Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Deborah Kerr 9/30

Deborah Kerr died on Oct. 16, 2007. I had not yet begun this blog. Had it existed I would have done a major tribute to her. Why? Because she would have deserved it! Well it is never too late. So on her birthday I will begin with my number 8 favorite film 'The King and I'. That actually is the movie that introduced me to Miss Kerr. I would then work backward and then forward to view her films. In doing so I discovered one of the greatest actresses of all time.
It is said that when Louis B. Mayer met her he changed her name to Kerr because it rhymed with STAR. True or not it became the truth.

Deborah NEVER won an Oscar, Never!!! Along with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole never winning, the shame of Oscar and it's often absurd choices continued.*
If there is a successor on film to Ms. Kerr it may be Kate Winslet another English Rose. Kate has yet to win the gold statue. The next time Kate is nominated and loses she will tie with Deborah for most noms most loses. Be careful Oscar you are too tainted already.
The biggest loose for Deborah was losing to Elizabeth Taylor for 'Butterfield 8;. Even Miss Taylor says it was "the worst piece of crap I ever made". Hollywood thought Liz was going to die after an emergency tracheonomy during the voting period. Deborah lost for 'The Sundowners' having given a pitch-perfect performance. Shame Shame Shame Oscar!
It's a somewhat lost fact that Deborah filmed the role without makeup. How many actresses would have done that at that time?

Over the next weeks I'll highlight some of my favorite Deborah movies. My recommendations. A variety as to drama, comedic ability and the power to make me me laugh, cry, think and keep me on the edge of my seat. She had it all and did it all. Film is a lesser place without her.

I give you Deborah Kerr

*(now although i think oscars often get it wrong i do get caught up in the hoopla as you will see at year end.)

'The King and I' is Number 8

I unashamedly say I LOVE MUSICALS. I love Broadway and the musical films that come from it. I also love some made just for film musicals. Most people and groups consider 'Singin' in the Rain' the best film musical. In all honesty it would not make my top 200. I don't get it.

My film musical experience begins in the 50's. 1954 brought '7 Brides for 7 Brothers', 1955 brought 'Oklahoma' followed by 'Carousel' and 'The King and I' in 1956 and finally 'South Pacific' in '58.. These five films formed my musical point of view. I still like them all but I don't love them all anymore. The brides and brothers seem too hokey now. 'Carousel' too stilted. Why the hell did they keep jumping from location to soundstage in the same scene? 'South Pacific' too corny. And what the hell was Josh Logan, director, doing with those color changes? Sheer madness. It is barely watchable nowadays. 'Oklahoma' does hold up though. But it is 'The King and I' that truly stands the test of time. This film continues to play like it came out in any given year you watch it.

So what about 'West Side Story'? I love it but just not more than 'The King and I'. Maybe if they got rid of that "Cool" number. That if for no other reason knocks this movie out of my top 10. You will all ask where your favorite is. Well they may yet show up. I'm not even sure yet as I am still formulating here. I really am taking taking this seriously the movie nut that I am.

As is my way I will first off SHAME the Oscars. The dismal, abysmal and long forgotten 'Around the World in 80 Days' won Best Picture in 1956. Gimme a break. Absurd, idiotic and downright insulting.

Score, costumes, cinematography, choreography, screenplay, orchestration, sound,sound mixing, direction and acting are all brilliant. And then there are Deborah Kerr the I and Yul Brynner the king. Yul will always be the King. Anyone else who plays the role is just fill-in. I also don't believe there will be another Anna as good as Deborah. She made Anna a fully equal sparing partner for the King as no one has before or since on stage. I say this with full apology to my old friend and neighbor Donna Murphy who won her second Tony for the role in the 90's Broadway revival. Great yes but no Deborah.

Now Mr. Brynner won the Oscar for his role here. Deborah did not. Why? There are two reasons really. The first is that Miss Kerr was not under contract to the producing studio, 20th century Fox and thus did not push for her to win. The second is the maddening reason. Ingrid Bergman made a return to Hollywood in 'Anastasia' after Hollywood, Congress and the Catholic Church publicly humiliated her for divorcing in 1949 and leaving her children. So seven years later Hollywood needed forgiveness and what better way than give an Oscar to the slandered party. So Ingrid in and Deborah out. The three other nominees were just fill-in in a lean year for women on film and at best should be forgotten like Carol Baker in 'Baby Doll'. God help us.
(p.s. congress and the church never apologized to Miss Bergman. But on second thought they did not have oscars to hand out.)

So here is just one of the six Deborah snubs. So I say to all nominees past and future if you feel you wuz robbed just remember you are in great company. I know that is no consolation but I try. And remember that your guess is as good as mine.

But enough....

If you do not know the film it's my pleasure to present to you my eighth favorite film: 'The King and I'.

The buildup to and then the greatest dance screen ever filmed: "Shall We Dance?".

Deborah as Anna

The King and Anna

Yul Brynner won Beat Acoto in '56 for being The King

Some Lobby Cards

The Black and White Gallery

Happy Birthday Elie Wiesel

The brilliant concentration camp survivor who taught us all to "NEVER FORGET".
He was THE Nazi hunter. His life and words should never be forgotten. He was one of the greats. Mr. Wiesel passed 9/20/2005 ten days prior to his 97th birthday.

"I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone – terribly alone in a world without God and without man."

Elie Wiesel, Night
(1958, translated by Stella Rodway)

The Family prior to the madness.

At 17 in Buchenwald where he was transferred to after being at Auschwitz. He was the only member of his immediate family to survive. If you only read one book on the horrors of the concentration camps let it be 'Night' by Mr. Wiesel

Happy Birthday Angie Dickinson, Fran Drescher & Fran Drescher

Monday, September 29, 2008

'Two For The Road' Comes In At #7

My Favorite Audrey Photo

So Beautiful in face, spirit and soul.

I LOVE Audrey Hepburn and that being said this is my favorite Audrey film. And I love many of her films but not all. She grows up in this film Audrey the WOMAN emerges. The shame of it all is that except for a few roles over the next 25 years. Audrey went into semi-retirement working for UNICEF until her untimely death on January 20, 1993. I missed her then as I miss her still. She was a beacon of light on the screen. If there are angels in some heaven she surely is a star there also.

For 1967 Audrey got an Oscar nomination for 'Wait Until Dark'. A film terribly directed by her then about to be divorced husband Mel Ferrer. Wrong nomination and the great Kate Hepburn went on to win her third Oscar. It was a tough year though. Faye Dunaway in 'Bonnie and Clyde' and Anne Bancroft in 'The Graduate'. Yet I firmly believe if Audrey had been nominated for 'Two for the Road' she would have won.

And before I forget and I wouldn't, there is the handsome, sexy and wonderful youthful Albert Finney as the other half of this intriguing couple. They share a chemistry that makes this story work. It's a shame they never worked together again.

Add to it all Frederic Rafael's brilliant screenplay, the dissection of a marriage over a decade unfolds in past, present and future time shifting back forward and middle and over again as the story unfolds.

I now present 'Two for the Road'.

The Posters

The Color Gallery

Jacqueline Bisset made her first big splash as Audrey's initial competitor for the youthful Albert Finney.

The black and white stills