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Life is a Highway

Life is a Highway
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Hollywood Reporter: Beverly Hills 90210- The Teen Drama That Brought Back Sideburns Turns 27

Source: The Hollywood Reporter- Jennie Garth & Shannen Doherty-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

At risk of giving out my age, Beverly Hills 90210 takes me back 27 years to my first year in high school. I started high school during the late summer of 1990 in Bethesda, Maryland. Beverly Hills comes out almost two months later in late October that year. The kids on 90201 at least the main stars characters were a year ahead of me in high school. I was the class of 1994 in high school and they were the class of 93. So I got to see their last three years of high school and their first year of college my whole time in high school. And thats exactly what I did, because Beverly Hills and the original Law & Order, were my favorite two shows in the 1990s, (not including Monday Night Football) at least the early and mid 1990s. Actually, add LA Law to that list, so I saw a lot of Beverly Hills and know the show very well.

Beverly Hills wasn't the first show about my Generation X. The Facts of Life from the 1980s was that show. Beverly Hills wasn't even the second show about my generation. Saved by The Bell from the late 1980s and early 90s was that. And both of those shows deserve their own articles and pieces written about them as well, because they're both very successful and important to this generation. But Beverly Hills was an original at least in the sense that it was the first soap opera about Generation X. People who grew up and came of age during the 1980s and 1990s. Who were born in the 1960s and 1970s. Whether you want to use the official Census Bureau definition of Gen-X as 1965-79, or use a more believable figure like 1962 or even 1961, till 1979, we are the generation was that was born in the 1960s and 1970s and came of age during the 1980s and 1990s. So if you went to high school and graduated high school in the 1990s, you're probably a Gen-Xer, unless you graduated in the late 90s.

So that is what Beverly Hills was about how Gen-X kids grew up and what we went through and experienced as a generation. For all the good and bad and Beverly Hills had a lot of both. From parents of Gen-X kids falling in love again and getting remarried, to dealing with teen pregnancy and teen suicide. It has two twins literally from Minneapolis, (ha, ha, the Minnesota Twins, get it) yes it was corny, but the Walsh Family moves from Minneapolis to the Los Angeles area settling in Beverly Hills into a new beautiful him. Jim Walsh (the husband and father) is a successful accountant and lands a new and good job in Beverly Hills and moves his family 2000 miles or so from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.

The Walsh's have two kids who are yes twins Brandon and Brenda (played by Jason Priestly and Shannen Doherty) and they are uplifted from the down to earth 1950s lifestyle of the Upper Midwest in Minnesota, where they get 6 months or more of winter every year, out to Los Angeles where they've never even heard of winter, let alone seen it and get 6 months of summer instead. So the kids especially get a real cultural shock during the first season of this show.

It gets much better and more interesting, not that the Walsh Family aren't that interesting, because the Brenda Walsh character might be the most fascinating character on the show. Either her of Dylan McKay (played by Luke Perry) but the people they meet and befriend in Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills High School, are all sons and daughters of LA big shots. Entertainer moguls and people who at least do business and have clients in the Hollywood industry. And they meet most if not all the stereotypes Los Angeles kids.

Kelly Taylor (played by (Jennie Garth) is the daughter of an aging actress who is an alcoholic and addicted to illegal narcotics as well. Kelly's parents of course are divorced and she rarely sees her father.

Steve Sanders (played by Ian Ziering) is the son of an actress and a Hollywood businessman. Who you think with that background would do very well at least starting out as far as never having to worry about money and where he might live. But the guy is a bit of a rebel and a constant screw up who is essentially always in trouble and looking to get into trouble. Thinking he will get away with it and always has one scheme or another, but always gets caught. We probably all grew up with guys like that.

