The Playlist

The Essentials: The Films Of Don Siegel

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 20, 2012 12:04 PM
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  • 6 Comments
In the credits to his masterpiece "Unforgiven," Clint Eastwood included a dedication: "for Don Siegel and Sergio Leone." Leone was a no-brainer, one of the great filmmakers, but Siegel was less beloved of cinephiles: a cosmopolitan Chicago native who studied at Jesus College, Cambridge, he started directing montages at Warner Bros (including the opening scene of "Casablanca"), before breaking into features, with a string of B-movies with everyone from Robert Mitchum to Elvis Presley (the latter on 1960's "Flaming Star"), but became most notable for his work with Eastwood on five pictures from 1968's "Coogan's Bluff" to 1979's "Escape From Alcatraz."

5 Things You May Not Know About 'Superman II'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 19, 2012 1:58 PM
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  • 9 Comments
A little over a year from now, the most iconic comic character in history will be back on screens, courtesy of Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel." Seven years on from Bryan Singer's oft-derided "Superman Returns," it'll see "The Dark Knight" mastermind Christopher Nolan producing a new, seemingly darker take on the character, to be played by Henry Cavill, with Michael Shannon as his Kryptonian nemesis General Zod.

5 Things You May Not Know About Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 18, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
51 years ago today, on April 19th 1961, Federico Fellini's masterpiece "La Dolce Vita" arrived in U.S. theaters. The film was already a phenomenon; it had premiered in Italy the previous February, was instantly condemned by the Catholic Church (it was even banned entirely in Spain until 1975), and won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960. On its U.S. release, it was widely acclaimed by critics, became a huge box office hit, and picked up four Oscar nominations the following year, including director and screenplay, and won for costume design.

5 Things You May Not Know About Douglas Sirk's 'Imitation Of Life'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 17, 2012 10:02 AM
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  • 9 Comments
The Oscar-winning success of last year's "The Help" wa a throwback in many ways, principally to the socially-conscious melodramas of Stanley Kramer, like "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner." Another comparison point that came up frequently in reviews of Tate Taylor's film was "Imitation Of Life," the 1959 melodrama by director Douglas Sirk, but it's scarcely fair: over fifty years on, Sirk's picture stands head and shoulders above virtually every other melodrama.

In Memory Of William Finley (1942-2012), 5 Things You Might Not Know About 'Phantom Of The Paradise'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 16, 2012 11:05 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Sad news came in over the weekend, as it was announced yesterday that actor William Finley, best known for his work with Brian De Palma, had passed away on Saturdayat the age of 69. The actor was a long-time friend of De Palma, having appeared in his early films "Woton's Wake," "Murder a la Mod" and "The Wedding Party," before turning heads as Emil Breton, the husband of Margot Kidder's character, in the director's breakout picture "Sisters."

5 Things You Might Not Know About 'Say Anything'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 13, 2012 10:03 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Say Anything
"Say Anything" was not particularly successful on its release. John Cusack was an established star of films like "The Sure Thing," but co-star Ione Skye was basically unknown, and director Cameron Crowe was, despite his writing credit on "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" eight years earlier, not a known quantity. As such, despite rave reviews, it only took $20 million at the domestic box office, and a meagre $733,000 internationally -- indeed, in many territories, like the U.K, it went straight to video.

5 Things You Might Not Know About 'Mad Max'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 12, 2012 10:59 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Any day now, director George Miller will finally get rolling in Namibia on "Fury Road," the long-awaited continuation of the "Mad Max" series. Starring Tom Hardy in the role that launched Mel Gibson's career, with a cast that also includes Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, the film's been in the works for years, but to be getting underway in the next month or two.

The Essentials: The Films Of John Milius

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 12, 2012 10:04 AM
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  • 17 Comments
All those who complain about the liberal domination of Hollywood have never come across John Milius. A film school pal of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Milius had tried to join the Marine Corp, but was turned away due to his asthma. Instead, he channeled his frustrations into both a life-long obsession with firearms (he was paid for "Jeremiah Johnson" in antique weaponry, and has served on the NRA Board of Directors,) and making some of the most masculine, testosterone-filled movies of all time, both as an acclaimed writer and as a director. The basis for both Paul Le Mat's character in "American Graffiti" and Walter in "The Big Lebowski" -- the Coens are friends of Milius, and offered him the part of Jack Lipnick in "Barton Fink" -- he's one of film history's most singular, colorful characters.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Steven Spielberg's Game-Changing 'Jaws'

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 11, 2012 11:23 AM
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  • 15 Comments
You know what’s a fun task? Trying to convince anyone that Steven Spielberg’s 1975 “Jaws” is not an American classic and a nearly flawless film. It’s kind of impossible, and if you were to somehow take this position, you would either be painfully foolhardy, Armond White, or both.

The Essentials: 5 Of Michael Curtiz's Greatest Films

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 10, 2012 11:05 AM
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  • 6 Comments
The coming of the auteur theory has meant that filmmakers like Michael Curtiz no longer get much sway among current generations of directors. Curtiz (born Kertész Kaminer Manó in Hungary in 1886), was a workman, a man who flourished in the studio system after being picked out by Jack Warner for his Austrian Biblical epic "Moon of Israel" in 1924). He stayed at the studio for nearly 20 years, taking on whateer he was assigned at a terrifyingly prolific worklate - he made over 100 Hollywood movies up to "The Comancheros" in 1961. And some of them are terrible, as you might expect.

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