Tuesday, it is all about Barbra Streisand in honor of her 70th birthday. 70! She is still like “buttah”. Six of her films kick-off my Turner Classic Tuesday’s week of classics. Happy Birthday, Barbra!
Tuesday April 24/Wednesday April 25
WAY WE WERE, THE (1973)
A fiery liberal fights to make her marriage to a successful writer work.
Dir: Sydney Pollack Cast: Barbra Streisand , Robert Redford , Bradford Dillman .
C-118 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
Hubble. The opening credits are probably my favorite of all time, even with that 70’s disco font. And that last scene, her gloved hand, combing through his hair. You just want a different ending every freaking time! One of my favorite movies ever.
FUNNY GIRL (1968)
Comedienne Fanny Brice fights to prove that she can be the greatest star and find romance even though she isn’t pretty.
Dir: William Wyler Cast: Barbra Streisand , Omar Sharif , Kay Medford .
C-157 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
Streisand’s film debut. She won an Academy Award for her performance, but had to share it with Katherine Hepburn (The Lion In Winter); the only tie in Oscar history.
PRINCE OF TIDES, THE (1991)
A troubled man talks to his suicidal sister’s psychiatrist about their family history and falls in love with her in the process.
Dir: Barbra Streisand Cast: Nick Nolte , Barbra Streisand , Blythe Danner .
C-132 mins, TV-MA, CC
Streisand’s real life son, Jason Gould, plays her son in the film. Don Johnson was the original actor slated to play the lead; of course, he was dating Streisand during pre-production. Their relationship had ended by the time she made the film.
OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT, THE (1970)
When a bookworm gets a prostitute evicted, she moves into his apartment.
Dir: Herbert Ross Cast: Barbra Streisand , George Segal , Robert Klein .
C-97 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
Streisand wanted Sydney Poitier (who wouldn’t!) to play the male lead, but the studios balked, claiming audiences were not ready for an interracial couple in a major comedy. That would’ve been amazing!
FUNNY LADY (1975)
Musical biography of Fanny Brice and her tempestuous marriage to showman Billy Rose.
Dir: Herbert Ross Cast: Barbra Streisand , James Caan , Omar Sharif .
C-138 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
Filmed under duress, maybe? Producer Ray Stark had to sue Streisand to make this film after she refused and still owed him one picture, under contract. The film was generally panned by most critics and is pretty hit or miss, depending on your true love for Babs.
FOR PETE’S SAKE (1974)
A woman goes to outlandish extremes to make her husband rich.
Dir: Peter Yates Cast: Barbra Streisand , Michael Sarrazin , Estelle Parsons .
C-90 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
Streisand shows her slapstick, Lucille Ball chops. Silly and light-hearted, this film shows that no one should take themselves too seriously, even Barbra Streisand.
Thursday April 26
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (1962)
A young gigolo returns to his southern hometown in search of the lost love of his youth.
Dir: Richard Brooks Cast: Paul Newman , Geraldine Page , Shirley Knight .
C-120 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
Tennessee William’s classic play. The film was first offered to Elvis Presley, but his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker turned it down. He didn’t want Elvis playing a bad guy. But, busting out into song with a ukulele or at the casino pool was a good career choice?!
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958)
A dying plantation owner tries to help his alcoholic son solve his problems.
Dir: Richard Brooks Cast: Elizabeth Taylor , Paul Newman , Burl Ives .
C-108 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
Talk about the show must go on. Taylor’s husband, Michael Todd was killed on the first day of shooting and she continued on, using her emotion in her acting. Tennessee Williams’ adaptations had all been filmed in black & white up to this point, but when Newman and Taylor were cast, director Brooks insisted on color. He knew the public would flock to see her famously violet eyes and his baby blues. If you made a drinking game based on knocking back every time “Maggie” says “Big Daah-dy” in her southern drawl, you’d most likely be in full blackout, by the end of the film.
Friday April 27
IN THIS OUR LIFE (1942)
A neurotic southerner steals her sister’s husband then vies with her for another man.
Dir: John Huston Cast: Bette Davis , Olivia de Havilland , George Brent .
BW-97 mins, TV-PG, CC
I love Bette Davis movies, period. Especially, when she is a bitch. Nobody does it better and, in this film, she does not disappoint. I also love when she plays opposite, George Brent, with whom she had a tumultuous love affair. Their on-screen chemistry is riveting. Personal fun fact: I could listen to George Brent read the phone book.
Saturday April 28
STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, A (1951)
A fading southern belle tries to build a new life with her sister in New Orleans.
Dir: Elia Kazan Cast: Vivien Leigh , Marlon Brando , Kim Hunter .
BW-125 mins, TV-PG, CC
“STELLA!” Truly, an acting orgy. Three Oscar-winning performances, with some of the most powerful acting captured on film. My favorite scene: Brando slamming down his chicken in the dinner scene with Leigh and Hunter. He goes from stoic to crazed anger in less than a second. Stunning. (Brando in a fitted tee; also stunning.) The film was shot in only 36 days. And, God bless Vivian Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder, often confused her life for that of Blanche Dubois in her later days.
Sunday April 29th
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, THE (1955)
A bogus preacher marries an outlaw’s widow in search of the man’s hidden loot.
Dir: Charles Laughton Cast: Robert Mitchum , Shelley Winters , Lillian Gish .
BW-93 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
This movie terrified my husband when he was a child, so, of course he made me watch it one night. Mitchum is totally creepy in this very dark, disturbing thriller.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
A British military officer enlists the Arabs for desert warfare in World War I.
Dir: David Lean Cast: Peter O’Toole , Alec Guinness , Anthony Quinn .
C-227 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
I have Netflixed and DVR’d this movie so many times and have never seen it from beginning to end! Maybe because there are no female speaking roles. It is the longest film, 227 minutes, without any speaking by a woman. I will try and give it another go. “Tis I, Pee-tra O’Toole!” (Sorry. A short homage to SNL’s Bill Hader.)
Monday April 30
MY REPUTATION (1946)
A widow generates small-town gossip when she falls in love too soon after her husband’s death.
Dir: Curtis Bernhardt Cast: Barbara Stanwyck , George Brent , Warner Anderson .
BW-94 mins, TV-PG, CC
Brent in another dashing leading man role. Stanwyck, one of the most underrated actresses of that time period, gives a fabulous performance in this sophisticated, not overly dramatic romantic film.
A classical musician from the slums is sidetracked by his love for a wealthy neurotic.
Dir: Jean Negulesco Cast: Joan Crawford , John Garfield , Oscar Levant .
BW-125 mins, TV-PG, CC
The gorgeous music is actually performed by Isaac Stern and when you see close-ups of the violin, you are seeing Stern’s hands playing. John Garfield was a very popular actor at the time of his sudden death at the age of 39. His funeral was mobbed by thousands of distraught fans. But, today, you hardly hear of any big John Garfield fans or see his face memorialized on posters or purses with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean or Humphrey Bogart.