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R.I.P. Joan Fontaine

By | Sunday December 15, 2013 @ 6:45pm PST

Joan FontaineOscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine has died, per the AP and multiple news reports. She was 96. Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland to British parents in Japan, Fontaine began her film career under contract with RKO in films like The Man Who Found Himself (1937), her official onscreen “introduction,” A Damsel in Distress (1937) opposite Fred Astaire, and George Cukor’s The Women (1939). A year after leaving RKO, Fontaine starred in the gothic thriller Rebecca as a woman haunted by her new husband’s (Laurence Olivier) dead wife. The film, Alfred Hitchcock‘s American debut, was nominated for 11 Oscars and won two including Best Picture. Fontaine earned her first Best Actress nod and reteamed with Hitch the following year for another domestic thriller, Suspicion, which won her the Academy Award over sister Olivia de Havilland, who was herself nominated for Hold Back The Dawn. Fontaine’s third Best Actress nomination was awarded for 1943′s The Constant Nymph. Subsequent films include Jane Eyre (1943), the Cannes-entry noir Ivy (1947), Max Ophüls’ Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948), Casanova’s Big Night with Bob Hope (1954), Fritz Lang’s Beyond A Reasonable Doubt (1956), Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Tender Is the Night (1962), and the Hammer horror pic The Witches (1966). Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Haifaa Al Mansour Back On Venice Jury; Greece’s Public Broadcaster Returns With New Look; More

Haifaa Al Mansour Tapped As President Of International Jury At Venice Film Festival
Haifaa Al Mansour will return to Venice this year as president of the International Jury for the Luigi De Laurentiis prize for a debut film, the award that’s akin to Cannes’ Camera d’Or. Al Mansour is the first woman to ever direct a film in Saudi Arabia. Her Wadjda, about a young girl’s determination to buy a bicycle, premiered on the Lido last year and went on to play several international festivals. The 70th Venice Film Festival runs August 28-September 7.

Transitional Channel Greek Public Television Hits Airwaves
Greece’s public broadcaster is back on the air, but it’s not the same ERT that was shuttered by the government last month. A transitional channel called Greek Public Television started displaying its logo on Wednesday morning with plans to show films and documentaries until the launch of the official new broadcaster, NERIT. More than 2,600 workers lost their jobs in June when Prime Minister Antonis Samaras shut the broadcaster down as part of the country’s austerity measures. Pulling the plug also caused a political crisis that had threatened the stability of Greece’s government. New legislation for NERIT, which stands for New Greek Radio, Internet and Television, will be debated in Parliament through tomorrow, according to Greek daily Ekathimerini Read More »

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Cannes: Kim Novak Named Guest Of Honor; Restored ‘Vertigo’ To Screen

Last August, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo rose to the No. 1 spot on the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound survey of the so-called 50 Greatest Films Of All Time. Kim Novak, the star of that film, will be the Cannes Film Festival‘s guest of honor next month. Her presence will mark the restoration of Vertigo which will be screened as part of the Cannes Classics section. Novak will also be on hand for the closing ceremony on May 26 where she’ll hand out one of the prizes. The actress first attended the festival in 1959 for Delbert Mann’s Middle Of The Night, her only film ever in Competition. Hitchcock had three movies in Competition: 1956′s The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1953′s I Confess and 1946′s Notorious. In recent years, restorations of both The Ring and Psycho have played in Cannes Classics. The festival starts on May 15.

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‘A Royal Affair’s Nikolaj Arcel To Direct DreamWorks’ Redo Of Hitchcock’s ‘Rebecca’

Mike Fleming

RebeccaEXCLUSIVE: Dreamworks has set Nikolaj Arcel to direct Rebecca, a remake of the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film. The picture, which has a script draft by Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight, is being produced by Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.

Nikolaj ArcelArcel is coming off A Royal Affair, a film that was Oscar nominated for  Best Foreign Language Film, about the queen of an erratic king of Denmark who carries on with her husband’s private doctor in a dangerous affair. Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg also scripted the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Based on the Daphne Du Maurier novel, the original Rebecca focused on a naive young woman who marries a rich widower and moves into his mansion, only to discover that the memory of the first wife is maintaining a grip on her husband and the servants. It starred Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, and it won the Best Picture Oscar. Arcel and Heisterberg are also attached to helm and write an adaptation of the Don Winslow bestseller The Power Of The Dog, which is expected to be their next film. Rebecca would follow.

There will likely be one quick rewrite, but Arcel’s hire has young actresses already beginning to circle the film. Arcel is repped by WME and United Agents.

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Alfred Hitchcock’s Earliest Surviving Films Set For National Tour

By | Tuesday March 19, 2013 @ 11:29am PDT

The so-called ‘Hitchcock 9′, made from 1925 to 1929, have been newly restored by the British Film Institute and are set to screen in several U.S. cities. The tour will kick off in San Francisco’s Castro Theatre as part of the Silent Film Festival June 14-16. The next stop is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles on June 18, then BAMcinématek, June 29-July 5, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Steinberg Screen in the Harvey Theater. The touring festival is a joint venture of the BFI, Park Circus/ITV Studios, and Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal. The nine new BFI restorations include the director’s very first film, The Pleasure Garden, and such rarities as Downhill, Easy Virtue, Champagne, and The Farmer’s Wife. The familiar Hitchcock style begins to emerge strongly in at least four of the films: Blackmail, The Ring (seen at right), The Manxman, and The Lodger, which the director himself dubbed “the first true Hitchcock picture” (it also features his first cameo appearance). One early Hitchcock, The Mountain Eagle, is lost. The nine early Hitchcocks are also set to screen in Washington, D.C., Berkeley, Chicago, Seattle, Houston, Boston, and other American cities.

Photo Credits: BFI

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Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ The Greatest Movie Of All Time? And The Director Could Have New Oscar And Emmy Contenders

Pete Hammond

Alfred Hitchcock has been dead for 32 years. The last film he made, Family Plot, was released in 1976 yet his popularity among movie fans and cineastes alike has never seemed to wane. To put it bluntly, Hitch has never been hotter. This week proof of that was offered by the ascension of his 1958 classic Vertigo to the No. 1 spot on the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound survey of the so-called 50 Greatest Films Of All Time as selected this year by 846 critics, film scholars and historians, the largest sampling ever in the once a decade list that has been compiled every 10 years since 1962. Ever since the inception of the esteemed poll the British international film journal has named Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane as the Number 1 greatest film of all time — until 2012 when suddenly Hitchcock vaulted to the top after a slow, steady ascent since first appearing on the list of the Top 10 films in 1982. It is certainly interesting that this particular Hitchcock film starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, not even a huge hit in 1958 and recipient of only two minor Oscar nominations, for Color Art Direction and Sound, has become the master’s  masterpiece in the eyes of the world’s top film writers and scholars. The only other Hitchcock film on the list is Psycho at number 35, although I personally count numerous others including North By Northwest, Rear Window,  Notorious, even The Birds as equally deserving. I’m not at all sure Vertigo, great as it is, is the greatest of all time. Really? David Lean who directed such immortal greats as Lawrence Of Arabia and The Bridge On The River Kwai doesn’t have a single film in the top 50 and you could argue all day about other omissions and inclusions (there’s no DAVID Lean but there is DAVID Lynch at No. 28 with Mulholland Drive. Hmmm). Read More »

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Sienna Miller & Toby Jones To Star In BBC/ HBO Film About Hitchcock & Tippi Hedren

UPDATE 3:30 PM : HBO Films is on board to co-produce The Girl, which will air in the U.S. on HBO, marking the latest collaboration between HBO and the BBC.

PREVIOUS 7 AM: Sienna Miller and Toby Jones will play Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock in BBC Two drama The Girl. The film will chronicle the director’s obsessive relationship with his The Birds star. According to BBC Two, Hedren has cooperated by giving interviews to writer Gwyneth Hughes, while Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto is attached as a consultant. Miller and Hedren recently met to discuss the project and, says Hughes, “got on like a house on fire.” Becoming Jane’s Julian Jarrold is directing with Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton also in the cast.

Hitchcock was at the height of his fame and creativity when, in 1962, he chose an unknown fashion model to star in his most ambitious film — The Birds. But as he sculpted Hedren into the perfect Hitchcock blonde of his imagination, he became obsessed with the impossible dream of winning the real woman’s love. His failure arguably destroyed both of their careers. In a statement, Hughes said: “It’s been the most enormous privilege to talk at length to Tippi Hedren, the last ‘Hitchcock blonde’ in the life of Britain’s most original and successful film director. At the time, in the early 1960s, the American star suffered in silence. But now, at the age of 81, … Read More »

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Academy To Screen Parts Of Previously Lost Hitchcock Film ‘The White Shadow’

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 12:09pm PDT

Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will present the American re-premiere of the first three reels of “The White Shadow,” the 1924 movie thought to be the earliest surviving feature film work of Alfred Hitchcock, on Thursday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Following the screening, Oscar®-winning actress Eva Marie Saint, who starred in Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” will offer a description of the remaining scenes which are still lost. Michael Mortilla and Nicole Garcia will provide live musical accompaniment on piano and violin.
The tinted print of “The White Shadow,” an atmospheric melodrama starring Betty Compson in a dual role as twin sisters, one angelic and the other “without a soul,” was discovered during the National Film Preservation Foundation’s second round of research to identify prints of early American films held at the New Zealand Film Archive. It was among the many silent-era movies salvaged by New Zealand projectionist and collector Jack Murtagh. After Murtagh’s death in 1989, the highly flammable nitrate prints were sent to the New Zealand Film Archive for safekeeping by Tony Osborne, Murtagh’s grandson.

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