Official poster for Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Marvel Studios
To view my review on Yeahflix:
From shocking opening to even more shocking ending, the epic adventure Avengers: Infinity War (AIW) is what every superhero movie should aspire to be. It’s a dark joyride, a thrilling spinning wheel turning time and space on their sides. It’s also like compulsively reading one fabulous Marvel comic book after another because you need to find out more about what’s going on with your fave superheroes and villains. This is one movie you don’t want to end.
Avengers: Infinity War – Official Marvel Universe trailer
It was once thought that too many ingredients – or characters – would spoil the broth, and while the storyline is propelled by 64 characters, each is given the time and attention they deserve. The result? AIW avoids the overblown, ongoing fireworks finale battle of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). This latest installment climbs each step one by one, builds suspense and tension to the highest degrees and maxes to the enth single or joined-forces superhero confrontations with arch villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his delegated band of baddies. You’re wide-eyed and mouth agape as good clashes against evil and sonic booms vibrate throughout the universe.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor (Image: Marvel Studios)
Thanos clearly has a God-complex, with his directive maintaining his warped idea of mercy that half of every planet he conquers must perish in order to achieve peace. He launches a multi-front war on Earth that necessitates an unparalleled response from the good guy collective. Thanos’ team of assorted mercenaries and a Voldemort-type noseless wizard come up against the tried and true, plus new additions, of Marvel comic superheroes; even Spider-Man is “knighted” into Avengerhood. Thor is joined along the way by James Gunn’s own Guardians of the Galaxy team. The new collaboration is likeable and effective. Chris Pratt is all Star-Lord, although at one point with his hand motions you think he’s going to summon his “pet” velociraptor, Blue. Rocket Raccoon dishes out some of the best lines in the movie, and you’ll love his new “nickname” to boot.
Avengers: Infinity War enlists the help of the Guardians
of the Galaxy team (Image: Marvel Studios)
Almost all the Avengers have assembled to hunt down Thanos, and among the long list are Vision, Wanda, Black Panther, the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and Dr. Strange. Creator of the Avengers comic characters, Stan Lee, has his customary funny cameo, although it’s a little on the brief side and wasn’t as hilarious as his zany caricature barber wearing coke-bottle eyeglasses and wielding scissors like cosmic weapons in Thor: Ragnorak (2017).
Avengers: Infinity War – producer Kevin Feige and Avengers
comic creator Stan Lee (Image: Marvel Studios)
Most questions from previous Avengers superheroes and Thor films are answered. Although Hela (Thor and Loki’s half-sister) doesn’t show up, you’ll discover that stormbreakers (with a dynamite vignette featuring Peter Dinklage) work best against the supreme enemy. It’ll be up to Infinity Wars II – and there will most assuredly be one – to resolve that completely.
Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black
Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and team ready for battle (Image: Marvel Studios)
No one left the theatre when the end credits started to roll. Yes, there was an extra scene at the very end. It was every bit as numbing as the final scene before credits. No wonder people were meme-ing about it in stunned silence after getting up from their theatre seats.
What makes this film a true winner is the casting of all Avenger heroes as though in supporting roles, with none really standing out as “the stars.” Admittedly Loki, the perennial teen villain played by Tom Hiddleston, steals the first scene, and it also crosses your mind that he’s still in transition from “god of mischief” to superhero. Count him down in AIW, but not out, as according to old myth the great horn-helmeted god can only be permanently vanquished in one way. Genuine affection is seen between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki, and their relationship is perhaps “put on hold” until the next sequel. (More on that later.)
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the shocking opening scene (Image: Marvel Studios)
While AIW is “darker” than Thor: Ragnarok (2017), it shines more. The script was tweaked and polished to perfection, the best script yet in the series. It’s so good you don’t want to give away any bits and pieces. The comedy is sublimely timed and executed, and the bonds of love will make you cry, as will the backstory of Gamora and Thanos – whose pure devotion is to accomplish his warped evil by any means necessary. You eventually wonder if Thanos ever asked himself “Was it all worth it?” You realize the answer would be “yes” as all deranged alpha villains seem to view trouble, and the time to make it, as their middle names.
Thanos (Josh Brolin) intends to conquer the universe
with the infinity gauntlet. Will he succeed? (Image: Marvel Studios)
The soundtrack is an impressive combo of majestic symphony and down-to-earth contemporary, and includes the classic pop tune Rubberband Man by The Spinners. AIW is stated as being the second-most-expensive film ever made, and it shows in the remarkable, well-worth-it production values, camera work and CGI. Chances are the next sequel will surpass that budget.
The AIW producers, including James Gunn, have been instrumental in pulling together and giving sense to a film that could have emerged as a puzzling mix-mox. A filmmaker since his youth, Gunn made his first big double-duty splash as writer and first-time director with Slither (2006) starring Nathan Fillion. Way back when, around the time Slither was released, Gunn belonged to the same Firefly (TV sci-fi series) community site I did.
CNET reports that there will be a sequel, known unofficially as Avengers 4, saying that “The film was shot back-to-back with Infinity War, beginning in August 2017 and with principal photography ending in January 2018. [Some] filming was done in the Atlanta area. According to the Scottish newspaper The Daily Record, more scenes will be filmed in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland in July 2018, with reshoots coming later in the year.”
Numerous photos are known to have been taken during location shooting in Atlanta of major Avengers characters for that sequel.
