Matt writes: One of television’s greatest trailblazers, Norman Lear, turned 100 on July 27th. In his "breakfast thoughts" video posted on Instagram during the final day of his 99th year, he spoke about the importance of “living in the moment. The moment between past and present, the hammock in the middle of after and next. The moment. Treasure it. Use it with love.” Thank you Norman for all you have done with your century’s worth of moments to make the world a better place. Your gifts keep on giving, and our lives are all the richer for it.
An interview with Ethan Hawke, director of the new HBO docuseries The Last Movie Stars, about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
A look at the entire career of Daniel Day-Lewis and how his work in "Phantom Thread" feels like the perfect finale.
• "The Rack" (1956) • "Until They Sail" (1957) • "The Prize" (1963) • "Tales of Tomorrow: Ice From Space" (1953)"The Rack," "Until They Sail" and "The Prize" are now available on made-to-order DVD from the Warner Archive Collection for $19.95 each. "Tales of Tomorrow" can be viewed on Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video.
by Jeff Shannon You would think that every film Paul Newman ever appeared in would be readily available on home video, right? Guess again. One of the best films from Newman's early career has managed to slip through the cracks of home-video distribution for decades, and unless you're old enough to have seen it in theaters or on TV over the years, it's possible you've never even heard of it. So when I heard that "The Rack" (1956) was available on home video for the very first time, I couldn't wait to break the news to Stewart Stern.
For anyone who's wondering "Stewart who?" there's a convenient shortcut you can use when discussing the impressive life and career of Stewart Stern. All you have to say is, "He wrote 'Rebel Without a Cause.'" Uh-huh, that one. With a credit like that, any screenwriter could legitimately claim a slice of movie immortality, like James Dean did as the now-iconic star of Nicholas Ray's 1955 teen-angst classic. But to say that Stern only wrote "Rebel" is a bit like saying Frank Lloyd Wright designed a house. In the course of his distinguished, decades-spanning career, Stern wrote rich, psychologically perceptive scripts that were magnets for great actors and great acting: His script for "The Ugly American" (1963) gave Brando plenty to chew on; his Oscar-nominated script for "Rachel, Rachel" (1968) gave Joanne Woodward what is arguably the best role of her career (under the direction of her husband, Paul Newman; they also earned Oscar nods); and Stern's Emmy and Peabody-winning teleplay for "Sybil" (1976) transformed cute TV actress Sally Field into an Emmy winner with a pair of Oscars in her future. A few years later, Stern left Hollywood, weary of the rat race and struggling with writer's block, the delayed effect of post-traumatic stress from service in World War II. In the mid-'80s, Stern relocated to Seattle and never looked back. And while Stern may have been a nephew of Paramount Pictures founder Adolph Zukor, with additional family ties to MGM moguls Arthur Loew Sr. and Jr., his closest Hollywood connection was more personal and more warmly indicative of the man's soul and spirit: For 55 years, Stewart Stern was one of Paul Newman's very best friends.
That's the hard-boiled Dragline, speaking of Cool Hand Luke.
After she read my obituary of Paul Newman, my wife Chaz asked me, "Why didn't you write more about his acting?" She was right. Why didn't I? I've been asking myself that. Maybe I was trying to tell myself something. I think it was this: I never really thought of him as an actor. I regarded him more as an embodiment, an evocation, of something. And I think that something was himself. He seemed above all a deeply good man, who freed himself to live life fully and joyfully, and used his success as a way to follow his own path, and to help others.
Hep Kate: "'Faces'? How's this for a face?"
Gosh, ever wonder how entire groups of people often wind up making unsatisfactory and unwise collective decisions? Sometimes it's just a matter of a few wayward votes. (Even on the Supreme Court, where there are only nine.) I came across this story about the New York Film Critics Circle balloting in 1968, which boiled down to a fierce battle between John Cassavettes' "Faces," Anthony Harvey's "The Lion in Winter"... and the dark horse, Carol Reed's "Oliver!" (which won the Best Picture Oscar that year). Keep in mind, this was the year of "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Rosemary's Baby," "Petulia," "Stolen Kisses," etc.
Now that we know how, last year, "Brokeback Mountain" actually won the popular vote while "Crash" was really selected Best Picture by the now-retired Sandra Day O'Connor (I made that up), here's something to help keep Movie Awards Season in perspective, from the 2003 edition Tom O'Neil's Variety book, "Movie Awards." After voting six times, resulting in dead heats or technically inconclusive results, the NYFCC gang indulged in a record seventh ballot: The results were surprising: The rival pics ["Faces" and "Lion"] received 11 votes each, "Oliver!" took 1 and there was 1 abstention. The crix had accepted the tie and already moved on to decide another category when someone noted that, according to the group's bylaws, "Oliver!" should have been dropped from consideration after the last ballot. The judges then backtracked and conducted an eighth polling and "Lion" re-emerged the champ, 13 to 11.
That's when the meeting became "most heated" and "extremely acrimonious," according to later press reports. Variety reported that "Faces" advocates Renata Adler and Vincent Canby of the Times "staged a mutiny" and were joined by new recruit Richard Schickel of Life [the august newspaper group had just begun accepting members from lowly, glossy magazines], who denounced the group's old members as "deadwood." The fight became so fierce that some members "had tears in their eyes," noted Variety. Four of the new members banded together and resigned.
The New York Times reported, "The resignations were withheld pending a meeting of the organization to discuss a possible change in voting procedure." Meantime, the rebels remained in the conference room of the New York Newspaper Guild and continued to vote in subsequent races. "Lion" won no more awards from the Gotham crix that year, with current Oscar nominee Alan Arkin ("The Heart is a Lonely Hunter") and Joanne Woodward ("Rachel, Rachel") taking acting honors (instead of Peter O'Toole or Katharine Hepburn), and the screenplay award went to Lorenzo Semple, Jr. for "Pretty Poison."
NEW YORK -- The greatest living film director started out as a kid named Marty who I met in 1967 when he was fresh out of New York University. Now he is Martin Scorsese, the director even other directors would place first - after themselves, perhaps. No one has made more or better movies in the past quarter century, and few people have changed less. He still talks with his hands and bounces when he talks, and he uses the street-corner comedian's tactic of giving everything a punchline.