Mad Men: A Photo Finish

I’m really going to miss Mad Men. I’m going to miss Roger’s off-color jokes. I’m going to miss Peggy’s moxie. I’m going to miss Don’s perfect pitches. I’m going to miss Joan’s killer curves. I’m going to miss Betty’s resting bitch face. I’m going to miss watching Sally grow-up. I’m even going to miss Pete’s toddler-like tantrums. And most of all, I’m going to miss the way it allowed me to see the world that my parents inhabited (who resemble both Don & Betty Draper in uncanny ways) in a different light thanks to Matthew Weiner’s brilliant and insightful writing.

In celebration of a show that has brought me so many hours of entertainment I thought I’d compile a quick photo post before the season finale airs (CA time) featuring pictures from 25 of my favorite Mad Men episodes. Some day I’d like to write more in-depth about the show but at the moment words fail me.

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“Marriage of Figaro”

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“Shoot”

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“The Wheel”

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“Madienform”

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“The Gold Violin”

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” My Old Kentucky Home”

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“The Fog”

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“Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”

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“The Gypsy and the Hobo”

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“Public Relations”

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“The Suitcase”

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“Beautiful Girls”

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“A Little Kiss, Part 1”

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“Mystery Date”

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“Signal 30”

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“Far Away Places”

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“Lady Lazarus”

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“The Other Woman”

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“Commissions & Fees”

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“The Phantom”

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“The Crash”

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“Favors”

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“In Care Of”

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“Waterloo”

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“Lost Horizon”

I bid you a fond adieu, Mad Men.

Jan. & Feb. 2015 at TCM’s Movie Morlocks

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Links to my writing at TCM’s official Movie Morlocks blog in January & February.

15 FAVORITE FILMS FROM 2014
Excerpt: “I know what you’re thinking. Another list?! Forgive me my trespass but as a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists I’m asked to compile a list of my favorite films each year and I wanted to share some of my viewing highlights with you. These are the films that have been occupying my thoughts in recent weeks and many of them haven’t gotten the critical attention that I think they deserve.”

NIPPON NOIR: I AM WAITING (1957)
Excerpt: “Viewers will easily spot the influence of early American as well as French Film Noir on I AM WAITING. From its jazz infused score by the brilliant Japanese composer Masaru Sato to the dark and shadow lined cinematography of Kurataro Takamura and the surprisingly gritty script by Shintaro Ishihara, almost all traces of old Japan are missing from the film.”

ROBERT REDFORD & SYDNEY POLLACK: A CREATIVE PARTNERSHIP
Excerpt: “In the years that followed Redford would continue to develop this persona as a sort of amorous outsider who finds himself in difficult relationships that usually end badly or abruptly. As handsome as he was, Redford rarely got to keep the girl who was often hard won. This kind of romantic cynicism became typical in the decade that followed as the country’s growing mistrust in everything, from government bureaucracy to the family structure, begin to take its toll on the American dream. And few actors seemed to represent that sea change better than Robert Redford. As the 60s gave way to the 70s, the beloved blond, blue-eyed movie star was surreptitiously becoming the face of American dissatisfaction”

END OF AN ERA: THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD (1974)
Excerpt: “Unfortunately for classic film fans THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD (1974) isn’t 100% invention. In fact, many aspects of the telefilm’s plot are taken right from news headlines at the time. The fictional Worldwide Films studios are actually a stand-in for the world renowned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, which began systematically selling off its backlots in the early 1970s while auctioning off costumes and props from the beloved films they once produced. Director Gene Levitt and writer George Schenck managed to capture the appalling demolition of MGM and turn it into a melancholy made-for-TV movie that borrows generously from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera.”

LAUGH RIOT: I’LL GIVE A MILLION (1938)
Excerpt: “This lighthearted comedy of errors should appeal to fans of similar depression-era comedies such as HAPPINESS AHEAD (1934), THE GAY DECEPTION (1935) MY MAN GODFREY (1936), IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), MERRILY WE LIVE (1938) WISE GIRL (1937) and SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941) that thoughtfully used humor to illustrate the disparity between the wealthy and the less fortune at the time. It’s also just a real treat for fans of Lorre and Carradine who should enjoy watching these two young and charismatic performers playing a couple of hapless hobos who get into trouble with the law. They make a very funny and endlessly entertaining duo as they bumble their way through a series of silly situations.”

