Category Archives: Actors/Actresses

Actors, Actresses, Classics, Style, personality

June Star of the Month: Joseph Cotten

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Born in Petersburg, Virginia in 1905 Joseph Cotten rose to prominence on Broadway starring in The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair. He went on to a successful career in film starring alongside Orson Welles in his films Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Journey into Fear. He had great success as a leading man of the forties starring in Portrait of Jenny, Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Duel in the Sun and The Third Man. 

While studding acting in Washington DC Cotton worked as an advertising agent. It was while working as a critic that he became interested in theater. Cotten began working in Virginia and then in New York City. He made his Broadway debut in 1930.  In 1934 Cotten met Orson Welles at The American School of Air. In 1936 he appeared in Welles production Horse Eats Hat. In 1937 he became a member of Welles Mercury Theater. In 1939 Cotton returned to Broadway in The Philadelphia Story opposite Katherine Hepburn. In 1940 Orson Welles began filming Citizen Kane after the success of War of the Worlds. Joseph starred opposite Welles in the lead role as his best friend. Other Mercury Theater performers including Agnes Moorehead also starred. The film had a slow start due to its inspiration from the life of William Randolph Hearst who did not allow his news paper to run advertisements. In 1942 Citizen Kane won an Academy Award for best screenplay and is now widely considered the best film of all time. 

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The 1940’s was the most successful decade for Cottens career. He appeared as a serial killer in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt along side Teresa Wright, Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Angela Lansbury. He went on to star alongside Jennifer Jones in four films. The most notable being Duel in the Sun with Gregory Peck and Portrait of Jenny. In 1949 he starred alongside friend Orsen Welles in The Third Man. In the 1950’s his career cooled and he began appearing in TV, including The Joseph Cotten Show. The 1960’s saw Cotten appearing in a number of foreign films. Heavens Gate one of the least successful films of all time would one of his last. He went on to appear in a few guest appearance including on Life Boat. After suffering from throat cancer Cotten retired from acting and spent his time with his wife.

Still from Shadow of a Doubt
Still from Shadow of a Doubt

Chances are you wont find many people in Hollywood that would say something bad about Joseph Cotten.  He was an honest man, more of star than an a character actor but it was his presence on screen that struck a chord with audiences. The directors of three of his films, Citizen Kane, Shadow of a Doubt and The Third Man list these as their favorites and Cotten appears in all of them. It is his performance in Shadow of a Doubt that makes that film as one of my two favorite Hitchcock films. To lovers of Alfred Hitchcock you will know him as Uncle Charlie, a black widower idealized by his sister and niece. Know to film audiences at the time as a nice guy, his portrayal as Uncle Charlie was quite a shock but that is where I discovered him.

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If you have yet to discover Joseph Cotten check out Shadow of a Doubt, The Third Man, and Citizen Kane. Other great films include Duel in the Sun and Portrait of Jenny both opposite Jennifer Jones. His tall stature, wavy blonde hair and baritone voice make him an actor that is hard to miss.

It Follows: Film Review

It Follows, retro 80's inspired poster.
It Follows, retro 80’s inspired poster.

What can be said about the break through horror film of the year that already hasn’t been said.It follows premiered on the film festival circuit before opening nation wide. What was supposed to only be a week spend in a few theaters turned into a wider release and a longer stay in theaters. I was intrigued from the moment I saw the first trailer. That does not happen often. Somewhere I saw the link to the movie and I watched it. I kept up with the news and suddenly a lot of hype surrounded this gem. A modern day supernatural horror film set in Detroit, Michigan. It Follows stars Maika Monroe as Jay a teenager that experiences a strange sexual encounter. A mysterious creature follows her where ever she goes and there is no escaping it. The only way to get rid of it, is to sleep with someone else. If they die, it will come back.

