Categories

  • Home
  • |
  • |
  • News
  • Additional Information

    Site Information

     Loading... Please wait...

    News

    Glorious Gloria

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Film noir icon Gloria Grahame, who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award® for her brief but memorable role as a fluttery and flirty Southern belle wife of a screenwriter in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), endures as a fascinating object of renewed interest, thanks to the moody and moving new theatrical film about her sad last days in England, Los Angeles and New York before her tragic death (at age 57) from cancer, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. Annette Bening, who is uncanny in her whispery-voiced and hauntingly alluring impersonation of a world-weary but defiant Grahame; Jamie Bell (strikingly heartfelt in a mature evolution from his poignant Smike of the Twilight Time title from 2002, Nicholas Nickleby), portraying British actor Peter Turner, whose 1986 memoir about his romance with the actress forms the film’s basis; and writer Matt Greenhalgh, noted for his real-life-inspired screenplays about musicians John Lennon (Nowhere Boy) and Ian Curtis (Control), have all been nominated for 2017 BAFTA Awards for their deeply moving and insightful work. If one needs reminding of the unique Grahame’s celluloid force beyond the aforementioned The Bad and the Beautiful or the beloved It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) or the searing noirs Crossfire (1947, for which she nabbed her first Oscar® nomination) and In a Lonely Place (1950), Twilight Time offers two superb examples. Atop the pantheon of her resumé sits director Fritz Lang’s tough, terrific The Big Heat (1953), in which her gangster’s moll character of Debby Marsh takes the suffering she endures for helping hard-case detective Glenn Ford crack the DNA of a corrupt mob’s control of a Midwestern city – a disfiguring pot of scalding coffee thrown in her face – and channels it into righteous retribution at an awful cost. In his lively 1993 Alternate Oscars wherein he awards her 1953 Best Actress honors, film historian Danny Peary reflects: “Grahame was an underrated, one-of-a-kind actress with kittenish good looks and a somewhat dazed expression. She gave special meaning to such terms as fallen woman, tarnished lady and femme fatale, which she definitely is not in The Big Heat. Debby is one of her many sensuous, flirtatious women who are unhappy with their lives, and feel they are unworthy of the men they fall for. She’s too good to be stuck with the brutal Vince [Lee Marvin], but until she meets [Ford’s cop] Bannon she believes that he is typical of all men. When Vince disfigures her with hot coffee (Grahame plays much of the film with blistered-face makeup), she finally realizes she deserves better; ironically, at the same time, her disfigurement forces her to stop being vain. Now she fights for her self-esteem. And Grahame makes sure Debby emerges as someone we can truly admire.” 

    A year before the real-life events of the Grahame/Turner romantic relationship depicted in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, the veteran actress landed a part that showcased, like her memorable Ado Annie in the movie version of Oklahoma! (1955), her shamefully underutilized flair for comedy. Screenwriter/director Joan Micklin Silver’s delicate and tender film adaptation of Ann Beattie’s 1976 novel Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979) casts the one-time screen siren as Clara, the delusional, self-dramatizing mother who makes life complicated for the moony, romantically obsessed Charles (John Heard) as he’s striving to rekindle his relationship with ex-amour Laura (Mary Beth Hurt). As TCM.com essayist Jeff Stafford points out about her portrayal of a dazed and confused matriarch who arranges a Sunday dinner and forgets to prepare the meal, spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathtub while ignoring her second husband (Kenneth McMillan), and concocts faux-suicide attempts, “Gloria Grahame is…unpredictably funny and pathetic as Charles' mentally unbalanced mother, proving that underneath her screen image as a film noir femme fatale was a gifted comedienne struggling to break out.” To film historian David Shipman, “’40s floozie” Grahame “was so good that she eased herself out of supporting roles into star parts – though not many of much variation. She was usually cast as your friendly neighborhood nympho. She was both tough and vulnerable, a combination not rare but here at its most winning.” Life would deal her amazing career highs and erratic personal lows; according to Shipman: “Said Picturegoer: ‘If she were more synthetic, producers might not be so wary of her particular kind of explosive sex-appeal. But she’s very real, too real perhaps.’” As Grahame is remembered with burnished affection by the creators of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, so too is TT’s real, unvarnished fondness for the dazzling co-star of The Big Heat (offered here: http://screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/30898/THE-BIG-HEAT-1953-ENCORE-EDITION/) and Chilly Scenes of Winter on hi-def Blu-ray. Grahame will return on our label later in 2018.