OLIVER REED AT 77: A CONVERSATION
Excerpt: “Feb. 13th marks what would have been Oliver Reed’s 77th birthday if he was still with us. Reed died in 1999 but he has long been one of my favorite actors so to honor his memory I decided to contact filmmaker Kent Adamson who worked with Oliver Reed in the 1980s and is friendly with the actor’s son (Mark). What follows is a lengthy Q&A where Kent generously shares his own recollections and thoughts about the actor’s life and career.”

BEWARE! LOUIS JOURDAN IS HERE
Excerpt: “The characters he played were often hard to read and I found myself constantly questioning their motives. This is undoubtedly due to his exceptional performances in films such as LETTER FROM AN UKNOWN WOMAN (1948) where he plays a self-absorbed pianist who breaks Joan Fontaine’s heart and THE BEST OF EVERYTHING (1959) where he drives the gorgeous Suzy Parker mad with jealousy or JULIE (1956) where he stalks and terrorizes poor Doris Day. In retrospect Jourdan was incredibly apt at portraying men with questionable motives and he had a viper-like way of honing in on naive young women who became easy prey. It doesn’t surprise me that he eventually ended up playing a comic-book villain in SWAMPTHING (1982) and a James Bond baddie in OCTOPUSSY (1983). But if I had to select his most fearsome role I’d single out Jourdan’s outstanding turn as the infamous bloodsucking Count in COUNT DRACULA (1977).”

REGRETTABLE VIEWING EXPERIENCES? I’VE HAD A FEW!
Excerpt: “I sat through most of the film with my mouth agape being astonished by its badness but after the first unbelievable hour passed my shock turned to disappointment and disgust. I couldn’t stomach anymore so with only 20 or so minutes remaining until the credits rolled I abandoned my seat and my viewing companions and headed to the lobby where I blew off some steam playing video games. I’ve never regretted my decision. It rates as my worst movie theater experience, bar none.”

April & May at The Movie Morlocks

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Highlights from my April & May contributions to TCM’s Movie Morlocks. You can read all the articles by following the links below:

Happy Birthday Doris!
Excerpt: “The legacy of this vivacious movie star, popular vocalist, television personality and animal rights advocate is truly unparalleled. And knowing Doris Day’s is still here with us doing good work that benefits us all is something worth celebrating!”

When Insects Attack: GENOCIDE (1968)
Excerpt: “The unexpected blend of film genres makes GENOCIDE a unique viewing experience that benefits from some impressive psychedelic inspired visuals. Director Kazui Nihonmatsu uses a number of imaginative film techniques including superimposition and slow dissolves to express the fractured state of mind of his tormented cast as well as the apocalyptic nature of their plight. And the relentless close-ups of actual insects munching on human flesh gives this low-budget production an uncomfortable documentary-like ambiance. Fans of Toho’s more atypical outings such as THE H-MAN (1958), THE HUMAN VAPOR (1960) and MATANGO (1965) will appreciate GENOCIDE and if you enjoy a good bug invasion movie as much as I do you should find this interesting little gem worthy of your time.”

Matrimony, Madness and Murder: HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1970)
Excerpt: “What sets HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON apart from many other pretty-boy “psycho-thrillers” (a term I’m borrowing from film journalist Kim Newman) that were prevalent in the late sixties and early seventies is its international setting and baroque setpieces. Bava’s film was shot in France, Italy and Spain and used the elegant villa of the infamous Generalissimo Francisco Franco as one of its backdrops. The House of Harrington contains an extravagant bridal salon adorned with mannequins that model beautiful wedding gowns and resemble the lifeless corpses of dead brides. And it is in this enclosed and highly stylized setting that the killer feels most at home as does Bava’s camera which lovingly lingers over every macabre detail allowing us an intimate look into the murderer’s mind.”

