Van Johnson, one of the best light comedian/song and dance men of the 1940s-50s, died this week at age 92. His boyish, All-American good looks made him a popular choice for musicals, romantic comedies, and some dramatic roles as well. He was so well known as the ideal boy-you-wish-lived-next-door performer that Cole Porter included him in the lyrics of his song “Give me a Primitive Man.”
Johnson could play a lead but he was better as a wise-cracking wingman for Gene Kelly in Brigadoon and Henry Fonda in Yours, Mine and Ours. My favorite Van Johnson performances include In the Good Old Summertime, opposite Judy Garland in the musical pre-”You’ve Got Mail” remake of “The Shop Around the Corner,” about the two warring music store employees who don’t know that they are real sweethearts through an anonymous letter exchange. I also love the neglected gem “Wives and Lovers,” which has a wonderful scene where he watches with combined fascination and horror as his daughter makes her lunch. Johnson was not the best singer, dancer, or actor but he was fun to watch because he was so comfortable and natural on screen and always looked like he was having a good time.
And I love this little dance number from “I Love Lucy.”
The Memory Book -- This Saturday on the Hallmark Channel A budding, young photographer stumbles upon an old photo album chronicling the ideal romance of a happy couple. Intrigued by their love and unable to find her own “true love,” she sets out to find the couple and figure out if true love really exists. The film stars Meghan Ory (“Once Upon a T
Interview: Michael Rossato-Bennett of "Alive Inside" Michael Rossato-Bennett agreed to spend one day filming Dan Cohen's remarkable music therapy work with people struggling with dementia. He ended up spending three years there and the result is "Alive Inside," an extraordinary documentary about the power of music to reach the human spirit, even when
Movies' Greatest Mirror Scenes Anne Billson has a great piece in The Telegraph on mirror scenes in movies, from the Marx brothers clowning in "Duck Soup" and the shootout in "The Lady from Shanghai" to Elizabeth Taylor scrawling on the mirror with lipstick in "Butterfield 8."
How Do Movies Show Time Passing? Someone once said that movies are "pieces of time." A few take place in "real time." Alfred Hitchcock's experiment, "Rope," unfolds in just the time it takes us to watch it, all in what appears to be one seamless shot. But others take place over days, weeks, years, even generations.
Boring TV Makes You Fat A new study finds that boring television leads to mindless snacking and that leads to putting on pounds.
So, watch programs that excite and engage you. Or, if the show is boring, turn off the television.
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