Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” to screen August 12, 2014 at Daystar Center

When: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street

Suspicion (1941) was Alfred Hitchcock’s fourth American film. It’s legendary for several reasons. It’s the first time the director worked with Cary Grant—they would go on to work together on four films—and the second time he worked with actress Joan Fontaine (Rebecca).

The plot
Fontaine plays Lina McLaidlaw, a shy young woman who meets playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Grant) on a train. Lina is intrigued by Johnnie and finds herself falling in love  with him, much to her parents chagrin. Lina and Johnnie eventually get married and set up housekeeping in a beautiful home purchased with borrowed money. Lina discovers, after her honeymoon, that her husband is flat broke. When Johnnie asks Lina about her inheritance from her father’s estate, Lina begins to suspect that her husband may be planning to kill her. Did Johnnie marry Lina for her money?

And the Oscar goes to
As already mentioned, this was Grant’s first collaboration with Hitchcock. Hitchcock, like no other director, managed to bring out the darker side of Grant, giving the actor a dimension not seen before. Fontaine who had her breakout performance in Rebecca, Hitchcock’s first American film, once again plays a quiet and reserved young woman forced to face some unpleasant situations. For her efforts, Fontaine was rewarded with an Academy Award for the Best Actress of 1942. She is the only actor to win an Oscar in a Hitchcock film.

Probably the most famous glass of milk
in movie history
Great characters
Suspicion is populated with some of the best character actors in the business: Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, and Leo G. Carroll.

After the success of Suspicion, Hitchcock’s name began to appear above the title of each of his films, starting with Saboteur (1942).

Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats.

Join the Chicago Film club, join the discussion
The Chicago Film Club is for classic movie fans. Once a month we screen a classic film and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. To purchase your ticket in advance, click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Remembering James Garner

Turner Classic Movies Remembers as only they can


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith to screen July 8, 2014 at Daystar Center

When: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street

Yes, a Hitchcock Screwball Comedy
In 1940, Alfred Hitchcock’s third American film, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, was a screwball comedy. Yes, that’s right a screwball comedy. And it starred Carole Lombard, who had recently been proclaimed the “Screwball Girl” in a Life magazine profile. Few classic movie fans are familiar with this Hitchcock comedy, even though it was a critical and commercial hit, making its debut at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Typically screwball
The plot is typical for a screwball comedy. Ann (Lombard) and David (Robert Montgomery) Smith, discover that through a technicality their marriage isn’t legal. After David admits to his wife that if he had it to do all over again, he wouldn’t get married, Ann decides that she doesn’t want to be married either. What follows is a series of events in which each spouse tries to make the other jealous. Ann starts dating David’s law partner Jeff Custer (Gene Raymond) and David takes a room at his club and starts to hang out with a philandering Chuck Bensen (Jack Carson), which leads to some of the film’s funniest moments.

Carole Lombard and Alfred Hitchcock look at the script
His kind of actress
Alfred Hitchcock loved Carole Lombard. She was his type of actress: beautiful, smart, earthy, and blonde. The Hitchcock family rented Lombard’s house after she and Clark Gable were married in 1939. The Hitchcock’s and the Gable’s became fast friends and it was inevitable that the director and actress would work together. Unfortunately, Lombard would make one movie after Mr. and Mrs. Smith, dying tragically in a plane crash the next year, after a successful war bond drive during World War II.


Award-winning script writer
The script written by Oscar winner, Norman Krasna (Hands Across the Table, Bachelor Mother, It Started with Eve, Princess O’Rourke) is quite good and Lombard and Montgomery have great on-screen chemistry and deliver good performances. Raymond is perfect as Montgomery’s strait-laced college chum and partner. The film is peppered with some great character actors like Carson, Lucile Watson, Charles Halton, Esther Dale, and Betty Compson.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith proved that Hitchcock, the master of suspense, could be successful in any genre he put his mind to.

Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats.

Join the Chicago Film club, join the discussion
The Chicago Film Club is for classic movie fans. Once a month we screen a classic film and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. To purchase your ticket in advance, click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Lombard and Anne Shirley in Vigil in the Night

Backstory: Mr. and Mrs. Smith opened on February 20, 1941 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Hitchcock and Lombard had hoped to get Cary Grant to costar, but he was not available. Some Hitchcock critics say that Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a critical and financial flop. This is not true. Audiences were delighted to see Lombard in a comedy after starring in two heavy dramas (Vigil in Night and They Knew What They Wanted). Hitchcock’s first three American films were all solid commercial successes.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent” to screen June 10, 2014

When: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street

Foreign Correspondent was Alfred Hitchcock’s second American film. On loan-out to producer Walter Wanger, Hitchcock enjoyed a level of freedom that he hadn’t experienced on the set of Rebecca with David O. Selznick. Although the director didn’t get the stars he wanted, he had almost unlimited resources to create a first-class suspense classic.

Personal History
Wanger owned a property called Personal History, the memoir of a journalist named Vincent Sheean. He had owned the rights to the memoir since 1935, but was unable to turn it into a workable property. When Wanger learned that Hitchcock was available on loan-out from Selznick, he jumped at the chance to hire him. Hitchcock and his team worked over the memoir, in effect rewriting it so that it would appeal to contemporary audiences.

