Thursday, February 25, 2016

the Epic Oscar Snub of Robert Preston in "Victor Victoria"

Entertainment-wise, there are just some things I can't see to get over. 

For example, Lucy and Desi's divorce.

Growing up with Lucy and Ricky, I mean Desi, they seemed a lock to be in love forever. Ricky said "I Love Lucy," right? And we all knew Ricky and Desi were one. Until his death I kept hoping for a reunion. 

And then there was the breakup of Sonny and Cher. I guess "I Got You, Babe" was only temporary. 

However, the really big thing that I just can't seem to get over is Robert Preston's loss for Best Supporting Actor for his BRILLIANT performance in 1982's "Victor Victoria." 

Robert Preston had a personality and presence made for the stage. Close up, it was almost a bit too overwhelming for the screen. However, actor and role combined perfectly in Professor Harold Hill, the con man extraordinaire from "The Music Man"

Once Preston was able to recreate his signature role on film, the audience got to see Preston in his true element - charming, playful, energetic and enthusiastic. Harold Hill freed him from "B" roles in "B" films. He was no longer the baddie or the stooge to the leading man. While he still might be a bit of a baddie, he now added a wink. He was now the star.

After "The Music Man," Robert Preston never failed to fill the screen at the expense of all others. After his early death as the father in "All the Way Home," the loss of his "being" was felt for every remaining moment of the film. 

By 1960, this actor whose first movie career spanned 1938 through the 50s when he headed east to Broadway and appeared in a string of hits, was finally getting his due. He appeared sparingly in films in the 70s, preferring to concentrate on the stage, but his performances were always worthy of the star status of Harold Hill.

In 1981 he hooked up with Blake Edwards for the memorable "S.O.B.," which lead to the role of Carroll "Toddy" Todd in Edwards's 1982 comedy, "Victor Victoria."

Toddy was such a wonderful role for Preston. He of the testosterone plated voice and the uber-masculine hairline, playing a flamboyantly gay man was genius. He jumped in with both feet and gave a fearless and joyful performance. He was audacious and hilarious and never held back. Plus - he looked great in a tux or a gown.

Underscored with a golden and burnished humanity that glowed like a warm fire, it was a performance that lifted the film, capped a long and memorable career and was deserving of that little gold man. No disrespect meant to Lou Gossett, Jr. (the winner that year), but Robert Preston was robbed.

That was the very last time I was emotionally invested in rooting for a winner. Now, I sit back and watch the show and try not to care who wins. This year I will repeat my dispassionate performance in front of the TV. I really do want Leo to win for "The Revenant," but I will allow Oscar (that dirty dog) no more heart breaks for me. 

This is my entry in the Oscars Snubs Blogathon, hosted by The Midnite Drive-In and Silver Scenes. Click HERE for more great overlooked performances by that gold-plated so-and-so.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Kiss is Just a Kiss: Charlie ♥s Edna Forever

A kiss is just a kiss. True, but it depends on whether you are the kisser or the kissee or - as are we movie-goers, an observer.

Now, kisser and kissee could be steamy and passionate...

Or, they could be innocent and chaste.

As a kisser (or kissee) I shall keep my preferences to my self (of course if Cary Grant is either one... oh, but I digress...).

No, we are here as observers, and as an observer it is the romantic kiss that pleases me most of all. You know, the kiss that is not quite innocent, but not quite lusty, coming just at the dawn of of love. Like a flower opening to the sun, it is full of promise and joy. It is the end of single and the beginning of plural, and, for me, there is no sweeter plural than Charlie Chaplin and his lovely leading lady, Edna Purviance.

  Charlie and Edna Forever

Before Edna, Charlie was a troublesome tramp. Once Edna entered the picture (and Charlie's real life for a time), the Little Fellow became a sweeter,gentler character. The Tramp still had tricks, but Edna awakened the romance in his soul.

Best Kisses
Charlie ardently pursued Edna through 34 films from 1915 through 1923. Here's some of their 5-star smooches:

The Immigrant

Charlie and Edna are two poor immigrants who find love and luck in the land of liberty.

Behind the Screen

Charlie and Edna find love at a movie studio (even through he thinks she might be a boy).

A Burlesque on Carmen
As thwarted lover Darn Hosiery, Charlie gives his Carmen the kiss of death (sort of).

But enough observing. Sometimes, lovers need privacy...

And just in case you want to try kissing Charlie for yourself (sort of), here's a cute little game. See how many kisses you can steal!

This is my entry into the Kiss is Just a Kiss Blogathon. Put some oomph into your Valentine's Day and head on over to Second Sight Cinema for more super smooches.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Safe in the Dream of Cinema

In a dream, in a place and time that never changes, in a piece of film, that is my safe place. No matter how uncertain the world, I can count on:

C.C. Baxter and Miss Kubelik playing gin
The Little Tramp's joy at realizing the Blind Girl can see
Eve Kendall recommending the trout to Roger Thornhill
The super shine of the floor (not to mention the starry sky) as Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell tap to Begin the Beguine
Norma Desmond's cigarette holder

They are always there, always a comfort when things turn topsy-turvy. That's how it is with classic movie lovers, and like genies we can disappear into the magic lantern that is the world of cinema. 
Safe inside our enchanted bottle, we can count on the fixed, repetitive nature of film as an occasional escape from the onslaught of the unknown. 

Like many movie lovers, I tend to gravitate towards the well-known-to-me comfort of a film I have seen many times when feeling the need for escape. However, as I read the posts of other classic film bloggers, knowledgeable Facebook folks and other internet cinephiles, I realize that I also tend to resist watching some must-see classic films. 

I was recently inspired by Leticia at Critica Retro, who listed her 2016 list of classic films she must see. Brave girl! Because I can't quite commit to 12 films, I am going to try to see 6 classic films this year that I have managed to avoid because they are either slightly out of my comfort zone or for some other crazy resistance:

The Lost Weekend
This is already waiting on my DVR. Although Billy Wilder is tops in my book, I tend to avoid films about drinking. But, I have been convinced it is worth watching.

How Green Was My Valley
I know, I know.... I'm on it.

Gun Crazy 
I'm actually excited about this one. I'll do it this time!

L'Age D'Or
I'm kind of afraid, but I'm going in......

The Palm Beach Story
Why have I resisted? Probably because, for some reason, Preston Sturges makes me a little nervous. I'm not sure why, but I think it's for no good reason.

To Have and Have Not

I generally do not like Hawks, Hemingway, or Bogart and am not over the moon about Bacall, but it's a classic, right? 

Wish me luck!