To its credit, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave Elizabeth Taylor her first acting award before the Academy did, for one of her best performances in Suddenly Last Summer.
The film has long been dismissed by critics, but it’s been a favorite of mine even though I had seen the original stage production (a two-hander under the title “Garden District” the other half was “Something Unspoken”) in which Anne Meacham played Catherine and became the toast of Broadway. The play created a minor furor — it was 1959 — because it dealt with cannibalism and critics felt Tennessee Williams had gone too far.
I remember a conversation between Gore Vidal and Merv Griffin on his talk show when Griffin wondered how Tennessee dreamt up these ideas, and Vidal claimed that was how the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca met his death (cannibalized by his victims)
Ten years later Vidal collaborated with Williams on the script.
I am inclined to credit Vidal with many of the famous lines, none of which appear in the original play, such as “Love is being able to use someone, hate is not being able to,” and “To lose both parents you’re an orphan; to lose a son, you’re … nothing.”
Because Taylor needed to evade US taxes, the film was shot at Shepperton Studios in London and the use of English actors (Gary Raymond, for example) in minor roles is jarring.
But the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz was able to attract a superb cast. Besides Taylor, the leads are played by Katharine Hepburn in one of her greatest performances and Montgomery Clift (self conscious because his auto accident had left one side of his face paralyzed). Mercedes McCambridge and Albert Dekker were among the American actors.
Mankiewicz had an amazing chemistry with Taylor. Two years later, while filming Cleopatra, he claimed she was in love with him (even though at the time she was married to Eddie Fisher, who makes a fleeting appearance in the film.) After Liz ditched Eddie for Richard Burton, Mankiewicz was famously quoted as saying, “The trouble with Elizabeth, she feels she has to marry every man she sleeps with.”
Infatuated or not, Elizabeth is spellbinding in the film, more than holding her own against Hepburn. Her long monologue in which she recounts the events leading to Sebastian’s death is her best work ever. Sebastian is Mrs. Venable’s poet son. In order to perpetuate his legacy (one short volume of poems) and to prevent her niece Catherine, who has been declared insane, from revealing the truth about his demise, she wants Catherine lobotomized in exchange for funding the neurological program at the hospital.
The film has been labeled Grand Guignol, outrageous camp and lurid hagiography. It’s all these but it is also one of the best movies of the ’60’s. Not surprising, since the producer is the legendary Sam Spiegel, a Hollywood con man who shepherded some of the greatest movies of the century like Orson Welles’ The Stranger, Joseph Losey’s The Prowler, John Huston’s They Were Strangers and The African Queen, Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront and The Last Tycoon, David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and the Bridge on the River Kwai , and Arthur Penn’s The Chase. You could say if it was a Sam Spiegel production, it was the best show in town.
By the way, to evade his creditors he listed himself as S.P. Eagle on some of his early films.Read More »
Gary Oldman introduced his newest film, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to a delegation from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Venice Film Festival.
The British actor portrays George Smiley, the lead character in John Le Carre’s 1974 cold war bestseller of the same title, a role previously played by Alec Guiness in a 1979 TV mini series.
” If somebody offers you the role of Hamlet you try to achieve the task without being intimidated by the great performances before you” Oldman explained to the HFPA members about his challenge to step into Alec Guiness’s giant footsteps. “And I saw this role exactly like that.“.
He added enthusiastically: “The most rewarding response to me was how John Le Carre – who is a youthful 80 now – reacted when he saw the film. He was elated.”
Marco Müller, festival director since 2004, welcomed the HFPA delegation to the Lido of Venice.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a Focus Film feature, was one of nine world premieres seen by HFPA members. Among them: George Clooney’s„The Ides of March, which opened the festival, Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, William Friedkin’s Killer Joe and Cristina Comencini’s Quando La Notte.
Madonna was also there to unveil her second directoral effort, W.E.
MOSTRA Internazionale D’Arte Cinematografica, the official name of the festival, was founded 1932 and is considered the oldest film festival in the world.
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Matt Damon loves Venice – but then, what’s not to love?
Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank, who was to hear the case, is ill and the trial has been transferred to another judge.
The HFPA claims DCP and its parent company Red Zone surreptitiously renegotiated its television contract with NBC without its consent or authorization. Consequently it says the agreement is invalid.
For its part, DCP contends that its contract stipulates that it could negotiate the television rights to the Golden Globes.Read More »
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Ever wonder what a film festival photo call is really like?
Elijah Wood stars in a new TV show, Wilfred, and returns as Frodo in The Hobbit.Read More »
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) awarded CSUN’s 2011-12 senior film project students with a $50,000 grant for the 16th consecutive year.
“It’s a huge help,” said Jaclyn Moore, film production major. “I don’t know what we would do without it. It would be a struggle.”
In addition to the grant, each student involved in the Department of Cinema and Television Arts’ (CTVA) senior film project must raise at least $1,500 themselves.
“Fundraising is difficult enough as it is to get people to give you money just so you can go off and make a movie,” Moore said.
There are about 30 to 35 members working on a project. Through various fundraisers and having jobs on the side, earning the required $1,500 can be a struggle for students.
With film budgets ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, the grant awarded Aug. 4 at the Beverly Hills Hotel provides a more than helpful amount of money to their budget.
“Help is an understatement,” said Beneyam Wolde-Yohannes, film production major. “Most of us film students are broke, so the money is really important to make our films the best they could be.”
The film major is different from other majors on campus, for which money is not usually needed to complete a project, Wolde-Yohannes said.
Less senior film projects would’ve been possible had the money not been given to them this year, Moore said. That could also result in students not getting the opportunity to try out the position they want to go into professionally, she added.
The HFPA has been awarding grants to universities and other film programs for 17 years, and for all but the first year CSUN has won grants from the organization.
“They’re happy with the kind of work that we’re doing,” said Nate Thomas, a CTVA professor and the head of the film option at the university.
Thomas applies and writes a grant proposal to the HFPA in order for CSUN to win the award. At the end of every school year, he writes an end of the year grant report to the organization, showing proof that the program has met its goals.
“I’ve watched this program grow and flourish and I’ve watched our students be considered in the company of the other major film schools,” he said.
During the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, Thomas was fearful that grant money would not be awarded that year. Much to his surprise, the organization granted money to film schools from their reserve accounts.
HFPA recognized that the money is more important now because of the budget crisis, Thomas said.
“Many of our students are working class, and that’s a constituency that’s in need of help,” he said. “Because making films are expensive. We make real motion pictures here.”
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Actress Zoe Saldana talks about her process preparing for a role.
The Hollywood Foreign Press accuses Dick Clark Productions of secretly squeezing it out of its own awards show as one of TV’s messiest, nastiest battles heads to trial.
As the 2010 golden Globe Awards kicked into high gear, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had reason to smile. Despite persistent rain showers outside the Beverly Hilton, the red carpet at the HFPA’s annual film and television awards show again was packed with international media and entertainment elite: The Blind Side star Sandra Bullock mingled with Avatar director James Cameron and the cast of Mad Men. The Globes telecast would draw 250 million viewers worldwide and become that week’s highest-rated entertainment program on U.S. television, continuing a streak of stunning success for the event thrown by a ragtag group of foreign journalists
.For the full Hollywood Reporter story click on this link: