We have a lot of news today, so much so that the news in a nutshell won’t do it justice but here goes: We mourn another Hollywood death, two more classic film biopics are planned, TCM teams up with women in cinema, more events you can see in Los Angeles, get your wallets out for another Hollywood auction, and what’s new on DVD and Blu. I feel like I’m forgetting something.
He wasn’t an A-list celebrity. In fact, he was a pint-sized star who retired from the screen before he hit his teen years. George Wentzlaff, the child actor with the bass voice and deadpan delivery who starred in great films like Monkey Business (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and O. Henry’s Full House (1952) in the segment “The Ransom of Red Chief” passed away June 13th at age 69. Wentzlaff retired from acting at age 12 when his voice changed. During a recent screening of Gentlemen I had just checked to see what happened to Wentzlaff, before we all heard he had passed. He was a scene-stealer; if memory serves I picked him out for recognition in all three of the reviews above. He’ll be missed. You can read his obituary here.
Variety is reporting that director Rob Zombie will direct and produce a biopic on comedian Groucho Marx’s final years. The biopic will be based on the book, Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House by Steve Stoliar, Marx’s personal secretary. Oren Moverman, screenwriter of this year’s Brian Wilson biopic, Love & Mercy, will write the script. If you think Zombie is a director out of left field for this, his past work shows a serious love of Marx, with Zombie naming several characters in his two horror films, House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, after Marx characters. According to some preliminary research, Marx’s final years were fraught with personal issues, a manager many have deemed a Svengali, and the death of his brother.
Ingrid Bergman is also poised to receive the biopic treatment according to Deadline. James Mangold, director of the Johnny Cash/June Carter biopic, Walk the Line, is being courted to direct the biopic which follows Bergman and her romance with war photographer Robert Capa. This is a story that’s bounced around Hollywood for a while, based on the book Seducing Ingrid Bergman by Chris Greenhalgh. Screenwriter Arash Amel, who you may remember as the screenwriter of Grace of Monaco, will be writing the script. Amel’s been vocal about the studio interference on Grace, so his name doesn’t immediately give me pause. I am, however, concerned about just who could possibly play Bergman. Some truly bizarre names have been bandied about and I can’t see any of them being a good fit. Who do you think could possibly play Bergman?
Doing more for women in cinema, TCM announced a team-up with Women in Film Los Angeles on a multi-year partnership “dedicated to raising awareness about the lack of gender equality…and celebrating the achievements of women in film.” The first seeds of the partnership start in October with the network shining a spotlight on women in cinema. This on-air spotlight is set to continue every October over the next three years. While not much is known beyond that at this time, I’m beyond delighted that TCM wants to do more to promote women in entertainment. Hopefully the rest of Hollywood will take a cue.
For all of you who want to own a piece of Hollywood history, you might want to check out the latest auction being held by Invaluable and Profiles in History. Morris Everett, Jr.: The Auction will take place June 29th and 30th with countless one-of-a-kind pieces going up for sale, including countless lobby cards and posters slated to fetch thousands of dollars. (The above lobby card from Metropolis is slated to yield between $20,000-30,000!) I’m giddy to see several Veronica Lake lobby cards and posters up, but lack the fun money to bid. (I do have a birthday coming up if any kind fan wants to purchase something for me.) Alongside TCM’s upcoming Bonham’s auction dealing with posters and images, this is a great companion piece. Looking through the catalog there’s a slew of ephemera from the Universal monster films, Harry Houdini lobby cards, promotional material from practically every Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall pairing and more! If you’re interested in checking out the items or want to sign up to bid, check out the auction website.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area this weekend and don’t want to see Jaws, then head over to the Aero Theatre in Hollywood for a screening of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), presented by the American Cinematheque. The screening will be presented to highlight Academy Award-winner Carl Jules Weyl’s production design in conjunction with the 2015 ADG Film Series. The film runs Sunday, June 28th at 5:30pm at the Aero Theatre with a special panel discussion afterwards. You can find out about purchasing tickets at the event website.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
Warner Archive: Big news from Warner Archive this week with the reveal that Five Came Back (1939) is finally receiving a DVD release! Also out this week – a quarter of movies celebrating man’s best friend or other representatives: Banjo (1947), Gypsy Colt (1954), Lad: A Dog (1962), and Hugo the Hippo (1975). They’re also releasing three comedies: The Bob Hope starrer, A Global Affair (1964); the airplane rom-com Come Fly With Me (1963) and Robert Goulet in Honeymoon Hotel (1964). You can purchase all of these, manufactured on-demand, via Warner’s website.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.