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HOT OFF PRESS!

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Lucky Vassall
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HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » February 18th, 2014, 4:51 pm

It occurred to me when I saw the item below that we might create a place where it is possible to post reasonably short articles other members might enjoy. Hope you agree.

Anyway, to the article, A FILM LOVER’S TOUR OF SAN FRANCISCO. In spite of some sharp “review” comments, it comes off just a bit like advertising, but the material it covers is fascinating—even a few S.F. movies I’d never heard of—so I found it worth the time.

Also, it has some very interesting and insightful comments about what’s included and not included in the tour. And some disturbing comments about new versus old films. “Senior citizens” and lovers of “The Maltese Falcon” proceed at your own risk. For others, it may make your day!

CONTRA COSTA TIMES

A film lover's tour of San Francisco
By Bruce Newman bnewman@mercurynews.com
Posted: 02/18/2014 12:00:00 PM PST

Good movies create a visual landscape all their own, but when the backdrop is intended to be so recognizable it becomes a character in the picture -- projecting a specific emotional idea -- filmmakers often head for San Francisco.

"People from all over the world have gotten to know San Francisco through the movies," says Bryan Rice, creator and occasional guide of the San Francisco Movie Tour, which has been mapping the city's movie history for the past six years. Motion picture studios in Hollywood were constructed like factories, holding down production costs by using the same sets over and over again. As visionary directors tried to break away from genres that had grown generic, they found magic in location filming. And few cities evoked romance and mystery more than San Francisco.

At present, there is only one organized tour of the city's famous film locations, and it is directed, produced and presented by Rice. He left a corporate job seven years ago to turn what had become a hobby -- shuttling friends and family visiting from out of town to familiar San Francisco movie locations -- into a career. But to the extent that there's a script, it's written by the movies themselves.

Whether the tour's van is lumbering along the route of a slapstick chase, such as the one in "What's Up, Doc?" or matching the muscle car rumble in "Bullitt," Rice has assembled a trove of behind-the-scenes lore from DVD extras and hours of Internet research on films that figure most prominently in the tour, such as "Dirty Harry" (three locations), "Vertigo" (four) and "Mrs. Doubtfire" (three).

There are a few puzzling omissions. "48 HRS," the cop-criminal buddy picture from 1982 starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, is a no-show because there's so much foul language. Rice says he couldn't find a family-friendly clip to show.

Also missing is "Pacific Heights," the dark thriller from 1990 starring Michael Keaton, so firmly rooted in that upscale neighborhood that its location is its title. No explanation for that oversight is given, and to be fair, a city with as many picturesque backdrops as San Francisco conspires against the inclusion of every film ever shot there. But two locations from "George of the Jungle" and none from the Woody Allen comedy "Play It Again, Sam" suggests a movie map that has been purposely dumbed down.

There's plenty of smart stuff, too, such as Rice's explanation about the tour's first film clip from "The Birdman of Alcatraz," in which he notes that the Birdman, Robert Stroud, spent most of his 47 years behind bars at Leavenworth, and that he was never actually allowed to keep birds during his stretch at Alcatraz.

Seeing a movie's scenery on the video monitor at the front of the bus as it floats past outside your window feels at first a bit like a parlor trick. But as the tour rolls along, it's almost impossible for hardcore movie buffs not to fall into a rhythm of guessing the next film location. (There's a cheat sheet that lays out the entire tour, point by point, but if you enjoy figuring things out for yourself, I suggest you fold it up and put it in your pocket until you reach Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak in "Pal Joey.")

The oldest clip is from the 1922 comedy "Daydreams," which Buster Keaton shot in North Beach, hoping to ridicule the San Francisco police responsible for arresting his pal, Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, and putting him through three trials for rape and manslaughter. Arbuckle was eventually acquitted, and the city acquits itself nicely in his mad romp through its streets.

Bay Area film luminaries such as directors Francis Ford Coppola and Chris Columbus get special attention, as they should, although here again, there are puzzling oversights. At the Civic Center, for instance, we see a location from the 1978 remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," but no mention is made of direct Philip Kaufman, a longtime resident of San Francisco.

Much of the movie tour would fit comfortably into any tour of the city's neighborhoods, and in that sense, it's nice to have an organizing principle to justify flitting from Nob Hill to Alamo Square. It's surprisingly easy to lose track of where you actually are, missing beautiful scenery right outside the window while you watch a clip from a cheesy Bond movie like "A View To a Kill." The "Bullitt" car chase gets a nice, long run, but the other movie that gets a long clip is "The Rock," director Michael Bay's ghastly action fantasia from 1996.

Unconstrained by the shushing that goes on in an actual movie house, participants in the tour tend to let their inner film critic become outer. The day I took the tour, a man from San Jose who was there with his wife and another couple berated Sofia Coppola's "Lost In Translation," which wasn't even on the tour. And across the aisle, a man from New Zealand had it in for another member of the Coppola clan -- Nicolas Cage, star of "The Rock" and far too many other movies to suit the Cage-free Kiwi.

To keep the tour from going longer than three hours, when new films are added to the route -- and to the clip reel -- something else usually falls by the wayside. There are some "highlights" from movies you likely never heard of, but those aren't always the first to go if they happen someplace geographically desirable. The Mission District is skipped entirely to hold down the tour's running time, and when a scene from the most recent Woody Allen film, "Blue Jasmine," was added two weeks ago, it was one shot near Union Square because that was already on the tour. Scenes filmed in the Mission didn't make the cut.

The most famous house on the tour -- maybe the most famous house in San Francisco, a city filled with historic homes owned by robber barons and captains of industry -- is the "Mrs. Doubtfire" house in Pacific Heights. As tour guides like to demonstrate, it is also one of the easiest landmarks to find, because in the movie Sally Field's character, Miranda Hillard, gives the house's actual address: 2640 Steiner Street.

Rice knows that even classic movies don't remain classic forever, as new audiences come along and reject great films such as "The Maltese Falcon," which gets only a brief nod on the current tour. "At what point does 'Dirty Harry' become irrelevant to movie audiences?" he asks. "The first 'Dirty Harry' was released in 1971. At what point are people going to go, 'That was 43 years ago'?"

Just in case, he's considering a movie tour designed specifically for senior citizens. It might drop "Monsters vs. Aliens" in favor of "The Lady From Shanghai," although not even that would bring back Playland at the Beach, where the famous house of mirrors scene was shot. Some landscapes can only be visited at the movies.
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Rita Hayworth » February 18th, 2014, 5:44 pm

Fascinating reading material - Lucky and thanks for sharing this tidbits of information regarding San Francisco here. I just loved this write up!

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Lucky Vassall
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Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » February 20th, 2014, 12:05 am

When I came up with the idea for this category, I had no idea I’d be submitting another article in just one day, but this sincere recognition of one of our greats struck me as something others might enjoy. Again, it reads a lot like an advertisement until you get to the end, where the matter of cost is covered. It’s from another of our weeklies (this time, “SF Weekly”)"

TO PHILIP WITH LOVE

With the recent untimely loss of one of America’s favorite character actors, it’s hard not to ask yourself, ‘But aren’t all actors characters actors?’ It remains though that the late Philip Seymour Hoffman was a master of the craft, bringing sensitivity, subtlety, and heartbreaking realness to a broad range of roles. Fumble for meaning at a two-day movie marathon celebrating some of his best performances. Saturday will feature Magnolia, The Master, and Hoffman’s directorial debut, Jack goes Boating, plus Synecdoche, New York and The Big Lebowski. Sunday will kick off at noon with Hoffman as Scotty in Boogie Nights, followed by Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Owning Mahowny, The Savages, and finally, Capote. City Arts & Lectures is presenting the two days of screenings for free, open to the public, as a remembrance dedicated to a talented actor who touched people’s lives with his art.”
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

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Lucky Vassall
Posts: 290
Joined: January 27th, 2014, 2:40 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » April 30th, 2014, 11:16 am

An analysis of Whale's Show Boat, also discussed elsewhere, from the BAY AREA REPORTER:

Two epic productions
Published 04/24/2014
by Philip Campbell

* * *

Show Boat (1936) (Warner Archive Collection)
Screenplay and Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II; Music: Jerome Kern; Director: James Whale

Edna Ferber's sprawling saga of life and love on the mighty Mississippi made more than ample material for dramatization. The shocking consequences of racial intolerance in the plot did pose a most daunting challenge to writers creating shows in the context of an American theater accustomed mostly to operetta, burlesque and mindless song and dance revues. Young Hammerstein II bravely managed to craft a book musical that fused all of those elements into an entertainment that still managed to expose the cruelty of racism while making room for a parade of lovely Jerome Kern tunes and production numbers.

The movie studios sensed the potential and responded over the years with several films, notably the Technicolor 1951 extravaganza starring an impossibly beautiful Ava Gardner as the tragic Julie La Verne. Gardner's songs were dubbed, but that wasn't the only thing lacking in authenticity. The whole production was just a little too Gone With the Wind . The general portrayal of happy darkies workin' with grins on their faces and rhythm in their toes muted the serious social aspects of the story and simplified the leading characters to stock stereotypes.

Before the color (no pun intended) re-make, there was a much grittier and dramatically episodic attempt to get the whole big, beautiful concoction on the screen in director James Whale's 1936 B&W production. The cast was impressive, including a young and very pretty Irene Dunne as Magnolia (the real center of the tale) doing her own singing (she was operatically trained) and acting with all the authority and emotion that would make her one of Hollywood's greatest stars.

Charles Winninger as her goofy and lovable dad Cap'n Andy and Helen Westley as his shrewish but dryly humorous wife give great support to a big cast that also features another young and pretty talent in the male lead. Allan Jones may not be everyone's cup of tea, but his accurate singing and genuine attempts at emoting make him a credibly dashing Gaylord Ravenal, and he ages with the character believably.