Laraine Day played nurse
Nancy Lamont in the Dr. Kildare series
Starstruck
The producer was hoping that along with Hitchcock he could borrow Joan Fontaine and Brian Aherne, who were recently married as his stars. Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. Cooper turned him down, saying he didn’t want to star in a thriller and Stanwyck was unavailable. In the end, the director had to settle on Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. Although not as big a star as Cooper, McCrea was a star in his own right. Day was a contract player at MGM who starred in the popular Dr. Kildare series with Lew Ayers. In spite of the director’s disappointment with the casting, he got terrific performances out of his leads. McCrea and Day had genuine chemistry that is both charming and believable.





Europe on the brink
Joel McCrae, Barbara Stanwyck, and Robert Preston
in publicity photo from Union Pacific
The plot revolves around Johnny Jones, (McCrea) christened “Huntley Haverstock” by his newspaper’s editor (Harry Davenport) as a newly minted American foreign correspondent. On assignment in Europe, he is tasked to find out if the continent is on the brink of a World War. In Holland, Haverstock meets Carol Fisher (Day), daughter of Stephen Fisher, (Herbert Marshall) head of the Universal Peace Party. When a Dutch diplomat named Van Meer, (Albert Basserman) is assassinated, the plot really takes off. Who killed Van Meer and why? And is the head of the Universal Peace Party really working for peace in Europe?

Foreign Correspondent set the template for future Hitchcock films, including Saboteur and North By Northwest. With its amazing set pieces and complicated action sequences, it is a master class in film making. We’ll discuss the film, it’s reception and influence. Join us!

Who is that man reading the paper?
Excellent Support
Besides the other cast members already mentioned, the outstanding supporting players also includes George Sanders (playing a good guy this time), Edmund Gwen, and Robert Benchley, who supposedly wrote his own dialogue.

Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats.

Join the Chicago Film club, join the discussion
The Chicago Film Club is for classic movie fans. Once a month we screen a classic film and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. To purchase your ticket in advance, click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Monday, May 5, 2014

“Rebecca” to launch “Hitchcock in the 40s” film series May 13, 2014

When: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street


Hitchcock comes to America
By the late 1930s, Alfred Hitchcock had established himself as a major film director in his native England. The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes, Hollywood came calling. Independent producer, David O. Selznick put Hitchcock under exclusive contract in 1939 and the director moved to Los Angeles with his family. Hitchcock cemented his place in movie history with his first American feature, Rebecca.
After the successes of the

The search for the second Mrs. De Winter
Rebecca was released in 1940, but was in production during 1939, the same year Selznick’s epic Gone With The Wind was released. Many actresses vied for the female lead. However the desire to find a “new star” didn’t turn into the crazy spectacle like the search for Scarlet O’Hara. Many established actresses auditioned for the role, including Margaret Sullivan, Loretta Young, and Scarlet herself, Vivian Leigh. A 16-year-old Anne Baxter tested for the lead, and tested well.

A David O. Selznick production
Although Hitchcock was the director, Selznick was in control of the production and the casting. Originally, he wanted Olivia De Havilland for the second Mrs. DeWinter. Unfortunately, she was contracted to star in another film, plus, when she found out her younger sister Joan Fontaine was under consideration for the role, she was reluctant to pursue it seriously.

Judith Anderson and Joan Fontaine
The lead roles are set
For the role of Maxim DeWinter, Selznick originally wanted Ronald Coleman, who turned it down. Second choice was William Powell, but he wanted too much money, $200,000 to be exact. Lawrence Olivier, hot off of his success in Wuthering Heights, agreed to play Maxim for $100,000. He had hoped to have Leigh, his lover in real life, as his costar, but Selznick never thought Leigh was right for the part. However, Selznick agreed to test her. It’s clear from those tests (which still exist) that Selznick’s instincts were correct. Both Hitchcock and Selznick were happy with casting Olivier, but they still needed to cast the second Mrs. DeWinter. After reviewing all the screen tests it came down to Fontaine and Baxter, with Fontaine finally snagging the role (At 16, Baxter was considered too young). The pivotal role of the menacing Mrs. Danvers went to Judith Anderson. George Saunders, Gladys Cooper, Nigel Bruce, Florence Bates, and Reginald Denny rounded out the supporting cast.

Hitchcock at the helm
Although Rebecca was directed by Hitchcock, Selznick’s influence is everywhere. The production is posh Rear Window). Even with Selznick’s micro-management, Hitchcock’s hand is clearly seen. The performances he elicits from Fontaine, in her first major role, and the way he captures Olivier’s dark side as Maxim are clearly the result of Hitchcock’s masterful direction. Many of the supporting cast, including Nigel Bruce, George Saunders, and Leo G. Carroll would appear in future Hitchcock films to great effectiveness.
and the crew used is all Selznick, including musician Franz Waxman (when Hitchcock had more control of his films, he would use Waxman to score

The main cast  in a pivotal scene 
Award-winning success
Alfred Hitchcock was brought to America with all the great fanfare a showman like David O. Selznick could muster. The pressure was on both Selznick, to reproduce the success of the colossal Gone With The Wind and Hitchcock, to live up to the publicity stoked by Selznick. Rebecca proved the hype wasn’t misplaced. The film was an enormous success both critically and financially. It would go on to receive 11 Academy Award nominations, winning for cinematography, black and white, and Best Picture of the Year. Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director, but lost out to John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath.

Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats.

Join the Chicago Film club, join the discussion
The Chicago Film Club is for classic movie fans. Once a month we screen a classic film and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. To purchase your ticket in advance, click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.
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