Category Archives: Movies

Watch It Again, Sam

Dear Friends,

As you know, we love old movies. And of these, our most favorite must be Casablanca.

Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Berman, this film is so beautifully done we could just watch it again and again!

casablanca

It was filmed during the middle of WWII, and ironically, no one expected it to be a hit—let alone one of the greatest movies ever made! It was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, winning for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing for a Screenplay.

We found a 1942 review by Variety, which states:

[The] Film is splendid anti-Axis propaganda, particularly inasmuch as the propaganda is strictly a by-product of the principal action and contributes to it instead of getting in the way. There will be few more touching scenes to be found than when a group of German officers in Rick’s [Café] begins to sing Nazi tunes and [Bergman’s onscreen husband] Henreid instructs the orchestra to go into “La Marseillaise.” A bit frightenedly at first, but then with a might that completely drowns out the Germans, the [nightclub] patrons and [servers] in Rick’s give voice to the anthem of France of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” It is just another facet of the variety of moods, action, suspense, comedy and drama that makes “Casablanca” an A-1 entry at the b.o.

To our mind, the greatest picture we have ever seen!

To read the full review, click here.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen this classic, we urge you to watch it immediately—a glorious evening!

Best wishes,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Show Boat

Dear Friends,

The other night we saw one of our favorite musicals on television: Showboat.

show boat 1951

This film was produced in 1951, starring Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, and Howard Keel and directed by George Sidney. It was based on the original Broadway musical written by Oscar Hammerstein II with music by Jerome Kern. It tells the story of late 19th century hijinks aboard a Mississippi River show boat. It features some of Broadway’s greatest show tunes including Ol’ Man River, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, and Make Believe.

This musical is so superb that it makes us want to discuss the importance of theatre in our lives. We seldom think about it, but what if, at 5:30pm every night after a day of work, we simply had dinner and went to bed? Our workdays are usually not very spiritual or uplifting, so it is at nighttime and weekends that we get to observe and participate in the “finer things in life,” as in “what are we living for?” So this film says it all!

It’s wonderful and we’re so glad to have seen it on television! If you want to see it, it is available to watch via streaming or to purchase on Amazon (click here )

Best wishes,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Tracy & Hepburn

Dear Friends,
As we have mentioned before, Katharine Hepburn played a huge role in helping us bring our film, Judgement at Nuremberg, to the big screen (for that story click on this link) by bringing the script to Spencer Tracy.

At that point, early 1960s, Hepburn and Tracy had starred in eight movies together, with one final movie in 1967. Last night on Turner Classic Movies, we watched their film, Desk Set, and we just loved it so! We decided that we wanted to share with you a list of their movies for you to enjoy as well:

Woman of The Year (1942) Hepburn and Tracy play married reporters working for the same newspaper, where Hepburn’s character gets all the accolades.

Keeper of the Flame (1943) Tracy plays a reporter covering the sudden death of a beloved war hero, whose widow is played by Hepburn.

Without Love (1945) Tracy plays a scientist in need of a place to work and Hepburn a single woman with a conveniently unused house with a science lab in the basement.

Sea of Grass (1947) Hepburn plays a St. Louis woman wooed by a New Mexican rancher (Tracy), only to discover when she arrives in New Mexico he’s not as charming and debonair as she thought.

State of the Union (1948) is a political drama where Tracy plays a Presidential Candidate and Hepburn his estranged wife, who is skeptical, but campaigns for him on the road to the White House.

Adam’s Rib (1949) based on a true story, Hepburn and Tracy play a married prosecutor and defense lawyer pitted against each other in a murder trial where Hepburn defends a woman accused of shooting her husband.

Pat and Mike (1952) Hepburn plays a brilliant athlete with a domineering fiancé and Tracy her slightly unscrupulous manager, who helps her escape from the clutches of her fiancé.

Desk Set (1957) Hepburn plays Department Head of Research for a big television company and Tracy the man sent in to computerize the entire department.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967) in their final movie, Hepburn and Tracy play a married couple whose daughter introduces them to her new boyfriend (played by Sidney Poitier).

