Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Final Four Is Set

The final four is set in the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament—three favorites and a longshot, any one of whom would make a worthy winner.

The matches:

Carole Lombard

versus

Doris Day

with the winner to compete against the winner of

Bette Davis

versus

Diana Rigg

Voting starts tomorrow is now underway and runs through Tuesday at All Good Things.

Marriage Equality

Does anybody feel any pressing need for me to weigh in on one of the most important issues of the day? If so, here it is: I believe gays (lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered) should be able to take for granted every right I take for granted as a heterosexual—including the right to marry, raise children and live life free of interference from people who object to something that is fundamentally none of their business; rights, like those to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that are conferred not by the arbitrary whim of a political majority but as a matter of birth, and that, while long- and oft-denied, have been forever and always existing.

I don't pretend to know everything, and I often don't know anything, but when confronted with such an issue, I try to approach it the same way I would approach selecting the best supporting actress of 1937—with, hopefully, as much humility and compassion as I can muster, and erring on the side of what makes life easier for others without making it any harder for me or anybody else.

That, of course, is just my opinion, something I don't often proffer in this particular forum—generally speaking, it's not that kind of blog. But, well, sometimes you've just got to say what you've got to say.

Now back to our regularly scheduled classic movie trivialities.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Who Am Us Sez ...

No, seriously, that's what he said, in the comments section of the previous post. To be sung, he said, as if by a barbershop quartet.

You can take it up with Who Am Us Anyway here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

1960s Era Final Match-Up

I'm a big fan of both Diana Rigg and Shirley Jones, but to be honest with you, I didn't know anybody else was and I fully expected Dame Rigg and Mrs. Jones—both seeded seventh in their respective brackets—to lose in the opening round. Instead, each of these Cinderellas has put together a magical run and one of them is advancing to the Final Four.

You'll have to ask Monty at All Good Things, the host of this annual Tournament, but I don't think a lower seeded actress has ever advanced to the Final Four.

Once again, your contestants:

Diana Rigg
Birth Name: Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg
Tourney Bracket and Seeding: "British Invasion" #7
Birth Date: July 30, 1938
Birthplace: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Height: 5' 8½"
Academy Awards: none
Katie-Bar-The-Door Awards: best supporting actress of 1969 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
Three To See: On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Hospital, Theater of Blood
How She Got Here: defeated #2 Julie Christie, 43-19; #6 Angela Lansbury, 44-40; #1 Julie Andrews, 48-21; #1 Catherine Deneuve, 38-13

Shirley Jones
Birth Name: Shirley Mae Jones
Tourney Bracket and Seeding: "Song and Dance" #7
Birth Date: March 31, 1934
Birthplace: Charleroi, Pennsylvania
Height: 5' 5½"
Academy Awards: 1 win (supporting actress, Elmer Gantry)
Katie-Bar-The-Door Awards: best actress of 1962 (comedy/musical) (The Music Man)
Three To See: Carousel, Elmer Gantry, The Music Man
How She Got Here: defeated # 2 Shirley MacLaine, 45-42; #6 Liza Minnelli, 34-18; #1 Natalie Wood, 34-26; #1 Anne Bancroft, 34-18

The matches to determine the winner of each of the other eras should be up some time today. Remember:

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket—Barbara Stanwyck v. Carole Lombard (click here).
Desiree of Rosalind Russell: Dazzling Star is hosting the 1940s bracket—Bette Davis v. Rita Hayworth (click here).
Kristen of Journey in Classic Film is hosting the 1950s bracket—Doris Day v. Ava Gardner (click here).

