“Yes, I can be cruel; I have been taught by masters,” is one of those phrases that figure prominently in the lore of Hollywood dialogue. The words were uttered by Olivia de Havilland as Catherine Sloper, her role in The Heiress that won her the Golden Globe for the Best Leading Actress in a Drama of 1950.
Adapted from the successful play of the same title by Augustus Goetz, which in turn was adapted from Henry James’ 1881 novel “Washington Square,” and carefully and meticulously directed by William Wyler, The Heiress turned out to be one of the finest artistic achievements of Paramount Studios for that year.
De Havilland triumphed with her subtle portrayal of a plain and naïve woman controlled by her dominating father (Ralph Richardson,) who falls for a handsome suitor (Montgomery Clift,) only to be abandoned by him when her father threatens to disinherit her. She will assert her vengeance years later when, after her father’s death and her assumption of his wealth, the suitor returns to try to win her back.
The play is regularly reprised on Broadway; and in 1997 the film was remade, not as successfully, under the title Washington Square, with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney and Ben Chaplin in the starring roles, under the direction of Agnieszka Holland.Read More »
On the eve of her tribute by the Academy
By Silvia Bizio
Sophia Loren set many standards throughout her long film career, while showing a unique ability to combine her Mediterranean beauty and sex-appeal with a humorous and sympathetic approach to all her roles. Glamorous though she was, “La Loren” was always able to provide a high degree of credibility to her portraits of real women. It’s no coincidence that she grew up as an actress in the Italian neo-realistic film movement in the ’50s and ’60s.
Ms. Loren has won many acting awards in her long career, including five Golden Globes. An appearance at the last Golden Globes garnered her a standing ovation, testament to the warmth she still inspires in Hollywood. She won her Best Actress Academy Award for Vittorio De Sica’s Two Women, in 1962, the first time in Oscar’s history for a foreign actress playing a foreign language role. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences is honoring her again Wednesday, May 4, 2011, an event that sold out in a few minutes, this time to celebrate her life and career with a special tribute. The gala evening, hosted by Mrs. Loren’s good friend Billy Crystal and organized together with Italian actress Jo Champa, will include clips from many of Loren’s past films and personal remarks by her friends and colleagues in Hollywood and from abroad.
“A tribute like the one the Academy is dedicating to me is exciting, overwhelming,” she says. “I think people see me as a normal person, not as a movie star or an icon, but as their friend. Even when I meet people on the street, I can perceive a familiar attachment; they give me a smile, a handshake.” She believes that people’s affection for her comes from the leading roles she played in Hollywood productions. “Many of my most successful American movies I did are comedies, such as Houseboat, It started in Naples, Man of La Mancha, a quite dramatic movie about Don Quixote, but with some musical scenes. When I first came here, I could not play any other role because, speaking English with an Italian accent, I was always seen as an Italian-in-America. Actually it was not effortful at all because I barely knew English. But maybe it was Desire Under the Elms, my first important dramatic role, to put me to the test as an actress. I was 22 years old.”
“My love story with the American film industry, and Hollywood in particular, has been wonderful,” continues Ms. Loren, who has lived for many years in a large villa north of Los Angeles with her husband Carlo Ponti. He was the legendary Italian producer who discovered young Sophia and launched her film and TV career, and with whom she eventually had two children – Carlo, now an orchestra conductor, and Edoardo, a film director. She presently lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Ponti passed away four years ago.
Star of dozens of Italian films, Ms. Loren’s relationship with Hollywood dates back to 1957, when she worked in Stanley’s Kramer’s The Pride and the Passion; with Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant in Eugene O’Neil’s Desire Under the Elms in 1958. “The moment I arrived in Hollywood, I felt like I was in a fairytale,” she says. “But I was also coming from a cinema which was very strong at the time, with directors like De Sica, Rossellini, Antonioni. It was not difficult to develop many friendships here, even though I never really left Italy – or better yet, Naples – in my heart.” Among the many friends, she still cherishes the memory of at least three: “Cary Grant, of course. Then Charlie Chaplin, an extraordinary friend of mine, he was always very close to me. And also George Cukor.”
“I owe my shape and good health to the spaghetti,” says the down-to-earth Neapolitan star, whose real name is Sofia Scicolone. She chose the name Sophia Loren, suggested by her then-”sponsor” Carlo Ponti, as her stage name. Her surname is too often mispronounced: it’s Loren with the accent on the “o”, not on the “e”…
“Every woman should be a mother, because every woman is a mother, and being a mother is the most beautiful thing a woman could aspire to.” Still a working mom, Ms. Loren was recently seen on the big screen in Nine, Rob Marshall‘s musical inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2, and in the Italian made-for-TV movie My House is Full of Mirrors. In 1994, she famously parodied herself in Robert Altman‘s Ready to Wear, re-enacting with her frequent co-star Marcello Mastroianni the hilarious bedroom scene they played in 1963 in De Sica’s comedy Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Ms. Loren also appeared along with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in “Grumpier Old Men (1995).
