FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

Advertisement

FREE Classic Cinema at The Skirball!

By CarrieSpecht

December 11th, 2006

The Skirball Cultural Center Presents a free screening of the classic romantic comedy, “Pillow Talk” on Tuesday, December 12th at 1:30 p.m. This holiday season take some time out to enjoy a silly romantic comedy on the big screen. For Free!

FREE Classic Cinema at The Skirball!

If you’ve never seen a Rock Hudson/Doris Day film you’ve been denying yourself a gleeful pleasure, and if you have you won’t want to miss the opportunity of seeing it on a big screen. Pure sugar and silliness, “Pillow Talk” is the Rock Hudson/Doris Day bedroom farce that similar films of the era wish they could be, and others spoof (such as the 2003 Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor kitschy “Down with Love”).

Fifties sex icon Rock Hudson was at the height of his popularity when he first played opposite the ever-popular and professional virgin Doris Day. Here, Hudson plays Brad Allen, a nefarious playboy (a role he always played to over-the-top perfection) who is inadvertently forced to share a “party line” (a telephone convention of days gone by) with a straight-laced interior designer played to sweet perfection by Day. Although the two are stylish metropolitans of the late fifties, they couldn’t be more different and, of course, in the fantasy world of cinema, opposites always attract. Over the wire, the two start out fighting, but once Hudson gets an eyeful of his verbal sparing partner, he is instantly smitten and automatically on the prowl.

With Tony Randall playing Hudson’s best friend and Day’s enamored client, and Day clueless to Hudson’s pretense of being a socially inept nerd, complications naturally ensue. But with a well-crafted script (it did receive the Academy Award after all), the twists and turns are skillfully manipulated with an emphasis on clever humor and high comedy. “Pillow Talk” is more than a mindless sex comedy; it’s a whimsical ode to romance in the burgeoning age of feminism that will make you swoon and laugh at the same time. You’ll even have a little insight into the difficulties that a modern working gal (and I mean that in the nicest sense) has in coming to terms with her own sexuality in the days before the sexual revolution. In the role of the modern emancipated woman, Day is the perfect personification of one of the world’s most frustrating oxymorons: the girl next door who’s as sexy in her “niceness” as any prancing playboy bunny.

This premier example of the “bedroom comedy” received an Academy Award for Best Screenplay and was nominated for many other awards, including a Golden Globe nomination for the ever-entertaining Tony Randall, a Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for the great veteran character actress, Thelma Ritter, and Doris Day herself was considered for Best Actress.

Plan ahead and make a day of it. You can have lunch at the center’s restaurant, Zeidler's, before the film, shop for holiday gifts at Audrey's Museum Store, and view the many exhibitions. No reservations are necessary. For details or schedule changes call (310) 440-4500. The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 North Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049, and you can check out their website at www.skirball.org.