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fourth Anniversary

Four years to the day since I first began blogging as the Mythical Monkey. For what it's worth.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Sweet Sixteen

Round Three of the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament is complete and the Sweet Sixteen is set. The final results for the 1960s era by bracket:

"Song and Dance"
#7 Shirley Jones defeated #1 Natalie Wood 34-26.
"All-American Girls"
#1 Anne Bancroft 33 defeated #6 Paula Prentiss 33-22
"The British Invasion"
#7 Diana Rigg defeated #1 Julie Andrews 48-21
"A Foreign Affair"
#1 Catherine Deneuve defeated #6 Romy Schneider 34-30

The Round Four pairings by decade:

1930s
Barbara Stanwyck versus Greta Garbo
Carole Lombard versus Joan Blondell

1940s
Bette Davis versus Judy Garland
Rita Hayworth versus Gene Tierney

1950s
Audrey Hepburn versus Doris Day
Grace Kelly versus Ava Gardner

and here at the Monkey, with a couple of #7 seeds against a couple of #1 seeds, the 1960s pairings:

Anne Bancroft versus Shirley Jones

Catherine Deneuve versus Diana Rigg

Voting starts now and runs until Saturday evening. Gentlemen, start your engines!

MILF-y Madness Here At The Monkey

Once again, longshot Shirley Jones is on the verge of upsetting a higher-seeded contestant in the 2013 March Madness Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament. After squeaking past #2 seed Shirley MacLaine and crushing Oscar-winner Liza Minnelli, Mama Partridge (or do you prefer Madame Librarian Marian?) is at the time of this writing tied with last year's 1960 bracket winner, Natalie Wood.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Peel and that married broad from Belle de Jour (Anne Bancroft, Diana Rigg and Catherine Deneuve, respectively) lead their own contests by varying margins.

You've got only a few hours left to vote. Drop whatever you're doing and get to it!

Monday, March 18, 2013

That's Deneuve ...

Did anybody notice I misspelled Catherine Deneuve's name in the poll? I've spelled it right everywhere else, and I don't think it'll invalidate the results, but sheesh nevertheless.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Favorites, Cinderellas—And A Tie

The second round of the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament is complete—well, almost—and among the winners are a mixture of favorites and Cinderellas. Here at the Monkey, each quarter-final round in the 1960s bracket includes a #1 seed and either a #6 or a #7 seed. The other eras produced similar results, with favorites such as Carole Lombard and Audrey Hepburn and longshots such as Eleanor Powell advancing.

And the 1940s era produced the first tie in the three-year history of the tournament, with Lauren Bacall and Ida Lupino deadlocked after three full days of voting. Desiree is hosting a today-only tiebreaker to determine the winner: "Which performance with co-star Humphrey Bogart did you like more? Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not or Ida Lupino in They Drive By Night." Click here to get your vote on.

Meanwhile, the rest of the tournament continues with round three.

Here at the Monkey, you have four matches to vote on:

"Song and Dance"
#1 Natalie Wood versus #7 Shirley Jones

"All-American Girls"
#1 Anne Bancroft versus #6 Paula Prentiss

"The British Invasion"
#1 Julie Andrews versus #7 Diana Rigg

"A Foreign Affair"
#1 Catherine Deneuve versus #6 Romy Schneider

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket (click here).
Kristen of Journeys in Classic Film is hosting the 1950s bracket (click here).

Friday, March 15, 2013

This Is What It Sounds Like When You Show Five-Year-Olds A Silent Movie

Courtesy of Sound Cloud.

Barnburner Here At The Monkey

Yes, Julie Andrews, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury and Diana Rigg have been running around burning barns for two days and it doesn't look they're going to stop anytime soon. The numbers as of this writing:

Julie Andrews 28
Maggie Smith 25

Diana Rigg 27
Angela Lansbury 25

It looks like they'll be burning barns well into Saturday evening. Pitch in and help them.

And don't forget to participate in the other conflagrations currently taking place in the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament:

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket (click here).
Desiree of Rosalind Russell: Dazzling Star is hosting the 1940s bracket (click here).
Kristen of Journey in Classic Film is hosting the 1950s bracket (click here).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Round Two Continues (Results And More Voting)

More round two voting starts tonight and continues until Saturday evening. Let's get right to the match-ups:

"The British Invasion"
#1 Julie Andrews versus #4 Maggie Smith

#6 Angela Lansbury versus #7 Diana Rigg

"All-American Girls"
#1 Anne Bancroft versus #4 Patricia Neal

#6 Paula Prentiss versus #7 Tuesday Weld

And how about the results of the rest of round two here at the Monkey:
Natalie Wood beat Ann-Margret 31-17
Shirley Jones beat Liza Minneli 34-18
Catherine Deneuve beat Claudia Cardinale 27-20
Romy Schneider beat Liv Ullman 29-28

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket (click here).
Desiree of Rosalind Russell: Dazzling Star is hosting the 1940s bracket (click here).
Kristen of Journey in Classic Film is hosting the 1950s bracket (click here).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Round Two (And More Round One Results)

Okay, round two is up and running—well, for the most part.

