Mal's Movies 2021

Mal Vincent hosts On The Town

Monday, August 23rd, at 7:00pm

Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly are among three sailors who have a one-day shore leave in New York City and turn it into one of MGM’s most delightful musicals. Based on Jerome Robbins’ ballet “Fancy Free’’ most of the Leonard Bernstein score was cut in favor of crustier movie music, but it still has that memorable opening, “New York, New York.” The city is hailed as a “wonderful” town, not a ‘helluva” town (the censors cut it). It made history as the first Hollywood musical to be shot on location rather than on a movie set. Gene Kelly fought to have it partially shot in the real New York City. The girls, all hoofers supreme, are played by Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen and Betty Garrett. Sinatra had not yet met Ava Gardner but was still a star. Kelly taught him the dance routine. (1949, 98 mins)

This is also the night when the audience votes on its choices for the top performances of the festival. So be prepared and don’t forget, too, the earlier films shown.

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Mal Vincent hosts The Caine Mutiny

Monday, August 16th, at 7:00pm

The Navy was reluctant to work with the moviemakers because it didn’t like the word “mutiny” in the title or the character of the cowardly and disturbed Captain Queeg, played by Humphrey Bogart in of his best roles. Bogie finally won the festival’s Actor award for Casablanca but only after he lost for The African Queen and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This received seven Academy Award nominations, including Bogart as Best Actor and Tom Tully as Supporting Actor. The U. S. Navy, incidentally, has never had a mutiny. A lively music score by Max Steiner (Gone with the Wind) is notable. The cast includes Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and new star Robert Francis. Produced by Stanley Kramer, it was a surprise box office hit. (1954, 124 mins)

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Mal Vincent hosts Mister Roberts

Monday, August 9th, at 7:00pm

No movie has so poignantly captured life behind the Pacific battle lines of the Pacific in World War II as this unusual mixture of drama and comedy. It ran for two years on Broadway before being made into this 1955 movie in color and Cinemascope that became a box-office hit. Henry Fonda plays an officer who yearns to get into the war but is stuck on a rusted freighter delivering toilet paper behind the scenes. James Cagney is the somewhat crazed captain who treasures his palm tree and hides it from the rest of the Navy. Jack Lemmon won an Oscar—and became a star—by playing the wacky slacker who also hides on board and learns how to make Scotch with iodine. Betsy Palmer adds her portrayal of a sexy nurse, and it all adds up to a movie that should be in a wartime comedy hall of fame. Veteran William Powell’s last movie actually stars a rusty U. S. Navy freighter, the Hewell, as the ship that houses it all. There are as many laughs as tears, but it all reminds us of how much we owe those who served—particularly behind the scenes. Mal talks about meeting Fonda and Lemmon and how different they were from each other. (1955, 123 mins)

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Mal Vincent hosts The Shop Around The Corner

Monday, August 2nd, at 7:00pm

When the history of Norfolk’s entertainment world is written, Margaret Sullavan should reign, perhaps as the city’s most famous native actress. The daughter of a wealthy stockbroker, she first acted at Norfolk Little Theater before becoming a legendary star both on Broadway and in Hollywood; marrying four wealthy men, being nominated for an Oscar, standing up to all the ruling forces of Hollywood, including Louis B. Mayer. Off screen, she married Henry Fonda and Oscar-winning director William Wyler. She was considered a major contender to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind but she preferred the stage. Here she is in her most popular film, co-starring James Stewart, who was in love with her for most of his life. The Shop Around the Corner is considered one of the romantic comedy treasures of director Ernst Lubitsch, who called it his best film. So good in fact that it has been remade twice. (The last was You’ve Got Mail, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks). The two lead characters hate each other while they work in the same shop together, not knowing that they are writing secret love letters to each other. Mal faces the task of explaining her tragic ending; before that, the movie is a joy. Work is underway for a biography of the star by a writer who recently visited locally to do research. (1940, 99 mins)

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Mal Vincent hosts Young Bess

Monday, July 26th, at 7:00pm

The British royal family is as much in the news today as it was in 1584 when “Good Queen Bess” was the monarch. Elizabeth I ascended to the throne at the age of 25 and reigned for 44 years, against all the odds. Her mother, Anne Boleyn (played by Elaine Stewart) , was beheaded, thus she was branded a bastard but lived to rule. Designed as a star vehicle for Jean Simmons, the movie is a tapestry of set and costume design, with Oscar nominations in those categories. Stewart Granger (Simmons’ real-life husband at the time) plays her (largely ficxtional) love interest. The cast includes Deborah Kerr, with Charles Laughton recreating the role of King Henry VIII for which he had won an Oscar 30 years earlier. Mal brings things up to date with stories of how he attended a movie in the presence of Princess Charles and Princess Diana in London and attempted to introduce his Scottish Terriers to Elizabeth II during her latest visit to Williamsburg. Lots of royalty and lots of entertaining intrigue is involved in dealing with Bess’s childhood and ascension to the throne. There’s nothing like the royals for pomp. (1953, 112 mins)

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