Sunday May 12, 2013
This weekend, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic The Great Gatsby over-performed at the box office with a $52 million take, though the comic book sequel Iron Man 3 still came in first place in its second week of release.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as mysterious Jazz Age millionaire Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as self-absorbed flapper Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire as Gatsby's optimistic neighbor Nick Carraway, Luhrmann's Gatsby featured lavish costumes, extraordinary sets, and an anachronistic hip-hop soundtrack from Jay-Z that helped lure a younger audience.
The film received a mixed reception from critics, however, while becoming the fourth adaptation of Fitzgerald's book to hit the big screen. The first was a silent version from Paramount Pictures in 1926 starring Warner Baxter as Gatsby, Lois Wilson as Daisy, and Neil Hamilton as Nick Carraway. William Powell had a supporting role as doomed mechanic George Wilson.
In 1949, Paramount made the first sound version with Alan Ladd as Gatsby and Betty Field as Daisy, though certainly the most famous adaptation came in 1974 with Robert Redford playing Gatsby, Mia Farrow as Daisy, and Sam Waterston as Carraway. Directed by Jack Clayton from a script by Francis Ford Coppola, that film was walloped by negative reviews despite praise for its adherence to the source material.
While Lurhamann's version undoubtedly speaks to the current times while remaining true to its source, filmmakers are sure to find inspiration in Fitzgerald's novel years from now and make a fifth film for a newer generation.
The cast of Baz Luhrmann's 'The Great Gatsby' (2013)/Warner Bros.
Wednesday May 1, 2013
Here is a list of classic movie stars and directors who were born in the month of May. A few are still with us, but all should be remembered for how their lives and work touched us deeply.
- Glenn Ford - May 1
- Bing Crosby - May 3
- Audrey Hepburn - May 4
- Tyrone Power - May 5
- Orson Welles - May 6
- Gary Cooper - May 7
- Don Rickles - May 8
- Albert Finney - May 9
- Fred Astaire - May 10
- Katharine Hepburn - May 12
- James Mason - May 15
- Joseph Cotten - May 15
- Henry Fonda - May 16
- Frank Capra - May 18
- James Stewart - May 20
- Laurence Olivier - May 22
- Peter Cushing - May 26
- Vincent Price - May 27
- Bob Hope - May 29
- Howard Hawks - May 30
- Clint Eastwood - May 31
Promo still of Katharine Hepburn/Unknown
Sunday April 28, 2013
Every month, I try to dig up enough films that are being released on Blu-ray to make it worth writing an article. Most months, I'm hard-pressed to find much of anything, which often leads to writing about obscure films released by an indie distributor.
But that's not the case this month. In May, major studios are set to release a number of great classics on the popular Blu-ray format. In fact, there were enough films that I had to put them on two separate lists. You can read Part I here and Part II here.
Of the all the major studios, Warner Bros. has the most to offer with the release of four classic gangster flicks from the 1930s and '40s as part of their 90th anniversary celebration, including Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), The Petrified Forest (1936), and White Heat (1949).
Also among those making the transfer this month are the classic World War II action thriller The Great Escape (1963), Alfred Hitchcock's experimental thriller Rope (1948), Sidney Lumet's great courtroom drama The Verdict (1982), and Cleopatra (1963), one of the most notorious box office flops of all time.
Of course, all the films being released next month will make great additions to anyone's movie collection.
Blu-ray covers for 'Cleopatra' (1963)/20th Century Fox and 'Little Caesar' (1931)/Warner Bros.
Sunday April 28, 2013
On Saturday, actress Jane Fonda was honored at the TCM Classic Film Festival when she received her hand and footprints outside the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The ceremony was conducted by TCM host Robert Osborne, and featured several celebrities that included brother Peter Fonda, actor Jim Carrey, TV actress Eva Longoria, and Fonda's Nine to Five (1980) co-star Lily Tomlin.
Fonda was nominated six times for Best Actress in her career and won the first of two Oscars with her performance in Alan J. Pakula's Klute (1971), where she played a mysterious prostitute caught up in a missing person case investigated by Donald Sutherland. Later in the decade, she won Academy Award number two opposite Jon Voight in the heart wrenching Vietnam War drama Coming Home (1979), directed by Hal Ashby.
Also in her career, Fonda earned nominations for her roles in Sydney Pollack's Depression era melodrama They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), Fred Zinnemann's underappreciated biopic Julia (1977), James Bridges' excellent paranoid thriller The China Syndrome (1979), and Sidney Lumet's forgotten psychological thriller The Morning After (1986). Fonda received a seventh overall nomination as Best Supporting Actress for On Golden Pond (1981), the only film she made with her father, Henry Fonda.
Fonda's prints, which included an imprint of a peace sign, were placed next to father's set which he received in 1942. Following the ceremony, Fonda led an introduction to a screening of On Golden Pond inside the theater.
Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels in 'Klute' (1971)/Warner Bros. and with Jon Voight in 'Coming Home' (1978)/MGM Home Entertainment