Kristen, who is hosting the 1950s bracket over at Journeys in Classic Film, discovered to her chagrin that the "free" site she was using to generate her poll wasn't so free after all. So she's starting part two of round one over again. Click here to recast your votes.

In the meantime, the rest of us are good to go. We'll be running half of round two through Wednesday afternoon, then the rest of round two on Wednesday night through Saturday (Kristen will run all of her round two Wednesday through Saturday). Got that?

In the 1960s bracket, here are your match-ups:

Song and Dance
#1 Natalie Wood versus #4 Ann-Margret

#6 Liza Minnelli versus #7 Shirley Jones

A Foreign Affair
#1 Catherine Deneuve versus #5 Claudia Cardinale

#2 Liv Ullmann versus #6 Romy Schneider

To vote in the other Round Two contests:

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket (click here).
Desiree of Rosalind Russell: Dazzling Star is hosting the 1940s bracket (click here).

Oh, and for those keeping score at home, these were the results of Round One (Part Two) here at the Monkey:

#1 Julie Andrews def. #8 Margaret Rutherford, 41-14
#7 Diana Rigg def. #2 Julie Christie, 43-19
#6 Angela Lansbury def. #3 Jean Simmons, 44-22
#4 Maggie Smith def. #5 Vanessa Redgrave, 50-16
#1 Anne Bancroft def. #8 Julie Harris, 42-10
#7 Tuesday Weld def. #2 Jane Fonda, 41-24
#6 Paula Prentiss def. #3 Faye Dunaway, 38-25
#4 Patricia Neal def. #5 Geraldine Page, 33-30

Friday, March 8, 2013

Intolerance In Washington, D.C.

D.W. Griffith's Intolerance that is, which is playing at the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art on Saturday, March 9, 2013, at 3 p.m., I do believe. The Baltimore-based group Boister will provide live musical accompaniment. Admission is free.

Maybe Katie-Bar-The-Door and I will see you there.

In case you know nothing about it, Intolerance weaves four separate story lines—the life of Christ, the fall of Babylon, the massacre of the Huguenots, and a modern-day story about the victims of an overreaching reform movement—into a three-plus hour spectacle that might be the most ambitious movie ever made. Accounts vary as to how much of his personal fortune Griffith poured into the production—some say as much as $2 million, the most for any film before Gone With The Wind—but there's no question that this was the most lavish production of the silent era.

Or to put it another way, to show the sack of Babylon, Griffith basically built a full-scale replica of the ancient city on a Hollywood backlot and then laid siege to it.

"Imagine," wrote Daniel Eagan in America's Film Legacy, "how audiences in [1916] must have reacted to the sight of walls and battlements four and five stories high, to courtyards set on three different levels and filled with hundreds of costumed extras, to visuals so expensive it's like they were filmed on and made out of gold."

The film opens with the story of a modern-day reform movement determined to improve the spiritual life of the working class even if it kills them. Fueled by jealousy and financed by an autocratic mill owner, the reformers crush the life out of their would-be beneficiaries, particularly "the Dear One" (played so memorably by Mae Marsh), the embodiment of youthful joy and innocence. Only a crabbed, self-righteous hypocrite could find fault with someone so pure; that the reform movement's machinations lead to Dear One's fall is a testament to its destructive purposes.

To underscore the point, Griffith cuts to a scene from the life of Christ, that of a Pharisee praying in public so that others might better observe his piety. "Oh Lord, I thank thee that I am better than other men."