Donna Martin (played by Tori Spelling) on the surface at least comes off as a typical Southern California blonde bimbo. But she's very cute both personally and physically and very kindhearted always looking to help others. Who is a good girl always looking to please her parents, especially her Phyllis Schlafly lookalike over-paternalistic mother who lives in and is very happy in Los Angeles, but like Phyllis Schalfly believes Hollywood is destroying her 1950s traditional America. And strongly looks down upon individualism.

Dylan McKay (played by Luke Perry) is my favorite character on the show. Luke Perry plays the son of the Hollywood investor as well as it can be played. He's essentially a good guy (at least when he's sober) but is the constant rebel who grows up until his parents literally let him ago and buy him his own house, in a hotel. Because his parents get divorced and his mother skips out on them and moves to Hawaii. Leaving her son with his father who doesn't seem to have the time to raise his son. And has him put up in a hotel and gives his son Dylan money to take care of himself. Dylan is basically a young guy with no parental guidance other than maybe Jim Walsh (the twins father) who manages his trust fund for him. Jim Walsh really is the closest thing that Dylan has to a father, or even parent on the show.

I guess I should say something about David Silver ( played by Brian Austin Green) who I guess was okay on this show, but what has he done lately? I believe Beverly Hills is really Brian Green's only real shot at making it big in Hollywood and when that dried up so did his career. David Silver is one of those guys who is actually hipper than he seems at first, who knows how to be cool, but struggles in executing it. He is one of those guys who wants to be in with what we at least called back then  the in crowd. I guess its called clicke today, but doesn't really fit in at least during the first season.

I would mention the twins but they get so much attention anyway and the fact that they moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in the middle of high school to start their sophomore years, plus with everything that has been written about them before, gives you a pretty good idea about them. They both probably deserve their own articles about them anyway.

Beverly Hills is a good example of what life was like as teenagers (at least LA teenagers) in the early 1990s and what life was like when cell phones weren't mainstream yet and the internet was a baby. The internet comes out in the summer of 91 during the 2nd season of Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills is also an example of what life was like for teens and young adults before coffee houses were everywhere and before social media was online. Where people actually got together physically to hang out and socialize. Because our lives weren't dominated by our iPhones and laptops. And is a great show especially for people who are interested in what life was like in the 1990s especially the early 90s and what growing was like for Generation X.
The Hollywood Reporter: Beverly Hills 90210- The Teen Drama That Brought Back Sideburns Turns 27 This Month

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Movie Documentary: A&E Biography- Yvonne De Carlo

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

Yvonne De Carlo at least to me represents the total package when it comes to actresses and entertainers. After you get through her mesmerizing first impression of this beautiful baby-faced adorable Italian brunette, with a great shape, you also see a very intelligent woman with a great sense of humor and great dramatic ability as well. Her most famous role is probably as the mother on Adams Family, but she did so much before that.

Similar to Susan Hayward she's a women who didn't come from much with her father not in the picture and with a mother who didn't seem have much interest in raising her. Susan Hayward's issues with her parents were that they were poor and had to raise their kids in poverty. With Yvonne's family it was being born to father who wasn't around and a mother who wasn't ready to raise her. And yet by 1943 Yvonne gets her first break as an actress in the movie The Deerslayer starting a great career as a movie as well as TV actress and doing comedy, drama and dramatic comedy.

 I believe I would put Yvonne De Carlo on the dramatic/comedy side when it comes to great actors and actresses. Similar to Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, Yvonne De Carlo, and many others. An actress who was very good at both comedy and drama, but even better when those genres were combined, When you would have a great drama with a lot of funny people in it with a lot of lets say sarcasm and flipped lines. And perhaps having funny actors and entertainers who would add their own material and improvise with their own expressions making their characters even more entertaining and funny.

Cary Grant perhaps is the master of dramatic comedy which is why he worked so well with Alfred Hitchcock because he loved dramatic comedy and had a real knack for it. Yvonne was an actress who would have been a great soap actress both on TV and in the movies because she was so good at delivering clever lines, putting people down, but doing it in a funny, honest, entertaining way, that didn't make her seem mean.

