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Posts Tagged ‘Luise Rainer’

Tuesday December 30th, 2014

Feinberg: My Afternoon With Luise Rainer, Back When She Was Only 99

By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

I interviewed Luise Rainer in London in 2009, back when she was only 99 years old. Rainer, the first person ever to win two acting Oscars — which happened to come in back-to-back years, for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and for The Good Earth (1937), and just a couple of years before her Hollywood career was overdied Tuesday at 104, less than two weeks shy of her 105th birthday. So this seems as good a time as any to reflect on what she meant to Hollywood and to me.

Rainer, a German-born Austrian, was a true legend, not only one of the last connections to 1930s Hollywood — a real Golden Age of movies — but also a pupil of Max Reinhardt, a wife of Clifford Odets, a competitor of Greta Garbo, a target of Louis B. Mayer, an inspiration to many other great actors who followed (countless numbers of whom auditioned for roles by offering their own take on her celebrated Ziegfeld telephone scene) and a woman who lived so long that relatively few people today even know her name.

I knew Rainer’s name because I became obsessed with classic movies during my high school years and later, while in college, decided to try to write a book that would aim to excite other young people about them, as well. In order to do that effectively, I felt that I would need to speak directly with the key survivors of that era — and, to my delight, many of them agreed to interviews.

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Saturday December 4th, 2010


Last Monday, I had the opportunity to spend about 25 minutes at The Crosby Street Hotel in Soho with Hilary Swank, the 36-year old two-time best actress Oscar winner who is now in the running for a third statuette for her first-rate performance in Tony Goldwyn’s “Conviction” (Fox Searchlight, 10/15, R, trailer). The $12.5 million film — which Swank, as one of its executive producers, fought for years to get made — recounts the true, awe-inspiring story of Betty Anne Waters, a single mother of humble means who, over the course of 18 grueling years, and through sheer force of will, got a high school GED, college degree, and law degree, all so that she could try to prove that her beloved brother did not commit a heinous murder for which he was sentenced to life in prison.

As you can see in the videos below, Swank and I discussed not only the remarkable journey of her character but also of her own: she was raised in a trailer park in Bellingham, Washington; drove out to Hollywood at the age of 16 with her mother and only $75 between them (they lived in their car); found some early work that led to a part on the eighth season of “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1997-1998), but was fired after a year on the job and feared her career was over; but then won the lead part — and gave a transformative performance — in “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999), which led to her first Oscar and later to “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), for which which she received her second, making her a member of an elite club of women who have won the prize more than once (the others being Luise Rainer, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Vivien Leigh, Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Glenda Jackson, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and Jodie Foster).

