Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Category Archives: Mini-Portraits

In THE MIRACLE WOMAN, All Eyes Are on Stanwyck—Especially Capra’s

There’s a certain luminous quality that shines through when a director is in love with his leading lady. In Frank Capra’s The Miracle  Woman, starring Barbara Stanwyck, it’s all over the screen. This was the second film for these kindred spirits—whose relationship got off to such a rocky start, the real miracle is that they ended up working together at all. In 1930, …

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Announcing Audrey at 90: The Salute to Audrey Hepburn Blogathon!

O wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? I can’t swear to it, but I’m pretty sure Shelley was talking about Audrey Hepburn’s birthday. Which we’ll be celebrating in a big way here at Sister Celluloid! On May 4, Audrey would have turned 90—and we’re hoping to capture every aspect of her remarkable …

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The Un-Chilly Elegance of Frieda Inescort

“I’m so aristocratic on stage it’s a wonder I don’t come out blue when I take a bath.” Probably best known as the hopelessly haughty Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice—who seemed to smell cabbage whenever Elizabeth Bennet stepped into the room—Frieda Inescort took a wry view of her typecasting. But there was so much …

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Reel Infatuation: Rod Taylor in SUNDAY IN NEW YORK

Ladies! Traveling around New York, you’re likely to run into all kinds of guys. Take, for instance, the manspreader: Not even Dame Helen Mirren was safe from him. And The Nicest Man in America™ actually was him. Then there’s Oscar Shapeley, who’s certain your emphatic rejections are just a playful way of heightening the romantic tension before …

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BRIEF ENCOUNTER: The Rain, the Sane, And Mainly Lots of Pain

When I was invited to join the “April Showers” celebration of rainy movie scenes, the first one that came to mind wasn’t something like this… or this… or this. You see, I’m Irish. So of course I thought of this doomed, guilt-ridden duo. The scene in Brief Encounter where Laura (Celia Johnson) tears through the wet streets after …

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Remembering Billy Chapin, Who Saw Us Through THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

More than half a century after shielding his little sister through the most monstrous night of their lives, John Harper left the world on her birthday. Billy Chapin—who, as John, all but carried The Night of the Hunter on his slight shoulders—died on December 2, the day Sally Jane Bruce, who played Pearl, turned 68. From the …

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TINTYPE TUESDAY: The Ever-Elegant Boris Karloff—And His Secret Ingredient for Guacamole

Welcome to another edition of TINTYPE TUESDAY! Regular readers may recall just how very un-monstrous Boris Karloff was offscreen, visiting children’s hospitals to play Santa Claus and read bedtime stories—and even charming the little girl who played Maria in Frankenstein while bolted into full makeup. But can we talk for a minute about how insanely elegant he …

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Auntie Joan (Crawford) Explains It All for You!

Don’t say nothin’ bad about my Joanie. Not long ago, in need of a tonic on a stifling summer day, I reread the closest thing we have to her autobiography, the wildly entertaining Joan Crawford: My Way of Life. On the cover, firmly gripping her pair of poodles, she looks like a terrified hostage trying …

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Reel Infatuation: Walter Huston as DODSWORTH

Who’s your cinematic someone—the movie character you’re most in love with? For me, it’s Walter Huston’s Dodsworth. When first we meet him, he’s gazing out the window of a great office. But this is no corporate overlord—you get the feeling he’d rather be out there on the floor. “The men are ready,” his secretary says softly. And so they are, some …

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When Richard Widmark Hugs You, You Stay Hugged

Back in the spring of 2001, the Walter Reade Theatre had a retrospective of Richard Widmark films, with a special—to put it mildly—appearance by the man himself, who was then 86. I had loved Richard Widmark since I was a kid, when I saw him in Don’t Bother to Knock. He seemed like a bit of a …

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