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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

fliXposed remembers... 2013 in Memoriam

2013 was a year of loss for movie fans of all ages, with the deaths of classic stars such as Esther Williams and Joan Fontaine, and more younger stars such as Cory Montieth and Paul Walker.

fliXposed looks back at 2013, and remembers those who sadly passed throughout the year...

The Top 10 greatest losses of 2013 (for me personally)

#1. Esther Williams (1921-2013)

For me the greatest loss of the year was the Million Dollar Mermaid herself, Esther Williams. Williams continues to dazzle moviegoers worldwide with her underwater ballet sequences in her many MGM film appearances.

Esther Williams in the classic musical 'Million Dollar Mermaid'

The dazzling Esther Williams

#2. Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

Coming in a close second is the brilliant Joan Fontaine. Fontaine is the sister of actress Olivia de Havilland (who is still alive at 97) and will always be remembered for her classic performances in "Rebecca" (1940) and "Suspicion" (1941).

The beautiful Joan Fontaine

#3. Peter O'Toole (1932-2013)

Best remembered for his roles in "Laurence of Arabia" (1962) and "My Favorite Year" (1982), the world lost one of the greatest British actors to ever appear on the silver screen with the death of Peter O'Toole.

Peter O'Toole in 'Lawrence of Arabia' (1962)

#4. Jeanne Cooper (1928-2013)

Jeanne Cooper will always be remembered for playing Katharine Chanceller on the TV soap opera "The Young and the Restless". I was in the Hollywood at the time of her death, and it was a personally moving experience seeing the multitude of floral tributes and candle vigils placed upon Cooper's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

#5. Deanna Durbin (1921-2013) - Singing actress, who sadly retired at a very young age

#6. Eileen Brennan (1932-2013) - Actress who to me will always be remembered as Mrs. Peacock in 'Clue' (1985)

#7. Eleanor Parker (1922-2013) - actress, best known for playing The Baroness in 'The Sound of Music' (1965)

#8. Jean Stapleton (1923-2013) - actress, who starred in the classic TV sitcom "All In The Family"

#9. Karen Black (1939-2013) - Actress

#10. Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) - Actor and comedian

Other notable losses (this is not an exhaustive list)

Frank Thornton (actor)

Nelson Mandela (activist/humanist)

James Gandolfini

Patty Andrews (singer/actress) - the last surviving Andrews Sister

Jane Henson (Muppeteer) - wife of the late Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets

Julie Harris (actress)

Ray Harryhausen (visual effects pioneer)

Annette Funicello (actress / Mouseketeer)

Cory Monteith (actor)

Paul Walker (actor)

Margaret Pell (actress / 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin) - one of the last surviving Munchkins from 'The Wizard of Oz'

Michael Ansara (actor) - played the Blue Djinn in 'I Dream of Jeannie'

Andy Williams (singer)

John Kerr (actor)

Chrissy Amphlett (Australian singer)

Bern Stern (photographer/director)

Dennis Farina (actor)

Roger Ebert (film critic)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Sur un air de Charleston (Charleston Parade) (1927) - Director of the month... Jean Renoir

'Sur un air de Charleston' (aka: Charleston Parade) is a surreal 1927 silent short sci-fi film directed by French director Jean Renoir, and starring Catherine Hessling and Johnny Hudgins. 

The film is set in post-apocalyptic France in 2028, where a flying sphere lands on earth. An explorer emerges from the sphere and encounters a scantily dressed wild girl and her monkey-man companion, who teaches him how to do the Charleston.

Did you know...

  • This film was short over three days at a very low budget, using remaining film stock from Renoir's previous film 'Nana' (1927)
  • Blink and you'll miss director Jean Renoir as one of the angels
  • The film's leading lady Catherine Hessling was the wife of director Jean Renoir

Watch the film on YouTube:

Closing remarks

An unusual experimental film and very different to the rest of Jean Renoir's work. I personally enjoyed this film, although it may not make a lot of sense to most viewers.

What I enjoy most about watching this film in 2013 (almost 90 years after it was filmed), is how it encapsulates and fuses together both elements the past and future for the contemporary audience (although I highly doubt this was Renoir's intention). The past is represented by the use of the Charleston dance as a key plot device, and the future is represented by the post-apocalyptic France. 