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Monday October 25th, 2010


  • Collider: Jeff Ames comments on a report from an Australian Web site that Warner Brothers “has expressed interest in a sequel” to Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which was released domestically this summer and has earned nearly $811 million internationally. Ames writes, “Nolan clearly enjoyed the experience of making the film and has recently stated plans to develop a video game based on the concept,” but “there really isn’t a logical way to further explore the world” portrayed in the film aside from a prequel — especially after Sir Michael Caine’s spoiler-slip on BBC Radio last month — so it will all depend on Nolan’s personal level of interest.
  • Cinematical: Chris Campbell reviews the history of celebrity narration of documentaries, a phenomenon that he says “has been around since the early days of sound cinema.” Originally, the primary candidate was seen as one who had a “deep and/or distinguished speech easily associated with either the ‘voice of god’ concept of omniscient narration or a kind of informed, journalistic quality.” More recently, however, filmmakers have turned to “subject-appropriate” talent. Matt Damon, for instance, was recruited to narrate “Inside Job” not only because he has a familar voice and character, but because is also “known to have political concerns in an intelligent way,” according to director Charles Ferguson.
  • The Wrap: Steve Pond explains the rules that determine the number of nominees in the best animated feature category — “it requires 16 qualifying films in order to reach a five-film ballot; any less would result in the nominations of only three, as it has in seven out of the nine years of its existence” — and confirms that the Japanese anime film “Summer Warswill be among the 2010 qualifiers, bringing the year’s total to 14, thus far. He notes that there are “enough question marks remaining to conceivably put the 16-film mark within reach,” but with the November 1 paperwork-deadline fast approaching, the number will probably stay at three. (The most likely nominees: “Toy Story 3,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “Tangled.”)
  • New York Times: Michael Cieply discusses the long history of American movies that “have helped get the country in gear when the solution to a crisis depends at least in part on new resolve and a boost to the spirits,” but mourns the fact that present-day filmmakers have been comparably slow to offer the same sort of cinematic salve. “They have been quick enough to spot Wall Street gone awry,” he writes, but “have offered little in the way of solace for Main Street… mostly, Hollywood has offered escape into fantasies.” He singles out John Wells’s upcoming “The Company Men” as an exception, noting that the film celebrates “a resilience in the American character.”
  • Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells fears that Anne Hathaway may be denied a best actress nod for “Love and Other Drugs” because of “one of the oldest award-season prejudices” — namely, a strong distaste for romantic-comedies and people who are a part of them. Jeff scans the blogosphere and finds that “awards handicappers aren’t biting” — he cites Scott as one of just two who currently have her listed as a serious contender — but the truth is that many prognosticators simply haven’t yet seen her film.
  • Thompson on Hollywood: Anne Thompson questions the awards potential of Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” an adaptation of a hit Broadway play that boasts an all-star cast of black women. “If you’re serious about an Oscar campaign,” she writes, “you don’t hesitate to show your movie.” Thus far, the film has only been screened for Hollywood’s trade papers, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter — both of which trashed it in their reviews — leading Thompson to believe that Lionsgate’s awards campaign for the film may just be the studio’s way of “making nice to a favorite house director” who has made them a ton of money over the years.
  • New York Times: Dexter Filkins reports that Joao Silva, 44, one of the four original members of “The Bang Bang Club” — a group of war-zone photographers chronicled in an upcoming film of that same name — and one of only two still alive, was severely wounded on Saturday after stepping on a land mine in southern Afghanistan, where he was on assignment for the Times. (Meanwhile, Greg Marinovich, the club’s only other surviving member, pays tribute to “my best friend and soul brother” in a post on his Web site.)
  • Awards Daily: Sasha Stone observes that latest sort of “clever marketing” that some studios are doing on behalf of their awards hopefuls is creating Web sites that use a memorable quotes from a film as a URL and iconic images from it as a welcome page  — for instance, Columbia’s for “The Social Network” (http://www.youknowwhatscool.com/) and Fox Searchlight’s for “Black Swan” (http://www.ijustwanttobeperfect.com/). As Stone notes, it’s “a fairly low-tech way of [potentially] getting the film and its themes to go viral.”
  • Moviefone: Erik Childress scans the list of best actor contenders and concludes that Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), James Franco (“127 Hours”), and Robert Duvall (“Get Low”) are all “locks.” He then makes his way through the numerous options for the category’s other two slots, before arriving at the realization that all of his efforts might prove irrelevant if Paramount decides to campaign for Christian Bale (who is really Mark Wahlberg’s co-lead in “The Fighter”) in the best actor — rather than best supporting actor — category.
  • Political Ticker…: Former spy Valerie Plame Wilson and former ambassador Joseph Wilson, the married couple who are portrayed by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” stopped by CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Friday for a lengthy segment with host Wolf Blitzer to promote the film.
  • New York Magazine: Kevin Gray sits down with Valerie Plame Wilson, the former spy, and Naomi Watts, the actress who portrays her in “Fair Game.” His objective was ostensibly to interview the two women, who have become friends, but they wind up largely chatting with each other about similar challenges that they have faced in their careers, marriages, dealing with the media, and more.
  • The Film Experience: Nathaniel Rogers marks the 93rd birthday of 1941 best actress Oscar winner Joan Fontaine (“Suspicion”) by listing the 50 oldest living Oscar nominees, noting, “We want the following to know that their past accomplishments are acknowledged by new generations.” (Scott tells me has interviewed 11 of them for his in-progress book about old movies for young people, including the oldest, 100-year-old 1936 and 1937 best actress Oscar winner Luise Rainer (“The Great Ziegfeld” and “The Good Earth,” respectively).
Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan on the set of “Inception.” Credit: Warner Brothers.

