Announcing THE 1961 BLOGATHON!

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Happy birthday to me!

On Friday, April 27, I will turn a ripe old 57 years of age. Usually, I do some kind of gag post at my blog on that date to commemorate the occasion. But this year, I thought I’d up the ante with

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Rules

Here is the subject matter I am looking for in this blogathon:

  1. The obvious choice — movies that were theatrically released in the U.S. or elsewhere in 1961. This can include live and animated short subjects as well as feature films. (I’m doing a Bugs Bunny cartoon myself!)
  2. Movie-related news from that year. Did a significant event take place in Hollywood in 1961 that you’d like to write about? Was one of your favorite actors born in 1961 or died in that year?
  3. If you have any other idea related to movies of 1961, let me know. If it’s not too outrageous, I’ll probably allow it.
  4. Sorry, no duplicate posts. Please check the list below (which will be updated regularly) to ensure that your idea is not already taken.

How Do I Join the Blogathon?

In the “Comments” section at the bottom of this blog, please leave your name, the URL of your blog, and the movie you are choosing to blog about. At the end of this blog entry are banners for the ‘thon. Grab a banner, display it on your blog, and link it back to this blog.

The blogathon will take place from Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29, 2018. When the opening date of the blogathon arrives, leave a comment here with a link to your post, and I will display it in the list of entries (which I will continually update up to the beginning of the ‘thon, so keep checking back!).

I will not be assigning particular dates to any blog posts. As long as you get your entry in by the end of the day on April 29, I will be satisfied. (That said, the earlier the better!)

Again, be sure to leave a comment below and grab a banner, and have fun with your blog entry! Here’s the line-up so far:

Movie Movie Blog Blog – Compressed Hare (Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote cartoon) and Stan Laurel receiving an Honorary Oscar

BNoirDetour – Blast of Silence

Thoughtsallsorts – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Reelweegiemidget Reviews – The Innocents

Cinematic Scribblings – Lola

The Stop Button – Through a Glass Darkly

The Midnite Drive-In – The Phantom Planet and Assignment: Outer Space

Silver Screenings – The Misfits

portraitsbyjenni – The Hoodlum Priest

Caftan Woman – One, Two, Three

Whimsically Classic – The Parent Trap

Love Letters to Old Hollywood – Come September

Movierob – Town Without Pity

dbsmovieblog – La Notte

Seetimaar-Diary of a Movie Lover – The Guns of Navarone and Judgment at Nuremberg

Moon in Gemini – Pocketful of Miracles

 

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Laurel & Hardy in OUR RELATIONS (1936) – Two Laurel & Hardys for the price of one

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The following is my second of two contributions to the Dual Roles Blogathon, being held Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, 2016 by, appropriately enough, dual bloggers: Christina Wehner, and Ruth at Silver Screenings. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ critiques of movies where actors play more than one role!

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Our Relations is a huge step forward for Laurel & Hardy in feature films. After the episodic nature of most of their feature films to date, the movie suddenly resolves many of the problems Laurel faced in making their films longer yet more palatable. This movie sports tasty production values, glistening cinematography (by Rudolph Mate), and a solid storyline.

It even uses the dual-role motif (last used very weakly in the short Twice Two) to satisfying effect. Here, Stan and Ollie come across an old photo of their twin brothers Alf and Bert, whom we are told are the black sheep of the family. Stan and Ollie haven’t told their wives about their darker halves, so they burn the photo (“We’ll burn our past behind us,” Ollie intones), thinking that will end the story. Guess who makes it to port shortly after that.

It must be said that Stan and Ollie have a radical notion of “black sheep.” Considering that Alf and Bert eventually get locked in a hotel room by their conniving captain (James Finlayson), their concept of worldliness wouldn’t fool a kindergartener. Nevertheless, it makes for a nice farce when the two pairs get mistaken for each other over and over.

The movie’s nicest surprise is how well Stan and Ollie actually get on with their wives. Stan’s wife is a tall blonde (Betty Healy) whom he refers to as “Bubbles,” and frankly, she’s almost nice enough for Stan to seem unworthy of her. Ollie’s spouse is the diminutive but ever powerful Daphne Pollard, yet she’s far more loving than she was in Thicker Than Water. When the wives eventually get indignant, it’s because of their sorrow at the (mistaken) thought of having been two-timed, not because they’re gun-toting maniacs. It makes you wish that the rest of The Boys’ movies had similarly vulnerable females.

Except for a couple of sequences that are prolonged beyond their comedic effect (a tousle with perennial drunk Arthur Housman, the waterfront finale where The Boys are placed in peril), Our Relations is one of Laurel & Hardy’s most thoroughly satisfying feature films.

If you enjoyed reading this blog entry, click here to read my first entry in the Dual Roles Blogathon: Buster Keaton in The Playhouse.)

Buster Keaton in THE PLAYHOUSE (1921) – Multiple Busters

dual-role-sellers

The following is my first of two contributions to the Dual Roles Blogathon, being held Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, 2016 by, appropriately enough, dual bloggers: Christina Wehner, and Ruth at Silver Screenings. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ critiques of movies where actors play more than one role!

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Everyone remembers the first half of The Playhouse, and for darned good reason. But the second half is nothing to sneer at, either.

The movie’s first half is an astounding piece of special-effects wizardry that must have nearly shocked audiences in 1920 and is still great to watch in this CGI era. Buster buys a ticket and enters a live-show theatre with nothing but multiple Busters – including a shot of nine separate Busters dancing in sync. As one of the patrons (another Buster) tells his wife (also Buster), “This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show.” (A shot of the play’s program confirms this, with Buster taking every credit possible. This was a lampoon of Thomas Ince, a contemporary of Buster’s and a credit-happy Western-maker, and the gag still works in these days of “A Film By…”)

How was the trick-shot done? Keaton literally invented a box with nine separate shutters that could be attached to the front of the camera to film just a strip at a time. So with eight-ninths of the camera lens covered up, Buster would do his routine, roll the film back, and do it all over again with the other eight-ninths of the lens. It’s no small feat, especially when two on-screen Busters react to each other as though they were really there. It’s terrific.

The whole sequence turns out to have been a dream of Buster the stagehand, who has his sleep rudely interrupted by a man (Joe Roberts) who appears to be evicting Buster from his apartment. Then the walls of the “apartment” come down, and we find that Buster was on-stage, sleeping on the job. After that, the viewer might as well give up trying to puzzle this thing out and just go along for the ride.

The ride includes twin actresses (one of whom is having an affair with Buster, but he can never tell which is which); Buster’s dead-on impersonation of a chimpanzee; and a wild climax in which everyone is swimming for his life in the orchestra pit. (Don’t ask, just watch.)

The Playhouse gives you more bang for the buck in every sense: two reels of priceless comedy, and two-dozen Busters for the price of one.

(If you enjoyed this blog entry, please click here to read my second contribution to the Dual Roles Blogathon: Laurel & Hardy in Our Relations.)