About Italian contemporary cinema she says, “Nowadays, I think Italian cinema is good. There are many young and very talented directors who made great comedies, young and talented comic actors too. I am Love has been more successful here than it has in Italy. Great! This means that Italian movies can be exported.”
Ms. Loren is considered an icon and an inspiration to many younger actresses. Monica Bellucci, another Italian beauty “gone global” has often credited Sophia Loren for her motivation to start acting. ”My dream of becoming an actress was born when I saw La Loren in films such as Two Women and A Special Day, says Ms. Bellucci. “Sophia’s beauty never shadowed the humanity of her characters nor the depth she gave to her roles; the glamour she often played with has never put aside the real woman she is, nor the real women she portrays in such a believable way and in everything she does.” Sophia Loren echoes her: “I consider myself a wife and a mother first and foremost, then an actress.”Read More »
By Yoko Narita
The Festival Internacional de Cine En (FICG 26) took place in Guadalajara, Mexico from March 25 to April 1, offering interesting Spanish language cinema and several colorful local events, one of which was evening of fun professional wrestling matches a la Jack Black‘s Nacho Libre in a ring in the middle of a tent. The crowd went wild and Tequila glasses flew.
Their main venue was at the very modern and huge Convention Center where movies were screened. A vast breakfast terrace was the general meeting place to exchange information and conduct interviews. About 200 films were screened, a majority were in Spanish, and all were subtitled in English. The crowd was mostly young and enthusiastic, from the nearby University.
There was Diana Bracho, a famous Mexican actress on the red carpet, and our Hollywood friend Eva Longoria came to support the festival. Particular focus was on animation, documentary and student films, and there was a retrospective of the noted German director, Werner Herzog. There was even an Israeli cinema sidebar. One film that was enthusiastically received was Tequilla, Historia Una Pasion, a love story, with Edward Furlong in a supporting role.
Director of Difusion Eduardo Castaneda welcomed us and offered a tour of Tequila, some 50 miles north of Guadalajara, where we learned that tequila is made from blue agave. Agave offsprings ( hijelos) are cut, keeping the mother plant( pinas) and the cone is shredded. Then they ferment its sweet juice. The Mexican government is very protective about tequila and only allow it to be produced in Jalisco state.Read More »
Eric Bana, seen recently in Hanna, talks about his favorite movie fight scene.Read More »
Actress and filmmaker Jodie Foster talks about directing her third film, The Beaver.Read More »
The ladies of HOT IN CLEVELAND tell us why they think their hit TV show strikes a chord with women today.Read More »
HOLLYWOOD, CA, April 28, 2011 – Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) President, Philip Berk, announced today the timetable for “The 69th Annual Golden Globe® Awards.”
The deadline for Motion Picture and Television submissions is Friday, November 4. Nominations will be announced Thursday, December 15. Rules and submission forms may be obtained online at www.goldenglobes.org/entryforms/index.html.Read More »
By Philip Berk
If we go back half century, long before the emergence of the blockbuster, when moviegoing was an essential part of American life, we discover an amazing fact: the one genre that consistently attracted the biggest audiences was musicals.
In the fifties and sixties musicals still dominated but essentially they were Broadway adaptations (South Pacific, Funny Girl, Oklahoma!, Guys and Dolls, and The Music Man) not surprisingly the work of composers who cut their teeth working in Hollywood.
And during those years no less than three best picture Oscars and Golden Globes went to musicals: West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and of course The Sound of Music.
But then in the seventies they almost completely disappeared. Fortunately the Hollywood Foreign Press had created a separate category for musicals/comedies in 1952. The first movie to win that Golden Globe was a Hollywood original, American in Paris. (Unfortunately the following year that honor went to With a Song in My heart, not Singing in the Rain generally considered the best musical of all time. But even the Academy overlooked that one.) But the rest of the decade went to Hollywood versions of Broadway hits. Thus began the steady decline of the Hollywood musical, which reached its nadir in mid 70s when musicals more or less disappeared.
Why? You could blame it on rock ‘n roll, MTV, or the changing public taste. But thanks to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. the genre was kept alive. During that period best picture Golden Globes were awarded to Coalminer’s Daughter, Yentl, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Evita.
