Connect with us
Showboat Showboat

Movies

Showboat (MGM 1951, Ava Gardner, Howard Keel)

Published

on

John Lee Mahin made an excellent adaptation of popular Kern and Hammerstein musical Showboat for MGM’s expert producer of musicals Arthur Freed and the resulting film, reported Variety, combines “a wealth of song, dance, drama and heart tugs in a colourful enfoldment.”

The early sequences found the screenplay remaining fairly faithful to the original. When the showboat Cotton Blossom docks on the lower Mississippi, the company find themselves in trouble. Julie Laverne (Ava Gardner), the showboat’s leading attraction, is forced to leave after spurned deckhand Pete (Leif Erickson) reveals to the sheriff that she is a ‘mulatto’ married to a white man and therefore guilty of miscegenation. Captain Andy Hawks (Joe E Brown) gives his daughter Magnolia (Kathryn Grayson) the leading role and finds her a partner in local gambler Gaylord Revenal (Howard Keel). They fall in love, marry and move to Chicago. Mahin then considerably tightened the plot by having Revenal leave his pregnant wife and by having Magnolia return to the showboat after singing at the Trocadero on New Year’s Eve. And he also brings back Julie, who serves to effect a reunion between Revenal and his wife and child…

Keel and Grayson were in splendid voice and, said Monthly Film Bulletin, Keel has “the dashing carefree charm needed for the part.” Brown, who had served as Edna Ferber’s inspiration for Cap’n Andy, “ably tackles the role,” wrote Variety, adding “Agnes Moorehead was a happy choice to play his wife.”

Showboat Poster

There were contributions, too, from Gardner (whose songs were dubbed by Annette Warren), William Warfield, who sang the classic Ol’ Man River, Robert Sterling and, memorably, dancers Marge and Gower Champion, who scored notable successes with their dance numbers I Might Fall Back on You and Life Upon the Wicked Stage, inventively choreographed by Robert Alton. Conrad Salinger and Adolph Deutsch’s musical direction added to the impact of the tuneful score and they were deservedly rewarded with an Academy Award nomination while another went to Charles Rosher for his beautiful colour cinematography.

USA / MGM / 108 minutes / 1951 Filmed In Technicolor

Writers: John Lee Mahin and (uncredited) George Wells, Jack McGowan, from the musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II / Choreography: Robert Alton / Cinematography: Charles Rosher / Musical Directors: Conrad Salinger, Adolph Deutsch / Producer: Arthur Freed / Director: George Sidney

Cast: Ava Gardner, Joe E Brown, Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Gower Champion, Robert Sterling

Academy Award Nominations: Charles Rosher, Conrad Salinger, Adolph Deutsch

Advertisement












Movies

California Split (Columbia 1974, Elliott Gould, George Segal)

Published

on

By

California Split

California Split is a movie about the adventures of two card players, and it stars two of 70s-era Hollywood’s most prolific male actors. Elliot Gould (M*A*S*H, 1970) plays Charlie Waters, a small-time card player who has the charisma and moxie of someone who’s way better at the tables than he actually is. Alongside him is George Segal (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, 1966) who plays Bill Denny, a magazine writer who moonlights as a casual player. Charlie and Bill meet in a California poker parlour game that turns heated over a dealt card hitting the floor, raising concerns of cheating. Despite this, the game continues, and one of them wins. This leads to the two players getting mugged by one of the game’s sore losers, giving them an experience that’s worth bonding over. The two become fast friends and this starts them off on a poker adventure that will test and reveal their true spirit.

In a 1974 review, Roger Ebert called California Split a “magnificently funny, cynical film”, which is probably the best way to describe the succeeding events following Bill and Charlie’s meet up. Regarded by many to be one of the best poker movies ever made, California Split is a quirky but ultimately realistic and darkly comedic look into the life and mind of card players. Despite this, you don’t really need to know a thing about poker beforehand in order to enjoy the movie. It’s a classic American adventure movie that has inspired countless other road trip movies and casino films.