I love watching people from the 1920s doing the Charleston. It is such an vibrant and energetic dance with it's hops, kicks and jumps... (it would make a fun cardio workout). Through Renoir's use of slow motion, the spectator can carefully observe the Charleston and how it is done. There are also some good use of early special effects.

Although the film runs only 17 minutes, I would consider this as an exemplary example of experimental futuristic cinema.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958) - Star of the month... Connie Stevens

'Rock-a-Bye Baby' is a 1958 farce comedy directed and written by Frank Tashlin and starring Jerry Lewis, Marilyn Maxwell, Reginald Gardner, Salvatore Baccaloni, Hans Conried, Isobel Elsom, James Gleason & introducing Connie Stevens. Jerry Lewis also produced the film. The film features costume design by the great Edith Head, and songs by Harry Warren & Sammy Cahn.

When famous movie star Carla Naples (played by Marilyn Maxwell) discovers she is pregnant with triplets, her agent Harold Herman (played by Reginald Gardiner) sends her back to her hometown to avoid scandal. After her return, Carla is reunited with former sweetheart Clayton Poole (played by Jerry Lewis), who agrees to adopt the children once they are born. Matters are complicated once Clayton later discovers he must be married in order to adopt the children. Fortunately Carla's younger sister Sandy Naples (played by Connie Stevens) just happens to be in love with Clayton.

Jerry Lewis with Connie Stevens

Musical program

  • "Rock-a-Bye Baby" - Jerry Lewis
  • "The Land of La-La-La" - Jerry Lewis with Gary Lewis & Judy Franklin
  • "Love is a Lonely Thing" - Jerry Lewis
  • "Dormi-Dormi-Dormi (Sleep, Sleep, Sleep)" - Jerry Lewis & Salvatore Baccaloni
  • "Why Can't He Care For Me?" - Connie Stevens
  • "The White Virgin of the Nile" - Marilyn Maxwell

Musical highlights

Song: "Dormi, Dormi, Dormi (Sleep, Sleep, Sleep)" - Jerry Lewis & Salvatore Baccaloni

Song: "The White Virgin of the Nile" - Marilyn Maxwell

Did you know...

  • George Sanders filmed some scenes for the film, which were later deleted
  • Jerry Lewis cast Connie Stevens in this film after seeing her performance in the b-film 'Dragstrip Riot' (1958)
  • The film was re-released in 1963 as a Jerry Lewis double feature with 'Don't Give Up the Ship' (1959)
  • This film is a loose remake of "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944)

Marriage and legitimacy of children

A key theme to the film is the ideology of marriage and the legitimacy of children. Although Carla was married to her bullfighter husband (albeit a day before his death), she was still married to the father of her children. As it is not common knowledge that Carla had gotten married, Carla and her agent are both concerned about the general public's perception that her children are illegitimate, and how this may impact her career and box office success. This is strongly linked to the strict moral values of the 1950s, and the belief that one should be married before having children. Had the public known about Carla's wedding, it is likely the birth of triplets would have been very positive publicity for her. Fortunately for us, this is not the case, or we would not have a film to watch... :)   The unmarried issue also impacts Clayton, who is required to get married in order to adopt Carla's triplets. Sandy even tells clayton: "You're not married! They're not going to let a bachelor raise three little girls!"

Carla's maternal values are revealed towards the end of the film where she stands up to her agent, and tells him: "Being a mother is the only career that I want, or ever really wanted. I was a fool to leave my children." In order to redeem her actions, she alleges she and Clayton were secretly married. While this protects her reputation and the legitimacy of her children, it labels Clayton as a bigamist, where he faces jail.

Closing remarks

Very funny Jerry Lewis comedy will leave you laughing from the moment it starts until it ends. I like the way the film takes serious issues of the time - legitimacy of children and bigamy - and incorporates them into an amusing and entertaining farce.

In my opinion, this is one of Jerry Lewis' funnier movies without Dean Martin. The supporting cast does a great job in complimenting Jerry Lewis in the film. Of particular note is the beautiful Connie Stevens, who is both ditsy and funny in her first important film role. We are fortunate to hear Connie Stevens sing a song in the song "Why Can't He Care For Me?".  This is the film which launched Connie Stevens to stardom. She signed a contract with Warner Bros. shortly after the release of this film, and also secured her most famous role as Cricket Blake on the TV show "Hawaiian Eye".

Three reasons to watch this film...

