Tag Archives: Henry Fonda

Actress: Lucille Ball

With Desilu, Lucy became the first female head of a production studio. Desilu produced The Untouchables, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and I Spy. Not bad. Uploaded by artwallpapers.net.

I love Lucy. Everybody loves Lucy. With her husband Desi Arnaz, she virtually invented the situation comedy, a genre that has thrived on television for 60 years. But Lucy enjoyed a successful career both before and after her iconic show.

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Lucy began making movies in 1933, and appeared uncredited in more than two dozen films before finally getting a credit in Chatterbox (1935). Many would have (and probably did) give up Hollywood dreams after such a difficult stretch. But Lucy persevered, though never achieving true star status on the big screen. She had some success on radio, especially the show My Favorite Husband, in which she created the role of a wacky housewife. CBS asked her to develop it for television, and Lucy insisted on performing with her husband, Desi. CBS wasn’t sure, but eventually gave the go-ahead to I Love Lucy (Great American Things, May 12, 2009). I expect they were glad, don’t you?

As if appearing in one of America’s all-time favorite shows wasn’t enough, Lucy had other career distinctions. At Desilu, she became the first woman to head a production studio. She had two more successful sitcoms, The Lucy Show (1962-1968) and Here’s Lucy (1968-1974). And she appeared in several successful films, including Yours, Mine and Ours with Henry Fonda and Mame. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously from President George H.W. Bush.

 

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Film: 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men was the first film directed by Sidney Lumet, whose courtroom drama "The Verdict" has already been honored on this list. Uploaded by prodeoetpatria.wordpress.com.

It’s not a good thing to feel claustrophobic during a movie. And except for a couple of brief scenes at beginning and end, the “action” in 12 Angry Men (1957) takes place in a closed jury room. As they say, in the hands of a lesser director this would have been a problem. But the great Sidney Lumet (Network, The Verdict, et. al.) took this on as his very first production, and showed why he would be a directorial force for decades to come.

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If you haven’t seen 12 Angry Men, I don’t want to spoil the plot. Suffice it to say that a jury of all men debate the fate of a defendant who’s one of “those people,” and most initially consider him guilty. Henry Fonda is the lone dissenter, and he uses his powers of logic and persuasion to try to convince the others that they may be convicting an innocent man.

The film wouldn’t have worked without a terrific cast, and it had one. Among the jurors were E.G. Marshall, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, and Jack Klugman – a who’s who of great 1950s era character actors. Most forceful of all was Lee J. Cobb, leading those who believed in the defendant’s guilt. 12 Angry Men is considered one of the top courtroom dramas of all time (AFI considered it number two), and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars. And if it hadn’t come out in the same year as Bridge on the River Kwai, it might have won them.

Film: Movies of 1962

Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne led the all-star cast of The Longest Day. The year 1962 also featured musicals (The Music Man), westerns (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), and dramas (The Miracle Worker). Uploaded by torrentbutler.eu.

I have to acknowledge up front that the highest-grossing film of the year was also the Academy Award winner: Lawrence of Arabia. A British film. But the Yanks had a memorable year as well, in fact we produced some terrific films in 1962. To wit:

The Longest Day — John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, and a huge international cast storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

To Kill a Mockingbird  — Gregory Peck wins Best Actor portraying Atticus Finch in the classic film version of Harper Lee’s novel.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane  — A horror film with an elderly Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. That’s scary.

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The Music Man — When musicals still could draw crowds, this faithful version of the Meredith Wilson show starred Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.

Mutiny on the Bounty — Neither the first nor the last time this story has been brought to the screen, but with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard, probably the best.

Gypsy — Another great musical. With lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Jule Styne, how could it be less than a hit?

The Miracle Worker — It started on television in the anthology series Playhouse 90, then went to Broadway, and Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke reprised their stage roles in the film. Bancroft received Best Actress and Duke earned Best Supporting Actress.

Advise and Consent — Otto Preminger brought this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the big screen with Henry Fonda in the lead.

Birdman of Alcatraz — Burt Lancaster in the story of the prisoner who actually spent most of his time at Leavenworth. Go figure.