I haven't seen all of Yvonne De Carlo's movies and have only gotten more familiar with her career in the last two years or so, but if you are interested in see some good Yvonne movies, I would suggest Death of a Scoundrel where she plays the executive investment of a business investor played George Sanders who really was a scoundrel, but speaking of dramatic comedy you almost have to like at least parts of the Clementi Sabourin character (played by George Sanders) with Yvonne's character there to keep the man honest and in check. They work really well in the movie and it almost seems like the Yvonne character hates Clementi in the movie and yet is never able to leave him until the end because there's something about him that she loves and not just the money he pays her.

Yvonne to me represents a actress that again was simply the total package as an actress. Great to look, great to listen to, but she was also a great actress and incredibly entertaining. Someone with style and substance who didn't have low self-esteem issues because she knew who she was and how good she was. Who didn't get picked up off the street by some agent or director because she had a great face or figure and then they make a project out of her and try to make her into at an acceptable actress. But someone who came from nothing and did the work to make herself a great actress. Who also happened to be beautiful, adorable, with a beautiful body as well. And represents Old Hollywood when substance was rated higher in style and where you had to be able to do the work and do it well to succeed in Hollywood and where physical looks weren't simply good enough.
Movie Documentary: A&E Biography- Yvonne De Carlo

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Alan Eichler: Good Morning America- David Hartman Interviewing Lana Turner: 1983 TV Interview

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

This might sound harsh but I believe Lana Turner's life represents a Hollywood character and actress who struggled to get out of character when she was off stage. Actresses and actors when they make it in Hollywood and even become popular to the point where everyone interested in movies and TV knows who they are pick up an image. And believe they have to live up to that image to keep their popularity and stay hot in the business. Even if that image is not positive.

Like with Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield being known as blond bimbos and living up to that on and off camera. Even though in real life where actually pretty intelligent. Or James Dean being known as a teen rebel who is always taking on society and never quite settles down personally and is always fighting.

I believe in Lana Turner's case she picked up the image as a soap actress character on some show where she has all the money any person could have and could have any man at anytime and ends up with every man and even marrying every man. Has kids with every man she gets involved with. (At least practically) Sounds like at least two female characters on General Hospital and if you're familiar with the show and are a fan, you probably know who I'm talking about.

Lana Turner was perfect for soap operas because she was perfect for dramatic comedy. Both in her personal life as far as how she lived both intentionally and unintentionally, but she was also a great actress and a very funny woman as well. Which made her perfect for dramatic comedy which is what most good soap operas are like General Hospital, Dallas, Melrose Place, to use as examples, Days of Our Lives. To me at least Lana Turner's life was the story of a great soap opera. A lot of ups and downs, falls, and dramatic comebacks and she was one of the best soap actresses, as well as characters that we've ever had.
Alan Eichler: Good Morning America- David Hartman Interviewing Lana Turner: 1983 TV Interview 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Alan Eichler: Hour Magazine- Gary Collins Interviewing Lana Turner: 1982 TV Interview

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

There's a reason why America has a 50 percent divorce rate. That reason is called Hollywood and broader Los Angeles and the LA area where probably 7-8 out of 10 marriages don't last. Entertainers in Hollywood tend to look at marriage as business opportunities. "If I marry that person, I'll be seen with that person which will lead to other opportunities, plus it will help my image." Especially if they have a reputation as a playboy or playgirl who goes from romance to romance and not seeming very serious about anyone that they get involved with.

The best soap operas in Hollywood don't come from the studios, at least as far as the shows that come from there. They come from real-life in Hollywood and the personal lives that a lot of actresses and actors live. Some if not a lot or perhaps most great comedians in Hollywood, aren't actually standup comedians. But very funny people who are supposed to be serious actors and actresses, but who live very amusing personal lives. Who live crazy lives and do crazy things. Burt Reynolds is a great example of that, but only one example. Ava Gardner with her famous outbursts and temper tantrums, would be another great example of that.