  • Jerry Lewis delivering a very funny performance
  • Connie Stevens' first important film role
  • Some of the cutest babies you'll ever see in a film

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Drag Strip Riot (1958) - Star of the month... Connie Stevens

'Dragstrip Riot' is a 1958 teen exploitation film directed by David Bradley and starring Yvonne Lime (Fedderson), Gary Clarke, Fay Wray, Connie Stevens, Bob Turnbull and Ted Wedderspoon.

New kid in town Rick Martin (played by Gary Clarke) falls in with the local gang of hot rodders. After a harmless drag race goes wrong, Rick is unfairly blamed for the death of another teenager.

Watch the trailer:

Watch the complete film on YouTube:

Connie Stevens & The Ripchords sing "Jamaica Rock"

Musical program...

  • "Teenage Rumble" - The Ripchords
  • "Something New" - Connie Stevens with The Ripchords
  • "Rock & Rollin' Joe" - The Ripchords
  • "Jamaica Rock" - Connie Stevens with The Ripchords

Did you know...

  • After seeing Connie Stevens in this film, Jerry Lewis case her in 'Rock-a-Bye Baby' (1958)
  • This was the film debut of Steve Ihnat

Closing remarks

Below average 1950s teen exploitation b-picture, notable for featuring an early appearance of Connie Stevens, and an appearance from Fay Wray (who in 1933 played the blonde woman in 'King Kong'). Fay Wray, who was still a well known star, sure must have been desperate for an acting job for her to have appeared in this film.

The film is a product of it's time, and even from the first moment we will transported back to the late 1950s. The film features all elements of a classic teen exploitation film... bikie gangs, beach scenes, jukeboxes, diners, drag races and even an amusing cat fight between Connie Stevens and a girl from a rival gang.

The primary issue with this film is its pace. It develops rather slow. Of it's 70 minutes,  it takes approx. 30 mins for the primary storyline to commence, with not much happening before that. I think this could have worked better as a 25-30 minute short film, rather than a 70 minute feature.

Worth watching if you are a big fan of Connie Stevens and/or Fay Wray. If not, don't bother.

Star of the month June 2013... Connie Stevens

fliXposed is pleased to announce our Star of the Month for June 2013 is the beautiful singer/actress, Connie Stevens.

Connie Stevens was born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia in Brooklyn, New York, on the 8 August 1938. Coming from a musical family, she joined several singing groups including The Fourmost and later The Three Debs.

After appearing in four b-pictures, Jerry Lewis case her in 'Rock-a-Bye Baby', which helped Stevens secure a contract with Warner Bros. 

After appearing in a number of films, Connie Stevens released a string of successful singles including "Sixteen Reasons" and "Kookie! Lend Me Your Comb". Today, Connie Stevens is best known for playing Cricket Blake on the TV show 'Hawaiian Eye' from 1959 to 1962, and for her role as Miss Mason in 'Grease 2' (1982).

During the month of June, I will attempt to experience as many of the following moments from Connie Stevens' career as I can...

Connie Stevens on Film

  • Dragstrip Riot
  • Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958)
  • The Party Crashers (1958)
  • Way, Way Out (1966)
  • The Littlest Angel (1969)
  • Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
  • Grease (1981)
  • Back to the Beach (1987)
  • Love Is All There Is (1996)

Connie Stevens on TV

  • Hawaiian Eye (1952-1962)
  • Wendy & Me (1964-1965)
  • The Muppet Show (1976)
  • The Love Boat (1978-1987)
  • Titus: The Trial (2002)
  • Titus: The Visit (2002)

Connie Stevens in Music

  • Sixteen Reasons
  • A Little Kiss is a Kiss is a Kiss
  • Kookie! Kookie! Lend Me Your Comb

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Night of 100 Stars II (1985) - Star of the month... Juliet Prowse

'Night of 100 Stars II' was a 1985 TV variety special which featured approx. 300 stars under the one theatre in a range of songs and sequences.

Many of my favourite stars featured in this special including Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, Olivia de Havilland, Lana Turner, Juliet Prowse, Van Johnson, Janet Leigh, Bernadette Peters, Raquel Welch, Lynda Carter, Leslie Uggams, Petula Clark, Ann-Margret, Anne Baxter, Marisa Berenson, Yul Brynner, Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Marge Champion, Dyan Cannon, Carol Channing, Joan Collins, Lena Horne, Rock Hudson, James Earl Jones, James Stewart, Danny Kaye, Linda Lavin, Donald O'Connor, Laurence Olivier, Sidney Poitier, Jane Powell, Vincent Price, Esther Williams & the Muppets.

