Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Letter

There were several film versions of The Letter which was adapted from the play by W. Somerset Maugham. The play was adapted from a short story by Maugham and opened in New York in 1927.

The story involves adultery, murder, and revenge. The setting is a rubber plantation in the East Indies. The film opens with the murder of Geoffrey Hammond by Leslie Crosbie, the wife of the British rubber planter. She claims she shot him in defense of her honor but her story is questioned in light of an incrementing letter.

In 1929, Jean De Limur directed Jeanne Eagels in the lead role. Eagels, who died suddenly at the age of 39 shortly after completing this film, was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1931, Paramount released Spanish, German, French and Italian -language versions. 
Warner Brothers released a film version in 1940 which was directed by William Wyler and starred Bette Davis as Leslie Crosbie. Herbert Marshall, who had played Geoffrey in the 1929 film, was cast as Robert Crosbie with Gale Sondergaard playing Mrs. Hammond. Howard Koch wrote the screenplay. The film, nominated for 7 Academy Awards, was described as "a superbly crafted melodrama."

Warner Brothers made another version in 1947, called The Unfaithful, starring Ann Sheridan. 

Check out the DVDs from Butler Media. 

The Letter (1929) -- DVD24465
The Letter (1940) --  DVD10505

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

20th Century North American Drama

From the publisher... 

"This edition of Twentieth Century North American Drama contains 2,059 plays by 434 playwrights, together with detailed, fielded information on related productions, theaters, production companies, and more. The database also includes selected playbills, production photographs and other ephemera related to the plays.More than 150 of the plays are published here for the first time, including a number by major authors."

Search the database from Columbia University Libraries. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Audio Drama: The L.A. Theatre Works Collection

Audio Drama the L.A. Theatre Works from Alexander Street Press now contains 302 plays delivered in streaming audio. The plays are some of the most significant dramatic works written in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and are performed by an international roster of actors. Here are a few highlights from the collection.

Alan Ayckbourn (Henceforward, Man of the Moment, Round and Round in the Garden, Table Manners)
Anton Chekhov (Three Sisters)
Susan Glaspell (Trifles)
Henrik Ibsen (A Doll's House)
David Ives (Long Ago and Far Away, New Jerusalem, Time Flies)
David Mamet (Bobby Gould in Hell, Reunion, The Shawl)
Jean-Baptiste Moliere (Tartuffe, The Bungler)
Clifford Odets (Awake and Sing!)
Yasmina Reza (The Unexpected Man)
William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Macbeth)
Sam Shepard (Buried Child)
Richard Sheridan (The Rivals, The School for Scandal)
Neil Simon (California Suite)

Notable actors include Anne Heche (Henceforward), Jane Leeves (Round and Round in the Garden), Lisa Bonet (Say Zebra), Alfred Molina (Copenhagen), Ed Asner (New Jerusalem), Ed Begley, Jr. (Time Flies), Hank Azaria (It's Not a Fair World), Steve Carell (Sin), Marilu Henner (Bobby Gould in Hell), Richard Kind (Awake and Sing!), Kathleen Turner (The Graduate), Walter Matthau (The Hole in the Top of the World) among others.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Seven Days a Week!

MoMA Plans to be Open.

 See related article from the New York Times.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arts Administration Resources

Here are a few resources for researching topics in arts administration.

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library -- includes encyclopedias on small business and information on managing non-profits.
  • Foundation Directory  -- search grants for theater
  • Factiva  -- full-text business information including non-profits 
  • ABI  -- citations and full-text for business journals -- part of the ProQuest family of databases
  • International Index to Performing Arts -- citations and full-text for popular and scholarly journal articles on the performing arts -- also part of the ProQuest family of databases
  • EBSCO -- includes Art Index, International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance, Humanities Full Text, Film and Television Literature Index -- you can search across all or selected EBSCO databases
  • ProQuest  -- includes extensive current and historical newspapers, ABI, International Index to the Performing Arts, Vogue, and more -- you can search across all or selected ProQuest databases

Sample keywords 
  • arts administration
  • arts management 
  • trends performing art* salaries
  • arts funding 
  • public support arts 
  • government support arts 
  • foundation support arts 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's a new academic year!