The biggest revelation to anyone seeing this Show Boat for the first time must be the stunning Helen Morgan in her last film appearance as Julie. Gardner was gorgeous, but Morgan will break your heart. Her rendition of such classics as "Bill" and "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" are definitive, but the subtle torment of her acting is haunting.

Hattie McDaniel as Queenie takes the screen whenever she appears, but the legendary Paul Robeson as her husband Joe rightfully steals the picture. "Ol' Man River" is more than an anthem here. It captures the essence of Ferber's epic of the South, and Robeson gives it a powerfully simple rendition that proves incredibly moving. The great singer is also a fine actor, and his beautifully nuanced Joe is funny and physically appealing.

Miscegenation laws and brutal segregation are controversial even now, so can you imagine the shock at seeing such subjects portrayed in a musical in the 1930s? Get this DVD (remastered for a long overdue release by Warner Archives) and prepare for an eye-opening reminder of why Show Boat is such an important piece of Americana. * * *
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

kingrat
Posts: 2207
Joined: August 20th, 2009, 2:46 pm

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby kingrat » May 1st, 2014, 11:29 am

Thank you for posting this, Lucky. The 1936 Show Boat has a lot going for it, and the fact that it's now available on DVD is really good news.

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Vienna
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Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Vienna » May 1st, 2014, 12:47 pm

Great thing about the 1936 SHOW BOAT for me is the use of so many of the performers who created the roles in the original Broadway production - Paul Robeson, Helen Morgan,Charles Winninger,Queenie White.
A shame that Edna May Oliver wasn't available to replay her role of Parthy.
And Irene Dunne had toured in the national stage production as Magnolia.
Jerome Kern's music is just so wonderful.

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Rita Hayworth » May 1st, 2014, 4:34 pm

SHOW BOAT on DVD!!! ... Thanks for the news Lucky! ... I will be getting a copy real soon! :D

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Lucky Vassall
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Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » May 2nd, 2014, 1:06 am

Vienna wrote:A shame that Edna May Oliver wasn't available to replay her role of Parthy.

Yes, it certainly would have completed the perfect casting. According to the Whale bio, she refused simply because she was tired of playing the character.
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

User avatar
Lucky Vassall
Posts: 290
Joined: January 27th, 2014, 2:40 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » June 16th, 2014, 4:52 pm

The local PC Weekly ran an all comics issue. Pretty weird, but you might enjoy (and agree with) their “Movies” editorial:
PC Weekly 1.jpg
PC Weekly 1.jpg (125.17 KiB) Viewed 2291 times
PC Weekly 2.jpg
PC Weekly 2.jpg (122.62 KiB) Viewed 2291 times
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

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mongoII
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Joined: April 14th, 2007, 7:37 pm
Location: Florida

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby mongoII » June 18th, 2014, 3:42 pm

Image
Lucky, I'm not sure if you saw this shot of your favorite, Billy DeWolfe, that I posted on Candids last week. I thought you would enjoy it.
Joseph Goodheart

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Lucky Vassall
Posts: 290
Joined: January 27th, 2014, 2:40 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » June 19th, 2014, 7:08 pm

Many thanks for reposting the fabulous shot of Billy very much "in character." I carefully check out Candids every day, but I missed it because it was at the bottom of a page, and I didn't realize a new page had been created. Will be more careful in the future; I surely would have hated missing that candid.

By the way, I never mentioned it, but it was thanks to the many photos you post that I, indirectly, found SSO. A friend googled an actress he was interested in and came upon a photo you had posted. Knowing my interest in film, he tipped me off. So, I'm doubly grateful to you for the delight you bring to each of us every day.
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

User avatar
mongoII
Posts: 12345
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 7:37 pm
Location: Florida

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby mongoII » June 20th, 2014, 10:21 am

Thank you, Lucky, it was my pleasure.
Joseph Goodheart

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Lucky Vassall
Posts: 290
Joined: January 27th, 2014, 2:40 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » August 29th, 2014, 9:20 pm

GUESS THE MOVIE!

Couldn't resist passing on the following item in its entirety from today's San Francisco Examiner:

Epic cinema: David Lean's Academy Award-winning blockbuster from 1961, which follows T.E. Lawrence's adventures in the Middle East during World War II, is being shown in a high-definition, 4K-resolution presentation. A concert of Barbary Coast-era music by Blackie Norton's Paradise Club Band precedes the 2 p.m. showing [2 and 7 p.m., Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.]

Come on, guys, if you're going to make us guess, at least make it a little difficult.
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

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ChiO
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Joined: January 2nd, 2008, 1:26 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby ChiO » August 30th, 2014, 5:48 am

I'm at a loss since T.E. Lawrence was dead before the start of WWII. That would have been quite the adventure in the Middle East.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Lucky Vassall
Posts: 290
Joined: January 27th, 2014, 2:40 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: HOT OFF PRESS!

Postby Lucky Vassall » August 30th, 2014, 2:02 pm

Wish I could take the blame for a mistyping, but that's the way it was in print. Maybe they were trying to throw guessers off?
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)


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