Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Birthday: Faye Dunaway !

One of my favorite actress of the 70s and 80s was Faye Dunaway, an elegant blonde with a knack for playing complex and strong-willed female leads. Faye Dunaway, won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film, Network (1976). The film was written by Paddy Chayefsky. Directed by Sidney Lumet. Cast: William Holden, Peter Finch and Robert Duvall and features Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty, and Beatrice Straight. A story about how a TV network exploits a ex-TV anchor's ravings for their own profit.

James Stewart turned the film down because of the strong language.

Faye also received nomination for the film, Bonnie and Clyde (1967). A crime/comedy/romance.

During the depression in the early 1930's, Bonnie Parker meets Clyde Barrow while he tries to steal her mother's car from the front yard. Interested in his personality and bored with her job as a waitress, she decides to run off with him. Together they commit a few small time holdups that provide them with excitement, but.. that is about all. Eventually, they recruit C. W. Moss, a slow witted garage mechanic, to drive the getaway car. Soon, they are joined by Clyde's brother Buck, just released from prison and his whining wife, Blanche. They decide to become notorious bank robbers which turns into an amazing and exciting story ...

The film was directed by Arthur Penn. Costar: Warren Beatty. The screenplay was written by David Newman and Robert Benton, with Robert Towne and Beatty providing uncredited contributions to the script.

Bonnie and Clyde is considered a landmark film, that broke many taboos. Its success motivated other filmmakers to use sex and violence in their films.

Bonnie and Clyde received Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey).

Other actresses considered for the role of Bonnie Parker included: Tuesday Weld, Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley and Sue Lyon.

Chinatown (1974). Neo-noir film, directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne. Cast: Jack Nicholson and John Huston. The film is a multi-layered story that is part mystery and part psychological drama. Performed perfectly by its amazing cast, with a terrifying performance by John Huston as Noah Cross.

The story, set in Los Angeles in 1937,  inspired by the historical disputes over land and water rights in southern California during the 1910s and 1920s, in which William Mulholland acted on behalf of Los Angeles to secure water rights in the Owens Valley.

Chinatown, was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, winning in the category of Best Original Screenplay for Robert Towne.

Faye Dunaway also starred in one of my favorite films, The Thomas Crown Affair(1968), with Steve McQueen. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and won the Award for Best Song with, "Windmills of Your Mind". A remake was released in 1999. Of all of the films that Steve McQueen made in his career, this film is reported to have been his favorite.

The story begins when, Thomas Crown, a millionaire businessman and sportsman, pulls off a perfect crime by robbing a Boston bank and dumping the money into a cemetery's trash can. Crown retrieves the money later and deposits it at a bank in Geneva.

Vicki Anderson, an independent insurance investigator, is contracted to investigate the heist. She will receive a percentage of the stolen money if she recovers it.

Their relationship turns into one of the hottests affairs I have seen in a movie. But, things become complicated by Vicki's job.

The film is beautifully photographed and it also has a wonderful musical score. Jewison makes use of the split screen in several places in the film. Which captures the era perfectly.

The Towering Inferno (1974). Action disaster film produced by Irwin Allen. Cast: Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. The film, was adapted from the novels: The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson. Directed by John Guillermin, with Allen himself directing the action sequences. Jennifer Jones made her final film appearance in this film.

During filming an actual fire broke out on one of the sets and Steve McQueen began helping the firemen put it out. One of the firemen, not recognizing McQueen, said to the actor, "My wife is not going to believe this." To this McQueen replied, "Neither is mine."

The suspense will keep you on edge of your seat, like the scene when they are climbing up a flaming stair well and a long decent down an elevator. You can almost feel the flames and smell the smoke. The scenic elevator is actually one of two in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco. This elevator was also used in the movie, Time After Time (1979).

Another favorite Faye Dunaway film, Three Days of the Condor (1975). An action thriller with a twist. produced by Stanley Schneider and directed by Sydney Pollack. The screenplay, by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel, was adapted from the novel, Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.

The film is set in New York City. Robert Redford, an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency who becomes involved in a deadly power struggle within the agency. It is a story of a common man (Robert Redford) battling for his life. This film reminded me a little of the Alfred Hitchcock's film, North By Northwest.

The film was nominated for the 1976 Academy Award for Film Editing. Semple and Rayfiel received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.

Another favorite Faye Dunaway  movie is, The First Deadly Sin (1980). The last of nine films produced by and starring Frank Sinatra,  Faye Dunaway, David Dukes, Brenda Vaccaro, James Whitmore and, in his final acting role, Martin Gabel. Bruce Willis made his film debut in a bit part. The First Deadly Sin was based on the novel of the same name, first of a series of popular novels by Lawrence Sanders.

New York police Sgt. Edward Delaney is at the scene of a brutal murder when news comes from the hospital that his wife condition has worsened after her kidney operation. Even with his wife's health problems and being close to retirement, Delaney tries to link the recent killing to other recent string of murders. Delaney recruits a museum curator, a coroner, and the victim's wife , to help with his investigation. The investigation leads to a man named Blank, a businessman who looks to be leading a secret life. Will Delaney come up with a plan to trap the killer?

Dunaway blamed the film, Mommie Dearest (1981), for ruining her career as a leading lady. In 1987, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama for her performance in Barfly.  Next she went onto perform in the film, Don Juan DeMarco (1995), with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando.

Dunaway, also starred in the 1986 made-for-television movie, Beverly Hills Madam. In 1993, Dunaway briefly starred in a sitcom with Robert Urich, It Had to Be You. Dunaway won an Emmy for a 1994 role as a murderer in, "It's All in the Game," an episode of the mystery series, Columbo.

In 1996, she toured nationally with the stage play, Master Class. The story about opera singer Maria Callas. Dunaway bought the rights to the Terrence McNally play, for possible film development.

In 2006, Dunaway played a character named Lois O'Neill in the sixth season of the crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. She served as a judge on the 2005 reality show The Starlet, which was to find the next young actress to become a major star. In the spring of 2007, the direct-to-DVD movie release of Rain, based on the novel by V. C. Andrews and starring Dunaway, was released. In 2009, Dunaway starred in the film, The Bait by  film director and producer Dariusz Zawiślak.

Dunaway has been married twice, from 1974 to 1979 to Peter Wolf, the lead singer of the rock group, The J. Geils Band, and from 1984 to 1987 to Terry O'Neill, a British photographer.

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