Thursday, February 25, 2010

TCM 31 Days of Oscar Contest - AND THE WINNER IS....

We announce our contest winner today, and continue our celebration of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar, which features 360 Academy Award-nominated and winning movies, all presented uncut and commercial-free. Have another look at the TCM website for the the upcoming schedule of celebratory films.

Turner Classic Movies, as you know by now, is providing three DVDs for us to give away here on Another Old Movie Blog. We’re calling this: The Another Old Movie Blog Princess Prize Pack:

“Roman Holiday” (1953), in which Audrey Hepburn won Best Actress for her role as a runaway princess. We discussed “Roman Holiday” here in The 1950s Princess - Part 1.

“Anastasia” (1956), in which Ingrid Bergman won Best Actress for her role as an exiled princess. Maybe. We discussed “Anastasia” here in The 1950s Princess - Part 3.

“The Country Girl” (1954), in which Grace Kelly won Best Actress for her role as a longsuffering wife of an alcoholic actor. She doesn’t play a princess in this, but since she became a princess in real life, it still counts. We didn’t discuss this one yet. We will, I promise. We discussed instead Grace Kelly’s performance as a princess in search of a prince in “The Swan” (1955) here in The 1950s Princess - Part 2. Also good.

And the winner is…..

MILLIE !!!!!

Congratulations!

Please contact me by email at JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com, with the name and mailing address where the DVDs should be sent. I will contact TCM with the info; they are in charge of shipping and fulfillment.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Thank you to Turner Classic Movies for providing the three-DVD prize pack as a free giveaway on this blog. As always, stay tuned to TCM for the best in classic films.

Monday, February 22, 2010

31 Days of Oscar CONTEST

We continue our celebration of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar, which features 360 Academy Award-nominated and winning movies, all presented uncut and commercial-free. Have a look here for the upcoming schedule of celebratory films.

As mentioned last week, Turner Classic Movies, is providing three DVDs for us to give away here on Another Old Movie Blog. We’re calling this: The Another Old Movie Blog Princess Prize Pack:

“Roman Holiday” (1953), in which Audrey Hepburn won Best Actress for her role as a runaway princess. We discussed “Roman Holiday” here in The 1950s Princess - Part 1.

“Anastasia” (1956), in which Ingrid Bergman won Best Actress for her role as an exiled princess. Maybe. We discussed “Anastasia” here in The 1950s Princess - Part 3.

“The Country Girl” (1954), in which Grace Kelly won Best Actress for her role as a longsuffering wife of an alcoholic actor. She doesn’t play a princess in this, but since she became a princess in real life, it still counts. We didn’t discuss this one yet. We will, I promise. We discussed instead Grace Kelly’s performance as a princess in search of a prince in “The Swan” (1955) here in The 1950s Princess - Part 2. Also good.

CONTEST RULES:
1. Brush your teeth.
2. Clean your room.
3. No playing ball in the house.

Oh, wait. Those are the wrong rules. (Searches file cabinet drawer for the right folder. )

Here were are. It was misfiled.

CONTEST RULES:

Leave a comment on this post telling me you want to enter the contest.

Hmm. That seems to be it. I wonder why I filed this under “K to L”?

Come back Thursday when we’ll pick the winner, which will be posted on this blog 1 p.m. Eastern Time. You have until then to enter.

Good luck. Brush your teeth anyway.

And in the meantime, keep a close watch on Turner Classic Movies and the 31 Days of Oscar.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

TCM's 31 Days of Oscar (and a contest)

For the next few posts we have a celebration of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar. This annual viewing festival will feature 360 Academy Award-nominated and winning movies, all presented uncut and commercial-free.

Our Favorite Network, in launching their annual lovefest for Oscar winning and nominated films, actors, actresses, and techies, is providing three DVDs for us to give away here on Another Old Movie Blog. More on that below.

First, feast your eyes on some of the goodies featured on this year’s 31 Days of Oscar.



Now, about that contest. The good folks at TCM have given me the power-mad opportunity to select three DVDs of Oscar-winners from their vault (INSERT SOUND OF CREAKING DOOR HERE), and offer them to you as a prize package. We’re calling this: The Another Old Movie Blog Princess Prize Pack.

Remember the three-part series we did on The 1950s Princess last month? Hmm? How soon they forget.