All in all, Avengers: Infinity War will certainly garner a place in cinema history as one of the most awesomely entertaining, magical and witty sci-fi fantasy yarns ever spun onto the big screen. Sprinkled with the fairy dust of legend, like he-man swashbucklers and damsels standing equal to men and braver than brave, with monster villains and creatures of sweet nightmares and horrid dreams pulling open our eyelids, the Avengers will keep evolving and pulling us by the hand right along with them into future, wondrous journeys of imagination and adventure.
Copyright © May 2018: Lorraine Dmitrovic
All photos copyright © May 2018: Marvel Studios
Many kind thanks to movie review site YEAHFLIX for inviting me to be a contributing reviewer! I’m happy to be on the team, and I’ll do my best to give a heads-up and thumbs-up on many current and classic diverse films in many genres.
My first review article, with an interview, is a “Spotlight” piece highlighting actor Tom McLaren and his career: “Tom McLaren, Actor and Author, Looking Forward to Upcoming Releases”
When Tom McLaren set his sights on Hollywood, he never looked back. To follow his dreams, he left successful careers in the corporate finance divisions of Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros., and since 2011 he’s racked up over 150 professional film and commercial credits on the IMDb – with more feature films and other projects coming down the pipe.
McLaren has one of those faces the camera loves. And talk about versatile. One day he’s in an indie horror film. The next week finds him shooting a print ad, filming a commercial, recording a radio spot, or “appearing” on an audio CD. He’s played naive, trusting husbands, believable dads and experts in white lab coats, and policemen and priests with goodly authenticity.
Tom McLaren – Tom McLaren, Kristina Hayes
and Cameron Dallas on set in Expelled (2014)
To view my review on Yeahflix:
He’s best known for three movies that are available on digital and streaming platforms worldwide. Says Tom, “Expelled (2014), Exorcism of Molly Hartley, and Santa’s Little Helper (both 2015) are certainly the biggest movies I’ve been in so far. They still ‘live on’ in worldwide distribution. Here in the US, Expelled is now in its 4th year on Netlfix. Exorcism is just about to leave the 2-year deal with Netflix to move to TV syndication. Santa airs on the USA Network every Christmas.”
Expelled promo photo on Netflix
To view the Expelled official trailer, shared from Cameron Dallas –
Interview with Tom McLaren
Lorraine: How did Expelled (2014) come about, and what did you like about playing the dad?
Tom: It was quite a surprise. I met my movie son Cameron Dallas at the table read, had no idea he was an internet superstar with tens of millions of fans all over the world. When Cam promoted Expelled on his social media, we exploded. After the theatrical release, we opened on iTunes as the #1 best selling movie, beating out Guardians of the Galaxy and The Maze Runner, staying in the top 10 best sellers for about a month. To this day, Expelled is one of the most successful digital movies of all-time. Playing his dad was a gift, and I received such an outpouring of support from Cam’s fans. There wasn’t anything in the scripted character in my backstory, so I chose to make him the nice, pretty well clueless dad who unconditionally loves his sons – who’s the complete opposite of the distrusting mom. It was great fun doing those scenes with Cam and Kristina Hayes.
Lorraine: You’ve been cast as a priest a few times. What did you draw on for those roles?
Tom: Anytime I’m cast as someone with focus and determination it seems a natural fit, because I do the research and take the role very seriously. I value professionalism, whether I’m playing a priest, a doctor or a CEO. In Exorcism of Molly Hartley, I wanted my Father James to appear as a very experienced exorcist, in contrast to Devon Sawa’s novice character. That was my first studio film. I’ve been lucky to work with some great actors like Devon. (As well, from Santa’s Little Helper, Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin, is truly awesome. Randy Wayne, my son in Death Pool, is also a fantastic guy.)
Tom McLaren filming the Twentieth Century Fox feature film Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015) with director Steven R. Monroe and star Devon Sawa
(Photo: © 2015: Twentieth Century Fox)
Lorraine: You’ve appeared in many print ads and commercials, some of them quite hilarious. Any faves among them?
Tom: I’ve done many commercials, never realizing they’d be such a big part of my career. The Loma Linda University and SoClean spots received wide exposure; friends tell me they’ve seen them over and over. Humorous spots are the most fun to do. My “exasperated butler” in the Matago App web commercial is a particular favorite. I almost didn’t audition, thinking there was no chance to get the part as I’m not the stereotypical bald British type. But casting booked me immediately, so there you go.
Tom as the “exasperated butler” in a web ad from Matago App
A first look at Tom as Detective Sykes in the upcoming feature film There’s No Such Thing as Vampires (2019). Filmed on various California locations, it wrapped principal photography in 2017. The film’s director, Logan Thomas, brought together Meg Foster, Raphael Sbarge, Maria Olsen, and Judy Tenuta with other talents Emma Holzer, Aric Cushing (co-writer), Tom McLaren, and many others. There’s No Such Thing as Vampires (2019), currently in post production, is planned to premiere at various upcoming film festivals.
Lorraine: You’re in the upcoming indie feature film “There’s No Such Thing as Vampires” (2019), cast as Detective Sykes. What do you feel you brought to the character?
Tom: There are two detectives in the film, me and Raphael Sbarge, who’s such a great veteran actor. My role was the more passive of the two characters, so I played Sykes with small-town earnestness, a guy doing the best he can. It was my first part where I carry a gun. The film should be out next year. I love the horror genre, so I’m thrilled anytime I get a chance to be in a scary movie.
Lorraine: Do you prepare the same way for an audio role such as Renfield in The Dracula Files as you do with a film role?
Tom: It was a dream come true to re-imagine Renfield. The original 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi is one of my all-time favorites. Dwight Frye as Renfield was brilliant, one of the most memorable performances I’ve ever seen. The Dracula Files is an audio drama, but the prep is the same as for any theatrical role. It’s all about backstory and point of view. Fortunately, we recorded most of it as though it were a live stage play. We physically acted it out, which made it feel so real. The third and final season is due out later this year.
Tom McLaren: My favorite shot from The Dracula Files, with actor Bill Castrogiovanni, who plays Seward opposite my Renfield
Lorraine: Are you able to share a little about other upcoming films, commercials or other roles we’ll be seeing you in?
Tom: I’ve been doing a lot of commercials and indie feature films lately. I loved my parts in two upcoming movies. I’m a husband driven to horrific extremes in the horror film 8 Days to Hell, and I’m a fallen religious man-turned drug addict in the dramatic movie The Opiate Diaries. I’m also a police officer in Miss Arizona – a female empowerment film with a largely female cast and crew – which is now hitting the film festival circuit. I’m also starting to develop my own projects, so the future is filled with possibilities.
Lorraine: You’re currently enrolled in acting improv classes. Is there ever a point where you feel you’ve learned enough about your craft as an actor?
Tom: Learning never stops for an actor. I always say that every gig is worthwhile, because I learn something new every time I step in front of the camera. I take classes every year as well. An actor has to fine-tune a wide skill set, because performing is very different in classes vs. auditions vs. professional jobs. It’s best to experience as many various situations as possible, the more, the better.
Lorraine: Was it a natural step for you to co-author Styling the Stars: Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive with actress Angela Cartwright, whom the world knows as Penny from the 1960s sci-fi TV series, Lost in Space and as Brigitta von Trapp from The Sound of Music (1965)?
Tom: This book was a dream project. It came at a time in my life after I’d quit my corporate career, but before I started acting. I was looking for a creative outlet. Angela and I had been friends for many years, and she called me one day with this book idea. She knew I had a business mindset, coupled with a love for classic movies and showbiz facts and figures. It was a long and complicated journey to bring the project to print, and we’re both very proud of it. The feedback I’ve received from book and movie lovers all over the world has been amazing.
Styling the Stars: Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive
by Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren
Tom McLaren with Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright on the Fox lot near one of the Lost In Space soundstages on April 6, 2017 for a book signing event of Styling the Stars, the week it was released in softcover.
Review article text and questions © April 2018: Lorraine Dmitrovic
Review of Parallel (2016)
Be forewarned, Parallel (2016) is not for family viewing. When considering to watch the movie with the possibility of reviewing it, I admit I had my reservations and hesitated. But I was definitely intrigued by this sci-fi scripted tale by David Magowan from executive producer Alexander Cooper. I had no idea what Parallel, an indie film, was about, and I had no prior knowledge of the graphic and explicit sex scenes it contained.
Then, upon viewing Parallel, as the plot delved into the otherworldly shadows of its premise, through those rather pornographic scenes, gratuitous and shocking, I saw that the whole theme of parallels – which is reflected even in the opening credits – artistically pertained to the film’s concept. The violent natures of two other scenes were reminiscent of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), and while distasteful, I understood the ideas behind them. Seen in context and objectively, I wasn’t offended by the sex or violence, although my underlying sense of morality was shell-shocked.
The concept is clearly and expertly presented, that people have their unrestricted in nature parallels in a parallel world. The tension comes from not only realizing this is so, but knowing it’s a dangerous poker hand to play from when one world invades the other – a “crossover.”
Heather (Faye Sewell) and Neil’s (David Magowan) real world is very normal until they meet an unusual stranger named John Machlis (Brian Carter). Explaining himself first as a psychic, he soon reveals that he can introduce them to an alter world, which they skeptically agree “to visit.” The world they discover is stark emotionally and visually. They’re drawn back numerous times to further explore their parallel worlds.
At times, Parallel has the feel of the silent expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). One also feels and wonders if Heather and Neil’s parallels are watching them – camera angles seem to suggest this, such as on the staircase scene. When they verge on acting-out like their alters, also in the staircase scene, he crosses the line in reality that she’s drawn – she wants to keep both worlds separate – and his dark parallel infiltrates his normal world mindset with displays of anger and crude behaviour and comments.
All the characters in Parallel, including Heather’s work associate Roy (Daniel Westwood) who appears in her alter world, have been reduced to instinctive creatures no longer bound by society rules, conscience or social skills. In the parallel world, they are feelingless creatures with impulsive desires for sex (not love) and the innate urge for power and dominance – the epitome reached by murder. Heather’s parallel, perhaps because of being less aggressive as a female, needs convincing to commit the ultimate act of evil power. In this parallel world there are no consequences for acting on negative impulses – until a crossover, temporary or permanent, into the dark appears imminent.
They’re all tormented in some measure by what they’ve become and done in the parallel. Despite knowing it’s a dark world and they shouldn’t embrace it, they’re drawn magnetically to it, and to Machlis who helps them go deeper into their alter experiences.
Parallel has two potential endings, really. Both are totally unexpected, leaving you confused about how you feel, but not confused about what occurred in each. You want to root for the main characters, hope the best for them, yet you realize you cannot do that or even like them, because of what they’ve participated in and allowed to happen in both worlds.
When at work their boss brings in an expert who explains Machlis as a charlatan and con artist, it doesn’t change the fact that Heather and Neil have become acquainted with sides quite opposite to their natures. Neil admits to liking what he experienced in his parallel. He’s not so sure, however, near the end of the film when he’s disoriented, regretful and confused about which state he’s in.
At one point, Neil asks, “What does that say about us?” Good question. As their parallel entities, they’re no more advanced than the first walking-upright men, who killed to eat, took everything by force if necessary, animals relying on pure instinct to survive and have perverse, loveless pleasure when needed. Not quite zombies, but an army of these parallels if controlled might indeed surpass robots and mere humans if they were to be utilized by a country’s military.
Make-up is at times garish, mannequin-ish. Lighting is often harsh in the real world and dark in the other world. The script is tightly written; dialogue is intelligent, to the point. All characters were perfectly cast. The overall production design is sleek, with a stylish, economic use of sets and exterior locations. The camera work is frequently brilliant, impressive, perhaps with a nod to the most shadowy of Kubrick visions. The directors and director of photography have succeeded in initially creating an underplayed calm in the normal world which increasingly snaps to horrific raw action in the black and white parallel world. The absence of excessive slash and gore is refreshing. The pulsing, contemporary soundtrack contrastingly also includes an excerpt from the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in a scene with Machlis.
It’s a strangely satisfying film, the colour and the black and white of it, and it will continue to disturb your senses long after watching. It serves to ingrain the warning to never speak to strangers – or are they strangers? – and to not trust what you see before you, whether your eyes are open or closed in an altered state. And, oh, if you step close to a line that could separate you into two worlds, stare at it first for the longest time. Be sure before taking that step over – the crossover – or you may find yourself standing before that literary line from Dante’s 1814 Divine Comedy -“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
Sometimes it’s best to heed the old adage “curiosity killed the cat.” Yes, move back, slip away posthaste from those dark places you want to, but really shouldn’t, discover within yourself. Parallel’s Pandora’s box will unleash things if opened – and you should never, ever dare peek inside the box long enough to want to step inside.
Parallel (2016) available online to view/purchase:
Interview – with Alexander Cooper, executive producer-actor of Parallel (2016)
How did you become involved as executive producer, also wearing a number of different hats on Parallel?
I wanted to make a film, so I set about looking for a script. I put an advert on the website “StarNow” in early 2015. Shortly afterwards I met the writer of Parallel, David Magowan from Glasgow, as he had responded to my listing. I read his script and it struck a chord with me. I knew very quickly I wanted to make the film. Having no contacts in the film or film finance industries, we presented the concept to investors in London to raise funds. Having failed to find a backer, so it was up to me to get the film made. I attempted a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. It raised a few hundred pounds, but no where near the eventual 15000 GBP it ended up costing. I wore so many different hats because there were so many things that needed doing and I couldn’t afford the staff.
What do you feel makes Parallel special and different from other doppelganger-type movies?
I think that Parallel is genuinely sexy and thrilling. On another note, others have said that it is a universally thought provoking film which makes the audience think and ask questions about their own lives.
Did you know of David Magowan’s work before he responded to your StarNow ad?
I had no idea about David’s other work before he showed me the script of Parallel.
Briefly describe your working relationships with cast and crew. Were there any especially heavy or light moments on set/on location while filming?
I won’t go into details of specific names of crew members; but I will say that the shoot itself was fraught, and felt at times as if we were shooting in the Parallel itself. The day we filmed the scene where Rhianna’s thugs beat Neil in the warehouse was especially heavy. In fact, the same day we were due to shoot an orgy scene and the crew broke up the shoot. A few days later they asked forgiveness and requested that I finish the shoot with them. I did, and that was fine in the end, but with various problems including crew members holding my intellectual property hostage, let’s just say I had made some mistakes in the crew hiring process. I had no such problems with the cast thankfully.
How did you come to choose Ieva Makselyte as a first-time full-fledged director? She achieved a very cohesive film and natural performances from the cast. Was she “attached” or the actual director?
That was quite random. I put out a listing on a website – I believe it was Film & TV pro. She came forward and seemed to fit the bill. Looking back, it would have been easier if I had just directed the film myself; at times indeed I had to intervene to get what we were looking for with shot choice and so on. That was my mistake, and so with my film Sandow (2018) I took on the director mantle and all creative responsibility. I was much happier and got much more respect on the Sandow set. Ultimately Ieva was credited as director. I wish her all the best with whatever she decides to do in life.
Many cast members are also on the crew. Was this in the plan from the get-go, or did that evolve?
Various crew members were involved as extras, this was helpful to save some time and money.
What are you working on now?
I’m just waiting for the final sound editing on my official directorial debut, Sandow. It’s a sports drama inspired by early strongmen and the founder of bodybuilding. I directed it, and as written on the IMDb, it’s “a hugely ambitious feature film project inspired by first British Olympic gold medallist Launceston Elliot and his trainer, legendary circus strongman and founder of bodybuilding Eugen Sandow.” I play Launceston.
One day I’d like to make a film I’d call “The Decision,” about an army officer who’s tormented by a female voice and a fateful decision he made. As of yet, I have no dates fixed for this production, and I’m considering making it in the “$3 film style” to shoot it like a stage play.
EMPUSA – Released today, February 9, 2018. To be officially online at McNally Robinson Booksellers on February 13, 2018.
Available in the store now. While EMPUSA, the story of a vampiress at its “heart” is a romance and a sci-fi fantasy, it’s currently in the “Plays” section.
Listen in to “The Empusa Interview” on The Ultimate Movies Broadcast – Show 11
The Ultimate Movies Broadcast – Show 11
“THE EMPUSA INTERVIEW”
Co-host Mats Finnborn of Sweden interviews author-screenwriter Lorraine Dmitrovic about her newly published screenplay novel, EMPUSA. (Writing as Crystal Jamison, one of her pen names.)
Credits for photos/art/movie publicity stills:
-Farley and Claire Mowat ©: 1998 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Robert Homme The Friendly Giant ©: 1999 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Dracula, Prince of Darkness ©: 1966 Hammer Film Productions
-Dracula Has Risen From the Grave ©: 1968 Hammer Film Productions
-Dracula ©: 1979 Universal Pictures
-The Brides of Dracula ©: 1960 Hammer Film Productions
-Scars of Dracula ©: 1970 Hammer Film Productions
-Van Helsing ©: 2004 Universal Pictures
-Interview With the Vampire ©: 1994 Warner Bros. Pictures
-Mermaid in the Sea of Happiness ©: 2007 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Spun Into Blue and Gold ©: 2005 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Pleasant Sea ©: 2005 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Verdigris the Sea Dragon ©: 2005 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Figaro the Sea Horse ©: 2006 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-A Glittery Ocean Day ©: 2003 Lorraine Dmitrovic
-Clash of the Titans ©: 1981 United Artists
-Kraken illustration ©: 1870 original edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (Please note: the Old Dutch spelling “kracken” is used in the screenplay novel EMPUSA)
-Nosferatu ©: 1922 Prana Film/Film Arts Guild
-Dracula ©: 1931 Universal Pictures
-Early 19th Century French Vampire Hunting Kit (likely a replica)
-Camille ©: 1935 MGM
-Love ©: 1927 MGM
-Queen Christina ©:1933 MGM
The Ultimate Broadcast Show theme and bridge music composed and performed by: Trevor Giampieri
-Sound editing/mixing: Lorraine Dmitrovic and Trevor Giampieri
The tale of EMPUSA the vampiress is released and available at McNally Robinson Booksellers.
COMING SOON! To be released and available February 13, 2018!
Above, the EMPUSA YouTube promo.
A Horror Science Fiction Fantasy by Crystal Jamison
The complete original screenplay – $17.99 (shipping extra)
Available from McNally Robinson Booksellers
*by phone outside of Canada at (204) 475-0483
*or call us on our toll-free line, 1-800-561-1833 (within Canada only)
between 9:00 am and 10:00 pm Central Time, Monday through Saturday
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– Now available in paperback on amazon.com –
To preface, as related by Angela Cartwright on her website publications page:
“Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive is a stunning collection of never-before-seen continuity photographs, offering readers an intimate, candid look at Hollywood’s golden age and beyond.”
Review by Lorraine Dmitrovic. (Please note: This is an objective review of the book I purchased, and I did not receive compensation.)
The moment is breathtaking and truly unforgettable. As the actress or actor steps onto the screen, they sparkle and shine, eclipsing and stealing thunder from the mountain range scenery or the salon backdrop. They transcend the set and have luminous, glorious presence. They certainly have “it” – and something else standout special – the “style” that ultimately made them stars.
The authors, actor Tom McLaren and actress-artisan Angela Cartwright, found the magic pulse for the book when searching through the Twentieth Century Fox archives. What emerged was the amazing star quality found in remarkably pristine continuity photos of a history of the studio dating back to the 1930s. Angela revealed in her introduction that many of the photos from the 1920s, and scripts and contracts, etc., however, had been thrown out in the 1970s when the studio was downsized. Thankfully, enough excellent original material survived so that Tom and Angela could preserve the wonder of a bygone film era in the book.
Angela also concluded that growing up in the studio life of Twentieth Century Fox was like “being plopped in the middle of a small city.” The lot had its hustle and bustle of various buildings and inner workings all with the common goal of producing the highest quality movie possible in talent and visual appeal.
Photo: Angela Cartwright, Sound of Music (1965)
Tom and Angela have created a masterpiece collection of photos from the archives, a visual log of what went on behind the scenes in preparing a cast for filming, to make them “camera-ready” and ready to make movie history. Really, movie plot aside, what do people talk about when they exit the theatre? Not popcorn or soda, but the gown that had been poured onto Marilyn Monroe, or the dapper hat carried by dressed-to-the-nines Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember (1957). (Cary also graces the back cover in bathing trunks in a wardrobe test photo for the same film.)
Photo: Cary Grant, An Affair to Remember (1957)
In Hollywood’s heyday, studios took every aspect of filmmaking seriously. Everything on screen and behind it was as important as the acting. Actors and actresses were groomed to be stars in every sense of the word. Eye appeal was as much a key to success for a film as talent, the directing, the cinematography and settings. Actresses and actors had to stand out against already spectacular set designs and locations. And style was a major way to set them apart from the background. Call it star power, a spell of beauty, but it comes down to a lot of designer thought, planning and hard work to create “the style” of the stars in a film.
On set, on location, even at publicity events and award ceremonies, stars often relied on fashion/costume designers, hair stylists, make-up artists and wardrobe people for touch-ups and adjustments, to ensure everything was ready, perfect and in continuity for the camera to roll. Jewellery and hats, millinery, purses, shoes and accessories, all had to be organized and kept track of during the filming of scenes. Head to toe, the stylists, designers and jewellers, and all others involved the process, had the talent “covered” and turned out to magnificent perfection for the camera and the public, who often relied on Hollywood for the next big fashion trend.
Not a single detail was overlooked in what was required to pull a look together. No pennies were pinched; every expense was worth the glamorous or the gritty effect. The mink stole Marilyn Monroe wears in the cover photo – the image chosen by Angela Cartwright herself for the cover – is real. Quality in styling is evident in the flash of genuine diamonds, in the elegant lines of designer gowns, and in the cut and tailoring of suits. Authenticity and ingenuity in costumes encouraged audiences to admire the dazzle along with the story and step into a different dark world or a beautiful dream for the price of a theatre ticket.
Maureen O’Hara’s foreward mentions a “backroom deal” to own part of her contract that brought her to Twentieth Century to star in How Green Was My Valley (1941) with John Wayne, and Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She credits Darryl F. Zanuck’s mantra of “Time is money!” and his demand that stars be “camera ready” for their roles as being major reasons for success of the studio.
Photo: Maureen O ‘ Hara in her foreward to Styling the Stars, from her movie Do You Love Me (1946)
It was a “look the part and feel the part” thing, really. The right clothes, hair and make-up were as essential to a character as a well-made prop. Maureen wrote about her character Doris in Miracle on 34th Street: “Being camera ready allowed me to bring Doris Walker to life in a more textured way. If you don’t look right and feel right in the story it can pull you out of character and hurt your performance. When those elements came together as nicely as they did on Miracle, I was able to offer more about Doris through style and movement. It is very freeing when everything fits and works.”
Photos in the book encompass everything imaginable about “styling those stars” at many stages and places of the process, showing in grand detail what went into making the stars camera ready – indoors, outdoors, fitting rooms, during filming, with film information and the character most often chalked on a large board placard. Test photos and wardrobe continuity photos for future reference in later filmed scenes have turned out to be some of the most important photographs taken by Twentieth Century.
The sheer number and range of actors and actresses chosen by Tom and Angela is mind-boggling. Shirley Temple, whose films actually saved the studio from bankruptcy in the 1930s, is captured in her famous ringlets and costume photos from various films. John Carradine touches up pancake powder on his forehead between scenes of Drums Along the Mohawk (1939). You find out how tall Gregory Peck really was – a wardrobe assistant has to stand on a platform and a medium size case to adjust Peck’s tie while filming Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). Henry Fonda shaves his own stubble as a wardrobe person holds a small mirror during the filming of The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Tom Noonan is tested for the right pair of glasses for a role. David Hedison is photographed for The Fly (1958) in a lab coat and a black cloth totally covering his unhuman head. Patricia Neal in a prim collared dress holds giant Gort’s hand for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1961). Jane Russell looks every bit the cowpoke as Clark Gable does in a 2-page spread for The Tall Men (1955).
Photo: Tyrone Power, The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Dean Martin made at least five costumes changes, two military uniforms and three suits for The Young Lions (1958). Victor Mature as Demetrius looks marvellously hunky for a marketplace scene in The Robe (1953) in lace-up boots, leather apron and rustic striped shirt. Barbara Stanwyck, Anne Bancroft, Louis Jordan, Rock Hudson, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford. Angela Cartwright’s sister Veronica, and yes, Billy Mumy too, Angela’s co-star from the 1960s sci-fi TV series Lost in Space. And more …. Suffice it to say that many, many stars – such as Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy – from some of the greatest films and TV productions ever made, made it into Tom and Angela’s book.
Photo: Candice Bergen, The Magus (1968)
Among the top costume designers, Edith Head had to work within a small budget on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and after designing and creating only one complete costume, Robert Redford’s ensemble was piece-mealed together from older costumes in the studio’s wardrobe department.
Other esteemed designers who also styled stars for Twentieth Century Fox include: Dorothy Jeakins (The Sound of Music), Rene Hubert for Music in the Air (1934), starring Gloria Swanson, William Travilla (who dressed Marilyn Monroe for 8 films), Charles Le Maire, Marie Wills, Renie Conley, and the Sorelle Fontana fashion house, Adele Palmer (who designed Veronica Cartwright’s gingham dress for In Love and War (1958); Veronica recalls eating gallons of “chicken soup all day” during the filming). M. Best, J. Lovis, R. Agnayan, Irene Sharaff and more ….
Photo: The Sound of Music (1965) Direction from Robert Wise and touch-ups at the table. Dorothy Jeakins, designer
Photo: Marilyn Monroe, brushing on a little lipstick, Let’s Make it Legal (1951)
The surprises keep on coming. Intriguing photos were included of Raquel Welch in a plaster cast mold so that a form-fitting costume for Fantastic Voyage (1966) could be designed. A section for The Valley of the Dolls (1967) featured ultra-mod “groovy” dress designs and some spectacular outlandish hairstyles (and simple does as well) – and a photo of a happy Judy Garland as Helen Lawson before she was replaced by Susan Hayward in the role.
Photo: Rita Moreno, The King and I (1956)
Styling the Stars is a supremely rewarding journey through the best of the Twentieth Century Fox Archive. Every time you pick up the book, you find more to discover. The “lost treasures” in Tom and Angela’s book, now forever found, will stand as a sublime historical record of a studio. All the glory, all the enchanting flair, is relived on every page of Styling the Stars’ 304 pages. This review has only skimmed the surface of its photographic jewels. If a future expanded edition one day becomes available, it could only make this already great Hollywood style book even more perfect.
