Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On Marilyn in "Some Like It Hot"

Hollywood's reigning sex symbol of the 1950s, until her untimely death in 1962, was Marilyn Monroe.  She still makes headlines.  If today someone found previously unseen home movies of Marilyn Monroe, the network evening news would have a feature on that discovery.  Monroe's sex appeal was magnetic.
Men all over the world wanted a kiss from Marilyn Monroe.  From the guy next door, to your dad, to international world leaders.  Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh are Oscar nominees for their portrayals of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn.  The movie covers events in Monroe's life during the making of The Prince and the Showgirl.  That 1957 film was directed by Olivier, Monroe's Oscar-winning British co-star and famed Shakespearean actor.
Monroe's performance in that comedy rates re-appreciation.  It's one of her smartest and sexiest.  She outshines Olivier.  He bellows.  She purrs.  He plays to the balcony.  She plays to the movie camera.  It's not a great film, but very entertaining.  Her next film, a 1959 box office hit, is entertaining and great -- Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot.
As 1920s bandsinger Sugar Kane, she carbonates the hormones of two desperate musicians played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.  They're desperate to keep from being killed by gangsters.  They witnessed a gangland slaying in Chicago.  They're so desperate to escape machine guns (phallic symbols) that they change their names, dress in drag...
 ...and join an all-girl jazz band called Sweet Sue's Society Syncopators on a train to Florida. 
This is a comedy of cover-ups, false fronts and sexual innuendo.  The boys pretend to be girls.  Tony Curtis' character pretends to be a girl and another boy in order to woo Sugar.  He pretends to be a shy, bespectacled millionaire.  Sugar pretends to be a society girl so she can hook that rich fish on a yacht and marry a millionaire.  Her fishing attire is made up of dresses that all look like lingerie.
Even the band appears to be something it's not onstage.  During the Florida gig, Sweet Sue's band is booked to play lame Lawrence Welk-type music.  On the train, we discover those girls can really give out with some hot jazz.  They're closer to Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars than they are Lawrence Welk's conservative style.  And in this classic movie gender bender, the logo on the sheet music stands for the girls in the band looks like a long lisp.  SSSS for Sweet Sue's Society Syncopators.  (Notice the left side of this color production still.)
If you've never seen Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot, you need to keep in mind what I wrote earlier.  Marilyn Monroe was the reigning Hollywood sex symbol of her day.  Men all over the world dreamed of being with her.  That's why casting her as Sugar Kane is so brilliant.  She deliciously delivered exactly what Wilder needed to drive his comedy and make it work.  She's what makes the sexual tension so funny.  Tony Curtis masquerading as the Shell Oil millionaire in need of sexual therapy...
...and Jack Lemmon as "Daphne" both fulfill the fantasy of just about every straight male moviegoer that time -- they each get to go horizontal alone at night with Marilyn Monroe.
BUT...they can't show an obvious throbbing reaction to her great sexual charisma or else their "covers" will be blown, their true identities discovered and their lives will be in danger.  Jack Lemmon's performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.  Lemmon and Curtis won critical raves for their work in this Wilder comedy.  The one who got overlooked was Monroe.  But just try to imagine this film without her.  She gave a glowing variation on her done-before theme of dumb blonde out to marry a millionaire ("Real diamonds.  They must be worth their weight in gold.").  Today, it's considered an iconic performance.  Entertainment Weekly magazine felt it was Oscar-nomination worthy in its look back at performances that didn't get nominated.  I was a youngster when Monroe was still alive.  She was constantly in the headlines for being an international Hollywood sex symbol and superstar but she rarely got any respect as an actress.  Monroe was a master at screen comedy.  Her work in How To Marry A Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Prince and the Showgirl and, of course, Some Like It Hot still hold up after all these decades.  But, in her lifetime, her acting skills really weren't appreciated or highlighted by the entertainment press.  That's a shame.  If Monroe-impersonator, Madonna, delivered the kind of raw, wounded dramatic performance that Marilyn did in her last completed film, John Huston's The Misfits, there would probably be Oscar buzz.  Marilyn Monroe made Some Like It Hot even hotter.  When it came to critics' attention for her film acting craft, just like Sugar Kane, Marilyn Monroe always seemed to get "the fuzzy end of the lollipop."  Here's some trivia about a memorable bit player in Billy Wilder's comedy:  Sugar's roommate, Dolores, is the band member who tells the joke about "the one-legged jockey."  Dolores was played by the late Beverly Wills.
Beverly appeared on a 1950s sitcom.  Her mother was movie & radio comedienne Joan Davis.   Davis starred on the sitcom, I Married Joan.  Beverly, along with Jim Backus, co-starred on that TV series.  Joan's daughter in real life, Beverly played Joan's sister.  A casualty of a house fire, Wills passed away in 1963, a year after Marilyn Monroe.

Monday, January 30, 2012

On "Oz" & "Aliens": Girl Power

My two little nephews have turned me into independent film crewmember.  Handing me the FlipCam, they've recruited me to be the cameraman for a few short Nerf Gun shoot-out adventures.  My oldest nephew, 11, is the director. He knows what he wants and wants the actors to follow orders. My other nephew is the movie star leading man. He wants close-ups and sulks when he's not allowed  to change his dialogue.  Two co-stars are neighborhood playmates, a brother and sister team.  The brother is the character actor.  He works to give more truth to his every performance.  His sister is the ultimate trouper.  One day, outdoors, were were trying to get a Nerf gun battle shot before the rain came. Skies were gray and a few drops fell.  She scraped her knee in a fall and started to cry a little.  When the director asked if we should just stop for the day, she pulled herself together, stood up and said, "Let's just shoot this!"  I felt as though I'd been with this crew many, many times before.  Only all the members were much older.  The girl asked if she could be the hero in a future short.  The director casually said, "No, because you're a girl."  He didn't notice her disappointment but I did.  Well, Uncle Bobby had a few gentle but definite words to say about that.  The next day, I told my nephews about a scary sci-fi movie called Alien that their dad and I saw when it was new.  I told them that a famous actor, Paul Newman, was mentioned in pre-filming press releases as the possible hero.  Instead, the role went to a new actor, a woman named Sigourney Weaver.  She became one of the top movie heroes in sci-fi horror films.  The boys got my point.  I also mentioned The Wizard of Oz.  Both are feminist fantasy/action films to a degree.  Judy Garland, over the rainbow as Dorothy Gale in 1939's The Wizard of Oz...
...and Sigourney Weaver, also over the rainbow way out in space as Ellen Ripley in 1979's Alien, want to return to a point of origin.  They want to get back to Earth. To home base.
Back in Kansas, Dorothy's Auntie Em really runs the farm and oversees the all-male farmhands more than her Uncle Henry does.
The most powerful and most negative force in town is that mean ol' Miss Gulch, the woman who wants Dorothy's sweet little dog, Toto, destroyed.
In the Land of Oz, Dorothy is the only girl in the group that follows the Yellow Brick Road.  The Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man are male.  The man-behind-the-curtain Wizard who's really a fairground balloonist is male.  And Toto too?  And Toto too.
The Winkies, the guards in the castle of The Wicked West of the West, are male.  And Dorothy, the girl, is the one who wears the highly-coveted, powerful pair of ruby slippers.
Soon after Dorothy lands in Oz, she meets a major force -- Glinda the Good Witch.  Glinda shows Dorothy the way and gives her protection.  Protection against the other major force.  Only this is a dark force:  The Wicked Witch of the West.  She's a woman who literally would kill for a fabulous pair of new shoes.  Those shoes are the ruby slippers.  Glinda protecting Dorothy...
...is as strong a female bond as Ripley protecting little Newt in the excellent Aliens, the Oscar-nominated sequel to Alien, with Sigourney Weaver reprising her outer space action role as Ripley.
Dorothy, with the affection of Glinda, has to fight off the deadliest power in Oz, a power that's the dark side of the female force -- The Wicked Witch of the West.
Ripley becomes very maternal towards the lone survivor she finds 1986's Aliens.  With affection, she protects brave little Newt...
...and fights off the deadliest power in her world,  a power that's also the dark side of the female force -- the Alien Queen monster.  Two females squaring off with maternal instincts.  One good, one evil.
Aliens, more so than the original Alien, shares a cinematic sisterhood in spirit with 1939's Hollywood classic musical, The Wizard of Oz.
Yes, girls can be the heroes.  They can save other girls.  They can save the guys.  And they can save themselves.  If you watch The Wizard of Oz with kids, here's a talking point to bring up about that 1939 classic's screenplay adaptation: How Dorothy frees herself from the Witch so she can safely begin her journey back home.  Dorothy was scared of the Wicked Witch.  They all were.  But Dorothy got over her fear when she saw a friend in need.  The Witch set Scarecrow on fire.  Dorothy grabbed a bucket of water to put the fire out not knowing that water would melt her nemesis.  An act of a love, a good deed for a friend, conquered evil and all negativity.  Dorothy thought of someone other than herself.  Soon, Dorothy was reunited with Glinda and Glinda helped Dorothy magically get back home.  A great lesson for us all.  I want to watch The Wizard of Oz with my nephews. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shatner Out, Norris In

