Oct 23, 2008

I Heart Valley Art

In the wake of Paul Newman's September 26th death at the age of 83, my sentiment at his passing has been piqued by the rush of remembrances that poured from a myriad of sources: contemporaries and cohorts, filmmakers and fans, beneficiaries and bloggers alike have sung the praises of the humble Ohian-cum-silver screen star whose ingenuity in his later years became the prosperity he diffused to innumerable worthy causes.

But amongst all the positive press Paul's life received, little has been mentioned of his screen legacy - and understandably so, in light of his charitable work and how he valued it, far above his film contributions. As an ardent classic cinema fan, though, I feel his Luke and his Ben Quick, his Hud and his Hombre (okay, maybe not Hombre) are worth more than a fond farewell acknowledgment in his many obituaries. This was evidently a sentiment shared by my local Harkins Valley Art Cinema, as they recently hosted a week-long, multiple-film retrospective in Paul's honor, which I was fortunate enough to attend.

Valley Art, the oldest theatre in the state, provided a sumptuously antique feel for late-night big screen viewings of some of Paul's most popular films, including Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and 1961's gritty The Hustler. As someone who had never reveled in the grandiose spectacle of silver screen stars in such sizable glory, to witness Newman the actor - thoughtful, passionate, impossibly Adonis-like - was to see his film presence finally in proportion to his personal and social legacy: larger than life.

Harkins Valley Art donated all proceeds from the festival, more than $3,000, to Newman's Painted Turtle Camp, a multi-disease camp and family care center based in California.

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Photographic Faves

American actress Grace Kelly in her most famous role, that of Princess to Monaco's Prince Rainier. The royal couple are shown here with their elder daughter, Caroline, and son Albert. Circa 1960.

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Oct 16, 2008

I Am Unfit to Live!

I can't believe that, in all my complete adoration for her, I missed June Allyson's birthday this month. I mean, I knew it was in October, but between mid-terms, homework, and working a job that has an odd policy about watching movies during my shift (they won't let me), I somehow overlooked October 7, the date which would have been Ms. Allyson's 91st birthday (she died in 2006).

So, in honor of Junie the Great - and in an effort to never allow this type of neglect on my part again - HCC has appointed October 7 as The Feast of Our Lady of the Perpetual Pageboy*, aka June Allyson Day.

Why the Perpetual Pageboy, you ask? Surely she is memorable for much more than a hairstyle that endured roughly 75 years. And she is - I can't downplay her tenacity, her unpretentious girl-next-door persona, her incredible box office appeal, or the fact that during any one of her movies, she cries approximately every 13.4 minutes, this heartbreaking little petunia. (Watching her, though, so do I.) But as much as June Allyson represents the best years MGM had to offer - the brightest, most colorful musicals, engaging biopics and first-rate stars - the pageboy represents, or is at least as lovingly associated with, Junie. Regardless of the time period her movie is set in, there it is, blonde and demure and expertly coiffured. Don't believe me? Let's take a little look-see at a few of her best and most memorable movies in our convenient Pageboy Table below:

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See? It really is perpetual. Which isn't to say that there aren't any movies in which she has long hair (The Bride Goes Wild) or a short, chic coif (The Opposite Sex) or even a very un-Junie-like pile of tresses (Two Sisters from Boston), it's just that no matter what, she reliably returns to that perfectly complementary cut that's as sweet and uncomplicated as she always seemed to be.

Happy belated birthday, Junie!

*Disclaimer: Being Catholic, I understand that this reference may offend someone, but it is certainly not my intent to do so. Sweet as she was, I know Junie was not a saint!

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