Lana Turner's last big role in Hollywood was on the 1980s hit prime time soap opera Falcon Crest. She was perfect for soaps not just because of her ability as an actress and she's certainly one of the best ever, but also because she lived the life of a soap star and soap personality. She was married a total of nine times and married to one man (Steve Crane) twice. She was the girlfriend of Italian mobster Johnny Stompanato who her daughter Cheryl shot and killed at their home in self-defense. That would be a pretty good episode of General Hospital right there.

Lana Turner lived the real-life of a soap opera character which is why I at least believe she was perfect for soaps like Falcon Crest and could probably could have done other shows as well. Like Dynasty or Dallas, because she had the great dramatic appeal and comedic wit and timing that you need to be a great soap actress. But also because she lived the life of a great soap character. Lana Turner sort of lived the life of Jayne Mansfield, but lived well into seventies and manage to get her wildness and drinking under control to allow for her to live a long life. And Hollywood and the public are in debt to her for that.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Alan Eichler: Robert Osborne Interviewing Lana Turner- 1982 TV Interview

Source: Alan Eichler- Bob & Lana-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

Just to be a little personal when you're talking about cute Hollywood blondes, Lana Turner is at the top of the list. Even in her late forties and fifties she was still as cute as a little girl and not just because she was really short. Love Has Many Faces from 1964 I believe is Lana's best movie and one of the best soap operas of all-time (at least in my opinion) Lana worked with the gorgeous baby-face adorable Stefanie Powers in that movie. And Stefanie is maybe 20 at that point and as cute as can be and Lana is in her early forties and Lana is the cutest women in that movie. That movie also had a beautiful adorable brunette in Ruth Roman in it. Peyton Place from the 1950s, she's cuter than her daughter in that movie.

Lana Turner was always an adorable gorgeous baby blonde with a keen honest intelligence and quick wit. Which made her perfect for soap movies in the 50s and 60s like The Big Cube in 1969 which is more of a cult favorite than anything else, but still a very entertaining and funny movie. And made her perfect for TV soaps like Falcon Crest in the 1980s. The Bad and The Beautiful where she plays a brand new soon to be the next hot star in Hollywood and she works with Kirk Douglas, Barry Sullivan and Dick Powell in that movie. She was like a little girl in that movie as far as physical stature but that little baby face and how she spoke and came off in that movie. The Bad and The Beautiful is the prefect title for that movie. Because there were no angels in that movie. But ordinary people simply trying to survive working for a selfish producer who was  user of talent.

If you were going to put together a list of the top 5-10 Hollywood actresses of all-time I believe Lana Turner would have to be on it. Of course it would also have to have The Love Goddess Rita Hayworth on it. Slim Lauren Bacall would have to be on it. Elizabeth Taylor would have to be on it. Ava Gardner would have to be on it and if you left Ava off she might sue you for that. Susan Hayward would have to be on it. I believe Lauren Bacall is the best perhaps Liz Taylor is just right behind her.

But Lana Turner is in that group as well because she was so convincing and a great dramatic comedic actress who combined great dramatic affect with quick wit as well. And self-deprecating humor as well and not afraid to make fun of herself. Maybe that had something to do with the alcohol or maybe just because she was so honest. But I believe the best actresses and actors are the most honest which allows for them to be the most convincing because they look like they're playing themselves. Which is why Lana Turner is so high up the Hollywood best ever list.
Alan Eichler: Robert Osborne Interviewing Lana Turner- 1982 TV Interview

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Crash Course: Craig Benzine- The Golden Age of Hollywood: Film History

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

Damn, if Craig Benzine could only talk faster and not have to take breaths in-between words, he could get a lot done. But seriously, this guy must have a year supply of free Red Bull or Starbucks coffee, because he makes speed freaks sound like comatose patients. I'm not saying I've never heard someone else talk faster and for a longer period of time, I just can't name anyone right now. I would have to go through all of my memory banks and cash all them out and I might not be able to come up with another time where I heard a faster longer talker.

