This is a movie blog, so we’ll pay tribute to those who fought on the beaches of Normandy via color stills from The Longest Day (1962, which is in glorious black and white CinemaScope), itself a tribute to the many sacrifices that helped push World War II toward its end.
Here’s the crew hard at work recreating the events of June 6, 1944.
Richard Burton (as Officer David Campbell) and Richard Beymer (as Private Dutch Schultz). Burton took time off from Cleopatra (1963) to shoot his scenes. Cleopatra was bleeding 20th Century-Fox dry at the time, which had a huge (negative) impact on Darryl Zanuck’s budget for The Longest Day.
Robert Mitchum as Brigadier General Norman Cota.
Richard Todd as Major John Howard. Todd’s voice is one of God’s great gifts to mankind — I would listen to him (or Richard Burton, for that matter) read the phone book.
John Wayne as Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort.
From the Army’s website: “The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.”
To quote John Wayne in an entirely different movie (John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon): “Lest we forget.”
Here are some behind-the -scenes shots of the terrific model work for The Poseidon Adventure (1972).
Getting ready for the wave to tip over the model ship.
What it looks like in the finished film.
A diver works on the model, post-wave.
It’d been years since I’d seen it, and my entire family watched it the other night. It holds up well — the movie, not the ship. One of the things that really makes the movie work, aside from performances that help us get past the soap-opera first couple reels, are the incredible upside-down sets. They sent me looking for some making-of images immediately, but about all I found were these model images.
(October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016)
If you grew up in the late 70s, Star Wars (1977) was a part of your life — whether you liked it or not. So for many of us out there, it’s quite a blow to lose Carrie Fisher. (Kids of the 80s are going through the same thing with George Michael.)
Here she is on location for The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the second Star Wars movie. With a film so big and filled with special effects — and Empire is an epic in every sense of the word, it’s easy to overlook what the actors are doing. Pay attention next time, she’s really terrific.
Directed by Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku
This being a movie blog, the best way for me to honor the bravery and sacrifice of those who went through the attacks at Pearl Harbor is to encourage you to seek out Darryl F. Zanuck’s Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), the mammoth Japanese-American co-production that depicts December 7, 1941, from both the American and Japanese viewpoints.
While it’s not as sublimely wonderful as Zanuck’s D-Day epic, The Longest Day (1962), it has scenes that are truly jaw-dropping. You certainly get an idea of the chaos, terror, loss and heroism that marked the “day that will live in infamy.”
I’m in awe of this generation of Americans, and I thank them all for fighting to keep us free — and for setting such a terrific example for us all.
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Starring Beverly Garland, Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney, George Macready, Richard Crane
Anolis Entertainment, a company out of Germany, has announced a DVD/Blu-Ray combo release of The Alligator People (1959) from 20th Century-Fox and Robert Lippert’s Associated Producers, Inc.
This is one of those 50s monster movies that is 100% carried by its cast. Beverly Garland, one of my favorite actresses, is terrific here — as she always was in these things. This kind of hokum needs just the right touch to really work, and Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney and George Macready are on hand to help pull the whole thing of.
Garland’s new husband (Richard Crane) suddenly disappears during their honeymoon. It takes her a couple years, but she tracks him down to his family’s Southern estate, where a botched medical treatment has turned him into an alligator.
It’s clearly inspired by The Fly (1958), and it’s a load of fun. 20th Century-Fox proudly boasted that The Alligator People (and its co-feature The Return Of The Fly) were in CinemaScope, no longer releasing their black-and-white Scope pictures under the Regalscope banner. The domestic DVD presents the picture in gorgeous widescreen and stereo. The Blu-Ray can only be stunning.
Thanks to John Knight for the tip.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by Jo Swerling, from a story by John Steinbeck
Starring Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee
They say constraints can greatly influence creativity. (Working advertising, I hear all it all time.) You can see evidence of this idea in movies that overcome obstacles ranging from limited budgets and schedules (the Randolph Scott/Budd Boetticher Westerns) to a mechanical shark that doesn’t work (Jaws).
No one understood this better than Alfred Hitchcock, who seemed to choose projects because of the challenges they’d toss at him. Lifeboat (1944) might be the ultimate example of this, an entire picture on a lifeboat.
Lifeboat puts a handful of people in a lifeboat after their ship’s torpedoed by a Nazi submarine. That’s it. The movie never leaves the boat. What’s more, once the titles are out of the way, there’s not even a score.
Of course, this being Hitchcock, it all comes together perfectly. It helps that his cast turns in one flawless performance after another. Tallulah Bankhead makes a huge impression here, but everybody else is just as good.
Kino Lorber has announced an upcoming Blu-Ray of Lifeboat to set sail sometime in 2017. I can’t wait.
Directed by Gene Fowler, Jr.
Starring Charles Bronson, Kent Taylor, Jennifer Holden, John Doucette, Gloria Henry, Whit Bissell
Since I haven’t gotten any sort of verification on the aspect ratio of this Fox Archives DVD, I’m a little hesitant to mention Gang War (1958). But it’s another Regalscope picture, and it stars Charles Bronson — who’s also in one of the better Regalscope Westerns, Showdown At Boot Hill (also 1958) — so it’s way up there on my Want List.
It’s a cool movie, and it should be anamorphic widescreen to preserve the picture’s 2.35 Scope photography. Fox has released some of these early Scope films in terrible 1.33 pan-and-scan transfers. If you hear anything on this one, please let me know. It’s available now.