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Apr 25 2017

OTD: Ella Fitzgerald,Al Pacino,"Ziegfeld Girl,"and what's new on Blu-Ray and DVD

On this day in history (4/25) as it relates to showbiz.Consider this suggestions as to things to celebrate or ponder to liven up your day.Have a great one!

1917Today isthe centennial of the great singer Ella Fitzgerald,born in Virginia one hundred years ago on this very day.She was often referred to as "the First Lady of Song"but her film career amounted to cameos like the one inSt Louis Blues(1958) where she sings a song beautifully and that's it.

She only appeared onscreen in four movies,the first of which wasRide 'Em Cowboy(1942) but as one of the 20th Century's most celebrated voices,you can hear her music in 100s of films /TV shows...

1923Stage star and sometime film actress Anita Björk (best known for the 1951Miss Julie) born in Sweden

1926Puccini's classic operaTurandot,based on the 1762 play of the same name,premieres in Milan.Curiously,though there's many theatrical versions of Turandot,there's only one movie we're aware of:Princess Turandot(1934),a German comedy (also released in a French-language version the following year)

⇱ Only one that is unless you count the Turandot section of the omnibus filmAria(1987) which was directed by the infamous Ken Russell

1940Al Pacino born in NYC.Gives some of the all time greatest film performances in (The Godfather Trilogy,but especiallyDog Day Afternoon) and some of the hammiest,too (Scarface,Scent of a Woman).Still working.

P.S.I just re-watchedScarfaceagain last night for its delayedPfandom articleso that's coming real soon.

1941The musicalZiegfeld Girlopens in movie theaters in the US with an all star cast: Jimmy Stewart,Judy Garland,Hedy Lamarr (more on her soon),and Lana Turner.The film was a marginal success in its day (though not the one MGM was hoping for given the blockbuster status ofThe Great Ziegfeldfive years earlier).It's lasting legacy appears to only be twofold.First,it wasa stepping stone for Judy Garland into more adult dramasand second,it gave the cinema the enduring image of Hedy Lamarr in aheaddressso exquisitely fame-centric that it positions her as the very center of the universe.

1946"Adriannnnn!!!!"Talia Shire (Rocky) born in New York

1953One of the best future animation directors,Ron Clements,born in Iowa.What's your favorite of his movies (co-directed by John Musker)?I mean,I guess we should ask "What's your favorite of his 7 movies aside fromThe Little Mermaidwhich would obviously win any poll?"

If we lived in LA we would have eaten up this program last fall counting down to the release of Moana

  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
  • Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • Hercules (1997)
  • Treasure Planet (2002)
  • The Princess and the Frog (2009)
  • Moana (2016)

1964Comic actor Hank Azaria (The Birdcage,The Simpsons) born in NYC

1969Film star Renée Zellweger born in Texas and TV star Gina Torres born in New York

1978The Aaron Spelling dramaVega$,the first TV show produced entirely in Las Vegas, starring Robert Urich premieres

1980British actor Samuel Barnett (The History Boys,Penny Dreadful,Mrs Henderson Presents) born

1984Melonie Diaz,one of the best and still weirdly underutilized actors in indie cinema,born in NYC.

1986Hal Ashby's largely forgotten final film8 Million Ways to Dieopens in theaters,starring Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette and Andy Garcia in his first big role.

1992Popular sitcomWho's the Boss?,starring Judith Light and Tony Danza,airs its final episode after 8 seasons on the air

1997Volcano,with Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones in disaster epic mode,hits movie theaters.Not to be confused with 1997's other volcano disaster epicDante's Peak(why does Hollywood produce competing versions of essentially the same thing so often?)

2003It Runs in the Familystarring 3 generations of Douglases (Kirk,Michael,and Cameron) opens in movie theaters

2015"See You Again,"Wiz Khalifa'stheme song from the blockbusterFurious 7,becomes the #1 song,the first of its 12 weeks at the top of the charts.

2017Today marks the Blu-Ray release of two of last season's biggest Oscar contenders:La La Land(14 nominations / 6 wins) andArrival(8 nominations /1 win).We wrote about them a lot but I just want to make sure you didn't miss our take onLa La Land's primary colored costumesorits Oscar winning production design,or ourinterview withArrival's director Denis Villeneuveif you're just getting to either of these movies now or planning to revisit them this week.

Also new on dvd is the recent politically charged oddityCatfightstarring a game Sandra Oh and Anne Heche (reviewedhere)

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Reader Comments (10)

Michael and Connie share their birthday!

You need to see The Godfather Part II.It's one of the most (the most) terrifying performances I've ever seen,and ultra subtle and internalized.

Pacino's big scene with Diane Keaton (also sensational) is like a little earthquake inside me.And the kiss in Cuba.And the lie to Connie.OMG.

April 25,2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I love Ella Fitzgerald.Love her.Love her,love her,love her.

I could listen to her recording of 'The The A Train' from her Duke Ellington Song Book all day long.Heck,I could listen to every single one of her song books all day long.In fact,there are several days on which I did nothing but listen to her song books all day long.

And if I could transport myself back to a specific place at a single day in time,it would be the Deutschlandhalle Berlin on February 13 1960,to listen to that legendary rendition of 'Mack the Knife',where she forgot the lyrics halfway through the second verse and ad-libbed the rest without missing a beat.

I know,this has nothing to do with movies at all,but we can never spread the love for the First Lady of Song enough.

April 25,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

You forgot that today is the perfect date.Not too hot.Not too cold.All you need is a light jacket.:P

April 25,2017 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

Nobody better than Ella Fitzgerald.

April 25,2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

The Top 15 Most Beautiful Women

1 Elisabeth Taylor
2 Grace Kelly
3 Ingrid Bergman
4 Audrey Hepburn
5 Ava Gardner
6 Gene Tierney
7 Hedy Lamarr
8 Marilyn Monroe
9 Romy Schneider
10 Rita Hayworth
11 Veronica Lake
12 Lana Turner
13 Vivien Leigh
14 Susan Hayward
15 Eleanor Parker

April 25,2017 | Unregistered CommenterSamuel

I'm a huge Ella Fitzgerald fan and she was truly unique unto herself but having seen her few films she wasn't that comfortable portraying someone else.But when she sings forget about it...she's heavenly.It would be hard to choose a favorite recording of hers,everyone is a mini masterpiece but I have a big soft spot for "This Time the Dream's On Me"

LOVE Ziegfeld Girl!!!But where I think MGM tripped up with it was not filming it in color.The movie screams out for it.Those costumes,Judy's complex Minnie from Trinidad number,Lana & Hedy!Don't know what they were thinking.But it did make a big difference in Lana Turner's career and Judy sings the most exquisite version of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows"in it.

April 25,2017 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Just another shout-out for the First lady of Song -- so glad so many actressexuals on this thread are digging her too.I love how she did the songbooks and then astound us with her many recordings in between that demonstrate what she can do: scat brilliantly,mimic Louis Armstrong's gravelly voice,sing in tune in extremely tight arrangements (Just You,Just Meshows she can effortlessly coast along Marty Paich's intentionally rigid arrangements),not hit a flat note (she tried doing that with the line: "the way you sing off-key"inThey Can't Take That Away From Mebut her flawless pitch won't allow it),and her underrated balladry (in UCLA,they use the songs in the "Pure Ella"album to teach voice students how to sing ballads).

When she died in 1996,the song that came to my mind immediately was the bouncyYou Hit The Spotwhich shows her bouyant joie de vivre in communicating love and life in song.FWIW,my favorite album was the outing she did with Count Basie called "Basie & Ella"a.k.a."On the Sunny Side of the Street"in the early 1960s when her voice was still in peak form.

I wish someone would make a movie of her life.According to Stuart Nicholson's biography,Ella never discussed her early life in poverty in Harlem in interviews and I thought that the happy voice she utilized in her recorded performances was her voice trying to transcend her unhappy experience living in the streets and acting as a look out for commercial sex workers.If they make a film,I'd like the producers to cast underrated actresses such as Marianne Jean-Baptiste or Kimberly Elise to portray Ella.

April 25,2017 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

Samuel -- you spelled Michelle Pfeiffer wrong ;)

Owl -- yes.a biopic would be welcome and I love the Kimberly Elise suggestions since she's a powerhouse and never gets great roles.

April 25,2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel,I guarantee she's my n.16,would you forgive me?So many beauties on big screen...Michelle Pfeiffer,Nicole Kidman,Halle Berry,Deanna Durbin,Kim Novak...

April 26,2017 | Unregistered CommenterSamuel

1.Little Mermaid
4.Princess and the Frog
5.Great Mouse Detective

7.Treasure Planet (ugh)

April 26,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAR

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