Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wild Boys of the Road” is the March Movie Classic in Bigfork

 “Wild Boys of the Road” is a movie that deals with the socio-economic issues of the depression era.  Made in 1933 it showed the depth of the depression and its effect on the lives of several teenagers who had to become hobos riding trains to survive. The film was directed by William Wellman and starred Frankie Darro. It is a heavy subject for Hollywood to tackle when crime films and musicals were a much better investment. It presents a side of the economic times that was important to preserve. The Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in 2013. Come and see this one shown on the big screen of the Edge Theatre in Bigfork.  It will be accompanied by Jack’ Nachbar's presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie.  Date: Thursday, Thursday March 8th . Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge.

During the Depression, Hollywood was one of the few beneficiaries of the country’s tough times. For a nickel the movie-goer could get you a cartoon, a newsreel, a B-feature, and the main film. That could amount to four hours of entertainment for the price of a gallon of gasoline or a pack of cigarettes.  Between 60 and 80 million people were going to the movies once a week. Most of the movies were crime related, musicals or comedies, but a few slipped through that addressed the county’s problems. It shows there was still a heart in Hollywood for the distressed of the country. Critics in 1933 were mixed as to their opinions of “Wild Boy,s" but time has proven this movie’s worth.

Frankie Darro (1917-1976) American actor and stuntman began his career in silent movies as a child actor. As he grew up he progressed in roles in “talkies” in adventure, western, dramatic, and comedy films.  Later he became a character actor and voice-over artist. Remember the donkey called Lampwick in Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio”?

William Augustus Wellman (1896-1975) was an American film director best known for crime, adventure and action genre films.  Wellman directed over 80 films including “Wings” which became the first film to win an Oscar at the first Academy Awards ceremony.

Wellman also saw something special in Dorothy Coonan, an accomplished dancer, who played Sally in “Wild Boys of the Road”   He married her with a union that lasted through 7 kids and over 40 years until his death. She died at the age of 96 with seven children, 22 grand children and 12 great grand children.

So come enjoy a great 30s movie about the Depression and its effect on three youngsters forced to become hobos to survive. 

The movie is on the big screen of the Edge in Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday March 8th  at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn.

Friday, February 2, 2018

“My Favorite Wife” is the February Movie Classic in Bigfork

This is about as “Screwball” a comedy you can get.  In “My Favorite Wife” Cary Grant (hunk number one), who is married with kids to Irene Dunne, gets married for the second time after his wife is declared legally dead. But, she is not dead, but marooned on a desert island with Randolph Scott (hunk number two). Irene shows up, finds out she is legally dead, and hubby is off with wife number two. She sets out to clear up the mess. It does not work out very well when wife one hires a mousey shoe salesman to play her island company, Grant does not buy the whole mess. But then add the law: if she is married to the two men at one time (bigamist) or not, the judge who needs to “fix” things is the same judge who declared Irene dead, and married Cary to his second wife. See how it all ends up on the big screen of the Edge Theatre in Bigfork shown by Jack Nachbar. It will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie and maybe help unravel things at the same time.  Date: Thursday, February 8th. Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge.

There was some true life drama going on behind the scenes during the production of this movie because it’s producer, Leo McCarey, was in a serious car accident and it was not known if he would live: kind of a hard backdrop for the actors to absorb when whey were trying to be “funny”. One of the actors in the movie, Gail Patrick, who played the second wife, recalled “…desperately trying to be funny as our producer, Leo McCarey, lay at death’s door..I never thought we entered into the spirit of that one. We couldn’t…waiting for bulletins from the hospital.”

McCarey got well enough to visit the set a couple of times, shooting got done with a movie that sort of dropped off at mid point and didn’t get funny any more. The actors went home waited for the results. And McCarey was left with a mess to clean up. When he reviewed what was there he came up with a great fix.  The judge’s part was originally dropped early in the film, and McCarey brought him back because he was really funny and with some good rewriting by McCarey himself and other writers, the end result was a great comedy. In fact it was one of the the last of its kind because WWII interrupted that sort of story telling for the time being.

Irene Dunne (1898 – 1990) was an American film actress and singer whose career spanned three decades from the 1930s to the 1950s. She has been described as, “…the best actress to never win an Oscar but was nominated for four times, and was given Kennedy Center Honors for her work as an actress. She once commented in an interview, that she “…lacked the ‘terrifying ambition’ of some other actresses and said, I drifted into acting and drifted out…” Dunne has 44 films and 25 television and radio shows to her credit,  a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame and displays in the Warner Bros. museum and center for motion picture study.

Cary Grant (1904 – 1986) was an English – American actor and is known as the “definitive” handsome leading man.  He had a pronounced “English” and smooth stage personality that fit very nicely in that leading man role in the 76 or so film credits he  earned from 1932 and 1976.  The American Film Institute named Cary the second greatest male film star of the Golden Age Hollywood.  Grant was nominated twice for Oscars and received an Honorary Oscar. His working relationship with Alfred Hitchcock got him four roles in Hitchcock movies and it is said that the director loved working with him.

Randolph Scott (1898 – 1987) was an American film star whose career spanned five decades from 1928 to 1962. His lasting image is of the “…man who sat tall in the saddle…” Of his more than 100 films, more than 60 were westerns. But as this film shows his talents went beyond the cowboy film, and he could handle them very well. Scott’s films included social dramas, comedies, musicals (non singing or dancing roles) adventure movies, war films and even a few horror/fantasy films. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Leo McCarey (1898 – 1969).  As said earlier, a lot of the credit for this film’s success is due to the work of its writer/producer, Leo McCarey.  His work on “My Favorite Wife” made it the second biggest hit for RKO in 1940.  McCarey can certainly take credit for that achievement.  He had previous experience with Grant and Dunn in previous work and therefore familiar with their talents.
Leo was a three time Academy Award winning director, screenwriter and producer. He was involved in nearly 200 films is best known for his work in comedies.  For “My Favorite Wife” he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Original Story.  Interestingly he focused mostly on “screwball” comedies before the war and, later, turned his talents towards more socially conscious and religious films.  He achieved success and acclaim in both genres. 

So come enjoy a great “screwball” comedy film on the big screen the of the Edge in Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday February 8th  at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn.

Monday, January 1, 2018

“All About Eve” is the January Film Classic in Bigfork

This is a drama film that takes aim at the Broadway theater culture and “personality” in a way that will let you see deeply into the heart of live performance art.  “All About Eve” is a drama film sure, but just giving it a category falls short of the real depth of how one art form can describe another in such a moving manner. The industry critics loved it as much as the industry that produced it. “All About Eve” (1950) is the only film in Oscar history that received four actress nominations in the 14 total gained and ended up winning six.  A great story of a young star (played by Anne Baxter) eclipsing the career and life of an older establish one (played by Bette Davis). This one will make you think and consider how well the Hollywood film industry did in dissecting its East Coast sister industry the live Broadway industry.  This January Movie Classic will be shown on the big screen of the Edge in Bigfork by Jack Nachbar.  It will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie.  Date: Thursday, January 11th . Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge

The movie made almost $3 millions dollars in its U.S. release and has as many twists and turns in its themes and sub-plots as imaginable. To some it was a straight-forward story about ambition and show business comparing one industry segment to another. To some it has a love triangle story between the characters.  We do know it was related to an actual situation between and aging actress and young protégé fan she gave a job to in her house which she later regretted.  The movie was very popular in the gay community possibly because Bette Davis was one of its early heroes. All of these things make for great movies and audiences then and now have lot of angles to think about and make up their own minds. Today’s viewers are even treated to an early performance by Marilyn Monroe, so you can ponder how much of the audience comprehended what this “new” star of the industry might become.  Whatever reasons prevailed in the audiences and industry in that earlier era, it was a great success.

 Bette Davis (1908-1989) was one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses. Willing to play virtually any kind of character and personality, she found work wherever and whenever she wanted.  As with many early Hollywood stars, she started out on Broadway before moving to Hollywood in 1930. So this movie certainly fit her perfectly.  With her willingness to play any kind of character, her range of films spanned the spectrum of Hollywood movies.  She was a hardcore businesswomen and often at odds with studio management. You could say her off stage personality matched her on-stage persona clashing with management, fellow actors, and writers. In general a great actor and person.

Bette was the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen. She was the first woman to be president of the Academy of Motion Pictures, first women to be nominated for 10 Oscars, first to receive a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute and on and on. In 1999 she was placed second as the American Film Institute’s list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood.

Concerning this movie Bette once admitted that her casting in this movie, “saved her career from oblivion after a series of unsuccessful movies….Joseph L. Mankiewics’s casting her in this movie resurrected me from the grave.”

Anne Baxter (May 7, 1923 – December 12, 1985) was an actress in films, stage and television. In her career she won an Oscar, Golden Globe and nominated for a prime time Emmy.  Interestingly, her selection for “All About Eve” came about due to her resemblance to Claudette Colbert who was originally picked, but was replaced by Bette Davis.  She said she played her character based on a “bitchy understudy” she had in a Broadway play when she was 13 and threatened to “finish her off”.  Anne received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in “All About Eve”.

In a odd example of life imitating art, Anne did replace Bette in a TV show when Betty became to sick to do it. This movie was the first time two actresses from one film were both nominated for the best Actress Oscar. They lobbied so hard to get the award that neither ended up getting it.

So come enjoy a great drama film on the big screen of the Edge Center from the golden years of Hollywood. Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday January 11th  at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn