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Jan Spears

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  1. Here's an interesting take on the 'Shirley Eder Tapes': http://stargayzing.com/joan-crawford-barbara-stanwyck-shirley-eder-hollywoods-original-two-faced-women/ The comments section is also worth reading. The first Stanwyck/Eder conversation really gets to the heart of the Crawford/Stanwyck friendship. Crawford and Stanwyck went way back with each other and the tape reveals that Stanwyck was very clear-eyed about her friend's failings. But, however much she may have vented in private about Crawford (and Crawford doing the same about Stanwyck), the two of them managed to keep their friendship going into the 70s and to Crawford's death. It probably helped that they lived on opposite coasts after the mid-50s so these two VERY strong-willed personalities didn't encounter each other face-to-face that often. Regarding the first party Stanwyck and Eder discuss on the first tape, I think I've figured out all the players besides Crawford and Stanwyck: Louis B. Mayer - Authoritarian head of M-G-M from 1924 to 1951 and Crawford's boss from 1925-1943. Edith Mayer Goetz - Mayer's elder daughter who acted as hostess for him during the period when he was separated from his first wife and hadn't remarried. Claudette Colbert - Referred to as "Claudette" by Stanwyck. Top star of the 30s, 40s and beyond. Seated at the main table at the party, which caused all the trouble with Crawford. Robert Taylor -- Referred to as "Robert" by Stanwyck. Top star at M-G-M from the mid-30s to the late-50s and Stanwyck's second husband. Dr. Branch -- Crawford's physician and her date for the party. Based on Stanwyck's comments about L.B. Mayer's marital status at the time, I would say that the party had to have happened no later than 1947 and most likely between the end of the War and 1947.
  2. All Episodes Talk: Dan Curtis Did It First.

    Episode 1001 -- Don Briscoe's last appearance on the show. Sigh!
  3. All Episodes Talk: Dan Curtis Did It First.

    I'm now 15 episodes (981-995) into the Parallel Time storyline, which is one of my favorites. I love Angelique's room in the East WIng both when it's in-phase and out-of-phase. The production staff worked wonders designing and lighting the room. I especially like how the room looks out-of-phase. It really makes you feel like you're in the deserted, desolate wing of an enormous mansion. Dan Curtis and many of the cast members were off filming House of Dark Shadows during this period. Lara Parker, David Selby, Chris Pennock, Lisa RIchards and Michael Stroka definitely earned their keep during this period as they kept the show going while so many other cast members were unavailable.
  4. All Episodes Talk: Dan Curtis Did It First.

    Episode 967 is irritating in the extreme. In the run-up to the episode, there is a mysterious supernatural presence working against Jeb and the Leviathans. All signs point to the ghost of Paul Stoddard, who Jeb has killed and whose body Jeb has destroyed. In 967, however, the mysterious presence turns out not to be Paul Stoddard but, instead, is the ghost of Peter Bradford, who Vicky had joined permanently in the late-1790s. If that wasn't out-of-the blue enough, Peter Bradford then reveals that he's seeking revenge on Jeb for killing Vicky in the past!!! The Peter-rather-than-Paul twist is understandable if Dennis Patrick wasn't available to play Paul and/or the show needed to utilize actor Roger Davis (as Peter) for contractual reasons. But it's a real kick in the teeth for fans of Victoria Winters (and her portrayer, Alexandra Moltke) to find out that she died offscreen at the hands of Jeb who, up to that point in the storyline, hadn't even been mentioned as being active in the 1790s.
  5. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

    What was extraordinary about the character of Elio (and Timothee's performance as Elio) was that he could go from acting like a typical adolescent one moment (i.e. when his father had to order him to wear the shirt that "Sonny&Cher" had bought him) to being very adult and, frankly, calculating at others. I agree. The film really conveyed the sense of a slow, hazy Italian summer. I also liked how they evoked 1983 without overdoing the period aspect. (Elio wearing a Talking Heads t-shirt was a perfect touch because someone like Elio would have worn a Talking Heads t-shirt that summer.)
  6. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

    It's a bit like seeing Jane Russell's name above Marilyn Monroe's name in the opening credits of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. That billing made perfect sense at the time (Russell was the bigger star) but it seems a bit odd in 2018. (And I say that as someone who thinks Russell was pitch perfect as Dorothy in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.) I would like to see Timothee win too. But Gary Oldman will be 60 this year and the Academy may think that this may be their last chance to give Oldman the statue. Hollywood is well aware of how they missed the boat with people like Greta Garbo and Barbara Stanwyck,, who received Honorary Oscars instead of actual acting Oscars.
  7. Memorable Scenes: What Are Some of Yours?