From start to finish, California Split follows Bill and Charlie through the race tracks, seedy bars, private poker parties, Vegas’ second-rate casinos, treating bruises with hot shaving cream, waking up to massive hangovers, and even another mugging in which their instincts are put to the test. The result is less of a movie with careful exposition, and more of what feels like an inside look into the hilariously nightmarish world of America’s casino scene. The Telegraph calls the film one of Robert Altman’s best out of his extensive catalogue. It is brilliantly pieced together by his signature subtle visual prose, realistically overlapping dialogue, and the bravely understated introductions of his many quirky characters, California Split is one of the 70s’ definite must-see adventures. Such was the film’s realism that PartyPoker state that legendary player Thomas Austin Preston Jr. aka ‘Amarilo Slim’ had a small part. In his time Slim was known as one of the greatest ever poker players, winning 4 WSOP bracelets, and would have been an inspiration for the two main characters.

California Split is definitely a treat not just for card players, but for anyone who likes well-crafted movies about friendship and the makings of the American Dream.

main stars
George Segal, Elliot Gould Ann Prentis, Gwen Welsh, Edward Walsh, Joseph Walsh, Bert Remsen

crew details
Director: Robert Altman
Producer: Joseph Walsh, Robert Altman
Director of Photography: Paul Lohmann
Editor: O. Nicholas Brown, Lou Lombardo
Composer: Phyllis Shotwell
Screenwriters: Joseph Walsh
Production Designer: Leon Ericksen

Video:

Continue Reading

Movies

House Of Secrets (1956, Michael Craig, Julia Arnall)

Published

on

By

House of Secrets

When Michael Craig got his big break in the movies, he was the last actor to be contracted to the Rank Organisation and was receiving £30 a week for his efforts. His break arrived – almost a decade after his brother, John Gregson, appeared in Saraband for Dead Lovers – in House of Secrets (aka Triple Deception), a forerunner to the James Bond movies that would later become British cinema’s most successful franchise.

Based on Sterling Noel’s novel Storm over Paris, Craig stars as Larry Ellis, a naval officer who bears such a resemblance to a counterfeiter that he’s mistakenly arrested by the French police. When the real counterfeiter, Chancellor, is killed in a car crash, Larry is asked to impersonate the dead man with the aim of capturing the rest of his gang and the head of the illegal operation. Luckily, there is some help in the form of a British police inspector, Burleigh (Geoffrey Keen). With a tense denouement set on board a plane in mid-flight and boasting a fine use of its extensive Parisian locations, House of Secrets is a gripping, ripping spy yarn.

Michael Craig (arguably best known for his performance in Yield to the Night, also 1956) makes the most of his opportunity to shine, while Gerard Oury also stands out as Pindar, one of the duplicitous gang leaders. Director Guy Green went on to collaborate with Craig four years later on The Angry Silence.

UK / 1956

Director: Guy Green
Writers: Robert Buckner, Bryan Forbes (based on the novel by Sterling Noel)

Cast: Michael Craig, Julia Arnall, Brenda De Banzie, Barbara Bates, David Kossoff

Continue Reading

Movies

When Eight Bells Toll (1971, Anthony Hopkins, Corin Redgrave)

Published

on

By

When Eight Bells Toll

In When Eight Bells Toll Philip Calvert (Anthony Hopkins) is a rough-and-ready naval secret service agent called in by controller Uncle Arthur (Robert Morley) to solve the piracy of a fortune in gold bullion. With sidekick Hunslett (Corin Redgrave), he follows the trail to Scotland and the yacht of Greek millionaire Sir Anthony Skouras (Jack Hawkins), who’s accompanied by his wife Charlotte (Nathalie Delon). As the action mounts, the double-crosses increase and the bodies pile up, is Calvert on the right track or is Skouras innocent?

Made in the decade when Bond was the height of cinematic popularity, Perier’s film is tougher (he hints at more than a professional relationship between Calvert and Hunslett) but just as thrilling, with stunts and explosions galore. Hawkins, whose voice had to be dubbed due to the throat cancer that would kill him two years later, and Morley provide excellent support, the latter offering light relief while Nathalie Delon, making a rare appearance in an English-speaking role, supplies the suitably enigmatic and glamorous love interest.

UK / 1971

Director: Etienne Perier
Writer: Alistair MacLean

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Corin Redgrave, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Nathalie Delon

Continue Reading

More to View