I wasn't able to find footage to the entire 3 hour TV special, but was able to find a lot of it on YouTube. Highlights I was able to find are outlined below, with each of the stars featured, as well as the number assigned to them in parenthesis.

Opening: New York medley
* "This is a Star" - The Rockettes (#2) with a young Drew Barrymore (#3)
* "New York, New York (Instrumental)" - Leonard Bernstein (#4)
* "Arthur's Theme" - Peter Allen (#5)
* "Manhattan" - Ashford & Simpson (#6)
* "Every Street's a Boulevard (In Old New York)" - Placido Domingo (#8) (with Marisa Berenson (#9), Maureen Stapleton (#7), Deborah Raffin (#10))
* "This is my Home Town" - Robert Klein (#11)
* "New York, New York" - Lucie Arnaz (#12)
* "42nd Street" - Jerry Orbach (#13)
* "Take the 'A' Train" - Leslie Uggams (#14)
* "42nd Street (Reprise" - Robert Klein, Lucie Arnaz, Jerry Orbach & Leslie Uggams
* "Uptown" - Melba Moore (#15)
* "Downtown" - Petula Clark (#16)
* "How About You"- Carol Channing (#17) & Big Bird (#18)
* "Autumn in New York" - Dinah Shore (#19)
* "On Broadway" - Patti LaBelle (#20)
* "New York City Rhythm" - Jennifer Holliday (#21)
* "The Jet Song" - Joe Nameth (#22)

* "New York City Rhythm (Reprise)" - Jennifer Holliday, Patti LaBelle, Peter Allen & Joe Nameth
* "Theme from New York, New York" - Kermit the Frog (#24) with The Muppets (#23) (Fozzie Bear, The Count, Grover, Tully Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Ernie, Janice, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Dr. Teeth, Scooter, Rowlf, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Swedish Chef, Gonzo, Uncle Travellin' Matt, Statler, Waldorf & Barkley)
* "New York State of Mind" - Ensemble

TV Stars in "TV is a Circus"
TV legend Lucille Ball (#25) delivers an introduction on television, followed by our three celebrity ring masters Hal Linden (#26), Michelle Lee (#27), Nancy Dussault (#28) singing "TV is a Circus", and introducing: Nell Carter (#29), Tony Danza (#30), Harry Anderson (#31), Gary Coleman (#32), Soleil Moon Frye (#33), James Noble (#34), Inga Swenson (#35), Dick Clark (#36), Charlotte Rae (#37), Michael J. Fox (#38), Meredith Baxter Birney (#39), Scott Baio (#40), Tempestt Bledsoe (#41), Lisa Bonet (#42), Keshia Knight Pulliam (#43), Malcolm-Jamal Warner (#44), Gavin MacLeod (#45), Marla Gibbs (#46), Bob Newhart (#47), Emmanuel Lewis (#48), Tyne Daly (#49), Heather Thomas (#50), Doug Barr (#51), Pierce Brosnan (#52), Stephanie Zimbalist (#53), Jameson Parker (#54), David Hasselhoff (#55), Lee Horsley (#56), Kate Jackson (#57), Daniel Hugh-Kelly (#58), William Shatner (#59), Rex Smith (#60), Perry King (#61), Pernell Roberts (#62), William Daniels (#63), Jack Palance (#64), Tony Franciosa (#65), Rene Enriquez (#66), Bruce Weitz (#67), Joe Spano (#68), Betty Thomas (#69), Jennifer O'Neill (#70), Linda Gray (#71), Lorenzo Lamas (#72), John Forsythe, Linda Evans (#73), Joan Collins (#74), Diahann Carroll (#75), Julie Harris (#76), Lisa Hartman (#77), Joan Van Ark (#78), Donna Mills (#79), Anne Baxter (#80),

