(image) This month offers a plethora of great stars, including Glenn Ford, Orson Welles, Gary Cooper, and Audrey Hepburn. Some like Clint Eastwood and Don Rickles are still among us, but all hold a special place in cinema history and in our hearts.
(image) Mickey Rooney, one of the most prolific and long-lasting stars from the classic era, has died at 93.
Born on September 23, 1920, Rooney began his career in a series of 78 short films as the streetwise Mickey McGuire, before transitioning to features with supporting roles opposite the likes of James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland. He earned good early notices for his interpretation of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) and made his first appearance with lifelong friend Judy Garland in Thoroughbreds Don't Die (1937).
But it was his supporting turn as Andy Hardy in A Family Affair (1937) that propelled Rooney into a superstar. Over the next 20-odd years, he would play the role 13 more times, mostly in the 1930s and 1940s when he reigned as the top box office earner for three years running. He also earned Academy Award nominations for his performances in Babes In Arms (1939) and The Human Comedy (1943).
While his rise to the top was fast, Rooney's decline was long and slow, lasting several decades where he suffered numerous failures and public indignities. Occasionally, he managed to resurrect himself, as he did when nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dooley in The Bold and the Brave (1956). But by and large, Rooney suffered from one bad decision after another, especially with his quasi-racist turns as a buck-toothed Chinese man in Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961).
Through all his personal and professional travails - his serial infidelity, the murder-suicide of his fifth wife, Barbara Ann Thomason in the mid-1960s, the drug overdose of Judy Garland in 1969, and a growing problem with gambling addiction - Rooney managed to survive by continually working.
He once again sought redemption in the 1970s with his Oscar-nominated performance in The Black Stallion (1979) and later became an high-profile advocate against elder abuse, which included emotional testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2011. In all, Rooney made some 300 films in his long career.
Rooney is survived by his eighth wife, Jan Rooney, and nine children.
(image) This month includes some of the greatest actors of all time, including Alec Guinness, Marlon Brando, and Spencer Tracy, as well as top box office performers like Doris Day and Shirley Temple.
(image) Announced back in November 2013, The Best of Bogart Collection is now available for purchase on Blu-ray.
The four-film set was released last week by Warner Bros. and indeed lives up to its name by featuring Bogie's greatest films.
In order of release date, the collection features The Maltese Falcon (1941), Bogart's first of five pictures with director John Huston. Next up, of course, is Casablanca (1942), co-starring Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains, and directed by Michael Curtiz.
The third film included in the set is arguably his best with Huston, The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948). And rounding out the collection is The African Queen (1951), which co-starred Katharine Hepburn and earned Bogart the only Oscar for Best Actor of his career.
The set was released on March 25, 2014 and contains extras from previous Blu-ray releases.
(image) This month features a great diversity of stars born in March, from great comedians like Jerry Lewis and Lou Costello to great dramatic actors like Rex Harrison and Joan Crawford.
(image) While it's probably easier and cheaper these days to stream classic movies online, it's always worth pointing out new releases on Blu-ray every month.
For March, the pickings are slim, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few good movies that would make great additions to one's collector shelf.
On March 4, 20th Century Fox will release The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), an historical drama detailing the clash of wills between Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) and Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) over the painting of the Sistine Chapel.
The following week, on March 11, Warner Bros. plans to release a pair of Western classics. First up is Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), which starred Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as consumptive gunslinger Doc Holliday. Their second release that day is El Dorado (1966), a rehash of Rio Bravo (1958) directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne
Finally, MGM Home Entertainment plans to release The Black Stallion (1979) on March 18. The heartfelt drama starred Mickey Rooney as a down-and-out horse trainer who coaches a young boy and his rebellious new horse.
And in case you missed it, here are the top Blu-ray releases for February.
(image) Shirley Temple Black, the famed curly-cued darling who sang and danced her way into the hearts of movie audiences in the 1930s, has died of natural causes at her home in Woodside, CA. She was 85.
Born on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, CA, Temple showed talent and charm at an early age, which led her mother, Gertrude, to enroll her for dance lessons when she was three years old. Temple was soon spotted by an agent who picked her to appear in the notorious Baby Burlesks, a series of often sexually suggestive short parodies that featured children dressed in racy adult costumes.