But in the twenty years following Hello Dolly! which at the time of its release (1969) was mourned as the last of the expensive studio musicals, there were but a handful of screen musicals, among them, Man of La Mancha (a resounding flop) Paint Your Wagon, Finian’s Rainbow, Mame, and The Wiz, all sorry failures. And one blockbuster Grease, which even though it was based on a Broadway musical, derived its success not from the genre but from its star, the overnight phenomenon, John Travolta.
But then with he new millennium there was an unexpected resurgence of the musical starting with Moulin Rouge, and quickly followed by Chicago, Dreamgirls and Sweeney Todd, all Golden Globe best picture winners. Hopefully the musical will continue to thrive…
One final irony, almost every musical currently playing on Broadway is adapted from old movies including Catch Me if You Can, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Billy Elliot, La Cage au Folles, Mary Poppins, The Addams Family, and Phantom of the Opera.
What comes round goes round.Read More »
By Scott Orlin
The summer of 2011 is shaping up to be a true ‘sequel’bration’ as such titles as The Hangover, Kung Fu Panda, Transformers, Cars, Harry Potter, The Fast and the Furious, X Men and Pirates of the Caribbean will park their next cinematic installments at theaters.
And thus begins the great debate: is this art or economics? Why is this wave of film familiarity sweeping the movie making process? Let’s face it: nothing excites Hollywood more than making money, and creating the franchise has proven to be one of the surest and safest ways to achieve that. When the Coca-Cola Company purchased Columbia Pictures back in 1982 (subsequently sold to Sony in 1989), they did an extensive research study into what was the safest and most reliable product to bring to the screen. The clear answer was sequels.
A few critics make a clear distinction between sequels and series. The Harry Potter films, for example, are a specific adaptation from the seven novels, just as the Lord of the Rings film trilogy was based on the individual books. So what exactly is the definition of a sequel and when did they really begin?
By definition, a sequel is a “narrative, documental, or other work of literature, film, theater or music that continues the story or expands upon issues presented in some previous work. The sequel portrays events set in the same fictional universe as a previous work, usually chronologically following the events of that work.”
While some decry the 1970’s as the decade when Hollywood officially began the exploitation of their film libraries, tapping into such titles as Willard, The Exorcist, The Poseidon Adventure, The Love Bug, Billy Jack, Airport and Shaft for further cinematic chapters, one would only have to go back as early as 1916 to see evidence that sequels found their niche in the movie-making process.
D.W Griffith released his classic film Birth of a Nation in 1915, enrapturing audiences all across the country and becoming the highest grossing film of the silent movie era. The next year, Thomas Dixon, Jr., who wrote the novel that Birth was based on, co-wrote and directed Fall of a Nation, which is acknowledged as the first sequel in Hollywood’s history (it also has the distinction of being one of the first major ‘lost’ films as well).
The next great period for sequels was the 1930’s where such films as Dracula (1931), The Thin Man (1934), and A Family Affair (1937), which introduced the Andy Hardy character, spawned several follow-ups as audiences began to embrace the idea they could revisit beloved characters.
While it would be easy to dismiss sequels as pale imitations of the originals, there have been many examples of artistic bars being raised with such titles as The Godfather Part II, Toy Story 3, The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Bourne Supremacy and The Empire Strikes Back all delivering fresh approaches to their original.
Looking into the archives, it would surprise audiences just how many films got the sequel treatment. Among the many titles besides those mentioned have been Rocky, Superman, Star Trek, Spiderman, The Pink Panther, Alien, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Terminator, Lethal Weapon, Jaws, Dirty Harry, The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Home Alone and . . . . Grease. The great obstacle many of these faced was that while they fostered nostalgia for the original adored film, it also triggered some disappointment because it didn’t invoke the same initial pleasure from the first experience. But with box-office delivering in most cases two-thirds of the original’s financial success, movie studios are willing to take the risk.
As Harry Potter comes to theaters with episode 8, and Fast and Furious with number 5, we did a little research to see what films hold the record for the most sequels ever brought to the big screen.
Halloween has delivered 10 films; Star Trek 11 and Friday the 13th comes in with 12. Research shows that James Bond holds the record with 23 films (initially based on Ian Fleming’s best selling novels but now evolving into pure sequels), including the Casino Royale spoof (1966) and Never Say Never Again (1983). But does it really?
If one takes worldwide cinema into consideration, James Bond has a long way to go to catch up with a few of its cinematic Asian cousins. The Japanese film It’s Tough to be a Man from Yoji Yamada spawned 45 sequels. That pales in comparison to the worldwide leader which title belongs to the Huang Fei-Hong series from China. Introduced in 1949 with Huang Fei Hong Zhuan: Bian Feng Mie Zhu, there have been a whopping 88 sequels made about the Chinese folk hero.Read More »