Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Orson Welles at 100: An Exhibit

I love my college. I'm taking a course in sci-fi films this semester and my professor had our class meet at the Lilly Library so we could be shown just a small portion of the library's large sci-fi collection. For those of you who don't know about the Lilly Library, they have crazy large collections, complete with first editions, screenplays, press kits, film stills, actual films, comics, and hundreds of other things. It's insane. People donate stuff to them all the time, and I actually got to see some of Pauline Kael's collection today. Apparently, when she wrote a review for a movie, she would compile a folder of materials on it, including scraps of paper with her own handwritten notes, coloring books, and various publicity things. It was so cool. I also got to handle the shooting script for the first Star Wars film (before it was officially titled A New Hope), as well as screenplays for The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing from Another World.

But what was most exciting about the Lilly Library today was their Orson Welles exhibit. As I wrote at the beginning of the year, IU is celebrating Welles's 100th birthday and this exhibit is just one of the amazing things they're doing. The IU Cinema won't start showing his films until April, but as soon as they do, I'll keep you all apprised. Anyway, I was able to take photos and I figured you guys might like to see all the cool stuff I saw. I didn't take a picture of every thing, which you probably won't believe after you finish this post. Basically this entry is going to be photo after photo. I tried to put them in order of the numbered cases they were in, too. It was a little tricky to take some of the pictures because everything was encased in glass, and a few might be blurry--I did the best I could. Enjoy! And if you're in Indiana, seriously, check out IU's events to celebrate Welles!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Happy birthday, Jack Lemmon!

Today is the 90th birthday of one of the most lovable actors that ever lived: Mr. Jack Lemmon. He never fails to bring a smile to my face, thanks to his warmth, his humility, his kindness, and of course, his absolutely crazy talent for comedy. I loved showing my friends in high school Some Like it Hot because the second they finished it, we would be quoting it all day and for months afterwards. While the whole film is fantastic, it was always Jack that sealed the deal. It would be his lines that we were repeating, his little movements, his inflections. On paper, I would think that Tony Curtis gets the best part (he gets to be three people, show off his killer Cary Grant impression, and he’s Marilyn Monroe’s love interest), but damned if Jack doesn’t practically steal the picture from him.

Some Like it Hot isn’t the only Lemmon movie I love. That couldn’t even be possible. I adore his other Billy Wilder masterpiece, The Apartment. It’s been awhile, but I remember enjoying another Wilder movie, Irma la Douce, even though it was a bit long. Days of Wine and Roses absolutely destroyed me. My Sister Eileen is the only full-on musical I’ve seen with Jack in it, but the one number they give him is hilarious and one of my favorite scenes of the movie. The Odd Couple and The Fortune Cookie are just two of a total ten films that show the outstanding team of Lemmon and Walter Matthau (I’ve yet to see the other eight). Notorious Landlady is a great mystery-comedy that’s become unfairly underrated. It stars Lemmon, Kim Novak, and Fred Astaire, along with a script by Blake Edwards! What’s not to like? The same goes for Bell, Book, and Candle. Jack is Novak’s brother while Jimmy Stewart is her love interest. Everything about it suspends belief and it’s crazy and gorgeously shot and I love it, no matter what anyone says. Did I mention that Jack and Kim are a warlock and a witch?

I won’t go on, even though I could. The main thing to remember is what a beautiful actor Mr. Lemmon was. He was side-splittingly funny, but there was always a twinge of melancholy and aching that was so poignant and breathtaking. What are you waiting for? Go watch a Jack Lemmon film and celebrate!

Happy birthday, Jack.

With love,

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"My little pal Gallagher": Platinum Blonde (1931)

When I heard about Platinum Blonde, I was intrigued. Jean Harlow directed by Frank Capra in a pre-Code comedy? Yes, please! But then I actually saw the film. I was expecting Harlow to be her typical self—brassy, seductive, funny, gorgeous… So, I was confused when it turned out that Jean wasn’t the down-to-earth newswoman pining for her oblivious co-worker, but rather Loretta Young was. Huh? A quick look online told me why: the film began as a vehicle for star Young, but as production went on, the studio realized what a great talent this Harlow girl was, so the film was shifted towards her. It makes sense in theory, but the movie didn’t quite recover from it. Let me explain… (Also, I apologize for the quality of the photos. I couldn't find what I wanted online, and my only way of getting them was to take pictures of my TV's images with my phone. I had to make the photos small, too, so they would fit the layout I wanted them to. Again, so sorry.)

Platinum Blonde is a very predictable story once you get the set-up. Robert Williams plays Stew Smith, a reporter who likes to goof around with his best friend, Gallagher (Young), rather than write stories. Stew is tasked with getting the dirt on a scandal involving a chorus girl and the wealthy Michael Schuyler. Ann Schuyler (Harlow) tries to flirt with Stew so as to keep him from exposing her brother, but Stew does it anyway. He’s interested in Ann, though, so he starts pursuing her. Within a month they’re married, upsetting her wealthy family and breaking poor Gallagher’s heart. Ann assures her family that she can make Stew part of the upper-crust—she basically married him to make him a pet project of hers.