List: Texas Movies

Posted on November 7, 2013 at 8:00 am

This week’s release of the fact-based “Dallas Buyer’s Club” inspired me to recommend some of my favorites of the dozens of other movies set in the Lone Star State.

1. Giant This massive epic, based on the novel by Edna Ferber, stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and an electrifying James Dean in his last role — poignantly at the end playing the old man he never got to be in real life. It has cattle, it has oil, it has class and race and gender issues, and the unforgettable sight of the Riatta mansion surrounded by a flat, barren landscape.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efNVpovcZv0

2. Dazed & Confused Richard Linklater’s films set in his home state include “Slacker” and “Bernie.” The most beloved of his Texas films is this story of one wild day and night when school lets out for the summer that featured a killer soundtrack of 70’s classics and early screen appearances from future stars including Parker Posey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey.

3. Red River This classic stars John Wayne as Texas rancher Tom Dunson, who adopts a young boy orphaned in an Indian massacre. That boy grows up to be Montgomery Clift in his first film role, already more than able to stand up to a superstar who appeared to be twice his size. Howard Hawks directs this toughest of westerns, with Joanne Dru as a woman who can take an arrow in the shoulder and keep on fighting.

4. The Alamo Courage and honor triumph even when the battle is lost in this story of the legendary defense of a crumbling adobe mission by 185 exceptional men against an army of 7,000. Richard Widmark and John Wayne star as Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett.

5. The Sugarland Express Before “E.T.” and “Schindler’s List” and Indiana Jones and “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s feature film debut was this fact-based drama. Goldie Hawn and William Atherton star as a young couple who get in trouble with the law when they try to get their son back from foster care.

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For Your Netflix Queue Lists

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

Posted on March 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I have loved the tributes to the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor this week and wanted to share some of the best. My friend Margo Howard has a priceless recollection of having Elizabeth Taylor as her babysitter. Dan Zak in the Washington Post asked movie critics and people who knew Miss Taylor to contribute their favorite memories and performances, and I was honored to be included. Adam Bernstein’s obituary in the Washington Post captured her beautifully. He described her as ” a voluptuous violet-eyed actress who lived a life of luster and anguish and spent more than six decades as one of the world’s most visible women for her two Academy Awards, eight marriages, ravaging illnesses and work in AIDS philanthropy.”

By her mid-20s, she had been a screen goddess, teenage bride, mother, divorcee and widow. She endured near-death traumas, and many declared her a symbol of survival — with which she agreed. “I’ve been through it all, baby,” she once said. “I’m Mother Courage.” News about her love affairs, jewelry collection, weight fluctuations and socializing in rich and royal circles were followed by millions of people. More than for any film role, she became famous for being famous, setting a media template for later generations of entertainers, models and all variety of semi-somebodies. She was the “archetypal star goddess,” biographer Diana Maddox once wrote.

Slate’s brilliant movie critic, Dana Stevens, wrote a perceptive appreciation of Miss Taylor as personality, actress, star, and woman: “She was at her best playing characters who inhabited their own bodies with a confident, careless pleasure…Even in her lowest moments onscreen and off, Elizabeth Taylor was always bursting to excess with life.” She also includes a link to Roger Ebert’s marvelous 1969 interview with Miss Taylor and Richard Burton. Ebert’s poignant Elizabeth Taylor tribute in the Wall Street Journal

Turner Classic Movies will have an all-day tribute on April 10. They’re all worth watching but be sure to set your DVR for the ones I’ve put in bold.

6 a.m. – Lassie Come Home (1943), with Roddy McDowall and Edmund Gwenn; directed by Fred M. Wilcox.

7:30 a.m. – National Velvet (1944), with Mickey Rooney, Anne Revere and Angela Lansbury; directed by Clarence Brown.

10 a.m. – Conspirator (1952), with Robert Taylor and Robert Flemyng; directed by Victor Saville.

11:30 a.m. – Father of the Bride (1950), with Spencer Tracy, Billie Burke, Joan Bennett and Don Taylor; directed by Vincente Minnelli.

1:15 a.m. – Father’s Little Dividend (1951), with Spencer Tracy, Billie Burke, Joan Bennett and Don Taylor; directed by Vincente Minnelli.

2:45 p.m. – Raintree County (1957), with Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Rod Taylor and Agnes Moorehead; directed by Edward Dmytryk.

6 p.m. – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), with Paul Newman and Burl Ives; directed by Richard Brooks.

8 p.m. – Butterfield 8 (1960), with Laurence Harvey and Eddie Fisher; directed by Daniel Mann.

10 p.m. – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), with Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis; directed by Mike Nichols.

12:30 a.m. – Giant (1956), with James Dean and Rock Hudson; directed by George Stevens.

4 a.m. – Ivanhoe (1952), with Robert Taylor and Joan Fontaine; directed by Richard Thorpe.

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Tribute: Dennis Hopper

Posted on May 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Actor/director/emblem of a generation Dennis Hopper died today at age 74 after a career of extraordinary range that took him from roles in the iconic films Rebel Without a Cause, Easy Rider, Giant, and Apocalypse Now, to a stunning comeback as one of film history’s most disturbing villains in Blue Velvet and an American Enterprise commercial for baby boomers contemplating retirement.

My his rest be peaceful and may his memory be a blessing.

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