They were so magical on the screen together! All of these films are worth watching—and if you’d like to own the whole collection, Amazon has a set for sale which you can access by clicking here or the picture below.

tracy and hepburn

We hope you enjoy!
Best,
Philip & Marilyn

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The Gish Sisters

Dear Friends,

Last week we told you about all the wonderful movies we’ve been watching this summer and we wanted to add one more to the list: Orphans of the Storm, starring Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish.

This nearly 100-year-old silent movie is the story of two orphaned sisters during the French revolution. Despite the 3-hour length, we stayed glued to the screen—a testament to writer/producer/director DW Griffith, the Gish sisters, and their supporting cast. We knew the Gish sisters so well–they were friends of our parents and performed in many plays for The Theatre Guild!

orphans of the storm

It is unbelievable how far cinema has advanced, but equally as amazing how much we can still enjoy the classics by tuning into Turner Classic Movies!

Best,
Philip & Marilyn

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Summer Nights

Dear Friends,

Today we are sending you information to while away your summer.
Every night we turn the television channel to Turner Classic Movies, and each night there is always a wonderful old movie to watch.

So far this summer we have watched over 60 movies, including the wonderful classics such as:

It Happened One Night
Three Coins in the Fountain
Jezebel
Holiday Inn
A Room With a View
Some Like It Hot
Laura
Two For The Road
The Blue Angel
Funny Face
The Dirty Dozen
Follow The Fleet
Cabaret
Chorus Line
The Scarlet Pimpernel
All The King’s Men
For Me and My Gal
Gaslight

And such great stars as:
Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Marlene Dietrich, Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, John Cassavetes, Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Eva Gabor, Tyrone Power, and Ian McKellen—to name a few!

In this day and age where nothing good seems to be on (and almost never any good news), it’s always nice to know that you can find a great classic movie right on your television set to pass the evening!

Best,
Philip & Marilyn

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All The Money

Dear Friends,

We were reading a review yesterday in the New York Times about our dear friend, Christopher Plummer.

He has a new movie, All The Money in The World, and it is just fantastic!

According to Manohla Dargis’s review in the New York Times:

Mr. Plummer can be an aloof, fairly cool screen presence and he chills Getty Sr. with cruel glints, funereal insinuation and a controlled, withholding physicality. A lot of actors soften their heavies, as if nervously asserting their own humanity. With Mr. Scott, Mr. Plummer instead creates a rapacious man whose hunger for wealth and power (and more money, always more) has hollowed him out and whose fatherly touch, at its most consuming, brings to mind Goya’s painting of Saturn eating his son. The horror of Getty Sr. is that he is never less than human, but that he’s hoarded everything, including every last vestige of love, for himself. It’s a magnificent portrait of self-annihilation.

Of course, we aren’t surprised by this—we have known Chris for a very long time and we’ve seen him in many memorable performances.
Chris Plummer
All The Money in The World is showing at a movie theater near you.

Best regards,
Philip and Marilyn

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Memories On The Small Screen

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday a film we produced played on NBC.  It was Judgement at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, and Werner Klemperer.

Judgement at Nuremberg

We enjoyed it so much—it was so filled with the author, Abby Mann’s screenplay.  And, despite being thought of as too “intellectual and thoughtful,” it was one of our greatest successes! We just love the story about how the film came together and decided to re-share our story with you today (we originally posted the story below November 2014).

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S UNKNOWN TRIUMPH! 

In 1960, a teleplay was performed on Playhouse 90. The program was called Judgment at Nuremburg, which was a somber and serious piece.
Philip Langner of The Theatre Guild, Inc. received a script “over the transom”—as they say about unknown scripts. The Guild directors liked the script and “knowing” its virtual impossibility as a film, decided—with the author’s agreement—to have a play written and to produce it on Broadway.

At the time, Katharine Hepburn was playing Antony & Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT (created by Lawrence Langner). On a very remote possibility, Philip and the author, Abby Mann, drove to Stratford on a matinee day to see Kate.  After the matinee, they went to her cottage.  She opened the door and Philip said politely “Kate, you have a lovely suntan!”  Kate said with her typical Locust Valley lockjaw accent—“That’s not a suntan, those are spots!” Looking back, Philip always wondered if he should have replied, “well, they do look wonderful on you!”

Kate agreed to look at the t.v. production, which she did at The Theatre Guild building on 53rd Street. She liked the teleplay enormously and decided to work diligently to make it into a film.

