FilmJerk Favorites

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

||| Joseph L. Mankiewicz |||
Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, and was very successful at every kind of film, from Shakespeare to western, drama to musical, epics to two-character pictures, and regardless of the genre, he was known as a witty dialogist, a master in the use of flashback and a talented actors' director.

The 1950 Oscar for Best Picture and Screenplay brought Mankiewicz wide recognition as a writer and a director, with his sardonic look at show business glamour and the empty lives behind it. This well orchestrated cast of brilliant and catty character actors is built around veteran actress Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as her understudy desperate for stardom.

One of Mankiewicz’ more intimate films, this highly regarded and major artistic achievement is a spirited romantic comedy set in England of the 1880’s about a widow who moves into a haunted seashore house and resists the attempts of a sea captain specter to scare her away. This is a pleasing and poignant romance that is equally satisfying as a good old ghost story.

Mankiewicz wrote and directed this witty dissection of matrimony that has three women review the ups and downs of their marriages (with all its romance, fears and foibles) after receiving a letter telling them that one of their husbands has been unfaithful. Once again Mankiewicz deftly utilizes the skills of a well-chosen ensemble, which includes a young Kirk Douglas at his dreamiest.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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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.