Rough, Raw & Randy: UP THE JUNCTION (1968)
Excerpt: “Peter Collinson’s effective slice-of-life drama UP THE JUNCTION (1968) makes its DVD and Blu-ray debut in the U.S. this week thanks to Olive Films. Today the film is often fondly remembered by fans of sixties cinema for its South London setting, colorful mod fashions, beehive hairdos, boastful bikers and jazzy psychedelic pop score by Manfred Mann. But UP THE JUNCTION has more to offer viewers besides an abundance of great style and an unforgettable soundtrack.”

Bad Movie Mothers We Love to Hate
Excerpt: “TCM is celebrating Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11th) with a great program of classic films showcasing notable mothers. While looking over Sunday’s line-up I was surprised to spot NOW, VOYAGER (1942), which features Gladys Cooper as the incredibly cold and domineering mother of Bette Davis. Cooper won an Oscar nomination for her memorable performance and went on to play another overbearing mother in SEPARATE TABLES (1958) who torments poor Deborah Kerr. While considering Gladys Cooper’s portrayal of two heartless mothers I started thinking about other horrible movie moms that I’ve enjoyed watching over the years.”

Spy Games: BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD! (1966)
Excerpt: “BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD! Is just one of hundreds (possibly thousands) of spy spoofs that were released in the sixties following the world-wide success of the early James Bond films. Its unwieldy plot and cookie-cutter characters will be familiar to many but thanks to a solid cast, the spectacular North Africa locations and some thrilling action sequences this amusing romp managed to keep me entertained throughout its 92 minute running time.”

Mystery & Melodrama: THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE (2012-2014)
Excerpt: “It’s a shame that so many women who took on incredibly difficult and challenging jobs during WW2, such as flying planes, driving tanks, nursing the wounded, spying for their governments and breaking complicated codes shared by enemy nations, have been overshadowed by their male counterparts. Rosie the Riveter has become a symbol of female ingenuity during wartime but women did much more in WW2 besides working in ammunition factories. THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE shines a welcome light on a group of heroic women that have all too often been forgotten by history and brings them to vivid life.”

“The World’s Most Beautiful Animal!” – Ava Gardner in THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954)
Excerpt: “Ava Gardner makes one of my favorite film entrances of all time in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954), which airs on TCM June 1st. If you want to kick off the new month with a bang I highly recommend making time for this verbose Technicolor-noir that critiques Hollywood excess and the powerful studio system that frequently exploited its stars. Mankiewicz’s film is a heady brew of CITIZEN KANE (1941), LAURA (1944), SUNSET BLVD. (1950) and the director’s own ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) shot with abundant style by master cinematographer Jack Cardiff.”

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The Man of the Hour: Alfred Hitchcock

Back in May when I debuted Klara Tavakoli Goesche‘s video tour of VERTIGO locations at the Movie Morlocks I made note of the fact that: “Alfred Hitchcock’s name seems to be everywhere these days.” It seems that my observation was somewhat premature because I had no idea that Hitchock would became a subject of daily debate among critics & film fans following his top position on Sight & Sound’s controversial, self-important and highly publicized list of what they call The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. Yesterday, on what would have been Hitchcock’s 113th birthday, the blogosphere and various social networking sites were being bombarded with “Top 5” and “Top 10” lists of Hitchcock films. My inner cynic’s response was; “How in the hell do you narrow down Hitchock’s filmography to a simple Top 5 list? You can’t. And if you can I suspect you haven’t seen many of Hitchcock’s films. Compiling a Top 10 is tough enough but compiling a Top 5 is a fool’s errand.” I stand by that observation because 5 years ago I tried to make my own list of 5 Favorite Hitchcock Films followed by a list of 10 Favorite Hitchcock films and I failed at both. I ended up with a list of “15 Favorite Hitchcock Films” instead.