I'm not going to cover much of what Craig Benzine said there, because I don't have slow-mo on my computer and he just went through all of these areas really fast. But the Golden Age of Hollywood really for me goes from the 1940s up until the 1970s or so. It was an era where movies were about writing, plot, directing, and acting. Not who swears the most and loudest and who is the biggest asshole in the movie. Catch phrases that make rookie no names actors stars overnight where everyone in country is using that catch phrase to describe whatever current situation they're facing.

To succeed in the Golden Age of Hollywood, you really had to be able to write to make it as a writer. Unlike today where phrases and words are borrowed from other shows and movies and used for their shows and movies. The Golden Age of Hollywood wasn't cookie-cutter, but originalist.

Movies like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington from 1939 with Jimmy Stewart and many others. You can't really say there was a move like that before and there have been many attempts to make another great political movie and movie about Congress since, but most of them have come up weigh short. Mr. Smith came out in 1939 and almost either years later it's still one of the best and most popular movies in Hollywood history.

North by Northwest- still my all-time favorite movie and I would argue at least is Alfred Hitchcock's best movie, even though many others would argue for Notorious instead. There really isn't another movie like North by Northwest. Yes it's a Cold War movie involving the CIA trying to catch a traitor they believe is selling U.S. Government secrets to Russia and perhaps other communist states. So that by itself doesn't make it original. But you have a movie where ordinary people become heroes. Again that doesn't make it original, but it's how it was done.

The closing action scene where the good guys defeat the bad guys takes place on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Can't believe someone other than Alfred Hitchcock would come up with that. And then you have Cary Grant as the lead actor who arguably is the most handsome actor of all-time, but he also happens to be the best actor and also one of the funniest actors with incredible comedic timing. James Mason very similar to Cary Grant as far as what he brought to his parts, as the lead bad guy. Martin Landau playing a supporting role. The beautiful and adorable Eva Marie Saint who was also a great actress, as the lead actress.

 It wasn't a suspense movie. It wasn't a thriller. It wasn't an action movie. It wasn't a mystery. It wasn't a comedy. North by Northwest was all of those things in an action-packed movie with a lot of humor in it. That again was sell well-written, directed and delivered. Where the actors and crew knew they were part of something really special and wanted to be there and do their best work.

Today where in an era of Hollywood where TV and movies are about style and appearance. Who is up and who is down, who looks and sounds the hippest and has the most pop culture and reality TV appeal. Instead of who can actually act, who can improvise and be themselves and come off as likable and as someone who not only knows what they're doing, but can bring something different in value that perhaps hasn't been seen before. Where the biggest jerk (to put it mildly) who not only swears the most and puts people down as the most tends to be the most popular. Even if they're no better than your average reality TV star as far as their ability to act.

Today if the public likes the performer and they're so-called viral on social media and the internet, they'll continue to work and make a good living in Hollywood. Even if all their shows and movies are garbage as far as the material. Their shows and movies will continue to sell even if the critics are beating the hell out of their performances and not taking those performers seriously, let alone respecting their work.

The Classic Hollywood era was anti-reality TV. Of course they loved their beautiful, sexy, and adorable actresses. Women like Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, and many others were all big stars back then. And Hollywood loved their big handsome studs. Actors like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Sydney Poitier, and many others. But the difference being that the Hollywood goddess's and gods, were more than their beautiful faces and bodies.

If you couldn't act back then, if you didn't show up for work, then you didn't work. It wasn't an era where Hollywood was trying to sell personality and popularity when it came to their characters, over substance. Classic Hollywood was a professional era where the professionals were in charge which is what makes it so great and classic. As long as reality TV is dominating TV and movies, we won't see another great era in Hollywood again.
Crash Course: Craig Benzine- The Golden Age of Hollywood: Film History