Liz Smith: On The Waterfront

“I COULDA’ been a contender. I coulda’ been a somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”

That’s Marlon Brando, in the famous car scene with Rod Steiger in “On The Waterfront.”

Well, there were a lot of contenders, some winners, and quite possibly a few bums at Hollywood’s night of nights, last night. But I’ll give my opinions on that tomorrow. Except for the bums. (You know who you are.)

I opened the column with Brando’s quote because the great DVD company, Criterion, has just released a fabulous new restored version of “On The Waterfront.”

The Elia Kazan-directed classic has been dramatically improved visually, and the package comes with three DVDs, plus a booklet featuring, among other essays, Kazan’s own defense of his testimony before the House of Un-American Activities.

(Kazan named names as America was whipped into a frenzy of Communist witch-hunting. Some in Hollywood never forgave the director. When, late in life, Kazan received an honorary Oscar, feelings still ran high.)

There is also a new interview with Eva Marie Saint, who — in her big-screen debut — won a best supporting actress Oscar for the gritty tale.

Criterion continues to amaze. They are genuinely invested in preserving and restoring classic films, American and foreign, for a new generation. I am still breathless over their release of “Black Narcissus,” a few years back. What a movie — sexually repressed nuns in a Himalayan convent, with perhaps the greatest Technicolor photography ever. (And you haven’t lived until you’ve seen 16-year-old Jean Simmons, as an exotic dancing girl, seduce the even more exotic Sabu, playing a decadent young prince!)

JENNIFER LAWRENCE has now been nominated twice for an Oscar — perhaps she even won it last night. And she has become a cult heroine of millions of young women in her role as Katniss of “The Hunger Games” (the second film of the trilogy is shooting now.) So, she’s really famous. How famous? Well, the people at Mattel have transformed Miss Lawrence into their latest Barbie Doll, complete with the bow and arrow Katniss uses so well and lethally.

Of course, Barbie has come a long way from the absurdly busty, high-heeled, heavily eye-lined vixen of 1958. She’s changed with the times. She’s been everything from an astronaut to, well, probably a brain surgeon. Now she’s Jennifer Lawrence and she means business!

SO, OSCAR night 2013 is over, but already the biz is alive with the sound of movies that might be worthy next year.

One of them is “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” directed by Justin Chadwick, produced by Anant Singh, and starring the remarkable Idris Elba. The movie is in post-production and said to be a stunning look at Mandela’s life.

So who has snapped up the rights to release and promote this important movie? Who else — Harvey Weinstein.
Producer Singh accurately observes: “This is the perfect film for Harvey’s passion for cinema.”

And perfect for a clutch of new 2014 Oscars for Mr. Weinstein’s already overcrowded shelves.

THIS NOVEMBER marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There are many specials and new books being readied, including, but of course, a re-lease of Oliver Stone’s controversial movie, “JFK” (Oliver will probably stuff it with a lot of scenes cut from the original release.)

Also, ABC-TV will air a documentary about how JFK’s assassination changed life forever in the United States, especially for young people. Not for the better. The show is produced and will be hosted by Tom Hanks.

Hanks wrote, starred in and directed “That Thing You Do!” about a Beatles-like band that becomes famous in 1964, in the wake of JFK’s murder. Hanks himself has said “1964 was the last great year of innocence.”

If you want to read a riveting version of JFK’s death, I highly recommend Bill O’Reilly‘s Killing Kennedy.

TOO BAD about the coming divorce of Diane Lane and Josh Brolin, but after his New Year’s Eve drunken brawl, everybody knew this was coming. I mean, you’re out alone boozing, not with your lovely wife on New Years?

Best to them both. I’ve heard Brolin is a pretty nice chap — he is certainly a good actor. And I adore Diane Lane, one of the few child stars to survive and thrive.

NOT THAT Lena Dunham, the creator and star of HBO’s  popular “Girls” needs career help, but I think maybe she got some recently.

Dunham appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. She was interviewed by Melissa Maerz and it was an interesting chat with Hollywood’s unlikely new “It Girl.”

But it was the cover and inside photographs by Ruven Afanador that were a revelation. Somewhat ordinary-looking and always neurotically stressed-out on her show, the ET layout revealed her with smoky, sexy makeup, a short gamine haircut and adorable clothes. Even her infamous shoulder tattoo appeared less off-putting.

EW calls Dunham “The Voice of Her Generation.” I don’t know about that, but she can be one of the hot girls of her generation if she puts her mind to it, obviously.

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 2/25/13

One comment so far.

  1. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    The voice of her generation needs her mouth and vagina washed out with soap.