It's early Tuesday, September 26th.  Puerto Rico and her residents have been in a critical state for five days since being devastated by a monstrous hurricane.  People are without food, without water and Hurricane Maria wiped out all electricity.  Fellow Americans are desperate for help in Puerto Rico.  But Donald Trump, as we have seen in the news, has focused a bigger share of his attention on the NFL.  Hurricane Maria was the most severe hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a century and he's arguing with the NFL.  Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez stepped up to help before the U.S. President did.  She's giving $1 million.  I was watching CBS THIS MORNING and the anchors reported on Trump's most recent Twitter messages.  He's still tweeting about the NFL.  About Puerto Rico, he noted that it's "suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt owed to Wall Street and the banks..."  Have you seen the TV news reports from Puerto Rico?  Babies and wheelc…

In Praise of Eddie Marsan

STILL LIFE. Actor Eddie Marsan was excellent in STILL LIFE. I am not the only African American moviegoer who feels that he is one of the best actors working in film and television today.  I know that for a fact.  I'm a proud Eddie Marsan fan.
Back in 2008, I saw Mike Leigh's HAPPY-GO-LUCKY because two working class, average movie-goer Black friends of mine in New York City raved about it and the performances from Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan.  I went to see it and immediately shared their opinion.  Sally Hawkins, as the steely optimist, should have been an Oscar nominee for Best Actress.  Her character constantly seemed to be in some object that moves her forward.  Like a car.  Eddie Marsan played her hot-tempered driving instructor.  Even though his explosive anger makes him as red in the face as a firetruck, her optimism can not be dented or detoured.
HAPPY-GO-LUCKY was really my introduction to Eddie Marsan and Sally Hawkins.
Most TV viewers here in the U.S. will know Edd…

Movie Shots I Love: Diahann Carroll

CASABLANCA.  A true Hollywood classic, released during World War 2 and the Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1943.  Ingrid Bergman was the luminous leading lady in the wartime love story.  In the film, an African American cast member, Dooley Wilson, would play an upscale performer in a swanky nightclub.  That performer would have a cocktail with the two white lead characters.  Dooley Wilson as Sam would share a bottle of champagne in Paris with Rick and Ilsa famously played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  This was a breakthrough for a Black actor in a 1940s top Hollywood studio film.  The Black character was a positive image, not treated as a second class citizen.  The actor interacted with the stars in the scene, not as a domestic but as an acquaintance.  That sort of scene, again with a positive racial image, happened in another love story that starred Ingrid Bergman.  She wasn't in the scene, but her leading man was.  In 1961's GOODBYE AGAIN, released during America&…

Billy Wilder Tapped British Films

Did you know that a 1949 British comedy starring a young Petula Clark influenced a Billy Wilder classic?  First of all, it should be no surprise that the master director and screenwriter appreciated British films.  Look at his adaptation of the hit Broadway comedy, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH.  He tailored that to fit the talents and star quality of Marilyn Monroe.  And his tailoring fit her like a velvet glove.  Tom Ewell originated the role on Broadway.  He plays the middle-aged, average New York City man who works in the publishing business.  The paperback division.  His wife and little boy are in Maine to escape the dog days of the Manhattan summer.  He has rather innocent James Thurber-esque fantasies in the apartment while he's alone, missing his wife and son.  In his brownstone building, his fantasies increase when he meets the gorgeous young blonde TV commercial actress who has rented the room upstairs.  The Girl was played by Marilyn Monroe at her sensational sex symbol peak.

Actress Carolyn Jones

If her name came up in a sitcom category on JEOPARDY, it would be connected to THE ADDAMS FAMILY, the entertaining ABC sitcom in the 1960s based on the highly popular magazine cartoons from Charles Addams about a ghoulish and bizarre but loving family.  With her oval-shaped face, expressive eyes, high forehead and the hipster vibe she could so deliciously project, Carolyn Jones was perfect to play Morticia Addams in the network TV series.                                                              
Not all Hollywood actresses could go from drama to comedy to drama again with great results and not all Hollywood actresses changed hair colors as frequently as Carolyn Jones did onscreen in classics like the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

And, man, could she act!  Carolyn Jones was one of those actresses who could take a small role, give it that little something extra, and make you remember her as much as you remembered the stars in the lead roles.

Look at the two comedies she …

Happy Birthday, Sophia Loren

For me, it was a religious experience.  Like seeing the apparition of a saint.  In my head, I heard sweet music -- strings, flutes and a choir of angelic voices singing.  Why?  Because, as two friends and I were headed from the parking lot into the lobby area of a Los Angeles hotel, we turned a corner and there stood...screen goddess Sophia Loren.  She was leaving the lobby with companions.  This was in July 2016.  All we could do was stop and stare.  We were awestruck.  Up close, she looked flawless and regal and divine.  As she has for years.
Sophia Loren was one of my mother's favorite actresses.  Loren quickly became one of mine too.  Every year on my birthday, she'd always smile and mention "You were born on the same day as Sophia Loren."
I admit it.  I smiled when Mom said that too.  I loved being connected to a movie legend's biographical data like that.

I vividly recall both Mom and Dad laughing with delight at the famous striptease scene in De Sica's…

Michael K. Williams, Groundbreaking Actor

When he was on HBO's THE WIRE, his electricity as an actor sent a jolt of pleasure right through you.  He was so good.  We regular viewers were talking about his mean streets character, Omar Little.  As writer Julie Miller of VANITY FAIR would agree, Omar was a "complicated badass."  Her August 22nd feature on Williams is titled "Michael K. Williams Has a Story You Need to Read to Believe."
I'll not spoil the surprises of that current VANITY FAIR piece.  But I just wanted to point out something that occurred to me.  Omar Little was not only a street tough power figure, he was gay.
Omar was not the typical gay character we've seen on TV.  Williams did another series.  I proudly admit that I binge-watched the first season of SundanceTV's HAP AND LEONARD. Twice.   I loved those 1980s country characters created by novelist Joe Lansdale.  This crime series is fresh, witty and socially relevant.  James Purefoy plays the pacifist, Hap Collins.  He opposed …