Author Archives: Jessie

About Jessie

I work in the Chester County Library System in Pennsylvania.

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Paddington 2
Den of Thieves
Forever My Girl
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Have a Nice Day
Dear Dictator
Survival Guide for Pain-Free Living With Peggy Cappy

Unforgotten season 1
Shameless season 8

Musicprimal heart
Primal Heart by Kimbra
Port Saint Joe by Brothers Osborne
Eat the Elephant by A Perfect Circle
Family Tree by Black Stone Cherry
Unexpected by Jason Crabb
Volunteer by Old Crow Medicine Show
44/876 by Sting & Shaggy

Shattered Mirror by Iris Johansen
Twisted Prey by John Sandford
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantime Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil

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Happy Anniversary, Nellie Forbush and Gigi

South Pacific

March 19 marked the 60th anniversary of the New York premiere at the Criterion Theatre of the film version of Rodger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which debuted on Broadway in 1949.  It was one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Big 5,” whose other members were Oklahoma!, Carousel, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.  Like Oklahoma!, South Pacific differed from traditional musical theater in its emphasis on story, even a hard-edged story.  Racism was at the core as sailors, soldiers airmen, and nurses island-hopping across the Pacific toward Japan encountered and interacted with indigenous peoples or, in the case of American nurse Nellie Forbush (Mitzi Gaynor), expatriate French planter Emile (Rossano Brazzi, his singing voice dubbed by Ezio Pinza, Broadway’s Emile) who’d fathered children with a Polynesian woman, and Lieutenant Cable (John Kerr), who romanced Liat (France Nuyen).

The public made the film the highest grosser of the year.  Unsurprisingly, critics, who rarely complimented Broadway director Joshua Logan’s films, belittled South Pacific.  Complaints ranged from casting Gaynor as Nellie rather than, say, Mary Martin from the stage play or Judy Garland, to the curious color palette developed by Logan and 20th Century-Fox’s “house cinematographer” Leon Shamroy.  Shamroy had helped develop CinemaScope and photographed The Robe (1953), the first movie in the process.  Logan hated Technicolor and did not want to make a film that looked like a picture postcard.  He took a still photographer’s advice to “Use filters, overexposure, shoot through a Navajo blanket or a Spanish shawl.  Anything!  Just don’t make it look as though you could turn it over and find written, ‘Having wonderful time in colorful Tahiti—wish you were here.’”  Taking the advice, Logan “thereby made one of the major mistakes of my career.”  Nevertheless, in The Musical Film, Douglas McVay complimented the rich score “and some at times slightly bilious but often strangely atmospheric use of colour films,…”

Mitzi Gaynor, who could dance up a storm and sing more than adequately, had been under Fox contract for her most of her career.  That was a mixed blessing as Fox worked in MGM’s shadow in the musical realm, continuing to make backstage musicals rather than create art via spontaneous singing and dancing.  Gaynor did get to do one good MGM musical, Les Girls, but like her work at Fox, it was mostly a backstage affair.



Like South Pacific, Gigi, which premiered on May 15, 1958 in New York at the Royale Theatre, was a reserved-seat roadshow and a smash hit, taking in $40,000 in advance, mail-order tickets before opening night.  Unlike South Pacific, Gigi was one of the last Hollywood musicals whose score Lerner and Loewe wrote specifically for the screen and included such memorable songs as “The Night They Invented Champagne,” “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” “I Remember It Well,” and “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight.”  Gigi won a record 9 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

There is a relationship between Gigi and 1951’s An American in Paris.  Both were MGM productions, both were directed by Vincente Minnelli, both featured Leslie Caron as the lead femme, both were set in Paris.  Both won the Best Picture Academy Award.  One thing was radically different:  Douglas McVay identified “virtually no dancing (the numbers frequently being shot in long, static takes with the singers sitting down).”

In fact, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of dancing in South Pacific either.  (Of course it’s difficult to dance on sand.)  Nevertheless, dancing or a simulacrum of it was part of “A Wonderful Guy,” “Honey Bun” “A Cockeyed Optimist,” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.”

Sidenote:  In the mid-sixties South Pacific and Gigi were reissued, which was the only way audiences who’d missed them in ‘58 could catch up.  There were no VHS tapes, RedBox, YouTube, streaming, or Turner Classic Movies.

By Kim


Holston, Kim.  Movie Roadshows.  2013.

Logan, Joshua.  Movie Stars, Real People and Me.  1978.

McVay, Douglas.  The Musical Film.  1967.

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Moviesthe post
The Post
The Commuter
Humor Me
American Folk
Minding Our Manors

TV Series
Mystery Science Theater 3000 season 11

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers
The First Family by Daniel Palmer
The Fallen by David Baldacci
Noir by Christopher Moore
A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

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Moviesgreatest showman
The Greatest Showman
Molly’s Game
All the Money in the World
Phantom Thread
Proud Mary
My Friend Dahmer
The Tribes of Palos Verdes
Scotch: The Story of Whisky
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic
Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds

TV Series
Vice Principals the complete series
The Coroner season 1
Outlander season 3

Ember by Breaking Benjamin
The Tree of Forgiveness by John Prine
The Lookout by Laura Veirs
Rearview Town by Jason Aldean
PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol 1 by Pentatonix

AudiobooksAfter Anna audio.indd
After Anna by Lisa Scottoline
Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
The Cutting Edge by Jeffery Deaver
Shoot First by Stuart Woods
The Fox Hunt by Mohammed Al Samawi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I Remember You
Strad Style
Survivors Guide to Prison
Who Killed Tupac?

TV Shows
Mr. Robot season 3
The Brokenwood Mysteries series 4
Legion season 1
The Americans season 5

Hard Feelings by Blessthefall
Boarding House Reach by Jack White
Sex and Cigarettes by Toni Braxton
Whole Heart by Passion

Red Alert by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear
I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

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Academy Award Omissions

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is instrumental in restoring and archiving films, but many times its voting members have missed the boat on nominating or awarding films that have become classics and/or were cutting edge.  Also, many a director and performer now viewed as icons received little recognition via wins or nominations.  Emanuel Levy, a chronicler of the Academy, wrote that In Hollywood’s heyday, “The major studios always had the resources and facilities to carry out sophisticated and effective campaigns on behalf of their movies…Not to be forgotten is that the Academy began its existence as a guild-busting company union manipulated by the biggest studio, MGM.”  Furthermore, “For two decades, the Academy was controlled by the big studios, with nominations dominated by a few powerful cliques within the studios.”

Examples of oversights and omissions through the years:

Major stars who never won a Best Actress or Actor Award:  Deborah Kerr (6 nominations—and should have had a 7th for The Innocents), Cary Grant (2 nominations; rumor has it his freelance success perturbed the studios), Peter O’Toole (8 nominations), Richard Burton (7 nominations), Barbara Stanwyck (4 nominations), Rosalind Russell (4 nominations), Kirk Douglas (3 nominations).  To absolve the Academy of some blame it should be remembered that in the past competition was incredibly stiff.  How else can we explain Burton and O’Toole, for instance, never winning, Richard Widmark’s sole nomination coming for his first screen appearance in 1947’s Kiss of Death, and Glenn Ford never being nominated.

Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Wallace Beery (The Champ) tied for Best Actor of 1932.  Because they were within 3 votes of each other, the tie was “legal.”  Nevertheless, rumor persists that MGM, which produced The Champ, used its leverage to make this category a tie.

King Kong (1933) received no nominations.  (Special Effects wasn’t yet a category.)citizen kane

Alfred Hitchcock received 5 Best Director nominations but never won.  Vertigo (1958), now deemed one of the all-time greatest American films, sometimes given pride of place, was not nominated.

Citizen Kane (1941) did not win Best Picture.  How Green Was My Valley did.  Levy  observed, “There is no doubt that Citizen Kanes cinematic merits were not sufficiently recognized at the time,…its innovations were revolutionary, well ahead of their time.”

James Stewart didn’t win for his tour-de-force performance in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), but the following year took home the statuette for The Philadelphia Story (1940).  It seems as if Academy voters were atoning for an oversight.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s majestic score for Kings Row (1942) was not nominated even though there were 18 nominations in that category!

John Wayne was not nominated for Red River (1948) or The Searchers (1956).  Nor were those classic westerns nominated.

James Cagney did not receive a nomination for his mesmerizing mom-fixated psychopathic bank robber in White Heat (1949).singing-in-the-rain

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) did not win Best Picture, probably because An American in Paris, another MGM musical, had done so in 1951.  Singin’ is now generally regarded as the greatest Hollywood musical.

