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    FreemanGriffin
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    #1202951812

    Watching “The Moon-Spinners” (1964), a Disney movie I have never seen before that stars Hayley Mills and Peter McEnery (why didn’t he become a bigger star?). Eli Wallach plays a despicable evil villain expertly. Crete is lovingly photographed. The film is suspenseful and enjoyable. Hayley Mills a delight, as usual! (: It’s always fun when I see something I never have seen before that’s really good! (:

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    Atypical
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    #1202963259

    “Raintree County” (1957): I thought I’d finally see this film over holiday, since it was eating up space in my queue that could be utilized for more programs instead. It’s an overblown, melodramatic wartime soap opera that’s glaringly episodic with added bits of casual, overt racism (re: blackface). But that’s the era it was made in, you might say! Still terribly irresponsible, even for the 1950s. The story itself was generally interesting. A small-town man caught between the love of two women, the long-time, supportive friend he grew up with, and the sultry outsider who tears his little world apart against the backdrop of the Civil War. Really the only reason I was interested in this film was b/c of the infamous car crash Montgomery Clift was involved in during filming that left him permanently disfigured and dependent on painkillers and alcohol for the rest of his sad life (billed “the longest suicide in film history”). I paused scene after scene looking for clues, but all that I could tell was different was a gauntness to his face, odd camera angles favoring his right side, and a visible neck scar. Aces to the plastic surgeon, dentist, and cinematographer, I guess. This was Elizabeth Taylor’s first Oscar nomination, and I’m not mad at it. I’m in awe of her on-screen radiance, and even when she was overdoing it big time with her Southern accent and crazytown spiral, I blamed the ridiculous screenplay and director for making her do all of that than the actress herself, if that makes any sense. The author killed himself soon after the film was released. Taylor saved Clift from the accident (leaving her dinner party) by pulling two teeth from Clift’s mouth so he could breathe and fought to keep Clift in the production when it shut down for two months, which might have garnered some Academy support her way. She was also married to Michael Wilding and carrying on a torrid affair Mike Todd on set, so never a dull moment with Ms. Taylor lol. Eva Marie Saint was the third in this love triangle, who provided solid support in what little she was allowed to do. I was taken by some of the supporting cast. Rod Taylor never looked more like a movie star. A British actor I’m wholly unfamiliar with, Nigel Patrick, almost stole the show in a role almost too convoluted to describe as the Professor. He was Globes-nodded but surprisingly missed out on an Oscar nomination. Future Oscar winner Lee Marvin had a lively scene-stealing role as Flash. Agnes Moorehead played Clift’s underwritten mother. I just wish this film had been better realized. Clift was just reacting to plots like he wasn’t even there, and maybe he wasn’t. I kind of wonder about switching Saint’s and Taylor’s roles and what dymanics shift that would have wrought. Oh well. I’ll read more about Clift’s tragic later years with substance abuse and homosexuality denial following this debacle and never think about the poor film precipitating all of this ever again.

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    Atypical
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    #1202965407

    “The China Syndrome” (1979): I stumbled into seeing this on TCM after not knowing much about it beyond being one of Jane Fonda’s best actress Oscar nominations. Now I’ve seen all except one of her nominated performances. I think that the film itself started out slowly with all the nuclear energy lingo, but once it settled into more of an action thriller/potboiler, I couldn’t turn my eyes away from it. I was most impressed with Jack Lemmon. He always had this air of knowingness and authenticity to his roles no matter what he did. This was one of his most lived-in characters, and while he was never going to win a third Oscar right after his second one, it’s kind of unfortunate all the same. Fonda’s character felt more generic to me, like many women could have been this audience surrogate character who exposes corruption and tries to stop it for good. It doesn’t take away from how I view the film, but I wanted some kind of catharsis with Kimberly that I never really got, not even the ending. The third key element here was Michael Douglas, who I’m kinda surprised didn’t land a supporting actor nomination. Maybe he wasn’t being taken seriously as an actor yet b/c of nepotism, even though he already had an Oscar at this point. As a producer though, Douglas fought hard for this film seeing the light of day. They knew how important and controversial the subject matter was, as it was given additional heft being so close to the Three Mile Island incident. It’s all very 70s, but I loved that element of it. Douglas looked like he could have been an extra in “Saturday Night Fever,” and Fonda had this dyed red hair down to her waist that was fabulous. I also have to mention Wilford Brimley, “that old character actor guy” who nailed a smallish part here beautifully. As difficult as it was to see this film (I’ve tried during multiple festivals), I’m glad I watched this. I’ll likely watch again and again in repeats.

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    Atypical
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    #1202973687

    “Separate Tables” (1958): Always wanted to see this film, but I never seemed to be able to find it until now. It’s a very quaint and sophisticated effort, and I ended up absolutely loving it. The story revolves around a group of residents at a British hotel and their interactions, histories, and grievances with one another. It won two acting Oscars, one of which I thought was highly deserved. The other one, not so much. There were times when I questioned category placements. Deborah Kerr was certainly notable, but a best actress nomination? Rita Hayworth was far more memorable and interesting. Anything would have been better than Susan Hayward winning for one of the worst actress wins I’ve ever seen. Burt Lancaster was superb here and felt like the leading man here, but wasn’t even nominated. David Niven, on the other hand, was borderline supporting, and he won the Oscar for best actor. Interesting note: Rod Taylor, so striking the year before in “Raintree County” the year before, was practically a nonentity here as one of the briefly appearing residents, but at least he got to keep his Australian accent this time. Wendy Heller was truly outstanding as the proprietor of the Beauregard Hotel, so I can see why she won supporting actress. The category could have also included Gladys Cooper pretty easily, and either Kerr or Hayworth who should have been included here instead. The ending was a tad abrupt, but other than that, I really loved this film. It’s based on two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan: “Table by the Window” and “Table Number Seven.” The “separate tables” reference is that each resident or party gets to sit at separate tables for dining and not communal. Classy establishment and all lol. Highly recommended viewing.

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    Atypical
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    #1202984845

    “Absence of Malice” (1981): I’m close to seeing all of Paul Newman’s Oscar nominations now. This one doesn’t play on cable often (compare it to something like “The Verdict” that’s on all the time, or “The Color of Money,” one I’ve never seen showing anywhere), so I snapped up the chance recently. It’s slow-going and dry at first, but it eventually hits big as it progresses. Newman is indeed fantastic. He had this undeniable movie star aura around him in everything he starred in, but that never compromised his fierce intelligence or compassion. Sally Field played one of the most inept journalists I’ve ever seen lol, but I guess they all can’t be Woodward and Bernstein. Part of me didn’t always buy Field here, like she was too smart of an actress to play this green. The supporting cast included Bob Balaban, Josef Summer, a late-arrival role from Wilford Brimley who turns the film inside out (the Academy really took this character actor for granted–he should have been nodded at least once for something over his 50-year career), and actual supporting actress nominee Melinda Dillon. She’s only in the film for the first hour, so definitely a true supporting role. Impactful in a quiet way, but I’m a bit surprised she was remembered. Not sure if I would have bothered. I see that she benefited from a few critics prizes. Overall solid for what it was and watchable for repeat viewing, though I doubt I’d need to for a long while.

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    Atypical
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    #1203000004

    “Fat City” (1972): This piqued my curiosity ever since the supporting actress smackdown raved about it from the spring. I vaguely knew about the film prior, I think. One of John Huston last films (roughly), and a boxing film, which I tend to really go for. It’s unfortunate that this came out in such a front-stacked year of “The Godfather,” “Sleuth,” “Cabaret,” “Deliverance,” “Sounder,” “The Emigrants,” and on and on. It didn’t seem to get its due then, especially for the brilliant performance that Stacy Keach delivered here. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to go up against unbeatable Brando only to get snubbed, and then he didn’t even want the damn Oscar that he won and made a spectacle of the award itself. At least Keach wasn’t awards-crazy, and if he’s remembered for nothing else than this role, he can die a happy man. A self-defeating, alcoholic boxer seems a bit cliché now, but there’s this tinge of melancholy with Tully that I found fascinating. I didn’t know that Jeff Bridges co-starred, who was so young and dewy-eyed here as Ernie. This had to have been around the time of “The Last Picture Show,” which he was also great in. “Thunderbolt & Lightfoot” would have been later. I liked how this was a rueful take on one boxer’s ascent and another boxer’s descent, though it’s not quite that simple. Both experience pointed highs while making tough compromises along the way too. The scene exchanges where their worlds collide might be my favorites of the entire film. I could write about Susan Tyrrell all day long, but briefly, I found her to be one of the most startling and realized alcoholics I’ve ever seen portrayed in any medium. It’s too bad her career (and life) took such a tragic turn. Her Oscar nomination was fully deserved. There’s a particular line reading of hers that made me instantly well up. Maybe with just one more scene that struck a different chord with Oma could have been the winner over Eileen Heckart. It’s the kind of role that would have swept all the awards bodies today. I hope she took comfort in that at least, though she had such a bitter outlook of Hollywood in general and became a recluse. Underseen film, but well worth the time watching and effort in finding.