I love my nephews.  Uncle Bobby has two of them.  The oldest is 11 and the other is 8.  One afternoon, they had a schoolmate over for a playdate.  I could hear the boys giggling and talking about --- Chuck Norris.  I kid you not, the kids were talking about Chuck Norris.  My oldest nephew said, "He's cool."
Over pancakes for breakfast yesterday morning,  my nephews started in with more of their "Chuck Norris is so cool that..." lines.  I said, "Chuck Norris? Do you know how old Chuck Norris is?"  One gave it a thought and sincerely answered, "About 50?"  "50!," I snapped back.  "Chuck Norris is well over 60.  And his hair is 13."  It didn't matter to them.  Norris is cool with the pre-high school set.  Not William Shatner.
 Not David Hasslehoff.
Not squinty-eye Steven Seagal.
But Chuck "Walker, Texas Ranger" Norris.  And here are samples of how cool the kids think he is:

"Chuck Norris doesn't call the wrong number.  People answer the wrong phone."
"If Chuck Norris was Daniel, he wouldn't have to worry about the lions."
"Chuck Norris counted to infinity.  Twice."
and..."Jesus can walk on water.  But Chuck Norris can swim on land."
Uncle Bobby is learning so much in the suburbs.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday in the Suburbs

I'm still in the suburbs.  Temporarily living with relatives outside of Sacramento.  It's early Saturday morning.  We're not answering the doorbell.  Why?  Because our family is in the Jehovah's Witness Protection Program.  How's your weekend so far?  I hope it's good.

Friday, January 27, 2012

F. Murray Abraham: Class Act

Of those who won Oscars for the films of 1984, the most widely-remembered and quoted victor is Sally Field.  She was Best Actress for Places in the Heart and her "You like me.  You really, really like me!" acceptance speech became part of our American pop culture.  The Best Actor was F. Murray Abraham for his sad, sublime work as Salieri, the classical musician practically dying from the venom of his own jealousy of Mozart in Amadeus.  If you haven't seen this rich film, you really need to rent it.  In this age of microwave stardom, thanks to shows like American Idol and The Voice, I believe F. Murray's performance strikes a chord in today's "Why aren't I a star too, Lord?" world.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on this day in history.  When I heard that on the radio this morning, I thought of my encounter with F. Murray Abraham and acting students in Brooklyn.  Abraham was, by no means, a star overnight.  He paid his dues.  If you didn't know his name, you knew his face.  He did a lot of television work.  In fact, before he dressed up like a Viennese composer in Amadeus, he was a Fruit of the Loom guy in one those old TV commercials.
Abraham showed off his comedy skills in an art deco gay New York City bathhouse. It was called The Ritz. 
The Ritz is a kooky movie. A mob hit, a gay bathhouse, mistaken identities, showtunes and a clueless-but-devoted-to-her-craft entertainer named Googie Gomez (hysterically played by Rita Moreno) made this a chock full o' laughs 1976 comedy.  Abraham stole scenes as an eager-to-please regular of The Ritz who winds up onstage. In a bra.
When I met F. Murray Abraham, he'd won the Oscar, had a new film about to open (The Name of the Rose) and was teaching some acting classes in Brooklyn.  I was new to New York City local TV, doing entertainment features on WPIX/Channel 11. I had the chance to go to Brooklyn and tape an interview with Abraham. He was very gracious and invited me to get some classroom footage. His performing arts pupils in those daytime sessions were young adults.  I was excited to have that opportunity as a celebrity interviewer.  I was sure those aspiring actors were even more excited at the opportunity of classroom time with a Best Actor Academy Award winner and Broadway veteran.  WRONG.
Have you ever gone to buy a coffee or make a department store purchase and the young person behind the counter has that "I'll say 'Can I help you?' but I could really give a shit" expression on his or her face?  That was the same expression many of these aspiring young actors had on their faces.  Abraham was at the head of the class passionately, generously sharing what he's learned over years and years of honing his craft. He was telling of his actor's journey.  One student raised his hand and his question basically was: "Can you just tell us what we need to know that'll get us the job?" Others agreed.  My cameraman and I couldn't believe their crust.  I felt my jaw drop down to the floor with *clunk* like a character in a Tex Avery cartoon.  You could see in F. Murray Abraham's eyes that he was spiritually wounded by that question. Still he handled it with grace.  Bette Davis would've beaten that guy down with both her Oscars. Abraham said that he was telling them what they needed to know.  I did not use that footage in the final piece out of respect for the Oscar-winning instructor.

