Film Selma on civil rights movement in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Upcoming Black Film To Watch: Selma

22 December 2014

This is the trailer and panel discussion for “Selma” a historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. of SCLC and John Lewis of SNCC. The film stars David Oyelowo as King, Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Johnson, Common as Bevel, and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King.

By Maria Duarte in Britain:

Friday 6th Febuary 2015

A film on the US civil rights movement highlights unresolved issues, says MARIA DUARTE

Selma (12A)
Directed by Ava DuVernay
4/5

MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR would probably be smarting at the irony, if he were still alive.

This critically acclaimed film about his painstaking fight for black civil rights is at the centre of a row about a lack of diversity in Hollywood.

It comes as Selma received just two Oscar nominations for best picture and best original song, while its director Ava DuVernay was overlooked in the best director category which would have made her the first African-American woman to have been nominated.

British actor David Oyelowo was also snubbed for the best actor award for his extraordinary portrayal as Dr King in what has been dubbed the “Oscars so white” on social media — all this year’s nominees are that skin colour.

It is a travesty because Oyelowo is breathtakingly impressive in capturing King’s passion, his soulfulness and his frailties as a man as well as his political acumen.

Co-written by DuVernay and Paul Webb, the film centres on the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 which led to equal voting rights for African-Americans becoming enshrined in law.

DuVernay avoids producing a laboured history lesson. Instead she delivers an intelligent, compelling and heart-wrenching drama of outstanding breadth and depth in which King is portrayed warts and all.

She depicts the pivotal roles played by key black men and women in the movement and explores the tensions which arose between activists in King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the young militants of the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee after King and his team rolled into Selma and took charge.

The action sequences in which peaceful demonstrators, including women and children, are brutally beaten by racist white Alabama state troopers are painfully graphic.

The shooting dead of unarmed young man Jimmie Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield) as he protects his mother is the most difficult to stomach.

The portrayal of King’s fractious relationship with President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) has sparked controversy, not least because Johnson agrees to the FBI’s J Edgar Hoover bugging and monitoring the civil rights leader and sabotaging his marriage in order to derail him.

Fifty years on and King’s wildest dream is a reality — the US has its first black president — but little else has fundamentally changed.

Unarmed black youths are still being killed by white police, as was the case with 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri last year.

Barack Obama’s administration has done very little to eradicate the systemic racism and racial discrimination still prevalent in the US or improve the job prospects of poor African-Americans.

Sadly, the reality is that King’s dream remains just that.

David Oyelowo, who stars as Martin Luther King Jr, and director Ava DuVernay tell Gaby Wood why their Oscar-nominated film ‘Selma’ will make audiences both elated and angry: here.

Actress Luise Rainer, RIP


This video says about itself:

The Great Ziegfeld (1936) Telephone scene with Luise Rainer

The brief, but easily most celebrated scene in The Great Ziegfeld, in which Anna Held (Luise Rainer) calls her ex-husband Ziegfeld, to congratulate him on the occasion of his re-marriage. This scene won Rainer the Academy Award for Best Actress.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Luise Rainer obituary

Hollywood film star of the 1930s who won Oscars for The Great Ziegfeld and The Good Earth

Ronald Bergan

Tuesday 30 December 2014 14.00 GMT

There are very few actors whose culture and friendships ranged so widely, and who knew so many of the great names of the 20th century, as Luise Rainer, who has died aged 104. She was married for three tempestuous years to the radical American playwright Clifford Odets; she was a key member of Max Reinhardt’s theatre company; she was the lover of the German expressionist playwright Ernst Toller; Bertolt Brecht wrote The Caucasian Chalk Circle for her. She is frequently mentioned in the diaries of the writer Anaïs Nin, who was fascinated by her; she was an intimate of Erich Maria Remarque and Albert Einstein; Federico Fellini begged her to be in La Dolce Vita; and George Gershwin gave her a first edition of the score of Porgy and Bess, with a fulsome dedication to her from the composer.

In addition, Rainer was the first movie star to win a best actress Oscar in successive years, the first for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and the second for The Good Earth (1937). And yet, she lived the latter part of her life in comparative obscurity in London, under the name Mrs Knittel.