The film's third storyline focuses on the political intrigue in the court of King Charles IX that led to the massacre of Protestants in Paris in the late sixteenth century, while the fourth and final story, about the jealousy between rival religious factions that led to the sack of Babylon, rounds out Griffith's theme, a rousing condemnation of the humorless, meddling, Puritanical impulses that characterize so much of America's reformist zeal on both ends of the political spectrum. Watching it, I thought it was a pity that Griffith never directed a screen version of Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry.

Structurally, Intolerance is as audacious as anything ever attempted on film—four simultaneous stories linked only by a common theme and the generally rising action—with the editing style growing more complex as the action in each story reaches its climax. The film's last half hour, with quick cross-cut shots between a marauding army, a racing car, a speeding train, the slaughter of the Huguenots and the crucifixion of Christ, has been described as a fugue, a concept borrowed from music where two or more voices entering successively and sung in either imitation or counterpoint to build on a common theme.

Griffith's visual fugue later inspired Sergei Eisenstein and other Russian directors to develop the montage—quick shots cut rapidly together to condense several events or a lengthy period of time into a single short sequence.

Questions have persisted almost from the beginning as to Griffith's motives in making Intolerance. For years, historians assumed Intolerance was his apology for the racism of The Birth of a Nation, but more recently, biographers have suggested Griffith was lashing out at those who were looking for an apology. Personally, after watching it in the context of the times, Intolerance looks like the act of a supremely self-confident artist determined to top both himself and his chief competition, Cecil B. DeMille and Thomas H. Ince, who that year directed ambitious historical epics of their own, Joan the Woman and Civilization, respectively.

Whatever his motivations, Griffith succeeded brilliantly.

Which is not to say that all four of Griffith's stories are created equal. Christ's life, for example, gets the least amount of screen time, presumably because Griffith assumed his audience knew the story so well, he needed only reference a particular well-know incident to underscore a point he wanted to make in one of the other story lines.

Too, the story of Protestant-Catholic infighting in sixteenth century France isn't all that interesting even if it does result in a satisfyingly bloody slaughter by the film's end. Without a central figure as compelling as the Dear One or Babylon's Mountain Girl (Constance Talmadge), the court intrigue becomes a bit opaque, delving too deeply into the minutiae of history without giving us someone lovable to root for.

But when it focuses on the modern and Bab- ylonian stories, the film soars. It's telling that in the role of the Dear One, Griffith cast Mae Marsh from his stable of performers instead of his usual go-to girl, Lillian Gish. For truly tragic suffering—and for an ideal of Victorian womanhood that existed only in Griffith's head—no one was better than Gish. But Marsh, with her kewpie doll face, bow-tie mouth and round, startled eyes, was better suited for a role that required joy, passion and an almost childlike innocence. Along with her work in Judith of Bethulia, The Birth of a Nation and Hoodoo Ann, this represents Marsh at the peak of her career.

The film's most unforgettable performance—and for me, the best in any film in 1916—came from Marsh's co-star, Constance Talmadge. In the Babylonian sequence of Intolerance, she plays "the Mountain Girl," a pretty, perky, petulant teenage beauty who finds herself fighting against a palace conspiracy that threatens to topple the kingdom. Wide-eyed and gangly-limbed, Talmadge is as hyperactive as a puppy amped up on kibble and amphetamines, windmilling her way across the screen, and you can't take your eyes off her. Neither could audiences in 1916 and she quickly became a star.

"[I]t's a mark of her skill," Eagan wrote, "that she stands out in a segment filled with orgies, sacrifices, semi-nudity, wild animals, and wholesale destruction."

In short, if you're a connoisseur of mind-blowing cinema, watch this D.W. Griffith epic and consider your mind blown. See you tomorrow—maybe.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vote Now!

Remember:

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket (click here).
Desiree of Rosalind Russell: Dazzling Star is hosting the 1940s bracket (click here).
Kristen of Journeys in Classic Film is hosting the 1950s bracket (click here).
and yours truly is hosting the 1960s bracket (you're already here)!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

First Round Results—And More Voting

One close race and a lot of blowouts so far in round one of the 1960s bracket of the Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament.

Some numbers for you:

In the "Song and Dance" category,
#1 Natalie Wood def. #8 Rita Moreno, 56-20.
#7 Shirley Jones def. #2 Shirley MacLaine, 45-42.
#6 Liza Minnelli def. #3 Barbra Streisand, 50-35.
#4 Ann-Margret def. #5 Diahann Carroll, 58-15.

In the "Foreign Affair" category,
#1 Catherine Deneuve def. #8 Jeanne Moreau, 43-22.
#2 Liv Ullmann def. #7 Lila Kedrova, 54-13.
#6 Romy Schneider def. #3 Anna Karina, 37-21.
#5 Claudia Cardinale def. #4 Giulletta Masina, 38-22.

"The Power of the Partridge," crowed Shirley Jones after her upset of #2 seed Shirley MacLaine. "Too many voters with too many memories of that hot MILF-y television mama—I couldn't lose!"

"I was jinxed from the word go," Shirley MacLaine said bitterly. "The first time I was ever kissed was in a cemetery. We went up there to smoke and somebody said kissing a smoker was like licking an ashtray, so we licked some ashtrays and then—oh, shut up and deal!"
In the other brackets, a couple of notable names went down to defeat—four-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn and silent film legend Louise Brooks.

"Great minds discuss ideas," Hepburn said afterwards, "average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. And idiots vote for someone other than me! I won four Oscars, I wrote great books, I slept with Spencer Tracy, John Ford and Howard Hughes! And I was a huge star! I mean, I was in Rooster Cogburn and the Lady, dammit! What more do they want?"
Louise Brooks was unavailable for comment, busy doing her own thing and having much too good a time to bother chatting with blog typing sock monkeys.

Part Two of the first round starts now and runs until Saturday night. Remember:

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket (click here).
Desiree of Rosalind Russell: Dazzling Star is hosting the 1940s bracket (click here).
Kristen of Journeys in Classic Film is hosting the 1950s bracket (click here).
and yours truly is hosting the 1960s bracket (you're already here)!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Voting Has Begun!

Round One (Part One) of the Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament has begun and will continue through Wednesday afternoon.

Monty of All Good Things is hosting the 1930s bracket (click here).
Desiree of Rosalind Russell: Dazzling Star is hosting the 1940s bracket (click here).
Kristen of Journeys in Classic Film is hosting the 1950s bracket (click here).
and yours truly is hosting the 1960s bracket (you're already here)!

Have at it!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sneak Preview: 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament: The 1960s Bracket #8

Voting starts March 3rd.

Shirley MacLaine
Birth Name: Shirley MacLean Beaty
Tourney Bracket and Seeding: "Song and Dance" #2
Birth Date: April 24, 1934
Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia
Height: 5' 7"
Academy Awards: 6 nominations, 1 win (actress, Terms of Endearment)
Signature Role: Fran Kubelik (The Apartment)

versus

Shirley Jones
Birth Name: Shirley Mae Jones
Tourney Bracket and Seeding: "Song and Dance" #7
Birth Date: March 31, 1934
Birthplace: Charleroi, Pennsylvania
Height: 5' 5½"
Academy Awards: 1 nomination, 1 win (supporting actress, Elmer Gantry)
Signature Role: Marian Paroo (The Music Man)

with the winner to take on the winner of

Barbra Streisand
Birth Name: Barbara Joan Streisand
Tourney Bracket and Seeding: "Song and Dance" #3
Birth Date: April 24, 1942
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Height: 5' 5"
Academy Awards: 5 nominations, 2 wins (actress, Funny Girl; best song, A Star is Born)
Signature Role: Katie Morosky (The Way We Were)

versus

Liza Minnelli
Birth Name: Liza May Minnelli
Tourney Bracket and Seeding: "Song and Dance" #6
Birth Date: March 12, 1946
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Height: 5' 4"
Academy Awards: 2 nominations, 1 win (actress, Cabaret)
Signature Role: Sally Bowles (Cabaret)

Notes: The battle of the Shirleys; the battle of the Broadway divas.