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April Issue

Classic Film

Cafe Society

In April, all our screenings will be exclusively in cafes around town so to complement our program this month's eZine will look at the end of Hollywood's studio system (which heralded in nostalgia compilation films like That's Entertainment), the great American musical star Rita Hayworth, and the life and work of 80's film icon John Hughes

We hope you enjoy the articles in Classic film, but don't forget the reason that we're here.. to see Classic films back up on the big screen. So check out what we've got screening this month.

And.... We hope you enjoy this month's eZine.
The Demise of the Studios
Paramount Pictures in its heyday
The formation of the Hollywood studios were an important part of film history. The earliest days of filmmaking were a fringe industry...stage actors went uncredited as they feared it would hurt their reputations to appear on screen. Films had poor production values, technical issues, and were considered an oddity by the serious business minds in the entertainment industry.

Then what happened is the public embraced films and cinema (or nickelodeon) going in big numbers. There was money to be made.

Adolf Zukor was a nickelodeon operator who saw opportunities in making longer films and through a series of partnerships, mergers, good luck (he hired Cecil B DeMille when he was a nobody) and developing a stable of stars... Paramount pictures was formed.

The Warner Brothers were Polish immigrants who first found their way to Canada, where baby brother Jack was born. The brothers made their start in motion picture exhibition and soon realised that producing their own films would lead to greater profitability.. later forming Warner Brothers pictures. The company was later taken over by Jack Warner who forced his brothers out of the company in the 1950's.

And MGM was formed through the merging of smaller producers like Metro pictures and Goldwyn pictures, a process that was driven by Marcus Loew from Loew's Theatres who were hungry for a steady supply of high quality and affordable content.
                                The Gates of MGM - during the good times
Things went well for the studios from the 1930's through the 1950's and many recognise this period as the hey day for Hollywood. The studios were all powerful - they had expansive backlots  which they cold make look like anywhere in the world at very little cost, the land in California was cheap and the studios owned a lot of it, and they had key creatives like writers, directors and actors under strict contractual control.

They made huge profits, and to their credit they pumped much of that money into attracting the best talent from right around the world. And once they had that talent, they bound them to the same tight contracts which meant they couldn't leave.

The studios also acted quite amorally. Many of them bought up large numbers of cinemas and cinema chains which were only allowed to screen their films. For those  cinemas they didn't own, they still managed to exert controls over them... films were sold in blocks - to get access to blockbuster films, the cinemas had to buy a package of films that included  many films of questionable merit. This squeezed out other film producers and had a devastating impact on international film... most notably on Australian film, which the Hollywood studio nearly succeeded in killing off entirely.
Studio backlots at their peak could take you anywhere in the world... or even out of this world
Things changed in the 1950's. Hollywood lost a number of anti-trust cases in the US supreme court and had their monopolies broken up, actors found regular work outside the studio system often in the growing television industry, audiences deserted cinemas for TV screens, and the studios made some ciritcal errors... notably making teribble films that were terribly expensive. The film that killed off 20th Century Fox was Cleopatra... a long and boring film that made the mistake of letting Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton work together in Italy.

One of the few assets that the studios still had was their older films. Many of these were sold as reruns on television, some were released on cinema screens, and in the case of our Cafe Nova  screening... some were cut together into compilation films like That's Entertainment... which were cinematic successes in their own right.

The end of the studios led to new genres like the Road film, it gave new opportunities to filmmakers and actors who never would've stood a chance in the old studio system, and it allowed other film industries to survive and thrive... the Italians had a renaissance in the 1950's, the French and the British in the 1960's, and Australia in the 1970's.

While no one wants to see a return to the bad old days when the studios had total control, it is still sad to think that they don't make films like they used to.
Classic Film Stars
The Gorgeous Rita Hayworth
Margarita Carmen Cansino was born on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo was a dancer who had emigrated from Spain in 1913. Her mother, Volga Hayworth, was an American of Irish-English descent who had performed with the Ziegfeld Follies. The couple married in 1917.

Rita, on her father's insistence, studied as a dancer and joined her family on stage when she was eight years old in a movie called La Fiesta (1926). It was her first film appearance, although it was an uncredited performance.

Rita was spotted by a 20th Century Fox executive who was sufficiently impressed to offer her a contract. Rita made her "second" film debut at 16 in the film Cruz Diablo (1934). She continued to play small bit parts in several films under the name of "Rita Cansino" until she played the second female lead in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), a film we are screening in May.

Now at Columbia where she was getting top billing but it was the Warner Brothers film The Strawberry Blonde (1941) that seemed to be her great leap forward as a star. In this film she exuded the warmth and seductive vitality that was to make her famous. Her natural, raw beauty was showcased later that year in Blood and Sand (1941), filmed in Technicolor. At the time she was probably the second most popular actress after Betty Grable.