Welcome all new Columbia students and best wishes for a wonderful academic year!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mata Hari (1931)

Based on the true story of Mata Hari, assumed name of Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod, an exotic dancer, courtesan and accused spy, the film starred Greta Garbo as Mata Hari and co-starred Lionel Barrymore and Ramon Novarro. Garbo's performance was praised as a brilliant portrayal of a seductive creature possessing hypnotic charms and intelligence. MGM picked up the project after Paramount abandoned its plans to tell the story of Mata Hari. The Hays Office raised concerns about the dance sequence and the "bedroom situations."

MGM's chief costume designer, Adrian, designed the costumes. Adrian began designing for films during the silent era and worked successfully through 1941. His designs set new fashion trends influencing the ready-to-wear industry. He worked with Garbo on many films including Anna Christie (1930), Grand Hotel (1932), The Painted Veil (1934),  Queen Christina (1934), Camille (1937), and Ninotchka (1939). After he retired from the movie industry, he opened a couture and ready-to-wear business in Beverly Hills. 

Image of Greta Garbo in Mata Hari courtesy of The Kobal Collection.

Kobal Collection

The Kobal Collection is a preeminent collection of images related to the motion picture industry, primarily U.S. with some international content. Established by John Kobal, the collection numbers more than one million photos from early cinema to modern day including publicity stills, portraits, celebrity photos, and costume shots. Take note the next time you read a book about Hollywood or the film industry -- it is likely that Kobal images have been included.

I am grateful to Lauretta Dives from The Picture Desk -- Kobal Collection -- for granting me 50 images to use in my blog postings. With this collection, I am launching a new series of postings with focus on costume designers, the year 1939 in film, films from the 1970s and Billy Wilder! All beautifully illustrated with images from the Kobal Collection.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One for the casebooks!

Netflix -- what happened?

See story in The New York Times.

Arts Endowment Trims Support for PBS Shows

The New York Times reported this morning that the "National Endowment for the Arts made sweeping cuts in its support of established PBS shows under the 2012 Arts in Media grants which were announced Wednesday morning. In its place, the endowment awarded large grants to an array of gaming and Web-based projects."

The total amount awarded was down $4 million from last year but resulted in an increase in the number of grants awarded -- 78 up from 64 in 2011.

Big hit to "The PBS NewsHour -- and WNET received a grant towards a new series "The Electric Animation Festival."

Emphasis this year- - funding for public media and not just broadcast.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ordinary People (1980)

Ordinary People is an intimate portrait of a family in crisis. The film, Robert Redford's directorial debut, cuts to the core of the family dynamics within an affluent WASP family in crisis. The outstanding cast includes Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Timothy Hutton, Judd Hirsch and Elizabeth McGovern. Based on the best-selling novel by Judith Guest, the story focuses on Conrad Jarrett (Hutton), a teenager struggling with his remorse for not having saved his older brother from drowning. The parents, portrayed by Moore and Sutherland, behave as if everything is normal. Beneath the surface, the tension within the household is near a breaking point. Judd Hirsch is excellent as the psychiatrist helping Conrad after his attempted suicide. Mary Tyler Moore provides a gripping portrayal of an emotionally challenged woman. Donald Sutherland provides a tender performance of a man trying to understand and help his ailing family. Timothy Hutton delivers a sensitive portrayal of the troubled teenager.

Alvin Sargent adapted the novel for the screen. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Check out this new book!

EARLY CINEMA TODAY: THE ART OF PROGRAMMING AND LIVE PERFORMANCE ed. by Martin Loiperdinger. The essays focus on innovative presentations of old films -- a must read for anyone interested in early cinema.

From the publisher's website:

"This volume presents a number of innovative projects; Mariann Lewinsky’s A Hundred Years Ago programmes for scholars and archivists at the Bologne Festival, Eric de Kuyper’s integrating films from the 1910s into elaborated performance events, both curators’ jointly programmed From the Deep series at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Madeleine Bernstorff’s and Mariann Lewinsky’s weekend in Berlin with films related to the suffragettes’ movement, Vanessa Toulmin’s numerous shows of early local films for today’s local people, and last but not least the Crazy Cinématographe, the Luxemburg fairground cinematograph show curated by Nicole Dahlen and Claude Bertemes, which includes front-shows and film narrators, the essentials of fairground performance. All these remarkable appropriations of early cinema offer a variety of new perspectives to experience and understand what cinema has been in the beginning."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Taylor Biography

A new biography of Elizabeth Taylor -- "Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice" --focuses on Taylor as a feminist on the screen and in her personal life. The author, M.G. Lord, discusses a number of important film roles where Taylor portrays strong-willed and independent women.