My own list of favorites hasn’t changed in 5 years but occasionally I regret not including a few. I’m prone to to shouting out SHADOW OF A DOUBT (as longtime readers & friendly acquaintances can attest) when I’m asked what my favorite Hitchcock film is but there are a number of Hitch’s movies that I find equally engrossing for a variety of reasons although Joseph Cotten will always get my vote for giving the best performance in any Hitchcock film. Period! No room for argument there.

Below is an alphabetical list of my own “15 Favorite Hitchcock Films” that I’m reasonably comfortable sharing. As I mentioned 5 years ago, I  didn’t bother numbering the list because their numerical order isn’t significant to me and frankly I kind of enjoyed seeing VERTIGO at the bottom of my list. Don’t get my wrong, I love VERTIGO but it seems silly and reductive to single it out in a filmography that’s loaded with so many great movies. The impact of every Hitchcock film changes for me with each viewing. Some films grow in stature while others lose some of their original luster but these 15 remain my personal favorites.

The Birds (1963) “Can I bring the lovebirds, Mitch? They haven’t harmed anyone.”

Dial M for Murder (1954) “Do you really believe in the perfect murder?” Foreign Correspondent (1940) “I’ve been watching a part of the world being blown to pieces. A part of the world as nice as Vermont, and Ohio.”

Frenzy (1972) “Do I look like a sex murderer to you? Can you imagine me creeping around London, strangling all those women with ties? That’s ridiculous… For a start, I only own two.”

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) “To a man with a heart as soft as mine, there’s nothing sweeter than a touching scene.”

Marnie (1964) “You don’t love me. I’m just something you’ve caught. You think I’m some sort of animal you’ve trapped!”

North by Northwest (1959) “And what the devil is all this about? Why was I brought here?”

Psycho (1960) “She might have fooled me, but she didn’t fool my mother.”

Rebecca (1940) “Sometimes, when I walk along the corridor, I fancy I hear her just behind me.”

Rope (1948) “I’ve always wished for more artistic talent. Well, murder can be an art, too.”

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) “The world’s a hell. What does it matter what happens in it?”

Spellbound (1945) “We both know that the mind of a woman in love is operating on the lowest level of intellect.”

Strangers on a Train (1951) “My theory is that everyone is a potential murderer.”

The Trouble with Harry (1955) “He looked exactly the same when he was alive, only he was vertical.”

Vertigo (1958) “Anyone could become obsessed with the past with a background like that!”

On a side note, I’ve been catching up with episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV Series 1962–1965) lately and really enjoying them. If I get a chance I might write about a few of my favorites.

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Davy Jones 1945 – 2012

Like millions of other young girls around the world I grew up with The Monkees. Their impact on me and my life was incredibly profound. They brought me and my girlfriends together when we were young and inspired us to want to form our own band but that’s another story for another day. Today I just wanted to acknowledge how much I loved The Monkees and their music. I watched the show religiously in re-runs during the ’70s and my memories of Jones are near and dear to my heart.

Back in January I mentioned that I had picked up some old issues of Screen Stories and one of those issues featured a cover story on The Monkees titled “The Secret Heartache of the Monkees.” It contained a back story about the band that I found particularly touching so I thought I’d scan the story as well as the cover and share it here. Coincidentally, this issue also contains a story about Christopher Plummer but I only had time to scan The Monkees story. Enjoy!



RIP Davy Jones 1945-2012

ZEN on PBS

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Actress Catherine Spaak in 1966

I rarely write about modern films or new television shows but if you happen to follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ve probably noticed that I occasionally mention movies and TV shows that don’t warrant a full post on Cinebeats. My latest obsession is the BBC import currently playing on PBS titled, ZEN (2011).

