Liza with a Z at “Last Remaining Seats” 1

Architecture & Design · Film
I love the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats summer film festival on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Nothing in our city compares to it as a community event. (Lakers fans may disagree!) To sit in the faded remains of downtown’s glamorous vintage theaters, chock-a-block with an excited, engaged, clapping, laughing, appreciative audience, watching classic ...

La Barbra at BevHills Bergman tribute 2

Film · Music
Barbra Streisand is still a very big star. This was extremely evident at last night’s Alan & Marilyn Bergman tribute at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Wilshire Boulevard outpost. The tribute opened with a film clip of Barbra ogling Robert Redford in Sydney Pollack’s The Way We Were (1973). It closed with Babs, ten years later, ...

Groucho Marx thought Irv Brecher was funny 2

When asked who was quickest with a one-liner, Groucho responded: George S. Kaufman, Oscar Levant … and Irving Brecher. Now, that’s funny. Brecher was a comedian and screenwriter whose credits include the Marx Bros’s final two movies at MGM: At the Circus (1939) and Go West (1940). He was good buddies with Groucho but hung out with Harpo and Chico ...

Theodore Kosloff, ballet instructor 3

Dance · Film
The photo above (click on it for detail) shows the talented and charismatic Russian actor-dancer Theodore Kosloff coaching a barre-ful of Paramount Studio chorus girls circa 1922. The ballet master is giving hands-on instruction to silent film star Betty Compson with whom he co-starred in The Green Temptation that same year. Kosloff’s ballet training of Compson led to this ...

Wolf men and other men 2

“It’s rare to truly see a film anymore,” said Robert Boyle, opening a conversation at the Art Directors Society tribute at the Egyptian Theater Sunday night. The legendary art director followed that enigmatic statement by noting how television technique has infiltrated feature film production — in a bad way. According to Boyle, today’s movies are “all ...

The devilish Madam Satan 6

Dance · Film
This is the amazing “electricity” dance sequence from Cecil B. DeMille’s early talkie Madam Satan (1930). A socialite costume ball is taking place — where else? — in a moored zeppelin. The floor show, pictured above, features the fearsome dancing of Theodore Kosloff, a former Ballets Russes star who lived in Los Angeles and acted in many DeMille silent ...

Jerome Robbins in your living room 3

Dance · Film
The buzz on the PBS American Masters documentary about our brilliant American choreographer Jerome Robbins is very positive. I’m looking forward to it so much. Air time: Wednesday evening, February 18 @ 9 pm. Apropos Robbins, while in Paris in 2002, I encountered, totally by accident, a dance-film festival taking place in the downstairs screening room ...

Jewish prince of Hollywood 1

What can I, a mere mortal, possibly add to the legend of Irving Thalberg, Hollywood’s “boy wonder” producer who helped transform American movie making from a haphazard endeavor into a real industry; indeed a mass-market, fantasy production line. Starting as a secretary to “Uncle” Carl Laemmle at the tender age of 20, Thalberg earned stripes at Universal by bossing ...

Hungarian goulash in Los Angeles 1

Film · Music
We enjoyed an impromptu Hungarian arts festival in Los Angeles over the past month. First was a Disney Hall recital by Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff known for his Bach interpretation, but lately he is performing all the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. Schiff is a sublime artist — except when he is glowering at the audience for coughing or rustling programs, ...

Quatorze juillet – California edition 1

We passed the la fete nationale, Bastille Day, as follows:  We attended a great LACMA double-bill featuring the suave, yet underrated, French film actor, Charles Boyer. C’etait vendredi, that was Friday. We then flew to San Francisco on Sunday and enjoyed a cafe creme and pain au chocolat at Cafe de la Presse. Vive la France.