Read the review from the New York Times.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Canyons

The Canyons is a contemporary thriller to be directed by Paul Schrader and written by Bret Easton Ellis -- follow the development on Facebook.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

American Smart Cinema

Check out this new title by Claire Perkins and published by Edinburgh University Press.

From the publisher's website, "American Smart Cinema examines a contemporary type of United States filmmaking that exists at the intersection of mainstream, art and independent cinema and often gives rise to absurd, darkly comic and nihilistic effects. Tracing the emergence of smart cinema amidst the texts and debates of the 1990s 'irony epidemic', the book describes the unstable tone and 'double' speech of such films as: The Royal Tenenbaums, Adaptation, The Squid and the Whale, Palindromes, The Last Days of Disco, Flirt, Ghost World, Your Friends and Neighbors, Donnie Darko and The Savages. "

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

‘Robert Johnson at 100’ at the Apollo Theater

In honor of Robert Johnson (see New York Times article on the event), enjoy this clip from the Coen Brothers amazing film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Right Stuff

In his New York Times review of The Right Stuff (1983), Vincent Canby wrote about the film, "...rousing, funny screen adaptation of Tom Wolfe's book about Project Mercury and America's first astronauts, is probably the brightest and the best rookie/cadet movie ever made, though the rookies and cadets are seasoned pilots and officers."

The film is a masterpiece -- sensational and timeless. Given the state of the too political, political scene in the United States today, this film makes you yearn for the focused determination of America's first astronauts -- motivated by excellence, challenge, intelligence, and many by patriotism and love of country.

Most of the film centers on the training of the astronauts and the development of the space program with successful flights in the 1960s. These first Americans were selected for their experience, education, and physical stamina. The film does not shy away from reliving the rigorous testing these men had to undergo to make the team which included Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn), Virgil "Gus' Grissom (Fred Ward), John Glenn (Ed Harris), Scott Carpenter (Charles Frank), Walter Schirra (Lance Henriksen), Gordo Cooper (Dennis Quaid), and Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin).

Canby rightly notes that Chuck Yeager, as played by Sam Shepherd, is a central force of the film and story. Yeager was the first man in the world to break the sound barrier and truly had the right stuff. Early in the film we see Yeager on his record flight -- a flight sequence that will take your breath away. Thank you Philip Kaufman for casting the real Chuck Yeager as the bartender at Poncho's (Poncho is played by a wonderful Kim Stanley) -- which serves as reassurance to the audience -- yes, he survives!

With Donald Moffat as Lyndon B. Johnson and a wonderful cast of women as the "wives" including Veronica Cartwright and Pamela Reed -- there is a good amount of archival footage placing the film in its historical context.

Direction and screenplay by Philip Kaufman, original music by Bill Conti, and cinematography by Caleb Deschanel.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oxford Bibilographies Online Cinema and Media

For Columbia students and faculty -- check out this new resource.

Cinema and Media, a new subject module, was recently added to our collection of Oxford Bibliographies Online. From the publisher's website, "Oxford Bibliographies offers exclusive, authoritative research guides. Combining the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia, this cutting-edge resource guides researchers to the best available scholarship across a wide variety of subjects."

This is a highly recommended resource for beginning research in cinema studies.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Six Degrees of an Oscar Nominated Film!

The Descendants has been nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and a nod to George Clooney for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

Matt King (Clooney) is faced with new challenges in his life. In his role as the "back-up parent" -- he now needs to take care of his two daughters, he has to resolve issues with his wife and accept her impending death as well as deal with the news that she has a lover. The film has a wandering structure but never leaves you off the road. All performances are strong.

The screenplay, written by Payne, is based on the first novel of Kaui Hart Hemmings.

The Descendants is six degrees from Carnage (2011).

Hint: Tilda Swinton

Monday, February 20, 2012

Six Degrees of an Oscar Nominated Film!

Nominated for Best Picture, The Artist is a delightful homage to the silent era. The film tells the story of silent film matinee idol George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who at the height of his stardom faces painful consequences when he fails to adapt to the new era of the talkie. Dujardin, also nominated in the acting category, is brilliant as the dashing star who faces failure at the same time he falls for the irresistible Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). Peppy is the star-struck ingenue who embraces the talkies to find stardom. Even though she may believe that Hollywood is for the young -- she never loses her love for Valentin.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, the film evokes all of the allure of the silent movies with romance, comedy, song and dance and charismatic personalities. The cast includes a delightful John Goodman as the studio boss, James Cromwell as the faithful chauffeur to Valentin and a standout performance by Uggie as the dog. There should be an Oscar category for Best Acting by a Dog -- Uggie ranks right next to Asta aka Skippy.

Six Degrees of an Oscar Nominated Film -- can you guess how The Artist gets to Sideways (2004)

Hint -- the first degree is John Goodman.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

My pick for this Valentine's Day movie -- the delightful Some Like It Hot (1959). Ranked Number 22 in the AFI's 100 Years.. 100 Movies list -- Some Like It Hot (1959) is a clever and sophisticated farcical comedy directed by Billy Wilder. Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond spent a year developing the script which was based on a 1951 German film, Fanfaren das Liebe.

Brilliant casting by Wilder -- the film stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and George Raft with a fantastic supporting cast including Pat O'Brien, and a delightful Joe E. Brown. The story of two jazz musicians (Curtis and Lemmon) who witness the St. Valentine's Day massacre and have to escape the threat of being killed from "Spats" Columbo (George Raft). They dress like women and join an all-girl's band. Here is where the fun begins. Joe E. Brown provides one of the most quoted closing lines from a film, "Nobody's Perfect" --Jack Lemmon gives one of his most brilliant comedic performances in the first of seven films he would make with Wilder. Tony Curtis has fun mimicking Cary Grant in one of three roles he has in the film and Marilyn Monroe demonstrates her natural comic timing and sexual allure. She is irresistible as Sugar Kane Kowalcyzki.

The National Catholic Legion of Decency found the film seriously offensive -- with subject matter that played with gender roles suggesting homosexuality. They failed to acknowledge that girls dressed as men and men dressed like women is a theatrical plot device that dates back centuries.

Orry-Kelly designed Miss Monroe's gowns. The film was awarded an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and received nominations for Best Actor (Lemmon), Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oscar Nominations

The nominations are in and in celebration of the nominated films --

Enjoy a few clips from select films in the category of Best Picture.

The Artist -- the scene is entitled "Accidental Photo-Op"

The Descendants -- the scene -- "You have no clue, do you?"

Hugo -- the scene -- "Card Tricks"

Midnight in Paris -- the scene "Exceptionally Lovely"

Eiko Ishioka Dies at 73

Eiko Ishioka brought a unique vision to all of her design work in film, theater, and advertising. Her work was provocative and fascinating. She won and Academy Award for costume design in 1992 for "Bram Stoker's Dracula" directed by Francis Ford Coppola. She designed costumes for the Broadway productions of "M. Butterfly" and "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

Her obituary from the New York Times.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

School of the Arts Exhibit in Butler

The Art of the Book in Butler Library -- terrific exhibit now on display on the third floor of Butler Library through May.

Butler Media Update

I recently purchased more than 250 films in DVD format from The National Center for Jewish Film. The Center is a world leader in the collection, restoration, and exhibition of Jewish art and culture.

The titles span Yiddish cinema to contemporary films about Jewish life. The DVDs are available from the Butler Media Res Collection.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Welcome Back Columbia Students!

Start the 2012 spring semester off with the raucous Animal House (1978). Rush week takes on a new meaning at Delta House. The movie is often seriously funny with lots of gags, sometimes grating and sometimes just silly but with a great cast including John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Thomas Hulce, Stephen Furst, Kevin Bacon -- and look for Donald Sutherland -- it is a fun diversion. Break out your togas!

The film was directed by John Landis and written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller.