Pavlova’s “Dumb Girl,” her sole Hollywood hurrah

Dance · Film
We recently wrote about Anna Pavlova’s foray to Hollywood in 1915 to star in “The Dumb Girl of Portici” at Universal Pictures under female director Lois Weber. That’s Pavlova getting manhandled on the left. At the far right stands Weber, megaphone in her hand. Espying the chaos, bedecked in jodphurs and kneeboots, is Weber’s husband, Philips ...

Filmmaker Ross Lipman’s urban ruins, found moments

Film
“Everything that’s built crumbles in time: buildings, cultures, fortunes, and lives,” says Ross Lipman, one of the world’s leading film restorationists who is also an accomplished filmmaker, writer and performer. Lipman focuses his experimental films on urban decay as a marker of modern consciousness. “The detritus of civilization tells us no less about our current ...

Readers zero in on Mostel

Film · Language & ideas
Anticipating a fun time at Reprise Theatre‘s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, I praised Zero Mostel, the originator of the role of Pseudulous in the Sondheim musical. Zero’s Nero got a lot of reaction from arts•meme readers. “You’re right. You just can’t look at Zero M’s face without smiling,” says Jack ...

Anna Pavlova visits Hollywood 3

Dance · Film
It was standard practice at Universal Studios in the silent film era to have observers on the set. We wrote about this in a previous post. One movie star proved the exception to this rule. Not an actor, but a dancer. And not just any dancer, but ballet’s first superstar, Anna Pavlova, the great globe-trotting ballerina ...

“The Art of the Steal” @ LACMA

Film · Visual arts
The Barnes Foundation, established in 1921 by collector Dr. Albert C. Barnes, holds one of the world’s largest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, valued at 25 billion dollars. The documentary, “The Art of the Steal,” raises provocative questions about money, culture, and ethics as it chronicles the legal and political efforts used to break ...

Uncle Carl’s two-bit boxed lunch 1

Film
From the get-go — for Universal Pictures that would be 1909 — film industry pioneer “Uncle” Carl Laemmle, a keen entrepreneur, allowed visitors on film sets. In the early days of Los Angeles filmmaking, shooting took place in plein air. Indoor production came later. To accommodate curiosity seekers, Laemmle erected a special grandstand. From this ...

Zero’s Nero 1

Film · Theater
Just the idea of Zero Mostel makes me laugh. Watching him in movies, I’m gripped by fear that the camera will leave his face … and I’ll miss something funny. The rotund comic genius starred in the original Broadway production of Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ...

C’era una volta il West (1968)

Film
Concerning Sergio Leone’s epic masterpiece, “Once Upon a Time in the West,” what can a mere mortal possibly say? The scope, ambition, and perfection of this movie are of such gigantic proportion that it quashes idle chatter. You simply have to see it. It’s my good fortune to live in Los Angeles where this film-of-all-films was properly ...

Why is James Cameron so happy? 2

Dance · Film
Is it the $1.8 billion his film has garnered in world-wide box office receipts? Pish-tosh! All in a day’s work! James Cameron is a happy man because he stands surrounded by beautiful modern dancers: choreographer Lula Washington and her troupe’s two leading ladies, Christa Oliver and Tamica Washington-Miller. Lula, truly the Queen of Crenshaw Boulevard, ...

Martin Scorsese’s disappointing lecture at LACMA 3

Film
The brilliant witty and charming film director, Martin Scorsese, while visiting the hinterland to collect the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes, stopped by the local museum for what was billed as a rousing discussion on the future of film there. The invitation to appear at the County Museum, LACMA, followed an outspoken ...