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July 23, 2019

10 Great Musical Movies of the 1960s

Since movies first learned to talk, the screen musical has provided a euphoric display of cinematic escapism. It’s a genre that defined a whole era of Hollywood’s glory days, from the 1930s to the 1950s. Yet by the dawn of the 1960s, it was clear that the times were a-changin’.

The new decade brought tectonic political shifts, the quickening rise of rock and pop music, and the emergence of a youth counterculture. In this evolving world, the Hollywood establishment’s big-budget musicals risked looking passé, staid or uncool. Mould-breaking movies such as Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Graduate (1967) signaled a shift towards greater realism and intensity. The world of feathers and chorus lines was out.

Yet the 60s was also the era in which many of film history’s most successful and adored musicals were born – with no fewer than four of the films listed below also winning the Oscar for best picture. Drawing crowds that Hollywood’s hipper output could only dream of, the studio system bet all-or-nothing on ever-expanding showstoppers, often avoiding risk by adapting already popular theatre hits (Gypsy, 1962; Hello, Dolly!, 1969).

The Sound of Music (1965)

These blockbuster event movies gave career-defining roles to a new generation of bright young stars, including Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn. The biggest of them all was The Sound of Music (1965), which became the most successful film of its decade, and, indeed, ever.

Below are 10 of the 60s’ greatest hits – from Hollywood and beyond.

1. Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
Director: K. Asif

This classic Hindi historical romance from director K. Asif remains one of the most groundbreaking and iconic in Bollywood’s long history of musical spectaculars. It’s the epic tale of 16th-century Prince Saleem (Dilip Kumar), whose love for beautiful court dancer Anarkali (Madhubala) is the catalyst for a monumental battle between the prince and his disapproving father, the Mughal Emperor Akbar. With a turbulent production, Mughal-e-Azam took almost 16 years to complete, becoming the most expensive Indian film yet made.

Its ambition is apparent in every opulent scene, with glitteringly grand sets and breathtaking battle scenes. A stand-out moment comes with the now immortal Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) scene, as Anarkali’s dance for the prince is reflected in the tiny glass mirrors on a set so intricate that it took two years to construct.

2. West Side Story (1961)
Directors: Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise

Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s updated version of Romeo and Juliet moved the star-crossed lovers to the streets of the Upper West Side, swapping Shakespeare’s warring families for rival gangs – the Jets (Polish-American children of immigrants) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican immigrants).

Although the best picture-winning film version has a pro-immigration message, there are dated racist tropes in its use of ‘brownface’ on actors for the Puerto Rican characters – Rita Moreno was the only Puerto Rican actor and was also painted with brown makeup. Yet West Side Story otherwise remains a stylish and accomplished treat, with Jerome Robbins’ powerful, dynamic choreography bringing heart-thudding energy to the gangs as they jump, jive and snap their fingers to the crackling score. And what a score! Combining intricate jazz and Latin American beats, the songbook boasts classics such as ‘Tonight’, ‘Maria’, ‘America’ and the desperately romantic ‘Somewhere’.

3. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Director: Richard Lester

Beatlemania is in full throttle in this ‘behind the scenes’ peek at a day in the life of the the Fab Four. Galavanting around swinging London, the band drop silly and surreal one-liners while picking at the social constructs of the time. More than half a century on, it’s impossible not to fall in love all over again with the anarchic, riotous charm of John, Paul, George and Ringo. And of course, the songs are wonderful, having never aged or tired; they keep on coming with ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘She Loves You’ and that instantly recognizable first chord of the title track.

Richard Lester (known fondly as the ‘father of MTV’) captures the palpable sense of excitement of changing times in a film that took from the new wave of France and the kitchen sink of Britain to revolutionize the movie musical. Its fast cuts and handheld cameras created a new sense of realism, while cementing a place for rock ’n’ roll and pop on the cinematic jukebox.

4. Mary Poppins (1964)
Director: Robert Stevenson

This beloved Disney adaptation of the P.L. Travers children’s books stars a practically perfect Julie Andrews as the magical nanny of mischievous but neglected Jane and Michael Banks. Descending upon their Edwardian townhouse, she promises to stay until the wind changes, but truthfully – and heart-wrenchingly – until their banker father (David Tomlinson) learns how to love them.

With enchanting effects and animated sequences, Poppins and her friend Burt (played by Dick Van Dyke, whose oft mocked accent merely adds to the charm) take the children on fantastical adventures to floating tea parties and fun fairs in paintings, working their way through the Sherman brothers’ Oscar-winning musical score. From the raucous fun of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ to the addictive foot tap of ‘Step in Time’ over the soot covered London rooftops, every song delights. Yet the sweeping majesty of ‘Feed the Birds’ is the emotional peak of the film – it’s a swelling lullaby that Richard Sherman was, quite rightly, most proud of.

5. My Fair Lady (1964)
Director: George Cukor

This eight-time Oscar winner (including best picture) is a lively incarnation of the Broadway stage show, itself based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. It features Rex Harrison reprising his award-winning on-stage role as Professor Henry Higgins, who bets he can pass off cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) as an aristocrat. Famously, Hepburn beat Julie Andrews (who had played Eliza on Broadway) to her part, only to later miss out on the Oscar to Andrews’ Mary Poppins.

Directed with confident aplomb by Hollywood stalwart George Cukor, My Fair Lady remains immense fun, with timeless songs that have ingrained themselves on our consciousness perhaps even more than the film itself. Highlights include Stanley Holloway’s ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’, ‘The Rain in Spain’, ’I Could’ve Danced All Night’ and Cecil Beaton’s outrageous millinery creations for the famous Ascot races sequence.