Q & A feature interview with actor-author TOM McLAREN
Maureen O’Hara, as a part of Fox’s studio system was a perfect choice to do the Foreward for your book. What do feel are the special qualities Miss O’Hara possessed when it came to the studio stylizing her enduring image?
Maureen O’Hara had every quality a movie star needs, most certainly talent and beauty, but also a mesmerizing presence and dazzling uniqueness. Movie fans loved her combination of strength and femininity. Her Miracle on 34th Street (1947) will always be one of Fox’s true classics (my wife’s favorite film). We are very fortunate that Maureen kindly agreed to write the Foreword to the book. I was very touched to learn that she kept a copy of the hardcover edition on her own coffee table, next to her copy of a John Wayne book.
What was most surprising to you about the stylist process discovered while doing research for the book? What were some incredible archival finds?
It was interesting to see the level of detail and perfection that went into the taking of hair/makeup/wardrobe continuity photos. Even though the images were intended for internal studio use only, the photographers took the process very seriously. The quality of these vintage photos (taken by professional photographers using professional camera equipment) was simply stunning. Today, it’s all so quick and disposable; continuity photos are snapped on iphones usually by crew assistants.
So many incredible finds…seeing Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, and Montgomery Clift smiling and having fun while taking their Young Lions photos was a highlight. I loved photos which revealed something about the actor’s personality: Paul Newman and Doris Day making faces, John Wayne and Rita Hayworth always with a cigarette in hand, etc. I treasured the never-before-seen rarities…actors who tested for the film but were not cast (Joan Collins in Cleopatra) or were replaced by other actors (Judy Garland in Valley of the Dolls).
Photo: John Wayne, North to Alaska (1960)
If the space had been available, what stars and their films would you have also included?
There are millions of images in the archive, so the list would be unlimited. There were so many choices from the golden age of Hollywood, we could have spent months, even years, going through those archival boxes. The book goes from Shirley Temple in the 1930s through Faye Dunaway in the 1970s, but it would have been fun to dig for more. Images shifted towards polaroids in the 1970s, which was a time of lower quality photography. We wanted this book to showcase pristine quality negatives only.
Many of Hollywood’s legendary stars and future celebrities are found within the pages. At times with perhaps many photos available of a star, what were the criteria for choosing images? Were all the Fox archive photos already dated and described, or on occasion did you have to engage in some sleuthing to uncover all the facts?
Our first choice was to showcase wardrobe photos with the chalkboard placard next to the actor (see back cover photo of Cary Grant) and hair/makeup photos with the note card or hair brush as the indicator (see front cover photo of Marilyn Monroe). If those images were not available, we would choose behind the scenes photos where the stars are being styled during the hair/makeup/wardrobe process. Both types of images are fascinating for so many reasons. It’s a candid moment of the star working on set. It’s a glimpse into the movie making process that so few get to see.
The archival boxes were a complete mystery…we didn’t know what was in them until we opened them! The individual images were not cataloged or categorized in any way. We would literally hold up the negatives to the light or place them on a light box in an attempt to see who it was and what they were doing. The A-list leading actors were of course easiest to spot. The other actors in the film required some sleuthing. Fortunately, I have one of those minds filled with movie trivia and actors’ names/faces/credits/etc, so most were easy to identify.
Photo: One of the mysteries unveiled, Bing Crosby as Harv in a gown and wig for High Time (1960). He was also wardrobe-tested in a men’s traditional casual outfit
Many of the younger studio actresses went on to become established stars and later on became stars to new generations – finding audiences as well into the 21st century. Groomed-into-stars like Julie Newmar, Barbara Eden and Ann-Margret are living legends today. How do you feel knowing that your book contains the best of Hollywood, then and now?
It was very important to me to represent both my parent’s generation and my own generation in the book. My parents had their favorite golden era movie stars and I grew up watching TV reruns of those classic films. But I also developed my own tastes for TV and film when I was a teenager, so I have my ‘next generation’ favorites, many of whom I first discovered on television like Barbara Eden, Robert Wagner and Julie Newmar. The inclusion of the film Myra Breckinridge in the book is a perfect example of one of my goals: Mae West from Old Hollywood and Raquel Welch and Farrah Fawcett from New Hollywood. Something for everyone!
Photo: Ann-Margret, The Pleasure Seekers (1964)
Are there any personal favourites among the array of stars included?
It’s a long list! My parent’s favorites are all in there, from Errol Flynn to Barbara Stanwyck. My wife’s favorites are included from Doris Day to Robert Redford. Ann-Margret has always been a favorite of mine, so she was at the top of my wishlist. The wardrobe shot of glamorous Ann-Margret in her iconic flamenco dress from The Pleasure Seekers (1964) , while standing in front of a barrage of technical equipment on a sound stage, is perhaps my favorite never-before-seen photo in the book. I’m also thrilled to include photos of my dear friends Susan Blakely and Lindsay Wagner. The softcover edition has one additional photo which the hardcover does not have: Lindsay Wagner from The Paper Chase (1973).
Why did you choose to focus on the styling of stars from the Twentieth-Century Fox studio, as opposed to another studio? Although a number of stars in the book did work before, were loaned out during, or after, with other studios, what was the special appeal of the Twentieth Century roster for you?