Temple later described the Burlesks in her 1988 autobiography as "a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence," but also said they were "the best things I ever did."
After a series of more appropriate films, Temple sang and tapped her way through "Baby Take a Bow" in 1934's Stand Up and Cheer, which led to a seven year contract with 20th Century Fox. Temple made eight movies in 1934, but none were as popular and long-lasting as Bright Eyes, which featured her signature song, "On the Good Ship Lollipop."
From 1935-38, Temple was the top box office draw in America, besting the likes of Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Mickey Rooney, and Spencer Tracy. But as she grew older, Temple found that her popularity was beginning to wane and she retired from the screen at just 22 years old. She went on to raised a family with California businessman, Charles Alden Black, while becoming active in Republican politics, serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana from 1974-76 and Czechoslovakia in 1989.
Temple Black died surrounded by family. They released a statement that said in part: "We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black."
(image) This month's birthday list features a number of great movie stars like Clark Gable, James Dean, Lana Turner, and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as some of Hollywood's all time great directors.
(image) It's the beginning of the month once again and that means it's time to look back at all the classic movie stars and directors born in the month of January. A few are still with us, but all should be remembered for their contributions to film and for how deeply they touched our lives. Happy New Year!
2013-12-16T08:40:46ZJoan Fontaine, the legendary actress who won the Oscar for Best Actress for her leading role in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941), has died. She was 96. Fontaine was born Joan de Havilland on Oct. 22, 1917 in Tokyo, Japan and followed her eldest sister, Olivia de Havilland, into acting. She make her stage debut in 1935 and was soon signed to a contract by RKO, which led to small roles in No More Ladies (1935), A Million to One (1937), and Quality Street (1937). Her career was almost over before it began following the flop A Damsel in Distress (1937) and a small part in George Cukor's The Women (1939), after which RKO declined to renew her contract. But a fortuitous meeting with powerhouse producer David O. Selznick changed the course of Fontaine's life. Selznick brought her to the attention of Alfred Hitchcock, who was making his American debut with the gothic thriller, Rebecca (1940). Starring opposite Lawrence Olivier, Fontaine earned an Academy Award nomination for her role as a new bride haunted by the past of her husband's first wife. The following year, Fontaine won for Best Actress when she played a reclusive wealthy woman who impulsively marries a charming rogue (Cary Grant), only to learn that he's out to kill her for his money, in Suspicion. It was the only Oscar an actor ever won while working with Hitchcock. Fontaine famously snubbed her sister Olivia on her way to the podium, exacerbating a bitter lifelong feud that lasted for the rest of their lives. From there, Fontaine enjoyed more critical success throughout the decade with her third Oscar nomination for The Constant Nymph (1943) and an underrated performance as the titular Jane Eyre (1944), widely seen as one of the best of her career. She essayed roles in Ivy (1947) and Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), only to see her career slip in the 1950s. Fontaine was memorable as part of a large all-star cast in Ivanhoe (1952) and was integral to the plot of Fritz Lang's courtroom classic Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956). But by this point, Fontaine's film career had waned and the actress began to segue into television. Her last film role was in the British horror film, The Witches (1966) and appeared on Broadway in the comedy Forty Carats. She returned to the small screen in the mid-1970s and earned an Emmy nomination for a guest arc on Ryan's Hope. Fontaine made her last screen appearance in the made-for-TV movie Good King Wenceslas (1994). Throughout the years, her rivalry with de Havilland intensified and the two refused to speak to one another for decades, the reasons for which stemmed from a childhood wrought with animosity and made permanent by the death of their mother in 1975. Their feud was apparently sustained until Fontaine's death on Dec. 15, 2013 from natural causes. Check out a full biography on Fontaine's life here and a list of her best films here. Joan Fontaine in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941)/Turner Home EntertainmentLegandary Actress Joan Fontaine Dies at 96 originally appeared on About.com Classic Movies on Monday, December 16th, 2013 at 08:40:46.Permalink | Comment | Email this[...]