Film Winks: A Rhettrospective

A look back at the winks in film history.   The mischief, the affectionate and the down right creepy.
I’ve tried to avoid spoilers.
(by Rhett Bartlett – DialMForMovies)

CLEOPATRA (1963)Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.19.06 PM
A bow and the crowd erupt and then Cleopatra winks at Ceasar. A wink that only those in front of her can witness.
A strange directorial decision, considering Taylor’s previous scenes are stilted.  Her wink snaps us out from the spectacle. It feels out of place, looks out of place.  Had a historical film before ever done such a thing?

FAMILY PLOT (1976)09911
Hitchcock’s 53 film career ended, not with a horror film (as brilliant as Frenzy was late in his career), but with the subdued heist Family Plot.
The last image from his last ever film is a Barbara Harris wink.  A breach of the fourth wall by the film’s protagonist.

FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (1986)Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.33.46 PM
Cheeky Ferris puts the wheels in motion for the greatest pretend sick day in history, with an over-the-top wink to his sister Jenny, behind his parents back, at the start of the film.

FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.16.36 PM
Under the spotlit baseball diamond, built on the instinct from a voice, young Archie Graham moves up to bat.  In his professional yearshe never made it onto the diamond to bat, only as a fielder.  1 baseball game.  Now, a chance at the redemption.  He had said earlier in the film that if he got his chance before a pitcher he would ‘stare him down and then just as he goes into the windup – wink! Make him wonder if I know something he doesn’t’  And so he does.

STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (1977)Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.29.12 PM
And so the end of the fourth chapter (or is that the start of the second trilogy) has Hans Solo’s wink towards Princess Leia at the medal ceremony.
Leia shoots back a smirk, and all is good in the universe.

FUNNY GAMES (1997)wink
The creepy Michael Haneke film (the original) gets creepier with the wink from Arno Frisch, one of the two young boys on the verge of terrorising a family.
The film was remade in 2007, by the same director, in a shot for shot remake (a future list I suspect ‘Directors who remade their own films)

MOULIN ROUGE (2001)Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.41.33 PM
Kidman’s best role, with a wink during her stunning, energetic performance near the film’s beginning.

The entire sequence is a joy to experience; dazzling camerawork and editing, glorious sets and costume, and Kidman (top hat and all) the star seductress breaking the fourth wall.
Blink and you’ll miss it.

METROPOLIS (1927)winkmetropolis
The robot Maria’s fourth wall creepy wink, one of the earliest captured on film, and one of the most memorable.
Is there an earlier wink in film that breaks the fourth wall?
Fritz Lang was a genius.

But wait, there’s more….

ANACONDA (1997)
One of the most ridiculous and disgusting winks in film history.
Jon Voight’s regurgitated wink to Jennifer Lopez.

FREDDY vs JASON (2003)
Speaking of ridiculous, coming a close second is the head of Freddy winking at the camera, as it is pulled out of the water by Jason.  Don’t forget the evil laugh on soundtrack.

TARZAN AND THE MERAID (1948)
In his last performance as the fictional character Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller disguises himself in the large regal dress of the island god, and shoots a secret wink to captive Brenda Joyce

DOGMA (1999)
The icon Buddy Christ, showing a smiling Jesus , giving the thumbs up, and winking at onlookers.  Created by the Church to replace the crucifixion image of Jesus.

THE LAST ACTION HERO (1993)
Schwarzenegger’s wink at the end of the film, to Danny, somewhere out there watching him from the cinema.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983)bond
Bond had to make an appearance on this and there he is, at the end of the movie, bedding a beauty.  Connery’s wink happens in the second ‘0’ of a very large 007 onscreen graphic.

If have some more ‘winks’ to suggest, feel free to post them below or tweet me @dialmformovies

Luise Rainer (1910 – 2014)

Luise Rainer, the oldest living Oscar winner, has died aged 104.

She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in consecutive years ,  the first actress to achieve that feat, and only since equalled by Katharine Hepburn. Luise Rainer3
Her first Oscar came for her performance as Anna Held in ‘The Great Ziegfeld’ (1936).