Tuesday September 28th, 2010


  • Deadline New York: Mike Fleming learns that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful” will be Mexico’s official entry for this year’s best foreign language film Oscar. The film’s star Javier Bardem — whose performance brought him the best actor prize at Cannes earlier this year, and who was already generating best actor Oscar buzz — previously headlined another film, Spain’s “The Sea Inside” (2005), that won that prize.
  • Oscar Watch: Dave Karger considers the possibility that three actors from “The Social Network” — Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, and Justin Timberlake — could all end up as best supporting actor Oscar nominees, and notes that it would not be unprecedented: “On the Waterfront” (1954), “The Godfather” (1972), and “The Godfather, Part II” (1974) also pulled a “hat trick” in the category.
  • Thompson on Hollywood: Anne Thompson, an unabashed “western fan,” is thrilled that Paramount has finally released a trailer for Ethan Coen and Joel Coen‘s “True Grit,” which she describes as “the 2010 movie I cannot wait to see — and the big unknown for Oscar watchers.”
  • 24 Frames: Steven Zeitchik reports that Christopher Nolan, the producer of the forthcoming “Superman” reboot, has reached out to “Black Swan” helmer Darren Aronofsky about directing the film. Aronofsky’s indie films have all been celebrated but his one studio outing, “The Fountain” (2006), was a critical and commercial disappointment.
  • Movie Crazy: Leonard Maltin pays tribute to the actress Gloria Stuart, who died on Monday at the age of 100. Stuart, whose film career spanned “The Invisible Man” (1933) through “Titanic” (1997), was the second oldest living Oscar nominee or winner (behind only Luise Rainer).
  • Speakeasy: John Jurgensen hears that producer Graham King, who won the best picture Oscar for “The Departed” (2006) and is presently enjoying more success with “The Town,” has formed FilmDistrict, “an acquisition, distribution, production, and financing company” that plans to “aggressively” release four to eight films per year.
  • Hitfix: Hitfix confirms that up-and-coming actress Maggie Grace, 27, has joined the cast of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.” Grace, who is probably best known for her work on TV’s “Lost,” will reportedly “face off against Kristen Stewart‘s Bella as a vengeful vampire who blames the Cullens for the death of her lover” in the franchise’s final installment.
  • Deadline Hollywood: Nikki Finke details 20th Century Fox’s extravagant plans to mark the upcoming 45th anniversary of “The Sound of Music” (1965), which include a theatrical re-release with a “sing-along” component on October 19 and October 26; a reunion of the cast on a special edition of “Oprah” on October 29; and the release of a new 3-disc Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack with all sorts of goodies inside on November 2.
  • Risky Business: Philiana Ng passes along “Real Time” host Bill Maher’s recent prediction that “The King’s Speech” has the best picture Oscar in the bag: “New Rule: If they’re going to make a historical epic full of British actors in period costumes about Queen Elizabeth [II] helping her father get over his speech impediment, why bother having the Oscars at all? You win… Unless someone in America is making a movie where Meryl Streep teaches Anne Frank how to box, we give up.”

Photo: Javier Bardem in “Biutiful.” Credit: Roadside Attractions.

Saturday July 31st, 2010


As you may have heard, Jeff Bridges and the Coen brothers (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen) have re-teamed for the first time since “The Big Lebowski” (1998) to shoot “True Grit,” a remake of the 41-year-old Henry Hathaway film that starred John Wayne late in his career. Wayne bagged an Oscar — his one and only — for his performance as Marshal Rooster Cogburn in the film, so it’s not hard to imagine that Bridges will also garner some serious attention for his take on the one-eyed lawman. In fact, a big-name director who is close to people involved with this film tells me that I should bet on Bridges winning!

There are, however, two strikes against Bridges right off the bat: (1) he just won a best actor Oscar earlier this year, and (2) he’s playing a character that someone else already won an Oscar for portraying. But, as the following stats will illustrate, these can be overcome…

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