Monday, March 31, 2008

Cinematic Crush: Gregory Harrison

Today, Movie Dearest concludes a month long look at the hottest "Retro TV Hunks", the actors who brought prime beefcake to primetime during the 70's and 80's.

Crush object: Gregory Harrison, actor.

- For gay men of a certain age, the above image is as iconic as Michelangelo's David. It is, of course, Gregory Harrison as a would-be actor from Iowa who makes it big in the Big Apple as a stripper in the legendary TV movie For Ladies Only; sadly, it is not yet available on DVD, but you can get a taste of it right here.

- This wasn't the first time he caught our eye though, as he had already steamed up our television screens as the hunky Dr. Gonzo Gates in Trapper John, M.D.; before that, he was the title character in the short-lived TV version of Logan's Run. He would later join Falcon Crest for its final season.

- Other television appearances include the small screen classic Trilogy of Terror, as well as guest spots on Sisters, Judging Amy, Touched by an Angel and Joey; he also starred in TV remakes of Picnic and Red River.

- Film roles include a surf cat in North Shore and Eric Roberts' lover in It's My Party.

- On Broadway, he has starred in the musicals Steel Pier, Follies and Chicago; I had the pleasure to see his smooth talkin', razzle dazzlin' Billy Flynn in the national tour of the latter a few years back, and he is still just as swoon-worthy.

Monthly Wallpaper - April 2008: Classic Comedy

Movie Dearest celebrates our favorite cinematic April fools next month with a salute to Classic Comedy.

From silent era geniuses like Chaplin, Lloyd and Keaton to vaudeville transplants like Abbott & Costello and the brothers Marx to the iconic pairings of Grant & Russell and West & Fields to daffy duos such as Laurel & Hardy, Hope & Crosby and Martin & Lewis to the sophisticated stylings of Powell & Loy (and Asta) and Harlow to the comedic masteries of Wilder and Lubitsch, you're in for a lot of laughs with this month's calendar wallpaper.

All you have to do is click on the picture above to enlarge it, then simply right click your mouse and select "Set as Background". (You can also save it to your computer and set it up from there if you prefer.) The size is 1024 x 768, but you can modify it if needed in your own photo-editing program.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Secrets and Lies

A sure-fire sign of a great book-to-film adaptation is that, after you watch the movie, you want to read (or re-read) the original book. Such is the case with Atonement.

This tragic story of how brief moments in our lives can change them irrevocably, forever, is richly layered in every aspect, from Christopher Hampton's faithful adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel to Seamus McGarvey's compelling cinematography (including a breathtaking five minute tracking shot on the shores of Dunkirk during the English evacuation) to that famous green dress (designed by Jacqueline Durran) to Dario Marianelli's distinctive, Academy Award-winning score. That all of them, as well as the film itself, were nominated for Oscars and director Joe Wright was not makes one wonder where the Academy's priorities were this awards season past.

The character of Briony -- the crux of the film's action -- is brought to life by one-two-three punch of Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave. However, at the core of the film is the haunting, heart-breaking performances of James McAvoy and Keira Knightley; their passion leaps off the screen in Titanic-level proportions, their final denouement will leave you breathless.

Click here to buy Atonementon DVD from Amazon.com.

Film Art: Russ Meyer Edition

Sandra Equihua's "Rosie", inspired by Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Potent Quotables: Robotic Eye for the Straight Gal

This exchange between Robby the Robot and Altaira Morbius (Anne Francis) is quoted verbatim from the sci fi classic Forbidden Planet:

Altaira: Where have you been? I've beamed and beamed.
Robby: Sorry, miss. I was giving myself an oil job.
Altaira: Robby, I must have a new dress, right away.
Robby: Again?
Altaira: Oh, but this one must be different! Absolutely nothing must show ... below, above or through.
Robby: Radiation-proof?
Altaira: No, just eye-proof will do.
Robby: Thick and heavy?
Altaira: Oh no, Robby. It must be the loveliest, softest thing you've ever made for me and fit in all the right places, with lots and lots of star sapphires.
Robby: Star sapphires take a week to crystallize properly. Would diamonds or emeralds do?
Altaira: Well, if they're large enough.
Robby: Five, ten and fifteen carats, and on hand. I will run the dress up for you in time for breakfast. Sleep well, miss.
Altaira: (hugging him) Thank you, Robby!

Wow ... he can whip up haute couture overnight and give himself an oil job. That Robby was quite a guy.

Click here to buy Forbidden Planeton DVD from Amazon.com.

Valley of the Dolls, Part 3

OK, so it has been almost seven (!) months since the last installment of Valley of the Dolls, but hey, it has taken Steven Spielberg almost twenty years for the next Indiana Jones flick. Of course, that is only a movie. Meanwhile, back to Tom Tierney's Glamorous Movie Stars paper doll books:
  • Glamorous Movie Stars of the Eighties Paper Dolls- Per the cover, this volume includes a cat (Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns -- never mind that it came in 1992), a fish (Daryl Hannah in Splash) and Cher. Also included are such glamour pusses as Frances Farmer (Jessica Lange in Frances) and Janis Joplin -- oops, Mary Rose Foster (Bette Midler in The Rose -- never mind that it came out in 1979).
  • Glamorous Movie Stars of the Nineties Paper Dolls- According to this cover, the 90's were all about the whores -- Julia Roberts in her tacky tramp ensemble from Pretty Woman and Nicole Kidman as the sultry Satine from Moulin Rouge! (never mind that it came out in 2001). Others include Gwyneth Paltrow (Emma and Shakespeare in Love) and Jodie Foster (Anna and the King) sporting period duds, but did we really need to be reminded of Julia's Tinker Bell from Hook?
Click the above links to purchase the books from Amazon.com.

Cry-Baby Bomb?

Bad news for those hoping for another Hairspray-style hit with the new stage musical version of John Waters' Cry-Baby: my Broadway sources say that not only are tickets not selling well (even at just $54 each during previews), but people are actually walking out.

Supposedly, the whole show is frantically being re-written, with songs being added and cut ... not good, considering it is supposed to open April 24.

Poster Post: The Truth is Out There

The first poster image for the still untitled X-Files sequel, in theaters July 25.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Out in Film: Malcolm Gets

Idol worship: Malcolm Gets, actor.

- He is best known as Caroline's neurotic assistant Richard on the sitcom Caroline in the City; other television appearances include Law & Order, As the World Turns and Remember WENN.

- He was nominated for a Tony Award for the musical Amore; additional stage work includes Amadeus, Little Shop of Horrors, As Is, Merrily We Roll Along, Edward II, Finian’s Rainbow and The Apple Tree.

- On film, he played F. Scott Fitzgerald in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and co-starred in Thirteen Conversations About One Thing and Adam & Steve.

- He will next be seen on the big screen in the eagerly awaited new incarnations of Sex and the City (as Carrie and Big's real estate agent) and Grey Gardens (as Big Edie's accompanist, George "Gould" Strong).

- For more on Malcolm, see the Man in Chair blog for a recent interview.

The Latest in Theaters ... A Gay Late

Kudos to Greg Hernandez at the Out in Hollywood blog for the heads up on two gay themed films opening today in limited release:
If you're not in one of the cities showing Shelter, fear not: it will be coming to DVD May 27. Click here to pre-orderit from Amazon.com.

Barber Shop Quartet

Now that the Golden Globe-winning Best Picture Sweeney Todd is coming to DVD next Tuesday, you can stock up on all your demon barber needs at EntertainmentEarth.com, such as an authentic Sweeney Todd Razor with Pouch Prop Replica. On the other hand, if you actually want to use the blade (to shave or seek revenge on your enemies), you can go for the Sweeney Todd Shaving Kit, complete with blood-spattered mug. If you need a little libation before you commence with the throat slitting, there is the Sweeney Todd Flask, or if you just want to gaze at Johnny Depp, the Sweeney Todd Window Hanging Sign should suffice.

