Liz Smith, the veteran gossip columnist known as the ‘doyenne of dish’, has died aged 94. Continue reading
I have written two new reviews for the Immortal Marilyn website. The first, Dead Blondes: You Must Remember Marilyn, covers film historian Karina Longworth’s podcast series from earlier this year, while Artists in Love: Marilyn and Arthur Miller looks back at a 2016 TV documentary for the Sky Arts channel.
Channel 4, David Gainsborough Roberts, Documentaries, Elizabeth Winder, Frieda Hull, Immortal Marilyn, Julien's Auctions, Lee Strasberg, Lois Banner, Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime, Sarah Churchwell
These rare stills are taken from amateur footage filmed in July 1960 by Frieda Hull, one of the fabled ‘Monroe Six’, as Marilyn arrived in New York to make test shots for The Misfits. Miss Hull’s vast archive of candid images went under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions last November, alongside never-seen items from the Lee Strasberg estate and movie costumes collected by David Gainsborough Roberts, in the largest dedicated sale since the Christie’s auction of 1999. This one-off event – raising $11 million in total bids – was the subject of a recent Channel 4 documentary, Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime, which I’ve reviewed at Immortal Marilyn.
At the time of writing, the programme is still available to watch online. And if you’re looking for a more detailed view of the sale, I also wrote a series of reports on my Marilyn-only blog, ES Updates.
My favourite films this year were homegrown, showcasing what British cinema does best – not plummy period pieces, half-baked gangster flicks or corny rom-coms, but cutting-edge dramas with true grit. Continue reading
A Most Violent Year, Amy, Amy Winehouse, By the Sea, Carol, Catch Me Daddy, Doctor Zhivago, Dulcima, Girlfriends, Inherent Vice, Low Down, Macbeth, Mad Men, Marilyn Monroe, Oscar Isaac, Show Me a Hero, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hateful Eight, The Keeping Room, The Misfits, The Witch, This is England, Wanda, You Made Me Love You
After his great performances in W.E., Inside Llewyn Davis and The Two Faces of January, Oscar Isaac is fast becoming my favourite contemporary actor. He has gone from strength to strength in 2015, with big and small-screen gems set in 1980s New York: A Most Violent Year, about an ambitious businessman trying to stay on the right side of the law; and Show Me a Hero, an HBO mini-series telling the true story of Nick Wasicsko, who became mayor of Yonkers during a bitterly divisive public housing crisis. Continue reading
Jeanne Eagels, Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, Sean Axmaker, Silent Movies, Silent Sunday, TCM, Thanhouser, The Fires of Youth, The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema, The World and the Woman, Under False Colors
A 52-minute documentary, The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema, will be screened in the US on TCM tonight, July 5, at 9 PM (Pacific Daylight Time), followed by three classic Thanhouser movies, made from 1912-13, when the studio was at its peak (their prodigious output accounting for an estimated 25% of independent films released in America.)
From 1916-17, a young Jeanne Eagels starred in three films produced at the Thanhouser lot: The World and the Woman, The Fires of Youth and Under False Colors. The first two are still in print, and can be viewed here. By 1918, however, the studio would close its doors.
‘They brought the dramatic qualities of theater to the screen as they all found their way into moviemaking, they lavished attention on elaborate film sets in their roomy studio, and they took their cameras on location,’ writes critic Sean Axmaker (who has also championed Jeanne’s later work.) ‘The resulting films were vibrant and lively, with often complex stories, dynamic staging, and creative camera angles and lighting. The Thanhouser brand was a recognized mark of quality to audiences and distributors alike and a century later, the Thanhouser brand still stands for high production values, sensitive direction, intelligent stories, and fluid, energetic storytelling.’
Sex, Lies and A Very British Scapegoat was first broadcast on ITV1 on December 22nd, 2013. Presented by the composer and theatrical impresario, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, the documentary marks the end of a year’s reflection on the Profumo Affair, half a century after the first scandal erupted. Focussing on one man’s downfall, the programme also coincides with the opening of Stephen Ward: The Musical. Continue reading