Mar 23, 2008


I know, I know, one is not supposed to covet things, and I'm sure there will be a particularly harsh retribution for coveting as I am on Easter Sunday. But Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in three fabulous forties films in ONE BOX SET?! How am I supposed to act nonchalant about that?! Warner Brothers is releasing this confection of a collection on May 13, 2008, and as it's priced at just $18.69, this is one fab set of films I won't have to covet for long.

Three Technicolor stunners showcasing the collaboration of MGM's most famous dancer/resident hotness Gene and charming crooner Frank are included in this set: 1944's On The Town, with Jules Munshin, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen, and Betty Garrett, follows the travails of three sailors on 24-hour leave in New York City; 1948's Take Me Out to The Ball Game, which reprises the duo's teaming with Munshin, adds million-dollar mermaid Esther Williams to the turn-of-the-century baseball mix (it's comedy gold); and 1949's Anchors Aweigh, in which our lovable Frankie and Gene-o are once again amorous sailors, this time entangled with opera star Kathryn Grayson.

The Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly Collection is currently available for pre-order on

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Happy Easter!

Precocious little Mag O'Brien's got the right idea - put on your Easter bonnet and party! May your holiday be filled with happiness, chocolate indulgences and at least one viewing of Easter Parade!


Mar 20, 2008

Mickey the Great

  At an astonishing span of 81 years, his is the longest film career of all time. He was, as a very young man, the biggest star in the world. He's worked with Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, and every ingenue in between, and he is, let's face it, the closest I will ever get to the aura of Ava Gardner, unless I somehow come up with the cash to buy those earrings she gave Lana Turner off of eBay. And thus, mulling over such weighty attributes, I argued myself into seeing Mickey Rooney in person.

  He's aged a bit, yes, but impish Andy Hardy is still intact. Touting 2008 as his 85th year in show business - he made his stage debut in a vaudeville act at just 17 months - Rooney, his humor, and his 8th wife, Jan, have melded songs, jokes, and affectionate husband-and-wife shtick into a thoroughly enjoyable and genuinely funny two hours of entertainment, Let's Put On A Show!, which is currently touring the United States.

  Physically unimposing though he appeared onstage, Rooney, 87, is still an Old Hollywood legend, the extent to which can really only be felt acutely in his presence. That is to say, he doesn't look the part of a star so much as he speaks it - the stories he tells, the fond memories of dear friends like Judy Garland and Ava Gardner, the latter whom Rooney shared a brief marriage with - even the songs he sings, or rather talks, are remnants of his long-buried stint as a superstar. But Rooney's talent for balancing out snippets of self-deprecation with honest accolades to his own success allow for such sugar-coated sentimentality: if Mickey Rooney can't reminisce about the glory days at MGM, then who can?!

  I was hoping for at least a tiny bit of interaction with Mickey when the show was over, but it proved to be a futile hope, as the program ran beyond its anticipated end time, and the lobby was nearly empty when I finally reached it. But I can't take a shred of disappointment from such a night, and I have consolation in the fact that he couldn't have missed seeing me out in that audience: I was the girl in the seventh row with stars in her eyes.

Visit Mickey Rooney's official website to see when he'll be in your area.

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  Contemporary actor Ryan Phillipe, 33, recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he attributed the name of his daughter Ava Phillipe to none other than 40's and 50's screen siren Ava Gardner. Ava, 8, was given her moniker long before its sudden and persistent surge in popularity in recent years; Phillipe noted that, in addition to belonging to his idol Frank Sinatra's second wife Gardner, he found the name to be "very classy and strong." I was simply impressed by such smart parentage with that move. If only she had a sister named Lana...

Ava is Ryan's daughter with ex-wife actress Reese Witherspoon.

Source: Celebrity Baby Blog

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Mar 16, 2008

Did You Know?

Prized pinup Betty Grable's first of two marriages was to famed child star Jackie Coogan, known in his later years as Uncle Fester on the 1960s television series The Addams Family. The two were married in 1937, when Grable was 20 years old and Coogan, 23; their marriage lasted less than 2 years.

Grable went on to marry famed trumpter Harry James and experience immense box-office success at Fox Studios in the 1940's, while Coogan, married three subsequent times, served as a Flight Officer in WWII and made various minor film appearances before becoming a tv regular in the 1950's and 60's.

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Mar 15, 2008

Quote of the Week

"If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled." - comedian Red Skelton

If redoubtable Red's never made you chuckle, it's probably that you've never seen him in action; check out this clip from 1949's Neptune's Darling, in which he bumblingly plays paramour to overly amorous Betty Garrett with the help of identity theft, a Spanish-language record and a head injury.

Neptune's Darling is available on remastered DVD as part of The Esther Williams Collection Volume 1.

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Mar 13, 2008

They Can't Take That Away From Me

  I'm not really sure what to do with myself. My TCM is gone.
  That means no more midnight Rick and Ilsa, no more random Dogville shorts, no more tuning in to Van Johnson movies on a Saturday morning and trying furiously to deny a crush on host Ben Mankiewicz. Cable television giant Cox Communications, my local provider, gave me and thousands of other subscribers the cold shoulder last week when they removed Turner Classic Movies from their standard cable lineup, and, like many of my movie-loving brethren, I was more than shocked to turn to my favorite channel and, instead of winding down to an obscure Marsha Hunt-June Allyson weepie, find a blank screen where Robert Osborne used to be.

  TCM has been my main source of film knowledge, insight, and viewing since my first interest in the medium over a decade ago, so to lose it in all of its self-supporting, commercial-free Technicolor splendor is a genuine disappointment. It's true that a considerable part of TCM's film catalogue has been recently released in dvd format, making many movies far more readily available to the public than ever before - but thousands of additional titles have been relegated to a completely hopeless state of being unworthy of even a VHS release. TCM is, truly, the only way to see the full filmographies of all your favorite stars of the silver screen, introduce you to new faces and names, and generally indulge any classic movie maven in their photoplay pastime.

  I've already launched a campaign to return my beloved network to the basic cable tier, penning letters, writing e-mail, leaving irate but articulate voicemails at appropriate desks and even, in a moment of caprice, accosting some Cox installation men I encountered at work. Why must you take my Cyd Charisse and Arthur Freed and Hermes Pan away - can't you take one of my seventeen Spanish-language soccer channels? seems to be my lingering question to all of them, though of course, I phrase it a bit more appropriately when addressing the bigwigs.

  Of course, I could always succumb to pressure and order more expensive cable service so as to re-instate the divinity that is TCM's 24-hour classic movie lineup. But it's the principle of the fight, and for now, I'll adhere to it blindly. It's just the Mr. Smith Goes To Washington in me.

Has TCM been removed from your channel lineup? If so, will its absence prompt you to upgrade your service just to access it again? If not, would you be upset if you no longer had TCM as part of your cable programming?

Mar 2, 2008

Candid Classics

Actresses Olivia de Havilland and Margaret Lindsay listen to de Havilland's sister Joan Fontaine, right, tell it like it is, circa 1940

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