Monday, April 9, 2018

10 Things You May Not Know About Deanna Durbin

Deanna Durbin (1921 – 2013) was one of the biggest stars of the 1930s and 1940s. She had an international fan club that was the largest in the world. With her beautiful soprano voice and genuine charm on screen, Durbin endeared herself to a generation of film fans. Her fame is still celebrated today.

1. Durbin was born in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada. In 1923 her parents moved the family—Deanna had an older sister, Edith (b. 1909)—to Southern, California, and became United States citizens.

A very young Deanna Durbin

2. In 1935 she was signed to a six-month contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but her option was dropped in 1936. The studio had another girl singer named Judy Garland.

3. In 1936 she signed with Universal Studios, which was on the brink of bankruptcy, at the tender age of 14. Her starring role in Three Smart Girls (1936) made her an overnight sensation and put Universal in the black.

4. Dubrin auditioned for the voice of Snow White, but Walt Disney thought her voice sounded “too old” for the part. She was 15.

5. She was one of Anne Frank’s favorite movie stars. If you visit the Frank house in Amsterdam, Holland, you will see pictures of Durbin on Frank’s bedroom wall.

Deanna Durbin with Gene Kelly from Christmas Holiday
6. In 1938, Durbin received an Academy Juvenial Award for “bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth.” 

7. When Durbin was kissed by Robert Stack in First Love (1939), the press dubbed it “The kiss heard around the world!”

8. In 1941, Durbin starred in what many consider her best film, It Started with Eve, costarring Charles Laughton and Robert Cummings.

9. During her reign at Universal, Durbin always received top billing.

10. In 1947, Durbin was the highest paid woman in America. She retired the next year (at age 27), never to work in show business again.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Chicago Film Club spring and summer film schedule set

The Chicago Film Club is getting underway with a collection of great classic movie melodramas and classic comedies.

The series kicks off with Daisy Kenyon (1947) featuring the dream cast of Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, and Henry Fonda. Based on the Elizabeth Janeway best-selling novel, the movie features a love triangle between the three stars, with Crawford at the top of the triangle. Will she choose the rich, married New York City lawyer (Andrews) or the World War II veteran (Fonda)? Directed by the legendary Otto Preminger, Daisy Kenyon stands out as one of the best melodramas of the 1940s.

Joan Crawford and Dana Andrews in Daisy Kenyon

Backstory: Preminger admired Crawford’s hard work in bringing her character to life. He also loved working with Andrews and Fonda, two actors the director said were incapable of overacting (Preminger worked with Andrews more than any other male actor). He also appreciated that all three stars arrived on time and knew their lines.

All movies below will be presented at The Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street. We will be meeting in room 102. For more information on the Chicago Film Club, click here. It’s free to join and it’s a lot of fun. Just read our reviews!

Here’s the complete schedule.

Daisy Kenyon—April 14 6:45 p.m.
Hands Across the Table—May 12 6:45 p.m.
A Letter to Three Wives—May 29 6:30 p.m.
It Started with Eve—June 9 6:45 p.m.
East Side, West Side—June 19 6:30 p.m

Hands Across the Table

A Letter to Three Wives
It Started with Eve

East Side, West Side

Friday, March 9, 2018

Screening of "To Be or Not To Be" March 10 at Daystar Center

To Be or Not To Be (1942)
Where: Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street
When: March 10, 2018
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

To Be or Not to Be (1942) During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe bands together to outwit their occupiers. Carole Lombard and Jack Benny are the Turas, the husband and wife theatrical team and two of Poland's most famous celebrities. Directed by the legendary Ernst Lubitsch who successfully combines zany comedy with poignant dramatic moments. The supporting cast includes, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart, Lionel Atwill, and Sig Ruman. This was Lombard's last film.

Carole Lombard 
Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.

Friday, March 2, 2018

TCM Announces Dave Karger and Alicia Malone as Full-Time Hosts

Turner Classic Movies has added Dave Karger and Alicia Malone as full-time hosts. Karger and Malone will host on a rotating basis with Ben Mankiewicz remaining as the network’s primetime host and anchor. Tiffany Vazquez is no longer the Saturday daytime host, but is still associated with TCM.

To read more about the two new hosts from Hollywood Reporter, click here.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Field Trip: “The Philadelphia Story” at River East 21 February 18

The Philadelphia Story on the big screen
Date: February 18 at River East 21, 

322 East Illinois · Chicago, IL
Time: 2:00 p.m.

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents: The Philadelphia Story
Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart star in the classic, multiple Academy Award-winning romantic comedy--The Philadelphia Story. This event includes exclusive insight from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

Katherine Hepburn, Cry Grant, James Stewart, and John Howard
The Academy Award winning story of Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) and the men in her life: First husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), fiancĂ© and self-made business man George Kittredge, (John Howard), and Spy magazine photographer reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart).

To purchase tickets in advance, click here.

We’ll meet on the top floor by the concessions; I’ll be holding a meetup sign.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Field Trip: Screening of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" at AMC River East 21

Treasure of the Sierra Madre on the big screen
Date: January 14 at River East 21, 
322 East Illinois · Chicago, IL
Time: 2:00 p.m.

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, A Special 70th Anniversary Event

Tampico, Mexico. Three down and out Americans pool the meager resources they have to follow a rumor of gold ore to be found somewhere in the Sierra Madre mountains. The three friends agree to split everything equally, but then they discover a fortune in gold ore...

