Who wouldn’t want to marry the brilliant, noble doctor played by Sidney Poitier?
I saw Stanley Kramer’s cutting-edge new film this week, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and was floored by the dazzling performances by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. What’s that you say? It’s not a new film, it was released 44 years ago? You could’ve fooled me—the story of what happens to two families when the African-American son of one falls in love with the Caucasian daughter of another is so well written, directed, and performed, and the treatment of the topic so sophisticated, you’d swear it was made yesterday. Actually, you wouldn’t—I don’t think such an intelligent film on this subject could be made today!
The screening was held at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and was introduced by one of the stars of the film, Katharine Houghton, the real-life niece of Katharine Hepburn who played her daughter in the film. Houghton, who now works mostly in the theater (as an actress and playwright) rarely discusses this film in public and has a hard time watching it “without becoming a blubbering mess.” Now 66, the still youthful looking Houghton is older than her Aunt Kate was when they made the film. The actress told many fascinating stories of the production. That the film got made at all was a miracle. Spencer Tracy was extremely ill at the time and no insurance company would cover him. To get the film made, Tracy, Hepburn, and director Stanley Kramer forfeited their salaries and put them in escrow in case something happened to Spencer during the shoot. But Tracy not only made it through, he gave the performance of a lifetime. And “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” became Columbia Pictures' most profitable release up to that time.
The film, written by William Rose, tells the story of a wealthy, ultra-liberal San Francisco couple (Tracy and Hepburn) whose young daughter (Houghton) meets a brilliant doctor (Poitier) while on vacation. The two fall head over heels in love. Poitier is off to a stint in Geneva for the World Health Organization and the couple impetuously decides to get married right away. Before they head to Europe, though, Poitier insists on stopping over in San Francisco to make sure his fiancee’s parents are okay with the interracial romance. Since Tracy and Hepburn are such diehard liberals, Houghton is convinced her parents won’t give the relationship a second thought. But Tracy’s character is definitely NOT okay with the union. Meanwhile, Poitier’s middle-class parents (Roy Glenn and the amazing Oscar-nominated Beah Richards) fly up from L.A. to meet their son’s future bride and are just as shocked that she is white. His father, a retired mailman, thinks his son has lost his mind. The film takes place in one single day as we see the emotional pendulum swings of Spencer Tracy’s character being asked to confront some very disturbing emotions lurking just under the surface of his liberal views.
His past with boxing, making it feel real with the steel and more
If W. C. Fields were alive, he'd probably change his infamous maxim to "Never work with kids, animals or CGI." But in "Real Steel," Hugh Jackman manages two out of three -- and does so with no small amount of aplomb. Playing washed-up ex-boxer Charlie Kenton, Jackman not only has to coach fighting robots but open his heart to his long-lost son Max (Dakota Goyo) -- and pulls off both as part of making "Real Steel" a family fantasy of boxing and 'bots. We spoke with Jackman in L.A. about his dad's past as a boxer, studying with Sugar Ray Leonard and if he ever feels like Charlie.
Before we get into talking about the effects and the emotion of the movie ... your dad was a boxer.
Jackman: He was. He was a boxer in the army; he became the champion, and then he went up to the next level, had one fight, said he got knocked out, and to this day he still has no idea where the punch came from, and realized he's not nearly good enough and so luckily got out.
But it was good to have a little table talk about all of that?
Jackman: I think for my dad, he was like, 'Wow, Hugh, I think you're really doing something good. You and Sugar Ray Leonard?' Everything after this point was like, 'That's great, good for you.' Now he's like, 'Who are you? Why are you training with Sugar Ray?'
Michelle Williams plays the iconic role
The film focuses on Williams at the height of her fame and success, during her time spent in London filming Laurence Olivier's "The Prince and the Showgirl." The project is based on the diary that assistant Colin Clark (played in the film by up-and-coming British actor Eddie Redmayne) kept during the production, and it chronicles the shooting of the film in England and her relationship with Olivier. But this first trailer places one other relationship at its center - the one between Marilyn and young Clark. As Clark finds himself falling for the dazzling star, Marilyn struggles to strike a balance between the public "Marilyn" and the woman she feels she is inside. It's that sort of dichotomy that seemed to mark Monroe's life and has remained an unshakable part of her legacy.
But what will fans of the star think of Williams' portrayal in the film? The first trailer doesn't provide any long-form scenes of Williams as Monroe, but towards the end, she seems to reveal an essential essence that at least feels like the famous blonde.
The supporting cast of "My Week with Marilyn" includes Kenneth Branagh (as Olivier), Dougray Scott (as Arthur Miller), Judi Dench, Julia Ormond (as Vivien Leigh), Derek Jacobi, Dominic Cooper, and Emma Watson.
Project purports to be like the 'X-Files' set in early 20th century New York
Sony's domain name registrations hint at new Bond film's title
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist home video releases of the week
"Fast Five" (Universal) takes the fast cars and speed-demon criminals to Rio, where they take on a drug lord and a cool $100 million. It’s a cast reunion featuring co-conspirators from all four previous installments and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who signs on as their new nemesis: a humorless American agent with a brawny presence that makes him a veritable double for Vin Diesel, minus the street-smart grin. Videodrone's review is here.