The Another Old Movie Blog Princess Prize Pack (now I’m thinking that’s a lot to type) contains (INSERT DRUM ROLL HERE):

“Roman Holiday” (1953), in which Audrey Hepburn won Best Actress for her role as a runaway princess. We discussed “Roman Holiday” here in The 1950s Princess - Part 1.

“Anastasia” (1956), in which Ingrid Bergman won Best Actress for her role as an exiled princess. Maybe. We discussed “Anastasia” here in The 1950s Princess - Part 3.

“The Country Girl” (1954), in which Grace Kelly won Best Actress for her role as a longsuffering wife of an alcoholic actor. She doesn’t play a princess in this, but since she became a princess in real life, it still counts. We didn’t discuss this one yet. We will, I promise. We discussed instead Grace Kelly’s performance as a princess in search of a prince in “The Swan” (1955) here in The 1950s Princess - Part 2. Also good.

Come back Monday for the start of the contest and the rules. Next Thursday, we’ll pick the winner.

In the meantime, keep a close watch on Turner Classic Movies and the 31 Days of Oscar.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Vertigo" Restored and Redeemed

“Vertigo” (1958) still shocks, thanks to its restoration in the mid-1990s. Especially shocking is the realization that until its restoration, the film was fast on its way to disappearing for good.

“Vertigo” is regarded by many as Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, and his most personal film. The restoration done by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz saved the film, but also shows us what this story is about in a manner that was not fully appreciated when it was a fading Vista Vision fifth or sixth generation reprint.

We get it now. It is a curious set of circumstances when a film is not merely given new life by restoration, but that its reputation as a classic among future generations will be based almost entirely on the restoration and not on the original.

Rich in imagery and a complex plot, the film relies on the use of color, light and dark contrast, and shading to texture the storyline. We discussed “Vertigo” in this previous post, so I won’t review the film again. Instead, its post-premiere life is what we might focus on to understand the peculiar legacy of this film.

Its earnings upon release were mixed, and its reviews the same. The New Yorker called it “far-fetched nonsense.” Time famously called it “another Hitchcock and bull story.” According to “Vertigo, The Making of a Hitchcock Classic by Dan Auiler (St. Martin’s Press, NY, 1998), the film was re-released in theaters in 1963, and again in the late 1960s. In 1968 the rights for the film reverted to Mr. Hitchcock. After a limited period of exposure on television, the film was pulled from all distribution by Hitchcock in 1974. It was not seen again until its release in December 1983, after Hitchcock’s death.

In those years, the film’s reputation grew somewhat among film scholars. However, until its early ‘80s release, it was unknown to a new generation of filmgoers. Instead, it was famed to the public more for being one of the five so-called “Lost Hitchcock’s”, which included “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956), “Rear Window” (1954), “The Trouble With Harry” (1955), and “Rope” (1948).

When the public finally got a chance to see it, the film they saw was seriously faded, with a diminished sound and visual quality that must have made some wonder what the big fuss was about. I can remember being less than impressed with a television print of it in the mid-1980s, but being unaware at the time that the movie I saw was reprint of a reprint of a reprint of a film that was disintegrating. When Mr. Katz and Mr. Harris set to work restoring the film, they discovered cans of rotting film stock.

A very interesting documentary about the restoration, originally an American Movie Classics channel production, called “Obsessed with Vertigo” is part of the bonus features on the “Vertigo” DVD released in 1999. It’s a fascinating look at the meticulous work of film restoration, and the enormous challenge of finding enough original material to compile into a restored film. Before and after shots are remarkable, not only for the success of the restoration which made faded scenes vivid again, but for the realization that this film was only a couple decades old before it began to fade. Keeping the original safe in a vault was not keeping it safe at all.

We are accustomed to believing that film stars achieve a kind of immortality on film. They don’t. They are only as alive as long the nitrate does not decompose.

Many film buffs and historians will point with regret how so many silent films, particularly most of the body of the work of the great Lon Chaney, has been lost forever. It is unfortunate, but perhaps more understandable that would happen to those old films, with poorer film stock of that day, inadequate storage methods, and the practice of films being routinely discarded, or recycled for their silver content.

It is somehow harder to swallow the thought that a well-made film from 1958 (its Vista Vision production was technologically the top of the line at the time), of esteemed and well-known reputation could have been lost as easily as an obscure film from 1908.

It was almost too late. The documentary of the restoration recounts the scramble for prints of the film of dubious quality from various parts of the world, of searching for analog sound clips of 1950s cars for to replace on the new soundtrack, of using Hitchcock’s original notes to recreate lost elements. They found the green dress Kim Novak wore as “Judy”, and used it to discover what hue the now much faded green dress in the movie was really supposed to be.