Rainer was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, of well-to-do parents: Heinz Rainer, a German-American businessman, and his wife Emmy (nee Königsberger), a pianist from an upper-class German-Jewish family. Luise, who had dark, expressive eyes in a mobile, wistful face topped by a mass of shiny black hair, was her father’s Augapfel, the apple of his eye. However, she also experienced what she described as his “tyrannical possessiveness”.

Feeling lost and out of place in an “average bourgeois surrounding”, she sought solace in the arts: “I was always very rebellious. I felt constricted. My rebellion was against the superficial. My wealthy parents were both immensely musical and cultured, but my father wanted me to marry and have children.” At 16, she made up her mind to go on the stage. “I became an actress only because I had quickly to find some vent for the emotion that inside of me went around and around, never stopping. I would have been happy instead of turning to the stage, to write, to paint, to dance, or, like my mother, to play the piano beautifully.”

Behind closed doors, she studied the part of Lulu in Pandora’s Box by Frank Wedekind. After she auditioned at the theatre in Düsseldorf, no one could believe that she had had no previous training. “I could feel the warmth and the love coming to me from the audience and yet I could remain at a protective distance. It was what I needed.”

Her parents refused to see her act, and were horrified when she took the leading role in Wedekind’s then-shocking Spring Awakening. Thereafter she appeared in a number of productions, many with Reinhardt’s company, including Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, for which she was praised personally by the playwright. A newspaper dubbed her “the wunderkind of drama”. At the time, Toller was in love with her. “He was nothing to me but a man. I was in my teens, and his fame didn’t mean anything to me. But I had no room for him in my life because there were so many other men in love with me at the time.”

An MGM talent scout saw Rainer performing in a Viennese production of An American Tragedy in 1934, and she was immediately signed to a seven-year contract as the studio’s secret weapon to keep Greta Garbo in line. So, in 1935, in her late teens, speaking fluent French and German, but little English, Rainer arrived in Hollywood. Her first film for the studio, the spy drama Escapade (1935), in which she replaced Myrna Loy as a Viennese girl opposite William Powell, made her a star.

Her new-found status triggered her first clash with the studio boss Louis B Mayer. He wanted to loan her to 20th Century-Fox to co-star with Ronald Colman in The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. Rainer talked him into giving her a much smaller role in the new Powell picture. “There’s this little scene I think I can do something with,” she told him. This “little scene” – which Mayer ordered out after the first previews but later restored – was the short, poignant telephone scene from The Great Ziegfeld. “I wrote the scene myself,” Rainer stated, “though I stole it from Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine.” As Anna Held, she telephones her ex-husband Florenz Ziegfeld to congratulate him on his marriage. It was enough to sway the voters of the Academy and it also established Rainer as an expert exponent of the laughter-through-tears school of acting.

The following year, Rainer made an exceptional jump to the role of the downtrodden Chinese peasant woman O-Lan in The Good Earth, based on Pearl Buck’s Pulitzer prizewinning novel. She works silently in the fields with her husband, bears his children, begs for food during the famine, and dies quietly years later when the family has achieved some prosperity. When it was shown to the Chinese government, Madame Chiang Kai-shek reportedly could not believe Rainer was not herself Chinese, and Buck later wrote: “I was much moved by the incredibly perfect performance of Luise Rainer … marvelling at the miracle of her understanding.”

But so convinced was Rainer that she had no chance of winning the coveted Oscar for the second year running that on the night of the ceremony she stayed at home in her pyjamas. At 8.35pm, the names of the winners were given to the press, and a member of the Academy telephoned her to tell her she had won. She had to change quickly into evening dress and dash across town with Odets, whom she had married the previous year, to receive her second statuette. That night, she recalled, she and Odets were having a terrific row. She was in tears by the time they got to the Biltmore hotel, and they had to walk around the building five times before she had calmed down sufficiently to go in and accept the award.

This video is called Luise Rainer in “The Good Earth”.

Rainer never made big money in Hollywood. She had opportunities to increase her salary, but was disinclined to accept the method of negotiation offered by Mayer. The mogul said to her: “Why don’t you sit on my lap when we’re discussing your contract, the way the other girls do?” The fiery Rainer told him to throw her contract in the bin. “We made you and we’re going to kill your career,” Mayer roared. She replied: “Mr Mayer, I was already a star on the stage before I came here. Besides, God made me, not you!”

Thereafter her films were mediocre, except for The Great Waltz (1938), though her part as Johann Strauss’s wife was considerably trimmed. A nonconformist, Rainer walked around Hollywood in slacks, wearing no make-up, her hair in disarray at the height of 1930s glamour. She also decided to expend her energies elsewhere than on her film career. She helped refugee children from Spain and later, with the US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, assisted European victims of Nazi Germany.

When her disastrous marriage to Odets ended in divorce in 1940, she was living in New York. There she became friendly with Nin, famous for her erotica and her passionate affair with the writer Henry Miller. “My strongest impression when I met her [Rainer] was that you were twins of a sort,” Miller wrote to Nin. “Neither of you belong in this world.” After Nin attended a play in which Rainer was performing, she wrote long descriptions of the actor in her diary. Rainer becomes a “flame” when she performs, says Nin, and certainly “would have been loved by [the French playwright Antonin] Artaud”.

Before she left Hollywood, Rainer was told by Brecht that he would like to write a play for her. She suggested an adaptation of Der Kreidekreis (The Chalk Circle) by AH Klabund, based on a Chinese tale, which became The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Later, she and the playwright fell out, and she never performed in it.

Soon after, in 1945, Rainer retreated into a long and happy marriage with the publisher Robert Knittel. They travelled extensively and lived for many years in Switzerland. She became a mother, painted and did a play from time to time, notably Maxwell Anderson’s Joan of Lorraine, Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea, and Chekhov’s The Seagull, in which she played Nina. But for most people, Rainer had disappeared from the public eye.

In the late 50s, Rainer and her family moved to Britain. She appeared in some television plays on the BBC, including Stone Faces (1957), a play written for her by JB Priestley. She also played Regina in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes at the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna, where she had performed with Reinhardt many years before. In 1973, she took the taxing part of the narrator in Honegger’s oratorio Judith, in French, with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with Jessye Norman singing the soprano part.

In 1997, she was enticed into returning to the big screen for the first time in over half a century in The Gambler, based on Dostoevsky. Though the film received lukewarm reviews, Rainer was universally praised. According to Variety: “The pic briefly gets a real lift when the legendary Luise Rainer bursts on the scene in a wonderfully showy part as a gambling-addicted granny.”

When I met Rainer at her London flat in 1996, she was an incredibly energetic 86-year-old whom I recognised as the same woman described by Miller as having “wonderful gesture and bearing, such a gracious way of carrying her head, such delicacy”, and the intense and dark eyes that shone from the screen over half a century before.

She is survived by her daughter, Francesca.

Luise Rainer, actor, born 12 January 1910; died 30 December 2014

Black Hollywood actress arrested as ‘prostitute’


This video from the USA is called Django Unchained Actress Danièle Watts on Natural Hair + Working with Kerry Washington.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute

Hollywood actress was mistaken for a prostitute by the LAPD after she was seen kissing her husband in the street

Zachary Davies Boren

Sunday 14 September 2014

Daniele Watts, an African-American actress who has starred in Hollywood films such as Django Unchained, has claimed she was “handcuffed and detained” by Los Angeles police officers after being mistaken for a prostitute.

Two police officers approached Watts and her white husband Brian James Lucas when they were seen showing affection in public, the actress said in a Facebook post.

She claims she refused to produce her photo ID when asked by police, and was then handcuffed and held in a police car as the officers tried to figure out who she was. She reportedly cut her wrist as she was handled roughly by the LAPD officers.

Watts also posted pictures to Facebook, in which she is handcuffed and crying. She was released shortly afterwards.

“As I was sitting in the back of the police car, I remembered the countless times my father came home frustrated or humiliated by the cops when he had done nothing wrong,” she wrote in the post.

“I felt his shame, his anger, and my own feelings of frustration for existing in a world where I have allowed myself to believe that “authority figures” could control my BEING… my ability to BE!!!!!!!

She continued: “Those cops could not stop me from expressing myself. They could not stop the cathartic tears and rage from flowing out of me. They could not force me to feel bad about myself. Yes, they had control over my physical body, but not my emotions.

Her husband, Brian James Lucas, a chef, supported her account of the events in a social media posting of his own. He wrote: “From the questions that he asked me as D was already on her phone with her dad, I could tell that whoever called on us (including the officers), saw a tatted RAWKer white boy and a hot bootie shorted black girl and thought we were a HO (prostitute) & a TRICK (client).

“They handcuffed her and threw her roughly into the back of the cop car until they could figure out who she was. In the process of handcuffing her, they cut her wrist, which was truly NOT COOL!!!”

The incident comes weeks after California police officers detained an African American television producer who was travelling to a pre-Emmy Awards party. Charles Belk said he was unfairly treated because he “fitted a description”.

Actor Bob Hope’s bigamy, other revelations


This 1972 video is called Bob Hope’s Final Vietnam Christmas Tour.

In this video, everything looked like being alright.

Looked. But is wasn’t alright. Around this military base where Bob Hope performed, the bloody Vietnam war raged.

Though it was Christmas, and Bob Hope in the video sang a Christmas song, at the same time the biggest ever bombing campaign by US B-52 aircraft took place. The United States Air Force dropped at least 20,000 tonnes of explosives on North Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. More than 1,000 Vietnamese died.

And everything wasn’t alright with Bob Hope either.

From the Daily Express in Britain:

The shocking truth about Bob Hope the bigamist actor

A SECRET first marriage, countless affairs and a childhood spent behind bars an explosive new book reveals the shocking truth about the Hollywood star.

By: Peter Sheridan

Saturday, August 16, 2014

When Bob Hope celebrated his 50th anniversary with wife Dolores, the legendary entertainer explained the longevity of their union: “I’ve only been home for three weeks in 50 years.” The marriage endured 69 years until Hope’s death at 100 but his quip was painfully close to the truth, according to an explosive new biography.

The British-born star of film, TV and stage kept his marriage alive despite a lifetime of clandestine affairs and was an often-absent husband and father to his four adopted children, claims author Richard Zoglin in Hope: Entertainer Of The Century.

“Bob Hope had affairs with chorus girls, beauty queens, singers and showbiz wannabes up into his 70s,” reveals Zoglin, “He had a different girl on his arm every night. He was still having affairs into his 80s.”

The writer exposes the shocking private life Hope spent decades concealing: his childhood behind bars in reform school, his secret first marriage to a Vaudeville star and his aloof relationship with frequent screen co-star Bing Crosby.

“He was a narcissistic, self-centred man who put career before family,” says Zoglin. “He craved applause and desperately needed to be loved. He could sleep with anyone he wanted, and he did.”

Hope found fame in films including The Cat And The Canary, The Paleface, and opposite Bing Crosby in The Road To Singapore and its five sequels. His TV specials topped ratings for many years and he entertained US troops through the Second World War and conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. He has been commemorated on stamps and had ships, bridges, museums, villages, streets and an airport named in his honour.

His marriage to nightclub singer Dolores Reade was considered one of Hollywood’s most successful and enduring, yet it was founded on a lie and may never have even been a legal marriage, the author discovered.

“Bob and Dolores always claimed that they married in February 1934 in Erie, Pennsylvania. But at that time he was secretly married to his Vaudeville partner Louise Troxell, after three years together on and off,” says Zoglin. “I found divorce papers for Bob and Louise dated November 1934, so either Bob Hope was a bigamist or he lied about marrying Dolores in February that year.

“He’d actually married Louise in January 1933 in Erie when they were travelling on the Vaudeville circuit. When he claimed he had married Dolores in Erie he was actually miles away in New York, on Broadway.

“More intriguing, there is no record anywhere of his marriage to Dolores, if it happened. And there are no wedding photos, either. But he never forgot Louise and quietly sent her money in her later years.”

Hope found fame in films often playing a wise-cracking, girl-chasing, blustering coward: a character bearing more than a passing resemblance to the real Hope.

“He had women in every port,” says Zoglin “He had affairs with Ethel Merman and Doris Day but usually it was not his co-stars but starlets that he bedded. His team of writers remember an orgy in his New York hotel room one night, with naked bodies everywhere. But some lovers were more long-term. Marilyn Maxwell became his lover in the 1950s and was with him so often people called her Mrs Hope. She wanted to marry him but Dolores wouldn’t give Bob a divorce.

“In the 1960s his lover was Welsh beauty queen Rosemarie Frankland, Britain’s first Miss World. He moved her to Hollywood, paid for her apartment and told friends she was the love of his life. Their affair lasted more than 30 years. Even in his 80s he had a long-term affair which must have been serious because his lover later sued for breach of contract claiming that Hope had promised to support her for life. The case was settled out of court.

“Dolores came to an understanding with Hope. He could play around as long as he never brought his mistresses home and never embarrassed her publicly.

“It was actually a very good marriage, except for his serial infidelity.” Yet Hope’s womanising may have been a result of a love-starved, impoverished childhood with a boozing absentee father and a mother struggling to cope with seven sons.

“His father was a neglectful alcoholic who wasn’t there much and money was tight,” says Zoglin. “He was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham in south-east London but the family moved to Weston-super-Mare, then Bristol, to smaller and smaller houses, until they moved to America when Bob was four.”

It was a troubled upbringing. He sleepwalked through city streets, so his mother tied his feet to his older brother each night. After brushes with the law, Hope dropped out of school at 15.

“He had a tough childhood, was arrested for shoplifting, branded a ‘delinquent’ and sent to reform school for seven months. He got out but broke his probation and was sent back for another year. Yet he never mentioned it in his memoirs. At 19 he was stabbed in a fight, supposedly defending a local girl from a gang. He needed a blood transfusion and stitches but never spoke about it.”

After doing a series of jobs, ranging from shoe salesman to butcher and boxer to dance instructor, Hope landed in Vaudeville, dancing with Siamese twins and in hard times on street corners for pennies, before winning his big Hollywood break in 1938. Yet with fame came more travel, keeping him from his four adopted children.

Hope’s nephew Tom Malatesta told the author: “Everything else in his life was not as important as what he was doing for a living.”

Says Zoglin: “It was hard for all his children. They felt his absence. He just wasn’t home much. And when he was home, it felt like a star visiting, rather than a loving father. He was always emotionally detached and insular. He’d never admit a mistake or say he was sorry. Fame and travel made him even more distant.”

Despite Hope making six movies with Bing Crosby, Zoglin reveals: “They were not close friends and even when living nearby they rarely socialised. Bob told a friend he simply didn’t like Bing very much.”

Dorothy Lamour, who got second billing after Crosby and above Hope in their first Road movie in 1940, came to detest both co-stars, who reduced her role in each successive film.

“Bob and Bing formed a production company in 1947 to produce sub sequent Road movies and didn’t include Lamour in the deal,” says Zoglin. “She was very upset. When the last Road movie was filmed in 1961, Bob and Bing decided Lamour was too old, even though she was younger than both of them, and hired Joan Collins instead, giving Dorothy just a small cameo. She was outraged.”

And Hope was a tough boss. “His team of writers loved him but they were on call 24/7 and had no lives of their own,” says Zoglin.

One writer had to give up his home on occasions to allow for Hope’s illicit trysts. His co star Katharine Hepburn called him “the biggest egomaniac”.

A shrewd investor, Hope owned vast land holdings, television stations, ranches, oil wells, and his own production company, making him one of America’s wealthiest men.

However, Zoglin explains: “Growing up in the Depression left him extremely tight fisted. He watched every cent. When relatives stayed at his home he sometimes charged them for using his phone.”

Hope hit his movie heyday in the 1950s and ruled over American TV for another three decades but by the 1980s his act was looking dated. Hope’s unquestioning patriotism that had won millions of American hearts when he was entertaining troops during the 1940s and 1950s earned him a legion of enemies in the 1970s as he supported the Vietnam War and poked fun at hippies and anti war protesters.

“Bob lingered too long in the limelight, continuing to make TV specials in his 80s even as his eye sight and hearing faded and he became doddery,” says Zoglin.

“He showed signs of dementia, repeating himself and asking the same question over and over. It damaged his reputation and his family had to persuade him to step down.

“But he found it hard to let go of the applause and adulation. He felt his life had no meaning without it. He’d grown up insecure in an unstable home and needed public affirmation to survive. Perhaps his womanising was a reflection of that need to be loved.”

If Hope’s infidelities were a weight on his wife’s mind, you wouldn’t know it from her golden anniversary gift to him – though it may have contained a subtle barb. Dolores gave Hope a paperweight, with the inscription: “Don’t think these three weeks haven’t been fun!”