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‘Joel Delaney’: 1970s NYC in all its gritty glory

Shirley MacLaine has always made fun of the B-level British producer Lew Grade, who convinced the actress to do a disastrous, short-lived TV series in the late 1960s (“there’s high grade and Lew Grade,” she wrote in one of her memoirs). But, thanks to her TV deal with Grade, MacLaine was able to get a […] [Read More]

‘The First Deadly Sin’: Frank Sinatra’s swan song

Although he would live another 18 years, Frank Sinatra stopped acting in movies after “The First Deadly Sin” opened to mixed reviews and indifferent business in 1980. Sinatra was a huge film attraction in his prime, but always put music first, and he became somewhat notorious for losing interest in many of his movies before […] [Read More]

‘The Doomsday Equation’: 3 days until the end

In addition to his day job as a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, Matt Richtel has launched a second career as one of our best thriller writers. “The Doomsday Equation” — which William Morrow is publishing today — is Richtel’s fourth novel. Like his three earlier tales, the book is rooted in the writer’s […] [Read More]

‘The Last Five Years’: unhappily ever after

Why do so many of the most beloved romantic movies end so unhappily? Hollywood might think audiences hate sad finales but there is plenty of evidence to discount that notion — “Casablanca,” “Annie Hall,” “The Way We Were,” “Gone with the Wind.” Perhaps “what might have been” holds more allure for us as a fantasy […] [Read More]

Oscar exhaustion: a season of hype & dirty tricks

I’m sure there will be a lot of fun to be had watching ABC’s telecast of the Oscar ceremonies tonight — who doesn’t want to watch what Neil Patrick Harris does with the host gig? — but I must admit I will be happy to see the end of the foolish and fraught run-up to […] [Read More]

‘Star 80’: Bob Fosse’s hate letter to show biz

Bob Fosse’s scathing 1983 biopic about the (short) life and death of Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten — “Star 80” — will make its wide-screen DVD debut on Tuesday via Warner Archive. To say that the movie was disliked when it came out is an understatement — critics and audiences hated Fosse’s ice-cold approach to celebrity […] [Read More]

Remembering the Oscar campaign pioneer Joseph E. Levine

Although his name has been largely forgotten, producer and distributor Joseph E. Levine was a towering movie figure in the 1960s and 1970s, first for his ability to sniff out and market low-budget turkeys, and then for the energy he brought to Oscar campaigning years before Harvey Weinstein arrived on the scene. Levine was a […] [Read More]

A ‘Strangelove’ picture worth several thousand words

The 1964 Stanley Kubrick film “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” is in my all-time top-ten movie list — or maybe even my top-five, depending on the mood I’m in. The film remains the funniest and most sophisticated satire ever produced by a Hollywood studio. And, “Dr. Strangelove” […] [Read More]

Oscar chat tonight at the Plumb Library

As mainstream Hollywood films — i.e. the stuff that is shown in multiplexes most of the year — get more kiddie oriented, and more overseas market driven, adults owe a certain debt of gratitude to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Everyone knocks the Oscars for not citing the movies they love, and […] [Read More]

‘Super Fly’: New York City 43 years ago

It was good to see the Gordon Parks Jr. film “Super Fly” included on the list of 100 best New York City films in the current “Hollywood” issue of Vanity Fair. Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, I watched the film for the first time in 43 years when it was shown as part of the […] [Read More]