Thanks to the efforts of the restorers, “Vertigo” has been transferred with painstaking detail from Vista Vision to 70mm, digital sound, in a manner Alfred Hitchcock himself never saw. It is all there, the breathtaking colors in the flower shop when door is first opened, the evocative score by Bernard Herrmann, the pastel backdrop in sharp detail of San Francisco, the vibrant, classic color of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Judy’s now very green dress.

Now, we get it.

All film deteriorates, and most is not restored, but only copied and copied again until it is faded. Restoration is difficult technical work. It is expensive. The purpose of this blogathon sponsored by Self-Styled Siren and Ferdy on Films is to generate awareness about saving America’s film heritage. The National Film Preservation Foundation, a non-profit organization set up by the U.S. Congress, is where you can donate to make this happen.

The NFPF will give away 4 DVD sets as thank-you gifts to blogathon donors chosen in a random drawing: Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 and Treasures IV: American Avant Garde Film, 1947-1986.

Please visit the other blogs taking part in the blogathon. You can find a list of them over at the Siren’s place.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Carol Heiss and the Three Stooges

With the Olympic Winter Games starting tomorrow in Vancouver, we take a moment to consider one Olympian. Her name is Carol Heiss, and after playing second to the marvelous Tenley Albright in several national championships and in the 1956 Games of Cortina d’Ampezzo, beat Miss Albright that year in the World Championships. She finally won her own Olympic Gold Medal for ladies’ figure skating in the 1960 Squaw Valley Games, and won several World championships in the late 1950s.

One of that special club of American Gold Medal figure skating ladies, she was a product of the era when the sport was still about figures and less about jumps. Miss Heiss was actually the first female skater to land a double axel. But, then as now, what does a champion do with herself when the contest has been won? Today, with the line blurred between amateur and professional, an Olympic athlete may pick up endorsements and compete professionally as well as in the Olympic venue for as long as her ankles, and her youth, holds out.

Back then, once stepping down off the podium, a ladies’ figure skater could either chuck the sport for retirement, or another career (like Tenley Albright, who became a surgeon), or shoot for the traveling ice shows.

Or, throw the dice on a big gamble. Carol Heiss, like Sonja Henie before her, skated briefly for Team Hollywood.

It was only one movie, and it was “Snow White and the Three Stooges” (1961). Not exactly a four-star film, but it still appeals to kids and people who have a soft spot for the Three Stooges and Olympic figure skaters. She did her double axel jump in this movie, but according to this post on About.com, her solo skating footage was edited out of the movie. The producers thought there was “too much skating.”

Have a look at this trailer from the movie.




And now, have a look from Carol Heiss’ 1960 free skate program, and see what it was that made her a champion.

Monday, February 8, 2010

And the winner is....

EAST OF THE IC!!!!!!  (Or, just Alan.)

Thank you for all those who participated in the contest, and congratulations to a commenter at Arte Acher's Falling Circus who signs himself “East of the IC”.

Alan, please email me at: JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com with the name and mailing address where the “WWII in HD” DVD set is to be sent. Your name and address will remain confidential.

My review of this documentary series was originally posted here.

If you’d like to buy a copy, here’s where you can order the DVD set.

Here’s where you can order the Blu-ray edition.

For more information on “WWII in HD” have a look at this website.


Note: A&E Home Entertainment has provided me with a review copy of the DVD set, and one to give away, and my thanks to them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"WWII in HD" DVD CONTEST

As announced on Monday’s post, today we’re running a contest to win a DVD three-disk set of the World War II documentary series “WWII in HD.” For my review of that series, please have a look at Monday’s post.

For those who’d like to purchase the DVD or Blu-ray edition, they are available from A&E Home Entertainment at these sites. For more information on the series, have a look at this website.



CONTEST RULES:

First, let me clarify that the prize is the DVD version only, not the Blu-ray version.

1. Hop onto my brother John’s cartoon blog, “Arte Acher’s Falling Circus” here.

2. Leave a comment on his blog, with something like “Gimme the DVD” so I’ll know you’re trying for the prize.

3. That’s it.

On Monday, at 1 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time, I will collect all the entries and pull the winner at random out of a hat. Then I’ll announce the winner at that time and request that the winner email me privately with the mailing address where I can send the prize US Media Mail. The mailing address will not be posted on the blog, but will remain private.