Academy Award winners Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston star with Tim Holt in this classic tale of the cunning, greed and paranoia caused by The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This 70th Anniversary event includes exclusive insight from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

To purchase tickets in advance, click here.

We’ll meet on the top floor by the concessions; I’ll be holding a meetup sign.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Classic Movie Man’s Favorite Christmas Movies: 2017 Edition

This is the seventh year that I’ve been picking favorite Christmas movies and it’s getting harder to feature movies that haven’t already been covered in previous years’ blog posts. This year’s group isn’t exclusively Christmas-centered, but all have important scenes set during the holiday season. Enjoy the holiday season and enjoy watching these classic movies!

The Thin Man—1934 The first of the famous film series, featuring Nick Charles (William Powell), a retired detective, and his wife Nora (Myrna Loy) who decide to spend the Christmas holidays in New York (they’re based in San Francisco). When the daughter of a former client, Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan) asks Nick to help her find her father, Gilbert Wynant (William Henry), who has gone missing. Even though the evidence seems to suggest that Dorothy’s missing father is guilty of murder, his daughter refuses to believe that he could murder anyone. When Nick discovers that Gilbert himself has been murdered, suspicions turn elsewhere. The true murderer is discovered during a famous dinner party scene, but my favorite scene is the Christmas party that Nick and Nora throw for Nicks’ old friends—a collection of misfits—many of whom he sent up the river as a detective. At the party, Nora says, “Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?” This has to be one of my favorite movie lines of all time.

Myrna Loy and William Powell toast each other at Christmas.

Backstory: The movie was shot in 12 days by director W. S. (One-Take Woody) Van Dyke on a shoestring budget. The film went on to become a huge box office hit that spawned five sequels.

So Proudly We Hail!—1943 This classic stars the three queens of Paramount: Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, and Veronica Lake as military nurses sent to the Philippines during World War II. After the bombing of Pear Harbor, the lives of the military nurses will never be the same. Onboard a ship during Christmas Eve, the nurses and the rest of the military crew celebrate the holiday. The chaplain (Walter Abel) encourages everyone to have faith, not a mindless faith, but a faith in each other and “our beliefs.” It’s an interesting counterpoint to the uncertainty of war, especially during the time this film was made and released. It’s hard to imagine what audiences in 1943 were feeling as they watched this film and the events depicted were unfolding in real time.

Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, and Veronica Lake star as
army nurses in So Proudly We Hail.

Backstory: Veronica Lake changed her trademark “peek-a-boo” hairstyle to keep with Army regulations in real life. She let her hair down for her final scene. Paulette Goddard was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, losing to Katina Paxinou in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—1945 Based on the best-selling novel by Betty Smith, the drama tells the tale of an impoverished family living in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. It’s a coming-of-age story about Francie Nolan (Peggy Ann Garner) who loves reading and school. With a mother (Dorothy McGuire) who washes floors and collects rags to earn money to support her family and an alcoholic mostly out-of-work father, life for the Nolan’s seems pretty bleak. In spite of his irresponsible behavior, Johnny Nolan (James Dunn) is idolized by Francie. Johnny is gentle and indulgent where her mother, Katie, tends to be stern and strict. Because the family is so poor, they can’t afford to buy a tree for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Francie and her brother Neely (Ted Donaldson) get a free tree by catching one that the tree salesman throws their way when he no longer call sell them. The Nolan’s celebrate a happy Christmas with Katie’s sister Sissy (Joan Blondell) and her husband (John Alexander).

Ted Donaldson (Neely) and Peggy Ann Garner (Francie) carry the Christmas tree
they caught on Christmas Eve.

Backstory: James Dunn won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the tragic Johnny Nolan. Peggy Ann Garner won the 1945 Academy Juvenile Award for her portrayal of Francie Nolan. A Tree Grow in Brooklyn also marked the movie directorial debut of Elia Kazan.

Lady in the Lake—1947 This iconic film noir takes place during Christmastime. In fact the opening credits feature Christmas Carols and a set of Christmas cards, which hide a gun underneath. Robert Montgomery stars as detective Philip Marlowe who is hired by a publishing executive Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Totter, who is awesome, by the way) to locate the wife of her boss, Derace Kingsby (Leon Ames). The film is shot from Marlowe’s point of view, which means we only see Marlowe’s reflection in a mirror or when he is directly speaking to the audience, since in true noir fashion, the movie is told in flashback. Everywhere you turn, there’s a Christmas wreath, tree, or other decoration. There’s even an office Christmas party at the publisher Kingsby owns and where Adrienne works as editor. As Marlowe gets closer to the truth, dirty Detective DeGarmot (Lloyd Nolan) runs him off the road. Having just enough energy, Marlowe calls Adrienne for help. She takes Marlowe to her apartment and declares her love for him; they spend Christmas Day together. After the usual noir twists and turns, the major plot points are revealed and Marlowe and Adrienne go to New York City to start their life together.

Movie themed title credits for Lady in the Lake

Backstory: this was Robert Montgomery’s first film as a director and his last for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he had been under contract since 1929. Montgomery completed the movie nineteen days ahead of schedule, helping to make it a box office winner for the studio.

If you want to check out the Christmas favorites from past years, please click on the links below.

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