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What a drag: Amazing behind the scenes photos from the set of ‘Some Like It Hot’

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Chicago: It’s 1929 and you’re a down on your luck sax player called Joe, when you and your buddy—a bass player named Jerry—witness a mob slaying—the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, no less. This is waaaaay bad juju—made worse when one of the gangsters—bossman “Spats” Colombo—eyeballs you. Spats don’t want no witnesses. So you and Jack are now dead men walking. You hightail it with hot lead snapping at your heels. No money. No jobs. And some mobster wants you dead. What are you gonna do? Take a Greyhound west? Mail yourself east? Join a monastery? Nope. You only got one option, kid—get dragged-up and take a job with the all female jazz band Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators on a train ride to Florida. Seems kinda logical.

This is what happens to Tony Curtis (Joe) and Jack Lemmon (Jerry) in Billy Wilder’s hit 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot. When the pair manage to disguise themselves as women they hook-up with Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), whose life has always been the “fuzzy end of the lollipop.”

Loosely adapted from a script by Robert Thoeren called Fanfares of Love—first made in France in 1935 and then remade in Germany in 1951—Some Like It Hot has been voted the best ever comedy film more times than Marilyn flubbed her lines during filming—a mere 47 takes for her to get “It’s me, Sugar” right.

The film is a classic because of the quality of the performances from its three leads, the razor sharp script by I. A. L. Diamond, and the supreme quality of direction from Billy Wilder.

Interestingly, Marilyn Monroe had a clause in her contract that stipulated she would only appear in color movies. This was intention until the make-up used to disguise Joe and Jerry as women gave their skin a hideous green cast. Black and white then became the only option. Curtis and Lemmon tested out their new feminine look by wandering around the studio and then entering a ladies’ room to put on make-up. No one (apparently) guessed they were men.

Seeing full color photographs from behind the scenes of Some Like It Hot gives the movie an added depth—an intimate sense of what was happening during so many of the film’s most memorable scenes. This is why these kind of photographs appeal so much—they give a separate yet concurrent narrative to a favorite movie. These beauties capture Curtis, Lemmon and Monroe at posed yet unguarded moments in their working time together—when Monroe was drug-addled, emotionally vulnerable and having an on-off affair with Curtis—by which, he later claimed, she became pregnant.
 
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More on location photos from ‘Some Like It Hot’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.28.2015
09:46 am
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Unbelievably condescending BBC report on David Bowie’s retirement from 1973

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Here’s another little jeweled sequin to add to the collection called Seventies: A BBC news report on David Bowie, as he prepares for his last public concert at the Odeon, Hammersmith, July 4th, 1973.

This is the edited version of a longer report, which was originally filmed at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens, and aired on the current affairs show Nationwide on May 25th, 1973. It is well worth watching for the unbelievably condescending and inadvertently hilarious commentary by the BBC reporter, who describes Bowie as ‘freakish’ and narrates the whole story with a growing sense of eye-brow raised horror.

Our besuited Man from Auntie then thrusts his microphone at celebratory fans and family: Lulu, Tony Curtis and Mrs Angie Bowie (who gives the best line), demanding to know what they think they’re doing. Alas, the original interview with the man himself is absent, sadly edited out of this version, but we do see him in prep for his big night, giving it laldy onstage before being whisked-off in a limo.

Great stuff. And you can compare this version with the original feature, which is available two parts, here and here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.10.2012
08:43 pm
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The Sweet Smell of Success: 50s Noir-Nasty Win

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The Sweet Smell of Success is one of the great screenplays, and films, of all time. It’s an absolutely vicious piece of work about a powerful New York gossip columnist (Burt Lancaster) and a sleazy impresario who spends the film trying to scrape his way into his good graces (Tony Curtis, in a rare villainous turn). The level of 50s slime out-does anything in “Mad Men” and the dialogue cuts with every nasty, New-York-Overdrive quip. Plot summary follows:

A classic of the late 1950s, this film looks at the string-pulling behind-the-scenes action between desperate press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) and the ultimate power broker in that long-ago show-biz Manhattan: gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster). Written by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets (who based the Hunsecker character on the similarly brutal and power-mad Walter Winchell), the film follows Falco’s attempts to promote a client through Hunsecker’s column—until he is forced to make a deal with the devil and help Hunsecker ruin a jazz musician who has the nerve to date Hunsecker’s sister. Director Alexander MacKendrick and cinematographer James Wong Howe, shooting on location mostly at night, capture this New York demimonde in silky black and white, in which neon and shadows share a scarily symbiotic relationship—a near-match for the poisonous give-and-take between the edgy Curtis and the dismissive Lancaster.

The screenplay by Odets and Lehman is one of the most incredible pieces of writing I’ve ever read/viewed, surpassing, perhaps, even classics of nasty dialogue (and I’ll go out on a limb here) like The Lion in Winter and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There’s just no comparison to any other film and I think this is the ultimate flick for ANYBODY who works in the media. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean.

(Amazon: The Sweet Smell of Success)

Posted by Jason Louv
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11.02.2009
03:18 pm
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Sharon Tate’s Don’t Make Waves

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Yes, Woodstock, but last week also saw the 40th anniversary of LA’s darkest campfire tale.  You probably know the story by now (and if you don’t, you can read about it here, or here), but the shorthand goes like this…

On the night of August 8, 1969, Charles Manson disciples Susan Atkins, Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian stormed the rented home of Roman Polanski on 10050 Cielo Drive.  Once behind its gates, they brutally and systematically took the lives of 5 people—including the life of Polanski’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant girlfriend, actress Sharon Tate.  Tate was the last to die, knived by Watson while she was pinned down by Atkins, who then took some of Tate’s blood and used it to scrawl “PIG” on the porch wall.  Manson had ordered her to leave behind a sign, “something witchy.”

The tragic events of that night, spilled into the following night and continued to ripple out through the decade(s) to come.  Even today, the events of August ‘69 provided Pynchon with the darkly seismic backdrop to his new novel, Inherent Vice.  The fallout was felt everywhere—even I had nightmares.  Not about the events themselves (I was too young to remember those), but about Manson someday going free, and moving down the block

After losing his wife and unborn child, Polanski was understandably devastated, and his life, eight years later, would go on to take another troubled turn.  And Sharon Tate’s legacy?  Beyond a still-loyal fanbase, all she left behind is a smattering of films and the promise of what might have been.  And that promise, in my eyes, is at its most tangible in Tate’s American debut, Don’t Make Waves
 
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What’s it all about?  Not much beyond The Byrds’ winning title track and Tony Curtis’ “Carlo Cofield” moving to Malibu and mixing it up with the town’s free-lovin’ oddballs.  It was directed by Brit Alexander Mackendrick, a decade past his Sweet Smell of Success, and features one of my all-time favorite character actors, the criminally underappreciated Robert Webber.  Curtis and Webber aside, though, it’s Tate who steals the show as the always-bikinied skydiver, “Malibu.”  In fact, Tate made such a strong impression, she served as the inspiration for Mattel’s “Malibu Barbie.”
 
A physical copy of Waves is hard to come by.  But you can still catch it for yourself, in its 10-part entirety, on YouTube.  Part 1 starts right here.  The trailer follows below.

 
In The LA Times: Restoring Sharon Tate

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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08.13.2009
04:03 pm
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