Archive for May, 2008

Don Ameche’s Birthday…

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Happy 100th Birthday

Don Ameche!






ne Dominic Felix Amici


  • BORN: May 31, 1908, Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • DIED: December 6, 1993, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • CAUSE OF DEATH: Prostate cancer
  • BURIAL: Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Dubuque, Iowa

[ashes buried in unmarked plot]



Mel Blanc’s Birthday…

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Happy 100th Birthday

Mel Blanc!






ne Melvin Jerome Blank


  • BORN: May 30, 1908, San Francisco, California
  • DIED: July 10, 1989, Los Angeles, California
  • CAUSE OF DEATH: Heart disease
  • BURIAL: Hollywood Forever Cemetery,
  • Section 13, Lot 149, Grave LV102B




 “Man of 1000 Voices”


For 50 years, Mel Blanc was the voice of many popular cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, The Tasmanian Devil, Pepe LePew, Marvin the Martian, Roadrunner’s “Meep meep!”, Barney Rubble and Woody Woodpecker.


Obit…Harvey Korman

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Harvey Korman of

‘Carol Burnett Show’ dies

Actor and comedian, 81, suffered aortic aneurysm 4 months ago


Harvey Korman and Tim Conway (AP)


Associated Press

May 29, 2008


LOS ANGELESHarvey Korman, the tall, versatile comedian who won four Emmys for his outrageously funny contributions to The Carol Burnett Show and played a conniving politician to hilarious effect in Blazing Saddles, died Thursday. He was 81. READ MORE.


Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and Vicki Lawrence (Neil Jacobs / AP)


Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Indiana Jones

and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)


Shia LaBeouf and Harrison Ford in the latest Indiana Jones epic


Direction: Steven Spielberg. Screenplay: David Koepp; story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson. Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine, Alan Dale



by Allan R. Ellenberger


After reading the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull reviews coming out of Cannes, my expectations for Steven Spielberg’s latest effort were considerably lowered. But I shouldn’t have worried. Overall, the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones saga delivers the goods.


The film’s late-1950s time period is identified in the opening sequence as a teenage hot-rod drag race takes place on screen while Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” plays over the soundtrack. From then on, true to the original, the action is nonstop.



At first, our hero is kidnapped by communists headed by Cate Blanchett donning a black pageboy and doing what sounds like a bizarre “Natasha” impersonation. In the following twenty minutes, Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp (George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson received “story” credit) put Indy through shoot-outs, car crashes, and an atom bomb in the Nevada desert. And that’s only for starters.


Harrison Ford, of course, is Indiana Jones. What else can be said? Age was never an issue while watching him on the screen, though references — mostly by Shia LaBeouf — are made about it. A Spielberg favorite of late, LaBeouf plays well the role of a knife-wielding, motorcycle-riding Marlon Brando clone.


As a plus, it was good to see the return of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, the role she originated in Raiders of the Lost Ark back in 1981. (Marion has a secret for Indy that you can see coming from a mile away.) John Hurt, as a loony archeologist; Ray Winstone, as a spy who you are never sure on whose side he is; and Jim Broadbent, in what amounts to a cameo, round out the cast.


Kingdom of the Crystal Skull also offers brief homages to characters played in previous installments by Denholm Elliott and by Sean Connery — who reportedly turned down appearing in this sequel.


Indiana Jones billboard on Times Square 


Much has been written about the film’s special effects, which indeed are outstanding despite a swordfight during a jungle chase that failed to impress. Nearly everything else, however, is top-notch, including water falls, giant fire ants, attacking monkeys, and aliens in Peru, just to name a few. That said, in regard to the Crystal Skull of the title, one patron was overheard complaining in the lobby that said object looked like a “piece of plastic filled with Saran Wrap.”


Notwithstanding its shortcomings, this latest episode is loyal to the spirit of the franchise and will likely please most fans. And be sure not to miss the reference to the series’ first film. Like everything else in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it goes by very quickly.


NOTE: My review for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull originally appeared on the Alternative Film Guide site on Monday, May 19. See it HERE.



Outfest Wednesdays…

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008



OUTFEST WEDNESDAY: Un Chant D’Amour (1950)


Wednesday, May 28, 7:30pm Rigler Theatre @ The Egyptian



UN CHANT D’AMOUR (A Song of Love) – brand new 35mm print, restored and uncensored!

Dir. Jean Genet, France, 1950, 25 min.


Outlaw writer Jean Genet originally made the silent film UN CHANT’ D’AMOUR for Parisian gay porn collectors. Set in a prison, the sexual fantasies of the prisoners are played out in the sado-masochistic environment of their surroundings. Banned in France upon its release for explicit sexuality, the film is voyeuristic and erotic while remarkably poetic and romantic.  Genet’s sole directorial effort has proved its importance in queer film culture, influencing works from Andy Warhol to Todd Haynes.




Dir. Antoine Bourseiller, France, 1981, 52 mins

 Jean Genet speaks candidly in 1981 about his prison experiences, his sexuality, and his work.




Obit…Sydney Pollack

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Sydney Pollack, 73; Oscar-winning director and producer


(Brian Hamill, Getty Images)


By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 27, 2008


Sydney Pollack, the Academy Award-winning director of Out of Africa who acheived acclaim making popular, mainstream movies with A-list stars, including The Way We Were and Tootsie, died Monday. He was 73.  READ MORE.



 Sydney Pollack, Film Director, Is Dead at 73



By Michael Cieply, New York Times
May 27, 2008


LOS ANGELESSydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay as director, producer and sometime actor whose star-laden movies like The Way We Were, Tootsie and Out of Africa were among the most successful of the 1970s and ’80s, died Monday at home here. He was 73.  READ MORE.



Sydney Pollack


By Andre Soares, Alternative Film Guide
May 27, 2008


Sydney Pollack, the director of several critical and box-office successes of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, died of cancer earlier today in the Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades. He was 73.  READ MORE.


Memorial Day Observance…

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Memorial Day




Memorial Day or Decoration Day, began in 1868 when members of the Grand Army of the Republic heeded the request of their commander, General John A. Logan, to decorate the graves of their fallen compatriots. It has since become the day on which the United States honors the dead of all its wars and is observed as a legal holiday in most states. National services are held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia.


Following are four entertainment casualties during World War II.




CAROLE LOMBARD (1908-1942) -Popular comedienne of films during the 1930s, most notably in Twentieth Century (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Nothing Sacred (1937). In January 1942, Lombard had sold over two-million dollars worth of war bonds in her home state of Indiana. Anxious to return to her husband, Clark Gable, she chose to take a plane. The plane crashed into a mountain outside Las Vegas. Everyone on board was killed, including Lombard’s mother, Bessie Peters and MGM publicity man, Otto Winkler.



TAMARA (1910-1943) – The Russian-born radio singer and Broadway actress who made popular such songs as “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “Love for Sale” and “Get Out of Town.” She was one of twenty-four entertainers, foreign correspondents and business men who were killed when a USO Yankee Clipper crashed in the Tagus River near Lisbon on February 22, 1943. Also on board was actress and singer, Jane Froman, who was severely injured in the crash. She was rescued by the clipper’s co-pilot, John Curtis Burn, whom she married five years later.




LESLIE HOWARD (1893-1943) – British-born actor best known for his role as Ashley Wilkes in the popular film classic, Gone with the Wind (1939). Howard died when he was returning from Lisbon and his plane was shot down by a German Junkers Ju 88 over the Bay of Biscay. His body was never found.



CHARLES KING (1889-1944) – Vaudeville entertainer who appeared in a number of Hollywood films, most notably the Academy Award winning, Broadway Melody (1929). King died of pneumonia in London while entertaining the troops.



Robert Morley’s Birthday…

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Happy 100th Birthday

Robert Morley!


Robert Morley




BORN: May 26, 1908, Semley, Wiltshire, England

DIED: JUNE 3, 1992, Wargrave, Berkshire, England


BURIAL: Ashes scattered across graveyard

of parish church at Wargrave


  • Title role in Oscar Wilde, Fulton Theatre, New York, October 1938
  • His film debut was as Louis XVI with Norma Shearer in Marie Antoinette (1938)
  •  “recognizable by his ungainly bulk, bushy eyebrows, thick lips, and double chin, […] particularly effective when cast as a pompous windbag.” — Leonard Malton
  • “a rotund, triple-chinned, delightful character player of the British and American stage and screen.” — Ephraim Katz



Allan Does New York…

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

New York City Highlights



 Times Square


by Allan R. Ellenberger


Recently I returned from a trip to New York City where I did research for my Miriam Hopkins biography. I also spent time with some good friends who showed me the greatest hospitality. Thanks again to Adam, Steve, Joe and Arlene.


During my stay, I accessed information from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York and had a charming visit with media legend, Joe Franklin.


The Billy Rose Collection at the NYPL is a great resource especially for the theatre. Miriam Hopkins was exclusive to Broadway from 1921 to 1931 and returned on occasion for the next thirty years. In future postings I will document her stage appearances. At the library, I also perused the papers of Chamberlain and Lyman Brown who served as theatrical agents for Hopkins for more than twenty years. The Cheryl Crawford papers gave me information on the making of the Broadway play, The Perfect Marriage, that starred Hopkins and Victor Jory and was produced by Crawford.


The Museum of the City of New York has archives that cover the entire history of Broadway. I was able to go through files for every play that Hopkins appeared in.


In future posts I will concentrate on a few New York film related landmarks. For now, here are photos from my visit of some popular New York sites. Please “click” on image to enlarge.










Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Recent Obituaries of Note


Fred Haines, 72, film writer and director, Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2008



Sandy Howard, 80; produced ‘A Man Called Horse,’ Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2008



Ruth Simpson, 82; gay liberation leader author, Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2008



Warren Cowan, 87; legendary Hollywood publicist, Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2008