ALL NEW: FROM BOOK TO FILM

“The Sterile Cuckoo”

The Sterile Cuckoo, is the 1965 novel by John Nichols. It tells the story of a quirky young couple whose relationship deepens despite their differences. The successful movie adaptation was filmed by Alan J. Pakula in 1969. The film version of the novel was adapted by Alvin Sargent and It starred Liza Minnelli and Wendell Burton. The Sandpipers sing “Come Saturday Morning” which became a Top 10 hit.

Liza Minnelli plays Pookie as an appealing eccentric who gradually cracks up as her hang-ups surface. Pookie is basically interested only in herself — boringly so, at times. But at least she cares enough to make an effort to reach someone else. Pookie fastens herself to Jerry for neurotic reasons, but she chooses the wrong guy.

There’s Miss Minnelli’s justly celebrated telephone scene, during which she begs, pleads and cajoles Jerry in an attempt to salvage their relationship. This scene is considered one of the greatest piece of acting in the history of the movies. It will probably should have won Miss Minnelli an Oscar.

“The Sterile Cuckoo” is not as good as it should have been because it lacks consistency of tone. But parts of it are awfully good, and Miss Minnelli who became a star is one hell of an actress.

Ground Breaking Comedy Movie

SILVER STREAK 1976

Someone had the great idea to make the sidekick a Black Dude in a Buddy Movie and they struck gold, forever changing how movies are cast. It also launched stand up comic Richard Pryor into orbit. The Movie stars Gene Wilder and Jill Clayburgh (They have chemistry together) in an old fashion train journey picture reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. All the cast is marvelous especially the great Patrick McGoohan as a colorful villain. There would be no Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Chris Tucker or Martin Lawrence if there hadn’t been a Richard Pryor breakthrough.

BACK TO THE BAD MOVIES

ICONS THAT STARTED A NEW GENRE IN FILM

PIONEERS OF SCIENCE FICTION

Jules Verne

Walt Disney

 BY FAR the best live-action film Disney ever produced the celebrated novel by Jules Verne and set in the late 19th Century. Underwater photography was hardly new in 1954, but never had it been used so extensively nor to such visually beautiful effect, and the art designs–particularly those for the Nautilus–are justly celebrated.

But for all its beauty, it is the performances which make the film work. James Mason does not merely play Nemo, he seems to be Nemo; after seeing his performance it is impossible to imagine any other actor in the role. Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre are Ned Land and Conseil of the Verne novel have surprising chemistry and lend the film considerable dash.

At the time of its release, LEAGUES was the single most expensive motion picture ever made and every penny of the money spent shows in the onscreen result. While many of Disney’s live-action films are fondly recalled, few have had enduring fame, it remains both a landmark and one of the most influential films of its decade.

Truly enjoyable from start to finish.

screenshots

NEXT UP: WINCHESTER 73

Gigi–1958

Gigi is a 1958 American musical and one of my favorite movies.

The film opens with Honoré Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier) who is a members of high society in Paris. Like him his nephew Gaston (Louis Jourdan) is known as a wealthy womanizer who admits he is bored with life. In fact, the one thing Gaston truly enjoys is spending time with the precocious, carefree tomboy Gilberte, aka Gigi (Leslie Caron).

Having not scene her in a few years he realizes suddenly, that she has become a woman whose charms, wit, and personality have sent his head spinning, and comes to the conclusion that he has developed a romantic desire for Gigi.

Both Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron starred in the stage version of Gigi and there was a question as to which one would be picked for the movie. Audrey declined the role. The part of Honoré Lachaille was written for Chevalier who sings Oscar winning tune “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”

Paul Newman and Sidney Portier

Paris Blues (1961).

Original Music: Duke Ellington
Principal Cast: Paul Newman (Ram Bowen), Joanne Woodward (Lillian Corning), Sidney Poitier (Eddie Cook), Louis Armstrong (Wild Man Moore), Diahann Carroll (Connie Lampson).

The plot featured Poitier and Newman as American expatriate musicians living in Paris after World War II. Newman is studying classical music while earning a living playing in a jazz club owned by a woman with whom he is having a casual affair. Poitier enjoys life abroad as an escape from the racial hatred he experienced at home in America. They meet two young vacationing schoolteachers, Carroll and Joanne Woodward, and pair off. Carroll eventually convinces Poitier it’s better to return to the States and face bigotry head-on rather than hiding out in a foreign country. They leave together with plans to marry. Newman gives up his bachelor status and casts his fate with Woodward after it becomes clear his classical music career is going nowhere. But at the last minute, he meets her at the train station to tell her he wont be going back to America with her after all.

In the Harold Flender novel on which the movie is based, the story centered only on a black jazz musician who falls for a black schoolteacher vacationing in Paris. For the screen, producers hedged their bets by adding a white couple and casting the very popular Newman and Woodward team. Some viewers have suggested that the film might have been an even stronger examination of race (and a more interesting love story) if the black man had paired off with the white woman and vice versa. There was even a rumor that that was the intention going into production but it’s never been confirmed.

Poitier’s beautiful co-star almost didn’t take the part, but Carroll couldn’t resist the script because although it was a contemporary love story, “it showed some social and political awareness and presented black people as normal human beings.”

In real life, the couple had been married since 1958, They would continue to have one of the longest personal and professional partnerships in Hollywood, and have acted together in seven other films.