That student did not want to do the work. He just wanted the easiest, fastest route to a red carpet interview and instant celebrity status. F. Murray Abraham was trying to teach those who cared how to be professionals.  Some just wanted to be stars.  As soon as possible.  By doing as little work as possible.  That was in 1986.

My next encounter with the actor was in the early 90s.  I was a regular on another local news show, Weekend TODAY in New York, on WNBC.  In between WPIX and WNBC, I'd had three years of national exposure on VH1 that included my own prime time celebrity talk show.  I'm proud to tell you my talk show got a rave review in The New York Times and TV Guide.  It was Oscar season and I knew that Abraham was in town because he was doing a play.  Our WNBC news producer wanted Oscar-related segments. I contacted F. Murray and asked him if he'd come on our live news show, bring his Oscar, talk about the impact winning it had on his career and talk about his play.  He could not have been sweeter. He was still in Brooklyn.  He accepted my invite, with a small request -- could he please mention the movie he was working on (Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger) and could he have a car service pick him up.  Ours was an early morning weekend program and he didn't want to have to rely on a subway -- especially while toting an Oscar.  This, I felt, would be no problem at all.  Our producer sent cars to pick up guests who lived just ten blocks away from the station.  They could've easily caught midtown cabs. Here was an acclaimed actor who lived over the Brooklyn bridge. WRONG.  I could not have car service vouchers for him.  I was surprised but not surprised. During the course of my time with that show, I was offered in-studio interviews of other celebrities but the producer said they were "not our audience."  So I was not able to interview Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis, Patti LaBelle, Dianne Reeves and Pam Grier.  The show's anchor, however, was free to book Pia Zadora as an in-studio guest.  F. Murray Abraham and I mutually agreed that he shouldn't have to take a subway or try to flag down a cab in Brooklyn to be at WNBC by 9:00 on a Sunday morning.  He didn't come on the show.  Instead, the news producer sent me to the Museum of the Moving Image for a live remote segment.  I got there with the crew.  The museum was closed.  On Sundays it opens at 10:30am.  Our live news program aired from 9-10:30am.  I could've been in the studio with F. Murray. And his Oscar.

When I left that show a year later, a few folks in Manhattan's TV industry assumed that I'd been fired because Weekend TODAY in New York was -- and still is -- a hit show.  I wasn't fired. I quit.  And there you have it.  Happy Birthday, Mozart. And thank you, F. Murray Abraham. You're a class act.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Meryl Makes History: Women in Film