Maika Monroa in It Follows
Maika Monroa in It Follows

The main question surrounding the hit is, exactly what is it? Some have concluded that it is a thinly veiled metaphor for STD’s. A notion struck down from writer/director David Robert Mitchell. Mitchell has stated that the inspiration came from a recurring dream he had as a kid. David utilizes the mostly white suburban neighborhood and the abandoned areas of Detroit to his advantage. Everything matters in this world. Old cars and vintage TV’s last scene in our grandparents guest bedrooms exist in the world of It Follows. The first scene obviously set in a more upper class neighborhood and a little shell reader device are the only indications that this is a modern tale. What works is that we question where we are. We know that It Follows is set in the present time, but somehow the lack of modern technology seems believable.

It Follows Poster
It Follows Poster

Have you ever felt a mysterious feeling that you couldn’t quite shake? Did it exist after a dream or was connected to a mental illness? Whatever it was or is, you will connect to Jay. She is a beautiful girl next door channeling Catherine Deneuve and Simone Simon in Cat People. Monroe’s vulnerability proved her humanity without taking away what made her strong. Jay is already a girl struggling with the disillusionment of life. At 19 I know I was too. Surrounded by her friends and attending college while feeling at least a little bit alone. Jay is many of us. Wondering aimlessly through life hopping for answers. Maika has promise in her career and a career as a leading scream queen has presented itself.  Mitchell alluded to classic horror films with out ripping them off. A truly original work from a great mind. I am excited to own the film and see Mitchell return to horror in the future.

May Star of the Month: Ruth Gordon

Ruth Gordon winning a much deserved Oscar.
Ruth Gordon winning a much deserved Oscar.

Ruth Gordon is an American actress best know for her roles in Harold and Maude, and Rosemary’s Baby. Beginning her career on Broadway at the age of nineteen she didn’t gain critically acclaim for her film work until her later years. More than an actress, Ruth was screenwriter. She co-wrote the critically acclaimed Adams Rib with her husband. She is the winner of an Academy Award, an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her acting. She has an Oscar nomination for her writing.

A young Ruth Gordon
A young Ruth Gordon

Ruth had an uncredited appearance in 1915 as an extra. It wasn’t till an appearance along side Greta Garbo in Two Faced Women that she began acting in film. She would go on to appear in Lincoln in Illinois and Dr. Ehrlich Magic Bullet. Both of these roles were more substantial. Over the years she appeared in several supporting roles. Never too far from the stage Gordon appeared in and wrote scripts for Broadway. When she married writer Garson Kanin in 1942 the two began to collaborate. The couple remained together until Ruth’s death in 1985. After making one of her most beloved appearances in Harold and Maude she went on to star in many more films and guest starring spots on television. She worked regularly until her death.

Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude
Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude

If you asked me who the queen of character acting was, I would answer Ruth Gordon. Her effortless emotion that pours out of her. Every word and movement has meaning. She may be acting but she is real. She gives her all and her passion for the art is apparent. If you only see one Ruth Gordon film in your life make in Harold and Maude. Its a great film and you get to see one of the greats at her best. Available on Netflix, you can watch anytime from the comfort of your home. Admired by Natalie Wood whom she costarred with in Inside Daisy Clover, Wood made Gordon her first daughters Godmother. Gordon lived a long life and I am glad that we were allowed to join her on her journey as one of the greats.

January Star of The Month: Paul Newman

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You would probably have a hard time finding someone who would say something bad about out January Star of the Month. He was an actor, director, race car driver activist and philanthropist. The list goes on. Paul Newman was an great actor and an even better man.Paul 1

Married for fifty years to Joanna Woodward before his death in 2008. He co-created Newman’s own a food company where all profits go to charity. He is the founder of SeriousFun Children’s Network a world wide affiliation of 30 camps modeled after The Hole in the wall camp in Connecticut. They serve children suffering from serious illness. Paul was more than a talented actor he was a remarkable man that cared for the world and the people in it.