She sent the play to Spencer Tracy and she succeeded! Tracy sent it to Hollywood producer, Stanley Kramer, who produced it in 1961 with the most incredible cast for such a serious—and therefore risky—film.  Kramer persuaded all 9 film stars to take modest salaries.  The film was released in 1961.

Kramer was the Producer, Philip Langner the Associate Producer, and Abby Mann was the Screenwriter. The incredible cast included:

  • Spencer Tracy
  • Richard Widmark
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Max Schell
  • Montgomery Clift
  • Judy Garland
  • William Shatner
  • Warner Klemperer

Thus, one of the Great War films of all time was created.

And who got it done? Katharine Hepburn.

AND WHO WAS NEVER TOLD ABOUT HER TRIUMPH? The World. 

Judgment at Nuremburg was nominated for 11 Academy awards, winning 2 for Best Actor (Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mann). The film was recently entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

Best regards,
Philip and Marilyn

PS—The discussion in this film on the subject of war is so important, and of course, it is wildly pertinent in today’s world with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Yemen all hoping(?) for some war excitement.

And also: we bought a DVD of Judgement at Nuremberg at Amazon, which is currently for on sale for $12.00.  To order your copy, click here.

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Classic Movies on the Small Screen

Dear Friends,

Today we want to write to you about a lovely happening brought to us by our daughter.

I am speaking about the films that are available every day on Turner Classic Movies (here in New York, it’s Channel 82).

We have been going about our business for years, only really watching PBS and a handful of news stations, but we never seem to branch out and explore other channels.  Finally, our daughter “made us” turn to Channel 82 and we have been extremely enthusiastic ever since!

TCM actors

The best thing about TCM is that they play movies you’d never get to see normally and when you watch them, you realize that you are getting to watch the best movies that were made between 1930-1950!

Many of these films are absolutely wonderful!  In analyzing them, we find that they are very much like Broadway plays.  Back then, movies had not gone into space or battled aliens or imaginary characters—they simply had the feel of the stage, however, you were just viewing them on the big (and now small) screen!

It is so interesting to watch great stars like Bette Davis or Joan Crawford just by changing the channel.  We love this era of movies, where everyone spoke so passionately about life!

The next time you find yourself in front of the television, do turn it on to Turner Classic Movies—you never know what you’re going to find! For example, last night’s line-up was The Good Earth (1933), a wonderful film adaptation of the novel by Pearl S. Buck.  That was followed by the entertaining musical Gold Diggers (1933) starring Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell.  After that was a favorite of ours, Holiday, starring Carey Grant and Katharine Hepburn.  All around, it was an entertaining evening!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

PS—speaking of Bette and Joan, the FX series Feuds: Bette and Joan, starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, only has only weeks left—don’t miss out!  Sundays at 10pm (Eastern Standard Time) on the FX channel.

feud poster

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Bette & Joan.

Dear Friends,

Last week on television we watched a fantastic movie, What Happened to Baby Jane?.  As I think we all tend to do as time passes by, we forget just how good something is until we happen upon it once again.

It stars two of the most renowned actresses: Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.  Their on-and-off stage acrimony, has them permanently linked even after all these years.

In fact, their fighting was so famous that their story is now the feature of FX’s series “Feud: Bette and Joan,” starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as the iconic stars Davis and Crawford respectively.

According to Ryan Murphy (creator/writer/director), “what was really interesting to explore was what a tragedy the last 15 years was in the lives of these women, and how they deserved so much more.”

feud

 

The show focuses on more than just the glamour of these two glamourous stars of the big screen, but the trials and tribulations of what it means to get older as a woman in Hollywood—something their modern counterparts say is all too familiar.

“Feud” airs Sunday nights at 10pm on FX.  You can read more about it at the New York Times and you can watch it online here.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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La La Land

Dear Friends,

We have just seen the movie La La Land and it is a once-in-10-years kind of movie!

The two actors—Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling—are incredible and have delivered the movie of the year (or perhaps 10 years?).    La La Land won 7 Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical and Best Performance by Actor in a Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical (Gosling) and Best Performance by Actress in a Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical (Stone).

la-la-land-2

It is still showing in movie theaters.  Click on the picture for the full review from Peter Travers in Rolling Stone.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

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