Tonight, I watched Meryl Streep give a magnificent performance as Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.  Truly, it's one of Streep's best -- and I'm a longtime fan (I first interviewed La Streep when she was promoting Sophie's Choice.) She humanizes Thatcher. We see her being ambitious and steely on the political scene.  We see her elderly and weakening in the winter of her years.  There's a classic Streep scene in which she, as Thatcher, conducts a cabinet meeting like a strict, irritated teacher with a class of disappointing and unprepared schoolboys.  She is fierce and funny.
Reading the end credits, I saw that The Iron Lady was directed by Phyllida Lloyd.  She previously directed Streep in the big box office hit musical, Mamma Mia!, based on the Broadway Abba-fest. 
I blogged this week that Viola Davis made Oscar nomination history with her Best Actress nod for The Help.  Viola Davis and Whoopi Goldberg are now the two only Black women with more than one Oscar nomination for acting to their credit.  Each earned a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress categories.  I don't recall reading or hearing a report of the history Meryl Streep made with Phyllida Lloyd. Lloyd directed Streep to her 17th Academy Award nomination.  Also, she is the second woman director to guide Streep to a Best Actress Oscar nomination.  THAT is a record.  I believe that Meryl Streep is now the only woman with more than one Oscar nomination for a film performance directed by another woman.  Streep's first came for her loopy, illuminating, surprising turn as chef Julia Child in Julie & Julia directed by Nora Ephron.
Hollywood pays attention to box office receipts.  Mamma Mia! did huge business here and overseas.  With that, plus a bio pic that brought the top film actress of our generation another invite to Oscar night, I sure hope Phyllida Lloyd is getting some Hollywood respect.
The first woman to direct a woman to a Best Actress Academy Award nomination was Dorothy Arzner.   Arzner directed Ruth Chatterton in the 1930 drama of a single working show biz mother trying to reclaim her child in Sarah and Son.  It was a box office hit from Paramount. For years, Arzner was the only female in the old Hollywood studio boys' club of film directors.
Other female directors who directed women to Best Actress Academy Award nominations are Jane Campion (The Piano, Holly Hunter), Patty Jenkins (Monster, Charlize Theron), Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Julie Christie) and Debra Granik (Winter's Bone, Jennifer Lawrence).  Phyllida Lloyd joins quite an esteemed list.  To me, that's history worth reporting.  Brava to the director and to the star of The Iron Lady.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"The Artist": Echoes in Silence