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Paul Newman’s life began in Shaker Heights, Ohio a suburb of Cleveland. His father ran a sporting good store that is mother worked in while raising his older brother Arthur and him. Paul showed an interest in theater at an early age. At seven he appeared in a production of Robin Hood as the Court Jester. He graduated High School in 1943 after graduation he spent a short time a Ohio University where he was initiated into Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

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Originally enrolling in Yale Universities Navy V-12 pilot training program, he was dropped when they discovered he was color blind. He went on to the Pacific Theater serving with The United States Navy. In 1945 he was one of a pair of sole survivors after he was grounded with an ear infection. The rest of his unit was wiped out during the campaign.

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After the war he finished his Bachelors Degree at Kenyan University. After graduating he joined several summer stock companies. He attended one year at Yale Drama before leaving for New York to study under Lee Strasberg at the actors studio.
He arrived in New York in 1951. He made his Broadway Debut in Picnic with Kim Stanley in 1953 and appeared in the original Broadway production of The Desperate Hours in 1955.

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In 1954 Paul Newman would appear in a screen test for East of Eden with James Dean. The screen test is not famous on Tumblr. By the time 1958 rolled around he was one of the hottest new stars in Hollywood. In 1957 he appeared with his future wife in The Long, Hot Summer. They met on the stage in 1953. He wood best actor a Cannes in 1958.

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The majority of Newman’s major films where in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. He would appear with Robert Redford twice in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting. Newman won an Academy Award for his reprisal of “Fast” Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. Newman’s final role for a major film was in Cars voicing the role of Doc Hudson.

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In his long life Newman created an incredible body of work as an actor and as a director. He lit of the stage and charmed us in films but his greatest accomplishments will always be those off the set. His work for sick children and philanthropic causes will live on and he will be remembered as a great man.

November Star of the Month: Lauren Bacall

Opp’s! Is it already December? I want to apologize for dropping the ball on this one. I was working on this one for awhile. Coming back and fourth. I allowed the last week to get away from me.  I’ll blame it on the stress of the holidays. I know that I have missed a few months but I want to get back on the horse and continue with my stars of the month, so here we go.

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Lauren Bacall is our November star of the month. She passed away on September 16 of this year at the age of 89. Death wasn’t going to take this fire cracker early. What do you think of when you hear the name Lauren Bacall? What movie does your mind usually venture to? If you’re a fan of Marilyn Monroe I am guessing How to Marry a Millionaire but if you are fan of the actress herself I am going to take a wild guess and say her early work with husband Humphrey Bogart. Did you know they met when she was 19 on the set of To Have and Have Not? This is where they fell in love.

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Bacall is just as known for her outspoken personality as she is for her performances. A strong and brave women mirroring the characters she played. Born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924 in New York City. She died Aug 12, 2014 a little over a month from her 90 birthday. She is one of the four inspirations for Jessica Rabbit (Are you surprised?) along with Veronica Lake, Julie London and Rita Hayworth. Just look at that stare.

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Lauren referred to as Betty by close friends through her life was 18 when she graced the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. This led to her first film role when she was discovered by Howard Hawks. He dismissed her at first due to her voice. She left his office to return two weeks later with the lower pitch she is now famous for. He cast her in To Have and Have Not.

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Winner of a two Tony Awards. One for her role as Margo Channing in the Broadway production of Applause. Applause is a musical adaptation of All About Eve. Her second was for her role in Woman of the Year based on the film of the same name. In her career she never won an Academy Award, though she was nominated once for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces in 1996. Lauren Bacall had an open mind that I believe contributed to her roles as the sultry characters she played along side husband Humphrey Bogart. She wasn’t afraid to speak up and talk openly about what she believed in. Bacall left behind a legacy with as many layers as the characters she’s played.

Oh Captain, My Captain.

Robin Williams 1951-2014
Robin Williams 1951-2014

Robin Williams made the world laugh even when he was dealing with his own personal pain. Instead of going in to a lot of details about Williams past drug use. Something that has been continually ran over time and time again. I thought I would talk a little bit about what he and his career means to me and talk about five of my favorite starring Robin Williams.