Rufus SewellZEN is a modern day cop show starring the handsome & talented Rufus Sewell, who should be a household name by now. Sewell’s character is a Venetian detective named Aurelio Zen and he gets to wear expensive Italian suits while solving crimes in Italy. ZEN takes full advantage of the beautiful setting and there’s lots of show stopping shots of the Italian countryside. In ZEN Sewell’s character lives alone with his mother who happens to be played by the beautiful 66-year-old actress, Catherine Spaak and Spaak’s name should be familiar to fans of Italian films like Pasquale Festa Campanile’s The Libertine (1968), Dario Argento’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails (1971) and Antonio Margheriti’s Take a Hard Ride (1975). The show is based on a series of books by British author, Michael Dibdin and if I had to guess I’d say that the directors, writers & casting agents are fans of Italian Poliziotteschi films and possibly Italian horror/giallo films. From the groovy soundtrack to the Gothic settings, ZEN is a show that should appeal to some fans of Italian exploitation films, but be forewarned! It’s slow-moving and takes awhile to get going. And the proceedings have naturally been “softened up” for the BBC television audience. And although it’s set in Italy, ZEN is a BBC production so almost all the actors involved are British performers pretending to be Italian and they don’t bother with fake accents. But if you’re looking for something new to watch on TV, you could do a lot worse than ZEN. The first episode is currently available to watch on the PBS website in case you missed it. Just follow the link posted below to find more information about the show:

ZEN : Masterpiece Mystery : PBS

As I’ve mentioned before in various places, PBS is currently running some of the best shows on television including SHERLOCK and DOWNTON ABBEY. You can add ZEN to the list of great shows on Public Television right now.

Comic Book of the Week: Land of the Giants

Land of the Giants #5 (1969)

Land of the Giants was a short-lived comic book series published between 1968-1969 by Gold Key Comics. I’m not sure who the artist and writer were because there are no credits in the comic but it was based on the television show of the same name. The series only lasted two seasons and I think it was one of Irwin Allen’s most interesting creations. It’s sort of a strange hybrid between Gulliver’s Travels, Lost in Space, Planet of the Apes and the 1965 film Village of the Giants, which Allen undoubtedly borrowed his title from. I wrote a little bit about the show a few years back when it was released on DVD so if you’d like to know more about Land of the Giants you can find information here.
Land of the Giants #5 (1969)

Land of the Giants #5 (1969)

Comic Book of the Week: Logan’s Run (1976)

Logan's Run #2

Logan’s Run was originally a movie tie-in comic published by Marvel Comics between 1976-1977 and illustrated by the great George Perez. One of the best things about the comic series was the fact that it followed the original script and included scenes that were cut from the film but it also censored a few scenes that Marvel thought were inappropriate for kids. The first five issues of Logan’s Run adapted the film pretty faithfully but by issue #6 Marvel was free to take the material in a creative new directions and they did. The series was extremely popular at the time that it was published but due to a sudden licensing disagreement Marvel was forced to cancel the comic after issue #7 and MGM decided to turn Logan’s Run into a television series.

I actually tried to follow the Logan’s Run comic books series when I was a kid but the only place you could buy comics in my hometown was at the local 7-11 and their spin rack was always half empty. They seemed to get random issues so I’d be stuck reading issue #2 followed by issue #5 and have no idea what I was missing. I loved the series though and Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson; 1976) is still one of my favorite science fiction films. These pages are from Logan’s Run #2 but I’ve also included an ad that ran in this issue for toy tie-ins with The Six Million Dollar Man television series, which was one of the best shows on TV in the ’70s.

Logan's Run #2

Logan's Run #2

Logan's Run #2

The Six-Million Dollar Man

Before They Were Stars Part II

Hotpoint Hi-Vi TV ad (1956)
Hotpoint Television ad (1956)

Can you guess who that cute model is trying to sell you a portable television? If you said Millie Perkins, the star of The Diary of Anne Frank (1958) you’d be right. When I first spotted this ad last year in an old magazine I had no idea who it was but after a little investigating I discovered that Millie Perkins had worked as model for years before she started making movies and Millie isn’t alone. Many classic Hollywood stars started their careers in modeling before they became actors. Want to know more? You’ll find lots more info and images of Millie Perkins as well as Sandra Dee, Elsa Martinelli and Candice Bergen at the Movie Morlocks this week.
Before They Were Stars: Part II @ Tcm’s Classic Movie Blog

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