"Scream 4" (Anchor Bay) reunites director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson for a revival of the self-aware horror franchise. Videodrone's review is here. "Submarine" (Anchor Bay) is a British indie coming-of-age drama.
And a big week for non-fiction cinema: "African Cats" (Disney) is Disney's natural history documentary, the acclaimed "Buck" (IFC) profiles the real-life man who inspired "The Horse Whisperer, and "Jig" (Screen Media), a look into the little known world of competitive Irish Dancing.
TV on DVD:
Just a day after concluding its three-night run on PBS, Ken Burns' "Prohibition" (PBS/Paramount) arrives on DVD and Blu-ray. Though not one of the director's epics, it explores a misunderstood period of American history and discovers remarkable parallels to contemporary politics. Videodrone's review is here, and I interview Ken Burns here.
"Moby Dick" (Vivendi), the new made-for-cable mini-series, stars William Hurt, Donald Sutherland, Ethan Hawke and Gillian Anderson.
New deluxe editions are now out for "The Walking Dead: Special Edition" (Anchor Bay) and "Planet Earth: Six Disc Special Edition" (BBC), on both DVD and Blu-ray (reviewed here), and "The Honeymooners Lost Episodes: The Complete Restored Series" (MPI) in an exhaustive 15-discs DVD box set.
Star would play an aging baseball scout
Clint Eastwood has been pretty squarely set on his directing career in the past few years, churning out films like the upcoming “J Edgar,” “Hereafter,” “Invictus,” “Gran Torino,” “Changeling,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Million Dollar Baby,” and “Mystic River,” but the veteran actor may be getting back into the acting swing of things with a new role.
Deadline reports that Eastwood is “seriously looking at starring” in a film called “Trouble With The Curve,” a baseball drama that would see Eastwood playing an older baseball scout. The film would focus on a “one last trip” storyline, with Eastwood’s scout looking to go on one last scouting mission with his daughter. The trip comes with a couple of caveats, though, as Eastwood’s character is losing his sight (a personal crisis) and the father-daughter pair would be going to Atlanta to see a hot new prospect (which could certainly lead to some sort of professional crisis).
Eastwood has, of course, starred in a few of his own films (most lately “Gran Torino” and “Million Dollar Baby”), but he’s seemed much more at ease with his work behind the camera. I’ve not been a fan of Eastwood’s directorial work as of late, particularly the hammy “Hereafter,” the lackluster “Invictus,” and the unfocused “Changeling.” I’d much prefer to see Eastwood in a meaty acting role, and this project sounds like it could be the ticket.
The film has been written by Randy Brown and it will serve as the directorial debut of Eastwood’s producing partner, Robert Lorenz. Beyond his relationship with Eastwood, Lorenz has also served as assistant director on many of Eastwood’s features, so the two should be very comfortable together in this new project.
“Trouble With The Curve” will serve as a nice diversion for Eastwood, who was all but set to direct a new “A Star is Born,” starring Beyonce Knowles, a film that has now been pushed back due to Knowles’ recent pregnancy.
Do you prefer Eastwood behind of or in front of the camera? Any ideas on who should play his daughter in the film?
First three films will play in theaters in advance of fourth film opening
Summit Entertainment has made their name thanks to the massive success of their film adaptations of Stephenie Meyer's "The Twilight Saga." The films themselves have been worldwide hits, but that's not the only reason that Summit has done so well with their vampire franchise, much of their success is owed to the consistent fan outreach that the studio has made a part of their business model. Premiere events for "Twilight" films become destinations for fans, and Summit has worked out a system that places fan experience at a premium, even if that experience essentially boils down to packs of fans waiting on sidewalks for red carpets to roll out so that they can sneak a peek at their favorite star in the flesh.
But for fans that can't make the star-studded events, Summit still makes sure that they get their own treat in the form of re-releases of the past franchise films in advance of the latest opening. Summit has re-released all of the "Twilight" films in one way or another over the years (for instance, "Twilight" was re-released for a special event before "New Moon" opened, which was followed by the first two films popping up in theaters the night before "Eclipse" opened, and "Eclipse" hit theaters first in June of last year and then in September to mark the birthday of main character Bella Swan). In advance of the next "Twilight" film opening (that would be "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1"), Summit has teamed with Fathom Events for "Twilight Saga Tuesdays."
Summit and Fathom will re-release the first three "Twilight" films on consecutive Tuesdays in November, all leading up to the big opening of "Breaking Dawn" on November 18. "Twilight" will play on November 1, followed by "New Moon" on November 8, and "Eclipse" on November 15. All of the films will show at 7:30 in their respective time zones, and you can check out the full list of theaters where the events will be taking place, along with how to get tickets HERE. Each event will also open with special cast introductions, new interviews, and clips from other fan events.
Check out a special trailer for the event after the break.