Angela had visited the Fox Archive looking for photos from her movie The Sound of Music (1965) for another book project of hers (The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook). The idea for Styling the Stars started there, when she realized all the Fox films had boxes of long forgotten images. The quality of these never-before-seen photos was the real hook. She called me on the phone and asked me to join her on this journey – I jumped at it immediately – and then we got the studio and our publisher Insight Editions on board.
Every major star from the 1930s through the 1970s did at least one Fox film. They may not have been Fox contract players, but loan outs and independent periods allowed the major movie stars to work at Fox at some point in their careers. We knew we’d find everyone from Humphrey Bogart to Bette Davis to Clark Gable. Fox film history is filled with treasures!
Photo: Jayne Mansfield, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)
How did you and Angela cross paths and how did that develop into a working relationship for writing Styling the Stars?
Angela and I met about 20 years ago at a Lost in Space event. (I was, and still am, a huge Lost in Space fan.) At the time she was curator at a Los Angeles art gallery and she invited me to an exhibit opening. My wife and I became regular patrons at this beautiful gallery and over time we got to know Angela and her family. They are such great people. Angela is a part of movie history certainly, but I see her now as my friend Angela – a kind, interesting, and very dear friend.
She knew my background was in corporate business, and that I was a movie lover and memorabilia collector, so my project management skills and personal interests were well-suited to this book project. The combination of our creative strengths and interests made us a great duo. We worked arm in arm, through thick and thin. The book was definitely a two person project, very complex but extremely rewarding. Overall, I would say this was a dream project for me, and to have worked on it jointly with Angela made it truly a once in a lifetime book that I’m very proud of!
Tom: Catching up with photos from our recent book signing at the grand opening of Giddy in Scavenger’s Paradise in Burbank. Angela Cartwright and I had a great time signing our Insight Editions hardcover and softcover book Styling the Stars. Thank you to Alyssa from Giddy Vintage for hosting us. (Alyssa Lauren Gullion is the owner of Giddy Vintage.) Thank you to Jeanne from Cookie Jar Treats for providing the delicious sweet treats. It was wonderful seeing all the family, friends, and newcomers who came to support us.
Tom: The cookies were made by my sister-in-law Jeanne. She has a great food blog and goes under “cookiejartreats” in social media. She’s a great baker.
Q & A featurette with actress-artisan ANGELA CARTWRIGHT
You “grew up” knowing and being acquainted with many of the stars included in Styling the Stars. What might be a fond and meaningful memory for you of any actress or actor in the book?
I have worked with many of the stars in the book… but working with Julie Andrews was indeed memorable. As kids we adored her from the moment we met her. She sang and joked with us between takes. It shows in the movie how enchanted we all were with her.
Describe how you feel about the magic process of a “not made up” actress or actor going through the transformation of becoming “the star.” How you feel about all the unique and special styling of hair, make-up and wardrobe involved in creating the styled image? The actor into the character can result in a quite a different ‘night and day’ appearance.
There is so much more to becoming a character than just learning lines and speaking in a voice to make it real. The costumes, makeup, appearance is all a part of it. Even accessories a character carries can aid in the audience accepting a character. It’s all a “secret dance” to have the audience not think about the actor but to accept that this person they are portraying is real.
View the Insights Edition trailer for Styling the Stars on You Tube:
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All review photos for Styling the Stars courtesy of Insight Editions
Co-host Mats Finnborn of Sweden introduces this month’s featured works on Show 9 of The Ultimate Movies Broadcast.
Larry Kosowan: Poems “The Pillar Candle,” and “Roads to Peace with Poems” and prose “Peter and the Squirrel.”
Lorraine Dmitrovic: “That Damn Accordion !!” a memory from her youth, Lorraine’s encounter with the accordion.
(Lorraine: “But now, in 2017, I love the accordion! Some things chase you for years and finally catch up with you. Take the ghost of my damn accordion. Last week, Larry Kosowan e-mailed me a photo of an accordion he found in a Toronto Humane Society thrift store for $30. Something awoke within me when I saw his photo.
Wednesday (April 26) last week I saw on Kijiji an accordion for $200 that resembled the one from my youth. Wednesday night I order the exact 3 books (still in print!) I used in my childhood lessons, and a music stand, from Amazon. The guy from Peterborough drops the accordion off at our house at 4:15pm on Thursday, saving us the trip and gas money to his place. The books and music stand from Amazon arrive Friday a little after noon. I’ve never received anything so quickly from Amazon. Later Friday afternoon I record myself playing the accordion for the first time in about 40 years – and tacked it onto That Damn Accordion !! to share how my experience with the accordion has come full circle. It’s certainly a meant-to-be, regarding accordions. And you know, I think my paternal grandparents are smiling down from Heaven. I’m finally a “good accordion playing girl” again! So – “Opa!”
Mike Pearl’s musical choices from You Tube are frequently posted on The Ultimate Movies Page – Silents to New Releases facebook page.
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-Creative & text, “The Pillar Candle,” and “Roads to Peace with Poems” and “Peter and the Squirrel” and Mat’s intro for his segment: Larry Kosowan
-Creative & text, That Damn Accordion !! and Mat’s intro for the segment: Lorraine Dmitrovic
-The Ultimate Broadcast Show theme and bridge music composed and performed by: Trevor Giampieri
-Sound editing/mixing: Lorraine Dmitrovic and Trevor Giampieri