    That episode (938) is extraordinary because it's largely just Jonathan Frid speaking while Grayson Hall listens. But it has an atmospheric quality that is hard to explain. There are a number of great episodes at this point in the Leviathans storyline, including: 948, in which Barnabas, Julia and Maggie contact Josette via séance and Josette says goodbye to Barnabas forever, 950-51, in which Jeb transforms Barnbas back into a vampire, and 953-54, in which Nicholas Blair returns to assume leadership of the Leviathans cause now that Barnabas has betrayed them.
  8. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

    I saw it again today. I was amazed at how much detail I missed the first time around. Things like the Star of David necklace and the shirt Oliver was wearing when he first arrived were so much more significant to me on second viewing. I definitely thought the mother figured out what was happening a lot earlier than I had thought before. Timothee Chalamet's performance was even more extraordinary on repeat viewing. He used his body like a silent film actor would have -- to convey interior emotions without words (or when words would have been insufficient.) I continue to like Armie Hammer as Oliver although his performance was truly a supporting role to Timothee's Elio. The ending hit me harder this time. Oliver telling Elio that he was lucky to have such understanding parents because his (Oliver's) father would have sent him to a correctional facility for being involved with another male was such a sad moment, Elio would have been OK going forward but I'm not so sure Oliver would have. And then hearing them call each other "Elio" and "Oliver" for the last time -- sigh.
  9. Memorable Scenes: What Are Some of Yours?

    What I love about that scene is that there was a slow build-up to it. For a time, the Barnabas story and the Liz/Jason/body in the basement story operated on separate tracks with only Willie Loomis connecting them. But, gradually, the two stories converged and culminated in Jason trying to rob the Old House and having Barnabas kill him for his troubles. (Jason's exit also features one of the last references to Vicky's parentage as he baits her about it at the Blue Whale before he's supposed to leave town.)
  10. Memorable Scenes: What Are Some of Yours?

    The scene I come back to again and again is in Episode 233, in which Jonathan Frid (as Barnabas) delivers what is now known as the 'Josette Soliloquy'. This is the long monologue Barnabas recites to Vicky and Carolyn recounting Josette's last moments before she killed herself in 1795. I love this sequence for several reasons. First, I consider it to be Frid's finest moment in the series. He is pitch perfect in his delivery and you can tell what a mesmerizing effect he is having by watching the expressions of Alexandra Moltke and Nancy Barrett as they listen to him. From the rapt expressions on their faces, it's hard to know if Moltke and Barrett are responding in character as Vicky and Carolyn or if it's Alexandra and Nancy responding to the power of Frid's performance. The second thing I love about this sequence is its setting and mood. A huge storm is raging over Collinwood and the mansion has lost power. The production staff did a tremendous job creating and sustaining the illusion that the lightning from the storm and the candles lit by Vicky and Carolyn are the only sources of illumination in the house as Barnabas tells his story. The excellence of the lighting (or its absence) conveys the impression that this is truly a sprawling mansion beset by storms and smothered by 'dark shadows'. Finally, I still like the writing for Vicky (and Alexandra) at this point. After Barnabas' story causes Carolyn to flee the room, Vicky asks Barnabas several probing questions as she makes the connection between Josette's death and the events transpiring in Collinsport with Maggie Evans. For this viewer, this is Vicky at her finest; being more perceptive than anyone else at Collinwood.
  11. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

    I read about that but my feeling is, once the two male leads declined to do frontal nudity, the director should have exempted the young actress as well. I just found it jarring and it took me out of the story momentarily.
  12. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

    I thought the movie ending (compared to the book ending, which I've only read summaries of) gave more room for interpretation regarding Elio and Oliver. Yes, Elio was heartbroken that Oliver wouldn't be coming back to him. But I envisioned Elio being too dynamic of a person to become forever mired in heartbreak. I walked out of the theater thinking that Elio would move on to find someone else while always retaining the fondest of memories of what happened that summer. The person I felt sorry for was Oliver, who buckled under social pressure in a way that I don't Elio ever would or could. But that's the beauty of the ending and the movie. It leaves enough unanswered that each viewer can write the final fates of Elio and Oliver.
  13. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

