In the two years since this blogspot first considered today as one of the most remarkable birthday convergences of top screen talents, a few relevant titles have left the Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray library while others have come aboard. So, from oldest to newest, let’s refresh the cinematic celebration of the legends who debuted on the world stage April 5 and left reels of great memories to savor.
Recently back in the fold (after the sold-out run of Jean Renoir’s Swamp Water) is Walter Huston (1883-1950), who powerfully plays Gene Tierney’s rock-ribbed-religious father in Dragonwyck (1946); he also makes a cameo appearance in a Presidential vein as part of the extensive Bonus Features on one of next month’s releases. Also in paternal mode, Spencer Tracy (1900-1967) anchors Broken Lance (1954) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) playing patriarchs of startlingly opposite stripes, albeit entirely in keeping with his breathtaking versatility. The performance of Melvyn Douglas (1901-1981) as the brooding parent of a sexually awakening farm girl energizes the superb Rapture (1965, offered here: http://www1.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/16594/RAPTURE-1965/).
Into the middle of the group strides its lone but towering distaff figure, the formidable Bette Davis (1908-1989), who finally joined the TT roster with the deliciously demented horror thriller Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, available here: http://screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/32214/HUSH-HUSH-SWEET-CHARLOTTE-1964/). Soon afterward, Gregory Peck (1916-2003) rose to prominence as an actor of commanding decency and powerful contrasts, illustrated by his early-career Scottish missionary priest in war-wracked China seeking The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) and his underappreciated mid-career stab at capturing the latter-day melancholic, alcoholic F. Scott Fitzgerald in Beloved Infidel (1959, get it here: http://www1.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/22924/BELOVED-INFIDEL-1959/).
Soldiering on as the venerable godfather of B-picturemaking, Roger Corman turns 92 today, and he is enshrined in TT’s hall of fame not only as producer-director of the rat-a-tat gangster saga The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967, obtainable here: http://www1.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/28535/THE-ST-VALENTINES-DAY-MASSACRE-1967/) but also as producer (and mentor to director Martin Scorsese) of the rough-and-tumble Boxcar Bertha (1972). Michael Moriarty, whom we first welcomed as the tight-assed Marine officer toward journey’s end of The Last Detail (1973, found here: http://screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/30729/THE-LAST-DETAIL-1973/), came to the forefront five years hence as one of the stars of the powerhouse post-Vietnam War drug-trafficking thriller Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978), and he himself, continuing the '70s theme, turns 77.
What a birthday blast it would be to have all of those icons in one room. No amount of candles could burn as brightly!