    Cutter's Second Chance

    When it opened in New York 36 years ago today, an edgy thriller with interesting but not quite big-time stars and a premise that could not be summed up in a 10-word tagline faced a lackluster reception and closed quickly. That might have been all there was to the story of the film adaptation of Newton Thornburg’s novel Cutter [...]

    Read More »


    February Preorders / Kremlin Connections

    On Valentine’s Day, romance may be in the air, but comedy, action and family drama light up home entertainment screens courtesy of four Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray releases arriving February 14. They include two acting showcases for screen newcomer Mary Beth Hurt, who gives a couple of memorable performances as the love-confused leading lady of Chilly Scenes of Winter from screenwriter/director [...]

    Read More »


    Chilly Scenes of Winter and the Comedy of Sentimental Pessimism ~ Part 3 of 3: A Certain Tone

    Note: This essay features excerpts from Daniel Kremer’s forthcoming book Joan Micklin Silver: From Hester Street to Hollywood.It’s no wonder the studio didn’t know what to do with it back in 1979. Silver, who fought the proposed Head Over Heels title change, and so decried it for sounding like a Walt Disney movie, recalls, “The crew, bless them all, were as [...]

    Read More »


    Chilly Scenes of Winter and the Comedy of Sentimental Pessimism ~ Part 2 of 3: John Heard's Heroic Nature and the Movie's True Identity

    Note: This essay features excerpts from Daniel Kremer’s forthcoming book Joan Micklin Silver: From Hester Street to Hollywood.It is difficult to imagine the role of Charles in the hands of the role’s other early contenders, as John Heard is so quintessentially forlorn as our heroic schlemeil. United Artists initially suggested Robin Williams, Treat Williams, John Ritter, Richard Dreyfuss and [...]

    Read More »


    Chilly Scenes of Winter and the Comedy of Sentimental Pessimism ~ Part 1 of 3: No Dinner, Your Joke

    Note: This essay features excerpts from Daniel Kremer’s forthcoming book Joan Micklin Silver: From Hester Street to Hollywood.Charles arrives for Thanksgiving dinner at his vampy, neurotic mother Clara’s house. In tow is his best friend, the “unemployed jacket salesman” Sam. The kooky, usually bathtub-ridden Clara has somehow managed to emerge all gussied up in a rather lavish party gown. Considering her [...]

    Read More »


    Loving Winter Madness

    “What this sad, sweet and delicately humorous film emphasizes is that falling in love can be an act of unflinching madness, with the potential to drive those involved far, far over the edge.” Writing for New West earlier in his career before becoming the venerable film critic of the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan was analyzing Chilly Scenes of Winter [...]

    Read More »


    January/February Slate: Eight for the Hi-Def Road

    Warm winter nights around the hi-def Blu-ray home theater hearth are in order as Twilight Time kicks off 2017 with an array of eight distinctive movie marvels showcasing prime pairings of acclaimed actors (Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney, John Heard and Mary Beth Hurt, Jane Fonda with both James Caan and Robert De Niro), menacingly iconic turns by Vincent [...]

    Read More »


    Heard to the Bone

    In director Joan Micklin Silver’s Between the Lines (1977), actor John Heard, still going strong and celebrating his 71st birthday today, played an award-winning investigative reporter for an alternative weekly (in the era when there were a ton of them) who has become worn at the edges, dismayed by what he perceives as the dying embers of social activism at [...]

    Read More »