Robert Mitchum was not nominated for his super-disturbing, sociopathic preacher man Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter (1955).  Academy Award-winning actor Charles Laughton directed the movie but it was not a success and he never took the director’s seat again.

Elizabeth Taylor did not win Best Actress for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).  That honor went to Susan Hayward for I Want To Live!  Two years later Taylor won for Butterfield 8, a distinctly lesser film than Cat.  It is assumed that Taylor’s health problems and the death of husband Mike Todd had something to do with this.

In perhaps the biggest oversight ever, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was not nominated for Best Picture, and the Academy took heat for the omission.  Variety extracted from The Portland Oregonian its critic’s complaint that the awards “are blatantly commercial awards given to con yokels into believing that some kind of final word has been delivered on the relative quality of a movie….They defy artistic expression and reflect the waning dinosaur groans of a movie generation sinking into senility and richly deserved oblivion…2001 was obviously too new and too advanced for the rank and file.”

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) won a slew of awards but Manhunter (1986) is essentially the same story and won nothing.  Tom Noonan’s crazed Dollarhyde is as horrifying as Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter.

Martin Scorsese won Best Director and Best Film for The Departed (2006) a worthy movie but not in the same league with his Taxi Driver (1976) or Raging Bull (1980).inception

Christopher Nolan did not receive a Best Director nomination for Inception (2010), which essentially doomed that film from winning Best Picture.

It may have been Ossie Davis who declared that the awards extravaganza was overblown but who didn’t want to be a part of it?


By Kim


Fredrik, Nathalie.  Hollywood and the Academy Awards.  1970.

Holston, Kim.  Movie Roadshows:  A History and Filmography of Reserved-Seat Limited Showings, 1911-1973.  2013.

Levy, Emanuel.  Oscar Fever:  The History and Politics of the Academy Awards.  2001.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Pitch Perfect 3
Chasing Life
Day the Dinosaurs Died
Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking

TV Shows
Archer season 8

Seasons Change by Scotty McCreery
I’ll Be Your Girl by The Decemberists
Love, Simon Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Various
17th Avenue Revival by The Oak Ridge Boys
Stone Temple Pilots by Stone Temple Pilots
Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love by Snoop Dogg

The Bishop’s Pawn by Steve Berry
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Duel to the Death by J. A. Jance
Accidental Heroes by Danielle Steel
The Disappeared by C. J. Box
The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

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Justice League
Call Me by Your Name
The Disaster Artist
The Shape of Water
I, Tonya
44 Pages
Bible Hunters
Let There be Light

TV Shows
Major Crimes season 6
Knightfall season 1
Fear the Walking Dead season 3
The Good Fight season 1
The Handmaid’s Tale season 1

Musicboth sides the sky
Both Sides of the Sky by Jimi Hendrix
American Utopia by David Byrne
Tearing at the Seams by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
White is Relic/Irrealis Mood by Of Montreal
Firepower by Judas Priest
Outsider by Three Days Grace

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
Caribbean Rim by Randy Wayne White
The Rising Sea by Clive Cussler & Graham Brown

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Thor: Ragnarok
Lady Bird
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Wonder Wheel
The Breadwinner
BPM (Beats Per Minute)
49 Pulses
47 Below
Titanic’s Tragic Twin: The Britannic Disaster
NFL Super Bowl 52 Champions
Blue Planet II
A Song for You: The Austin City Limits Story
More Art Upstairs

TV Series
Newton’s Law: season 1
Curb Your Enthusiasm season 9

Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt by Moby
All Nerve by The Breeders
Glorious Day: Hymns of Faith by Casting Crowns
Whistle Down the Wind by Joan Baez
Black Times by Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
A Productive Cough by Titus Andronicus
World Beyond by Erasure
Superorganism by Superorganism

The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard
The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin
I’ll be Your Blue Sky by Marisa De Los Santos

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Moviesmurder on the orient express
Murder on the Orient Express
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Let There be Light
Darkest Hour
Just Getting Started
5 Doctors
Colors of Heaven
Polluting Paradise

TV Series
MacGyver season 1
Rebecka Martinsson series 1

Musicone people one world
Surrounded by Michael W. Smith
Nation of Two by Vance Joy
Special Reserve by Big Smo
One People One World by Femi Kuti
Plunge by Fever Ray
Cry No More by Danielle Nicole
Red Lights by Milestones

The Hush by John Hart
The Deceivers by Alex Berenson
Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke
Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

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