul" (1947) directed by Robert Rossen

"Garfield pushed himself to the limit for authenticity, suffering a mild heart attack while exercising in one scene and knocking himself out when he collided with a camera boom while filming a fight with former welterweight fighter Art Darrell. This last injury gave him a head wound that took six stitches to close. 'Body and Soul' opened to rave reviews and huge box office returns. Bosley Crowther in The New York Times said, "Altogether this Enterprise picture rolls up a round-by-round triumph on points until it comes through with a climactic knockout that his the all-time high in throat-catching fight films." Garfield was nominated for Best Actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as was Abraham Polonsky for his screenplay. Francis Lyon and Robert Parrish won the Oscar for Best Editing. Source: www.tcm.com

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nora Zehetner will play a female detective in "Common Law" tv series

Nora Zehetner as Phoebe in "Mad Men" episode "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" (2010)

Mad Men actress Nora Zehetner (who appears as Phoebe in season 4) will play a rookie female detective on "Common Law", while former Lost star Sonya Walger will appear as the therapist assigned to Travis (Ealy) and Wes (Kole). Originally planned to premiere on January 26, the show will now air in mid-2012, according to Deadline. Source: www.digitalspy.co.uk

John Garfield sings in "Thank You Lucky Stars"



John Garfield (presented by Dinah Shore) sings in "Thank You Lucky Stars" (1943) directed by David Butler

Homefront Collection (This Is the Army / Thank Your Lucky Stars / Hollywood Canteen): Highlights include Humphrey Bogart being out-tough-guyed by S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall and singers ranging from the gifted (Dinah Shore, Dennis Morgan) to the good sports (Errol Flynn, John Garfield). And Bette Davis' witty, wry, jitterbuggin rendition of They Either Too Young or Too Old by Arthur Schwartz and Frank Loesser is "the cherry on top" (Clive Hirschhorn, The Hollywood Musical).

Hollywood Canteen (1944): At ease, soldiers, as real-life canteen co-founders Bette Davis and John Garfield plus dozens more luminaries - from Jack Benny to Barbara Stanwyck to Roy Rogers and Trigger - dazzle the troops and modern fans in “a great big scrambled vaudeville show with enough talent to have made a dozen fine movies" (Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Maureen O'Hara, Eleanor Parker, John Garfield

Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle "Santa Claus", Natalie Wood as Susan Walker and Maureen O'Hara as Doris Walker in "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947) directed by George Seaton

John Garfield as Albert Schmid (tripping over a Christmas tree) and Eleanor Parker as Ruth Hartley in "Pride of the Marines" (1945) directed by Delmer Daves

Dane Clark was one of the few actors to remain friendly with Garfield through the years, as both men had much in common. Clark had grown up in Brooklyn, had boxed some, had tried unsuccessfully to get into the Group Theatre in the 1930s, and had come to Hollywood on a whim. There were stories that Warner Bros. hired Clark by in 1942 just in case Garfield gave the studio trouble.

Eleanor Parker received the first of her three Best Actress Oscar nominations playing a prisoner in "Caged" (1950), for which she won the best actress award at the Venice Film Festival. She was also nominated the next year playing the cop's wife who shared a secret with the neighborhood abortionist in William Wyler's "Detective Story" (1951). Her third and last Oscar nod came for "Interrupted Melody" (1955), playing an opera singer struck down by polio.

Parker could easily have been nominated that same year for her portrayal of Frank Sinatra's faux crippled wife in Otto Preminger's brooding masterpiece "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955) adapted from the novel by Nelson Algren.

Dane Clark said both he and Garfield fell in love with Eleanor Parker during filming "Pride of the Marines", but the love did not translate into anything more physical than flirting.

John Garfield with Maria Montez

John Garfield landed a second loan-out, this time to RKO, to film the espionage thriller "The Fallen Sparrow". He wasn't the first choice for the part, James Cagney, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott had all been offered it first.

The film's political standpoint, while ambiguous, appealed to him: Garfield plays John McKittrick, an Irish-American Loyalist who returns to New York City after fighting in the Spanish Civil War only to discover that his best friend, Louie, has been murdered. Louie, like McKittrick (or "Kit") was an American fighting the good fight against the fascists in Spain. Kit is haunted by memories of tortures in a fascist prison, and he believes that the main torturer, a limping man, is still after him.

Kit hooks up with Toni Donne (Maureen O'Hara), a dubious member of royalty who may or may not be reeling Kit right into a lair of film noir proportions - the film moves along well and remains an early example of noir with Garfield in a Philip Marlowe-type role.

John Garfield kissing Maureen O'Hara in "The Fallen Sparrow" (1943) directed by Richard Wallace

"One of the small ways in which I was able to contribute to the war effort was by promoting war bonds. Sometime between making 'This Land Is Mine' my last film with Charles Laughton, and 'The Fallen Sparrow' with John Garfield (my shortest leading man, outspoken and a real sweetheart), Fox sent me to an evening dinner engagement in Texas to sell war bonds. Errol Flynn was scheduled to speak that night, and he was seated on the dais next to me. He was very poised. Errol leaned toward me and and began whispering lewd propositions out of the corner of his mouth, it was crude and ugly stuff and not the slightest bit erotic, which I would expected from this legendary Casanova. Clearly he had to be drunk if he really thought I'd ever be part of a seedy Errol Flynn sex orgy. He was treating me like a Hollywood whore, like a little sex doll from the back streets". -'Tis Herself: An Autobiography' by Maureen O'Hara & John Nicoletti (2005)

Maureen O'Hara arriving to testify in the Confidential trial, accompanied, from left, by Deputy Dist. Atty. William Ritzi, Guy Ward (O'Hara's personal attorney), and O'Hara's brothers James FitzSimons and Charles FitzSimons.

Actress Maureen O'Hara successfully sued the "Confidential" magazine for a story in the March 1957 issue falsely accusing her of having sex in the balcony of Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre. As she recounted in her 2004 autobiography "Tis Herself" her passport proved that she was in Spain on the date alleged by Confidential. Her lawsuit and large settlement were instrumental in the decline of the magazine. "Everybody reads it but they say the cook brought it into the house”, said Humphrey Bogart. Groucho Marx responded to an article about him in the magazine with his famous letter -originally printed in his book 'The Groucho Letters' (1967) "If you don't stop printing scandalous articles about me, I'll be forced to cancel my subscription." Confidential magazine inspired the film "L.A. Confidential", based on James Ellroy's novel "L.A. Confidential".

"Just as Hitchcock had his fantasies about icy blondes, so John Ford dreamt of hotblooded Irish redheads. But his relationship with O'Hara was immensely complicated. He adored her, yet knew he couldn't have her. He was too old for her and understood she didn't want a romantic relationship. The more she and Ford battled with each other, the more he loved and resented her. For her part, she was often mystified by the abrupt shifts in his mood. Only gradually did she come to realise that he was obsessed with her and couldn't control his feelings. When he got drunk, he would write incoherent love letters to her, then accuse her a short time later of betraying him or lying about him. One day, she discovered that he had broken into her home and gone through her belongings". Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

When the studio cast Ida Lupino opposite Errol Flynn in "Escape Me Never" (1947), she was elated. She had met Flynn and his first wife Lill Damita in Palm Springs in 1936. At Warners, Ida, Flynn and Raoul Walsh formed an elite triumvirate dedicated to fun. Each had a nickname: Ida was "Little Scout"; Flynn was "The Baron"; and Walsh was "Uncle." The charismatic Flynn charmed everyone. "There was a wonderful exhilaration being around Errol. You became as bold and as wild as he was." The story was a light, rather creaky plot about an English girl in love in turnof-the-century Venice.

Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker in "Escape Me Never" (1947) directed by Peter Godfrey

In a case of mistaken identity, brothers in love with Lupino and Eleanor Parker become confused. The Breen office was perturbed by the film's implications that Flynn's character was "an apron chaser" and pointed out that the actor "has the same reputation in life." Lupino and Flynn enjoyed making the picture; their friendship deepened into romance. Ida adored Flynn but knew he would never be content with any one woman. -"Ida Lupino: A Biography" by William Donati (2000)


Errol Flynn as Santa in "Never Say Goodbye"(1946) directed by James V. Kern: A seasonal clip from the Warner Bros rom-com starring Errol Flynn & Eleanor Parker. When Errol Flynn dons a disguise as Humphrey Bogart in one scene, it's Bogart himself who's doing the voice-over.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Humphrey Bogart! Tough guy with a sensitive side

Happy Anniversary, Humphrey Bogart (25 December 1899, New York City - 14 January 1957, Los Angeles) Birth Name: Humphrey DeForest Bogart

Bogart, the sensitive tough guy, was hounded by insecurity and a host of other personal demons, his upperclass background lending an innate dignity. “Look, I’m hardly pretty, he seems to say. I sound like gravel; I look rough and tough; and, honest, I don’t give you the soft, foolish answers the pretty boys will give you. You may not like what I say, but you better believe it.” -"Humphrey Bogart (Great Stars)" by David Thomson


A video featuring some stills of male actors who were considered as tough guys but could also show a romantic, sensitive side (especially with their female co-stars): Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, John Garfield, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, Dana Andrews, Tom Neal, Alan Ladd, Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable, Robert Ryan, Spencer Tracy, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Richard Widmark, etc. Also other actors not really the tough type (more on the sensitive side) as James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Dick Powell, Van Heflin, James Dean, William Holden, etc. Entwined some modern actors as Sean Penn, Robert De Niro, Stephen Dorff, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Clive Owen, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie Sheen, etc.

Songs "You don't need to be more than yourself" by Elliott Murphy and "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dick Powell in "Christmas in July" (1940) by Preston Sturges

Ellen Drew as Betty Casey and Dick Powell as Jimmy MacDonald in "Christmas in July" (1940), directed by Preston Sturges.


A scene from "Christmas in July" (1940) directed by Preston Sturges, starring Dick Powell and Ellen Drew. Jimmy MacDonald believes he has won the Maxford House Coffee Slogan Contest and brings his fiancée Betty to Shindel to buy her an engagement ring.

"Preston Sturges's second feature as writer-director (1940) is in many ways the most underrated of his movies —a riotous comedy-satire about capitalism that bites so deep it hurts. An ambitious but impoverished office clerk (Dick Powell) is determined to strike it rich in a contest with a stupid slogan (“If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee, it's the bunk”). He's tricked by a few of his coworkers into believing that he's actually won, promptly gets promoted, and proceeds to go on a shopping spree for his neighbors and relatives.

Like much of Sturges's finest work, this captures the mood of the Depression more completely than most 30's pictures, and the brilliantly polyphonic script repeats the hero's dim-witted slogan so many times that it eventually becomes a kind of crazed tribal incantation. As usual, Sturges's supporting cast (including Ellen Drew, William Demarest, and Raymond Walburn) is luminous, and he uses it like instruments in a madcap concerto". Source: www.jonathanrosenbaum.com


Neighbourhood scene from "Christmas in July" (1940) directed by Preston Sturges, starring Dick Powell and Ellen Drew.

"Exhaustion has begun to creep on Powell’s perennial go-getter, and his manager’s (Harry Hayden) little monologue on embracing mediocrity is starting to sound reasonable. Co-workers prank him with a phony telegram: Maxford House Coffee has just picked his slogan and awarded him $25,000. The hoax snowballs - Powell’s dissonant jingle ("If you can’t sleep at night, it isn’t the coffee, it’s the bunk") suddenly becomes gold-plated, and, elated with this "commercial insurance," the company president (Ernest Truex) promptly kicks the clerk upstairs to the adverting department.

Prize money fills the streets with gifts, capitalism giveth and capitalism taketh away. "I’m not a failure, I’m a success," people tell themselves, and Sturges is there with his severe long takes, peeling back the comedy. A very barbed account of the American Dream as something between a shopping-spree bacchanalia and an uprising of tossed fruit, seemingly as cozy as The Gift of the Magi yet in reality more stinging than Revolutionary Road. King Vidor’s dehumanizing office passes by on its way to The Apartment, a black cat crosses the squashed dreamer’s path. Is it good or bad luck? "Well, that all depends on what happens afterwards." William Demarest delivers the punchline miracle. "Unhappy the land that needs miracles". Source: www.cinepassion.org


"Сhrіѕtmаs іn Julу" (Preston Ѕturgеѕ, 1940) - Full Movie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

(Christmas comes only once a year), Vincent Sherman on John Garfield.

John Garfield and Lana Turner as Frank and Cora in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946) directed by Tay Garnett

Frank: Maybe it's none of my business, but, uh, what's Nick sore about?

Cora: He's so crazy about the sign, he's afraid you'll claim it's your idea instead of his.

Frank: Yeah. (He winks at her) Watch.

Jake Gyllenhaal winking right eye

John Garfield winking right eye

Anne Shirley and John Garfield in "Saturday's Children" (1940) directed by Vincent Sherman

"I was able to capitalize on qualities I knew he had, naïvete, sweetness, charm, vulnerability. It was a big artistic success. He was a trained actor with many sides to his talent". -Vincent Sherman on John Garfield

Kaaren Verne and Humphrey Bogart in "All Through The Night" (1942) directed by Vincent Sherman

Vincent Sherman was well-known in Hollywood for "women's pictures" and went on to direct such fine films as "All through the night" starring Humphrey Bogart and "The Hard Way" (both in 1942). Like Patri and Odets before him, Sherman ended up playing surrogate father to John Garfield. Acting fired interest in cultural and national events. "He was so eager to find out everything there is to know about life", Sherman recalled. "He wanted to know about art, painting and music. I've never seen such eagerness to learn in all my life. I'd buy a New Republic and The Nation and let him read them, and he'd just devour them".

Sherman and Garfield would stay up through the wee hours of the night talking about theater and life. "We lived in New York at that time," Sherman recalled. Garfield wanted more "Four Daughters" type films rather than another "Blackwell's Island", and to that end he made it a habit to hang out with the studio's screenwriters at their lunch table in the commissary.

Garfield continued to socialize with the Epstein Brothers and Ring Lardner Jr., as well as Howard Koch, John Huston and others, figuring he'd have a chance to get in on the ground floor of the next good picture. He accepted the fact that these writers would make him the brunt of their jokes. "What do you hear from the fates, John?" they would yell to him across the commissary, which led everyone to laugh.

"His desire was to be with the writers, and I understood that and appreciated that. I didn't think it was anything to laugh about, but sometimes the writers would make fun of him and laugh about it", Sherman recalled. Garfield needed to be liked; he still had that insecurity that stemmed from his lack of family. "Everybody he spoke to, he used charm with", secretary Helen Levitt recalled. "He needed everyone to like him. He really worked at it." Elia Kazan agreed: "He wanted to be liked, to be valued, to be esteemed."

Priscilla Lane and John Garfield in "Four Daughters" (1939) directed by Michael Curtiz

"I wanna have it all through the night
Christmas comes only once a year
why can't anybody shed just one tear
for things that don't happen all through the night
Oh, mama, all through the night
oh, baby, do it to me all through the night
Easy, easy, baby, why don't you give it to me
all through the night"
-"All Through The Night" song by Lou Reed ("The Bells" album, 1979)

At age 24, Garfield was a success. He was a movie star, the embodiment of the American Dream. He truly believed that he would be given the type of roles that made the careers of great actors like Olivier. But Garfield was in for a shock. There would be few films of the quality of "Four Daughters" at Warner Bros. "He became like a star overnight. He wasn't prepared to that kind of success so quickly, almost meteoric" -recalled Vincent Sherman.

George Brent and Bette Davis in "Dark Victory" (1939) directed by Vincent Sherman

John Garfield and Bette Davis, co-founders of The Hollywood Canteen

In "Saturday's Children" Garfield won an on-going battle with Warner Bros. to let him play something other than a thug or a criminal; unfortunately the film was a box-office flop, although critics praised Garfield's performance. Garfield plays Rims Rosson, a shy, naive young inventor who has dreams of adventure but who in reality is just another office clerk who's always strapped for money.