Elisha Cook Jr. dies of a stroke in Big Pine, California, 1995. He was called Hollywood’s lightest heavy, a career character actor largely defined by the neurotic, cowardly criminal types he played throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s. Cook was at his best in The Phantom Lady (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Shane (1953), The Killing (1956)—his personal favorite—and Rosemary’s Baby (1968). But it is his turn as runty gunsel Wilmer opposite Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941) for which audiences perhaps best remember him. "[Cook] lived alone up in the High Sierra, tied flies and caught golden trout between films,” said his Maltese Falcon director John Huston. “When he was wanted in Hollywood, they sent word up to his mountain cabin by courier. He would come down, do a picture, and then withdraw again to his retreat." The five-foot-five-inch actor appeared in a total of 106 pictures, beginning in 1930 with Her Unborn Child through to 1984 with Treasure: In Search of the Golden Horse.
Entries in rosemary's baby (5)
I’m not sure if attendance is down slightly from previous years or if my choices today were merely unpopular, but there were seats to be had in the programs I went to on this, the final day of Turner Classic Movies’s orgy of movie going. Here’s what today yielded.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Robert Evans, at age 81, is still tanned and handsome. This morning at Grauman’s Chinese, the famed producer introduced his first collaboration with director Roman Polanski and recalled the moment in the middle of the shoot when star Mia Farrow was served with divorce papers from Frank Sinatra’s lawyers. A factor in the break-up was Farrow’s refusal to leave the over-schedule production of Rosemary’s Baby in order to appear in Sinatra’s film, The Detective (1968). How Polanski would have completed Rosemary’s Baby without his Rosemary is anyone’s guess. Farrow, who appears in every scene, shows how tremendous she can be with the proper director, and this film joins Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) and Alice (1990) as examples of her very best work.
The Brown Derby
Mark Willems, coauthor with Sally Cobb of The Brown Derby Restaurant: A Hollywood Legend, gave a dandy presentation on the history of the famed eatery—or, more accurately, eateries, as there were four of them throughout the Los Angeles basin. The photos accompanying his presentation were so detailed that I found myself paying more attention to the food, matchbooks, menus and tableware in the shot than I did the movie stars.
Black Narcissus (1947)
Adventure is in the air whenever a film festival guest takes questions from the audience. I remember a screening of Irma la Douce (1963) years ago where a moviegoer raised his hand and said to Shirley MacLaine, “I see you are wearing red. Do you like red?” She handled it like a pro, saying something about red being a powerful color and wanting to project a powerful image that day. Fortunately at the Black Narcissus screening this morning, all the audience questions host Robert Osborne elicited for guest Thelma Schoonmaker were thoughtful, even erudite. Schoonmaker, of course, is Martin Scorsese’s frequent editor and the widow of director Michael Powell, who codirected Black Narcissus with Emeric Pressburger. The story of a community of nuns in the Himalayas won well-deserved Oscars for Jack Cardiff’s cinematography and Alfred Junge’s art direction, both of which benefitted from the stunningly pristine print screened at Mann’s Chinese Six Theater.
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
The Mont Alto Orchestra did a lot of heavy lifting tonight, accompanying all 160 minutes of the Raoul Walsh-directed fantasy starring a lithe and athletic Douglas Fairbanks. Though the actor and his zero body fat impressed, what really struck me in the sharply restored print was the art direction of William Cameron Menzies, an early effort in his 37-year career.
Tuesday Weld is born in New York City in 1943. "I do not ever want to be a huge star," she once said. "Do you think I want success? I refused Bonnie and Clyde (1967) because I was nursing at the time, but also because deep down I knew that it was going to be a huge success." She would go on to turn down roles in Lolita (1962), True Grit (1969), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Cactus Flower (1969), refuse a screen test for The Great Gatsby remake in 1974 and missed being cast in Rosemary's Baby (1968). She was Oscar nominated for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and later gave strong performances in Once Upon a Time in America (1984) and Falling Down (1993).
Here are some of our favorites—terrific one sheets that reflect vital elements of the movies they advertise, yet stand alone as works of art.
Roman Polanski, Oscar-winning director and onscreen slasher of Jack Nicholson's nose, is born in Paris in 1933. Knife in the Water (1962), Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966) preceded his move to Hollywood, where he made an auspicious American debut with Rosemary's Baby (1968). Following a retreat to Europe after girlfriend's Sharon Tate's murder in 1969, Polanski returned to America to make what is perhaps his finest film, Chinatown (1974), featuring a chilling cameo by the director that concludes with the aforementioned nose-slashing. A statutory rape conviction in 1978 exiled him to anywhere-but-America. Career highlights since were Tess (1979) and The Pianist (2002), for which he won the Oscar for Best Director.