The Red Shoes
Dick Van Dyke delivers an introduction and sings a song before we get the biggest star studded chorus of line of dancers the world has ever seen...
* Gregory Hines (#88), Hinton Battle (#89), Lee Roy Reams (#90), Victor Griffin (#91) & Gregg Burge (#92)
* Georgia Engel (#93) & Elaine Joyce (#94), Beth Howland (#95), Bonnie Franklin (#96), Marge Champion (#97), Nanette Fabray (#98), Christopher Walken (#99)
* Cynthia Gregory (#100) & Alexander Godunov (#101)
* Sandy Duncan (#102), Don Correia (#103), Jane Powell (#104) &Van Johnson (#105)
* Alfonso Ribeiro (#106)
* Gwen Verdon (#107), Charles 'Honi' Coles (#108), Juliet Prowse (#109), Maurice Hines (#110), Chita Riveira (#111), Donny Osmond (#112), Debbie Allen (#113), Donald O'Connor (#114) &  Ginger Rogers (#115)

The Fearless Females of the Silent Screen
Bernadette Peters (#157) introduces the great silent screen legends:
* Billie Dove (#158)
* Laura LaPlante (#159)
* Leatrice Joy (#160)
* Lillian Gish (#161)

Salute to the Great Stars of Film
Bernadette Peters presents the following Great Stars of Film...
* Dustin Hoffman (#162)
* Lana Turner (#163)
* Robert Preston (#164)
* Sidney Poitier (#165)
* Olivia de Havilland (#166)
* Robert de Niro (#167)
* Danny Kaye (#168)
* Laurence Olivier (#169)

Fashion Show
An all-star 1980s fashion show with an introduction by Joan Collins and featuring on the runway... Shari Belafonte-Harper (#170), Gregory Harrison (#171), Ali MacGraw (#172), Tony Roberts (#173), Florence Henderson (#174), Treat Williams (#175), Valerie Bertinelli (#176), Lynn Swann (#177), Alan Flusser (#178), Cathy Lee Crosby (#179), Georg Stanford Brown (#180), Heather Locklear (#181), David Birney (#182), Lee Wright (#183), Brooke Shields (#184), Michael Ives (#185), Morgan Fairchild (#186), Teri Garr (#187), Dyan Cannon (#188), Ellen Burstyn (#189), Cristina Ferrare (#190), Colleen DewHurst (#191), Morgan Brittany (#192), Susan Lucci (#193), Jill St. John (#194), Cynthia Sikes (#195), Mary McFadden (#196), Janet Leigh (#197), Jacqueline Bisset (#198), Jaclyn Smith (#199), Deidre Hall (#200), Jane Seymour (#201), Caroline Herrera (#202), Joan Van Ark, Gloria Loring (#203), Donna Mills, Lisa Hartman, Lynda Carter (#204), Jacqueline de Ribes (#205), Diahann Carroll, Linda Evans, Claudia Cardinale (#206), Priscilla Presley (#207), Linda Grey, Raquel Welch (#208), Angie Dickinson (#209), Laura Branigan (#210), Michaele Vollbracht (#211), Tracy Mills (#212), Fabrice (#213), Geoffrey Beene (#214), Carole Little (#215), Halston (#216), Fernando Sanchez (#217), Bob Mackie (#218), Albert Capraro (#219), Oleg Cassini (#220), The Emanuels (#221), Ann-Margret (#222)

Juliet Prowse at the Tony Awards in the 1980s - Star of the month... Juliet Prowse

During the 1980s Juliet Prowse appeared and performed at several Tony Award events.

Some highlights include...

Sweet Charity medley with Chita Rivera (live from 1985 Tony Awards)
* "Hey, Big Spender!" - Juliet Prowse
* "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" - Chita Rivera
* "If My Friends Could See Me Now" - Juliet Prowse & Chita Rivera

Broadway Melody (live from 1986 Tony Awards)
* "Steam Heat" - Juliet Prowse, Ann Reinking & Sandy Duncan
* "You Gotta Have Heart" - Bea Arthur & Ensemble (including Cleo Laine)
* "I Could Have Danced All Night" - Stephanie Powers (with Hal Linden & Cleo Laine)
* "America" - Juliet Prowse, Ann Reinking & Sandy Duncan
* "Love Look Away" - Leslie Uggams
* "Lagardia" / "Do Re Mi" - Ensemble
* "Some People" - Bernadette Peters
* "Who Am I Anyway?"  - Rex Smith
* "Easy Street" - Dorothy Loudon
* "Ain't Misbehavin'" - Nell Carter
* "Not While I'm Around" - Bea Arthur

* "Age of Aquarius" - Nell Carter (with Leslie Uggams)