In You'll Never Get Rich (1941) with Fred Astaire, audiences began to see the best that Rita had to offer. Her dancing, for which she had studied all her life, was astounding and widely appreciated. However Gilda (1946) was the film that led so many to fall in love with Rita. Hayworth later said, with some bitterness, "Men go to bed with Gilda, but wake up with me." Success was a double edges sword for Rita
Rita Hayworth  Fred Astaire So Near and Yet So Far.wmv
             Rita Hayworth tripping the light fantastic with Fred Astaire

After Gilda her career hit the skids. Although she was still making movies, they never approached her earlier success. The drought began between The Lady from Shanghai (1947) and Champagne Safari (1954). Then after Salome (1953), she was not seen again until Pal Joey (1957). Part of the reasons for the downward spiral was television, but also Rita had been replaced by the new star at Columbia, Kim Novak. After a few, rather forgettable films in the 1960s, her career was essentially over.

Sadly, Rita struggled with alcoholism most of her adult life. Between 1943 and 1947 she was married to Orson Welles. He noted Hayworth's problem with alcohol during their marriage, but he never believed that her problem was alcoholism. He dis however say "It certainly imitated alcoholism in every superficial way,"

In 1983 Welles said to a friend "Rita barely knows me now,". He recalled seeing Hayworth three years before at an event which the Reagans held for Frank Sinatra. "When it was over, I came over to her table and I saw that she was very beautiful, very reposed looking, and didn't know me at first. After about four minutes of speaking, I could see that she realized who I was, and she began to cry quietly."

In an interview which Welles gave the evening before his death in 1985, Welles called Hayworth "one of the dearest and sweetest women that ever lived."

Rita Hayworth lapsed into a semicoma in February 1987. She died at age 68 from complications associated with Alzheimer's disease a few months later on May 14, 1987.

John Hughes

John Hughes was born in Lansing, Michigan and spent the first twelve years of his life in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  Hughes described himself as "kind of quiet" as a kid.

"I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly girls and old people. There weren't any boys my age, so I spent a lot of time by myself, imagining things. And every time we would get established somewhere, we would move. Life just started to get good in seventh grade, and then we moved to Chicago. I ended up in a really big high school, and I didn't know anybody. But then The Beatles came along (and) changed my whole life. And then Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home came out and really changed me. Thursday I was one person, and Friday I was another. My heroes were Dylan, John Lennon and Picasso, because they each moved their particular medium forward, and when they got to the point where they were comfortable, they always moved on."

In 1963, Hughes's family moved to Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. There Hughes attended Glenbrook North High School, which served as an inspiration (and location) for the films that made his reputation in later years

After dropping out of the University of Arizona, Hughes began selling jokes to well-established performers such as Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. Hughes used his jokes to get an entry-level job at Needham, Harper & Steers as an advertising copywriter in Chicago in 1970 and later in 1974 at Leo Burnett Worldwide.

His advertising work frequently took him to New York City and he took the opportunity to hang around the offices of the National Lampoon magazine. Hughes subsequently penned a story, inspired by his family trips as a child, that got him a job at the magazine. That piece, "Vacation '58", later became the basis for the film National Lampoon's Vacation.

His first screenplay, Class Reunion, was a big flop but his next for National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), was a major hit. That film's success, along with the success of another of Hughes' scripts, Mr. Mom, earned Hughes a three movie deal with Universal Studios.

Hughes's directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, won almost unanimous praise when it was released in 1984, due in no small part to its more honest depiction of upper middle class high school life. It was the first in a string of efforts set in or around high school, including The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off  and Some Kind of Wonderful.

Hughes branched out in 1987, directing the smash hit Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy as well as the very popular Uncle Buck. His greatest commercial success came with Home Alone, a film he wrote and produced. It was the top grossing film of 1990, and remains the most successful live-action comedy of all time. His last film as a director was 1991's Curly Sue.

He also wrote screenplays under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes (or Dantès) which included Maid in Manhattan, Drillbit Taylor, and the Beethoven franchise.

In 1994, Hughes retired and moved back to the Chicago area. He was shaken by John Candy's sudden death and talked a lot about how much he loved Candy and that he would have made more films with him.

John Hughes with the cast of The Breakfast Club
On the morning of August 6, 2009, Hughes suffered a severe heart attack while walking on West 55th Street in Manhattan. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. He was 59 years old. Hughes's funeral took place on August 11 in Chicago. In addition to his wife Nancy and two sons, Hughes was survived by four grandchildren, his three sisters and his mother and father. He was buried at Lake Forest Cemetery in Illinois

Hughes'  teen films are still much loved - he captured a timeless element of the teen experience.Films like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off still feel very contemporary more than 30 years after they were released.

Screening at Cafe Nova

Wednesday, 6th of April

7.00pm start

That's Entertainment (1974)

Screen greats Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire join forces to host this tribute to the golden days of Hollywood - and get to dance together for the first time in 30 years.

Doco/ Musical     Rated:G      135 min
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Screening at Hoi Polloi Cafe

Saturday, 16th of April

7.00pm start

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

A high school wise guy is determined to have a day off from school, despite what the principal thinks of that.

Comedy    Rated: PG       103 mins
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