The Artist is a glossy, black and white valentine that I loved.  It creatively echoes Singin' in the Rain, the 1952 MGM musical comedy directed by Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly and starring Gene Kelly as a lovably vain silent screen star in 1920s Hollywood right at the brink of the sound revolution.
George Valentin (superbly played by Best Actor Oscar nominee Jean Dujardin) rather resembles Hollywood silent screen star Don Lockwood (superbly played by Gene Kelly) in Singin' in the Rain.
George Valentin will have a "meet cute" encounter with a young lady who aspires to be in show business.  He will discover her and get her into the movies at his studio.  They will fall in love.
Don Lockwood had a "meet cute" encounter with a young lady who aspired to be in show business.  He discovered her and got her into the movies at his studio.  They fell in love.
Despite their on-screen chemistry, George really doesn't care for his blonde co-star one bit.
The same goes for Don Lockwood and his blonde co-star, the annoying Lina Lamont.
Relationships and careers will change with the revolution of new technology, the advent of sound in films.  The Artist, a French production boldly and beautifully shot in black and white, is predominantly silent just like the films of the 1920s.  Here, silence is golden. The Artist is a film young acting students and wannabe filmmakers need to see.  Steven Spielberg told AFI (American Film Institute) "I don't get a lot of answers that give me comfort" when he asks young people what films they like from the 1930s and 40s, the black and white days.  In a clip that's on YouTube, Spielberg went on to say that studying the classics, the movies made before the 1960s, is crucial to your craft.  I have heard sentiments similar to Spielberg's come from casting directors in New York City.  One said, "It's the American Idol generation.  They don't want to do the work.  They just want the fastest route to a red carpet."  The Artist, what the self-absorbed George publicly labels himself as being, falls in love with Peppy Miller after he discovers her.  Bérénice Bejo scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work as the Peppy, the determined dancer who becomes a Hollywood sensation in this film-within-a-film story.
If you were a young actress submitted to audition for that role, how would you know how to play Peppy if you didn't see the Singin' in the Rain and some silent films starring Louise Brooks, Clara Bow or early Joan Crawford?  Peppy is not going to move like women on TV's The Bachelor or a show like Glee.  This is a different era, a different tone.  Dress was different. Make-up style was different.  The women in a Charles Chaplin or Buster Keaton silent 1920s comedy will not be outfitted like they're on Whitney.  Trust me on this.  Do your homework.  Make Mr. Spielberg proud.  In The Artist, George's star falls as Peppy's ascends.  A few critics have compared that element to A Star Is Born.  I'd say it's more What Price Hollywood?, the 1932 RKO film directed by George Cukor.  Constance Bennett was Mary Evans, a waitress hungry for movie stardom.  An alcoholic director discovers her.  He hits the skids as her movie career skyrockets.  Peppy Miller is called "The Girl You'll Love To Love." Mary Evans is called "America's Pal."
In A Star Is Born, the 1937 original directed by William Wellman and the superior 1954 remake directed by George Cukor with Judy Garland and James Mason, the woman who becomes a star has a love for the suffering actor who discovered her that eclipses her need to be a star.  She'll walk away from movies to help him put his life back together.  Peppy will help her down-and-out actor/director love, but she won't quit movies to do so.  In What Price Hollywood? and in The Artist, one of the lead characters gets hit with a divorce. Not so in A Star Is Born.  The Artist is a big French kiss to classic movie-lovers and classic movies, especially MGM musicals from the famed Freed unit with screenplays by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  First, there's the obvious similarity to Comden & Green's Singin' in the Rain with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor.  Millard Mitchell (in the middle of the pic below) plays producer RF Simpson, a loving send-up of Oscar winning MGM movie producer and songwriter Arthur Freed. One of the songs Freed wrote -- "Singin' in the Rain."
The RF Simpson-like movie producer trying to deal with The Artist is well-played by John Goodman.
A major lesson to be learned by George the Artist calls to mind another marvelous gem in the MGM musical crown that's, again, a Freed unit musical with a screenplay by Comden & Green.  In The Band Wagon, Fred Astaire at the top of his game plays Tony Hunter. Hunter, a Hollywood musical star since the 1930s, is in a bit of a career lull. He accepts an offer to reinvent himself in a new 1950s Broadway musical.  He's riddled with self doubt as he meets with its husband and wife writing team and the show's Ascot-wearing director. When the director calls Tony an "artist," Tony counters with "...I'm just an entertainer." The quartet then launches into the movie's joyous anthem, "That's Entertainment."
Movie audiences grow cold to George's arrogance.  His vanity project jungle movie flops.  He must learn to become, like Tony Hunter in The Band Wagon, "...just an entertainer." Peppy is an entertainer.  She packs the movie houses.  George has not been one to share the spotlight.  He was a self-centered star onscreen and off.  He could be a selfish jerk...like Gene Kelly in Freed's For Me and My Gal starring Judy Garland.  Will George learn humility?  Or will he cling to the past in fear and drink himself into oblivion now that movies can talk?  "I'm washed up. No one wants to see me speak."
With a character in this situation, ask yourself "What would Arthur Freed do?"  For a film with hardly any dialogue, The Artist says so much in so many clever ways.  It's a tale of transitions. From silent movies to sound. From vanity project to team work.  Plus it has a movie pooch that takes its place alongside Asta from The Thin Man and Toto from Freed's The Wizard of Oz.  This is a must-see for classic film fans.  And future filmmakers.  Gene Kelly's artistry helped Arthur Freed's An American in Paris win the Oscar for Best Picture of 1951. It was all shot in Hollywood.  A Parisian in America, director and writer Michel Hazanavicius, made a great valentine to the art -- and the entertainment -- Hollywood gave us.  Bravo, Michel, on your 10 Oscar nominations.
One more thing: There's a cameo appearance by veteran actor Malcolm McDowell early in The Artist.  
Actress Kim Novak made entertainment news by saying that she felt "raped" when she saw a sequence in The Artist using a Bernard Herrmann love theme from the soundtrack of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. She starred in that 1958 classic.  It's a film that was appreciated more by the French when it was released than here in America, by the way.  In Stanley Kubrick's controversial and hugely popular 1971 film, A Clockwork Orange, McDowell starred as Alex. Alex likes "a bit of the ultra-violence." He violates a woman to the tune of "Singin' in the Rain." The MGM musical is referenced in Kubrick's futuristic film.  Gene Kelly's recording of "Singin' in the Rain" is on the A Clockwork Orange soundtrack.  I can't recall Kelly saying that  he felt raped.  And there you have it.

Oscar Buzz for TILL

 I'm on Twitter and, in the last three weeks, there's been Oscar buzz from a few established movie critics. The buzz was that Cate B...