As for the DVD, a feature-packed two-disc collector's edition will be released in addition to a single disc version. Bonuses on the double-discer include features on the real Sweeney, a look at the film's theatrical roots and a salute to composer Stephen Sondheim. Click here to pre-order either Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetDVD from Amazon.com.

It's a Gas: Flatulence on Film

Ah, the much maligned "fart gag". Over-used, yes, but when employed with, shall we say, "style", it can be quite humorous ... hilarious even.

Float on over to ReadJunk.com to relive the "Top 20 Funniest Fart Scenes in Movies", including the infamous campfire scene from Blazing Saddles (at number 1, naturally), plus the should-be-a-lot-higher-then-number 16 "Dinner at the Klumps" sequence from The Nutty Professor.

And be sure to check out their "honorable mention", the funniest 58 seconds of The Matrix you've never seen ... or heard.

MD Poll: It Takes Two

In preparation for "Classic Comedy" month next month here at Movie Dearest, the latest MD Poll asks you to vote for your favorite classic comedy couple.

Whether it is the madcap adventures of two goofy fellas (Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) or the screwball antics of a guy and a gal (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Doris Day and Rock Hudson, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant or Spencer Tracy, William Powell and Myrna Loy), these twosomes always delivered the laughs in picture after picture.

Pick your favorites in the poll located in the sidebar. Results will be revealed right here in two weeks.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed, click here for the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MD Poll: Something Wilde

Movie Dearest readers went Wilde over the latest MD Poll, voting the Stephen Fry starring film their favorite gay biopic.

For a while there, it was a "Wilde vs. Whale" smack down, with Gods and Monsters eventually coming in a close second. Rounding out the top five was Monster, Boys Don't Cry and Capote, all featuring Oscar winning lead performances.

See the comments section below for the complete stats, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

The Latest in Theaters: G.I. Joes

Kimberly Peirce's first film since Boys Don't Cry (really) leads off this week's latest in theaters:
  • Stop-Loss: Ryan Phillippe and Channing Tatum star in Peirce's contemporary war drama about a soldier, freshly returned from Iraq, forced to return to combat by the fickle U.S. Army. Abbie Cornish, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Timothy Olyphant also star.
  • Run, Fatboy, Run: David Schwimmer (yes, that David Schwimmer) makes his feature film directorial debut with this comedy, starring Simon Pegg as another lovable loser who trains for a marathon in order to win back ex-fiancĂ©e Thandie Newton from ... Hank Azaria?
  • 21: Kevin Spacey teaches six MIT students (including dreamy Jim Sturgess) how to count cards and win big in Vegas in this based-on-a-true story drama; co-stars Kate Bosworth and Laurence Fishburne.
  • Flawless: No, not the one with Philip Seymour Hoffman in drag; Demi Moore and Michael Caine star in this heist thriller set in swinging 60's London. Let's hope Demi doesn't try for an English accent.
  • And finally - Superhero Movie: The latest big screen spoof from the folks who keep giving us Scary Movies even though we don't ask for them; this one takes on the likes of Spider-Man, et al. And if that isn't enough to keep you away: beware of angry Fanboy fanboys.
Visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets.

Baby This Time

The trials and tribulations of makin' babies are the focus of Lisa Gornick's Tick Tock Lullaby, coming to DVD April 8. Two yearning couples -- one straight, one lesbian -- and a desperate single gal are all trying to get pregnant, and will go to any lengths to do so in this British comedy drama (watch the trailer here).

Click here to pre-order Tick Tock Lullabyon DVD from Amazon.com.

Movie Music: Re-Animated

Twenty years ago, Stay Awake,the most unique collection of Disney cover songs ever, was first released.

Eschewing the normal "Singers & Standards" format usually employed for the perennial toon tunes, the album took an experimental, alternative approach that yielded results ranging from the awesome (The Replacements' rockin' "Cruella de Vil") to the awful (Tom Waits' "depths of hell" version of "Heigh Ho"). Regardless, Stay Awake was immensely listenable and has become a cult favorite among more non-traditionalist Disneyphiles.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the original album's producer Hal Willner is staging a live concert event reuniting several of the original artists and a few newcomers, including Natalie Merchant, Suzanne Vega and David Byrne. Stay Awake Live will be presented April 2 at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York.

UPDATE: The New York Sun offers highlights of the recent concert.

Hugh and Ewan Get Dirty

The latest "hot" trailer: Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams are into kinky sexcapades in the new sexy thriller Deception, in theaters April 25.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Women We Love: Julie Andrews

Object of our affection: Julie Andrews, actress.

- She began her illustrious career on the stage in the original productions of The Boy Friend, My Fair Lady and Camelot; she made a triumphant return to Broadway years later with her Tony Award nominated turn in the stage version of Victor/Victoria.

- Her supercalifragilistic film debut was as the practically perfect title character in the Disney masterpiece Mary Poppins, the role she famously took on when Jack Warner passed her over for the screen version of My Fair Lady; she won the Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Film Awards for her troubles.

- Poppins made her an instant movie star, and she capitalized on her newfound fame with a string of hits through the 1960's, including the eternal classic The Sound of Music (Oscar nomination), plus The Americanization of Emily, Torn Curtain, Hawaii, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Star!; she strived to change her "wholesome" image with such racier fare as 10, S.O.B. and Victor/Victoria (Oscar nomination), all directed by her husband Blake Edwards; most recently, she has co-starred in the popular Princess Diaries and Shrek movies and narrated Enchanted.

- On television, she starred in the first television production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and several Emmy Award-winning variety specials, including three with Carol Burnett; she has also starred in such dramatic TV movies as the gay-themed Our Sons, a live version of On Golden Pond and two Eloise movies.

- Her first volume of her autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years(available April 1), covers her pre-Poppins years.

Richard Widmark: 1914-2008

Richard Widmark, who received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe for his film debut as the sadistic killer Tommy Udo in the film noir classic Kiss of Death, passed away Monday at the age of 93.

The prolific actor was equally adept at playing both villains (No Way Out, Don't Bother to Knock, Pickup on South Street) and heroes (Panic in the Streets, Night and the City, The Alamo). Other notable films he appeared in include How the West Was Won, Judgment at Nuremberg, Murder on the Orient Express, Against All Odds and Madigan, a role he reprised on television.

Children's Hour

David Eick, creator of the recent TV remakes of Battlestar Galactica and The Bionic Woman, is adapting Children of Men into a proposed series for the Sci Fi Channel.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poster Post: Leather Men

George Clooney and John Krasinski take it to the field in the period romantic sports comedy Leatherheads, in theaters April 4.

Click here to buy the Leatherheadsposter from Amazon.com.

An Affair to Remember

A Catered Affair, the new Broadway musical starring multiple Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein -- who also wrote the book based on the classic Bette Davis movie The Catered Affair -- began previews tonight at the Walter Kerr Theatre in preparation for an April 17 opening.

The new tuner, which also stars Tony winning Doll Faith Prince, former Duke of Hazard Tom Wopat and ex-Urban Cowboy Matt Cavenaugh, is directed by Tony winning Company man John Doyle.

UPDATE: Michael Portantiere interviews Harvey Fierstein at AfterElton.com, wherein he recounts how he changed the Barry Fitzgerald uncle character from a drunk in the movie to gay onstage.

Wolf at Your Door

This year's Oscar-winning animated short Peter & the Wolf will be presented tomorrow night as part of PBS' Great Performances. In addition to the complete toon, which retells the familiar story of Sergei Prokofiev's classical piece through stop motion animation, the program will present a behind the scenes featurette on the making of it.

In related news, Peter & the Wolf and all of the other Oscar nominated animated and live action short subjects (including live action winner The Mozart of Pickpockets) will be released on DVD May 6. Click here to pre-order Collection of 2007 Academy Award: Nominated Short Filmsfrom Amazon.com.

The Latest on DVD: Gang Bangs

If you're into classic gangster movies, this week offers a bountiful haul of them on DVD:
  • Bonnie and Clyde- The Academy Award-winning true crime story that redefined cinematic violence is now available in three new versions: a two-disc special edition, a two-disc "ultimate" edition and a high def Blu-ray. Extras include the new documentary "Revolution! The Making of Bonnie and Clyde", featuring interviews with all the major playas.
  • Warner Gangsters Collection, Volume 3- Six old school gangsta flicks are collected herein, including the James Cagney vehicles Lady Killer, The Mayor of Hell and Picture Snatcher, Humphrey Bogart in Black Legion and Brother Orchid, where he is joined by Edward G. Robinson, and Smart Money, the one-and-only screen pairing of Cagney and Robinson.
Click on the above links for more information and to buy from Amazon.com. Check out the rest of this week's new DVD releases in the handy-dandy Amazon widgets located in the sidebar.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cinematic Crush: Robert Conrad

Movie Dearest continues a month long look at the hottest "Retro TV Hunks", the actors who brought prime beefcake to primetime during the 70's and 80's.

Crush object: Robert Conrad, actor.

- His first big TV break was as one of the Hawaiian Eyes, but he really caught our attention as secret agent Jim West on the classic action program Wild Wild West; he reprised his character, for which he did most of his own stunts, in two follow-up TV movies.

- From the old west to World War II, he played real life fighter ace Major Greg "Pappy" Boyington in Baa Baa Blacksheep (later renamed Blacksheep Squadron), for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination; he also co-starred in the all-star mini-series Centennial.

- He starred in so many television series during the 1970's that he competed on Battle of the Network Stars six times, eventually hosting the program.

- His many other television appearances include guest roles on Maverick, Sea Hunt, 77 Sunset Strip and Mission: Impossible; film roles include Palm Springs Weekend, Young Dillinger (as "Pretty Boy" Floyd), The Lady in Red (as John Dillinger) and Jingle All the Way.

- Despite all this, he is probably best known for his series of TV commercials for Eveready batteries, where he dared you to "knock the batter off my shoulder".

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Film Art: Super-Stud Edition

With all the talk of super-femmes yesterday, let's try to balance things out a bit with a little mutant testosterone, specifically the hunky hirsute hero Wolverine.

This fan art was created by J. Toronto at the Man's Adventure blog. The one on the left is actually a paper doll that you can dress up with a whole wardrobe-full of X-ensembles.

But let's be honest, we kind of like him just the way he is ... tighty whities and all.

Out of the Celluloid Closet: Spellbound

By the time a certain brilliant psychoanalyst shows up in Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, it is apparent that this one plays more like a Hitchcock wannabe then an actual Hitchcock film. All the stilted psychobabble and dated sexism doesn't help matters.

However, enlivening the proceedings is Dr. Alexander Brulov (played by German acting teacher Michael Chekhov in an Oscar nominated performance). Dr. Brulov is a confirmed bachelor (married to his work, you could say) who is enamored by his former assistant Ingrid Bergman (aren't we all?).

Cinching the deal is his response upon meeting the husband of Ingrid's Dr. Constance Petersen, played by a baby-faced Gregory Peck: he tells the strapping young lad that "any husband of Constance is a husband of mine". He clarifies it with a "so to speak", but we know where's he coming from.

Click here to buy Spellboundon DVD from Amazon.com.

Movie Moments: Into the Wild

WARNING: This article may contain possible spoilers for the movie Into the Wild. Proceed accordingly.

Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook doesn't appear in Sean Penn's Into the Wild until well into the final act, but his performance will resonate as clearly as the rest of this emotionally wrenching true life drama will well after it is over.

Holbrook plays Ron Franz, a lonely retired man whose path crosses Emile Hirsch's reckless adventurer Chris McCandless. An unlikely but strong friendship develops between the two; however, Ron is still not able to convince Chris to abandon his dangerous trek to Alaska.

The scene in question takes place in Ron's car as he drops Chris off on the side of the highway on his first steps towards his destiny. In this confined space, Ron lays his soul bare in a last ditch effort to stop Chris from making what ends up being a fatal mistake. When his offer is turned down, the look on his face is heartbreakingly honest and real, a lone tear streaming down his weathered features.

Click here to buy Into the Wildon DVD from Amazon.com.

Happy Easter ...

... from the Crawfords.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wonder Women

"Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman: all the world's waiting for you, and the powers you possess ... get us out from under, Wonder Woman!" (How did Bobby Van get to be more "special" then Anne Francis and Dick Van Patten?)

"Batgirl, Batgirl: where do you come from, where do you go? What is your scene baby, we just got to know ... yeah, who's baby are you?" (Quite possibly the best thing. Ever. Put. On. Television.)

"Electrawoman and Dynagirl, fighting all evil deeds. Each works for a magazine, hiding the life she leads ... Electrawoman and Dynagirl!" (Note the lesbian subtext.)

For more TV superheroine fun, see AfterElton.com's list of the ten greatest ... and most fabulous.

Costume Dramas: Audrey Hepburn Edition

Welcome to Costume Dramas, an occasional feature spotlighting memorable movie costumes. And who better to spotlight first then the best dressed woman in cinematic history, Audrey Hepburn.

Has there ever been, before or since, an actress that was as effortlessly glamorous as Audrey? From the legendary black dress of her Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's to the flower girl gone upper crust stylings of her Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, her classic look has made her a fashion icon for the ages. No wonder the Gap used her Funny Face image to hawk their unworthy wares in an infamous commercial. Heck, she even made a habit look good in The Nun's Story.

Of course, Audrey merely wore the clothes; but the designers behind them were amply rewarded beyond that honor: six of her films were nominated for Best Costume Design, with three ultimately winning the Oscar.

Tune in to TCM: A Crawford Centennial

Leave it to our patron saint, Joan Crawford, to lie about her age. Her date of birth is tomorrow, March 23, but the actual year varies from 1904 to 1908, depending on which source you rely on.

Joan herself said it was that later date, so that's the one Turner Classic Movies is basing a 100th birthday celebration on, with 24 hours devoted to screenings of a dozen of the film legend's movies, including the TCM premiere of her rare silent comedy Spring Fever. Other favorites scheduled to air include Torch Song, Grand Hotel, The Women, Humoresque and her Oscar winning role as Mildred Pierce.

The whole shebang kicks off at 8:00 PM EST tomorrow night with the TCM original documentary, Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star. Narrated by Angelica Huston, the tribute features interviews with Charles Busch, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Margaret O'Brien, Cliff Robertson and even daughter/Mommie Dearest author Christina Crawford.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Out in Film: Harvey Fierstein

Idol worship: Harvey Fierstein, actor/writer.

- He has been nominated for a Tony Award four times in four different categories -- and won each time: as actor and playwright of Torch Song Trilogy, as librettist for La Cage aux Folles and as actor for his legendary performance as Edna Turnblad in the musical Hairspray; he is tied with Tommy Tune as the most categorically diverse Tony winner ever.

- Other stage works include the ill-fated Peter Allen musical Legs Diamond, Safe Sex, Spookhouse and Forget Him; he also played Tevye in the most recent revival of Fiddler on the Roof.

- In addition to reprising his starring role in the movie version of Torch Song, he has co-starred in Garbo Talks, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bullets Over Broadway, Independence Day and Mulan; he also narrated the Oscar winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk and appeared in The Celluloid Closet.

- Television guest shots include The Simpsons; Murder, She Wrote; Ellen; The Larry Sanders Show; Sesame Street and Cheers, receiving an Emmy nomination for the latter.

- He will return to the Great White Way later this month with A Catered Affair, a new musical based on the Bette Davis movie The Catered Affair. In addition to starring, he also wrote the book; could two more Tonys be in his future?

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