List: Killer Robots in the Movies

Posted on October 11, 2018 at 8:00 am

Many thanks to William Topaz and inmyarea.com for inviting me to create a list of killer robots in the movies. Of course it has classics like “Terminator” and “Metropolis,” and some off-beat choices like the Fembots in “Austin Powers,” but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one to include “What a Way to Go!” with Paul Newman and Shirley MacLaine.

Actor Paul Newman & actress Shirley MacLaine in a scene from What A Way to Go. (Photo by Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
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Stream Free Movies from the Library of Congress

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 10:37 am

The Library of Congress has announced that it has digitized hundreds of hours of motion pictures that will be freely available on the newly launched National Screening Room website. Most of the content in the National Screening Room is in the public domain. Movies that the Library believes to be in the public domain are fully downloadable. Permissions were granted for the inclusion of copyrighted motion pictures, which are only available as streaming files.

This digital offering showcases the wealth and diversity of the Library’s vast moving image collections. The Library has the largest and most comprehensive archive of moving images in the world, totaling more than 1.6 million items. The first phase of the project will feature 281 titles and new content will be added to the National Screening Room every month. .

“The goal of this digital project is to present the public with a broad range of historical and cultural audio-visual materials that will enrich education, scholarship and lifelong learning,” said curator Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving Image Section. “The National Screening Room is designed to open up the Library’s collections, making otherwise unavailable movies freely accessible to viewers nationwide and around the world.”

In celebration of the 120th anniversary of George Gershwin’s birth on Sept. 26, the National Screening Room features 17 home movies of George and Ira Gershwin filmed in 1928–1939. These provide rare glimpses of the Gershwin brothers, sometimes working but primarily socializing with family and famous friends.

“The Gershwin home movies, long held in Ira Gershwin’s Beverly Hills archive, contain amazing images of interest to historians and fans alike,” said Michael Owen, consulting archivist of the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trusts. “I’m overjoyed that the Library of Congress has digitized this collection and is now making it available for viewing via its National Screening Room website.”

One highlight of the Gershwin collection includes five reels of a party for Liza Minnelli on her second or third birthday. Ira Gershwin, Liza’s godfather, hosted the party at his home in Beverly Hills in 1948. Partygoers also included Liza’s mother Judy Garland, Harold Arlen, Sid Luft and Arthur Freed. There is also behind-the-scenes footage of Fred Astaire’s performance in the 1937 “Slap That Bass.”

Other collection highlights include:

33 issues of the “All-American News” (1942-1945), a newsreel made specifically
for African-American audiences during the mid-20th century;
A 1953 training film for midwives;
A corset commercial;
President McKinley taking the oath of office;
103 titles from the Library’s Paper Prints Collection, including several shorts directed by D. W. Griffith for Biograph Company;
Historical and iconic figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Frank Sinatra, Mary McLeod Bethune, Adam Clayton Powell and Art Carney;
Titles named to the National Film Registry because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic significance;
A selection of films about mental health released in the 1950s.
Mashon is also working with the Library’s team of educators to develop lesson plans for the classroom and other educational initiatives. Some primary source sets will examine the Harlem Renaissance, Industrial Revolution, Dust Bowl, Jim Crow and segregation, scientific data, Spanish-American War, World War I, Mexican-American communities, immigration, women’s history, children’s lives at the turn of the 20th century, symbols of the U.S. and many more.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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The Four Previous Versions of “A Star Is Born”(Plus the Real Story)

Posted on September 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Copyright Warner Brothers 2018
One of the biggest films of the year is the latest version of “A Star is Born,” written and directed by Bradley Cooper and co-starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. The story of the fading star with substance abuse problems who helps — and loves — a talented newcomer has been filmed under that title twice before, and once before that as “What Price Hollywood?” And it is inspired by the true story of two of the biggest names in show business in the 1920’s-30’s.

What Price Hollywood? George Cukor directed the version starring Constance Bennet as a Brown Derby waitress who meets director Lowell Sherman when she waits on him at the restaurant. While this is not explicitly the source of the following versions, and the waitress and director do not get married (because he is too noble), the essence of the story is all there, including (SPOILER ALERT) the suicide of the male character.

A Star is Born

Dorothy Parker and her husband were two of the scriptwriters who worked on the glossy drama starring Frederic March and Janet Gaynor that has been the basis for three remakes (so far). She’s a waitress who catches the eye of a fading movie star. He gets her a screen test, the studio changes her name, he embarrasses her at an award ceremony, and when his drinking gets worse, she quits her job to care for him.

A Star is Born

Broadway legend Moss Hart contributed to this musical update, again directed by George Cukor, starring Judy Garland and James Mason. It’s long and unwieldy (some excised scenes were partially added for re-release), but it has unforgettable moments like this one.

A Star is Born

Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson star in the 1976 version, which won an Oscar for Best Song. Reportedly, she tried to persuade Elvis Presley to take the role.

A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper says he was inspired to make the film by being backstage at a Metallica concert. He wrote, directed and stars opposite Lady Gaga. She may repeat her predecessor’s experience with a Best Song Oscar for this one.

Certainly there are many possible inspirations for the story, but most people think that one of the likeliest possibilities is the marriage of Al Jolson, one of the biggest stars in the country during the era of vaudeville and radio, and Ruby Keeler, who became a huge star in the early days of talkies.

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Clever Girl — Said by Sean Connery (Twice) and a LOT of Other People Too

Posted on July 10, 2018 at 2:34 pm

How many times have women characters in movies been called “clever girls?” Well, here’s a remarkable compilation.

It’s an interesting compliment, because it’s praising and kind of diminishing at the same time, though in some of these cases there seem to be meta quote marks around it. I wonder why it is so prevalent, though.

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Rita Hayworth, Part 2: Ticklish Business Podcast with Kristen Lopez

Posted on July 1, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Many thanks again to Kristen Lopez for inviting me on her Ticklish Business podcast to talk about Rita Hayworth. Listen to part 2, our conversation about the movie with the worst Irish accent, the worst Hayworth haircut, but the best fun-house mirror denouement, The Lady from Shanghai, directed by and co-starring Hayworth’s then husband, Orson Welles.

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