Happy 2016! This is Susan King, a 26-year veteran of the Los Angeles Times and guardian of the Golden Age of Hollywood galaxy. Every Friday in my Classic Hollywood newsletter, I get to share my passion of all things vintage, including notable births and deaths, movie and TV milestones, the latest in DVDs and books, fun events around town for the discerning film and TV buff and memories of legends I have interviewed over the years.
I first interviewed Anne V. Coates in 1989 for the massive restoration of David Lean’s 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia"; she had earned the Academy Award for her brilliant editing on the classic starring Peter O’Toole. Over the years, I have chatted with her several more times, and she has always been a delight.
She’s still working at 90 -- her last credit was “Fifty Shades of Grey” -- and on Saturday evening the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. is giving her its award for life achievement.
Coates told me in 2009 that she discovered the magic of cinema when she saw William Wyler’s beloved 1939 version of “Wuthering Heights.”
“I fell madly in love with Laurence Olivier like everyone else did,” she said. Her uncle, the famed British movie producer J. Arthur Rank, wasn’t thrilled when he discovered she wanted to get into the family business as an editor. “He thought I was interested in the glamour and sleeping around with the stars,” Coates noted. “Being a rather religious man, he was trying to clean up all of that behavior. I had to persuade him I was really interested in making movies.”
She became a nurse while waiting for her uncle to give her a job. And then finally “he brought me into religious films. He thought, ‘That will dampen her ardor.’ ”
Besides winning the Oscar for “Lawrence of Arabia,” she was nominated for 1964’s “Becket,” “1980’s “The Elephant Man,” 1993’s “In the Line of Fire” and 1998’s “Out of Sight.”
UCLA Film & Television Archive rings in the New Year with the retrospective “Sound and Fury: The Films of Cy Endfield,” which begins Friday and continues through March 18 at the Billy Wilder Theater.
Endfield (1914-1995), best known for his acclaimed 1964 Boer War action-drama “Zulu” with Stanley Baker and a young Michael Caine, was making a name for himself as a writer-director in Hollywood when he was blacklisted after being named a Communist. As with several other blacklisted filmmakers, he fled to Europe, settling in England. The series coincides with the publication of Brian Neve’s “The Many Lives of Cy Endfield: Film Noir, the Blacklist and Zulu.”
Neve will introduce several of the screenings, including that on opening night, which will feature the terrific 1950 noir “The Underworld Story,” starring noir icon Dan Duryea, and 1951’s gripping “Try and Get Me” with Frank Lovejoy and Lloyd Bridges. Neve will also be on hand Saturday for the 1948 mystery “The Argyle Secrets,” with William Gargan and Marjorie Lord; the 1946 comedy “Gentleman Joe Palooka,” which marked his film debut; and the controversial 1943 short “Inflation.”
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Heritage Museum is kicking off 2016 this Wednesday with a tribute to actress Marion Davies, who was a deft comedian in such films as 1928’s “Show People,” though her longtime lover William Randolph Hearst kept casting her in turgid melodramas.
There will be an exhibition of recent donations of her memorabilia from the estate of collector Robert Board and a screening of the documentary “Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies,” narrated by Charlize Theron.
DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL
TCM is celebrating the legacy of actress Joan Leslie (“High Sierra,” “Sgt. York”) on Saturday evening with three of her films: 1942’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” in which she plays the wife of legendary entertainer George M. Cohan (James Cagney in his Oscar-winning role); 1942’s drama “The Hard Way,” with Ida Lupino and Dennis Morgan; and the 1943 musical comedy “The Sky’s the Limit,” with Fred Astaire and Robert Benchley. Leslie died in October at age 90.
This Saturday marks the 80th anniversary of the death of John Gilbert of a heart attack at age 38.
The dashingly handsome Gilbert was one of the top stars of the silent era, starring in such classics as “The Big Parade” and “Flesh and the Devil,” one of many films he made with onetime love Greta Garbo. But his career took a nosedive after his first talkie, 1929’s “His Glorious Night,” which was an insipid mess and his voice seemed less than perfect for sound films.
He continued to make movies, including the terrific “Downstairs,” in which his voice was strong and forceful, but it was too late. His drinking caught up with him, and his heart gave out.
Here is the rather melodramatic obit that appeared in the L.A. Times on Jan. 10, 1936.
FROM THE HOLLYWOOD STAR WALK
Notable birthdays this week include Bob Eubanks (Jan. 8); Jose Ferrer (Jan. 8); Gypsy Rose Lee (Jan. 8); Elvis Presley (Jan. 8); Vilma Banky (Jan. 9); Ray Bolger (Jan. 10); Paul Henreid (Jan. 10); Chester Conklin (Jan. 11); Kirstie Alley (Jan. 12); Tex Ritter (Jan. 12); Luise Rainer (Jan. 12); Army Archerd (Jan. 13); Robert Stack (Jan. 13); and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Jan. 13).