Love During WWII: 30 Cool Pics of a Couple of Lovers in the 1940s

A set of cool pics from Daniel Schmid that captured portraits of his grandparents Gene and Maxine Schmidt during WWII when they were in love.

“My Grandma in Oakland, she was probably no more than 22 here. My Grandparents met during the War and fell in love, and wrote over 3,000 letters.”

Grandma Maxine Schmidt & car

Grandma & dog

Grandma fur coat

Grandma fur coat

Grandma Maxine on fence, Oakland

July 22, 2019

Found Photos That Defined Women's Swimwears From the 1980s

From leather to lace, bright colored neon to power-suits, the aesthetic experiments of the 1980s gave the fashion world a colorful mine of styles which continue to inspire today's beachwear.

Speedo style swimsuits that were made of nylon/elastane became the new fabric of choice in the eighties and still remain the number one fabric today for women's swimwear.

These found photos from Steven Martin that show what women's swimwears looked like in the 1980s.

The Lost Corvettes: 36 Chevrolet Corvettes From NYC Barn Find To Be Raffled in Charity Sweepstakes

They’re the Corvettes that time forgot. And 30 years ago, they were the ultimate prize in one of the most outlandish sweepstakes ever. A rare armada of 36 Chevrolet Corvettes has once again seen the light of day. The incredible fleet, which originally cost cable music network VH1 $610,000 in 1989 for a sweepstakes, has sat nearly abandoned in a New York City storage lot for about 25 years.

As it turns out, the tale of how thirty-six Chevrolet Corvettes can go instantaneously from making TV headlines to disappearing in plain sight for a quarter-century isn’t as nefarious as one might suspect. Back in 1988, long before VH1 dumped actual music for reality-based programming, the network figured it could tap into its then baby-boomer demographic and snag some ratings with a mega promotion based on the iconic Corvette. So the network enlisted a producer to gather 36 Vettes, one from each production year from 1953 to 1989 (the 1983 model year was skipped when production was halted to prepare for the launch of the ’84 C4). The giveaway was a call-in affair that required contestants to enter by dialing a 900 number at the cost of $2.00 per call. By the time VH1 had milked this promotion for all it was worth, more than a million people had entered.

In the end, it was Dennis Amodeo, a carpenter from Long Island, who came out on top and flew to California to accept his prize. But before he even hatched a plan to get all the cars back to New York, German-American artist Peter Max intervened, purchasing the collection from Amodeo for a reported $250,000 in cash, $250,000 in artwork, and a portion of future sales of the Corvettes up to $1 million. Apparently, Max had grand visions of using the Corvettes as an integral part of an art project. Although Max did retrieve the cars to NYC, the art project never came to fruition; paper color-test strips affixed to some of the cars remain the only clue of the artist’s original plans. For the better part of the last twenty-five years the Corvettes remained interned in a series of garages until the Heller and Spindler families finally convinced Max to sell, although they won’t disclose the price.

Now they have possession of the entire collection, restoration work under the watchful eye of Corvette aficionado and occasional concours judge Chris Mazzilli has begun, starting with the 1953 Corvette, which is number 291 of the 300 Corvettes produced in its inaugural year. The remainder of the cars will be either restored or simply reconditioned, as determined on a car-to-car basis.

One of these 36 Chevrolet Corvettes could be yours! Go ahead to Corvette Heroes website, and click on the “Enter Sweepstakes” button to make a donation to the National Guard Educational Foundation and you will be registered for a chance to win one of the one-of-a-kind Corvettes as they come back to life again.

Annette Kellerman Demonstrating Her Diving Skills at Glenelg Baths, 1905

The card to which the photograph is attached, says the subject is Miss Alice Kelleman demonstrating her diving skills at Glenelg baths: a series of seven views. However Annette Kellerman demonstrated her skills at Glenelg in 1905.

(Images: State Library of South Australia)

July 21, 2019

33 Lovely Photos of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski on Their Wedding Day in 1968

Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski were married in Chelsea, London on January 20, 1968, with considerable publicity. Polanski was dressed in what the press described as "Edwardian finery", while Tate was attired in a white minidress. The couple moved into Polanski's mews house off Eaton Square in Belgravia, London. Photographer Peter Evans later described them as “the imperfect couple. They were the Douglas Fairbanks/Mary Pickford of our time ... Cool, nomadic, talented, and nicely shocking.”

While Tate reportedly wanted a traditional marriage, Polanski remained somewhat promiscuous and described Tate's attitude to his infidelity as "Sharon's big hang-up". He reminded Tate that she had promised that she would not try to change him. Tate accepted Polanski's conditions, though she confided to friends that she hoped he would change. Peter Evans quoted Tate as saying, “We have a good arrangement. Roman lies to me and I pretend to believe him.”

Tate became pregnant near the end of 1968, and on February 15, 1969, she and Polanski moved to 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. In March 1969, she traveled to Italy to begin filming, and Polanski went to London to work on The Day of the Dolphin (1973). Frykowski and Folger moved into the Cielo Drive house.

After completing Twelve Plus One, Tate joined Polanski in London. A journalist asked Tate in a late July interview if she believed in fate, to which she replied, “Certainly. My whole life has been decided by fate. I think something more powerful than we are decides our fates for us. I know one thing — I've never planned anything that ever happened to me.”

She returned from London to Los Angeles on July 20, 1969, traveling alone on the QE2. Polanski was due to return on August 12 in time for the birth, and he had asked Frykowski and Folger to stay in the house with Tate until his return.

On August 8, 1969, Tate dined at her favorite restaurant, El Coyote Cafe, with Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger, returning at about 10:30 p.m. Shortly after midnight, they were murdered by members of Charles Manson's "family".

These lovely photos captured beautiful moments of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski on their wedding day in London on January 20, 1968.

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