    I saw it on Sunday. I went into it not knowing how I would feel about the 24/17 issue but honestly, after seeing the film, it didn't bother me at all. Elio could be, in turns, quite adult and quite adolescent. But there were times when Oliver acted less mature than Elio. But for Armie Hammer looking much older than 24, the two characters actually seemed much closer in age. If anything bothered me, it was Marzia being shown frontally nude when the two guys weren't. I thought the father's speech was a general expression of regret which each audience member can read whatever they want to into it. I also thought the parents definitely knew what was happening at a certain point and that it would be good for Elio to have this experience with Oliver, who they trusted with their son. I didn't find the ending to be tragic for Elio. Oliver was Elio's first love but not necessarily his true love. In contrast, Oliver's ending seemed more tragic to me based on the comment he made about his father not being accepting of a gay son. (I forget the exact words Oliver said.) To me, Oliver compromises at the end whereas I envisioned Elio remaining true to himself.
  14. All Episodes Talk: Dan Curtis Did It First.

    I've finished with the final 12 episodes of Collection 17 and the first 3 discs of Collection 18, which puts me just about at the half way mark of the Leviathans era. Here are my thoughts and grades for the major storylines: Leviathans/Paul Stoddard's Return/The Antiques Shop I've been pleasantly surprised to find that, contrary to legend, the Leviathans storyline is actually quite exciting and contains numerous twists and turns. The Leviathans themselves are like a disease that is slowly beginning to infect Collinsport. This was the perfect set-up to showcase Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman, who is definitely aware that something strange is happening with Barnabas and at the antiques shop in town but can't quite "diagnose" the problem. This storyline also features a superb performance from Marie Wallace as Megan Todd, who becomes increasingly deranged and sadistic as the storyline progresses. (Wallace specialized in playing these kinds of characters, which included the supernatural Eve in 1968 and the insane Jenny Collins in 1897.) Matching Wallace along the way is child actor Michael Maitland who plays the Leviathan creature during one of its transformations. Maitland is very impressive and, as a child actor, he more than holds his own opposite Grayson Hall and Jonathan Frid. Grade: A- (Dropped from an A because Dan Curtis & co. lost their nerve a bit regarding Barnabas' motivations. Barnabas starts out being completely under the control of the Leviathans. But then his motivation changes mid-story and he becomes a victim of blackmail by the Leviathans.) Chris Jennings Werewolf Story The werewolf story is actually quite compelling, and Don Briscoe and Grayson Hall are good in it. Unfortunately, the storyline is not sustained consistently. It takes center stage at times and then it -- and Don Briscoe -- disappear for long stretches. Grade: B Quentin's Return/The Portrait of Quentin/Quentin and Amanda If there was one dud during this period, this storyline was it. At a certain point (and that point comes quickly), Quentin's amnesia and Julia trying to find the portrait of Quentin from 1897 become repetitive and tiresome. Also, the Quentin and Amanda love story isn't especially compelling and it's conclusion -- Quentin trying to rescue Amanda from the afterlife -- is too far-fetched even for this show. Points, though, for actor Emory Bass as "Mr. Best" (a.k.a. Death) who makes the most of his too brief appearances. Grade: C+
  15. Roger Collins: Father of the Year

    The pre-Barnabas era can be slow going but it does have certain things to recommend it. First, the show is entirely in B&W during this period and this really adds to the creepy feeling a show titled Dark Shadows should have. I've always thought that the show lost something (at least initially) when it switched from B&W to color. Another advantage to the pre-Barnabas period and the first few months after Jonathan Frid joined the cast is that Collinsport felt like more of a real place than it did later on. Vicky's interactions with the Collinsport characters (Burke, Maggie, Joe and Sam) grounded the show in a semi-realism that kept it from drifting into absurdity (as it sometimes did during post-Barnabas storylines.) Finally, some of the characters, particularly Vicky, Carolyn and Maggie, were much better written earlier than they were later. Over time, the younger female leads became blanded out to the point where there were no longer sharp personality differences between them.