Cape Fear — Robert Mitchum terrorizes Gregory Peck’s family.

Dr. No — Sean Connery makes an international splash in the very first James Bond movie. If I remember correctly, a few more have been made since.

How the West Was Won — More remarkable now as one of the last of the epic movies with a huge all-star cast.

Lolita — This story scandalized the public in 1962. One of Stanley Kubrick’s first movies, with James Mason and Sue Lyon.

The Manchurian Candidate — Frank Sinatra proves he really could act in this Cold War thriller.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance — One of the great John Ford’s last Westerns, starring Jimmy Stewart.

That Touch of Mink — Not particularly memorable, but it starred Cary Grant  and Doris Day in a romantic comedy, and that’s enough.

 

Book/Film: The Grapes of Wrath

The novel was published in 1939, and earned John Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. The movie followed the next year, and earned 7 Academy Award nominations. Uploaded by john mariani.com.

The Grapes of Wrath is the moving story of the Joad family, Okies forced from their farms due to the crop failures brought on by the Dust Bowl. Tom and the family make the pilgrimage to what they’ve been led to believe is the promised land — California. But when they arrive, they find that there are too many migrants, and too few jobs.

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Published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath earned John Steinbeck (Great American Things,  October 24, 2009) the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1940. That’s the year the film version debuted, directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad. As often happens in adaptations, the movie had a slightly happier ending than the book. Part of that can be attributed to the natural inclination of film producers to want audiences to leave happy; part is likely due to the fact that Ford and executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck were more politically conservative than Steinbeck.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won two. The American Film Institute’s original “100 Years…100 Movies” named it the number 21 film of all time. As for the book, Modern Library honored it as the tenth-best novel of the 20th century.

Actor: Denzel Washington

 

Denzel Washington is only the second African-American to earn the Best Actor Oscar, following Sidney Poitier. Uploaded by forum.signet.ru.

Some actors carry an indefinable yet very tangible air of integrity. Spencer Tracy had it. Henry Fonda had it. And Denzel Washington most certainly has it.

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Whether he’s the new football coach in Remember the Titans, or the junior officer who takes control in Crimson Tide, or such controversial real-life figures as Ruben “Hurricane” Carter or Malcolm X, Washington doesn’t have to “act” the role’s dignity. He just is it.

We first became familiar with him on the medical drama St. Elsewhere. Since then, he’s starred in a number of significant films, including: Cry Freedom (1987 – Nomination), Glory (1989, Best Supporting Actor), Malcolm X (1992, Nomination), Philadelphia (1993), Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Courage Under Fire (1996), Training Day (2001, Best Actor), and American Gangster (2007).

Washington’s Academy Award for Best Actor in 2001 is only the second time an African-American man (Sidney Poitier was the first) has received the honor.

TV Show: The Waltons

The Waltons was slotted opposite the popular series The Flip Wilson Show and The Mod Squad. It blew them both away. Uploaded by readthehook.com.

What was rural life like in Virginia during the Depression? It probably wasn’t as sweet as The Waltons, but we can hope. It was a simpler age, but an age when life was lived from day to day. And The Waltons showed us the importance of family in surviving the most difficult times.

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The series was created by Earl Hamner, based on his book Spencer’s Mountain, and was based on his own childhood memories of growing up not far from Charlottesville, Virginia. You may not remember, but there was a Spencer’s Mountain movie first, and Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara were the original Walton parents.

The TV show ran for nine seasons on CBS from 1972-81. It debuted against strong competition – The Flip Wilson Show and The Mod Squad. Wilson’s program was number one the previous two years, and it looked like The Waltons had been given a doomed time slot. But the show blasted the others, leading to the cancellation of The Mod Squad and causing Flip Wilson to pull the plug on his own show.

Lots of elements of the show resonated with a modern audience. Ike Godsy’s general store… the banter between loving but still irascible grandparents… the Baldwin sisters’ “recipe”… the approach of World War II. And, of course, “Good night, Mary Ellen.” “Good night, Ben.” “Good night, John Boy.”