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    Atypical
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    #1203092104

    “Marathon Man” (1976): Loved, loved, loved this film! They don’t make films like this anymore, sadly. The Academy didn’t seem to bite with this film, which is unfortunate. Ebert liked it, so that goes a long way with me. It’s one of Dustin Hoffman’s early gems, as well as a utterly riveting and insane performance from Laurence Olivier that I think could have won him a comeback Oscar in another year (nothing against Jason Robards’s first Oscar win, at least). I would have also cited William Devane, or a host of other guys, in place of one of “Rocky”‘s guys. Hoffman had the bad luck of being in tough competition in lead actor. Can’t speak to Giannini, but Finch/DeNiro/Holden are all untouchable. Stallone? Meh. Iconic, sure, but as an acting achievement is always dubious. This film pretty much has it all: suspense, intrigue, horror, levity, drama, action, and plot twist after plot twist. William Goldman truly had a singular mind. RIP. John Schlesinger’s direction was great. I’m amused by the famed story of the tension between Hoffman and Olivier on set. They had radically different acting training: one Method, the other decidedly non-Method. For a particularly grueling torture/chase scene, Hoffman sleep-deprived himself for days to make the scene “authentic.” Olivier saw what poor condition Hoffman was in and said (paraphrasing): “Why don’t you just try acting, my dear boy? It’s far easier.” Highly recommended viewing.

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    RobertPius
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    #1203603210

    “Absence of Malice” (1981): I’m close to seeing all of Paul Newman’s Oscar nominations now. This one doesn’t play on cable often (compare it to something like “The Verdict” that’s on all the time, or “The Color of Money,” one I’ve never seen showing anywhere), so I snapped up the chance recently. It’s slow-going and dry at first, but it eventually hits big as it progresses. Newman is indeed fantastic. He had this undeniable movie star aura around him in everything he starred in, but that never compromised his fierce intelligence or compassion. Sally Field played one of the most inept journalists I’ve ever seen lol, but I guess they all can’t be Woodward and Bernstein. Part of me didn’t always buy Field here, like she was too smart of an actress to play this green. The supporting cast included Bob Balaban, Josef Summer, a late-arrival role from Wilford Brimley who turns the film inside out (the Academy really took this character actor for granted–he should have been nodded at least once for something over his 50-year career), and actual supporting actress nominee Melinda Dillon. She’s only in the film for the first hour, so definitely a true supporting role. Impactful in a quiet way, but I’m a bit surprised she was remembered. Not sure if I would have bothered. I see that she benefited from a few critics prizes. Overall solid for what it was and watchable for repeat viewing, though I doubt I’d need to for a long while.

    Diane Keaton dropped out of Absence of Malice at the last minute. I wonder what happened there. She did say in her autobiography that all the attention form Annie Hall made her a bit paranoid and she was afraid to star in a lot of films and preferred to “hide” in the ensemble of Woody Allen films.

    (or maybe Reds running over time took her out of this film. I think she said Paul Newman was one of her favorite actors so must have been disappointing for her.)

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    Owl-Always-watching
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    #1203603715

    Didn’t know about Diane Keaton. That’s a great fact

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    Atypical
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    #1203603742

    Diane Keaton dropped out of Absence of Malice at the last minute. I wonder what happened there. She did say in her autobiography that all the attention form Annie Hall made her a bit paranoid and she was afraid to star in a lot of films and preferred to “hide” in the ensemble of Woody Allen films.

    (or maybe Reds running over time took her out of this film. I think she said Paul Newman was one of her favorite actors so must have been disappointing for her.)

    Are you referring to Sally Field’s role? I’m assuming so since they’re the same age. It was a fairly thankless role, so “Reds” was the better decision for Keaton. It also lends some explanation why Field felt so miscast here being a last-minute replacement. Dillon’s role was underwritten, but she made the most of her time in the film regardless.

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    Atypical
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    #1203604789

    “Soylent Green” (1973): I’ve had the infamous ending of the film spoiled for me years and years ago by AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Movie Quotes” and “SNL,” so I went into this mainly for the story and its odd modern-day sci-fi legacy. Spoilers abound for an almost 50-year-old film, so you’ve been warned. It was both jarring and prescient to see some of our current world concerns crop up here, like the effects of greenhouse gases and global warming on Earth’s resources, the need for mask-wearing (how topical!), and the plight of urban over-crowding. I appreciated how lean the film’s runtime was with little filler. Charlton Heston was surely good at this type of lead role, his general awfulness aside. Cynical at times, world-weary at others, a sort of Everyman that takes the world for what it is, not for what it could be. Certainly bombastic at others, which played well to the film’s “secret,” if you want to call it that. Hints were placed throughout the film, like the green filter cinematography in the rioting scenes (b/c they’re eating away at themselves, literally and figuratively). I’m researching the reception that this film had at the time and comparing it to the cult phenomenon that it is now. The Oscars didn’t remotely bite, which is understandable. Surely some room could have been made for screen legend Edward G. Robinson in his final screen role in supporting actor (he died 2 weeks after principal photography was completed). Nothing would have won against John Houseman, but a posthumous nomination would have been warranted. The category wasn’t so deep or so set in stone. Sol’s death scene really got to me, and that’s rare for this type of film. This version of 2022 thankfully didn’t have flying cars and alien invaders, but instead a frighteningly plausible setting of urban decay in NYC. The “twist” was abrupt, but fine. Even by 70s standards, the sexism in this film was ridiculous. When attractive, young women are attached to high-end real estate and called “furniture,” yeah, yikes. I wished this future didn’t have such tacky 70s fashions, but something more futuristic-leaning. I guess you can’t have everything lol. Interesting to see this film regardless.

