The Misfits (1961.) A group of “losers” discover the meaning of life near Reno, NV. Troubled production. Monroe and husband/screenwriter Arthur Miller divorced immediately after. Clark Gable died from a heart attack before it hit theaters; M.M. died in ’62 from a drug overdose; possible suicide.
Elvis on Tour (1972.) Rock star Elvis Presley finally found his niche doing documentaries, this being his follow-up to “Elvis – That’s the Way It Is” (1970.) Amazing use of split screens; well edited by then newcomer Martin Scorsese. Won a Golden Globe for “Best Documentary”. Elvis died five years later in Graceland.
Giant (1956.) James Dean was the hottest new star in Hollywood when his aluminum sports car smashed itself into oblivion on 9/30/55. He received his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor as Jett Rink, Rock Hudson’s nemesis in “Giant”.
The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968.) 1950’s blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield still managed to earn a living doing nightclub appearances and independent films. This “mondo”-style documentary (filmed shortly before her death) is narrated by a female impersonator and ends with her car accident.
12 + 1 (aka The 13 Chairs, 1969.) Nearly unknown European comedy starring Vittorio Gassman and Sharon Tate. Not particularily funny and the two lead actors didn’t like each other. Miss Tate was murdered on Aug. 9, 1969 by the Manson “family”. (Written about in “Helter-Skelter” – 1971.)
They All Laughed (1981.) Model/actress Dorothy Stratten was just starting out – this being her third picture after “Autumn Born” and “Galaxina”. 1980 seemed like her year – she was chosen as “Playboy’s Playmate of the Year,” until she got caught up in a love triangle with director Peter Bogdanovich and her husnand/manager Paul Snider. Snider killed her and himself on Aug. 14, 1980, probably while they were discussing their impending divorce. Cause of death: a shotgun blast to the face.
Mame (1974.) Based on the famous Broadway musical, starring Lucille Ball, who most know can’t sing. ’74 was also the year “Here’s Lucy” (1968-1974) was cancelled. A bad luck year for that “wacky redhead”. Lucy died on 4/26/89 from a torn artery.
The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980.) Actor Peter Sellers had finally found fortune again in the mid-to-late 1970’s. (In the “Pink Panther” film series and as Chauncey Gardiner in “Being There” (1979.) He completed his life’s work with this strange, obscure comedy which ends with him doing an Elvis impersonation. Mr. Sellers died from a heart attack on July 24, 1980.
Laurel & Hardy in “Utopia” (1950.) Weird French comedy, badly dubbed, starring that great comedy team Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Language barrier further complicated this misunderstood venture. A few scenes shine through. Mr. Laurel died from a heart attack on 2/23/65. Mr. Hardy died from cerebral thrombosis on 8/7/57.
Kook’s Tour (1970.) Rarely seen “3 Stooges” pilot of them touring the countryside. Unique travelogue could’ve worked, except the “middle stooge” Larry Fine suffered from a stroke and was placed in a retirement home.
Vivian Leigh in “Ship of Fools” (1965.) Former Academy award winner for “Gone with the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Her final award was the “L’Etoile de Cristal for “Ship of Fools”. (lead performance) Leigh died from tuberculosis on July 8, 1967.
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