Williams with Mork and Mindy costar Pam Dawber
Williams with Mork and Mindy costar Pam Dawber

In the 1970’s Williams starred in his break through role as Mork in Mork and Mindy, a spin off of the popular 70’s sitcom Happy Days. He played a funny and lovable Alien from outer space. If you are interested in watching the series you can check them out via YouTube.

With Nathan Lane in The Birdcage
With Nathan Lane in The Birdcage

The Birdcage is a 1996 remake of the popular French musical farce La Cage aux Folles. He stars opposite Nathan Lane who plays his husband in the film. I saw the film for the first time ages ago and was prompted to watch the film again when I saw it pop up on my Netflix cue. If you want to have a Robin Williams marathon I definitely suggest you add this film to the list.

As Mrs. Doubtfire
As Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doudtfire is a 1993 family comedy film starring Williams alongside Sally Field. I can’t imagine that any Robin Williams fan has gone through life and not seen this film at least once. I remember watching this movie as a child a absolutely hating Sally Field. I always hated when I felt a character I loved was being treated so unfairly. I still have the same feeling when I watch it. What is coincidence to me is that I purchased this film a few weeks before he passed. If you love funny scenes and heartwarming moments this is a film for you.

Williams in one of Dead Poets Society's most memorable scenes.
Williams in one of Dead Poets Society’s most memorable scenes.

After his death Dead Poets Society was one of the most mentioned and quoted films on social media. It’s also included in my title. Made in 1989 Robin Williams stars as a teacher in a prep school. He brings life into the life of these teenage boys using lighten their rather dull lives. His character greatly resembled what we all know of Robin Williams. He certainly brightened the life of others where ever he went.

Williams voiced the Genie in Disney's Aladdin
Williams voiced the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin

Aladdin was probably my first Robin Williams film and one of my favorite Disney movies. Fun Fact: I named my dog Abu as a child after watching this movie. Robin Williams voiced the Genie. This is a great Williams movie to watch with the kids.

Peter Pan all grown up.
Peter Pan all grown up.

If you are a friend of Peter Pan and Robin Williams than Hook is a movie for you. Made in 1991 Williams stars as the boy who did grow up. This is my next Robin Williams movie I will be viewing via Netflix. A fun family film with great characters and a new life for Peter Pan.

Robin Williams made so many of us smile. He breathed life into our lives not unlike his character in Dead Poets Society. He was a flamboyant comedian who overcame demons throughout his life. It’s hard to believe that a man that made us laugh was suffering from depression. So in the wake of his passing we must use it to promote the true power of depression. It is not fake nor is it silly. It is a very real and horrible disease. If you yourself or anyone you know is suffering from depression or are having thoughts of suicide please talk to someone. The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Sites
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.com
http://www.afsp.org
http://www.sprc.org
http://www.suicidology.com
http://www.save.org
http://www.hopeline.com
http://www.suicide.org
http://www.suicideispreventable.org

If you yourself have suffered from depression, engaged in self harm, had thoughts of suicide please share your story rather anonymous or not. People need to know they are not alone.

Looks I love. Grace Kelly.

Appearing in Hollywood films for a few short years in the 1950’s Grace Kelly became the Princess of Monaco leaving film behind. In our minds she was more than an actress and is cemented in time as a fashion icon still appearing in fashion magazines. Down below are three of my favorite Grace Kelly looks. All are completely different.

Blue Chiffon Dress in To Catch a Thief.
Blue Chiffon Dress in To Catch a Thief

1. Grace Kelly wore this Blue Chiffon dress in her last Hitchcock picture To Catch a Thief. There where a slew of beautiful gowns and outfits wore by Grace in the film but this was my only choice and my favorite look.

 

Grace Kelly in Rear Window
Grace Kelly in Rear Window

2. Often seen in soft light colors this black dress is a look we don’t see very often on Grace. She pulled it off well as Jimmy Stewart’s girlfriend in Rear Window.

Grace Kelly in High Society
Grace Kelly in High Society

3. Seeing Grace Kelly in pants is even more rare. Grace Kelly wore this simple look in High Society a musical remake of A Philadelphia Story.

What are your favorite Grace Kelly looks?