In the film she played the wife of William Powell’s Florenz Ziegfeld Jnr – the famed American Broadway impresario.   It was a huge success for MGM in the 1930s and contained a stellar supporting cast of Myrna Loy, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Nat Pendleton and Reginald Owen.   She was the only cast member to receive an Oscar nomination.  The film won the Best Picture award.
In her acceptance speech before newsreel cameras she simply said: ‘Thank you very much, I’m very happy that I got it’

The following year she won again in the same category,  as O-Lan  the Chinese peasant farmer’s wife who struggles with her husband (Paul Muni) through drought and famine in ‘The Good Earth’ (1937).   Again she was the only cast member to receive an Oscar nomination.  The statuette was later used as a door stop, and bent, she gave it to removalists who helped her moved from Switzerland to London. The Academy later presented her with a replacement.

Her failure to rise to any stardom again, let alone another Oscar nomination, began what many called the ‘Oscar curse’.  Those who careers never hit the high points after winning an Oscar.   Her film career all but ended after, amongst many things,  becoming disenchanted with the roles offered to her, along with personal decisions she made in her life.  However she did continue to act on stage and television.

Despite only making one film in 54 years (‘The Gambler’ in 1997) , The Academy continued to embraces her for its heritage.
At the 70th and 75th Academy Award ceremonies, she appeared on stage with previous acting recipients in a retrospective tribute.
But her return to Hollywood on that night opened old wounds.   “I resented myself very much; there were many things that I should have done. I feel it today, at nearly 100 years old: God, or whoever it is, gave so much into my cradle and I have not lived up to it.” she told a journalist shortly after.

Upon her death she was the last surviving Oscar winner from the 1930s.

Rosella Towne (Jan 20 1918 – Aug 29 2014)

Rosella Towne, the actress who appeared in numerous Warner Bros films opposite Ronald Reagan, has died aged 96 on August 29th 2014.
Her death was confirmed to me by her son, Anthony, via email:

“A message was forwarded to me from the Whitney Center in Hamden, Connecticut, where my mother Rosella Townsend (Kronman) resided until her death at the end of August of this year. She was 96, and had had a happy and healthy life. Thanks for your inquiry”

936full-rosella-towneRosella appeared opposite the future President of the United States in films such as Sergeant Murphy (1938), Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938), Secret Service of the Air (1939),  Code of the Secret Service (1939).

Her most famous role is that of Jane Arden, in the 1939 Warner Bros film The Adventures of Jane Arden, where she investigates the smuggling of jewels.

The character of Jane Arden, a reporter seeking to expose criminal activity, was created by writer Monte Barrett and artist Frank Ellis for the Register and Tribune Syndicate.   It became an international syndicated comic strip from 1927 to 1968.
AdventuresOfJaneArdenTheFeb2014OS
In 1942 Rosella married Harry Kronman, a screenwriter who would pen episodes of The Rifleman (1959-1961),  The Untouchables (1960-1963),  The Fugitive (1963-1967), The Virginian (1963-1970) and Gunsmoke (1965-1973).

She retired from acting upon her marriage to Harry.
She is survived by two sons, Anthony and Michael, five grandchildren, Matthew, Cole, Emma, Hope and Alexander, and two great grandchildren, Sabine and Eleni.

– Rhett Bartlett

Arthur Gardner (1910 – 2014)

Arthur Gardner, the last surviving cast member of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (1930), has died aged 104.
His death was announced by son, Steven,  who advised the Los Angeles Times.
In the Best Picture winning film he played, uncredited,  a student (highlighted in the photo). Arthur Gardner in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Mr Gardner’s acting career had began the year earlier in a series of two-reelers showcasing life in College, ‘The Rivals’ and ‘Cross Country Run’.  The majority of his 22 known film roles were uncredited,  although he did play the lead role, that of journalist Art Brighton, in the exploitation film about cannabis use – ‘Assassin of Youth’.
In 1939 he played opposite Ward Bond and Dennis Morgan in ‘Waterfront’, a 1939 Warner Brothers film about a dockland worker who tries to avenge the death of his brother.

After his acting career, Arthur Gardner became a successful producer.  The production company of Levy-Gardner-Laven produced the Western series ‘The Rifleman’ (1958-1963),  and ‘The Big Valley’ (1965-1969).
Gardner himself produced John Wayne’s crime drama ‘McQ’ (1974),  the thriller ‘Brannigan’ (1975), as well as the prisoner of war film ‘The McKenzie Break’ (1970).

He was profiled in 2012 by the Los Angeles Times, where he was recognised as the oldest living voting member of the Oscars.

Arthur Gardner in 100 Greatest War Films

– by Rhett Bartlett.