Good luck to everyone, and I know the winner will enjoy this excellent documentary series.

Note: A&E Home Entertainment has provided me with a review copy of the DVD set, and one to give away.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Review: "WWII in HD"

The following is a review of the documentary series “WWII in HD”, produced by Lou Reda Productions for History, and issued in DVD and Blu-ray by A&E Home Entertainment. Come back Thursday for a chance to win the DVD set.

Most of us old movie fans have been introduced to the World War II era through classic film, and because of our familiarity with this tumultuous period as depicted through a rather glossy Hollywood sieve, we might think we know all there is to know. This series is as dramatic and nail biting, as emotional and as frank as any first-hand story about World War II your father or grandfather could never bring himself to tell you. It is most definitely not “only a movie” as the clich√© goes.

Much about this series is remarkable, but two of the most glaring differences between “WWII in HD” and any other single film or documentary series you may have watched about World War II is that is it entirely in color, and most of the footage has never been seen publicly. For this reason, it is seems new, and almost unreal and yet at the same time with the odd familiarity of watching a home movie. The “HD” factor, or high definition resolution, make the film quality crisp and vivid and gives one the impression of seeing a whole new world, the past not as handed down to us like a souvenir, but as re-lived and brought to life in a new and quite personal manner. We are not being told what happened so much as we are invited to experience it vicariously.

The documentary unfolds through the experiences of 12 different American service personnel. They are from different parts of the country and different walks of life. One is a recent immigrant, an Austrian Jew who escapes the growing Nazi terror in Europe just before the war begins and joins the United States Army. One is an African-American pilot who flies missions over Europe. One is a Japanese-American from Oregon whose family is placed in an interment camp while he is away at the fighting in a unit of men made up of all Japanese-Americans, one of the most decorated in the war. One is a war correspondent in the Pacific. One is an Army nurse. They are quite young.

Their experiences through journal and letter entries are voiced by professional actors, but a few of them we get to meet when they are interviewed in person as elderly individuals, still astonished after the many decades over what they had seen and experienced first-hand.

Their separate stories are held together by narrator Gary Sinise, and the overall effect is of hopping all over the globe to drop in on them wherever they are at this minute, to see what is happening next. The film clips are stunning. Some have the feel of amateur home movies. It is a fascinating delight to see clips of busy Los Angles streets or New York, or Paris before the war. We see the streets of Washington, D.C., and witness the funeral procession of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, again, in color. The camera pans across the crowds, people of all ages and races, watching silently, nervously, the cortege passes them.

We see rubble-strewn streets of bombarded villages in Europe. There is a heartbreaking shot of a little boy on Okinawa, uncontrollably shaking with all he has experienced, attempting to be comforted by a horrified Marine with a pat and a sip of water from a canteen, after the boy and a number of other civilians are fired upon by the Marines accidentally, when they are assumed to be attacking Japanese.

There are facts and statistics recounted, and computer maps to guide us, but mostly, this is a very personal trip we’re taking, and it will not leave you unmoved.

We celebrate with the nurse on V-E Day when she gets furlough in Paris, and we gravely consider the GI who helps the pitiful survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp. We hear him tell himself at war’s end, “I have to put the horrors of the past behind me.”

He did, in order to move on with his life, but we don’t. We look at this era through the safety of decades between that time and ours, but this documentary peels a little of that safety away, and that is a good thing. It is certainly a new approach.

The DVD set is comprised of three disks, a total of 10 episodes. There are bonus features including interviews with the few elderly surviving participants, and two brief “making of” segments that describe how the footage was gathered, and how it was preserved.

The series is a fine achievement, and is a valuable resource for students, and film buffs, to appreciate this period of history through a wholly new experience. My one complaint would be that some of the clips are edited through that rapid-fire, attention deficit technique that is unfortunately typical nowadays of feature films and television camera work. I prefer slow segues and longer frames, but probably a lot of the footage was filmed like that to begin with, much of it with hand-held cameras on the fly.

On Thursday’s post, we’ll start a contest to win a DVD three-disk set of “WWII in HD”, with the winner being announced next Monday.

Or, if you’d like to buy a copy, here’s where you can order the DVD set.

Here’s where you can order the Blu-ray edition.

For more information on “WWII in HD” have a look at this website.

Note: A&E Home Entertainment has provided me with a review copy of the DVD set, and one to give away.