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    RobertPius
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    #1203604851

    Are you referring to Sally Field’s role? I’m assuming so since they’re the same age. It was a fairly thankless role, so “Reds” was the better decision for Keaton. It also lends some explanation why Field felt so miscast here being a last-minute replacement. Dillon’s role was underwritten, but she made the most of her time in the film regardless.

    Yes Sally Field’s role. Keaton also turned down Norma Rae (as did Jane Fonda, Jill Clayburgh and Marsha Mason who all lost the Oscar that year to Field.) I think that was the period where Keaton felt paralyzed by her massive fame from Annie Hall and was afraid to carry a film so she just stayed in Woody Allen films.

    I think with Malice Reds ran over schedule and she had to drop out. I read a Warren Beatty bio and Reds was pretty grueling and she was quite fed up with it and him and literally (if you know the ending) walked down that hallway (finishing the film) immediately got on a plane and flew home and out of Beatty’s life. Though now she says the his being really hard on her got a good performance out of her and she feels the performance works. (something she rarely says about her films, she’s so self-critical in her books.)

    In regards to Absence of Malice it is odd that Newman and Dillon got in at the Oscars but at the Globes just Field got in. (She was actually praised a lot for the film for her attempt to play a role that wasn’t always likable. She usually played likable characters. Strange how that you like me speech would come to haunt her.

    1981 Supporting Actress is also interesting in that Mary Steenburgen got nominated for Ragtime at the Globes but Elizabeth McGovern got the Oscar nomination. That would never happen today.

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    Atypical
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    #1203652714

    The Olivia de Havilland marathon is scheduled to air Sunday, August 23, 2020, on TCM, starting @ 6 AM EST. 11 films in total. Both of her Oscar wins and “Gone with the Wind” will air early Monday morning, so set your DVRs accordingly! Disappointed that her other two Oscar-nominated performances, “Hold Back the Dawn” and “The Snake Pit,” aren’t airing, but many others I’ve never seen or heard of are instead.

    Full list here:

    http://www.tcm.com/remembers/

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    Atypical
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    #1203681386

    “Atlantic City” (1981): I stumbled on this film while watching something else on TCM, so I decided to finally take a look at it. All I really knew was that this was Susan Sarandon’s first Oscar nomination and Burt Lancaster’s last nomination. A “clash of the generations,” so to speak. The director, Louis Malle, and Susan Sarandon were involved when this was being made, which was interesting to me. The camera certainly was infatuated with her character throughout, but I was more impressed with Burt Lancaster. Very moving, complex work here. If Henry Fonda hadn’t been a shoo-in for his career Oscar, I think Lancaster could have won again, given the competition. I’m less enthused about best actress that year, which we recently discussed with Diane Keaton and “Reds.” Sarandon’s first nod, Keaton’s already won, Mason’s was a comedy and not well-received film, and Streep has said publicly that “TFLW” was one of her worst performances. In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Hepburn would win her historic fourth Oscar. Anyways, “Atlantic City” had its share of odd quirks, yet it moved at at brisk pace and maintained my interest. I also would have thought Kate Reid could score an easy first supporting actress nomination, but I guess not.

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    Atypical
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    #1203734935

    “Swing Shift” (1984): I remembered this only for Christine Lahti’s first Oscar nomination, but I didn’t know much more about it. This was directed by Jonathan Demme and starred Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, who had incredible chemistry throughout. It’s about a group of women who take on “men’s work” (re: wartime production) during WWII, and the ensuing complications of doing that. These were some of the unheralded women who helped set the stage for the later feminist movement. Demme did a great job of establishing the era-specific details, which he always did well. The screenplay is slight in places and jumps from one thing to another, sometimes abruptly. There’s a knotty love triangle between Hawn’s, Russell’s and Lahti’s characters, and Hawn’s character is also married to a newly enlisted Navy man (a striking Ed Harris). Lahti’s fine, I guess. I doubt I would have nominated this role, but it looks like slim pickings in supporting actress that year with Lahti and Page being the sole nominees from their respective films, and Ashcroft getting the easy legacy win. Nice enough film for what it was.

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